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While We Were Yet Sinners
Salvation is a gift. It can't be worked for, it can't be bought - but it was paid for, in advance, of the acceptance, or rejection, of all of those to whom it is being offered:
"5:6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 5:7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:6-8 KJV)
"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us"
Only Christ has been perfectly free of sin, but those who accept Christ's offer of the gift of salvation must strive to live a life of overcoming sin, thereby making themselves repentant sinners. Unrepentant sinners are those who will face the LORD's wrath, and ultimately, the lake of fire.
"5:9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood [see the Fact Finder question below], we shall be saved from wrath through him. 5:10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. 5:11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement [see Christ's Mercy Seat].
Fact Finder: Why did the perfectly innocent Christ have to die in the way that He did?