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Wages of Sin and God’s Gift


The Gospel of Jesus Christ is revolutionary. It changes people’s lives for the good, and it delivers them from the wrath of God.

We were slaves to sin. None of us was born in righteousness. We were born slaves in a miserable condition in which we could never deliver ourselves.

The individual who has put his trust in Christ has died to sin, and been made alive to God in Christ (Rom. 6:1-23).

One of the greatest summaries of the good news in Jesus Christ is found in Romans 6:23. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

C. H. Spurgeon said of this verse, “It is a Christian proverb, a golden sentence, a divine statement of truth worthy to be written across the sky.”

If we got the payment we deserved we would get death; but God out of His grace has given us eternal life.

“The wages of sin is death”

This is a consistent message in the Bible. The Hebrew prophet Ezekiel says, “The soul that sins will surely die” (Ezek. 18:4; cf. Rom. 1:32; 5:12; 6:16, 21; 8:6, 13; Gal. 6:8; Gen. 2:16-17; Rev. 20:14-15).

Sin has its payday, and its wages is death. The wage that Satan doles out is death. The future punishment of the sinner is called the “second death.”

The word “wages” (opsonia) in the original language is a word from “cooked meat,” or “provisions.” It means, “provision money,” or supplies paid to an army. The soldiers earned their wages and were paid in daily provisions of food. Sin pays wages in full, without any deductions.

If we got what we deserved we would get death. The death is eternal separation from God in hell (Lk. 16:24-25). These are the wages that are earned and deserved because of sin (Rom. 5:17; 7:13).

Ultimately death involves separation of man’s spirit from his body, and the separation from God. It is an eternal separation for all who reject Christ. The death penalty is the result of sin. Death is the out come of sin. Had there been no sin there would have been no death (Rom. 6:16, 21, 23; Gen. 2:16-17; Ezek. 18:4).

The single exception in history is Jesus Christ who never experienced personal sin (1 Pet. 2:21-24). He was absolutely perfect and therefore the only one who could possibly die for sin as our substitute. We will die because we are sinners and justly so. However, the sinless one became man and died as our substitute (2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 9:28). He paid our debt in full.

When we respond by faith to the saving work of Christ He completely reverses the consequences. The believer is “now . . . set free from sin” and its eternal consequences. The end of sin is death. The end of salvation by faith is eternal life.

“But the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”

The “free gift” (charisma), “grace gift,” is an undeserved gift, of something given to a man unearned and unmerited. It is something given to sinful man from God’s grace. It is something we could never have achieved, or attained to by our own efforts. It is unearnable. It is the opposite of “wages.”

The “free gift” God gives us is “eternal life” (Jn. 3:16, 36). Eternal life is a gift that cannot be earned (Eph. 2:8-9; Titus 3:5).

The Law worked sin, and the result of sin is death; grace results in righteousness and eternal life.

Death and life in this context are in contrast to one another, and both are eternal. God’s final judgment on sin will be meted out at the last day. Eternal life is the life of God’s children in heaven. Eternal death is called the “second death” in Revelation, and is accompanied by eternal punishment (Rev. 20:11-15).

Do you work for a gift? No. Do you pay for your own gift? No. Is it something you deserve or merit? No. All you can do to take possession of a gift is to receive it. God’s gift to you is free. He paid a high price for it when He sent His Son to go to the cross and die as your substitute (Rom. 5:6, 8; 2 Cor. 5:21). The gift of God is not cheap. It is the most precious and expensive gift in the whole universe. This is how much God loves you.

“In Christ Jesus our Lord”

The gift comes to us through a personal trust in Jesus Christ. God gives it to us freely; all we do is receive it. “But as many as received him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13).

“And this is life eternal, that they might know You the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent” (Jn. 17:3). Are you in Jesus Christ? Have you received the "free gift" of eternal life? Are you trusting in Jesus Christ alone for eternal life?

Jesus Christ paid the price of our redemption (1 Cor. 6:20). He who paid the price of our ransom is one and the same person who justifies us freely. This gift of eternal life is granted through Jesus Christ and He also dispenses it.

Sin pays wages—death! God also pays wages—holiness and everlasting life. In the old life, we produce works that produced death. In the new life in Christ, we produce fruit that glorifies God and brings joy to our lives.

Romans 6:23 can also be a warning for the saved because Romans was written to believers. The apostle John said, "There is a sin unto death" (1 Jn. 5:17). ‘The apostle Paul admonished, "For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep" (1 Cor. 11:30). Samson set a bad example because he would not yield himself to God, but preferred to yield to the lusts of the flesh, and the result was death (Judges 16). If the believer refuses to surrender his body to the Lord, and chooses to use its members for sinful purposes, then he is in danger of being disciplined by the Father. Chastisement could include death (Heb. 12:5-11).

The believer has been set free from sin (Rom. 6:18, 22), and is no longer a slave to it (vv. 6, 20), but is now a slave to righteousness (vv. 16, 18-19). We now have eternal life (v. 23). The believer has been crucified with Christ and is risen from the dead. It is our responsibility to reckon on this fact and yield our bodies to the Lord.



Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006





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Unless otherwise noted "Scripture quotations taken from the NASB." "Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE" © Copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission." (www.Lockman.org)

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NET) are from the NET Bible copyright ©1996-2006 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. http://www.bible.org/. All rights reserved.

Wil is a graduate of William Carey University, B. A.; New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Th. M.; and Azusa Pacific University, M. A. He has pastored in Panama, Ecuador and the U. S, and served for over 20 years as missionary in Ecuador and Honduras. He had a daily expository Bible teaching ministry head in over 100 countries from 1972-2005. He continues to seek opportunities to be personally involved in world missions. Wil and his wife Ann have three grown daughters. He currently serves as a Baptist pastor and teaches seminary extension courses in Ecuador.


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