The wages of sin

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 6:23

This is a very well known Bible verse, and one that many of us will have known from childhood.  I know that I personally was given this particular verse as a memory verse at Sunday School many times – and consequently tend to gabble it quickly without really thinking about what the words mean.

I suspect the same is true of many familiar Bible verses, so let’s stop and really think about what this one means afresh.

The wages of sin is death

Wages are what you earn for doing a job.  If I do one hours work I am entitled to one hours pay, so in the context of our phrase, that implies that when we sin, we EARN death.  We deserve it.  Regardless of the many good things we may do in our life, every time we sin (and we all do!) we earn ourselves death.

Of course the problem with earning death is that it’s a one-off thing.  Earning money is different – we can earn a few pounds or dollars one day, and a few more the next.  But once you’ve earned death that’s it, you’ve had it!  So why can’t we earn eternal life to negate it?

There are other religions out there that seem to work on that very basis.  Religions with the concept of reincarnation appear to tot up all one’s bad deeds and weigh them against all one’s good deeds, and the net result determines what position you take within the hierarchy of life forms in your next life.

This is not how God presents life and death to us in the Bible though.  He says that for us eternal life is going to be a gift, and that gift has been provided because He sent His Son to die for our sins.  Because of Jesus, God will forget our sins if we ask him to, and give us eternal life, not because we’ve earned it, but because he WANTS to give it to us.

How thankful I am that I don’t have to earn my eternal life!  I’m pretty sure my bad points would exceed my good points if anyone was counting. 

We should never forget that we don’t deserve eternal life, and we don’t deserve the kingdom that’s coming, but that God in His mercy has seen fit to choose those of us that want to be there.  Make no mistake – he wants us ALL to be there.

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. – 2 Peter 3:9

So let’s thank God for His gift, and try our hardest to be worthy of it, knowing that eternal life is freely given to us and is worth far more than anything we can ever earn.

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