“But now you are free from the power of sin and have become slaves of God. Now you do those things that lead to holiness and result in eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 6:22-23 NLT
Those of us who are working get paid for our services. We call it a wage or a salary. But the principle is the same – we provide a service to someone and get paid in return. Sadly, governments want to break into what should be a simple business transaction and take their cut – we call it income tax – but we end up with enough money, hopefully, to pay our bills and provide for ourselves and our dependent families.
It doesn’t matter what we do because there is always a consequent response. So we work and get paid. Of course, someone can volunteer to do work and not get a monetary reward, but they will get their “wages” in other ways. In a wider sense, everything that we do will have some sort of payback. If we do something kind for someone else, such as doing the shopping for an elderly neighbour, then they will be blessed by our work. And we receive our “wages” spiritually, because we are doing what God has asked us to do. Jesus said one of the greatest commandments was loving your neighbour, as recorded in Matthew 22:39, “A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.” So a law of cause and effect is in play here. Jesus said in Luke 6:38, “Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back”.
But we now come to what Paul said about sin. He said “the wages of sin is death”. Sin has a root, which is rebellion against God. When this happens, the sinner is doing or thinking something that contravenes God’s design for them. Sin has two serious consequences – a sinner cannot be in God’s presence, and a sinner will not enjoy God’s covering and protection. I often go to Psalm 91 – here are the first four verses, “Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armour and protection“. Notice that only those with the right qualifications of living close to God will receive the assurance of finding His rest and safety. At a time of danger, a mother hen will cover her chicks with her wings. A lovely picture of God’s protection for His people. Another encouraging verse about God’s care and protection for His people can be found in Isaiah 41:10, “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”
Those who sin and who never repent and turn to God will one day receive the wages for their rebellion and sin. They will find eternal death in a place where they don’t want to be. But Paul continues to write about the “free gift of God”. Which is “eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord”. We all love gifts, don’t we? And yet most people will choose sin and eternal death rather than turn to God and receive His free gift of eternal life.
I was often puzzled by the propensity of some of my workmates to choose to be rebellious and awkward when asked to do something by the boss, purely because they thought it violated their “rights”. Without a knowledge of a bigger picture and the goal to which the company was heading, they thought they knew better. They chose to go a different way, often with consequences they had not foreseen. Regarding sin, it is of course someone’s “right” to continue their evil ways, but such people choose to ignore the consequences.
How better it is to listen to God and follow His ways, assuring a future that starts with the free gift of salvation and continues with a life eternally spent in a wonderful place we call Heaven.
Dear Father. What else can we say other than “thank You”? Amen.