Romans 6:23 – “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
“Wages” is a word not much used these days, in simple terms it means, “paycheck.” Your wages are what you earn because of what you’ve done – it is what is rightfully owed to you. So we see from this passage that what sin earns is death. We know that as mortals we will all die physically (with the exception of those alive at the time of the rapture) and certainly physical death is meant here, but Scripture almost always refers to more than the mere physical when it speaks of life and death. Sin separates us from God and, if not dealt with in this life through trust and faith in Christ, sin leads to eternal death. Eternal death cannot mean the complete and total separation of the person from God – who is the creator and sustainer of life – for that would mean extinction which teaching is contradictory to Scripture. Therefore, most primarily, it must mean to be separated from God in His love, mercy, grace, and kindness. It is to be excluded from relationship with Him and to become nothing more than an object of wrath, punishment, and justice. As Scripture says, “But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up for yourself punishment on the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.” (Romans 2:5). This is what we have all earned, but God, out of His infinite mercy, grace, and love, has made possible for us forgiveness and reconciliation through the shed blood of His Son. This reconciliation is a gift from God for we are not able to earn it – spiritually dead as we are. If we do nothing to earn it, then we can do nothing that might cause us to lose it. If you are in God’s hands, then nothing and no one can take you away from Him (John 10:27-30), not even you.
The gift that God gives is His very self, for “this is eternal life – that they may know You the only true God and to know Jesus Christ whom You sent.” (John 17:3). This is not a mere mental knowing anymore than Jesus meant “unending” life when He said “eternal” life. Jesus said to the people, “You study the Scriptures because you think that in them you will find eternal life and these very Scriptures speak about Me yet you are not willing to come to Me in order that you may have life.” (John 5:39-40). It is God Himself who is our life (Col. 3:4). To know God, to be in right relationship with Him through faith and love and obedience, this is eternal life. It is perfect, intimate, loving relationship with God who is the delight of our whole being – heart, soul, mind, and body – forever. We can only find this kind of life in Christ – our Savior, God in human flesh, He who died and rose again to be our way and to be our life. Our life begins when it starts with Him, when we come to Him.
So we pray, “Our God, our Savior – You who made us and saves us and keeps us – thank You for Your gift of eternal life, a life spent with You. We are so amazed that You loved us so much that You sent Your only Son to die for us. May we love and serve You with all that we are. You are our life and our strength, help us to live every day in light of all You are and all You have done for us. May we remember that eternal life is not something that starts someday, but is our relationship with You right now. Let Your name be praised forever! Amen.”
Wages – salary, pay, earnings, income, remuneration
Sin – offense, failing, crime, transgression, wrongdoing
Death – mortality, loss, end, ruin
Gift – free, grant, bestow
Life – being, existence, animation, essence