Romans 6:23 (MEV) For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The wages of sin is death. It’s that simple.
Think about what Paul is saying. Understanding this critical point is a foundation to everything. To do that, consider the context…
Romans 6:19–23 (MEV) I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh, for just as you have yielded your members as slaves to impurity and iniquity leading to more iniquity, even so now yield your members as slaves to righteousness unto holiness. For when you were the slaves of sin, you were free from righteousness. What fruit did you have then from the things of which you are now ashamed? The result of those things is death. But now, having been freed from sin and having become slaves of God, you have fruit unto holiness, and the end is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Paul is conveying a spiritual truth in human terms. Particularly in that when we present ourselves to unrighteousness, it snowballs. That is, more sin leads to the suppression of the knowledge of God, which makes doing sinful things easier. This he spoke of in the opening of the letter.
The other truth is showing that the real fruit of sin is death. There is nothing that comes of it that is going to last. It’s a freedom from righteousness, meaning it is leading to lawlessness. The result of those things is death. He is urging us to present ourselves as slaves to righteousness, leading to sanctification. There is fruit in that.
Suffice it to say, humans have an appointment with death, The Bible says it is appointed unto men once to die. It also says, after that comes judgment. Looking back on the text, we see that there is a dichotomy eternal life is set against death, that is the wages of sin death.
Paul has already conveyed to us that “just as sin entered into the world through one man, and death through sin, so also death spread to all people because all sinned.” (Ro 5:12) This doesn’t mean we are all born sinners as it is easy to say. It means that corruption entered the progeny of Adam and was passed down through his seed. That is death is passed down, because all have sinned. Paul is saying we are all born dying which is a transgression of God’s desire for humans. We were made to live with Him forever. But because death entered by one man, and passed to all… All are already in transgression. We will all die of natural causes having lived long enough.
There is the wages of sin death. This is the death Jesus died.
2 Corinthians 5:14–15 (MEV) For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one died for all; as a result all died. And he died for all, in order that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for the one who died for them and was raised.
Christ died for us. Yes, that is true for us believers. Yet Paul is saying it is for all. The underlying Greek literally conveys “that if one for all died, then the whole died.” Look at the text, the ‘all’ is in noun form. Changing the noun form of ‘all’ to adjective by claiming it to be ‘all individuals’ imposes an idea on the text that isn’t there. Consequently, using a prepositional phrase as an adjective to limit the scope of ‘all’ as in saying ‘all of us’ is also imposing an idea on the text that isn’t there. This does apply to anyone reading this, and even those who do not. Jesus died that death due for sin, and we get to live.
Having been freed from the constraints of that death, live for Christ! How do we do that?
We must be reconciled to God.
2 Corinthians 5:16 (MEV) So from now on we do not regard anyone according to the flesh. Yes, though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet we do not regard Him as such from now on.
Understand the reality behind this idea. If all have died the death due for the wages of sin in Jesus Christ’s death, the flesh does eventually die. The old things have passed away.
2 Corinthians 5:17 (MEV) Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature. Old things have passed away. Look, all things have become new.
Let’s not look at any human in the old way. Those things have passed away, and the grace of God abides upon them. It is a time of mercy. A time in which Paul says each ought to live for Jesus.
2 Corinthians 5:18–19 (MEV) All this is from God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ and has given to us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their sins against them, and has entrusted to us the message of reconciliation.
God has reconciled the world to Himself in Jesus. He is not counting their sins against them. The wages of sin is already satisfied.
2 Corinthians 5:20–21 (MEV) So we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us. We implore you in Christ’s stead: Be reconciled to God. God made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Those that know this are now called ambassadors. As Christians, we get to implore others to be reconciled to God. The One Who took on sin to be sin for us, was for us to live for Him. That we could become the righteousness of God in Him.
His death gave a respite of time to all humans. The righteousness of God doesn’t come by His death, though. As people will still die in their sins.
John 8:23–24 (MEV) He said to them, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins. For unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”
Jesus said those who do not believe I am He will die in their sins. They won’t die as a result of them, but will die in them. What does He mean ‘I am He?’
John 3:31–36 (MEV) He who comes from above is above all. He who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all. He bears witness of what He has seen and heard, yet no one receives His testimony. He who has received His testimony has certified that God is true. For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without measure to Him. The Father loves the Son, and has placed all things into His hand. 36 *He who believes in the Son has eternal life. He who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.
I think the testimony is clear. There is only One Who is above all. Without believing ‘I am He’ one dies in their sin. To close the circle, Jesus says this:
John 5:24 (MEV) Truly, truly I say to you, whoever hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has eternal life and shall not come into condemnation, but has passed from death into life.
It’s a simple idea to be reconciled to the God Who has reconciled Himself to each of us. Yet it is most difficult, as we all must acknowledge the truth in our own hearts. This respite of the wages of sin death is a time of mercy. One where we can seek remission of sins. Yet, remission cannot happen unless we acknowledge the truth, believe the truth and confess our sins to Him. Only then are they taken away forever.