Jump Start # 2348
Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Our verse today contains a series of contrasts. First, there is death and there is life. Sin brings death and God brings life. Another contrast is wages and free gift. Wages is what you earn. Wages are owed to you. Free gift is another matter. A contest takes place and you happen to hold the lucky number and you win a prize. It’s free. There is another contrast. Christ Jesus is the one who offers life. Behind sin is always the devil. Jesus and Satan, such opposites.
There are some powerful lessons to pull from these thoughts.
First, no one gets away with sin. Sin comes with a price tag. You did it and now you’ll get it, that’s the nature of sin. Satan never shows the price tag. He shows you how exciting the pleasure is. He shows you how easy it is to get away with it. He reminds you that you deserve it. He convinces you that you’ll never be happy until you give in to it. Satan presents the opportunity and even the crowd for sin. But as the verse tells us, there is a cost. There is a wage. It’s terribly high. It costs you all that you are. It costs you your soul. What comes with sin is death. Contextually, the death here is spiritual. Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit and what came with that was being banished from the garden of Eden. That was the cost of sin. They lost their fellowship with God.
Now, there are a variety of levels of getting caught and the consequences of sin. But eventually, they all lead to God. You may hide your sins for years or even forever. It could be that no one knows. You have hidden those dark secrets deep within a closet. You are careful to leave no tracks so others will discover. But, God knows. He already knows. The consequences may not be a divorce, getting fired from a job, being kicked out of school, or being arrested. However, while a person may believe that he has gotten away with things, he’ll find out, much too late, that the greatest consequence comes from being banished from Heaven. God knows. There is no getting away with sin.
Second, once one has sinned, he doesn’t have to stay that way. There is a free gift that God offers. That gift is forgiveness. God is allowing us back into the garden. He’s offering you a second chance. This is huge. So many give up because they have messed up. They throw the towel in and just quit. They no longer try to do what is right. They dive into sin even deeper and deeper. Ashamed and convinced that they can never do things right is all it takes for some to walk away from God when He is standing with His arms opened up for them. What is powerful about these contrasts is that we don’t deserve the free gift. The gift is given to those who have sinned, not to those who are excelling well. It’s not the healthy person, but the sick person who is in need of doctors and medicine. God’s gift is grace. It doesn’t make sense. It’s not right nor fair. It’s not something that ought to be expected. God doesn’t owe us forgiveness. God doesn’t have to forgive us. It’s His gift. It is His choice.
Third, God’s gift is based upon our faith and walking with Him. Otherwise, all would be saved, even those who didn’t want to be saved. There are those who like laying in the mud with pigs. There are those who given the opportunity to live better, wouldn’t. There are those who like sin and want to stay in sin. The gift is there for them, but they have to leave the pigs and come home. We can’t live like a sinner and die like a saint. That doesn’t work. The holiness and justice of God demands that His free gift be qualified, otherwise it’s meaningless and without any real value. God loves us. God made us to live a better way. But if we are content to stay with the pigs, He’ll allow that. Some get used to the smell of pigs. Some don’t mind the filth. Some don’t even recognize how dirty they are. But for those who have a conscience, and a heart that is good, they know better. They know the road of alcohol isn’t the direction that they ought to be on. They know that dishonesty and cheating isn’t the path that builds relationships. The wages of sin will kill you. You must leave it before payday. The wages is death. There is a payday coming. Unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins, is what Jesus said. God wants you to come home and stay home. God wants you to walk in righteousness and walk by faith. Obey God is a message throughout the entire Bible.
Fourth, God is doing all that He can to get us to Heaven. God cares more for our souls than we do. Too often we go from one pig pen to the next. We don’t think much beyond today. We don’t think about God. We don’t realize how many people all over the place are praying for us. We don’t see the good that comes from worship or the value of fellowship with God’s people. Just like the garden of Eden, the problem of sin was caused by us, not God. We made the wrong choices. We forgot about God. And, just like the garden, the serpent left and it was up to God to clean up the mess that Adam and Eve made. Likewise, as with our verse, we have chosen sin and it was God would offers the free gift of salvation. God cleans up the mess we made. There are not many uses for broken things. I expect none of us hang on to burned out light bulbs. There’s not many uses for them. A broken hanger—you won’t get much for that on Ebay. There are some things that are just beyond fixing. We are broken, but God can fix us. He hasn’t given up on us. He hasn’t thrown us away. We have shown that our way didn’t work. That’s why there is sin and death following us. Our ideas are wrong. Our choices, bad. Our thoughts, not the best. But God has a way. God knows how to live as we ought to. God knows how our marriages ought to look. God knows how we ought to parent. God knows how we ought to be during the storms of life. His way works. His way is always the best. His way heals broken relationships. His way, though not always the easiest, is always the best.
Wages and free gift. Death and life. Satan and Christ. Contrasts. But more than literary contrasts, life’s choices. Your choices. My choices. Why dine with pigs, when we can sit down at a banquet table and feast with God? Why face the fear of death and hell, when you can have life and Heaven? Why follow losers when you can follow Christ? Why quit on yourself when God hasn’t?
Interesting contrasts…interesting questions. And, the way we live, answers those questions.