It’s a common verse. In fact, it’s part of the “Roman Road to Salvation”. Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Rewind to many messages on this passage I heard growing up, and you could substitute the word “punishment” for “wages” here. It was taught as basically the same thing. The punishment for sin, was death. The problem is, in our world especially today, there is a distance between justice occurring, and what we actually experience. The threat of punishment is only that….a threat. We can hope to get off with a warning. We can avoid law enforcement and go unpunished. We can appeal to the grace of God as we step forward into our life or act of sin, and cross our fingers hoping that He might not bring about the “punishment” of death in response to what we do.
Sure, there are verses that talk about “punishment” throughout the Bible. The Old Testament is full of God using corrective methods to guide His people, and the New Testament talks about “eternal punishment”, and God bringing His justice to all things one day.
But this verse in particular seems to choose a word other than “punishment” on purpose. The connection between “sin” and “death” here is much more fluid and natural/expected.
It’s like saying, the resulting consequence or “what you get in return for this” is death. Not “if mom catches you”, and not “if you get prosecuted”. It’s what always occurs as the consequence/payment of choosing a way other than God’s design. It is the way of death. It kills our ability to be in right relationship with God. It kills our ability to be in right relationship with others. It can often also mean a bit of death within ourselves.
I can’t help but nod my head to the smooth sounds of The Gotee Brothers whenever I read this verse. The song talks about the “Wages of Sin”, and the album talks about living in a world that has been impacted by racism. We can still look around our world today, and mourn the damage that has been done to the human ability to relate in healthy ways to each other. We are receiving the “wages” of sins of racism committed since long ago.
As parents, we don’t simply want to instill a fear of “eternal punishment” for sin someday in the future…that scares them into being good and saying the “right words” today. We want them to understand that making selfish choices brings death to our relationships, and can hurt the people around them right now. Going our own way (self), instead of/above the path God has created us to exist within (Love for Him/Others)…always has an impact – today.
Come back later this week to hear more about the “gift of God”!!!