Cause and Effect or God's Act? An Analysis of Romans 6:23

A verse commonly quoted by Christians is
 Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (ESV) 
 this is a great summary of the grace of God. Sadly, it seems in today’s epidemic of biblical illiteracy, many do not see the full meaning of this thought . Reading the entire thought surrounding this line of Scripture and thinking about the wording can illuminate a message far deeper than what is commonly seen on the surface. By simply taking the time to think and consider the message Paul was communicating in his Epistle to the Romans, one can see what the Holy Spirit  has in the store. When one breaks down this verse you notice that this is a comparison, a contrast between death and eternal life. What is really profound about this verse is how the contrast between the opposites is made. Sin leads to death and God leads to eternal life, but many stop there. When the logic is not followed through, the full meaning of God’s Word cannot be truly known, therefore the full value is not achieved. Here is what is profound: the wages of sin is death, the gift of God is eternal life. This means they are opposites! Death is what is owed, eternal life is what is given voluntarily by God. Most people approach this Scripture as a simple cause and effect: Sin equals Death, God equals Eternity. Looking at this from the perspective of God pays us with eternal life when we place faith in Jesus Christ, misses the entire point of this Scripture!
A Roman slave pours his master a drink

Let’s not forget the preceding passage before, Rom 6:17-22. Romans 6:23 is the conclusion for the rest of the passage which says that Christians are slaves to God. Formerly, all believers were enslaved to Sin. As slaves to Sin, believers bore the fruit of (think of a plant at harvest) death. As slaves to righteousness and God, the fruit that is given is holiness. Connect that with the end and you get: a slave of Sin is paid with the fruit of death, a slave of God is given the gift of eternal life. One needs food to survive and food (or money) is what is given in exchange for work. Being enslaved to Sin at birth, it owes the food that is worked for. A slave to God used to be a slave to Sin, so they are not owed anything. The master chose to give his food not out of obligation, but out of complete choice.

All this exposition required was a little time and thought. Think about the Word of God, listen to the Holy Spirit. Sure the surface meaning can taste sweet, but when Scripture is truly seen for what it is, one can discover truths that are life changing.


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