Albert N. Martin
The words of Romans 6:23 say, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Now, using the imagery of the signpost that we have used throughout this entire series, having seen from this signpost the contrasting destinations to which it points, notice with me secondly: the contrasting basis for arriving at these destinations.
As we draw closer to the signpost, we see that though the word ‘death’ is closest to the point of the arrow and the word ‘eternal life’ is closest to the point of the arrow to the right, we see in smaller but very distinct words these words: “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life.” So, behind the contrasting destinations there is the contrasting basis for arriving at those destinations. The basis of the one is what you earn: “The wages of sin is death.” The basis of the other is what is given as an undeserved gift: “The free gift of God is eternal life.” You see how simple this text is? It preaches itself! Let’s consider this contrasting basis for arriving at these destinations.
First: the basis of the one is what you earn. “The wages of sin is death.” Here sin is likened to a great paymaster who will pay out what is earned to all who have served him. If you have entered and remained in the service of sin, payday will surely come someday. Do you hear me? Payday will surely come someday! “For the wages of sin is death.” The basis on which men receive death—in all the horrible reality of what that word signifies—is that they have earned it. They will receive death as the wages for their service to sin! I want you to note two very important things about these wages that sin pays.
First: they are deceptive wages. They are not the wages sin ever promises when you enter into his employment. When you sit down to bicker with sin about what he will give you if you will serve him, sin says, “I’ll give you pleasure.” He’s not lying, for there is pleasure in sin for a season. Were there no pleasure in sin, there would be no hook, no bait in which to have the hook of death embedded and to entice us into sin! It says of Moses he chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.
You see, his wages are deceitful, for though he promises pleasure for a season, he doesn’t show us the fine print: that sin’s pleasure for a season will bring sin’s damnation for eternity! Whatever pleasure will come to whatever faculties God has given—whether it’s the pleasure of the glutton as he drools over his foods that taste so good as he swallows them down, or whether it’s the pleasure of the sensualist as he gives his body to elicit sexual relations, whether it’s any other pleasure—that pleasure is only for a season, but the wages it pays out are for eternity. They are deceitful and deceptive wages.
Sin never comes promising death, only fun, acceptance, fulfillment, pleasure, status, recognition! But remember: whatever sin promises you to get you into his service, his wages are deceitful wages, for according to our text, “The wages of sin is death.” Only death; always death! The horrible eternal death of darkness. They are deceptive wages, and I’ve already alluded to this second point, but I want to make a specific point: they are certain wages.
They are certain wages. Look at the certainty of the wages sin pays in Romans 6:16, “Know ye not, that to whom you present yourselves as servants unto obedience, his servants you are whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience and righteousness?” He says, “If you present yourself as the willing employee of sin, he will always pay you off, but he will pay you off with death.” The wages are certain. Verse 21, “What fruit had you at that time in the things whereof you are now ashamed? The end of those things is death.”
Would to God that some of you this night would take this simple affirmation of God and believe it! You could not go on in your present abandonment to your own lust and your pride and the indulgence of your flesh and your flirtation with the world and its ways and its people. You continue in the employ of sin, and the wages are deceptive, but they are certain.
Everyone in Hell will be there as the wages of sin. None will be in Hell whose sin did not warrant their being there. So, just tell yourself the next time sin’s propositions are very real, and your appetites and your desires and your passions are stirred, and sin presents itself with its reward of some immediate pleasure, look sin in the eye and say, “Yes, but your wages are death!” Payday will come someday. Payday will come someday!
Now notice by way of contrast, what we said that as we look at the signpost we not only see the contrasting destinies, death and eternal life, but the contrasting basis for arriving at these destinies. Those who go into death go on the basis of what they earn, “The wages of sin is death.” But the basis of the other is what is given as an undeserved gift. Look at the text, “But the free gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.” Notice three things about the basis of this gift that is given that issues in eternal life: the nature of the gift, the Giver of the gift, and the sphere in which the gift is given.
The nature of the gift is totally undeserved. It is wholly gratuitous. It is all of grace. The very word ‘charisma’ is a word that in its heart has the word kharis, or grace. It is all of grace. Grace is not just getting something I haven’t earned, it’s getting the exact opposite of what I deserve! The basis on which eternal life is imparted to anyone is to be seen in that it is totally undeserved, wholly gratuitous. It is all of grace. Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, that no man should boast.” After Paul describes what we are by nature in Ephesians 2:1-3, he says, “But God, who is rich in mercy, according to his love.” He then goes on to magnify His grace, the grace that saves the likes of you and me. The basis of this gift of eternal life is to be seen in its nature, totally undeserved.
Bible References: Romans 6:23; Romans 6:16, 21; Ephesians 2:1-4, 8-9
Listen to this message (25 minutes):
For more 25 minute sermons by Pastor Martin, visit us at God’s Word to Our Nation