23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.
Talk about the setting of the minimum wage has been in the news a lot lately. A reported 21 states are considering raising their minimum wage for its workers. When someone works they certainly deserve to be paid in some way. Paul himself says, "A worker deserved to be paid for his work." Of course, there are arguments on both sides, and that is not the purpose of mentioning it here. Paul says today in Romans 6:23 that the wages of sin is "death". Meaning what we deserve for our sin is death. The minimum wage in God's economy is "death". That seems harsh doesn't it? Well maybe not.
Another way of putting it might be, "the natural outcome of our sinful nature is death". Left unchecked our sinful nature will ultimately destroy us. Why? Because the essence of the sinful nature is that we become "turned in on ourselves". Our lives are marked by serving self, and taking care of "number one". More important is God's nature, which is holy. Therefore, God cannot just "wink at sin". Because God is always just, he cannot but judge justly. In financial terms, an analogy the bible often uses to describe sin, we owe a debt to God which we cannot pay.
Fortunately for us is there is a second part of the verse. The "free gift" of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus. The natural outcome of the sinful nature is we live an eternal life apart from God. The bible calls this "hell", a place of suffering and great regret that would did not trust in God's free gift of eternal life. But instead of getting what we deserve, God offers us the free gift of eternal life. This eternal life was purchased when Jesus paid for our sin on the cross. Jesus paid the debt we could not pay, for a debt he did not owe.
This verse is the essence of Gospel. The context of this verse is it comes in at the end of chapter 6. If you read the chapter, you can see Paul is refuting an attitude in the early church which said, "I am forgiven so why does it matter if I sin." Paul makes several arguments on why this is a very bad idea or way of thinking. Not the least of which is that if you have been freed from sin why would you return to it. If you were set free from sin, why go back to slavery. That makes no sense to Paul.
But since we still have a sinful nature until Jesus returns, we will also be tempted to "cheapen God's grace". What do I mean by that? Jesus bought our freedom, the bible calls this "redemption". And he redeemed us with a very high price, His innocent and precious blood, which he willingly shed for us. So when we take advantage of his grace as an excuse to sin, we are essentially saying, "Thanks Jesus for dying for me so I won't have to spend eternity apart from God, but while i have time left on earth I would like to sin as much as i can!"
That sounds a little "over the top", but I think any of us can fall victim to this line of thinking. The truth is God's laws are still true. While we could never measure up to them, God has given us the Holy Spirit to live out our new calling. The minimum wage of sin is death, but the free gift of God can never be measured in human terms.
Someone once said, "The grace God gave us in His son is His gift to us. What we do with it is our gift back to him!" Let's be grateful and generous in the way we live for God and give back our lives to His glory!