The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
I have taught a “basics in the Christian faith” class several times a year for the past ten years. We meet together weekly over the course of six weeks for about an hour. Romans 6:23 has become the theme verse for what we do together. In this passage, Paul says it all! He tells us what we’ve earned. He tells us what Jesus has mercifully given. He tells us the whole story in a handful of words. He does this by clarifying God’s two words: Law and Gospel.
In lesson one, we explore how we know there is a God and what we know about God based on what He’s revealed of Himself. We then spend a heavy amount of time discussing what expectations the Lord has for us. It goes something like this. Almighty God has created each of us to be His human creatures. As such, He has a number of expectations for how we will act toward Him and one another. These expectations are written into the fabric of who we are as human beings. When we live up to these expectations, we are doing nothing more or less than being human. When we don’t live up to His requirements, we are proving to be something less than human, namely “broken humans”.
To determine whether or not you are fully human, I’d invite you to take this short quiz. Rate yourself (from 0%-100%) based on how well you live up to the expectations of each of the following categories:
If you’re honest, you did not write down five 100%’s here. We may do well in one area, but isn’t it amazing how others fall short. What’s more, this is nowhere near an exhaustive list!
God’s expectation for His human creatures is perfection at all times in all categories. How’s that working out for you? Not well for me!
So what have all my deeds earned me? Paul holds nothing back in his answer: the wages of sin is death. As I turn in my time card to the Lord for all that I’ve done over the course of my life, He hands me the paycheck I’ve duly earned. Stamped in stark crimson, the word that says it all DEATH. My thoughts, words, and deeds have brought about my demise. So have yours.
Thanks be to God, Paul doesn’t leave us hanging here. Rather than leave us with the bad news that death and damnation await us because of our brokenness, we are heralded with the best news that the Lord Himself gifts us instead of death, eternal life through Jesus Christ!
This Good News is for you! The Lord has decided in favor of you. That although you’ve earned death for yourself, He chooses mercy for you. He chooses to love you. Out of His own goodness, He chooses to gift you with His tremendous blessings. The gift of God for you is eternal life through Jesus Christ! You will never hear better news!
Dear Jesus, thank you for the gift of choosing me for eternal life. I am sorry for all my sins and shortcomings. Strengthen me in your love to do better. Keep me in the one true faith. Amen.