Roman 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
We live in a world of opposites: day and night, happiness and sadness, truth and lies. Sometimes, to explain our ideas to another person, we will use opposites. Long before we were born, God in His word had been doing this very thing. Romans 6:23 contains three examples of opposites. There is “wages” versus a “gift.” There is “death” as opposed to “eternal life.” Finally, there is “sin” in contrast to the Lord Jesus Christ.
What are wages? They are payment given to us for work done – we have earned them. “The wages of sin is death.” God is warning us here that the payment that we will receive for our sin is death. As far as God is concerned, every single one of us is employed and earning these wages: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23). It is a case of 100% employment!
What is a gift? A gift is something given to us at no cost to ourselves. But there is a cost for the giver. “The gift of God is eternal life.” What did it cost God to provide eternal life? “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son” (Jn 3:16). Christ died for the ungodly, for sinners, for His enemies (read Romans 5). Please answer honestly: did Christ die for you?
Death and eternal life are the next opposites to consider. Perhaps most think of eternal life as life forever in heaven with the Lord Jesus. This is wonderfully true. But it is not only a “future” event. John, the disciple who was so close to the Lord Jesus, “whom Jesus loved” (Jn 13:23), said this about eternal life: “And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent” (Jn 17:3). The Bible says eternal life starts here and now on the Earth, not in some distant future! You can have it this moment. But you must know God and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Has there ever been a time in your life when you came to know Christ as your personal Savior? If not, you do not have eternal life.
Death in Romans 6:23 is not merely physical death. Why? Because it is contrasted with eternal life. Physical death will send your soul out into eternity. But it doesn’t end there. If you die with your sins unforgiven, you will enter into the awfulness of what the Bible calls the second death (Rev 20:14). It is eternal separation from God and eternal punishment for sins.
Of all the opposites that exist, there is no greater contrast than the Lord Jesus Christ and sin. He is “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners” (Heb 7:26). Our sin, on the other hand, makes us ungodly (Rom 5:6), malicious (Rom 1:29), defiled (Mat 15:18), separate from God (Isa 59:2).
But never was there such a moment as when these two opposites met on the cross: “For He (God) hath made Him (Christ) to be sin for us, Who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor 5:21). The Lord Jesus was paid the wages of your sin in His sufferings on the cross. Receiving Him as Savior is to receive the gift of God, which is eternal life.