We are considering the “in Christ” passages in Romans. We have seen that there is redemption in Christ. He buys us back from sin and death and redeems us to life and adventure. This verse vividly depicts what happens: “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23).
“For the wages of sin is death”—God doesn’t give you death—sin itself gives you death. The payoff is in the person. The young man who said he had better go to church or God would bop him was wrong. If he didn’t go to church he would bop himself—he would decay, inevitably. The wages of sin is death—not will be hereafter, but is death here and now. Just as when the spirit of a man leaves his body decay sets in at once, so when Jesus, who is Life, is absent from the person, decay sets in at once. Death takes over. Isaiah, with deep penetration, saw this, “for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast delivered us into the hand of our iniquities” (64:7).
We would have thought he would have said, “into the hand of our enemies,” but no, he saw that “into the hands of our iniquities” was the real punishment. I said in a high school address: “The Hindus have a saying: ‘As a calf will find its mother among a thousand cows, so your sins will find you out among a thousand rebirths.’ The Christian Scripture expresses the same idea: ‘Be sure your sins will find you out.’ You are not punished so much for your sin as you are punished by your sin. Sin and its punishment are the same.”
O God, our Father, we do not break Thy laws, we break ourselves upon them. They break us. The payoff is in us. It is our “wages,” what we earn when we serve sin. Dear God, redeem us from ourselves, for we are our chief punishment. Amen.
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY
I do not ask for exemption from the operation of God’s laws, for if I do, I ask for exemption from salvation.