The Final Outcome - Romans 6:23

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23).

 

In this study, our focus is upon Romans 6:23, and it brings to summation the sixth chapter of Romans. To remind you, Paul has been painting a contrast between what we once were before salvation, and what we are now in Christ. What we once were was a slave of sin. Our mind, affections, and even will was in bondage to sin. We were held captive to obey our old, cruel master, sin. But when we were born again, the miracle of regeneration brought about an extraordinary change in our life. In that moment, we were liberated from our slavery to sin and were immediately transferred into a new slavery with a new Master, the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

This new slavery is a wonderful, glorious slavery because everything Jesus commands us to do is His good, acceptable, and perfect will. Our obedience to Him leads into the fullness of blessing for our lives. He is such a loving Master, who provides for all our needs. He guides us, directs us, and walks with us for every step of life’s journey. Being the salve of Christ is the greatest slavery that we could ever know or experience.

 

As we come to the end of Romans 6, Paul completes this contrast between slavery to sin and slavery to Christ. He sets in stark contrast one more juxtaposition – death and life. Slavery to sin leads to death, while slavery to Christ leads to life. Paul began to explain this in verse 21 when he wrote, “For the outcome of those things,” which refers to our former slavery to sin. The “outcome” of this slavery for every unbeliever is “death.” However, in verse 22, Paul says the outcome of being enslaved to Christ is eternal life. In verse 23, Paul takes verses 21 and 22, ties them together into a tight knot, and gives us the summation. He says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (verse 23).” This verse is one of the most well-known and divides out so perfectly into two halves. The first half is, “for the wages of sin is death.” The second half is, “the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” We will begin by looking at the first half, which deals with the wages of sin, and conclude with the latter half.

 

I. The Wages of Sin (6:23a)

 

The apostle Paul begins, “For the wages of sin is death.” The word “wages” (opsonion) simply means ‘the payoff.’ It referred to the payment given to a soldier for his service in the military. It is the payment of wages to the one who has worked hard to earn it. “Wages” are the opposite of a gift. The former is merited, while the latter is unmerited. The one who is in this works-based system receives wages, or a paycheck. He receives from his master exactly what he has earned and deserves.

 

For example, if a worker labors in a field for a full day, he will receive a full day’s pay. He should not be recompensed for a half day’s pay. Neither should he be rewarded with a day and a half pay. He should receive exactly what he has earned, no more and no less. He should be paid exactly what he deserves. His wages due are given in perfect equity, and is absolutely fair.

 

In this first economy in which “the wages of sin” is earned by the unbelieving sinner, he will receive exactly what he deserves. He has been working for sin all his life. He has been under the mastery of sin. He has lived for sin. His sin is lawlessness, rebellion, and anarchy against God. It is a violation of the Law of God. When he sins, he has earned death.

 

Sin is committed in one of two arenas, in one of two ways. One arena is what he is on the inside – his mindset, attitude, heart. The other is what he is on the outside – his actions and deeds. Jesus taught in Matthew 5 that if a man even looks upon a woman with lust in his heart, then he has committed adultery in the eyes of God. This is true even if the act was never performed. Further, Jesus taught that if a man has hatred in his heart toward another person, then he has committed murder before God. Sin begins in the heart, even if the deed is never accomplished. Those are the two arenas – one is internal and the other is external.

 

In addition, the two ways we sin are by commission and omission. The sin of commission is doing the evil that you are forbidden to do. God says, “You shall not,” and rather than hitting the break, you push down on the gas pedal and plow right on ahead. You are running stop signs with no regard for what God forbids. That is a sin of commission, in which you do what you are forbidden to do. The other sin is a sin of omission, where you fail to do what you are commanded by God to do. We all sin both with internal attitudes and external actions. Likewise, we do the evil that we are forbidden to do and fail to do the good that we are commanded to do.

 

Two Deaths

Every member of the human race has accumulated a massive payment that is due for his sin. The wages earned for our sin is far more than any of us can even imagine. Paul states emphatically, “The wages of sin is death” (verse 23). The “death” in verse 23 is eternal death, which is contrasted with eternal life mentioned in the latter half of the verse. This is the second death, spoken of in Revelation 20:14-15. The first death is physical death. No one is spared this death. Unless Christ returns in our lifetime, even Christians we will die the first death. However, Christians will never die the second death. Those who die in unbelief will reap the wages due from a lifetime of sin. The deserved payment for their sin is eternal death, which means eternal damnation and eternal torment.

 

The First Death

I want to walk us through some verses that reinforce that from the very beginning of time, the wages of sin has been death. This truth being taught by Paul is nothing new. In the second chapter of Genesis, God says, “But from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat” (Genesis 2:17). Consider how God put Adam in a perfect world. He had the whole world at his disposal to enjoy. There was only one tree from which he could not eat. It was the goodness of God that said he must not eat of this tree, because when he did, Adam would obtain the knowledge of evil. His mind will become polluted and spiritual darkness will set in. We are to be innocent of evil and knowledgeable of what is good (Romans 16:19). It was a good God who put a firewall of prohibition around this tree. Adam was lovingly warned by God not to eat from this tree, because it will defile and darken him.

 

Then God assigned the penalty, which is a just penalty. It is not a harsh penalty that is overly obtrusive, but is equitable and just. God said, “For in the day that you eat from it you will surely die” (Genesis 2:17). So what did Adam do? That was the very tree from which he chose to eat. In the day he ate from it, he died. He died immediately spiritually, and he began to die progressively physically and emotionally. It would take many years until the physical death became reality, but the aging process began immediately. Emotionally, he also began to die on the inside of his soul. When God appears in Genesis 3 asking, “Where are you?,” Adam was filled with fear and dread toward God. There was a severe breach in their once intimate relationship. The fellowship was severed.

 

How could it be restored? It was the goodness and mercy of God that took the initiative to restore their relationship by killing an animal and clothing Adam with its skins. This was a foreshadowing of the Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world. This was a picture of the free gift of God, which is eternal life.

 

What we need to see is that just one sin committed against holy God is enough to damn the soul of any sinner. God is that infinitely holy and that absolutely sovereign. He is so high and lifted up that just one sin against Him will send a person to hell forever. We have no idea how flagrant our sin is. It is cosmic rebellion against God. It is cosmic treason, high-handed anarchy against God. And God takes it very seriously, far more seriously than any of us take sin. From the very dawn of creation, we see that the wages of sin is death.

 

“The Soul Who Sins Will Die”

This death penalty remained on the books. As human history unfolded, it is not as though it has been written off the books. God had certainly not forgotten this. In the book of Ezekiel, we see that there is the direct accountability of every soul to God, who declared, “Behold, all souls are Mine. The soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine. The soul who sins will die” (Ezekiel 18:14). That is exactly what God said to Adam, and it still had binding force upon the life of every person in the days of the prophet Ezekiel. God announced to every person, “Your soul is Mine and you are directly accountable to Me. If you sin, you will die.” To further reinforce this, God repeated it, “The person who sins will die” (Ezekiel 18:20). The Judge of heaven and earth has declared the death penalty for sinners.

 

In the New Testament, we read the same severe punishment for sin. In Romans 1:18, Paul writes, “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.” Mankind has committed flagrant sin against God. They have exchanged the knowledge of God for a lie and worship a creature (verse 21). So God gave them over in judgment to the lusts of their hearts and sexual impurity (verse 24). Then, God gave them over to degrading passions, to homosexuality and lesbianism (verse 26). Finally, God gave them over to a depraved mind (verse 28). Further, Paul gives a long list of their sins in verses 29 and 30. The human race is filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil, envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice, gossip, slander, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents. Finally Paul says, “those who practice such things are worthy of death” (verse 32). The gavel comes down from the Judge of heaven and earth. The verdict and punishment remains the same. The soul that sins will die.

 

“Death Through Sin”

Subsequently, later in Romans, Paul adds, “Just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin” (Romans 5:12). Sin paves the highway that death travels into our lives. When we sin, death inevitably follows. Sin and death are a package deal. “Death reigned from Adam until Moses” (verse 14) because all sinned. “For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one” (verse 17). It is transgression, or sin, that brings death. The end of Romans 5:21 says, “sin reigned in death.” The two are inseparably bound together. Sin always brings death.

 

In Romans 8, Paul later writes, “for the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death” (verse 2). Sin and death are twin sisters, always living together. They are the two sides of the same coin. We see the same throughout Romans 8 in verses 6, 10, and 13. Sin and death are inseparable.

 

We see the same message in the book of James. “Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death” (James 1:15). Lust brings forth sin, and sin brings forth death. This unbreakable chain is found throughout the Bible. So, as we come to Romans 6:23, we should not wonder as if this connection between sin and death is anything new. It is not a new teaching from Paul. The first preacher of this was God Himself in the Garden of Eden. It was God who said, “In the day that you eat of this tree you will surely die.” It continues throughout the entire Bible to the book of Revelation.

 

A Just Punishment

It is important for us to note that not all sin is the same. Some people commit sins that are more egregious than other sins and earn a greater paycheck. The Mosaic Law operated under the principle of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. This simply meant that the punishment should fit the crime. For some sin, all you had to do was replace what you stole. But there were other sins that were far more serious, and they required the death penalty. If a person takes someone’s life, the government must take that murderer’s life. That is the only way justice can be served. This is the basis for all legal equity, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.

 

In Hebrews 2:2, the author writes, “every transgression and disobedience receive a just penalty.” Every single individual transgression will receive the corresponding punishment. Not all transgressions will receive the same penalty. Some transgressions are greater, and they will receive a greater punishment. Some transgressions are less, and they will receive a less punishment. Our own judicial system is built upon this principle of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. If you jaywalk, you should not get the death penalty. Justice requires that you only receive a $50 ticket. But if you pull out a gun and intentionally shoot seventeen people in an elementary school, you should not receive a $50 fine. Such a cold-blooded murder should receive the death penalty seventeen times over. Every crime is not the same, and every punishment is not the same, because God is just and equitable.

 

By way of another example, if I give you a dollar, what is equitable is that you give me four quarters in return. If you give me three quarters, that is unjust. If you give me five quarters, that is also unjust. The crime and the penalty must match up. Only then will every transgression receive a just penalty.

 

If we say that all sin is the same, that would mean that God is unjust and does not operate an equitable kingdom. God does not give the same punishment for every sin. Among those who live their life as a slave to sin, for some, it will be more severe in the judgment than for others. Hell will be hotter for some than for others. Because God is perfectly just and inflexibly equitable, He does not give the same paycheck to everyone. Some have earned a far greater judgment and damnation than others.

 

A Greater Accountability

Jesus Christ taught this very truth. In Matthew 10, the Lord sent out His disciples to be itinerate evangelists. They were to go from city to city preaching the gospel message. Jesus told His disciples, “whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet. Truly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city” (Matthew 10:14-15). Sodom and Gomorrah was the most vile city on planet earth, and God literally smote it out of existence. Fire came out of heaven and God consumed the entire city, and it is now buried under the Dead Sea. God completely wiped it off the map. Jesus said that it will be more tolerable for the land Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city where the gospel of the kingdom was preached, but then rejected. They had a greater light preached to them in the gospel, and they rejected it.

 

All those who have heard the gospel message and rejected it will be held to a greater accountability by God than even Sodom and Gomorrah, which was caught up in the grossest sins imaginable. It will be more tolerable in the day of judgment for Sodom and Gomorrah than for Dallas, Texas with all of the gospel voices and Bible preaching that go on in this city. The greater the light, the greater the sin when that truth is rejected.

 

A Greater Judgment

Lest you think this is an isolated verse, come to the next chapter in Matthew. “Then He began to denounce the cities in which most of His miracles were done, because they did not repent” (Matthew 11:20). Where Jesus did His miracles, He also preached the gospel. He threw open the gates of paradise and called sinners to come to Him in repentance and faith. In verse 21, Jesus warned, “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida!” The word “woe” (ouai) is an exclamation of grief. But it also carries the meaning of ‘damned, judged, or cursed.’ These two towns – Chorazin and Bethsaida – were very closely located to Capernaum, which was Jesus’ headquarter. Jesus based His preaching ministry out of Capernaum during His Galilee ministry. Choarzin and Bethsaida had the fullest exposure to the light of the gospel that He preached.

 

Jesus continued, “For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes” (verse 21). Jesus is saying, there will be a stricter judgment for those who reject the full knowledge of the gospel than there will be for these pagan, heathen places who have never heard the gospel. It is a greater sin to reject the gospel, deserving a greater condemnation. Let me say, if you are going to hell, it would be better for you to go to hell from a remote island where the gospel has never been preached than for you to do so from Dallas, Texas.

 

Jesus then added, “Nevertheless I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will descend to Hades; for if the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day. Nevertheless I say to you that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you” (verses 22-24). In Capernaum, everyone was civilized and nice to one another and religious. They had a nice little synagogue, and they lived with their families and worked hard. It was the kind of place you would want to live. But Sodom and Gomorrah? You would not have wanted to walk through those places. You probably would have been attacked by a gang of immoral people. Yet Jesus said that it would be more tolerable for the sinners in Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for those where the gospel was preached and yet rejected.

 

In like manner, it will be hotter in hell for you who have heard the gospel again and again with a full exposure to the truth, yet continue to play religious games and refuse to receive the good new. If you reject the gospel, the Bible says you are storing up wrath for the day of judgment.

 

Parable of the Two Slaves

In Luke 12, Jesus gave this parable: “Who then is the faithful and sensible steward, whom his master will put in charge of his servants… Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions” (Luke 12:42-44). You can tell who the true servant is, because he is actively doing the will of his master. Jesus said that the true believer is marked by obedience from the heart (Matthew 7:21; John 8:31).

 

Then, Jesus added, “But if that slave says in his heart, ‘My master will be a long time in coming,’ and begins to beat the slaves, both men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk” (verse 45). The idea is that this slave is goofing off, kicking back, eating and getting drunk. There is no sacrifice of himself as a slave to do the work of his master. He is not in submission to the master, but is a rebellious, treasonous slave. He refuses to do what his master has called him to do. He even got drunk, revealing that he has no care at all to do the will of his master. He cared only for a life of leisure.

 

Jesus continued, “The master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces, and assign him a place with the unbelievers” (verse 46). That assigned place is hell. This does not describe a true believer. Instead, this is a false convert, a false disciple, a Judas disciple. He is in the house, but he is not doing his master’s will. He is eating, drinking, getting drunk, and beating up the other slaves. He does not know the master. When the master comes back, he is going to cut up this disobedient slave into pieces. This master will shred him one piece at a time, and cast him into the place of unbelievers, which is the lake of fire and brimstone. Verse 47 says, “That slave who knew his master’s will,” describing that he had a full exposure to the truth. He heard gospel preaching. He had a full announcement of the kingdom of God. He “knew his master’s will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will.” He did not repent and did not obey. The result is, he “will receive many lashes.” He will have the fire beat out of him.

 

Ignorance is Not Innocence

Now look at the next verse. Jesus explained, “but the one who did not know it” (verse 48). Though he was in the master’s house, he did not know his will. He was in the house, but no one ever brought the message of the master to him. Jesus’s assessment of him was, he “committed deeds worthy of a flogging, but will receive but a few” (verse 48). This slave did not get a free pass, but received few lashes. It will be a lesser punishment in the final judgment, because he had a lesser knowledge of the truth. But he is still held accountable for that which he did not know. Ignorance is not innocence under the law.

 

Then Jesus concluded, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more” (verse 48). The idea is that he who has much truth, much knowledge of the kingdom of heaven, much knowledge of the need to repent, much knowledge of the master’s will, then much will be required from him. There is a higher accountability. The judgment is not going to be the same because God will expect far more from some than from others. It will be less tolerable for some, because they had a greater knowledge of the truth and they kept running the stop signs.

 

A Severer Punishment

The writer of Hebrews teaches the same truth, that a greater exposure to the truth brings greater accountability. If disobeyed, there will be a greater judgment. Hebrews 10:26 says, “For if we go on sinning willfully.” The idea is, a person knows the truth. The gospel has been preached to him. He hears the call to repent, but he rejects it. He puts it off and says to himself that one day he will think about repenting, one day he will commit his life to Christ. If such a person goes on sinning in unbelief, “after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins” (verse 26). What is the result of such a blatant refusal of the gospel? The author states, “But a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries…. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which He was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?” (Hebrews 10:27,29). This teaches that there are degrees of punishment in hell. There is punishment, but then there is a “severer punishment.” The punishment this person receives is “deserved.” These are the wages that he has earned by his flagrant, continual unbelief.

 

Let me make this personal. Every time you sit in church and hear the gospel, but then refuse to repent and refuse to give your life to Christ, but, rather, hurry out so that you can get to lunch or watch the football game, you have “trampled underfoot the Son of God.” This expression is a sign of disdain and total rejection. In so doing, you are also insulting the Spirit of grace, who has convicted you of sin, righteousness, and judgment. You are spitting in the face of the Holy Spirit, and you are trampling underfoot the blood of Christ. His death means nothing to you. His blood might as well be the blood of pigs. There is a severer judgment for you than for those who have never heard the gospel. They cannot trample underfoot the precious blood of what they have never heard. They will still be beaten with lashes, but with fewer lashes than you who have heard, but rejected the truth.

 

God Will Repay

Continuing in Hebrews 10, the writer states, “For we know Him who said, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay’” (verse 30). The idea here is paying wages. This man is accumulating a massive payout. This is the exponential multiplication of the payment that is coming to him. The wages of his sin is stacking up to the heights of heaven and will take him down to the depths of hell. There is a payday that is coming. The wages of sin is death.

 

In verse 30, the author of Hebrews concludes, “The Lord will judge His people.” The reference to “His people” is speaking of unconverted Jews, who have heard the gospel, but are hesitating to believe it. The book of Hebrews was written to Jews who hear the gospel, but cannot give up their Judaism. They have not come all the way to faith in Christ. They know that if they come to Christ, they will be de-synagogued. They will be put out of their family, their parents will have a funeral service and bury their clothes. They will be cut off from all their business relationships within the synagogue. They know that if they come all the way to Christ, it will cost them everything. They have heard the truth, but they continue to trample underfoot the precious blood of Christ and insult the Spirit of grace. God will judge His people. He will judge His unbelieving Hebrew people, as well as unconverted Gentile people.

 

He states, “It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (verse 31). God does not delegate this condemning judgment to someone else. He will not send down an angel to do the dirty work. Sinners will fall into the hands of God Himself, who will damn their souls forever. This eternal punishment will be fair, it will be just, it will be right, and it will be equitable, because the wages of sin is death. Deliberate sin brings damning punishment. It will be more tolerable in the day of judgment for Sodom and Gomorrah than it will be for those cities where the gospel was preached.

 

The Final Judgment

There is no good news until you know what the bad news is. The darker the bad news, the brighter the good news. You should not want this punishment that you deserve. You do not want for what you have been working and earning all your life. Revelation 20:11-12 says:

 

Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.

 

Down through the centuries, God has kept perfect books on everyone’s life. He has recorded even the sinful thoughts, deeds, and words that people cannot remember. God has kept impeccable books on every life. Every thought, every attitude, every word, every deed is infallibly recorded. On the last day, “the books” will be opened, and God will judge everyone according to their deeds. Each sinner will receive exactly what he deserves. He will receive no more, no less than what he has earned. It will be perfect justice in that last hour.

 

Unbelieving sinners will have no advocate to stand beside them in the final judgment to plead their case. They will be one-on-one with God. Paul asserts, “Every mouth will be closed” (Romans 3:19). There will be no excuses with the Lord. How can you argue with “the books?” You will agree in your own mind that the divine verdict is just. Nothing more needs to be said. According to your sin will be the measure of your punishment. The wages of sin is death, the second death from which there is no acquittal.

 

II. The Gift of Grace (6:23b)

 

In the mercy of God, this judgment does not have to be the final ending. Rather than receiving what you deserve, you can have what you do not deserve. You may have mercy and escape this final day in court. If anything is unfair, it is for the one who believes in Christ to receive what he does not deserve. That is called grace, which is the undeserved, unmerited gift of salvation in Jesus Christ. The corresponding truth of Romans 6:23 is, “the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Rather than receiving the wages of our sin, we can receive that for which we have not worked, eternal life through Christ.

 

The Certificate of Debt

When Christ died, Paul writes, He “canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross” (Colossians 2:14). What is this certificate of debt that was nailed to the cross? It is not the sign fixed atop the cross, which mocked Jesus, “King of the Jews.” That was the charge brought against Christ. He claimed to be the king of the Jews. This was considered blasphemous. Rather, “the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us” is the list of every sin we have committed and the divine punishment assigned against us. In reality, this is what was nailed to Jesus’ cross. When crucifying a criminal, the Romans would post to the top of the cross the charge against them. The government would also post the just punishment brought by the judge. For example, if they put someone in prison, they would write ‘thief’ or ‘murderer’ and hang the document on his prison door. Then, they would write beside it the punishment. They would put ten years in prison, or whatever the just penalty was. The charge and the penalty would be written on a certificate of debt. This was their debt to justice, their debt to society, and the criminal would not be let out of prison until the entire debt has been paid. Every charge, every penalty, must be paid in full. Then once they had been in their for the designated number of years, they would be taken before the judge with their certificate of debt, and he would write across it “tetelestai,” which means ‘paid in full.’ Only then would they be released from prison.

 

Paid in Full

When Jesus died upon the cross, He cried out “Tetelestai,” meaning ‘paid in full,’ ‘it is finished’ (John 19:30). God the Father took every sin that you ever committed in your entire life, from the beginning until you die, and posted it on that certificate of debt. Included was the corresponding punishment that you would pay in hell. That invisible certificate of debt was nailed to the cross for everyone for whom Jesus died. When He shed His blood, He purchased forgiveness for all of our transgressions. He paid off all our offenses in full. God did not take our sin and sweep it under the carpet. He took all of our sin, laid it upon Christ, and nailed the certificate of debt to the cross.

 

Upon the cross, Jesus suffered for every single individual sin that you and I have ever committed or will commit. Whether in attitude or in action, whether in word or in deed, whether doing what we should not have done or doing what was right but with a wrong motive, all of those sins were written on the certificate of debt, and it was nailed to the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. It was invisible. You could not see it. All you could see was the sign from the Romans, “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.” That was the charge against Him. But our certificate of debt was nailed to the cross as well. That was the charge against us.

 

Jesus, by His perfect death on our behalf, paid the wages of our sin. He paid it off completely. He paid for the whole mountain of our sins with His blood in His death. He now gives to us the free gift of eternal life. This means living eternally with the Father, forever. Eternal life is all in Christ Jesus our Lord. There is not a drop of grace outside of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is all in Him.

 

If you are outside of Christ, you will have to pay off your debt in hell forever. Or you could come to your senses and repent of your sin, and turn to Him who died in the place of sinners. Throw yourself upon His mercy, believe in Him, trust in Him, commit your life to Him, and receive, not what you deserve, but what you do not deserve, which is grace.

 

Conclusion

Romans 6:23 is a monumental verse, and there is much we could say by way of application. If we cannot worship God after hearing this, then we must be lost. The noose of condemnation that was once around our neck has been removed by the hangman. By the grace of God, we have been set free through faith in Christ. If we have received this grace, we must live for Him. If you are saved, Jesus is your Lord. If He is not your Lord, then you are not saved. Saving faith requires our submission, our obedience, our living for Him. He died for us, surely we can live for Him. No sacrifice that He could ever require of me could be too great. If He paid off our certificate of debt and has delivered me from the fires of hell forever, then everyday I should be living to bring Him honor and glory. I must bear witness of Christ and to tell others who are living without Him.

 

Are you certain that you know the Lord? Have you come all the way to Christ? Because there will be a severer punishment otherwise. If you have never believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, behold, now is the acceptable time. Behold, now is the day of salvation. If you hear His voice, do not harden your heart. Come to Christ. Believe in Christ.

 

You have listened to the truth, and God is holding you to a far higher level of accountability because you have heard the truth. It will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah than it will be for you, if you do not repent and flee to Christ. The good news is that He loves to receive sinners. His arms are wide open. He says, “Him who comes unto Me, I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37). He says, “The physician has come for those who are sick, not for those who are well.” He has come to seek and to save those who are lost (Luke 19:10). He did not die for good people. He died for bad people. He invites you to come to Himself and to believe in Him, and He will receive you. He will bring you into His kingdom and bestow on you the free gift that you could never purchase in a million lifetimes – the gift of eternal life. It is all in Jesus Christ.

Dr. Steven J. Lawson

Dr. Steven J. Lawson is President and founder of OnePassion Ministries, a ministry designed to equip biblical expositors to bring about a new reformation in the church. Dr. Lawson hosts The Institute for Expository Preaching in cities around the world. Dr. Lawson is also a Teaching Fellow for Ligonier Ministries, where he serves on its board. Moreover, he is Professor of Preaching and oversees the Doctor of Ministry program at The Master’s Seminary, where he also serves on its board. Dr. Lawson is also Professor in Residence for Truth Remains, a work designed to promote and proclaim God’s written Word. Further, Dr. Lawson serves as the Executive Editor for Expositor Magazine published by OnePassion Ministries.