“Wrestling With Romans”
The Devil’s Payoff (Chapter 6 Verses 15-23)
This is a simple summary, putting it all briefly (v23). He presents us with two ways, which lead to two different destinations (Matthew 7.13-14). One ends in life and the other in death. It is the wages of sin, not sins that produces death. That one sin (Romans 5.12), and the pollution caused by it, original sin. It is as though Paul personifies sin here, a kind of master who has used us, employed us, and who intends to pay us our dues, our wages. The wages are the same for all his employees, all who serve this master, and they are death. It is spiritual death, separation from God in this life, followed by physical death which is separation of soul from body, then finally eternal death. Irrevocable separation from God. Death in the Bible is far deeper than simply the dissolution of the body. It is sinfulness, guilt, and inward corruption, with all the unspeakable miseries that flow from them. That is the payoff, when you have finished serving the sin-master, one package, pensioned off, eternal death and his pension fund never dries up, there are…things that are never satisfied, yea,….the grave (Proverbs 30.15-16). You say that is not much of a package, who would have signed a contract like that? Adam did (Romans 5.12) for us all. He was our Shop Steward he represented us, negotiated the deal and accepted it on behalf of us all. You say, well, he could have got a better deal than that. Of course he could, the same offer was made to him by God, two ways, life or death, obedience or disobedience, sin or righteousness, he made the wrong choice, sadly, for us all. We need a better Negotiator.
Whether we are slaves to sin (v20) or slaves to God (vv2, 8), both imply work on our part, our works serve simply as evidence of what we are (Matthew 25.31-46). It is what we relate to that shows whose slaves we are, if we continue to serve sin-power then we are obviously earning sins wages. If we have died to sin, we are in a new relation to God as his slaves. Men do not gather grapes from thorns, neither do men reap life from sin, you cannot have God and have sin too, you cannot serve two masters, one must go, so whom will you serve? There are two choices? This is a life and death issue. The upshot of all this is, that every Christian ought to flee from, drop the idea of ever playing with sin again (v15). Yes, the wages of sin is death, but we can never, never say that the wages of righteousness, our righteousness at least, is eternal life, could we? That would turn salvation into works (vv15-17). No, it is grace, gift, free gift all the way, a given righteousness:
Grace first contrived a way,
To save rebellious man;
And all the steps that grace display,
Which drew the wondrous plan (P. Dodderidge)
No, not wages, we did not deserve the least of his goodness, not a bit.
(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1997)