************ Sermon on Romans 6:23 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on September 3, 2000
"The Wages of Sin"
The Judge pounds down the gavel. "Order!" he thunders. And the courtroom comes to a hush.
The defendant is Man. The charge is "Total Depravity and Corruption." The evidence is Auschwitz. Buchenwald. Somalia.
"Guilty!" cries out the jury -- the men, women, and children who suffered or died in these places of horror.
"Guilty!" cries out the angels, witnesses to every unspeakable act.
'Guilty!" cries out God, the Judge Who always does right. "Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels."
Why? Why does God condemn mankind? Why are people sent to hell?
Our text for this morning answers this question for us. Paul says:
(Rom 6:23) For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.This is the summary of the Gospel. This is the Gospel in a nutshell. All that we need to know to get through life and to face death is found in this text.
I want us to consider this text as we prepare our hearts to take the Lord's Supper next week.
I The Wages of Sin
A Paul says to us, "the wages of sin is death." Paul speaks of wages. Wages are something you earn. They are something you have coming. Justice demands that the laborer be given his wages. That is why the Bible warns employers to pay the wages of a hired man. In most states the law demands that employees always be paid. When a company goes bankrupt, the right of an employee to be paid comes before the government's right to collect taxes, a creditor's right to seize assets, or a share-holder's right to get his investment back.
Paul talks to us this morning about "the wages of sin." I am sure you get the point. In the same way as an employee has a right to his or her wages, so the sinner has a right to his or her wages. In the same way as justice demands that an employee be paid, so justice demands that a sinner be paid. In the same way as it would be unjust, and therefore wrong, to defraud the laborer of his wages, so it would be unjust, and therefore wrong, to allow the sinner to go unpaid.
B "The wages of sin is death." Just like an employee deserves her paycheck, so the sinner deserves death. That's what our text is telling us.
"The wages of sin is death." This is nothing new. This was announced in the Garden of Eden already. Do you remember what God said to Adam when he placed him in the Garden? He said,
(Gen 2:16-17) "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; (17) but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die."God announced – way back at the beginning of time – that the wages of sin is death.
Therefore, when Adam sinned he brought death upon himself. He brought two kinds of death upon himself: a physical death and a spiritual death.
C "The wages of sin is death." The result of Adam's sin was physical death. Physical death means the separation of body and soul. Remember the curse pronounced by God upon Adam? He said,
(Gen 3:19) "By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return."Adam lived 930 years, says the Bible, and then he died. He died a physical death. His soul separated from his body.
"The wages of sin is death." Sometimes this phrase is used to explain what happens to notorious sinners. When Jeffrey Dahmer, the serial killer from Milwaukee who ate parts of his victims, was beat to death with a pipe more than one person said, "The wages of sin is death." Almost a decade ago Magic Johnson admitted he had AIDS because of a promiscuous, irresponsible lifestyle. "The wages of sin is death." When a serial killer is put to death by lethal injection we want to say "The wages of sin is death."
"The wages of sin is death." We are wrong if we only use this phrase to explain the death of Jeffrey Dahmer, the AIDS of Magic Johnson, or the execution of a convicted murderer. For, when it comes right down to it, every single death is the result of sin. Every single death is a reminder of God's curse. From God's point-of-view every death is necessary and no death is surprising or arbitrary. Go through the obituary column in the newspaper. Behind each name you can write, "The wages of sin is death."
D The result of Adam's sin was also spiritual death. Spiritual death means the separation of man from God. Do you remember what Adam and Eve did when they fell into sin? They "hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden" (Gen 3:8). Suddenly man was scared of God. Suddenly man could not stand to be in the holy presence of God. Suddenly man was ashamed and could not measure up and was unworthy. Man was separated from God.
Remember also how God chased Adam and Eve out of the Garden? He drove the man out from His presence. Man was separated from God.
God is life. To be away from God means to be away from life. To be away from God means to be in the presence of death. And, to be eternally away from God means to be in the presence of eternal death. In fact, that is what hell is like. Separation from Himself is God's eternal punishment upon those who are unrepentant sinners: "Depart from me, you who are cursed," He says, "into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels" (Matt 25:41). Hell means to be eternally separated from the presence of God.
"The wages of sin is death." Many people object to this teaching. They think it is unfair and unjust of God that people end up in hell.
Topic: HellHow true! Men send themselves to hell. It is what they earn. It is what they deserve. Jesus is never at fault because a soul goes to hell. Never! Never! No soul confronting Jesus in that great and awful Judgment day can ever say, "I am lost through your fault." None can ever say that to Him. For don't forget, "The wages of sin is death."
A man said to a minister one day, "I do not like your Savior".
"Why?" the pastor said.
The man said, "Because He sends men to hell."
The pastor replied, "I have never heard of Him sending anyone there. Men send themselves there."
E "The wages of sin is death."
Here is a riddle: What do ministers, teachers, hermits, presidents, and prisoners have in common? The answer is sin. But many people don't see this. And many people don't believe this.
If you were to do a survey in Visalia, you would run across many people who think they are "good." And if they would admit to sin, they would call themselves "good sinners." Many people here generally think of themselves that way. They would tell you that they haven't committed murder or anything. That they don't hurt anyone.
Topic: SinInteresting, isn't it? No one broke the seventh commandment; but all sorts of people had extra-marital affairs. No one was a sinner; but all sorts of people had a fling. No one wants to believe that the little bit of wrong they have done is going to reap death.
Subtopic: Wages of
Title: Adultery or a Fling
A radio station decided to do a poll. They asked listeners to call in who have committed adultery. Not one person called in.
Then they asked any listeners who have had an affair to call in. The phone lines were swamped.
But sin is real. And its punishment, its wage, is also real.
None of us, congregation, are "good sinners." All of us, congregation, deserve the wages of sin.
II The Gift of God
A I said earlier that our text is the Gospel in a nutshell. That it is a summary of the entire Gospel message. But so far I have only given half of the message. "The wages of sin is death." That is the first half of the Gospel message. Here is the second half: "But the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
We earn death. We deserve death. We bring death – physical and spiritual – upon ourselves. But eternal life is a gift. It is a gift of God. This means it is unearned, undeserved, unmerited. We do nothing to get it. We do nothing to deserve it. We do nothing to merit it. It is a gift, a present, a favor.
B "The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Eternal life is God's gift "in Christ Jesus our Lord." You know what this means? It is a reference, a pointer, to the cross. You see, Jesus faced death, eternal death, so we wouldn't have to. Jesus suffered the anguish and torments of hell so we wouldn't have to. Jesus suffered separation from God – remember those three awful hours of darkness, remember that cry of "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" – Jesus suffered this separation so we wouldn't have to.
C "The gift of God is eternal life." Even as we could speak of two kinds of death, so we can speak of two kinds of life: physical life and spiritual life.
Because of Jesus, we who are spiritually dead are made spiritually alive. Because of Jesus, we are no longer cut off from the presence of God. Because of Jesus, we – like Adam – can talk with God and enjoy His presence. Because of Jesus, we can look forward to a time when the dwelling of God is with men, when He will live with them (Rev 21:3). Because of Jesus we have spiritual life.
But that is not all. Because of Jesus, those who physically die will one day be made physically alive. Our bodies will be raised and will never again die. Our bodies will be raised and God will wipe every tear from our eyes. Our bodies will be raised and there will be no more mourning or crying or pain (Rev 20:11f and 21:4).
"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
This coming week you are to prepare yourself for the Lord's Supper. As you prepare, I want you to think about your own sin and the judgment of God upon that sin. Every time you sin, I want you to repeat to yourself, "The wages of sin is death."
But, like Paul, don't leave it there. Think also of the rest of the Gospel: "but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
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