Romans 6:23


Monday, 3 June 2013

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

The term “gospel” which equates to “good news” implies that there is bad news. The concept of being “saved” implies that there is something to be saved from. These are truths that are clearly and carefully laid out in the Bible. The creation and fall of man are recorded to show us that there is a problem which needs to be fixed. The Bible then shows the on-going process of working toward that fix. Here in the last verse of Romans 6, we see as clearly as can be presented, the contrast between the bad news and the good news, the state of loss and the salvation from it, and also the way that these things are realized.

“For” treats the following words as an axiom – “the wages of sin is death.” The Bible proclaimed it right at the beginning and this rule has never changed; it is as if it is set in stone. There is nothing unfair or arbitrary about this. It is simply the way it is. In Ezekiel 18:4, it says, “The soul who sins shall die.” This is what Adam was told and it is what every person who takes God at His word confesses. Nothing more than what is promised comes about – sin equals death. It is the exact and just punishment for the offense.

“Wages” are what is earned. We go to work and we expect to be paid. They are not grace, but are rather the just payment for a given work.

“Sin” is a missing of the mark. It is not meeting a set standard, but rather violating that standard. Sin can be inherited, such as when Adam sinned. His sin has been transferred to every person who was born of man; his unrighteousness is imputed to each of us. Sin can also be committed. Any violation of God’s standard is sin and any infraction of God’s law breaks the entire law (James 2:10).

“Death” is what results from sin. It stands in opposition to life. This is the bad news. We have earned our wages and the sentence has been executed. We have received death because of our sin. The death noted here is “spiritual” in nature. Physical death is merely a result of spiritual death. This is certain because when one is “born again” it is spiritual in nature. We are already physically alive and, unless Jesus comes first, we will physically die. Therefore, the death is spiritual and the “born again” life is also spiritual.

Despite this bleak situation, there is a resounding note of hope as the word “but” is introduced. “But the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” This little word “but” brings in a contrast to what was just noted.

“The gift.” Wages are earned; a gift cannot be earned. If one attempts to pay for a gift, it is an offense to the giver and it negates the nature of the gift. Therefore, this is something which cannot be earned by our merits or labors. It is an act of grace. Adam Clarke states it this way, “A man may Merit hell, but he cannot Merit heaven.”

“Of God” indicates the source of the gift. An individual’s personal effort is the source of his wages. Man believed the lie of the devil and then took action by his own will. He ate (his work); he died (his wages). In our “but” God has done the work and has offered it to us; His work and His gift.

“Is eternal life” this contrasts death and it shows very precisely that one (death) is just as enduring as the other (eternal life). If one doesn’t receive the gift, then the death is eternal. This is the only obvious conclusion to the matter. If the life which is granted is eternal, then the death which is earned, if not reversed through the gift, will likewise last for eternity.

This superlative gift which God offers is found “in Christ Jesus.” One is either “in” Christ or they are “not in” Christ. The Bible offers no other path to God and it excludes any other path to God. There is no such thing as “Christianity plus.” It is either/or. If God were to allow any other path to reconciliation apart from the cross-death of His Son, then it was the most pointless gesture ever made. To be “in” Jesus then can be explained by His own words in John 14:6 – “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

Jesus’ statement is exclusive of any other remedy. There is nothing arbitrary about it, nor is it unfair. Fair is getting what one deserves and therefore “fair” is death. This is our just desserts. Grace bestowed upon one and not another isn’t unfair; it is grace. Jesus explains this in His parable of Matthew 20:1-16. To be “in Christ” is to have received God’s gift. To not be in Christ means to receive the earned wages.

Concerning those who are “saved” prior to the cross, such as Abraham. Their salvation looked forward to the work of Messiah; ours looks back on it. But all who are saved come through Christ Jesus and none come apart from Him.

A point about gifts must be made. A gift is something that is offered and which must be accepted. If, as Calvinists teach, one is “regenerated” in order to believe, then they are saved before they are saved; it is no gift at all. The Bible never teaches this doctrine. Instead, it teaches that man is fallen and dead spiritually. We can do nothing to revive ourselves from this dead state. But it is a category mistake to say that we can’t “see the gift” and receive. We may be spiritually dead, but we are not mentally dead. We see the good, we receive the good, and are then regenerated to spiritual life. A forced gift is no gift; forced faith is not faith; and imposed grace is not grace.

The final portion of Romans 6:23 states “our Lord.” Christ Jesus isn’t “a” Lord, as if there were others. Christ Jesus isn’t a created being to whom we fall in praise and adoration, thus committing another sin by denying God the glory that He alone is due. Christ Jesus is God. He is the Incarnate Word of God. He is the full expression of God in a form that we can understand. He is “Lord.”

Romans 6:23 is a verse which will never be fully exhausted in how it can be discussed and contemplated. It demonstrates the immense wisdom of God, the glory of Christ, and the beauty of reconciliation through the gift of His life, death, and resurrection.

Life application: Take time to memorize this verse and to think on it from day to day. Always be ready to cite and explain it so that others can grasp the wonder of the gospel message; our Good News.

Heavenly Father, as sure as I know anything else, Your word contains truths which are eternal in nature. Adam sinned and immediately after that a promise was made – that the Seed of the woman would undo what we had fouled up. Every page after that continues to work towards that Promised One. I may not know it all, but I know who He is. Thank You for the coming of Messiah. Thank You for Jesus! Amen.



Romans 6:22


Sunday, 2 June 2013

But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. Romans 6:22

As so often occurs in the apostle’s writings, “but” is introduced. It is given as a stark contrast from the previous thought in 6:20, 21. Reflecting on all three verses will allow for a fuller comprehension of this contrast –

“For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.”

What was once true is no more: The bonds which confined us have been removed. The sin that infected us with corruption is replaced with holiness. The master who assured only rewards of punishment has been exchanged for God who rewards with grace and love. What once condemned us is swallowed up in salvation. Everlasting life has replaced eternal death. All of this is tied up in “but.” It is the glory of calling on Jesus Christ as Lord.

We have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God. Because of this, one could ask, “Isn’t this then exchanging one type of bondage for another?” No. The answer is because God is infinite. In Him, there is no true confinement. Being a slave to God means sharing in His infinite stream of love, grace, mercy, truth, and holiness. There is no bondage where there are no bounds which limit our movement. Becoming a slave of God is to become the freest being of all.

Jesus told us this in John 8:34-36 – “Jesus answered them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.'”

Life application: Because we have believed and stand justified, we should behave and become sanctified. Of what use is the old self? Of what use is sin? It is bondage and confinement, but in Christ is freedom and expanse. Live now as if eternity has been realized in you, because it has.

Lord, if sin is bondage and confinement, then holiness must be freedom and movement in broad places. If sin brought in death, then righteousness must surely restore life. If the devil is our master of condemnation, then You, O Lord, are our Master for salvation. The work is done and I receive it by faith. I look to the cross for my freedom and restoration.  Amen.

Romans 6:21


Saturday, 1 June 2013

What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. Romans 6:21

Paul’s question is asking about having fruit, not so much the quality of it. The quality naturally goes along with what the source of the fruit is. This can be seen in Jesus’ words found in Matthew 17:16-19 –

“You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

Elsewhere in the Bible, it’s noted that thorns and thistles end up in the fire, just as those who bear bad fruit will end up in the Lake of Fire. These agricultural concepts are given because anyone can figure them out. No one would pick up a thorn bush and start chewing on it and expect to get delightful nourishment from it. And so Paul asks his reader to think things through. If you were a slave to sin, of course only bad fruit would result. It isn’t possible that a tree which is by nature bad could somehow produce fruit contrary to its nature.

Adam Clark states it this way: “God designs that every man shall reap benefit by his service. What benefit have ye derived from the service of sin?”

The answer is that the bad tree will, of course, bear that which is bad. The reaping then is one which is intended for death and destruction. We will see this concept reintroduced in chapter 7 as well –

“For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death.” Romans 7:5

If we are a slave to sin, then our passions will work in our members to death. Think of whatever sin you wish. In the end, it always leads to death because it is destructive to the body and the soul. But more importantly than the physical death is the spiritual, eternal death which is a result of being a slave to sin. The life of sin is ultimately a life of death.

If we have become a slave of righteousness (meaning having been saved by Jesus), then why would we continue to entertain the life of sin? It is contrary to our new nature. Those things we were ashamed of when we called on Christ are no less shameful now, so don’t allow your life and your actions to be returned to the very bondage from which you were purchased.

Life application: A spiritually alive being living in a spiritually dead way is a self-contradiction. If you have been born again by the Spirit of God, then you should endeavor to live in newness of life. You will bear fruit from your labors. What type will they be?

Heavenly Father, in Your wisdom you made each tree to bear its own fruit. Some bear good and some bear bad. Before, I bore fruit which showed the type of tree I was and it wasn’t pleasant. But then came Jesus and then came a change. What could once only be bad can now be pleasant and sweet. Help me to bear that which honors You in Your garden of delight. Amen.

Romans 6:20


Friday, 31 May 2013

For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. Romans 6:20

This is a simple truth which was looked at in 6:19 and which continues in 6:20. A slave has one master and therefore the ruling authority of that master is absolute. Before we received Christ as Lord, we were slaves to sin and we were free from the master-ship of righteousness. But when we moved to Him, we were freed from sin. Error in the mind of man is easily introduced during an evaluation of these verses though. There are people who are not Christians who do really great stuff for others, for their community, for the sake of animals or the environment, etc.

And of course there are Christians who fail at any or all of these things. Their lives actually changed little after coming to Christ. This sets up a false belief in people that Christ doesn’t really make anyone holy. The problem with this is that it is dealing with the slave in regard to the master, not the master’s authority over the slave. The example from 6:19 was that a slave went from his previous owner, Stevius Romanus, to a new owner, Sergious Maximus. Regardless of how the slave acts, he has become the legal property of Sergious Maximus.

This is what Paul is speaking about here. Slavery to Stevius Romanus is synonymous with freedom from Sergious Maximus; slavery to Sergious Maximus is synonymous with freedom from Stevius Romanus. Now simply change the ownership titles and say the sentence again –

“Slavery to the devil is synonymous with freedom from Christ; slavery to Christ is synonymous with freedom from the devil.”

It is the ownership which has changed. The slave now has a responsibility to change his life and habits to the new owner. If he fails to do so, it in no way changes the ownership. The title to deed to our slave has transferred.

Life application: Who are we going to please, our Master who loved us so much that He gave His life to have authority over us, or our old master who cares so little about us that he desired our destruction? Think it through – everything the devil had to offer was pleasing on the outside and yet rotten on the inside. Why would we want such fruits when the life Christ offers is pure and good, from the inside out?

Lord, as I sit with my thoughts, I realize that everything around me is so perfectly placed and organized. I get thirsty and there is water, I get hungry and there is food, I get tired and there is sleep. New things come out of the ground to replace that which was pulled up. It rains and everything turns vibrant green. It’s all so perfectly arranged. You are great, O God. Amen.

Romans 6:19


Thursday, 30 May 2013

I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness. Romans 6:19

Paul begins with an idiom of the time, “I speak in human terms…” This was a way of saying that what he is telling them, and the way he is saying it, is done in order to make the argument easy to grasp. It would be like us today saying, “Let me say this so even a child could understand.”

As noted in the previous verse, Paul has used the personification of sin and of righteousness to help us more clearly comprehend the state and circumstances in which we find ourselves.

The people of Rome would clearly understand the symbolism of slaves and masters. If a person is a slave to Stevius Romanus, then he would present himself to Stevius in a distinct way; as to his rightful master. Stevius likes foot rubs at noon each day and so the slave does this. However, the slave is bought by Sergious Maximus who finds foot rubs vulgar (and a bit too tickly) for his liking. The last thing that the slave would do would be to grab Sergious by the foot at noon and start rubbing. It would be contrary to his new ownership. Sergious would be displeased and there would be consequences – especially if the disobedient foot rubs continued.

This is the thought process which Paul is using. We were slaves to Sin. Sin liked uncleanness – dishonesty, sexual perversion, gluttony, etc. Because Sin was our master, we presented ourselves in this “state of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness.” However, a new master has taken over – Righteousness. Now that we have this new master, we would be completely unwise to present ourselves to Righteousness in this way. Rather, he demands that we present ourselves as his slaves “for holiness.”

The owner of a slave has the power of rule and authority over their slave. Disobedience may result in punishment, imprisonment, or death. And it is so with us now. As a saved believer, if we turn from Righteousness to Sin, through sexual immorality for example, we may catch a disease resulting in pain, confinement from others in society, or even death. Righteousness was abandoned and Sin did its evil work in us.

Having said this, it is important to understand that Righteousness is still our master. Just as the slave remains the property of Sergious regardless of his conduct after being purchased from Stevius, so we remain the property of our new master. We have moved from the rightful ownership of the devil to that of Christ. For this reason, we are expected to present ourselves to Christ in the manner which is pleasing to Him. He is a gentle, caring Master and as our Creator, He knows what is best for us.

Life application: In Christ, you have a new Master. He has certain expectations of you which you are expected to fulfill. He asks us to be obedient because He knows what is best for us. Endeavor to live in righteousness and not as if you were still a slave to sin.

Lord God, I was in a state of slavery to sin and wretchedness. Even in this condition, You bought me back and gave me the garments of righteousness. As your servant, give me the wisdom to do that which pleases You, shunning my old master and living under the tender care and right living of my Redeemer. Guide me for Your name’s sake. Amen.