The Wages of Sin and the Gift of God
Romans 6:23 - 7th Sunday after Trinity - August 3, 2014

“The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Dear baptized of God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. We don’t have to look far to see the wages of sin. A visit to the cemetary shows clearly the payment of sin. Every single person there, is there, because of the wages of sin, for “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”

We don’t always like to think of ourselves as sinners. That’s certainly the wisdom of the world at work. Everything is about how great we are, what we can do, what we can accomplish. How we can impress with how smart we are, or how hard we can work, or how much money we can earn, or how successful we can become. And don’t you dare ever say that we need a Savior from sin, because that’s a sure sign of weakness, and failure. If we do fail, let’s just sweep it under the rug, and try to hide it, or blame it on someone else, or the way we were raised. Never admit you’re wrong, unless of course we’re caught red-handed, and it will help to improve our public image to give a public apology. Then we can be sorry for getting caught I guess.

But no one can hide from the wages of sin. The cemetary is pretty clear proof of that fact. Yet, believers in Christ, we don’t have to hide from acknowleding our sin. We don’t have to live in fear of the consequences of sin. “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” The wages of sin is death, but your comfort and assurance is that Jesus already paid the wages of sin, and He paid them in full.

The Word of God is clear: believers in Christ, you have been made free from sin. It’s not that we no longer sin, or become sinless in this life – yet Christ makes us free from sin, free from having to serve it any longer, and free from the eternal consequences of it, as Christ took upon Himself the wages of sin for us. “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Believers in Christ, this is for your assurance, for your comfort and the strengthening of your faith – the gift of God cannot be bought. It cannot be earned. We cannot expect to try really hard in order to be rewarded with this gift, and we thank God we don’t have to try to earn it, otherwise, how could we ever be certain that we had done enough? A gift is freely given, without strings attached. “By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

Many still think that they can climb the ladder of good works to heaven. Jesus says that many will say to Him on the last day, “Look at what all I’ve done for you Lord” And He will say, “I never knew you, depart from Me.” That’s because we cannot make up for the bad things we’ve done. Only Christ can, and only He has. Yet many forfeit Christ in favor of their own attempts to earn God’s acceptance.

But the wages of sin is death. Even one sin condemns. “Whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” Therefore, “By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” Christ came that we might have hope, not in our own vain attempts to earn salvation, but in His perfect life, death, and resurrection. “The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Christ took upon Himself the wages of sin so that we don’t have to, so that we might live eternally.

Sin isn’t only an action, or a failure to act, it’s also a part of our nature. Trying to be sinless is like trying to remove DNA from our cells. David says, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” Much like a genetic flaw, it’s been passed down to our children from the beginning. “By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin,” because, “The wages of sin is death.”

This is the reason why even the most faithful find themselves failing in thought, word, and deed, no matter how hard they try not to. It may not seem fair that we’re born with such a horrible defect as sin, yet, it’s not God’s fault that we fell into sin. And it’s not His fault when our sinful nature rears it’s head in thought, word, and deed.

Yet, God forgives sin for Jesus’ sake. “We were reconciled to God by the death of His Son.” God did not want to see us suffer the true punishment for our sin so He sent His only-begotten Son to be our perfect substitute. For Christ’s sake, He forgives us of everything, no matter how great our sin has been. Even the greatest of sinners can find hope and forgiveness in the cross and resurrection of Christ. God treats us as though we had never committed even a single sin because of the perfect life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. David understood this cleansing power of Christ, saying, “Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.”

This gracious cleansing takes place through God’s Word and Sacraments, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour.” And, “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.”

Believers in Christ, may we then continue in our Baptism, by remembering our Baptism. May we continue to read and hear God’s Word, and continue to partake of the Lord’s Supper. God’s Spirit works through these means of grace to give us that assurance, that the wages of sin have been paid in full. Jesus promises, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” In Jesus’ name, Amen.