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“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” – Romans 6:23

     “THE SOUL THAT SINNETH, it shall die” – this is a harsh recompense. We are apt to think of wages in terms of salaries paid to workers by their employer, but in this Scripture a much heavier meaning is conveyed. Here, the “wages” represent not money gained, but life lost. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, and after this the judgement, we must not humor ourselves in supposing this fate can be avoided. Because all men have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), death has passed upon them all (Romans 5:12). True, our modern, sophisticated society may like to pretend that death can be avoided through “progress” and forthcoming technological advancements, but they are only deceiving, and being deceived. Death is the price which every man must pay for having sinned, and it cannot be propitiated with such tawdry things as “science”, or philosophy, or ambition. If you are reading this article, you will die. You may die today, or you may exceed Methuselah’s lifespan, but eventually you will die, “for the wages of sin is death.”


Firstly, we must answer, what is this thing of sin, whose sting is death? Simply this: God Almighty has a holy law (Romans 7:12), and sin is the transgression of the law (1 John 3:4). Have you ever lied, dear reader? Then you have sinned, for “thou shalt not bear false witness” (Exodus 20:16). Have you ever stolen? Then you have sinned, for “thou shalt not steal” (Exodus 20:15). Yet sin is not confined to merely violating the ten commandments. You may not have murdered a man, but if you are angry with your brother without a cause, you are in danger of the judgement (Matthew 5:22). You may not have committed adultery, but if you have looked on a woman to lust after her, you have committed adultery with her already in your heart (Matthew 5:28). You see, in God’s sight, committing even one sin is just as wicked as breaking every one of his laws (James 2:10), and, subsequently, committing even one sin is enough to send a man to hell for eternity. I trust, then, you see that keeping the law cannot make you righteous before God, for “by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight” (Romans 3:20). Rather, the law, as the strength of sin, is a curse, for sin is not imputed when there is no law (Romans 5:13). Since the law offers a standard of absolute perfection which no man can ever satisfy, though try as he might, it is not the means of salvation, but the instrument which points man to his only means of salvation: Jesus Christ. The law shows man he is guilty before God, and directs him to the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.


Now, we have established that all men – yourself included – will die. But reserved for those who die in their sins is everlasting destruction in the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:14); this is the second death. You are as powerless to deliver yourself from the second death as you are from the first, for you must be righteous to go to heaven, and you boast only filthy rags of self-righteousness (Isaiah 64:6) which are wholly insufficient to the task. You may amend your ways, improve your life, be kind, and do good, but you cannot change that you are condemned to eternal punishment in hell for breaking God’s commandments. To avoid a second death, you must have a second birth (John 3:3), and this second birth can never come through your own efforts.

Put another way, let us imagine your soul is a dead car battery. Can that battery regenerate itself? Of course not. Only when jumper cables are fastened to a live battery does the dead battery revive. Likewise, your soul cannot be regenerated by anything you do, or have done, or will do, for your good works are dead works (Hebrews 6:1-2). Attempting to regenerate a dead soul with dead works, is as fruitless as attempting to restart a dead battery by attaching jumper cables to the steering wheel. Dead things cannot quicken other dead things. If you suppose you can work your way to heaven, you are wrong. Salvation is not of works, lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:9).

With this, many take issue. “I am sincere,” you protest. “Everything I do to go to heaven is out of sincerity.” I am sorry, but your “sincerity” does not make you righteous before God. “I am a good person,” you petition. “I help others every chance I get.” Kindness does not make you righteous before God. “I love Jesus,” you plead. “I read the Bible, pray, go to church, and have been baptized.” Good works do not make you righteous before God. No, there is NOTHING you can offer God which will pardon you from the condemnation. Now, you can convince yourself, and attempt to convince me, that I am in error, and refuse to believe what God has stated in his word, but whether you believe it or not, there is nothing you can do to deliver yourself from this terrible plight. You cannot save yourself, in whole or in part. Your sins must be paid for, and, except you be born again, you will pay for them, in hell, for eternity.


Sincerity cannot make man righteous before God. Kindness cannot make man righteous before God. Works cannot make man righteous before God. How then may man escape his condemnation? “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Whosoever BELIEVETH should not perish. Whosoever BELIEVETH is justified freely by his grace (Romans 3:24). Whosoever BELIEVETH is imputed with the righteousness which is of God by faith (Romans 3:22). Oh, my dear reader, if I could only convince you that salvation is not giving, but receiving. To wit, receiving as Savior Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, who was made the propitiation for the world’s sins (1 John 2:2), paid for their trespasses with his blood at Calvary, was buried, and bodily resurrected on the third day. There is no room for works in this equation, for it was not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us by the washing of regeneration (Titus 3:5). Therefore, a plan of salvation which commands men to work – that is, to do anything but simply trust Christ as Savior – can never be a free gift. Turning from sins is WORKS (Jonah 3:10). Making Jesus your “Master” and “Lord” is WORKS. Following him faithfully is WORKS. None of these can produce the second birth. But to him that worketh not, but BELIEVETH on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness (Romans 4:5).

Behold the simplicity that is in Christ. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to earth in the likeness of men. He was born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14), lived entirely without sin (Hebrews 4:15), died at Calvary to pay for your sins with his precious blood (1 Peter 2:18-19, Acts 20:28, Ephesians 1:7, Hebrews 13:12), was buried, and bodily resurrected on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:4). Now, if you will but trust what Jesus did for you as your only hope for Heaven, and receive him as your Savior, you will be pardoned from the condemnation under which you now toil, for “he that believeth on him is not condemned” (John 3:18). You will be washed of your every scarlet sin and your every crimson stain by Christ’s blood. You will be adopted as a child of God (Romans 8:15), your name will be written in heaven in the Lamb’s book of life (Luke 10:20), and you will spend eternity in paradise with your Savior (Luke 23:43). You will be freed from the curse of the law, from the fires of hell, from the wrath to come. In short, once you trust Christ, you are saved, and shall always be saved, since God has promised to save them that believe (1 Corinthians 1:21), and seals them with his holy Spirit of promise (Ephesians 1:13). Because you are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation (1 Peter 1:5), you can enjoy blessed assurance, for his power can never fail.


Death may well be the end of every man’s earthly existence, yet his soul is eternal, and, unless he receives Jesus Christ as his Savior, the fires of hell must be his eternal destination. But there is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1), for being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1). Do you seek peace with God, dear reader? Do you wish to receive his free gift of eternal life? Then come to Jesus now, and come just as you are, for “he that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37). And if you trust Christ as Savior, you may triumphantly declare with the apostle, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?”

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