The wages of sin is death Romans 6:23
Wages – Sin pays! Paul desperately wants us to see that sin is the paymaster of living our way. Sin gives you your wages for your time and effort. It’s just that the wages sin pays are death.
Too many times we read this verse as a statement about God’s punishment for our sins. But that is Greek thinking, not Hebrew thinking. In the Greek legal system (like ours), punishment is separate from guilt. We go to court. We are found guilty. Then we receive a sentence, the punishment. This view see sin in two parts: act and consequence. But this is not Hebrew thinking.
The Hebrew view recognizes that sin is both deed and consequence. Sin automatically includes its own wages. Wages are the inevitable byproduct of the deed. So, if I work for the paymaster of this world, I will automatically earn what sin pays for my labor; namely, death. This is the natural law of the universe. Actions always include their consequences.
Because we have a Greek view of sin, we think that forgiveness can separate us from this natural order. We are forgiven of the guilt, so we assume that God erases the consequences. Not so. The consequences of my actions carry on, even when the guilt is forgiven. Jesus died accepting the inevitable consequences of my sin. He exempted me from the punishment by substituting his body for mine. Sin still paid, but it paid him instead of me.
Even when the eternal consequences have been paid for by Jesus, quite often the temporal consequences still fall on me. That’s why my being forgiven might still mean that I go to jail, get hurt or suffer loss. I put the consequences in motion as soon as I commit the sin. I can often restore the damage, but I can’t erase it.
The point is riveted home with Paul’s choice of the Greek word opsonion. It comes from the action of buying what we eat. Sin buys you a meal called death. When you sin, you are quite literally spending what you earn on eating your own destruction, both here and in the future. When you sin, you’re buying garbage.
What meal are you buying today?