"For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom. 6:23). It is not written that the wages shall be death, but the passage we have before us, penned by divine inspiration, by God's finger, is, "The wages of sin IS death." "She that lives in pleasure," the Scripture again says, "is dead while she lives." Dead in trespasses and in sins. It is a sad and most horrible fact that there are millions and thousands of millions of people going about this earth dead in their spirits! Dead to God! Dead to virtue! Dead to truth! Dead to purity! Dead to righteousness! DEAD!
I speak not, therefore, concerning a death that is to come. I speak of the wages, OPSONIA, which in the original means the reward of a soldier, the Wages of a man who is fighting as a soldier; Wages he has earned, as a patriot fighting for his King and his country; or Wages which he has received as a mere mercenary soldier, fighting for the pay which a tyrant might give him for his work in destroying life and property and liberty to put a usurper in power. The meaning, therefore of the word is Wages for a military man. The free gift of God is the reverse of this. God's soldiers do not receive the LIFE OF THE AGES as Wages, but as a free gift.
The first warning against disobedience is, "In the day that you eat of you shall surely die." The words "you shall surely die" are often translated " dying you shall die," or "you are dying to die." That is, "dying" is a process, and "to die" is the final act or event in the process. When Adam sinned it was life that he lost; it was death and dissolution that he received.
The word "death" means vastly more than this old dilapidated body going to the grave; it means the whole condition and state of being of the man outside of Christ. May God make this truth real to your hearts!
"The dead know not anything" (Eccl. 9:5). Furthermore, the dead see not anything, nor do they hear or feel anything. How can a natural man who is dead in trespasses and sins hope to see or understand the things that belong to the wonderful realm of life, since death has closed his eyes to them? It is Christ and Christ alone who raises the dead, making men alive to God and the realm of the Spirit. It matters not to Him nor to His resurrection power whether those dead be corpses buried in the earth or whether they be men walking on top of the ground, dead while they live. "Let the dead bury the dead," said Jesus, because He understood the mystery I seek now to explain. Well did the Son of God know that outside of Him both the man who was being buried and the men who cast the earth into his grave belonged to the realm of death and were alike dead!
Death takes in this whole dreadful realm of sin, weakness, fear, sorrow, pain, heartache, rebellion, strife, war, sickness, torment, sadness and trouble in which men walk without the peace and joy and transforming power of God in their lives. Men need to know that they are dead and that the wrath of God abides upon them. "But," you may ask, "what is the wrath of God?" I must reply that the wrath of God is death! "The soul that sins, it shall die," is the edict of the Lord. God's wrath against sin is manifested in the death of the sinner, a Christless death in which he is dead to God, dead to Christ, dead to virtue, dead to truth, dead to purity, dead to righteousness, dead to peace, dead to joy, dead to reality, dead to promise, dead to hope. He abides in this death throughout all the decades, centuries, or milleniums of his existence until Christ comes into his heart. It was this very truth that Jesus was making clear to us when He said, "He that has the Son has life, but he that has not the Son of God has not life; but the wrath of God abides on him." The wrath of God is death. Though such an one should live in the extreme fullness of earth's pleasures, yet HE IS DEAD while he lives, a stranger to Christ, a stranger to spiritual things, and an enemy of God.
The same death of the body is the condition of our soul and spirit as we come into this world."
Jesus raised three people from the dead during His years of ministry, and each of these stands as a picture of the condition of those who are raised out of the death of the carnal mind into the life of the Son of God.
All men are born sinners; and the wages of sin is death. But Jesus became a sin offering for all men, He carried those sins to the cross, and that ends the matter. And there, because He actually atoned for ALL those sins, He actually "ABOLISHED DEATH." To abolish is to do away with entirely. Death is no more. That is God's estimation of the fruit of Christ's redemption! "Our Saviour Jesus Christ, who HAS ABOLISHED DEATH, and has brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel" (II Tim. 1:10). - J. Preston Eby