Thursday, September 14, 2017

Holiness and Eternal Life

"But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:22–23).

As Romans 6 draws to a close, Paul speaks of the consequences of our lives. In verse 21 he writes, “What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death!” Think back, Paul says, to the days before Christ turned your life upside down. What good did that life do for you? It could only lead to death and shame. By way of contrast, in Christ you are now reaping benefits that result in eternal life.

Romans 6 ends with a glorious summation of the Gospel in verse 23. Paul says that “the wages of sin is death.” You were a slave of sin, but you were a slave who earned some wages. Wages are given in response to merit. What did you merit from your sin? What did you earn? Paul makes it clear: You could only earn death.

On the other hand, “the gift of God is eternal life.” Notice that life is not earned but is given freely by God. You once lived as a wage-earner to sin, but now you live a life that is graciously given apart from merit.

At first glance it looks as if verse 23 contradicts verse 22 which says that eternal life is the end point of the fruit of holiness and righteousness. Holiness and righteousness are the result of yielding as a slave to Christ. But this does not mean that eternal life comes to us as a result of our earning it through righteousness. Rather, the entire process, from conversion to glory, is a gift of God. Our salvation is gracious from beginning to end. All that we have is of God’s grace, from regeneration to glorification.

As Romans 6 comes to a close, consider this: God assures you that your old life is dead, and that you have full access to a new life. Are you taking advantage of this gift? Are there areas in your life—behavior patterns, relationships, secret desires—that you know are incompatible with the new life in Christ? Take time to ask the Spirit of God to bring before your mind things that need to be changed, and then resolve to live in the newness of the resurrection life that is guaranteed you in Christ Jesus.