23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (NAS)
Would you believe Moses directed a religious drama? Well, he did! It is recorded in Deuteronomy 27 and 28. Moses painted a vision of the people standing upon two mountains. One was a mountain of blessing and one a mountain of cursing. ?The Levites were to announce the works that brought God's curse upon the people. Then an announcement came as to the works that brought God's blessing.
The text for the sermon this morning divides into blessing and curses. Notice in your copy of the scripture.
Notice as these gifts are developed further.
I. WAGES: A Curse of Lostness. v 23 a.
Wages refer to the pay a person receives for the work or service they render. The Greek word here translated wages, in other places of the New Testament is translated "charges" in KJV or "expenses" in the NASV. Perhaps it would be helpful to read it with these words. The charges of sin are death, or the expenses of sin are death. However, one translates this word it is saying the devil pays his workers with death.
Dr. R. G. Lee told a story about a young man who called himself the "Kangaroo Kid." Dr Lee preached daily over the radio and this person would call or write to express all kinds of criticism and insults. They always said or were signed, "The Kangaroo Kid." One night Dr. Lee received a call from the Baptist Hospital. The nurse said, "There is a youth here in the isolation ward who is asking for you. He may not live through the night. Dr. Lee said, "Who is he?" and the nurse said, "he told me to tell you he's the Kangaroo Kid." Dr. Lee went and this young man raised up in bed and told Dr. Lee, "Tell all the youth you can that the devil pays in counterfeit money."
This verse tells us Satan has his wages. There is a charge of an expense to be paid because of sin. Do you want the curse of Satan's wages?
Notice the contrast God's blessing offers with the word "gift".
II. GIFT: A Blessing of Salvation. v 23b.
In New Testament times you could say our word gift by using one of several Greek words. The word DORON, DOREA, DOMA OR CHARISMA, could be used. The significance of this word is that it definitely involves grace. The gift can in no way be earned or deserved. It is a free gift to the undeserving sinner or a free gift to an undeserving believer. Where Satan gives wages which are deserved, God has a gift that is not deserved.
The Apostle Paul was the writer of these words. He had been a very religious person. He was zealous in his faith but he was lost. Why? Because he had not received the gift of God. He was only obtaining the wages that Satan pays.
Today are you enjoying the blessing of God's undeserved gift or are you receiving the curse of Satan's wages. The choice is yours to make.
Notice the second curse of lostness.
III. SIN: A Curse of Lostness. v 23
Sin is a curse of lostness. A person whose life style is characterized as one of sin must be a lost person. They are spiritually lost. Sin is their way of life. It may be the sin of pride as they think they can handles any situation and don't need God. In fact, their pride makes them god. It may be adultery, lying or drunkenness,. Whatever the sin, they are powerless to break its strong hold.
On one occasion I went to visit a person who had visited the church I was then pastoring. As I started up the stairs a man came out. I asked him if Mrs. Blank lived there and he said, "Yes, but you don't want to talk to her; she is a crazy woman; follow me." I went out by this man's car and he took out a bottle and said, "Let's have a drink." When I related that I was a Christian and didn't drink, he told me many things, but finally said, "I'd like to quit drinking, and many times I have taken my bottle and tried to throw it in the sewer but it won't come out of my hand."
The man had the curse of sin upon him/ I tried to witness but he wouldn't listen. Today if you have not accepted Christ as your Savior, the curse of sin has the power to enslave you. You need to turn from sin and to the Savior.
By way of contrast notice the second blessing of salvation.
IV. GOD: The Blessing of Salvation. v 23 d
God is in contrast to sin. One could define the name God as one altogether
good or one in whom there is no sin. You can have sin or God. Jesus said,
"No man can serve two masters" (Mt. 6:24). The great commandment is "You
shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul
and with all your strength. (Mt. 12:30). One cannot obey that commandment
and have a lifestyle characterized by sin. God makes a person Godly. There
is a great need in our day for persons who stand out as godly men and godly
women. They are blessings of salvation.
Recently a couple who have been attending our church were saved. Their lifestyle is different. The man is reading his Bible at work. They are deliberately working at allowing God to make them godly people.
Is your life cursed by sin or blessed by the presence of God? His presence will change your lifestyle. He will give you a desire to serve. You need to trust Him completely.
Now notice the third curse mentioned in this verse.
V. DEATH: The Curse of Lostness. v 23 e
Death refers to a spiritual condition. The persons without Christ don't hear spiritually. They can't communicate spiritually; they can't produce anything spiritually. Death is the consequence and punishment of sin. It speaks of a process and an ultimate end. Sin causes spiritual death that rules life and robs it of ifs best qualities. One could explain this concept with the words 'decaying' and 'decayed'. This process of day by day death climaxes when someone dies without Christ and is eternally separated from Him. Death is ultimately final in its separation.
When I was 20 years of age, several friends were killed in a car wreck. To my knowledge none of them were Christians. If they were lost, they were dead in trespasses and sins before that fatal car wreck.
We who are Christians need to realize folks are lost and dead in sin
even when they are seemingly alive and well. You who have not claimed Christ
as your Savior need to realize you're lost and already experiencing spiritual
VI. LIFE: A Blessing of Salvation.
v 23 f
Life refers to a spiritual condition. The person who has accepted Christ's salvation has received life. They can hear, see and communicate spiritual truth. They are alive in Christ. Jesus said, "I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly." (John 10:10). What a contrast between Life and Death.
On one occasion I heard a new Christian say, "I had no idea living was so much fun until I became a Christian. I know now how to love. My wife and my children seem different now that I'm saved. I can hear birds and see flowers and I never noticed them before Christ gave me new life."
Life is available for you today. It is in Christ. The disciple John said, "He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life." (I Jn, 5:12). Therefore, I conclude you must have Christ to have life.
Today you need to make your choice. You can be a living example of God's
grace or an example of Satan's curse. You can be like a cut flower appearing
to be alive, but dead or you can be a living plant rooted and ground in
Christ. Come make your decision today.
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And Beyond. Amen? Amen!