Following is the third of weekly devotionals that will be posted throughout the Lenten season. May these reflections encourage and help you as you repent, reflect, and prepare to celebrate the resurrection of Christ. Thank you to Natalie Crowson for today’s post.
But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. —Romans 6:22-23, ESV
The wages of sin is death. Really? It seems like a pretty heavy penalty. What happened to an eye for an eye? All things considered, isn’t Romans 6:23 just overkill (pun intended)?
When sin entered the world, the consequence was spiritual death, being separated from perfect friendship with God. But sin also led to physical death. The world and its inhabitants are now subject to decay. We know this from our own experience.
We will all die because sin entered the world. This is God’s justice and God’s justice is rooted in himself, in his own perfect righteousness. But what about love? Isn’t God supposed to forgive and forget? How can his justice outweigh his love?
The most climactic moment in history is when God’s love and God’s justice are put on display at the cross. When Jesus, fully God yet fully man, dies a true human death on the cross, God is equally declaring justice to be satisfied all while showing the extent of his love. In one decisive blow, we see that the wages of sin is death, Jesus’s death. God’s perfect love and perfect justice come together in one man, at one place, in time and history.
To be honest, it’s pretty easy to forget the magnitude of the cross. Downplaying sin is almost a pastime. Our sinful natures are so predisposed towards self-justification that “making excuses” should be an Olympic event (see Genesis 3 for the first attempt). But at the cross we are constantly faced with the reality of our sin. If God had to take such drastic measures to deal with sin, it must run deep and it must be serious.
During this season of Lent, let’s ponder again God’s justice and love displayed at the cross. For those who trust Christ, the cross is a reminder of our deep need for him. But it’s also a guarantee that we are no longer slaves to sin and death. We are slaves to God and happily so for he has freely given us himself.