Today’s Reading: Romans 6:19-23
The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:22–23)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Adam earned his wages when he ate the forbidden fruit, and death has reigned ever since. Adam was the first, but you have earned your wages, too. Death is coming for you. Death is what you have earned for your sins.
How foolish, then, is the idea that anyone could earn salvation. And yet, that is the one thing religions apart from Christianity have in common. All non-Christian religions, and sadly, even some who claim to be Christian, teach ways you can save yourself, whether by obedience, sacrifices, right worship, or going after a kind of intellectual or spiritual enlightenment. Even those who claim no religion at all seek to make themselves righteous by strongly (and sometimes obnoxiously) supporting the latest social causes of the day. They may not even believe in God or in heaven or hell, but with religious enthusiasm they try to make themselves righteous through activism.
The Holy Spirit, speaking through the writings of Paul, demolishes all such schemes. “The wages of sin is death.” If you have sinned, even once, then you have already earned your wages, and they will be paid. “The soul who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:20). If you wish to escape this fate, it will not be the result of anything you do, because everything you do is done by a sinner. Salvation, then, cannot be achieved, won, or earned by you. Instead, it is achieved, won, and earned by Jesus and then given to you. And it’s given freely, because there is nothing in you worthy of the gift. To be sure, it’s good, even demanded, that we “learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, and plead the widow’ s cause” (Isaiah 1:17). These things are good, but they are not Jesus. Only Jesus can save.
Receive salvation from Jesus. Rejoice in it. Thank the Lord and praise His holy Name. Study the Bible and grow in wisdom, understanding, and good works. Serve your neighbors and bless them. But never forget that “the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Thy love and grace alone avail To blot out my transgression; The best and holiest deeds must fail To break sin’ s dread oppression. Before Thee none can boasting stand, But all must fear Thy strict demand And live alone by mercy. (“From Depths of Woe I Cry to Thee” LSB 607, st.2)
-Rev. Jeffrey Ware is pastor of All Saints Lutheran Church in Charlotte, NC.
Audio Reflections Speaker: Rev. Duane Bamsch
Christians need to aspire to being people of THE faith. Not just any will do. In Faith Misused, Dr. Alvin Schmidt shares his case for a Christian reclaiming of the word “faith” from its ambiguous modern uses. Now available from Concordia Publishing House.