“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” —Romans 6:23
The reign of death and sin is very bleak news, but jump to Romans 6:12 and something has clearly happened. Paul writes, “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.” What has happened to prevent sin from reigning in our bodies when we are told we have a sinful nature we cannot escape?
In contrast to the reign of sin and death, Paul introduces the reign of life. There is only one antidote to death and that is life. Paul writes, “For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!” (Romans 5:17).
Many people believe at the heart of the gospel is forgiveness. That is necessary, but it is only a means to an end. At the heart of the gospel is life—new life imputed to us the moment we come in humble repentance to Christ. Forgiveness brings redemption, but new life brings regeneration, which is new birth. Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again” (John 3:3). When we are born again of the Spirit of God, we are the recipients of new life and with that comes new appetites and new empowering, because we now have the life of Christ indwelling us.
When Paul says that the gift of God is eternal life, the gift is God Himself. Eternal life has no beginning and no end. There is only one eternal life and it is the life of God. If our natural condition is death, the gift of God is eternal life received through faith in Jesus Christ. Paul tells us, “…for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfil His good purpose” (Philippians 2:13). Evidence of a genuine conversion to Christ is new appetites, desires and motivation God places in our hearts. If we limit our understanding of the gospel to being forgiven and going to heaven, we will find ourselves sliding back into our old ways.
We are reconciled to God by the death and resurrection of Jesus in order that we may be saved by His life. The reign of life is the eternal life of God put back into human experience. It does not mean sitting back passively and allowing it to just happen, but a genuine seeking of God and a deeper sense of His presence.
Dear Lord Jesus, I am grateful for the life I have in You. It gives me peace and confidence to know that in every day and every situation, Your life lives in me. Thank You, Lord.