“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23
Sin. It is a problem that affects us all. One way or another, big or small, all of us are masters at finding ways of breaking God’s standards and rebelling against Him. Regardless of if you are prepared to acknowledge it we all do it. We all lie. We all have our idols. They may not be statues made of wood or bronze any more but we still worship and exalt things like money, sex and power. We may pride ourselves on not committing adultery but we have those lustful looks. We have clicked on the links and watched the videos. We may have not physically killed anyone but we have used our words to destroy another’s reputation, to belittle or ostracise someone made in the very image of God simply because we disagreed with their politics.
All of us sin. And though sin gets downplayed in today’s culture of tolerance for everything and anything, sin is a big deal. Because God is holy. And holy and sin can’t co-exist. So the result of sin is death. Eternal separation from God. That is the state we all find ourselves in – facing death because of our sin.
And many people have heard that part of the Christian message. They have heard that God hates their sin and they are going to hell because of it. It gets screamed in their face by well-meaning street-preachers. And that is true. God hates sin. But they have completely missed the message. Our message to the world doesn’t stop with the wages of sin is death – there is an all-important comma.
The comma changes everything. If it stopped at ‘the wages of sin is death’ then we would be without hope. The comma gives us hope. The comma offers life – eternal life – as a free gift from God. The comma is there because of the cross. As Jesus gave up His life on the cross it made it possible for our story to not end with sin leading to death. The cross introduced a comma to our story. The comma changes everything. Now we sinners can have hope. Our sin does not need to result in eternal condemnation. There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ! While we were still sinners condemned to death Jesus entered the scene, dying to introduce a comma to our story. Dying so we may become justified by His blood. Dying so that sin would no longer bring a full-stop to our story. We were dead in our sin, but God has made us alive together with Christ (see Ephesians 2:1-7).
The comma promises eternal life. Abundant life. It promises joy and offers hope in all situations for we now that no matter what we face it if our trust is in Jesus then our current circumstances will not bring a full-stop to our story – there is a comma. There is the promise of eternal life. Everlasting life united with God our loving Father in heaven. When we grasp the fact that there is a comma then we have grasped the full message of the gospel. We were dead, but God entered the story. We were sinners, but Christ died for us. We were headed to hell, but now heaven can be our home. The comma changes everything!