Last week, Guy started us on a series based on the evangelism tool known as the Roman Road, which essentially walks us through some key verses in Romans that explain our need for salvation, how we receive salvation, and the effects of surrendering our lives to Christ.
For many reading this, the temptation is to let your eyes and ears glaze over for the next few weeks and wait for something more applicable in the future because you’ve been saved and know the answers to the test questions.
But I ask you not to check out and to see the relevance of this series to both the saved and the unsaved, the churched and the unchurched alike.
Let me explain:
Last week’s verse was Romans 3:23 (ESV), which reads, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
FOR ALL HAVE SINNED: that’s me, that’s you. Every one of us has sinned and need the blood of Jesus to wash us clean so that we can stand before God and be declared righteous.
If you are like me, you experienced God’s grace and forgiveness for the first time in your life a long time ago and have been living as a child of God for many years.
I was the kid who went to church camp in 3rd grade who started the week as an average kid who cussed around my friends and snuck bad cartoons when my parents weren’t around and came out of camp a changed kid who was now unpopular at school for being “too religious” because I shared my faith every chance I could get and constantly invited people to my church.
So I hear you. For most of us, we are long past the “salvation point” in our lives and are well into growth and maturity and fruit-bearing.
But I implore you to pay attention to the verses we are teaching you and the different steps of the Roman Road because there are people in your sphere of influence who are dying to hear it: dying to know the truth and experience the freedom that comes from following Jesus from now until eternity.
The gospel is useful in the life of the believer from salvation until death because it reminds us of the work that God did in our hearts and lives – of the clean slate he gave us through grace – and it sends us out to share the salvation story with others.
That’s why Guy coined the phrase “We are sinners saved and sent to share the salvation story.”
And this is why we are here. This is why Punxsutawney needs our church. This is why you need to hear this: because these verses will equip you as an individual to do the greatest, most important work you could ever aspire to: leading others to Jesus Christ. Teaching them how to follow Jesus will change their lives, marriages, finances, and families forever. These verses will equip you to share your faith effectively.
Today’s main passage leads us one step further down the Roman Road.
It is found in Romans 6:23 (ESV), and it reads “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Reading this verse as a person who does not have a relationship with Jesus should bring fear into your heart because God doesn’t mince words here, and his judgment is final. A life of sin leads to death, to a place of darkness, of separation from God, of eternal suffering. It also leads to a lifetime of death – of never knowing true peace or joy because you are disconnected from the source of everything good in this life. But it should also give you hope because the solution to this problem is simple – forming a relationship with Jesus Christ and allowing him to wash you clean and new.
Accepting this FREE GIFT of God and allowing him to transform your entire life; to fill you with peace and joy and strength that like you have never known before.
If you are reading this verse as a person who has experienced God’s grace and surrendered your life to Jesus, this verse should elicit two responses from you:
- A hunger to share
A “Serious” Contrast
The context of this verse falls in the midst of a series of contrasts. If you look at the surrounding chapters and verses in Romans, you see
- Romans 5:12-21 – Death in Adam but Life in Christ
- Romans 6:1-14 – Dead to Sin but Alive in Christ
- Romans 6:15-23 – Slaves to Sin or Slaves to Righteousness
- Romans 7 – Life under the law verses life in the Spirit
Paul, the author of Romans, repeats this theme of death vs. life, slavery vs. freedom to drive home the point that SIN IS SERIOUS.
The book of Ezekiel in the Old Testament demonstrates this point very clearly.
Ezekiel was a well-known priest during the time of the exile. Israel had been scattered and taken into captivity by the Assyrians more than 100 years earlier, and at the time Ezekiel is writing, Judah (the southern kingdom where Jerusalem was located) had recently been captured and exiled by King Nebuchadnezzar of the Babylonians. In the beginning of Ezekiel’s prophecy, God gives him a vision of God’s throne and the judgment that he is pouring out on the Israel and the nations of the world. Ezekiel is commissioned by God as a watchman for Israel to declare their sin and God’s judgment so that the people will choose to repent and live.
Ezekiel spends nearly 40 chapters proclaiming God’s wrath and judgement against Israel and the nations because of their sinful behavior. They had worshipped idols and mixed the worship of the one true God with the worship of pagan gods and idols that required perverse, sexual rituals, child sacrifice, and the consumption of unclean foods. The people twisted God’s words and completely neglected the laws he had given them, they oppressed the poor and took advantage of the meek. Many of them were ruthless, violent people who were filled with lust and selfishness.
And God, who cannot tolerate sin, brought them low. He took away everything of value to them and let them into slavery.
Ezekiel 18:4 says “Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine; the soul who sins shall die.”
Doesn’t this sound eerily familiar? Romans 6, our previous verse, declares that the “wages of sin is death.”
Because our God never changes, this truth was real and relevant when Ezekiel wrote roughly 600 years before Jesus walked the earth, and it is still true today.
God despises sin. He always has, and he always will!
Romans 6:20-21 (ESV) says, 20“For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21”But what fruit were you getting at the time from the things of which you are now ashamed?
Many of you, like me, resonate well with this. You know the shame that comes from the guilt of a life separated from God. You know what it means to be trapped in a pattern of sin and addiction that promises freedom and fun but leads to emptiness and brokenness. You know what it means to be slave to the sin that binds you, constantly going back to it like a dog to its vomit. Stuck in the cycle, never feeling peace or contentment or joy but instead constantly spiraling downward.
For the wage of sin is death – in this life, and in the next.
But Here Comes More Hope!
22”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.”
But praise be to God, if you are like me, you have something to be thankful for because you also resonate with the second half of that passage. You have experienced the grace of God through forgiveness in Jesus’ name and you were set free from the things that bound you for so long. You have been made new through Jesus and now you are a slave to God, bearing the fruit of sanctification (moving toward holiness and gaining victory over sin) and the promise of eternal life
You and I have so much to be thankful for! And this is why we must preach the gospel to believers and nonbelievers alike: to remember the life were saved from, to encourage one another with our testimonies of God’s goodness, and to share this hope and freedom we have found with others.
Ezekiel 18 further parallels our verse from tonight by concluding in verse 32 with this statement from God: “For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God, So Turn and Live.”
God’s deepest, most heartfelt desire is for the world to know this truth! That he cannot tolerate sin, but that he provided the FREE gift of eternal life through a relationship with Jesus Christ for all who would ask.
He desires that we would all TURN AND LIVE!
And if you have received that free gift, if you have turned and chosen to live, then not only should you be grateful for what God has done in your life, but you should have a sincere hunger to share the gospel with the world around you.
Sincere Hunger to Share
It is your calling, duty, and privilege to tell the world – your friends, family, co-workers, and everyone else in your sphere of influence, how to experience life and freedom through Jesus.
And we must remember that this is a FREE gift. God doesn’t say change your attitude, kick the habit, fix your marriage, get your problems under control, and then you can have life and forgiveness.
Instead, he simply says “TURN AND LIVE.” This is a free gift through Jesus Christ. We must honor the heart of these Scriptures and stop expecting everyone who walks through our doors to live a squeaky clean life. We have to stop trying to teach our unsaved friends and family members how to modify their behaviors so they might measure up. And we have got to stop excluding people from our friends and social circles because they don’t play church properly – chances are, if a person attends church but doesn’t show any signs of having a relationship with Jesus in their lives, no symptom of a heart transplant caused by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, they probably don’t know Jesus, even if they sit in the pew next to you every week! For these people in our lives, we must show them the power of Christ in our lives through our words and actions and explain to them that:
(Rom. 3:23) All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (i.e. none of us is good enough), and (Rom. 6:23) the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
God desires that no man should die but that all would turn and live!
Offer salvation to those who don’t know Jesus.
For everyone else, myself included, we must take these truths, express our gratitude to God for the work he has done in our lives, and go and share it with the people in our lives who need to hear it. We hold the key to hope and freedom for the world.
We just have to share it.