Comeuppance is one of those old timey words we hardly hear anymore. Like “tomfoolery” or “Cake eater” (unless you’re a fan of the original Mighty Ducks movie). Even though we may not say the word “comeuppance,” we definitely understand the sentiment. Most of us spend a lot of time either thinking someone got what they deserved for their actions, or wishing that they would. After all, why should someone else get away with something you would never be able to?
That idea of justice, of getting what you deserve, is at the heart of the second step on the Romans Road. We started last week looking at a few verses in the book of Romans that help us understand (and hopefully tell others) the good news of Jesus Christ.
Step 1 – Understanding that we are sinners
“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”
Step 2 – Our sin deserves death, but God provides an alternative
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
The book of Romans is written much like a legal brief. Paul presents his arguments, builds a case, then anticipates and answers questions the reader might have. That’s what he does a few verses earlier in chapter 6.
“What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!”
Paul knew that once people heard about the grace of God, they could see it as a “get out of jail free” card, an opportunity to sin all they want. After all, God would just forgive them! Paul ends his argument against that idea with the statement, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” He offers two options to the person who is considering their sinfulness.
The wages of sin is death
The key word is “wage.” It might be easy to replace that word with something like “result,” which wouldn’t be wrong, necessarily. But it doesn’t paint a complete picture. Living a life as a slave to sin will result in death, but why? That’s the important question, that’s why Paul uses the idea of wages, or payment.
Our sin is work. It’s an action or a thought or an inaction that earns something. According to Romans 6:23, when we clock out at the end of a long day of sinning, our paycheck, the thing we’ve been working toward the whole time, is physical and spiritual death.
That’s an important distinction because one of the most popular objections to the gospel is the idea that people are basically good and deserve good things. The truth is something far different. Not only are we all sinful (remember step 1?), but we’ve been collecting our paychecks since birth. Here’s what Paul says about it in Ephesians:
“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”
You see, we all started out spiritually dead, and that’s what we deserved. That’s our comeuppance. And if the verse stopped there, this world would be a Shakespearean tragedy where everyone dies. Thankfully it doesn’t!
But the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord
Eternal life is so special precisely because it is not what we deserve. While our sin requires death, God’s free gift of salvation through Christ removes that requirement. That’s the idea of justification and you can read more about it here.
Here’s the important takeaway: while we don’t deserve anything but death, God, in His infinite grace, freely offers a better way. Your sin was paid for by Christ’s death so it doesn’t have to be paid for by yours. All you have to do is respond, which is step 3 …
By Rob Trahan