What is the Misery of that Estate Whereinto Man Fell? (Part 3)

Question 22c- What is the misery of that estate whereinto man fell?

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Rom 6:23 ESV

For the wages of sin is death, By sin, is meant every sin, original sin, actual sin, every kind of sin, lesser and greater: the “death” which sin deserves, is a corporeal death; which is not owing to the original nature and constitution of men; nor merely to the divine appointment; but to sin, and the decree of God, on account of it; which is inflicted on Christless sinners, as a punishment for sin, though not on believers as such, because Christ has took away the sting and curse of it: a death of diseases and afflictions also follows upon sin, as its proper demerit; which are properly punishments to wicked men, and are occasioned by sin in believers: there is a death of the soul, which comes by sin, which lies in an alienation from God, in a loss of the image of God, and in a servitude to sin; and there is an eternal death, the just wages of sin, which lies in a separation of soul and body from God, and in a sense of divine wrath to all eternity; and which is here meant, as is clear from its antithesis, “eternal life”, in the next clause.

Now this is “the wages” of sin; sin does in its own nature produce it, and excludes from life; it is the natural issue of it; sin is committed against an infinite God, and righteously deserves such a death; it is its just wages by law. The Greek word οψωνια, signifies soldiers’ wages; see Luke 3:14 and in “At which time Simon rose up, and fought for his nation, and spent much of his own substance, and armed the valiant men of his nation and gave them wages,” (1 Maccabees 14:32) Sin is represented as a king, a mighty monarch, a tyrannical prince; sinners are his subjects and vassals, his servants and soldiers, who fight under him, and for him, and all the wages they must expect from him is death. So the word is interpreted in the Glossary, μισθος στρατιωτικος, “soldiers’ wages”; and so it is used by the Jewish writers, being adopted into their language; of a king, they say, that he should not multiply to himself gold and silver more than to pay אספניא, which they interpret by חיילות שכר, “the hire of armies”, or the wages of soldiers for a whole year, who go in and out with him all the year; so that it denotes wages due, and paid after a campaign is ended, and service is over; and, as here used, suggests, that when men have been all their days in the service of sin, and have fought under the banners of it, the wages they will earn, and the reward that will be given them, will be death: and it is frequently observed by the Jewish doctors, that חטא בלא מיתה אין, “there is no death without sin”: sin is the cause of death, and death the fruit and effect of sin:

but the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. These words, at first sight, look as if the sense of them was, that eternal life is the gift of God through Christ, which is a great and glorious truth of the Gospel; but their standing in opposition to the preceding words require another sense, namely, that God’s gift of grace issues in eternal life, through Christ: wherefore by “the gift of God” is not meant eternal life, but either the gift of a justifying righteousness, or the grace of God in regeneration and sanctification, or both, which issue in eternal life; the one is the saints’ right and title, the other their meetness for it: so that as death is the wages of sin, and is what that issues in, and brings unto, eternal life is the effect of grace, or what the grace of God in justifying and sanctifying his people issues in; even a life free from all sorrow and imperfection; a life of the utmost perfection and pleasure, and which will last for ever: and as the grace of God, which justifies and sanctifies them, is “through Christ”, so is the eternal life itself which it brings unto: this is in Christ, comes through his righteousness, sufferings, and death; is bestowed by him, and will greatly consist in the enjoyment of him. All grace is the gift of God, and is freely given, or otherwise it would not be grace; particularly the justifying righteousness of Christ is the gift of God; and the rather this may be meant here, since the apostle had been treating of it so largely before, and had so often, in the preceding chapter, called it the gift of righteousness, the free gift, and gift by grace, and justification by it, the justification of life, because it entitles to eternal life, as here:

it may be said to issue in it; for between justification and glorification there is a sure and close connection; they that are justified by the righteousness of Christ, are certainly glorified, or enjoy eternal life; and though this may be principally intended here, yet is not to be understood to the exclusion of other gifts of grace, which have the same connection and issue: thus, for instance, faith is the gift of God, and not of a man’s self, and he that has it, has eternal life, and shall, Or ever possess it; repentance is a free grace gift, it is a grant from the Lord, and it is unto life and salvation; and on whomsoever the grace of God is bestowed, so as to believe in Christ for righteousness, and truly repent of sin, these shall partake of eternal glory. It may be observed, that there is a just proportion between sin, and the wages of it, yet there is none between eternal life, and the obedience of men; and therefore though the apostle had been pressing so much obedience to God, and to righteousness, he does not make eternal life to be the fruit and effect of obedience, but of the gift of the grace of God. [Gill]

“‘Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. … And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.'” – Mat 25:41, 46 ESV

Then shall he also say unto them on his left hand, The goats, the foolish virgins, and slothful and wicked servants,

depart from me: a like expression is used by him to preachers of the word, and professors of religion, that are mere nominal ones. Matt 7:23 and such are intended here, who professed to be on Christ’s side, had been in his visible church, and hoped to have been with him for ever; but having nothing but the lamp of a profession, and some external works to trust to, they are bid to be gone from him; they are banished his presence, which is what is commonly called the punishment of loss; the loss of the presence of God, Father, Son, and Spirit, angels, and saints; and is thought to be greater than the punishment of sense, hereafter expressed. The character given of them, which is the reverse of the former, is,

ye cursed; for having sinned against God, and his righteous law, they are cursed by it, which curses everyone that is under its works, as these were, and do not perfectly fulfil whatsoever it requires; and so were justly rejected of God, and hated by him: and therefore are condemned and sent,

into everlasting fire: by which is meant, the wrath of God; and the phrase expresses the intolerable fierceness of it, and its perpetual continuance; the sense of which, without intermission, will ever be felt in the conscience; and is the punishment of sense, the wicked will for ever endure: it may also intend the pit and prison of hell, where these torments will be for ever inflicted; and so hell is called by the Jews, the hell עלם יקידות, “eternal fire”, or “everlasting burning”: and is here said to be

prepared for the devil and his angels; for Satan, or Beelzebub, the prince of devils, and all his principalities and powers under him: it is not said to be prepared for these persons, though it was, and who were foreordained to this condemnation, but for the devil and his angels; showing, that the same punishment will be inflicted on hypocrites and carnal professors, as on the devils themselves; and it is indeed of such, that the devouring fire, and everlasting burnings are spoken, in Isa 33:14, to which this passage seems to have some respect; for no where else is mention made of this everlasting fire: it is not said neither when it was prepared. It is a notion of the Jews, that the angels were created on the second day; and it should seem by them, that they fell the same day; hence it is a prevailing opinion among them, that hell was made on the second day of the creation; though at, other times, they reckon hell among the seven things which were created before the world was, and which may be reconciled together: for as heaven, the place of the saints’ happiness, was prepared from the foundation of the world, or on the first day of its creation, though the happiness itself was provided long before; so hell, the place of the torments of the devils and wicked, though it was not made or prepared until the second day of the creation, when, according to this opinion, the angels were made and fell; yet the punishment they were to endure there, was appointed before the world was; and so hell is said to. עלמין מן מסדרא, “be ordained from eternity”, because of their sins.

And these shall go away into everlasting punishment, Their excuses will not be regarded, their pleas will be of no avail, their pretensions to interest in Christ, and love to him, will be set aside; the sentence will remain irrevocable, and there will be no appeal from it, for there is no higher tribunal to bring the cause before; judgment having passed, the execution of it immediately follows: these goats, or formal professors, shall be obliged, whether they will or not, to depart from the presence of Christ; the angels will be ordered to take and cast them into everlasting burnings; they will be driven by them into hell, the place appointed for them; where they shall endure נצחי עונש “everlasting punishment”, as the Jews also express it; and that both in soul and body, as the just desert of sin; which being committed against an infinite God, cannot be satisfied for by a finite creature; who therefore must ever bear the punishment of it, because its pollution and guilt will always remain:

but the righteous into life eternal; such as are justified by the righteousness of Christ, and who, though they have done works of righteousness under the influence, and by the assistance of the grace of God, yet have not depended upon them, but upon Christ, for life and salvation: these shall go into heaven, the place appointed for them, to enjoy that eternal life in soul and body, which is the free gift of God, through Christ; and will be a life free from all the sorrows of the present one; a life of perfect holiness and knowledge, and inconceivable pleasure; a life of vision of God, and communion with him, and which will continue for ever; and which ascertains the eternity of the punishment of the wicked: for as the happiness of the righteous will be eternal, the punishment of the wicked will be so too; for no reason can be given why the word which is the same in both clauses, should be taken in the one for a limited time, and in the other for an eternal duration. The Jews have a saying which agrees with this last clause, “the world to come is not made but for the righteous”,

Answer – All mankind by their fall lost communion with God, are under His wrath and curse, and so made liable to all miseries in this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell forever.

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Photo Credit: Malik Earnest on Unsplash

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