The Wages of Failing to Do the Right Thing (When We Know Better)… Is Death

I’m always looking for simple ways to present the Gospel (the “good news”), so that I’m ready when and if the opportunity arises. A verse that I like to use to help someone understand what sin is, is James 4:17…

James 4:17 (ESV)
So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.

This scripture reference really brings sin into perspective. Sin (I’m paraphrasing)… is failing to do the right thing when we know better. No one can say (in good conscience) that they have their entire lives, always avoided failing to do the right thing when they knew better. In other words, at some point we ALL have not done the right thing when we knew what the right thing to do instead was.

However frequent our not doing of the right thing might be for each one of us, the first half of Romans 6:23 puts into perspective how serious failing to do the right thing is (when we know better)…

Romans 6:23a (ESV)
For the wages of sin is death…

In case you didn’t catch it, let me make the point another way. Suppose that we replace “sin” in this verse with what James 4:17 says what sin is…

Romans 6:23a (ESV)
For the wages of whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it is death…

That’s a powerful statement.

Have you ever considered before that death is the result of failing to do the right thing when you know better?

Think about it…

Every time we avoid what we know to be the right thing to do in a given circumstance (regardless of how big or small it might be in our own mind), death is what awaits us. That should give us pause. When we read…

James 4:17 (ESV)
So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.

…and combine that with what Romans 6:23a says…

Romans 6:23a (ESV)
For the wages of sin is death…

…the gravity of not doing the right thing when we know better really starts to hit home.

However, as hopeless as the picture being painted here is, there is hope. Look at the second half of Romans 6:23…

Romans 6:23 (ESV)
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Christ’s Call

It is not only important to share with people what the wages of sin is, but it is also vital to share how the payment of those wages can be avoided. Death does not have to be the end for the sinner. After we have clarified for the listener what sin is, we must then offer hope. We must make it clear that “eternal life” is the other option and that it is found in Christ Jesus. He is the only way to escape the wages of our sin… death.

This is what Jesus told the grumbling scribes and Pharisees, who made it seem like they always do the right thing…

Luke 5:27-32 (ESV)
After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.” And leaving everything, he rose and followed him. And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them. And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

A Reminder for Us (Christians)

And… whenever we catch ourselves entertaining the notion that we always do the right thing, we should revisit these verses…

1 John 1:8 – 2:1 (ESV)
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.

Godspeed, to the brethren!

Check out my NEW book! (click here)

2 thoughts on “The Wages of Failing to Do the Right Thing (When We Know Better)… Is Death”

  1. The ways carnal man fails to please God are endless. We have no claim to being His unless we are clothed in His righteousness. Ain’t no way to get that unless one has ears to hear and the Lord opens his ears to do so. Preach it!

    Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.