“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” vs. 23
Paul’s language in this section of Romans can easily be read from a dualistic perspective. Two alternatives are offered: death or eternal life, and it’s implied that the choice is ours. If we continue in sin we will die, but if we stop sinning and submit to God we will have life. For many this is a familiar message, one that they’ve heard in countless sermons. The problem is that such a dualistic reading of scripture often leads to anxiety and fear. We are pressured from our youth to avoid sin, often defined in moralistic terms, and to accept Jesus as our Savior. As a result even the best begin to wonder if they’ve done enough to obtain eternal life, and the worst just give up–given their track record they know there’s no hope. The good news is that this probably isn’t what Paul had in mind as he wrote to the Romans. There is dualistic imagery, but it’s not an either/or. Sin does lead to death–we see those consequences regularly in our world. But the free gift is for all people, the best and the worst, and our salvation has already been taken care of in Christ Jesus. All people sin, and all are saved. It’s not a dualistic system, one that divides us into the good and the bad. And the last thing we have to worry about is whether we have eternal life! That’s been taken care of!
Thought for the Day: What is dualistic thinking?