When a former U.S. president was being interviewed about a sexual relationship with a staffer, the following response was given: “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is. If the—if he—if ‘is’ means is and never has been, that is not—that is one thing. If it means there is none, that was a completely true statement. … Now, if someone had asked me on that day, are you having any kind of sexual relations with Ms. Lewinsky, that is, asked me a question in the present tense, I would have said no. And it would have been completely true” (Slate, 9/13/1998).
Although the former President was evasive in his explanation of the simple word ‘is’, there is little room for misinterpretation of the word in Romans 16:23. Without the slightest equivocation, God’s word leaves no doubt about the use of the word ‘is’. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord”. The result of sin is now, has always been, and will always be death and separation from God and all that is good.
The proclamation that “the wages of sin is death” must be some of the saddest words ever spoken. Were it not for the second half of the verse, “but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord,” we, of all creatures, would be most miserable. The good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ assures us that we don’t have to die in our sin. The reality of eternal life through Jesus can be ours, if we choose to receive it.
What does the word ‘is’ mean to you? Does it mean eternal life, or does it mean the dread of death? Hear God‘s clear words on the matter: “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. And this is the verdict: The Light has come into the world, but men loved the darkness rather than the Light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:17-19). If I were to ask you personally, “Is the gift of eternal life yours?” what would your response be?
“Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.” (Matthew 5:37, ESV)
~ Brother Roy