In this message we need to consider several verses in chapters five through eight of Romans that cover the matter of death.
Romans 5:12 says, “Therefore, as through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin; and so death passed to all men because all have sinned.” For sin to enter into the world means that it has entered into humanity. Through one man, Adam, sin entered into mankind. Furthermore, through sin death entered. Sin came first and death followed. Wherever there is sin, there is death.
Romans 5:17 says, “By the offense of the one, death reigned through the one.” Death has not only entered the world; it reigns. Even today death reigns like a king.
Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Wages are something we receive in payment for work we have done. If you do the work of sin, you will receive the wages of death. This means that death is the pay received for your work of sin. For example, you may lose your temper. This is a work of sin, and the payment for doing this work is death. When people work overtime, they receive higher wages. Likewise, if you sin a little, you receive little pay, but if you sin a great deal, you will receive extra pay.
In 7:11 Paul says, “For sin, taking occasion through the commandment, deceived me, and through it killed me.” According to this verse, sin does two things: it deceives us and it kills us. To kill something is to put it to death. Thus, to say that sin kills us means that sin puts us to death. This happens through the law, for sin takes occasion through the commandment. In a sense, sin takes advantage of the law to kill us.
Before you were saved or before you were stirred up in spirit to seek the Lord, you might have lost your temper frequently without being aware of any killing. The reason for this is that you had not made up your mind not to lose your temper any more. But after you were saved or were stirred up to seek the Lord, you prayed, “O Lord, I know that as one who is seeking You, I should not lose my temper. This damages my testimony for You among my family and friends. Therefore, I am making up my mind that from now on I will never lose my temper again.” In praying this way you make a strict law for yourself regarding losing your temper. This new law is your eleventh commandment. Moses gave ten commandments, but you make another commandment, the commandment about not losing your temper. However, when you lose your temper after making such a law, your temper kills you. It takes advantage of your self-made law to put you to death. If you lose your temper in the morning, you may be killed for the whole day. But when you lost your temper in the past, you did not sense the killing because you had not made a law about losing your temper.
This illustration shows that we need to be careful about making laws for ourselves. The more laws we make, the more we shall be killed. Remember, sin always takes advantage of the commandment to put us to death.
In Romans 7:24 Paul declares, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from the body of this death?” In this verse Paul speaks of “this death,” which is the very death defined in Romans 7. It is important to know what is the death revealed and explained in this chapter. Whenever we make up our mind to keep the law, something in our flesh rises up, fights against the law of good in our mind, defeats us, captures us, and kills us. If we do not make up our mind to keep the commandments, this element in our flesh remains dormant. But whenever we make up our mind to do good in order to please God, this element is stirred up and seems to say, “What! Do you intend to do good to please God? Let me show you that you can’t do it. I’ll defeat you and kill you.” Thus, sin in the flesh rises up, defeats us, captures us, and slays us. This causes us to suffer what Paul calls “this death.”
In Romans 7 the problem is not hell or the Devil; it is “the body of this death.” We have a body which has in it an awful thing called “this death.” In order to exist, we need a body. Yet our body is no longer a pure body, but a terrible body, a body of this death. Whenever we decide to do good in order to please God, something in this body rises up to kill us.
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