“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 6:23
The hit show Breaking Bad follows the descent into depravity of Walter White who evolves from a mild-mannered chemistry teacher into a ruthless drug lord. His motive sounds noble at first glance. Learning that he has advanced cancer, he wants to provide for his family’s financial future after his death.
But we quickly see that there are other desires at work in his heart. A desire for control. And vengeance. And for others to pat him on the back and stroke his ego. As initial guilt wears off for the crimes he’s committing, he gets good at doing bad, and each and every step downwards he takes is made with a bodyguard of lies and self-deception.
The show ends with the death of Walter White, whose heart is now black as night. But one thing is obvious for the viewers who take the journey with him – long before his body died, death was wreaking havoc all around him. The first to go was his conscience. Then death destroyed his marriage. It brought ruin to his extended family. It murdered countless souls lost in addiction to the drugs he manufactured. It sickened everything and everyone he came in contact with.
According to James, death is the final stage in the cycle of sin. The Bible tells us bluntly that the “wages of sin is death” (Rom.3:23), but we mustn’t be so wooden in our interpretation to see death as what happens at the end of the line. Rather it is a relentless and ruthless companion all along life’s road.
God warned Adam and Eve that “the day” they touched of sin, they would die (Gen.2:17), yet Adam and Eve lived for centuries afterwards. But God was right – for the very day they sinned, we see Adam and Eve begin to tear each other apart with blame and accusation. Death passes along to their first children, Cain and Abel, in the form of jealousy, bitterness and murder.
Every bit of sin we leave unattended inside our hearts – pride, lust, fear, envy, resentment – will advance in size and strength like a cancer cell. And death will show itself in short order. “To enter a sinning state is to enter a declining state,” warned a wise Puritan writer.
Thankfully, there is a remedy for sin’s malignancy. It flowed out from the Cross of Calvary on which Jesus Christ died. “There is a fountain filled with blood, Drawn from Immanuel’s veins, And sinners plunged beneath that flood, Lose all their guilty stains.”
His death puts to death our death, if you can see through the redundancy. His death allows us to be forgiven, and through that forgiveness, something new stirs to life within us.
Jesus becomes a warrior in our hearts to help us resist the spread of sin inside of us. And though we will still die physically at the end of our days, that death will not permanently claim us. “You will be with me in paradise,” Jesus promises.
How you experience this for yourself begins with something the Bible calls repentance. Which is more than just saying sorry. Repentance is coming to Jesus and falling before him with sorrow in your heart for how you have broken his heart. But it’s also rising to your feet with a new determination to grab hold of Jesus, and grant him permission to teach and train you to stop your sinning.
Questions To Ponder
- “To enter a sinning state is to enter a declining state.” How so?
- Sometimes we look at the wreckage that sin does to other people and we think, “It will be different with me.” We pretend that we can dabble with sin, and it won’t hurt us. What should we be thinking instead?
Forgive me my Lord Jesus for fraternizing with sin. For pretending that I can dabble with it, or keep it like a pet in a cage, to take out at my pleasure. For thinking that while sin has laid waste to others, the outcome will be different with me. Because I’m stronger and smarter. I’ll know when to draw back. It is such foolishness to think this way Lord. You call me to pick up my cross and follow you. You call me to count myself dead to sin. You call me to put to death what is earthly in me. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. Help me to live under the Cross today.
Bear Clifton is a pastor, writer and screenwriter. This devotion is from his latest book, “Living Under The Cross: A 40-Day Devotional Journey”. His blogs and devotionals can be enjoyed at his ministry website: trainyourselfministry.com and his writing website: blclifton.com. Bear is also the author of “Train Yourself To Be Godly: A 40 Day Journey Toward Sexual Wholeness”, “Ben-Hur: The Odyssey”, and “A Sparrow Could Fall”, all available through Amazon.