Sin and Death
George H. Morrison
There is perhaps no statement in all the writings of Paul that has done more to discredit his authority than this one. That death, whenever it touches man, is the wages of sin; that had there been no sin man would not have died is one of the sweeping statements of the apostle that is rejected by many as ridiculous. That there are certain sins which hand a man on to death is of course a fact which nobody denies. There is not a doctor here but has seen people dying and knew that they were dying because of their vicious lives. But Paul is not talking here of vicious lives. He includes the child and the saint and the purest and most tender woman, and he says of all of them that but for sin there would have been no such experience as death. It is that sweeping assertion which has been denied so vigorously, and never more so than in the present day. That sin and death should be so correlated is a statement that to many seems unwarranted. And there are various ways, well known to students, in which Christian thinkers have sought to meet the difficulty or to evade the full significance of the words.
For instance there is one well-known theologian who insists that all that the apostle means is this. All that he means is that the fact of sin has given a peculiar character to death. Death might have been very pleasant but for sin-a falling asleep under the kiss of God. But sin has come and made the struggle fearful and steeped the thought of death in gloom and horror; and it is that agony and dark foreboding, impressed by sin upon our dissolution, which the apostle is struggling to convey. Now no one denies that that is a great truth. The sting of death, Paul himself says, is sin. But if words are not an idle juggling, that is not what the apostle speaks of here. He is not talking of the accompaniments of death. He is talking here about the fact of death. He is not speaking of what makes death awful. He is speaking of death ...
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