Leviticus: The Wages of Sin Is Death

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

It’s one of those lines from Paul that nearly all of us know. Even if we can’t always cite the chapter and verse, we know it’s Paul and we’re pretty sure it’s Romans. After all, this is part of what some call the Romans Road.

Only, it’s not really Paul. It’s actually Leviticus.

Now, mind you, that’s not always obvious right away. And it takes a bit of work to see it. But, if you follow the logic of Leviticus, you end up where Paul is in Romans 6: “The wages of sin is death.”

That is, sin always ends in death. Sin always costs a life. Not figuratively. Not metaphorically. Not even just spiritually, though there is a spiritual death. No, for Leviticus (and even Paul), it’s literal, physical. Sin literally, physically ends in death.

It’s the first lesson Leviticus teaches. Right out of the gate in chapter 1, Leviticus starts talking about how to sacrifice bulls, goats, sheep, and even doves and pigeons so that we can find favor in God’s eyes.

And it gives us a dizzying array of sacrifices to offer. Burnt offerings. Thank offerings. Sin offerings. Guilt offerings. Even grain offerings.

But, the bottom line is this: If you want God to forgive you your sin (particularly with a sin offering or guilt offering), it’s going to cost something its life.

Something has to die. You. Me. A bull. A goat. Whatever it is, something has to go up on that altar to die for that sin. That’s the inescapable logic of Leviticus.

Ideally, it should be you and me. After all, we’re the ones who sinned. The bull and the goat didn’t do anything. They’re innocent. You and I are the guilty ones. So, really, we should be the ones who die on that altar.

However, in Leviticus, God does something incredible. He allows for a substitute. He allows something else to die in our place. What we will call later on in our systematic theologies: Substitutionary Atonement.

Which is basically a fancy way of saying that God forgives us at another’s expense. We go free because another gave its life.

That’s what all those sacrifices are about. That bull or goat dies in my place. In fact, in the sin offering I actually place my hands on the animal’s head and call down my sins upon it. The connection is clear. This animal is my surrogate. It’s my substitute. It’s going to die on that altar in my place.

The lesson is two-fold. First, sin costs a life. Something has to die for me to be forgiven. Second, God is gracious. He has provided a way to find atonement without us having to die. We can be forgiven at another’s expense.

That’s Leviticus. And that’s Jesus on the Cross.

One cannot miss the connection. Jesus gave His life in our place. That should be me on the Cross, but it’s not. It’s Him. He died for me. For you. For us all.

By His death we have forgiveness in God’s eyes, so that in Jesus we have that gift of eternal life Paul is talking about in Romans. The wages of sin is death, and Jesus paid the tab. You’re welcome.

Just remember, Leviticus said it first.


7 responses to “Leviticus: The Wages of Sin Is Death

  • Sin: Christians and Pagans | living a life one breath at a time

    […] is a lot of billboards out there espousing that we are living in sin, that the wages of sin is death and that something must die because of sin. If we understand the universe by certain laws that […]

  • Steve Finnell

    Christians like to state that they are sinners saved by grace. Christians should say I was a sinner saved by grace. To proclaim, I am a sinner, suggests that no repentance has taken place. Christians are not supposed to maintain the same sinful lifestyle they had before they had their sins washed by the blood of Christ.


    1 Corinthians 6:1-11….9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived;
    neither fornicators
    nor idolaters
    nor effeminate
    nor homosexuals
    nor thieves
    not the covetous
    nor drunkards
    nor revilers
    nor swindlers
    will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

    Notice Paul said these Christians were sinners. Paul did not say they are sinners. Paul was not handing out sin permits to the Christians at Corinth. It was the exact opposite. Paul was saying that the Christians who continue to practice a sinful lifestyle would not enter into the kingdom of God.

    Yes, Christians do sin, however, Christians should not be sinners. Christians should have had all the, sin practice, they needed before they became Christians. Do you honestly believe Christians can live an entire life practicing fornication and still enter the kingdom of God?

    Ephesians 2:1-5…..3 Among them we too all formerly lived in lust of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest…….

    Christians should be, formerly sinners, saved by grace. Christians should not be current sinners expecting to be saved by grace!


    YOU ARE INVITED TO FOLLOW MY CHRISTIAN BLOG. Google search>>>>steve finnell a christian view

  • Eli. Odell C.

    That’s right, amen sister
    And we’re born thataway, dead in trespasses and sin, spiritually stillborn with a depraved nature.
    Adam’s sin that soiled man’s nature.
    But praise the Lord, the blood still reaches deeper than the stain has gone

  • Honoring Christ’s Resurrection - Happy Real Women | Godly Wisdom for Women in a Chaotic World

    […] This sacrificial system was established in detail in Leviticus – burnt offerings, grain offerings, peace offerings, sin offerings and trespass offerings. Leviticus chapter 4 details sin offerings. God allowed a substitute offering, such as a bull, goat, or a lamb. The take-away here is that something had to die to atone for people’s sins. […]

  • Gary M

    Talk about a “seared conscience”. The level of brain-washing among conservative Christians is truly shocking. It nauseates me every time I discuss the concept of Hell with a conservative Christian and must listen to his or her pathetic justifications for why it is just, fair, moral, and even good for a “loving Heavenly Father” to burn alive millions of human beings in his eternal torture pit. The same people who decry Muslim fundamentalist terrorists for burning alive their captives, turn around and justify their own God’s thousands of years old habit of burning alive millions upon millions of people who dared to commit a “thought crime” against him.

    Conservative Christians will protest this characterization: “People don’t go to Hell for thought crimes. They go to Hell for their evil sins against their Creator.”

    Really? Let’s look at that:

    General X is a brutal warlord. He has slaughtered innocent men, women, and children by the tens of thousands. He has raped and pillaged. He has committed genocide. However, on the day he is to be executed for his crimes against humanity, a Christian pastor comes to his jail cell and preaches the gospel of Jesus Christ to him. The general begins to cry, “I am so sorry for all the horrible things I have done. Please forgive me, Jesus. Please be my Lord and Savior.” Five minutes later he is executed. Immediately upon his death, his soul ascends to heaven where he enjoys eternal happiness, peace, and untold riches with Jesus, the angels, and the other saints.

    Mrs. Wong is your neighbor. She lives three houses down from you. The children on the block call her the “Nice Cookie Lady” as she is always very kind to them and always has a plate of cookies set out for them. She has been a volunteer in the local homeless shelter for more than 30 years, where she cooks, cleans filthy indigent clothing, and scrubs the toilets and floors…for no monetary compensation. She says she does it because she loves people and enjoys helping the needy. Mrs. Wong has heard the “gospel” story of Jesus many times, however, she prefers to retain her childhood belief system. Mrs. Wong is a Buddhist.

    Mrs.Wong died last week, and at this very moment, is writhing in horrific agony in the flames of Hell…and she will continue to scream and writhe in horrific agony for all eternity.

    Now, dear conservative Christian friend: Can you really tell me that the above scenario is just, fair, moral, and good? How can General X commit horrific crimes his entire life and still get into heaven at the last minute simply by a change in belief, but Mrs. Wong is going to be burned alive forever, despite her exemplary life of service and kindness to others, just because she made a mistake in which supernatural belief system to believe?

    If the Christian concept of Hell is true, then we should all tremble in fear before the Christian God. But, to call it just, fair, moral, and good is simply delusional, friend. Let’s be honest and call it what it is: Evil.

  • Alfred Jennings

    Actually I heard in in Genesis frirst: “16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

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