WAGES ARE EARNED BUT GIFTS ARE RECEIVED
The word translated “wages” was used to denote a Roman soldier’s pay during Paul’s time. So, “wages” are earned. Since we are all sinners (Rom. 3:23), we have all earned death. Death is the just desert for a life of sin. This death is not only the death of the body, but as it stands in opposition to “eternal life,” it is the eternal damnation of the soul, which is the “second death” (Rev. 20:14-15).
So, the wages of sin coincides with and follows the life of sin. Wages are given as they are earned and after they are earned. But the “free gift” of God is given before the life of righteousness that follows. After all, it is the receiving of the free gift of God that sets the sinner free from sin’s slavery and sin’s wages, so that they are made righteous before God and given eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.
The economy of fallen humanity is about earning, but the economy of God is about receiving. Will you stop trying to earn that which can only be received? Receive the free gift of God, which is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord and be set free from the wages of sin, which is death.