Have you ever asked yourself, “Why are the wages of sin death?” Why does God have to pay us back for our sins? Why can’t He simply forgive and forget?
Jonathan Leeman gives a helpful and needed answer:
The wages of sin is death because God’s glory is weighty and infinite, and we have fallen short of it. The wages of sin is death because God is worthy of all honor, worship, and praise, and we have brushed him off. When His glory is not appropriately honored and valued, that is, when we fall short of His glory through sin, we become judicially guilty, and a payment is required.
To say that no payment is required is to say that His glory really holds no value. Break something that’s cheap and no one will care. Break something exquisite and precious, however, and its value is demonstrated – in part – in the fact that a payment is required. God, who is jealous for His glory and Name, would have demonstrated that He’s weightless and worthless shoudl He have chosen to save sinful humanity without demanding a just payment for their transgressions against His glorious person. (Taken from The Church and the Surprising Offense of God’s Love, p. 72).
A payment is demanded because the value of God’s glory is weighty and unthinkably glorious. Our sin is evil not because of the nature or degree of our sin, but because of the greatness of Whom we sin against. But praise be to God that there is a second half to Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The demanded payment has been made. The unthinkable debt has been cleared by the precious blood of God’s One and Only Son.