God does not hire men to sin and then pay wages when they do.
Paul says “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). This provides the foundation for his doctrine that for every sin God imposes the penalty of death, either of the sinner or of Christ his substitute. But Paul is surely in error because the prophets and Jesus teach that sinners don’t have to die.
Ezekiel writes: “‘As I live,’ says the Lord GOD, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?'” (Ezekiel 33:11). Jesus also says: “I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Matthew 9:13). This shows that neither the sinner nor Jesus has to die for sins. All the sinner has to do is repent, and his sins will be forgiven.
God doesn’t employ sinners
If death were the wages of sin, then a man’s wages of death would always have to be paid. What kind of employer would God be if he were to withhold the wages of his employees? It would make him an unjust employer.
Imagine this: a man works as a labourer on a building site. At the end of the month, when he goes to collect his wages, he is told: “Your wages have been forgiven you.” Or, “Your wages have been paid to Jesus.” What would that mean? Surely, if they are his wages, they cannot be forgiven and must be paid directly to him. Jesus says: “the labourer is worthy of his wages” (Luke 10:7). Paul also says: “To him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt” (Romans 4:4).
If indeed wages are debts owed by the employer, then God has to pay the debt-wages of sin. He has to kill every sinner. But he does not. He forgives sinners their “wages” when they repent. Therefore, it becomes apparent that, contrary to Paul’s position, God pays no wages to sinners. He forgives the repentant sinner and does not insist on payment for the sins of men.
Neither does God employ anyone to sin. God forbid that God should be a satanic employer who hires men to sin and then pays wages when they do. This makes one wonder why Paul would choose to use the word “wages” when talking about the penalty of sin. Even the popular expression “debt of sin” is unscriptural. No man owes sin to God.
The righteous die physically
If Jesus died for sinners, why do Christians continue to die in spite of his supposedly atoning sacrifice? In truth, physical death is not a penalty for sin since both the sinner and the righteous die physically. Indeed, the physical death of the righteous is sometimes a reward for righteousness and not a penalty for sins.
In order to bless Josiah for his repentance, God decided to kill him so that he would not experience the calamity he intended to bring against Judah (2 Kings 22:19-20). As a result, blessed Josiah died at the tender age of thirty-nine years. His death was a reward and not a penalty for sin.
In Jesus’ ministry, God saved some people in life, and he saved others in death. The centurion’s servant was saved in life: whereas Lazarus was saved in death. This also means God delivers not only from death but also from life. Isaiah says: “The righteous perish, and no one ponders it in his heart; devout men are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death” (Isaiah 57:1-2).
It is spiritual death that is the penalty for sin, which results in our being cut off from fellowship with God. Adam died when he ate the forbidden fruit, but his death was spiritual. He continued to live physically for another 700 years. Jesus, however, died physically when he was crucified; he did not die spiritually.
Jesus says: “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). This means the death of Jesus was actually not that significant. They only killed his body but could not kill his soul.
Surely, if Jesus died to pay the death penalty for the souls of sinners, he would have died for eternity. But since he only died for three days, he could not have paid the penalty for sins, which some Christians insist is eternal damnation.