23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (NASB)
This verse is part of the famous Roman Road to salvation. These are the verses they teach you to memorize so you can lead someone to the Lord.
Romans 3:23 –“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”
Romans 5:8 – “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
Romans 6:23 – “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Romans 10:9, 10 – “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
We don’t go to hell because of Adam’s sin. We go to hell because of our choice. We have all sinned. And sin leads to death. When Adam and Eve ate from the tree that was forbidden, they ushered in death. The wages—the payoff for sin is death. In this verse I believe Paul in contrasting the sin that leads to eternal death and the free gift of God that leads to eternal life.
Once you have received the free gift of God, then you receive eternal life. “Eternal” means perpetual, forever or everlasting. Once you have received it, you have it forever. No longer can your sins lead to eternal death. Once you have received your ticket to Heaven, no one can take it away from you. That’s why it is called “eternal.”
In Christ we have been offered the free gift of eternal life. It’s offered to everyone, but only the ones who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ are saved and receive this wonderful gift. It is a “charisma,” a gift of God’s grace. It is not of works, which cuts out any boasting on our part. It is by grace that we can receive this amazing gift of eternal life.