By default, all humans are of the flesh. All humans are therefore caught up in the works of the flesh, whether they like it or not. For extrication from this reality, Jesus prescribed a radical transformation: “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:39) (ESV).
The works of the flesh produce fruits. But those fruits have got nothing to do with God’s Kingdom and eternal life. Probably, Romans 6:23 puts it aptly, for those desiring God’s Kingdom? “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (ESV).
Sadly, it is only the works that produce the undesirable wages. Paul says those wages produce death. The definition of Sin is simply missing the mark. Humanity has missed the mark since the time of Adam. All our activities in this life can never bring the deserved eternal life.
One of the reasons that the Jews killed Jesus is assuming that works are necessary to access eternal life. But, as Paul shows, works produce wages, which, ultimately, produce death. Elsewhere, Paul says, all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
The latter part of Romans 6:23 states something that has got nothing to do with works, yet with positive outcome: “….but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (ESV).
In the works there is expectation of wages, but those wages result in death. Indeed, in this life there is sorrow. Hard working is characterized with ordinary human toil. But, regardless of how hard-working one can be found to be, Paul says the only wages that one will eventually reap at the end is death.
However, what may escape most people is the aspect of “free gift,” with the package of eternal life. Now, if eternal life is a free gift the most poignant question is: Why are ordinary people appearing as not interested in it? Indeed, where there is confusion there is misunderstanding.