"For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." In this passage in St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans, the Holy Apostle refers to that recompense which each and every soul born into this world is due to receive in the life to come, according to how he or she has labored in this earthly life: whether we have striven to acquire virtue and the gift of the Holy Spirit of God in our hearts, or else we have willfully aligned ourselves with Satan and his demonic hosts by indulging our sinful passions. The first path leads to eternal life in communion with God, while the second path leads to the spiritual death of our soul and eternal communion with the Spirit of Evil. It is for this reason that we pray in the Lord's Prayer, "Deliver us from the Evil One."
The surest way of attaining eternal life in God's heavenly Kingdom is through sincere and heartfelt repentance, combined with humility and a prayerful desire to acquire God's gift of love in our heart. If, by the grace of God, we are deemed worthy to patiently endure this struggle unto the end, it matters not if we have labored in the Lord's vineyard from the first hour or the eleventh: we shall receive the very same wages: eternal life and salvation in the Kingdom of our heavenly Father.
Truly it is given to every man to die once--and then to be judged according to how well we have invested those talents God has granted to us in this earthly life. Have we utilized wisely the time and resources allotted to us, or have we, like the Prodigal Son, foolishly squandered the good gifts of God? According to the unanimous consensus of the Church Fathers and the Holy Tradition of the Church, it has been revealed that in that very moment of death, when the soul is forcibly sundered from the body, we shall encounter not only our Guardian Angel, but a vast multitude of demons as well, intent on dragging our soul into the dark and dismal depths of Hades. As we rise through the air (the domain of the "principalities and powers," the demonic hosts who dwell in "high places") we shall be required to pass through a series of so-called "toll houses," each one devoted to a particular sin or passion--wherein we shall be detained by demons who accuse us of those various and sundry unconfessed sins we have committed during our sojourn on earth--whether in thought, word, deed, or desire.
It is true, as St. John the Theologian assures us, that "God is love," and therefore... He does not desire the death of a sinner, but rather that he should return from his way and live. It is an inconvertible truth, nevertheless, that if we have willfully separated ourselves from God in this life by participating with the demons in their evil works in rebellion against the Law of Love, then it is only natural that the spirits of darkness should be fully justified in claiming that which is rightfully theirs: our immortal souls. And so--having defaced the image of God within us--we shall be dragged into the depths of Hades, that place of outer darkness where there shall be weeping and the gnashing of teeth. And so we shall obtain the wages of sin: eternal death in a hell of our own making.
Let us make haste, therefore, while there is still time, before that dreadful day of reckoning overtakes us like a thief in the night, to live a life of repentance, humbly confessing our sins before God, casting aside the works of darkness while striving to clothe ourselves in the armor of light. Through the prayers of the Most Holy Theotokos and all the saints, let us beseech our God to have mercy upon us, that in the hour of death, we might be delivered from the dreadful accusation of the demons and be found worthy of ascending to the Throne of God.