Can Sinners go to Heaven?

You would think the answer to the question posed in today’s message title would be a resounding, “NO! Of course not!” However, considering that we are all sinners from birth, I (for one) am hoping that the answer isn’t as obvious as it seems.

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We all know that God gave us commandments through Moses which he wants us to obey. These commandments are fairly simple for us to understand: there are some just for women, some just for the members of the Priesthood (whether Rabbi, Priest, Minister, Pastor, Chaplain, or whatever), and the rest are for everyone. Traditional Christian teaching has reduced the number of these commandments significantly, in that it has identified some laws which they classify as only for Jews, others as “ceremonial”, and then there are the ones they agree they should obey which they label as “moral” laws.

Overall, pretty much everyone agrees that we are sinners and that iniquity (the innate desire to sin) exists within us from birth. Even within Judaism, we have the Yetzer Hara (Evil Inclination we are born with) and the Yetzer Tov (Good Inclination), which doesn’t come to fruition within us until we are old enough to study and understand the Torah and the Talmud.

Understanding this, let’s go back to the original question: “Can sinners go to heaven?” Sorry to say, the answer is  still “No!

However, God has made salvation available to us through the sacrificial system, which allows us to be forgiven of our sins. And the ultimate sacrifice, the last one which provides forgiveness throughout all time, is the sacrifice of Yeshua ha Maschiach (Yeshua the Messiah), which is available to us despite the fact that the Temple in Jerusalem (the place where the sin sacrifice must be presented) no longer exists.

So, when we take into consideration the sacrifice of Yeshua, the answer to our title question changes to, “Yes- sinners can go to heaven, so long as they have been forgiven through their acceptance of Yeshua as their Messiah.”

But wait a minute!!  There is a missing piece to the puzzle we haven’t discussed, but it is the keystone for salvation: acceptance of Yeshua is necessary, asking forgiveness for each and every sin is necessary (there is no such thing as Once Forgiven, Always Forgiven- I have written about that a few times), but none of this works without true repentance.

Repentance is an absolute necessity for forgiveness. Without repentance, why would God forgive us? If someone stole from you and asked forgiveness, but never said they were sorry for what they did and that they would do it again if given the chance, would you think them worthy of forgiveness?

I hope not! If so, then you aren’t forgiving- you’re a fool.

Repentance, true repentance, is is the first step on the path to salvation which God has provided. . If someone sins and doesn’t repent of that sin, God is not a fool. He knows the heart of everyone, and if someone sins, likes to sin, and intends to continue to sin, they can repeat the “Sinners Prayer” until they are red in the face, and God will ignore them.

The final answer to the question, “Can sinners go to heaven?” is this: repentant sinners who ask forgiveness through the Messiah Yeshua can be forgiven of their sins, and by means of that forgiveness they will be in God’s presence forever.

In reality, no one goes to heaven, we stay on the new Earth- read the Prophets and Revelation.

I have said many times and will continue to do so, that before I was saved, I was a sinner who rationalized my sins; now I am a sinner who regrets my sins.  And it is only because of that regret, that repentance and constantly, daily, hourly asking God to forgive me through Yeshua’s sacrifice, that I know I will be able to spend eternity in the presence of the Almighty.

We all know people who profess to believe in God and Messiah, and who have been taught that once they say the “Sinners Prayer” they are forgiven and so long as they are a “good” person, they will go to heaven. Some even say that they know they do wrong, but the Bible says God loves them and is forgiving, so they know that he will let them into heaven.

Sorry to bust your rose-colored bubble, but that ain’t how it works.

When we sin we need to ask forgiveness, each and every time, and we need to ask with genuine repentance. I still sin, and there are sins I know I do and have not overcome, and every day I ask forgiveness and strength to overcome sin in the future. Because of this attitude of repentance and humility, I believe that I will be in God’s presence, a forgiven sinner, in the Acharit HaYamim (End Days.)

Let me end this with a statement that I believe we all should live by: We can never be sinless, but we can always sin less


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Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Do sinners go to heaven?

Geeze, I hope so! Otherwise, I am in BIG trouble!!

Frankly, so are you.

Anyone, and everyone, is a sinner. Whether they commit murder, rob, lie, or just eat ham on Shabbat, they (and we) all are sinners. Adam sinned, Eve sinned, Cain sinned, Nimrod sinned, Enoch (well, maybe not Enoch), and just about everyone else down the line, sinned. Moses was a murderer, King David was more than just a murderer, he was an adulterer who committed murder to cover his crime, Solomon burned his own children to Molech; yet, I don’t think anyone doubts that Moses, King David or Solomon are in heaven.

Look, Yeshua came to earth to die for our sins because we are sinners. DUH! And no one can live a sinless life. As I have said, and will continue to say:

We can never be sinless, but we can always sin less.

So, if sinners can go to heaven why bother not sinning? Oy! Now I sound like Shaul (Paul) in his letters. The reason we try to stop sinning is to demonstrate the one thing that separates the sinners who live and the sinners who die- it’s called T’shuvah, which is the Hebrew word meaning “repentance.”

We have the propensity to sin in our DNA, we are born into it, and it is what (in Hebrew) we call the Yetzer Hara, the Evil Inclination. We also have the Yetzer Tov, the Good Inclination, but the Rabbi’s tell us that doesn’t develop until we are old enough to study Talmud and Torah (unfortunately, that is often the order the Orthodox take. I think it should be the other way around), so we all start out with sin in our hearts.  We are all sinners, who continue to sin.

Again, the difference is not who sins and who doesn’t, but who doesn’t want to anymore!  I have another saying you might have heard me repeat (often):

Before I was saved I was a sinner who rationalized my sins; now I am a sinner who regrets my sins.

Yeshua (Jesus) came to earth, stripped Himself of His divine nature and took on a mantle of flesh, specifically so that He could act as the substitute for us, to take on the penalty for sin that we deserve. He gave up eternal divinity so that we could have eternal life. But, if being sinless (as He was) is the condition for salvation, then it was all a waste because no one can be sinless. It would have been just plain stupid for Him to give up what He did if we have to be sinless to avail ourselves of His sacrifice.

Let me tell you something you probably already know: God and Yeshua?  they ain’t stupid!

The difference is simple- if you have truly accepted God’s grace through Yeshua, have accepted the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) and live every day in order to die to self, then you will have done T’shuvah, you will regret your sins, you will  live to sin less, and thereby you will be able to spend eternity in the presence of God. That is really what heaven is- eternally in God’s presence.

On the other hand, even if you call on the name of the Lord but do not change your attitude towards sin, if you say you’re a good person because you don’t kill and lie but you cheat on your taxes and fail to give to the poor or tithe, and if you constantly try to get away with explaining your sins as OK because Jesus died for you, then you are going to be very, VERY sadly disappointed when you come before the Throne of God (as we all will); because, when God starts to read off your sins and you turn to the right hand of God and scream,

Yo! J-man! How you be? Get me outta here, ‘K?”

I am afraid you will only hear Yeshua say, “Get thee away from me- I know you not.”

We all sin, and yes- sinners do get to go to heaven (we can discuss another time that we really don’t go to heaven- read Revelations) as long as they are repentant sinners who have fruits of righteousness they can present to the Lord. We are told never to come before the Lord empty handed, and at Judgement what we bring will not be the blood of goats or rams, but the fruits of the Spirit we have developed, the execution stakes we picked up when we decided to follow Yeshua, and the good works we did in spite of the iniquity within us.

Yes, Virginia- there is a heaven for sinners, but only those sinners who constantly sin less because they are faithfully obedient to God.

Without Hate We Can’t Love

Which came first? Hate or love? Good or bad? Chicken or egg?

The Talmud tells us that we are born with the Yetzer Hara, or Evil inclination, and that the Yetzer Tov (Good inclination) doesn’t come until we are older (around the time we start to learn Torah, as I recall.) The Christian world calls it Original Sin. Either way, is is our inheritance from Adam.

In the book of Yacov (James) this is confirmed when he tells us that through one man (Adam) sin entered the world.

This seems to be a good argument that evil, hate, and bad things were here first.

Not so. God existed before anything, and He is good. Adam and Eve were not evil, and did not know good from evil until evil was thrust upon them.  So the answer to which came first, good or evil is easy- good was here first.

The answer to the question are we born good or evil is very different: we are born with the Yetzer Hara. That’s how the world is, a cursed place from the time of Adam. Through a mortal the world was cursed, and through a mortal the world was saved, that mortal being Yeshua ha Mashiach. There is another difference, though, one that the 1st Century Jewish population, as a whole, missed: the first man’s actions are completed and affect us while we are in this world, and the second man’s actions won’t be complete until we leave this world. Sin is of the body and of this physical world, but salvation is of the Spirit and the Kingdom of God.

So, why do I say we can’t love without hate? Because in this physical world there is no way to understand something without it having an opposite. Can I know cold without knowing heat? Can I understand the concept of courage if I don’t know fear? Someone who doesn’t know fear can’t be brave. Fear is something God gave us so we can protect ourselves (yes, yes, I know you are saying the Bible tells us we have been given a Spirit of victory not of fear, but this isn’t a spiritual discussion right now. If God hadn’t given us fear of death or pain or solitude we wouldn’t survive.)

Hate is here, and has been since the snake did the nasty to Eve. And we humans really caught on to evil. Within one generation we went from trickery to murder. I guess we are fast learners, but of the wrong things.

So, nu? What are we to do if hate, anger, murder, selfishness, and all these other evil, hedonistic feelings are, by definition, the natural state of being for us? Should we embrace them? I don’t think so.

Through the gift of the Ruach haKodesh, the Holy Spirit, we can overcome them. The Ruach is given freely, all we need to do is ask for it, and then the hard work begins. Like giving up an addiction to drugs, or food, or TV (Oy!- I have to give up TV, too? Nah- you’re OK with TV, just stay off the those nasty pay for view channels) we need to continually remember that we cannot stop these evil inclinations. They are a natural part of us and we will not be fully rid of them until the natural is over. Our only hope is in the Ruach, which can help us to control and overcome these inclinations.

Shaul (that nice Jewish boy from Tarsus many call Paul) said he was a wretch because he did what he didn’t want to, and couldn’t do what he wanted to do. If Shaul admitted that he struggled with his Yetzer Hara, how much more so will we have to struggle with it?

We can’t love until we know hatred. Ergo, we can’t want to love others until we have felt what it is like to be hated. I am amazed (not in a good way) that many minorities, people who have suffered hatred, are themselves hateful. I guess that’s the old Yetzer Hara at it, again.

I am glad that the Ruach teaches me that those who are hateful and mean are hurting, inside. I know because when I am hateful and mean it’s because I hurt. My hurt pride causes me to want to lash out at everyone and everything. In my natural being this is fine, in my Spiritual being I know this is wrong. The more hurt I feel, the more I should pray to God to remind me what it feels like being at the other end of hate. That’s when the Ruach can wake up the Yetzer Tov and remind me of what God wants of us.

You can always get someone to hate something by hating it, but it is much harder to get someone to love something by loving it. In this world, hate is the natural order of things, and love is not.

The truth, as I see it, is that hate is stronger. I know that sounds bad, and love can sometimes conquer hate, but hate is stronger because it is natural for us. Selfishness, hate, pride, all these feelings are of the natural world and we are born into them. They fit us like a custom made suit, and the world confirms this to us, daily. Just read the news.

We need God’s Spirit and His love to help us overcome these things. We can love someone and still hate some things about them, but we can’t hate someone and love anything about them, can we? Do you think that is possible? I don’t. I hope I am wrong.

But I do know that although there is nothing I can do, on and of my own, that will overcome my natural tendencies, with God all things are possible.

Hate sucks, love is wonderful. Look to God and ask for His love, His Grace, accept it and start to live a wonderful life. But be ready for hard work- it isn’t easy living the life of a reformed addict.