In Matthew we are told by Yeshua,” Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
It seems that even if we continue to sin after being saved, we can still go to heaven. For me, that’s good news, because I know I have accepted Messiah as my Savior and King, but I still sin. His sacrifice covers it for me.
The bad news is that there are people who will take this as a license to keep sinning since His blood covers all sins. I guess they think they can do what they want and, so long as they repent on their death bed, they’ll be OK. On the other hand, in all fairness, maybe they are just like me- wanting to stop but incapable of doing so.
We are all sinners, and we can’t stop it. That’s why Yeshua had to die. If any one human being (other than the Big Guy) is capable of living a sinless life, then there is no need for a Messiah. The grading curve is busted, and the only people that will be in heaven are God, Yeshua and that one dope who ruined it for the rest of us!
But yet, if I can keep on sinning, and all that happens is that I am the least in the kingdom of heaven, heck! I’m still in heaven, right? Joshua slept at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting, Proverbs says it is better to spend one day in heaven than a thousand with sinners, so if I am the least in the kingdom, so be it. I get to live my life as I want, and still get saved. Woo-hoo!!
Sorry- not gonna happen. Yeah, it sounds like that but it doesn’t jive with the rest of the Manual. First off, Yacov (James) reminds us that faith without works is dead. If we are truly repentant, we don’t want to go on sinning. We want to change- that is what T’Shuvah means, to turn , to walk away from sinning. God is compassionate, understanding and merciful, but He’s no fool. You can’t fool Him into calling on His name (to be saved), then not changing your ways. Besides, how can you be sure you will have that “last breath” to repent with? He will come like a thief in the night, it will be like in the days of Noach…in other words, we can’t count on having that last moment of repentance. It’s now or (maybe) never because when it happens, there won’t be time to repent. Even if you mean it.
Maybe the big difference is that part about teaching others: we all continue to sin, and (thanks to Yeshua) we can always be forgiven when we ask God to do so. In Yeshua’s name (B’shem Yeshua ha Mashiach) we can be forgiven our sins, but if we teach others to sin will they be forgiven? We can intercede, we can ask God to forgive them just as Yeshua did as he was being nailed to the tree, but will that help those people? Shaul tells us we shouldn’t do anything to cause another to stumble into sin. That means to set the right example. It’s not just about teaching others in a formal classes setting to watch out for- it’s setting the wrong example in our daily lives.
Halakah (sets of Rabbinic laws for how to live) is based on the idea that we don’t want to trespass (break) the laws of Torah. But we might, so to protect the law we build a fence around it. And, being Jewish, we ask what if I accidentally fall against the fence? What if the gate opens and I walk in without knowing? Well, the answer is to build a fence around the fence.
Yes, but what if I am driving (it’s not Shabbat) and my brakes fail and I accidentally crash into the fence and go through both? OK- let’s build a fence around the fence that is protecting the fence that is keeping us from trespassing.
Yes, but what if….ad infinitum. That is why I will tell people that I follow biblical laws and not always the Rabbinic laws. Kosher laws aren’t that hard to follow if you stick to the Bible, but the Kosher rules and regulations that are Halakha are infinitely hard to keep. I just stay away from shellfish and pork, and try not to get caught accidentally eating coney, eagle or camel. That’s not all that hard to do.
Personally, even though Yeshua tells us when we are a guest we should choose the least important seat at the table, I would rather be one of those that is considered great in the kingdom. It may be pride, and it may be (I would like to think) because it would represent that I did God’s will when I was alive. If I sin less and less, and by my example and by how I teach, I can help others to sin less and less, I will be great in the Kingdom, and it won’t be from pride but from faithful obedience.
That’s what it boils down to- faithful obedience. If you call yourself a Believer, or Born Again, or even Messianic, and you have a hunger for Torah, a terrible thirst for His word and a burning desire to sin less and less in your life, while not judging those who do sin, you are doing what the Manual (at least, as I read it) says you should be doing.
We all are sinners, from birth, living in a sinful and cursed world, and we need to be the light. We need to be the salt, and the best way to do that is to simply live a life desiring to be faithfully obedient, and acting on that desire. Wanting won’t cut it with God- you really need to act. He is not a God of waiting around, and He is not a God of wanting to have it done for you. The biggest lie anyone ever told is that Bible says God helps those that help themselves. God helps those that call on His name AND take action to be more like God wants us to be. God is a God of action, of doing and not just saying. He wants us to trust in Him, to ask Him for help, to turn to Him and not to our own devices, but always, always, always to keep moving forward. We should follow the example of Avraham Avinu (Abraham our Father) and listen to God, unhesitatingly walk in faith where he tells us to go, and maintain faithful obedience in everything we do.
Don’t live your life settling just to be in heaven- strive to be greater than that, because to do so means you are doing God’s work here on Earth. It’s not for bragging rights we should want to be among the greatest in heaven, it’s because it will represent that we served God obediently on Earth.