Law Keepers misunderstand Christianity; note the following Law Keeper’s statement of error: “ARE THERE GOING TO BE JAILS IN HEAVEN? YOU PEOPLE KEEP SAYING WE DON’T HAVE TO KEEP GOD’S TEN COMMANDMENTS TO GET TO HEAVEN. SO THAT MEANS ALL THE MURDERS AND THIEVES ARE GOING TO HEAVEN. IF ALL THOSE PEOPLE ARE GOING TO BE THERE THEN WHAT’S THE PURPOSE OF GOING THERE?“
If it were possible to obey God’s Commandments perfectly and find righteousness and atonement for sin through that obedience, Jesus would not have needed to suffer and die (Galatians 2:21). Where the Law Keeper, the Rabbinic Jew, the Legalist, err is believing that the Christian espouses moral relativism i.e. “do your own thing” in conjunction with salvation by grace through faith in Jesus, alone. Law Keepers erroneously believe that Christianity’s concept of “Grace” espouses carnality and a license to sin void recompense; this is error. Christians fully understand the necessity for obedience to God’s will SUBSEQUENT to repentance in conjunction with their confession of Jesus as Lord and having received the indwelling Holy Spirit as our Guarantor of relationship (Ephesians 1:13-14).
Christians understand that though they are “born again” by the Spirit of God through faith in Jesus as Lord, they remain encumbered with a body of death that is plagued with a sin-nature that wars against the New-Nature received by the presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Romans 7).
The Christian understands that Jesus died for all sin, past-present-future, and by trusting in Him, the Christian is secure if they sin by omission or commission in word-thought-deed (John 10:28-30; 1 John 2:1).
The Christian understands that their imperfections in their humanity and their failures in a fallen-World do not result in the loss of their salvation but that our failures can fracture intimacy with our Lord; therefore, the Christian is careful to live in obedience through the Spirit’s guidance and when a Christian sins, they seek forgiveness…NOT to restore their salvation but to restore intimacy with our Lord because intimacy with God the Holy Spirit is the cherished benefit of the Christian life in the Realm of Time (Proverbs 18:24).
NO ONE born of the Spirit of God through faith in Jesus as Lord and Mediator for sin can walk in willful sin and disobedience, but the one who loves Jesus Christ will intuitively by the Spirit seek obedience to the Spirit’s will because they love God and desire to please Him.
The Christian’s message to the Law Keeper,
The Christian is simply telling the Law Keeper that any attempt to achieve or attain righteousness/atonement/salvation by keeping the Sinai Commandments or the Levitical Law is futility because mankind is a sinner (Romans 3:23); therefore, mankind, by his works and human effort, can never be sufficiently “good” to find favor with our Holy God who requires absolute perfection in word-thought-deed (1 Peter 1:16; Leviticus 19:2); this is one reason Jesus entered Time in the flesh through a virgin woman (Philippians 2:8; 1 John 3:8b; Genesis 3:15) and lived a life of perfection by fulfilling the Law of Moses (Matthew 5:17) and giving Himself as a sacrifice for us (Matthew 26:28) so that by believing in Him and His work upon the Cross, we can receive HIS perfection imputed over our life and thereby be declared “not guilty” by God the Father (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Righteousness through the Law?
Mankind can never find righteousness with the Father by attempting to keep a Law or an edict or a tradition or a Day, but once mankind has agreed with the Father and pursues His “Way” to salvation by repenting of sin and believing in/confessing Jesus as Lord and subsequently receive the Holy Spirit as their Guarantor of relationship, obedience to the Spirit in the process of sanctification is essential as this obedience to God’s will validates one’s confession as authentic. No one born of the Spirit can continue to live in willful sin and disobedience (Luke 6:46).
The Christian does not seek to obey the letter of the Law but the Christian seeks the Law of the Spirit written on our heart and infused within our mind (Hebrews 10:16; Jeremiah 31:31–33; Hebrews 8:8–10); it is the indwelling Holy Spirit who takes charge in the life of the Christian and prepares them for service in the Kingdom during the process of sanctification (Galatians 5:16-26).
The Sinai Commandments and the Christian,
For a certainty, there are moral aspects of the Commandments etched in stone and the Mosaic Law that are taught and infused by the Spirit in the life of the Christian as these moral edicts are universal natural law and written upon our heart, but a striving and laboring to obey the letter is NOT relevant for the Christian as the Christian walks by Grace through the Spirit and not by the letter of the Mosaic Law that is irrelevant and has faded away in the New Covenant (Romans 6:14; 2 Corinthians 3:4-11). Again, no one who possesses the indwelling Holy Spirit and loves Jesus Christ as Lord can walk in willful sin and disobedience; this is NOT possible!
Absence of Atonement in “the Law.”
In addition, the Commandments and the 613 Levitical Laws do NOT provide atonement for sin and without the shedding of blood there is NO remission of sin (Leviticus 17:11); therefore, the Law could never provide lasting regenerative atonement because the blood of animals cannot forgive sin (Hebrews 10:4); therefore, the Law and our attempted obedience to same cannot save anyone because we’re sinners (Romans 3:23) and the Law requires perfect obedience in order to achieve righteousness through it (James 2:10). Even if one was to attain righteousness through the Law, it is ONLY by faith in the shed blood of Christ that one finds atonement for sin, nothing more, nothing less (Hebrews 10). Without atonement provided only by Jesus Christ, one cannot enter the Kingdom of God (Revelation 21:27).
The Law of the Spirit is superior to the Law of Moses,
The Christian is not obligated to a Law etched in stone or scratched on parchment but the Christian is obligated to the Law of the Spirit not the letter (2 Corinthians 3:4-6). The Law of the Spirit is superior to the Law of Moses as the Law of the Spirit is enhanced through mens rea or one’s “thought life.” No longer is culpability realized only subsequent to a physical act as in the Covenant of Law but in the Covenant of Grace through the Spirit, one’s thoughts can be culpable as sin void the physical act (Matthew 5:27-28).
Concerning murderers and thieves in Heaven,
Have you ever been angry with a brother without cause? If you respond in the affirmative, you’re a murderer in the New Covenant (Matthew 5:22). Have you ever lusted after another person? If you answer in the affirmative, you’re an adulterer or fornicator in the New Covenant (Matthew 5:27-28). There will be murderers and thieves in Heaven; that is, those who have repented of their sin and trusted in Jesus Christ as their Lord and having been redeemed by the indwelling Holy Spirit who walks with them on the path of obedience through sanctification.
On the other hand, there are many who think themselves worthy of God’s Kingdom because they strive in the Covenant of Law and live a life of partial obedience to the Commandments and the Levitical Law not understanding that God expects PERFECTION and that PERFECTION is only attainable through the imputation of Messiah’s perfection by faith in Him as our God and Savior and Mediator for sin (John 3:18); therefore, these “Law Keepers” who trust in the Law of Moses and the Sinai Commandments for righteousness will find themselves in the Judgment of the Condemned (Revelation 20:11-15) because they shouted LORD-LORD without trusting and believing in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and Mediator for their sin (Matthew 7:21-23).