The Holy Spirit does not tell unbelievers not to lie, steal, murder, commit adultery or fornication (either straight or gay), get drunk, or vote democrat. The unbeliever is already condemned (John 3:18), so there is nothing he can do, or not do, that will make him “more condemned.” So, it is futile to preach such things to unbelievers as a means to salvation, or point to not doing those things as proof of salvation.
Sins of the flesh apply only to those who have been made righteous by the indwelling Holy Spirit. They are the basis of reward vs. lack of reward, not the determinant of eternal destiny. One’s lifestyle is not the evidence of being saved—or not saved, for the evidence of salvation does not come from man, but from the Holy Spirit. HE is the one who tells someone who has believed that he has been adopted as a child of the Most High. It is not based on a person’s lifestyle or how he feels.
Once again, a primary issue in understanding these things is a woeful inadequacy of modern translations of scripture. There are several different words in the scriptures (original languages) that have all been conflated down to either “sin” or “sins,” even though those original words have different meanings.
Eternal life is a gift that is given to those who believe and confess Messiah Yahoshua before others (usually involving at least relational risk with friends and/or family). Eternal life is based on belief (having the Holy Spirit) vs. unbelief (not having the Holy Spirit).
Eternal life is not based on not committing sins of the flesh, but by BELIEVING in Messiah, and then RECEIVING the Holy Spirit, who is the perfection (completion) of that belief. One whose human belief has not yet been completed is still seen by the Father as an unbeliever—not yet adopted as His child. Salvation is an eternal legal decree of adoption by the Almighty.
Once one has been made a child of Yah, it is only then that the matter of crucifying (denying) the flesh comes into play. Those who are Yah’s children will one day be judged FOR REWARD (not punishment) by how much they sacrificed their flesh—how much they denied their flesh and its sins (adultery, lying, stealing, being a democrat, etc.).
Look at it this way: say there is a family who lives in a neighborhood, and the father decides he is going to give his children a list of things he wants them to abide by. The list is comprised of specific things he doesn’t want them to do, and also some things he does want them to do. The list is non-negotiable, and disobeying the things on the list will result in that child not receiving either part, or all, of his weekly allowance.
Wouldn’t it be absurd for his kids to go out and tell the other kids in the neighborhood that all they have to do is obey the list their father gave THEM, and they will all be legal members of the family? Would it not also be ludicrous to tell those neighborhood kids that they will be punished for not obeying their father’s list, or that all the kids in the neighborhood will receive a weekly allowance for obeying it?
To further that nonsense, imagine if disobeying the things on the list would mean that the father’s children would become no longer his children. Such error is what many christians teach when they deny the eternal nature of salvation given to Messiah’s bride by the covenant, which is the eternal seal of the Holy Spirit. It is vital to understand that the covenant is given ONLY to Messiah’s bride—not the friends of the Bridegroom (OT saints), friends of the bride (tribulation saints), or the wedding guests (millennial saints).
The Ten Commandments are a physical foreshadow of the Holy Spirit’s seal. It was the physical covenant, which was only a picture—a physical representation—of the spiritual covenant, who is the real substance—the Holy Spirit. Only those who have the Holy Spirit are Yah’s children. As such, those things apply only to those who are members of His family. They don’t apply to the whole “neighborhood.”
That is the reason that when the apostle Paul explained what he preached to unbelievers, he didn’t say that he preached the Ten Commandments, or “moral living.” He said, “We preach Christ crucified,” which is the Passover. It is only AFTER one has been made righteous that the pursuit of holiness will result in greater reward. Those who have not been made righteous will receive NO reward, so it is false to preach that they should work for rewards only the righteous can receive.
Those who HAVE been made righteous by the indwelling Holy Spirit will receive NO eternal punishment, because, for them, there is now no condemnation. They have the same righteousness that Messiah Yahoshua has, for HE has already suffered their punishment—on the cross and in hell.
Those who have not received the Holy Spirit need to repent of their unbelief (which is to believe), confess Messiah before others, and then wait to receive the covenant. Telling an unbeliever that not not lying, stealing, or committing adultery is what will result in that covenant is a false salvation.
Eternal life cannot be earned by works of righteousness. Righteousness must be imputed by the Father through His Holy Spirit. Holiness, not righteousness, is what is earned by crucifying the flesh AFTER one is made righteous.
For more information: What Are the Old and New Covenants?