There is a common belief among many christians that ANY sin will send someone to hell. Some even go so far as to claim that if someone was saved, but then dies with “unrepented sin,” he will go to hell. That belief is false.
If someone dies without repenting of the sin that condemns, which is UNBELIEF, he will go to hell. But, that has nothing to do with sins of the flesh, for salvation is not of the flesh, but of the spirit. If we are alive on the earth, our flesh is alive, but those who do not have the Holy Spirit have a dead spirit. Salvation resurrects that dead spirit, giving it new life.
So, one who has repented of unbelief has believed (since, “to repent” means “to change one’s mind”), and that is the first step on the path TO salvation, for one is not actually saved until he is given the Holy Spirit. Salvation is not by man’s decision, but by the Father’s will alone, and in His time alone.
Many christians use a deceptive claim about sins of the flesh, which is expressed in terms of someone being “characterized” by particular sins, and that such characterization is evidence that someone has not truly been saved.
There is one problem, though, in that entire mindset: IT IS FALSE!
First, Paul explained in Romans 7 that all people are born with the indwelling law of the flesh—they are carnal, and since all people are born in sin (unbelief), their spirit is dead because of their unbelief (which is a singular spiritual condition, not individual acts). Such folks are ruled ONLY by their flesh. And, the flesh never works separately from the world and the devil. The world, the flesh, and the devil always work in concert.
Paul goes on to teach that those whose spirit is made alive by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit are thus indwelt by two natures—the flesh AND the spirit. And, the two natures set up a lifelong battle. Those who strive to make themselves holy after they have been made righteous will work to deny their flesh nature and to feed their spirit nature.
The more the spirit nature is fed, the less one will be ruled by the flesh—but, that battle never goes away completely until one receives a glorified body, free from the corruptible nature of the flesh.
So, what about sins of the flesh? Will they send someone to hell, if he is “characterized” by them? The answer is a resounding “NO,” because, again, salvation is not of the flesh, but of the spirit. Those who feed their flesh will reap the consequences of it, which can be earthly, but are definitely eternal (loss of eternal reward).
Those who have been made righteous, who also deny their flesh and its sins, will receive eternal reward for it, and will have access into the New Jerusalem, which is the eternal union of the Bridegroom and bride, indwelt by the glory of the Father. It will hover above the new earth, which is where all the other people who are in heaven will dwell. The New Jerusalem is the bride; it is not all the others who are saved (OT saints, tribulation saints, and millennial saints—the three groups are also known as the friends of the Bridegroom, friends of the bride, and wedding guests).
In 1 Corinthians 3, Paul sets up this picture between the works of the spirit and the works of the flesh. He identifies the works of the spirit as “gold, silver, and precious stones,” and the works of the flesh as “wood, hay, and straw.” Here, Paul is speaking to those who are believers (those who have been given the Holy Spirit), explaining how their works will be viewed at judgment:
“Now if any man builds on the foundation [Messiah Yahoshua] with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.” 1 Corinthians 3:12-15
Did you catch that? The works of the flesh (wood, hay, and straw) will be burned up in the fire of judgment, and will result in loss of reward; BUT, even though the believer will suffer the loss of reward, HE HIMSELF WILL BE SAVED!
Paul didn’t say that if a believer is “characterized” by works of wood, hay, and straw, he will be sent to hell. No, one who has received the seal of the Holy Spirit CANNOT be sent to hell, for Yah will not send the Holy Spirit to eternal punishment. One who is sealed by the Spirit HAS eternal life (there is no question where that person will live eternally—it will be in heaven).
Much of the confusion so many christians have about these truths comes from the fact that christianity doesn’t teach the true path to salvation, but a counterfeit of it in which man is the one who “decides” to be saved. Such thinking is a lie straight from the father of lies (“You shall not surely die”). Man does not decide to be saved; man decides to believe. And, again, man’s belief is NOT salvation, but the beginning of the path to it. Salvation is the END (result, goal) of one’s belief (1 Peter 1:9).
It is the Father alone who gives the Holy Spirit to those who have believed, and whose belief has been tried (James 1:2-4).
Those who endure in belief receive the covenant, and are saved; those who believed, but then fell away at some point, were never given the Holy Spirit (they have no root, or life-source), so they were never saved (Luke 8:13, Hebrews 10:39). Belief is not salvation, but the first step on the path TO salvation.
And, sins of the flesh (all sins other than the singular sinful condition of unbelief into which all humans are born) will not send anyone to hell. In Revelation 20:13, we see that hell is going to give up its inhabitants for judgment after Messiah’s millennial reign. Now, how could the unbelievers be in hell before their works are judged, if hell is the result of works? That would be unjust, and Yah is wholly just.
Those who are in hell are there because of their unbelief (John 3:18, Hebrews 3:19), not because of their works. Likewise, those who are in heaven are there because of their belief, not their works (Titus 3:5). Their level of reward will be determined by their works (flesh), but their eternal destiny is determined ONLY by their belief (spirit).
So, anyone who preaches that drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, thieves, liars, and gossipers will go to hell because of those sins is a false teacher. Those who are unrighteous (no Holy Spirit) will go to hell, and those who are righteous (have the Holy Spirit) will go to heaven.
Works of the flesh, whether they are to gratify the flesh (wood, hay, straw) or to deny it (gold, silver, precious stones), are the basis of reward, not eternal destiny.
For more information: Do Sinners Go to Heaven?