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Can a Criminal Go to Heaven? (Y1.T2.D40)

Updated: Apr 15, 2022

Unsplash; "Hasan Almasi"



In Jerusalem, days before Jesus would be arrested, he told the chief priests and the elders of the people, "Most certainly I tell you that the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering into God’s Kingdom before you" (Matthew 21:31).

We've all lived as servants of sin (Romans 3:23). Even the most sanctified person you know is a criminal based on God's law (Matthew 5:17–48).

Entering heaven isn't about keeping the law.

With that said, Jesus said, "If you love me, keep my commandments" (John 14:15).

If you stumble after you've been saved, then repent as soon as possible. People who've accepted Jesus should not willfully break laws. Romans 6:14–16 reminds us:

For sin will not have dominion over you. For you are not under law, but under grace. What then? Shall we sin, because we are not under law, but under grace? May it never be! Don’t you know that when you present yourselves as servants and obey someone, you are the servants of whomever you obey; whether of sin to death, or of obedience to righteousness?

Anyone looking for a loophole isn't living a repentant life.

But those who do understand, nothing that's happened in our past will stop us from eternal life. What stops most people is the unwillingness to repent, confess, and believe Jesus died for their sins.

Human nature resists the idea of giving up control to someone else. But the truth is: control was never ours to begin with (more about this in a future post).

For those who do repent, confess, and believe—including criminals— who fully yield their life to The Master find spiritual freedom.

And We Gladly Serve You

Matthew 21:18–19a, Mark 11:12–13

14 Jesus told it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again!” and his disciples heard it. (Mark 11:14)

19b He said to it, “Let there be no fruit from you forever!”

Immediately the fig tree withered away.

20 When the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree immediately wither away?” (Matthew 21:19b–20)

20 As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away from the roots. 21 Peter, remembering, said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree which you cursed has withered away.” (Mark 11:20–21)

Matthew 21:21–22, Mark 11:22–24

25 Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father, who is in heaven, may also forgive you your transgressions. 26 But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your transgressions.” (Mark 11:25–26)

Matthew 21:23–27, Mark 11:27–33, Luke 20:1–8

28 But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first, and said, ‘Son, go work today in my vineyard.’ 29 He answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind, and went. 30 He came to the second, and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I’m going, sir,’ but he didn’t go. 31 Which of the two did the will of his father?”

They said to him, “The first.”

Jesus said to them, “Most certainly I tell you that the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering into God’s Kingdom before you. 32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you didn’t believe him; but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. When you saw it, you didn’t even repent afterward, that you might believe him. (Matthew 21:28–32)

Meditation Moment

Dear God,

Who the Son sets free is free indeed (John 8:36). Thank You for freeing me from sin and allowing me to become Your servant and providing me eternal life (Romans 6:22). You helped me walk away from a criminal's life. My life in Christ has made me a new creation. The old things have passed away and everything around me has become new (2 Corinthians 5:17). Thank You. Thank You. Thank You.


Meditation Music Link


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