All who have sinned apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged in accordance with the law. For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous in God’s sight but the doers of the law who will be justified. When gentiles, who do not possess the law, by nature do what the law requires, these, though not having the law, are a law to themselves. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, as their own conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts will accuse or perhaps excuse them on the day when, according to my gospel, God through Christ Jesus judges the secret thoughts of all.
But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast of your relation to God and know his will and determine what really matters because you are instructed in the law, and if you are sure that you are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth, you, then, who teach others, will you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? You who forbid adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the law, do you dishonor God by your transgression of the law? For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the gentiles because of you.”
Circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you are a transgressor of the law your circumcision has become uncircumcision. So, if the uncircumcised keep the requirements of the law, will not their uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? Then the physically uncircumcised person who keeps the law will judge you who, though having the written code and circumcision, are a transgressor of the law. For a person is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision something external and physical. Rather, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not the written code. Such a person receives praise not from humans but from God.
Romans 2:12-29; NRSVue
“No slave can serve two masters, for a slave will either hate the one and love the other or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”
The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all this, and they ridiculed him. So he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of others, but God knows your hearts, for what is prized by humans is an abomination in the sight of God.”
Luke 16:13-15; NRSVue
Paul does not downplay correct teaching or as it’s called, doctrine. All is about or connected to the good news in Christ. And Jesus’s teaching is a core part of the meaning of the coming of God’s good news and rule, though it’s often downplayed or ignored today. I for one believe that many who don’t know the name of Christ are in, while many who do profess that name may be sadly out. What I’m trying to say is that what we hold to in our understandings, be they religious or otherwise is actually less important than how we live. How we live ought to affect our thinking so that we would be open to someone who lived, taught, indeed died like Jesus did.
The common “turn or burn” teaching is basically your ticket, or as someone said, barcode to heaven if only you will believe. But just what are we hearing from those teachers? And I mean all of it. Perhaps their teaching like the religious leaders of old ends up being suspect. Why? Because their lives are suspect. And just perhaps that’s little if at all realized since after all, they have their religion or Bible understanding in order. But even if the teaching might be in apple pie order, does what follows give the lie to it?
Give me an atheist anytime who actually expresses concern for others, and attempts to live it out, and I’m sure Jesus would say that they’re not far from the kingdom of God. But take a professing Christian who gives little thought to any of that except to be assured of their eternal life while embracing values antithetical to Jesus’s life and teaching, and you have another story. Yes, well meaning people consign multitudes to everlasting torment whose lives might actually show more grace, and often do, than many of the former.
Regardless of the accuracy of what I say here, I think the point stands. It’s our lives that matter now and in the end. Christ is the fulfillment of what life is meant to be, how it’s to be lived. Emphasis on correct doctrine enters into what James warns is deceptive. Do it, or sadly, perish (or, it will be a hard row to hoe).