Does God require obedience from unbelievers? If so, why would God expect obedience from reprobates, who are only disobeying due to their fallen nature?
Your question consists of two parts.
1. Does God require obedience from unbelievers? Answer: Yes.
2. If so, why would God expect obedience from reprobates, who are only disobeying due to their fallen nature? Answer: All that God has commanded requires the proper response of the rational creature to the Creator. God’s laws simply declare the recognition and submission appropriate.
Man does not disobey God due to his fallen nature only; he disobeys because he does not want to obey God. This is not a decision forced upon men against their own will. They freely and deliberately choose not to obey God.
Let me explain this answer a bit further.
1. All men know the true God exists (Rom. 1:18–21) They know that he is, and they know the essential obedience that is required.
2. All men know their sin and guilt. But they continue to desire and pursue things contrary to God’s law revealed to them in their own hearts and minds and in God’s word, the Bible (Rom. 1:24–32). Because man knows who God is and what he requires, God summons them all to repent and believe in Christ. To that end he has sent his people throughout the world to deliver his message to them.
This essential truth is reflected throughout Scripture, but let me point to a couple of other texts in Romans: Romans 3:1 and Romans 5:12–14.
Our lives are not meaningless, which they would be if God did not hold us accountable for how we use them. The joyous message of the Gospel is that God held his Son accountable on our behalf!
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