Can atheists be moral without the Bible? Of course they can! Atheists, skeptics, Christians, Muslims and Communists can live moral lives. Nobody denies, or should deny, it. However, there is a difference between a moral lifestyle (independent of God) and a God-dependent lifestyle. The Bible is not about moral living per se, but about becoming part of God’s Kingdom, part of the family of God.
In the Kingdom of God, there is only one Ruler (God). Obedience, which means doing what God wants, is the recipe for a successful eternal Kingdom. Those who have learned to love and obey the Lord God Almighty, is part of God’s Kingdom. This means that they adhere to a lifestyle as prescribed in the Bible. What the world calls a ‘moral lifestyle,’ the Bible calls ‘holiness,’ a life pleasing to the Lord.
The ‘moral’ unbeliever lives his good life mostly by self discipline. He does not want God in his life. Contrary to that, the believer understands that God is the inspiration that makes it possible to live up to His standards. Nobody on earth can do what the Bible commands without God’s help. Let us look at an example in Scripture, ‘… as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience….’ 1 It is impossible to do this 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. God knows it and He proved it in the Old Testament with the failure of the Israelites to keep the Covenant. Somewhere, somehow, with the best intentions, we slip, break God’s rule, and that’s it. Yet ‘…without holiness no one will see the Lord.’ 2
Logically God wants ‘all people to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth,’ 3 so He provided His brilliant solution, Jesus. Jesus makes it possible for us to be in a relationship with God, and to have the Holy Spirit inside us. The Holy Spirit is our Personal Coach who teaches us for example to live according to the standards that we referred to above, ‘clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.’
- The ‘moral’ man does it all by his own strength, with his own designed moral standard, which varies among people.
- The believer in God has the power of the Holy Spirit who helps him to keep God’s unchangeable standards of living.
- The moral lifestyle is commendable, but it has a limited value. When such a person dies, the morals die also.
- Contrary to that, the Holy Spirit inspired lifestyle does not stop at death. It carries over to the eternal reign of God.
The lifestyle of the moral man is to be commended. It has value and benefits in this life. Nobody denies that.
Contrary to that, the person who lives a holy lifestyle has benefits not only in this life, but also in the life to come.
The one lasting difference is that only the Holy Spirit filled ‘holy’ person will be in God’s presence eternally.
- Colossians 3:12
- Hebrews 12:14b
- 1 Timothy 2:4