So lately I've been thinking a lot about talking with unbelievers, and something struck me as an interesting question. I know that we can't save anyone and that not everyone will be saved. So here's my question; what do we as Christians require of unbelievers?
Do we require them to obey the word of God?
Do we require that they not use the LORD's name in vain? Or is it not wrong for them to do it, because they aren't unbelievers? Are Christians the only ones who have to obey the Bible? Or is there absolutely no difference between them?
My answer is no.
Did God require Unbelievers to obey him in the BIBLE?
"One law shall be to him that is homeborn, and to the stranger that sojourneth with you." Exodus 12:49
In the old testament law the stranger referred to someone who was not an Israelite but living, or traveling through Israel.
"Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses: for whosoever eateth that which is leavened, even that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a stranger, or born in the land." Exodus 12:19
The punishment is given because of the crime, if there is no requirement, there is no crime and if there is no crime, there is no punishment. So because God is righteous, and knows all we can safely assume that if he punishes (not tests but punishes) someone it is because he required something of them and they failed. Sinner or no, believer or no. Here are some examples...
"And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them. And the people gave a shout, saying, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man. And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost. But the word of God grew and multiplied." Acts 12:21-24
Even though Herod was an unbeliever God still demanded that Herod praise him. Because he didn't he was punished. But Herod isn't the only unbeliever that has been punished throughout scripture for not obeying his word.
"The king spake, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty? While the word was in the king's mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from thee. And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field: they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee, until thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will. The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles' feathers, and his nails like birds' claws." Daniel 4:30-33
Again Nebuchadnezzar was not an Israelite, nor did he believe in God, but he was still required to obey God.
So does this mean that all laws apply to Unbelievers?
"And the Lord said unto Moses and Aaron, This is the ordinance of the passover: There shall no stranger eat thereof." Exodus 12:43
There are parts of the law that apply to believers only, such as the LORD's Supper as we're warned again in 1 Corinthians,
"Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord." 1 Cor 11:27
Unworthily or sinfully. The only way we can partake of the LORD's Supper is if we are washed in the purity of Christ's blood. So even though it is a command in scripture, it is not given to everyone. But most other laws do apply to everyone; such as murder; stealing; adultery; cursing; and lying.
So would following these laws convert an unbeliever?
One law that Unbelievers will never obey.
"Repent,and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." Acts 2:38
This is a command that does apply to every single human being, but only the elect will ever obey it. Therefore even though we still have to require this of them they will not obey it.
"He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." John 3:18
So why do we require unbelievers to obey the law when we know they won't even obey the most important commands of them all?
We don't know who the elect are.
How does this effect Salvation?
If unbelievers where not held to the same standards as Christians than why would they be sinners? What laws have they broken?
Some unbelievers (a lot actually) have never once broken the law. But they're still sinners, why? Without God's law and the requirement to obey it, they would be perfect.
"What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead. For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me." Romans 7:7-11
As I said above, there is no sin if there is no requirement and there is no requirement if there is not law. The law opens our eyes to the sinners we really are. Without our sin we would have no need for a savior.
Some people think that just telling an unbeliever about Christ is enough. But they don't truly understand the gift that he is without first realizing the desperate state of sin they are in.
I often find many people afraid of offending unbelievers by talking too openly or speaking too bluntly. This is SO silly! The name of Jesus will offend them, we're told that in scripture. But they aren't right, you are. So don't hold you're tongue because you don't want to hurt they're feelings. Be bold, be blunt, change the world.