Can Non-Christians Do Good Works?

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This now brings us back to the opening section of our conversation.  Can a non-Christian do good works?  Yes and no. 
In the early portions of the epistle of Romans the Apostle Paul shows us that the divine Law of God has been inscribed on mankind’s heart, Christians and non-Christians.[1]  This is what we can commonly refer to as, “mankind’s conscience.”  When mankind does good works to appease and satisfy the Law inscribed on the heart we would say that a good work has been done.  Good works happen when the poor are fed, when a child is taken care of, and when justice is conducted.  Thus this is the reason why many non-Christians surpass the good works of Christians; they do works in accordance to the Law inscribed on the heart.
What this means is that externally the works of unbelievers and believers will look the same.  In the words of Mueller, they are “one of kind.”[2] 
Just because the works of believers and unbelievers are one of kind does not mean that they are in the same category.  It has commonly been said that the good works of believers and unbelievers are the same outwardly speaking but inwardly they are different.  The reason why they are different inwardly speaking is that the motive or one could say that the source of the works are different.  
Let's take a closer look at the motive and source of good works for unbelievers.  According to Mueller, some of the motives for performing good works flow from the ambition of fame, the need for praise, fear of punishment and the desire to earn salvation.  In other words, the motive for good works and the source of good works are simply the love of self.  There are also other times that the natural love for others is also the source and motive for good works; natural love being demonstrated in one's love for family, friends, country, etc...  Both the love for self and the love for others have their root and motive flowing into and out of a source other than God (i.e. mankind), thus showing that they cannot be classified truly as spiritual good works.  Even thought natural love seems nobler than love for self and this natural love is giving to one's neighbor, it is in the same classification as love for self insofar both natural love and love for self are not rooted and sourced in love for and from God.[3]

Coming Next: "Do Christians Do Good Works?"

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[1] Romans 1:32, 2:15.
[2] Mueller, 409.
[3] Ibid, 407.


Jodi said…
Luke 9:49, 50 "Master, " said John, "we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us."
"Do not stop him," Jesus said, "for whoever is not against you is for you."

Philippians 1:18a "But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. "

Just some things that came to mind …...