"The evidence is clearly in favor of Jesus as Lord. Some people, however, reject the clear evidence because of the moral implications involved. They don't want to face up to the responsibility or implication of calling him Lord"(Josh McDowell, "More Than a Carpenter", p. 34).
The above quote by Mr. McDowell illustrates a really good point, and one that I have thought for a number of years. There is no secret that there as been quite a number of new-found “atheists” and “agnostics” among my generation. I suppose there could be any number of reasons given for this, and I don’t propose to know all of them, or to ascribe motives to any person regarding their reason for so-called “unbelief.” I obviously cannot speak to any one person’s choice, and I don’t propose to. However, in general I think that McDowell hit the nail on the head. I am convinced that from general observation most people simply do not want the moral responsibility of being a Christian.
Making the choice to honestly and truly call Jesus “Lord” would mean too many changes, too much responsibility, and too much accountability.
It would mean that they would have to account for their fornication.
It would mean that they would have to account for their adultery.
It would mean that they would have to account for their drug and alcohol use and abuse.
It would mean that they would have to account for their support of the murder of the unborn in abortion.
Their multiple divorces and remarriages, their dishonesty, their support of perversion, their use of ungodly and profane language, etc., would have to be accounted for, and there is no desire to be accountable for these actions.
Now don’t misunderstand me, because I’m quite sure that with each and everything noted here, you can find a person who claims to be a “Christian” who has practiced these things. That’s not the point, but more on that shortly. For some folks believing there is no God gives them the justification to continue in wickedness. If they believe they are not accountable, then they don’t have the conscience problem that accompanies sin. This is McDowell’s point.
Now regarding “Christians” who practice, or have practiced these things, first note that there is a difference between one who is practicing these things, and one who once practiced them but now has repented (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11). God will not hold to their charge those who have repented of sin, and submitted to his divine will. Yet many supposed “Christians” practice these things and seek to feel justified in them as well. Thus they have invented doctrines (not unlike the atheists and agnostics) that allow them to continue in sin and not feel accountable. You hear phrases like “once saved, always saved” or “perseverance of the saints.” You hear people talk about “feeling the Holy Spirt” or saying “God knows my heart”, etc. These doctrines are common among evangelical churches, and they produce the same result in a person that does atheism. That is, they do not have to feel accountable to God for their wickedness.
The fact is, none of these ideas truly changes our accountability before God. Each of us, regardless of belief or lack thereof , will one day stand before the judgment seat of Christ and give an account for ourselves (2 Cor. 5:10; Romans 14:11-12). All of our conscience-salving will not change the fact that “The soul that sins, it shall die” (Ezekiel 18:20).
The answer then for us is to realize that creation itself cries out the existence of an Almighty God (Romans 1:17-20), and that each of us is accountable to God for the life that we lead on this earth (Ecc. 12:13-14).