There have been a lot of articles in the news lately concerning a recent Pew Research Center poll concerning the necessity of believing in God to be moral and have good values. Before this question can be answered, you have to define what is good and moral. As a Christian, I hold firmly to the truth that only God has the authority to define those terms; and He has done so in His word, the Bible. No one person or group of persons has/have the authority to make that decision for others. They may come together to form governments or institutions etc. and establish laws that make things legal or not, permissible or not; but that doesn’t mean that those laws define what is good or moral in the opinion of others. If one dismisses a higher authority than man, every man is free to make such determinations on his own. Only God, as our Creator, has that authority.
God has sovereignly chosen to give men the freedom to make their own choices concerning whether to accept Him as LORD or not, whether to choose to live in accordance with His truth as established in scripture. Are there unsaved people in the world that choose to live in a manner that basically aligns with many of the morals established in scripture? I believe so. If you ask them why, they will probably answer that it is because they want to do good, all the while rejecting the truth that God is the arbiter of what is good. Are their people who profess salvation that choose to ignore the morals of scripture in areas of their life? Yes. If you ask them why, the only honest answer they can give is that they haven’t yielded their lives completely to the LORD; they are more concerned with what pleases them instead of what pleases God. Important to note, however, is that if that person can continue in such sin without guilt or shame, I would wonder if their profession was sincere. If one sincerely realizes the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross on his/her behalf to make it possible to become part of His family, you will want to show your love to Him.
So, the phrasing of the question is important to framing an answer. Can an unsaved person do good and moral things? The answer is yes. Can an unsaved person be defined as a good person? No. It is only through the new birth in Christ at salvation that one becomes good or righteous.
2 Corinthians 5:17 & 21 “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new…. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
Just had to get that off my chest.