So, for me, the bottom line answer to the question is Yes. Yes we can prosper, pick and choose our morality based on the situation, have good relationships, and even be “spiritual” and religious apart from submitting ourselves to God, but this doesn’t mean that we can live this type of life without consequences. God has declared that it is in His character to do good to people, even to His enemies. He makes “His sun rise on the evil and on the good and sends rain on the just and the unjust” (See Matt 5). Therefore, just because everything seems to be “working” in our lives doesn’t mean that there is nothing wrong.
When we live our lives based on pragmatism, we are on a slippery slope. This means we live based solely on “what works for me” rather than based on the unchangeable foundation of God’s Word. It’s easy to pick and choose what we want in regards to morality and we may even see success.
Some people even live according to many of God’s principles, but don’t believe in God! They live by “the golden rule” which comes from the teachings of Jesus or they are giving people. Because of these things, we may see prosperity come to them even when they are not living for God. God’s principles and laws work, period. His virtues are good for men to live by. What many who espouse a positive view on life apart from God don’t see is that neglecting their relationship to God will eventually catch up with them.
In Psalm 73, the writer had to check Himself when he saw people prospering in life apart from God. He compared his life as a believer to the life of those who didn’t acknowledge God. He saw that they were prosperous, healthy, free from any burden, carefree, and increasing in wealth. This believer experienced God’s goodness and prosperity in his life as well, but he also sometimes felt that he kept his heart pure in vain. He felt plagued, punished, and oppressed compared to those who had no care for God.
He wanted to speak out about this to God, but then he remembered others who have suffered for righteousness that came before him. The believer was silently rebuked by their faith in the midst of a “crooked and perverse generation”. Then he entered into the house of God and came to his senses. He realized the final destiny of the “positive people” who didn’t know God. All of the temporary pleasures and happiness they sought would amount to nothing after death came to claim them.
The believer went from being envious to feeling grieved, embittered, senseless, and ignorant. Although those without God may experience pleasure, feel free, and enjoy the good things of life, in the end they will never know these things again. They never acknowledged that it was God, their creator, that gave them the ability to live, move, breath, and experience life. They took the work of Christ Jesus for granted and never acknowledged their need for the Savior.
They choose not to move beyond life being more than doing something positive, feeling positive, and thinking positive. Therefore they will be eternally separated from God and the benefits He gave that they never acknowledged Him for.