These verses describe the position any given unconverted person is in because of his failure to repent. The unconverted are most definitely being held accountable by God. They are not escaping judgment; they are not being given a “free pass” on their sins simply because they are unconverted. Therefore, their poor choices have the potential to eliminate them from conversion and eternity. The converted must not misjudge unconverted people's apparent ease in living without faith and the fear of God. Their lives are not as contented as they might seem to the casual observer.
Based on Romans 1:18-20 their position is insecure, to say the least, so we will quickly evaluate their position realistically:
First, the wicked are making choices, but with neither faith nor God's grace guiding them, and God is judging them. Second, they are making those choices without a relationship with God to access in their times of need. Third, we know full well God is not giving them an unlimited get-out-of-jail-free card just because they are unconverted. Our conclusion has to be that we converted people have tremendous advantages over them because of our calling. There is no valid reason for envying the unconverted.
A deep trial sometimes requires us to repent and change our ways and thinking. The danger, the reason the cautions are given, lies in being lured into thinking, by our resolve to be righteous, that God owes us something because we do a few good works. If we yield to that temptation, the trial becomes a major danger.
A simple but important question needs to be answered: Do we truly grasp—have we thoroughly thought through—the fact that God owes us nothing, absolutely nothing, zero, zilch, nada? Yet, we owe Him everything—from life itself to every breath of air we breathe, to the knowledge we have of Him and His purpose, to forgiveness and the gift of His Spirit. Everything!
This is where the knowledge of John 17:3—“And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent”—comes to our aid. Knowing God becomes especially important because intimate knowledge of Him is the very thing our carnality does not want to achieve. Our carnality fears knowing Him and draws back from it to avoid becoming dependent on Him. Thus, Romans 8:7 warns us that our nature looks upon God as the enemy; it fears being beholden to Him. Our carnality is nothing more than a remnant of the spirit of Satan's world in us. It is a spirit of self-centeredness that always wants to hold some of itself back in order to preserve its independence.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and Christian Living (Part Twelve): Paradox, Conclusion