THE DISHONESTY OF UNBELIEF

Over the years this writer has had conversations with many a person, who when it came to embracing the existence of a Supreme Being, were quick to contend that there just doesn’t exist enough evidence for them to believe. Such individuals say they have examined “all the evidence” and it all seems to fall short of producing convincing proofs of the existence of an Intelligent Being; therefore, if there is uncertainty as to the existence of a God then the Christian faith is unworthy of consideration.

There is one fact this writer has learned over the years, proof for the existence of an Intelligent Designer is so overwhelming one has to intentionally ignore the plethora of evidence to come to the position of “unbelief.” As well, the evidence for the truth of the Christian faith is so abundant, that, again, one has to deliberately disregard the eyewitness, historical, archeological, and personal evidence to embrace “unbelief.” Over the years I have never personally met a person who embraced “unbelief” who were totally honest in their skepticism. When someone says they have examined all the known evidence and there doesn’t exist enough to “believe,” they are not being completely honest in their assertion. For one to conclude that there is no God one would have to sift through all the evidence that could possibly ever exist to come to such a conclusion. Since no one has knowledge of everything, is the skeptic willing to admit that the evidence they are seeking could possibly exist in that unknown portion of knowledge they have not yet discovered? It is the height of arrogance and dishonesty for one to say they have sifted through all the evidence, when there is much knowledge they have not yet discovered, which may very well contain the “evidence” they contend doesn’t exist!

Truth of the fact is, there is enough evidence for belief that already exists that man doesn’t have to search further. At the root of their “unbelief” is an obstinate unwillingness to give up their personal autonomy to the Sovereign of the universe. The Bible says “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9). Man has rebelled against his Creator, he has declared defiant mutiny against Him. And man, in order to rationalize his self-autonomy so he can live peaceably in a condition divorced from divine dependence, his deceitful heart concludes it is more convenient to embrace “unbelief.” For if God does exist and the Bible is true, then it means man is responsible for his actions and must one day give an account to an All-Knowing God who is the Giver of life. How much easier it is to dismiss His existence on the false premise that there is not enough evidence for His existence, than to conform to the moral order of the divine Lawgiver.

While the deceitful heart can actually deceive one into a state of unbelief, more often than not those who are truly honest know deep down they are only deceiving themselves! One may attempt to dismiss God’s existence on the assertion that there is not enough evidence to believe, but one can not silence the “echo of God’s voice” He has put within each of us. The deceitful and wicked heart seeks to silence His inner “echo” by willfully embracing unbelief. When one declares themselves as god and one adopts a lifestyle that is contrary to the Creator’s design, then no amount of evidence will convince them of God’s existence…not because the evidence is not there, but because the individual would rather continue on in their sin than surrender to the One who sits upon the throne of heaven. Their “unbelief” is dishonest. It has nothing to do with lack of evidence, but it has to do with a life that desires to live outside the boundaries of God’s presence, principles, and power.

Unbelief is a choice; it is matter of the will; it refuses to believe. The Greek word “unbelief” (apistia – from a = without + pistós = believingmeans literally not believing) is used in the Bible to describe an unwillingness to commit oneself to another or respond positively to the other’s words or actions. Apistia is the antithesis to faith; it is a stubborn refusal to believe even when evidence is overwhelming and obvious. One doesn’t want Jesus upsetting their lifestyle. We see examples of this throughout Jesus’ ministry. In Mark six we find Jesus traveling “into his own country” and “he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk and healed them, and he marveled at their unbelief” (Mark 6:1-6). Matthew adds “he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief” (Matt. 13:54-58). On the day of Jesus’ resurrection, He “appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen” (Mark 16:14). In both instances it was not lack of evidence that resulted in unbelief, but it was unwillingness and stubborn refusal to respond positively to the clear evidence before them.

The author of Hebrews said of those who were not allowed to enter the Promise Land, “So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief” (Heb 3:19). It was not because of lack of evidence they didn’t believe, for they had witnessed the parting of the Red Sea, experienced miraculously supplied manna in the wilderness, drank water that incredibly flowed from a rock, feasted on quail that unexplainably appeared, etc. The problem was not lack of evidence, for it was abundant, but it was because of an “evil heart of unbelief” (Heb. 3:12). They stubbornly refused to believe.

Yes, unbelief is a matter of the will; it is refusing to believe even when confronted with evidence that is irrefutable. The dishonesty of unbelief is that one’s “unbelief” is not anchored in a head problem, but a heart problem. One who willfully desires to cling to their self-autonomy divorced from a relationship with their Creator, no amount of evidence will suffice. Unbelief in essence says, “I hear what you are saying, but I choose not to believe it. I reject what you are saying in spite of the evidence. It has nothing to do with evidence, it has to do with the fact I want to be my own god and live as I please, apart from the principles and presence of the One who created me.”

The dishonesty of unbelief is that it has nothing to do with evidence, but everything to do with self-autonomy and living independently of the Source of all life. Skepticism is a convenient cover for sinners. Over the years I have studied all the stock arguments for endorsing unbelief, and may I say as lovingly as I can, I have observed that all the reasons given for dismissing God’s existence and the claims of Christianity are more emotionally and personally driven than intellectually founded. Evidence abounds for the truly honest inquirer. In the Gospel of Mark, a young father brought to Jesus his ailing son requesting the Master help him. And “the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou my unbelief” (Mark 9:24). The paradox of life is that belief yearns to reign over unbelief, but the deceitfulness of one’s rebellious heart seeks to suppress the truth (Rom 1:18).

Men may contend they embrace unbelief for many reasons in an attempt to convince themselves and others their arguments are founded on honest conclusions, but in reality unbelief has its root in a willingness to do so. But this I know, if one honestly brings their unbelief before the Christ of the cross and honestly cries out and sincerely asks Him to reveal Himself in all His splendor, like doubting Thomas, one will find their unbelief dissolve before the Risen Savior and will find themselves emphatically declaring, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28).

O, what a Savior.

Blessings,
Dr. Dan

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