What Causes Unbelief
Unbelief is a great threat to the spiritual life of every person. Jesus warned the Jews, saying, “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins” (John 8:24). Unbelief causes spiritual separation from God, a separation which will become eternal if a person chooses not to believe in Jesus Christ.
Let us give thought to several causes of unbelief, beginning with ignorance. There are many people who do not believe in Jesus because they have not heard the word. While one may consider ignorance as an excuse, God does not. The apostle Paul wrote, “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent,” (Acts 17:30). The only way to remove ignorance is to study God’s word. The apostle Paul wrote, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). However, the opposite of this verse is just as true. If a person does not hear the word of God, then there will be no possibility of that person believing in God.
Another cause of unbelief is a lack of conviction. There are many people who hear the word of God, but who are neither convicted nor persuaded by the evidence found within God’s word. Simply put, they choose not to believe. While such unbelief is disappointing, it is not surprising. The apostle Paul referenced those who did not believe when he wrote, “For what if some did not believe? Will their unbelief make the faithfulness of God without effect? Certainly not! Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar . . .” (Romans 3:3-4). It is possible for a person to see the evidence found within God’s word, yet not be convicted by that evidence. There may be various factors which hinder a person from believing the Word of God, such as previous religious teachings, preconceived ideas regarding the Bible, a lack of interest in spiritual matters, family influences, worldly influences, etc. Consider the example of Felix who said to Paul, “Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you” (Acts 24:25). While Felix was afraid of what Paul was saying, he was not willing to believe and accept the Word of God.
The wisdom of the world also serves as a cause of unbelief. Despite the number of people who choose not to believe in Jesus Christ, many people have been convicted by the Truth of God’s word. In order to remain faithful to the Lord, a Christian’s conviction must remain strong. This strength of faith or conviction continues to build as one studies God’s word. However, if we allow ourselves to listen to the wisdom of man, if we allow ourselves to believe man’s ideas over God’s truth, then we will begin to have doubts regarding that which God’s word teaches.
As Christians, we must always keep in mind the greatness of God’s wisdom. The apostle Paul wrote, “Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, ‘He catches the wise in their own craftiness’; and again, ‘The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile’” (1 Corinthians 3:18-20). No matter how “brilliant” man’s theories and speculations may appear, in the end, they are foolishness before God.
Listening to the deceitfulness of sin can likewise lead to unbelief within a Christian’s life. The writer of Hebrews wrote, “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:12-13). When we listen to the deceitful story of sin, we may be tempted to believe what sin is telling us. Much like Eve who listened to the lies of Satan (Genesis 3:1-6), we too can be tricked by the lies of sin. If we follow sin’s deceptive ways, then we will allow an evil heart of unbelief to grow within our lives.
I am certain there are other potential causes of unbelief within a person’s life. However, the decision to believe or not to believe or the decision to remain faithful or become unfaithful falls upon the responsibility of every person. If you are a Christian, then give due diligence to faithfully studying God’s word. Do not be convinced by the wisdom of man or tricked by the deceitfulness of sin. Continue to live your life, walking by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and avoid all causes of unbelief.