Why Do People Choose Unbelief? (Part 1)

Man’s Natural Hostility Towards God

The Bible indicates that no matter how much evidence is presented in favor of God, some are determined to reject it. As R.C. Sproul once put it, “Unbelief is generated not so much by intellectual causes as by moral and psychological ones. … The problem is not that there is insufficient evidence to convince rational human beings that there is a God, but that rational human beings have a natural hostility to the being of God. … Man’s desire is not that the omnipotent, personal Judeo-Christian God exist, but that He not exist (Sproul, R.C., If There’s a God, Why Are There Atheists?, pp. 57,58).

Jesus Marvelled At Man’s Unbelief

The Lord certainly faced this hostile mindset during his earthly ministry… and it’s what eventually got him killed! After some in his hometown of Nazareth took offense at Jesus, “he marvelled because of their unbelief” (Mark 6:3,6). Other versions of the Bible state that Jesus was “greatly suprised” (BBE, GNB) or “utterly amazed” (ISV) at their unbelief.

On a later occasion, Jesus said of the crowds following him, “You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive” (Matthew 13:14). Or as the Contemporary English Version puts it, “These people will listen and listen, but never understand. They will look and look, but never see.”

Paul Also Witnessed It

In Acts, Luke tells us about Paul’s opportunity to speak to the leading Jews in Rome concerning Jesus “from both the Law of Moses and from the Prophets, from morning until evening” (Acts 28:17,23, NASB). However, the text goes on to say that, “Some were being persuaded by the things spoken, but others would not believe” (Acts 28:24, NASB). Shortly after this, Paul repeated the same words quoted by Jesus years earlier in Matthew 13:14.

If there was anyone who could convince listeners of Jesus’ true identity, it was Paul. Imagine all of the evidence presented in that Bible study that lasted a whole day! However, even though Paul spoke by inspiration of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:12,13; 14:37), some were determined to disbelieve.

Perhaps this is why Paul later encouraged the Christians in Thessalonica to pray for him and his coworkers, Silvanus and Timothy, that they might be delivered from wicked men, “for not all have faith” (2 Thessalonians 3:2).

What is the condition of your heart and mine? When Jesus comes again, “will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8)

–Jerry Falk