How can so many reject the doubters and opponents who experienced appearances of Jesus’s resurrection and then believed? There is no other explanation for how the church began. God remains the best explanation for causality, cosmic fine-tuning, logic, love, objective moral law, and Jesus’s empty tomb. Such evidences like the existence of objective morals; the conscience; the sublime virtues of Jesus’s teachings; predictive prophecies of the Messiah’s death, burial, and resurrection; the empty tomb of Jesus; hundreds of witnesses who experienced appearances of Jesus risen from the dead; and James’, Jude’s, and Paul’s conversions from experiencing appearances of Jesus risen. A person makes a special effort and state of mind to not consider these facts, and this is essential if you want to not believe.
Is There Evil in Unbelief?
Is unbelief evil? Unbelief is not evil to the unbeliever. Each unbeliever can accept nothing as evil or choose what they perceive as evil. However, people can corrupt their moral consciences. There must exist a moral corrective. The Christian Scriptures urge, “Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, leading you to fall away from the living God” (Heb 3:12). One can see how making evil subjective can alter each person’s perception of evil.
God made the human heart — mind with conscience and conviction — for the Gospel. The Word of God belongs in the heart. Jesus depicted that hearts are like earth where a sower sows seed in the earth (Matt 13:1–8, 18–23; Luke 8:4–8). The seed is the Word of God. Some hearts are like earth and become a hard path that rejects the seed of God’s Word. Other hearts are shallow and rocky where the seed can settle but does not grow. In some hearts, the seed grows in the earth, the heart, but the cares of the world are like weeds in the heart. These weeds that choke out the Word from the heart of earth. Lastly, there are some who are honest and good in heart that accept the Word. The seed plants and grows in from the heart producing a hundred hold, some sixty, and some thirty.
To be an unbeliever in God and Christ, one must want to believe that there is no God and that Jesus is not the Christ. People believe what they want. Those who want to believe in God believe in Him. For the Christian, they perceive that those who want to believe the truth find the truth and believe it. “Seek and you shall find” as Jesus taught. Those who want to believe lies do not seek the truth. This is the simplicity of it all. Jesus exhorted, “If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority” (John 7:17). Paul reported that “those who are perishing […] refused to love the truth and so be saved” (2 Thess 2:10). Loving the truth is essential even among Christians to accept and obey all that God instructs.
To become an unbeliever and a skeptic, a person must put justice against oneself out of one’s mind and accept only what is fair to their perception. Thus, unbelief hinders change for virtue, and social acceptance becomes their guide. Skeptics see unfairness throughout the world, which they attribute such to God’s fault. They may ignore that any personal guilt in being a part of those who lack love and hinder the truth in this world. They are confident in their goodness and think that they deserve no judgment. However, few may claim that they have kept their moral values perfectly.For confidence in their own goodness, they disregard that what begins has a cause, and the universe began implying a cause. That cause must exist beyond and before all the nature of the universe. However, many disregard that this cause must be timeless and more powerful than the universe.
Everyone is Guilty
Paul revealed in Romans 1:18–19, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hinder the truth in unrighteousness; because that which is known of God is manifest in them; for God manifested it unto them.” God’s wrath is just toward everyone. Skeptics and believers are all guilty. God has revealed Himself to everyone. God has a just wrath, and people may never fully understand His justice and mercy. The message of the Gospel is that God can forgive the guilty in the sinless Christ who took their punishment in death and yet Jesus overcame death and bodily rose from the grave. This is God’s mercy and love. If skeptics cannot fully comprehend God’s mercy and love, then how do so many think they can understand God’s justice and wrath so much as to scoff at it?
Seeing God in Creation
For one not to believe in God and His Son, then that person must not recognize God in Creation. To be a skeptic, one must reinterpret the Creation for the Creation presents the Creator. In Romans 1:20, the apostle Paul observed, “For the invisible things of Him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even His everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse.”
Everyone is able to see God’s power and divinity in His Creation. From sunsets to thunderstorms, from mountain heights to river valleys, from complex bacteria to simple people, Creation presents the Creator, and because of this, there is no excuse to those who ignore the eternal Creator.
Refusing to Glorify and Thank God
In addition to someone not recognizing God in His Creation, Romans 1 presents some vital things to do to be an unbeliever. In verse 21, there are three more things that one can continue to become an unbeliever. Romans 1:21 notes, “because that, knowing God, they glorified Him not as God, neither gave thanks; but became vain in their reasonings, and their senseless heart was darkened.” The unbeliever must darken one’s thoughts and harden the conscience.
These are three more things needed to reject God: First, do not glorify God even though He created the universe and humankind, and do not glorify God even though His power and divinity are clearly seen in Creation. Second, do not thank God even though everyone’s life is a gift from Him and all the blessings of life were of His creation. Third, use meaningless reasoning to believe something else even to conclude that God does not exist or that He does not deserve gratitude and praise from anyone. This vain reasoning helps to darken the heart and now the unbeliever can enjoy the excesses of a few pleasures that this short life offers. Now, the believer may imagine never glorifying God and never thanking Him for any extended period of time. Such a thought is disturbing to believers, and this is what unbelievers must do to get to their state. This is the state of most people today who disregard God from their daily lives.
To be an unbeliever, one must continue to sin. They reject God because they want extramarital sex. These four things lead to no faith: the lack of recognition, praising, and thanking God; and futile reasoning. Romans 1:28–32 declares,
And even as they refused to have God in their knowledge, God gave them up unto a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, hateful to God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant-breakers, without natural affection, unmerciful: who, knowing the ordinance of God, that they that practice such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but also consent with them that practice them.
A life full of sin is the result of refusing to have God in one’s knowledge. The unbeliever hates to have their conscience pricked. They know that they are guilty. They even go so far as to console one another in their sins, “You’re okay. I’m okay.” They give their consent to one another’s pleasures.
Furthermore, Jesus explains why so many do not come to the light. In John 3:19–20, Jesus revealed,
And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their works were evil. For every one that does evil hates the light, and comes not to the light, lest his works should be reproved.
Fully committed unbelievers do not want anyone not even God Himself to correct them. They hate the light. They disregard Jesus, truth, and righteousness. They love their evil ways. Unbelievers work for their arrogance and tend to scoff. These individuals have hardened their own hearts. Only a very sharp instrument can pierce their callous hearts. John 3:20 just lays the truth out there plainly, which is that most reject Christ, because of their own sins. Ephesians 4:18–19 affirms,
They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.
As affirmed by Romans, unbelievers are ignorant by their own will and have a darkened understanding, so that many today have developed such reasoning like: “The Bible is wrong because God does not exist, and God does not exist because the Bible is wrong.” As is apparent, this is a very convenient circular argument when behind this sinful belief and confession are many sins. This foolish reasoning is necessary to remain an unbeliever. “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good” (Psa 14:1; 53:1).
Unbelievers know better at least at some time in their life. As the Spirit says in Romans 2:14–16,
For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.
Everyone will be accountable. The law is written on everyone’s hearts and their conscience will bear witness against them, so God will judge them for their secrets by the Gospel of Christ. Unbelievers do not repent, because they do not have godly sorrow as to repent and come to the light, but they have a worldly sorrow unto death (2 Cor 7:10). They avoid thinking about that one day everyone “must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Cor 5:10). Unbelievers must avoid anyone cutting them to the heart so as to produce godly sorrow. This is why the writer of Hebrews wrote, “But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end” (3:13–14).
Hope for the Unbeliever
Is there no hope for those who have no faith? With so many callous and impure consciences today, there is but only one way to pierce them to the thoughts and intentions of their hearts and that is by the Word. Hebrews 4:12 states,
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
After producing godly sorrow, one must confess faith in Christ, repent, and appeal for a good conscience in the saving work of God, which is water immersion in the name of the Lord. Christ came and accepted the just wrath of God upon Himself earned by everyone. For this mercy, everyone must “walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).