Is unbelief a sin?

I received the following question from a friend of mine on Facebook during the course of a conversation regarding salvation and whether or not all men are given the opportunity to be saved.

If unbelief is a sin and Christ died for the sins of all then wouldn’t all be saved?

The question of unbelief being a sin is a rather common one so I decided to address it here for the benefit of all. I imagine like several of my posts, I’ll end up referencing it a lot.

Unbelief is not sin, otherwise we are faced with a dilemma of charging to one’s account something they had no control over. Rather, what is a sin is all the actions we commit that are against the law of God. I believe it is critically important to reject the premise that what we are talking about is a person’s beliefs as if the person is heading to heaven if but for one thing, their intellectual acceptance of a set of facts.

No, the real picture I believe best fits the Biblical model is one of a slave who has no hope of escaping on their own. And then someone come in, beats down all the guards, sets the prisoner free, and opens the door.

All we have to do is walk through that door and we are free. In fact we all have the potential to be free and have done nothing whatsoever to contribute positively to our being free. The only thing we can contribute to our freedom is a negative contribution in the form of rejecting it all in favor of remaining in prison.

As Ken Keathley so eloquently put it in “Whosoever Will” (HT: Wardrobe Door):

Imagine you wake up and discover that you are in an ambulance being transported to the emergency room. You clearly require serious medical help. If you do nothing, you will be delivered to the hospital. However, if for whatever reason you demand to be let out, the driver will comply. He may express his concern, warn you of the consequences, but he will abide by your wishes. You receive no credit for being taken to the hospital, you receive all the blame for getting out.


5 responses to “Is unbelief a sin?

  1. Ken's analogy is apt, except:

    1.) It's unclear whether you are in an ambulance on the way to the hospital.
    2.) It's unclear whether you have a serious medical condition.
    3.) You don't get to find out the above things for certain until after you arrive at the purported hospital.

    Not to mention:

    4.) If you actually do have the serious condition, the doctors at the hospital you're going to put you in that condition in first place.

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