Sloth, greed, anger, lust, gluttony, envy, and pride: these are the infamous seven deadly sins. But unbelief is not even on this venerable list of our vulnerabilities. Why? Perhaps because it is the deadly sin.

Other sins—including the seven lethal ones—are often expressions of unbelief. Jesus himself considers the failure to believe in him the primary sin (John 16:9). The author of the letter to the Hebrews strongly warns against unbelief so that we will not fall away from the living God (Heb. 3:7–19). John calls unbelief an affront to God because it makes God a liar (1 John 5:10). And the apostle Paul concludes his discussion of Christian conscience with a warning that whatever is done as an expression of unbelief is sin (Rom. 14). Clearly, unbelief is hazardous to your health.

By contrast, I know of no biblical passage where we are even warned against doubt. Perhaps this is because doubt and belief are compatible, and because there is no slippery slope from doubt to unbelief. Actually, as odd as this may sound, I think that doubt is not a hazard to vital Christian faith. Rather, some sincere doubt is necessary to sustain the vitality of the Christian walk.

Here is the difference: Doubt is the act of questioning, the expression of uncertainty. Doubt is the humility of a mind asking real questions and seeking real solutions. Surely one can believe and question at the same time. In fact, if we did not believe we would not question.

In contrast, unbelief is the “uncola” of faith. In its biblical usage, “unbelief” always connotes stubborn resistance, disobedience, and rebellion. In short, doubt is the sincere question, but unbelief is the unwillingness to hear the answer.

In fact, doubt, ...

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