No. Unbelief is not necessarily the result of conscious rejection of truth. While some people may not accept Christ because they are not ready to submit to His authority, others reject Him because they misunderstand Him or because He has been misrepresented to them. This is partly why Jesus and biblical authors such as Paul and Peter warned so strongly against hypocrisy and causing a weaker person to stumble (Matthew 18:6 ; 1 Corinthians 8:9 ).
Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea (Matthew 18:6 NKJV).
Beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak (1 Corinthians 8:9 NKJV).
Scripture implies that rejection of Christ is often the result of ignorance rather than conscious evil intent. For example, it refers to unbelievers as “sheep” ( Matthew 9:36 ; Luke 15:4 ; Isaiah 53:6 ; 1 Peter 2:25 ). The lost could have been referred to as “snakes,” “dogs,” “jackals,” “scorpions,” or any number of other animals, but Jesus and the Bible writers chose sheep. It is fair to assume that they chose the simile of sheep (known for their stupidity and herd instinct) for a reason. Scripture also refers to unbelievers as “ignorant” and “going astray” (Hebrews 5:1-2 ), “poor,” “oppressed,” “blind,” and “captive” ( Isaiah 61:1; Luke 4:18 ).
Many also unintentionally reject the truth because from a natural perspective, the gospel sounds wildly improbable ( 1 Corinthians 1:20-25 ). How could a loving, forgiving God be in charge of this merciless, dark world? Many who long to believe in the resurrection, the possibility of salvation, and ultimate justice, are convinced by life experience that such hope is probably in vain. Even Hebrew believers living in the ages before God “brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” ( 2 Timothy 1:10 ), had an ambivalent view of the condition of the dead. They believed their departed loved ones were in Sheol, at peace with God, but unable to join in the joyous worship of the Lord’s people in the same way as they did when living ( Psalm 88:10; 115:17 ; Isaiah 38:18 ; Ecclesiastes 9:3-6 ).
The New Testament clearly portrays the fragile beginnings of the apostles’ faith. The apostle Paul said:
Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief (1 Timothy 1:13, NIV).