Does Sincerity Trump Truth?
The situation, regarding all the different churches in existence today, seems to be of little (or no) consequence to many churchgoers. They feel that it matters not which church they attend, so long as they are sincere. Some folks even feel that the church they attend does not teach the truth on all Bible doctrines, but they satisfy their misgivings by reasoning that no church teaches the truth on all Bible doctrines--so they figure the best route is to just be sincere and God will take care of the rest. Is this commonly-held belief true--is sincerity all that really matters? Notice 2 points that help illuminate the truth on this question.
First, Jesus said, “the truth” is what sets one free (John 8:32)
. In other words, if one practices that which is not “the truth,”
that person remains in bondage. Contrary to popular belief, Jesus did not come into the world to make people religious. People were already religious before He came. He came so people could be religiously right. Such happens only when Christ’s words are followed with precision.
Second, sincerity does not change error into truth. No amount of well-wishing can change this universal truth. For instance, sincerity does not change five plus five into eleven. Again, if an elementary school student sincerely believed Georgia was larger than Texas, that child’s sincerity would not change the fact that Texas is larger than Georgia. Sincerity is necessary, to be a genuine Christian, but it does not change error into truth.
Scripture is replete with examples of those who sincerely believed they were doing right, but were really deceived, and subsequently punished because of their error. In Genesis 3
, Eve sincerely believed Satan’s words; In 1 Kings 13
, the man of God sincerely believed the older prophet’s words; In 2 Samuel 6:6-7
, Uzzah sincerely believed he was helping out. These three accounts, and many others like them, remind us of Solomon’s serious warning in Proverbs 14:12 “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”
The best course of action, then, is to believe and practice (sincerely) only what the New Testament teaches. This is the sure and safe course to Heaven (2 John 9-11