The Herald Weekly Vol XVII : 36

Godliness… Sincerity…

The term “Christian” was first used by unbelievers in Antioch on the disciples of Jesus Christ (Acts 11:25-26). Some believe that it was intended to be a derisive term. Regardless of the intent of using this term, the fact is that there is an expected distinction between one who is a Christian and one who is not. Christians are reputed to be godly, and one essential mark of godliness is sincerity.

Sincerity makes believers lovely in God’s eyes.

The Bible tells us that “Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD” (Genesis 6:8). What did God see in Noah that He did not see in the rest? It was said that “Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations” (Genesis 6:9), meaning to say that Noah was truthful, and truthfulness is God; and when God sees a sincere heart, He sees His own image. Noah also “walked with God” (Genesis 6:9), meaning to say that Noah pleased God. Noah, a men girded with the belt of sincerity, was a delight to God. The Psalmist says the “upright in their way are his [God’s] delight” (Proverbs 11:20).

Sincerity renders our services acceptable with God.

The church at Philadelphia “hast a little strength” (Revelation 3:8), but it was one of two churches for whom our Lord Jesus did not have a word of rebuke. Her strength was weak, and consequently, her ministry was limited. But her sincerity was not, and as a result her devotion to God was wholehearted. Thomas Watson writes, “Though we cannot pay God all we owe, yet a little in current coin is accepted. God takes sincerity for full payment. A little gold, though rusty, is better than tin, however, bright it is. A little sincerity, though rusted over with many infirmities, has more value with God than all the glorious flourishes of hypocrites.

Sincerity secures our conscience.

The problem with false hearts and duplicity is that there is always the tendency to step out of God’s way, use our own intelligence and carnal method, and that always exposes our vulnerability. Proverbs tells that the main “that walketh uprightly walketh surely” (Proverbs 10:9). There are no multiple fronts to upkeep, and no facades to prop up. A sincere Christian will do nothing but what the Word warrants, and that is safe for the conscience. David expressed that safety this way, “I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the LORD sustained me. I will not be afraid of  ten thousands of people, That have set themselves against me round about” (Psalms 3:5-6).

Sincerity bolsters our testimony.

When Satan was seeking a person whom he may attack for insincerity, God told him, “And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?” (Job 1:8). Job was beyond reproach. His sincerity serves as an armour against the accusations thrown at him. A believer’s sincerity is the devil’s first and primary target. Satan employed his best efforts to hurl his fiery darts at Job. But despite the losses that Job had to suffer, he was unmoveable. Job says, “My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go: My heart shall not reproach me so long as I live. Let mine enemy be as the wicked, And he that riseth up against me as the unrighteous” (Job 27:6-7).

The devil is not concerned with church-goers and pew-sitters, those who merely make a profession of faith with their lips but show no corresponding evidence in their walk with God. The devil is perfectly happy with people going to church and making pretences of their holiness because hypocrites are the devil’s best weapons to malign the Church of Christ. One hypocrite makes suspects of those who are honest. One scandalous hypocrite makes the world suspect that all professing Christians are like him. When a church-goer is exposed for his hypocrisy, the devil uses him as a broad brush to taint the entire body of Christ.

When believers are sincerely committed, as Job was, Satan musters up all his forces against them. Ironically, the Christian’s sincerity is the devil’s target; it is also the believer’s strongest defence. Watson says that sincerity is the fortress “most shot at; therefore, let us be more careful to preserve it. While a man keeps his castle, his castle will keep him. While we keep sincerity, sincerity will keep us.

Sincerity adorns the Christian.

There is no shortage of believers whose heads are filled with theology, but whose hearts are empty. It is like the Laodiceans, who thought that they were “rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing,” but in actual fact, they were “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17).

Sound doctrine must be matched by sound living. Paul told Titus, “But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1), so that believers “may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things” (Titus 2:10).

What is the glory of Gospel, but that it be manifested in the lives of those who have embraced it? And what does the beauty of a Christian lie, except in this: that he “desirest truth in the inward parts” (Psalm 51:6).

Just as sincerity adorns the Christian, so hypocrisy taints the false professor. Our Lord Jesus gives this stinging rebuke to the Pharisees, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation… Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity” (Matthew 23:14, 27-28). And our Lord Jesus ends by calling them serpents and generations of vipers.

Sincerity opens the door to God’s mercy.

King Saul was exposed by Samuel for his hypocrisy, and the kingdom was taken from him. David’s sins were just as bad if not worse than Saul’s, but God did not remove him from the throne. God’s love does not blind Him to the sins of David, but the LORD looks upon David’s sin not with the eye of condemnation but of mercy. Every Christian has its scars and spots, but with sincerity, you will find God’s mercy. So, let us heed the words of the writer of Hebrews, “Let us draw near with a true [i.e. sincere] heart in full assurance of faith” (Hebrews 10:22), and rejoice in “the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity… we have had our conversation in the world” (2 Corinthians 1:12).

Rev Issac Ong
Calvary Weekly Bulletin, 1 Sep 2019

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