QUESTION: “If a person is really sincere and loves Jesus, why does it make any difference what he believes or practices in religion? What do you think?”
ANSWER: Rather than learning what I think, let’s go together to the Word of God and see what He thinks (Isa. 55:8-9).
Sincerity is certainly important, in fact, it it essential to salvation. “That you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ” (Phil. 1:10; cf. 2 Cor. 1:12; 2:17; Col. 3:22).
However, we must never forget that it’s possible for a person to be sincere, and yet be sincerely in error. Years ago, a preacher friend of mine who preached in Chattanooga drove to Pensacola for a speaking/preaching engagement. We he arrived at his destination, he decided to first go in the hotel restaurant for a bite of dinner. He’d been driving for several hours and was looking forward to a nice meal and a tall glass of ice tea.
After he had placed his order, his waitress came back to his table, poured his drink, and then left the pitcher on the table. Unfortunately, what my friend thought was a glass of tea – in reality, turned out to be a tall glass of ice-cold bleach!
Someone had set a pitcher of bleach next to all of the tea pitchers, and my friend was obviously given the wrong one. Imagine his shock when he took that first big drink!
“So Mike, what’s the point of the story?” Just that this was a simple, honest mistake of where the waitress THOUGHT she was serving tea, and where my friend PRESUMED he was drinking tea. Both of them were sincere in their convictions, but both were very wrong. Their feelings were unreliable.
Many religious people are just as sincere in their love for the Lord, and yet their worship and service is in error. Does sincerity alone save? Does sincerity guarantee that a person is automatically in a right relationship with Jesus? The Bible says, “There is a way that SEEMS right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Prov. 14:12; cf. Mat. 7:21-23).
The Lord requires obedience based upon truth. Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Mat. 7:21). Joshua urged, “Now therefore, fear the LORD, serve Him in sincerity and in truth…” (Josh. 24:14–emphasis mine, mb).
Thank you for this good question. I hope we can continue to study together soon.
“God loves you and I love you and that’s the way it’s gonna be!” – Mike