Sincere but Mistaken
Constructing a proper and reliable building is possible using a tool called a plumb line. Without such a tool, the builder however well-meaning and sincere, is likely to make serious errors.
Likewise, our lives and beliefs need to be guided by the plumb line of God’s Word. Read Psalm 119:105; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; Amos 7:8.
A popular concept is, “It doesn’t matter what you believe, as long as you are sincere.” However, one must be sincere in believing and doing the right thing.
We have great respect for a man who is so earnestly sincere in his convictions that he is willing to die for them. But sincerity is not sufficient.
In the Borough of Manhattan, New York, a prescription called for a quantity of barium sulfate, but the druggist used barium sulfite instead. There is only the difference of one letter between the names of the two drugs. One is used for curative purposes, the other is a deadly poison. The woman who took the medicine died. Evidently the druggist was sincere, thinking he gave the right medicine. In cases where the consequences are so serious, certainty is demanded.
A certain lady believed it was a dose of medicine she was taking from the medicine cabinet. It turned out to be poison and she died. Sincerity will not save your soul if you believe the wrong thing. It may be even more dangerous to believe the wrong thing than to drink poison by mistake. Losing one’s life is serious but to take chances with our soul may make the difference in our eternal destiny.
The statement, “It doesn’t matter what you believe, just so you are sincere,” assumes that any faith is all right and will get you to heaven if you follow it sincerely. But this is not true!
The apostle Paul was very zealous and sincere when he persecuted the Christians. But he needed a new heart-a new birth. No matter how long and how sincerely he would have pursued that way, he would have been lost (Acts 9).
The five foolish virgins were very sincere when they came to the marriage feast and said, “Lord, Lord, open to us,” but He answered, “I know you not.” See Matthew 25:1-13.
The prophets of Baal were most sincere when they called upon their god to answer with fire on Mount Carmel. They were so sincere they cried aloud and cut themselves with knives and lancets till the blood gushed out upon them, but they received no answer. See 1 Kings 18.
Many people are very zealous and fervent as they worship their images of wood and stone. Some go on pilgrimages or lie on beds of spikes. Individuals are willing to give their lives for what they believe to be right. Does their sincerity and willingness to sacrifice and suffer prove the truth of their religion?
Jesus says, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). Many will sincerely think heaven’s door will open for them because they prophesied in the name of the Lord, cast out devils in His name, and did many wonderful works. But He will answer them, “I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (v.23).
To be saved it is necessary to know the Lord Jesus and to do His will. This takes a total commitment to what God reveals. Then God’s Word will guide unerringly as you search out the truth in the Scriptures. We read, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105), also, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me” (John 5:39).
The Bible clearly teaches that a follower of Christ must live a life of cross-bearing, self-denial, unselfishness, and submission. To disregard these teachings is to be tragically mistaken in our understanding of God’s will.
When we repent and Jesus enters our hearts, His Spirit gives us new direction. His Spirit gives witness in us that we are His children. “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God” (Romans 8:14, 16).