Is Sincerity Enough?
MANY persons say that if you are sincere in your belief that is enough. They argue that divine judgment swings on the hinges of sincerity rather than correctness. It is not so much a matter of right belief as it is of sincere belief. Sincerity is necessary, but is it enough?
“There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” The wrong way does not lead to the right destination just because the lost one is sincere.—Prov. 14:12, RS.
Jesus said to his followers: “The hour is coming when everyone that kills you will imagine he has rendered a sacred service to God.” Will Jehovah approve the killing of Christians on the grounds of sincerity?—John 16:2, NW.
The apostle Paul said of those who were sincere but incorrect: “I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God; but not according to accurate knowledge; for, because of not knowing the righteousness of God but seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God.”—Rom. 10:2, 3, NW.
These persons were sincere; they were also stubborn. They were so intent in proving that they were right they had no time to learn what God said was right. They were not sincerely meek, but were sincerely stubborn, idolizing their own will and way and refusing to subject themselves to the will and way of God.
Sincerity is necessary, but it is not enough. Those who are truly sincere will change when they learn they are wrong. Because of their sincerity Jehovah extends them mercy. So it was in the case of the apostle Paul, who wrote: “Formerly I was a blasphemer and a persecutor and an insolent man. Nevertheless, I was shown mercy, because I was ignorant and acted with a lack of faith.”—1 Tim. 1:13, NW.
Jehovah requires more than sincerity: “What doth Jehovah require of thee, but to do justly, and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with thy God?” How is it possible to do justly and to practice goodness without knowing what Jehovah considers just and good? How can one walk humbly with God unless he knows the way or path of God? He cannot walk stubbornly in his own way and at the same time walk humbly in God’s way.—Mic. 6:8, Da.
A person who is truly sincere will change when he is proved to be wrong. How sincere, actually, is the person who is shown from his own Bible that “the soul that sinneth, it shall die,” yet continues to believe the soul is immortal? How sincere is the one who still believes God and Christ are equal in a trinity after reading in his own Bible Jesus’ words: “My Father is greater than I”? How sincere is the one who is shown from his own Bible that “the wages of sin is death,” but continues to argue that sin’s punishment is eternal torment?—Ezek. 18:4; John 14:28; Rom. 6:23.
Is it not possible that many who say sincerity is enough are just wanting to take their own course while giving it the stamp of God’s approval? It is so easy to go your own way complacently while hiding behind the claim of sincerity. Oftentimes stubbornness lurks behind the cloak of sincerity. When it does not, when the sincerity is genuine through and through, its possessor changes when ways are proved wrong. If there is no effort to learn what is right, if there is no change when belief is proved wrong, then there was never present any genuine sincerity.