Over my lifetime I have met many people who seemed to be Christians. They acted like Christians. They talked like Christians. They seemingly did everything on the surface to be perceived as a believer in Christ. I judge with my own eyes their belief and the bible supports this idea. The Bible states, “For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.” (1 Corinthians 5:12-13). God calls us to be sincere with our actions. He wants us to be truthful and honest with how we present ourselves. According to Oxford’s dictionary, sincerity is defined as “the quality of being free from pretense, deceit, and hypocrisy”. In Hebrews 10:22 it states, “let us draw near with a sincere heart”. We are commanded to be sincere Christians. We are called as followers of Christ to be heartfelt and profound. We will look at what it means to be a sincere Christian, why is this important, and how this benefits us as believers in Christ. We will also look at how to recognize this in our own life and how to change our hearts if this is not the case.
Imagine you picked a bright red apple with no spots or blemishes off a tree. Now say you took a huge bite not suspecting anything wrong with it. However, what was on the outside did not reflect what was in the inside. As soon as you bit into that apple you tasted a sour alcohol fermented taste and after you took that bite you looked down upon the apple and the middle of it was completely rotted. You thought this apple was going to be juicy and delicious by how you perceived it on the outside. This is the same for insincere Christians. They look great, spotless, and well put together on the outside, but what is on the inside is not reflective and they are rotten and spoiled. God calls us to be sincere. He calls our heart to mirror what we portray to others around us. In William Gurnall’s puritan classic The Christian in Complete Armour he states, “Hypocrisy is among sins as sincerity is among graces. Sincerity is an ornament which beautifies all other graces. Faith is precious because it is ‘unfeigned’, and love, because it is ‘without dissimulation’. Thus the most hateful of all sins are those committed in hypocrisy.” (Vol. II, 68). He is stated here the importance of being genuine believers and for us to not lighten the thought of how dangerous it is to be hypocritical. We go against God and go against what it means to be true to ourselves as Christians if we are to act as hypocrites do. It would be better to show ourselves as wicked if we are wicked on the inside than to show ourselves at all.
Why is it important to be a sincere Christian? Sincerity goes hand in hand with love. We are called to love one another. Gurnall again states on this, “Love for God makes the soul inquisitive to find out what is dear to God so it can express tenderness to truth and thereby give love to Him.” (Vol. II, 41). God wants sincerity and love to be flowing from your life. We are constantly reminded of love in the New Testament. Love is mentioned one hundred and seventy-nine times in the new testament. There is a meaning behind this. It is important that the love of God shown through the Son gets in turn shown through us as Christians continuously accentuating the need to be sincere. The opposite of this is being a hypocrite. It is in direct opposition with being sincere. The devil uses this to not only present a fake appearance of being a Christian, but also tempts us to never repent of this sin. If we have the Holy Spirit then we should be showing the character of it in our lives. “Godly sincerity belongs to God, begotten in the heart by His spirit alone.”, says Gurnall (Vol. II, 50). The author of this sums it up well. If God is flowing through us and the Holy Spirit is in us than to be a hypocrite and ultimately a liar is to be in direct disobedience of the Lord. God looks highly at the man who is sincere as holy and righteous. We are called to please God in being sincere.
Our spirit gains strength and we will be comforted by being a sincere Christian. It strengthens our spirit by giving us a true heart to the Lord. We should come before Him open, honest, and willing to confess our sins while not holding anything back. The more we are transparent and truthful with God the more we will be truthful and honest with others. Who knows what someone else may be going through? We shall not hide the things that we struggle with and the things that are deep inside. We should never hold anything back from our Father in heaven because this produces pride. Who are we but mere servants to not come before Him and to tell him the things He already knows? How does it benefit us to act like we are perfect? The bible says,” For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His spirit in the inner man.”(Ephesians 3:14-16). He will strengthen us by being sincere towards Him and in turn to each other. When we act free of hypocrisy the sincerity that has formed in our hearts shall comfort us as believers in Christ. It should make us feel good that we are living an honest Christian life devoid of hypocrisy. I had such a darkness in me when I was acting as a hypocrite talking and acting as though I was a Christian when that was nothing further from the truth. I was one of the, “many professed Christians who never made religion their chief concern, and, who, therefore, though they have a name to live, are dead in sin.” as Flavel states in The Touchstone of Christian Sincerity (19). There was an emptiness and many fits of exhaustion. I showed other people what I wanted to show them. It made me so very uncomfortable every step of the way. When I became an actual Christian and started walking in sincerity there was a greater peace in my spirit. Our personal and private life should be an honest reflection to not only God but everyone around us. We have comfort in our Christian walk and in the way God wants and expects us to act to the people around us. And dire believer if we say we are not sincere there is still an advocate to the Father and forgiveness and hope to change.
God asks us to observe our life and commands us to be sincere Christians. The Word states, “Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander like newborn babies long for pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord,” (1 Peter 2:1-3). We must recognize if we are acting as hypocrites or on the contrary acting as children of the Lord. He also says in 1st Corinthians 3:10,” According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another else is building upon it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it.” We must examine our hearts as believers. Flavel states, “The discovery of sincerity and holiness, after an honest and faithful examination, will abundantly reward you for your pains.” (135). Are our actions reflective of our spirit and heart in truth and love? Would what we do in secret shame us if other people found out? The Lord will ultimately see everything anyways. If we examine ourselves and find us not sincere, we must repent! We must go before God and we must change going forward. There is no two sidedness among Christ. You are either all in or all out when it comes to be a Christian. Let us not take God’s word for granted and let us examine our lives and change if need be.
To summarize Christian sincerity is a very strong trait that should be engraved in our spirit. It should be etched on the stone of our heart. We must be reflective of Christ in our life. God commands us to not be hypocrites as the pharisees were. We must be genuine believers in Christ transparent in truth of our everyday live. We must show the love of God that He has poured onto us. We must show the love of the Father to others just as he has shown it us. We must love everyone as Christ has loved us. As Jesus says to his followers in John 14:15, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” This was not a request but a command. He directly told this to us and wanted us to obey Him. The Lord wants our spirit to be strengthened. He wants us to continually gain strength to fight against the things of this world. We must search deep within us and examine our lives as Christians. Let us take the words of J.C. Ryle to our heart, “Now I call on every reader of this message who is a believer, I beseech him for his own sake, to make sure that Christ is really and thoroughly his all in all. Beware of allowing yourself to mingle anything of your own with Christ.” (Holiness, 266).