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Bible verses about Sincerity
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Christmas is a vivid illustration of the world's power of attraction. It plays upon all of a person's senses with pleasant music, lights, colors, foods, clothes, gifts, and parties. Though it is a very attractive trap, it nonetheless ensnares the person into destruction. By itself, it does not destroy the person—it is the snare, the trap!

Anyone who has ever hunted a wild animal like a deer knows one cannot bag his prey by blundering through the woods making noise and leaving his scent everywhere. Instead, a hunter makes himself as invisible as possible so that the deer wanders under his stand where he can shoot it. The same holds true with trapping smaller animals. A successful trapper makes a trap that will entice the animal in without letting it know that it will be caught.

Christmas is a well-laid trap. In celebrating it, the people of the land honor, worship, and glorify a god, but not the God of the Bible. It is appealing and attractive with all the ornamentation and catchy music. There is also an appealing baby, born to be the King of kings, and his lovely mother radiant in her motherhood. In addition, what could be better than giving gifts? Certainly giving is Christian. And what about decorating evergreen trees, hanging mistletoe and holly boughs, caroling, stuffing stockings, and burning Yule logs? Everything just seems to go so well together. Nevertheless, it is a trap because it is not true.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Christmas, Syncretism, and Presumption


 

In all sincerity, men and women have gone to great lengths to try to please God. Without seeking His permission, they presume to add things to the worship of God because they are attractive and have a vague attachment to the One whom they look upon as their Savior. They think their sincerity in worship is more important than the truth.

But God thinks differently: "Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it" (Deuteronomy 12:32). Christmas is a festival that has been added. It is syncretism, blending a practice from paganism into the stream of Christianity. Only the revelation of God shows how He will be worshipped, and He will not be served in imitation of other gods. God's way cannot be "improved" by human sincerity.

Deuteronomy 13:1-18 defines the law regarding apostasy. Those who led others to worship other gods or adopt the practices of the nations around them were to be stoned! Cities that fell under the sway of corrupt individuals were to be attacked, burned to the ground, and left as rubble! God considers tampering with His truth to be evil that must be eradicated!

Apostasy begins with the perverse drive in man to push beyond the bounds of what has been revealed by God as the basis for His way of life. When God gives instruction, He frequently does so in broad generalities. Within the perimeters of those broad generalities, He expects us to explore and to apply them in their spirit and intent. Unfortunately, history reveals that that has not been mankind's approach. Man has consistently tried to "improve" upon God's revelation using his limited reason and logic.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Christmas, Syncretism, and Presumption


 

In the introduction, we see revealed important characteristics about the two groups that obviously describe two different types of attitudes. These traits make the two groups' approaches to the wedding celebration predictable, summarized by the contrasting behaviors of sincerity and superficiality. The two have some interesting similarities that cause them to appear the same outwardly.

Both groups were in the same place going to meet the bridegroom (verse 1). The spiritually unprepared Christian may sit right beside the spiritually prepared Christian in Sabbath services, similar to the state of the tares and wheat (Matthew 13:24-30). They both seem interested in the same things and seem to have the same character. Both may diligently give tithes and offerings and serve their brethren. It may only be in a crisis that the real differences show up, and then attendance may begin to wane, and their monetary support of the church may slow or even stop.

Both groups were carrying lamps (verse 1), so these vessels are not a sign of who had prepared. Similarly, a person carrying a Bible to church does not show that that person has prepared by study and prayer during the previous week to overcome sin and produce spiritual fruit. Neither does it show that the Holy Spirit exists within a person.

Both groups slumbered and slept (verse 5). Even the most dedicated and sincere saints may temporarily become spiritually lethargic. The fact that the Bridegroom delayed His coming is one of Jesus' many hints that His return may be much later than expected. From the perspective of the first-century church, Christ has delayed for almost 2,000 years! Nevertheless, we should not allow ourselves to become lethargic about His eventual return (Habakkuk 2:3). The word "slumbered" is actually nod, a transient act, whereas "slept" should be sleeping, a continuous act. Thus, we see the progression of lethargy. First, the virgins nodded their heads as if napping, and later, they slept continuously and deeply. Initial weariness is the first step to further spiritual decay. It is vital to catch temporary apathy early to prevent permanent disillusionment.

The ten virgins' service and reverence to God is done perfunctorily. It is more of a habit than a sincere zeal, and this is seen in Christians' routine attendance at Sabbath services. They obey God almost mindlessly, developing it into a routine over time. Their lack of emotional maturity and forethought carries them through life in lightheaded bliss, and so they remain with the church, just filling a seat or attending only occasionally.


 

Genesis 17:6-8

In chapter 17, God more formally makes an agreement—a covenant—with Abraham, presenting its terms in a general way.

Abraham was to be perfect. Other Bibles translate this term as "upright," "blameless," or "sincere." Do not be misled by the word "sincere," because its meaning has changed over the years. To us, it simply means that we have good intentions, but that is not really what the word means. It actually means "without flaw," that is, no imperfections.

Under the covenant, Abraham had to meet some conditions. He had to live a life of obedience. He had to submit to God. God raised the standard so high for him, that one would almost think that he had to be without sin.

Perhaps this begins to bring something else to mind, say, Jesus' command in the Sermon on the Mount to be "perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect." "Perfect" can also be translated "mature" or "complete." It is very similar to what God said to Abraham. What is Jesus doing? He is beginning to introduce concepts that are part of both the Abrahamic Covenant and the New Covenant.

Abraham is very plainly called "the father of the faithful," as if he were the head of the family of all who have ever lived, with the exception of Jesus Christ, who is the model after which we are to mold ourselves. Jesus was not human in quite the same way as Abraham was and the rest of us are. He was "God in the flesh" while we are just "flesh" who have the gift of God's Spirit. He had the Spirit without measure, but we have to grow in it. He had to grow too, but there is a qualitative difference. Nevertheless, according to Galatians 3, if we are Christ's, we are Abraham's seed and heirs according to the promise.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 27)


 

Exodus 32:7-10

These people were undoubtedly sincere, but God did not care for their sincerity one bit. Why? God saw this as an attempt by these people to control Him through redefining His nature.

When we turn aside from the path, whether we realize it or not, we are beginning to redefine what He is according to our own thinking. If we think this is not a prevalent sin, Jesus says in Mark 7:7, "In vain do you worship Me teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." He is not saying that these people are insincere, but that they a failing to follow the way of God. Like these Israelites, they proclaim their religion in the name of God though. Jesus also says in Luke 6:46, "Why do you call me 'Lord, Lord' and do not the things that I say?" That is what they were doing in Exodus 32.

What was their motivation? Does this have an end-time application to the church of God? The answer is in verse 1:

Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron, and said to him, "Come make us gods that shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him."

Moses, the charismatic leader, the type of Jesus Christ, delayed his coming! That is alarming! What motivated Saul to make the sacrifice in I Samuel 13? Because Samuel's coming was delayed, Saul presumptuously took it into his own hands to do something he had not been commanded to do—to make the sacrifice. The problem was the delay he perceived.

Do we understand why Christ says, "Do not say in your heart, 'The Lord delays His coming'"? He knows from the experiences from the Old Testament that, if we begin to think that Christ is delaying, then we will turn aside to idolatry because we will use it as a justification for adjusting ourselves to the spirit of the times we live in. This has alarming ramifications.

What did the Israelites do here? Redefining the nature of God is merely the sin that led to them adjusting their lifestyle, to fall into idolatry. Will that be a problem for this generation? Are we going to think that Christ is delaying His coming?

Sincerity is good, but truth is needed with it. Jesus says in John 4:24 that God is looking for those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth. We need to examine ourselves to see whether we are making adjustments in our way of life to be in harmony with the spirit of the age. Do we keep Sabbath just like the world keeps Sunday? If we do, we have adjusted already. Are we careful in tithing? Are we concerned God will not come through with prosperity? If so, we are already beginning to make adjustments. Who is the idol? We are.

We change the image of God by saying, "He won't mind. He understands." He does understand, but He wants us to trust Him. He knows we are under pressure, but He knows we need to learn to do without, to suffer, to wait. Do we believe that?

John W. Ritenbaugh
Passover and I Corinthians 10


 

Proverbs 23:7

In one sense, what we are cannot be hidden. This proverb cautions a person to understand that people can be two-faced, playing the role of an actor or a hypocrite. The words that come out of the mouth may be far different from what the heart really means. The heart, however, cannot really be hidden; it will reveal its true intentions and feelings in time. It is good to understand this and thus protect ourselves.

John W. Ritenbaugh
What Is Prayer?


 

Zechariah 7:4-6

This actually confirms that God permits national observances. His complaint is not with the observance of the fasts per se, but with the attitude in which the Jews observed them. The Jews' attitude abused something permitted but not commanded. God expresses His disapproval of the ethical and spiritual attitudes that underlay their outward observance. He questions their sincerity and motivation during their fasts, which should have been times of prayer and repentance. They should have used the time to recall the sins that had led them into the slavery that made calling the fasts so necessary. They should have been searching for any remnant of those sins still residing in them and repenting of them. In Isaiah 58:5, God asks, "Is it a fast that I have chosen?" God is scolding the Jews in the same way.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Thanksgiving or Self-Indulgence?


 

Matthew 9:27-30

With an attitude of humility (Proverbs 15:33), the blind men seek Jesus' mercy in healing, giving Him praise and honor. We have no merits for any blessing from God. As Paul writes in Ephesians 2:8-9, these things are given by grace, not because of anything we are or have done.

The blind men not only honor Christ in their request, but also humble themselves. They do not ask Him to be just to them, for all have sinned and deserve death (Romans 3:23), but in their humility they ask for mercy. Had they asked for justice, they would have been asking for their "rights." Demanding rights is an arrogant approach, the opposite of humility. In emphasizing rights, a person ignores his responsibilities.

Another positive characteristic the blind men exemplify is that they continue to follow Christ until they receive an answer to their request—they persevere. In spite of the crowds, they keep following Him along the road, and when He stops and enters a house, they do not give up but go into the house after Him. When we do not receive an answer to a prayer the first few times we ask, we often quit praying and sometimes indirectly accuse God of failing to act on our behalf. However, delay in answering prayer is not necessarily denial. It may be to test our faith and strengthen it.

If we desire blessings from God, we have to persevere in pursuing them. God does not usually give special blessings to those who seek them half-heartedly. As parents, we use the same method with our own children. We sometimes delay our response until we know whether they are truly sincere in their request, and until we determine how important it is to them and how hard they are willing to work for it.

Martin G. Collins
The Miracles of Jesus Christ: Healing Two Blind Men (Part One)


 

Matthew 12:9-14

Jesus' healing of the man with the withered hand (also in Mark 3:1-6) reveals a fundamental difference between Jesus and the Pharisees in their approach to the Sabbath. The Pharisees had not entered the synagogue to worship, nor did they ask Jesus their question—"Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?"—out of loving concern. No, they were an accusing authority attempting to judge Christ by their regulations.

It helps to remember the historical context. The Jews were developing specific regulations to cover any and every possible circumstance to keep them from sinning. Eventually, they compiled 1,521 regulations covering Sabbath conduct alone. By Jesus' time, they had already turned their observance of the law into a legalistic ritual rather than a loving service to God and man. They did this sincerely in a vain effort to become holy, not understanding that this is not how a man becomes spiritually holy.

In this vignette, does Christ do away with the Sabbath or restore it to its original divine value and function, as He did with marriage and divorce in Matthew 19:8? He gives no indication that He intended doing away with it. He merely broke their misguided perception of how to observe the Sabbath.

We also need to recognize that the liberating healing He performed was not done to a man whose life was in immediate danger, but to one who was chronically ill. So are we spiritually; as Jeremiah 17:9 says, our heart is "incurably sick" (margin). God gives us the Sabbath day to help free us from the chronic problems of human nature.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fourth Commandment (Part Two): Christ's Attitude Toward the Sabbath


 

Matthew 16:6-12

In addition to representing sin, leaven represent false doctrine as well. Jesus points out the error of the Pharisees' doctrines, and Paul advises the Corinthians to partake of the bread of sincerity and truth. False doctrine causes us to think more highly of ourselves than we ought. True doctrine promotes sincerity, humility, and obedience to the Sovereign of the Universe, the overall lesson of the Days of Unleavened Bread.

Staff
Holy Days: Unleavened Bread


 

John 1:46-47

Without deceit means "simple, without subtlety, candid and sincere." Was this a compliment or a mild sarcasm? Jesus may actually have been pleasantly surprised.

All need to pay heed to His comment, in which He is teaching that "a real Israelite is one in whom is no falsehood." Nathanael represented the way a true Israelite should be, a person without deceit, candid and sincere. Jesus seems to be referring to the post-conversion character of the once-deceitful Jacob, the ancestor of the Israelites, whose name God changed to "Israel." Before Jacob's conversion, Isaac had said to Esau, "Your brother came with deceit and has taken away your blessing" (Genesis 27:35), yet afterward, Jacob dealt honestly and fairly with others.

However, lying is such an integral part of the fabric of our lives that we have coined such expressions of mild disbelief as "Is that so?" and "Do you really mean it?" We expect advertisers to exaggerate the quality of their products. We expect politicians to be crooked, to lie, to be evasive, to use their positions to become wealthy, and to make under-the-table deals with contractors or even crime figures. We expect policemen to be "on the take" and businessmen to give little in return for as high a cost as the traffic will bear.

Indeed, the protestors of the 1960s justified the turmoil on the streets because of their disillusionment with the obvious hypocrisies of leaders becoming wealthy on a prolonged, senseless war. During that same general period, Presidents Eisenhower and Johnson were caught openly lying at news conferences. A web of intrigue and lies brought about President Nixon's resignation. Even General Motors misrepresented Oldsmobile cars with Chevy engines!

People in government commonly lie "in the national interest," as the saying goes. Many have testified that Bill and Hillary Clinton spent eight years continuously lying about a wide variety of personal failings, moneymaking deals, and political intrigues they were involved in. The media took the Bush administration to task on its obfuscations regarding the Iraq War.

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill served his nation most critically in wartime, during which artful lying, called disinformation, is a common tactic. He once said, "In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies." Do we as a people think that no one is listening?

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Ninth Commandment


 

John 4:23

Here, "spirit" stands contrasted to ritual, rite, or form as represented by His mention of the Temple in Jerusalem (verse 20). "Spirit" implies heart, mind, with gratitude, praise, pure sincerity, and fervent desire to glorify God by being like Him. It is these true worshippers to whom God grants His Spirit. They are close to Him because they seek Him.

Such a Christian presses the relationship. He continues to pursue it right to the end because it is good. Reciprocity is here at work: We seek Him, and He seeks us. He gives us His Spirit, and it flows out from us in good works that bring glory and honor to God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Holy Spirit and the Trinity (Part 7)


 

John 5:6

By being at the pool, the crippled man indicated that he wanted to be healed, yet Christ asks him if he wants to be cured. Why did He not just heal the man? Frankly, some ailing people do not want to get better because they like the sympathy and attention they receive. When asked how they feel, some of them launch into a laborious, nauseating account of every ache, pain, and bodily function they experienced the previous week! They thoroughly enjoy describing their sickness no matter how long it takes.

Applying this spiritually, some people really do not want to be made well, using their illness as a reason not to make any effort of devotion to God or to overcome personal failings. In a milder example, some who have nothing contagious will often miss Sabbath services, yet they will show up for a social that evening or a sports activity the next day. It is really an issue of the heart, of sincerity and commitment to God. What ranks highest on our spiritual priority list? Do we really want the help God and Christ have to offer?

Martin G. Collins
The Miracles of Jesus Christ: Healing a Cripple by a Pool (Part One)


 

Romans 1:24-25

In examining the central issue in each of the first several commandments, we find that the first concerns what we worship. Worship is the devoted service one gives to what he regards most highly. As these verses show, we can give devoted service to created things as well as the Creator. Additionally, the tenth commandment says covetousness is idolatry too (Colossians 3:5), clearly amplifying that we can give our devotion to things other than the true God.

How good can it be to exchange the truth for the lie? In this context "the lie" is that one can profitably worship someone or something other than the true God. Worshipping things other than the Creator turns the thrust and direction of our lives off the true path of God's purpose. Though those objects may be otherwise harmless in themselves, it is sin to give them the devotion that rightly belongs to the Creator.

John 4:24 proclaims that those who worship God must worship Him in spirit and truth. The worship of God involves the totality of our life, and therefore it cannot be confined to a particular location or a mere hour or two on a given day. Our worship must be guided, motivated, and empowered by His Spirit. Further, it cannot merely be sincere, but it must also be true. Attitude is extremely important, but it alone does not replace truth.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fourth Commandment (Part One) (1997)


 

Romans 10:1-3

The Israelites were zealously religious. However, they erred in isolating sincerity and ceremony away from the truth as revealed in God's Word. Sincerity and ceremony are only parts of what makes a religion. The people attended services, flocked to the shrines, performed the rituals, and offered the sacrifices. But they did not worship according to knowledge or cultivate the righteousness of God. David writes, "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart—these, O God, You will not despise" (Psalms 51:17). God despised Israel's sacrifices because the people did not offer them in spirit and truth (John 4:21-24).

In the United States people are generally religious too. American money bears the motto, "In God we trust." Churches seem to rise on almost every corner, and a great deal of talking about religion goes on. Many get caught up in the "spirit of the holidays." Radio stations play Christmas music constantly for weeks prior to the holiday. Polls indicate that a high percentage of Americans consider themselves religious. Eighty-four percent of Americans view God as the heavenly Father of the Bible who can be reached through prayer (The Princeton Religion Research Center, "Religion in America: 1992-1993"). But as a whole, we do not worship God in spirit and truth.

Worshipping in truth is knowing and following God's way of life. Worshipping in spirit can mean two basic things: 1) through and by means of the Spirit of God, and also 2) with sincerity, enthusiasm, and zeal. Jesus intends us to understand His words in John 4 in the same respect. Those who worship God must do it in truth through His Spirit with sincerity and zeal. They follow a way of life and practice a religion that pleases God. And their lives reflect the great transforming power of God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prepare to Meet Your God! (The Book of Amos) (Part Two)


 

1 Corinthians 5:8

We are generally familiar with the word "truth," the same word that appears in John 17:17, "Your word is truth." This word is used in a number of ways in the New Testament. It can mean "genuine" or "real or reality" as opposed to mere appearance. In John 17:17, it is used in the sense of something derived from a pure and holy God that declares the will of God, as compared to that which is from the world, which is sullied by the experiences of men.

Here in I Corinthians 5, it is used in the sense of truth in conduct. In other words, the truth has been taken in by means of words, believed, then been put into practice. "Truth" in the Greek is very similar to sincerity, which precedes it, and is contrasted with malice and wickedness, which are works of the flesh. The word translated sincerity means "pure or clear." The English word "sincere" is an accurate translation of the Greek word. Sincere comes from the Latin and means "without wax," implying that nothing at all contaminates it. It describes behavior that is not contaminated. The word of God in I Corinthians 5:7 has been imbibed by the person, and it has resulted in a pure, sincere, realistic, and genuine behavior or conduct.

The connections there are obvious. As surely as strength and vitality falls on the heels of eating the right kind of food, so does the vitality of the mind—that is, by the Word of God the life of God in us is strengthened so we can grow into an adult. Eating unleavened bread is symbolic of eating the pure and unadulterated Word of God, which is spirit. That spirit, in turn, becomes the basis for thinking within new parameters—parameters that always take God into account.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Freedom and Unleavened Bread


 

2 Corinthians 11:3

Simplicity means single, without ulterior motive, pure, sincere, and unambiguous. Vincent's Word Studies (vol. 3, p. 346), defines it as "single-hearted loyalty." It is the opposite of deceit, guile, error, and wandering.

Some things in God's Word are difficult to understand (II Peter 3:16), but the Bible nowhere tries to produce doubt, confusion, or division by any means (I Timothy 6:3-5; II Timothy 2:14). Even Balaam knew that "God is not a man, that He should lie" (Numbers 23:19)! Jesus says, "[God's] word is truth" (John 17:17). The doctrines of God follow a logical and true sequence, locking together like a picture puzzle to comprise the true gospel.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Damnable Heresies


 

1 John 2:15-17

I John 2:15-17 warns us that there is a profound gulf between the Father and the world, and that a Christian is faced with making a choice between them. Spiritually, morally, and ethically, Christianity does not allow for neutrality. God is bringing us into a position where we recognize truth, admit it is true, and make it a part of our lives.

We are learning a new way of life, so He does not want us to be ensnared by the attractiveness of many things that are in the world. We cannot presume that because something appears to be harmless, it would be fine to do "just this one time." Therefore, we have to learn to resist the urge to think and conduct our lives as the world does.

"World" in I John 2 is the Greek cosmos, and its basic meaning is "an ordered system." Because of the disparity between God and this world, it cannot possibly be the world for which God gave His only begotten Son. The world He created He called "very good." Nor is He referring to mankind, also part of His creation. He loves people and desires to save them.

Nevertheless, He does not like man's way of life. This ordered, human-centered system is anti-God and anti-Christ, and Satan sits at its head. This system occupies His creation and consists of people that God loves so much that He sent His Son to die for them, but He does not love the system! It produces people that need to be rescued, and it tends to make them worse and worse.

When God speaks of "the world," He is identifying all of man's purposes, pursuits, pleasures, practices, and places where God is not wanted. Much of this world is religious, cultured, refined, and intellectual, but it is still anti-God and anti-Christ.

Through His calling, God puts us into a position where He forces us to choose between disparate ways of life, and both of them are realities. We must choose either the eternal and worthwhile or the temporal and vain. God is not saying that this world is unpleasant, unattractive, or unappealing, but we have to choose between that reality and His. The sum of this passage is that this ordered system—anti-God yet appealing and attractive—has the power to seduce the believer, to ensnare him and turn him from God. We have to be vigilantly on guard against it.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Christmas, Syncretism, and Presumption


 

Find more Bible verses about Sincerity:
Sincerity {Nave's}
Sincerity {Torrey's}
 




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