(The following article has been condensed from the writings of the late Bro. Ostis Wilson Jr.)
We often hear it said that it does not matter what people believe if they are sincere in it. Is this so?
No, it is not true, and it is possible for people to be just as sincere in error as to be sincere in truth. God’s Word says, “…God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:” II Thessalonians 2:13. We see here that “belief of the truth” is an essential part of the way and plan God has for us obtaining salvation. II Timothy 4:3-4 says, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” Some of these people are just as sincere and zealous and devoted to their belief as are people who believe the truth.
Paul said in Galatians 1:8-9, “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” This is certainly strong language, and whatever else it may teach, it certainly teaches that what the Christian believes must be well based and rooted in truth, and that it must be circumscribed by truth and must never go beyond truth nor accept any false thing.
In II Corinthians 1:12 Paul speaks of his own “…simplicity and godly sincerity,…” A person may be as sincere as he will in any belief or project or undertaking; but it is only godly sincerity that is going to bring him salvation and establish him in God.
Paul himself was an outstanding example of this. In Acts 26:9-10, Paul said, “I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth…” With all of his sincerity he would surely have missed salvation if he had not submitted to Christ and believed in Him when he met Him face to face on the Damascus road.
I do not consider Paul to have been one bit more sincere for the truth and his Christian faith than he had formerly been in his Jewish religion and for the traditions of his fathers. Without question, there are some people today who are just as sincere and zealous and would make just as great sacrifices in gross errors which actually deny some of the basic essentials of salvation, as true Christians are for Christ and truth. Remember, it is not just sincerity, but godly sincerity that counts.
Also let us consider that if every man’s belief of whatever kind or in whatever thing was valid and acceptable for him just as long as he was sincere in it, this would set up any number of standards to live by, but God only has one standard and calls all men to come to it. Ephesians 4:5 says there is “…one faith,…” God is calling all believers to the “unity of the Faith” and has made provision for bringing us all to this if we will all believe the faithful teaching of God’s Word.