The Meaning of Sincerity
Dr. Jay Worth Allen
The apostle Paul prayed in Philippians 1:8-10 that the saints’ love would abound more and more, “in knowledge and in all judgment” that we “may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ.” The Greek word, (eilikrines, sincere), used here, occurs only once more, as an adjective, in the New Testament, where Peter states: “I stir up your pure (sincere) minds by way of remembrance” (2 Peter 3:1). Paul again uses this same Greek word as a noun in 1 Corinthians 5:8 and 2 Corinthians 1:12 and 2:17, where in each case it is rendered, “sincerity.”
What then is “sincerity?” What does it mean to “be sincere?” “Sincerity” is the opposite of counterfeit and dishonesty. It is the opposite of pretense - of pretending to be someone else in order to deceive others. To be “sincere” is to be free from pretense or deceit. To be “sincere” is to be genuine. To be sincere is to be in reality what you are in appearance: to be frank, true, unfeigned. “Sincerity” is one of the characteristics which distinguishes the true Christian from the empty professor. The latter, though they may have much knowledge in their heads and words in their mouths, have no standard of integrity in their hearts and give little thought about the uprightness of their daily walk.
“Sincerity” properly means, “that which is judged in the sunshine, that which is clear and manifest.” “For our rejoicing is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you.” It is “godly sincerity” as here in 2 Corinthians 1:12. “Godly sincerity” is in reality, “the sincerity of God” - the “sincerity” of which the Lord is not only the Giver and Author, but also the Witness, which may be brought to Him and held up before Him for His scrutiny. This idea is expressed clearly in John 3:21: “He that does truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be manifest, that they are wrought in God.” “Judged in the sunshine . . . clear and manifest.”
Our English word sincere is derived from the Latin sine cera, which means “without wax,” and the origin of that Latin expression approximates very closely the etymology of the Greek word, eilikrines. In both expressions we have the impression of appraisal by light. The ancient Romans cherished a very delicate and valuable porcelain, which was extremely fragile, and only with much trouble could it be fired without being cracked. Dishonest dealers were in the habit of filling in the cracks of flawed porcelain with white wax, but when their wares were held up to the light, the wax was evident, being darker in color than the porcelain. Thus, the honest dealers started marking their porcelain with sine cera, “without wax.” Their porcelain would pass the test of being held up to the sunlight. Thus, “he that does truth comes to the light.”
So as we can see, this spiritual “sincerity” is the opposite, not only of false pretence, but also of unholy mixture. As the apostle said of himself and his companions, “We are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ” (2 Corinthians 2:17), where the words, “which corrupt,” literally means “which huckster.” A huckster is a mercenary person eager to make a profit out of anything. Hucksters “corrupt,” deceitfully mingling false and worthless articles among the genuine.
Sincerity is opposite of mixture: the opposite of truth and error, of godliness and worldliness, of loveliness and sin. A sincere person has not assumed Christianity as a mask, but their motives are pure; their conduct is free from double-dealing and cunning; their words express the real sentiments of their heart. They are ones who can bear to have the light turned upon them, the spring of their actions scrutinized by God, Himself. They are of one piece through and through, and not as the hypocrite who vainly attempts to serve two masters and make the best of two worlds. They are not afraid to be tested by the Word of God, for they are without guile or shame and are straightforward and honest in all their dealings. As we have seen in 2 Corinthians 1:12, “sincerity” is joined with “simplicity,” which is expressed in: “The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is healthy (single) your whole body will be full of light” (Matthew 6:22). The one with a “single” eye refuses to mix fleshly craftiness with spiritually: they aim solely at pleasing and glorifying God. Thus, a sincere heart is a true heart (Hebrews 10:22), a heart genuinely holy, true to God, faithful in all things. A sincere heart is a pure heart (2 Timothy 2:22), sine cera, without wax.
The Meaning of Sincerity
Published: 16 August 2010 on Freed In Christ! blogsite.
Published: 2 September 2010 in the Faith Column of The County Journal.
(precursor to the author's END-TIMES APOSTATE CHURCH SERIES)
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