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Sermon Info:

Responsive Reading: Romans 12:9-21
Key Verse: Romans 12:9
Background Scripture: Luke 18:9-14


As I said last week – Honor the Lord – there are many Cain like-minded people in the world today that don’t honor the Lord by putting their best foot forward living in this world.  I mention that again this week because in my key verse Paul calls on us to put our best foot forward; we are to love without hypocrisy – our love should be sincere.  Yet, if we cannot honor the Lord with sincere faith and love, then how could we ever honor each other with sincerity?

9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.


The Testimony of Our Conscience

In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul spoke about the testimony of his conscience.  Paul wrote, “For our boasting 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 (2 Cor. 1:12).”

Paul and his companions consciously moved with a conduct of godly sincerity – the conduct we should move with.  So, what is godly sincerity?  Well, let’s consider how God treats us.  Does He lie to us?  Does He maliciously scheme against us?  No, the Lord loves us and in His love He is honest and truthful with us.

So, Paul was saying that he and his companions meant no ill will towards anybody; they moved in sincerity and were not lying to the Corinthians about the Lord.  As we know, love does not behave rudely; it thinks no evil nor does it rejoice in iniquity — love rejoices in the truth (1 Cor. 13:5-6).  

As believers, you and I must be conscious of whether or not we are moving in sincere faith and love.  Why is that?  Because the way we conduct ourselves speaks of us, individually, and at the same time it speaks of the Lord as well.  At the same time, the way you conduct yourselves will affect someone spiritually.

Too often, I feel like we as believers don’t understand that there are consequences – good and bad – to how we conduct ourselves.  What I mean by this is that had Paul and his companions conducted themselves that was not of godly sincerity, they would have turned many souls away from the Lord on their journeys.  Yet, because they conducted themselves with godly sincerity, many hearts were open to the Lord.

So, we must ask and answer:  What does the testimony of your conscience say about you?  Are you conducting yourself with sincere faith in godly sincerity?  Are you living honorably in all honesty and truth in the world today?  I ask these questions because we must be conscious that we carry ourselves in godly sincerity.

Be Real With Yourself

So, where does one begin in order to move in godly sincerity?  As Paul said, our love must be without hypocrisy — it must be without behavior that contradicts itself and is not truthful.  So, as many of us would say, we have to ‘keep it real’ no matter what.  

Now, some of us will hear that and we will say that we have absolutely no problem keeping it real.  However, I say to you that in order for you to keep it real with others, you must first keep it real with yourself.  How can we move in sincerity – keep it real – with others when we don’t keep it real with ourselves?

A true look at yourself

Not keeping it real with themselves was a major issue for the Pharisees.  I want to show you how not being truthful with themselves severely hurt the Pharisees and those around them so that we don’t take the same road they took.

As recorded in Luke’s gospel, Jesus shared a parable about two men that went to the temple to pray (Luke 18:9-14).  Scripture tells us that one of the men that went to pray was a Pharisee and the other that went to pray was a tax collector (Luke 18:10).  In that culture, the Pharisee, as a religious leader, was highly regarded while the tax collector was of no regard.

In his prayer, the Pharisee gave thanks to God because he wasn’t like extortioners, unjust adulterers, or like the tax collector who went to the temple to pray (Luke 18:11).  The Pharisee then applauded how he fasted twice a week and also gave his tithes.  This religious man was going down his list as to why he was ‘good’; he was very righteous in his own mind.

The tax collector, on the other hand, humbly prayed and in his prayer, he acknowledged a harsh truth about himself.  The tax collector said to the Lord that he was sinner – there was nothing good about him.  In acknowledging that he was a sinner, the tax collector prayed for the Lord to be merciful to him (Luke 18:13).

Now, to me, the prayer of the tax collector is one of the greatest prayers recorded in scripture by mankind.  Why do I say that?  Well, Jesus tells us that this man did something that the Pharisee did not do in his prayer.  The tax collector, Jesus said, went home being justified after he had prayed while the Pharisee did not (Luke 18:14).

So, what was so special about the tax collector’s prayer that Jesus loved?  The sincerity!  The tax collector was honest and truthful to who he was, to himself, and he didn’t lie about it to the Lord.  You see, there is a great reward from God when we are honest with ourselves.

In order for us to move in sincere faith – in love without hypocrisy – we have to first be honest with ourselves; there isn’t enough of that going on today.  Too many of us are quick to point out the flaws and blemishes of others but won’t acknowledge our flaws and blemishes.  Again, I tell you, if we can’t be sincere and honest with ourselves, how in the world can we ever be sincere and honest – be real – with those around us?

Self-improvement is key

I mentioned the Pharisee today when speaking about moving in godly sincerity because they always come to mind; they set the example for how not to move in sincere faith.  As shown through Jesus’ parable about the Pharisee and the tax collector, this Pharisee could never be sincere with others because of how he thought about himself; he thought very highly of himself!

That Pharisee was like many of the Pharisees in Jesus’ day.  On multiple occasions, Jesus called these religious leaders hypocrites.  What was it about them that made them hypocrites?  Let’s take a look at Jesus’ words on the Pharisees in Matthew 23.

In Matthew 23:27, Jesus likened the Pharisees to being like whitewashed tombs; they were beautiful on the outside, but on the inside, they were full of “dead men’s bones and uncleanness.”  How many of us are presenting ourselves as being sincere – honest, holy, and righteous – on the outside but on the inside we are cold and dead?  How can we ever lift anybody up if we’re actually cold and dead on the inside?

The Pharisees were cold and dead on the inside, yet they believed themselves to be perfect.  Jesus called out their conduct as being that of hypocrites; they did not move in sincere faith to those that they served.  In Matthew 23:13, Jesus accused the Pharisees of shutting up the kingdom of heaven against men.  Something we must understand is that we can open or shut the kingdom of heaven merely by how we conduct ourselves.

Instead of moving in sincere faith to uplift the people, the Pharisee weighed the people down with burdens that were too hard for the people to bear (Matt. 23:4).  The Pharisees had a habit that many share in with today:  they tried to force people to live by the law when they themselves didn’t really live by it!  Where they should have been the example of heavenly conduct, their example of “godly sincerity” actually shut up the kingdom of heaven.

Now, Jesus continued to paint the picture of the Pharisees “godly sincerity” in Matthew 23:23-24.  Of the Pharisees, Jesus said they had a habit of getting hung up on the little things, like the giving of tithes.  Yet, in the weightier matters of the law – like justice, mercy, and faith – the Pharisees were nowhere to be seen or heard from.  At that point, they weren’t being sincere to their calling, to God’s instructions, nor the people.  

Consider, again, what the Lord has always called on mankind to do:  He has called on obedience and for man to love.  According to the law, the children of Israel were commanded to love one another; they weren’t commanded to love money, wealth, and riches!  The children of Israel were supposed to move in sincere faith and look out for each other over anything else, but the Pharisees couldn’t be bothered to do that!  The Pharisees desired to be praised by men but they couldn’t be bothered to extend a hand to do right by those they wanted to praise them (Matt. 23:5-7)! 

Nobody is perfect

You and I must learn to truly do right by others; we must not shut the kingdom of heaven but open it to others!  In order for us to truly move with sincere faith, we must first be more like the tax collector.  What I mean by this is that we must first be willing to acknowledge our own flaws and be brutally honest about ourselves.

You see, Jesus shared this story because of the self righteous conduct that some displayed in how they despised others (Luke 18:9).  People like this Pharisee, believe themselves to be perfect when the truth of the matter is that nobody is perfect — we all have blemishes and flaws!

In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul wrote that those who deceive themselves by believing they are wise (perfect) in this age, should become a fool so that they may become wise (1 Cor. 3:18).  We must all understand that there is always room for growth to be better!  Something my brother and I have talked about recently is how we must always be willing to acknowledge our flaws in order to mature; we shouldn’t be the person we were at the beginning of this year, or two years ago, or 15 years ago!

The world teaches us to recognize our flaws and that there is nothing wrong with having flaws and imperfections.  I understand there are some imperfections, physically, that we can’t do anything about but spiritually speaking, don’t think this way!  We must recognize our spiritual flaws and imperfections, and then work to correct them!  You see, there is nothing beautiful about accepting that you’re a sinner and then doing nothing about it!  

So, you and I must make corrections – we must mature – so that we can be a better person (being) tomorrow than we are today.  I am of the belief that one of our goals in life should be to be a better person tomorrow than we are today!  When we realize this, and do as the tax collector, we set ourselves up to be blessed by the Lord.  At the same time, we also set ourselves up to be a blessing to those around us as we can now move with godly sincerity and keep it real.

Sincere Faith in Action

In the gospels, Jesus spoke about moving in sincere faith when He said to the disciples, in His sermon on the mount, “Judge not, that you be not judged.  For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you (Matt. 7:1-2).”  You see, sincere faith actually begins with our ability to judge.

Sincere judgment 

However, many believers, after reading those verses, believe that God doesn’t want us to ever judge.  Yet, that thought makes no sense because how can we live life without making judgments?  Think about it for a moment:  one of the definitions of to judge means to be able to determine or to make a decision.  Everyday, you and I have to discern things that are going on and make judgment calls!   

Jesus was speaking about not condemning each other; we are not to condemn someone’s inward motives as we don’t have such authority.  However, we certainly are able to discern good and evil actions.  Let us remember that Jesus said that we can tell the difference between a false and sincere prophet (teacher) by their fruit (Matt. 7:15-16).

Sincere faith does not tolerate injustice nor does it tolerate oppression; it weighs the weightier matters of the Word of God and stands in the name of justice, mercy, and faith.  Sincere faith moves sympathetically not to burden others but to help a brother, or sister, especially when they have fallen down and need help.  When we have removed the speck from our eyes, Jesus said that we can see clearly to make a sincere judgment that will help remove the speck from our brother’s eye (Matt. 7:1-5).  

Affectionate brotherly love

Now, in Paul’s letter to the church in Rome, he wrote that sincere faith is affectionate with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another (Rom. 12:10).  Sincere faith moves affectionately and not out of despisement or hatred!  To be affectionate is to move with fondness, tenderness, and with a caring attachment in warm regard.  

Where the Pharisees were cold and dead on the inside, we, as sincere believers, are to be warm hearted!  The Pharisee in Jesus’ parable had an air of superiority and it got him nowhere with the Lord – think about that!  As we have learned before, we as sincere believers should learn to be humble as we are to be meek and lowly, like Christ, in our walk of faith.

We will notice in this scripture to the church in Rome that Paul echoed Jesus’ teachings when speaking about the conduct of the believer.  Paul wrote that in godly sincerity, the believer should bless those who persecute them; we should not curse our persecutors (Rom. 12:14)!  

Paul wrote that in godly sincerity we should rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep (Rom. 12:15).  To be clear:  we ought not ever be jealous of the blessing that others have received from the Lord!  You and I, we ought not ever celebrate the struggle and hurt of others!  You see, there is way too much of this going on in our world today:  jealousy over the blessing of others and the celebration of other’s pain.

Paul wrote that sincere faith does not answer hate with hate; it has a regard for good things in the sight of all men (Rom. 12:17).  In one of my favorite verses in the bible, Paul tells us that those who live in godly sincerity learn to live peaceably with all men (Rom. 12:18); they don’t stir up a bunch of mess!  As sincere believers, we must leave sin behind us and turn all bitterness towards our persecutors over to the Lord.  You and I must remember that the Lord has said that vengeance belongs to Him and He will repay it (Rom. 12:19).

When we live in this manner of sincerity, we truly honor each other.  When this manner of honor is shown to another, it can grow and spread for generations and generations.  As Paul mentioned in his letter to Timothy, the young preacher was strong in godly sincerity because he had received it through his grandmother and mother.

I look out at our society and I see how sincerity is sorely missed because it hasn’t truly been sown in our society.  Sadly, our society is filled with great bitterness because we, collectively, have sown seeds of bitterness rather than seeds of sincerity.  Now is the time for that to change!  When we honor others with godly sincerity, we honor the Lord, and again, when we honor the Lord, we will all be blessed and highly favored.


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