The “Sincerity-Only” Myth
Most teachers in our denominational religious culture preach a gospel of ‘pragmatism and sincerity.’ In other words, if we think something is a good idea, and if we are very sincerely devoted to God in doing so, then it MUST be okay in God’s sight. When confronted with the Scriptures that refute such a practice, these “teachers” will typically respond with “Well I just can’t believe that God would mind if we’re so sincere about serving Him in this way. If He didn’t want us to do this, then He would have said so in the Bible…” Really? Would God have done this? What we have to ask ourselves is “Did God do this?”, and how would we know?
One example in Scriptures that guides us to what God really thinks about this topic is found in the account of Uzza touching the Ark of the Covenant. In 1 Chronicles 13, King David is returning the Ark to its rightful place. It was placed on a cart pulled by oxen, rather than being carried by the sons of Kohath as God directed. Then we read, “When they came to the threshing floor of Chidon, Uzza put out his hand to hold the ark, because the oxen nearly upset it,” (1 Chron. 13:9).
Now, here we have the most prized holy object of all Israel about to topple to the ground. This would be an absolute travesty in the eyes of a faithful Jew. So Uzza, simply holds out his hand to protect the ark. Is he sincere? Yep! Is he trying to serve God? Absolutely! Did God make a specific command that nobody but the sons of Kohath shall touch the ark? Nope! In fact, the only instruction about this matter is found in Numbers 4:15. “When Aaron and his sons have finished covering the holy objects and all the furnishings of the sanctuary, when the camp is to set out, after that the sons of Kohath shall come to carry them, so that they will not touch the holy objects and die,” (Numbers 4:15). There are NO commands in this verse, God simply made a statement of fact that the people were expected to know. God did not say, “And I command that nobody except the son’s of Aaron shall touch My ark…”
So what did God do with “sincere” and “devoted” Uzza? After he tried to save the ark we read, “The anger of the LORD burned against Uzza, so He struck him down because he put out his hand to the ark; and he died there before God,” (1 Chron. 13:10).
Does God want us to be sincere in our service to Him? Absolutely, he wants our hearts! BUT he will not accept our “sincere service” if it is contrary to His word. God never has and never will have to list all the specific details about what He will not accept. It is our responsibility to treat Him as holy and submit to His will. When we try to serve Him in a way that He has not authorized in Scripture…then we actually make ourselves out to be gods no matter how sincere we might be.