Chapter 11 – The Sincerity of Faith

“I believe; help Thou mine unbelief.” Mark 9: 24.

The word of God attaches great value to sincerity. It is on this account that the desire of many to be sincere in their faith is justifiable. And for the fear and disquietude which arise from this desire they have also well-founded reasons, in the consistent testimony of the word of God as well as in experience. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is desperately sick: who can know it?” (Jer. 17: 9).

Frequently, however, there are great mistakes made, alike with respect to what true sincerity is and the means by which it is obtained and increased. As to the first of these points — what true sincerity is — many think that sincerity consists in a distinct feeling that they have surrendered themselves to the Lord with a strong faith and a fervent love. This is by no means what the word of God intends by sincerity.

Sincerity is that attitude of the soul, in virtue of which we present ourselves to the Lord just as we are, neither better nor worse. A man is insincere who makes himself out to be other than he really is or feels. It is on this account that the words of the father of the possessed child, quoted above, are such a glorious example of sincerity. He wished to believe, but felt unbelief still too strong within him. What, then, shall be done? He presents himself to the Lord just as he is. He knows that his desire is to trust in Jesus; but he does not know whether there be more unbelief than faith in his heart. What shall he do? Shall he mourn over the unbelief that is still in him? Or shall he just wait on until he feels that he has believed well and fully? No: not one of these things; for they will afford him no help. Just as he is, he goes to Jesus, and with childlike sincerity and simplicity he pours out his heart before Him: “Lord, I believe: but, alas, there is still too much unbelief — come, to the help of my distrustfulness.”

And this teaches us further what is the only means of being delivered from insincerity. The father felt that there was still in him an element that was waiting to believe, but he goes with it to Jesus. He makes it known to Him in the expectation that, in spite of his distrust, He will have mercy upon him and rescue him from it. How utterly different is this conduct from that of so many seeking souls. How often they continue year after year mourning over insincerity, longing for sincerity, and yet they make no progress. Ask them if it be not true that they make no advance but rather go on in their misery. And they know not, and they hearken not, when it is said to them that this is genuine sincerity — to present ourselves just as we are, with all our unbelief. They ought to know that this is the only way to healing; to give ourselves to the Savior, with the little beginnings of good, — although they are but a desire to believe, — and that, too, in spite of a great preponderance of double-heartedness and worldly-mindedness and unbelief. Yes: to mourn our unbelief, in dealing actually with Jesus — that is true sincerity.

Poor soul, who hast so long remained apart from the Lord from dread of being insincere, and hast thereby grieved both the Lord and thyself, even although thou shouldest feel that of the hundred elements in you there are ninety and nine of unbelief, and only one of feeble desire to believe, go with it to Jesus: that is sincerity. Continue every day also to pour out your heart before the Lord: fight the good fight against remaining insincerity and distrust at Jesus’ feet. That is the only place where you can overcome. “Lord, I believe; I will believe as well as I can; I do so. I believe at last, that Thou art Jesus, the Helper of the wretched; come to the help of my distrustfulness.” As you thus pray and strive every day, you will soon obtain the victory and the blessing. As for him who does not thus pray, he may be sure at least of this, that, so long as he remains apart from Jesus, no more sincerity shall come. No: sincerity is the outpouring of the heart before the Lord, and is nowhere obtained but in intercourse with Him and through His friendly grace.