Summary: Sometimes we say things that make no sense, and that we don’t even believe ourselves! One of these that crops up again and again is, "It doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you are sincere."
Does It Matter What You Believe?
1. Over the years I have studied with many people, and there are several statements that crop up again and again. One of these is, "It doesn’t mater what you believe as long you are sincere."
2. In this lesson, we shall answer the question, "Does it matter what you believe?"
I. Does It Matter What You Believe?
A. Doctrines that matter:
1. Does it matter whether or not you believe Jesus is ‘I AM’? There are many who do believe Jesus is ‘I AM’ but there are also those who doubt such a doctrine. Let us hear what Jesus Himself says:
"I said therefore to you, that you shall die in your sins: for if you do not believe that I am, you shall die in your sins." (John 8:24)
a. It is clear from this passage that what we believe about Jesus determines the state in which we die.
b. There are many people in other religions who sincerely believe that Jesus was just a man, but sincerely believing a lie does not save…it kills (See Genesis 3:1-24 [Adam & Eve]; 1 Kings 13:1-26 [The man of God]).
2. Does it matter whether or not I believe the resurrection has past or not? Paul, in his letter to Timothy, writes:
"16But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. 17And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; 18Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some" (2 Timothy 2:16-18)
a. Paul instructs Timothy to ‘shun profane and vain babblings.’ He then names Hymenaeus and Philetus as examples of those whose teachings are ‘profane and vain babblings.’ They were teaching that ‘the resurrection is already past.’ But, surely, it doesn’t matter what we believe, does it?
b. Of those who, sincerely or not, believe and teach false doctrine, Paul says, they have ‘strayed from the truth.’ He says, too, that their doctrine is like a cancer that can ‘overthrow the faith of some.’ Paul certainly seemed to think it mattered what we believe.
3. There are those who sincerely believe that certain ones should not marry? There are others who believe that we should abstain from meats? Does it matter as long as we believe in Jesus? Surely that’s the main thing!? The inspired apostle Paul warned Timothy saying:
"1Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; 2Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; 3Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth" (1 Timothy 4:1-3)
a. "…in latter times some shall depart from the faith." In what way would they "depart from the faith"? In "giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils." And what are these "doctrines of devils"? Paul lists two things: "Forbidding to marry," and, "Commanding to abstain from meats." Does it matter if I believe doctrines of devils? The Scriptures say, "Yes."
b Those who believe false doctrine, regardless of how sincere they appear, are said to "speak lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron." Are you concerned about what you believe?
4. There are many believers today, as in New Testament times, who believe that we ought to be keeping the Law of Moses. In Paul’s day, these were called ‘the party of the circumcision’ (Galatians 2:12 NASB). Concerning the term circumcision this doesn’t mean they just believed in circumcision. They themselves explain, "It is necessary to circumcise them [Gentiles] and to direct them to observe the Law of Moses" (Acts 15:5). But did it really matter as long as they believed in Jesus? The inspired apostle Paul thought it mattered and expressed it so in the strongest possible terms in a letter to the Galatians. We don’t have space to examine the whole book of Galatians, so we shall just quote a relevant passage:
"1Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. 2Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. 3For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. 4Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace" (Galatians 5:1-4).
a. Paul reminds these brethren that, when they became Christians, they were freed from the Law of Moses; referring to it as "the yoke of bondage." He warns them that, if they submit to circumcision, "Christ shall profit you nothing." And that, their obligation would not end at circumcision but that they would be debtors to the whole Law. The most solemn warning of all is that, those who seek to follow the Law are "fallen from grace."