The Kouros statue purchased by the J. Paul Getty Museum turned out not to be what they thought it was. So what is true sincerity? There are also many forgeries throughout history. How sincere are you in your thoughts and actions? Are you a spiritual forgery?
These are the notes taken live during services as captioning for the deaf and hard of hearing. This is not a word for word transcript. For the exact wording, please consult the audio recording.
In September 1983, an art dealer by the name of Gianfranco Becchina approached the J. Paul Getty Museum in California. He had in his possession, he said, a marble statue dating from the 6th century B.C. It was what is known as a kourous – a sculpture of a male youth standing with his left leg forward and his arms at his sides. There are only about 200 kouroi in existence, and most have been recovered badly damaged or in fragments from grave sites or archeological digs. But this one was almost perfectly preserved. It stood close to 7 feet tall. (I’m 6 feet; it was another foot above me.) It was an extraordinary find. Bechhina’s asking price was just under $10 million. A geologist from the University of California name Stanley Margolis came to the museum and spent two days examining the surface of the statue with a high-resolution stereomicroscope. He then removed a core sample from just below the right knee and analyzed it using various x-rays, scope and probes. The statue was made of a special marble from the ancient Cape Vathy quarry on the island of Thasos. Margolis concluded, and the surface of the statue was cover in a thin layer of calcite – which was significant, Margolis told Getty, because the special marble can turn into calcite only over the course of hundreds, if not thousands of years. In other words, Margolis concluded the statue was very, very old.
The Getty museum reviewed historical documents. They were satisfied. So, after 14 months, they paid $7 million for the statue. The statue had a problem. Frederico Zari served on the Getty’s board of trustees. He stared at the fingernails of the statue. Something did not look right. They seemed wrong. Evelyn Harrison an expert on Greek statues looked at it. She had a hunch something was amiss. Thomas Hovey was taken to see the kourous. He made a note when he saw something new. He remembers the first word: fresh. That was not the right reaction for a statue that was supposed to be 2000 years old. Today, I want to talk about sincerity. What is true sincerity? Being honest? Following through on commitments. Are you sincere? Is it important to God? On what level? For what reasons? Let’s define some terms. We can use it, but what does it actually mean? The GN said in 1997, the English word “sincere” is from two Latin words. “Sine” and “cere”. “Sine” means without. The word “cere” means “wax”. It literally means, “Without wax.” That doesn’t make a lot of sense. You are without wax?
Back in Corinth, there were a lot of pottery makers. It was known for its pottery. With that came a lot of dishonest merchants that were trying to sell previously damaged pottery. If a vessel was cracked, they would melt wax and put it into the cracks. They would repaint it, and sell it like it is new. You would see it, and think you could boil water in it. It looked good. But depending on who you bought the vessel from, it may have cracks into it. You would not know that it was cracked. Merchants began to advertise that their poverty was sincere. It was without wax. It was pure. It was whole. It did not have any cracks. It leads us to an interesting self examination question. How often do we try to put wax in the cracks in our character? Nobody saw that! I’m still pretty. I shoved some wax in there. Little white lies to smooth some things over. We falter as humans. That crack is exposed. Sincere also means genuine. Without deceit. Without blame. Legitimate. Without corruption. Imagine if the leaders of our society were sincere. Think what a difference that would make. Another definition: Purity of motive. That goes to what is in our heart. What are our intentions? How pure are our motives? Is there a spin behind things when we say them? Sincerity is not just about good intentions. We can’t just have good intentions to come to church. I won’t go today, because I have something to do tonight. I’ll just read at home. That is not what God says to do. We can’t skimp on our tithing. The bills were tight. God doesn’t give us a checkmark next to our names because of good intentions. Sincerity is 100% commitment. It is giving up our lives to help others conform to God’s commands. How sincere are our motives and thoughts?
Luke 18:10-14 Luke 18:10-14  Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank you, that I am not as other men are, extortionists, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes to heaven, but smote on his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalts himself shall be abased; and he that humbles himself shall be exalted.
American King James Version×Vs. 10 – Here we have Christ starting a parable. One is a Pharisee; the other is a tax collector. The Pharisees knew the law very well. Christ said to do what they said because they knew the law very well. They added things to the law, and Christ was all over them about that. But they knew the law. The tax collectors were the scum of the earth. The Roman Empire imposed taxes on the citizens. The collectors collected the taxes. They didn’t receive a high wage. So they saw you with something new, they just charged you a higher tax. You couldn’t balk; that would bring the Roman government down on you. They were looked down upon. So Christ compares and contrasts a Pharisee who was always at church and doing the right thing, and a tax collector. Vs. 11 – This is almost dripping with pride. Thank you that I’m not like this person. I don’t steal people’s money. Vs. 12 – Pharisees fasted on Mondays and Thursdays. They would be seen looking like they were striving and trying to get sympathy for their condition. Vs. 14 – Christ once again attacked the actions of the Pharisees. They were not sincere. They did things – not because it was what they wanted to do – but to be seen. They wanted people to blow trumpets when they fasted.
The tax collector acknowledged that he was a sinner. He asked for mercy. He prayed for forgiveness for breaking God’s laws. If you have painted a room, you know it lasts longer when it is in its full form. If you painted a wall but watered it down. It would fade. It wouldn’t last as long. The wall with the real paint is the sincere wall. We shouldn’t be watering down God’s way of life. We should show God we are sincere. That we are like the wall painted with pure paint. We must show God that we are the real deal. We are trying to follow Him. God wants us to stand up for His way of life. He wants to see that we are sincere; that we are pure. What about us? Do we act differently around school friends than at church? At work? Paint mixed with water looks like paint. But it has been watered down. You can’t just look at people and see which ones are sincere. Hi, you are looking really sincere today! It doesn’t work that way. Sincerity comes from the heart. Joshua 24:1-2 Joshua 24:1-2  And Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and called for the elders of Israel, and for their heads, and for their judges, and for their officers; and they presented themselves before God.
 And Joshua said to all the people, Thus said the LORD God of Israel, Your fathers dwelled on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods.
American King James Version×Vs. 1 – Joshua was nearing the end of his physical life. Vs. 2 – Read this chapter later. Joshua reminds them how God was always there for them. He reminds them of the choice they have. Joshua 24:19-21 Joshua 24:19-21  And Joshua said to the people, You cannot serve the LORD: for he is an holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins.  If you forsake the LORD, and serve strange gods, then he will turn and do you hurt, and consume you, after that he has done you good.  And the people said to Joshua, No; but we will serve the LORD.
American King James Version×, 14 Vs. 21 – The people said they wanted to serve the Lord. Vs. 14 – You can’t serve two masters. It is either the other gods, or the God. Any form of belief and worship won’t do. It must be sincere. It must be founded biblically. It must be true.
Titus 2:7 Titus 2:7In all things showing yourself a pattern of good works: in doctrine showing soundness, gravity, sincerity,
American King James Version×My dad worked at GM. The parts he made as a tool and die man had to line up. Every part had to have the same pattern. Paul told Titus he must be a pattern of good works. He must be consistent. How often are we consistent? Sometimes, we falter. We can pray and overcome. But God expects us to try to be consistent. We must be consistent in doctrine – our example. Reverence means honesty. Incorruptibility means sincerity, the word we are discussing today. Paul tells Titus to shape his life after that pattern. The Getty museum had concerns about the expert’s concerns over the statues. They called a meeting to evaluate. They continued to raise serious concerns over the sincerity. It was a spectacular statue. The meeting concluded it was a fake. Not long afterwards, the supporting documents began to unravel. The documents used to establish this statue’s history turned out to be fake. One letter had a postal code that was not in use for two decades after the letter was supposed to have been sent. The calcite could be aged in a few months with potato mold. It was made in 1980. Now, in the Getty catalog, there is a picture of it. It has the notation, “About 530 BC, or a modern forgery.” That leads to an interesting question. It turned out to be a $7 million forgery. Are we are spiritual forgery? If we are not sincere, we are a spiritual forgery. Do we go to Church just because? Or because we deeply want to follow God’s way of life? Are we zealous to live the way of life God wants us to live? Or do we just do things only when it is convenient. God intentions will not get us into the kingdom. Forgery is the act of counterfeiting arts or other works in order to deceive. A forgery is used to deceive. Let’s read about a famous forgery in the Bible.
Genesis 27:1-6 Genesis 27:1-6  And it came to pass, that when Isaac was old, and his eyes were dim, so that he could not see, he called Esau his oldest son, and said to him, My son: and he said to him, Behold, here am I.
 And he said, Behold now, I am old, I know not the day of my death:
 Now therefore take, I pray you, your weapons, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field, and take me some venison;
 And make me savoury meat, such as I love, and bring it to me, that I may eat; that my soul may bless you before I die.
 And Rebekah heard when Isaac spoke to Esau his son. And Esau went to the field to hunt for venison, and to bring it.
 And Rebekah spoke to Jacob her son, saying, Behold, I heard your father speak to Esau your brother, saying,
American King James Version×This was a grand forgery. Vs. 4 – It was common for the father to give a blessing to his first born son. In this case, it was Esau. Vs. 5 – Rebekah connived a forgery. Vs. 6 – They came up with a plan. Esau was a hair man. So they put skins on Jacob’s arms. And they made a stew. And Jacob got the blessing. The donation of Constantine is believed to be the first forgery that significantly altered history. It was supposedly sent from Constantine the Great to the Pope. It says the emperor had converted and gave vast authority to the Pope. It gave the Pope Rome, Italy, and the western regions. Constantine’s conversion is a fact; he did convert to a form of Christianity. But the letter was a fake. Various Popes used it for centuries to justify their power. It was revealed as a fake in the 14th century. But for 700 years, it gave the Catholic Church power over that part of Europe. Ephesians 4:22 Ephesians 4:22That you put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
American King James Version×The phrase, former conduct, could be translated, former behavior. At baptism, we should put off our old habits and ways of doing things. We should put off being insincere. God wants us to put on the new man and be transformed into something better. God wants us to become sincere. We are not to just cover the cracks. We are to put off our former way of doing things. A few years ago, I had pain in my right side. I was checked into the hospital. They couldn’t find anything. The pain went away, and I believe I was healed. But before that, I had a CAT scan. You lie on your back. Cameras circle around you. They can take cross sections of your body. That is pretty cool. Think for a minute if God had a spiritual CAT scan device. Lie on this bed, and let me see what happens after I scan you. What would God find? Old habits that are lingering? Old sins that you think are too big for God to forgive? What would God find if He scanned you? Grudges you can’t let go? Yeah-buts? What would God find? Let’s read what God should find.
Matthew 22:37-40 Matthew 22:37-40  Jesus said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.
 This is the first and great commandment.
 And the second is like to it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
American King James Version×This is what God should find on your CAT scan. He should find that you are sincere. That you are doing these two commands. That is what God needs to find on our spiritual CAT scan. Not double mindedness – I’ll do this but say the other later. God’s CAT scan should not detect any forgeries. When we find we have sins, we repent, Christ’s blood washes it away, but we have to put something back in. I have a tree stump behind my house. When I get it out, it will leave a hole. Unless I want someone to fall in, I’ll have to fill it. It is the same with us. When we get sin out, we must put something else in. 1 Corinthians 5:6-8 1 Corinthians 5:6-8  Your glorying is not good. Know you not that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?  Purge out therefore the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, as you are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:  Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
American King James Version×When we sin, we put the sin out, and God forgives us, we must put something else back in: sincerity and truth. We have to try not to sin the next time. We have to stop filling our vessel with wax. We have to have the truth and be sincere. We can’t have one without the other; it must be both. If you have the truth, but are not sincere, you are like the Pharisees. They were the ones blowing the trumpet; he look at me, I’m fasting! What about someone that is sincere but has no truth? Take Mother Theresa. She was sincere. She went into parts of the world most would never think of going. Was God working with her? Not right now. She didn’t know the truth. We must be sincere, and we must have God’s truth. We must have both components. Title: The Gig is Up. At some point, all forgeries are discovered. There are two ways to reveal forgeries. Remember sincerity is without wax. 1. By light. The buyers in Corinth would hold up the pottery to the light. That would reveal any cracks.
Philippians 1:9-10 Philippians 1:9-10  And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;
 That you may approve things that are excellent; that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ.
American King James Version×Vs. 10 – “Sincere” here means “judged by sunlight” or “tested as genuine”. We need to be looking for the flaws in our character by holding our lives up to the word of God. Show me where things are not right. We must deeply desire to know the truth about our character. Sometimes, we just want to brush them under the rug. But we need to hold ourselves up to God’s word and let God look at us through that light. Maybe you have heard, “I can see through that person’s motives.” “I can see what he is trying to do.” Maybe these originated in testing pottery. Our weaknesses can be exposed by light. Ephesians 5:13 Ephesians 5:13But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatever does make manifest is light.
American King James Version×God wants to reveal to us the cracks in our vessels. We have to hold ourselves up to God’s word. We can’t be our own judge. When we are our own judge, we make exceptions. The yeah – buts. If we want to be part of God’s kingdom, we have to hold our character up to the word of God. Homework: Study Psalm 15. There are only five or six verses. But it starts with a powerful question: Who will be in my kingdom? Then it lists character traits of those that will be in the kingdom. Let’s study that together next week. God wants us to conform to His way of life. As a Christian, we must hold our actions up to the word of God, and say how does this match? Psalms 119:105 Psalms 119:105Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.
American King James Version×Proverbs 6:23 Proverbs 6:23For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life:
American King James Version×We need to examine ourselves up against God’s word.
John 3:19-20 John 3:19-20  And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
 For every one that does evil hates the light, neither comes to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
American King James Version×Vs. 20 – Do we want our deeds to be exposed? It is hard. I don’t like for my character flaws to be exposed. But we need to do it. We should all desire this. We should want our lives held up to the light so we know where we stand. 2. By heat. That is not always the most pleasant way. The buyers in Corinth could put hot water in the vessels before they bought them. If there was wax, it would melt the wax. The hot water would go right through. God is described in several places metaphorically as fire – as heat. God wants us to see our character flaws. He sometimes uses trials to bring those flaws out. 1 Peter 1:7 1 Peter 1:7That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found to praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:
American King James Version×Trials are a good thing, but it is hard when we are in the middle of them. Why does God allow trials? Why can’t He just say, “That person is committed; he is good to go.” He wants to make sure that we won’t falter under any circumstances. Satan had a fascinating story. Read about it in Ezekiel. When he decided to rebel, it was all about “I”. He had no concern about the other angels or God. God wants all of us to become sons of God. We get to be a God. If we weren’t fully tested and tried, imagine what would happen if we decided to rebel. Think of the problems and mess that would make for God the Father. God wants to make sure our vessel is crack free. He wants to make sure He won’t have another worse-than-Satan on His hands. There is a reality show on TV about chefs. They are trying to prove they are the best chef. It gets hot and steamy in the kitchen. When the pressure is on, you see how easily someone can fly off the handle. God uses heat to see if our vessel will hold water.
1 Peter 4:12-13 1 Peter 4:12-13  Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you:
 But rejoice, inasmuch as you are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, you may be glad also with exceeding joy.
American King James Version×God tells us to rejoice in our trials because it reveals the cracks in our vessel. It shows where we can fine tune some things. Don’t think it strange. Don’t think, “Whoa! Where did this trial come from?” Man wants to cover up the cracks. But God has called us to be different from the world. Proverbs 28:13 Proverbs 28:13He that covers his sins shall not prosper: but whoever confesses and forsakes them shall have mercy.
American King James Version×He who covers his sins will not prosper. Let’s acknowledge our sins, and attack them with God’s help. Let’s ask God to help reveal our sins and help remove them. The gig is up. At some point, all forgeries are discovered. On August 3, 2007, there was a van Gough painting that was discovered to be a fake. It was titled, “Head of a Man.” It had been bought and sold many times. But then it was found to be a fake. At some point all forgeries are discovered. Sincerity is about pure motives. Let’s allow our character to be shaped by the light of God’s word. Ephesians 6:24 Ephesians 6:24Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.
American King James Version×Here, Paul is ending his letter to Ephesus. The word “grace” here means favor, or worthy thanks. Sincerity means genuineness. “Worthy thanks to those that love our God with genuineness.” Let’s be true to the plan God has for us to become members of His family. The gig is up. It is time to ask God for the help we need to overcome our sins and put on His character.