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Sunday, May 12, 2013 am                Purer In Heart Index

PURER IN HEART (6)
Qualities of a Pure Heart (2)

 Last week we resumed our study of the pure heart, a theme we will revisit throughout the year.  In this portion of our theme we want to examine the qualities of a pure heart.  Last week we noticed 3 qualities of the pure heart – it is undivided in its loyalty to God, it prioritizes all that we do based upon that loyalty, and it is totally resolved to do what is pleasing to God.  Today, we will examine the quality of integrity.

 I.                    What is integrity?

a.        The dictionary defines the word as “adherence to moral or ethical principles; soundness of moral character, honesty.[1] 

b.       Another definition of integrity is, “a sound, unimpaired, or perfect condition.”[2]  This term is used of aircraft and ships and it gives us a good grasp of integrity.  What it means is that the structure of an aircraft is sound and reliable.  In other words, it has been tested and when the airplane is flying, it is not going to fall apart in the sky.

c.        When we speak of integrity of the pure heart, we see one whose character is upright and above reproach.  It describes one whose life is “intact” and who will NOT fall apart when tested.

d.       Some words associated with integrity include: virtuous, uncompromising, honorable, genuine & upright.

e.       It is the opposite of the hypocrite.  A hypocrite is one who pretends (the word was actually associated with an actor) to be something other than he really is.  When Jesus exposed the Pharisees and scribes in Matthew 23, he revealed their lack of spiritual integrity.  In front of others they would PRETEND to be pious, but their hearts were greedy, corrupt and prideful.  Their religion was a SHAM! 
A HEART of integrity is unpretentious.  In Luke 18:9-14 Jesus contrasts a prideful Pharisee and a tax collector.  Both were praying in the temple.  One was putting on a show while the other with integrity would not so much as lift up his head because of unworthiness.  Jesus describes the tax collector as sincere and humble.

 

 II.                  The Bible and integrity

a.        Titus 2:6-8, as Titus is to instruct various groups in their conduct, of young men he says that they be, “sober-minded, in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you.  The KJV, ASV uses the word, “uncorruptness”.   This is a good verse to demonstrate integrity and its fruits.

b.       2 Pet. 1:5 – add to your faith, virtue.  In describing how we as Christians are to grow by building upon our faith, the very next quality he mentions is virtue.  The term “virtue” means “moral excellence”.  It is associated with one’s integrity in that it describes one whose character is upright and incorruptible.   Friends, integrity is FUNDAMENTAL to our lives as Christians.  It needs to be ingrained in our hearts preceding our pursuit of the word of God.  Why?  Because our virtue will determine HOW we receive God’s word.  That is why it is mentioned BEFORE knowledge in this list. Recall again Matthew 28:20 and the attitude a disciple must have, “teaching them to observe all that I commanded you.”

c.        Phil. 1:27-29, “Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God.

d.       Romans 5:3-4, as Paul speaks of the tribulations we will endure, he notes, “And not only that, but we glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.”  As we endure (i.e. are tested) it proves our integrity.  In fact, it can even Improve our character.
In another passage dealing with the various trials we endure, Peter said that even though we are grieved by various trials, “the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen, you love.” (1 Pet. 1:6-7)

e.       “He who walks with integrity walks securely, But he who perverts his ways will become known.” (Proverbs 10:9, NKJV)

f.         “The integrity of the upright will guide them, But the perversity of the unfaithful will destroy them.” (Proverbs 11:3, NKJV)

g.        “Better is the poor who walks in his integrity Than one who is perverse in his lips, and is a fool.” (Proverbs 19:1, NKJV)

h.       “Even a child is known by his deeds, Whether what he does is pure and right.” (Proverbs 20:11, NKJV)

i.         “The Lord shall judge peoples; Judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness, and according to my integrity within me.  Oh, let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end, But establish the just; For the righteous God tests the hearts and minds. My defense is of God, Who saves the upright in heart.” Can we approach God with this attitude?  Do we truly want Him examining our integrity? 
NOTE: This does not mean that sincerity alone will save, but it needs to be there!

 

 III.                Examples of Integrity in the Bible examples

a.        The Bibles some powerful examples of integrity.  One of the benefits of studying the Old Testament (even though we are not under that law anymore) is the examples set for us.  Rom. 15:4 tells these things were written for our learning, so that we might have hope.  Let us notice a few examples of integrity.

b.       Job – known for his suffering, he is also recorded for us because of his integrity.  Consider how Satan approached the Lord God.  Notice the Lord’s description of Job, “Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?” (Job 1:8).  Satan claimed that the only reason Job feared the Lord was because of his great blessings.  So all was allowed to be taken away.  But instead of cursing God, Job praised Him and worshipped saying, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there.  The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.’  In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.” (Job 1:21-22)
When Satan again appeared before the Lord, the Lord’s response was, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil? And still he holds fast to his integrity, although you incited Me against him, to destroy him without cause.” (Job 2:3)    Satan again accuses Job.  AND even after his health was taken away to the point that his wife tells him to “curse God and die!” Job responds, “’Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?’  In all this Job did not sin with his lips.” (Job. 2:10)

c.        Moses – as a leader of Israel, his integrity is seen throughout.  While not perfect, he demonstrated an uncompromising loyalty to God, especially as the leader of the children of Israel.  Consider Hebrews 11:24-26 which shows, that even raised in Pharaoh’s house, he knew who his God was.  Also consider Hebrews 3:1-5 where Moses was described as “faithful in all his house.”

In the wilderness Moses was often abused by the people, but he still led them with virtue and character.   While they continually complained and even accused him, their charges were proven false.
On one occasion in the wilderness, the people were bitter and complaining.  They accuse Moses of bringing them into the wilderness to die.  It comes AFTER their refusal to enter the Promised Land the first time (Num. 13-14)  and they are sentenced by the LORD Himself to dwell in the wilderness for 40 years.   He is challenged by Korah and some 250 men of the leaders.  It is recorded in Numbers 16.  They accused Moses and Aaron of taking too much authority for themselves.  They reasoned, “We are all holy in God’s eyes.”   In essence they wanted a greater share of the leadership, very likely they wanted to remove Moses and Aaron from their position.  They complained about the decisions Moses and Aaron were making.  BUT what they FAILED to realize was that the decisions of Moses were from God Himself.  As a result of the charges Moses fell on his face and proposed a test for the next day involving offerings and censers.   Because some refused to cooperate in this test, Moses spoke to the Lord saying, “Do not respect their offering.  I have not taken one donkey from them, nor have I hurt one of them.” (vs. 15)   NOTICE how Moses has acted with integrity. 
The next day, the Lord speaks to Moses and Aaron saying to separate themselves from the people so that He could consume them.  Even though Moses is angry he pleads with the Lord, “O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one man sin, and YOU be angry with all the congregation?” (vs. 22).  NOTICE how Moses STILL seeks what is just and right.  He only desires the wicked be punished.  His desire is granted as Korah and those with him, including their families, are swallowed up by the earth, but not before he says this, “By this you shall know that the Lord has sent me to do all these works, for I have not done them of my own will.” (vs. 28-30)    IN addition to this, a flame of fire came out from the censers at the hand of the Lord and consumed the 250 men who had challenged Moses.   Even the next day, when the people continued to complain and rebel, Moses and Aaron reacted to spare the people from a plague that was sent by the Lord as a result of Israel’s rebellion.   Some 14,700 died.  The plague was stopped by Aaron and Moses.
Earlier, on another occasion, this time when Aaron and Miriam complained to Moses, the Lord said of him, “He is faithful in all my house.  I speak to him face to face…” (Num. 12:6-8)
At the death of Moses, we read, “But since then there has not risen in Israel, a prophet like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face.” Deut. 34:10

d.       Daniel – as you examine his life, you see integrity throughout.  From his refusal to eat the king’s delicacies because of faith in Jehovah God, to his dedication and loyalty to his tasks, to his refusal to stop praying to God 3 times a day.  Daniel 6 records that occasion.  Babylon has fallen, and Daniel is again exalted, this time in the kingdom of the Medes, under King Darius.   As Daniel prospered, others became jealous of him (NOTE: in his example we see that it is not about HOW MUCH one has that determines his integrity).  Then this Daniel distinguished himself above the governors and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him, and the king gave thought to setting him over the whole realm.  So the governors and satraps sought to find some charge against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find no charge or fault, because he was faithful; nor was there any error or fault found in him.  Then these men said, ‘We shall not find any charge against this Daniel unless we find it against him concerning the law of his God.” (Dan. 6:3-5)  NOTICE how the ONLY way they would have an accusation was for them to create a law that contradicted his service to God.”   A decree was created that for 30 days no one could petition any god or man for 30 days, except the king.  Dan. 6:10 sys, “Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home.  And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days.”  Notice how Daniel did NOT change his behavior.  He didn’t begin praying to spite the king.  It was his ordinary conduct.  Unaltered and NOT to “prove a point”.  The point: His conduct was consistent and NOT swayed by the ungodly decrees of man – THAT is integrity!
As a result of Daniel’s conduct, he was put into the lion’s den, but the Lord delivered him, much to the relief of the king.

e.       Paul – another great study in integrity.  Paul lived above reproach.   When charges were levied against him, they did not stick.  He was able to tell the Elders of Ephesus, “You know, from the first day that I came to Asia, in what manner I always lived among you, serving the Lord with all humility, with many tears and trials which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews; how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house…” (Ac. 20:18-20).   “Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men.  For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.” (vs. 26-27)
When he was accused in Corinth of self-serving motives, he was able to defend himself in 2 Corinthians 11:5-12.  This is just one example.

f.         Jesus – the ultimate example of integrity.  Jesus NEVER wavered in His work.  He NEVER sinned!  He stood for and taught the truth, regardless of what men might think.  When the leaders sought to accuse Him, He answered, “Which of you convicts Me of sin?” (John 8:46).

g.        In all these examples, there is something is a great indicator of integrity.  Peter wrote, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.” (1 Pet. 3:15-16).  1 Peter 2:11-12 says, “Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.” Integrity does not mean that accusations cannot be made, but your character overcomes them – “that when they defame you as evildoers…”

 

 IV.                Some thoughts about integrity

a.        A necessary quality for leaders in the Lord’s church – elders (blameless – 1 Tim. 3:2),  preachers (1 Tim. 4:12, 16) , deacons (1 Tim. 3:10 – tested and found blameless), etc.

b.       The pure heart will clearly manifest integrity. It will not allow its character to be diminished by actions or words, nor to be morally corrupted.  He lives by his convictions both outwardly and within his heart.

c.        Integrity is seen in one’s view of the word of God.  There is a reason it comes BEFORE knowledge in our growth process.  Cf. Acts 17:11, Jas. 1:21, etc.

 Truly integrity is a quality we need to seek in our lives.  IF we can become men and women of integrity, it will govern every other quality of our hearts.  How is your integrity?



[1] "integrity." Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 09 May. 2013. <Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/integrity>.

[2] Ibid