INTRO: The word integrity may not be one which most of us can define very well. We probably know how to use this word in a sentence ... and have some general ideas about its meaning. So, before I launch into our thoughts for this evening, lets do some defining. Integrity: adherence to a code of moral, artistic, or other values; completeness; an unimpaired condition; soundness. Our thoughts tonight are going to use the general condition of soundness as we thing of integrity. And how can we be sound without adhering to fundamental principles of conduct and life? The book of Proverbs is all about life and living. And concerns about integrity are addressed in various ways in this book so filled with practical, inspired advice.
1. Prov 20:23 - Do not cheat!
a. this passage describes the use of a balance scale in business dealings
b. but the counter weights have been altered, and buyers are cheated
c. some old business men would add a bit extra to account for the possibility of inaccurate scales
d. cheating, in any form, is hated by the Lord - abomination is strong word and describes something disgusting to the Lord
e. cheating is a widespread practice ... from the classroom, to the sports field, to the board room, to the public service
f. a person who cheats is impaired ... not complete ... not sound
2. Prov 12:22 - Do not lie!
a. here is another of those things which disgusts the Lord ... lying
b. people who lie cannot be trusted ... period!
c. but there are folks who mislead, who deceive, who lie when it is their best interest to do so ... even in matters not all that significant
d. Eph 4:25 - lying would have been part of the life of the old man (v. 22)
e. there may be times when the truth would embarrass or bring censure
f. but better to have been truthful and trusted than to face God as a liar
3. Prov 20:25 - Keep your word!
a. this little verse speaks of the person who gives his word ... and after, seeks a way not to have to keep his word
b. here is a matter of integrity about which our young must be taught early
c. but what they too often see in their parents is failure here
d. Mt 5:37 - being consistently dependable in keeping our word is right
e. just as with lying, not keeping your word will affect peoples trust in you
f. few things will be as valuable to your as your being a person of your word!
4. Prov 24:12 - Be careful about making excuses!
a. the excuse? Behold, we knew it not.
b. yes, there may reasons, from time to time, when we are unable to meet an obligation
c. and we must be sure we have done everything possible to meet obligations
d. but having given our word, having made a commitment and simply giving excuses for failure is not the way of integrity
e. excuse making will become a life habit ... and damage your credibility
f. not only does our excuse making damage credibility, it also affects others with whom we have made commitments
5. Prov 20:13 - Do not be a lazy person!
a. the book of Proverbs has so much to say about lazy, slothful people
b. laziness, slothfulness ultimately bring a person to poverty
c. this person may have all the knowledge and talent in the world ... and be worthless because of his lack of zeal and diligence
d. Prov 18:9 - a lazy, slothful person is not only a waster ... he is a waste!
e. yes, we need rest, relaxation and recreation ... sleep is natural, needed
f. but a person known for laziness is not known as a person of integrity
6. Prov 16:8 - Be content with righteousness!
a. life will present you with all sorts of questionable opportunities
b. there are, undeniably, people who become wealthy in shady business deals
c. righteous living, whatever the cost may be, is always the best way
d. at the end of the day your integrity will be more satisfying to you that anything amount you make gain through questionable, devious means!
CLOSE: Integrity is a fading thing in todays word. But Christian people, no matter the fashion of the world, must always be people of integrity.
Cecil A. Hutson
22 August 2004
You Must Hear the Gospel
You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)
You Must Believe
You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)
You Must Repent
You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)
You Must Confess
You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)
You Must Be Baptized
Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!
You Must Be Faithful Unto Death
Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)