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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Dr. Charles Stanley » Charles Stanley - Integrity In The Life of the Believer

Charles Stanley - Integrity In The Life of the Believer

Charles Stanley - Integrity In The Life of the Believer
TOPICS: Integrity

Do the people who really know you see you as a person of integrity? That is, when they think about you, they think of honesty, truthfulness, uprightness, reliability, trustworthiness, do they see all of these qualities within you? When they think about you, everybody thinks something about all of us. Do they see you as a person of integrity? Because you see, integrity involves all of that. Sincerity, uprightness, truthfulness, honesty, reliability, trustworthiness, all of those things are involved in being a person of integrity. And so, the question is, when they think about you, whatever else they may think about your looks and what you wear and what you drive and where you live, do they think about you as a person of integrity?

Well, think about it this way. Your integrity is at the core of who you are. It's not how you look necessarily. It's not what you wear, it's not what you drive and where you live or how much you have. It's who you are on the inside. Are you trustworthy? Are you reliable? Do you tell the truth? Are you the kind of person that if you say something, your friend knows, or whoever it might be, knows that they can rely upon that? That you're going to do your best to make it come to pass. Because you see, you and I live in a society where truthfulness for most part doesn't seem to matter anymore. For example, we all talk about listening to the media and saying, "Well, I heard what they say. Did they tell the truth"? We don't know whether they did or not. Because so often we find out that it's not the truth. It's partial knowledge.

When you listen to the politicians talk, do you have real confidence that they're men and women of integrity? Because so much of what we hear is compromise here and compromise there. And when you read the newspaper or the magazines, do you or can you even believe what you read? Because you see, truthfulness doesn't seem to matter in many people's hearts anymore. You just tell it like you see it. And as one reporter said, "Truth is what I say it is". Well, truth isn't necessarily what somebody says it is. And so, the whole issue of integrity is a major issue in the eyes of God. Saying what you mean, mean what you say. Put it all on the table. Not saying one thing with your lips, but deep down inside you're saying something else down here. And so, the question is, "Well is it important to God"?

It is very important to God and I want you to turn if you will to the fifteenth Psalm and it's very evident that our integrity is important to God. Not only personally, but nationally and in every other aspect in our business, in our relationships, integrity is extremely important. In this fifteenth Psalm and the title of this message is "Integrity in the Life of the Believer". And the reason I want to say in the life of the believer is because in the eyes of the world, people who are not Christian, you know they just think, "Well, I can say what I want to say; it depends on whether it profits me or not". Integrity doesn't seem to be as important to many, many people as it is in the eyes of God and certainly should be in the life of every believer. So, in this fifteenth Psalm, listen to what he says, "O LORD, who may abide in Your tent? Who may dwell on Your holy hill"? Which is referring to who is it that can live in a close relationship with You, God? "He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness, and speaks truth in his heart".

The way we walk, the works we do, and what are the true expressions out of our heart? Out of the heart proceeds what we really are. "He does not slander his with his tongue, nor does evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his friend;" that is, a person who is a real friend, a true neighbor, is not going to say one thing and do something else; make some implication but not mean really what they say. And he says, "In whose eyes a reprobate is despised". That is a person who does not want God in their life whatsoever. A person of integrity is able to acknowledge that, see that, separate themselves from that. Doesn't mean they dislike the person, but it's their lifestyle, whoever they may be. "But one who honors those who fear the LORD".

A person of integrity will honor those who fear the Lord, recognizing that God is God, "He swears to his own hurt and does not change". That is, for example, a person of integrity is willing to suffer the consequences of wrong-doing or saying the wrong thing, making amends if necessary, even if causes them hurt, "does not put out his money at interest," which in those days there were certain times they could do it and certain times they could not; certain people they could charge interest and certain other people they could not, "nor does he take a bribe against the innocent," which is, is to being dishonest, lacking integrity. And here's what he says, "He who does these things lives this kind of lifestyle will never be shaken". A person of integrity will never be shaken.

And so, when you look at this passage of Scripture, it's very evident he says, he says, if you want to live in a close relationship to God, "he who walks with integrity works righteousness and speaks truth in his heart". So, what you have to ask is this question. The people who really know me, really know me deep down inside, do they see me as a person of integrity, or do they say, "Well, you know, I know what she said but I've had enough experience with her or with him to know that maybe they will, maybe they won't. I'm not, you know, I've heard them say all kind. I'm not sure they're telling the truth or"... In other words, you don't want to be the kind of person whose integrity is questioned, whether you're truthful, honest, reliable, trustworthy, sincere.

And you see, nobody wants a nobody wants a conversation with insincerity. Nobody wants to listen to a person who's insincere about what they're doing in life because what it does, it creates distrust. And distrust is a part of the core value within us. That is, what are we really like? Are we trustworthy or not trustworthy? Doesn't mean being sinless, it doesn't mean being perfect, but it means deep down inside we want to be truthful and honest about what we say and about the way we go about it. For example, you don't want to buy something that three months later, or before you get home you've got a problem. Or you find out well that's not the truth. He sold you a bill of goods, whatever that may mean. It's dishonest. We can be dishonest if we leave somebody the impression, for example, if you sell someone an automobile and you know that you have a major problem, and you paint it up and I mean, man, you've glossed it all up and it's looking the best it's every looked, in fact. And you've polished the tires and you've shined up the hubs and I mean everything. It sounds like it's just buzzing.

You know when you sold it to them. You told them it's a good car. It's taken me all this many miles. And listen, you've told them a lot of truthful things, but you left out this carburetor is not worth a hoot. And it's just not going to work. Or this is not right. In other words, you know you didn't tell them the full truth. You lied, you were deceptive. Listen. What does that do? It strikes at your integrity. It strikes at who you are, that you, listen, that you violated a simple principle in the Word of God. And what is that? Treat others the way you want to be treated. "Do unto others as you would have them to do unto you". Jesus couldn't have said anything that encompassed so much of our relationships as that simple verse, or that simple phrase. You treat somebody the way you want to be treated. And to treat them otherwise is to be a counterfeit; is not to be absolutely honest. And what it does, it weakens your conscience, it weakens your very character.

And so, when you think about what is integrity? It's at the core of our life. It's extremely important to us because it affects us in lots of ways, whereas also it affects other people. Now, the question is this, "How do we lose our integrity"? How do we lose it? It's very simple. We compromise the truth. We tell partially or we leave innuendoes; or we manipulate. There are lots and lots of ways, but it begins with compromising the truth at some point. And then a person who lies, and God doesn't strike them dead; they do it again and again and again and again. And for some people it's a way of life. You know why it's a way of life? Because it appears, watch this carefully, it appears to them that they got by with it. And they can tell this one a little lie and that one a little lie and this one little lie and that one little lie. And when we come to the consequences, I want to show you how absolutely devastating that is. And many people just telling whatever they want to tell, that makes them look good or whatever it might be, is ultimately very devastating.

And so, when you think about how we lose it, we lose it simply by compromising the truth. Then after what happens, we look at, and God doesn't strike us dead, then we just begin to rationalize. Well, I mean after all, you know, I told them enough. Or, I think that's really all I owe them at this point. That's not what integrity's about. Integrity is about being able to say what we need to say, do what we need to do, be trustworthy, reliable, dependable, sincere in every area of our life. Now, what are the consequences? Now here's something that's so very important because many people think about it in this light. They say, "Well, you know, I lied. Nobody seemingly knows the difference and only I know the difference and God and I". But usually they don't, when people lie, they don't usually say, "Only God and I know," because they'd like to eliminate that party if at all possible and just talk about what they know. So, it appears they got by with it.

Now the consequences of lying isn't God's immediate judgment. Watch this very carefully. Here is the deceptive thing about a lack of integrity. The deceptive thing about a lack of integrity is the first consequence, nobody sees this. But what it does, it begins to erode your own sense of self-esteem. When a person begins to lie, it starts them down a road of erosion of their inner being, of what they think about themselves, how they see themselves. And while they might not ever tell anyone else, and while no one else may ever know the truth but you, deep down inside something is going on. And that something, listen, is the disintegration of your core being. It's what you are, it's who you are.

Lack of integrity and lack of truthfulness and lying and manipulation and deception starts you down a road, where who you are becomes more and more faint. And not only that, here's what happens. You become less, watch this carefully, you become less and less capable of dealing with situations and circumstances in life because you've lied so many times, you've lied to yourself, you've tried to deceive yourself. You've left God out of these decisions, you're not trusting Him. Then what happens? It begins to cave in, and so one of those consequences, one of the major consequences is that it begins, listen, it begins to erode, erode on the inside. I want you to turn to, look if you will in look in Proverbs chapter two for a moment. Look in Proverbs chapter two and listen, look at this passage if you will.

You see, people, when they don't trust God, then they're going to say things they should not say, do things they should not do and try, try to, try to cover up all, all kind of stuff. And so, what I want you to notice here is this. Look at this, seventh verse of the second chapter of Proverbs. "He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity". Listen, God is a shield, we can trust Him when we get into those difficult times, and the truth is hurtful, and the truth is painful and we have to face it. But first of all, it erodes our sense of self-esteem. Then of course, there's the whole issue of guilt. When you do not tell the truth and you're dishonest, you're going to feel it inside. Any believer, any believer, every single believer has the Holy Spirit inside of us. And when we do what is wrong, and when we, listen, when we lie or do not tell the truth or manipulate circumstances, the Spirit of God's going to convict us.

You say, "Well, I know I've been saved but to tell you the truth, I've been lying a long time in my life and I don't feel any big problem". Then you really are in danger. Because what you've done, you've done it so long you have dulled the edge of your conscience. And what started off as a strong ringing bell, now hardly makes a whisper because nobody caught you up to this point. What I want you to see is this. The destruction oftentimes begins on the inside; nobody else may see it, but something is happening to you. And guilt, what? After a while, for losing your integrity, you become incapable of, listen, what it does, it robs you, it robs you of the ability to deal with circumstances in life because lied about this and lied about that and you know, what is the truth? And shall I... in other words, what happens is you find yourself in confusion.

And the Holy Spirit will remind you of what's true. But now you've come to the place that you have dealt with so many issues in your life by telling what is untrue; now it's difficult for you to deal with the issue with truthfulness because it's been so long. And now you, it's almost, you're incapable of doing what you know is the right thing, why? Because you have disintegrated part of the core of your life, the value inside of you, of who you are. A person of notable excellence, that's what God had in mind, a masterpiece from God. A person of notable excellence, and what have you done? Degrees by degrees, by degrees, something has happened and now, one of the consequences, there's no peace. And when the no peace and the no fulfillment and the no contentment gets strong enough, you do something to appease all that.

A little drink here, a little drink there, just like the beginning of the lying. Next thing when the drinking won't work, get on drugs. Next thing you know, you're hooked and you're an addict. And you say, "Well, how did all that start"? It started with eroding your core value of a person of integrity. You no longer know who you are. And so little by little, something has happened deep down inside. And naturally one of the consequences is we become estranged from God. Does that mean you're lost? No, it doesn't mean that lying and deception makes you lost. But here's what it does. Remember what this passage says? "Lord, who may abide in Your tent and dwell in Your holy hill"? That's a closeness with Him. Who can have a close relationship with You? And what happens is when a person lacks integrity, and when they, when they deal with life on a level that is beneath trustworthiness, sincerity, honesty, and integrity, what happens is their relationship with God is hindered.

And it's the same way, for example; a husband, a wife, the most intimate relationship on earth. When a wife or a husband can no longer trust each other, it doesn't make any difference what he or she gives the other one. It doesn't make any difference where they go, what they do, what they have, where they live, what they wear. You know what? There's something deep down inside that it's not all one anymore. And so, it is with God. It wouldn't make any difference how much money you gave him, how many times you went to church, how many times you read the Bible. You know what? Till you deal with those things that need to be dealt with, there's always going to be that estrangement. And the consequences are devastating. This is why parents need to say to their children very early in life. Tell the truth. Telling the truth is godly. Telling the truth is what Jesus did. Telling the truth is what Jesus would have you to do. Telling the truth is the right thing, even if it hurts. That's what he said in this passage.

He says, for example, in this passage, "he swears to his own hurt". That is, he tells the truth even though it hurts him. Yeah, I did that. Yeah, I said that. No, I didn't do it. I know I told you I would but no, I didn't. In other words, the consequences are devastating. Now, what we want to ask at this point is show do we maintain our own integrity when there are people all around us who don't even think it's that important. They don't even know what the word means, it's not in their vocabulary. How do we maintain that? Well, I want you to think about it. First of all, you have to decide what your convictions in life are. Now think about this. All of us believe something about everything. Now there may be a few things in life you say, "Well, I don't know what I believe about that". But when it comes to living daily in our life, we know what we believe.

Sometimes I think people really don't know exactly what they believe but they operate on the basis of what they think is okay right now. But we all need a set of convictions. That is, things, now watch this carefully. Things that are non-negotiable. Let me ask you this. In your belief system, is this a negotiable doctrine? That you can be saved by good works. In other words, you don't need Jesus. You don't need Jesus to be saved. Is that a negotiable doctrine? How many of you are not sure? There shouldn't be any question about that. In other words, the virgin birth, non-negotiable. Yes, is it truth? God the one, there's one true God, non-negotiable. In other words, we could just go right down the list of doctrinal things. But then we could spread from doctrines to how we live. What are our convictions about how we treat each other? What are our convictions about how I relate to my friends or have other relationships? What are my convictions about how I should carry out my job? Do I have a conviction that having accepted this responsibility I will do my best?

I will give it my best. I will work in this vocation and this occupation and this job, as the Bible says as if I were doing it unto Jesus and in His name and unto Him. Then of course, there is the whole issue of submission. If you and I are going to live a life of integrity, we must submit ourselves to the Living God to walk in righteousness. Because you'll notice what he said in this passage, "He who walks with integrity and works righteousness". To submit to the will of God: Lord, what would You have me to do? He's not going to ever say, "Well, be deceptive. Well, just manipulate the circumstances. Just don't tell them the whole truth. Well, imply something". In other words, he's not going to do that. So first of all, there's conviction. There is submission. And then thirdly, there's the whole issue of building relationships with people of integrity.

Listen, you want to strengthen your own integrity? Have relationships with people who do. For example, when you and I see someone who's got some friends who are way out in left field, over the fence. The way they talk, the way they dress, where they go, what they do. You and I know that a person who runs with that crowd, the Bible warns against it. Why would a person of integrity run with people who have no integrity, who are ungodly, unrighteous, do not tell the truth, get by with as little as they can? You want to, you want to have strong integrity? Then you be sure to be friends with people who do have integrity. Then of course, there's a whole issue of trusting God. You trust Him. You and I are going to hit situations that may tempt or may at least challenge us at our truthfulness.

Now here's the issue. When that challenge hits you, here's the decision we have to make: Am I going to trust God in this? In other words, may it could be painful, Lord. Am I going to trust God in this, or am I going to trust myself? Or am I going to lie about it? Manipulate, be deceptive and not tell the truth. To build integrity, I have to decide how I'm going to live my life. And I have to decide that I'm going to trust Him. Then of course, now watch this. We're all going to fail at some time about something. Now I want to say this again. You may tell something that you're absolutely convinced is the truth and is not the truth. Then you, then naturally you say, "Well look, you know what? I genuinely thought that was the truth; I'm sorry". So, you face up to it.

One of the ways we build integrity is to confess our failure. Let's say, for example, you knew it wasn't the truth. How do you build integrity? You're willing to confess, to deal with something that you said, implied, deceived. In other words, you're willing to say, "You know what? I was wrong. I need to ask you to forgive me. I didn't tell you all the facts. I misled you which is deception. I misled you; that's not integrity at all. I'm asking you to please forgive me". And then whatever the situation, you make amends. For example, let's say that I told you something that was not true that cost you three hundred dollars as a result of my being deceptive, didn't tell you the truth, cost you three hundred dollars. If I'm a man of integrity, you know what I'm going to do? I'm going to say, "You know what? I misled you. Not only do I confess and ask you to forgive me, but I'm going to pay you the three hundred dollars it cost you".

Just confessing it's not enough. A person of integrity is going to make amends and make restitution for what it cost someone else, because of their lack of integrity. Now, telling the truth is very important. Is it hard sometime? Yes, it's hard sometime. It's hard sometime as a pastor to tell the truth to someone you know they don't want to hear it. You know it's going to hurt them. You know they're going to think you're not their friend. You know, you know what? But you have to do it anyway. And you just have to say, "You know what? I know you're not going to like this. I know this is going to hurt you and I'm sorry it's going to hurt you. It hurts me to have to tell you. But you know what? I don't ever want you to wake up one day and say, If he only told me".

What I want you to see is this: integrity is very important in the eyes of God. And when you look at this book and you look to see what He says here, it's, he says you're going to live in a close relationship to Him? Who is? "He who walks with integrity and works righteousness, speaks truth in his heart". Doesn't mean we're perfect. Doesn't mean we won't sin. Doesn't mean we won't make mistakes, but when we do or when we're tempted, or in a moment of weakness when you fail at that point, you confess it. You go to that person, you ask for their forgiveness and make amends, whatever is necessary. But you know one of the worst things the unbelieving world can see is a believer, one who claims to know Jesus Christ as personal Savior who is unreliable, insincere, untrustworthy, a person you cannot trust to tell the truth. I pray to God in Jesus's name that you'll take this message to heart. Because this is about who you are. It's about your whole future, because your whole future is going to be affected by who you are and the way you live it out.
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