An Integrity Filled Heart
January 14, 2023

A Christian’s Heart

“An Integrity Filled Heart”

When talking about the qualities that are necessary for a Christian heart, integrity is one quality that cannot be ignored. The reason is because that’s the type of heart God desires and uses.

Of King David it says, “And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them.” (Psalm 78:72 NIV)

It was with such an integrous heart that God commended David. In Acts 13:22 the Lord’s testimony of David says, “I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.”

If David had a heart after God’s heart, and if David’s heart was integrous, therefore it can be concluded that integrity is an integral part of God’s own heart, in other words, integrity is one of God’s qualities.

This is seen in something Moses said about God’s character.

“God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” (Numbers 23:19 NKJV)

And so, a Christian’s heart needs to be an integrous heart because an integrous heart, a heart filled with integrity is part of God’s own heart.

Therefore, I think it’s safe to say that integrity is needed now more than ever. There are several reasons why. First, we also live in a society where what was once called good and integrous, is now being called evil, and what was once called evil is now being called good and true.

How bad is this in the eyes and heart of God. Remember, integrity is a part of God’s own heart. Well, Isaiah prophesied this, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness…” (Isaiah 5:20 NKJV)

But also, our society drowning in lies. We are living in a world that is living more by the lie than by the truth, and the sad part is that most people don’t even think it’s that big a deal.

But it is a big deal, and the Bible calls it sin. In fact, it’s such a big deal to God in how it hurts our relationship with Him and others that He makes it one of His big ten, that is, the Ten Commandments. This one is the ninth to be exact.

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” (Exodus 20:16 NKJV)

But, before we can continue looking at what is an integrity filled heart, I think it’s important that we understand what integrity is.

Having integrity is adhering to truth and a code of values, and for Christians, it means adhering to God’s word. Synonyms would include being honest, a person of high moral character, a person of virtue, a person who lives their lives in accordance with the values set for in the Bible, values they say they believe in.

Therefore, integrity is about being honest, fair, and having a strong sense of what is right and wrong. It’s adhering to the moral and ethical principles set forth in God’s word, which speaks directly to a person’s character, that is, who they truly are.

But it also has a second definition, and that is a person who is undivided and thus unwavering in their belief and trust in God. Integrity is not so much about what we do as it is about who we are. It means we live according to what we say and believe in.

It’s about who we are on the inside more than what we portray on the outside. It’s doing right when no one else is looking, and who we are in the dark more than what we do in the light.

Integrity, therefore, is best defined by how it’s fleshed out in our lives.

  • It’s about keeping our word even when it hurts.
  • It’s about being honest in all our dealings.
  • It’s practicing morality in both our bodies and in our minds.
  • It’s about admitting mistakes and doing what’s necessary to make them right.

This is why integrity of heart is something God is searching for in His people.

King David said that it’s only with an integrous heart that we can dwell in God’s presence. So, if we want to dwell in the presence of God, then we have to have integrity, and thus live our lives by it.

“Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill? He who walks uprightly, and works righteousness, and speaks the truth in his heart.” (Psalm 15:1-2 NKJV)

In fact, God is pleased when we do walk with integrity in our hearts. In Proverbs 11:20 the Lord says that while He detests people with crooked and twisted hearts, He does delight in those with integrity.

Job was such a man with a heart filled with integrity

Job said, “As long as my breath is in me … my lips will not speak wickedness, nor my tongue utter deceit … Till I die I will not put away my integrity from me. My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go; my heart shall not reproach me as long as I live.” (Job 27:3-6 NKJV)

In fact, not only is God pleased with such an integrous heart, but He also brags on it. We actually see God brag on Job when Satan came before God’s throne.

The Lord said, “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 NKJV)

God, therefore, looks for integrity and an integrous heart is what He desires for His leaders. It was a heart of integrity that distinguished the leadership of King David.

“And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them.” (Psalm 78:72 NIV)

While an integrous heart is manifested in our lives, in other words, people can see it, it’s really an inside job.

Integrity is an Inside Job

In speaking about the hypocrisy of the religious leaders, Jesus said, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.” (Matthew 23:25-26 NKJV)

The term “hypocrite” in the Greek language comes from the theater. In Greek theater one actor would often play more than one part, so they wore masks to cover their face for the different parts. Hypocrisy therefore means someone wearing a mask to hide his or her true nature; therefore, hypocrisy is in direct opposition to integrity.

Integrity, therefore, begins on the inside, which is probably why Jesus tells us to cleanse the inside, and when we do, we’ll be clean on the outside, or in how we deal with others.

If integrity is an inside job, and seeing how within the human heart, that is, the spiritual side of our hearts, there exists nothing but evil and wickedness bent upon deceiving, as the Lord says in Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked,” how can we possibly clean it? We can’t wash it out with soap and water, but we can confess and repent.

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 NKJV)

So, a heart of integrity is a heart that is free from hypocrisy and a heart that is honest about it’s true condition before a holy and righteous God. It’s a heart that doesn’t put on a mask to hide its true identity making people think that it’s something that it’s not, but rather it[s a heart that openly confesses its faults, shortcomings, and sins, and actively seeks to turn away from them.

Another aspect of integrity I like to talk about is that what erodes our integrity. Now the simple answer is sin, but it isn’t the one time sin that does it; rather it is a combination of sins that are not being dealt with, that is, they are not being confessed or repented of, or as some would say, it’s those little mistakes we allow without making them right.

This then leads us to the second thing about integrity.

Integrity is About the Little Things

Integrity isn’t built nor is it destroyed in one fell swoop, but in little bits and pieces. In Solomon’s song he says that it’s the little foxes that spoil the vine, and therefore they must be captured (Song of Solomon 2:15).

Rome was never built in a day, and neither was it destroyed in a day. It was over an extended period, especially in its downfall as it decayed from the inside through moral and ethical perversion.

And it’s this same moral and ethical decay we’re seeing in our own country. America is no longer the shining beacon to the world, instead it has been decaying little by little, year after year, and the cracks are getting bigger, crumpling the integrous foundation laid by our founding fathers.

Someone I know bought a nice house in an exclusive neighborhood, but the foundation of the house wasn’t laid correctly, the concrete didn’t have enough rebar. And so, the house has cracks not only in its foundation, but also throughout its walls and into the ceiling. With one really good shake the house could conceivably come down.

Jesus said, “Everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.” (Matthew 7:26-27 NKJV)

If we fail to come to belief in Jesus Christ, then our foundation won’t be built on anything solid, and when the storms of life hit, then the foundation will crumble, and the houses of our lives will come down.

When we violate God’s word or break one of His commands, when our integrity is compromised, small cracks begin to form in the foundations of our lives, and if left neglected, that is, un-confessed and un-repented for, then the foundation and our lives will begin to crumble.

How can we prevent the small cracks from getting bigger? They must be sealed through the process of confession, forgiveness, and repentance. This will restore the foundation and make it as stronger than it ever was.

Jesus said, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” (Luke 16:10 NKJV)

If people can’t trust us in the small matters, how can trust us when things get serious, and our help is really needed.

Therefore, integrity doesn’t happen overnight, nor is it lost overnight because of one mistake or sin. Rather, integrity is built over time and lost the same way.

We need to be careful then and not blame our circumstances when these cracks begin to develop. This leads me to another aspect of having an integrous heart.

Integrity Isn’t Determined by Circumstances

Even though our upbringing and the circumstances we face in this life affect us, we still have the power to choose either good or evil. Two people can grow up in the same environment, even in the same household, but turn out completely different. One may have integrity, while the other may not. Take for instance the high priest Eli’s two sons and Samuel. They all grew up in the tabernacle under Eli’s tutelage. Samuel grew up to be a man of integrity, while Eli’s two sons were corrupt.

“But the child (Samuel) ministered to the Lord before Eli the priest. Now the sons of Eli were corrupt; they did not know the Lord.” (1 Samuel 2:11b-12 NKJV)

If circumstances really could determine our ability to be a person of integrity, Joseph would be the classic example to follow.

Circumstances weren’t kind to Joseph as he was sold by his brothers into slavery, lied about by Potiphar’s wife, and thrown into prison and forgotten by a top official in Pharaoh’s court. Yet he never allowed the negative circumstances he encountered to dictate his actions, rather he kept his integrity through it all.

Looking at the circumstances that assailed Joseph and his not wavering in keeping his integrity leads me to the last aspect about having integrity.

Integrity is Expensive

Jesus talks about what really matters when it comes to our eternity.

He said, “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26 NKJV)

Joseph’s integrity cost him dearly. It cost him his freedom, but in the end, God blessed him and saved his family through him as a result.

There is something that I tell everyone I counsel when things don’t go their way and they are tempted to take the easy way out. I tell them that when we honor God, God will honor us.

Having an integrous heart will lead to problems, relational conflicts, loss of business, and possibly loss of a job. But in the end, it will lead to real benefits.

Benefits of Integrity

Safety and Security

“He who walks with integrity walks securely.” (Proverbs 10:9 NKJV)

Protection

“Let integrity and uprightness preserve me.” (Psalm 25:21 NKJV)

Guidance

“The integrity of the upright will guide them.” (Proverbs 11:3 NKJV)

Family

“The righteous man walks in his integrity; His children are blessed after him.” (Proverbs 20:7 NKJV)

And so, while our integrity will cost us, in the end it will bring real and lasting benefits that money can’t buy.

Now that we’ve determined a heart of integrity, the question becomes What Does an Integrous Heart Do?

Speak the Truth

Jesus said that the mouth speaks what the heart is full of (Luke 6:45). And so a heart that is integrous is going to speak the truth.

Jesus said, “All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” (Matthew 5:37 NIV)

Long explanations are not necessary, a simple yes or no will do the trick. Our words need to be so reliable that nothing more than a simple statement or word is needed.

Solomon said, “Put away from you a deceitful mouth, and put perverse lips far from you.” (Proverbs 4:24 NKJV)

A person with an integrous heart won’t be found speaking from both sides of their mouth. Hypocrisy and lies would not be considered acceptable.

And while speaking the truth will cost, there is a larger cost involved when we tell a lie. It might cost us our marriage, our relationship with God, our children’s future, as well as friendships, career, and the list goes on.

Paul adds a quality to our need to speak the truth, and that is the quality of love (Ephesians 4:25). We are told to speak the truth in love. The reason is because we have the tendency to launch the truth at people like a guided missile intending to blow away all opposition to our point of view. In the end we may feel good for speaking the truth, but the other person is laying there with their guts splattered all over the place.

So, an integrous heart speaks the truth through a loving spirit, looking to heal; not hurt.

But besides speaking the truth, an integrous heart also stands for the truth.

Stands for the Truth

Standing for the truth is taking our speaking the truth to the next level by putting it into action.

“For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth.” (2 Corinthians 13:8 NKJV)

In our society today there’s a prevalent attitude that whatever someone believes in, that it is truth, whether it’s true or not. It’s called subjective truth. It means that whatever is true for one person must be true for others, whether it is or not.

What this is doing is kicking objective truth to the curb or throwing it out the window.

Today subjective truth is going by the name of tolerance, which is anything but tolerant.

What is needed are Christians who are willing to stand for the truth and against the wrongs of society. We’re to be people of an integrous heart that not only speak the truth, but also stand upon the truth of God’s word.

The Apostle James says, “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” (James 4:17 NKJV)

Therefore, not speaking the truth and standing for what is wrong is sin.

Conclusion

Integrity is a vital element to a Christian’s heart and one that needs to be nourished and maintained, because it’s out the abundance of our heart we speak, and it’s our hearts that determine who and what we are, therefore we need to guard our hearts, and the best defense is a heart that is totally sold out for Jesus Christ and is filled with the truth of God’s word.

I’d like to end with what I said at the beginning, because when we understand this, having a heart of integrity will be something that we strive for. And it was about King David.

If David had a heart after God’s heart, and if David’s heart was integrous, therefore it can be concluded that integrity is an integral part of God’s own heart. Therefore, our hearts need to be integrous, because an integrous heart, a heart filled with integrity, is part of God’s own heart.

This is part of a sermon series on a Christian’s Heart. In this sermon we explore a heart that’s filled with integrity including integrity being an inside job, it’s about the small things and not circumstances, and finally it has both costs and benefits









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