Articles

Honest to God, February 9, 2012
 

 Honest To God, Part 1
Integrity of Heart

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The Word
Text:Psalm 139:23-24; Acts 13:22
Integrity is the key
The key to your growth, fruitfulness and fulfillment in Jesus Christ and in life is absolute integrity of heart before God. The key to growth is not the Bible; you cannot grow without the Word of God, but that is only a key. There are many people who study the Word of God but do not have a heart for Him. You cannot be a spiritual person without praying, but prayer is not the key to spirituality. We could go through a list of things that have to do with spiritual life: giving, service, ministry-mindedness, Spirit-fullness, gifts, fruit of the Spirit, but they are not the key; integrity, having a heart for God is the key. Integrity is the single most foremost factor you must come to terms with in your own life.
Defining “integrity”
By integrity, we’re talking about wholeness of heart toward God, not holiness. Holiness flows from wholeness, but the essence of integrity is completion. David did some very unwise and sinful things in his lifetime, but it is said of him that he had a “heart after God’s.”
David says in Psalm 25, “Let integrity and uprightness preserve me.” In the next chapter he says, “Vindicate me, O Lord, for I have walked in my integrity. I havetrusted in the Lord; I shall not slip.” If we walk in integrity and trust the Lord, our steps will not lose their footing.
The Hebrew word used here for integrity is tom, meaning complete. The simplest illustration in our own language would be the word integer meaning a whole number. Integer and integrity are related terms in our language, and the concept in Hebrew is the same—wholeness or completeness.
It means not being splintered by double-mindedness, not compromised or eroded by personal dishonesty with yourself. Every person has at one time or another had the failing of your heart speaking to you, and you chose to deafen to that voice. We are dealing with more than the heart; it is a God-ordained, internal umpire of our personality. Shutting it off can silence our conscience completely. Integrity is that which keeps the heart soft, sensitive and responsive. It is absolute honesty with God and yourself.
There are many things that numb the soul to maintaining integrity. Among the most deceptive things that can happen to an individual believer is the supposition that being surrounded by righteousness automatically makes you righteous, insulated from the jeopardy of your own failure. That somehow, it does not require your own internal requirement of honesty with yourself and the Lord. You may not be damning your soul, but you are draining it off, eroding its power.
How many people with a handshake and a “Praise the Lord” gain entrée into spiritual circles, but at the deeper levels of their being, there’s nothing going on? How many times are we engaged in something when a yellow flashing signal goes off in our souls and yet we ignore it and proceed. Every day we have to be willing to heed that umpire crying, “Foul.” The strength of your character and the grace that’s allowed to flow through you is directly proportionate to your willingness to walk with the integrity of heart.
How it works out in a life
The issue of integrity is demonstrated in Genesis 20, but not with regard to Abraham’s lie about Sarah being his sister but with the response of King Abimelech. Because the king thought Sarah was an available woman, he was apparently prepared to introduce her into his harem, and the Lord headed him off. In v. 5, Abimelech said to the Lord, “In the integrity of my heart and innocence of my hands I have done this.” 6And God said to him in a dream, “Yes, I know that you did this in the integrity of your heart. For I also withheld you from sinning against Me; therefore I did not let you touch her.” Abimelech had not been aware of any transgression, and showed his immediate willingness to respond. The Lord says that where integrity of heart is characteristic of a person, He will preserve and protect them (Psalm 25:21).
God is the Monitor of mankind, not seeking to judge, but seeking to redeem. He says to Abimelech in this first usage of the word “integrity,” I saved you from yourself because you were honest with yourself and with Me.
The peace of God ruling in our heart
The idea of integrity occurs frequently in Scripture. In the N/T, it takes on a different form of speech. The word integrity isn’t used but rather the concepts of the peace of God ruling in the heart, and the concept of worth orwalking worthy. The word worthy means your willingness to let the full weight of personality not be eaten off by insensitive response to the prompting of the heart by the Spirit of God, or by your own conscience.
There is no substitute for your honesty with God. Where you go to church doesn’t cut it. Being baptized with the Spirit doesn’t either. You can become expert in knowing the Word of God, but it is not worth a mound of beans without integrity of heart before God.
Integrity of heart is what God is weighing,and it’s what determines the release of your own life (Matthew 5:6). It doesn’t happen in an instant, but honesty of response is what gets you there.
There’s an absence of integrity that’s manifest when a person allows criticism, cynicism, or a spiritual know-it-all-ism to get in the way. Gaining spiritual ground comes by slow growth and character not charisma. The reason the fields are filled with the bones of people that have been dashed to oblivion by spiritual leadership that has failed them is because people, being just sheep, will so readily follow a voice and not listen deeply enough to find out what the heart behind that voice is listening to. People respond to charisma, and you don’t hear a lot of teaching on character.
The “umpire” in your heart
In Israel, when the tabernacle was erected, the Lord told them the specific garments and accoutrements that were to go with the high priest’s office, which included a breastplate that the high priest wore. On the breastplate were twelve stones, representing the twelve tribes of Israel. The high priest was carrying Israel on his heart.
Also in the breastplate was a substance called the uwriym and the tummah. Nobody really knows exactly what this substance was; most scholars think it was a kind of substance, like a little bag of sand or gravel. The word uwriym means lights and tummah is the plural of tom and means completeness orperfection.
When there was counsel to be sought of God, the high priest would go into the holy place which was only lit by the lampstand, so it was very dim, and stand before the veil of the holy of holies. In that virtual darkness, standing before the Lord, the priest would ask God for guidance, and, Scripture says, God would answer him by the uwriym and the tummah. We’re never told how that happened; it could have been something he sensed, or possibly a miracle manifestation of the glory of God that would give yea or nay to him. Perhaps that substance would glow. We’re never told how it worked, but that it workedwhen they sought counsel from God.
What’s interesting is that tummah is the plural of the word translated consistently in the O/T scriptures as integrity. There is an “umpire in the heart” that tells you yea or nay. In the N/T scriptures, the Bible says, “Let the peace of God rule in your hearts” (Colossians 3:15). It’s saying, Let the wholeness of God’s kingdom life and rule characterize your consciousness. Respond to that voice that says: You can move that way comfortably, peacefully. It’s your protection, your assurance. There is one High Priest today—His name is Jesus. The rest of us, the people of God, are priests under His care and leadership (Revelation 1:6), and the Bible says that all of us have been given a breastplate of righteousness (Ephesians 6).
Live your life “in front of Jesus”
To live your life “in front of Jesus”isn’t just to refuse to lie. There is a deep, heart-searching issue at stake, the whole spilling out of everything involved. To live a life “in front of Jesus” is to live a life of integrity, and integrity will preserve you.
As a pastor, I’m concerned about those I lead because I know that the Bible says there is going to come a day when I will not only be required to give an accounting of my own life before the Lord Jesus, but the Scripture says I will have to give an accounting for the souls of all of those that are under my shepherd care. Someday I’ll stand beside the Lord Jesus, not as a judge, but as a responsible shepherd under the Great Shepherd, and I will have to answer to Him for the things to which He’s called me to account. And as you come, I will have to answer to Jesus as to whether or not I was responsible for telling you, feeding you and demonstrating to you.
Today, I’m talkingto you about your integrity; telling you that you have heard. You haveno security outside of integrity of heart. Being a part of an alive congregation, being baptized in the Holy Spirit, being a pursuing, serious student of the Bible, being an intercessor, speaking with tongues, functioning in gifts, knowing how to teach and exercise faith, does not answer to it (Matthew 7:22- 23).
God knows our works. He hears our prayers. He calls us to study. But He knows us at the heart. “For man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
I’m calling you to be sure that you are protected by living your life in front of Jesus. A shepherd is required one thing: To answer for people’s life before God. The way that is maintained is when people walk in integrity of heart, with the peace of God ruling in their heart. Not because they’re sinless or perfect; not because they’ve overcome every weakness. But because they answer in their heart to the summons of the Savior.
There’s another thing that happens. The Bible says that if we walk in the light as He is in the light, then we have fellowship with one another (1 John 1:7). When integrity happens, communion happens. Not the superficial slosh of people belonging to the same charismatic club, but real fellowship between brothers and sisters. “…and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” The rest of that verse of Scripture declares that the progressive cleansing of Jesus happens in us as we will to walk in the light.
Releasein my life happens in direct response to my willingness to obey. As soon as you justify yourself, then God can’t do it. He wants to be our Righteousness, our Justice, our Deliverer. Live your life in front of Jesus, in integrity of heart.
Unless otherwise noted, all scripture verses are from The Holy Bible, New King James Version,
(Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

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Copyright © 2002 Jack W. Hayford, The King’s College and Seminary, Van Nuys, CA 91405


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