THE POWER OF INTEGRITY

By Apostle Richard Wright

We are now living in a world of compromise, in a society that has abandoned moral standards and Christian principles in favor of expediency or practicality. The underlying philosophy is based on accomplishing goals by whatever means are necessary. This self-centered perspective should have as its motto: “If it works for you, do it”. This is a notion that inevitably leads to compromise of conscience and convictions. Because compromise is so prevalent in our society, you could say we no longer have a national conscience; guilt and remorse are non-factors in determining behavior.

Politicians, who should be upholding the high ideals of our country, instead are leading the way in compromise. They promote lofty standards and high ideals prior to their election but compromise them once they are in office. The same holds true in business, from executives down to salespeople; in the courts, from judges to attorneys; in sports, from owners to athletes; and in all walks of life. As a result, people learn to lie, cheat, steal, and shade the truth - to do whatever is necessary to get what they want. Therefore compromise becomes a way of life.

Unfortunately, the philosophy and practice of compromise has even invaded the Church. Because tolerance is the operative ideology in our society, the Church adopts a similar perspective to reach the unsaved. Many ministries now look for ways to give the gospel to people without offending them. Yet the very nature of the gospel is offensive because it confronts sinners with their sin. Ignoring that, many ministries willingly compromise God’s Word instead of standing firm on the gospel and they give the world a watered-down version that can’t effect any change (reformation).

God draws the elect into the Kingdom through Christians who prove to be different from the world - who reveal their true allegiance by their commitment and obedience to God’s standards.

The Church is now so adept at compromising with the world that it has forgotten how to be uncompromising. That’s because we readily accept the world’s value systems and indulge ourselves in them to the point that we personalize them and they become our desires. In essence, our standards replace God’s.

Scripture calls us to the opposite of compromise. All through the Word of God, He clearly commands His people to live apart from the world.

1 Peter 2:9 says, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light...” Whenever we are tempted to compromise, we need only remind ourselves that God never compromises His absolute truths and principles for expediency. He always lives according to His Word, and as His children, we are also to live by His Word. “I will bow down toward Thy holy temple, And give thanks to Thy name for Thy lovingkindness and Thy truth; for Thou hast magnified Thy word according to all Thy name.” (Psalm 138:2)

GOD’S WORD AS THE ULTIMATE AUTHORITY

When you view God’s Word as the ultimate authority, that opens the way for developing integrity instead of compromise. The American Heritage Dictionary defines integrity as “steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code”, “the state of being unimpaired; soundness”, or “the quality or condition of being whole or undivided; completeness”. It comes from the word integer, which means “whole” or “complete” . Integrity essentially means being true to one’s ethical standards, or in our case, God’s standards. Its synonyms are “honesty, sincerity, incorruptibility”. It describes someone without hypocrisy or duplicity - someone who is completely consistent with his or her stated convictions, someone who does what they say. Integrity to our word is where it all starts.

Nowhere is integrity more critical than in the leadership of the Church, because the spiritual leader must maintain integrity to set a credible example for all to follow. Christ said of the religious leaders of His day, “...therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things, and do not do them.” (Matthew 23:3) After pronouncing several woes on them, Jesus offered this final rebuke: "You serpents, you brood of vipers, how shall you escape the sentence of hell?” (verse 33)

But to the man of integrity, God promises blessing. When Solomon finished building the house of the Lord, the Lord appeared to him and said: “And the Lord said to him, I have heard your prayer and your supplication, which you have made before Me; I have consecrated this house which you have built by putting My name there forever, and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually. And as for you, if you will walk before Me as your father David walked, in integrity of heart and uprightness, doing according to all that I have commanded you {and} will keep My statutes and My ordinances, then I will establish the throne of your kingdom over Israel forever, just as I promised to your father David, saying, You shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.'” (1 Kings 9:3-5)

The goal of this letter is that you will be able to answer the following questions as David did: “O Lord, who may abide in Thy tent? Who may dwell on Thy holy hill? He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness, And speaks truth in his heart.” (Psalm 15:1-2)

TOTAL TRANSFORMATION

“This I say therefore, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality, for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” (Ephesians 4:17-19).

When you were brought into God’s kingdom, you were totally transformed. You became “a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). You did not just receive something new - you became someone new. Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me”. (Galatians 2:20)

The new nature is not added to the old nature but replaces it! An exchange occurs. The transformed person is completely new. If we have a changed nature, then we will have a changed behavior. Please notice his statement in Galatians 2:20 where he says, “....The life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God...” In other words, he is saying that he is not some super spirit or the like, but he lives this life in the flesh. He’s just an ordinary human being who has learned that all he has to do is die to self and live by faith in the Son of God. This requires that the “I” must be crucified.

Look now at Romans 6:1-7, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase? (2) May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? (3) Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? (4) Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. (5) For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also {in the likeness of His resurrection, (6) knowing this, that our old self was crucified with {Him,} that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin; (7) for he who has died is freed from sin.”

When we study Scriptures such as the ones above, we must come to the following conclusions concerning the subject of “integrity of character”:

1. If we still live in any sin, we have not died to it! (Sin is not walking in the truth you have been given according to James 4:17.) 

2. That baptism is not just a celebration of getting wet, but is a message of death to the old “self”! 

3. That we will continue to battle the issues of wrong character if we do not allow ourselves to be buried with Christ! The old nature must be totally buried; totally covered over with earth, six feet under...no hands sticking out of the grave; no toes left wiggling; no chance of any part of the old nature being “dug up”. 

4. According to verses 4 and 5, this is the only way to walk in resurrection life. We know that without resurrection life, we cannot experience ascension life! We must be totally united with Him in the likeness of His death in order to experience His life after His death. 

5. Verse 7 strongly indicates that only those who have died are freed from sin!

The bottom line of the whole message of “integrity of character” is that in order to reflect the character of Christ in our lives, we must have become one with Him in His death, resurrection and ascension. If we discover that we are not people of our word, then we obviously have not truly died to self. If we do not keep our word, then we certainly are not one with Him. If there is any dishonesty or lying in us, then how can we expect anyone to see the Christ that is “in” us?

It is time to come to grips with the fact that we must stop chasing after anointings and giftings and deal with the root of character. It is now time to seek the fruits of the Spirit as we have for so many years pursued the gifts of the Spirit! We must become so clothed with Christ that it becomes second nature to us to live our lives as He would have us do. We must identify with His words when He made statements such as “I only do what I see My Father do” and “I only speak that which I hear My Father speak”.

This current apostolic reformation is not about following a bunch of rules, but is about being IN CHRIST!

“...That you may prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world”. (Philippians 2:15)