|Vol. 15 No. 3 March 2013||
Mark N. Posey
Let us not forget the reason the Bible was written and preserved was “that you may know that you have eternal life”(1 John 5:13). Christ is the center, focus and key to the inspiration and interpretation of the Bible. This is why the books of the Old and New testaments fit together so well into one cohesive and comprehensive whole. Taken together, they present the progressive unfolding, revelation and communication of Christ.
The Law gives the foundation for Christ. A foundation is prepared ground or base on which some structure rests. It is the beginning or first principles of the system of truth. Christ is the foundation of all that is right and true (1 Corinthians 3:11). History shows the preparation for Christ. History, from an inerrant (2 Timothy 3:16) biblical perspective, holds true the facts of righteousness and faith. Poetry expresses aspiration for Christ. Seeing that Scripture is nothing less than the words of our very Creator, it is no wonder that throughout the centuries men and women have been astonished by them. King David said, “The law of the Lord is perfect”(Psalm 119:7).
Prophecy proclaims an expectation of Christ. The Bible is the account of redemption, how God rescues men from sin and from death. The Gospels record the historical manifestation of Christ. They are true historical facts and accounts of the work and the acts of Christ the Son of God. Acts relates the propagation of Christ. Acts portrays the resurrected Christ in His Ascension, by the Spirit, through the disciples, for the producing of the church – the kingdom of God.
The Epistles give the interpretation of Christ. The epistles answer the questions asked by the church or address the problems within the church. Revelation describes the consummation of all things in Christ. The Second Coming of Christ marks the time when the church goes home for eternity.
How is it that every part of the Bible, in spite of its great diversity, can contribute to its overarching theme of redemption and its central figure, the Christ? How? Because it is from God!
“Make yourself an example of good works with integrity and dignity in your teaching. Your message is to be sound beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be ashamed, having nothing bad to say about us” (Titus 2:7-8). “Integrity” is defined as a firm adherence to a code of especially moral values, or the quality or state of being complete or undivided. The term in Greek indicates incorruptness, sincerity, untaintedness. It refers to purity of motives, without desire of gain, respect of persons, as well as purity in doctrine. Paul reminded Titus this is the quality that his message, the Gospel, possesses. Not only was he to teach such a message, but that message was to impart the quality of integrity to him and his hearers. The life Titus lived, the good works he showed through his life, can be summarized in the word “integrity.” The Word of God is to be transformational in who we are and how we live, as we become less like the world around us and more like Christ in us. “We all, with unveiled faces, are looking as in a mirror at the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory; this is from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
The opposite of integrity in one’s faith is hypocrisy. This term indicates a play actor, pretending to be what one is truly not. Jesus used the phrase of the Pharisees, who had an outward pretense of righteousness while their motives of heart were impure, self-centered and serving. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every impurity. In the same way, on the outside you seem righteous to people, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Matthew 23:27-28). While others may not know their true motives, God does, and hypocrisy only brings condemnation (Matthew 24:51). Such attitudes were to die when the old self died and the new self was made alive in Christ (Romans 6:6-11; Ephesians 4:22-24). “So rid yourselves of all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all slander. Like newborn infants, desire the pure spiritual milk, so that you may grow by it for your salvation” (1 Peter 2:1-2).
Scripture reminds us, “The one who lives with integrity will be helped, but one who distorts right and wrong will suddenly fall” (Proverbs 28:18). God is a heart knower, and when we examine ourselves in light of His Word, we can know our hearts as well (Hebrews 4:12-13). Sin is an ever-present threat to us, with Satan deceiving us with it and it ultimately hardening our hearts (Hebrews 3:13). Without examining our hearts every day, we can move from integrity to hypocrisy without knowing it, but God will know. The deep recesses of one’s heart can be frightening, especially when it reveals what one doesn’t want to see. God, however, can cleanse our hearts, forgive our sins and prepare us for eternity. Isn’t it better to find resolution and forgiveness now rather than revelation and condemnation in judgment?
Integrity or hypocrisy is the reputation of our character before God and what will commend or condemn us before Him. God through His Word seeks to transform us into people of integrity and dignity (Romans 12:2), to leave the influence of sin behind and find life in Christ. May we allow God into our hearts that our hearts will be pleasing to Him. “Guard me and deliver me; do not let me be put to shame, for I take refuge in You. May integrity and what is right watch over me, for I wait for You” (Psalm 25:20-21).