Integrity and Conscience

  Whatever Happened to Integrity?

I. Whatever happened to integrity?

First of all, what is it?
A. 1. firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values: incorruptibility
2. an unimpaired condition: soundness
3. the quality or state of being complete or undivided: completeness
synonym: see honesty
(Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition.)

II. Whatever happened to personal morality?
Just read the newspapers and wonder where it went?
A. Are you bothered by the fact that integrity seems to be almost everywhere absent? In
  business? In medicine? In education? In politics? In personal relationships? In marital
  relationships?
B. What does the Bible have to say about integrity?
1. The purpose of the law of God is love out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience. . . . I Timothy 1:5-11
2. Keep yourself pure. . . .
II Timothy 2:19-22
3. Abstain from sexual immorality in all its forms. . . .
Galatians 5;19-21
4. Honor the marriage relationship as God intended it to be. . . .
Hebrews 13:4; Matthew 19:1-9
5. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Matthew 7:12
6. Be faithful to your family. Be the parent, grandparent, great grandparent, and great,
  great grandparent that God would have you be.
Genesis 18:17-19

III. Except in the rarest of cases, everyone begins this life with the same equipment and opportunities. Consider the poetic words of Edgar A. Guest:

A. In considering the theme of “integrity,” do the best you can with what you have at hand;
  someone has said, “angels in heaven can do no better.”
B. Edgar Guest said that we all start out with the same equipment, so we need to do our very
  best with what we have to work with.
C. Many in our nation seem to have lost the commitment to the very best we can at whatever
  we may attempt.

EQUIPMENT

Figure it out for yourself, my lad,
You’ve all that the greatest of men have had,
Two arms, two hands, two legs, two eyes
And brain to use if you would be wise.
With this equipment they all began,
So start for the top and say, “I can.”

Look them over, the wise and great,
They take their food from a common plate,
And similar knives and forks they use,
With similar laces they tie their shoes,
The world considers them brave and smart,
But you’ve all they had when they made their start.

You can triumph and come to skill,
You can be great if you only will.
You’re well equipped for what fight you choose,
You have legs and arms and a brain to use,
And the man who has risen great deeds to do
Began his life with no more than you.

You are the handicap you must face,
You are the one who must choose your place,
You must say where you want to go,
How much you will study the truth to know.
God has equipped you for life, but He
Lets you decide what you want to be.

Courage must come from the soul within,
The man must furnish the will to win.
So figure it out for yourself, my lad,
You were born with all the great have had,
With your equipment they all began.
Get hold of yourself, and say: “I can.”

  Edgar A. Guest

“I Have Lived in All Good Conscience
Before God Until this Day”
Sermon Notes by Thomas C. Hickey

Introduction:
The above quote is Paul’s introductory statement to the Jewish Sanhedrin as
  recorded in Acts 23:1.
1. How many of us could truthfully make such a statement today?
2. This speaks to a level of integrity that is difficult even to imagine in our day.
3. How many of us could name any other living person today who could
  truthfully make such a claim as did Paul?

Defining the term: “conscience”
1. “Con” = a prefix meaning “with, together”
“Science” = “knowledge”
2. The combined term means simply self-knowledge or self-awareness.
3. The Greek term συνειδησις has the same meaning as the English word.
4. Cruden’s Concordance says concerning the word:
“Conscience = That faculty within us which decides as to the moral quality of
  our thoughts, words and acts. It gives consciousness of the good of one’s
  conduct or motives, or causes feelings of remorse at evil-doing. A conscience
  can be educated, or trained to recognize good andevil, but its action is
  involuntary. A good conscience is one which has no feelings or reproach
  against oneself, does not accuse oneself of wilful wrong (Acts 24:16).

I. WE CONCLUDE, THEN, THAT CONSCIENCE IS ONE’S PERSONAL
  AWARENESS OF RESPONSIBILITY TO MEET THE REQUIREMENTS
  OF SOME ETHICAL STANDARD WHICH MEASURES OUR CONDUCT.

  A. One’s conscience may be good:
1. Paul had lived in all good conscience (Acts 23:1).
2. Paul’s goal was to have a conscience void of offense (Acts 24:16).
3. One purpose of God’s commandments is to develop a good
  conscience (I Timothy 1:5; cf. also verse 19).
4. One qualification of deacons is that they are to hold the mystery of
  the faith in a pure conscience (I Timothy 3:9).
B. One’s conscience may be weak:
1. Some brethren have weak consciences (I Corinthians 8:7-13).
C. One’s conscience may be seared (I Timothy 4:2).
D. One’s conscience may be defiled :
1. Even the mind and conscience of the defiled and unbelieving is said
  to be defiled (Titus 1:15).


II. THE CONSCIENCE IS NOT AN ABSOLUTE GUIDE SINCE IT MAY BE
  GOOD, WEAK, SEARED OR DEFILED.
  A. Consider the differences between those who “have knowledge” and those
  with a weak conscience (I Corinthians 8:10).

III. AS THERE IS NO ABSOLUTE CERTAINTY THAT A MAN WILL
  FINALLY HAVE LIVED SO AS TO BE SAVED (I COR. 9:27), SO THERE
  IS NO ABSOLUTE CERTAINTY THAT ONE’S CONSCIENCE IS GOOD.
 A. Paul’s goal was to have a good conscience (Acts 24:16).
B. The Hebrew writer trusted that he had a good conscience (Hebrews 13:18).

IV. IT IS A SIN TO VIOLATE ONE’S CONSCIENCE, THAT IS, TO DO A
  THING WHICH ONE BELIEVES TO BE WRONG, BUT HE DOES IT
  ANYWAY.
(Romans 14:22-23).
A. But, a man who is wrong in his belief needs to be educated and encouraged to
  do the thing which is right according to God’s standards of right and wrong.

V. BIBLICAL EXAMPLES OF CONSCIENCE AT WORK:
    A. Joseph’s conscience helped him to overcome the temptation to yield to
  the temptations of Potiphar’s wife (Genesis 39:1-20).
B. Certain scribes and Pharisees were convicted by their own consciences so
  that they did not condemn a woman for a sin of which they may also have
  been guilty (John 8:9).

VI. THE CONSCIENCE MAY BE CLEANSED BY THE BLOOD OF CHRIST
  AND THROUGH OBEDIENCE TO THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST.
  A. The law couldn’t cleanse the conscience (Hebrews 9:9), but the blood of
  Christ can (Hebrews 9:14).
B. Baptism, according to the apostle Peter, is the answer of a good conscience
  (I Peter 3:21).

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