by John MacArthur
Standing for the truth requires courage rooted in clarity. We live in a time dominated by confusion, and this year’s Shepherds’ Conference—with the theme, Doctrinal Clarity for a Confused Generation—has provided practical, focused wisdom for holiness in light of the culture. To the same end, we hope you’re encouraged by these words from our pastor, originally published in Tabletalk magazine more than ten years ago.
As important as it is to keep a good reputation in the community, it is a thousand times more important to safeguard our own personal character. That is why Jesus dealt with the issues of morality and ethics beginning with the innermost thoughts of our hearts. “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander” (Matthew 15:19).
It’s probably not overstating the case at all to say that the single most important battlefield in the struggle for integrity is your own mind. That’s where everything will actually be won or lost. And if you lose there, you have already ruined your character. A corrupt character inevitably spoils the reputation, too, because a bad tree can’t bring forth good fruit (Matthew 7:18).
Consider what is being communicated when a Christian lacks ethical integrity. That person is saying he doesn’t truly believe what Scripture plainly says is true of God: that “to do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice” (Proverbs 21:3). That “the sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, but the prayer of the upright is acceptable to him” (Proverbs 15:8). And that God “delight[s] in truth in the inward being” (Psalm 51:6).
In other words, the person who neglects ethical integrity is telling a lie about God with his life and his attitude. If he calls himself a Christian and professes to be a child of God, he is in fact taking God’s name in vain at the most fundamental level.
That puts the issue of ethical integrity in perspective, doesn’t it?
That’s what we need to call to mind whenever we are tempted to adapt our ethical principles for convenience’ sake. It isn’t worth the high cost to our reputation, our character, or our testimony.
Excerpted from John MacArthur, “Pursue Integrity Relentlessly,” Ligonier Blog, Ligonier, May 27, 2019.
Grace Community Church Pastor / Teacher