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Sunday, March 1

The Crisis of Eroding Integrity

The Crisis of Eroding Integrity

Are you aware that there was actually a time in our nation's history when a man or woman's word was their bond?  When an agreement was made, the parties involved would simply shake hands and it was done.  I remember very clearly when I was around the age of seven watching my great grandfather negotiate a price to build a house for a man.
My grandfather went back and forth with the man for a while.  Finally, they came to an agreement.  The two of them shook hands, and off we went.  There was no need for lengthy and confusing contracts.  The transactions between people involved honest, because people simply lived their lives based on the honor system which was based on integrity.  When two people made an agreement, they took to heart what the verse of Matthew 5:37 says, "But let your communication be, Yea, yea or Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil."
Over the years I have had the privilege of spending time with many wonderful Christian leaders, men and women who have modeled for me and so many others just what it means to walk out a life of integrity in all situations.  They are passionate about truth and have "in-deed" given their lives to seeing God's perfect will and plan fulfilled in everything they do.  When they tell you they are going to do something, you can "take it to the bank"!
On the other hand, I have met people who are not so committed to living a life of integrity.  I have also heard heartbreaking stories of people who have been hurt by the compromise of a person whose tendency is to prefer style over substance.  Their practices, more often than not, include using God's name for the purpose of manipulating people and situations in order to have their own selfish wants and desires fulfilled.
Jesus warns us in Matthew 24:4-5 saying, "Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ (anointed); and shall deceive many."  Notice, Jesus didn't say these people would actually claim to be himself come in the flesh, but he was warning us about those who claim to be "anointed" but are not.  
Paul also warns us of such impostors in 2 Timothy 3:1-7 saying, "This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.  For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth."
Another similar problem faces the church today: immature believers that tend to use the name of Jesus Christ to justify doing or saying something they feel strongly about.  I don't say this to belittle the precious young ones in Christ among us but to make the point that much is being done in the name of our wonderful Lord that is wrong.  In my thirty-five years of ministry, I have never seen a time like now. I have personally witnessed even the so-called "mature" among us compromise their integrity on the altar of selfish convenience.  Jesus warns, "Beware of the scribes, which desire to walk in long robes, and love greetings in the markets, and the highest seats in the synagogues, and the chief rooms at feasts; which devour widows' houses, and for a shew make long prayers: the same shall receive greater damnation."  (Luke 20:46)  There you go, if you want to talk about style over substance!
Jesus gives us a way to identify these folks in the following verses.  "These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved forever." (2 Peter 2:17)  "For every tree is known by his own fruit."  (Luke 6:44)  Just because someone says they're a Christian, it doesn't necessarily mean that it's true, and they are a Christian.  However, seeing the fruit of a person's life - where most of their personal time, talents, and treasures is spent - will stand as the true evidence of their being committed to diligently pursuing God and His ways, or still being committed to their old flesh nature instead.
If you have read or listened to even a few of the messages God has provided through this ministry of Toward The Mark, Inc, you have likely heard me say, with conviction and frequency, that, "Those who truly w-a-n-t Christ, truly pursue Him."  When we begin to seek Christ with our whole hearts, we also become committed to forsaking anything and anyone that comes to separate us from Him, and become committed to following Jesus Christ in every area of our lives and lifestyle.  As we learn about, and experience, Christ's Nature and see the love He has for us as His children, we will become more like Him and will have a desire to be totally and wholeheartedly transformed into His likeness.  With that in mind, if the extent of someone's commitment to Christ is simply attending a church service or two each week, that just "won't cut it" for them for long if they truly w-a-n-t to be transformed into Christ's image.  An old country preacher once said, "Sittin' in a church pew, for a Sunday or mid-week service, makes you a Christian, just about as much as sittin' in a garage for a day makes you a car."
If what we say doesn't match up with what we do, what people see that we do will always be more important than what we say.  "Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works." (James 2:18)  As long as we live, our actions will always speak louder than our words.  
Paul hit the nail on the head when he said, "This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come."  (2 Timothy 3:1)  Perilous times have arrived.  It is clear that we are in the last days and the "peril" has come.  In the last seventy years alone, we have seen our means of communication progress from archaic methods to the highly technical and very sophisticated systems of today.  Satellite, fiber optic cable, and world-wide internet communication systems have come to be used by the devil and his minions for dumping his deceptive agenda into our homes around the clock, making it easy to continually flood our eyes and ears with what is working to erode away our integrity.  The assault on everything that is good is raging around us and, if there has ever been a time when we need to focus our wholehearted attention on God, it is NOW!
"And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, (to indulge one's appetites excessively) and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and [so] that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man." (Luke 21:34)
"But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer." (1 Peter 4:7)
This time we are living in is NO time for compromise!  In fact, the evidence is shows... Our Lord Jesus Christ's return is very soon.
THANK YOU for staying connected with us, and for following our blog every month throughout the year!  We appreciate you and pray God's greatest blessing on you and your family!  In Christ Jesus,

Re-read and Pass it on to everyone you know who hasn't given their heart and life to Christ, or to those who just need encouraged:  The_Crisis_of_Eroding_Integrity

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