Integrity in the Life of the Believer

By Charles Stanley


How does the world look upon your life? Do people see you as a person of integrity? Can they consistently rely upon you to uphold the highest standards of honesty and trustworthiness?

Some of us worry a great deal about our public standing in terms of our physical appearance, the car we drive, or the career we pursue. None of that matters if people believe you lack integrity. Character counts in the long run. Consider our news media. Television reporters may have an impressive appearance. Magazines may have glossy covers. But if their message fails to tell the whole truth, the outer appearance becomes irrelevant.

My friend, the question is a simple one. Do you say what you mean and mean what you say? Do you use words deceptively and hypocritically? Integrity is a major issue in the eyes of God. Nothing in this universe has greater integrity than His inspired, inerrant Word. We too should be reliable in every word that proceeds from our lips.

Key Passage: Psalm 15:1-5

Scriptural Principles:

1. Your integrity is at the core of who you are. When we refer to this whole issue of integrity we are discussing a subject that should be of urgent importance to every single believer. Your integrity is your identity; it is the content of your character. The first few verses of Psalm 15 tell us that "he who walks with integrity, and works righteousness, and speaks truth in his heart" is the one who is eligible to live in a close relationship to God. We also read in these verses that the person of integrity honors those who honor God. He refuses to cheat others financially. Such people are reliable, trustworthy, sincere, upright, and honest. The world discovers it may count upon them to fulfill a commitment or keep a promise. Live in such a way and you "will never be shaken" (v. 5).

2. You lose your integrity when you compromise the truth. When exactly do we lose our integrity? We do so when we fail to honor the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth with our lives and our words. We do so when we tell only part of the story, or when we give a tailored version of the facts in order to manipulate others. Some people think in terms of "little lies" or "white lies," but in the eyes of Almighty God, every lie is a big one, and no lie is "white." Integrity is about living and speaking in such a way that we can hold to the truth, as well as be dependable and sincere at all times. Problems of all kinds begin with simply compromising the truth in some small way. Once a person has done this, he or she will do it again and again. Finally, dishonesty becomes a way of life -- with devastating consequences.

3. You lose your integrity when you begin to rationalize. Sometimes people begin to create their own version of events because they believe it serves them better. In other words, they make rationalizations. They might say, "I don't need to pay this money back because of what this person did that other time," or "It's okay for me to do this thing this time, because the situation is unique." Any time we alter our standards out of convenience, we are rationalizing -- which is just another word for dishonesty. What happens when we rationalize? Other people understand exactly what we are doing. Our children in particular take note of our strategies to avoid clear standards of integrity. Today we see people compromising all around us: in business, in politics, in the world of entertainment, and in the media. Even in the church, we find pastors who fail to live upright and trustworthy lives.

4. Reasons people lose their integrity. One of the primary causes of a loss of integrity is fear. We fear being found out; we fear rejection or risking the loss of something we want. People who are basically insecure are motivated by fear. Secondly, people compromise their standards in order to avoid conflict. They want to go along with the crowd or avoid criticism. People alter their standards simply to please someone else. A third reason for the loss of integrity is selfishness. Because people want to fulfill some personal desire, their self-absorption makes it much easier for them to avoid being honest and trustworthy. A final reason for the loss of integrity is an unwillingness to trust God. When we have the assurance that our righteous God is in control, we have the courage to be upright, reliable, and trustworthy. Knowing He can be trusted, we live in such a way that we can be trusted, too.

5. Consequences of a lack of integrity. Compromise begins with seemingly inconsequential issues and "small" lies. But when we follow that path, the consequences will be terribly destructive in our lives. My friend, giving up your integrity erodes your self-esteem. You will have no respect for yourself when you live by lying. Your character will be damaged. It separates you from your friends, because it causes conflicts in all your relationships. Having no integrity also causes a lack of opportunities in your life, because no one wants to deal with someone who is unreliable. It also causes guilt and confusion. There is an absence of peace that comes with consistent dishonesty. The loss of integrity inspires prideful boasting as a cover-up. Worst of all, it causes estrangement from God. As we have seen, "he who walks with integrity" can abide with God. (Psalm 15:2) Finally, dishonesty causes self-destruction in every part of life. Honesty is not only the best policy, but the safest one as well.

6. Maintaining your integrity. The wise believer wants to abide with God. He wants to avoid all the terrible consequences of the loss of integrity. How, then, can you maintain an upright and honest lifestyle? First, decide what your convictions are. Know what you believe about all the important questions of life. Second, submit yourself to God to walk in righteousness. Ask Him what He would have you do, then make your decisions based on His standards and His perfect will. Third, build relationships with people of integrity. If you want to have a certain standard of life, you should surround yourself with people who will help you do so. Fourth, simply trust God. When you encounter the temptation to compromise or rationalize, stand firm in your faith. If you trust Him, He will uphold your courage. Fifth, confess your failures. We all stumble at times, but God forgives us. Finally, make amends. You must restore a relationship by making it right with those you hurt.


Living the life of integrity can be difficult at times. As the psalmist points out, an upright individual "swears to his own hurt, and does not change" (Psalm 15:4). That means we must be courageous enough and strong enough to suffer the consequences of doing the right thing. Our Savior Jesus Christ did no less than that when He died on the cross for our sins.

This lifestyle requires courage, but it brings good results. We will never be shaken. We will build better relationships with people and a good name in our community. Best of all, we will abide with God Himself. That is the greatest privilege ever given to any human being.

My friend, this is a world where integrity is rare. The world needs to see you walking in righteousness and living a life that is reliable, trustworthy, sincere, upright, and honest. This question of integrity is about your very life and your entire future. I pray that you will be a person who in every way honors the only standards worth living for, the eternal standards of God's Holy Word.