ETHICS AND INTEGRITY

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The Foundation for All Your Decisions

“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith.”

2 Corinthians 13:5

Integrity seems hard to find these days. In a world where “truth is relative” and everyone seems to look out only for themselves, it’s easy to lose sight of the truth. In these Keys for Living, learn how you can build your life on the solid foundation of God’s Word and how to maintain integrity in an ever-changing culture.

In our ever-changing world, how do you know what’s right – what’s true? We all want to do the “right thing,” but sometimes it’s hard to know what that is. The answer lies in understanding ethics – the systems of belief that help us determine right from wrong and guide all our decisions.

 

The Foundation for All Your Decisions

In our ever-changing world, how do you know what’s right—what’s true? We all want to do the “right thing,” and sometimes it’s hard to know what that is. 

The answer lies in understanding ethics—the systems of belief that help us determine right from wrong and guide all our decisions. Discover ethical systems and how they compare to the truth of God’s Word. Learn how you can be a person of integrity—biblical integrity—and consistently do what’s right in God’s sight.

The Same in the Dark as in the Light

The CEO lines his pockets at his stockholders’ expense. The politician commits to promises he has no plans of keeping. The student “borrows” answers in order to pass the test. The minister commits adultery in the name of “unmet needs.” The driver exceeds the limit—he thinks he won’t be caught. The lawyer overbills his client in order to pad his income. And the list goes on. If you were to ask people, “Do you consider yourself a person of integrity?” almost everyone would answer yes, including those just mentioned. Yet those with real integrity are the same in the dark as in the light. The Lord loves to honor those with a heart like His … those who are right in His sight. 

 For He says,“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.”  Luke 16:10

 

How Can Integrity Be Identified? 

The Greek words aletheia and alethes are translated “integrity” in the New Testament and mean “truth or the state of being true.” Jesus is referred to as a man of integrity because He lived wholly in accordance with God’s complete truth.  (Mark 12:14)

The Old Testament Hebrew word for integrity is tom, from the verb tamam, which means “to be complete, to finish.” (Proverbs 13:6)

A person of moral integrity is the same in the dark as in the light—not double-minded with contradictory thoughts, words, and actions. (Proverbs 11:13) 

To have moral integrity is to be undivided and consistent in your mind, will, and emotions regarding what is right and wrong. (1 John 2:15)  

“Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.” 

(Proverbs 10:9) 

 

How Can Ethics Be Explained? 

Ethics (used as singular or plural) is a standard of moral principles that determine what is right or wrong for individual or group behavior. (Psalm 19:8) 

The word “ethic” comes from the Greek word ethikos, which at the root means “moral character.” (Proverbs 12:4) 

In philosophy, ethics is the study of various systems of right and wrong conduct. It examines good and bad motives, judgments, and consequences. (Psalm 119:144) 

“Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

 (1 Samuel 16:7)

 

The 5 Systems of Ethics 

  • Cultural ethics: Morals are determined by popular opinion. 
  • Situation ethics: Morals are determined by what appears to be most loving. 
  • Emotive ethics: Morals do not exist; judgments of right or wrong are not valid because feelings are neither right nor wrong. 
  • Behavioral ethics: Morals do not exist; all human conduct is the result of genetic makeup or environment. 
  • Biblical ethics: Morals are determined by the Bible, the unchanging Word of God. 
  • “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.” (Colossians 2:8)

The Biblical Mandate for Morality 

  • The Bible indicates that everyone has moral responsibility because everyone has been created in God’s image. (Genesis 9:6) 
  • The Bible explains that even nonreligious people have God’s moral law written on their hearts. (Romans 2:14–15) 
  • The Bible describes sin as the source of moral failure. (James 4:17) 
  • The Bible exhorts Christians to allow God’s moral character to be displayed through them. (1 Peter 1:15–16) 
  • The Bible shows how temporary moral decisions have eternal consequences. (2 Corinthians 5:10) 
  • The Bible reveals Jesus Christ as the answer for moral failure. (Ephesians 4:22–24)

 

Surface Causes for Lack of Integrity 

Cultural Ethics 

  • Have your values been swayed because of the belief that “everyone is doing it”? 
  • Have you looked for loopholes in the law or workplace to justify financial gain? 
  • Have you spent excessive money or time in an attempt to gain recognition and acceptance? 

 

Situation Ethics 

  • Have you lied to protect another person’s feelings or desires? 
  • Have you permitted a bad situation to continue because you didn’t want someone overbearing or irresponsible to get upset? 
  • Have you felt justified taking items without asking permission because you felt you really needed them? 

 

Emotive Ethics 

  • Have you thought, This can’t be wrong because it feels so right? 
  • Have you indulged your desires to your own detriment? 
  • Have you felt you could say anything you wanted, no matter how your words hurt others? 

 

Behavioral Ethics 

  • Have you justified your negative behavior saying, “I just can’t help it”? 
  • Have you blamed your negative responses on your family upbringing? 
  • Have you defended your inappropriate actions, thinking, I was born that way? 

In the book of Judges, the people of Israel fell into seven cycles of sin because, as the last verse says ... 

“In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.” 

(Judges 21:25) 

 The Integrity Interrogation 

  • Am I choosing to do this in order to look good in the eyes of others? (Galatians 1:10) 
  • Am I doing this only to receive financial gain? (Proverbs 15:16) 
  • Am I willing to do this even if I don’t get the credit? (Luke 14:11) 
  • Am I doing something unethical because I know I will not be found out? (Hebrews 4:13) 

“All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord.” 

(Proverbs 16:2)

 

The Ethics Exam 

  • Is there a principle about it in God’s Word? (2 Corinthians 4:1–2) 
  • Is it beneficial? (1 Corinthians 10:23)
  • Is it self-serving at someone else’s expense? (1 Corinthians 10:24) 
  • Is it setting an example you would want everyone else to follow? (1 Corinthians 11:1) 

“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith.”  (2 Corinthians 13:5) 

 

Key Verse to Learn

“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”

(Psalm 119:11)

 

Key Passage to Read

Psalm 101

 

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