Integrity without corruption

A life based on sound doctrine is a life of integrity.

Titus 2:1, 7-8 – But you are to proclaim things consistent with sound teaching. … in all things make yourself an example of good works with integrity and dignity in your teaching. Your message is to be sound beyond reproach, so that any opponent will be ashamed, because he doesn’t have anything bad to say about us.

As the apostle Paul was writing to Titus as to how to manage the administration of the local congregation, among the admonitions for various groups (older men and women, younger men and women) Paul drops this specific direction for Titus. In essence, Paul is saying that Titus’ teaching should be based on truth and should line up with what he does. His life and works should be a pattern for others to follow.

Almost every English translation says that his teaching should be represented by integrity; here are a few examples:

New Living Translation

And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good works of every kind. Let everything you do reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching.

English Standard Version

Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity,

Berean Study Bible

In everything, show yourself to be an example by doing good works. In your teaching show integrity, dignity,

The KJV and some of the literal versions use a different word here instead of integrity.

King James Bible

In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity,Literal

Standard Version

Concerning all things, present yourself [as] a pattern of good works—in the teaching [with] uncorruptedness, dignity,

Young’s Literal Translation

concerning all things thyself showing a pattern of good works; in the teaching uncorruptedness, gravity, incorruptibility,

It is interesting to me to see how integrity is equated with non-corruption, and when this idea is dwelt on for few moments, this really seems to make sense.

When we say someone is corrupt, they are typically not examples of integrity, but of its opposite. They would lie, cheat, steal, and cover up errors to make sure they maintain their position or reputation. This is the exact opposite of what Paul is instructing Titus.

By contrast, to be uncorrupted in sound doctrine is to have purity of understanding and wisdom which is practical and can be modeled for others. Someone who is uncorrupted would be someone who models the truth, works hard, gives generously, and is transparent in their dealings with others.

Uncorruptedness or incorruption is also tied to another concept in the Bible: immortality. Incorruption is a term meaning something never degrades in quality or existence. That is what the truth is: incorruptible.

The other benefit to living uncorrupted with integrity is that a life that is lived in harmony with the sound doctrine of truth is in itself its own answer to potential critics.

Titus 2:8 – Your message is to be sound beyond reproach, so that any opponent will be ashamed, because he doesn’t have anything bad to say about us.

When we live our lives according to the truth of sound doctrine, we faithfully carry on the heritage that has been passed to us to the next generation. This is how the truth of God’s word continues to grow and manifest itself in every successive age of time.

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