Maintaining integrity with God’s help

Psalm 141:4 – Incline not my heart to any evil, to busy myself with wicked deeds in company with men who work iniquity; and let me not eat of their delicacies!

Throughout this psalm, the Psalmist pleads with Yahweh to assist him in maintaining the right course of action in his heart and in what he says at all times. He does not want to be swept away by the actions of the wicked and counted among them; in fact, he prays that their own wickedness would find them out!

Psalm 141:8-9 – But my eyes are toward thee, O Yahweh God; in thee I seek refuge; leave me not defenseless! Keep me from the trap which they have laid for me, and from the snares of evildoers!

He pleads that he would not be defenseless against the lure of wickedness, or by any of the traps they may have set in his way. This hunger and passionate desire for integrity should be the heart cry of every believer.

The good news for believers today is that we do have a “defense system” against wickedness when we choose to abide in the Word of God: the holy Spirit of God himself.

1 John 2:26-27 – I write this to you about those who would deceive you; but the anointing which you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that any one should teach you; as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie, just as it has taught you, abide in him.

1 John 3:24 – All who keep his commandments abide in him, and he in them. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit which he has given us.

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If you enjoy these daily articles, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.
Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.
Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com

Living with integrity at all times

What we today might consider persecution is more likely closer to inconvenience.

What we today might consider persecution is more likely closer to inconvenience.

The first century believers lived at a unique time in the outworking of God’s Kingdom. This is why that time period is studied so heavily among believers today; what was their base doctrine, how did they worship, what practices are still valid for us as believers in the modern world? How we answer these questions will align us with the various expressions of those root questions. Those who favor authority and continuity might feel compelled toward Roman Catholic teachings; those who feel that God works independently and organically with each generation may lean toward Protestant traditions. Yet all of these established variations of the faith of Messiah will hold that believers will encounter some measure of adversity due to their faith, whether in large scale persecutions, or even the daily exercising of their beliefs.

This perception comes from the many passages of the New Testament writings which speak of persecution and suffering. Yeshua wanted to encourage his hearers to recognize that suffering adversity due to their attachment to him was to be rewarded.

Matthew 5:10-12 – “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs. You are blessed when they insult you and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of me. Be glad and rejoice, because your reward is great in heaven. For that is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

This was a pattern of encouraging believers through trials that his disciples also passed on to their hearers.

Paul:
Philippians 1:27-30 – Just one thing: As citizens of heaven, live your life worthy of the gospel of Messiah. Then, whether I come and see you or am absent, I will hear about you that you are standing firm in one spirit, in one accord, contending together for the faith of the gospel, not being frightened in any way by your opponents. This is a sign of destruction for them, but of your salvation ​– ​and this is from God. For it has been granted to you on Messiah’s behalf not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, since you are engaged in the same struggle that you saw I had and now hear that I have.

Peter:
1 Peter 3:14 – But even if you should suffer for righteousness, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear or be intimidated…
1 Peter 4:12 – Dear friends, don’t be surprised when the fiery ordeal comes among you to test you as if something unusual were happening to you.

John:
John 15:20 – “Remember the word I spoke to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you…

This suffering and adversity was to be based on their stance for righteousness and for the principles of Yeshua, not for their own rebellion or stubbornness against the ruling authorities. In fact, we see these warnings were not without merit, as those early believers indeed experienced the very things that Messiah had predicted.

  • Acts 5:40 – After they called in the apostles and had them flogged, they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus and released them.
  • Acts 8:1, 3 – …On that day a severe persecution broke out against the congregation in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout the land of Judea and Samaria. … Saul, however, was ravaging the congregation. He would enter house after house, drag off men and women, and put them in prison.
  • Acts 12:1-3 – About that time King Herod violently attacked some who belonged to the congregation, and he executed James, John’s brother, with the sword. When he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter too, during the Festival of Unleavened Bread.

These examples show how bitterly the message of the gospel of the Kingdom would be received among the corrupt Jewish authorities, and Yeshua had wanted to ensure that his followers were fully prepared for what they would experience. This is why the New Testament writings are filled with statements of encouragement against adversity, because they were actually experiencing it first-hand in their daily lives.

Hebrews 12:3, 12 – For consider him who endured such hostility from sinners against himself, so that you won’t grow weary and give up. … Therefore, strengthen your tired hands and weakened knees…

Let us not fool ourselves into thinking that we in our Western culture are experiencing true persecution for the faith of Messiah. Just because someone disagrees with a social media post or breaks off a friendship because we choose to no longer pursue unrighteous activities is not persecution. To be persecuted in the biblical sense means to be chased or hunted down with the intent to physically harm or kill.

While these New Testament encouragements were designed to minister primarily to that first century generation, I recognize there are still places in the world today where believers in Messiah are persecuted, physically beaten, imprisoned, and tortured for their faith. In those situations, these words that were aimed at those early believers still ring true in all their fullness today.

However, regardless of the severity of adversity that anyone suffers for righteousness and the principles of Messiah, we can take the advice of the apostle Paul to heart that applies in any situation:

Philippians 1:27- Just one thing: As citizens of heaven, live your life worthy of the gospel of Messiah.

This is the high calling of every believer of Messiah in every place, in every situation, at all times. When we continually live our lives with integrity, worthy of the gospel of Messiah, we honor our true citizenship and bear the greatest witness to the reality of that Kingdom.


If you enjoy these daily articles, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com

Cultivating godly leaders of integrity

The fruit of a life lived in harmony with God’s Word is beneficial to all.

The fruit of a life lived in harmony with God’s Word is beneficial to all.

Matthew 5:20 – “For I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven.”

With these words, Yeshua sets a contrast that he will continue to illustrate over and over in the gospels: the person of integrity will not simply follow outward rules but will be obedient to God from the heart. Through these contrasts which were on display by the majority of the religious establishment, Yeshua demonstrates that the opposite of integrity is not just lawlessness, but hypocrisy.

Matthew 23:2-3 – “The scribes and the Pharisees are seated in the chair of Moses. Therefore do whatever they tell you, and observe it. But don’t do what they do, because they don’t practice what they teach.”

Yeshua had warned about recognizing false teaching by evaluating the fruit of those who teach these things. If their lifestyles did not match what they were teaching about, then they could be ignored.

Matthew 7:15-17 – “Be on your guard against false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravaging wolves. You’ll recognize them by their fruit. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes or figs from thistles? In the same way, every good tree produces good fruit, but a bad tree produces bad fruit.”

The fruit of the religious leaders of Yeshua’s day had become so corrupt they no longer fairly represented Yahweh, and by their lifestyle they were judged by him as lawless. The third commandment of the Ten is to not take Yahweh’s name in vain, yet their entire religious lives centered on their vanity.

Matthew 23:27-28 – “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of the bones of the dead and every kind of impurity. In the same way, on the outside you seem righteous to people, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”

His condemnation of the leaders was not just a rebellious act against authority, but a condemnation of their hypocrisy. Leaders, by the very nature of their responsibility, must be held to a higher standard.

James 3:1-2 – “Not many should become teachers, my brothers, because you know that we will receive a stricter judgment. For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is mature, able also to control the whole body.”

Maturity in a leader is that they will be consistent between what they say and what they do. As believers, we should all be striving for that level of integrity in everything, and as God sees fit, godly leaders will then rise to prominence among his people. The flashy charisma of hypocritical false leaders will be shown for what it is as the fruit of a life that is not truly yielded to God. However, the leaders of integrity will demonstrate a heart for truth and obedience to God’s Word. This is the goal of integrity for all believers: to harmonize truth with actions.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com

Making righteous choices everyday

Routine habits of integrity or wickedness can each pull us into established patterns, for better or worse

Core of the Bible podcast #80 – Making righteous choices every day

Today we will be looking at the topic of integrity, and how routine habits of integrity or wickedness can each pull us into established patterns, for better or worse. Those patterns then become the template of God’s judgment upon our lives.

Proverbs 13:6 – Righteousness keeps him who is upright in the way, and wickedness overthrows a sin offering.

Those who have integrity are often described with similar terms such as “upright” or “perfect.” This idea of perfection, though, is not as though one is completely without fault; it is more a concept of completeness, or wholeness.

Yeshua uses the phrase in a similar way when he encourages believers to “be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect,” (Matt. 5:48). This is a Hebraic way of expressing that believers should be totally consistent in their lifestyle: their beliefs and what they say should match 100% with what their actions convey. This is wholeness, perfection, integrity.

In the proverb above, walking in righteousness is said to guard or “keep” one in the way of God. The more our lives demonstrate consistency in righteous actions, the simpler it is to stay on the correct path.

Psalm 25:10, 12-14, 21 – Yahweh leads with unfailing love and faithfulness all who keep his covenant and obey his demands. … Who are those who fear Yahweh? He will show them the path they should choose. They will live in prosperity, and their children will inherit the land. Yahweh is a friend to those who fear him. He teaches them his covenant. … May integrity and honesty protect me, for I put my hope in you.

Psalm 26:1-5 – Declare me innocent, O Yahweh, for I have acted with integrity; I have trusted in Yahweh without wavering. Put me on trial, Yahweh, and cross-examine me. Test my motives and my heart. For I am always aware of your unfailing love, and I have lived according to your truth. I do not spend time with liars or go along with hypocrites. I hate the gatherings of those who do evil, and I refuse to join in with the wicked.

Proverbs 11:3, 5 – Honesty guides good people; dishonesty destroys treacherous people. … The godly are directed by honesty; the wicked fall beneath their load of sin.

By contrast, when our lives are in disarray and when our actions are inconsistent, we struggle more to keep our focus where it needs to be. The wickedness of those who do not walk with integrity is said to “overthrow their sin offering.” This is a demonstration of how even the best of intentions can be counteracted by a pattern of inconsistent behavior or outright sinful rebellion.

Psalm 25:3 – No one who trusts in you will ever be disgraced, but disgrace comes to those who try to deceive others.

Psalm 140:9-11 – The chief of those who surround me, the perverseness of their lips covers them. They cause to fall on themselves burning coals, Into fire He [God] does cast them, Into deep pits — they arise not. A talkative man is not established in the earth, One of violence — evil hunts to overflowing.

Proverbs 1:29-32 – For they hated knowledge and chose not to fear Yahweh. They rejected my advice and paid no attention when I corrected them. Therefore, they must eat the bitter fruit of living their own way, choking on their own schemes. For simpletons turn away from me–to death. Fools are destroyed by their own complacency.

Proverbs 5:22-23 – An evil man is held captive by his own sins; they are ropes that catch and hold him. He will die for lack of self-control; he will be lost because of his great foolishness.

Even in the light of the national sin of Israel that Jeremiah was recounting against them, the same principle applied:

Jeremiah 2:19 – Your wickedness will bring its own punishment. Your turning from me will shame you. You will see what an evil, bitter thing it is to abandon Yahweh your God and not to fear him. I, the Lord, Yahweh of Heaven’s Armies, have spoken!

In a moment, we will explore the logical outcomes of this biblical principle as it relates to the judgment of God and the outworking of sinful actions into the chaos of the world.


As we have seen in the foregoing verses, living a life of integrity or wickedness is a life of momentum. The weight of our everyday thoughts and actions drives a flywheel of consequence that can keep us headed in positive or negative directions based on patterns we are establishing in every decision.

Galatians 6:7-8 – Don’t be misled–you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.

The Galatian congregation was challenged by Paul to recognize what it is they were planting with the types of lives they were choosing to lead. Whatever they planted would be the fruit that would come to bear when it reached maturity in the events that would unfold after the fact.

But this now raises a question, at least in my mind: if, as Paul says, we reap what we sow, how involved is God in the execution of that justice in one’s life? Does God arrange events and situations to challenge us or to justify us, or are those situations merely the outworking of natural consequence?

I think the answer may reveal itself in the wording of the question. What if the “natural consequence” is a law built into the very fabric of Creation, like the physical laws of gravity or light? We reap what we sow. We see that exhibited in the natural world as well; whatever seed is placed in the soil is what will come to fruition when it matures. What if, when someone experiences the fruit of their own doing, whether good or bad, this is what the Bible calls the “judgment of God,” or “God’s justice.” It would make sense, and still remain consistent with the bulk of Scripture as we have seen in all the instances quoted earlier.

And isn’t it still the judgment of God? For example, God warned Israel what would happen if they turned from him, and it came to pass. The judgment that fell upon that nation was decreed by God, but it was accomplished as a result of their own disobedience.

The personified Wisdom of Proverbs shares the same view:

Proverbs 1:29-32 – For they hated knowledge and chose not to fear Yahweh. They rejected my advice and paid no attention when I corrected them. Therefore, they must eat the bitter fruit of living their own way, choking on their own schemes. For simpletons turn away from me–to death. Fools are destroyed by their own complacency.

It’s as if God has pronounced a specific judgment on that individual, when in a practical sense, they have caused their own troubles as a result of their rejection or ignorance of his ways.

In bearing this principle into the New Testament writings, Yeshua also intimated the foregone judgment of those who make certain choices, especially in regard to those who chose to believe in him, and those who did not.

John 3:18 – “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.”

John 5:24 – “I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.”

And I guess this is where I am headed with the trajectory of this principle today. Why is it that the world is in the chaotic condition it is today? As humans, we argue and fight about every inane idea that happens to be trending on social media; we struggle against oppressive authorities; we try to garner support for whatever the cause du jour happens to be; we watch painfully as people brutalize one another over ideologies that are outdated or misapplied. Believers would say all of this is the result of sin, and that’s not an incorrect conclusion. However, I believe it is not from sin as the typical believer would characterize it.

The mainstream idea within Christianity would assert that sin, equated with the fallen nature of mankind, is the cause of the chaos world. Through the passages we have looked at today, and hundreds of others we haven’t, I would draw a slightly different conclusion.

Sin is indeed the cause of the issue, but I would characterize this sin as the act of not obeying the revealed will of God, not a predisposed nature of humans. This disobedience may be out of outright rebellion, having known the truth of God and simply choosing to ignore it (like national Israel), but it may also be the result of straight-up ignorance about what God expects of mankind as his creation. Whenever anyone, anywhere, knowingly or unknowingly, acts in opposition to the righteous commands of God, sin is the result. They have violated a “law” of nature. That’s what sin is: disobedience to his righteous command. And if sin has predetermined consequences as God has revealed, then that resulting sin sets in motion a chain of other actions and reactions that can further be guided by acting in alignment with God’s commands or in the absence of them. Every new branch in the moral decision-tree is a junction where righteousness can be reestablished, or sin can continue to progress into other areas.

I don’t believe man has a “sin-nature” other than it appears to be quality of man that, left to our own devices, we will always choose the path of least resistance to get whatever we want. Always. Just like water flowing down a mountain and around rocks and bluffs, the path of least resistance leads to the lake or ocean into which it empties. I believe that is a universal human principle that is experienced in every culture.

However, when a command of God is introduced into a potential situation, the ongoing human response can be to continue to follow the path of least resistance (now in blatant rebellion to the command, having heard and understood it) or to expend some sort of effort or restraint in attempting to follow the dictate of the command. The water must now flow uphill or turn another direction upon hitting the Rock. This is the crux of the human condition, and a deeper understanding of the chaos in the world.

The reason this principle can be so hidden from view is that each person is sinning or obedient to varying degrees, knowingly or unknowingly, and all of those various natural consequences are being borne out in overlapping, concentric circles throughout the entire world and as a result, causing chaos. Generally speaking, this is why it can be truly said that all of the chaos in the world is due to sin, or disobedience to God’s commands.

God’s judgment comes into play in the sense that he has made it abundantly clear through his Word and with the historical example of the nation of ancient Israel that he expects mankind to follow his commands, and he has also shared the consequences of not following his commands. His commands are the key.

1 John 5:3-4 – Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome. For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith.

If you’ve listened to this podcast for any length of time, then you know I believe the Ten Commandments are the basis for all human conduct, and they are not burdensome. The teachings of Yeshua in the Sermon on the Mount which are built upon these commandments are also not burdensome. But they must be obeyed and lived out to be effective in bringing God’s light to this chaotic world.

When we recognize Yahweh God as the one true authority in the universe and make a conscious decision to abide by his Word, we will be empowered to do so by his Spirit guiding us.

Galatians 5:16, 22-25 – “So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. … But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Messiah Yeshua have nailed the passions and desires of their flesh to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.”

This happens both inwardly and within the ongoing review of his Word, having our minds renewed to match the inward renewal of the new Creation that we have become in him.

Romans 12:2 – “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by renewing your minds. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

2 Corinthians 5:17 – “This means that anyone who belongs to Messiah has become a new creation. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”

The Spirit of Messiah is a spirit of unswerving obedience to God. When we place our faith and our hope in Messiah, we fulfill the Word of God because that faith will keep us obedient to his commands and guide us on the correct paths.

When we are consistent in our actions and our speech, we establish patterns of righteousness that tend to keep us walking in the right way. Sin is less of a temptation and a distraction because we have established views and behaviors that we begin to thrive in. This encourages further righteous actions and as a result, we begin to exhibit larger measures of integrity in our interactions with others. Just like the water not flowing in the path of least resistance, the Spirit of God empowers us in new channels of right actions within which we begin to flow. The more we obey God’s commands, the more righteousness is injected into the rippling chaos of the world. As others see and experience the light of God, then further righteous choices are made which continue to radiate out in calming waves, as well. The goal of God is to have his instruction universally recognized and practiced on the earth, thereby making all things whole.

This should then be our goal, as well. To make righteous choices every day means the expansion of the Kingdom of God into the world of chaos. This is the effect our faith can have when we choose to be obedient to the Creator of all and live by his standards established for all time.

1 Peter 1:23 – For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com

The fruitfulness of honesty

Believers should be instinctively practicing truth and honesty in all that they do and teach.

Believers should be instinctively practicing truth and honesty in all that they do and teach.

Matthew 22:16: “The [Pharisees] sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are honest, and teach the way of God in truth, no matter whom you teach, for you aren’t partial to anyone.”

The Pharisees were constantly challenging Yeshua in every aspect of his teaching. This false flattery, although stating the truth about who he was, nonetheless did not deceive Yeshua about their intent. He could easily relate their feigned praise in the vein of enemies of old.

  • Psalm 5:9: “For there is no faithfulness in their mouth. Their heart is destruction. Their throat is an open tomb. They flatter with their tongue.”
  • Proverbs 29:5: “A man who flatters his neighbor spreads a net for his feet.”

We know this was their intent, as the introduction to the passage relates it to us:

Matthew 22:15: “Then the Pharisees went and took counsel how they might entrap him in his talk.”

Even though they intended this flattery as a means have ensnaring Yeshua in his words, it still speaks to the common opinion of his teaching. He was regarded by those who heard him as an honest teacher, rightly explaining the things of God.

John 10:40-42: “He went away again beyond the Jordan into the place where John was baptizing at first, and there he stayed. Many came to him. They said, “John indeed did no sign, but everything that John said about this man is true.” Many believed in him there.”

As a true teacher of the wisdom of God, Yeshua stood apart from hypocrisy and vanity of the religious leaders of the day. He demonstrated the truth of his words by living out the principles he taught. This is the characteristic of fruitfulness that all who are truly seeking Yahweh will produce.

Luke 8:11,15: “Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. … That [which fell] in the good ground, these are such as in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, hold it tightly, and produces fruit with patience.”

Those who would follow Jesus and become teachers in the early messianic movement also abided by the same principles of truth and honesty in their teaching. This is how the kingdom of God spread so rapidly among those who were hungry for the truth.

2 Corinthians 4:2: “But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by the manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.”

Truth and honesty are the characteristics of every believer, and should be evident in the teachings of those who seek to magnify God and honor his name. Recognizing this truth and honesty is a safeguard against those who seek to flatter and entrap with convoluted theology and tradition-based doctrine. We should always be seeking the pure milk of the word that thoroughly nourishes the thirsty soul.

1 Peter 2:1-2: “Putting away therefore all wickedness, all deceit, hypocrisies, envies, and all evil speaking, as newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the Word, that with it you may grow…”


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com

All believers should be worthy of trust

Integrity is not only a quality for those in leadership.

Integrity is not only a quality for those in leadership.

When Moses began leading the Israelites through the wilderness, he was quickly becoming overwhelmed with the administration of justice among the vast number of people. To assist with this, his father in law Jethro provided him the following advice:

Exodus 18:21 – But you should select from all the people able men, God-fearing, trustworthy, and hating dishonest profit. Place them over the people as commanders of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens.

The logic was to divide up the responsibility of oversight of the community to many others to help spread out the workload. But in order for this to be effective, the ones being placed in positions of oversight had to be trustworthy individuals. In the text, these individuals are described as being able, God-fearing, trustworthy, and hating dishonest profit.

To select those who were able meant to identify those who have a wealth of efficiency and strength or stamina. Those who were God-fearing were those who respected and honored God, recognizing his sovereignty over people. Trustworthy men were simply men of truth; they did not deal in falsehoods. And those who were hating dishonest profit meant to select men to whom unjust gain or profit gained by violence was abhorrent.

In short, these were to be men of integrity; they could be trusted to faithfully provide guidance and oversight of the community.

The apostle Paul continued this legacy as he instructed the early Messianic leaders in oversight of the fledgling communities of believers.

  • Titus 1:6-9 – An elder must be blameless: the husband of one wife, with faithful children who are not accused of wildness or rebellion. As an overseer of God’s household, he must be blameless: not arrogant, not hot-tempered, not an excessive drinker, not a bully, not greedy for money, but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, righteous, holy, self-controlled, holding to the faithful message as taught, so that he will be able both to encourage with sound teaching and to refute those who contradict it.
  • 1 Timothy 3:8 – Deacons, likewise, should be worthy of respect, not hypocritical, not drinking a lot of wine, not greedy for money…

While these are sound principles of leadership, all believers should be people of integrity.

  • 1 Timothy 3:11 – Wives, too, must be worthy of respect, not slanderers, self-controlled, faithful in everything.
  • Titus 2:2 – Older men are to be self-controlled, worthy of respect, sensible, and sound in faith, love, and endurance.
  • Ephesians 6:1-3, 5-9 – Children, obey your parents in the Lord, because this is right. Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with a promise, so that it may go well with you and that you may have a long life in the land. … Slaves, obey your human masters with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as you would Messiah. Don’t work only while being watched, as people-pleasers, but as slaves of Messiah, do God’s will from your heart. Serve with a good attitude, as to the Lord and not to people, knowing that whatever good each one does, slave or free, he will receive this back from the Lord. And masters, treat your slaves the same way, without threatening them, because you know that both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.

Integrity is a hallmark of all believers, no matter their age, gender, or social status. All of us should be worthy of being good stewards over God’s Creation, even if we don’t have a specific leadership role designated for us among God’s people. We all have a responsibility to faithfully honor our Creator, and to carry his name with the respect it deserves.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Ruling and teaching with integrity

It is the responsibility of God’s people to rule with the highest integrity.

It is the responsibility of God’s people to rule with the highest integrity.

Psalm 82:2-5: ““How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? Give justice to the weak and the orphan; maintain the right of the lowly and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked. They have neither knowledge nor understanding, they walk around in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken.”

When we review the denunciation of these leaders by Yahweh, we can gain some understanding about how he desires his people in roles of leadership to honor him.

For example, we can see that Yahweh desires fairness and justice without showing partiality to those who may benefit unequally from favored rulings. Additionally, those who are weak and in need typically require assistance in overcoming the oppression of the wicked.

What I find interesting also is the way that the stability of the society being described hinges on the measure of justice being provided. When there is no justice, it’s as if the foundations of the earth are shaken. The societal balance is undermined, and chaos then rules.

There are many different opinions about whom this psalm is speaking. Is it human judges, or heavenly rulers of some sort?

Psalm 82:1 – God stands in the divine assembly; he pronounces judgment among the gods:

The word that is translated as gods, depending on the context, can also mean mighty rulers. In that ancient society, it was not uncommon to view the rulers as being held to a higher standard. This is also where rulership of nations became intertwined with the worship of divine rulers. This would ultimately lead to world leaders being viewed as divine.

As far as this psalm is concerned and who this chastising is being directed to, I believe the answer can be found in the response of Yahweh to these individuals when he says:

Psalm 82:6-7: “I say, “You are gods, children of the Most High, all of you; nevertheless, you shall die like mortals, and fall like any prince.”

To me this intimates that Yahweh was mocking their elevated status of themselves and reminding them that they were mortal and would die and be accountable for all of their actions and deeds.

To corroborate this view, Yeshua himself challenges the rulers and teachers of his day by quoting this very passage in denouncing their rejection of his authority.

John 10:34-36: “Jesus answered, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, you are gods’? If those to whom the word of God came were called ‘gods’—and the scripture cannot be annulled— can you say that the one whom the Father has sanctified and sent into the world is blaspheming because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’?”

Yeshua says that the ones “to whom the word of God came” were looked upon as “gods.” He leverages this passage as a way of substantiating his own rightful position as the Son of God, because he really was carrying the true Word of God. This type of logic would have been a crushing argument against those religious leaders and their thinking.

Regardless of how one views the subjects of this psalm, what remains are principles that can still be applied within the integrity of believers who have any measure of authority in this life. We can see how it is God’s view that it is the responsibility of believers to rule with the highest integrity and fairness so that they may represent the God whom they serve with honor and dignity. They must be mindful of their own mortality and recognize their duty to be fair in all of their conduct and teaching, as they will be even more accountable because of the weight of their responsibility.

James 3:1 – Not many should become teachers [that is, one who is fitted to teach, or thinks himself so], my brothers, because you know that we will receive a stricter judgment.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Learning from Job’s life of integrity

In speaking of his faithful servant Job, God reveals what a life of integrity is.

In speaking of his faithful servant Job, God reveals what a life of integrity is.

Job 2:3: – “Yahweh said to the Accuser, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man who fears God and turns away from evil. He still persists in his integrity, although you incited me against him, to destroy him for no reason.””

Out of all of the people in the Bible who are mentioned as doing what is right, Job is described by his wife, his friends, and even God himself as a man of integrity.

  • Job 2:9: – “Then his wife said to him, “Do you still persist in your integrity? …”
  • Job 4:1, 6: – “Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered: … “Is not your fear of God your confidence, and the integrity of your ways your hope?”

In Yahweh’s honoring of Job as a man of integrity, we find one of the briefest and most succinct definitions of a life of integrity from Yahweh himself: “a blameless and upright man who fears God and turns away from evil.” At its most basic level, being a person of integrity involves at least two things: fearing God and turning away from evil.

To fear God is to recognize him for who he is as the Creator of all that exists. It is to respect and honor him by choosing to be obedient to what he has conveyed to us as his creatures. It is the fear of God that gives us the ability to gain wisdom so we can make the right choices.

Proverbs 1:7: – “The fear of Yahweh is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

Additionally, a life of integrity involves turning away from evil. This is known as a life of repentance, constantly viewing our choices in the context of the greater purpose of God among humanity. When we see or encounter the things that don’t honor God, it is our obligation to turn away from those things, to take a different path than perhaps the rest of those around us blindly follow.

Proverbs 4:26-27 – “Carefully consider the path for your feet, and all your ways will be established. Don’t turn to the right or to the left; keep your feet away from evil.”

A life of integrity it is formed around a pattern of walking in the light, not the darkness. The light that shines is the wisdom that God provides when we choose to recognize him as the Creator of all.

Ecclesiastes 2:13-14 – “And I realized that there is an advantage to wisdom over folly, like the advantage of light over darkness. The wise person has eyes in his head, but the fool walks in darkness. …”

It is also a recognition that we shall have to answer for the choices we have made during this life, even as Job himself understood.

Job 31:6: “let me be weighed in a just balance, and let God know my integrity!”

Fear God and turn from evil. This is the life that believers are called to exemplify for themselves and for others. This hunger and thirst for doing what is right is what creates the purity of heart that God desires.

Matthew 5:6,8: ““Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. … “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Facing certain death with the integrity of defiant obedience to God

An ancient story challenges our own commitment to the principles of integrity taught by Messiah.

An ancient story challenges our own commitment to the principles of integrity taught by Messiah.

In the third chapter of Daniel, the story is told of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who were three Hebrew captives during the Babylonian captivity. Recognition of their names has come down to us in this day and age because of their staunch refusal to worship an idolatrous statue that Nebuchadnezzar had set up. Enraged at their disobedience to the the royal command, the king confronted these three rebellious subjects.

Daniel 3:14, 16-18 – Nebuchadnezzar asked them, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, is it true that you don’t serve my gods or worship the gold statue I have set up?” … Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied to the king, “Nebuchadnezzar, we don’t need to give you an answer to this question. If the God we serve exists, then he can rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire, and he can rescue us from the power of you, the king. But even if he does not rescue us, we want you as king to know that we will not serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.”

The magnitude of their defiance to the idolatrous command of the king reverberates through the millennia to our day. Interestingly, the actions of these three young men were completely aligned with the principles of integrity that Yeshua was to teach hundreds of years later.

  • Matthew 5:6 – “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
  • Matthew 5:10 – “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.
  • Matthew 5:16 – “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
  • Matthew 5:19 – “Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commands and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever does and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

There is a Hebraic tradition that during their time in the fiery furnace, that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego worshiped and praised Yahweh for all of his acts of Creation. In the depths of their most severe trial they chose to honor and praise the God for whom they were being sentenced to the cruellest of deaths.

The qualities of integrity demonstrated by these three young men illustrate for us how consistent the Torah or Instruction of God is. The same principles of integrity that guided these three men have been the guiding light of God’s people throughout the biblical record and the history of believers. They defiantly stood for the principles of an eternal kingdom in the face of certain death, just as we should stand for the same principles and the same kingdom today.

The writer to the Hebrews captures the motivation that should guide our actions in our current age of cultural idolatry and blatant disobedience to the principles of God’s kingdom. After listing the deeds of the righteous ancestors of the faith, he concludes this remembrance of their faithfulness and integrity in the face of the bitterest persecution provides the promptings necessary for our own battles.

Hebrews 11:39-40; 12:1 – All these were approved through their faith, but they did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, so that they would not be made perfect without us. Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us…

Even though they were willing to give their lives, God protected Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego through the fiery furnace, a miraculous occurrence which caused the king himself to worship the God of Israel.

Daniel 3:28-29 – Nebuchadnezzar exclaimed, “Praise to the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego! He sent his angel and rescued his servants who trusted in him. They violated the king’s command and risked their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. Therefore I issue a decree that anyone of any people, nation, or language who says anything offensive against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego will be torn limb from limb and his house made a garbage dump. For there is no other god who is able to deliver like this.”

If this story stands for anything today, it should remind us that whether or not God delivers us from our own fiery trials, to honor and obey him above the dictates of our culture should be our guiding principle. Through his teaching and exemplary sacrifice, Yeshua corroborated the same principles of integrity that these Hebrew men demonstrated in the face of their greatest persecution. We can honor their commitment to the truth of God and the teaching of our Lord and Messiah by likewise being defiantly obedient to God.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Biblical teaching that carries depth and eternal purpose

The purpose of God is fulfilled when we give proper honor to his Word.

The purpose of God is fulfilled when we give proper honor to his Word.

Titus 2:7-8 – “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 Paul is writing to Titus regarding how he should be a godly leader, he mentions that his works and his teaching should be supportive of each other. He shouldn’t just teach about the right things but he should practice doing good, as well.

In regard to the nature of Titus’ teaching, Paul uses two terms that I believe are lacking among many modern Bible teachers, and these terms are typically translated as integrity and dignity. Looking a little deeper into these terms we might learn a little more about how unique these characteristics are.

By looking at the second word first, the word usually translated as dignity, we can see an important aspect represented here. The Helps Word Studies reference provides an interesting expanded definition for us.

“[this word] reflects what has been transformed by God and exhibits “moral and spiritual gravity (gravitas)” – like what attends a deep, godly character. This sense of dignity also invites reverence from others, who should likewise exalt what is noble (morally-elevated).”

I think that this is a significant characteristic that is lacking in much of modern Bible teaching today. Many, if not most of those espousing biblical concepts will do so in a way that panders to their audience, usually using many informal colloquialisms to try to make the message more palatable for their tastes.

A Christian writer by the name of Alec Satin writes about the continual increasing informality of worship today in his article, What is irreverent worship?

“Reverence to the Lord is sober. It’s attentive, quiet and alert. It’s inconceivable that you would simultaneously check your email on your phone while you’re having an audience with the Queen of England. So how in the world could it possibly be okay for you to check Facebook while you’re supposedly worshipping the King of all creation?”

This indication of the informality of the congregation leads back to the informality of the leadership and the type of teaching going on in congregations today.

Returning to Paul’s admonition to Titus, the first word describing the type of teaching Paul recommends is usually translated as integrity or purity. It is unique in that this form of the word is used nowhere else in the Greek New Testament. Because of its uniqueness, it can be helpful to get to its root word to see what it is derived from that can perhaps broaden our understanding of its use.

The underlying Greek root is a word that is typically translated as immortality or incorruptibility. Here are some examples:

  • Romans 2:7 – eternal life to those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor, and immortality;
  • 1 Corinthians 15:53 – For this corruptible body must be clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal body must be clothed with immortality.
  • 2 Timothy 1:10 – This has now been made evident through the appearing of our Savior Messiah Yeshua, who has abolished death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

Once again, an expanded definition from the Helps Word Studies provides an explanation of the term:

“properly, [it means] no-corruption (unable to experience deterioration); incorruptibility (not perishable), i.e. lacking the very capacity to decay or constitutionally break down.”

This idea of teaching that lacks the capacity for decay means that, by default, it must be based on the most foundational aspects of the gospel message, not what is considered the most culturally acceptable aspects of that message. When all we take away from the Bible is a paradigm of social acceptability and fodder for a cause du jour, we rob the Word of its power and we defame God’s honor. We should not be using the Word to serve our purposes, but instead we should be submitting our purposes, goals, and aspirations to the Word.

We read in the Bible how the Word of God is eternal and unchanging.

1 Peter 1:22-25 – Since you have purified yourselves by your obedience to the truth, so that you show sincere brotherly love for each other, from a pure heart love one another constantly, because you have been born again ​– ​not of perishable seed but of imperishable ​– ​through the living and enduring word of God. For All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like a flower of the grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord endures forever. And this word is the gospel that was proclaimed to you.

Peter, quoting from Isaiah, mentions not only how the Word of God endures forever, but is the imperishable seed that causes people to become born again, or born from above. When that message is compromised by becoming culturally issue-oriented, it robs God’s Word of its power, and reduces the majesty of God to the image of man.

It is up to us to ensure our message remains focused on the eternal and imperishable gospel of the Kingdom, and thereby any opponents will not be able to say anything bad about us or our teaching. In this way, the honor and glory of our God will remain intact and visible for all to see, and those seeking the immortal Word of life can be satisfied.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.