Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Difference Between Character and Integrity

For the Love of the Family Ministries
Pastor Terry L. Coomer, General Director
Missionaries to America's Forgotten Field, The Family
Ministry of Hope Baptist Church
P.O. Box 94985
North Little Rock, Arkansas 72190
(501) 515-3296
For the Love of the Family Ministries

These articles may be copied in their entirety to help families to live for the Savior. They are not to be changed in any manner or sold. This header must be on all copies. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the author.

"The Difference Between Character and Integrity"

There has been a lot of talk about character recently in our country. Character has not been taught for a couple of generations. I recently happened to be in a public school and there were signs up all over the building saying “Character Counts.” There were also several other signs referring to different aspects of character.

One of my great concerns has been, why do so many children who grow up in independent-fundamental Baptist homes not end up serving God? The statistics are staggering and the grief, pain, and agony is great for the parents, children, pastors, churches, and others. Many pastors’ children do not end up living for God. Many leaders reluctantly say, “They chose not to live for God” with the look of pain and confusion. Folks, it goes a lot deeper than “they just chose not to live for God.” In the work that Kim and I have done through For the Love of the Family, I have stated one of the big reasons children choose not to live for the Lord is ungodly anger in the Christian home, Ephesians 4:31, “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.” Many Christians discipline their children in anger and expect God’s work to be done in their heart. The Bible is plain, that this will fail. “He that soweth iniquity shall reap vanity: and the rod of his anger shall fail.” Proverbs 22:8. Where does ungodly anger come from? Pride. “Proud and haughty scorner is his name, who dealeth in proud wrath.” Proverbs 21:24.

There is another aspect which greatly affects our lives and our children’s lives. That is the matter of integrity and character. These two words are used pretty much interchangeably in the Bible. However, there is a difference. Character is the foundation of trust. Character has been defined as one’s total personality. The Bible gives us several character traits. I have identified several different character traits the Bible teaches. The difference between integrity and character is that integrity is character in the heart. Folks that is one of the reasons that many children which grow up in a Christian home fail to live for the Lord.

The devil, “walks about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour,” I Peter 5:8. The devil is neither omniscient nor omnipresent, but he is a good judge of character. He will look at the character weaknesses in our lives to see where he can do his work, which is to “steal, kill, and destroy”, John 10:9-10. Folks, our character and integrity are our destiny. Every spiritual issue is a heart issue, we must “do the will of God from the heart”, Ephesians 6:6.

Many children grow up in a Christian home and they are taught to dress a certain way, act a certain way, say “yes sir” and “no sir”, etc. Those things are all well and good, but this outward show is in no way a guarantee that the child will grow up to live for and serve the Savior. The things mentioned above are areas of character, but we can train in character and the child still not live for God. The key is integrity. Many parents, who desperately want their children to live for God, have gone to great lengths to train in character. In the end the parents are greatly disappointed and disillusioned because their child has not lived for God after they have worked to try to get them to do so. Remember, integrity is character in the heart. Integrity must be held in the heart. Job 2:3, …”and still he holdeth fast his integrity.” Job 27:5-6, “God forbid that I should justify you: till I die I will not remove mine integrity from me. My righteousness I hold (did you notice who holds it) and will not let go: My heart shall not reproach me so long as I live.” Proverbs 11:3, “The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them.” Psalm 26:1 “Judge me, O Lord; for I have walked in mine integrity.” Psalm 7:8, Psalm 41:12, Proverbs 19:1.

Folks, integrity is not just what people see, integrity is what you are. How can a person hold on to integrity? Only in the heart. If it is not in the heart, then your child will bend in any direction. Many good parents and leaders have missed the point. They believe that we must teach character, but there is a lack of understanding of what integrity is. I realize we have homes that are at different levels. You have homes where there is no character being taught. You also have homes where people are trying to teach some basic character and lastly you have homes that are strictly adhering to trying to teach character. Listen carefully; if character is not in the heart, it is always up for grabs! The devil knows this and is deceptive. Many of God’s people have missed the point. Notice that there is a promise from God on this matter of integrity. Proverbs 20:7, The just man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him.” So, the blessing of our children is tied to our integrity.

Our testimony is affected by our character and our integrity. What is the ultimate goal of our life Biblically? To glorify God, I Corinthians 6:19-20. If integrity is not in the heart we will never glorify God. God wants to change our life to glorify Him. When we get saved, we become a new creature in Christ, II Corinthians 5:17. Most of us, when we get saved, have come from a habit lifestyle that has been dictated by our old nature. “That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to deceitful lusts. And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” Did you notice the put off and put on? Who is responsible to do that? We are. The big question is how do we do that? As a Christian, I am to find out from God’s word what He says about that area of character. I am to seek Biblical change in my life from the principles of God’s word. I am then to ask God to put that in my heart as a matter of character and integrity. I then ask God to keep this matter in my heart as a matter of godliness, character, and integrity. Remember, character is integrity in the heart.

Folks, we need to be putting on new habits that would accurately demonstrate the character and nature of God so He would be glorified. All of us have come from a habit life style built around flesh gratification and senses orientation. Behavior has to be changed God’s way, as a matter of the heart through the Holy Spirit’s work through God’s word. So, why do many children grow up in a Christian home and do not end up serving God? One of the reasons is a lack of integrity or a lack of teaching character and integrity by the parents. We fail to understand it is a matter of the heart. Many Christian parents desire for their children to live for the Savior. However, many of us are ill equipped to do the Biblical child training God has described in His word. Much of what our children will be is what we are. Who knows more about us than anyone else? Our husband, wives, and children. So many parents are so disappointed when they find out that their lack of putting off the old man has determined the destiny of their children. Remember character and integrity is our destiny. How many young ladies and been sorely disappointed and had their lives ruined because they marry a person who professes to be saved but has not integrity. Ten years down the road he takes off and she is left with a destroyed life. I have taught my daughters to be looking for certain aspects of character and integrity. Otherwise, get as far away from him or her as you possibly can.

We can tell people what we are, but what we are will always show up in the lives of our children. II Corinthians 7:1-3, Proverbs 22:6, Ephesians 6:4, Deuteronomy 6:5-7, 17.

What happens to children who grow up in a home with parents who lack in character and integrity or character and integrity were not taught in the home? Maybe parents tried to teach character, but failed to understand that character is integrity in the heart. The Bible tells us six things will happen in their lives. They are grievous things. As a pastor for many years, I have seen it many times. Also, in each instance it is very important to notice their sins will be against their parents! I do not know how many times I have heard, “I just do not understand why this child does what they do. We sent them to a Christian school, we home schooled them, we took them to church, we had family devotions, we prayed with them. I just do not understand.” Watch what the Bible says about them and what they will be:

1. Stubborn and rebellious, Deuteronomy 21:18-21, “If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his mother, and that when they have chastened him will not hearken unto them: Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; An they shall say unto he elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard, And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear and fear.”

2. Scorner, Proverbs 30:17, “The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it.”

3. Robbers, Proverbs 28:24-26, “Whoso robbeth his father or his mother, and saith, It is no transgression; the same is the companion of a destroyer. He that is proud of heart stirreth up strife; but he that putteth his trust in the Lord shall be made fat. He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool; but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.” Let me point out there are many ways for a child to rob his or her parents. Did you notice in the verse the child has no conscience about it? In our lives today, many children rob their parents by manipulation. They are only interested in what they want and did you notice here it is a matter of the heart? The devil is the destroyer and the child is his companion.

4. Smiters, Exodus 21:15, “And he that smiteth his father or his mother, shall surely be put to death.”

5. Cursers, Exodus 21:17, “And he that curseth his father, or his mother shall surely be put to death.” You may also see Leviticus 20:9.

6. Fornicator and Adulterer, I Corinthians 5:1, "It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife.” You may also see I Corinthians 5:9, 11-13, 6:9-10, 18-20.

Integrity and character must be taught in the home and the Christian school. The failure to do so will create disastrous results. Again, it is important to point out these sins were against their parents, and God takes the matter extremely seriously. The grief that comes to a parent’s life because they have failed to teach their children character and integrity comes back through their children sinning grievously against the parents. The sadness is the parents rarely understand why the children are like they are.

The purpose of this article is to help those who are rearing their children right now. I have had many parents tell me after reading an article on For the Love of the Family, “I never knew that. I am so glad I heard that now, so I will not do more damage than I have already done.”

When we teach character, we have to understand that children and many adults outwardly conform. They have failed to understand that true character is called integrity and the place you hold it is in the heart. As a parent, are you asking “heart” questions of your children? As a husband, are you asking “heart” questions of your wife? As a wife, are you asking “heart” questions of your husband? The only way to deal with what is in the heart is to draw it out by asking questions. Start asking early because it can become a lot more serious issue to deal with later.

Many Christians go to church faithfully, hoping that that will be enough. When the home is not a place where true character and integrity are taught, the marriage and the children are headed to a disaster. Most Christians are going through the motions of their every day hectic busy life. They spend time working at the church or doing other religious good things, but fail in the issues of the heart (disaster).

Any Christian, who fails in the issues of the heart, is capable of doing all the sins of Galatians 5:19-21. The end result is deception and disaster, Galatians 6:7-8, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.”

You see folks, integrity and character are a matter of the heart. Integrity is character in the heart, Ephesians 6:6. Let me encourage you to go through your Bible and look for character traits that God wants you to develop in your life and the lives of your children. As an example, truthfulness, Ephesians 4:25, obedience, II Corinthians 10:5, self control, Galatians 5:24-25, discretion, Proverbs 22:3, dependability, Psalm 15:4, flexibility, Colossians 3:23 and endurance, Galatians 6:9 would be some examples. Remember, these not only have to be developed in your life, but put in your heart. Character and integrity are our destiny and the destiny of our children.

Terry L. Coomer is the Pastor of Elwood Bible Baptist Church, and the Director of For the Love of the Family Ministries. He has also served as the Publisher of the nation’s fastest growing daily newspaper. Pastor Coomer holds Family Conferences in the local church. To have a meeting at your church or other needs he may be contacted at (765) 552-1973,, For the Love of the Family Ministries

Sunday, March 7, 2010

"Whosoever" Of John 3:16

The following is taken from Address Nine (pages 106-110) in Addresses On The Gospel Of John - by H.A. Ironside:

You remember the story of the little girl in Martin Luther's day, when the first edition of the Bible came out. She had a terrible fear of God. God had been presented in such a way that it filled her heart with dread when she thought of Him. She brooded over the awfulness of the character of God and of some day having to meet this angry Judge. But one day she came running to her mother, holding a scrap of paper in her hand. She cried out, "Mother! mother! I am not afraid of God any more." Her mother said, "Why are you not?" "Why, look, mother," she said, "this bit of paper I found in the print shop, and it is torn out of the Bible." It was so torn as to be almost illegible except about two lines. On the one line it said, "God so loved," and on the other line it said, "that He gave." "See, mother," she said, "that makes it all right." Her mother read it and said, "God so loved that He gave." "But," she said, "it does not say what He gave." "Oh, mother," exclaimed the child, "if He loved us enough to give anything, it is all right." Then the mother said, "But, let me tell you what He gave." She read, "God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Then she told how we can have peace and eternal life through trusting Him.

Am I speaking to anyone today who dreads the thought of meeting God? Do you think of your sins and say with David of old, "I remembered God, and was troubled"? Let me call your attention to this word: The love of God has been manifest in Christ. If you will but come as a needy sinner He will wash your sins away. "But," you say, "how can I be sure that it is for me? I can understand how He can invite certain ones to trust Him. Their lives have been so much better than mine, but I cannot believe that this salvation is for me." Well, what else can you make from that word, "whosoever"? "God so loved... that He gave... that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." He could not find another more all-embracing word than that. It takes you in. It takes me in. You have many another "whosoever" in the Bible. There is a "whosoever" of judgment: "Whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire." "Whosoever" there includes all who did not come to God while He waited, in grace, to save. If they had recognized that they were included in the "Whosoever" of John 3:16, they would not be found in that of Rev. 20:15.

Somebody wrote me the other day and said, "A man has come to our community who is preaching a limited atonement. He says it is a wonderful truth that has been only recently revealed to him." Well, I could only write back that the term "limited atonement" has an uncanny sound to me. I do not read anything like that in my Bible. I read that "He... [tasted] death for every man." I read that "He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." I read that "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all." And here I read that "Whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." I say to you, as I said to the writer of that letter, that there is enough value in the atoning work of the Lord Jesus Christ to save every member of the human race, if they would but repent and turn to God; and then if they were all saved, there still remains value enough to save the members of a million worlds like this, if they are lost in sin and needing a Saviour. Yes, the sacrifice of Christ is an infinite sacrifice. Do not let the enemy of your soul tell you there is no hope for you. Do not let him tell you you have sinned away your day of grace; that you have gone so far that God is no longer merciful. There is life abundant for you if you will but look up into the face of the One who died on Calvary's cross and trust Him for yourself. Let me repeat it again, "Whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

"Whosoever believeth." What is it to believe? It is to trust in Him; to confide in Him; to commit yourself and your affairs to Him. He is saying to you, poor needy sinner, "You cannot save yourself. All your efforts to redeem yourself can only end in failure, but I have given My Son to die for you. Trust in Him. Confide in Him!" "Whosoever believeth in Him should not perish."

...To believe in Jesus [is] to commit [yourself] unto Jesus. Have you done that? Have you said,

"Jesus, I will trust Thee, trust Thee with my soul,
Weary, worn and helpless, Thou canst make me whole.
There is none in heaven, or on earth like Thee;
Thou hast died for sinners; therefore, Lord, for me."

New Translations and the Authorised Version

I suppose that the most popular of all the proposals at the present moment is to have a new translation of the Bible... The argument is that people are not reading the Bible any longer because they do not understand its language - particularly the archaic terms - what does your modern man... know about justification, sanctification, and all the Biblical terms? And so we are told the one thing that is necessary is to have a translation that Tom, Dick, and Harry will understand. I began to feel about six months ago that we had almost reached the stage in which the Authorised Version was being dismissed, to be thrown into the limbo of things forgotten, no longer of any value. Need I apologise for saying a word in favour of the Authorised Version in this gathering?...

It is a basic proposition laid down by the Protestant Reformers, that we must have a Bible "understanded by the people." That is common sense... We must never be obscurantists. We must never approach the Bible in a mere antiquarian spirit... but it does seem to me that there is a very grave danger incipient in so much of the argument that is being presented today for these new translations. There is a danger, I say, of our surrendering something that is vital and essential...

Take this argument that the modern man does not understand such terms as justification, sanctification, and so on. I want to ask you a question. When did an ordinary man ever understand those terms?... Did the colliers to whom John Wesley and George Whitfield preached in the 18th century understand? They had not even been to day school... they could not read, they could not write. Yet these were the terms that were used. This was the version that was used - the Authorised Version. The common people have never understood these terms... We are concerned here with something that is spiritual; something that does not belong to this world at all; which, as the apostle Paul reminds us, the princes of this world do not know. Human wisdom is of no value here - it is a spiritual truth. This is truth about God primarily, and because of that it is a mystery.

Yet we are told - it must be put in such simple terms and language that anybody taking it up and reading it is going to understand all about it. My friends, this is sheer nonsense. What we must do is to educate the masses of the people up to the Bible, not bring the Bible down to their level. One of the greatest troubles today is that everything is being brought down to the same level; everything is cheapened. The common man is made the standard of authority; he decides everything, and everything has to be brought down to him...

Are we to do that with the Word of God? I say No! What has happened in the past has been this. Ignorant, illiterate people, in this country and in foreign countries, coming into salvation have been educated up to the Book and have begun to understand it, to glory in it, and to praise God for it, and I say that we need to do the same in this present time. What we need is therefore, not to replace the Authorised Version... we need rather to reach and train people up to the standard and the language, the dignity and the glory of the old Authorised Version.

Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones - 1961

Wanted: Faithful Men

There is an incredible famine of faithfulness in these days. Many churches could take Proverbs 20:6 as their theme verse: Most men will proclaim every man his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find? Thank God that the Apostle Paul found one in Timothy. To that young preacher Paul issued the following command from the Holy Ghost: And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also (2 Timothy 2:2).

Every God-called, Spirit-led pastor desires to commit the truth to faithful men. But, the sad fact is that there are few that qualify for the training! Many that profess Christ are unfaithful men - unfaithful to the Word, the work, the war, the worship of God, and some are even unfaithful to their wives. Here's a challenge, sir - BE A FAITHFUL MAN!

A faithful man is one who has first been REGENERATED. He has been born again of the Holy Spirit. What about you - was there a time when the Holy Ghost of God REPROVED you of your sinfulness, REBUKED you of your ungodliness, and you RESPONDED by REPENTING and RECEIVING the Lord Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour? Only the saved man can qualify for this holy designation of faithful men.

He is also one who RECEIVES the Word of God. Too many are REJECTING, REWRITING, REARRANGING, RECONSTRUCTING, and REINVENTING the Word of God. But, faithful men will not go that route! The faithful man doesn'€™t get mad at the truth-telling preacher either. Like the Berean Christians of Acts 17:10,11 he RECEIVES the Word of God as it is preached, RESEARCHES the message with the Scriptures, and then REACHES a conclusion about what God's man has declared.

The faithful man allows his pastor to commit the truth to him! He is humble and takes time to be taught the Word and treasures it in his heart. He is not carried about by every wind of doctrine because he RETAINS the truth. In other words, he sticks with, stands for, and strives about the truth.

That last part of 2 Timothy 2:2 is where it really gets good. When a man is REGENERATED, RECEIVES the Word of God, and RETAINS it, he is at the place where he can be used of God to REPEAT it to others. He is able to teach others also. The work of God goes forward mightily as men develop into faithful men. Sinners are sought, the seed is sown, souls are saved, and saints are settled as faithful men continue the wonderful process of preaching the Word of God in the power of the Holy Ghost.

Sir, don't allow the famine of faithfulness to famish your family and assembly. Before God Almighty, and for His glory and honour, commit by His grace to be a faithful man from this day forward.

By Pastor Bobby Mitchell
Mid-Coast Baptist Church
Brunswick, Maine
(Used With Permission)