Integrity: It Comes From the Heart!
Mark 7:1-23

Sermon Summary
This message focuses on the Christian character trait of integrity and how desperately our modern day world needs to see followers of Christ living lives of integrity! Jesus confronted the lack of integrity in the religious leaders of his day and taught that integrity  is a heart issue. So many were worried about how they looked on the outside and wanted to make sure they were ritually clean so they followed many man made traditions. However, Jesus pointed out that it was not what goes into a man that makes him unclean, but what comes out of his heart. Jesus then gave a list of 13 things that make a person unclean on the inside and Pastor Larry pointed out how those 13 things are enemy’s of integrity.

Small Group Discussion Guide
1. Share an example of someone you know who has integrity, or share a personal experience in which your integrity was tested.

2. Integrity comes from the heart and flows out into a person’s life. What are some things we can do make sure our heart is in the right place?
Psa 19:7  The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple.
Psa 19:8  The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.
Psa 19:9  The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous.
Psa 19:10  They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb.
Psa 19:11  By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
Psa 19:12  Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults.
Psa 19:13  Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression.
Psa 19:14  May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

3. Brother Larry talked about flying with his friend Wayne in IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) conditions. In these conditions a pilot has to rely on and trust in his instruments. Without the instruments a person would be unable to safely fly in a cloud bank. Bro. Larry then talked about the need for spiritual instrumentation to navigate the clouds, fog and storms of this life. Do you remember any of the spiritual instruments he alluded to? Hints are found in the passages below. How have these helped you in your life?
2 Tim 3:16  All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,
2 Tim 3:17  so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Phil 2:1  If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion,
Phil 2:2  then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.
Col 4:2  Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.
2 Tim 1:13  What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus.

4. Jesus mentioned thirteen things that come from a person’s heart and make them unclean. They are enemies of integrity. Read the definition of integrity and then discuss how we can use integrity to fight these thirteen things.

(integrity |inˈtegritē| noun
1 the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness:
2 the state of being whole and undivided)

Mark 7:21  For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery,
Mark 7:22  greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.
Mark 7:23  All these evils come from inside and make a man 'unclean.'"
 


Full Sermon Notes
Today we will rap up our series on Christian character traits. There's so much more we could have covered, but I hope we've at least helped you to see a little clearer what it means to be Christ like in your life and character!

It is so important for us, if we're going to call ourselves Christians, to at least try to exhibit the character traits of the One we claim to follow! With that in mind we we come to one of the most important Christian character traits as for as our witness to the world…Integrity! Who are you when no one is looking?

If we don' t have integrity, the world will dismiss us as impostors, fake, and hypocritical! Integrity is a concept that can be explained and understood by most people, however, just because they can explain it and understand it does not mean they practice it. Integrity is an attitude developed in the depths of who we are. It is developed in the heart of a man or woman!

Integrity is not just a Christian concept, but should be a Character trait of any serious follower of Christ! Even the world understands the need for integrity! Listen to these quotes from some well known people...

"In looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if they don't have the first, the other two will kill you."
— Warren Buffet CEO, Berkshire Hathaway

"Let no pleasure tempt thee, no profit allure thee, no persuasion move thee, to do anything which thou knowest to be evil; so shalt thou always live jollity; for a good conscience is a continual Christmas."
— Benjamin Franklin

Even some of the most liberal entertainers on the airways today recognize the importance of integrity. I'm not a fan of this guy, but he hit the nail on the head with this statement...

“If you don't stick to your values when they are being tested, they're not values: they're hobbies.”
Jon Stewart (born 1962);
Television Host, Writer, Comedian

Some prominent educators realize there is a problem in our post-Christian society and are now publicly speaking out on issues concerning integrity and truthfulness…

"As religion and faith are being driven out of the public square, the Judeo-Christian ethical foundations that have sustained our country since its beginning, are being lost and are being replaced with a humanistic amorality, a self-centered, pragmatic indifference that will ensure that our moral compasses will fail to point us in the right direction in the future."


— Archie B. Carroll
Professor of Management, Terry College of Business, University of Georgia

 Let's look at the dictionary definition of integrity...

integrity |inˈtegritē| noun
1 the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness:
2 the state of being whole and undivided:

The quality of being honest, having strong moral principles!
Did you notice it doesn't say Integrity is doing good things. Why?You can do good things for the wrong reasons! You can do things that look good on the outside, but in the end are hurtful to others and your self!

But if you have the quality or the character of being honest, having strong moral principles, what you do will follow those principles. If the inside is right the outside will be right!

I love the second part of the definition as well... "The state of being whole and undivided!"
A person who has no integrity is a divided person. Their actions, their words, their goals, their principles are ever changing.

They are driven by their wants and desires rather than by what's right, true, just and fair. These are the people who will trample others to get what they want. If integrity stands between them and what they want, integrity is quickly discarded.

Integrity is such an important character trait. In a world without integrity there exist a dark cloud of distrust, and suspicion, which leads to fear and uncertainty. In this cloud of moral and spiritual darkness it becomes increasingly difficult to find direction, meaning and purpose!

We desperately need people who will live their lives with integrity: People who are honest and who have strong moral principles. People who will lead the way by the way they live their lives!

I went flying with my good friend Wayne Fisher the other day. We were in clouds at least half the time so it was IFR conditions. Instrument Flight Rules. Without the instruments you could not fly in those conditions. You wouldn't know whether you were going up or down.

You wouldn't know what direction you were going.
Morally and spiritually we are in IFR conditions today. Instrument Flight Rules! Our society is in a thick fog! So what are the instruments we fly by morally and spiritually?

How about God's Word, the example of Jesus, the inspiration of The Holy Spirit, Prayer, and brothers and sisters in Christ who live lives of integrity? These should be our instruments as we seek to navigate the clouds, the haze, the fog, and the storms of this life!


Let's pray and ask God to help us understand the importance of living lives of integrity and make integrity one of our prime Christian character traits!
PRAY!!!!

 Jesus was a man of integrity! He spoke the truth and held to His values even when He knew it was going to cost Him everything. He was not willing to compromise His integrity! Jesus was a very loving and caring person, but when it came to the lack of integrity in people who were considered religious leaders, Jesus was brutally honest.

He needed to be. While he cared about the souls of those who had been deceived and were deceiving others, He knew the only hope of reaching them was to confront their hypocrisy!

And this is what He did in our text today. If you have your Bibles with you and want to open them to Mark 7:1 this is where we will camp out today.

1The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus and

2saw some of his disciples eating food with hands that were “unclean,” that is, unwashed.

3(The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders.

4When they come from the marketplace they do not eat unless they wash. And they observe many other traditions, such as the washing of cups, pitchers and kettles. )

Let me stop right there for just a moment. Here's what was happening. The Jewish leaders had developed what is known as Mishnah. Mishnah is a Hebrew term that means to learn and repeat. This became the terminology used when speaking of the Oral tradition of the Rabbi's as they taught on the law of Moses.

A philosophy developed around this in which the religious leaders would try to build a fence around a particular law. This was not a totally bad idea. Let me explain...

They would add laws around the law to make it harder to break the original law. In other words, they would build a safety fence around the law with other laws. If you kept the outer laws, you would be less likely to break the main law. Not a bad idea originally, but like many things, people forgot the original reasons for the extra laws and eventually the laws designed to

protect the main laws, became the focal point. People got so bogged down in all the rules and regulations they eventually forgot the reasons behind the laws in the first place! In fact, many times they would be so busy trying to keep all the rules that made up the fence around the law they forgot the original principle God had given them.

Listen and you'll see what I'm talking about...
Mark 7:5

5So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with ‘unclean’ hands?”

Let me interject what was going on here. The Pharisees were worried they might have touched something that had been touched by a gentile, so they were constantly washing their hands before they ate so they would not be defiled by something unclean. But all their attention to the outside and the letter of the law caused them to forget the original law God didn't want them to break.

And what law would that be? How about law #1…
"You shall have no other gods before me!"
Jesus put it this way, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength!"


 The pharisees had forgotten the heart part of the law!
The law was designed to lead them to God, but they had let their traditions become their god.
Listen…Mark 7:6-9

6He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: “ ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.

7They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.’

8You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.”

9And he said to them: “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!

 Again, integrity is…
1 the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness:
2 the state of being whole and undivided:

Many of the religious leaders of Jesus' day had lost their integrity. In fact, Jesus actually gives an example of what was happening… Mark 7:10-13

10For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.’

 Aren't you glad we aren't under the letter of the law!! Some of us would be in big trouble if we were! Thank God Jesus set us free from the law of sin and death!!!

11But you say that if a man says to his father or mother: ‘Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is Corban’ (that is, a gift devoted to God),

12then you no longer let him do anything for his father or mother.

13Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.”

Here's what was going on. If a person had elderly parents who needed financial help from them, they could make a promise to give the money to the temple treasury at some point in the future but they could still use the money and not have to spend it on their parents.

This fulfilled the letter of the law, but definitely not the spirit of the law!! Let's read on…Mark 7:14-19

14Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this.

15Nothing outside a man can make him ‘unclean’ by going into him. Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him ‘unclean.’ ’”

17After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable.

18“Are you so dull?” he asked. “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him ‘unclean’?

19For it doesn’t go into his heart but into his stomach, and then out of his body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods “clean.”)

 Scripture is clear at this point that Jesus was talking about the cleansing rituals and the food rituals of the Pharisees. He was saying the things that make a person truly unclean are things that are spiritual in nature. Things that come from a persons heart and soul.
Let me make this clear…Jesus wasn't talking about drugs and alcohol. These things don't just go into the

 stomach, and out of the body, but effect the heart, soul and mind. In fact these things can have a devastating effect on decisions a person makes. I can't tell you how many times I've heard about a decision made under the influence that comes back to haunt the individual later. You know what I'm talking about!

 Again, integrity is…
1 the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness:
2 the state of being whole and undivided:

So it's not unclean food that messes you up spiritually, but sinful attitudes and actions that emanate from the heart and soul of a person. Jesus continues by describing the kinds of things which come out of a person that make them unclean. In fact Jesus is about to list 13 enemies of integrity. Let's see what He said…Mark 7:20-21

20He went on: “What comes out of a man is what makes him ‘unclean.’

21For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts...

Some have said, "But as long as I just think it but don't act on it I'm okay!"
If you think this, you've been deceived!! You need to hear God's Word in Isaiah 55:6-9

6Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near.

7Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

8“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.

9“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

 Evil thoughts are the enemy of integrity! A person with evil thoughts will not have in mind the things of God and will act without integrity if it furthers his or her desires. Why is this? Because what you are on the inside will eventually come out!! But there's more…Mark 7:21...

21For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality...

 When a person decides they are going to let their base desires rule their lives and their decisions, integrity is the loser. Remember, a huge part of integrity is moral principles and when a person throws morals out the window, integrity goes out with it. It's happened to so many people down through the years.

 Presidents and preachers, Kings and common folks have fallen prey to this integrity killer. Those who are trapped by this vice get to a place where morals and truth no longer matter to them.
God's Word tells us...

18Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.

19Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;

20you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

 Back to our text, Mark 7:21...

21For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft...

 Theft is an enemy of integrity and we're not just talking about armed robbery here. How about stealing software, music, or other things. Let me give you an example. I bought a computer a little over two weeks ago. Best buy then put it on the black friday sale for 99 dollars cheeper. Normally they have a 15 day price match guarantee. It was 16 days when I found out.

However, they have a policy in place during the Christmas season that if it is a gift, you can get the price guarantee until January. It wasn't a gift! It was a work computer. They don't know that, but I do and my integrity is not for sale for $99.00.
Okay, back to our text...

21For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder...

Now I know what you may be thinking, "I can honestly and with integrity say, I've never murdered anybody!"
But let me remind you of something Jesus said...

21“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’

22But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment...

 Anger, bitterness and hate are enemies of integrity. Anger, bitterness and hate change a person deep down inside and cause them to make decisions based not on what is right, but on what furthers their agenda to get even. Let's read on in Mark 7:21...

21For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery,

Let's be honest, adultery doesn't just come out of no where. It is something developed in the heart and mind long before it becomes a reality. Without a strong commitment to moral principles and a willingness to walk in the power and Spirit of Jesus you are vulnerable! Don't think you're not. Paul put it this way...

12So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!

13No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

 In other words, God will always provide a way for us to live our lives with integrity. Remember what I said early on. We have instruments to follow when things get spiritually cloudy. God's Word, the Bible, the example of Christ, prayer, the leadership of the Holy Spirit, and brothers and sisters who are good examples and want to help! Jesus goes on to say...

21For from within, out of men’s hearts, come…

22greed,

 Talk about an integrity killer! Greed causes people to do crazy things. When a person is greedy, integrity no longer matters. Honesty no longer matters. Others no longer matter.

 Jesus said this to His disciples...

15Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

 I love what Albert Einstein said...

 "Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts."
— Albert Einstein


21For from within, out of men’s hearts, come…

22greed, malice...

Malice: Vicious intention; desire to hurt someone.

We've already touched on this, but let me just say again, if you've got a desire to hurt someone, whether physically, or otherwise, there's no way you're life can be lived with integrity.  

21For from within, out of men’s hearts, come…

22greed, malice, deceit...

Sometimes you don't have to tell a lie to be deceitful. We all know this. Leading someone to believe the wrong thing even though you didn't actually lie is deceitful.  

17A truthful witness gives honest testimony, but a false witness tells lies.

18Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

19Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment.

Jesus continued His list….

21For from within, out of men’s hearts, come…

22greed, malice, deceit, lewdness...

Lewdness is a term that can mean many things. From lust to a vicious crime.  At any rate, this kind of behavior should not be characteristic of a follower of Christ! Our commitment to integrity as a Christian Character trait will keep us from lewdness if we follow our spiritual flight instruments! Word of God, Life of Jesus, leadership of The Holy Spirit, prayer, Godly men and women!

Just a few more things on the list, but they are so important...

21For from within, out of men’s hearts, come…

22greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy...

First of all, why should a believer be envious of another believer? We all have been given the precious promises of God's Word! We have the same access to God Almighty! Why should a believer be envious of a person who doesn't know God? I don't care what they have in worldly goods, it can't compare to what we have in Christ!

17Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the LORD.

18There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.

okay, last three things we'll take all together!!

21For from within, out of men’s hearts, come…

22greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.

23All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean.’ ”

Slander, arrogance and folly. If you are willing to slander someone, you must be arrogant, and the folly of doing such a thing is absolutely foolish! How can a person truly have integrity when they know what they were and what God has done for them and yet be willing to act as if they're better than others. Amazing.

Yet this is exactly what the religious leaders of Jesus' day were doing. It was so tragic. They thought others were beneath them. Later, Paul would remind followers of Jesus not to fall into a similar trap. Listen...

26Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.

27But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.

28He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not —to nullify the things that are,

29so that no one may boast before him.

30It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.

31Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”

 So as followers of Christ, we can live lives of integrity not because we're so good, but because He's so good and was willing to give His life so we might live. He took our wickedness and gave us His righteousness!

Humbling isn't it? Let's be honest about who we were, and who we are now in Christ. Let's live with integrity and the world, just might see Jesus in us and decide they want to become Christ followers as well!
Let's pray!!

 End of Sermon