Why the Struggle to Keep Integrity?
“Better is the poor that walketh in his integrity, than he that is perverse in his lips, and is a fool.” “Let me be weighed in an even balance, that God may know mine integrity.”—Prov. 19:1; Job 31:6.
1-3. (a) Who was the first one to break integrity, and how is this described in the Bible? (b) How did Satan proceed with his nefarious plans, and what has been the result to the human race?
THE perilous conditions and the lack of integrity that now prevail throughout all the world are not accidental. They are part of a planned campaign to ruin the human race. Whose campaign? you ask. We must go back in history many years to find the answer. Out of the past we read a prophecy of what will happen to the first one who broke integrity. The Bible tells the story. The record is found in Ezekiel 28:13-18 (AS):
2 “Thou wast in Eden, the garden of God. . . . Thou wast the anointed cherub that covereth: and I set thee, so that thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till unrighteousness was found in thee. By the abundance of thy traffic they filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore have I cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God; and I have destroyed thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Thy heart was lifted up because of thy beauty; thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I have cast thee to the ground; I have laid thee before kings, that they may behold thee. By the multitude of thine iniquities, in the unrighteousness of thy traffic, thou hast profaned thy sanctuaries; therefore have I brought forth a fire from the midst of thee; it hath devoured thee, and I have turned thee to ashes.”
3 These words were addressed to the king of Tyrus but are prophetic of the one we now know as Satan the Devil. He was originally the covering cherub in the garden of Eden. God gave him a sacred trust. He placed him with authority over man so that he could look out for the needs of mankind and provide for the things they would want. The covering cherub, however, did not keep integrity to this sacred trust. He thought too much of himself, as the Scriptures show. Iniquity was found in him. He thought he should have the worship that was going to Almighty God, Jehovah, the Creator. So he rebelled and began carrying on wickedness, seeking to turn all creatures away from God and to himself. He succeeded in causing mankind to disobey. Adam and Eve were the first humans. They were also the first ones on the earth to break integrity to God. From that time forward every human creature that has lived has had the challenge of whether or not he can maintain his integrity to God.—Genesis 3.
4. (a) What is the great issue now confronting the universe? (b) What was Satan’s position after he broke his integrity to God?
4 Satan is a force for evil let loose in the earth and heavens and by his evil act he raised an issue, and that issue is: Who is supreme? He is trying to put over his idea that he can get all creatures on earth to worship him, and that God cannot have creatures on the earth who will be faithful to him, who will serve him, even under a test. The question is, Can Jehovah carry out his original purpose to populate the earth with righteous creatures? So the great issue has come to be one of integrity. Though Satan was disempowered by God, though he was taken away from his position as the covering cherub, cast out legally, still he was not banished from being present in this world. God set a time; he allowed time for the Devil to try to prove the evil challenge. And so Satan has since that time exercised influence over humans and over the development of their civilization.
5. How does the Bible show Satan takes interest in men and governments on the earth and tries to turn all men away from God?
5 We have the key to the understanding of this in the book of Job in the Bible. In Job 1:6-12 (Mo) we read: “One day the angels came to present themselves before the Eternal [Jehovah, AS], and among them the Adversary [Satan, AS]. ‘Where have you been?’ said the Eternal to the Adversary; and the Adversary answered, ‘Roaming here and there, roving about the earth.’ Then the Eternal said to the Adversary, ‘Have you noticed that there is no one like my servant [Job] on earth, a blameless and an upright man, who reverences God and shuns evil?’ The Adversary answered, ‘But is it for nothing that [Job] reverences God? Have you not hedged him safely in, his house and all he has? You have prospered him in his business, and his flocks are teeming on the land. Only put out your hand, touch whatever he possesses, and see if he will not curse you to your face!’ Then said the Eternal to the Adversary, ‘There! I leave all he has within your power; but lay no hand upon the man himself.’ So away went the Adversary from the presence of the Eternal.” This account in the Scriptures shows clearly that Satan the Devil has earthly interests. At that time he was down dealing with fallen mankind, roaming about the earth. He was the invisible overlord. He had creatures that were serving him. He organized these creatures into different forms of government. Yes, today he has domination over all the governments of the earth. This program he began with Babylon in Nimrod’s time, and the Scriptures tell us he is the “god of this system of things”.—2 Cor. 4:4, NW.
6. (a) How had God’s supreme position been shown since the rebellion? (b) What test has been upon all human creatures since that time?
6 The conversation recorded in the book of Job between Jehovah God and Satan shows that Jehovah God maintained his position as the all-powerful One, the Creator. Satan was not able to do anything he wanted to Job, because of the hedge of protection Jehovah put there. God was still in charge and God was going to have this issue settled. God was going to magnify his name throughout all the earth. That is why he did not demonstrate his supreme power immediately by killing Satan, but allowed him to remain. (Ex. 9:16, Mo) From the time of Adam and Eve forward the test of integrity has been going on. Each human creature has been in effect choosing life or death. Adam and Eve broke integrity to God. Their choice, then, was death. History shows that they died.—Gen. 5:5.
7. In the test of integrity, what losses were suffered by Job?
7 Job was a man of devotion to God and he is an outstanding case of a person who maintained integrity to God under the test. When Jehovah removed the hedge of protection he placed around Job, Job took great losses. He suffered the loss of his livestock; some by storm, others were stolen. He lost his servants, who were slain by marauders. His children, seven sons and three daughters, were feasting together and a storm was brought on that destroyed their house and they perished. All Job’s wealth and all his possessions were gone. Yet no personal harm had come to him.—Job 1:13-19.
8-10. (a) After failing to break Job’s integrity through the initial tests, what did Satan do next? (b) What course did Job take and with what results?
8 The record in Job goes on and says in the second chapter: “Again it came to pass on the day when the sons of God came to present themselves before Jehovah, that Satan came also among them to present himself before Jehovah. . . . And Jehovah said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job? for there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and turneth away from evil: and he still holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause. And Satan answered Jehovah, and said, Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life. But put forth thy hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will renounce thee to thy face. And Jehovah said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thy hand; only spare his life. So Satan went forth from the presence of Jehovah, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown. And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself therewith; and he sat among the ashes. Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still hold fast thine integrity? renounce God, and die.”—Job 2:1-9, AS.
9 There he was put to a personal test. He was suffering pain and discomfort. Satan used Job’s wife to try to cause him to break his integrity and to discourage him by telling him to renounce God and die. Certainly such was a very great trial. Then on the scene came three of his so-called friends. They did not comfort him either. They began accusing him of all kinds of wrongdoing. Job endured through all these trials that came upon him personally. He kept his integrity. We find his words in Job 27:5, “Till I die I will not remove mine integrity from me.”
10 Yes, he never wavered in faith and devotion to Jehovah for one minute. Jehovah preserved his life. Jehovah did not let the Devil put him to death. But here he made a record that stands to this day. The record shows that Jehovah blessed Job for his integrity. In Job 42:10, 12 (AS) it says: “And Jehovah turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: and Jehovah gave Job twice as much as he had before. So Jehovah blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning.”
11. Was Jehovah cruel in allowing Job to be so severely tested?
11 Some people might contend this was a very cruel thing Jehovah did, to allow this man, a good man, to suffer so much. But is that true? Certainly not. It was not Jehovah God who put him to the test. Jehovah God was not responsible for the suffering that came upon him. God did allow it and Job benefited by it. We see that he ended his experience with more than he had in the beginning. He gained because he was in favor with God, a proved and tested servant of Jehovah, and the Bible speaks well of him, which assures him of a resurrection in God’s new world of righteousness.
12. What appreciation do we gain through considering the record concerning Job?
12 Satan, the cruel one, brought about this suffering. It should be known through this record that he is the one who brings all the trials and suffering upon all the creatures that are on the earth today. We gain by this record, by what Job went through, because we have this record for our own use to help us appreciate the real issue. If we do not understand the great issue between Jehovah God and Satan, the issue of supremacy, we are not able to understand the Bible. It helps us too to see how we should maintain integrity and shows the result to those who keep integrity.
13, 14. Must all men who will gain God’s approval be tested with the same trials as Job experienced?
13 Can we expect that all the people who live on the earth must go through a test as severe as Job’s in order to gain Jehovah’s favor and gain life? No, not that; but whatever the test that comes upon us, we must maintain our integrity if we are to gain life. We must endure in complete faithfulness to the Most High God.—Matt. 10:22.
14 In Hebrews 11 we find a list of faithful men who endured. These men kept integrity that they might obtain “resurrection”, that they might gain life. Not all of them had the same trials, but all of them did maintain their integrity. Let us see what some of these men did.
15, 16. How did Abel and Enoch keep integrity?
15 The first one mentioned is Abel, a man of great faith, who worshiped God and kept his integrity, giving a proper sacrifice to God. Because of his faith and because of his worship of God he was murdered by his brother. He kept his integrity right down to his death.—Gen. 4:3-11.
16 It mentions also other men who lived before the flood, Enoch and Noah. These men lived in the midst of evil men and were highly outnumbered. They were surrounded by influences for the doing of wickedness, but they stood firm in faith and blamelessness. Enoch was one of God’s prophets and bore witness for Jehovah. God took Enoch away, preserved him, protected him from harm and hurt from those wicked men around him.—Gen. 5:18-24; Jude 14.
17. What tests of integrity came upon Noah, and how did his faithfulness lead to life?
17 Noah followed in God’s way and believed what God had said to him. He showed his faith in it by constructing an ark, although there had never been rain upon the earth since man’s creation. (Gen. 2:5, 6) Probably he was continually reproached and scoffed at by the people of his day, maybe even persecuted for this, but yet he maintained his integrity to God, and because he did so he was one who survived through the flood and still had his life when the ark settled back on the earth. Noah was a preacher of righteousness.—Genesis 6 to 9; 2 Pet. 2:5.
18, 19. Describe some of the experiences of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in keeping integrity.
18 Then we read of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, men who endured in faith outside their home country. Abraham was sent by God to a strange country and he did not think to return to his own country where he could enjoy comforts. Because God had told him to do it, he went out into that strange place. There he raised his family. When God told him to offer his son, he was willing to part with that treasured one because it was God’s will. Abraham fought against unrighteousness. He always worshiped the living God. He taught God’s worship to his son, Isaac, and Isaac was faithful in co-operating with his father in serving God. God used Abraham and Isaac to make many prophetic pictures, and these are found in the book of Genesis.
19 Isaac in turn taught his son the right way to worship God. Jacob, his faithful son, was the father of the nation of Israel. He too suffered in his lifetime. He had many hardships with his twin brother Esau, who was not really a believer in God at all. Also, Jacob went down into Egypt and there lived until the time of his death, always looking forward to what God had promised.—Gen. 27:41; 48:21.
20. How was Joseph an example of maintaining integrity in times of trouble and times of prosperity?
20 Joseph, the son of Jacob, is also mentioned in the 11th chapter of Hebrews. By his faithfulness and integrity, his resurrection is assured. He suffered much, but always maintained his integrity to God and kept God’s righteous principles in mind. He was sold into slavery by his own brothers. When he was down in Egypt serving as a slave, the wife of his master tried to induce him to commit an immoral act; but he would not. This woman saw that he was put into prison. There in prison he endured in faith and eventually God brought him out of the place and God used him. Joseph gave public praise to God in connection with Pharaoh’s dream. God saw to it that Joseph was given an exalted position among the people of Egypt. But whether he was in prison or in the high position of rulership in Egypt, there was no question in his mind about who was supreme or what he was going to do in worship of Jehovah. Right to the time of his death he had in mind that God was first in his life. So he endured in his integrity.—Gen. 39:9; 41:16; 50:19-26.
21. How did Moses demonstrate integrity to God?
21 Moses had great faith. He was brought up in the splendor of Egypt by the daughter of Pharaoh. He could have chosen the demon worship, the wealth, the joy of the royal court; but no, he went with the oppressed children of God, the nation of Israel, his nation. He threw aside the wealth and glory of Egypt and finally risked his own life many times because he went before the tyrannical Pharaoh of Egypt. He delivered God’s judgment messages against Egypt, without fear, knowing that God was with him. God delivered him, with the nation of Israel, from Egypt. His resurrection is assured because he was faithful in his integrity and gave public praise to Jehovah’s side of the great issue.—Ex. 2:10; 10:28; 14:13-26.
22, 23. Name other men of integrity in Israel and give examples of their fight for righteousness.
22 Hebrews 11 mentions other men, men who lived in the Promised Land, such as Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David and Samuel. These men all upheld Jehovah’s worship, but not without opposition. Gideon broke down the altars of Baal. With a small band and with the help of Jehovah, the hosts of Midian were destroyed. The people wanted him to rule as king over them, but he declined, saying Jehovah rules, and thus exalted the name of Jehovah in the earth.—Judg. 6:1 to 8:28.
23 Samson put his trust in Jehovah and God gave him strength to fight against demon worshipers and for the liberation of God’s people. It was Samson who tore down the temple of the fish god of the Philistines. (Judges 16) Barak put up a good fight for pure worship, too, fighting against a Canaanite army of great numbers, risking his life. (Judges 4) These men maintained integrity to God. So also did Jephthah and David, always upholding God’s side of the issue, championing pure worship.—Judges 11; 1 Samuel 17 and onward.
24. How is the life of Samuel a fine example of endurance and integrity?
24 Samuel was a prophet, not a man of war; but he stood faithfully for the pure worship of Jehovah God. He was a young man, a mere child, when he entered God’s service. He endured through all the trials that came upon him, living there in the days of evil King Saul, who was an unfaithful king in Israel, the first king. Samuel denounced the king for the wickedness and disobedience he demonstrated. Samuel was not ashamed of God’s righteous principles. The prophet stood up and told the king he was wrong; he was not afraid. Down until the time of his death he too endured in integrity to God.—1 Sam. 2:11; 13:14; 25:1.
25. What kind of trials came upon men of faith as mentioned in Hebrews 11:33-39?
25 All of these faithful men of old worked for the preservation of pure worship of God and kept integrity. With every one it was a case of endurance. There were others too. The Bible speaks well of them. It shows they endured through many trials, different kinds of trials, not all the same, but they endured whatever trials came and kept their integrity. True, they were few in comparison with the many people on the earth; they were the minority. Most of the earth’s population fell away or else never knew anything about the worship of Jehovah God at all. This was because of selfishness, wrong information or the exercise of force to keep them in line and keep them under Satan’s domination.—Heb. 11:33-39.
26. (a) Why is the lack of integrity of most of the people of Israel so amazing? (b) What was the result to them?
26 Even among Israel, that covenant people of God, there was an amazing lack of integrity. Here God had personally written with his own finger on tables of stone. That should have inspired awe in the people and convinced them that Jehovah God is the Supreme One. They agreed that they would obey God’s law and God made provision that they could do it, for the law was preserved and carried about in the ark of the covenant. God provided for the reading of it at stated times when the people assembled in Jerusalem. God said that the king should have a copy of the law and that he should read it and follow it. There was every reason why those people should keep God’s law and maintain their integrity, and they agreed to do it; but as a nation they failed. Time and again the people rebelled. Finally, because they put God’s Word aside and would not maintain integrity to his instruction, God caused the nation to be destroyed, in the year 607 B. C. Just a small remnant held to the true worship of God. These were in existence and were instrumental in carrying on pure worship of God right down to the time of Christ Jesus.—Ex. 31:18; 19:8; Deut. 17:18; 30:15-20; 31:11; Jer. 34:12-22; 39:1, 2.
Judge me, O Jehovah, for I have walked in mine integrity: I have trusted also in Jehovah without wavering. Examine me, O Jehovah, and prove me; try my heart and my mind. For thy loving-kindness is before mine eyes; and I have walked in thy truth.—Psalm 26:1-3, AS.