All human relationships are rooted in and grow in good ways on trust. Consider this: the one basic lesson that God teaches us is that he can be trusted. Therefore, we should entrust ourselves to him. The lie that Satan tempted Eve with was that God could not be trusted. Trust is rooted in truth and our experiencing over time a person’s faithfulness to truth. When someone demonstrates faithfulness to truth, we regard them as a person of integrity, or a person with integrity, who can be trusted.
The term integrity is related to our terms integral and integrated. The terms communicate something about the relational bond or connection that two or more realities have to each other. Of the many ways we can discern that someone is a person of integrity is our detecting that their actions are consistent with their verbal affirmations. If they say they are going to do a particular thing, they do it. If they say they are not going to do a particular thing, they do not do it. If they fail in some way to keep their word, if they are a person of integrity, they admit this failure and they pledge themselves to do better.
Of course, according to Scripture, all people are sinners, and therefore in various ways and to varying degrees cannot be trusted; we all fail in some ways to have integrity. But Scripture also teaches that all people are created in God’s image, live in the one creation God has made, and that the whole creation reveals God. This means, among other things, that no person can live without, to some degree, admitting and submitting to God’s truth. God’s truth surrounds us and possesses us. That is, because we are God’s creatures created in his image, our very being reveals God’s truth. As the apostle Paul stated, “In him [God] we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). No person can escape God’s truth, but they can deny and rebel against it. When we do, we do not merely go against God, but ourselves. To sin against God is to go against the truth and to begin to disintegrate; the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23).
The gospel message of Scripture is that Jesus is The Truth, and by trusting him we are forgiven of our sin and progressively changed by his Spirit of Truth so that we resemble him in our speaking, loving and practicing truth. Do a word search with the word truth using any reputable Bible research tool and read the texts that come up. You will quickly find that Christianity is regarded by the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament as being the way of truth that has the word of truth, the gospel (consider this short list: John 14:6; 17:17; Eph. 1:13; 4:21; Col. 1:5; 2Thess. 2:10-13; Titus 1:1; James 1:18; 3:14; 5:19; 1Peter 1:22; 2Peter 2:2; 1John 1:6-8; 2 John 1:2). Truth equals life. Eternal life is knowing God, who is Truth (John 17:3). The free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord, who is Truth (Rom. 6:23).
When God saves sinners he reveals to them by his Spirit of Truth that he is trustworthy, that he is Truth. Among other things, this means that when God saves us he does a work that is internal to us or within us that has a corresponding work outside of us. This could get a little complicated but it really need not. In short, God’s Spirit affects our thinking and desires so that we come to understand enough of the truth so that we love and obey it (Gal. 5:7; 1Pet. 1:22). Put another way, God’s Spirit causes true Christians to reason rightly about things that are both internal and external to them to the degree that they entrust themselves to God’s Word. Being saved from sin can be described, then as having “right reason.” This is one of the ways that the 19th century Old Princeton theologians described salvation. “Right reason” for the Old Princeton theologians did not mean perfect or flawless reasoning. Still less, did it mean morally neutral reasoning. That does not exist among humans, and the Old Princetonians did not teach or believe that it did. Instead, “right reason” for them meant “corrected” reasoning; reasoning that had been corrected or “righted” and would continue getting corrected (what Scripture calls “sanctification,” see John 17:17) so that the person would increasingly love and obey the truth.
Of course, all of what I have written is greatly mocked in many quarters throughout Western culture today, and even called into question by many who call themselves Christians. For well over a century, and to a lightening degree over the past 25 years, the term truth and the practicing of truth has been regarded as only about how the individual feels and thinks about what they are experiencing. The knowing subject, or the person is regarded as the sole authority for truth claims and truthful conduct. Truth is thought to be only subjective, person relative, or based on what someone likes. Many have a Facebook view of truth. In other words, there has been an assault on the biblical concept of truth. Sadly, this view of truth has been embraced by many people confessing to be Christians, many even pastors. Among the many results has been a lack of integrity among them, and within the congregations they pastor. Of course, all Christians are still sinners, who will in this lifetime have constant need to confess sin, repent of it, seek forgiveness, and strive to live more faithful to The Truth, that is, to Jesus, not simply one’s self.
We are currently awash in the United States with media outlets that routinely lie, and politicians who are skilled liars. But in a culture that substitutes human feelings and sincerity for truth, a lie gets redefined, and a sustained interest in holding people accountable for anything outside their own sincerity is seriously diminished. No wonder there is great distrust and cynicism that marks much of public life in America. Individual Christians and the Church corporately are to be different, and truly, those who are of The Truth will stand out as different in a culture of lies where many have shown themselves to be untrustworthy.