Integrity of the Heart

In Genesis 20 Abimelech the king of Gerar takes Sarah from Abraham for a wife, because Abraham said she was his sister. Sarah was close to 90 years old, yet I’m guessing she was still beautiful and desirable. Abimelech and his household suffered sterility (and perhaps illness) and was risking death because of it. God appears to him in a dream and tells him the cause. Abimelech replies that he had taken Sarah “in the integrity of my heart and the innocence of my hands.” He hadn’t “approached her” yet (a euphemism for sex). God said that was why Abimelech was getting a warning instead of getting toasted.

Abimelech was blameless in taking Sarah for a wife. There was no malice, no intent to harm. We might even say it was an “accident.” Yet he and all his household still got sick. He was under the death penalty in spite of his integrity. At his arraignment he pleaded his innocence, and rightly so. But if he kept Sarah as a wife then the Judge was still going to carry out the sentence. Ignorance was not an excuse.

Doing something wrong, even when we do it in the “integrity” of our heart, is still enough to get us the death penalty. We may not know something is wrong, but that doesn’t excuse guilt. A police officer won’t buy ignorance of the speed limit as a reason for speeding. We’ll get a ticket anyway. God won’t buy alleged ignorance of His Law either. We are responsible for knowing right and wrong, and for choosing right. This is one of the fruits of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Eating that fruit carried with it the responsibility for our actions regardless of integrity of the heart.

There are those who think that sinning is okay, because we have the cosmic eraser of Jesus to eliminate the consequences. Some go so far as to use lip service to some nebulous Jesus as cover for doing whatever they want – in the integrity of their heart. Just ask them. Instead of following specifics of God’s Word, they will say they “follow their heart.” Really? What’s in the heart if we ignore what God says yet claim to follow Him? Do you think Abimelech “had Jesus?” Was he perhaps exercising his “freedom in Christ?” He certainly was innocent of a crime (in this instance anyway) yet he was still experiencing the consequences as if he had. He would even die if he kept going.

Integrity of the heart is fine, if your heart has been “fleshasized” by God. If it isn’t, a person can have a wrong “integrity of the heart” because they act in accordance with a heart of stone. Integrity simply means “wholeness,” meaning consistent thoughts and actions. Stone heartedness with accompanying stone-type action is still integrity. A bad guy can have integrity within himself, since he does “bad” actions in tune with his “bad” heart. A good person has integrity because he does “good actions” in tune with his “good” heart. The only wholesome and healthy integrity, however, comes from a good person who has a heart in tune with God. Those in between, the ones who claim a good heart while ignoring God’s Word, are those God calls “lukewarm” and serve only to cause Jesus to yak (spew, throw up, or vomit; for those readers in other countries not familiar with American figures of speech).

“ ‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:15–20, ESV)

Shalom
Bruce

Temple Not Destroyed Part Two

You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? declares the LORD of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house. Therefore the heavens above you have withheld the dew, and the earth has withheld its produce. (Haggai 1:9–10, ESV)

 

One of the side effects of claiming that “the old Mosaic economy of sacred priests, sacred buildings, sacred rituals, and sacred objects has been forever destroyed by the cross of Jesus Christ” (as Frank Viola says in the book pagan Christianity) is that we ignore His house while “each of us busies himself with his own house.” We should be embarrassed that we have no Temple. We make money offerings at huge stadiums built for stupid sporting events having some slight benefit for the body but nothing for the soul. Mega-churches haul in millions of dollars and spend them on campuses and monuments to pride like huge meeting halls or TV ministries. Comfortable theater seating for thousands and huge TV’s for seeing the star or pastor are used for preaching a false gospel of freedom in Christ which then gives license to ignore God’s Word.

 

God’s house in the meantime is dust. We hide behind the claim of not knowing where to build, but we put no resources into finding the site. Many churches are “divesting” themselves of investment in Israel when we should be putting everything we’ve got there. Some cheesy pagan temple for a hateful and unjust moon god stops us in our tracks from tearing the unclean thing down and building God’s house. A temple will be built once again (according to Ezekiel) but shame on us that we put more effort into our own comfortable houses and none into His. Shame on us.

 

There were times when the Temple fell out of use. Other times it didn’t get a lot of respect, and was defiled by idols and idol worship. After a long while of this kind of treatment God’s glory finally departed according to Ezekiel. Yet standing or not, filled with idols or neglected God has never stopped trying to get people into His “house.”

 

The Temple is a picture of the heart of a nation as well as the heart of an individual. As the heart of the nation it reminds us of lost intimacy with Him and how quickly we forget or take for granted all that He is and has. Though the copy was destroyed the picture still stands as an example of heartless lip service and false belief that the mere presence of an object grants protection from lawlessness. As the heart of the individual the copy of God’s abode shows us the glorious possibilities if we embrace His presence and take Him into our hearts as we did (somewhat briefly) with the freshly completed building built by Solomon.

 

From the book Whole Bible Christianity chapter 5 What About the Temple?