The Christian Walk Lesson 9: Walk Uprightly/Righteously/With Integrity

The Christian Walk Lesson 9: Walk Uprightly/Righteously/With Integrity

  1. Texts: Ps 15:2; 26:1, 11,84:11; Prov 2:7, 10:9; 14:2, 15:21; Isa 33:15; Mal 2:6
  2. Definitions
    1. The word “upright” literally means, “without blemish, perfect, complete, entire, sound, whole, healthy; unimpaired, innocent.”
    2. The word “righteous” refers to what is right, just, or normal.
    3. The word “integrity” describes completeness, fullness, innocence, or perfection.
    4. Each of these words requires a standard of measurement. The only way to evaluate whether something is upright or righteous is to measure it with reference to a standard. Rightness is the quality of a person or thing that reaches the standard. Unrighteousness fails to do so.
      1. The ultimate reference point or standard is the person of God himself. Everything is measured with reference to God’s person and nature. God sets the standard of what is right/upright. The character of God is the ultimate expression of integrity and righteousness. God is not righteous because he conforms to an external standard of righteousness; God sets the standard.
      2. The revelation of God as expressed in Scripture is a further reference point for judging the value of anything. Because God’s Word is a revelation of God’s person/character, it also sets the standard of what is right.
      3. Note, however, that Scripture contains the record of many people and things that are far from righteous/upright. The fact that the Bible records a certain event does not imply that what happened was right or that anyone should do the same (e.g., events in Judges). The record of such events is “right” in the sense that the records are accurate and true, but not in the sense that what happened was morally righteous. Further, the fact that God allows an event to occur does not imply that the event was righteous (e.g., Acts 2:23). God may use the wicked actions of evil men for his own purposes without becoming the author of sin or excusing the sin.
  3. Principles/applications
    1. To walk in righteousness, uprightness, and integrity must refer to living in a way that meets God’s intended standard. This kind of righteous lifestyle is consistent with both God’s character and God’s commands.
    2. Can any human genuinely claim to walk in righteousness and integrity? No. As Solomon asserts, “There is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not” (Ecc 7:20). Since all people are sinners, it is impossible for them to keep the absolute standard of God’s holy character and word. Sin by definition is failure to keep the law, and all humans fail to do so.
    3. Fortunately, God has made provision for humans to be sinners and still live in a way that is acceptable to God.
      1. In the OT, before the giving of the Mosaic Law, people could walk uprightly by living in obedience to the revelation they had and by making regular sacrifices to God to atone for their sins (e.g., Gen 8:20, 12:8; Job 1:5). God-fearing individuals did this as necessary.
      2. With the giving of the Law to Moses, God established many more stipulations for properly approaching him to receive atonement from sin. The sinner would bring a suitable sacrificial animal to a priest, who would slaughter the animal, burn parts or all of it, sprinkle the blood, and thus make atonement for the sinner.

a)                  Since no separation existed between religion and state under the Levitical sacrificial system, the sacrifice maintained one’s relationship within both the community and with God. This means that one could perform his sacrificial duties in a way that maintained his place in the community without actually dealing with his sin (cf. Isa 1:11-15).

b)                  However, when offered with genuine repentance and faith, the sacrificial system effectively atoned for the sin of the offerer and maintained his status within the community.

  1. The final sacrifice of Christ on the cross ended the OT sacrificial system and initiated a change in the way people could experience forgiveness of sin. Since Jesus was “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29), those who look to him for salvation receive complete forgiveness (John 3:14-15; 2 Cor 5:21). Christ is the “end of the law for righteousness” for believers (Rom 10:4). Righteousness now comes “by faith” (Rom 5:1) and not through the “works of the law” (Rom 3:28).
  2. Walking uprightly/righteously/with integrity means living in obedience and applying the means that God established to deal with sin when it occurs.

a)                  The goal is still holiness (1 Pet 1:15-16; 1 John 2:1). God is holy, and he calls believers to live holily. Every believer ought to strive to “walk worthy of the Lord” (Col 1:10; 1 Thes 2:12) by living “soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world” (Titus 2:12).

b)                  The standards for Christian behavior are found in the NT, not the OT. While the OT contains many valuable principles and examples, the church is currently God’s primary program on earth, and the NT is the guidebook for Christian living. Walking righteously/uprightly is a matter of obeying NT principles, i.e., living according to the standards that apply to us.

c)                  However, we must acknowledge that no matter how hard we strive to be pure and holy, we always fall short (cf. Rom 7:14f). As James admits, “we all stumble in many ways” (James 3:2).

d)                 The imputation of Christ’s righteousness to the believer’s account gives him a perfect/righteous standing before God (Rom 5:1; 2 Cor 5:21). Christ fulfilled the stipulations of the Law for us, and in our union with Christ, we are counted as righteous.

e)                  The fact that Christians are absolutely righteous in their standing or position before God does not reduce the necessity for Christian to live a righteous life. Walking righteously/uprightly describes one’s behavior, not his spiritual standing. A righteous status with God should result in righteous living (Col 2:6; Titus 2:11-14). A good tree (via regeneration) brings forth good fruit (sanctification). Failure to do so casts one’s faith into question (1 John 2:3-5).

f)                   Thus, a righteous/upright walk is one in which the believer is striving after holiness, living obediently, and dealing with his sin appropriately. Walking righteously does not imply sinless perfection but working out what God has already worked in (Phil 2:13).

  1. What is the proper NT means of dealing with sin?

a)                  Quit sinning; stop the sinful behavior. Christians must intentionally put off pre-conversion patterns (the “old man”) and put on godly post-conversion patterns (the “new man”) (Eph 4:22-24).

b)                  Confess your sin to God (Prov 28:13; 1 John 1:8-10).

(1)               The word “confess” means to admit, acknowledge, or agree with. The Greek word literally means “to say the same thing.” When you confess your sin, you admit to God that you have sinned, acknowledge that you are guilty and ask for forgiveness.

(2)               Note that the texts imply that believers still sin. In fact, if someone thinks he is sinless, he is deceiving himself and denying God’s word.

(3)               The fact that God forgives sin should not produce within us a presumptuous attitude regarding sin, as if we can freely sin because God always forgives anyway (cf. Rom 6:1). God’s grace should lead us to live holy, righteous lives (Titus 2:11-12), not encourage us to sin.

From the Westminster Confession: “God continues to forgive the sins of those that are justified; and, although they can never fall from the state of justification, yet they may, by their sins, fall under God’s fatherly displeasure, and not have the light of his countenance restored unto them, until they humble themselves, confess their sins, beg pardon, and renew their faith and repentance.”

c)                  Forsake your sin (Prov 28:13). “Renounce” or “forsake” means to leave behind or to turn your back on. After confessing your sin, you must determine not to sin in that way again. This doesn’t guarantee that you won’t, but this should be your attitude.

d)                 Make amends for your sin.

(1)               Your sin often affects others. Therefore, you must make things right with those touched by your sin. Don’t pretend the sin never happened. Ask others to forgive you if necessary.

(2)               Repair, replace, or repay for what you did. Make restitution.

e)                  Be sensitive about sin (Ps 19:12, 139:23-24).

(1)               Sin grieves God; it should grieve believing sinners, too. We should be asking God to show us our sin so we can confess it and forsake it.

(2)               Those who are sensitive to sin are concerned about sin in the lives of others. They don’t talk or joke about sinful behavior or enjoy it when others sin.

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