There are some who have a romanticized view of the past who contend that men absent of integrity have only started sprouting up like mushrooms after a spring rain within the past few decades. The truth of the matter however, is that there have always been men lacking in integrity, or otherwise completely absent of integrity, and even men such as Apostle Paul had to contend with them from time to time.
Now when I speak of integrity, I do not speak of it in broad terms such as business dealings, or dealing with the world at large, but in the more focused arena of rightly handling and dividing the Word of God. Men who would pervert, or otherwise twist the word of God for personal gain have always existed, and Paul did his best to both disassociate himself from such men, and rebuke their conduct.
2 Corinthians 2:17, “For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ.”
Most theologians and learned men agree that the second epistle to the Corinthians was written some time during the latter end of 56 A.D. It had not been long since Jesus had walked among them, it had not been long since the death and resurrection of Christ, yet as Paul pens these words, he feels the need to point out that he along with Titus and the other man with whom he entrusted this epistle, were not as so many, peddling the word of God.
A handful of years had passed, yet already there were many who were peddling the word of God, many who adulterated and twisted it for gain. It is not a new phenomenon, but one that the word warns us will only grow in intensity. The Word speaks of a future time, when false teachers will abound and secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.
What the Word once spoke of in future tense has now become the present, and as the Word forewarned, many are following these destructive heresies, and because of these men who have brought them in, the way of truth is being blasphemed.
2 Peter 2:3, “By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.”
What we are seeing in this present age, is that men who call themselves preachers, pastors, and evangelists, are actively denying the divinity of Christ, and also exploiting the sheep of God’s house by promoting an envious eagerness to possess something. In short, these men are using greed, to manipulate the innocents of God’s house.
So the question that we must ask ourselves as individuals, is are we part of the many who are peddling the word of God, or part of the few who out of sincerity speak as from God, and in the sight of God in Christ?
When it comes to handling and rightly dividing the word of God, we must have absolute and unwavering integrity. We cannot choose to have integrity only when it suits us, we cannot choose to employ integrity only when it is profitable to us, but in perpetuity, regardless of the aftereffects we might be confronted with.
The written word of God has a single purpose on this earth, that of bringing the wayward man into the heavenly Father’s house, to remake him in the image and likeness of God after these were lost due to man’s fall. The written word of God reveals the Christ to us, the one by which man might be saved. In the Word we see the Son of God in all His glory, and all His humility. We behold Him as he pays the ultimate price for our redemption and as he ascends into heaven to take His rightful place.
John 20:30-31, “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”
A believer in possession of integrity will always bring Christ to the forefront, and present Him to those who are willing to hear. It is not difficult to identify those who are peddling the word, if you know what to look for. When someone speaks more about themselves, their possessions, their exploits or their recent acquisitions of high end items than they do about Jesus, chances are they are counted among the many that do nothing more than peddling the word of God for personal gain. When someone omits certain scriptural and fundamental truths for fear of offending or being deemed an extremist or a zealot, they are doing nothing more than peddling the word of God.
It would seem many today are struggling not to lift high the name of Christ, or to preach Jesus, but to distance themselves as far as humanly possible from certain affirmations that Jesus Himself made.
It was Jesus who said that He is the way, the truth and the life. It was Jesus who said that no man comes to the Father but by Him, but some are taking it upon themselves to question the veracity of Christ’s affirmations, or denying this truth altogether. Those who are questioning or outright denying these words of Jesus, are neither atheists nor worldly men, but the selfsame men that stand behind pulpits and call themselves the mouthpieces of God.
This is just one of many examples, one of many issues that need to be confronted and dealt with within the house of God. There is simplicity in integrity, but there is also power and conviction.
2 Corinthians 1:12, “For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you.”
In the life of every believer, the most steadfast and consistent watchman, second only to the Word of God, is the conscience that has been enlightened by the Holy Spirit. When our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world by the grace of God, in simplicity and godly sincerity, it gives us boldness and courage in our confession. It is also when we walk in simplicity and godly sincerity that we learn not to trust in our own wisdom, our own intellect or our own abilities. We learn that earthly wisdom can do nothing when it comes to reaching the hearts of men, and drawing them toward truth and light. We lean on the wisdom of God, we trust in the power of God, and we walk in the grace of God. When we speak with sincerity, as from God, and in His sight, we have the unshakable trust that God will be faithful in watering the seed that is planted by the simple words we utter, and the good news of the gospel that we present.
Walk in integrity, and you will walk in wisdom. Walk in integrity and you will walk in victory. Walk in integrity, and you will walk in the knowledge that God will fight on your behalf, and touch the hearts of those with which you share. Yes, there are many who peddle the word of God, but there are still those faithful few who will not compromise the truth, who will stand on the word of God, and who will boldly proclaim the name of Christ. Pray for such individuals, and aspire to be such individuals. As an old adage so aptly puts it the greater the darkness the greater the need for light; and the greater the deception, the greater the need for truth.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.