In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word translated “integrity” means “the condition of being without blemish, completeness, perfection, sincerity, soundness, uprightness, wholeness.” Integrity in the New Testament means “honesty and adherence to a pattern of good works.”
Jesus is the perfect example of a man of integrity. After He was baptized, He went into the wilderness to fast for forty days and nights, during which time Satan came to Him at His weakest to try to break His integrity and corrupt Him. Jesus was wholly man and wholly God at the same time, and He was tempted in every way we are, yet He never sinned (Hebrews 4:15); that is the definition of integrity. Jesus is the only one who was ever without blemish, perfect, completely truthful, and always showing a pattern of good works.
Christians are called to be like Jesus. In Christ, we are new creations and can be considered without blemish before God (2 Corinthians 5:17, 21; Ephesians 1:4–8). In Christ, we also have the indwelling Holy Spirit at work in us, sanctifying us and making us more like Jesus (Romans 8:29; 2 Corinthians 3:18). We are also to strive to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Philippians 2:12–13). It is by God’s power that we become increasingly people of integrity. We are called to obey God and, in so doing, to be people of uncompromised morality and integrity. Christians should be those who adhere to the truth and who do good works.
“Integrity” in our world today implies moral incorruptibility. Christians should be those who cannot be bribed or compromised because we serve God rather than men (Colossians 3:17, 23; Acts 5:29). We are to be people who keep our word (Matthew 5:37; James 5:12). We are to love those around us in both word and deed (1 John 3:17–18; James 2:17–18; Ephesians 4:29). We are called upon to believe in God and therefore to follow Him in all our ways (John 6:19; 15:1–17). Our lives should line up with our belief in God and evince a trust that His ways are best (Proverbs 3:5–6).
Living with integrity in a world where the corrupt seem favored, not to mention our battle with our own sin nature, is challenging. First Peter 3:13–18 gives this encouragement: “Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. ‘Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.’ But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.” To live with integrity is to follow the example of Christ. And we can only live with true integrity by His power, which He graciously and freely gives to all who are His (John 16:33; Philippians 1:6; Ephesians 1:13–14).