Introduction: When I was growing up, one parent of a friend liked to
challenge my group of friends on whether we were saved. It was good
to be forced to think about eternal things and my relationship with
God. However, I also remember that same parent was not honest – he
suggested a way in which I might save money by cheating the
government. The contrast was stark – and I remember his lack of
integrity as clearly as I remember his gospel prod. How about you?
Is your life a mixed message? What does it mean to live a life of
integrity? Let’s jump into our study of the Bible and see what we
- The Right Example
- Read Titus 2:6-7. What is our obligation to those who are
younger? (To encourage them by setting a proper example.)
- Why do we have an obligation to them?
- Does this obligation extend only to those of us
who are teachers? (We all are teaching
something, whether we realize it or not.)
- I listened to a young atheist complain that when he
was out sharing his beliefs people would give him
the “evil eye.” The adult in the conversation
assured him that society was improving by becoming
more open to all views. Is an open, tolerant
attitude our personal goal? Or, are disapproving
looks part of setting an example? (The Bible tells
us to set an example by doing what is good. When
there are enough good people who live good lives, it
creates social pressure to do what is good. A
positive example is more compelling than a negative
- Read Titus 2:7-8. Who else, besides the youth, are
watching us? (Those who oppose us. Allies of Satan.)
- It may not come through in these lessons, but I
regularly use humor when I teach my class. When I
stand up to preach, the audience grins at me because
they know what is coming. If I’m saying something
funny, am I violating the Bible’s direction to be
“serious” in teaching? (The Hebrew word means
“weight” or “honesty.” If you look at the three
words in our verse – integrity, seriousness and
soundness – it paints a picture of high-level
teaching. Not lightweight. Not last minute. Not
second-rate. That does not exclude humor (I hope),
but too much humor may make it seem you are not
serious about the subject.)
- Have you ever walked out of a boring sermon or
lesson and immediately forgotten what was
preached or taught?
- Is part of being “serious” about teaching
taking steps to help people pay attention
and remember what was taught? (When I
preach, about a third of the time I’m
telling what I hope are humorous stories.
The reason is to retain attention and pin
my (serious) point in the memory of the
- From your own observations about teachers of the
gospel, how important is integrity? (Opponents of
the gospel love to point out the hypocrisy
(generally in the area of sexual sins) of Christian
leaders. You can think of several who fell. On the
other hand, Christian leaders like Billy Graham,
James Dobson, Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell stood
for decades in the spotlight without moral failure.)
- The Right Example
- Read Matthew 3:16-17. In the conflict between good and
evil, what has just happened to Jesus? (The conflict
begins in earnest. God has just said He is “well-pleased”
with His Son. Satan wants to trip-up Jesus. Satan wants
to ruin His example.)
- Read Matthew 4:1-3. Put yourself in Jesus’ place. Would
you take Satan’s suggestion?
- What issues are involved in Satan’s suggestion?
(Satan is challenging Jesus’ position and power as
the Son of God.)
- What would be wrong with turning stones to bread?
God just told Jesus He was the Son. Jesus is hungry.
Why not? (Satan is asking Jesus to prove that God is
right. Satan is asking Jesus to depend on His own
power, rather than trusting God.)
- Read Matthew 4:4. How does this answer Satan’s
- How did Jesus understand the temptation? (Jesus saw
this as an issue of trusting what God had just told
Him – that He was the Son of God.)
- When we think of being a good example to those around us
and to unbelievers, what kind of things do we have in
mind? (Obvious things. Not stealing, not lying, not
committing adultery, and not swearing.)
- Why are we studying such an obscure thing, trusting
God, in a lesson about being a proper example? (All
of the obvious things start out as an issue about
trusting God. People steal to support themselves,
people lie to avoid problems, people commit adultery
to satisfy pride, people swear to sound brave. Trust
and reliance in God is a cure for all of these
- Read Matthew 4:5-6. Would you be tempted to throw
yourself down from a high building?
- Does this show us that Satan is not very smart?
“Here, jump off this cliff.”(Satan is following up
on Jesus’ answer to the first temptation. Jesus said
He was going to trust God and trust the Scriptures.
Satan reacts by quoting the Bible and saying, “Let’s
see how much you trust God. Throw yourself down from
this high point.”)
- Read Matthew 4:7. How do you understand Jesus’ answer?
(Satan is taking Jesus from one extreme to the other.
Jesus’ answer shows that we are partners with God in
obedience. We should not put ourselves in dangerous
- Read Genesis 3:1-5. How is this like Jesus’ first
temptation? (It is a challenge over whether Eve will
depend upon herself (or worse, the serpent) or whether
she will trust God.)
- The Bible does not say this explicitly, but what has
allowed Eve to be confronted with this test? (She is
apparently standing by the forbidden tree! There is
just one tree in the entire garden that she should
avoid, and she is standing by it! Worse, she says
that it is wrong to even touch this tree so she
should know that standing close is a bad idea.)
- How does this compare to Jesus’ second temptation?
(She has put herself in harm’s way. Jesus refuses to
- In setting a good and honest example, how would you apply
the point we just discussed? (Part of our example is to
avoid being involved in activities which are obvious
tests of our faith. The best example is not that we were
tested and won, the best example is avoiding unnecessary
- How else do you think we can we test God? (Jesus’ answer
in Matthew 4:7 is a quotation from Deuteronomy 6:16.
Deuteronomy refers back to a story found in Exodus 17.)
- Read Exodus 17:1-3. How are the people testing God?
(By complaining about their circumstances and God’s
- How would you apply the point we just discussed in living
a life of integrity? (We need to avoid complaining about
God. We should set an example of gratitude towards God.)
- Read Matthew 4:8-9. What issue do you see here? (Isaiah
14:13-14 suggests that sin originated because Satan
wanted to be like God. Here, Satan asks Jesus to worship
him. Since worship should only be given to God, in this
way Satan would be “like God.”)
- Why would Satan think Jesus would fall for an
obvious temptation like this? (Satan offers Jesus a
“shortcut” for His mission on earth to win back the
world for God. Accepting Satan’s offer would avoid
the pain and suffering that lie ahead for Jesus.)
- Read Matthew 4:10. What answer does Jesus give to Satan?
(Only God must be worshiped. Jesus rejects the offered
- What lesson do we find in this for living a life of
integrity? (No shortcuts. The most impressive
example of a life devoted to God is serving Him when
it is not easy. When it costs us something.)
- Friend, your life creates an influence for either good or
evil. You either bring glory to God or glory to Satan.
Why not determine today to use your life to give glory
only to God?
- Next week: Optimism: Happiness and Healing.