They Believe What They Want To
WHY do people believe as they do? Because there are sound reasons for it? Do we not often observe that people believe what they want to believe? Perhaps they believe something because it is popular. This is often true with regard to belief in God, what the purpose of life is and what the future holds.
In past history no one had a better basis for believing what was true than the Israelites. They received their laws directly from Jehovah God, the Creator of all things. Through his laws and his dealings with them they should have believed in him. They should have obeyed him and sought his approval. But what did they come to believe?
In spite of receiving clear warnings from their God as to the disastrous consequences of idol worship and immorality, they began to follow phallic worship and yet made it seem as if they were worshiping Jehovah. We read at 2 Chronicles 33:17: “Nevertheless, the people were still sacrificing upon the high places; only it was to Jehovah their God.” They were stealing, murdering, committing adultery, swearing falsely, walking after other gods and yet believing they would be delivered.—Jeremiah 7:8-11.
They believed what they wanted and made it seem as though they were worshiping Jehovah, the true God. Since they had turned to their own thoughts, Jehovah could say through his prophet: “The thoughts of you people are not my thoughts, nor are my ways your ways.” (Isaiah 55:6-8) They glorified God with their lips but had removed their hearts from him. (Isaiah 29:13) And when Jehovah sent them warnings by his prophets, they replied: ‘You must not see, and you must not envision for us any straightforward things. Speak to us smooth things; envision deceptive things.’ (Isaiah 30:9-11) They would hear only what they wanted.
When Jesus came and preached to them, he said that their belief was in vain because of their tradition. (Matthew 15:7-9) The apostle Paul later wrote of the Jews that ‘they had a zeal for God but not according to accurate knowledge, and they sought to establish their own righteousness.’ (Romans 10:2, 3) Why? Because they wanted it that way.
Some Believed Jesus, Others Did Not
People heard Jesus preach the same message and perform the same powerful works, yet some believed and others did not. Why? After hearing the testimony of John the Baptizer and the words of Jesus, Andrew came to his brother, Simon, and could say: “We have found the Messiah.” Philip came to Nathanael and said: “We have found the one of whom Moses, in the Law, and the Prophets wrote, Jesus, the son of Joseph, from Nazareth.” (John 1:35-45) Why did these believe? Merely because they wanted to? They believed because of what they had seen and heard, in accord with what had been prophesied in the Scriptures.
When the Samaritans heard the words of Jesus, they said to the woman who first spoke about him: “We do not believe any longer on account of your talk; for we have heard for ourselves and we know that this man is for a certainty the savior of the world.” (John 4:39-42) Many who saw Jesus resurrect Lazarus from the dead believed in Him. Others who saw the same miracle went and reported the matter to the Pharisees. Did these believe? No, they schemed to put Jesus and also Lazarus to death, so that people would not believe. (John 11:45, 46, 53; 12:10, 11) These did not want to believe in Jesus. They chose not to. Why?
Why They Did Not Believe
There were several reasons. The religious leaders were afraid that the Romans would “come and take away both our place and our nation.” (John 11:48) Jesus had previously told them that they did not believe because they preferred to accept glory and honor from one another. (John 5:44) And to officers who were impressed with Jesus, the religious leaders said: “Not one of the rulers or of the Pharisees has put faith in him, has he? But this crowd that does not know the Law are accursed people.” (John 7:46-49) So they had their reasons.
The same thing occurred with many who later fell away from the true Christian belief. The apostle Paul wrote that there would come a time when men would not put up with healthful teaching, but in accord with their own desires, they would accumulate teachers for themselves to have their ears tickled; and they would turn away from the truth. (2 Timothy 4:3, 4) Peter wrote that some unsteady persons were twisting the Scriptures to their own destruction. (2 Peter 3:16) And he wrote also that in the last days many would not believe in the promised presence of the Lord, saying: “From the day our forefathers fell asleep in death, all things are continuing exactly as from creation’s beginning.” Why? Peter stated that “according to their wish” the fact would escape their notice that God had executed judgment upon a wicked world in the days of Noah. (2 Peter 3:3-7) Yes, they would believe according to their wish.
Sound Basis for Belief
But, is belief in God as Creator, that his kingdom will come and his will be done on earth as it is in heaven just a fantasy people want to believe in? Not at all. There is a basis for true belief. Regarding such belief, or faith, the apostle Paul wrote: “Faith is the assured expectation of things hoped for, the evident demonstration of realities though not beheld.” (Hebrews 11:1) Then he relates how many men and women did not merely believe what they wanted to, but believed what God revealed about himself and his purposes. Their belief required self-sacrifice and brought upon them the hatred of this world. The same is true today with those who believe in God’s purpose.
But does any religion that moves people to devotion and self-sacrifice show that it is from God? Or, could devotees of such a religion also be believing merely what they wanted? An outstanding example of a religious movement that has drawn large numbers of young people is Moon’s Unification Church. How has this Church been able to draw the dedicated service of so many young people in our time? Why is it so often spoken against? These questions will be considered in the following article: “Moon’s Unification Church—What Does It Believe?”