The Elimination of Crime and Injustice
1. How does this world make it difficult to live according to what is right?
IS IT not true that, however good you try to be, you are surrounded by conditions that make it hard for you? In the business world, with its fight for economic survival, there is pressure to cheat in order to meet competition. In everyday life we observe immorality, drug abuse, bad language, hatred and the spirit of revenge. And these practices, to a large degree, are made to seem normal and right by the entertainment world and the propaganda channels.
2. Do people recognize the effect that a bad environment has?
2 Nevertheless, many people realize the strong effect that bad environment has and often they move from one neighborhood to another hoping to find better conditions, particularly for the benefit of their children. They know that a bad environment can put a strain on the good principles that they have taught their children.
3, 4. (a) How did ancient Israel’s environment affect them? (b) What has been the chief factor in producing bad environment?
3 Even with ancient Israel under the Mosaic law, as good as it was, the environment was not always favorable to faithful worship of God. Israel was surrounded by idol-worshiping nations. (Deuteronomy 13:6, 7, 12, 13) The Israelites were sinners, as were all mankind. And while the Law helped to keep many of them firm in the true worship of God, the majority proved disobedient. (2 Chronicles 36:15, 16) They gave in to their environment. Furthermore, Satan the Devil has been a strong influence during the centuries since the first man’s downfall, hindering the people from getting a knowledge of God. The apostle Paul wrote:
4 “If, now, the good news we declare is in fact veiled, it is veiled among those who are perishing, among whom the god of this system of things has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, that the illumination of the glorious good news about the Christ, who is the image of God, might not shine through.”—2 Corinthians 4:3, 4.
A CHANGED ENVIRONMENT
5, 6. What does God purpose to do about our present environment?
5 So it is evident that a changed environment would do much to help sinful humans to ‘make their minds over’ to obey the good principles of God. (Romans 12:2) God purposes to bring about just such an environment under the thousand-year reign of Jesus Christ.
6 First, the wicked system of things must pass away, being destroyed by God. (1 John 2:17) Then the Devil, “the god of this system of things,” must be bound so that he cannot influence mankind to rebel against Jehovah God. (Revelation 20:1, 2) He has done this by deceiving them and by playing on their imperfections to cause them to sin, which brings death.—Revelation 12:9; Hebrews 2:14, 15.
7-12. Describe the conditions to be brought about by Christ’s Kingdom rule.
7 The Psalms give us prophetic glimpses of the conditions that will prevail when Christ rules earth as King:
8 “In his days the righteous one will sprout, and the abundance of peace.” “There will come to be plenty of grain on the earth.” “Trueness itself will sprout out of the very earth, and righteousness itself will look down from the very heavens. Also, Jehovah, for his part, will give what is good, and our own land will give its yield.”—Psalms 72:7, 16; 85:11, 12.
9 And the prophet Isaiah wrote of Jesus Christ:
10 “The princely rule will come to be upon his shoulder. And his name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. To the abundance of the princely rule and to peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and upon his kingdom in order to establish it firmly and to sustain it by means of justice and by means of righteousness, from now on and to time indefinite. The very zeal of Jehovah of armies will do this.”—Isaiah 9:6, 7.
11 Illustrating the helpful environment that the new system of things will bring, Isaiah says:
12 “The path of the righteous one is uprightness. You being upright, you will smooth out the very course of a righteous one. Yes, for the path of your judgments, O Jehovah, we have hoped in you . . . When there are judgments from you for the earth, righteousness is what the inhabitants of the productive land will certainly learn.”—Isaiah 26:7-9.
13. Will it be easier for the resurrected people to learn the truth about God than it was in their previous life? Why?
13 With Jehovah’s judgments being declared and enforced in all the earth, the “great crowd” who survive the destruction of the present system of things into that new system will be able to teach the resurrected ones without hindrance from wicked opposers of God and of Christ. (Revelation 7:9, 10, 14-16) With justice and peace prevailing, how much clearer the truth will stand out. How much more readily those listeners can obey and “smooth out” their course of life!
14. How has this system of things accentuated the bad tendencies we have inherited from imperfect parents?
14 In our present time, men commit acts of criminality, and some become what we call ‘hardened criminals.’ All persons have weaknesses toward sin, in one direction or another. (Romans 6:19) All received these weaknesses through genetic inheritance. (Psalm 51:5) A person may have a tendency, for example, toward an uncontrolled temper and violence. Some are more aggressive than others, inclining to ‘take the law into their own hands’ when they feel that an injustice has been done. Others are more easily ensnared by immorality, overuse of alcohol, and so forth. But relatively few of these persons would ordinarily do criminal acts. It takes bad environment as a ‘culture medium’ in which bad tendencies are fed and encouraged, along with a circumstance that will “trigger” or give opportunity or incentive for the lawless action.—1 Corinthians 15:33.
15. (a) How will the environment under Christ’s kingdom build up good traits? (b) What will have to be done by the individual in order for him to be rehabilitated?
15 But when this wicked world is eliminated and Satan is bound so that he cannot interfere, mankind can then be gradually rehabilitated. People’s good tendencies will be fed and encouraged by the good environment; the bad traits will be discouraged. Bad desires and acts will be ‘out of place’ and viewed as something to be put aside. However, it will require effort on a person’s part to ‘put away anger, badness and abusive speech’ and to ‘clothe himself with the new personality, which through accurate knowledge is being made new according to the image of the One who created it.’ (Colossians 3:8-10) One must have a strong desire to change, for God wants willingly obedient subjects. (Psalm 81:11-13) Under the administration of Christ and his associate kings and priests the person making the changes will be helped in every way possible, not hindered in his efforts.—Revelation 7:17.
THOSE WHO WILL FAIL TO GET LIFE
16, 17. (a) Who will fail to get everlasting life in the new system of things? (b) When Jesus was on earth, how were the religious leaders putting themselves in great danger?
16 Only persons who commit ‘blasphemy against the holy spirit’ will die in that new system of things. (Matthew 12:31, 32) This sin is a deliberate, willful, rebellious, blasphemous action against God. How, then, is it ‘against the holy spirit’?
17 To illustrate, consider the Pharisees. They brought themselves into great danger of committing this sin, and some of them evidently did. They might have disbelieved in Jesus’ Messiahship simply through lack of faith, as was the case with Saul, who later became the apostle Paul. (1 Timothy 1:12, 13) But when Jesus spoke about unforgivable sin, the Pharisees had just witnessed the powerful words and works of Jesus as the result of God’s spirit upon him. When they saw and knew that God’s spirit was working through Jesus, they were actually guilty of blasphemy against the holy spirit. How? They deliberately attributed Jesus’ works to the power of the demons. The Pharisees had a wholly selfish purpose in mind. They wanted to mislead the people so they could hold their position of dominance.—Matthew 12:22-30.
18. Could a Christian lose out on eternal life?
18 This could be the case with some who become Christians and then deliberately turn from God’s pure worship. Hebrews 10:26, 27 states that “if we practice sin willfully after having received the accurate knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice for sins left, but there is a certain fearful expectation of judgment.”—Compare Hebrews 6:4-6.
19. (a) What is a ‘sin that incurs death’? (b) How should a true Christian view a person who is apparently committing that kind of sin? (c) Can a Christian judge that a person has committed the unforgivable sin? Explain.
19 The apostle John also refers to a “sin that does incur death” as contrasted with one that does not. (1 John 5:16, 17; compare Numbers 15:30.) A true Christian will have no association with a person professing to be a Christian who, from the evidence he sees, seems to be blaspheming God’s spirit, apparently sinning deliberately and without signs of repentance. (2 John 9-11) The Christian will not pray in such a person’s behalf. However, he cannot read an individual’s heart, and cannot judge that a person has actually committed the unforgivable sin. He cannot know for sure that the individual will not repent later on. He recognizes that Christ acts as Judge for God, and he can search the “kidneys” (the innermost emotions and thoughts), and the “heart” (the primary seat of motivation), and Christ can determine whether one has committed blasphemy against the holy spirit.—Revelation 2:23; John 5:22, 30.
20. How will irreformable, unrepentant sinners be dealt with during Christ’s thousand-year reign?
20 Such incorrigible, irreformable persons will be put to death during Christ’s thousand-year reign. Their execution as being permanent is represented in the Scriptures by their being hurled into the symbolic “lake of fire,” which is the “second death,” as distinguished from the death inherited from Adam. (Revelation 20:14, 15) Consequently, disturbers of the peace of that new system of things will not be allowed to remain to cause trouble.
A BETTER LIFE EVEN NOW
21, 22. (a) Does one need to wait until Christ’s thousand-year reign to live a better, happier life? (b) Discuss the apostle Paul’s words on this matter at 1 Timothy 4:8.
21 But, to those now reading this book we say, as the apostle said to some who were seeking to become mature servants of God: “However, in your case, beloved ones, we are convinced of better things and things accompanied with salvation.” (Hebrews 6:9) We do not have to wait until Christ’s thousand-year reign to get a good start in serving God. We can and should do that now.
22 The apostle further said: “Godly devotion is beneficial for all things, as it holds promise of the life now and that which is to come.” (1 Timothy 4:8) We can be free from many entanglements of the world; we can have peace of mind and a purpose in life. We can enjoy life, along with better relations with our family and our fellowmen. But more than that, we can look with anticipation to possible survival through the coming “great tribulation” without dying and with certainty of life in full measure in God’s new system of things.
23, 24. (a) Having seen what God’s Word says, should we wait or search somewhere else for the truth? (b) Do we need to look for another Messiah, or for some great man to stand up for our deliverance? (c) What, then, is the right thing to do?
23 We are in a position similar to that of the nation of Israel when about to enter the Promised Land. Moses told them: “This commandment that I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it far away. It is not in the heavens, so as to result in saying, ‘Who will ascend for us into the heavens and get it for us, that he may let us hear it that we may do it?’ Neither is it on the other side of the sea, so as to result in saying, ‘Who will pass over for us to the other side of the sea and get it for us, that he may let us hear it that we may do it?’ For the word is very near you, in your own mouth and in your own heart, that you may do it.”—Deuteronomy 30:11-14.
24 It is not really difficult for you to know what God requires of you and to do it. Jesus Christ will help you if you exercise faith and act on this faith. (Matthew 11:28-30) You do not have to have someone go to heaven to get the message needed. Jesus Christ has done so and we have his commandments in the Bible. You do not have to travel to some distant land—“on the other side of the sea”—to get wisdom or philosophy from men there. You do not have to get a higher education, nor search into every religion, present and past, to find the truth. You have read about God’s purpose in the Bible. It is in your own mouth and heart. It is “this good news of the kingdom.” (Matthew 24:14) As Christ’s apostle said: “If you publicly declare that ‘word in your own mouth,’ that Jesus is Lord, and exercise faith in your heart that God raised him up from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one exercises faith for righteousness, but with the mouth one makes public declaration for salvation.”—Romans 10:5-10.
25. Is God requiring something great from us, or what does he require?
25 So God requires no great and mighty acts from you, but he says: “He has told you, O earthling man, what is good. And what is Jehovah asking back from you but to exercise justice and to love kindness and to be modest in walking with your God?” (Micah 6:8) Is this not reasonable—really what everyone ought to do?
26, 27. What are some things we can do to get a head start now?
26 Therefore, you can get a head start now, eliminating injustice from your own life. To avoid being swerved from your course by bad environment, you will need to get away from close association with those who carry on bad things. Paul wrote to persons who were trying to serve God: “In my letter I wrote you to quit mixing in company with fornicators, not meaning entirely with the fornicators of this world or the greedy persons and extortioners or idolaters. Otherwise, you would actually have to get out of the world.” (1 Corinthians 5:9, 10) You may have friends and work associates who do wrong things, and of course you cannot completely get away from association with them. But you would not associate with them in wrongdoing, or constantly mix intimately in company with them. The company to seek is the good association of Christians, whom you observe doing right things. This will strengthen you.—Hebrews 13:7.
27 Having done these things, then stay firmly in this course. Trust in God and wait upon him to wipe out injustice, crime and unhappiness completely in his righteous new system of things.—Isaiah 32:1, 16-18.
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Bad environment contributes to crime
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Under the rulership of Jesus Christ, wholesome environment will encourage good conduct