Becoming a Subject of God’s Government
1, 2. What is needed to become a subject of God’s government?
DO YOU WANT to live forever on earth under God’s government? Any person in his right mind would answer, Yes! Wonderful benefits will be enjoyed. But to receive them you cannot simply raise your hand and say: ‘I want to be a subject of God’s government.’ More is needed.
2 For example, suppose you wanted to become a citizen of another country. In order to do so, you would have to meet the requirements set by the rulers of that country’s government. But before you could do this, you would have to learn what these requirements are. In a similar way, you need to learn what God requires of those who want to become subjects of his government. And then you need to meet these requirements.
3. What is one requirement for becoming a subject of God’s government?
3 A very important requirement for becoming a subject of God’s government is the gaining of a knowledge of its “language.” Surely this is reasonable. Some human governments also require that new citizens be able to speak their country’s language. Well, then, what “language” must those learn who will receive life under God’s government?
4. What “pure language” must God’s people learn?
4 Notice what Jehovah says about this in his Word, the Bible: “For then I shall give to peoples the change to a pure language, in order for them all to call upon the name of Jehovah, in order to serve him shoulder to shoulder.” (Zephaniah 3:9) This “pure language” is the truth of God found in the Bible. In particular, it is the truth about God’s Kingdom government. So to become a subject of God’s government, you must learn this “language” by taking in knowledge of Jehovah and his Kingdom arrangement.—Colossians 1:9, 10; Proverbs 2:1-5.
5. (a) What should we know about God’s government? (b) What knowledge do we need in order to gain everlasting life?
5 Today some human governments require that those who receive citizenship know something about the history of their government, as well as facts regarding its operation. Likewise, you should know such things about God’s government if you are to become its subject. This knowledge can lead to eternal life. In prayer to his Father, Jesus said: “This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.”—John 17:3.
6. (a) What are some questions that subjects of God’s government should be able to answer? (b) Can you answer them?
6 If you have studied the previous chapters of this book, you should by now have taken in much of this all-important knowledge. Have you? Can you show that you have, by answering questions such as the following: When did God first mention his purpose for a Kingdom government? Who were some of God’s servants that looked forward to being its earthly subjects? How many rulers, or kings, will God’s government have? From where will these kings rule? Who were the first ones chosen to be kings in God’s government? How did Jesus prove that he would be a good king? Yet, to become a subject of God’s government, more is required than simply having knowledge regarding it.
RIGHTEOUS CONDUCT REQUIRED
7. As regards human governments, how do requirements for citizenship differ?
7 Governments today require that new citizens meet a certain standard of conduct. For example, they may say that a man can have only one wife and a woman only one husband. Yet some other governments have different laws. They permit their citizens to have more than one marriage mate. What conduct is expected of persons who want to become subjects of God’s government? What does God say is right regarding marriage?
8. (a) What is God’s standard for marriage? (b) What is adultery, and what does God say about it?
8 In the beginning Jehovah set the standard for marriage when he gave Adam only one wife. God said: “A man will leave his father and his mother and he must stick to his wife and they must become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:21-24) Jesus explained that this is the right standard for Christians. (Matthew 19:4-6) Since marriage mates have become “one flesh,” they dishonor the marriage if they have sex relations with someone else. This act is called adultery, and God says that he will punish adulterers.—Hebrews 13:4; Malachi 3:5.
9. (a) What is God’s view of persons having sexual relations when they are not married? (b) What is fornication?
9 On the other hand, many couples live together and have sexual relations, but they do not get married. However, God did not mean for this close relationship between a man and a woman to be on a trial basis. So to live together without getting married is a sin against God, who made the marriage arrangement. It is called fornication. Fornication is the having of sexual relations with any person to whom you are not married. And the Bible says: “This is what God wills, . . . that you abstain from fornication.” (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5) So, then, for a single person to have sexual relations with anyone is wrong.
10. What other sexual practices are against God’s laws?
10 Today many men and women perform sexual acts with persons of their own sex—men with men and women with women. Such persons are called homosexuals. Sometimes homosexual women are called Lesbians. But God’s Word says that what they do is wrong, that it is “obscene.” (Romans 1:26, 27) Also, it is against God’s law for a person to have sexual relations with an animal. (Leviticus 18:23) Anyone who wants to live under God’s government needs to keep away from these immoral practices.
11. (a) What is God’s view of the use of alcoholic drinks? (b) Those who want to be subjects of God’s government must keep away from what practices that are damaging to health?
11 The drinking of wine, beer or liquor in moderation is not against God’s law. In fact, the Bible shows that a little wine can be good for a person’s health. (Psalm 104:15; 1 Timothy 5:23) But it is against God’s law to get drunk, or to share in wild parties at which people carry on immoral conduct. (Ephesians 5:18; 1 Peter 4:3, 4) In addition to using alcoholic drinks to get drunk or “high,” many persons today use various drugs for this same purpose. Also, for pleasure they may smoke marijuana or tobacco, while others may chew betel nut or coca leaves. But these things make their bodies unclean and harm their health. So if you want to be a subject of God’s government, you must keep away from these harmful things.—2 Corinthians 7:1.
12. (a) What are some dishonest practices that are against God’s laws? (b) How can a person who engages in these practices gain God’s favor?
12 It is obvious that human governments do not want criminals as new citizens. And Jehovah has even higher standards. He requires that we “conduct ourselves honestly in all things.” (Hebrews 13:18) If persons do not keep God’s laws, they will not be permitted to live under his kingdom. Today people often pretend to be honest, but they break many laws. However, God can see all things. Nobody can fool him. (Hebrews 4:13; Proverbs 15:3; Galatians 6:7, 8) So Jehovah will make sure that persons who break his laws, such as those laws against lying and stealing, will not become subjects of his government. (Ephesians 4:25, 28; Revelation 21:8) Yet God is patient and forgiving. So if a wrongdoer stops his bad practices and turns to doing good, God will accept him.—Isaiah 55:7.
13. What view should God’s servants have toward the laws of human governments?
13 But what about keeping the laws of human governments? As long as the governments of men exist, God requires that his servants be in subjection to these “superior authorities.” Taxes should be paid to them, even though the taxes are high and a person may not agree with the way in which the tax money is spent. Also, the laws of the government should be obeyed. (Romans 13:1, 7; Titus 3:1) The only exception to this would be when obedience to the law would cause a person to disobey the law of God. In that case, as Peter and the other apostles said, “We must obey God as ruler rather than men.”—Acts 5:29.
14. How can we show that we share God’s view of the value of life?
14 God puts a high value on life. Those who want to become subjects of his government must understand this. Obviously, murder is against God’s law. But hatred often leads to murder, and even if someone continues to hate his fellowman he cannot be a subject of God’s government. (1 John 3:15) It is vital, therefore, to apply what is said in the Bible at Isaiah 2:4 about not taking up weapons to kill our neighbors. God’s Word shows that even the life of an unborn child in its mother’s womb is precious to Jehovah. (Exodus 21:22, 23; Psalm 127:3) And yet millions of abortions are performed each year. This destruction of life is against God’s law, because the human inside its mother is a living person and should not be destroyed.
15. What commands of God’s King must all Kingdom subjects obey?
15 Yet, of those who would become subjects of God’s government, more is required than merely not doing what is wrong or immoral. They must also make a real effort to do kind and unselfish things for others. They must live by the godly rule given by the King, Jesus Christ: “All things, therefore, that you want men to do to you, you also must likewise do to them.” (Matthew 7:12) Christ set the example in showing love for others. He even gave his life for humankind, and commanded his followers: “Love one another; just as I have loved you.” (John 13:34; 1 John 3:16) It is this kind of unselfish love and concern for others that will make living a real pleasure under the rule of God’s kingdom.—James 2:8.
16, 17. (a) What good reasons are there for making changes in our life in order to meet God’s requirements? (b) Why can we be sure that we can make any necessary changes?
16 The Bible shows that persons must make changes in their life in order to meet the requirements for becoming subjects of God’s government. (Ephesians 4:20-24) Are you working to make these changes? Surely it is worth any effort to do so! Why so? It will not mean that you will simply have a better life for a few years under some human government. No, but you will receive everlasting life in perfect health on a paradise earth under a government ruled by God!
17 Even now, by meeting God’s requirements, you will enjoy a happier life. But you may need to make changes. Well, many, many persons who were hateful or greedy have changed. Also, fornicators, adulterers, homosexuals, drunkards, murderers, thieves, drug addicts and users of tobacco have changed their way of life. They have done so by real effort and with God’s help. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Colossians 3:5-9) So if you have hard changes to make in order to meet God’s requirements, do not give up. You can do it!
LOYALTY TO GOD’S GOVERNMENT
18. In what special way does God expect us to show our loyal support for his kingdom?
18 That Jehovah God would require his subjects loyally to support his Kingdom government should not be surprising. Governments of men require the same thing from their citizens. But in what special way does God expect loyal support to be given? By his subjects taking up weapons to fight for his kingdom? No. Rather, like Jesus Christ and his early followers, they must be loyal spokesmen or proclaimers of God’s kingdom. (Matthew 4:17; 10:5-7; 24:14) It is Jehovah’s will that everyone may know what his kingdom is and how it will solve mankind’s problems. Have you shared things that you have learned from God’s Word with relatives, friends and others? It is God’s will that you do.—Romans 10:10; 1 Peter 3:15.
19. (a) Why can we expect opposition when we talk to others about God’s kingdom? (b) What questions must you answer?
19 Christ and his early followers needed courage to talk to others about the Kingdom, for often they met up with opposition. (Acts 5:41, 42) The same is true today. This Devil-ruled world does not want the good news of the Kingdom to be preached. So the questions are: Where do you stand? Will you give loyal support to God’s kingdom? His will is that a great Kingdom witness be given before the end comes. Will you have a share in giving it?
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Those who become subjects of God’s government must have knowledge about it
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Subjects of God’s government must avoid activities condemned by God
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Subjects of God’s government must tell others about it