The Fight to Do What Is Right
1. What two things must Christians fight against?
AS LONG AS Satan’s world exists, Christians must fight to keep free from its wicked influence. The apostle Paul wrote: “Put on the complete suit of armor from God that you may be able to stand firm against the [crafty acts] of the Devil.” (Ephesians 6:11-18) However, our fight is not only against Satan and his world; it is also against our own desires to do what is bad. The Bible says: “The inclination of the heart of man is bad from his youth up.”—Genesis 8:21; Romans 5:12.
2. (a) Why do we often have a strong desire to do wrong? (b) Why should we fight wrong desires?
2 Because of the sin inherited from the first man Adam, our hearts may crave to do what is bad. If we give in to that craving, we will not receive everlasting life in God’s new system. So we need to fight to do what is right. Even the apostle Paul had such a fight, as he explained: “When I wish to do what is right, what is bad is present with me.” (Romans 7:21-23) You, too, may find this fight a hard one. At times a powerful conflict may be going on within you. What will you then decide to do?
3. (a) What inner conflict do many persons have? (b) What Bible truth is demonstrated by the fact that many do wrong when they wish to do right?
3 You have come to know of God’s wonderful promises about living forever under perfect conditions on earth. You believe these promises, and you want these good things for yourself. So you know that it is in your lasting best interest to serve God. But in your heart you may desire things that you know are bad. At times you may have a strong desire to commit fornication, to steal, or to take part in other wrongdoing. Some persons studying this book may actually be engaging in such bad practices, though they know that these things are condemned by God. The fact that they do wrong when they wish to do right demonstrates the Bible truth: “The heart is more treacherous than anything else and is desperate.”—Jeremiah 17:9.
THE FIGHT CAN BE WON
4. (a) Whether the fight is won or lost depends upon whom? (b) What is required to win the fight to do what is right?
4 This does not mean, however, that a person has no control over his strong desires to do wrong. If you really want to, you can strengthen your heart so that it will lead you in a right way. But it is up to you to do this. (Psalm 26:1, 11) Nobody else can win the fight for you. So, first of all, continue to take in life-giving Bible knowledge. (John 17:3) Yet more is needed than simply getting that knowledge into your head. It must also sink into your heart. You must come to have a deep feeling about what you are learning so that you really want to act upon it.
5. How can you gain heart appreciation for God’s laws?
5 But how can you gain heart appreciation for God’s laws? You need to meditate, or think deeply, about them. For example, ask yourself: What difference does obeying God really make? Then look at the lives of people who have ignored his laws, such as the 19-year-old girl who wrote: “I have had a venereal disease three times. The last time it cost me my right to bear children because I had to have a hysterectomy.” It is truly sad to consider all the trouble that is caused when people disobey God’s laws. (2 Samuel 13:1-19) A woman who had committed fornication sadly said: “It’s just not worth the pain and emotional breakdown that comes with disobedience. I’m suffering for that now.”
6. (a) Why is pleasure that may come from doing what is bad not worth it? (b) What kind of life could Moses have enjoyed in Egypt?
6 Yet you will hear people say that fornication, as well as getting drunk and taking drugs, is fun. But the so-called fun is only temporary. Do not be misled into a course of action that will rob you of true and lasting happiness. Think of Moses who was raised as “the son of the daughter of Pharaoh.” He lived in the richness of the royal household there in ancient Egypt. However, the Bible says that, when he grew up, he chose “to be ill-treated with the people of God rather than to have the temporary enjoyment of sin.” (Hebrews 11:24, 25) So there must have been enjoyment or fun in the immoral, loose-living way of life that apparently existed among the Egyptian royal household. Why, then, did Moses turn away from all of it?
7. Why did Moses turn away from “the temporary enjoyment of sin” in the Egyptian royal household?
7 It is because Moses believed in Jehovah God. And he knew about something far better than any temporary enjoyment of sin that he might experience in the Egyptian royal household. The Bible says: “He looked intently toward the payment of the reward.” Moses meditated, or thought deeply, about the things that God had promised. He had faith in God’s purpose to create a righteous new system. His heart was touched by Jehovah’s great love and care for humankind. It was not simply that Moses had heard or read about Jehovah. The Bible says that “he continued steadfast as seeing the One who is invisible.” (Hebrews 11:26, 27) Jehovah was real to Moses, and so were his promises of everlasting life.
8. (a) To win in the fight to do right, what do we need? (b) What viewpoint, as expressed by a youth, would we be wise to have?
8 Is that true of you? Do you view Jehovah as a real Person, as a Father who loves you? When you read about his promises to provide everlasting life in Paradise on earth, do you picture yourself being there enjoying these blessings? (See pages 156 to 162.) To win the fight against the many pressures to do wrong, we need to have a close relationship with Jehovah. And we need to look, as Moses did, “intently toward the payment of the reward.” A 20-year-old youth, who was faced with the temptation to commit fornication, had Moses’ viewpoint. He said: “My hope for everlasting life was too valuable to lose for a few moments of immorality.” Is that not the right attitude to have?
LEARNING FROM THE MISTAKES OF OTHERS
9. In what way did King David fail in the fight to do what is right?
9 You can never let down your guard in this fight, as King David once did. He happened one day to be looking from his rooftop, and in the distance he saw beautiful Bath-sheba bathing herself. Rather than turn away before improper thoughts grew in his heart, he kept looking. His desire to have sexual relations with Bath-sheba became so strong that he had her brought to his palace. Later, since she had become pregnant, and he was unable to have their adultery covered up, he arranged to have her husband killed in battle.—2 Samuel 11:1-17.
10. (a) How was David punished for his sin? (b) What could have prevented David’s falling into adultery?
10 That indeed was a terrible sin. And David really suffered for it. Not only was he greatly distressed by what he had done, but Jehovah punished him with trouble in his household for the rest of his life. (Psalm 51:3, 4; 2 Samuel 12:10-12) David’s heart was more treacherous than he had realized; his wrong desires overpowered him. Afterward he said: “Look! With error I was brought forth with birth pains, and in sin my mother conceived me.” (Psalm 51:5) But the bad thing David did with Bath-sheba did not have to happen. His problem was that he kept looking; he did not avoid the situation that caused his sexual appetite to grow for another man’s wife.
11. (a) What should we learn from David’s experience? (b) What activities would you say can work up “sexual appetite”? (c) As one youth stated, what does the wise person avoid?
11 We should learn from David’s experience to be on guard against situations that excite improper sexual feelings. For example, what will happen if you read books and watch television programs and movies that put emphasis on sex? Sexual desires will likely be stimulated. So avoid activities and entertainment that work up “sexual appetite.” (Colossians 3:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5; Ephesians 5:3-5) Do not put yourself in a situation with another person that can lead to fornication. A 17-year-old wisely commented: “Anyone can say, ‘we know when to stop.’ True, a person may know when, but how many can do it? It is better to avoid the situation.”
12. What example of Joseph should we keep in mind?
12 If David had kept in mind the example of Joseph, he would never have committed that great sin against God. Down in Egypt, Joseph had been put in charge of the household of Potiphar. While Potiphar was away, his sex-mad wife would try to seduce the handsome Joseph, saying: “Lie down with me.” But Joseph refused. Then one day she grabbed him and tried to make him lie down with her. But Joseph broke free and fled. He kept his heart strong by thinking, not of satisfying his own sexual desires, but of what was right in God’s sight. “How could I commit this great badness and actually sin against God?” he asked.—Genesis 39:7-12.
HELP THAT YOU NEED TO WIN
13, 14. (a) What is needed to win this fight? (b) What change did those who became Christians in Corinth make, and with what help? (c) What kind of persons had Paul and Titus been?
13 To win this fight you must let Bible knowledge sink down into your heart so that you are moved to act upon it. But you also need to associate with God’s people, to become a part of Jehovah’s visible organization. With its help, no matter how deeply you may have been involved in wrongdoing, you can change. Concerning persons in ancient Corinth who changed, the apostle Paul wrote: “Do not be misled. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men kept for unnatural purposes, nor men who lie with men, nor thieves, nor greedy persons, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit God’s kingdom. And yet that is what some of you were. But you have been washed clean.”—1 Corinthians 6:9-11.
14 Think of that! Some of those early Christians had formerly been fornicators, adulterers, homosexuals, thieves and drunkards. But with help from the Christian organization they changed. The apostle Paul himself had once practiced bad things. (1 Timothy 1:15) To his fellow Christian, Titus, he wrote: “For even we were once senseless, disobedient, being misled, being slaves to various desires and pleasures.”—Titus 3:3.
15. (a) What shows that it was not easy for Paul to do what is right? (b) How can we benefit from Paul’s example?
15 When Paul became a Christian, was it then easy for him to do what is right? No. Paul had a lifelong battle against the wrong desires and pleasures to which he had once been a slave. He wrote: “I [beat] my body and lead it as a slave, that, after I have preached to others, I myself should not become disapproved somehow.” (1 Corinthians 9:27) Paul ‘got tough’ with himself. He would force himself to do what is right, even when his body desired to do wrong. And if you do as he did, you also can win this fight.
16. What modern-day examples can help us to win the fight to do right?
16 If you are finding it hard to overcome some bad habit, attend the next large assembly of Jehovah’s Witnesses. You will no doubt be impressed by the clean conduct and the joy of those present. Yet many of these persons were once part of this world in which fornication, adultery, drunkenness, homosexuality, smoking, drug addiction, theft, fraud, lying and gambling are so very common. Many of them once practiced these things. (1 Peter 4:3, 4) Also, as you associate with Jehovah’s Witnesses at smaller congregation meetings, which should be done without delay, you will be among persons who have fought to overcome the same bad practices and desires that you may now be fighting against. So take courage! They are winning the fight to do what is right. So can you with God’s help.
17. (a) What association is necessary if we are to win the fight? (b) From whom can you receive help with problems?
17 If you have been studying the Bible for some time now with Jehovah’s Witnesses, you no doubt have attended meetings at the Kingdom Hall. Make such meeting attendance a regular habit. All of us need the spiritual encouragement received from such Christian association. (Hebrews 10:24, 25) Get to know the “older men,” or elders, of the congregation. Their responsibility is to “shepherd the flock of God.” (1 Peter 5:1-3; Acts 20:28) So do not hesitate to go to them if you need help to overcome some habit that is contrary to God’s laws. You will find them to be loving, kind and considerate.—1 Thessalonians 2:7, 8.
18. What future prospect provides strength to carry on in the fight?
18 The pressure to do wrong is on us, not only from Satan’s world but from within our sinful selves. So to be faithful to God is a daily fight. But how good that the fight will not continue forever! Soon Satan will be removed and his entire wicked world will be destroyed. Then, in God’s new system near at hand, there will be righteous conditions that will make our course much easier. Eventually all traces of sin will be gone, and no longer will there be this hard fight to do what is right.
19. Why should you be willing to put forth any effort to please Jehovah?
19 Think regularly about the blessings of that new system. Yes, put on “as a helmet the hope of salvation.” (1 Thessalonians 5:8) May your attitude be that of the young woman who said: “I think of everything that Jehovah has done for me and promised me. He hasn’t given up on me. He has blessed me in so many ways. I know he wants only the best for me, and I want to please him. Eternal life is worth any effort.” If we faithfully pursue righteousness, ‘all the good promises that Jehovah has made’ toward those who love him will come true.—Joshua 21:45.
[Picture on page 219]
Since there was enjoyment in the life-style of ancient Egypt, why did Moses reject it?
[Pictures on page 220, 221]
David kept looking; he did not avoid the situation that led to immorality
[Picture on page 222]
Joseph fled from the immoral advances of Potiphar’s wife