Making the Mind Over for New World Living
“And quit being fashioned after this system of things, but be transformed by making your mind over.—Rom. 12:2, NW.
1. How is Jehovah shown ahead of all modern thought in this world?
JEHOVAH God is away ahead of all modern thought in this world. Modern man is first catching up with the marvelous powers and faculties with which Jehovah endowed lower animal creations and insects, such as flight by birds, jet propulsion by sea animals, wireless telegraphy from insect antennae, blind flying by the radar equipment of bats, heatless internal lighting by certain insects and fishes, and other marvels. But Jehovah’s irreducible lead in thought over man is shown, not only in His living earthly creation, but also in his written Word, the Holy Bible. Modern thinkers of the world may disdain the Bible as an old-fashioned book, not suitable or equal to this day of scientific advancement. But just the same it is science and modern thought that are producing further difficulties for man with no solution by man, whereas the Bible is meeting up with no disproof but is being fulfilled as truth. Although it is over eighteen centuries since the last of the Bible’s sixty-six books was written, yet it tells us reliably of things yet a thousand years in advance of our day. What it describes for mankind at that distant time is an earth everywhere transformed into a paradise, with all men and women living on it lifted up to human perfection in body and mind, with all persons dead in the graves rescued from the terrible enemy death, and with the last effort of the foes of universal peace put down by their absolute destruction and with endless peace, health and happiness stretching ahead for loyal mankind under the blessing of Jehovah and his Christ.
2. From the time standpoint, how is predicting not hard for him?
2 To predict thus a thousand years in advance is nothing for Jehovah God. To him a thousand years are but as one day, and his purpose never fails. The critical shaping of affairs today was foretold by him nearly six thousand years ago. Certainly his mind outstrips all modern thought of men who today are at their wits’ end.—Ps. 107:27.
3. Why is everything men reason out and attempt failing?
3 Men of this world are gifted with that faculty of consciousness which we call “mind”. Evidently they are not using their minds rightly. That must be why nothing they reason out and attempt is succeeding, but everything is breaking down, leaving them wondering, confused and nonplused. The whole system of things which worldly men are trying to bring into line with modern thought is fashioned according to wrong thinking, and the longer the system goes, the farther it angles away from the absolute truth.
4. Why must this present worldly system fail, in view of whose success?
4 That is a sweeping statement. Nevertheless it is correct, for this present worldly system is not according to God’s mind. That is why the system must go, and that shortly. It is now on its way out! Almighty God will have all things in the universe according to his way of advanced thinking. To short-sighted, low-minded man he says: “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith Jehovah. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain cometh down and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, and giveth seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” (Isa. 55:8-11, AS) It is high time to find out Jehovah’s thoughts.
5. Why “quit being fashioned after this system of things”?
5 Today we can appreciate more than ever the goodness of Paul’s advice to the Christians at Rome: “Quit being fashioned after this system of things, but be transformed by making your mind over, that you may prove to yourselves the good and acceptable and complete will of God.” (Rom. 12:2, NW) If to prove to ourselves God’s will we have to have our minds made over, it is evident that this system of things is not according to God’s will. Hence we have to quit being fashioned after this system, in order to prove to ourselves what is God’s good, acceptable and complete will. This system of things may pride itself on being much farther advanced than the ancient world which ended in the flood of Noah’s day forty-three centuries ago. Nonetheless it is exactly like it in the same respects for which the Flood came and swept it all away. It may even be worse in these respects, because it is older, that antediluvian world running for only about 1,656 years, whereas this present system of things is 4,319 years old now.
6. Despite modern advancements, what likeness is there between this present system of things and the pre-Flood world?
6 What, then, is the likeness between the two? This: the continual bent of mind toward evil, a continual bent of thinking contrary to the will of the Creator, Jehovah God. As the reason for deluging the ancient world with destruction we have this testimony from the Lord God himself. We read: “When the LORD saw that the wickedness of man on the earth was great, and that the whole bent of his thinking was never anything but evil, the LORD regretted that he had ever made man on the earth.” (Gen. 6:5, AT) And after the deluge was over and when Noah was offering his first sacrifice to God on the cleansed earth, God indicated that mankind would fall again to that low mental state. He said: “Never again will I curse the ground, though the bent of man’s mind is indeed towards evil from his youth; never again will I destroy every living creature as I have done.” (Gen. 8:21, Mo) Our comparison of our day and its system of things with the system of things before the Flood is not overdrawn. Jesus compared the two periods of time, saying: “Just as the days of Noah were, so the presence of the Son of man will be.”—Matt. 24:37, NW.
7-9. With what description did Paul precede his admonition against being fashioned after this system of things? and is his description fitting for our day?
7 Before instructing us not to be fashioned after this system of things, the apostle Paul described the low mental, moral and spiritual state in which it was in his day. Since Paul’s day it has had over eighteen centuries to grow worse. As we read his words, let us honestly consider whether this system of things is any better today than back there:
8 “Although asserting they were wise, they became foolish and turned the glory of the incorruptible God into something like the image of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed creatures and creeping things. Therefore God in keeping with the desires of their hearts gave them up to uncleanness, that their bodies might be dishonored among them, even those who exchanged the truth of God for the lie and venerated and rendered sacred service to the creation rather than the One who created, who is blessed forever. Amen.
9 “That is why God gave them up to disgraceful sexual appetites, for both their females changed the natural use of themselves into one contrary to nature, and likewise even the males left the natural use of the female and became violently inflamed in their lust toward one another, males with males, working what is obscene and receiving in themselves the full recompense which was due for their error. And just as they did not approve of holding God in accurate knowledge, God gave them up to a disapproved mental state, to do the things not fitting, filled as they were with all unrighteousness, wickedness, covetousness, injuriousness, being full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malicious disposition, being whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, insolent, haughty, self-assuming, inventors of injurious things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, false to agreements, having no natural affection, merciless. Although these know full well the righteous decree of God, that those practicing such things are deserving of death, they not only keep on doing them but also approve those practicing them.”—Rom. 1:22-32, NW.
MAN’S MENTAL BENT
10. How did man’s mind become bent toward evil?
10 When God created the first man Adam and put him in the paradise of Eden, he did not make the bent of man’s mind originally toward evil. Mankind’s inclination toward evil mentally is because of being born from Adam after he had inclined away from God’s will and toward evil. We inherited that leaning from him. And Satan the Devil, who is the “god of this system of things”, has bent down ever harder on men to make them lean farther away from God. Today, in this “time of the end”, he is exerting greater pressure than ever to put men where they cannot straighten up again.
11. What is the mind? and who understands it perfectly?
11 The mind is that part of our make-up from which thought originates. It is that faculty of our consciousness with which we gather information and then reason and reach certain conclusions. It operates according to a certain law or rule of action, so that, if the mind is turned to evil, it follows that rule of operation in the evil direction and moves farther and farther into it. The inclination of the bent of mind grows greater, especially with the pressure from the wicked “god of this system of things”, and so there is an advance from bad to worse. God, who endowed man with mind, knows how the mind operates better than the best college psychologist or psychoanalyst of today. God instantly detects the bent of man’s mind and he knows what it will lead to. That is why he gives warning to us against the consequences that are sure to follow.
12. What advance testimony proves Jehovah’s foreknowledge of what the bent of mankind’s mind leads to?
12 For forty years the Israelites were away from contact with idolatrous Egypt, and now they stood with just the Jordan river between them and the Promised Land. At this point Jehovah God ordered Moses to compose a song of testimony against them for their future reference, to show that he foreknew what their mental disposition would lead them to at last and that he had forewarned them. “For,” said he, “I know their imagination which they frame this day, before I have brought them into the land which I sware.” (Deut. 31:21, AS) Or, more modernly translated: “I know what their temperament will lead to, even now, before I bring them into the land, which I promised them on oath.” (AT) This testimony written in advance served to judge and condemn them when it was fulfilled. That is why God’s Word, which foretold thousands of years ago the present moral, mental and religious state of this world, stands as a condemnation of this world and shows that God was justified in declaring so long in advance that it would come to a disgraceful end. It proves that the great Creator knows far in advance what the bent of mankind’s mind will certainly lead to. His description of human conditions in these last days is accurate.—2 Tim. 3:1-13, NW.
13. Why are Christians commanded to transform themselves rather than change or convert this world?
13 Do you profess to be a Christian? Then you are under every obligation to heed Paul’s entreaty not to be fashioned after this system of things, or else prove yourself a hypocrite or an apostate. Suppose you are not a Christian and you find yourself naturally fashioned after this system. Then if you want to escape being destroyed with this system you must heed Paul’s entreaty without delay and quit being fashioned after it. Do not be misled by the foolish slogan that has been invented to tickle a self-conceited person’s vanity: “You can change the world!” Do not waste your time either with the similar slogan which says: “Change the world before it changes you.” Instead of following some man’s foolish philosophy, remember God’s wise instruction which tells you you cannot change this world. God knows the bent of mind of this system of things and he pronounces it doomed. All the prayers you might offer to him to convert Joseph Stalin, and Mao Tse-tung, and other dictators and political leaders of this world, will go unanswered and the world will get worse. You, with all your praying and moral philosophizing, cannot change this world. The Devil is the “god of this system of things” and has been cast down from heaven and is filled with great anger and is bringing woe on earth and sea. Can you change him? Of course you cannot. This world, which lies under his power, is unchangeable. It must and will be wiped out. (2 Cor. 4:4; Rev. 12:7-12, NW) The way for you not to be changed by this world is, not by religiously trying to change it, but by doing what the inspired apostle says: “Be transformed by making your mind over.” This you must do even while you are in the midst of this world and before it ends. You must do this before the world ends, or else you will end with it. So this course is your only safeguard.
14, 15. By what course would we never succeed in making our minds over?
14 How are you to bring about this transforming, this making of your mind over? You cannot do so by taking up a course in the psychology of this world, for such psychology is all conformed to this doomed world and it has no real mental remedy for you. Since the mind is that faculty of our consciousness with which we gather information and think, then for it to be made over we must gather information other than what this world has brought us up on, thus giving us a certain mental cast or structure. This world professes to be wise and brainy in this twentieth century, but it is built and operated according to ignorance. This has come largely through willfulness due to selfishness. By this we mean ignorance of God’s truth, his will and his purposes. Paul shows this when he gives us another entreaty not to be fashioned after this world and its nations, saying: “That you no longer go on walking just as the nations also walk in the unprofitableness of their minds, while they are in darkness mentally, and alienated from the life that belongs to God, [why?] because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the insensibility of their hearts. Having come to be past all moral sense, they gave themselves over to loose conduct to work uncleanness of every kind with greediness.”—Eph. 4:17-19, NW.
15 If we pattern our lives after this system of things and its nations, then, whether willfully or unknowingly, we are patterning ourselves after those who are in mental darkness and alienated from godly living because of the ignorance in them and because of their unfeeling hearts. Is that the kind of people we want to copy? If we do, then our minds will never be made over, for those people have a blinding veil over their eyes and are being misled by the Devil into destruction. As the apostle tells us: “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 Cor. 4:3, 4, NW.
16. Why do we need God’s Word to make our minds over?
16 What we want is to be transformed with a hope of endless life in happiness in the new world now so close at hand. In this behalf we need to fill our heads with information from the great Fountain of life, Jehovah God. We need knowledge to replace ignorance. We need light to replace darkness. And such knowledge and light we get by means of God’s Word, the Holy Bible. It is this Word which sanctifies us. That is, it separates us from this world and brings us close to God. This was why Jesus prayed for his followers and said: “Sanctify them by means of the truth; your word is truth.” (John 17:17, NW) The reason why God’s Word sanctifies you or sets you apart from this world is because it is different from what this world thinks, says, writes and teaches.
17. Whose spirit must we resist, and to the influence and workings of whose spirit must we open our hearts?
17 So tear away Satan’s blinding veil which he has put over our eyes by means of this world. With unprejudiced eyes and honest hearts come to God’s Book and earnestly and prayerfully study it to learn the enlightening truth. Rather than let this world overawe us with its big show of worldly wisdom and the boasted antiquity of its traditions, philosophies and institutions of education and learning; and rather than be influenced by its spirit, we should open our hearts to the influence and workings of God’s spirit, his illuminating active force. If we thus turn from this world to Jehovah God, the Source of light, then our minds will be set free from the bedarkening traditions and philosophies of worldly men. This freedom is what we are promised in these words: “When there is a turning to Jehovah, the veil is taken away. Now Jehovah is the spirit; and where the spirit of Jehovah is, there is freedom. And all of us, while we with unveiled faces reflect like mirrors the glory of Jehovah, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, exactly as done by Jehovah the spirit.”—2 Cor. 3:16-18,
18. Why cannot God’s spirit be left out of this matter of making us new?
18 We cannot leave out of consideration the power of God’s spirit in this matter of making us new, making us different from what we were when we were part of an ignorant world. The apostle again makes this point strong when he tells us of the change which was brought about in himself and in Titus. He says: “Even we were once senseless, disobedient, being misled, being slaves to various desires and pleasures, carrying on in maliciousness and envy, hateful, hating one another. However, when the kindness and the love for man on the part of our Savior, God, was manifested, owing to no activities in righteousness that we had performed, but according to his mercy he saved us through the bath that brought us to life and through the making of us new by holy spirit. This spirit he poured out richly upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior.” (Titus 3:3-6, NW) Telling how that same invisible active force from above worked through him in transforming others into Christians, the apostle points to them as a letter of recommendation of his good work and says: “You are shown to be a letter of Christ written by us as ministers, inscribed not with ink but with spirit of the living God, not on stone tablets, but on fleshly tablets, on hearts.” (2 Cor. 3:1-3, NW) It is this spirit that makes the information contained in God’s Word understandable to us, since it probes into all its sacred secrets and makes them plain to us. “For it is to us God has revealed them through his spirit, for the spirit searches into all things, even the deep things of God. Now we received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is from God, that we might know the things that have been kindly given us by God.” (1 Cor. 2:10, 12, NW) So we need God’s spirit.
19. Why must we get acquainted with God’s Word if we want his spirit to work in our lives?
19 But we cannot expect the spirit of God to work upon us automatically to change us mentally and bring about a transformation of our lives. We have to do something about it to show we really want to be different. From the sacred Record we see that God’s spirit does not operate apart from his Word. Hence if we want this spirit to work in our lives we must get acquainted with God’s Word. This is the only thing that gives us information and instruction different from what this world has to offer. It is only this Word that gives us a vision of the true God and of what his adorable qualities are and what he purposes to do to clear himself of all the false charges laid against him and to change living conditions for the lasting good of mankind. It was when we were in ignorance that we thought and acted like the rest of the world. We did not know any better and we were on the same low mental level as they were.
20. So to make our minds over we need what things working together?
20 So for the making of our minds over we need first of all God’s Word in all its fullness and power, unadulterated by the religious traditions and ignorant philosophies of men. We need to come to the Bible and be taught by God through its pages and with the assistance of his theocratic organization. As we come, we need to pray in David’s words: “Make me a clean heart, O God, and put a new, steadfast spirit in me; banish me not from thy presence, deprive me not of thy sacred spirit.” Then God will help us by his spirit and his organization to understand his Word.—Ps. 51:10, 11, Mo; AT.
AN ALIVE WORD
21. How is the Word of God alive?
21 With something new in our heads we can begin to alter our ways of thinking and our ways of life. With God’s Word in our heads and hearts we really have a new powerful influence at work within us. It is no dead Word that has lost its interest, its truth, its practicalness, its interpretation of the events of our day, and its protective power against the degradation of these immoral times. It has vitality, it carries conviction, it can show what is in us better than any psychologist of this world can. It is no dead letter; its judgment will surely be executed. Just as the apostle Paul warns us: “The word of God is alive and exerts power and is sharper than any two-edged sword and pierces even to the dividing of the soul and spirit, and of the joints and their marrow, and is able to discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”—Heb. 4:12, NW.
22. What change of personalities is now possible?
22 With that dynamic Word of God in us we have a new force actuating our minds to correct our thinking and our lives. If we no longer care to be fashioned after this detestable world, but want to be Christlike, real Christians, then we simply must have this new stimulus, which works in the right direction for our betterment, our transformation. To quote the apostle: “You should put away the old personality which conforms to your former course of conduct and which is being corrupted according to his deceptive desires; but . . . you should be made new in the force actuating your mind, and should put on the new personality which was created according to God’s will in true righteousness and loving-kindness.” (Eph. 4:22-24, NW) You have new knowledge, and this knowledge you got from God’s Word with the help of his spirit and his organization.
23, 24. What is this new personality going to be like? and how is it going to be renewed or made a new personality in actual fact?
23 What you will now be transformed into will be in accord with this knowledge, and so it will be a change into what God wants you to be. “Strip off,” says the apostle, “the old personality with its practices, and clothe yourselves with the new personality.” But what is this new personality going to be like? How is it going to be renewed or made a new personality in actual fact? Continuing, the apostle tells us: “The new personality which THROUGH ACCURATE KNOWLEDGE is being renewed according to the image of the one who created it, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, foreigner, Scythian, slave, freeman, but Christ is all things and in all.”—Col. 3:9-11, NW.
24 Your being made a new personality which stands out different from this world results from knowledge, accurate knowledge of the great Creator. His Word reveals him to you and shows you how he conducts himself, what he thinks, and what his principles or rules of action are. It is a glorious vision that you get of him by means of his illuminated Word. By looking at him through your accurate knowledge, you can be made new and become an image of him by reflecting what he is, imitating him in conduct and thought, expressing yourself like him, and meeting his requirements of you.
25. In what respect are we no longer worldlike, but godlike?
25 Thus you can be changed from one stage of glory of likeness to him to another stage, and his holy spirit will work in you in this behalf. You will no longer resemble inwardly a Greek-speaking Gentile or a Jew. You will no longer pride yourself on being circumcised or feel unclean because of not being circumcised. You will no longer be an out-of-place foreigner to the holy nation of spiritual Israel. No, but to them and among them you will be no longer a nomadic uncivilized, barbaric Scythian or an underprivileged slave or a special-privileged freeman. You may be these things outwardly in the flesh, but in your mind and in your personality you will be a Christian. It is this fact that enables Jehovah’s witnesses in their international assemblies and in their international organization to get along together in peace, harmony and brotherly affection. We no longer let national traditions, pride, rivalries, political differences and social standing twist our heads and divide us. In this respect we are no longer worldlike, but godlike, for God shows no partiality.