Integrity Leads to Life
1. How was Jesus the greatest example of integrity?
HERE we come to the greatest example of all—the man who maintained his integrity to God under the most severe trials. God gave him a sacred trust and expected him to keep integrity in that trust. He had a work to do. He was to come to the earth to restore pure worship and to lay the foundation for the new world of righteousness. Jesus was an exemplary man, living a life of devotion to God, keeping his integrity, though tested by Satan far beyond what a man would normally endure. Always Jesus stuck to God’s Word and lived in accord with his laws. In time of temptation he quoted God’s Word, which was the most potent force for good in existence on earth. Though Satan, who controls all the nations of this world, offered Jesus the glory of them all, Jesus upheld the right side of the issue, saying: “Go away, Satan! For it is written, ‘It is Jehovah your God you must worship, and it is to him alone you must render sacred service.’”—Matt. 4:10, NW.
2. What did Jesus accomplish through his life of integrity on earth?
2 Jesus denounced false worshipers, those who introduced traditions of men and placed them above God’s Word. (Matt. 15:7-9) He taught men how to worship God and personally showed them how to maintain integrity. By him the superior law of love of God and neighbor was clearly set out, a righteous requirement for those who would gain life in the new world. Jesus trained his followers to be genuine ministers of God, men who would preach the truth of God’s Word. It would consume hours to relate all the things he did to the honor of Jehovah’s name, but you can read the gospel accounts at another time to learn them all. The trials that came upon him were many. Finally he was falsely accused of sedition and put to death in humility, but even in this he upheld God’s supremacy. For this God resurrected him and gave him immortality. He gained life by keeping his integrity. He provided the way for others of integrity to gain life, through his ransom sacrifice. It was in fact a defeat for the challenger, Satan. He had failed to disqualify the King of the new world.—John 19:12, 15; Phil. 2:5-11, NW.
3. How and why did the apostles follow the example of Jesus?
3 He was followed by others. The Christians who came after him, the apostles for example, also maintained their integrity. Jesus had shown them that they must follow in his footsteps and do as he did if they wanted to gain life, and so they held to the pure worship of God. They resisted all forms of immorality and kept their virtue. They stuck to God’s Word of truth. They spread the good news, building up the worship of God in purity. For this they suffered imprisonment, reproaches, beatings and martyrdom. It was not the easy way of life. Satan wanted to break down their integrity and destroy all worship of God; but these men endured blamelessly and provided for the carrying on of pure worship by leaving instructions that others could follow.—Acts 8:1, 4; 2 Tim. 4:2; 1 Pet. 4:3, 4.
4. What course of life did the other early Christians take?
4 The early Christians who followed after them were also tested in their integrity. But they endured in blamelessness. They went everywhere, telling of God’s supremacy, expanding the pure worship as God had commanded. In those days it was popular among the people of the Roman empire to worship Diana and Venus, sex worship. And there were the drunkards, the worshipers of Bacchus. Those of Rome were worshipers of him. Paul described conditions in Rome at Romans 1:24-31. Those conditions made it impossible for the early Christians to become involved in any kind of interfaith movement. There is only one pure worship, and they held to that pure worship because they had the highest form of worship there was, the worship of Jehovah God. Because they kept clean and gave their allegiance to Jehovah God they were persecuted severely.
5. (a) Under what conditions did the early Christians maintain integrity? (b) What was the real reason for their persecution?
5 In his Book of Martyrs, Dr. John Fox comments on why the persecution of the early Christians was so violent. He says the Romans were noted for not being persecutors of any people because of their religion; yet almost at the beginning of the promulgation of Christianity persecution began and was very merciless. He says, referring to Dr. Mosheim, that this was because of the attitude the Christians displayed. They would have no part of the religions of the empire, the worship of ancestors or the worship of the emperor. But they kept themselves clear of that and spoke out against the absurdities of the pagan worship, showing how the pure worship of Jehovah God was superior to that great conglomeration of worship that existed in the Roman Empire. Some emperors first thought to adopt Christianity as part of their closet religions—they had many—but then when they found out that Christianity stood by itself, was superior and would have no part with the other religions, they soon turned away from it and began persecution. Dr. Fox says this was why the persecution came about. But a close examination of the Bible shows that the persecution came because the god of this world, Satan, was trying to stamp out the pure worship of the Almighty God and those who were carrying on pure worship were his targets. All other forms of worship were tolerated. Satan used his agencies on earth, the rulers of that time, to try to break down the integrity of God’s servants in those days. But God’s servants could not compromise. Using their knowledge of the truth of God’s Word they upheld the supremacy of Jehovah God even to the death.
6. Why were true Christians who lived after the fall of the Roman Empire tested in integrity?
6 Down through the Middle Ages, yes, even to this twentieth century, people of righteousness and integrity who have sought to hold to the pure worship of God have suffered persecution and reproach. As the Romans scoffed at the early Christians because they adhered to Christ’s teachings and the Bible writings and did not have temples, images, sacrifices to idols, sacerdotal orders, and like pagan things, so from the time of the establishment of the Roman Catholic Church and down through the centuries the powerful religious leaders have persecuted true Christians for keeping close to the Bible and pure worship.
7. Why must persecution of Christians be expected in the twentieth century?
7 Now that we have come to the twentieth century, can we expect anything different? And can we expect people will be more civilized, as the expression goes, and that they will refrain from persecution and begin living better lives because of the enlightenment that has come into the world? Remember, we are still under Satan’s system of things. In fact, we should expect even worse things now. Why? Because that is what God’s Word says. We are approaching the climax called in the Bible ‘the battle of Armageddon’. Here the issue of supremacy will be settled. Revelation 12 tells that war began in heaven; and this prophecy is fulfilled from 1914 onward. There was foretold a time of woe for the earth and for the sea “because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger” (NW), knowing he has only a short period of time to live. This shows that God has limited the time of Satan’s existence, that he is not going to let Satan go on for an unlimited time and test the integrity of all people every day of their lives on earth; but the time for execution of God’s righteous judgments is here. All nations and all individuals are now on trial before God’s King.—Matt. 8:29; 2 Pet. 2:3, 4; Rev. 20:1-3; Matt. 25:31-33.
8. What accounts for the world’s growing violence and delinquency?
8 Since Satan knows his time is short, he is trying to dominate mankind and have all worship him, disqualifying them from gaining everlasting life. If he cannot rule, he wants to ruin. Here is the seat of the cause for the world’s growing violence and delinquency. This shows why the morals and standards of the people are deteriorating so badly today. That is why there is violation of laws, oppression, why people break their word and agreements, why we find so much murder and war. That is why the majority of the people will not take God’s Word seriously; they are led into other things through the snares of Satan.—2 Tim. 3:1-7.
9. How can we know who is responsible for the test of integrity, and how can we gain the victory in this time of final testing?
9 The final test of integrity is on. The questions are: Who is going to live in uprightness and integrity? Who is going to resist these attacks of the Devil in these last days as he tries to wreck humanity? Who will survive this world crisis? How can we cope with Satan’s system of things and the evil pressures he brings against us? The key to victory lies in God’s Word and in recognizing the source of our tests. It is Satan who is responsible. We should never think for a minute that Almighty God is responsible for the suffering that has come upon us or upon any of the human creatures on the earth today. The Bible shows us examples of those who were faithful and some who were unfaithful. It shows how men and women in the past resisted attacks made against them by Satan and his wicked organization and how Jehovah helped them to stand. By these we can see how we too can maintain integrity to God and we must maintain integrity to God if we are going to gain everlasting life.—Heb. 12:1-3.
10. To whom must we keep integrity now, and what should our attitude be?
10 We must count on Jehovah to grant us help. We must look to him in prayer. David, one who maintained integrity before God, wrote in Psalm 26:9-11 his prayer to the great Jehovah, the Life-giver: “Gather not my soul with sinners, nor my life with bloody men: in whose hands is mischief, and their right hand is full of bribes. But as for me, I will walk in mine integrity: redeem me, and be merciful unto me.” The judgment is in Jehovah’s hands; we must keep our integrity to him. It is admittedly good for us to be people of integrity to employers, marriage partners or friends, but these acts alone are not sufficient to bring us life. Living what is generally called “a good life” by the people of the world cannot bring everlasting life. We must go beyond that. We must keep integrity to Jehovah God and believe in his Son. That must be done because we have a love of righteousness, because we want to do what is right. Keeping integrity or putting on a show of integrity because of pride or because of what the neighbors will think will certainly not gain us God’s approval. We must love God and his right principles. By pleasing him we can gain everlasting life.
11. Are the majority to be followed as right?
11 The way that the majority of people follow is not the way that leads to life. Jesus made that clear. The way leading to life is by following God’s Word of truth. Jesus said, at Matthew 7:13, 14 (NW): “Go in through the narrow gate; because broad and spacious is the road leading off into destruction, and many are the ones going in through it; whereas narrow is the gate and cramped the road leading off into life, and few are the ones finding it.”
12. How can we find the way that leads to life? Must we join a church?
12 So the task is not easy. But we can do it if we first learn what God’s Word says, learn what is in that book and learn which way to take and then seek to do it. We must seek to be genuine Christians in every sense of the word. Does that mean we have to join a church organization in Christendom? Ask yourself now, Did Christ Jesus, who set our example and told us to follow his example to gain life, join any church organization in his day? No, God does not require us to do that; but he requires us to worship him, to preach the good news of the Kingdom, to be Christians, to follow the example Jesus set, living in unalterable devotion to Jehovah God; to praise God and respect his supremacy, to resist all efforts to turn us from decency and to endure in faith. We have the Bible to show us the right way. Certainly it is not necessary for a person to become a member of a church to gain everlasting life.—John 3:16-18; 17:3.
13. What general conditions now exist among the leaders of Christendom?
13 Religious leaders admit that they have failed in “Christianizing” the people of America, as they call it, and they have done no better in all the world. Throughout the world church attendance is low, while the population grows. The people are losing confidence in the clergymen. Why? you ask. The clergy themselves are to blame. Religion claims to represent God. Then the clergy should take a proper lead in the field of integrity. They should teach pure worship of God. Christ is their example, as well as ours. There should be a consistent message at all times, one consistent with the Bible, God’s Word. There again Christ is our example, and he is theirs. He preached consistently in accord with God’s Word and he upheld the truthfulness of it at all times. But what have the clergy done? What is their record? As a class they have broken integrity to a sacred trust. If they claim to be God’s ministers, then they should preach what God’s Word says, obey him. (Rom. 6:16) But what are they teaching?
14, 15. How have the clergy shown by their teachings that they have not kept integrity to Jehovah?
14 They are teaching a mass of doctrines contrary to the Bible truth. They are telling the people of a place of eternal torment in a fiery hell; and, believe it or not, that is not taught in the Bible. Some of them teach purgatory, a pagan idea that is not even mentioned in the Bible. They try to induce people to believe in a trinity of three equal gods in one; but the Bible says Jehovah is supreme and Christ Jesus is, not his equal, but his Son. They use images as heathens do. They have proclaimed the divine right of rulers in the nations, which would mean that even the dictators today would have God’s approval and be appointed by God. There is an acknowledged trend in these modern times and the clergy follow through on it, teaching people there is no Devil at all. They say the Devil does not even exist, that it is old-fashioned to believe in the Devil. On this point Encyclopædia Britannica (ninth edition), volume 7, page 138, comments that if there is belief in the Devil at all it is “maintained with very doubtful confidence in any section of the Christian church”. And Encyclopædia Americana (1942 edition), volume 9, page 38, reports: “The modern tendency is to regard the personal Devil as a part of the mythology of early times.” The religious leaders of Christendom are responsible for this loss of credence in what the Bible definitely teaches.
15 Many of the clergy have no faith in the ransom sacrifice of Christ Jesus. Many teach that the earth is going to be burned up and all life on it destroyed. Some of them are even teaching evolution, not creation, which is taught in the Bible. Theirs is a message of confusion and disagreement with one another. A classic statement of how they feel about the teachings of God’s Word is one made by the bishop of Bradford (Britain) on May 29, 1952. The Press & Journal, Aberdeen, Scotland, May 30, 1952, reported: “‘We have renounced the idea of hell and we have lost belief in heaven, except as a desirable but probably fictitious residential neighbourhood,’ declared the Bishop of Bradford at a diocesan conference yesterday.” That is no less than a bishop of the Church of England.
16. What attitude toward religion is now reported as being manifested in Britain? Why?
16 As might be expected after reading the statement by the bishop of Bradford, we find the Church of England is in a bad way. Commenting on her plight the London weekly Everybody’s magazine (May 17, 1952) had an article called “Is the Church of England Dying?” They refer to the perilous condition of all churches in Britain and show that only about ten per cent of the people in Britain have any connection with any church. They cite apathy and indifference and refer to a survey report published by Rowntree and Lavers, entitled “English Life and Leisure”, quoting: “We have found so widespread a dislike of the ministers of religion, of the Anglican and Free Churches, that it can only be described as anticlericalism.” Then the article goes on to quote the archbishop of York’s ideas about the causes of the decline in church attendance. He refers to destructive criticism by prominent writers who do not believe the Bible, plus psychoanalysis. There are substitute gods, he says, the gods of mammon, or money, and seeking after wealth; democracy, which makes the people god; and totalitarianism, putting up the state as god. He also says war is a reason. The writer, Mr. Joad, criticizes the analysis of the archbishop of York and says:
“I believe that the record of the Church in war has contributed more powerfully to the decline of its reputation in the minds of ordinary men than the Archbishop allows. When war comes, the various national Churches merge themselves in the warring nations. Pulpits are turned into amateur recruiting offices and Bishops bless the guns. These things are done in the name of the Prince of Peace, who abjured violence and bade his followers love one another . . .
“Now all this may be natural enough, . . . but when the hot fit passes and the nation is again at peace, the Church cannot expect people to receive its preaching of religion, a religion of peace, with all the seriousness that it could wish.
“ . . . what has it to offer men that the State has not?”
17, 18. Show how some American clergymen have demonstrated lack of integrity to Jehovah.
17 In America clergymen make public utterances such as the statement made by Auxiliary Bishop Joseph F. Flannelly, administrator of St. Patrick’s cathedral, about the conflict in Korea: “Our own sins have undoubtedly brought upon us this new chastisement.” (New York Times, July 24, 1950) They thus attempt to show that God brings such wars. If Bishop Flannelly is correct, then the people must look upon the Communists as instruments in God’s hands.
18 A few weeks later, from this same pulpit, an about-face is made. No longer is the war lamented as a chastisement from God, but is proclaimed a blessing from him. From the New York Times, September 11, 1950, we quote: “Sorrowing parents whose sons have been drafted or recalled for combat duty were told yesterday in St. Patrick’s Cathedral that death in battle was part of God’s plan for populating ‘the kingdom of heaven.’ ‘It is a thought not always remembered,’ he [Msgr. W. T. Green] continued, ‘but it is the first responsibility of Christian parents to do what lies in their power to give their children back to God at whatever time, place and circumstances in which he chooses to call them, so that they may become true citizens of the eternal kingdom of heaven.’” If war is a part of God’s plan for populating the kingdom of heaven, why have peace, and thwart God’s plan, and keep heaven unpopulated? There is in the Bible no statement that agrees with Green’s; the warfare in Korea is not a blessing from God or part of God’s plan for populating the kingdom of heaven. This type of preaching blames the Almighty God for evils brought upon the world by the adversary, Satan, and demonstrates a complete lack of integrity to God.
19. What actions and attitudes of the clergy in general will disqualify them for gaining God’s favor?
19 In an effort to hold the majority of the people and keep them contented, the clergy are trying to please everybody, please the governments, please the generals, please the businessmen, please labor—please everybody. They preach whatever is convenient to themselves at a certain time, regardless of what the Bible says. But they will never gain favor with God by doing that. Nor will they gain favor with sincere Christian men and women. Indeed we see that the clergy have become an integral part of the world. Organized religions of Christendom today have become so much a part of this world that is under Satan that they have not the determination nor the ability to turn to the clear-cut ways of pure worship that are taught in the Bible. They worry when under pressure from politicians and public opinion. They do not show complete trust in God. They appear to be willing to compromise with anybody if they stand to gain materially. Take a look at the record of the Catholic and Lutheran and Orthodox churches of Eastern Europe. They fail to hold out solidly against godless communism. Under pressure they will agree to go along with the communistic program, even preaching communism in their pulpits. And they will sign agreements to co-operate with the Communists. If they did not do it, they think, their churches would be closed; and well they might be. On August 17, 1952, the State Department at Washington released a study of the tactics by which Communist governments are “capturing youth and chaining churches to the state in their drive to kill all religion”. “‘This aim has been partially attained in Rumania, Albania and Hungary,’ it says. ‘In Czechoslovakia some progress has been made in this direction. In Poland the government has not been as successful . . . ’
“When church organizations are brought under state control, the study said, ‘appointments to ecclesiastical posts from the highest to the lowest come from the state or state-approved organizations.’
“‘Only those priests who have proven themselves loyal or friendly toward communism have any chance of being selected. The subject matter of sermons, lectures, and other activities relating to parishioners are often supplied by the state.’”—Boston Post, August 18, 1952.
THE UNCOMPROMISING ONES
20. What different course is pursued by true ministers of God in keeping their integrity?
20 How unlike them are true Christian ministers. Jehovah’s witnesses are banned in Eastern Europe in all the Communist countries. They will not bow down before the rule of dictators and preach communism as the hope for the people. They hold to the clean worship of God. Politicians may ban Jehovah’s witnesses and they may say you cannot serve God and you cannot keep your integrity to him, but Jehovah’s witnesses stand firm, not frightened at all, and they will not now or ever stop preaching the kingdom of Almighty God as the hope for the world unless God causes them to stop. The will of dictators cannot be put above the will of Jehovah God. When dictators try to contaminate the true Christian organization, God’s ministers will resist completely and will keep on preaching the truth from the Bible even if they must do it in an underground manner. It means a fight for righteousness; and we expect it now, when the great issue of world domination is to be settled. The integrity of each Christian is being thoroughly tested.—Rev. 14:6-12.
21. How is it possible for Jehovah’s witnesses to take such a firm stand for righteousness?
21 How, you may ask, can Jehovah’s witnesses possibly take such a stand? It is possible only by having an accurate knowledge of the truth, by having strong faith in Jehovah God, and with the help that Almighty God, Jehovah, gives to those who trust in him and serve him. Some people of the world who do not appreciate the great issue will try to argue for expediency in times of stress, saying God will excuse you because things are so hard. But where is the scripture for that argument? Did Christ compromise on God’s principles when a test came? Did his apostles or the faithful men who lived before Christ do so? The answer is No. True Christians today take the same course of integrity as Christ did. They love life and they seek to be loyal to the Life-giver.
22. Can we gain everlasting life if we compromise? What must we do?
22 Christ Jesus advocated a far-sighted viewpoint in this battle for integrity, not a short-sighted compromise for selfish gain or relief in time of test. “If, then, your hand or your foot is making you stumble, cut it off and throw it away from you; it is finer for you to enter into life maimed or lame than to be thrown with two hands or two feet into the everlasting fire. Also, if your eye is making you stumble, tear it out and throw it away from you; it is finer for you to enter one-eyed into life than to be thrown with two eyes into the fiery Gehenna.” (Matt. 18:8-10, NW) Jesus here illustrated how it is better to take some material loss, though it be as precious as an eye or hand was to the people he addressed, than to lose integrity. This is the time when we should evaluate things properly. This is the time to keep God first in our lives. We must not yield to efforts of any kind to turn us away from our integrity, whether by subtle offers of wealth through violating ethics or through application of cruel and painful persecution.
23. How can we be an active influence for good in this degenerate world?
23 Jehovah’s witnesses today fight confidently under their Leader and Commander, Christ Jesus, holding fast to their integrity. But as they do, they do not become complete introverts or take up the life of the recluse in a monastery. Now or never the people of good will must be told to turn to Almighty God and his kingdom by Christ, to seek righteousness and seek to gain life. This is the time to be an active influence for good in this degenerate world. By holding our integrity we show others it can be done; we encourage them to take up God’s service too. By our faithfulness to God, by our preaching of the good news and by upholding God’s supremacy, we can help other people to gain everlasting life. Millions of people of Christendom today are looking for righteousness. Many in the church organizations today are looking for a hope, for a way. We can help them. We must help them. We must uphold God’s side of the issue in this time of the end.—Rom. 10:13-15.
DIVINE HELP AND DELIVERANCE
24. What assurance do we have from Jehovah to help us keep integrity under test?
24 Jehovah’s witnesses in all parts of the world are found today to be maintaining integrity under powerful tests. God’s Word gives assurance that it is possible for Christians to resist all the trials and temptations that come upon us, for it is written in 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NW): “No temptation has taken you except what is common to men. But God is faithful and he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear, but along with the temptation he will also make the way out in order for you to be able to endure it.” God knows those who are his own, and he never abandons them. Though we see religion’s organizations failing and world conditions going from bad to worse—we should expect this because God’s Word foretold it all—there is no reason for believers in God to give up hope. Remember, Jehovah is supreme and almighty. His avowed purpose is to destroy Satan, to remove all of his wicked organization and all who have brought wicked practices upon the earth. The wicked appear to flourish now as never before, and God’s infallible Word says: “When the wicked spring as the grass, and when all the workers of iniquity do flourish; it is that they shall be destroyed for ever. But thou, O Jehovah, art on high for evermore.”—Ps. 92:7, 8, AS.
25. How will God’s righteous Kingdom rule bring blessings to all men who love righteousness and keep integrity?
25 That means the end of all trouble for everybody who lives on the earth, because those who survive that time of destruction are going to live under God’s kingdom, enjoying its many blessings. Jesus taught us to pray for that time. He told us to pray for God’s kingdom, for then God’s will is to be done on the earth. There will be no room then for graft and violence and insecurity, or worry. There will be no more hatred then, no more dishonesty or breakdown in morals. Those things will never again come into mind. (Rev. 21:1-5) That will be a righteous rule, God’s rule. That theocratic government will stand as evidence of Jehovah’s supremacy, of his kindness, love and purity. Under that rule the faithful ones that are in their graves, who died in their integrity, will be brought back to life. So those who now maintain integrity—even if they should die because of it—have the assurance of living in everlasting happiness. And many are going to live through the battle of Armageddon in this generation and enter into the new world of real joy, righteousness and everlasting life.—John 5:29.
26. What should we do now?
26 Today we see there is great reward for keeping integrity. So take your stand beside Jehovah’s witnesses. Study God’s Word and, obeying it, shun the apostasy of Christendom. Join in praising God. Be entirely, completely, wholly, unreservedly dedicated to Jehovah and do not for any reason yield to the temptations that are about you. Believe in the infallible Word of God and follow it. It says: “The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them.” “To this course you were called, because even Christ suffered for you, leaving you a model for you to follow his steps closely. He committed no sin, nor was deceit found in his mouth. When he was being reviled, he did not go to reviling in return. When he was suffering, he did not go to threatening, but kept on committing himself to the one who judges righteously.” “Do not be afraid of the things you are destined to suffer. Look! the Devil will keep on throwing some of you into prison that you may be fully put to the test, and that you may have tribulation ten days. Prove yourself faithful even with the danger of death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (Prov. 11:3; 1 Pet. 2:21-23; Rev. 2:10, NW) Integrity leads to life!