Missing the Mark of Integrity
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”—Rom. 3:23, NW.
1. What kind of God is Jehovah, and with whom does he associate?
JEHOVAH our God is a holy, all-wise God, a King of utmost majesty. He is absolutely pure, clean, upright, undefilable and wholly devoted to righteousness. By him impureness, uncleanness, defilement and those devoted to the doing of lawlessness are totally abhorred. This absolutely holy and clean God can associate solely with those who are clean, holy, and who keep integrity to him. (Ps. 41:11, 12) He alone is rightfully worthy of exclusive devotion, love and service. To Israel he said: “For I am Jehovah your God, and you must sanctify yourselves and you must prove yourselves holy, because I am holy.” David said: “For you, O God, delight not in wickedness; no evil man remains with you.”—Lev. 11:44, NW; Ps. 5:5, CB.
2. Does Jehovah have the ability to bless and make happy? Why yes or no?
2 This holy God-King is also the happy God. (1 Tim. 1:11, NW) He is continually in a state of complete happiness. Therefore this Majestic One is the very source of true happiness. From him flow every blessing and every perfect present. As the “Father of the celestial lights” Jehovah is ever at the maximum height of his powers to bring happiness and blessings to his associates. With him there is no build-up to a topmost position of power nor is there a passing from such a zenith position to a decline. This “Father of the celestial lights” is unlike our physical sun, which produces a variation of shadow upon a sun dial as the sun passes from its rising position in the east up to its highest or zenith position in the heavens above and then declines to its setting position in the west. Of Jehovah’s absolute zenith power to bless and make happy and that we can have every confidence in him to perform James wrote: “Every good gift and every perfect present is from above, for it comes down from the Father of the celestial lights, and with him there is not a variation of the turning of the shadow.”—Jas. 1:17, NW.
3. To whom does Jehovah grant legal recognition, and why?
3 The happy holy God is also a friendly God, a loyal helper. Yes, he is a friend indeed to all those who are holy and righteous in relationship with him. The most trusted friend is he. He deals solely with those who remain as his friends. His friends are characterized by their faithfulness, exclusive devotion and integrity toward him personally and toward him regally. To his proved friends Jehovah grants theocratic legal recognition, favors and blessings as associates in his happy organization. (Rom. 11:2, NW) We note the case of Abraham who was granted legal recognition as a proved friend of God and thus justified by faith. “‘Abraham exercised faith in Jehovah, and it was counted to him as righteousness,’ and he came to be called ‘Jehovah’s friend’.” Israel as a nation was happy when Jehovah was their friendly helper. “Happy you are, O Israel! Who is there like you, a people enjoying salvation in Jehovah? A shield your helper is, and he who is a sword is your eminent one.”—Jas. 2:23; Deut. 33:29, NW.
4. What does God purpose for his friends, and will you describe it?
4 What does the God of theocratic friendship purpose? This greatest friend purposes good, that which works for unending happiness and pleasure to himself as God-King and to all those in holy union and harmony with him. The holy God expresses his purpose of good toward his servants by providing them with opportunities to experience progressive states of happiness from one period of joyful existence to another. In any one period of time the true state of happiness enjoyed is the condition of full contentment, delight and exhilaration as to the abundance of good things ever newly brought forth by the happy God for the pleasure and gladness of those who are his friends in lawful union with him. “Now we know that God makes all his works cooperate together for the good of those who love God, those who are the ones called according to his purpose.”—Rom. 8:28, NW.
A GUIDE TO FREE WILL
5. How does Jehovah manifest himself as a loving Father, and why?
5 The holy God is also a loving father. As the first and greatest father he knows best how to run his family-like organization of friendly obedient children. All spirit creatures and the first man, Adam, became sons of Jehovah upon their perfect creation. Being made in the image and likeness of God they each were granted the amazing gift of free will. This faculty of free will was a sacred trust to be used wisely. Either the individual creature, angelic or human, could use his free will in a good way that would result in continued holiness and everlasting life or he could use it in a bad way that would result in corruption, uncleanness and eventual extinction in death. From the beginning the Creator-Father took steps to direct his free-will children in the desirable way that continues in perfect happiness. For had they voluntarily pursued a free-will course of integrity, creatures would have been kept purposeful, joyful and closely related to the holy God, the very fountain of happiness and goodness.—Ps. 25:21, AS; Prov. 11:3; Luke 3:38; Gen. 1:26, NW.
6. What steps did Jehovah take to direct the right course of his inferiors?
6 What step, then, did the God of absolute freedom take to direct the right course of his free-will inferiors? Establishing a mark of integrity, a mark indicating whether or not one was rendering exclusive devotion to his supreme benefactor, the God-King, a mark placing a legal limit on certain actions beyond which it was divinely inadvisable for the creature to venture in exercising his free-will powers. Surely Jehovah as the Almighty God had the absolute right to define the safe boundaries of the relative freedom of his created inferiors. Then, too, such legally published limitations would constantly remind the creature of his inferior relationship, which was one of dependency, and that he should ever be conscious of ascertaining the divine will of his sovereign superior, even as Jesus Christ did when he was on earth. (Matt. 26:39, NW) Moreover, such legal restrictions worked no hardship upon God’s creatures by denying them things that were essential for their immediate happy existence. Further, God was not withholding something from his children to which they had a legal right. And finally, Jehovah had the right to test his friends as to the doing of good, even as Abraham’s friendship was tested in being asked to sacrifice his only son, which pictured the good thing Jehovah would do by giving his very own Son as a ransom.—Gen. 22:1-14.
7. How must God’s servants respect his dual office? How do they manifest the glory of God?
7 To all in his organization, Jehovah is both Holy God and Absolute King. By virtue of this dual office he has the right to exact exclusive devotion, perfect obedience and expert service. Such exclusive performance toward him is complete integrity. By creatures’ respecting the legal mark of integrity set by the God-King they demonstrate their loyalty and faithfulness to this truly Holy One. By meeting this set mark of what God considered manifesting friendship they legally have a standing before him. Since it is God’s purpose to bring forth creatures who out of their own free will lovingly desire to do the will of Jehovah, those who follow this divinely designed pattern thereby produce praise and glory for Him. So by measuring up to the mark of integrity the faithful creature can also be said Scripturally to be manifesting the glory of God in exclusive devotion. (1 Ki. 9:4; Ps. 26:1-11; 12) In support of this Joshua expressed the truth, “he is a God exacting exclusive devotion to him.”—Josh. 24:19, NW.
8, 9. What is sin? What is the basic meaning behind the word “sin” in the Greek and the Hebrew?
8 Now what if the mark of exclusive devotion, perfect obedience and keeping integrity is violated? Such constitutes a missing of the mark. It becomes a flagrant violation of God’s law. It results in a falling short of the glory of God. Above all, it becomes treason against the God-King. All this is called sin. All this merits capital punishment, death, just as treason within the nations today brings the highest sanction, death, upon the traitor. In such a position of unholiness all of us find ourselves today. Paul rightly said: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”—Rom. 3:23, NW.
9 In the Greek language, in which the apostle Paul spoke to Greek-speaking audiences, the word for sin (Greek, hamartía) originally meant to miss, as, for instance, to miss one’s road. Then it came to mean to fail of doing something, to fail of one’s purpose, to miss one’s point, to go wrong. Now Paul was a Hebrew, and in the Hebrew part of the Bible that he read the verb to sin (Hebrew, חטא, hhataʹ) likewise originally meant to miss, hence to fail. For instance, Judges 20:16 (NW) reads: “Out of all this people there were seven hundred chosen men left-handed. Every one of these was a slinger of stones to a hairbreadth and would not miss.” Also Proverbs 19:2 says: “It is no use to act before you think: to be hasty is to miss the mark.” (Mo) Note further Proverbs 8:36: “But he who misses me [wisdom] wrongs himself, all who hate me love death.” (AT) Sin is therefore a missing or failing to do the will and law of God. “Everyone who practices sin is also practicing lawlessness, and so sin is lawlessness.” “All unrighteousness is sin.”—1 John 3:4; 5:17, NW.
10. Is there any evidence that angels were tested? If so, when and how?
10 Is there any Scriptural evidence that angels were tested by a mark of perfect integrity? Yes. Peter mentions angels who “sinned,” or missed the mark, in Noah’s day and that God did not hold back from punishing them for their lawlessness. (2 Pet. 2:4, 5, NW) What free-will course did these angels follow that exceeded an apparent prohibition upon their life course and reflected against their exclusive devotion? The Bible answers this for us. “Now it came about that when men started to grow in numbers on the surface of the ground and daughters were born to them, then the sons of God [angels] began to notice the daughters of men, that they were good-looking, and they went to taking wives for themselves of all whom they selected.” (Gen. 6:1, 2, NW) Years later Jesus revealed part of what must have comprised the reasonable limitations God placed upon angels. Jesus said that faithful holy angels in heaven neither marry nor are given in marriage. (Matt. 22:30, NW) So all the angels before the deluge of Noah’s day who cohabited with the daughters of men missed the mark of perfect obedience. These evil-minded angels proved to be no true friends of God and together with their ringleader, Satan the Devil, they have been cast out of Jehovah’s heavenly household as enemies. They thereby entered a free-will course of badness that brought unhappiness upon themselves and will end up in their total annihilation.—Luke 8:31, NW.
MARK OF INTEGRITY IN EDEN
11. What was the mark of integrity that God set in Eden?
11 But what about original perfect man? What was the legal mark of integrity set before him to direct his course wisely before his Divine Friend and Benefactor, Jehovah God? It was a clear-cut specific law, a violation of which God would consider an act of unfriendliness, treason, and thus sin, and was definitely set before perfect Adam and his beautiful wife. “And Jehovah God also laid this command upon the man: ‘From every tree of the garden you may eat to satisfaction. But as for the tree of the knowledge of good and bad you must not eat from it, for in the day you eat from it you will positively die.’” There was no vagueness about this mark. It was easy to understand. It was easy to keep. The consequences for missing this mark were also clearly stated, namely, that for such treasonable act man would “positively die.”—Gen. 2:16, 17, NW.
12, 13. Why was God justified in setting this mark before Adam and Eve?
12 Jehovah God was absolutely within his right to make this mark of integrity for man’s good. He knew man better than man did himself because Jehovah was the creator of man. Jehovah knew it was for man’s good that he be reminded by this constant mark that he was an inferior dependent upon his Creator-Superior. In fact, Jehovah manifested true love as the God of love by arranging for such a guidepost between God and man. This legal restriction worked no hardship upon Adam and his wife, as it was denying them nothing necessary for their happy life in the paradise garden. They had the legal right to eat fruit from the other trees, but as to this particular tree it was withheld.
13 An exceedingly valuable gift was in store for Adam if he had proved worthy. Jehovah God had placed Adam and Eve in a vast estate in the eastern part of a section of the earth called Eden. This large estate had been brought to a high degree of cultivation, having been designed and laid out by God into a beautiful paradise garden-park. Additionally, this estate was well stocked with friendly animals of every family kind. Likewise it was well planted with food-bearing trees and plants of every description. Actually this estate was to be merely the gateway to an eventually expanded possession of the entire globe with its untold mineral resources. Here in a setting of inspiring beauty, peace and harmony and amid great natural wealth Adam and Eve found a happy home. Surely the great God of every perfect gift was within his right to test Adam before he passed over such valuable rights of permanent possession to a proved friend. Who today would freely turn over a priceless gift of property to an enemy? No one in his right mind would. So in God’s case. Man must first prove himself a loyal, trustworthy friend of the God-King. In accord with this principle Jehovah God later tested Jesus here on earth as to his fitness and worthiness to be King of the new world.—Gen. 2:8; Heb. 2:18, NW.
14. For what further reason did Jehovah test Adam and his wife?
14 Adam and Eve were originally placed in this amazing estate with no set life tenure. It appears that all other forms of animal life flourishing in the earth had limited life spans granted them. (2 Pet. 2:12, NW) Each particular animal kind would live its span of years to make a contribution toward the growing wealth of the earth, then to conclude its existence in death for its offspring to carry on the life work assigned to that race or species of creatures. (Incidentally, Adam’s observing the conclusion of existence of the animals added force to the word “death” that Jehovah used in announcing to him the penalty for failing to keep the mark of integrity.) But as to Adam Jehovah God did not define his life span. Rather the term of his life span was left open, conditional upon keeping the legal mark of loyalty. However, the organism of man was originally made to enable him to live forever. Thus God had the further right to test Adam and his offspring as to their worthiness to enjoy the greatest of gifts, namely, that of an unending life span, everlasting life. This still greater gift was bound up in connection with another legal guidepost in the garden, known as “the tree of life.”—Gen. 3:24, NW.
GOOD AND BAD
15, 16. (a) Apparently of what nature was this mark of integrity, and why? (b) What examples are there of other legal symbols?
15 What seems to be signified in that the mark of integrity was connected with a “tree of the knowledge of good and bad”? It appears that no physical benefit nor harm came from the literal touching or eating of this forbidden tree. Rather the dealing with this tree seemed to affect the conscience. We note that when Adam and Eve later did eat of the fruit of this tree the Bible does not record any physical reaction but does indicate that their consciences immediately registered guiltiness. “Then the eyes of both of them became opened and they began to realize that they were naked.” (Gen. 3:7, NW) The opening of their eyes could not have referred to their physical eyes, because these must have been fully open at the time they performed the illegal act. So it was the ‘eyes of their heart’ or conscience that reacted, and not that they received a physically enlarged brain capacity filled with divine wisdom. (Eph. 1:18, NW) Another interesting fact—it is always a ruler that “knows” or judges between what is right and wrong or good and bad. This is observed in God’s statement upon Adam’s expulsion from the garden, where it is inferred that Adam had decided to become his own judge to “know” what is “good” and “bad.” By so doing he had rejected the heavenly Superior Authorities. “And Jehovah God went on to say: ‘Here the man has become like one of us in knowing good and bad.’” These observations add up to conclude that the tree served as a legal sign or symbol, a guidepost, between the God-King and man in their governmental dealings with each other.—Gen. 3:22, NW.
16 As to the guidepost nature of this tree we have something of a similar significance in the case of the heap of witness or pile of stones set up at Galeed as a legal sign between Laban and Jacob, which governed the legal conduct of the one toward the other. (Gen. 31:48-53, NW) Another example, a modern one. When a legal document of great importance is put into an envelope and sealed shut by an official seal impressed in sealing wax, the exclusiveness of the document is violated when an unauthorized person breaks the wax seal. It is not the physical breaking of the wax seal that is criminal, but it is the illegal attempt to pass the forbidden seal, which is merely a legal symbol or barrier to what is inside the envelope, that is criminal.
17, 18. (a) What is the definition of “good” and of “bad”? (b) Who determines what is good? What confirms this?
17 Next we ask, What is “good”? and What is “bad”? Good is that which is right, complete and in harmony with Jehovah’s rules and principles of proper conduct. Bad is directly to the contrary. It is that which is wrong and out of harmony with rules and principles of proper conduct. God as Creator pronounced and judged the results of several creative days as being “good.” (Gen. 1:10, 12, 18, 21, 25, NW) Is an immature one or a child in position to make rules of proper conduct and thus define what is good and what is bad? No, of course not. For this reason earthly fathers must discipline their young to hold them to standards of goodness defined by a superior authority. (Heb. 12:7-11, NW) It is not the inferior that determines the rules of goodness, but it is the lawmaking superior that does. Jehovah God is the one who is the final judge and ruler to determine really what is good and what is bad.
18 A certain one came to Jesus asking him about what is good. Jesus gave him the right answer showing that Jehovah God is the only one who determines good and creatures must follow what God commands because God always commands what is right. “Now, look! a certain one came up to him and said: ‘Teacher, what good must I do in order to get everlasting life?’ He said to him: ‘Why do you ask me about what is good? One there is that is good. If, though, you want to enter into life, observe the commandments continually.’”—Matt. 19:16, 17, NW.
19, 20. (a) How was sin introduced to this earth? (b) Why did the original sin not involve illicit intercourse of the sexes?
19 Jehovah God’s right to determine what is good was basely set at issue in Eden about six thousand years ago by Satan the Devil. He transmitted to Eve wrong thinking and stirred up a wrong desire in her as an inferior to defy her sovereign ruler Jehovah and instead to judge for herself what was good and bad. “For God knows that in the very day of your eating from it your eyes are bound to be opened and you are bound to be like God, knowing good and bad.” This evil desire in Eve became fertile and she took action to eat of the forbidden tree. “Consequently the woman saw that the tree’s fruit was good for food and that it was a delight to the eyes, yes, the tree was desirable to look upon. So she began taking of its fruit and eating it. Afterward she gave some also to her husband when with her and he began eating it.” Here to their everlasting shame Adam and Eve missed God’s mark of perfect obedience and integrity. From that very hour they entered a course of unhappiness, lawlessness, uncleanness and eventual death. They had defied the rule and word of the Sovereign Majesty himself and thus had committed an act of high treason.—Gen. 3:5, 6; Jas. 1:14, 15, NW.
20 At this point it must be observed that Adam’s original sin did not involve illicit intercourse as is claimed by some sects of Christendom. Sexual intercourse was not the point at issue, it did not comprise the set mark for man, it had become lawful by an earlier commandment for a husband and a wife to have sex relations. (See Genesis 1:28.) Adam’s original sin was his bad act in missing the set mark, it was his treasonable rejection of the God-King Jehovah by accepting another form of rule as to what was good and bad.
21, 22. What were the consequences of Adam’s sin? What is family disability?
21 The consequences of this one traitorous act of willful sin proved to be devastating not only to Adam but globally to the resultant Adamic family, “just as through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men because they had all sinned.” (Rom. 5:12, NW) Adam, now a lawbreaker and an enemy of his former God-King, was promptly summoned to court by Jehovah, found guilty along with the woman and the Satan-controlled serpent and sentenced. Adam and his wife were forthwith dismissed as traitors from God’s holy organization. The man was sent out of the perfect garden of Eden, was given a limited life span of existence that would end up in death and was forced to take up residence in the uncultivated part of the earth to earn his livelihood by the sweat of his face. (Gen. 3:16-19, NW) Jehovah God being no longer their loving friend and wise counselor and they being out of union with God’s organization, Adam and Eve were forced to shift for themselves according to their immature and inexperienced judgment. The stresses and strains of hard work, the disappointments and heartbreaks of man-made organization, and even the stark tragedy of seeing the first human die, their own son put to death by a murderous, maddened brother—all these trials tended to throw out of balance the functions of the once perfect human organism. Sicknesses developed and finally death ensued. Remember how the terrible strain on the nervous system of the perfect man Jesus as he hung on the tree hastened his death.
22 Children inherit the assets and liabilities of their parents. Since Adam died an unholy one, a traitorous outcast, one who had not acquired the rights of possession to the lovely garden-estate of Eden and one who had not obtained any right to an unlimited life span, these disabilities or disadvantages came upon his offspring. And so as a rebel patriarchal head Adam brought family disability upon all the human race.
23, 24. (a) What sort of record did sin make during the first 1,600 years? (b) How did Jehovah look upon these results?
23 His having to rely upon unholy, imperfect judgment of what was good and bad after his expulsion, Adam’s remaining years of his 930-year life span would be spent in farther and farther missing God’s original mark of true integrity. This down-road tendency of corruption would lead to greater degradation upon his children generation after generation. Finally, after about 1,600 years, man became so unholy and degraded, missing the mark of perfect integrity by such a great degree, that Jehovah felt regrets that he had made men in the earth and he felt hurt at his heart. Only Noah proved in a large measure to be righteous. Noah had not become as degraded as his contemporaries although he too was missing God’s original mark of perfection because he had been born a sinner.—Ps. 51:5.
24 “Consequently Jehovah saw that the badness of man had become great in the earth and every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only bad all the time. And Jehovah felt regrets that he had made men in the earth and he felt hurt at his heart. So Jehovah said: ‘I am going to wipe men whom I have created off the surface of the ground, from man to domestic animal, to creeping animal and to flying creature of the heavens, because I do regret that I have made them.’ But Noah found favor in the eyes of Jehovah. . . . Noah was a righteous man. He proved himself faultless among his contemporaries. Noah walked with the God.” (Gen. 6:5-9, NW) Some will ask, Since God destroyed all but eight good people in the deluge of Noah’s day, what have been the prospects for man’s being uplifted to perfection thereafter? For the answer to this question please see the succeeding article.