Christians Live the Truth
“Wherefore, now that you have put away falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, because we are members belonging to one another.”—Eph. 4:25, NW.
1. Why should no form of lying be found in the congregation of God?
JEHOVAH God now has a New World society in operation. Throughout the world he is selecting people and training them for life in the new world. He expects these to clean themselves and to keep clean, to keep separate from the old system of things under Satan. There is no room among them for practices such as the world carries on. Some of the things to be done are mentioned in Colossians three. Then Col 3 verses 9 and 10 admonish us: “Do not be lying to one another. Strip off the old personality with its practices, and clothe yourselves with the new personality which through accurate knowledge is being renewed according to the image of the one who created it.” It is a time for Christians to be careful about how they live. To avoid things that will lead into lying and going against the truth is wise. “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show out of his right conduct his works with a meekness that belongs to wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and contentiousness in your hearts, do not be bragging and lying against the truth.” (Jas. 3:13, 14, NW) Indeed it is as much as to say that if one has jealousy or contentiousness in his heart, if his heart is not right, it will not be very long until he is lying. One wrong leads to another; one lie covers up another. But lying should not be found in any form in the congregation of God. It is wrong; it is disapproved by Jehovah.
2. What results to those in the congregation who practice lying?
2 There have been occasions in the past and in modern times where persons have endeavored to lie in the congregation of God, and this has always led to trouble and difficulty, and especially for those who have told the lies. Often the reason for lying, telling falsehoods or the practice of deception is a condition of fear of man or pride in an individual. Acts 5 (NW) tells us: “However, a certain man, Ananias by name, together with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession and secretly held back some of the price, his wife also knowing about it, and he brought just a part and deposited it at the feet of the apostles. But Peter said: ‘Ananias, to what end has Satan emboldened you to play false to the holy spirit and to hold back secretly some of the price of the field? As long as it remained with you did it not remain yours, and after it was sold did it not continue in your control? Why was it that you purposed such a deed as this in your heart? You have played false, not to men, but to God.’ On hearing these words Ananias fell down and expired. And great fear came over all those hearing of it.” His wife joined him in the lie and met the same judgment. They were engaging in hypocrisy. They wanted to appear before others to be something that they were really not. If they had said the truth, if they had said they were giving part of the price they received, they would have done no wrong. But their hearts were not right. Jehovah searched down into the innermost parts of their hearts to see what their motives were, why they were doing what they had done. He found their hearts were bad. The result to them was the adverse judgment of Jehovah. The case of Ananias and Sapphira shows that people can be disfellowshiped for lying, for Jehovah disfellowshiped them permanently. Lying and falsehood do not pay good wages.
TRUTH AMONG THE BROTHERS
3, 4. (a) What kind of testimony must be given by a witness when a hearing is conducted by congregation servants? (b) What factors that can lead to lying should a Christian avoid? (c) What are some Scriptural examples of injury done by false witnesses?
3 When we are dealing with our brothers we must tell the truth. We must keep the congregation clean, pure and truthful. Jehovah God tells us in Proverbs 6:19 that he hates false witnesses that speak lies. If the truth is always told, then right will be done. Perhaps an accused brother would have a hearing before servants in a congregation and a point-blank statement is asked for. There is a question of whether he has done right or wrong. One called to testify will say the truth about his brother even if it should bring a little persecution or rebuke from the worldly-minded. Fear of some form of retaliation must not be permitted to color the testimony. Some primitive worldly people are influenced to lie because of fear of witchcraft, but Jehovah’s witnesses do not have such fear; the full armor of God protects them. (Eph. 6:11-20) Nor should family relationships or clannishness—a mistaken idea of loyalty—warp testimony to shield a wrongdoer. And some people have a mentality of always wishing to please someone considered a superior by saying what that person might like to hear. But never should the desire to please a man’s ears lead one to tell untruths, whether in a hearing before a congregation or at other times. One who pleases Jehovah must come clean with his testimony. Lies and truth do not come from the Christian mouth.—Jas. 3:10, 11.
4 Jehovah does not like a liar whose false testimony may be bought for some false advantage or bribe. In a hearing one must not tell falsehoods in order to get the defendant into trouble. The falsifier becomes hateful to God. By his testimony he may think to gain favor with someone or to gain personal advantage, but he is certainly putting himself in disfavor with Jehovah. “A faithful witness will not lie; but a false witness uttereth lies.” (Prov. 14:5, AS) Much evil can be done to a person if when one is testifying concerning him perjury is committed. Naboth suffered death because of perjurers. (1 Ki. 21:8-13) False witnesses came against Jesus and contributed to his death. False witnesses testified against Stephen. Perjury is wrong. It is a form of lying. It is especially evil when it results in harm to others, and it nearly always does.—Matt. 26:60, 61; Acts 6:10, 11.
5. How and when is it advisable to combat perjury?
5 One may choose to overlook idle gossip against him, but when someone commits perjury against you before a court of law it is certainly proper to defend yourself and offer evidence to refute lies that have been told. They should not be allowed to stand in the record against you. The apostle Paul offered his defense when before the rulers. The case of Jesus was different. He was before a mob and before wicked men who had no conception of justice. Offering a lengthy argument would have done no good. Furthermore, in his case he knew his time had come to give his life When the wicked bring their false witnesses against a person it may cause a moment of anger, but yet we should keep control of our faculties and not at any time try to retaliate with lies. We continue to observe God’s law and follow his righteous principles and tell the truth. The responsibility is upon the wicked for what they do.—Ps. 119:69, 70.
6, 7. What should be done to protect the interests of brothers and preserve unity in the congregation?
6 There are times when consideration must be given to protecting the interests of the brothers. If questions are asked of a person about his brother, questions perhaps of a personal nature, and the questioner is not a responsible servant in the congregation who is entitled to know at a time of inquiry, then it is best for a Christian brother to mind his own business and protect his brother by saying nothing in reply. Discourage people who try to pry into the business of others. In other words, it is good to avoid gossip, talebearing, starting rumors, or finding fault with the brothers. Remember, Jehovah hates not only a witness who speaks lies, but also one that sows discord among the brothers. Whispering about any brothers is to be avoided. If you think someone has done wrong, very well; if you want to say something about it go directly to him. Do not start a whispering campaign. In plain language the admonition is that one should mind his own business and his business should be in accord with Jehovah’s Word; then he will have no difficulty or trouble due to busybodying.—Prov. 16:28; 18:8; Matt. 24:48-51; 1 Pet. 4:15.
7 So when someone of the brothers in need of spiritual aid comes to you to speak about his problems, his personal difficulties, or something he did many years ago which may have been wrong and yet would not require disfellowshiping, as a mature Christian brother advise him how to straighten out his affairs. Help him in every way. But remember there is a time for everything. Spare your brothers embarrassment in times of trouble. It is not necessary to tell everything you know to everybody. Help your brother, but do not go telling everybody about his problems and difficulties, his family troubles, or other things about which he may have confided in you in a time of need. Show love for your brother. Do it for the sake of the unity of God’s organization.—Prov. 11:13.
8-10. (a) What action toward our brothers proves we love God? (b) How can gossip and pointless talk do injury to brothers and show lack of Christian love?
8 If anyone claims to be a Christian, claims to be a lover of God, he must also love his brother. If he does not love his brother he is actually living a lie. “If anyone makes the statement, ‘I love God,’ and yet is hating his brother, he is a liar. For he who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot be loving God, whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him, that the one who loves God should be loving his brother also.”—1 John 4:20, 21, NW.
9 If a brother perhaps twenty years ago made a mistake and confessed his wrong then and was forgiven, it is not necessary for others to bring up these things continually. That is not showing love for the brother. If you really love your brother you will not be gossiping and talking about him. While it is true that we must say the truth when we speak, we do not have to say everything that we know about our brother. If he has really been forgiven, then the matter is closed, it is finished and it should not come up for discussion every week in a Kingdom Hall or among those in the congregation. Where is the mercy shown by such as continually bear tales about their brother and try to bring out his faults? Where does it bring in unity? Where does it preserve the harmony and spirit of joy of the congregation? If one wishes to speak, there are many Kingdom truths and field experiences to discuss.
10 Those who sow discord through gossiping, profitless talking or deceit through false doctrines are not looking after the interests of Jehovah’s organization. At Titus 1:10-12 Paul tells about those who are unruly and profitless talkers and deceiving the mind, showing how they would subvert entire households by their teaching of lies. He mentioned that “Cretans” are always liars. In this connection he showed in verse nine that the overseers in the congregation are required to reprove those who contradict the truth. The truth must be preserved in God’s congregation.
DOING JUSTLY AND HONESTLY
11. (a) How are honesty and truthfulness related? (b) Is it possible for dishonest persons to associate themselves with the congregation of God for a time?
11 Jehovah “hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth Jehovah require of thee, but to do justly, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with thy God?” (Mic. 6:8, AS) Doing justly or honestly and telling the truth fit in together. They are qualities that must be found among Christians. Christians are brothers who deal honestly with one another and help one another. But there is no need for a merciful Christian to continue to put up with wrongdoing, if someone comes into the organization that does not have good heart motives. Sometimes individuals come to the meetings or associate with Jehovah’s New World society who, deep down in their hearts, are not honest people, are not people of truth and righteousness. These are sometimes called “spongers,” people who practice fraud and deceit, men who go about seeking to borrow money or goods and possessions of their brothers, and who inwardly have no intention of paying them back and never do pay back. This kind of people make an outward show of Christianity, but their interests are purely selfish. Judas was a thief who showed hypocritical sympathy for the poor.—John 12:6.
12. (a) Is it a good practice to borrow money from brothers? (b) How did Jehovah make provision for honesty in ancient Israel, and what was required of the sinner to straighten matters out?
12 It is not always a good practice for brothers to borrow money from brothers. At times it shows love to lend money, but often it leads to trouble in congregations. (Luke 6:35) If brothers do business together, make agreements to pay money or make certain payments of goods, they should keep their promises, tell the truth and avoid dishonesty. In view of the possibilities of memory failure and to help avoid disputes, it is advisable to make a proper written record of all such transactions. Swindling, cheating and dishonesty are sins in God’s sight. Among the people of ancient Israel Jehovah made provision for atonement for these sins. It was necessary for the offending individual to straighten himself out with his brother and before Jehovah. “In case a soul should sin in that he has behaved unfaithfully toward Jehovah and has deceived his associate about something in his charge or a deposit in hand or a robbery or he has defrauded his associate, or he has found something lost and has lied about it and has sworn falsely over any of all the things that the man might do to sin by them; then it must occur that in case he should sin and indeed become guilty, he must return the robbed thing which he has robbed or the extorted thing which he has taken by fraud or the thing in his charge which was put in his charge or the thing lost which he has found, or anything at all over which he might swear falsely, and he must make compensation for it in its full amount and he will add to it a fifth of it. To the one whose it is he will give it on the day his guilt is proved. And as his guilt offering he will bring to Jehovah a sound ram from the flock according to the estimated value, for a guilt offering, to the priest. And the priest must make an atonement for him before Jehovah, and so it must be forgiven him regarding any of all the things that he might do resulting in guiltiness by it.”—Lev. 6:2-7; 19:11-13, NW.
13. Has Jehovah’s principle of honesty changed to this day?
13 While we Christians today do not live under the same priestly arrangement as did ancient Israel, nevertheless we are under obligation to be honest and upright and to settle all debts and pledges properly. We do not defraud brothers, but should make things right with the brothers and ask Jehovah’s forgiveness for any wrong that has been committed. Brothers will deal justly with one another in all business and keep lies, dishonesty and fraud out of their midst.
14. What is the proper action for a Christian to take when he desires to have something that was borrowed from him returned?
14 Occasionally reports come to the Society from individual brothers or from congregations showing that some dishonest, immoral persons have slipped into the congregation. (Jude 4) It is clear how to deal with immoral ones, but what about people who go around preying on their brothers, or who appear to be brothers merely for the purpose of taking money, who are as the psalmist says: “The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again”? Ps (37:21) What can be done about them? If a brother in his love and kindness allows another who appears to be a brother to have some of his money or material things for a time and then the borrowing individual, after the time agreed upon has elapsed, refuses to pay back, the brother who made the loan can go to the one who took the money or materials and ask him to make full return. It is proper to go to your brother when you have anything against him and speak to him. (Matt. 18:15-17) If he will not make proper settlement, then the brother involved can speak to the congregation servant and arrange to have a hearing before the committee, with the offender present. At a time like this one will find it to his advantage to have a signed written agreement and it will not be a case of the word of one person against another. If guilt is established, the committee may set a limited but reasonable time for the offender to settle his debts or right the wrongs done.
15. (a) What can be done by a congregation if a brother refuses or fails to make proper restoration of something borrowed? (b) Is it ever proper to go before a worldly court in order to have a debt settled? (c) Before one goes into court, what should be considered?
15 If the offender refuses to make a just and proper settlement, then is it proper for the brother who made the loan to take the debtor brother into court and sue him? The Scriptures advise us that we should bring such matters before the mature brothers in the congregation and not take a brother before the courts. (1 Cor. 6:1-10) But he may be disfellowshiped from the congregation if he is an extortioner. He should be avoided from then on. Being disfellowshiped by the congregation is the greatest punishment that can come upon such a person at the hands of men, for when mature brothers act according to the advice of the Scriptures they are in fact acting for Jehovah and the judgment is from his Word. Whether or not a defrauded person wishes to take a disfellowshiped person into a court is for him to decide. The disfellowshiped person is no longer a brother and the congregation has exhausted its powers in the case, so the only recourse would be to the law courts of the land. But it is a good thing to consider the costs involved in time and money. Legal suits are expensive and sometimes the result is that the lawyers get everything through their fees. It is also necessary to think of any reproach that might come upon the work through such public action. That is why a brother may not take his brother into court; there is reproach upon the organization. Paul’s argument is that it is better to be defrauded than to bring reproach upon the congregation. But with a disfellowshiped person the position is different, although the people in general may not realize that the one sued has been disfellowshiped. If legal action is taken, restitution of what was taken should be the goal, and not revenge. Anyone who would go that far to have a debt paid should have the agreement in writing from the start. Or if the wronged brother chooses to drop the matter it can be left in the hands of Jehovah, who searches the hearts of all men and knows their motives and who rewards those who do right with life.—Rom. 12:17-19; 1 Cor. 5:11-13; Heb. 10:26-31.
16. How can brothers show mercy to debtors?
16 Mercy must enter into many cases. A person may have borrowed a few dollars and completely overlooked making payment, but without intent to defraud. He ought to be allowed to restore what is due and, if his heart is right, he will wish to clear away his debt to a brother. And some brothers may not be in need and may wish to forgive debts. (Matt. 6:12; 18:23-35; Luke 7:41-43) No one has to expect his debt to be forgiven; it does not have to be, but it may be, through the love in the heart of a brother. The conscience and good heart within the debtor ought to impel him to want to clear away his debts, and he should try, at least. In some small matters a congregation committee may decide to recommend that a debt of an ill, destitute person be forgiven at the time a hearing is held, but it can only be a recommendation and the one who made the loan must finally decide. This shows the importance of having wise, mature brothers as servants in the congregation committee.
17. (a) In warning a congregation about a dishonest person what care must a servant exercise? (b) Can an offender be reinstated in the congregation?
17 If announcements are made to congregations concerning someone who refuses to pay debts or who is going around taking money or other things from individuals in the congregation, the congregation servant should be the one to make the announcement and he should be careful to avoid wording something in a slanderous way but merely report the facts as they exist or that a person has been disfellowshiped for dishonesty or fraud. Then those who are in the congregation can be aware of what is going on and will be able to protect their own interests and the interests of their brothers. “His wickedness shall be openly showed before the assembly.” (Prov. 26:26, 18, 19, AS) If one is disfellowshiped and later makes restoration of what is due, he may be reinstated because he has shown a right heart by a right course of action. Reinstatement will be at the discretion of the committee. This is one good reason for not taking a brother into court to settle a debt.
18. What shows that the parable of Jesus at Luke 16:1-8 is not his approval of dishonesty?
18 Dishonesty is not approved or applauded by Jesus in the parable he stated at Luke 16:1-8; Jesus never approves unrighteousness. Some have thought that the “master” referred to means the one who spoke the parable, Jesus Christ, but that is not so; he was not commending the dishonest steward. It is a mere reference to the master of the unjust steward, who could not help but admire the shrewdness of the unfaithful steward. Jesus showed how the worldly ones make use of their means to ensure their future. The “sons of the light” must look to the future too and use their possessions and abilities to please Jehovah and gain enduring riches of everlasting life.—See The Watchtower, February 15, 1948, for details.
PROTECTION FROM ENEMIES
19. When confronted by enemies, what can a Christian do for protection?
19 When evil men are seeking to do injury to a Christian or some of his brothers or to God’s organization and they come trying to pry into private affairs, is it necessary for a Christian to answer such evil men? What can be done for self-preservation or the protection of Christians particularly in times of difficulty or persecution? If you know an evil man is trying to inflict harm on a brother and he asks you where the brother may be found, it is not necessary to answer. Jesus often countered questions with other questions, which put his opponents in a bad light. It shows, too, how one can properly be evasive with evil men. (Matt. 15:1-6; 21:23-27; 22:15-21) There are instances, such as existed in the Nazi German regime, where it was a crime to be one of Jehovah’s witnesses. If someone came and asked an individual to commit himself as to whether he was one of Jehovah’s witnesses or not and he replied that he was, he could be immediately arrested and put into prison. In such an instance the individual would have to decide for himself what he wanted to do. He might conclude that it is proper merely to say, “I am a Christian,” or else say nothing at all. This would not be a denial of Christ such as is mentioned at Matthew 10:33. In the Dominican Republic at this time it is against the law to be one of Jehovah’s witnesses. This harsh law was made by the dictator in an effort to stop the preaching work’s being carried on there. So it would seem to be unwise for a person to go around telling everyone he is one of Jehovah’s witnesses, but he can go on with his work of telling the people the good news from the Bible and protect the interests of himself and the organization of Jehovah by not answering questions for every person who might ask.—Ps. 29:1.
20. In the United States, when may a person refuse to testify against himself?
20 The Constitution of the United States provides that an individual does not have to testify against himself. The Constitution is leveled at compulsion to testify against oneself in criminal proceedings. It also gives a witness the right in any legal or legislative or executive proceedings to refuse to answer a question on the grounds that it might incriminate him. A person does not have the right to refuse to answer on the grounds that it might incriminate some other person, but under some circumstances one may choose to remain silent and face contempt charges. (See explanation in paragraph 22.) The exemption is individual and for the benefit only of the person claiming it. Laws are made whereby some individuals can lose their employment if they refuse to answer questions. Even in employment cases a person cannot be compelled to incriminate himself. But his refusal to answer—whether it incriminates or not—is ground legally for firing. It is up to the individual to make the decision as to whether he wishes to answer questions or to suffer the penalty that goes along with his silence.
21. (a) In English-speaking countries, when may a person refuse to answer incriminating questions? (b) When must he answer? (c) What unjust action was taken against Jesus?
21 No harm is practiced, however, by withholding incriminating information from one who is not entitled to know. An example of this in English-speaking countries is, when one is under arrest, he can, if he chooses, legally refrain from giving information to a police officer who may ask incriminating questions. No answer need be given him, as it is none of the officer’s business. It is a matter for court. But when one goes into a court and enters within the witness box and swears to tell the truth, matters concerning the transaction theretofore confidential and possibly incriminating no longer can be withheld without risking contempt charges, as the judge has the authority to demand an answer. A man charged with a crime while on the stand as a defendant witnessing for himself may not claim exemption from answering questions about the crime he is charged with. A witness, too, must tell all he knows about the particular crime under investigation, but neither the defendant nor the witness may be compelled to testify against himself concerning some other transaction that might involve a crime in English-speaking countries. All facts about the event under trial must be answered. If a defendant wishes to avoid incrimination of himself about the particular transaction in question he should not go on the witness stand if the law of the land gives him that right; and in some countries he can refuse to take the stand. While the defendant may refuse to testify, a witness under subpoena to testify may not refuse to go on the witness stand. When one takes the stand about the transaction or crime in question, he by that act gives up the right to claim his privilege or exemption from incriminating himself about the particular transaction or crime. He can claim his exemption as to other crimes or transactions. Such exemption also applies to all witnesses brought before American Congressional investigating committees. There is no particular crime or transaction involved. Before such committees it is proper for all persons to claim the privilege. The exemption from self-incrimination is usually confined to English-speaking countries. In the case of Jesus, at Matthew 26:63-65 (NW), the court exceeded its own legal privilege where the high priest put Jesus under oath to tell whether he was the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus replied: “That was for you to say. Yet I say to you men, from henceforth you will see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Jesus was unjustly forced to make an answer and the sum total of his reply indicates that his answer was understood by the high priest to be in the affirmative.
22. Under totalitarian rule, when Christians were put under oath what courses of action were open to them?
22 Even in court under oath circumstances arose in totalitarian countries, such as under Hitler’s rule, where the brothers were faced with two evil alternative courses. One course was to tell everything one knew and incriminate and expose brothers to persecution and punishment and also bring sentence upon oneself. The other course was to refuse to answer questions while on the witness stand and be held for contempt of court. In similar circumstances today it is up to the individual to choose whether he wants to answer or not. Refusal means punishment. He can choose to stay silent and go to prison or speak and multiply his punishment or place his brothers in danger. He has no choice on lying but he does on refusing to answer, remembering that he must pay the penalty that Caesar imposes, which may be years of imprisonment. A Christian will not lie under oath, and therefore those in Nazi Germany had to suffer the consequences of living where there was no justice, where it was a crime to be a Christian. Jehovah gave them strength and wisdom to endure it. However, this is not to say that a person should always remain silent before an unjust court. There are times when good can be accomplished to the honor of Jehovah’s name by giving a bold witness. Jesus Christ pointed out that his followers would come before the rulers to give a witness and that they would speak. (Matt. 10:17-20) Acts 22 and 26 show how Paul gave a bold, tactful testimony before the authorities. So it is left to the accused Christian to judge whether it is advisable under the circumstances to speak freely or not, but if one chooses to speak he must tell the truth.
23. Did Jesus lie under oath?
23 Some men have claimed that circumstances such as those in Nazi Germany would justify lying under oath, but the Bible does not say so. Jesus answered when under oath, saying the truth, though he said little. There is no indication in the Bible that Jesus ever lied. His words at John 7:8 (AS), “Go ye up unto this feast: I go not up unto this feast,” and then his going up to the feast later, have been resorted to by those who would justify telling an untruth; however, a consideration of the New World Translation shows Jesus did not in fact tell an untruth. He said: “I am not yet going up to this feast.”
24. What do we learn from the bitter experience of Peter?
24 There is a record in Matthew 26:69-75 of how Peter denied Jesus with an oath. When one makes an oath he must tell the truth. What Peter did was certainly not right. He knew it, because afterward he wept bitterly. His conscience bothered him. Jesus had not given him such an example to follow. He was wrong but in this case it is apparent that Jehovah showed undeserved kindness to Peter and forgave him, because he was used later to carry on the work of the early Christians and serve the brothers. The good course of Jesus Christ and the bitter experiences of Peter are examples for modern Christians.
25. What points do some raise, and to what may we look forward?
25 Various characters of the Bible have been accused of lying, such as Jacob, Rahab, the Gibeonites, David and others, but there is no record in the Bible that they came under divine disapproval for this. How these instances of apparent lying are to be understood will be treated in another article that we hope to publish in The Watchtower.
VOWS AND RIGHT DOING
26, 27. How is it possible for a person to live a lie?
26 Those who come into association with Jehovah’s New World society and dedicate themselves to the service of Jehovah make a vow that may not be broken without due punishment resulting. Those who make such vows must keep all the terms of their dedication, which means full obedience to Almighty God, Jehovah. (Deut. 23:21-23) Or if one comes to a knowledge of the truth and knows what is right he also has the responsibility to do what is right before Jehovah. So whether one makes a dedication or merely professes to be a god-fearing Christian person, it is still required of him that he do what is right and observe the truth. “If we make the statement, ‘We are having partnership with him,’ and yet we go on walking in the darkness, we are lying and are not practicing the truth. However, if we are walking in the light as he himself is in the light, we do have partnership with one another and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:6, 7, NW) That means we are living a lie if we claim to be something that we are not, which is exactly what Ananias and Sapphira did. The wicked clergy of Jesus’ day also did so. All who are unfaithful make themselves liars. Taking a wrong course of action is in fact denying Christ Jesus. “Who is the liar if it is not the one that denies that Jesus is the Christ?”—1 John 2:22, NW.
27 Jehovah has given us many instructions in his Word of truth so we can equip ourselves for life in his new world, and we are expected to observe his commandments. Jehovah has made a merciful provision through Christ to take away the disability and sin that have come upon us through the first great lie. If we serve him properly we shall obey the commandments that Jehovah has given through his Son. Those who claim to be servants of God, Christians, but yet do not observe the commandments are actually liars, living a lie. “And by this we gain the knowledge that we have come to know him, namely, if we continue observing his commandments. He that says, ‘I have come to know him,’ and yet is not observing his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in this person.”—1 John 2:3, 4, NW.
28. What is a Christian conscience, and how is it a guide to right doing?
28 Jehovah has given humans a conscience. That conscience can be good or bad. The apostle Paul wrote Timothy about people in the later periods of time having their consciences marked with a branding iron. These are the ones who turn away from the teachings of God. They are those whose consciences are not hurt by wrongdoing. But the Christian should have a good conscience. He should be confident in the fact that he is doing right, that he is sticking to the truth in everything. It is necessary to have a good conscience before Jehovah in order to make a success of our faith, “holding faith and a good conscience, which some have thrust aside and have experienced shipwreck concerning their faith.” (1 Tim. 1:19, NW) When we come to a knowledge of the truth we leave behind the evil conscience and through the provision Jehovah has made make ourselves pure. “Let us approach with sincere hearts in the full assurance of faith, having had our hearts sprinkled from a wicked conscience and our bodies washed with clean water.” (Heb. 10:22, NW) The Christian conscience, instructed by God’s Word, is a good guide to right doing, making the setting up of a Talmudlike code of rules unnecessary. The Christian must individually consider the advice of Jehovah’s Word, to see what is right and to determine what he must do when confronted with the choice of whether to answer or not.
29. Why is a good conscience a blessing?
29 In order to do right and tell the truth we have often to suffer at the hands of persecutors and those in the world who are against what is good. By doing right we share in the witness concerning Almighty God and have a part in the vindication of his name. It is pleasant to have a good conscience, but it is torture for a person to tell lies and go in the wrong way and have a bad conscience. If one tells the truth he does not have to keep worrying about keeping his stories straight. Those who practice lying must always keep covering up their tracks. Why be on edge all your life, trying to cover up lies? Why not tell the truth at all times and enjoy living with a clear conscience? If one has to suffer for telling the truth it is not so hard to bear when one is confident in conscience before Jehovah. It is a privilege to suffer for doing right and keeping a good conscience.—1 Pet. 2:19, 20.
30. How do we benefit ourselves and our children by having pure hearts and keeping close to Jehovah’s organization?
30 Of all things that we do in our lives, the main thing we wish to do is to be pleasing to Jehovah. We want to do that which is agreeable to God. Therefore we stick close to the organization that Jehovah has built up and do what his Word tells us to do. We must avoid the evil influences of this old world and not learn morals from its environment. We are obliged to do with our utmost ability the things that Jehovah would have us to do. Fill the heart with truth, then truth will be spoken. (Matt. 12:34; Phil. 4:8) It is clear to us that Jehovah searches the innermost thoughts down into the depths of our hearts, examining our motives to see whether they are right or wrong. If we are telling the truth we can expect to have the favor of Jehovah. And our children will gain his favor too, for they will see in their parents the proper example and will be truthful before Jehovah too. Of course, training children to tell the truth early in life is essential.
31. Why are truthfulness and uprightness necessary among those who make up the New World society?
31 True, we make mistakes; but we count on the mercy of Jehovah God and the love of our brothers, as we do to the best of our ability the work that Jehovah God has given to his New World society in these later times. There is only one group of people today who keep integrity and who uphold the principles of truth and righteousness in God’s Word, and these are those who make up the New World society. It is right and pleasing before God for those who are his servants to be pure and upright and clean, to tell the truth, to deal justly and honestly with their brothers, and to preserve the peace and the unity of the organization. Let us allow no wrongdoing among those who associate with Jehovah’s theocratic organization. Let us deal justly with one another and learn how to live for the new world now, so we can live in the new world then when it is in complete operation.—Eph. 4:15, 16.