Accurate Knowledge to Please Jehovah
“Be filled with the accurate knowledge of his will . . . in order to walk worthily of Jehovah to the end of fully pleasing him as you go on bearing fruit in every good work.”—Col 1:9, 10, NW.
1. What type of person looks to Jehovah for guidance, and why?
PERSONS who have a right heart condition appreciate the need of doing that which is well-pleasing in the sight of God. Although the world may exert pressure to cause them to follow in the way that is approved by the majority, they stand firm in devotion to the Almighty God. They wisely recognize that “the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.” (Jer. 10:23, AS) What may seem right in the eyes of sin-laden man may not be right in the eyes of God. So be wise, “trust in Jehovah with all thy heart, and lean not upon thine own understanding: in all thy ways acknowledge him, and he will direct thy paths.”—Prov. 3:5, 6, AS.
2. What did both Jesus and the psalmist show to be the proper attitude toward God’s Word?
2 How can we acknowledge him in all things? By humbly seeking him, approaching him in prayer in the way that he has approved through Christ Jesus. Do not seek to impose your will on God, but call to mind how Jesus taught us to pray: “Our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified. Let your kingdom come. Let your will come to pass, as in heaven, also upon earth.” (Matt. 6:9, 10, NW) Our earnest desire then should be to know the will of God, that we may do what is right. As David humbly said: “Teach me thy way, O Jehovah.” (Ps. 27:11, AS) Now act consistently with your petition to God and study the textbook he has provided you, the Sacred Scriptures, and then follow its good counsel. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and light unto my path. I have sworn, and have confirmed it, that I will observe thy righteous ordinances. . . . Accept, I beseech thee, the freewill-offerings of my mouth, O Jehovah, and teach me thine ordinances. My soul is continually in my hand; yet do I not forget thy law. The wicked have laid a snare for me; yet have I not gone astray from thy precepts. Thy testimonies have I taken as a heritage for ever; for they are the rejoicing of my heart. I have inclined my heart to perform thy statutes for ever, even unto the end.” (Ps. 119:105-112, AS) We can concur in that wholesome expression of the psalmist only if we have made a careful study of the Bible and filled our heart with the truth to the extent that now it overflows with praise to Jehovah before our fellow men.
3. Why is the old world’s view of its religion and of Bible principles unwise?
3 But what is the trend in modern-day religion? Is it to practice the “worship that is clean and undefiled from the standpoint of our God and Father,” or is it to ‘attend the church of your choice’? (Jas. 1:27, NW) Conceited man may sort through the contents of God’s Word, accepting part and rejecting most as useless or undesirable. He may reject as impractical in this modern world the counsel, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” or he may make a name for himself by writing a newspaper or magazine column in which he quotes a few Bible texts that he considers to be good psychology. In so doing he may acquire a sizable following of persons who think he is “wonderful,” and who are pleased with his work. But consider: “Am I seeking to please men? If I were yet pleasing men, I would not be Christ’s slave.” (Gal. 1:10, NW) It would be far better to pay attention to the good advice given in God’s Word: “You should listen to the voice of Jehovah your God by keeping all his commandments that I am commanding you today, so as to do what is right in the eyes of Jehovah your God.”—Deut. 13:18, NW.
4. Show how Jesus set the right example in freely speaking the truth.
4 What Jesus preached was right, but it did not always please his hearers. When he lashed out in denunciation of the religious leaders of his day, branding their doctrines as the God-dishonoring traditions of men, they were offended. After they had heard more of the plain truths he preached, they were sure they did not like them and they sought to kill him. But uncompromisingly he kept on, reassuringly telling those who continued to listen: “If you remain in my word, you are really my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31, 32, NW) On the other hand, if we set aside that pure word for the sophistries of men, we lose the freedom that God gives.
5. How did Jehovah make clear to Israel the right form of worship, but what course did they follow?
5 Jehovah God has always made clear for his people what form of worship he approves. He did in Eden and at the time of the Flood, and certainly he made it clear to the children of Israel. While they were in slavish servitude in Egypt he turned his attention to them and brought about a marvelous deliverance. They were witnesses to the ten plagues that famished the false gods of Egypt and left them in humiliating defeat. They experienced Jehovah’s triumphal deliverance of them through the Red Sea and surely had impressed on their minds the fact that he is the true God. Yet it was only a few months later, when gathered at the foot of Mount Sinai while Moses was up in the mountain, that they disobediently turned aside to the worship of a golden calf in imitation of the idolatrous animal worship of the Egyptians. Though they knew that this was contrary to the will of God, they rebelliously followed their own pleasure. Oh, they did not leave Jehovah out altogether, but they certainly did not honor him by declaring their unholy celebration “a festival to Jehovah.” (Ex. 32:1-5, NW) For continued failure to obey the voice of Jehovah that entire generation died in the wilderness. They did not enter the Promised Land. Yes, their offspring entered it, but first Moses firmly warned these against the unfaithful course of their forefathers and said: “You should listen to the voice of Jehovah your God by keeping all his commandments that I am commanding you today, so as to do what is right in the eyes of Jehovah your God.”—Deut. 13:18, NW.
6. By what means was Saul of Tarsus led in opposition to the God-approved worship practiced by first-century Christians?
6 In the first century after Christ Saul of Tarsus, a Pharisee educated at the feet of Gamaliel, became well known. Saul was unusually zealous in his religion and an ardent persecutor of the Christians. In fact, it was while en route to Damascus with letters from the high priest authorizing him to seize the Christians there that he was converted to the truth. But why should Saul, a Pharisee and no doubt well acquainted with the Hebrew Scriptures, which the Christians also accepted and believed in their entirety, so violently oppose the ones holding the Christian faith? He himself answers: “You, of course, heard about my conduct formerly in Judaism, that to the point of excess I kept on persecuting the congregation of God and devastating it, and I was making greater progress in Judaism than many of my own age in my race, as I was far more zealous for the traditions of my fathers.” (Gal. 1:13, 14, NW) It was the tradition of men that had goaded him on in opposition to the truth.
7. How did the apostle Paul forcefully show that one acquainted with the Bible could still fail to please God?
7 Paul never forgot his experience, but, rather, used it as the basis for sound advice to others. (Col. 2:8) It made him realize that it is possible to have the Sacred Scriptures and even know their contents, but, because of the influence of human tradition, to fail to understand their instruction accurately. In his forceful letter to the Romans he pointed to just such a circumstance as being the problem of other Jews in his day. “I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God; but not according to accurate knowledge; for, because of not knowing the righteousness of God but seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the accomplished end of the Law, so that everyone exercising faith may have righteousness.” (Rom. 10:2-4, NW) As Paul says, they were zealous in their faith, no doubt having a knowledge of the Scriptures from hearing them read weekly in the synagogue. But their failure to understand accurately that Christ had fulfilled the Law and that now it was necessary to exercise faith in him put them out of harmony with God himself. They were not doing what was right in the sight of Jehovah God.
8. How does the lack of accurate knowledge affect modern-day religions of the world?
8 The lack in the world’s religious organizations today is the same. While they do possess the Bible, God’s written revelation of his will for our day, they lack accurate knowledge. The inspired apostle aptly expresses the situation when he says: “Although they knew God, they did not glorify him as God nor did they thank him, but they became empty-headed in their reasonings and their unintelligent heart became darkened. Although asserting they were wise, they became foolish and turned the glory of the incorruptible God into something like the image of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed creatures and creeping things. And just as they did not approve of holding God in accurate knowledge, God gave them up to a disapproved mental state, to do the things not fitting.” (Rom. 1:21-23, 28, NW) Yes, they do profess to know God, supporting large religious organizations and offering prayers in the name of his Son. Creation, many will admit, testifies to the existence of a Supreme Being, and they may even agree that the Bible is his Word. But the fact remains that they do not glorify him as God. “They publicly declare they know God, but they disown him by their works, because they are detestable and disobedient and not approved for good work of any kind.” (Titus 1:16, NW) Instead of giving glory to him, they heap reproach upon his name and word by professing to accept it as the basis of their religion and then failing to adhere to its principles of Christian love and justice. Reversing matters from their proper state, they seek to employ God as a convenient instrument to serve their pleasure. They scheme how to accomplish their desires, and then in effect tell God to approve. While these men claim to be wise according to the standards of the world, their foolishness is shown in failure to acknowledge the supremacy of the true God. Although they are always learning, they are “never able to come to an accurate knowledge of truth.”—2 Tim. 3:7, NW.
MAKING WAY FOR ACCURATE KNOWLEDGE
9. How is a real change effected in the lives of those who sincerely seek the truth?
9 Not all follow this course, to be sure. Those who sincerely seek the truth find it. They follow the course of practical wisdom outlined at Colossians 3:9, 10 (NW): “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.” When they carefully study God’s Word in order to understand his will accurately, it is clear that frequent or even occasional loose living with the world does not properly fit with Christian ways into the life of the same individual. So they pay attention to the advice to “put away the old personality which conforms to your former course of conduct and which is being corrupted according to his deceptive desires; but . . . be made new in the force actuating your mind.” (Eph. 4:22, 23, NW) They get right down to the bottom of the matter by changing the force that actuates their mind. “For as he thinketh within himself, so is he.” (Prov. 23:7, AS) So they refrain from filling their mind with old-world philosophy and filth and instead become well acquainted with the clean truth supplied by God. And now they “put on the new personality which was created according to God’s will in true righteousness and loving-kindness.” (Eph. 4:24, NW; Ps. 119:9-16) Notice, please, that this is not a matter of their merely developing a more charming personality, but it is a matter of accepting what God has provided and then keeping it renewed by regularly drawing on his storehouse of accurate knowledge as a guide to daily life. A hazy understanding of the Bible will not have this effect; only an accurate knowledge of God’s Word can reach deep enough to make the change.
10. How far-reaching a change is made in their lives?
10 The effect on their lives is far-reaching, governing the things they talk about, what they do and even the motive that is behind their actions. Through a study of the Bible a new world opens to their view—a new world to learn about, a new world to live for. Their interest is no longer in selfish pursuits, but they echo the psalmist’s words: “Great is Jehovah, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable.”—Ps. 145:3, AS.
11. (a) In what way has Jehovah made it possible for men “to serve him with one consent”? (b) How is the difference between accurate and defective knowledge illustrated in Judges chapter 12?
11 Jehovah himself initiates the change by now fulfilling his promise recorded in Zephaniah 3:9 (AS): “For then will I turn to the peoples a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of Jehovah, to serve him with one consent.” Through his theocratic organization he has made available a great increase in knowledge, which persons of good will readily accept. (Dan. 12:4) They recognize the requirement for Christians set forth by Paul: “Now I exhort you, brothers, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that you should all speak in agreement, and that there should not be divisions among you, but that you may be fitly united in the same mind and in the same line of thought.” (1 Cor. 1:10, NW) To meet that Christian standard you need a clear understanding of the truth. Certainly we do not want to be like the forty-two thousand Ephraimite fighters against Jephthah whose very speech betrayed that they were not on his side, although they firmly protested that they were not from the enemy camp. When asked to say the password “Shibboleth” the best they could do was say “Sibboleth.” It was similar, but not the same. They lost their lives. Today, too, what the clergy of Christendom teach may sound quite like what Jehovah’s witnesses teach; that is, to those not well acquainted with the Bible. But when one’s ears are attuned to the pure ring of truth through accurate knowledge, those who love the truth take their stand with those who are fighting to uphold true worship.—Judg. 12:1-6.
12. What lack prevents most of the church members of Christendom from zealously spreading their belief?
12 Many of the religious clergy of Christendom note this zealous activity of Jehovah’s witnesses and point to it as an example, urging their church members to greater activity, but generally with little success. Why? Because they lack accurate knowledge. They are taught to believe in God, but they incorrectly conceive him to be a mysterious trinity. (Isa. 42:8; John 14:28) They learn to pray the model prayer taught by Jesus, but while praying “Our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified,” they are told that he is a nameless Lord or God. The result is uncertainty. As they continue with the prayer they say: “Let your kingdom come. Let your will come to pass, as in heaven, also upon earth.” Yet they may be well aware that their religion is lending its support to the man-made United Nations, which is then lauded by them as ‘God’s kingdom on earth,’ although the Scriptures say that God’s kingdom is established by him, not by man. (Dan. 2:44) With such deficient, inaccurate instruction how can they be expected to respond zealously for Christian duty? “For truly, if the bugle sounds an indistinct call, who will get ready for battle?”—1 Cor. 14:8, NW.
13. Why do countless persons of good will respond to service with the New World society, and what course must they now pursue?
13 The call for willing service in the ranks of the King Christ Jesus now rings out in unmistakable clarity in the ears of a great crowd of persons of good will. (Matt. 24:14; Rev. 22:17) They respond by associating themselves with the New World society. But service anywhere in the New World society requires action, because it is a progressive, forward-looking society. It sees beyond the wreckage of this old world to the blessings of life in the new world. And right now those associated with it are constructively equipping themselves for life under that righteous arrangement. Thousands yearly associate themselves with the organization and, as babes, build themselves up on the milk of the Word. Yet it is impossible to stay a babe and still be in the New World society. “For everyone that partakes of milk is unacquainted with the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to mature people, to those who through use have their perceptive powers trained to distinguish both right and wrong. For this reason, now that we have left the elementary doctrine about the Christ, let us press on to maturity.” (Heb. 5:13 to 6:1, NW) The New World society moves ahead, and we must move with it!
14. What characteristic of true worship makes constant study necessary and interesting?
14 Even those associated for many years with Jehovah’s organization find that study must not cease. And the more they apply themselves to such study, the more earnestly they say as did Paul: “Oh the depth of God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge!” (Rom. 11:33, NW) Their study of the Bible does not become uninteresting or needlessly repetitious, because “the path of the righteous is as the dawning light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” (Prov. 4:18, AS) And so, even as the first-century Christians progressed in their understanding of Bible prophecy, of their relation to worldly governments, of organizational responsibility and of doctrinal truths, the modern-day Christian society also finds the light of Bible truth growing ever brighter. (Acts 2:16-21; 5:29; 15:13-20; 1 Cor. 5:9-13) Through the “faithful and discreet slave” class they have had drawn to their attention the birth of the Kingdom A.D. 1914, and the presence now of a faithful class of “other sheep” in their midst with prospects for everlasting life on earth. (Rev. 12:1-5; John 10:16) Such “other sheep” they have learned are referred to as the “precious things of all nations” at Haggai 2:7 (AS). They have had clarified their understanding of Zephaniah 2:1, 2 as applying to Christendom, instead of being addressed to Jehovah’s people. They now appreciate that Jesus’ preaching to the “spirits in prison,” referred to at 1 Peter 3:19, was a preaching of judgment to those disobedient spirit creatures who are restrained in Tartarean spiritual darkness and that it must have been done after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension to heaven. Indeed, true worship is not stagnant, bound to Middle Ages religious dogmas, but it is alive and progressive.
15. What quality particularly distinguishes a Christian, but what shows that accurate knowledge is necessary to direct its use?
15 Jesus said that his disciples would be outstandingly distinguished by the quality of love. (John 13:35) But that love must be properly directed to be acceptable. “And this is what I continue praying, that your love may abound yet more and more with accurate knowledge and full discernment, that you may make sure of the more important things, so that you may be flawless and not be stumbling others up to the day of Christ.” (Phil. 1:9, 10, NW) Yes, Christian love must be guided by accurate knowledge and discernment of God’s will, and our attention should be centered on the more important things. We are plainly told who is to be the first object of our love. “You must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind,” and, Jesus added, “your neighbor as yourself.” (Matt. 22:37-39, NW; 1 John 5:2, 3; 3:14) But that does not include the old world. “Do not be loving either the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 John 2:15, NW) True love, we are told, “does not rejoice over unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth.” (1 Cor. 13:6, NW) Thus, accurate knowledge enables us to direct our love toward Jehovah God and the ones he approves and the things he loves and it helps us to avoid the snare of sentimentally showering attention on the world that is in opposition to God.
16. What is needed if we are to please Jehovah, and how has he made provision for us to acquire it?
16 If it is your desire to be well pleasing to your Creator, then avail yourself of every opportunity to grow in an accurate knowledge of his Word. “This is right and acceptable in the sight of our Savior, God, whose will is that all kinds of men should be saved and come to an accurate knowledge of truth.” (1 Tim. 2:3, 4, NW) In the early Christian congregation he provided apostles, prophets and missionaries to train the brothers for ministerial work, building them up in accurate knowledge so they would be equipped for the assignment. (Eph. 4:11-13) Now, too, he has considered the needs of his servants and supplied them with the sustenance of truth and an organization to help equip them for their assignment as ministers. To please Jehovah fully you must accurately know his will. “Be filled with the accurate knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual discernment, in order to walk worthily of Jehovah to the end of fully pleasing him as you go on bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the accurate knowledge of God.” (Col. 1:9, 10, NW) To please Jehovah thus you must apply yourself to a careful study of his Word. As you contemplate this study assignment, consider how you can do it well.
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OLD WORLD PHILOSOPHY