Keep Pace by Conforming to Theocratic Requirements
“I give you orders that you observe the commandment in a spotless and irreprehensible way until the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ.”—1 Tim. 6:13, 14, NW.
1. What was the great responsibility that fell upon the anointed witnesses of Jehovah and professed Christians following A.D. 1914?
WITH the setting up of Jehovah’s kingdom in the year 1914 (A.D.) a great responsibility fell upon the anointed witnesses of Jehovah God and all who professed Christianity. Would they arise to declare this good news of the established kingdom in all the inhabited earth for the purpose of a witness to all the nations, or would their faith fail them, cause them to sink into the hopeless oblivion of this old world? Faith and trust in Jehovah and his Word was a requirement to be met before they could be used by God as his witnesses. Therefore, Jesus asked: “When the Son of man arrives, will he really find this faith on the earth?” Glancing back over the years to 1918, when Jehovah came to his temple, we can sincerely thank God that he did find “this faith on the earth,” the faith of Abraham. He found men and women who were wholly devoted to him as Almighty God Jehovah and who abandoned “all things” of this world and loved not their lives unto death.—Luke 18:8; Matt. 19:27; 24:14; Rev. 12:11, NW.
2, 3. (a) Why and how were the anointed remnant used by Jehovah? (b) What words of Isaiah began to have fulfillment?
2 Those years from 1914 to 1918 were trying years. The enemy had considerably demolished their earthly visible organization, but was unable to destroy their love and devotion to God. Their faith in him remained undying. It was with these devoted ones that Jehovah began building a new earthly organization, a New World society, under the established kingdom of God. These faithful ones collectively, Jesus ‘appointed over all his belongings.’ Immediately they felt the urgency of their responsibility and trust. And since they were free of any ties with mystic Babylon they were able to move right into the work at hand, the fulfilling of their commission to declare to the ends of the earth the good news of Jehovah’s kingdom. With God’s spirit upon them and much work to do, the anointed remnant came to life and a brilliant, divinely blessed future loomed before them as they formed the nucleus of the New World society.—Matt. 24:45-47, NW; Ezek 37:1-14; Rev. 11:11.
3 The words of Isaiah’s prophecy began to have fulfillment: “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of Jehovah is risen upon thee. For, behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the peoples; but Jehovah will arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And nations shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising. Lift up thine eyes round about, and see: they all gather themselves together, they come to thee; thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters shall be carried in the arms. Then thou shalt see and be radiant, and thy heart shall thrill and be enlarged; because the abundance of the sea shall be turned unto thee, the wealth of the nations shall come unto thee.” “And the sons of them that afflicted thee shall come bending unto thee; and all they that despised thee shall bow themselves down at the soles of thy feet; and they shall call thee The city of Jehovah, The Zion of the Holy One of Israel.” After 1919, and especially since 1935, great crowds of people, out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues, began to assemble to the New World society for theocratic instruction. God’s universal organization became known as “The city of Jehovah, The Zion of the Holy One of Israel.”—Isa. 60:1-5, 14, AS; Rev. 7:9; Mic. 4:1-5.
4. Why is it necessary for the meek to conform themselves to Jehovah’s requirements, and what are some of those requirements?
4 Now that these meek ones have come to Jehovah’s theocratic organization, it is only right that they conform themselves to his requirements; because only by so doing will they be able to keep pace with the New World society. Among the first requirements is the need of recognizing the theocratic organization; that through the “faithful and discreet slave” class Jehovah is providing his flock with spiritual food at the proper time. Also, study and association are joyful requisites, a means of keeping up with the ever-increasing light of understanding beamed forth through the New World organization. The need of discarding old-world habits and ambitions must be realized. Squabbles, racial and religious hatreds, national traditions, prides and rivalries and numberless other divisive theories and practices peculiar to the old world must be seen as things gladly to be tossed aside as belonging to this system of things that is passing away. All forms of worldly selfishness, jealousies, envies, egotistic ambitions, religious sectarian wars, persecutions of one another—all manifestations of the spirit of this dying system and its god, Satan—must be abandoned to this old world. There is no place for them in the new system of things. And it is only as we conform ourselves to these theocratic requirements that we shall be able to keep pace with the New World society.—Jas. 3:13-18; 4:1-4; Matt. 24:45, 46, NW.
5. How does self-control aid in keeping step with the New World society?
5 The journey to the new world calls for self-control. Moses after serving diligently and faithfully for many years as a servant of Jehovah did not enter the Promised Land, because at one time he lost self-control. He allowed himself to be driven to anger, and in a moment of rage he failed to sanctify Jehovah in the eyes of Israel. This cost him the privilege of entering the Promised Land. Those traveling today to the antitypical Promised Land must be on guard against losing control. Self-control is moderation and self-discipline in all things. Paul counseled the Philippians: “Let your reasonableness become known to all men.” As we give up habits of the old world and take up the habits of the new, we want to find ourselves adopting a reasonable, sensible course in all things that we do. The wise man’s advice is: “Be not righteous overmuch, and do not make yourself overwise; why should you destroy yourself? Be not wicked overmuch, neither be a fool; why should you die before your time?” This means self-control, a knowledge of when to begin and when to end. Not becoming all one-sided or lopsided but balanced in all things is an important feature in keeping pace with the New World society.—Phil. 4:5, NW; Eccl. 7:16, 17, RS.
6. What should each member of the New World society be able to recommend?
6 It is incumbent upon every traveler to the new world, and especially so upon the servants, to set proper examples. Each servant should so conduct himself as to be able to recommend his course to others. Each should be able to say as did the apostle: “Become imitators of me, even as I am of Christ.” What sort of example was this apostle? Under inspiration, here is what he said of himself: “I call you to witness this very day that I am clean from the blood of all men, for I have not held back from telling you all the counsel of God. . . . Therefore keep awake, and bear in mind that for three years, night and day, I did not quit admonishing each one with tears. And now I commit you to God and to the word of his undeserved kindness, which word can build you up and give you the inheritance among all the sanctified ones.”—1 Cor. 11:1; Acts 20:26-32, NW.
7. Why cannot the servant permit his habits, and especially his eating and drinking habits, to get out of line?
7 New World servants must copy Paul’s fine example so they too can be examples for good to the many tens of thousands coming into the New World society each year. These new ones seeing this fine example in conduct set before them will be moved to imitate the servants and thus keep pace with the New World society. That is why Paul forcefully stated: “The overseer should therefore be irreprehensible, a husband of one wife, moderate in habits, sound in mind.” The servant cannot afford to permit his habits to get out of hand. The flock of God look to him for proper leadership. Some habits may very easily become immoderate unless self-control is exercised. This is especially true of the eating and drinking habits. We are counseled that neither gluttons nor drunkards will inherit the kingdom of God. Overeating shows a lack of judgment. It saps one’s energy and makes one mentally sluggish and sleepy. Overdrinking causes loss of control of oneself. A drunkard lacks poise, dignity and respectability. How can a drunkard represent the theocratic organization with a clean conscience? Impossible! Drunkenness impedes progress and dishonors the congregation of God and its Christ. It certainly does not befit those keeping step with the New World society. Therefore Paul advises overseers to be “moderate in habits, . . . not a drunken brawler, not a smiter, but reasonable.” And to Christian women his advice is: “Be serious, not slanderous, moderate in habits, faithful in all things.” And to the household of God he says: “Whether you are eating or drinking or doing anything else, do all things for God’s glory.”—1 Tim. 3:2, 3, 11; 1 Cor. 9:25; 10:31, NW.
8. What sort of life should the Christian endeavor to live?
8 Conforming to God’s requirements allows the Christian witness to live a balanced and happy life. It brings satisfaction. And “godly devotion is a means of gain. To be sure, it is a means of great gain, this godly devotion along with self-sufficiency.” It helps the Christian to appreciate that he is just one of a great body of praisers reflecting God’s glory; that his conduct reflects on the entire Christian organization, either aiding or impeding progress with the New World society.—1 Tim. 6:5, 6, NW.
9. How can we check our habits?
9 To form good habits is not easy in an imperfect world, because habits are not formed automatically. Good habits must be thoughtfully cultivated by hard work. And for the most part good habits are the fruits of the spirit of God, a result of the diligent application of his Word. Bad or improper habits will inevitably put us out of step and draw us away from the New World society. So check your habits and progress. Ask yourself: Would Jesus have behaved as I did? How would he have handled this matter demanding self-control? Copy his example. If about to enter upon a doubtful course, ask yourself: Will this course enrich or corrupt my appreciation of the Creator? What will happen if I let things develop to the fullest extent? Will the fruit be theocratic, reasonable, practical? Or will it be detrimental to my spiritual welfare? Keep Paul’s words in mind: “Keep testing whether you are in the faith.” Keep testing to see whether you are in pace with the New World society, by checking your mental attitude, your disposition, your conduct and your progress. Keep maturing not only horizontally, that is, onward with the years in the truth, but upward too, vertically in spirituality, appreciation, love and understanding. “Keep proving what you yourselves are.”—2 Cor. 13:5, NW.
OBEDIENT TO THEOCRATIC REPRESENTATION
10, 11. In what way should New World policies and principles and the “faithful and discreet slave” class be viewed?
10 Newcomers must learn to fall in line with the principles and policies of the New World society and to act in harmony with them, so that all may function smoothly for the welfare and blessing of all within the organization, to the glory of God the Father. Sometimes it becomes rather difficult for some of our new associates to make this change. They are prone to be a little rebellious or unruly. But to become genuinely a part of the New World society it is imperative that proper respect for theocratic arrangement and order be shown. A humble, obedient mental attitude is required. We cannot permit dispositions and trends of the old world to influence our thinking and actions once we have come into the New World organization. The old world we have left behind, so why not leave it all behind for all time? Why try to drag its policies and methods into the New World arrangement? Its policies have not benefited the old world; how will they be of any value to the new? Only by a conscientious effort of making over our minds, by refusing to be fashioned after this system of things, shall we be able to prove to ourselves the good and acceptable and complete will of God.—Rom. 12:2, NW.
11 Since the “faithful and discreet slave” has been entrusted with all the Master’s goods, then let us view with proper mental perception that whatever the ‘faithful slave’ does is for our good. The slave is thereby fulfilling its own obligation before Jehovah in getting His work done. Therefore the slave’s will is Jehovah’s will. Rebellion against the slave is rebellion against God. A proper mental attitude toward the slave’s direction is a part of keeping pace with the New World society.
12. Why is the road of the “freethinker” dangerous to follow?
12 A tendency among the rising generation is to exalt individuality—“freethinking,” they call it. The “freethinker” expresses an individual desire for independence. He resists being “tied down” to any set rule or regulation. He has his own way of doing things, which to him always appears better. Submission to theocratic authority or representation becomes hard for him. He feels cramped for space, as if he were hemmed in on all sides by instructions. Everyone in the New World society is out of step but him. He always seems to know a better way for things to be done. His course is one puffed up with pride and self-esteem. If he is not careful to rectify his waywardness, “big-headedness,” his pride will lead him to a disgraceful fall. Better always to recognize in the Scriptural way the theocratic arrangement that brought us the truth and to fall in line with it than to resist its direction simply because at times we do not understand why things are done the way they are. “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. Be not wise in thine own eyes; fear Jehovah, and depart from evil.” “Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. Better it is to be of a lowly spirit with the poor, than to divide the spoil with the proud.” Let these words suffice.—Prov. 3:5-7; 16:18, 19, AS.
13. How do the Scriptures show the need for obedience to and respect for theocratic representation?
13 Obedience to and respect for theocratic representation are a requirement in Jehovah’s organization. “Let the older men who preside in a right way be reckoned worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard in speaking and teaching.” (1 Tim. 5:17, NW) Jehovah is responsible for the organization of his creatures and delegates power and authority to these and directs what honor should be given them. “Now God has set the members in the body, each one of them, just as he pleased.” Earthly overseers represent Jehovah in their assignment just as much as heavenly ones do. “Be in subjection to one another in fear of Christ. Let wives be in subjection to their husbands as to the Lord, . . . In fact, as the congregation is in subjection to the Christ, so let wives also be to their husbands in everything. . . . The wife should have deep respect for her husband.” This demonstrates the need for order and respect within the Christian congregation for delegated authority.—1 Cor. 12:18; Eph. 5:21-33, NW.
14-16. (a) How is respect for theocratic representation illustrated in Zechariah’s case? (b) In the case of Paul with the high priest Ananias? (c) In the case of David and King Saul? (d) Michael the archangel and the Devil?
14 When Gabriel told Zechariah that he was to have a son, Zechariah did not believe the angel. Zechariah showed lack of respect through disbelief. Therefore the angel said to him: “I am Gabriel, who stands near before God, and I was sent forth to speak with you and declare the good news of these things to you. But, look! you will be silent and not able to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words. Just the same, they will be fulfilled in their appointed time.” Gabriel was Jehovah’s representative. His words were not to be questioned. Disrespect to this authority brought a severe punishment from God.—Luke 1:19, 20, NW.
15 When Ananias ordered that Paul be slapped on the mouth, Paul said to him: “God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall. Do you at one and the same time sit to judge me in accord with the Law and, transgressing the Law, command me to be struck?” Those standing by said: “Are you reviling the high priest of God?” Paul then apologized, saying: “Brothers, I did not know he was high priest. For it is written, ‘You must not speak injuriously of a ruler of your people.’” On other occasions before kings and rulers of this world, Paul was always very careful to show due respect. How much more so should we be respectful to those to whom Jehovah delegates authority!—Acts 23:1-5, NW.
16 King Saul threatened David’s life on many occasions. Yet, when it was within David’s reach to take Saul’s life, he said: “Who can put forth his hand against Jehovah’s anointed, and be guiltless?” David displayed fear of God and deep respect for his appointees by refusing to lay a hand on Saul. (1 Sam. 26:9; Ps. 105:14, 15, AS) Jude draws a contrast between the conduct of persons like men of Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities about them and that of Michael. Of the wicked, he said: “These men, too, indulging in dreams, are defiling the flesh and disregarding lordship and speaking abusively of glorious ones. On the other hand, when Michael the archangel had a difference with the Devil and was disputing about Moses’ body, he did not dare to bring a judgment against him in abusive terms, but said: ‘May Jehovah rebuke you.’ Yet these men are speaking abusively of all the things they really do not know, but all the things they do understand naturally like the unreasoning animals, in these things they go on corrupting themselves.” Peter launched a similar charge against the disrespectful and lawless: “Daring, self-willed, they do not tremble at glorious ones but speak abusively, whereas angels, although they are greater in strength and power, do not bring against them an accusation in abusive terms, not doing so out of respect for Jehovah. But these men, like unreasoning animals born naturally to be caught and destroyed, will, in the things of which they are ignorant and speak abusively, even suffer destruction in their own course of destruction, wronging themselves as a reward for wrongdoing.”—Jude 8-11; 2 Pet. 2:6-13, NW.
17, 18. What serious consequences of showing disrespect to authority are highlighted in the cases of Ananias and his wife Sapphira, Korah, Miriam and Aaron?
17 The faithful servant will be careful to show due respect to authority at all times, appreciating that these representatives speak in the name of Jehovah. When Ananias and Sapphira lied to Peter, the apostle told them: “You have played false, not to men, but to God.” They paid with their lives for this lack of respect to Jehovah and his representative. Korah rebelled against the leadership of Moses and Aaron, but Moses showed that Korah’s disrespect was more far-reaching than that. Moses said: “By this you will know that Jehovah has sent me to do all these deeds, that it is not of my own heart: If it is according to the death of all mankind that these people will die and with the punishment of all mankind that punishment will be brought upon them, then it is not Jehovah that has sent me. But if it is something created that Jehovah will create and the ground has to distend its mouth and swallow up them and everything that belongs to them and they have to go down alive into Sheol, then you will certainly know that these men have treated Jehovah disrespectfully.” By their rebellious conduct, Korah and his cohorts “sinned against their own souls.” Such men oppose, not men, but God.—Acts 5:1-6; Num. 16:1-38; Acts 5:38, 39, NW.
18 The serious consequences of showing disrespect are also highlighted in the case of Miriam and Aaron, who disregarded Moses as Jehovah’s chosen spokesman: “Is it just by Moses alone that Jehovah has spoken?” they asked. “Is it not by us also that he has spoken?” For their untheocratic behavior Miriam was struck with leprosy. Only because of their repentant attitude and Moses’ intercession in her behalf was Miriam cleansed. Yet, Jehovah’s displeasure at Miriam’s conduct is evident in His words to Moses: “Were her father to spit directly in her face, would she not be humiliated seven days? Let her be quarantined seven days outside the camp and afterward let her be received in.” Both brothers and sisters should take to heart a warning from this, that to speak abusively or disrespectfully of authority, Jehovah’s representatives, is a sin serious enough to remove one “outside the camp,” the theocratic organization. Let it be known that “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”—Num. 12:1-15; Heb. 10:31, NW.
19. Why is it not advisable to look at faulty man of flesh?
19 Peter declared that Jehovah “is not partial, but in every nation the man that fears him and works righteousness is acceptable to him.” Therefore, dispose of old-world ideas that Jehovah’s organization is filled with “favorites.” There are no favorites. If you fear him and do works of righteousness, then you are his favorite as much as anyone else. In the congregation, servants are chosen for their qualifications and ability to serve. The congregation should show them the respect befitting their assignment, because this is Jehovah’s means of dealing with you and you with Him. Do not weaken your theocratic relationship by stumbling over the “flesh” you may not personally like. Because, says Paul: “From now on we know no man according to the flesh. Even if we have known Christ according to the flesh, certainly we now know him so no more. Consequently, if anyone is in union with Christ, he is a new creation; the old things passed away, look! new things have come into existence.” If we are prone to look at any faulty man of flesh, that will tend to lessen our appreciation for his theocratic position, his responsibility as Jehovah’s slave. If we see this principle of theocratic representation clearly, we will not insist on our own rights and interests, but will follow the wise counsel of Jehovah’s appointees. These are “gifts in men” from Jehovah. They will help us work out our salvation to the honor of God and to the vindication of his great and holy name.—Acts 10:34, 35; 2 Cor. 5:16, 17; Eph. 4:8, NW.
20. What, then, does it mean to keep pace with the New World society?
20 Therefore, to keep pace with the New World society means many things for us. It means a life of dedication, self-sacrifice, being wholly and unreservedly devoted to Jehovah God as Christ Jesus was and now is. It means for us to get rid of old-world habits and conform ourselves to Jehovah’s requirements. It means recognizing the “faithful and discreet slave,” and showing due respect to those in authority. It means ‘proving ourselves what we really are.’ In substance this all means to “observe the commandment in a spotless and irreprehensible way.”—2 Cor. 13:5; 1 Tim. 6:14, NW.
21. How will keeping pace with the New World society benefit us?
21 If we do this, we shall mature by Jehovah’s undeserved kindness. We shall become aware of the bountiful blessing it is to keep in step with his organization. We shall thrill in theocratic expansion. We shall glow with the spirit at the increase of knowledge and understanding. We shall reap with joy what we have sown. Our conviction will be strong, our faith immovable, our appreciation deep, our joy will abound with the full assurance that we are in step with the New World society of God, whose guidance and direction not only will feed us well spiritually in the last days of this old world, but will keep us alive on into the New World of righteousness and for evermore.
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Years in the Truth