Fighters for Truth
“Go on waging the right warfare, holding faith and a good conscience, which some have thrust aside and have experienced shipwreck concerning their faith.”—1 Tim. 1:18, 19, NW.
1. Who qualifies for the ministry?
Do you qualify to share in the ranks of Jehovah’s fighters for truth? Anyone who dedicates himself to Jehovah’s service will qualify, whether man or woman, young or old, if he observes the requirements. Paul spoke of being the “right kind of soldier of Christ Jesus”; for just as we must wage the right warfare, so we must be the right kind of soldier to have God’s approval. We must be devoted to the ministry and willing to share the hardships and persecutions that attend it along with many joys and blessings. “As a right kind of soldier of Christ Jesus take your part in suffering evil.” (2 Tim. 2:3, NW) The kind of soldier a person really is shows up in the fight. Can he be depended on for any assignment or is he absent from meetings and irregular in service? Is he dependable and steady, or more like a drifting mercenary who is looking first to his own interests? It is not men we are serving, but God. We are not called before a human tribunal if we neglect our duties; it is Jehovah who examines us.—1 Cor. 4:1-4.
2. How do we manifest a spirit of love toward our brothers?
2 Many times we must not only carry our own load of service, but also lend a helping hand to others who need help. It is well known that the highest battle casualties occur when soldiers fight their first battles and before they become skilled in fighting. Just as a father looks after his children carefully, so the seasoned veterans of spiritual warfare must help the new ones through their first skirmishes to continue on walking worthily of God. (1 Thess. 2:11, 12) Furthermore, a well-trained regiment of soldiers has a pride in its achievements; and while a Christian will not get swelled up with personal pride, he should have a good spirit and delight in working with his brothers. “For God gave us not a spirit of cowardice, but that of power and of love and of soundness of mind. Therefore do not become ashamed of the witness about our Lord.”—2 Tim. 1:7, 8, NW.
3, 4. What are some of the requirements of the ministry?
3 Besides advising us to prove ourselves worthy to be in the ranks of Christian fighters through such qualifications, Paul stresses another requirement: Live according to our faith. He wrote to Timothy (1 Tim. 1:18-20, NW): “This mandate I commit to you, . . . that by these you may go on waging the right warfare, holding faith and a good conscience, which some have thrust aside and have experienced shipwreck concerning their faith.” Paul had good reason for mentioning this, because some in his time had tried to subvert the faith, resisting the truth to an excessive degree; and he warned that such ideas would be as deadly as gangrene if permitted to take hold. Just as a soldier who is hesitant or indecisive might well pay with his life, so may we if we do not hold firmly to our faith. We must let God prove to be true by faith and confidence in his Word. Hang on to it as to life itself. Those who try to destroy the faith of others will be disciplined by Jehovah’s organization and removed from the ranks. Paul told the Corinthians: “We are holding ourselves in readiness to inflict punishment for every disobedience.” In the early days of the Christian organization such disciplinary action was necessary, just as it is on occasions today. An early case is mentioned: “Hymenaeus and Alexander belong to these, and I have handed them over to Satan that they may be taught by discipline not to blaspheme.”—2 Cor. 10:6; 1 Tim. 1:20, NW.
4 As the soldiers in Israel had to keep clean by sanctification for their warfare under God’s leadership, today we must keep “a good conscience” by living according to his requirements. “Behave in a manner worthy of the good news about the Christ, in order that, whether I come and see you or be absent, I may hear . . . that you are standing firm in one spirit.” (Phil. 1:27, NW) Some of the ways to walk worthily are described as being “with complete lowliness of mind and mildness, with long-suffering, putting up with one another in love, earnestly endeavoring to observe the oneness of the spirit in the uniting bond of peace.”—Eph. 4:1-3, NW.
5, 6. How may some be disqualified from the ranks of Jehovah’s fighters?
5 Even more pointedly, Galatians 5:19-21 describes the works of the flesh, including such things as fornication, idolatry, spiritism, jealousy, anger and drunkenness, and states that those who practice such things will never inherit God’s kingdom. Thus in order to qualify in God’s sight to share in the spiritual warfare under the leadership of Christ, the Christian must shun such things and must demonstrate instead the fruitage of God’s spirit. He cannot be a witness in name only, but must hold to faith and a good conscience, which means a conscience trained in keeping with God’s Word. While our conduct may appear proper in the sight of our friends, we must remember that God discerns the secret intents of the heart. At the time of our dedication to Jehovah we not only vow to put away the filth of the flesh but also make the request to God for a good conscience toward God. (1 Pet. 3:16, 17, 21, NW) So we war against the inclinations of the flesh, being strengthened in the fight by the spirit of God.—1 Cor. 10:13; Rom. 7:23.
6 Paul knew that just being associated with God’s people would not ensure one of life, nor would having a share in the service unless we live and serve as befits Christian warriors. He did not want to be among those who run the race of faith and share in preaching to others, only to find himself disqualified from the prize of life. (1 Cor. 9:24-27) For anyone in Jehovah’s service to follow a rebellious, stubborn course not only will bring punishment to himself but may very likely bring reproach on the cause he serves and cause the faith of others to be shaken. A powerful illustration of this was seen in the case of Achan, when as a soldier for Israel he violated Jehovah’s commands. As a result of his trespass thirty-six of his fellow men died because Jehovah’s blessing was withdrawn. Because of this one unfaithful act of willful disobedience Achan and his family and possessions were all destroyed.—Joshua chapter 7.
ORGANIZED BATTLE ACTION
7. What effect does Christian oneness have on the enemy?
7 In the army a soldier cannot act on his own. He needs the help of others for supplies and fighting support. He looks to his officers for instructions and leadership. In like manner Christians today work together in an organized manner, accepting the leadership God provides through his visible organization and through appointed servants, “with one soul fighting side by side for the faith of the good news, and in no respect being frightened by your opponents. This very thing is a proof of destruction for them, but of salvation for you; and this indication is from God, because to you the privilege was given in behalf of Christ, not only to put your faith in him, but also to suffer in his behalf.” (Phil. 1:27-29, NW) We depend on God more than on any individual. “For not the one who recommends himself is approved, but the man whom Jehovah recommends.” All our efforts are of no avail without his support. That is why Paul said: “But he that boasts, let him boast in Jehovah.”—2 Cor. 10:18, 17, NW; Jer. 1:19; Ps. 35:1-10.
8, 9. Describe the demon organization.
8 Understanding more fully now the details about our equipment and the qualifications necessary to engage in the fight, what problems may we expect to face? No army goes into battle without first feeling out the enemy to determine its weaknesses. To be forewarned is to be forearmed. Therefore we do well to examine the structure and methods of operation of Satan’s organization. “Organization?” Yes. Jehovah God scored a triumph over it by means of Christ’s faithfulness to the death on the torture stake; as it is written: “He has taken it out of the way by nailing it [the law condemning Christians] to the torture stake. Stripping the governments and the authorities [of Satan’s organization] bare, he exhibited them in open public as conquered, leading them in a triumphal procession by means of it.” (Col. 2:14, 15, NW)* Jesus, when on earth as a man, had to war against those demon governments and authorities, resisting the temptations presented by Satan their chief and casting out more than a legion of demons from unfortunate persons obsessed by these wicked spirit forces. After the birth of God’s kingdom in heaven A.D. 1914 Jehovah’s King Jesus Christ and his angels launched a war against Satan and his demons and cast these wicked angels out of heaven down to the vicinity of our earth. Therefore we are warned to be on special guard against these demons now massed here.—Rev. 12:1-12.
9 In his letter to the Ephesians the apostle Paul again makes reference to Satan the Devil’s invisible organization of demon powers, naming the several parts of this unseen organization arrayed against us. He tells us how to “stand firm against the machinations of the Devil,” who is not of blood and flesh. “Because we have a fight, not against blood and flesh, but against the governments, against the authorities, against the world-rulers [cosmocrats] of this darkness, against the wicked spirit forces in the heavenly places.” (Eph. 6:11, 12, NW) It is these wicked spirit forces now restrained at the earth that inspire the misleading expressions that come out of the mouth of the dragon and wild beast and false prophet, to march earth’s kings to the battle of Armageddon.—Rev. 16:13-16, NW.
10. How does Jehovah protect his people from annihilation?
10 Ezekiel, chapter 38, tells of the encirclement of God’s people as these live in apparent defenselessness throughout the earth in “unwalled villages,” while Satan’s hordes come against them like a storm with darkness and threatening destruction. But are Jehovah’s people helpless and defenseless? Not while they have on the fighting equipment Jehovah has provided. They are within his protective care, just as surely as the prophet Elisha was when an army detachment of the king of Syria surrounded him at Dothan. On that occasion Jehovah’s angelic hosts protected and guarded Elisha, but blinded the enemy Syrians. (2 Ki. 6:14-19) Jehovah still protects and cares for his servants lest Satan overwhelm them. Thus protected, we can look fearlessly ahead to the showdown fight soon to come at Armageddon, when Jehovah fights against Satan, the modern-day Gog, and his demonic hordes.—Ps. 34:7, AS.
11, 12. What is the cause of the controversy, and how do we respond?
11 These are the days of real fighting for Jehovah’s servants, as Satan brings woes like a flood over earth’s people and wars against those who “observe the commandments of God and have the work of bearing witness to Jesus.” (Rev. 12:17, NW) The Scriptures indicate that he will become so successful in his scheme to blind the people’s minds to the truth that “the hour is coming when everyone that kills you [Jesus’ disciples] will imagine he has rendered a sacred service to God.” (John 16:2, NW) This is a fight of truth against error, of Jehovah against Satan, and we can be proud to have the privilege of serving in the proclamation of truth.
12 Paul tells us: “Put on the complete suit of armor from God that you may be able to stand firm against the machinations of the Devil.” This indicates he has a line of attack to break down our faith and integrity. What are some of these burning missiles that we must guard against?—Eph. 6:11, NW.
13. How can we demonstrate affection for Christ?
13 A Christian may find himself under constant attack in his own home. Regarding this Jesus said: “Do you imagine I came to give peace on the earth? No, indeed, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on there will be five in one house divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against her mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.” “Indeed, a man’s enemies will be persons of his own household. He that has greater affection for father or mother than for me is not worthy of me; and he that has greater affection for son or daughter than for me is not worthy of me.” (Luke 12:51-53; Matt. 10:36, 37, NW) It is very difficult to stand up under the test of constant family opposition and ridicule against the truth. To overcome this we need the large shield of faith, which is strengthened by the truth, and to carry on prayer on every occasion in spirit. We must keep seeking the Kingdom interests first. If we give in to family pressure and forsake our worship of Jehovah, we shall lose the battle and shall be cut off from vital association with the brothers.
14. Why did Paul warn against commercialism?
14 Another trap always ready to snare us is entanglement with commercial interests because of love of what the present system offers. Demas, Paul’s companion in the ministry, was one who stepped aside in this way. As Paul put it: “Demas has forsaken me because he loved the present system of things.” (2 Tim. 4:10, NW) We cannot serve two masters acceptably, nor can a soldier serve two causes at the same time. “No man serving as a soldier involves himself in the commercial businesses of life, in order that he may meet the approval of the one who enrolled him as a soldier.” (2 Tim. 2:4, NW) Paul had to work to support himself, but he never permitted it to stop his ministry, and we should take the same point of view. There is no need for us to store up for the future. All we need, as with any soldier, is provisions for the day, and with food and clothing we should be content.
15. In what way can we resist Satan?
15 However, Satan’s most successful maneuver to mislead the people is by propaganda contrary to God’s Word. From the time in Eden when he deceived Eve by promising her a knowledge of good and evil he has been subtly misrepresenting the truth and fostering religious deception. Down through the centuries he has built up false doctrines and ideologies until the world is now divided, with a man against his brother in every feature of life, including worship. Now is the time to walk again in the old ways of truth, tearing down the stronghold of error and building up knowledge of God. By doing this we can resist Satan and have a share in freeing those he has held in mental servitude. “For the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly, but powerful by God for overturning strongly entrenched things. For we are overturning reasonings and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are bringing every thought into captivity to make it obedient to the Christ.”—2 Cor. 10:4, 5, NW.
16. (a) How can truth be determined? (b) How can it best be presented to others?
16 “What is truth?” Pilate asked. Most persons credulously believe that the faith of their parents is the true one. But taking into account only the more than 260 so-called “Christian” denominations, we would have about one chance in 260 of being raised in the Scriptural “one faith,” one hope. So intelligent inquiry is necessary in order to determine the truth about God’s purposes; we cannot be simply lulled into a false sense of assurance and drift along with a perhaps demonically originated religious inheritance. In making such inquiry we can be grateful that Jehovah, like a loving father, has provided for our instruction and guidance by revealing his will to us in the inspired pages of the Bible. Once we come to a clear understanding of the Scriptures, we should not be on the defensive with regard to our faith, but on the offensive, fighting the spiritual warfare to share our knowledge with others. Rather than a frontal attack on false worship Paul advises the use of strategy in order to gain the most persons. “And so to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain Jews; to those under law I became as under law, though I myself am not under law, . . . I have become all things to people of all kinds, that I might by all means save some. But I do all things for the sake of the good news, that I may become a sharer of it with others.” Paul did not compromise the truth by his preaching, but he used tact and discernment in his presentation. He considered how he might most effectively attack and tear down the mental barrier of error, thus freeing his hearers for joyful acceptance of the truth.—1 Cor. 9:20-23, NW.
AVOIDING BEING A BATTLE CASUALTY
17. How do we demonstrate love for God and neighbor?
17 We have been greatly privileged to have been assigned to share in this ministry, and we want to treasure that opportunity and use it rightly. If we say we have love for God, then we must show it by excelling in the ministry. This means studying hard for accurate knowledge and full discernment, making sure of the important things, so we shall not stumble anyone, and having a real zeal for service. (Phil. 1:9-11) Having this correct knowledge and using it rightly means the difference between life and death in this fight. (Eccl. 7:12) It serves to guide men from the divisions and disunities of this world to a oneness of mind and action, possible only in Jehovah’s service. As the great crowd of people from all nations respond to the invitation to assemble in the household of faith, they learn Jehovah’s way and walk in his path. No longer do they lift up the sword against one another in nationalistic enmity, for now theirs is the good fight of faith. Thus spiritual war promotes lasting peace based on truth and coupled with love for God and neighbor—something carnal fighting has never achieved.—Eccl. 9:18.
18, 19. What dangers do we face? How are they overcome?
18 Are there casualties in this spiritual war? Yes, even with all the equipment given for our protection some are bound to fall by the wayside if they become indifferent. However, we have no cause for fear if we keep the right mental attitude. We should in no respect be frightened by our opponents or give in to the fear of men. (Isa. 41:11, 12) We know that as long as Satan continues his activities we are in for a fight, but we do not want to miss out on the opportunities before us: “For a large door that leads to activity has been opened . . . but there are many opposers.” (1 Cor. 16:9, NW) Have you boldly stepped through that door into active service?
19 Though many ridicule the truth, there is no reason for us to fall prey to their negative thinking or to slide into an apathetic state. Noah had the whole world of his time massed against his New World thinking, but he did not give up the fight. Indifference is a type of spiritual sickness—a part of Satan’s germ warfare. If you had a possibly fatal malady, you would try to get over it as quickly as possible. We can do the same with spiritual sickness with the help of our brothers and the treatment provided by Jehovah. Now is no time to follow our own ideas, everyone doing what appears best to him. It would be impossible to win a battle fighting in such a haphazard manner. Instead we need to have one mind on matters, the mind of the Lord, fighting shoulder to shoulder in the service and supporting meetings, holding to faith and a good conscience.
20, 21. What Scriptural encouragement do we have to continue in right warfare?
20 The amazing thing is that after all the struggle to uphold the truth and live according to it, fighting off the attacks of Satan, we do not become weak and exhausted. We do not finally show signs of battle fatigue or shock. All these trials work to our good to strengthen us spiritually, for spiritual warfare is upbuilding. “Let us exult while in tribulations, since we know that tribulation produces endurance; endurance, in turn, an approved condition; the approved condition, in turn, hope, and the hope does not lead to disappointment; because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the holy spirit which was given us.” (Rom. 5:3-5, NW) However, no one will receive the rewards of his fighting unless he continues faithful to the end, fighting the right fight and serving the faith. The final reward we look for is life itself, and nothing can compare with that, as it is the greatest reward of all. Even though we lose our life now as faithful witnesses, still we have the prospect of life in the new world through the resurrection. So contend for the victory in the right contest of faith.—Rev. 2:10; 1 Tim. 6:12, NW.
21 Besides the promise of life, there are many other rewards from day to day that sustain us in our hope. These come not from looting or spoiling, but are spiritual bounties of great value. These rewards are bound up with the two great commandments to love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength and our neighbor as ourself. The closer we stay to these right requirements, the greater our blessings. We must put God first in our life and serve him with all our strength. A soldier when called to arms drops everything to respond to the call; so it is with Christian warfare. Even family ties do not take precedence over the enlistment cry, “Be my follower,” for Jesus said: “Let the dead bury their dead, but you go away and declare abroad the kingdom of God.”—Luke 9:59, 60, NW.
22. Contrast old-world and new-world fighters.
22 Once having started in God’s service, do not turn back as many of the warriors under Judge Gideon did, thus missing out on the final victory. Remember, “No man that has put his hand to a plow and looks at the things behind is well fitted for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62, NW) The greatest blessings come with abundant service. Therefore those who are in position to share in the full-time ministry, such as the pioneer service, have a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the rich blessings Jehovah showers on those wholeheartedly serving him. These full-time workers are truly in the front ranks of the fighters in this spiritual warfare, often carrying the full fury of the attack as they advance the fight in new territories. Despite all trials, however, they can have confidence in Jehovah, even perfect peace of mind. What a difference from the anxiety and worried outlook of the soldier on a war-torn battlefield as he waits for the signal to attack! (Isa. 26:3, 4; Rom. 8:6) His mind is not thinking about the commandment to love his neighbor, but quite the opposite. But it is by keeping this command that spiritual warfare becomes fully rewarding. It may take months and even years of patient instruction and care, but there are few joys to compare with the delight of helping a person grow and become strong in a knowledge of the truth. You can show such ones how to reflect the light of truth to those still in darkness. Lead them into active combat with the sword of the spirit, holding high the torch of truth and light like soldiers of the Greater Gideon, Christ Jesus. (Judges 7; Dan. 12:3) Have you personally had the privilege of helping to free some of the crowds of people held in darkness by the wicked spirit forces under Satan? This is the goal for each fighter for the new world, and the rewards of sharing this prospect of life with others who love righteousness and peace are rich indeed.
23. How is spiritual warfare a building and cultivating work?
23 Spiritual warfare does not leave a trail of carnage over the face of a scorched earth with children bloated from starvation, their parents crippled or dead and their homes destroyed. To those causing such devastation Jehovah has declared that he will bring to ruin those ruining the earth, with Satan as chief among them. Instead of evil fruits, the fruits of the spirit and of spiritual warfare are good. It is a work of planting, cultivating and building up in a spiritual sense. Men and women of all nations are being brought together in understanding, love and trust. A New World society is being built up; not a secret society, but a free-speaking society of those who are real Bible Christians. They are building up a highway, clearing out stones of stumbling, and directing people along it to life in the new world. This is the right kind of warfare now being commanded by Jehovah and directed by Christ Jesus.
24. How and when will Jehovah bring an end to the great controversy?
24 How long will this controversy continue? For our part we shall continue with the preaching offensive of truth as long as Jehovah permits; or, as Isaiah put it, ‘until the cities are wasted and desolated.’ There is no furlough for us; but who wants a furlough when he has the grand privilege of doing this preparatory work on earth as a build-up to the great climax of world affairs at Armageddon? (Isa. 6:11; Eccl. 8:8) At that time Jehovah through his Field Marshal, Christ Jesus, will move with vengeance to crush Satan’s world organization, both visible and invisible, pulverizing the visible earthly part and hurling the invisible demonic part into the abyss of deathlike inactivity for the thousand years of Christ’s reign. In this “war of the great day of God the Almighty” the servants of Jehovah on earth will have no part with carnal weapons. Our work comes now as the right kind of soldiers for Christ. God’s part comes at Armageddon. (Ps. 46:9; Rom. 12:17-21; Rev. 19:11-16, 19) Until that time we must continue waging the right kind of warfare, not the conflicts of the visible part of Satan’s organization, but the war of truth against error, of right religion against false religion, never slacking in zeal or in faith, “forgetting the things behind and stretching forward to the things ahead,” as Paul did. (Phil. 3:13, NW) By doing so we shall be given the victory by Jehovah and be rewarded with peace and life in his new world of righteousness. (2 Pet. 3:13) Now is the time for war; after Armageddon is the time for peace.
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New World Highway