Happy Those Who Refuse to Compromise
1. If Jesus had not been governed by principles what course of action might he have taken, but what course did he take?
BY TAKING a course of action contrary to the principles of Jehovah Jesus might have gained the favor of men and avoided some of the reproach and sufferings that he endured, but he was not the kind who bows to whatever is currently expedient. Jesus set his mind on exclusive devotion to Jehovah, resisting material things and entanglement with this world, and gained the eternal blessing of Jehovah. Our great Example was governed by principles rather than passion, and God’s law was in his heart. He would not compromise.—Ps. 40:8; Heb. 10:9.
2, 3. (a) What faithful examples of living by Christian principles do we see in the lives of the early Christians? (b) What principle did James set before the compromisers?
2 The apostles saw his example and fully understood it with the help of holy spirit. They too dedicated their lives to Jehovah’s service, were baptized and advanced to spiritual maturity. The record of their actions and words emphasizes the way true Christians, guided by right principles, conduct themselves to be acceptable to Jehovah. It shows too that imperfect men such as we are can live by principles. When they faced persecutions they were as steadfast as Jesus, Peter and John, saying to the rulers who had them beaten for obeying right principles: “We must obey God as ruler rather than men.” They may have avoided reproach and physical suffering at men’s hands by compromising the Christian principles, but they would have suffered terrible pangs of conscience if they had compromised. They were mature Christians who thought out matters carefully and saw the only course was to give a straightforward answer.—Acts 5:29, NW; 1 Pet. 3:16, 21.
3 Early Christians did not make a sugary appeal to gain the approval of the world by compromising their position or message. Jesus had plainly informed them they would be hated by the world and would suffer persecution, even death, for holding to right principles. They knew that to compromise would mean sacrificing their standing with Jehovah. The outspoken James therefore forcefully addressed the compromisers: “Adulteresses, do you not know that the friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever, therefore, wants to be a friend of the world is constituting himself an enemy of God.”—Jas. 4:4, NW.
4, 5. Show how reasoning on Christian principles protects Christians from the so-called interfaith movements.
4 In those early days under the Roman Empire the leaders of the world practiced a conglomeration of religions, a sort of interfaith arrangement, with all religions being considered to have some merit. But true Christians remained separate and were hated for their uncompromising attitude. How could the Christians do otherwise? The principle had been stated by Christ that they were not a part of the world. They knew that worship of Jehovah and not that of idols was proper. (Note how Paul reasoned on principles and idolatry at 1 Corinthians 10:14-22.) Reasoning on the Scriptural principles protects every Christian from so-called interfaith movements. Jesus had warned, at Matthew 16:6-12 (NW): “Be on the alert and watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” “So they began to reason among themselves, saying: ‘We did not take any loaves along.’ Knowing this, Jesus said: ‘Why are you doing this reasoning among yourselves, because you have no loaves, you with little faith? Do you not yet see the point, or do you not remember the five loaves in the case of the five thousand and how many baskets you took up? Or the seven loaves in the case of the four thousand and how many provision baskets you took up? How is it you do not discern that I did not talk to you about loaves? But watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.’ Then they grasped that he said to watch out, not for the yeast of the loaves, but for the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” So they needed to have the facts in mind when doing their reasoning, and Jesus helped them to learn. Later on Paul came on the scene and reasoned clearly on the pressing interfaith problem in his day and helped fellow Christians to reason well by writing, at 2 Corinthians 6:14-17 (NW): “Do not become unevenly yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership do righteousness and lawlessness have? Or what fellowship does light have with darkness? Further, what harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what portion does a faithful person have with an unbeliever? And what agreement does God’s temple have with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said: ‘I shall reside among them and walk among them, and I shall be their God, and they will be my people.’ ‘Therefore get out from among them, and separate yourselves,’ says Jehovah, ‘and quit touching the unclean thing.’” Clear logic by Paul. Seeing the principles involved, the Corinthian Christians could keep clean.
5 Therefore today, even though the word “interfaith” is not in the Bible, true Christians are found following Christian principles and are not in the interfaith movements, ministerial alliances or compromising church councils. We will not take any part in the conglomeration of divided false religions now so popular in this world. Why not? Because we reason on Bible principles and understand the position of a Christian in this world. As Christians we must keep clean and never compromise God’s righteous principles for the sake of being looked on with favor by this world.
6. How must the Christian reason on God’s principles and laws in connection with blood transfusion?
6 Another example that might be given of words not specifically mentioned in the Bible that must be reasoned upon according to God’s principles and laws is blood transfusion. How easily people who ignore God’s principles are stirred by passion or emotion! Blood transfusion has been developed in recent years and it therefore never occurred in the Bible days. God’s principles and laws are clear, however: The life of the flesh is in the blood. Blood may not be eaten. Blood must be poured out, not stored up. Blood transfusion is the same as intravenous feeding; it is a feeding upon blood. Therefore it must be reasoned that it is an unscriptural practice. Principle triumphs over emotion. True Christians will not compromise, allowing no form of blood to be transfused and thus suffer disfavor of Jehovah. It would be unreasonable anyway to lose eternal life in the new world just for the sake of wanting to live a few more weeks or years now.
7. What pressures may come upon a Christian in connection with blood transfusion?
7 But who will deny that when one is personally involved in the battle of stirred emotions of the world versus principles of truth he does not have a trial? Does blood transfusion not appear to be valuable on the surface? Could it not be argued that one would thus keep himself alive and be better able to serve God? It does no good to enter into arguments. It may be true that blood substitutes will not perform the same work as blood. But God’s principles are fixed and Christians adhere to his laws as against medical arguments. So pressures of life are applied constantly against Jehovah’s dedicated servants and it is only by calm, deliberate, clear thinking on matters, carefully and prayerfully searching out the will of Jehovah, that the Christian avoids the compromise.
THE DANGER IN COMPROMISE
8. Why avoid even one compromise?
8 Compromising is dangerous. Making one compromise breaks down a good conscience. Other compromises can easily follow. It may be compared to a man who told one lie, adding many more to cover up the first one.
9. Neutrality toward the world means what for the Christian?
9 The conscience that is guided by Jehovah’s Word will stick to right principles and help one keep the proper neutrality toward the world. A dedicated servant of Jehovah is in a position far different from that of a man of the world. He is under contract to make positive expression for Jehovah’s cause, both in words and in deeds, and he cannot withdraw from that contract. (Eccl. 5:4, 5) Some might think that neutrality of Christians toward the world indicates only that they do not participate in some things that violate Christian principles and conscience. But it is not only what you are not that counts, it is what you are! Neutrality toward the world does not void action toward New World interests. It means active Christian ministry—active support of the new world. Without such activity our faith is marked as dead. The activity now required is based on the principle stated by Jesus: “And this good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for the purpose of a witness to all the nations, and then the accomplished end will come.” Conscientious work is in order to share in carrying out this purpose of Jehovah.—Jas. 2:26; Matt. 24:14, NW.
10. On what must the Christian think when any effort is made to take him out of the ministry, and what will he do?
10 If one has taken up this ministry, how can he conscientiously allow anything to take him out of the service voluntarily? There are times when the world calls on an individual for special service of some kind that is contrary to Bible principles by which his conscience has been trained or that would involve him in lucrative extra activity to such an extent that he would be unable to give proper attention to the ministry. Here he must reason on the principles of God’s Word. Is he going to allow himself to be taken away from the ministry to serve the old world exclusively? Should he fear what might happen to him if he refuses? Will he lose his present means of livelihood? Will he suffer some loss of material things or reputation if he holds to his ministry? Will he be persecuted? It is a battle of principle versus passion. Based on the Christian principle concerning our relationship to the world, Paul wrote, at 2 Timothy 2:3, 4 (NW): “As a right kind of soldier of Christ Jesus take your part in suffering evil. 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.” We are Christian soldiers. We are ambassadors substituting for Christ. We have our work divinely assigned. With these principles firmly in mind, each individual Christian follows his conscience, even if his family and worldly neighbors do not understand what Jesus meant when he said: “Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you.”—2 Cor. 5:20; Matt. 6:33, NW.
11. How have the clergy compromised on the principles of God’s Word, and what do we find to be the result to them and Christendom?
11 We are deeply indebted to Jehovah for unfolding before our eyes his purposes concerning the present system of things under Satan. How different is our position from that of the clergy and men of this world! The clergy are worried as they see godlessness, communism and heathen philosophies sweeping like a flood up to the doors of Christendom and infiltrating their organizations. But we are not surprised, because Jesus foretold it in the prophecy at Luke 21:20-22. The leaders of Christendom are frantic in their efforts to hold the domination over the peoples, which was once so strong. But they do not give the people a solid basis for faith by teaching them the pure principles of God, and the people are drifting. The clergy have compromised time and again on the basic principles of the Word of God and twist scriptures to try to justify the compromises. They have introduced gambling, shows and social events into the churches to try to hold the flock together. They have allied themselves with politicians, and show themselves as a part of this world. The National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. gives evidence of this in announcing, as reported in the New York Times, September 10, 1956, that “ministers have a duty to think through the issues and take sides in politics.” Christ Jesus and the apostles would never do that. The clergy have blessed and shared in bloody wars. But even with their compromises and taking sides with political leaders, they have failed to hold off the spiritual bankruptcy of Christendom and to retain control of the people. They are divided, disunited and spiritually weak.
12. (a) In what direction have the compromises led Christendom? (b) In contrast, what is the position of Jehovah’s witnesses?
12 Jehovah’s witnesses have expected this condition in compromising Christendom, and God’s Word shows it will grow still worse until finally unprincipled Christendom will fall harder than unfaithful Jerusalem in 607 B.C., whose fall was prophetic of the coming event. And Jehovah’s witnesses want no part of the compromising, unfaithful clergy and their ways. Christendom is doomed by God’s judgment. A great gulf has opened up between the principled servants of Jehovah and the unprincipled false worshipers. As the climax approaches, Jehovah’s organization remains clean. His true witnesses hold firmly to God’s principles and remain clean. We are not here on earth to become popular with the old world; we are here to uphold pure worship.
ENDURING SEPARATE FROM THIS WORLD
13. How has a patient, uncompromising attitude been demonstrated by Jehovah’s servants in connection with the work in Italy, and with what results?
13 Upholding pure worship requires patience and endurance while clinging to Christian principles. In many parts of the world our brothers have been called upon to be governed strongly by the principles of Jehovah in the face of the greatest tests. Jehovah has strengthened them. Consider our brothers in totalitarian lands. Have they abandoned principles for passionate expediency? Look back at the example of Italy. For years Mussolini’s Black Shirts stood in the way of the preaching of the good news by Jehovah’s witnesses. The Vatican enjoyed treaty relations and friendship with the world, but Jehovah’s servants in Italy, few in number, were severely persecuted. Jehovah’s witnesses inside and outside of Italy wondered how it would be possible to preach to Italy’s millions. The years seemed long then, but Jehovah’s witnesses were patient. They did not lose faith. They preached where they could. The time came for Jehovah’s principles to be made known in Italy and the ‘sword of the Roman Catholic Church’ was taken out of the way. When the opening came the work was quickly pushed throughout the land and now a rapidly expanding part of the New World society flourishes in sunny Italy.
14. How have Jehovah’s witnesses in other totalitarian lands endured separate from the world and gained Jehovah’s blessing?
14 Our brothers in Nazi Germany endured, some even to death. Our brothers in the Dominican Republic and Argentina endured. Christians expect to have to endure much while remaining separate from this world, but while waiting for deliverance by Jehovah they continue to preach the good news. Jehovah has richly blessed them in their faith, as in Quebec, where our brothers put up a hard fight and would not compromise what was right. Jehovah has given victories, and today the good news is openly preached in these lands, to Jehovah’s praise. Jehovah’s servants have stood firmly upon the solid principles of Jehovah even when the situation seemed the darkest. Thoroughly convinced of the rightness of their position they have fought valiantly and finally succeeded in convincing many rulers and judges, by Jehovah’s help, of the lawful rights of those who stick to Jehovah’s principles. And today in these lands the good news is openly preached, to Jehovah’s praise and to the great chagrin of the opposed clergy.
15. Why has it been possible for Jehovah’s witnesses to endure fierce Communist persecution, and what do they do while enduring?
15 For years now the brothers in communistic countries have had to endure vicious persecution. Extremely cunning and persistent efforts have been put forth to bring on compromise. The holding to Christian principles by faithful witnesses of Jehovah has made a great testimony to the rulers and the ruled. How much longer the brothers will have to endure these conditions we do not know. They keep in mind the principle stated by Jesus: “He that has endured to the finish is the one that will be saved.” (Matt. 24:13, NW) And the words of Paul give understanding: “You have closely followed my teaching, . . . my faith, . . . my endurance, my persecutions, my sufferings, . . . the kind of persecutions I have borne; and yet out of them all the Lord delivered me. In fact, all those desiring to live with godly devotion in association with Christ Jesus will also be persecuted.” (2 Tim. 3:10-12, NW) So as they endure they preach, and through them Jehovah gathers more of his sheep. The record of the endurance of Jehovah’s servants in these last days was made only with the help of Jehovah, and to him we give all thanks and praise. How happy those who are guided by principles and who endure in the glorious fight!—Jas. 5:11.
16. (a) Why is it important now to know how to reason on the principles of God’s Word? (b) How can we avoid becoming ensnared by human reasoning?
16 Satan has found little success by means of flaming persecution in conquering those who live by true Christian principles. But he is a wily opponent who has not given up the fight. Did he not put Jesus to the test by suggesting what might appear on the surface to be good but which would draw him away from Jehovah? (Matt. 4:1-11) Jesus knew how to reason on Bible principles and stood firm. Satan now knows his time is short and he is going about seeking to devour all, including Jehovah’s servants. By subtle snares he would like to compromise Jehovah’s servants, break them down and capture their worship. We are about to enter upon the greatest time of testing Christians have ever known. Then let us be careful how we think and reason. Stick to God’s righteous laws and principles. Even those close to us or associated with us could give bad advice by following human reasoning instead of following God’s principles. The heavily tested Job received unhappy words from his wife. (Job 2:9, 10) Even Christ Jesus had to watch out for dangerous words when Peter, his close associate, strongly objected to Jesus’ need to suffer and be killed. “He said to Peter: ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumblingblock to me, because you think, not God’s thoughts, but those of men.’” And then to help Peter think right Jesus stated a principle concerning all Christians: “For whoever wants to save his soul will lose it; but whoever loses his soul for my sake will find it.” (Matt. 16:22-25, NW) So let us look to the accurate advice of Jehovah’s Word and organization. Jehovah has given us his righteous principles upon which to meditate, and as long as we are kept strong in mind by conforming to these principles we shall not yield to Satan.
17. Why must we be alert against compromises now, and what will result to those who never compromise on Christian principles?
17 For Jehovah’s servants in the spiritual warfare it is now a time to give sober thought to what we are doing. We face a subtle foe in Satan and many snares are laid to trap us, lull us to sleep spiritually or draw us into the world and away from what is first in our lives, the kingdom of God. As each trial of our devotion comes along, we must keep our emotions calm. We must think matters out patiently and consider carefully the counsel from God’s Word and organization before making a move that may endanger our service. We have to become spiritually grown-up Christians who can make decisions that are right. More and more the world follows expediency or passion and ignores principle; but more and more Jehovah’s servants are adhering to Christian principles and putting aside the passions of the flesh. We are Christians. Our dedication is made. We are willing to suffer for righteousness’ sake. We are no part of this world, nor do we ever want to be. It is a time of final judgment. Everlasting life hangs in the balance. Think on God’s things and be governed by them. Gain everlasting life by never compromising on Christian principles.