Avoid Rebellious Tendencies
“I have called out but you keep refusing, . . . and you keep neglecting all my counsel, and my reproof you have not accepted.”—Prov 1:24, 25.
1, 2. What was the first type of sin? What may be responsible for it, and how does it culminate?
REBELLION was the first act of sin, in heaven and in earth. It resulted in the adverse judgment to those who followed a rebellious course. Now, because the first rebel is making his final stand against Jehovah and His loyal servants, using diverse and subtle means, it behooves all to scrutinize carefully thoughts, motives, conduct and every form of behavior, so as to be on guard.
2 In being on guard as to our thoughts, we should recognize that man’s judgment or conclusions are correct only when they concur with Jehovah’s as manifested through his Word. When they are at variance in any way, it discloses that there is a tendency to be guided by the thoughts of creatures. This is a form of rebellion. It may be only slight at the beginning, but when continually tainted by the wayward thoughts and decisions of men, it can lead to the condition spoken of by James: “But each one is tried by being drawn out and enticed by his own desire. Then the desire, when it has become fertile, gives birth to sin; in turn, sin, when it has been accomplished, brings forth death.”—Jas. 1:14, 15.
3. What determines people’s conduct, and how can it be changed?
3 When we observe the actions of those of the old world we see that their thoughts and conduct are patterned after the “god of this world,” the original rebel who became Satan. Just as the traits and characteristics of children are affected by their parents, so all mankind is affected by the original rebellious parents and their sinful course in the garden of Eden, and the sin of rebellion is strong in men today. It is necessary, then, for all to turn to the parental provision made by Jehovah God for man, namely, his Son Jesus Christ. (John 3:16) Not that individuals then receive a new birth physically, but this acceptance of the Son is by making the mind over and obtaining a “new personality which through accurate knowledge is being renewed according to the image of the one who created it.”—Col. 3:10.
4, 5. (a) Upon what was Jesus’ perfect example based? (b) Why is complete subjection to the Father’s will so important?
4 Christ Jesus followed the perfect course, being entirely free from any rebellious traits, being, therefore, the perfect model. He made no decisions for himself. “I cannot do a single thing of my own initiative; just as I hear, I judge, and the judgment that I render is righteous, because I seek not my own will but the will of him that sent me.” “I have come down from heaven to do, not my will, but the will of him that sent me.” “I always do the things pleasing to him.” Herein lies a beautiful example of complete and exclusive devotion to the Father—one completely free from rebellious tendencies. Truly this is an incomparable demonstration of complete servitude. Just as he explicitly followed his Father, so he invited others to follow him: “If you observe my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have observed the commandments of the Father and remain in his love.” This statement was, of course, made to those who had come out of the world and aligned themselves with the Master; as he himself testified: “They are no part of the world just as I am no part of the world.”—John 5:30; 6:38; 8:29; 15:10; 17:16.
5 From his own words it is evident that complete coincidence with him and his Father is mandatory in order to be recognized as children. Digression is therefore displeasing, constituting a rebellion against what is right. Therefore, decisions governing actions and deeds and motives must be well guarded to avoid rebellion.
6. What results when a creature takes personal liberties with Jehovah’s Word?
6 The Father established righteous instructions; and inasmuch as they are perfect and exacting, liberties may not be taken by either angels or men. A prominent heavenly creature took a traitorous or insubordinate course personally at the garden of Eden and then induced others to follow. Those of a rebellious nature almost always seek to get others to be of a mind like the one they are of, and thus seek followers to their own rebellious course. The rebel’s course in this regard led to his expulsion. Disfellowshiping or excommunication resulted later to the “angels that did not keep their original position” but leaned upon their own understanding. The first human pair, Adam and Eve, were exiled from the paradise home and dwelling place given them by Jehovah, because of their selfish and covetous desire, by choosing to listen to the Serpent and thereby renouncing the true word of God. Since Jehovah ‘changes not,’ no doubt Adam and Eve were well aware of such counsel of Jehovah as this: “Trust in Jehovah with all your heart and do not lean upon your own understanding. In all your ways take notice of him, and he himself will make your paths straight,” as was later recorded at Proverbs 3:5, 6.—Jude 6.
7. While sin resulted to both, what was the difference between Eve’s sin and Adam’s violation?
7 Eve’s course of rebellion came about by reason of deception, as we notice from the Genesis account: “Consequently the woman saw that the tree’s fruit was good for food and that it was a delight to the eyes, yes, the tree was desirable to look upon. So she began taking of its fruit and eating it. Afterward she gave some also to her husband when with her and he began eating it.” Adam’s course of rebellion was deliberate and without remorse, and brought with it the adverse judgment of Jehovah against him and also his wife.—Gen. 3:6, 17-19.
8, 9. What rebellious error did the Israelites commit?
8 Even though having this historical record of what happened first in the garden of Eden and subsequently at the time of the Deluge, as well as Jehovah’s might displayed in the Israelites’ behalf when he delivered them from the oppressive hand of the Egyptians, the Israelites turned to a course of self-reliance, forsaking the favored position that Jehovah had given them among the nations. Besides having the written word of God to direct them, they had direct testimony from their forefathers of the remarkable display of Jehovah’s strength and love expressed in their behalf. Jehovah even went beyond this in providing safeguards for his people when he gave them a law through Moses. Not only did he give them the Ten Commandments, by the direct writing of his own finger, but many other laws on lesser matters were given for safeguarding their conduct and every action.
9 When they went into the land given them by Jehovah they were especially warned by him of the idol-worshiping practices of the resident heathen. The command was given to tear down all the places of Baal worship so they might not be ensnared. Their failure to carry this out was direct disobedience. Where strict adherence to Jehovah’s Word was slackened, many of the Israelites turned their attention to this false worship that they were commanded to destroy, and so their rebellion led to their bondage to false worship. It was once necessary for Joash to challenge the power of the false god Baal by saying to the Israelites: “Will you be the ones to make a legal defense for Baal to see whether you yourselves may save him? Whoever makes a legal defense for him ought to be put to death.” (Judg. 6:31) In his having given this challenge, it shows that some followed this idolatrous practice and endeavored to support and champion this foreign religion, in defiance of Jehovah’s command to destroy every vestige of it.
10. What was the comparable position of the Israelites in Jehovah’s eyes when obedient and when rebellious?
10 Further, the Israelites were advised not to set up for themselves a carved image of stone or wood in their land and bow down to it, as this would be practicing a worship similar to that of the heathen nations round about them. Notice the appropriateness of the instruction given in the twenty-sixth chapter of Leviticus: “If you continue walking in my statutes and keeping my commandments and you do carry them out, then I shall certainly give your showers of rain at their proper time and the land will indeed give its yield and the tree of the field will give its fruit. And your threshing will certainly reach to your grape gathering.” (Lev. 26:3-5) In this same chapter he goes on to show how he will provide for all their needs and will even help and be with them as they remove the strangers from the land. However, warning as to penalties that would be invoked for failure to obey is shown at Le 26 verses 14-16: “If you will not listen to me nor do all these commandments, and if you will reject my statutes . . . to the extent of your violating my covenant, then I for my part shall do the following to you and in punishment I shall certainly bring upon you sudden terror.” This language was very plain; yet we find the Israelites disregarding these decrees. This was a course of rebellion. It may actually have started in a small way, but, when persisted in, led to complete disobedience and resulted in Jehovah’s disfavor. From this we must learn to obey, not rebel.
11. (a) What penalty was inflicted upon the violators? (b) What was incumbent upon those in authority?
11 For rebellion against covenant agreements on the part of man or woman in Israel, disciplinary action was definitely taken. Instruction was given to those in the nation who were in responsible positions to see that the violators were removed and stoned, because they were worthy of death (disfellowshiped) as the result of profaning God’s Word. In fact, if those who were entrusted with the responsibility to keep the activities of the nation clean and free from rebellion failed, they would receive Jehovah’s adverse judgment as well; for this showed a reliance on their own ideas, and a failure to carry out God’s requirements resulted. They had the greater responsibility. This is illustrated at Deuteronomy 17:2-7: “In case there should be found in your midst in one of your cities that Jehovah your God is giving you a man or a woman who should practice what is bad in the eyes of Jehovah your God so as to overstep his covenant, and he should go and worship other gods and bow down to them or to the sun or the moon or all the army of the heavens, a thing that I have not commanded, and it has been told you and you have heard it and have searched thoroughly and, look! the thing is established as the truth, this detestable thing has been done in Israel! then you must bring that man or that woman who has done this bad thing out to your gates, yes, the man or the woman, and you must stone such one with stones and such one must die. . . . and you must clear out what is bad from your midst.” It was incumbent upon the responsible ones to see that all manner of rebellious acts by those who had forsaken Jehovah were removed. It was clear that Jehovah detested rebellion and demanded that his people be kept from its uncleanness.
12. How may some people reason on wrongdoing just because they are not observed in their wayward course?
12 Freely associating with those of the heathen nations marked the beginning of forsaking Jehovah, who required complete separation from such nations. Yet from this association contamination resulted, and soon many of the nation of Israel became of the same heart attitude as those of the heathen. So they said: “God never sees what we do!” (Jer. 12:4, Mo) Seemingly they thought their nefarious practices and open rebellion were not observed by God and they felt they were getting away with something; but God’s vision was never blighted. This fact he made clear by saying: “They are disappointed of their crops, by the fierce anger of the Eternal.” (Jer. 12:13, Mo) Truly, when exposed, they did reap thorns. Fruitfulness could not possibly come from their deliberate rebellion—only thorns. There is no fruitful yield from loathsome works. Today, too, persons of that mind become disappointed when God’s anger is exercised against them through his organization, and they are cast outside; or even if their secret deeds of evil are not known by Jehovah’s visible organization so that proper disciplinary action can be taken, Jehovah is still aware of this and such ones soon become very sick spiritually, because they do not have Jehovah’s favor, his blessings or his spirit any longer. Jehovah does not tolerate the lawless ones. Action taken for an insubordinate attitude even today is the same as in the days of the nation of Israel, and a rebel would be cast outside of Jehovah’s favor for not adhering to his strict and righteous principles. His true servants, on the other hand, are dedicated to complete loyalty.
13, 14. (a) What results when relying upon personal judgment? (b) What penalties does Jehovah invoke?
13 The sin of forsaking Jehovah is the sin of rebellion and is due to reliance on self or on the judgments of another human creature. Jeremiah had something to say in this regard: “A curse on him who relies on man, and leans upon mere human aid, turning his thoughts from the Eternal!” On forsaking Jehovah, a servant of God would find himself in the position described in these words: “For my people have done double wrong, they have forsaken me, the reservoir of fresh water, and hewn out cisterns for themselves, leaky cisterns that cannot hold any water!” Where there is no drinking in of spiritual truths, individuals suffer from spiritual thirst, and the continuance of this would lead to eventual death. Further, God asked ancient Israel: “How can I pardon thee? thy children have forsaken me, and sworn by them that are no gods. When I had fed them to the full, they committed adultery, and assembled themselves in troops at the harlots’ houses; . . . shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?”—Jer. 17:5; 2:13, Mo; Jer 5:5-9, AS.
14 Those who turned to instruction or counsel other than that which Jehovah gave found themselves rebuked by him directly. It is recorded at Deuteronomy 28:20: “Jehovah will send upon you the curse, confusion and rebuke in every undertaking of yours that you try to carry out until you have been annihilated and you have perished in a hurry, because of the badness of your practices in that you have forsaken me.” What an utterly empty and calamitous condition for those who by their rebellious course abandoned Jehovah’s law!
15. Describe the rebellious nature evidenced in Jesus’ followers
15 Even though much evidence was presented as to the snare of not heeding Jehovah’s Word explicitly after being in covenant relationship with him, it did not end back there the matter of forsaking him. Even in Jesus’ day, just before his time to be taken, Jesus recognized that under pressure some of his disciples would murmur, and he stated: “There are some of you that do not believe.” When an individual no longer believes Jehovah’s Word, it means that by his leaning on his personal wisdom or on the opinion of other imperfect creatures his attention has been directed away from a course of wisdom. This marks rebellion. Under such a circumstance Jesus asked his disciples: ‘Do you want to go also?’ The proper answer was given by Peter: “Master, Whom shall we go away to? You have sayings of everlasting life, and we have believed and come to know that you are the Holy One of God.” Those who continued in their course of murmuring forsook the Master at that time. A continued course of murmuring today will result in Jehovah’s forsaking the murmurer.—John 6:64, 67-69.
16. Show what further rebelliousness would occur in the church just a little later.
16 Then the apostle Paul advised that a greater forsaking of God’s way would take place later, when he stated: “I know that after my going away oppressive wolves will enter in among you and will not treat the flock with tenderness, and from among you yourselves men will rise and speak twisted things to draw away the disciples after themselves.” This shows that more would rely upon their own understanding and would rebel and lead still a greater number to do the same thing. Further, Jesus warned that in the ‘last days,’ where we now are, there would also be a similar falling away, particularly at the time of his invisible second presence. He illustrated it by speaking of a ‘foolish virgin’ class that would have an inadequate supply of oil in their lamps for the period of darkness that would prevail. They were admonished to rely upon Jehovah’s Word and permit it to be the governing directive in their lives, but their lamps were inadequately supplied and so they did not have spiritual light to direct them. This was the result of relying on their own judgment in the matter of spiritual things, and so many fell by the wayside.—Acts 20:29, 30; Matt. 25:1-13.
17. What type of error must a Christian today guard against?
17 Let us therefore be aware and vigilant lest we fall into the snare of drawing our own conclusions and turning to a course of rebellion. To guard against such a lawless course, pages and pages of the Bible have recorded information for the guidance of those who desire righteousness and want to follow a faithful course. Jehovah does not license man’s judgment to sway his organization on earth, but requires man’s complete acquiescence to his divine judgment. Exclusive devotion to him is the obligation of those who have freely volunteered their servitude and dedication of life to him.—Josh. 24:19, 20.
REBELLION IN CHRISTENDOM
18. (a) In what manner has nominal Christendom rebelled against Jehovah’s rules and principles? (b) What contrary doctrines have they championed that dishonor Jehovah?
18 The religious divisions of Christendom have rebelled against the acceptance of Jehovah’s rulership through his executive officer, Christ Jesus, at this time. Not only have they rejected the evidence presented by those who champion God’s rule through his Son, but they persecute the true servants of God. While God’s Word states that the Christian shall be separate from the world, they associate with and are an integral, allied part of the political and commercial elements of the world. (Jas. 4:4; 2 Cor. 6:17) God requires of Christians their abstinence from bloodguilt; yet Christendom shares freely in this sin by coalition with warring nations. Christendom has rebelled against Jehovah’s righteous principles to the extent that adultery is tolerated within her realm. This she sanctions by her refusal to expel those who commit adultery and other violations. (1 Cor. 6:9, 10) They have rebelled against the supremacy of Jehovah God by supporting and championing the doctrine of the trinity, wherein Jehovah and Jesus are said to be coequal and coexistent. (John 14:28; Rev. 3:14) Rebellion is manifested in their rejection of the Bible truth that the soul dies, and in their accepting the false and pagan doctrine of the inherent immortality of the soul. (Ezek. 18:4, AS; Eccl. 9:5, 10; 1 Cor. 15:53) They are a part of the world just as were the Baal-worshiping Israelites, and are comparable to the scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’ day.—Matt. 23:9, 13, 15.
19. What discernment must the Christian exercise?
19 How evident it is, then, that the true Christian must maintain complete separation from the political, the ecclesiastical and the commercial and materialistic influences of this system of things. A returning to such course as is now followed by the world would certainly constitute reliance upon one’s own mental conclusions and would be a turning away from God’s Word of sound counsel. There is only one sure guide that will direct one’s course aright, and that is Jehovah’s Word, the Holy Bible.
AVOID MATERIALISTIC TENDENCIES
20. What examples do we have showing proper Christian motivation?
20 The Christian’s motive must be pure and be single in action. He must look neither to the right nor to the left; this is the pattern set by Christ Jesus, who said: ‘I delight to do your will, O my God!’ No other course set before him, such as the materialistic temptation by the great rebel Satan to give him all the kingdoms of the world, had any effect upon him. Paul was of the same adamant mind when stating that nothing could deter him from his single course of complete servitude to Jehovah. (Phil. 3:7-14) No other interests could overreach the apostle Paul and that included self, or material things to make his life easier.
21. How does the sermon on the mountain warn Christians against improper evaluations of important things in life?
21 This counsel against materialism is very well sustained in the sermon on the mountain, where Jesus advised: “Stop being anxious about your souls as to what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your bodies as to what you will wear. Does not the soul [or, life] mean more than food and the body than clothing?” (Matt. 6:25, margin) Jesus anticipated that some people would be very concerned about the things of this life; in fact, to such an extent that they would allow these material things and love for them to interfere with their taking up the Kingdom ministry. When our thinking is directed and continually fixed upon such fleshly desires, it means reliance upon self and upon personal judgment. Jehovah God is cognizant of the material requirements of his people and sees that their needs are provided. By our course of action we demonstrate whether we actually believe this or not. Our wants may far exceed our needs, and may cause many to be overreached or to become overanxious about their wants. Caution against this is expressed by Jesus in these words: “So never be anxious and say: ‘What are we to eat?’ or, ‘What are we to drink?’ or, ‘What are we to put on?’” (Matt. 6:31) These anxieties are what the people of this old world are experiencing because of their unsatisfied desire for comfortable homes, luxurious automobiles, beautiful surroundings and many comforts of life. “For all these are the things the nations are eagerly pursuing.” These are not the necessary things to carry on the ministry successfully. The reliable counsel as set forth in God’s Word is: “Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you. So, never be anxious about the next day, for the next day will have its own anxieties.”—Matt. 6:32-34.
22. What benefits result to the person who builds on the figurative rock-mass?
22 The Christian who patterns his life completely after Jehovah’s Word will be likened to the discreet man who built his house upon the rock-mass. Then the storms and the floods and winds might lash against it, but would be unable to move it from its firm foundation. However, when the individual leans to his own understanding and turns from Jehovah’s wise counsel in this regard, turns his thoughts and attention to following a practice common to the nations, that is, to amass great wealth, then he begins deliberately to move from his house with the solid foundation and turn to a house built upon the sandy foundation of materialism. His course is one of rebellion against better knowledge, he having been thoroughly counseled as to the foolishness of such a course. The poor foundation is his own personal judgment of seeking first the wealth of the nations and putting Kingdom interests second.—Matt. 7:24-27.
23. What goals ensnare many?
23 People who are Christians sometimes become so engrossed in their own planning and depending upon things of materialistic value that they lose sight of the most important thing, that is, living up to their dedication vow to God, and thus they expend their energy toward gaining wealth. This foolish course was foretold by Solomon: “I saw another futile thing under the sun—a lone man, kinless, without son or brother, and yet toiling on to make money; he cannot satisfy himself with what he gains, and he . . . is toiling and stinting himself of pleasure. This too is vain, a sorry business.” Such a man, in seeking the money and pleasures of this world, soon rebels against and turns from the pleasure of God’s service. The apostle Paul counseled: “Give orders to those who are rich in the present system of things not to be arrogant, and to rest their hope, not on uncertain riches, but on God.” When one places his trust in material wealth it means he is relying on this for salvation. Money is a power and a defense, but does not lead the seeker thereof to eternal life. Rather, it is godliness with contentment that is great gain. Faithful Moses advised: “Silver and gold may increase for you and all that is yours may increase; and your heart may indeed be lifted up and you may indeed forget Jehovah . . . who fed you with manna.” So it is better to rely upon the firm arm of Jehovah rather than on the weak support provided by wealth; or even on the strength of princes.—Eccl. 4:7, 8, Mo; 1 Tim. 6:17; Deut. 8:13, 14, 16; Pss. 118:9; 146:3.
24. (a) Does the possession of wealth itself constitute sin? (b) Show how the love of money may constitute rebellion.
24 Those who possess wealth know that it is not the possession of it that is evil, but it is the love of it or the placing of one’s salvation in it that brings evil results. As regards those who do not possess wealth but long for it, it is their constant longing for and seeking after it that brings the evil results; because this means using time and energy dedicated to Jehovah’s service to attain it, and it is a course that can bring only disappointment to the seeker thereof, for even at best its sustaining power is short-lived. So how utterly foolish it is to forsake the riches of Jehovah’s service for this fleeting bit of security. “Man’s busy life indeed is but a phantom, making an empty ado, amassing wealth and knowing not who is to have his hoard.” (Ps. 39:6, Mo) It is uncanny how the love of money invades a man’s mind and becomes like a malignant growth. It readily replaces the love for God and becomes an insatiable desire. Yet it brings no lasting pleasure even to the one attaining it, as shown at Ecclesiastes 5:10-12 (Mo): “A lover of money will never be satisfied with his money, and a lover of wealth will never make anything of it (this too is vain!). The more a man gains, the more there are to spend it—while the owner can only look on. . . . the satiety of the rich keeps them from sleeping.” The fallacy of material things is shown too at Proverbs 11:4 (Mo): “On the day of God’s anger wealth is of no avail: goodness alone saves man from death.” Frequently when an individual begins to share success in a business way or materialistically, he may say: ‘Well, I will spend my time this way for just a little longer and then I will have enough to take care of myself so as to be able to enter the full-time ministry.’ Then more success comes his way and a repetition of such thoughts occurs. Extreme care ought to be taken lest the individual be overcome, as illustrated by Jesus in the case of the rich man who was also successful. After a while he stated: ‘I have nowhere to gather my crops.’ Rather than finding contentment in what he possessed, he stated: “I will do this: I will tear down my storehouses and build bigger ones, and there I will gather all my grain and all my good things, and I will say to my soul: ‘Soul, you have many good things laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink, enjoy yourself.’” This is the natural line of reasoning when one is relying on one’s own thoughts. But notice the disastrous consequences one might expect by the answer given to one who reasons along this line: “God said to him: ‘Unreasonable one, this night they are demanding your soul from you. . . .’ So it goes with the man that lays up treasure for himself but is not rich toward God.” The apostle Paul also testified concerning the fallacy of depending upon one’s own thoughts and following the course patterned by the world, saying: “You no longer go on walking just as the nations also walk in the unprofitableness of their minds, while they are in darkness mentally, and alienated from the life that belongs to God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the insensibility of their hearts.” People of the world naturally are in darkness mentally and are therefore alienated from Jehovah. So to follow the pattern set by the world is an “unprofitable course,” and it would be a course of rebellion against Jehovah’s wise instruction. Christians are to shun such a course and not be deceived by the thoughts and examples of others.—Luke 12:16-21; Eph. 4:17, 18.
25, 26. (a) How did the Israelites show a rebellious spirit? (b) How did Paul warn against murmuring? What murmuring should be avoided today, and why?
25 The Israelites had many blessings during their trek from Egypt to the Promised Land, with many miracles performed in their behalf; yet they murmured against Jehovah. In this frame of mind it was not long before they lost sight of the benefits they had enjoyed at Jehovah’s loving hand. They lost confidence in Jehovah and then began to lean upon their own understanding and, as the result, murmured against Him because they did not have enough of this world’s goods. Though they were well fed they demanded more and better food; they demanded meat, and in their grumbling mentioned that it would have been better had they remained in bondage in Egypt. This was an out-and-out rebellious attitude on their part against Jehovah. This can be a good example for Christians today, so they do not fall into the category of rebellion by murmuring against Jehovah or even against his organization at this time. Paul admonished as to what would happen to murmurers, and definitely advised Christians to avoid this, saying: “Neither be murmurers, just as some of them murmured, only to perish by the destroyer.” (1 Cor. 10:10) This was given for an example so Christians living today might avoid such a tragic course. If one is not aware and on guard against this frame of mind, soon one finds himself unhappy with the way Jehovah directs his organization, how he appoints his various servants to positions of responsibility, where he wants them to serve.
26 Murmuring on the part of one who claims to be a faithful dedicated servant might mean the beginning of a rebellious attitude and would cause one who indulges in this form of rebellion to suffer discipline eventually, if such a course is continued. Jehovah was displeased by a rebellious spirit on the part of his people in times past, and he made his feelings in the matter known so that those who would persist in such a course today might know for a certainty that they would come under his disfavor. A murmuring campaign against Jehovah or any part of his organization would not be tolerated. Those who have the oversight in the congregations would be obligated to take action against those sowing discord by their murmuring and course of rebellion.
27. What rebellious attitude is disclosed by James 3:14-17?
27 With a course of rebellion there is usually the spirit of rivalry and jealousy. This spirit of competition and envy is contrary to the spirit of love that prevails in Jehovah’s organization; and one would make his brother his enemy by pursuing such a course of conduct. At James 3:14-17 counsel is given in this regard: “But if you have bitter jealousy and contentiousness in your hearts, do not be bragging and lying against the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is the earthly, animal, demonic. For where jealousy and contentiousness are, there disorder and every vile thing are.” Then, note the contrast: “The wisdom from above is first of all chaste, then peaceable, reasonable, ready to obey, full of mercy and good fruits, not making partial distinctions, not hypocritical.” Jealousy and rivalry are indications of spiritual sickness and can, like other forms of rebellion, lead one to the loss of life.
SELF-WILL AND STUBBORNNESS
28. Of what are self-will and stubbornness an evidence?
28 Self-will and stubbornness are not Christian qualities and are not practiced within Jehovah’s organization. Jehovah’s true servants act in complete harmony with his divine Word. They are encouraged to continue in that way, and to strive continually to improve in mature conduct becoming a Christian. When one does display stubbornness and self-will, it is evident that God’s Word is not in his thoughts sufficiently. Jehovah gave firm counsel thereon at 2 Kings 17:14, 15: “They did not listen but kept hardening their necks like the necks of their forefathers that had not exercised faith . . . they continued rejecting his regulations and his covenant . . . even in imitation of the nations that were all around them.” At Jeremiah 7:24 (AS) Jehovah stated further on this: “But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in their own counsels and in the stubbornness of their evil heart, and went backward and not forward.”
29. What does one actually do when he refuses God’s counsel?
29 When an individual refuses God’s counsel or turns away from reproof, either from Jehovah’s Word or from his organization, he rejects the counsel of Almighty God. “Turn back at my reproof. . . . but you keep refusing, . . . and you keep neglecting all my counsel, and my reproof you have not accepted.”—Prov. 1:23-25.
30. What punishment did Jehovah mete out to stubborn children?
30 In the case of children, stubbornness is frequently shown by them. It is the responsibility of parents to guide the child properly in this regard so as to prevent this tendency to grow and become a part of the child’s nature as he grows up. Such might very well cause him to receive of Jehovah’s disfavor later in life, if proper discipline and guidance are not given when the tendency first becomes evident. When parents are unable to cope with the situation they may solicit the aid of a mature brother or members of the congregation service committee. Jehovah’s Word is given on this matter at Deuteronomy 21:18-21: “In case a man should happen to have a son who is stubborn and rebellious, he not listening to the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and they have corrected him but he will not listen to them, then his father and his mother must take hold of him and bring him out to the older men of the city and to the gate of his place and they must say to the older men of his city, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious, he is not listening to our voice, being a glutton and a drunkard.’ Then all the men of his city must stone him with stones and he must die. So you must clear away what is bad from your midst, and all Israel will hear and indeed become afraid.” Of a certainty, today the youthful servant of God may know that he will come into disfavor with his God, Jehovah, by pursuing the course of stubbornness and self-will. These qualities are manifest only in the world belonging to Satan; and for one of Jehovah’s children, youthful or aged, to display these qualities and persist in them would lead to that one’s being cut off from Jehovah’s clean and pure organization.
31. Why do many rebel against Jehovah’s code of righteousness?
31 Many persons outside Jehovah’s organization today exercise what they term “complete freedom” of thought and action. They adopt a philosophy that allows them to satisfy their every whim. Because they do not wish to be restricted in any sense they refuse to accept the pure Word of God as a guide, and they continue on their course of self-styled freedom. This is a rebellious course, and is causing those who practice this to be fit only for destruction at the battle of Armageddon. Many such persons adopt this attitude because they see the conflict between the error of nominal religion and the philosophy of the religious leaders and feel that they are just as capable of selecting and establishing their own code of ethics.
32. Why is the philosophy of “free thinkers” popular, and why is it seductive? What will befall those overreached by this philosophy?
32 This type of philosophy then permits the individual to do what he wants to do when he wants to do it, without any infringement upon his desires. His standards and morals can be to his appropriation. With such conjecturing so popular in the world, those not bound by God’s upright and praiseworthy moral standards soon find themselves seduced and duped into a low, wayward course, even associating with others of like thought so as to share their sensualized and meretricious carnalism. Without Jehovah’s pure Word and organization to guide them, Christians too could become victimized by this false reasoning and fall into the trap that has ensnared the world of “free thinkers.”
33. In contrast, what are Christians aware of? How do they guard themselves?
33 Jehovah has not forsaken his people to be so victimized and misled. The world of free thinkers may allow themselves to fall into the immoral course that follows this type of rationalizing. But Jehovah’s servants are well aware that adulterers and fornicators cannot attain the Kingdom, and they are ever cognizant of this counsel and it is a directing force in their lives, keeping them entirely clean and pure for Jehovah’s service. They are well aware of the powerful forces within the human body, which, not properly controlled, can lead to a course of degradation. Young men and women within Jehovah’s organization are therefore alert to keep themselves clean and above immoral conduct, lest they become depraved by their own selfish appetites. Not to have their emotions under control would be exercising their own will, or the will of the flesh, rather than the will of Jehovah, and would be direct rebellion against Jehovah’s wise counsel. Jehovah does not permit the inclusion of such practices in his organization just because surrounding Christendom condones it.
34. (a) What should be the attitude of parents who have children overreached by immoral acts? (b) How may the parents become parties to a wrong practice?
34 When parents do learn of the shortcomings of their children in this regard, if they have fallen victim to an immoral relationship with one of the opposite sex, sometimes they are reluctant to report this to the responsible ones in the organization who have the obligation to keep the organization clean from such practices. Thus the parents become parties to a lawless course of action because the one involved is their own flesh and blood. This close relationship should have no bearing on justice, and such should be reported to the responsible ones in the congregation, whether it is one so close as one’s own child or someone else in the Christian congregation. If one in the organization is acquainted with such a situation and fails to report it, he becomes a direct party to it, and then he too is sharing in a course of rebellion. Wrongdoing has no part or place in Jehovah’s clean organization, and a faithful servant would not condone it by remaining silent and failing to report it to the ones having authority to take action in the matter. If one fails in this Christian duty he is relying upon his own thoughts and self-will, which is a course leading to rebellion against Jehovah’s clean organization.
35. How is gross immaturity shown by a dedicated Christian when marrying an undedicated person?
35 A dedicated Christian recognizes that he must remain entirely separate from the world. This includes being separate from the world even in the matter of selecting a mate. Just as Jehovah would not permit the Israelites to enter into marriage relationships with the heathenish women at that time, so Christians today are going directly against Jehovah’s counsel in selecting a mate not dedicated to the service of Jehovah. The yoke of such a bond would become heavy and unbearable because of not having Jehovah’s blessing upon it. (2 Cor. 6:14) If some go directly contrary to Jehovah’s command and counsel in this regard, does it not show a reliance on one’s own judgment and self-will, and a tendency to be rebellious? It would show gross immaturity on the part of the one so doing, and the one taking such a course would not qualify to represent Jehovah’s pure organization in the capacity of an overseer in the congregation.