Increased Knowledge Brings Lasting Benefits
1. Why is it so important to gather accurate knowledge now?
SINCE A.D. 1914 Jehovah has mercifully kept the way open for creatures on earth to come to a knowledge of him and be saved. He cut short the troubles against Satan and allowed a time when spiritual food could be distributed in abundance. But then will come the time of difficulty when the way will be closed. (Matt. 24:20-22) Knowing this, we see how important a time it is now for all to be taking in more accurate knowledge and fleeing from the superstitions of the dark world. It is a time to work at taking in knowledge, like the ants that gather food in the summertime of plenty. The fools who do not gather in accurate knowledge now are like the proverbial grasshopper who took the easy course in times of plenty and did not look to the future. Suddenly comes the winter and calamity for the unprepared. “Go to the ant, you lazy one; see its ways and become wise. . . . it prepares its food even in the summer; it has gathered its food supplies even in the harvest. How long, you lazy one, will you keep lying down?”—Prov. 6:6-9.
2. (a) Why does the wise person never come to the end of learning? (b) How does the true Christian use his increased learning to help others?
2 Even though a person may have some knowledge of the Bible and may be serving in the ministry, he is wise only if he continues to give ear to the words of Jehovah and thus goes on increasing the knowledge he has. Scriptures have been written that a “wise person will listen and take in more instruction, and a man of understanding is the one who acquires skillful direction.” (Prov. 1:5) Christians never come to the end of their learning, but “the path of the righteous ones is like the bright light that is getting lighter and lighter until the day is firmly established.” (Prov. 4:18) There is need for each person who has begun to serve Jehovah to continue advancing to greater maturity for his own good and for the benefit of those he serves in the ministry. There are many theories and philosophies that have been advanced by men of the world against which the Christian must make combat. Millions of people have come into captivity to lies and falsehoods and are spiritually sick. Jehovah’s ministers have been sent forth to carry the healing spiritual light, and as they increase in accurate knowledge they become more skilled in their work. They become versatile, able to discuss many subjects and overcome many barriers. Like proficient doctors they are able to discern the spiritual ills afflicting the people and appropriately minister to them. Just as no one medicine can be prescribed for every type of physical illness, heart disease, cancer, etc., so the experienced minister must determine how he is to remove the stumbling blocks in the way of the peoples of many religions in the world today. One sermon on one subject may remedy the affliction for a certain group, but the advanced minister is prepared to deal with the varied types of superstitious thoughts that hold men in captivity. He has a ready answer for every man.—1 Pet. 3:15; Prov. 9:9.
3. How do we use knowledge in connection with our spiritual warfare?
3 Taking the wise course of becoming filled with accurate knowledge gives us spiritual protection in our spiritual warfare. Through this accurate knowledge and spiritual discernment we are made powerful, so as to endure with joy. Accurate knowledge means strength. “One wise in strength is an able-bodied man, and a man of knowledge is reinforcing power. For by skillful direction you will carry on your war, and in the multitude of counselors there is salvation.” (Prov. 24:5, 6) Wise guidance comes from God’s Word. Additionally, Jehovah has made provision in these days for wise guidance through the mature servants in the organization, counselors, who have a knowledge of God’s Word. For all your activities, gain knowledge by talking to your brothers. The right kind of ministers give good advice.
4, 5. What are some practical examples of how wise counsel is beneficial?
4 Do we not consider this the wise course when we consult learned men in other matters? In time of illness or pain, do we not consult a physician that we consider more familiar with the functions of the body than we are to gain knowledge? Knowledge satisfies; it puts the mind at rest. Some people injure themselves by worrying about such things instead of seeking accurate knowledge. Accurate knowledge of how the body functions helps overcome such personal fears. We may have disabilities physically, but we know that even with these afflictions we can still be useful to Jehovah somewhere in the ministry.
5 And in legal matters we would logically seek knowledge from lawyers. For example, if one should be falsely accused of a crime it might cause one untold worry and anxiety because he does not know what his rights are under the law. In this state of mind he might act hastily and place himself in great jeopardy. But accurate knowledge of the facts and of the law gives one power for his defense.
6, 7. Show how accurate knowledge in spiritual things is a defense.
6 So God’s Word is practical. In many things it is true that in the multitude of counselors there is safety and help. It is especially true, however, in spiritual things. Accurate knowledge in spiritual things is a defense. Knowing that Jehovah has almighty power and that he cares for his own gives us comfort and strength. It removes fears that would weaken and break down our defenses. For example, partial knowledge of the existence of demons might have one concerned over demonism, wondering whether demonism would have some power over one. But accurate knowledge puts the mind at ease. With faith added to the accurate knowledge that Jehovah gives, the defenses are built up.
7 Jehovah is a strong tower and rock of defense. As he put a hedge of protection from Satan around Job, so he does with his servants on earth today. In the days of ancient Israel the false prophet Balaam was called upon to use demonism against Israel. But Jehovah protected his chosen people from it. Even Balaam knew it, saying: “For there is no unlucky spell against Jacob, nor any divination against Israel.”—Num. 23:23.
8. How does knowledge play an important part in protection from demonism?
8 Jehovah still protects his own. Through accurate knowledge and faith, even those who were once afflicted by demons and superstitions before they knew the truth can be safe. It is necessary to clean the mind of demonistic practices and not leave the mind open for the return of demonism, but to be filled with accurate, protective knowledge from Jehovah. It will protect from these invisible enemies, for we know thereby that we can call on Jehovah and should call on Jehovah in every time of need, and we should not regard with fear or awe any manifestation of demonism that might occur in this world.—Luke 11:24-26.
9. How has the knowledge of the truth set Jehovah’s witnesses in Africa free?
9 There is a difference between the truth of God’s Word and the doctrines of the various sects of Christendom when it comes to defeating demonism. In Africa Christendom has made many converts, but they continue to hold their pagan superstitions and will attend church in the morning and then go to the forest and participate in fetish ceremonies in the evening. On the other hand, when the light of truth brought by Jehovah’s witnesses penetrates the African mind, superstition and demon worship are banished completely. To give an illustration: In one village a gale broke off some branches of a large tree that was believed to be inhabited by spirits and was regularly worshiped. Although the road was blocked, not one villager would dare touch a branch for fear of being struck dead by the juju. So what did they do? They sent for Jehovah’s witnesses to clear away the branches because they knew the juju had no power over them. Likewise, when juju processions pass through villages, terrorizing the population, Jehovah’s witnesses calmly walk by in the road, while others flee to their homes in terror. It has been recognized throughout the villages that the juju has no power over Jehovah’s witnesses. Truly Jesus said: “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”—John 8:32.
10. What superstitious practices of Christendom prove they are under the darkness of the god of this world, Satan?
10 Superstitious Africans who fear the demons are commonly known to use amulets, fetishes or talismans to ward off evil spirits and bring good fortune. Millions in Christendom regard such things as signs of the primitive and barbaric; but at the same time so-called “miraculous medals,” crosses, images, and “holy pictures” are becoming more popular day by day among the superstitious multitudes of Christendom. None of these provide any protection or good fortune but are actually forbidden by God’s law. Here is evidence conclusive that God’s truth has not set them free. They are still in need of accurate knowledge from God’s Word.—Ps. 115:4-8; 1 Cor. 10:7, 14.
11. How did failure of the Israelites to use knowledge involve them with demonism?
11 In Jehovah’s Word, the Bible, we find other knowledge that we must use for our protection too. Balaam could not use demonism directly against Jehovah’s people, so he used another form of attack. Jehovah had provided information to all Israel concerning punishment for immorality. The Israelites knew it was wrong. But those who failed to use knowledge succumbed before demonistic sex worship. They lacked understanding, as we read at Proverbs 6:32: “Anyone committing adultery with a woman is in want of heart; he that does it is bringing his own soul to ruin.” Thousands of Israelites died for not heeding accurate knowledge.—Num. 25:1-9.
12. How does use of accurate knowledge provide a defense?
12 Use of accurate knowledge plus faith provides a defense. Noah and his family had knowledge, went into the ark and were defended against the flood. Lot had accurate knowledge of what would happen to Sodom. He believed what Jehovah said and fled from Sodom, thus defending himself and his daughters. Rahab was given accurate knowledge of what would happen and where the place of safety would be. She added faith to this, stayed in her house, and thus had a defense against the destruction that befell Jericho. Early Christians had accurate knowledge of what would happen to Jerusalem because they paid attention to true prophecy. They added faith to it, fled Jerusalem in the first century and thus defended themselves against destruction. And now we have knowledge of the battle of Armageddon just ahead, and if we are wise we are taking proper steps for our defense.
13, 14. What Bible illustrations show that resisting knowledge for personal reasons ends in disaster?
13 But knowledge plus selfishness ends in disaster. Balaam was told not to go up to Moab. He knew he could not curse Israel. Because of the lucrative offer from the king of Moab Balaam presented the matter before Jehovah a second time. The reward was always in his selfish mind. He went to Moab and on the way demonstrated that he did not even have as much sense as his ass. Finally he met with personal disaster, death.—Num. 22:12-35; 31:8.
14 Knowledge plus disobedience ends in disaster. First Kings, chapter 13, tells of a man of God from Judah who knew God did not want him to eat or drink in a place called Bethel. But then when a man came and told him something different from what God had said he foolishly accepted the false knowledge. He was disobedient, ate and drank where it was forbidden, and was executed by Jehovah under the paws of a lion. He paid for his sin.
15. What warning does Paul give concerning going against knowledge willfully?
15 Today sin against accurate knowledge results in disaster too. “For if we practice sin willfully after having received the accurate knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice for sins left, but there is a certain fearful expectation of judgment.” (Heb. 10:26, 27) Jehovah expects us to use the accurate knowledge that is available to us, to make it a defense so we will not slip back into the ways of the old world.—2 Pet. 2:20.
16. When one makes a mistake, how can one gain Jehovah’s forgiveness?
16 This is not to say that mistakes cannot be made. But these mistakes are not willful mistakes made against accurate knowledge. These are sins due to our inherited imperfection and perhaps lack of knowledge. When anyone falls under this imperfection he should quickly put forth effort to make things right with the Father in heaven. Jehovah extends mercy to us. We should go to him and ask forgiveness, taking comfort from the words of 1 John 1:8, 9: “If we make the statement, ‘We have no sin,’ we are misleading ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous so as to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” This accurate knowledge that Jehovah is merciful gives us a fortification against feeling depressed and helps us to keep a happy spirit as we continue to serve him.
17. (a) If one errs, what should one do to overcome spiritual sickness? (b) Why should we be glad for spiritual chastening when it is due us?
17 When we err self-examination is good, but not self-condemnation, for it may lead to spiritual sickness. Any who become spiritually sick can turn to James 5:13-20 for the remedy. Here is accurate knowledge of how to overcome it. Be willing to get counsel from brothers and follow the good advice they give from the Scriptures. Jehovah has made this provision for his servants so they can grow strong again, to be useful to him in his service. Sometimes one who is spiritually sick or has done wrong is afraid he may receive correction or chastening or embarrassment; but this correction is good for him and should be accepted in the knowledge that Jehovah chastens those he loves. It is not to break the spirit of the offender. Afterward he will be much stronger for it. Paul wrote about one so chastened, saying: “This rebuke . . . is sufficient for such a man, so that, on the contrary now, you should kindly forgive and comfort him, that somehow such a man may not be swallowed up by his being overly sad.” (2 Cor. 2:6, 7) It is by getting accurate knowledge of how to proceed and by following it that we can regain happiness and be protected from falling again in the same way.—Prov. 12:1; Heb. 12:6.
KNOWLEDGE IS BENEFICIAL
18. How does knowledge from Jehovah benefit us now?
18 The knowledge Jehovah has provided brings many benefits. It is a guide to the enlightened ones every day, making it possible for them to render acceptable service to Jehovah. Their steps are not uncertain or fearful as are those of one in the darkness, but with confidence and sureness they advance to greater maturity. True Christian freedom is theirs. What a contrast to those who live in the darkness of superstition and fear under Satan’s domination! Even though they may have been born among highly superstitious people, the truth has made them free. No longer do they fear the priests and witch doctors of false religion. Nor are they frightened over thoughts stemming from the teaching of the lie that the soul is immortal or that after death the souls of men suffer torment or transmigrate, living on in the bodies of animals or other creatures. Jehovah has exposed the demons to view so that the enlightened Christians have knowledge of how they operate and how Jehovah provides protection to his servants from the supernatural manifestations of demonism. While the unenlightened men of the world exist in fear and trembling as they view the worsening condition of the world, Christians are calm and confident in Jehovah because he has given them accurate knowledge of what he is doing, and he has lighted the pathway to the new world; and they can say along with the psalmist: “Your word is a lamp to my foot, and a light to my roadway.”—Ps. 119:105; Luke 21:26.
19, 20. (a) What effect does the accurate knowledge from Jehovah have upon us? (b) Why is accurate knowledge so much more valuable than material possessions?
19 Of all people who have ever lived, we are blessed to be living now when God’s light of truth is shining so brightly. Jehovah has given us accurate knowledge so we can be sure of what we are doing, what we are saying, and where we are going—so we can endure through being filled with it. He has poured out great love upon us and he has shown us how to abound in love. With love and accurate knowledge we may be made flawless in our devotion, not stumbling others in actions or words but, by using our tongues to utter knowledge aright, helping others to join with us in being filled with righteous fruit to God’s glory and praise.—Prov. 15:2; Phil. 1:9; 2 Pet. 1:8; 1 Cor. 2:12, 13.
20 Accurate knowledge makes us firm. With the help of Jehovah, let us stand firm now, not quickly shaken from reason, not excited or worried. We add self-control to our knowledge. We have put on a new personality through accurate knowledge. Through accurate knowledge we have come to unity with our brothers throughout the whole world. We have all received the spiritual food through the organization of Jehovah and see in harmony. Satan would like to break up this unity, but with Jehovah’s help and by his servants’ being filled with accurate knowledge the enemy will not break our ranks. Let us stay in the light, never afraid of Satan’s darkness. The time has come really to make the accurate knowledge our own, to know our hope, to be ready always to tell others about it. Jehovah says we are his witnesses. We need accurate knowledge actually to be Jehovah’s witnesses. Jehovah has given us this great treasure. It is a treasure that cannot be taken away. Money may fail. At best it does lose its value. Our material possessions may be taken away from us; and they will be taken away from many. But the accurate knowledge of Jehovah and of the nearness of the new world cannot be taken away if we have made it sure. It keeps us filled with joy under all circumstances. With this accurate knowledge and our faith we face up to our enemies, especially the spiritual forces in our spiritual warfare. Calmly and with confidence in Jehovah we stand forth as his witnesses, bearing fruit even in adversity, and offering accurate knowledge to others. We can do this because we know we are never alone. Jehovah never sleeps, but he watches over his own. This knowledge makes us a strong defense.—Ps. 121:3-5; Eph. 6:12.
21. How have accurate knowledge and faith based upon it carried Jehovah’s servants through great trials in our generation?
21 Already in our century many brothers have gone through great trials, and their accurate knowledge from Jehovah and their faith based upon it have carried them through. They have not been afraid, because they learned to love Jehovah. (1 John 4:18) Men of the world, who do not love Jehovah and who do not possess his spirit, cannot fathom the joy and calmness and confidence of Jehovah’s servants in times of great trial. A Roman Catholic doctor who was in German concentration camps with Jehovah’s witnesses bears this out in his book, saying: “One cannot escape the impression that, psychologically speaking, the SS [troops persecutors] were never quite equal to the challenge offered them by Jehovah’s Witnesses.” (Eugen Kogon: The Theory and Practice of Hell) So history shows the Nazi persecutors were never able to comprehend the faith and the spirit of Jehovah’s people. Our brothers had taken in accurate knowledge from Jehovah’s Word of truth, and no amount of persecution was able to remove it. More recently the Communists have become publicized as using what has been called “brainwashing” to change the beliefs of prisoners; but the viewpoint of persons with previous strong convictions cannot be changed. To this day our persecuted brothers in communistic lands are confounding their tormentors because the accurate knowledge they have stored in their minds continues to guide them and Jehovah is with them.
22. What do we need to survive in our spiritual warfare?
22 But the battle is not yet over. Doubtless many more of Jehovah’s servants will suffer persecution in many lands while Satan makes his last stand against Jehovah. Revelation 12:17 shows that the Dragon is now making war with the servants of Jehovah on the earth. To survive in this warfare we must be strong of mind. Therefore, while we have the opportunity of taking in so much accurate knowledge of Jehovah from his Word, let us become filled with accurate knowledge as a defense in these evil days.
23. (a) How are people of good will now benefiting from accurate knowledge? (b) Why will the accurate knowledge taken in now be very valuable in the future?
23 People of good will in this generation must also gain accurate knowledge of Jehovah to survive Armageddon into God’s new world. Now Jehovah uses his enlightened witnesses in carrying out his will that all kinds of men may come to an accurate knowledge of the truth and be saved. (1 Tim. 2:4) Many of them have already been taught this accurate knowledge and have became part of the New World society. While this knowledge and their faith will help them through the battle of Armageddon, that will not be the end of taking in knowledge. Thereafter accurate knowledge will increase more and more. In the new world all will be free forever of harmful superstitions and fears. The new world will fully absorb the interest of its every inhabitant. Because Jehovah’s knowledge is infinite, the taking in of knowledge by his subjects will never come to an end. There will be new things to learn for eternity, because Jehovah is the great Source of accurate knowledge. Seeing what is ahead of us, we ought to be taking in as much knowledge now as we possibly can. Become filled with accurate knowledge. Lay a good foundation of knowledge, something strong to build on in God’s new world when, as Isaiah foretold, “the earth shall be full of the knowledge of Jehovah, as the waters cover the sea.”—Isa. 11:9, AS.