Fear Jehovah—Never Men
“The fear of Jehovah is the beginning of wisdom.”—Ps. 111:10.
1. Why are Jehovah’s witnesses today united as one human family?
JEHOVAH God is the great Lawgiver and his laws are perfect and true. (Isa. 33:22; Ps. 19:7; 119:142) Wherever Christians may live on earth, Jehovah’s law applies to them. No boundaries or iron curtains exist for Jehovah’s law. Because Jehovah’s witnesses in all nations, regardless of race and language, social standing or education, have accepted this law as supreme, far above any man-made laws, they are now united into one human family as a New World society, with Jehovah God as their Lawgiver.
2. Why do the nations not enjoy peace?
2 On the other hand, nations of this world have not respected Jehovah’s law as supreme, they have put their own human laws, opinions or traditions above God’s law. This is very unwise, since facts prove that the nations of earth are in great difficulties. People are longing for peace, but their political and religious leaders are unable to establish peace. Why? Because peace belongs only to those loving and keeping Jehovah’s law as supreme. “Abundant peace belongs to those loving your law, and for them there is no stumbling block.”—Ps. 119:165.
3. Why does happiness come only from keeping Jehovah’s law?
3 All the nations are today in a very unhappy condition, not knowing the way of happiness. Because they have no vision about Jehovah’s purpose as stated in his law and Word they go unrestrained, making the lives of their people very painful. Happiness comes only from keeping the supreme law of Jehovah. “Where there is no vision the people go unrestrained, but happy are they that are keeping the law.” (Prov. 29:18) Through his word and law Jehovah teaches principles and requirements making life happy. Ignoring it brings unhappiness. “Happy is the able-bodied man . . . whom you teach out of your own law.” The law of God would show the nations the way out of their darkness, because “the commandment is a lamp, and a light the law is.” In God’s law the political and religious leaders of the mourning nations could learn the way of success and wisdom, but they would have to recognize this law as supreme, above their own laws. To Joshua, a leader of a nation, Jehovah gave the following command: “This book of the law should not depart from your mouth and you must in an undertone read in it day and night. . . , for then you will make your way successful and then you will act wisely.” Joshua, unlike the leaders of today, wisely obeyed and was successful.—Ps. 94:12; Prov. 6:23; Josh. 1:8.
4. Why should a Christian read and consult God’s law and meditate upon it daily?
4 Because rulers of this old and failing world do not read in an undertone day and night in Jehovah’s law, but make laws according to their own understanding, they have no true success on their way. Men of good will see this and therefore turn now to God’s law. “Do give ear, O my people, to my law; incline your ear to the sayings of my mouth.” (Ps. 78:1) A wise person has “his delight . . . in the law of Jehovah, and in his law he reads in an undertone day and night.” (Ps. 1:2) No day should go by without seeing every Christian reading and consulting God’s law and meditating upon it. “My law do not leave.”—Prov. 4:2.
5, 6. Why is God’s law superior to human law? What does an English judge say about this?
5 Human laws and schemes have failed to make people happy, giving them peace and security. Only Jehovah’s supreme law can unite people of all the inhabited earth into one human family; only Jehovah’s law shows the way of peace, happiness, success and wisdom; only Jehovah’s law is the light leading out of the deadly blind alley that the nations have run into because they ignored Jehovah as Lawgiver. May all men of good will see the wonderful things Jehovah’s law teaches and have the same desire as the psalmist had: “Uncover my eyes, that I may look at the wonderful things out of your law.” (Ps. 119:18) Soon Jehovah will demonstrate in His battle of Armageddon that His law is supreme and that there is no authority in heaven or on earth above His law. It is a very dangerous attempt to put human laws above God’s law. Therefore Jehovah’s witnesses uphold and maintain their loyalty toward Jehovah’s law, and no power can legally force them to transgress this unique law or make them put imperfect, failing man-made laws first and God’s law second. For them the apostle Peter’s statement is legally binding: “We must obey God as ruler rather than men.” (Acts 5:29) There is no room for compromise.
6 That God’s law is supreme and may not be made subordinate to the law of man is supported by the great English judge, Blackstone. He asserts that the law of God “is, of course, superior in obligation to any other. It is binding over all the globe, in all countries, and at all times: no human laws are of any validity, if contrary to this; and such of them as are valid derive all their force and all their authority, mediately or immediately, from this original.”—Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England, Chase, New York, Baker, Voorhis and Company, 1938, pp. 5-6.
COMPROMISE NEVER PERMITTED
7. Why may a Christian not compromise?
7 This supreme law of Jehovah is worthy to be taught to all men of good will, to be kept and observed above any other laws. God’s law and word are true, and truth cannot compromise. (John 17:17) Truth is truth, and therefore cannot enter into any agreement with what is wrong; otherwise it is no longer truth. Persons agreeing to compromise admit either not having the truth or abandoning it. Neither one is permissible for Christians.—2 Cor. 6:14-18.
8. Explain what compromise is.
8 What does compromise mean? The following example may illustrate it. Two people are in a court fight. The one injured is called the plaintiff. He asks full payment of damage. The wrongdoer, called the defendant, denies it. He claims he owes nothing. The defendant offers to settle, maybe half of the caused damage. To save trouble the plaintiff abandons things he knows are right. He reduces his claim. Finally a price is agreed upon. A compromise is reached!
9. What is the penalty for compromise, and why? Explain Matthew 16:25.
9 This custom of compromise or coming to terms by abandoning things that are right to save trouble is not permitted in Jehovah’s court of supreme justice; it is prohibited by penalty of death. No cowards and compromisers will survive Jehovah’s judgment in Armageddon. Jehovah’s law is clear on the matter: “But as for the cowards and those without faith . . . , their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur. This means the second death,” eternal destruction. (Rev. 21:8) Christians should never compromise just to save trouble. They should stay loyal to the supreme law of their God regardless of consequences. Remember Jesus’ words: “For whoever wants to save his soul [for instance, by compromise] will lose it; but whoever loses his soul [for being loyal] for my sake will find it.”—Matt. 16:25.
FEAR—THE GREAT ENEMY
10. What is the basic cause of compromise? Why?
10 What is the basic thing that causes people to compromise? That big little word: F E A R, fear. Is not fear of man one of our greatest enemies? Be afraid of men and be ensnared. Yes, it petrifies you. Fear paralyzes your entire soul. Solomon wrote: “Trembling at men is what lays a snare.” (Prov. 29:25) But “the fear of Jehovah is the beginning of wisdom,” declared the psalmist. (Ps. 111:10) Those fearing men have no love for God. John wrote that we must love God so “that we may have freeness of speech in the day of judgment . . . There is no fear in love, but perfect love throws fear outside, because fear exercises a restraint.” (1 John 4:17, 18) Fear of men generates compromise, but love of Jehovah protects one from being a cowardly man-fearing compromiser.
11. What causes fear that produces compromise?
11 What causes fear that produces compromise? A multitude of things! Pride, love of wife, or father or mother, or brother or sister, love of personal popularity, more than of God. Fear of ridicule and humiliation, fear of admitting one’s mistakes, or trying to save face, fear of being called a beggar or peddler when engaged in the high calling of preaching from house to house the good news of God’s kingdom and the scourge of the old world in Armageddon, and fear of being identified by the old world as one associating with the New World society. Fear of being different from the majority of people. Fear of losing the flattery of people, losing the good name as a “good fellow.”
12. Why is it dangerous to please men?
12 Today fear of man flourishes; men kowtow to men, anxiously trying to please and compromise with men, in order to have a good name with men. Do they not have the saying: “Do as the people do, and you will fare as the people fare”? Like a low-lying dark tornado cloud hovering near the earth, there hangs over mankind today a pall of conformity of thought and of compromise. Individual courage is rapidly disappearing. Men fear the opinion of their own family members, their bosses, their rulers, their neighbors; they fear criticism. “What would Mrs. Jones think if I would preach the Kingdom from house to house with Jehovah’s witnesses?” What a terrifying question for a man-pleaser! Why not ask, What would Jehovah think? Everywhere you see today a desire to please men, but you see little desire to please God, the supreme Judge. But you cannot be a man-pleaser and at the same time a Christian; this the apostle Paul states very clearly: “Am I seeking to please men? If I were yet pleasing men, I would not be Christ’s slave.”—Gal. 1:10.
13, 14. (a) What sorrowful experience did Peter have after Jesus was arrested? (b) What may we learn from it for our day?
13 The danger of being a man-pleaser and compromiser or coward cannot be overemphasized. Each Christian should watch himself very carefully, so that he may not get trapped into this devilish snare. Let us learn a lesson from the experience Peter had. He was a very close friend of Jesus and was convinced nothing could separate him. Did he not say himself: “Although all the others are stumbled in connection with you, never will I be stumbled”? Jesus told him that in the very same night he would disown him three times. This could never happen; of this Peter was sure: “Even if I should have to die with you, I will by no means disown you.” All know what happened that same night. Jesus was arrested and brought before court, accused and condemned as an unpopular criminal. To be associated with this man at that moment was dangerous and humiliating. Some people recognized Peter as a follower of the condemned Jesus and they pointed at him. What did Peter do? “He denied it before them all, saying: ‘I do not know what you are talking about.’” When pointed at the second time, he denied it with an oath, and the third time he started to curse and swear: “I do not know the man!” (Matt. 26:33-35, 70-74) He disowned his master and compromised to avoid either trouble or humiliation.
14 Today Jehovah’s witnesses are as unpopular as Jesus was. He said it would be so. “You will be hated by all people on account of my name.” “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated me before it hated you.” (Matt. 10:22; John 15:18) Do you want to make the same mistake as Peter did? Are you also ashamed of these followers of Christ just because they are not liked in this world, but hated and spoken against? If yes, please learn from Peter. What did he do? “He went outside and wept bitterly.” (Matt. 26:75) He had good reason for doing so, and the same is true of persons acting today as he did 1900 years ago. But Peter did more than weep. He admitted his weakness and mistake, he did not try to find excuses for his compromising. He changed his attitude, and the Bible record tells us that he became one of the most fearless ministers of the unpopular condemned Jesus Christ; yes, he even died as a martyr. He died with a good name, not with men, but with Jehovah God. So, imitate Peter!
HAVE A GOOD NAME WITH JEHOVAH
15. With whom should Christians have a good name, and why?
15 Do you not prefer to belong to the few who want to fear and love and serve and honor and praise, not men, but Jehovah God, the Life-giver, regardless of what other people think? Do you want to cling to righteous principles as described in Jehovah’s law, even to your dying breath if necessary, in order to have a good name with Jehovah? A good name with Jehovah means everlasting life. If one has a good name with Jehovah it will be for him as Ecclesiastes 7:1 says, that the day of his death will be better than the day of his birth. Does not Jesus himself say about those having a good name with Jehovah: “Rejoice because your names have been inscribed in the heavens” to be remembered at the day of resurrection? (Luke 10:20) Christians hope to live and never die. However, if one must die, let him be determined to die with integrity and a good name with God that he will remember, and not with a rotten name as a fearful and compromising men-pleaser, that will perish from His memory forever.
16. What examples should we copy? And what hope do these fearless men have?
16 Take as examples men who kept their integrity. Does not James admonish Christians: “Brothers, take as a pattern of the suffering of evil and the exercising of patience the prophets, who spoke in the name of Jehovah”? (Jas. 5:10) These were fearless men, men of integrity, who did not conform to wrongdoing simply because it was popular. Like faithful Christians, “they did not love their souls even despite the danger of death.” (Rev. 12:11) They never tried to please men as “good fellows.” Instead of abandoning God’s principles by compromise, what did they do? They suffered torture and death without whimpering. Hebrews 11:37, 38 says: “They were stoned, they were tried, they were sawn asunder, they died by slaughter with the sword, they went about in sheep skins, in goat skins, while they were in want, in tribulation, under ill-treatment; and the world was not worthy of them.” They did not get the plaudits of those hurrahing the king; no! And they did not curry the favor of the rich or of those in positions of power. They did not cowardly seek the honor of men. Even though killed, they have not perished, for Malachi 3:16 indicates their names are written in the “book of remembrance . . . for them that feared Jehovah, and that thought upon his name.” Do we have the courage to copy these men that the inspired disciple James tells us to copy?
17. (a) Explain the path of Christian conduct? (b) How can they safely walk the narrow way that leads to life?
17 The path of Christian conduct is high, lofty, narrow and straight. Avoiding fear of men keeps Christians from falling off the path down to deadly depths of compromise and loss of life. Jesus commands Christians: “Go in through the narrow gate; because broad and spacious is the road leading off into destruction, and many are the ones going in through it; whereas narrow is the gate and cramped the road leading off into life, and few are the ones finding it.” (Matt. 7:13, 14) Do you like to go the easy broad way leading to destruction just because the majority are walking there? Do you still like to please men who are walking this broad way of destruction? Why try to please and fear mortal men who the Bible says “will be rendered as mere green grass”? (Isa. 51:12) Therefore walk the straight and narrow way of integrity, and fear Jehovah the supreme Sovereign. In the battle of Armageddon Jehovah will clean the earth of all cowards, compromisers, men-pleasers and fearful people.
18. In whom should Christians put their trust? What is necessary for doing so, and why?
18 Christians should put their trust and confidence in Jehovah and never fear men or try to please men. Whom shall we fear when Jehovah is with us? The psalmist said: “Jehovah is my light and my salvation. Of whom shall I be in fear?” (Ps. 27:1) To overcome fear of men knowledge of Jehovah is essential. And to know Jehovah careful study of His Word and law is necessary. Lack of knowledge makes one depend on men and makes one fearful of men, but knowledge of Jehovah dispels fear. Through study you learn: “The name of Jehovah is a strong tower. Into it the righteous runs and is given protection.” (Prov. 18:10) Through study you learn the mighty acts Jehovah has done for those who fear him and not men. “Listen to me, you the ones knowing righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law. Do not be afraid of the reproach of mortal men, and do not be struck with terror just because of their abusive words. For the moth will eat them up just as if a garment, and the clothes moth will eat them up just as if wool. But as for my righteousness, it will prove to be even to time indefinite, and my salvation to unnumbered generations.” So study and learn to fear Jehovah, but never men.—Isa. 51:7, 8.
19, 20. (a) What do we expect? (b) But what admonishment does the Bible give?
19 May Christians never be trembling, soft and double-minded or unstable because of fear of men or devil. Jehovah has informed his servants about the coming attack from Gog of Magog. Jehovah’s witnesses expect persecution by Caesar. They know this old world hates them. But they have confidence in the power of Jehovah, their God, as did those men who served him fearlessly in the past. What did Moses command Jehovah’s warriors of the ancient typical organization to do? “Be courageous and strong. Do not be afraid or suffer a shock before them, because Jehovah your God is the one marching with you. He will neither desert you nor forsake you. . . . Jehovah is the one marching before you.” (Deut. 31:6, 8) Like the psalmist of old, let each true Christian brace up his mind with determination to avoid compromise and loss of integrity: “Jehovah is on my side; I shall not fear. What can earthling man do to me? It is better to take refuge in Jehovah than to trust in nobles. All the nations themselves surrounded me. . . . They surrounded me like bees; they were extinguished like a fire of thornbushes. It was in the name of Jehovah that I kept holding them off.”—Ps. 118:6, 9-12.
20 And how does Paul admonish us? “What, then, shall we say to these things? God is for us, who will be against us?” “We mustered up boldness by means of our God to speak to you the good news of God with a great deal of struggling.” “For God gave us not a spirit of cowardice, but that of power.”—Rom. 8:31; 1 Thess. 2:2; 2 Tim. 1:7.
21. What attitude should Christians have to avoid the danger of compromise and men-pleasing?
21 Therefore, Christian fighters, be courageous, never fear men or try to please men, never compromise just to avoid trouble. Hold fast to God’s supreme law and word. Serve Jehovah, not by “eyeservice as men-pleasers, but as Christ’s slaves, doing the will of God whole-souled.” (Eph. 6:6) Preach and defend your faith and hope fearlessly and efficiently and your reward will be everlasting life in Jehovah’s new world. May Jehovah God bless each one of you ministers of Jehovah and men of good will with his spirit of power.