The Benefit of Living for God’s New World
1. What do James and Paul have to say about anger, contention and the wrong use of the tongue?
IS IT not true that today in this world people quickly become angry, losing control of their tempers? Often this leads to harsh and abusive speech, even to unclean and filthy speech. Such kind of speech shows a lack of kindness and consideration for others and is but an evidence of the bitterness, jealousy and contention that are part of the bad conditions around us. The Bible writer James therefore asks: “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show out of his right conduct his works with a meekness that belongs to wisdom. 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 . . . For where jealousy and contentiousness are, there disorder and every vile thing are.” (Jas. 3:13-16) That is why Paul properly says, at Ephesians 4:29-32: “Let a rotten saying not proceed out of your mouth, but whatever saying is good for building up as the need may be, that it may impart what is favorable to the hearers. . . . Let all malicious bitterness and anger and wrath and screaming and abusive speech be taken away from you along with all injuriousness. But become kind to one another, tenderly compassionate, freely forgiving one another just as God also by Christ freely forgave you.”
2. What counsel should be followed when one is overcome temporarily by the heat of anger?
2 Even when it may be necessary to give correction or reproof, as parent to child, or as a Christian overseer to one in the congregation, one’s speech should not reflect an uncontrolled spirit. If one feels momentarily overcome by the heat of anger, that is the time to keep silent until the anger has cooled and one can speak on the matter with proper balance. Under such circumstances he should be “slow about speaking,” and rather remember that “an enraged man stirs up strife.” To gain God’s approval we must learn to live in peace, be peaceable, for “happy are the peaceable, since they will be called ‘sons of God’.”—Jas. 1:19; Prov. 15:18; Matt. 5:9.
3, 4. What are some other things that have no place in the New World society?
3 There are times when one may be properly stirred by righteous indignation against what is wrong and evil. But to be moved to indignation against what is wrong because of love for Jehovah and what is right, and because one is disturbed to see His name and people reproached, is different from being moved to anger because of personal hurt feelings of pride or hatred for another person, or to cover up fear of being found out in some wrong that one has done.
4 Anything that would work contrary to the peacefulness and orderliness of God’s arrangement of living for his people can have no place in his now-forming New World society. This means that such things as fighting or drunkenness (which so often leads to strife) are no part of New World living.—Rom. 13:13.
PRINCIPLES FOR MARRIAGE AND MORAL BEHAVIOR
5. For what purpose did God make the two sexes, and what limitation was put on the privilege of sexual union?
5 When God originally placed man and woman in the paradise garden of Eden it was His purpose to have them reproduce and multiply to become a society of people eventually to populate the whole earth with a righteous race. So that they could multiply, God created them with the ability to reproduce, and that was why he made the two sexes, male and female. By the man and woman coming together in sexual union they would beget children “after their kind.” This would be a right and proper thing for them to do, with no shame attached to it, and it was therefore intended to be a pleasurable experience for them. But God set certain limitations on the exercise of the privilege of sexual union. It was to be practiced only with the arrangement of marriage—the husband with his own wife, the wife with her own husband.
6. (a) Was it God’s purpose that polygamy be practiced in Israel? (b) What did Jesus say about marriage and divorce at Matthew 19:4-9?
6 Although for a time God permitted the Israelites to practice polygamy, yet this was not God’s purpose for them, nor did he command them to adopt this practice. In instituting marriage in the first place God gave Adam only one wife. And so Jesus later said concerning the Jewish practice of polygamy and divorce: “‘Did you not read that he who created them at the beginning made them male and female and said: “For this reason a man will leave his father and his mother and will stick to his wife, and the two will be one flesh”? So that they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has yoked together let no man put apart.’ They said to him: ‘Why, then, did Moses prescribe giving a certificate of dismissal and divorcing her?’ He said to them: ‘Moses, out of regard for your hardheartedness, made the concession to you of divorcing your wives, but such has not been the case from the beginning. I say to you that whoever divorces his wife except on the grounds of fornication and marries another commits adultery.’”—Matt. 19:4-9.
7. (a) With whom only may a man or woman have sexual relations? (b) What are the only grounds for divorce that permits remarriage?
7 The Bible principles in connection with marriage are really very simple. A Christian man may have only one living wife, and a Christian woman may have only one living husband. The man may have sexual relations only with his wife and with no other woman; the wife may have sexual relations only with her husband and with no other man. The two have become one flesh. If one of the marriage partners dies, then that, of course, ends the marriage and the remaining one may remarry. (Rom. 7:2, 3) But while the two are still living the only Scriptural grounds for divorce that allows remarriage is where either the man or the woman goes outside the limitations of marriage and has sexual relations with some other person, thus becoming one flesh with that other person, thereby committing adultery. For a married person to have sexual relations with any person other than his marriage partner is a violation of and a defiling of God’s law regarding marriage. (Heb. 13:4) Thus the Bible does not allow for a marriage being ended by a divorce for other reasons, such as a failure to bear children, difference in religion, sickness or disease, cruelty, and so forth. Where a person does obtain a divorce for any of these latter reasons he would not be Scripturally free to remarry and would therefore be committing adultery if he did so.
8. What course should be followed by unmarried persons or engaged couples?
8 Since the sexual relationship is permitted only in the marriage state, that means that unmarried persons may not indulge therein. Persons who have agreed to get married, that is, are engaged, must therefore guard their conduct and exercise proper restraint, waiting till after the marriage to enter into the intimate relationship that rightly belongs only to the marriage state. Any improper sexual relationship on the part of unmarried persons or single persons is fornication and is condemned by Jehovah God. That is why Paul wrote to the Ephesians who had turned their backs on the old world and its ways: “Let fornication and uncleanness of every kind . . . not even be mentioned among you . . . For you know this, . . . that no fornicator or unclean person or greedy person—which means being an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of the Christ and of God.”—Eph. 5:3-5.
9. What has been the result of the lack of respect in this world for God’s principles of marriage? How does the New World society keep itself clean from wrong practices?
9 The lack of respect shown by this old world toward God’s righteous principles governing marriage has led to all kinds of troubles: broken marriages, broken homes, and children going bad because of lack of parental care and training and example. Those who wish to see life in God’s new world, where marriage will exist only in harmony with the divine law, cannot afford to copy the perverted ways of this world in this matter. Even now, while living in this world, those living for the new world need to follow Jehovah’s principles for marriage and moral behavior. That is why it is right and proper for Christian congregations to be alert to keep their association clean, expelling from their midst willful practicers of such wrongdoing.—1 Cor. 5:11, 13; 6:9, 10.
10. Why is it proper for a marriage to be legally registered?
10 Because of the seriousness of marriage and to guard against any abuse of its rights and privileges, it is proper that a marriage of a man and woman be properly registered and recognized by the community. In most countries a marriage must be registered with the local government authority and so become officially known, and the couple receive a certificate of marriage.
11. What is the basis for successful marriage, and what changes may be necessary if a family is to live together in harmony with Bible principles?
11 The basis for successful marriage is love and not the selfish satisfaction of fleshly passion. In some communities it has been customary for the men to look down on the women as much inferior to them, even to the extent where a wife is looked on as more like some piece of property than as a helpmate and companion. Under such circumstances there is no sharing of life together in the way that God intended marriage to be. To conform to the requirements of New World living means a complete change in attitude toward marriage and the responsibilities to one’s marriage mate. The husband must recognize that his wife is not just a slave or house servant. She also can receive from Jehovah God the same blessings of life as he himself, and her worship and service are equally acceptable and pleasing to Him. As the man and his wife both come to learn of the New World hope they have something to share, something to work for together. The man will encourage his wife, talk with her of their hopes and their Christian work. Rather than a man’s neglecting his wife to be with his worldly friends, he will see the need to learn how to live with his wife and children as a family, training them at home in a study of the Bible and in the true worship of God. The wife, on the other hand, will show love and proper respect for her husband, co-operating with him in the rearing of the children in the “discipline and authoritative advice of Jehovah.” In this way the husband, the wife and the children are drawn close together in love and understanding, in kindness and helpfulness, living and working together for the new world.—Eph. 5:22, 23, 28, 33; 6:1-4.
12. Why is it necessary for Christians today to “put up a hard fight for the faith”?
12 All kinds of immorality are today being practiced in this wicked world: loose sexual relations between young unmarried people, men and women who are married having sexual relations with others, and in some cases married couples even agreeing to exchange their wives and husbands to satisfy selfish desires. The minds of some are so perverted that they seek to deceive others into such wrong practices under the cloak of false religious teaching. All such things are wicked and they violate God’s principles of marriage. It is no wonder, then, that the apostle wrote that such people are “in darkness mentally, and alienated from the life that belongs to God . . . Having come to be past all moral sense, they gave themselves over to loose conduct to work uncleanness of every kind with greediness.” (Eph. 4:18, 19) And the disciple Jude warns God’s people that some such men would even ‘slip in,’ “ungodly men, turning the undeserved kindness of our God into an excuse for loose conduct.” And so Jude admonishes the Christians to whom he wrote “to put up a hard fight for the faith.”—Jude 3, 4.
13. Describe the conditions that will prevail on earth when wickedness is completely cleansed out of it.
13 What a blessed time it will be when the earth is cleansed once and for all time of such wrongdoing; when honesty and integrity and uprightness will flourish, and lying, stealing and deceit will be no more; when people will deal with one another with confidence and trust, not with doubt and suspicion; when, instead of the harsh sounds of anger, fighting and abusive speech, one will enjoy the calm, happy atmosphere of love, kindness and consideration; when family life will flourish in moral cleanness and the children be reared with affection and sound training to enjoy the blessings of a paradise earth! What a change that will be from the way the world is now! Describing that time, Revelation 21:3, 4 states: “Look! the tent of God is with humankind, and he will reside with them, and they will be his peoples. And God himself will be with them. And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be any more. The former things have passed away.”
14, 15. (a) Why is it wise to choose to live now for the new world of God’s promise? (b) If we want to live for the new world, what commands should we obey as stated by Peter and Paul?
14 Do you not desire to live in such a world? If yes, then you will want to begin living for that new world now. What is there to gain by devoting all our time and energy to the things of this old world? The wise man Solomon answered that question: “For what does a man come to have for all his toil and for the striving of his heart with which he is toiling under the sun? For all his days his occupation means pains and vexation, also during the night his heart just does not lie down. This too is mere vanity.” (Eccl. 2:22, 23) Living for the new world does not result in vanity but brings the rewards of everlasting life in true contentment and happiness.
15 The time left for us to turn away from living according to the way of the nations and to live in accordance with the righteous principles of the new world is short. Of the one who wants to take this course the apostle Peter writes that he should “live the remainder of his time in the flesh, no more for the desires of men, but for God’s will.” That is a very positive command, but how many are carrying it out? Ask yourself, Am I? The apostle further emphasizes his instruction by saying: “For the time that has passed by is sufficient for you to have worked out the will of the nations.” This is just the point that Paul was making in his letter to the Ephesians: “Keep strict watch that how you walk is not as unwise but as wise persons, buying out the opportune time for yourselves, because the days are wicked. On this account cease becoming unreasonable, but go on perceiving what the will of Jehovah is.”—1 Pet. 4:2, 3; Eph. 5:15-17.
HOW TO MAKE THE CHANGE TO NEW WORLD LIVING
16. How only can we learn to live for the new world and continue to keep doing so?
16 We cannot make this change from old-world living to New World living by just our own efforts. The apostle warns that we have a great adversary, Satan the Devil, who, along with his wicked spirit demons, is deceiving the nations and endeavoring to cause all to do what is bad, not what is good. To overcome all his deceptions and snares we need more than just a desire on our part to do what is right. We need Jehovah’s help, and this he supplies freely to those who really wish to worship and serve him. By means of his Word, the Bible, he provides accurate knowledge, and by studying the Bible we get to understand His will and purpose. By means of his holy spirit, which is God’s invisible active force, he strengthens us and gives us the power to do his will. By means of his visible organization among his faithful witnesses on earth he guides and directs us in how to use the knowledge gained in a practical way and brings us into unity with others now living for the new world. By diligently studying God’s Word, seeking the help of the holy spirit and His organization, we can put on “the complete suit of armor from God” and thus resist the wicked influence of Satan and of this evil world.—Eph. 6:10-18.
17. (a) Does living now for the new world free us from all obligations toward this present system of things? (b) What are some of the ways in which we follow the command of Jesus at Matthew 22:21 to “pay back Caesar’s things to Caesar”? (c) How do we render “God’s things to God”?
17 Our living for the new world does not mean that we are automatically freed from any obligation to the present arrangements of men in this world. A Christian receives many benefits from the services performed by human governments. For example, laws are made to restrain wicked people from harming others and damaging their property, and the police serve to apply these laws and protect the people from criminals and otherwise to keep order in the community. Hospitals, schools and other services are provided from which we all benefit. Because of such services the governments require the payment of taxes. Christians are peaceful, law-abiding, and pay their taxes. They do not try to cheat the governments of this world of what is rightly theirs. They follow the principle Jesus laid down at Matthew 22:21: “Pay back, therefore, Caesar’s things to Caesar.” In harmony with this principle, Jehovah’s witnesses, for example, follow the laws governing obtaining of property to build Kingdom Halls, or for holding large and orderly assemblies. However, they do not compromise by paying to Caesar what really belongs to God, but they pay back “God’s things to God.” That is why they hold fast to the Bible command to preach the good news of God’s kingdom even where communistic or totalitarian governments try to prohibit them, and they do not violate their Christian neutrality and so do not get involved in international or interracial quarrels of this old world. Above all, they give their worship exclusively to God, since that rightly belongs to him and not to men.—Acts 5:27-29.
18. (a) Even if we begin now to live for the new world, why is this no cause for boasting? (b) By our sincere efforts in seeking to do what is right we can give proof of what?
18 In living for the new world we are not to do so out of any pride or self-righteousness. It is not a matter of trying to prove that we are better or more righteous than others, so that we can boast. We should not measure what we are or what we are trying to do against what other imperfect men do. Rather, we should use as our measuring rod the perfect example of Christ Jesus, who always did his Father’s will and was perfect in his living for the new world. We fall very short of that standard, do we not? So we have nothing in ourselves in which to boast. We do not deserve the wonderful gift of everlasting life. Rather, everlasting life in the new world is a result of undeserved kindness from God. (Eph. 2:8-10) Though imperfect, we can demonstrate that we have the right kind of heart. By our whole-hearted support of Jehovah’s purposes and of his kingdom under Christ Jesus, and by our sincere efforts in seeking to practice righteousness now, we can show that we are the kind of people who appreciate God’s goodness and his principles of living, and that we will continue to do so when the New World conditions are fully in force on earth. It is so right now to “seek peace and pursue it. For Jehovah’s eyes are upon the righteous.” (1 Pet. 3:11, 12) That means being a Christian not in name only, nor just by membership in some organization, but rather being a genuine worshiper of God in spirit and truth.
19. What invitation is here extended to all lovers of righteousness?
19 Here, then, is a thrilling opportunity! We live now on the threshold of the new world of righteousness. Will you be one of those who will enter into its blessings of endless life? We hope so. Jehovah’s witnesses are very thankful to be able to share this happy prospect with you. They invite you to associate with them, to learn along with them the accurate knowledge of God’s will, to enjoy the same confident faith in the New World hope, yes, and to join with them in making public declaration of that hope to others. Make your life really worthwhile by living now for the new world!