Identifying the Spirit of the World
“Now we received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is from God.”—1 Cor. 2:12.
1. What spirit is abroad on earth, and with what effect?
THERE is a spirit abroad in all the earth today. A writer of ancient time called it “the spirit of the world.” It is influencing people everywhere, and that in a bad way; and the world finds itself kept in trouble that goes from bad to worse.
2, 3. (a) What are we not to understand by the “spirit of the world”? (b) What, then, is the “spirit of the world”?
2 What are we to understand by the expression “the spirit of the world”? Not a demon or an unseen, superhuman, supernatural spirit person that wields great influence over the world of mankind. True, there is plenty of evidence to prove that there literally are invisible demons and also a prince or ruler over them. But the “spirit of the world” is not an invisible person, an unseen individual with intelligence. Yes, it is something invisible, and that is why it is called a “spirit.” But, instead of being confined to just one person, this spirit marks the world of mankind in general. It is displayed by the world of mankind. It is expressed by all this mass of people. What, then, is the “spirit of the world”?
3 It is the frame of mind, the inclination of the mind, the persistent tendency that controls the world of mankind. It moves the world to certain characteristic conduct, namely, to speak, to think and to take attitudes and viewpoints, and to decide and act in a certain way that follows a definite pattern. It results in a certain one kind of behavior, a uniform course of conduct. All this outward form of expression reveals or betrays the kind of spirit that the world of mankind has.
4. Can the many kinds of people today have the one “spirit of the world”?
4 The world today is made up of many kinds of people, of different races, of differing colors of skin, of many nationalities, speaking thousands of languages, following many sorts of customs, dressing differently, practicing many kinds of religion. Yet, can all these different peoples be possessing the one “spirit of the world”? The answer is Yes.
5, 6. According to the Christian Greek Scriptures, what different aspects does this common spirit that the world of mankind expresses have?
5 Surely all of us have not failed to notice the “spirit of fear” throughout the earth today. The “spirit of error” must also be rampant throughout the earth. There are such divided opinions and theories, even in the matter of religion. All these opinions, ideas, theories and cults that are at disagreement with one another cannot all be right; there must be widespread error.
6 To wide-awake persons it is clear that the “spirit of slumber” has settled down upon the mass of mankind. They choose to stay unconcerned, indifferent to the meaning of world events today. They do not want to wake up to what the world situation means and what they should do for their own safety and lasting welfare. There is also a certain universal bondage. Men show the “spirit of bondage,” although they do not like to admit that that is true. Also, under the tremendous pressures of the times a spirit of selfishness or self-seeking prevails everywhere. This selfish spirit expresses itself in so many ways, in politics, in commerce and business, in social affairs, in international relations, in pleasures, in religion, and in other fields of interest. Yes, the world is all one in the common spirit that it expresses.*
7. Because of the long prevalence of the “spirit of the world,” what does the world have today?
7 The “spirit of the world” has long been in operation, infecting and influencing people of the world. The ancient author who wrote about it lived nineteen centuries ago. He was an Asiatic, but traveled about considerably in the ancient Roman Empire. More than two thousand years before his day the “spirit of the world” had risen up and spread through the ranks of mankind. Because this spirit has long pervaded the human family the world today has what is called “the wisdom of the world” and also its “foolish things.” It presents a certain scene or fashion of things. It has its rudiments or elementary things that lie at the root of its teachings and actions. It has its sorrow that brings about no real change for the better but that is deathward. It has its nations and kingdoms; and it has its invisible heavenly ruler. Of the spirit of this powerful unseen ruler this world partakes.*
8, 9. (a) When did the “spirit of the world” become an active force to affect the people in general? (b) What was the one spirit that the eight Flood survivors had?
8 How and when did the “spirit of the world” become an active force, an influence, to affect the people in general? It did so more than a century after the great flood had swept over the whole earth and had cut down the human population to just eight persons, namely, the patriarch Noah and his wife and their three sons, Japheth, Shem and Ham, and the three wives of these. Thus from the eight human survivors of the Flood we all trace our line of descent and find ourselves to be really brothers and sisters. The ark in which Noah and his family lived through that global flood settled down on Mount Ararat in Armenia, in southwest Asia. When they came out of the ark after living a full solar year inside, these ancestors of ours had just one spirit. What was it? A worshipful frame of mind. It was an overwhelming tendency and mental inclination to worship the One who had preserved them alive during the long flood, the unseen Being who is Creator of heaven and earth.
9 This Preserver of Noah and his family had also destroyed the millions of bad people who had filled the earth with corrupt, immoral ways and violence. How Noah and his family expressed their one spirit of worship to the Creator, Preserver and Destroyer we read in the history that Noah’s sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, kept:
10. How did those Flood survivors immediately express their one spirit? With what response from God?
10 “The earth had dried off. God now spoke to Noah, saying: ‘Go out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and your sons’ wives with you. Every living creature that is with you of every sort of flesh, among the flying creatures and among the beasts and among all the moving animals that move upon the earth, bring out with you, as they must swarm in the earth and be fruitful and become many upon the earth.’ At that Noah went out, and also his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him. Every living creature, every moving animal and every flying creature, everything that moves on the earth, according to their families they went out of the ark. And Noah began to build an altar to Jehovah and to take some of all the clean beasts and of all the clean flying creatures and to offer burnt offerings upon the altar. And Jehovah began to smell a restful odor, and so Jehovah said in his heart: ‘Never again shall I call down evil upon the ground on man’s account, because the inclination of the heart of man is bad from his youth up; and never again shall I deal every living thing a blow just as I have done [by a flood] . . . . Be fruitful and become many and fill the earth.’”—Gen. 8:14 to 9:1; 10:1.
NIMROD DEVELOPS A DIFFERENT SPIRIT
11. Because of what or whom is the spirit of the Flood survivors not the spirit of the world today?
11 However, the world of mankind today does not have that spirit of united worship toward the Creator, Jehovah God. Since all the human family today has descended from those eight Flood survivors, why is not the worshipful spirit that they had back there the spirit of the world today? It is principally because of a man who did not choose to follow the example of his great-grandfather Noah. He chose to cultivate an opposite spirit, one of opposition to Noah’s God, Jehovah. Who was this man? Nimrod, who descended from Noah through Ham and Ham’s son Cush. He wanted to become somebody big and mighty among mankind and to rule over others. He did not distinguish himself as a peaceable farmer or as a shepherd. He made a name for himself as a hunter, becoming finally a killer of men as well as a killer of wild animals. Nimrod’s spirit caught hold of other men, so that at last a proverb was composed and was applied to those imitators of that bad-spirited man: “Just like Nimrod a mighty hunter in opposition to Jehovah.”—Gen. 10:9.*
12. What did Nimrod plan on doing, and what project of his became world famous?
12 No, Nimrod did not become a farmer like his great-grandfather Noah. (Gen. 9:20) He planned on building cities. He wanted to herd people together and rule over them as king, organizing them for his ambitious purposes. His first city became famous, and it has affected the history of the world of mankind. It was Babylon, as the Greeks called it, or Babel, as Noah and his son Shem called it. Most people remember Babylon for its tower of Babel, at which the language of the builders became all mixed up. Only a few people may remember Babylon as the capital city that was built by Nimrod, the starter of human politics.—Gen. 11:1-9.
13. With what facts of history does Genesis 10:8-12 reveal the spirit motivating Nimrod?
13 To reveal the bad, selfish, ambitious, bloodthirsty spirit motivating this builder of Babylon, the history written by Shem has this to say: “And Cush [son of Ham] became father to Nimrod. He made the start in becoming a mighty one in the earth. He displayed himself a mighty hunter in opposition to Jehovah. That is why there is a saying: ‘Just like Nimrod a mighty hunter in opposition to Jehovah.’ And the beginning of his kingdom came to be Babel and Erech and Accad and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. Out of that land he went forth into Assyria and set himself to building Nineveh and Rehoboth-Ir and Calah and Resen between Nineveh and Calah: this is the great city.”—Gen. 10:8-12; 11:10.
14. What was Babylon’s attitude toward Jehovah?
14 As King Nimrod was a huntsman in opposition to Jehovah God, the religion of Nimrod’s capital city Babylon (or, Babel) was also in opposition to Jehovah. It did not have the spirit of Jehovah God. (1 Cor. 2:12) It was not moved by any spirit of worship toward him. It did not pay any attention to the universal rulership of Jehovah God as the Creator and Sovereign of heaven and earth.
15. How did Babylon the Great come into existence, and what is it?
15 That is why Jehovah God miraculously mixed up the language of the builders of Babylon and caused the majority of them to scatter away from Babylon according to their language groups. But they carried with them to their new locations the spirit of Babylon, the religion of Babylon. In this manner a world empire of false, Babylonish religion was built up. It spread into what is now India and southeast Asia and China, and into Africa and Europe and, at last, to all other parts of the earth. This world empire of false religion is in opposition to Jehovah God because it had its basis in Babylon. Hence in his Holy Bible he calls this religious world empire by the name Babylon the Great. Babylon or Babel means “Confusion.” In agreement with that name the Babylonish world empire of false religion is a mix-up or confusion of hundreds of religions in opposition to Jehovah God the Creator.
16. How do ancient Babylon and Babylon the Great compare as to existence and as to the sway they held over people?
16 Babylon, the city built on the Euphrates River in southwest Asia, has long since perished. However, Babylon the Great as a world empire of Babylonish false religion remains and now holds sway over the mass of mankind, whether they realize that fact or not. The Holy Bible, inspired by Jehovah God, has much to say about Babylon. In Genesis, its first book, the Bible tells us how Babylon began; and in its last or sixty-sixth book, Revelation or Apocalypse, the Bible exposes Babylon the Great and tells us how she will be destroyed. Ancient Babylon became a world power in the seventh century before our Common Era, and the Babylonian Empire covered a large territory in the Middle East and Egypt. But Babylon the Great has worldwide sway. The last book of the Bible likens her to an immoral woman and says:
17. How does Revelation 17:1-18 picture the sway of Babylon the Great?
17 “‘Come, I will show you the judgment upon the great harlot who sits on many waters, with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication, whereas those who inhabit the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication.’ And upon her forehead was written a name, a mystery: ‘Babylon the Great, the mother of the harlots and of the disgusting things of the earth.’ . . . ‘The waters that you saw, where the harlot is sitting, mean peoples and crowds and nations and tongues. And the woman whom you saw means the great city that has a kingdom over the kings of the earth.’”—Rev. 17:1, 2, 5, 15, 18.
18. When and how did Babylon the Great come to include Christendom?
18 In the fourth century of our Common Era Babylon the Great came to include Christendom. The first ecumenical council of the bishops of Christendom was called together in the year 325, not on Vatican Hill, Rome, but at Nicaea, Asia. It was called by the unbaptized Roman emperor, Constantine the Great, who held the unchristian religious office of Pontifex Maximus. As such, he presided over the Council of Nicaea and decided in favor of the Trinity teaching, namely, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost, a three-in-one God. This is Babylonish. A close examination of Christendom’s basic doctrines and practices reveals that they are Babylonish, although they are covered over with names taken from the Holy Bible. It is not surprising, therefore, to find Christendom filled with the “spirit of the world.” She is now the leading member of religious Babylon the Great.
DRUNK WITH BLOOD
19. What was ancient Babylon’s course toward Jehovah’s people, and how does Revelation picture Babylon the Great as having the same spirit?
19 Ancient Babylon was against Jehovah God and his people. The Bible goes to great length in telling us of how the Babylonian world power persecuted the chosen people of Jehovah God. Likewise, Babylon the Great has ever been against His people. A vision pointing to this fact was given to the apostle John. In this vision he was shown just how wicked Babylon the Great is. John says: “And I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of the holy ones and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus.” That was one of the main reasons for Babylon the Great to be destroyed, for Jehovah’s angel said to the apostle John: “Yes, in her was found the blood of prophets and of holy ones and of all those who have been slaughtered on the earth.” (Rev. 17:6; 18:24) Babylon the Great has shown the same bloodthirsty spirit as was shown by the founder of ancient Babylon, Nimrod, the “mighty hunter in opposition to Jehovah.” With whose blood, however, is Babylon the Great said to be drunk?
20. Against whom does the drunkenness of Babylon the Great show her to be, as illustrated in the case of the apostle John himself?
20 Babylon the Great is plainly said to be drunk with the “blood of prophets and of holy ones.” That means the blood of the prophets and saints or holy ones of Jehovah God, who sent to the apostle John the prophetic vision of the judgment upon the world empire of Babylonish religion. John says that he saw the “woman” Babylon the Great to be “drunk with the blood of the holy ones and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus.” This Jesus is the one by means of whom Jehovah God sent the Revelation vision to John. As regards “witnesses of Jesus,” John says that he himself “bore witness to the word God gave and to the witness Jesus Christ gave.” (Rev. 1:1, 2) So the apostle John was one of those “witnesses of Jesus”; and at the time of receiving the vision from God through Jesus Christ he was suffering persecution at the hands of the Roman emperor and Pontifex Maximus. So Babylon the Great was not only against Jehovah’s people who lived before our Common Era but also against Christ’s true followers, his true witnesses.
21. As regards such drunkenness, how has Christendom proved herself a real “daughter” of Babylon the Great?
21 In this matter of being drunk “with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus,” Christendom has proved herself to be a real “daughter” of Babylon the Great. Christendom claims to be the realm in which Christianity is practiced, but during the past sixteen hundred years of her existence she has been guilty of shedding the blood of more true Christians than even those nations that do not claim to be Christian. By her religious persecutions, her religious inquisitions and crusades against “heretics,” and her religious wars she has killed off more professed Christians than so-called pagan nations have killed off. And what about the two world wars of our twentieth century? History discloses that both these wars were launched by the nations of Christendom, with enormous losses of life all around the earth. Truly Christendom has played a tremendous part toward realizing the angel’s words in Revelation 18:24 that in Babylon the Great was found the blood of “all those who have been slaughtered on the earth.”
22. Before whom does Christendom bear bloodguilt, and how must it be wiped out?
22 As a part of Babylon the Great, which is the world empire of Babylonish religion, Christendom bears a heavy bloodguilt before God. According to the just law of Jehovah God, life must go for life, soul for soul. So the bloodguilt of Babylon the Great must be wiped out by her destruction, including that of Christendom.
23. By her spirit whom does Babylon the Great show to be her god?
23 By her very spirit Babylon the Great betrays who her god is, whom she worships. She shows she has the “spirit of the world.” This is actually the spirit of the one whom Jesus Christ called “the ruler of this world,” namely, Satan the Devil, the great fallen angel who is the chief opposer of Jehovah God.—John 12:31.
24. (a) How does Babylon the Great’s god blind the people? (b) How does she aid him and show his spirit toward Jehovah’s people?
24 Satan is the one who blinds the minds of the people with false religion so that they do not accept the Bible truth about Jehovah and his Son Jesus Christ. It is just as the Christian apostle Paul wrote, saying: “If, now, the good news we declare is in fact veiled, it is veiled among those who are perishing, among whom the god of this system of things has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, that the illumination of the glorious good news about the Christ, who is the image of God, might not shine through.” (2 Cor. 4:3, 4) Babylon the Great is a part of this system of things on earth, and the devilish “god of this system of things” is her god and she partakes of his spirit. She herself is deceived by him, and she aids him in deceiving and misleading the majority of earth’s inhabitants. Her god is the “one called Devil and Satan, who is misleading the entire inhabited earth.” He persecutes those who belong to Jehovah the Most High God. Hence Satan makes war upon those “who observe the commandments of God and have the work of bearing witness to Jesus.” (Rev. 12:9, 13, 17) Babylon the Great shows the same spirit of persecution toward these witnesses.
See the Bible Cyclopædia by M’Clintock and Strong, Volume 7, edition of 1894, page 109, under “Nimrod.” See also the book “Babylon the Great Has Fallen!” God’s Kingdom Rules!, pages 13, 14.
[Picture on page 748]
Nimrod manifested a spirit in opposition to Jehovah