Does What You Believe Make a Difference?
THERE are many things you could believe that really would not make any difference to your welfare. For example, you might believe that one color is more pleasing to the eye than another, and it would not affect your life to any degree. It would be a matter of personal taste.
However, what if you believed you could jump out of a high-flying airplane without a parachute to slow your descent? Ah, you say, that would make a difference, because believing such an absurd thing would affect your life, actually placing it in jeopardy. So you are careful to believe what is true where your life is concerned. You would be tolerant of the beliefs of others, but you would not make them your own if you felt your welfare was endangered by such beliefs.
Are you just as careful regarding your beliefs about your own relationship to God? How careful are you to ascertain with correctness what God requires of you? Do you have a sound basis for your beliefs about your place in God’s purposes? True, many say that what you believe along these lines does not matter, so long as you have some belief. But ask yourself this question: While what you believe may not matter to others, does it matter to God?
You acknowledge that it is dangerous for a person to entertain erroneous beliefs about “natural” laws, such as defying gravity by jumping out of an airplane without a parachute. These “natural” laws are really laws fixed by God. Should this not cause you to consider that it also would be dangerous to entertain erroneous beliefs regarding others of God’s laws for humans? If wrong views regarding “natural” laws can endanger one’s life, then surely wrong views regarding others of God’s laws for human creatures can be even more dangerous, since this could affect our eternal welfare.
Down through the centuries people have believed fantastic things about God and his purposes. They have conjured up myriads of gods and related beliefs. Yet the average person today would have difficulty naming even a few of the ancient gods and what they stood for. They have vanished with time because such existed in the imagination only, not in fact. The false gods of today that do not exist in actuality will likewise pass away in time. Only the Almighty God Jehovah and his purposes have remained consistent, unchangeable, reliable.
Recently an erroneous religious belief made a difference to a hospital patient. This patient had been in a deep coma for days. He was given the best of care. Then a staphylococcus infection developed on his chest and abdomen. Nobody could understand where the germs came from. Everything was thoroughly sanitary, and no other patient had such an infection. One day a skin specialist noticed the mother of the stricken man sprinkling something on his stomach. It was discovered that the mother had been regularly sprinkling “holy water” on her son, believing that this would help him get well. A doctor took a sample of this water and found it loaded with germs! When the sprinkling of “holy water” ended, so did the infection. (Life, Sept. 27, 1963) While the mother was no doubt sincere, still the practice had no force for good. It was not God’s way. It amounted to nothing more than superstition, and in this case it resulted in harm where good was intended.
Where our relationship to God is concerned, what we believe makes a big difference. In the days of Noah, more than 4,000 years ago, the overwhelming majority of mankind believed they could reject God’s ways and do as they pleased. The result was that “the badness of man was abundant in the earth and every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only bad all the time. . . . And the earth came to be ruined in the sight of the true God and the earth became filled with violence.” (Gen. 6:5, 11) When God, through the righteously disposed man, Noah, warned that generation of their impending doom by means of a global flood, they did not believe it. What a difference this made in their lives! Because they refused to believe God and act on his word, they lost their lives in that great deluge. Noah and his family survived the end of that world because they believed God and acted on his word. It meant a great difference in their lives, for they were saved from that world disaster. It also made a great difference to the entire human family on earth today, for we are all the descendants of Noah and his family. The disbelievers were cut off in the Flood and had no further offspring.
Bible prophecy clearly indicates that we, too, live in a time of judgment and are near the end of this bad system of things. Jesus marked our time as the one that would see God cleanse wickedness from the earth as He did in Noah’s day. (Matt. 24:37-39) Whether you believe and act on this knowledge or not will make a tremendous difference. What difference? “I have put life and death before you, the blessing and the malediction,” is the way Jehovah stated it through his servant Moses. (Deut. 30:19) The difference is between everlasting life and everlasting death!
It is true that the majority of earth’s inhabitants do not believe that such a choice faces them, but neither did the people of Noah’s day. Those who scoff in disbelief forget something. As the apostle Peter stated: “According to their wish, this fact escapes their notice, . . . the world of that time suffered destruction when it was deluged with water.” (2 Pet. 3:5, 6) Just as surely as that ancient world ended by an act of God, so the present one will.
Do not be misled. What you believe regarding God and his purposes will make a great difference in your life. If you desire God’s blessings you will want to study his Word, the Bible, to ascertain his requirements for you. Then you will want to live your life in harmony with God’s expressed will, for “the world is passing away and so is its desire, but he that does the will of God remains forever.” (1 John 2:17) What a difference it will make for you to believe God’s ways!