Manifesting the Spirit of God
“Let us go on walking orderly also by spirit.”—Gal. 5:25.
1. What trend is growing today, and why do some not go along with this trend?
IN THESE modern times man is surrounded by the latest inventions of intelligent men. Nations have reached great heights in their achievements. The spirit of nationalism instills in the minds of people the idea that the scientists and the engineers of their nation are the best. Credit for these works goes to men. In fact, so strong is this influence that, as time goes on, human creatures find it more difficult to believe that God actually caused the many miracles and awesome works described in the Bible. This same influence can dominate one to the extent that he will be found in the description given at 2 Peter 3:3, 4: “For you know this first, that in the last days there will come ridiculers with their ridicule, proceeding according to their own desires and saying: ‘Where is this promised presence of his? Why, from the day our forefathers fell asleep in death, all things are continuing exactly as from creation’s beginning.’” However, not all have followed this course; some have readily recognized God as the force behind his Word, the Bible. You read of these at 1 Corinthians 2:12, 13: “We received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is from God, that we might know the things that have been kindly given us by God. These things we also speak, not with words taught by human wisdom, but with those taught by the spirit, as we combine spiritual matters with spiritual words.” To check your own particular leanings, consider some Bible-recorded cases that are ridiculed by some, and believed by others, and note your reaction.
2, 3. (a) How can you examine your thinking on the matter? (b) How do you view counsel of Paul, the book of Revelation, and the growth of Moses?
2 If you had attended a meeting of Christians back in 60-61 C.E. in the city of Ephesus where a Christian by the name of Tychicus delivered a letter from the apostle Paul and it was to be read to the assembled congregation, would you have concluded it was advice from an old man in Rome or would you have recognized it, as from God delivered by his spirit? If Revelation had been read into your ears about 96 C.E., would you have said you were hearing dreams of a lonely man exiled on an island or would you have acknowledged it as “a revelation by Jesus Christ, which God gave him” (Rev. 1:1), and that it was made known by God’s spirit as the medium to carry the communication to earth?
3 When Jehovah God picked out Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egyptian slavery to true worship, Moses said: “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and that I have to bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?” (Ex. 3:11) And again: “Excuse me, Jehovah, but I am not a fluent speaker, neither since yesterday nor since before that nor since your speaking to your servant, for I am slow of mouth and slow of tongue.” (Ex. 4:10) The Bible record shows that Moses stood before Pharaoh a number of times and he talked then and on other occasions to great numbers of people with conviction and forcefulness. (See Exodus 7:10–10:29; Deuteronomy 32:1–33:29.) Would you have felt that this was Moses just growing up, and gaining maturity through his forty years of very active service, or would you have seen God’s spirit producing a mature man to carry out his will?
4. Why do you conclude that Jeremiah was directed by God’s spirit?
4 Suppose you were standing by Jeremiah’s side in 647 B.C.E. when Jehovah God commissioned him prophet to Judah and heard Jeremiah say: “Alas, O Lord Jehovah! Here I actually do not know how to speak, for I am but a boy.” (Jer. 1:6) Then suppose you followed this same man for more than forty years as he fearlessly spoke and wrote Jehovah’s judgments to the nation. Would you marvel and say this was accomplished by an outstanding man or would you credit Jehovah’s spirit, as did Jeremiah himself: “This is what Jehovah has said: ‘Let not the wise man brag about himself because of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man brag about himself because of his mightiness. Let not the rich man brag about himself because of his riches. But let the one bragging about himself brag about himself because of this very thing, the having of insight and the having of knowledge of me, that I am Jehovah, the One exercising loving-kindness, justice and righteousness in the earth; for in these things I do take delight,’ is the utterance of Jehovah”? (Jer. 9:23, 24) Reflect now, Jeremiah was the son of priest Hilkiah of Anathoth. Without direct intervention from Jehovah, very likely he would have remained a priest only and we would not have heard any more of him than we hear of thousands of other fellow priests. But Jehovah decided even before Jeremiah’s birth that he would be a prophet. So by Jehovah’s spirit he became a fearless prophet, historian and compiler of Scripture.
5. What various explanations may be offered for the miraculous happenings at Pentecost, and what is the right view?
5 If you had attended the important meeting held Sivan 6, 33 C.E., in Jerusalem, the day of Pentecost—you would have heard a rushing like the wind and seen fire settle on those in attendance. They began to speak in various languages about the “magnificent things of God.” Were they speaking a language they had studied? Were they drunk, as some concluded? (Acts 2:11, 13) Or would you see the full force of the explanation at Acts 2:4: “And they all became filled with holy spirit and started to speak with different tongues”? Do you agree with Peter, who spoke on that great occasion, and one of the first points he made? It was: “These people are, in fact, not drunk, as you suppose, . . . On the contrary, this is what was said through the prophet Joel, ‘“And in the last days,” God says, “I shall pour out some of my spirit upon every sort of flesh, and your sons and your daughters will prophesy and your young men will see visions and your old men will dream dreams; and even upon my men slaves and upon my women slaves I will pour out some of my spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.”’”—Acts 2:15-18.
6. What does God’s spirit have to do with thirteen other events described in the Bible?
6 Examine just a few of the many more events that you will find in the Bible and that are results of Jehovah God’s spirit in operation: (1) Creation—Genesis 1:2; Psalm 104:30; (2) Birth of Jesus—Matthew 1:18; (3) Resurrection of Jesus—Romans 8:11; (4) Miracles performed by Jesus—Matthew 12:28; Acts 10:38; (5) Jesus’ baptism—Matthew 3:16; (6) New ministers to be baptized must recognize spirit’s operation—Matthew 28:19; (7) Providing Cornelius with help—Acts 10:1-48; (8) Building of temple in Solomon’s time—1 Chronicles 28:11, 12; (9) Feeding Israelites—Nehemiah 9:20, 21; (10) Interpreting of Pharaoh’s and Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams—Genesis 41:25, 38, 39; Daniel 4:18; (11) Producing the Bible—2 Peter 1:20, 21; 2 Timothy 3:16; (12) Appointing overseers in Christian congregations—Acts 20:28; (13) Getting proclamation of God’s kingdom in last days accomplished, earth wide—Revelation 1:1; 14:6; Matthew 24:14.
FINDING THE PROTECTED PLACE OF WORSHIP
7. What is the wise course for those acknowledging God as the one accomplishing these wonders in the past, and who set the example?
7 Without doubt the best place to be, then, is where Jehovah God’s spirit is operating and producing results that praise God. That means you would look for people even in these times that are humbly submissive to such spirit’s influence. They would manifest the spirit of God. These persons would be like Joseph, Daniel and Christ Jesus; they would be giving glory to God as the Accomplisher. It is interesting to note the attitude of Jesus Christ on the occasion when the seventy disciples that he had sent out to preach returned, reporting the results of their work. Luke records: “In that very hour he became overjoyed in the holy spirit and said: ‘I publicly praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have carefully hidden these things from wise and intellectual ones, and have revealed them to babes. Yes, O Father, because to do thus came to be the way approved by you.’” (Luke 10:21) Rather than stubbornly resist the spirit and thus be fighting against life-sustaining spiritual food, such meek persons are eager to remove any hindrance to the free flow of God’s spirit on their lives. Where God’s spirit has such influence, you will easily find the nine fruits of the spirit, listed at Galatians 5:22, 23: “The fruitage of the spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
8, 9. Explain the fruitage of the spirit in operation on a group of Christians.
8 Can you imagine such things in operation among a group of people in these days, when “critical times hard to deal with” are here? (2 Tim. 3:1) Take just a minute and roll these nine ideas over in your mind as they should be found working in a congregation of God’s people. Love brings readily to mind what Jesus said: “‘You must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. The second, like it, is this, ‘You must love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matt. 22:37-39) Following such a commandment would keep one from the greedy, self-absorbed course described at 2 Timothy 3:1-5.
9 Joy, the deep satisfaction in serving Jehovah, whether in times of persecution, hardships, family sorrow, or in easy times; one is contented remaining faithful to God for all times. Then there is peace, no bickering or quarreling over trivial things. Family and neighbor feuds are buried without remembrance stones to locate them again. Peace is a wonderful atmosphere for one’s growing to maturity and for new ones to experience at congregation meetings. Since all make mistakes and are far from perfect, long-suffering causes each one to put up with others. Such ones are not easily excited when someone’s immaturity overflows through a hasty tongue. Kindness is that gentle touch, thoughtfulness at work. It may be help given at a very difficult time or recognition of one’s trying circumstances, with words of assistance. Kindness is not the holding back from giving advice or from counsel when it is needed just to avoid hurting someone’s feelings. When the quality of our food meets up to our standard of cleanness and nutritiousness, we say it is good. So clean ministers are good in God’s sight, they are good to be with. Faith is the result of a careful study of God’s Word that has straightened out many questions as to God’s will. So much evidence has supplied a firm conviction that is solid and that is easily discerned in the action of the minister. Mildness describes the balanced servant of God; he is even-tempered, not inclined to the extreme in either direction. To keep on cultivating the fruitage of the spirit, the Christian practices self-control of his physical and mental forces, thus avoiding immorality, which would disqualify him as a servant of God.
10. Why are these fruits living standards, and what can you then expect of servants of God?
10 And the thing is that these fruits are not just for use at congregation meetings. They are living standards. Paul makes this plain in the same Ga chapter five, and in verse twenty-five. “If we are living by spirit, let us go on walking orderly also by spirit.” This same spirit will cultivate loving obedience in receptive ones as they go on walking under its influence day by day. So if you are looking for God’s people, you will find them the same in their meeting places of worship as in their homes, manifesting the fruits of the spirit toward their wives, their husbands, their brothers and sisters as they would toward fellow Christians at the meetings.
11. Why are meetings of Jehovah’s people different?
11 That is why the meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses are such happy, upbuilding occasions. These meetings manifest the spirit of God. The atmosphere is one of liveliness, of accomplishing something, and yet Jehovah God gets the credit and praise. This is not our opinion. Ask others; check the records, here being just one example: incorporated in the U.S. Congressional Record, 1958, Appendix, page A6907, is a New York Times report on one of our conventions: “Witnesses styled city’s best guests—180,000 at World Assembly win praise for courtesy, quietude and neatness.” The stress is placed on spiritual health and maturity rather than ornate, antique church structures of worship. Their plain, simple places of worship reflect the warmth of a close-knit family that welcomes you back.
12. Give reasons why these meetings are upbuilding, and explain what the spirit has to do with them.
12 Another reason why the meetings of Jehovah’s witnesses are so upbuilding is the heart condition of these people, which allows you to relax. Remember, Paul wrote: “In the last days critical times hard to deal with will be here.” (2 Tim. 3:1) It takes strength to maintain a constant vigilant defensive guard all day long while at work or school with those who practice the works of the flesh as described at Galatians 5:19-24: “They are fornication, uncleanness, loose conduct. idolatry, practice of spiritism, hatreds, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, contentions, divisions, sects, envies, drunken bouts, revelries, and things like these . . . those who practice such things will not inherit God’s kingdom.” The heart of such people is opened for view at Psalm 14:1: “The senseless one has said in his heart: ‘There is no Jehovah.’ They have acted ruinously, they have acted detestably in their dealing. There is no one doing good.” But at the meetings of Jehovah’s witnesses people are different. Hearts are different. Something has changed. Second Corinthians 3:3 leads you to discover what has taken place: “For you are shown to be a letter of Christ written by us as ministers, inscribed not with ink but with spirit of a living God, not on stone tablets, but on fleshly tablets, on hearts.” You can relax your guard in a peaceful, tenseness-reducing atmosphere free of competition. And how refreshing this alone can be! Proverbs 14:30 assures us: “A calm heart is the life of the fleshly organism.” That is why, even though one may be physically weary at the end of the day, attending the weekly Bible study and Theocratic Ministry School will be upbuilding occasions to one both physically and mentally. Moses followed such a course: “By faith Moses, when grown up, refused to be called the son of the daughter of Pharaoh, choosing to be ill-treated with the people of God rather than to have the temporary enjoyment of sin.” (Heb. 11:24, 25) On leaving such meetings one feels as did those Israelites who responded and attended the inauguration festival of the temple built by Solomon. After eight days, the report says, Solomon “sent the people away to their homes, joyful and feeling good at heart over the goodness that Jehovah had performed toward David and toward Solomon and toward Israel his people.”—2 Chron. 7:10.
13, 14. Are the changes in individuals accomplished by strong determination, and what do the results tell?
13 Only Jehovah’s spirit can change the personality. Man-made organizations and powerful governments try to curb wickedness but, as U.S. News and World Report, May 13, 1955, said editorially: “Tolerance and unselfishness—like morality and generosity—cannot be successfully legislated.” (The Watchtower 1957 page 86) To change from engaging in the works of the flesh to manifesting the fruitage of the spirit is changing the personality. Paul writes of this at Ephesians 4:22-24: “That you should put away the old personality which conforms to your former course of conduct . . . and should put on the new personality which was created according to God’s will in true righteousness and loyalty.” Now, note the changes described in the following Eph 4 verses, twenty-five to thirty-two. A liar becomes a truth teller. A thief gets a job so he can give to someone in need. A loud-screaming abuser gives way to a kind, gentle manner. Degrading, rotten language is traded for upbuilding, clean speech. Adultery, fornication, drunkenness and debauchery of every kind fade away to make way for conduct that God’s spirit produces.
14 Congregation meetings of Jehovah’s witnesses are the gathering of these kinds of individuals together to make further progress toward maturity. If it is a pleasure to associate with one person that has made such changes in his personality, think of the joy of meeting with a group of such persons. It is a regular blessing you cannot afford to miss. Paul explains the great benefits to be gained by attending such meetings, at 2 Corinthians 13:11: “Finally, brothers, continue to rejoice, to be restored, to be comforted, to think in agreement, to live peaceably; and the God of love and of peace will be with you.”
WALKING BY SPIRIT
15. How is it that some quit walking by spirit, and is the end result a desirable condition?
15 Yet something to ponder now. After listing the works of the flesh and, on the other hand, the fruitage of the spirit, Galatians 5:25 speaks with conviction: “If we are living by spirit, let us go on walking orderly also by spirit.” One can leave the spirits influence, one can turn lawless, grow cold toward God. (Matt. 24:12) Yes, one can quit—it is easy. The principle to follow, wherever you go, whatever you do, is to ‘walk orderly by spirit.’ When people stop serving God, it is not because God has changed or because he has instituted something they had not bargained for. No, God’s will is revealed, made known in his Bible, the same now as when written under supervision and produced by his spirit. Neither does man stop suddenly, deliberately. It is a gradual missing of spiritual food; and just as when one quits material food, he does not drop dead instantly, but slowly fades away, so spiritual malnutrition sets in, replacing courage and conviction with fears and doubts. Enthusiasm wanes. The once-spirited servant of God becomes a dull, stagnant person. Little by little he loses the fruitage of the spirit. It is no wonder to see such a one, in a weakened condition, back sharing in the works of the flesh.—2 Pet. 2:20.
16. Where does walking by spirit lead, and away from what dangers?
16 The advice from God’s Word is, Walk, work and play in the climate of God’s spirit. Bask and grow under this influence. Do not be hobbled by hindrance from Satan’s influence. The spirit of Greater Babylon’s controlled institutions and peoples is to get ahead in this system. Self and self-interests rank high, right up on the top of the list. Review 2 Timothy 3:1-5 and notice how many of those things causing “critical times hard to deal with” spring from selfishness. And note, please, that these conditions are produced by religious people, those professing to serve God, “having a form of godly devotion.”
17. In our making decisions every day, what course is advisable and what one is dangerous?
17 God’s spirit brings forth the opposite. In fact, Titus 1:7, giving the requirements for the overseer in a congregation, says he must ‘not be self-willed.’ Yet, on the other hand, 2 Peter 2:10, describing this attitude among those not under God’s spirit, says: “Those who go on after flesh with the desire to defile it and who look down on lordship. Daring, self-willed, they do not tremble at glorious ones but speak abusively.” In striking a balance for us between everyday responsibilities and worshiping Jehovah, there are these things to consider: (1) Things I have to do—such as care for family’s material needs. (1 Tim. 5:8) (2) Things that I need to do—such as getting myself in the best possible location and situation so as to serve Jehovah more fully. (Eph. 5:16; Col. 4:5) (3) Things I would like to do—such as traveling to different spots of the earth, or a never satisfied quest for entertainment. (2 Tim. 3:4) If one allows himself to put self-interests ahead of worship of Jehovah, he is walking outside the spirit’s influence. There are no fringe areas.
18. Is God’s spirit operating in all areas, and what does this mean in your life?
18 Play in safe zones rather than risk your life with those out of control. First Corinthians 15:33, saying, “Do not be misled. Bad associations spoil useful habits,” has never been proved wrong. God’s spirit is not out there operating on those listed as bad associates. Bad association produces immorality, illegitimate children, unwise marriages, drug addicts, and sorrow to fathers and mothers. (1 Cor. 7:39; 1 Pet. 3:17; 1 Cor. 6:9, 10) When it comes to relaxation, where would you find the protected place? Not with those who are not under the spirit’s direction; and, “because you do not continue running with them in this course to the same low sink of debauchery, they are puzzled and go on speaking abusively of you.” (1 Pet. 4:4) Recreation with those restrained from such a course by God’s spirit can be upbuilding. One does not have to look back with regrets at such association.
19. How do individuals and families manifest the spirit of God?
19 When Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount, he emphasized the importance of the Kingdom and, as now recorded at Matthew 6:33, he said: “Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you.” That means making decisions. What will we do, follow self-will or stay under the spirit’s direction? It could be in choosing a mate. Will it be a shortsighted choice, swayed by bad association, or will it be with God’s Word sounding the warning in our ears? It says: “Do not become unevenly yoked with unbelievers.” (2 Cor. 6:14) Perhaps it is in looking for a job. Will you put it first, postponing privileges of serving God, as some do? (Jas. 4:13-17) Would it be training children to look forward with anticipation to careers in this short-term system or with eagerness to increased blessings of service in Jehovah’s flourishing, protected organization? (Prov. 22:6; 1 Sam. 1:28; 2:26) If such decisions are made by individuals and families, allowing God’s directions first place in their lives, then their family circle will be found manifesting the spirit of God. It will be upbuilding and refreshing, just as the congregation meetings are. “Honor Jehovah with your valuable things and with the first fruits of all your produce.”—Prov. 3:9.
20. Can imperfect people recommend the blessings received from the spirit’s application to others?
20 If, then, we find something that is valuable to us, something that is beneficial beyond description at times, would we not want to tell it to others? This telling may be by literal speech, but probably the most convincing part is the actions of those benefited. How do you respond to the spirit’s direction? is the absorbing question to be settled. Does your course recommend the spirit’s fruitage to others? Have you changed your personality to the extent that others, watching your course, recognize that you have found something really valuable? What does your course of action recommend? The spirit of God gets things done, and its action can be seen in your course by others if you reflect this influence of God. Look at it another way. Revelation 7:9, 10 shows “a great crowd, which no man was able to number, out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, dressed in white robes; and there were palm branches in their hands. And they keep on crying with a loud voice, saying: ‘Salvation we owe to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb.’” Can you picture yourself among this great crowd in a righteous standing before God? The blessings would certainly cause you to recommend such a condition to others by a very zealous course.
21. Looking at the matter from a farmer’s viewpoint, what can you see and what course do you recommend?
21 Let it all be illustrated by the farmer and his field. He carefully plows, harrows, packs and tends the ground, working it into a good seedbed. Then he plants the wheat. Does he plant wheat because he could not think of anything else to plant, or did he plant wheat because he happened to have seed on hand? No, he has a definite purpose in mind. Some wheat he will use for food for his own household, some will be saved for seed yet another year, the rest he will sell so he can buy other necessities of life. The wheat seed planted will bring many returns if it grows and multiplies as it should. But if it develops into a scrawny, spindly-looking stock that produces just a little poor-grade wheat, then it is not going to make the farmer happy. He may not harvest it if it is not worth the work. We find that Jehovah, the greatest farmer, has prepared all things very well, sent out cultivators, sowers, tenders of the field and harvesters. Now, how should we respond? Proverbs 12:11 says: “The one cultivating his ground will himself be satisfied with bread, but the one pursuing valueless things is in want of heart.” Grow, produce, stay under the raining waters of truth and the growth-producing warmth of Jehovah’s spirit and produce a hundredfold to Jehovah’s honor.