If You Want to Serve God, Clean Up Your Life!
SHE is a wholesome-looking model, nineteen years of age. Her picture had appeared on the cover of a men’s magazine, and now its publishers wanted to have a nude picture of her appear in the magazine’s two-page center spread. But then something happened.
This young woman had begun studying the Bible with one of Jehovah’s witnesses. Because of this, as Time magazine (February 28, 1972) tells, “the pretty model had second thoughts about the probity of Playmatehood and begged the magazine to scrap the April centerfold. ‘Everyone laughed,’ said Debbie. ‘They thought I was kidding. The next morning I got up and prayed like mad.’ Then she called . . . again. This time the message got through.”
That cancellation cost the model five thousand dollars, but it was worth it, for now she was beginning to be concerned with pleasing God. How could her nude picture possibly fit in with the “well-arranged dress” and the “modesty and soundness of mind” that the Bible says should characterize Christian women?—1 Tim. 2:9.
Such changes in one’s life are not what Christendom’s religious leaders, by and large, require of their churchgoers. Such vices as gambling, drunkenness, dishonest business practices and sexual immorality are winked at. As parents become ever more permissive, so do Christendom’s clergy. The press keeps telling of more and more clergymen, both Protestant and Roman Catholic, not only condoning premarital sex and finding excuses for adultery, but even marrying homosexuals, and allowing them to remain church members in good standing.—Rom. 1:24-32.
But if you really want to serve the true God Jehovah, you have no such options, for he says: “You must be holy, because I am holy.” (1 Pet. 1:16) Yes, if you want to serve Jehovah God you cannot go along with the world, no matter how many clergymen may wink at this bad conduct, or even approve of it. That is why the apostle Paul wrote to Christians: “Quit being fashioned after this system of things, but be transformed by making your mind over, that you may prove to yourselves the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Surely the course of a Christian runs counter to the world, and so a Christian must work at being different from the world.—Rom. 12:2.
The contrast between worldlings and true Christians is also highlighted by the inspired words of the apostle Peter: “For the time that has passed by is sufficient for you to have worked out the will of the nations when you proceeded in deeds of loose conduct, lusts, excesses with wine, revelries, drinking matches . . . 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. 4:3, 4.
GOD’S REQUIREMENTS MUST BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY
Far from condoning such worldly practices, the Scriptures require Christians to take God’s requirements seriously: “Let fornication and uncleanness of every sort or greediness not even be mentioned among you, just as it befits holy people. Let no man deceive you with empty words, for because of the aforesaid things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partakers with them. Keep on making sure of what is acceptable to the Lord; and quit sharing with them in the unfruitful works that belong to the darkness, but, rather, even be reproving them.”—Eph. 5:3, 6, 7, 10, 11.
Christians who would serve God are warned against the works of the fallen flesh: “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, and they are fornication, uncleanness, loose conduct, . . . strife, jealousy, fits of anger, contentions, . . . drunken bouts, revelries, and things like these. As to these things I am forewarning you, the same as I did forewarn you, that those who practice such things will not inherit God’s kingdom.” Paul took these matters seriously. He had previously warned them about these things and now he does it again by letter.—Gal. 5:19-21.
The Hebrew Christians in Judea received a similar warning from the inspired apostle: “Let marriage be honorable among all, and the marriage bed be without defilement, for God will judge fornicators and adulterers.” (Heb. 13:4) To be able to serve God, your marital status must be in line with the Bible. You cannot live with someone to whom you are not Scripturally married. The Christian congregation at Corinth had failed to take God’s righteous requirements seriously, for it tolerated among them a man living with his father’s wife. The apostle Paul was very much incensed at this situation and so, after severely reproving them, commanded: “Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.”—1 Cor. 5:1-13.
That the early Christians took God’s righteous requirements seriously can also be seen by the way Ananias and Sapphira were dealt with for their hypocritical lying. For their deception God’s holy spirit struck them dead. “Consequently great fear came over the whole congregation and over all those hearing about these things.” Yes, Jehovah God was not going to tolerate any lying hypocrites in his newly formed Christian congregation.—Acts 5:1-11.
In this Jehovah God does not require more than his earthly imperfect servants can do. Those who clean up their lives receive corresponding blessings. Thus at the 1970 Anaheim, California, assembly of Jehovah’s witnesses, among those baptized was a onetime professional thief whose chief concern had been to keep out of the clutches of the police. When he began studying the Bible with the Witnesses, he said, “my comrades laughed and said God would never forgive me for all the wrongs I had done. But Jehovah did.” Now he is a changed man and his chief concern is to preach the good news of God’s kingdom.—Matt. 24:14.
Then there was the Brooklyn housewife whose home was a haven for drunks, she herself being one. Drunkenness was her escape, as her two grown sons were thieving drug addicts. Upon studying with the Witnesses she cleaned up her life as well as her home. She no longer got drunk and she insisted that one of her sons, who had no desire to drop the drug habit, move out of her home. The other son, who returned from a hospital cured, she allowed to remain. And now he also has begun studying the Bible with one of the Witnesses.
A woman in Pennsylvania furnished another example. After her husband died she lived for nine years in fornication with a man who had left his wife without divorcing her. Upon studying the Bible with the Witnesses, they too wanted to serve Jehovah and so cleaned up their lives.
Featured in the Times Democrat, Davenport, Iowa (May 29, 1971), was a family in which the husband dreaded to come home because his wife was such a “Nag,” as she herself later put it. Their two sons lived like hippies and thought nothing of using drugs. They stayed away from home for long periods of time because of the way their parents kept yelling at each other. Now, as a result of studying the Bible with Jehovah’s witnesses, all this has been changed and they are a united happy family. Said one of the sons: “When our dad started living by the Bible, we could respect him, and being obedient wasn’t so hard.”
AIDS TO CLEANING UP
Among the aids God has provided to help one to clean up one’s life is the Bible. By reading it daily and regularly studying it with the help of Bible study aids you will be strengthened in your resolve and in your efforts to clean up your life. The Scriptures are indeed “beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight, for disciplining in righteousness.”—2 Tim. 3:16.
Another great help is prayer, even as noted in the account of the girl model. The Bible tells us to “pray incessantly,” and in particular to ask God for his holy spirit, which God is more willing to give than earthly parents are to give good things to their children.—1 Thess. 5:17; Luke 11:13.
Important also is regular association with those who have cleaned up their lives, as well as to avoid bad associations, which “spoil useful habits.” (1 Cor. 15:33) Good associates are always to be found at the congregational meetings of Jehovah’s witnesses. So attending those meetings is sure to help you.—Heb. 10:23-25.
CLEANING UP IS URGENT
This matter of cleaning up is not to be put off until tomorrow. It may well be that tomorrow’s temptations or pressures will weaken your desire to clean up. Tomorrow may be too late. How so? Because we are living in the “last days” of this wicked system of things. Jesus indicated how urgent this matter was by an illustration: “When you catch sight of the disgusting thing that causes desolation . . . begin fleeing to the mountains. Let the man on the housetop not come down to take the goods out of his house; and let the man in the field not return to the house to pick up his outer garment.” No question about it, flight from this doomed wicked system of things is urgent and the longer the delay the more difficult it will get, because “that day and hour” is getting closer and closer. No time is to be lost!—Matt. 24:15-18, 34-36.
Pertinent here are also the words of the psalmist: “Today if you people listen to his own voice, do not harden your heart.” For you to put off cleaning up your life until some future time would be to harden your heart!—Ps. 95:7, 8.
So, if you have been following the course of this wicked world and you want to serve God, you know what you must do. Clean up your life, and do it at once!