Can You Be True to God, Yet Hide the Facts?
WHAT results when a lie is let go unchallenged? Does not silence help the lie to pass as truth, to have freer sway to influence many, perhaps to their serious harm?
What happens when misconduct and immorality are allowed to go unexposed and uncondemned? Is this not like covering over an infection without any effort to cure it and keep it from spreading?
When persons are in great danger from a source that they do not suspect or are being misled by those they consider their friends, is it an unkindness to warn them? They may prefer not to believe the warning. They may even resent it. But does that free one from the moral responsibility to give that warning?
If you are among those seeking to be faithful to God, the issues these questions raise are vital for you today. Why? Because God’s servants in every period of history have had to face up to the challenge these issues present. They have had to expose falsehood and wrongdoing and warn people of dangers and deception—not just in a general way, but in a specific way, in the interest of pure worship. It would have been far easier to keep silent or say only what people wanted to hear. But faithfulness to God and love of neighbor moved them to speak. They realized that “better is a revealed reproof than a concealed love.”—Prov. 27:5.
THE CONTINUING PATTERN
Consider the situation in ancient Israel and the example that God’s prophets then set. Wrongdoing became rampant in that nation. Dishonesty, violence, immorality and hypocrisy disgraced the name of the God whom the Israelites claimed to worship. Did the people welcome divine correction? To the contrary, the Bible shows that they said this to God’s prophets:
“‘You must not see,’ and to the ones having [inspired] visions, ‘You must not envision for us any straightforward things. Speak to us smooth things; envision deceptive things. Turn aside from the way; deviate from the path.’”—Isa. 30:9-11.
The majority of the religious leaders sought popularity by doing just that, condoning and “whitewashing” the wrongdoing and violation of God’s righteous standards and ways. But God’s instructions to his true prophets are exemplified by what he said to the prophet Ezekiel:
“Now as regards you, O son of man, a watchman is what I have made you to the house of Israel, and at my mouth you must hear the word and give them warning from me. When I say to someone wicked, ‘O wicked one, you will positively die!’ but you actually do not speak out to warn the wicked one from his way, he himself as a wicked one will die in his own error, but his blood I shall ask back at your own hand.”—Ezek. 33:7, 8.
In time God did bring the foretold destruction upon that nation. Only those who had faithfully upheld his word enjoyed his protection then.
Was it any different in the days of Jesus’ earthly ministry? God’s Son describes the state of affairs he found, saying:
“Light has come into the world but men have loved the darkness rather than the light, for their works were wicked. For he that practices vile things hates the light and does not come to the light, in order that his works may not be reproved. But he that does what is true comes to the light, in order that his works may be made manifest as having been worked in harmony with God.”—John 3:19-21.
And who, primarily, objected to Jesus’ bold declaration of the truth that exposed the way God’s standards were being violated? Was it not the religious leaders, the scribes, the Pharisees and chief priests? Read for yourself what the Bible states at Matthew 16:21; 20:18, 19; 23:13.
Jesus knew the high position of trust and confidence that those religious leaders held in the eyes of the people. Did this cause him to remain silent and not warn others? No, but forcefully and publicly he exposed them as betrayers of God and man, as lovers of popularity and praise, as “hypocrites,” “blind guides” who were like “whitewashed graves,” beautiful outside but full of uncleanness inside, persecutors of those speaking the truth from God.—Read Matthew 23:1-36.
Though these men murderously plotted Jesus’ death, his faithfulness to God caused him to make known the truth for the good of all those loving righteousness. His apostles followed the same faithful course, not letting themselves be muzzled into silence.—Acts 5:27-32, 40-42.
Do we not face similar conditions in our time? Today a flood tide of immorality sweeps the earth. News reports reflect an unprecedented rise in dishonesty, crookedness and crime. Sexual looseness, perversion and homosexuality become ever more common and accepted. Bible standards of clean conduct and morality are ignored or even ridiculed. Yet many of those engaging in these things call themselves “Christian” and profess to serve God. How true the words at Titus 1:16: “They publicly declare they know God, but they disown him by their works”!
Most notable of all is that more and more of today’s religious leaders openly condone and “whitewash” much of this wrongdoing. They speak of the Bible’s moral standards as “outdated” and ‘inadequate for today’s modern circumstances.’ They place its authenticity as God’s inspired Word in doubt, thereby weakening its strength among the people as a force for right. They accept the evolution theory in place of the Bible’s account of man’s creation by an All-wise and Almighty Creator.
Yet, despite this and despite the worsening moral picture and the world’s increasing violence and decay and the mounting evidence of the failure of human efforts to solve these problems, the religious leaders seek to soothe the people with the assurance that they need fear no adverse action from God, no active intervention on his part. Though Bible prophecies clearly point to a global destruction facing mankind, Christendom’s clergy are silent on this. (Dan. 2:44; Rev. 19:11-15) How well these words at Jeremiah 6:13-15 fit them:
“‘From the prophet even to the priest, each one is acting falsely. And they try to heal the breakdown of my people lightly, saying, “There is peace! There is peace!” when there is no peace. Did they feel shame because it was something detestable that they had done? . . . they have not come to know even how to feel humiliated. Therefore they will fall among those who are falling; in the time that I must hold an accounting with them they will stumble,’ Jehovah has said”!
WHAT FAITHFULNESS REQUIRES OF US
Do you believe that lies should not go unchallenged? Then what about falsehoods told about God, misrepresentations of his announced purposes? Surely this is, not less, but more serious than lies of a general kind. Perhaps you agree that wrongdoing should be exposed. But what if the wrongdoing is done by religious people, perhaps persons in your own church? Will faithfulness to God cause you to speak out for what is right? And if we would naturally feel guilty about failing to warn our neighbors of some threatening disaster, such as an approaching flood or violent windstorm, should we not feel greater guilt if we failed to warn them of approaching destruction that God’s Word positively shows as now threatening people everywhere?
Christ Jesus said that in this time of the end “this good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.” (Matt. 24:14) To those loving righteousness it is the best of news that God’s heavenly government soon will take complete control of earth, that it will cause God’s will to be done ‘on earth as in heaven.’—Matt. 6:9, 10.
But Jesus said that after the preaching of such good news, “then the end will come.” Obviously, those declaring the good news must also warn of that destruction, which will end the present world system. Logically, too, they must aid people to see why that destruction is coming, the reasons obliging God to act against a corrupt world, and why the world’s religions have failed to lead people into peaceful relations with God, even as the religious leaders of Israel failed to do so.
To do this requires true Christians to speak out, not holding back in exposing false teachings and unscriptural practices of the world’s religious organizations. It requires them to show people why and how the entire present world system is responsible before God for the bad conditions on earth and why he therefore detests it and has the unalterable determination of removing it forever. They must show persons why their trusting in or supporting that world system places them in line for experiencing God’s anger. Faithfulness to God and love for their neighbor require this.
Today, in over 200 lands and islands of the sea, more than one million six hundred thousand of Jehovah’s witnesses regularly share in carrying out the divine commission to bear witness. Rather than speaking “smooth things” that lull people into complacency, they straightforwardly show what the Bible clearly states, that “whoever, therefore, wants to be a friend of the world is constituting himself an enemy of God.” (Jas. 4:4) The fact that this bold proclamation is now being made earth wide is sound evidence that time is running out for this present world system. As its end draws ever closer, the urgent need for action grows.
If you desire to learn more concerning pure worship—the protection it brings and the blessings to which it leads—why not contact Jehovah’s witnesses, perhaps through their local Kingdom Hall? You will find them willing and happy to aid you to gain Bible knowledge in your own home, free of charge. In faithfulness to God, use the yet-remaining time wisely.—Eph. 5:15-17.
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WOULD YOU RATHER HAVE THE TRUTH COVERED OVER . . . ?
. . . OR DO YOU WANT TO KNOW THE FACTS?