Do Not Hold Back from “Practicing the Truth”
“If we make the statement: ‘We are having a sharing with him,’ and yet we go on walking in the darkness, we are lying and are not practicing the truth.”—1 John 1:6.
1. (a) How important is light? (b) What kind of light is of the greater importance, and how should we feel about it?
“GOD is light and there is no darkness at all in union with him.” (1 John 1:5) This profound truth should be an inspiration to all persons seeking to practice the truth, to live by righteous principles. If one is in union with God one is walking in the light. And how precious light is! In fact, if there were no light from the sun in the heavens there would be no life on the earth. Each one of us can appreciate the value of light when we suddenly find ourselves in a totally dark place. One’s first reaction is to ask for a light to be turned on. Therefore when one comes to appreciate that God is light, it should be one’s desire to be in association or union with God, the Source of all true light.
2. What serious lack of light, spoken about by Isaiah, exists today?
2 Our world today, however, is filled with humankind who do not know God and, in the majority of instances, do not wish to know him. It is as Isaiah wrote centuries ago under the inspiration of God: “For, look! darkness itself will cover the earth, and thick gloom the national groups.” (Isa. 60:2) This is not a darkness as a result of lack of illumination from the sun shining through to the earth. This is a much more serious darkness, a darkness resulting from the lack of spiritual light from Jehovah God, the Father of the celestial lights.
3. (a) Who is the author of such darkness, and how does Ephesians 6:12 describe his associates? (b) What purpose does the author of mental darkness have in mind, and whom does the apostle Paul say he has succeeded in blinding?
3 The author of this darkness is the archfoe of the God of light, Satan the Devil, and his demon associates. They are spoken of in Ephesians 6:12 as “the world rulers of this darkness, . . . the wicked spirit forces in the heavenly places.” It is the intention of Satan and his demons to keep mankind in darkness, alienated from the light of Jehovah God. In large measure it appears that they have succeeded in this. The apostle Paul, under inspiration of holy spirit, called the Devil “the god of this system of things,” who “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.” This ‘blinding of the mind’ results in spiritual darkness.—2 Cor. 4:4.
4. What evidence is there that the light from God and his Son has reached many among mankind all through man’s history?
4 In spite of the fact that people live in such a world, this does not mean that the light from God and his Son, who is “the image of God,” and therefore is also light, is not reaching some among mankind and thus freeing them from the darkness. (John 8:12) The God of light and his Son have provided the light of truth to such an extent that throughout the history of mankind there have been some individuals who have walked in the light and have had the Creator’s favor and blessing. The eleventh chapter of Hebrews mentions a few of such individuals of pre-Christian times. The Christian Greek Scriptures relate the history of the beginnings of Christianity and carry us into the final days of the first century, telling about Christ Jesus and his followers, who walked in the light. And while we have little actual recorded history to identify the adherents of light in the centuries following the death of the apostles and early disciples of Christ down to our modern times, nevertheless, we are assured by the illustration of Jesus Christ concerning the wheat and the weeds that throughout that time there would be those walking in the light of God, following his Word, the Book of light. (Matt. 13:24-30, 36-43) In modern times, as the fulfillment of the illustration of the wheat and the weeds reaches its culmination, the “sons of the kingdom” are glorified in the established Kingdom, a remnant yet on earth shining “as brightly as the sun,” dispensing spiritual enlightenment so that others may be gathered onto the side of the God of light for future preservation.
NOT EASY TO WALK IN THE LIGHT
5. What tactics have Satan and his demons used to keep people from the light of God’s Word?
5 The fight to keep people from the light of God’s Word and from walking in the light of God is an intense war waged by the powers of darkness, Satan, his demons and his visible earthly organization. (1 John 5:19) For those coming in contact with the light there is often every possible hindrance placed in their path to make them stumble and so to continue on in the darkness. It may be pressure from relatives who fight against the light of truth. It may be doubts about the truthfulness of the Word of God, because of one’s being blinded for so long by the false teachings of the religious powers of darkness. It may be pressure from associates one has or one’s own sinful inclinations that make it hard to live up to the divine requirements placed on the children of the light.
6. (a) What can happen to one even after being freed from enslavement to darkness? (b) What questions do we do well to consider?
6 Even after a person has freed himself from the control of the powers of darkness and has come into the light he faces continued bombardment from this system of things. So it may be difficult at times for some to ‘practice the truth,’ but they need to be on guard so that they do not return to their former way of life. The apostle John wrote: “If we make the statement: ‘We are having a sharing with him,’ and yet we go on walking in the darkness, we are lying and are not practicing the truth.” (1 John 1:6) True, we all fall short at times, but what are the things that we practice? Are some of us walking in darkness rather than light, even though we claim to have come out of the darkness of this world into the light? Are we really practicing the truth, or does our pattern of life show that we are holding back, deceiving ourselves, lying to ourselves?—1 John 1:8–2:2.
7. What self-examination is vital, and on what basis should it be done?
7 Self-examination is vital in this matter, using the Word of God as the guide to what a person should be doing if he is practicing the truth, walking in the light. This self-examination enters into a number of vital areas, areas in which each one of us should be interested. This self-examination we should do, having in mind the words of the apostle Paul in speaking to the Corinthian congregation: “For we do not dare to class ourselves among some or compare ourselves with some who recommend themselves. Certainly they in measuring themselves by themselves and comparing themselves with themselves have no understanding.” (2 Cor. 10:12) Our self-examination should be made on the basis of the Book of light, the Word of God. Paul further said: “For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he is deceiving his own mind. But let him prove what his own work is, and then he will have cause for exultation in regard to himself alone, and not in comparison with the other person.” (Gal. 6:3, 4) Let God’s Word show each one individually what God requires of those who say they are “practicing the truth.” Let us not be measuring ourselves by some other human, or by human standards.
PRACTICING THE TRUTH IN OUR DAILY CONDUCT
8. In his letter to the Ephesians, what did the apostle Paul advise one to avoid?
8 To the congregation in Ephesus, the apostle Paul wrote these words: “This, therefore, I say and bear witness to in the Lord, that you no longer go on walking just as the nations also walk in the unprofitableness of their minds, while they are in darkness mentally, and alienated from the life that belongs to God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the insensibility of their hearts. Having come to be past all moral sense, they gave themselves over to loose conduct to work uncleanness of every sort with greediness.”—Eph. 4:17-19.
9. What standards of the world today show that many minds are in darkness?
9 The standards of this world, their “situation ethics,” are the result of minds that are in darkness mentally, alienated from the life that belongs to God. The world says in effect, “Do your own thing,” meaning that one is a lawmaker to oneself, not bound by any outside code or rule that would limit one’s freedom. This standard allows for one to become insensible in one’s heart. “Anything goes,” becomes the motto.
10, 11. Who are included among those in mental darkness, and why?
10 Those in darkness mentally include many religious leaders of Christendom who support such worldly standards. Rather than encouraging people to practice truth, they acquiesce in the pressures of the nations and the people in high station who condone wrong conduct. To support this statement, consider what a Protestant chaplain of a college in the United States said about adultery: ‘A full life can best be achieved when a man—and his wife, too—are free to engage in extramarital affairs [adultery], not secretly, but with each other’s knowledge and consent.’ Said a San Francisco clergyman in a weekly Episcopal Church magazine: “There is no sex act which in itself is sinful. . . . I also believe that two people of the same sex can express love and deepen that love by sexual intercourse [homosexuality].”
11 This mental darkness also extends into the field of entertainment. And, in fact, in many ways those in the “arts” are the policy makers, or “style setters” for this generation. It is not uncommon to read in magazines and newspapers about men and women living together, and bearing children out of wedlock, with no stigma whatsoever attached to such fornication. In fact, any who would protest are often branded as prudish, out of step with modern times. Talk shows on radio and television often feature these people of questionable quality as the main attraction. They like to make their lives an open book for all to read and see, as though they were trying by every possible means to shock common decency. Little do they know that the shock will come to them in the days ahead as they reap what they sow because of their loose conduct.
12. What description of those in mental darkness is given at Romans 1:24-27?
12 The apostle Paul well described this type of individual in his letter to the Romans who lived under similar conditions nineteen hundred years ago. He said: “Therefore God, in keeping with the desires of their hearts, gave them up to uncleanness, that their bodies might be dishonored among them, even those who exchanged the truth of God for the lie and venerated and rendered sacred service to the creation rather than the One who created, who is blessed forever. . . . That is why God gave them up to disgraceful sexual appetites, for both their females changed the natural use of themselves into one contrary to nature; and likewise even the males left the natural use of the female and became violently inflamed in their lust toward one another, males with males, working what is obscene and receiving in themselves the full recompense, which was due for their error.”—Rom. 1:24-27.
13. How does Paul describe the mind and heart of empty-headed worldlings?
13 In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul said that such kinds of persons were “in darkness mentally, . . . because of the insensibility of their hearts.” Again, in the letter to the Romans, Paul said that such ones are “empty-headed in their reasonings and their unintelligent heart became darkened.” (Eph. 4:18; Rom. 1:21) Note in both instances that such ones are not associated with light, but with darkness, with lack of light and understanding.
14. Show what results from those in darkness who are “empty-headed in their reasonings,” according to Romans 1:28-32?
14 Paul continued on to show the further results of such empty-headedness, saying: “And just as they did not approve of holding God in accurate knowledge, God gave them up to a disapproved mental state, to do the things not fitting, filled as they were with all unrighteousness, wickedness, covetousness, badness, being full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malicious disposition, being whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, insolent, haughty, self-assuming, inventors of injurious things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, false to agreements, having no natural affection, merciless. Although these know full well the righteous decree of God, that those practicing such things are deserving of death, they not only keep on doing them but also consent with those practicing them.”—Rom. 1:28-32.
15. Describe the problem of those wanting to walk in the light.
15 These types of people—and this earth is filled with such because of the influence of the ‘authority of the darkness’—are not “practicing the truth,” as spoken of by the apostle John, but are ‘practicing things deserving of death.’ The problem facing those who want to walk in the light, to be in union with the Source of light and his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, in short, to practice the truth, is how to keep the proper mental balance in the midst of this darkness surrounding them and not be enticed away from the pathway of light. What, then, is required of one to keep the proper mental balance, so as not to be so enticed?
16. (a) Explain what it means to be “walking in the light.” (b) How do we avoid wrong thinking and actions, and whose life is an encouragement in this direction?
16 If we are going to practice the truth we have to be “walking in the light.” (1 John 1:7) To walk in the light we must consistently heed the counsel given us by the God of light and cultivate love for his ways. If we do so, then when we see this system of things approving of standards that are condemned by the God of light, Jehovah, we will not allow ourselves to contemplate the seeming satisfaction of such a course. We will not think to ourselves how nice it would be to enjoy such pleasures just for a moment, feeling that somehow those lower standards of the world do have some redeeming features. We will not dupe ourselves into thinking that, after all, the brief moment of enjoyment might be worth the violation of the principles of light. Rather, we will call upon God, in our practice of the truth, and seek to follow right principles. Looking in the Bible we find recorded, for example, the life of Moses, a servant of Jehovah. It is written of him that he 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.” How was Moses able to do this? The record says, “because he esteemed the reproach of the Christ as riches greater than the treasures of Egypt; for he looked intently toward the payment of the reward.” (Heb. 11:24-26) That is what practicing the truth is. That is what walking in the light means.
PRACTICING THE TRUTH BY WATCHING OUR ASSOCIATIONS
17. What connection is there between practicing the truth and watching our associations?
17 No doubt many of you who are reading this information have heard the expressions, ‘Tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are,’ and, ‘Birds of a feather flock together.’ Both of these expressions carry the meaning that you are much like those with whom you associate. If one seeks the company of those of this darkened world who are interested only in doing as they want, regardless of the requirements for upright living that are outlined in the Bible, then the chances are that such a one will find it difficult not to identify himself with such company and become like them. The Bible’s warning along this line is, “Bad associations spoil useful habits.” (1 Cor. 15:33) Thus every person wanting to practice the truth must in all honesty ask himself whether those with whom he is associating are helping him to walk in the light or are hindering his progress in serving the God of light.
18. If a religious organization tolerates ministers who encourage immorality, why would the fact that not everyone in the organization practices loose living not argue that one practicing the truth could still identify himself with such an organization? (b) Where, then, must those be who practice the truth?
18 In the field of religious thinking, is it consistent for a person who says that he wants to ‘walk in the light’ also to associate with a religious organization that condones the so-called “situation ethics” of this system? If a church organization allowed one of its ministers to preach from its pulpit in support of adultery, homosexuality, and other forms of loose living, how could one seeking to learn of God’s way so as to walk in the pathway of light continue to associate with such an organization? It makes no difference that some in the church organization may not practice such things, while others do. The organization is still condoning the individual who believes and preaches what is contrary to the express will of the God of light. Paul’s counsel concerning an immoral man in the Corinthian congregation of the first century was: “Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.” (1 Cor. 5:13) So it is that those who would gain the favor of Jehovah God and practice truth must follow the admonition of Revelation 18:4, which says concerning religious Babylon the Great: “Get out of her, my people, if you do not want to share with her in her sins, and if you do not want to receive part of her plagues.” Yes, that is where all who practice truth and walk in the light have to be, completely “out” of the false religious organizations of Babylon the Great!
19. How does a person go about watching his associations in the field of entertainment, and so what choice becomes necessary?
19 Of course, a person must also watch who his associates are in the field of entertainment. While the association here may not be so personal—the majority of persons do not have direct association with those in the entertainment world—still one has to watch one’s habits in the reading of books and periodical publications that follow the corrupt standard of this world, or in watching movies and television that exalt and praise the things condemned by God’s Word, such as those outlined in the book of Romans, referred to previously. One cannot walk in the light of God while running in association with those of this wicked and sick society that approves of everything that the God of light abhors. The choice of association is up to each one to determine, but the decision as to whether that one is practicing the truth is up to Jehovah God. Remember that the words of 1 John 1:6 are: “If we make the statement: ‘We are having a sharing with him,’ [that is, with the God of light] and yet we go on walking in the darkness, we are lying and are not practicing the truth.” The point is plain and forceful. It is the duty of all Christians, followers of the Master, Jesus Christ, to heed the counsel of God’s Word and direct their lives in accordance with that counsel.
20. Name other necessary things one must consider when it comes to practicing the truth.
20 But there is even more to practicing the truth than watching our daily conduct and keeping with the right company. Practicing the truth calls upon us to observe other necessary things. For example, how does a person who practices the truth view his association with those of like precious faith in congregation meetings? As a necessity, or as something to do when one has nothing better to do? And what about sharing in telling others about the God of light and of his Son, who is the light of the world? Can one practice the truth and not be willing and anxious to tell others of the blessings in store for mankind as foretold in God’s Word? Then there is the matter of assisting those of the household of faith, those who are now sharing in practicing the truth in the Christian congregation. How does our practicing the truth affect this relationship and its responsibilities? For one to have a sharing with Jehovah the God of light and his Son, so that one can truly say one is practicing the truth and not walking in darkness, one is called upon to meet certain basic requirements. These are discussed in the article that follows.