The Kind of Persons Approved for God’s New Order
1. Although foreseeing the violent end of the old order, why do we not need to be troubled at the prospect of disagreeable situations then?
PERSONS who really believe in the early passing away of today’s old order ought to be preparing themselves for God’s New Order. They foresee the violent end of the present governmental “heavens” and the present social “earth” beneath. But such a prospect does not frighten them. From the Holy Bible they understand just what the “end” means, how it will come about and what the purpose of it is. They eagerly desire and confidently expect “new heavens and a new earth” as guaranteed by God’s promise. This counterbalances all thoughts of disagreeable situations on earth that are bound to come with the end of the old order. Quite appropriately they call to mind Noah and his family. During the cataclysmic end of the “ancient world” of “ungodly people,” living conditions inside an ark loaded with animals and birds may not have been the most agreeable for Noah and his family for more than an entire lunar year. And yet those eight human souls survived. Thus they were able to give a righteous new start to the human family.
2. (a) Why is now none too early for us to prepare for God’s new order? (b) While doing what things do we not need to fear the arrival of Jehovah’s “day”?
2 God’s new order, as represented by the “new heavens and a new earth” in which righteousness is to dwell, is something worth waiting for until God’s appointed time to establish it. (2 Pet. 3:13) Now is none too early for us believers to begin preparing for it, that we may be counted worthy to enter it to our everlasting benefit and joy. The apostle Peter reminds us of the need for being ready, especially since “Jehovah’s day” will come as a thief in the night, with destruction for the old order of things. Says Peter: “Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of persons ought you to be in holy acts of conduct and deeds of godly devotion, awaiting and keeping close in mind the presence of the day of Jehovah.” (2 Pet. 3:10-12) If we were to fear the arrival of Jehovah’s day with all its awesome accompaniments, we would not be awaiting it and keeping it close in mind, but would be wishing to postpone it into the indefinite future beyond our lifetime, beyond “this generation.” We shall not need to fear its becoming a present reality if we are sincerely performing “holy acts of conduct and deeds of godly devotion.”
3. In our repentance toward the God of the New Order, what have we done, and what do we desire in contrast with the unrighteousness of the old order?
3 Are we that “sort of persons”? Genuine repentance toward God, who has promised the righteous new order, should have led us to be that sort of persons, with works befitting repentance. In our repentance toward God we have dedicated ourselves to him through Christ and symbolized that dedication by water baptism. We have done so because we really love Jehovah God and we love the righteousness for which He stands. We want to be deserving of His new order of things. Due to the fact that this different order of things will present a combination of “new heavens and a new earth,” we love the righteousness that is to dwell in those new things. We wholeheartedly desire to be admitted into such a clean new order. We find no pleasure or satisfaction in the unrighteousness of the imperfect, corrupt, doomed order of things.
4. (a) How will the world try to get us away from our “holy acts of conduct and deeds of godly devotion”? (b) Under even what coming circumstances will we refuse to deal compromisingly with the world?
4 We are so devoted to the Creator of the “new heavens” and “new earth” that we disdain all popularity with the “world of ungodly people” and we seek his pleased approval of us. By ridicule or threats the world will try to frighten us away from “holy acts of conduct and deeds of godly devotion”; that failing, the world will try to allure us away from our righteous course that condemns it as out of harmony with God. But with our faces firmly fixed upon God’s new order of righteous living we do not let ourselves be attracted by what the doomed system of things has to offer. We forge right ahead in the holy pathway that God has marked out for us. Not for a moment may we throw our lot in with Christendom, the popular “friend of the world.” (Jas. 4:4) And when nominal Christianity, or Christendom, is turned upon by her alienated political lovers and is destroyed along with the rest of religious Babylon the Great, not for an instant will we consider a compromising treaty with those political despoilers of false religion.
5. Who alone, then, will survive the coming “great tribulation” into God’s precious new order?
5 We know that the “great tribulation” that is without parallel in human history is just ahead for both Babylon the Great and her political destroyers. (Matt. 24:3-22, 37-39) This global tribulation is meant to destroy them, not us, for it comes from the hand of the God whom we worship. It will destroy the symbolic “heavens and the earth that are now,” this old order. (2 Pet. 3:7) All the same, it will bring with it a climactic test of our faith in God and our devotion to him. Only Christian witnesses of Jehovah who successfully pass this test will survive and come forth like fire-refined gold for God’s use in his precious new order.
6. At the close of the “great tribulation,” what will God still have on earth to display as a trophy of his victory?
6 It is not God’s desire that those who turn to him in repentance and become baptized disciples of Jesus Christ should suffer everlasting destruction in the “great tribulation” of his “great day,” the “fear-inspiring day of Jehovah.” (Rev. 16:14; Joel 2:31) He has in mind repeating what he performed in the days of Noah, namely, the bringing of his faithful tested worshipers through the end of a “world of ungodly people.” (2 Pet. 2:5) The coming attack of the symbolic “Gog of the land of Magog,” long ago foretold, will fail to wipe out from the earth the regathered worshipers of Jehovah, but will be frustrated, crushed in disgraceful defeat. (Ezek. 38:1 through 39:26) After the frightful “great tribulation” is all past, God the Almighty will still have on the earth his preserved worshipers to display as a trophy of his glorious victory!
7. According to Peter, our being a part of God’s living trophy will depend upon our being found by Him in what state finally?
7 What a great privilege it will be for anyone to be a part of that living trophy testifying to Jehovah’s triumph in the “war of the great day of God the Almighty” at Har–Magedon! (Rev. 16:14, 16) As far as we are concerned, God’s assignment of this privilege will depend upon “what sort of persons” he finds us to be on that world-changing “day of Jehovah.” To true Christians who would like to survive the end of the doomed old order, the apostle Peter makes that vital requirement clear in these words: “Hence, beloved ones, since you are awaiting these things, do your utmost to be found finally by him spotless and unblemished and in peace. Furthermore, consider the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul according to the wisdom given him also wrote you.” (2 Pet. 3:14, 15) How, then, can we be found in such an approved state?
“SPOTLESS AND UNBLEMISHED”
8, 9. (a) When is it a shame to be discovered with a spot on one’s person? (b) According to James 1:26, 27, how can one’s religion be spotted?
8 A spot visible on one’s person may spoil one’s personal appearance. If one got the spot while one was diligently engaged in a good work, it is not a disgraceful thing. Still, one would like to cleanse away the unsightly spot before presenting oneself to a clean-looking gathering of people. If, though, one gets the spot while engaged in a dishonorable work, then the spot in itself is to one’s discredit. It is a shame, a disqualification, to be discovered with it. There can be spots of the latter kind upon one’s religion, one’s form of worship. Is our religion or form of worship spotted in such a way? If it is, then it is not pleasing and acceptable to God. In proof of this fact, we read:
9 “If any man seems to himself to be a formal worshiper [or, to be religious] and yet does not bridle his tongue, but goes on deceiving his own heart, this man’s form of worship is futile. The form of worship [or, the religion] that is clean and undefiled from the standpoint of our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their tribulation, and to keep oneself without spot from the world.”—Jas. 1:26, 27.
10. Why could Christendom’s religion never be considered “clean and undefiled” from God’s standpoint?
10 Christendom, with her professed Christianity, is covered with spots from the world. In all the realm of religion, her record is the worst. She may boast of caring for orphans and widows in her orphanages and poorhouses, but this will not hide the glaring fact that she has made orphans and widows by the millions. Is it asked how? The answer is simple: It has been by crusades and wars that she has promoted, fomented and backed up with her blessing, her prayers, and her own manpower. Her meddling in worldly politics is notorious and is resented even by many politicians themselves. She has given herself over to unchristian worldliness and has become a financial parasite upon her church members. She has not bridled her tongue, but has taught all kinds of false, Babylonish doctrines, palming these off as Christian, and has spoken gross falsehoods about the true God and has brought terrible reproach upon his sacred name, and has lyingly accused his true worshipers. How, then, can her confusion of forms of worship be “clean and undefiled” from God’s standpoint? It could never be!
11. With whom do those desirous of practicing the “clean and undefiled” religion refuse to ally themselves, and what is God’s command for today on this score?
11 Persons who desire to be found “spotless” by Jehovah God when his day for executing judgment arrives cannot ally themselves with the professedly Christian section of religious Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion. For persons to become spotless in this regard, God’s command for today is: “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. For her sins have massed together clear up to heaven, and God has called her acts of injustice to mind.” (Rev. 18:4, 5) Because of her hypocrisy in the name of God and his Christ, Christendom is the most reprehensible member of that international harlot, Babylon the Great. Let none of us remain spotted up from her and share in her sins before God!
12. Of what spiritual adultery has Christendom not repented, and of what do her worldly associates not repent?
12 Let us recognize that Christendom is doomed, along with all the rest of Babylon the Great. She has refused to repent of her religiously immoral or adulterous course of action, her friendship with this world. (Jas. 4:4) She is like the rest of the ungodly world, even after Jehovah’s Christian witnesses have plainly declared God’s impending judgment to her. Prophetically, Revelation 9:20, 21 speaks of such sin-hardened people, saying: “The rest of the men who were not killed by these plagues did not repent of the works of their hands, so that they should not worship the demons and the idols of gold and silver and copper and stone and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk; and they did not repent of their murders nor of their spiritistic practices nor of their fornication nor of their thefts.”—See also Revelation 18:9, 11.
13. According to 2 Peter 2:20-22, who are like spots within the congregation, and how must such spots be disposed of?
13 All members of the true Christian congregation are anxious to keep the organization spotless in its form of worship. We do not care to have in our membership those who are spots on the organization. The apostle Peter speaks of such kind of undesirables in the Christian congregation, saying: “They are spots and blemishes, indulging with unrestrained delight in their deceptive teachings while feasting together with you.” (2 Pet. 2:13) If not sincerely repenting and turning around and away from deceptive teachings, these spot-like persons need to be dismissed from the congregation for the protection of the practicers of the true worship of God. Otherwise, in addition to being a danger to God’s flock of sheep, they are a reproach to the congregation.—2 Pet. 2:20-22.
14, 15. What does Jude 22, 23 say must be done with doubters and those guilty of an act of sexual immorality?
14 Surprising events in the world today may raise doubts in the minds of some in the congregation. There may be still others, who, in a moment of weakness or carelessness, commit an act of sexual immorality. The Bible writer Jude tells the congregation how to deal with such members, saying: “Also, continue showing mercy to some that have doubts; save them by snatching them out of the fire. But continue showing mercy to others, doing so with fear, while you hate even the inner garment that has been stained [or, spotted] by the flesh.”—Jude 22, 23; NW; Interlinear.
15 Here The New English Bible reads: “There are others for whom your pity must be mixed with fear; hate the very clothing that is contaminated with sensuality.” The New American Bible reads: “Even with those you pity be on your guard; abhor so much as their flesh-stained clothing.” An American Translation reads: “And look on others with pity mixed with fear, loathing even the clothes their animal nature has stained.” This warning the congregation must heed.
16. Why must the congregation feel cautious when having pity upon a repentant sinner who has committed an act of sexual immorality?
16 The congregation can never sympathize with sexual immorality if it wants to be found spotless by Jehovah at his day for executing judgment. It can be merciful and have pity for members who commit an act of immorality because of fleshly weakness or other influences. But these must give evidence of true repentance. Still, it is with great caution that the congregation must show mercy and forgive the repentant ones, always being in fear for itself, as it does not desire to weaken in its stand for righteousness in the midst of an ungodly generation that has sunk to depths of immorality such as brought Jehovah’s fiery judgments upon the ancient cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.—Jude 7; 2 Pet. 2:6-8; 1 Pet. 4:3, 4.
17. When the congregation examines the incriminating evidence of sexual immorality on the part of a member, how should it react to such evidence?
17 The congregation has to keep filled with God’s holy spirit and to cultivate its fruits, one of which fruits is moral self-control. (Eph. 5:18; Gal. 5:22, 23) Consistently, it must keep its distance from sexual immorality of all kinds. It does not look with amused curiosity or with corresponding sexual feelings upon an inner garment that is spotted with the evidence of sexual uncleanness on the part of its wearer. To the contrary, it hates, loathes, abhors an incriminating piece of clothing that needs to be washed from its sexual filth. Thus it fortifies its love of purity. It cannot, therefore, look with sexual gratification upon pornographic literature or movies or television.—Compare Leviticus 15:16, 17.
18. What exhortation, given at 1 Timothy 6:11-14, should elders or overseers take to heart?
18 Members of the congregation must be watchful also to keep spotless in the way in which they observe God’s commands for Christ’s followers. Elders or overseers, who imitate the overseer of the first century named Timothy, do well to take to heart what the apostle Paul wrote to Timothy as to Christian conduct, namely: “However, you, O man of God, flee from these things [the fatal consequences of materialism]. But pursue righteousness, godly devotion, faith, love, endurance, mildness of temper. Fight the fine fight of the faith, get a firm hold on the everlasting life for which you were called and you offered the fine public declaration in front of many witnesses. In the sight of God, who preserves all things alive, and of Christ Jesus, who as a witness made the fine public declaration before Pontius Pilate, I give you orders that you observe the commandment in a spotless and irreprehensible way until the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ.”—1 Tim. 6:11-14.
19. How, then, should we not want our record of obedience and performance to be?
19 Such a commandment to Christians we should want to obey in a manner that is “spotless and irreprehensible” before Jehovah God. We do not want our record of obedience to be spotty, having disfiguring black marks against us, and with much to be found fault with as to how we perform. We should do our utmost to show a sincere desire to be obedient at all times. Like the ark-builder Noah during the “time of the end” of the antediluvian system of things, we should take care to walk blamelessly with our God.—Gen. 6:3, 9.
20. How does a blemish compare with a spot on a person, and what about Jesus Christ in this regard?
20 Not only “spotless” but also “unblemished” is how we need to be found by Jehovah God finally at the arrival of His “day.” (2 Pet. 3:14) We know that a blemish is deeper than a spot. A spot is superficial and can be wiped off or cleansed away, but not so a blemish. This is a defect, a disfigurement that mars the physical perfection. It denotes that something on the inside is wrong, at fault. Jesus Christ was perfect through and through, and because of this he could offer himself as a ransom sacrifice for mankind, like an “unblemished and spotless lamb.”—1 Pet. 1:18, 19; Heb. 9:14.
21. In what respect do we seek to be unblemished before God, as encouraged in Philippians 2:14-16?
21 We descendants of the sinner Adam cannot, of course, have perfect human bodies, without a blemish of any kind. But what about our personality and heart motivation? Rightly, we take great pains to keep ourselves “without spot from the world,” but, at the same time, we seek to cultivate a Christlike personality with purity of heart. Far be it from us to have anything defective about our sincerity in imitating the Lord Jesus Christ. We do not care to be like an animal victim presented at God’s altar for sacrifice to God that is rejected by the temple priest because of its being “blemished.” With equal force to us today the words of the apostle Paul of nineteen centuries ago apply: “Keep doing all things free from murmurings and arguments, that you may come to be blameless and innocent, children of God without a blemish in among a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you are shining as illuminators in the world, keeping a tight grip on the word of life.”—Phil. 2:14-16.
22, 23. How will God keep the light as beamed out by his unblemished, innocent children on earth shining despite attack by the forces of darkness?
22 Is that not a grand goal to which to aspire, namely, to be “children of God without a blemish”? Due to our being such kind of children of His, he will find nothing of which to be ashamed or over which to express disapproval. He will keep the light that is beamed out by us as illuminators continuously shining.
23 Never will we be snuffed out as illuminators! In our case it will be as in the case of the one in whose footsteps we are following, the Logos or Word of God. Of him, it is written: “By means of him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light is shining in the darkness, but the darkness has not overpowered it.” (John 1:4, 5) We expect in the near future that Christendom, which has presented God and Christ in a false light, will be destroyed, but the illumination from the “children of God without a blemish” will continue piercing the deepening darkness on earth. Then, when the irreligious hordes of the symbolic “Gog of the land of Magog” move en masse to the attack against these spiritual illuminators, “like clouds to cover the land,” those forces of darkness will fail to quench the light. (Ezek. 38:16-19) Never will God let his “blameless and innocent” children perish from the earth!
“AND IN PEACE”
24. During the dissolution of the old order, what will Jehovah not do with regard to his organized people on earth, and why not?
24 Thus, so late in the course of human affairs, when world developments have already gone so far on a ruinous course, it is not the time for us to lose sight of what is just ahead. That is, dissolution, disintegration, of the old “heavens” and old “earth.” So we should never let up on conducting ourselves in harmony with that awesome fact. At 2 Peter 3:11, The New English Bible presents the matter in these words: “Since the whole universe is to break up in this way, think what sort of people you ought to be, what devout and dedicated lives you should live!” If such a universal breakup is ahead, Jehovah God the Universal Sovereign is the One who will see to such a thing, and this by means of his royal Son, Jesus Christ. The symbolic old heavens and old earth will indeed be dissolved, disintegrated, broken up. But during all the time of that fiery dissolution of the old order of things, the Sovereign Lord Jehovah will not dissolve, disintegrate, break up the coherence of his organized people on earth. He finds them performing “holy acts of conduct and deeds of godly devotion.” His inspection shows them to be “spotless and unblemished.”—2 Pet. 3:11, 14.
25. When the “presence of the day of Jehovah” becomes a fact, what contrast will there be between those in favor of God’s new order and those supporting the old order?
25 Consequently, for these approved worshipers of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah the spiritual paradise in which they have found themselves since the year 1919 C.E. will continue on unscathed as the catastrophic dissolution of the worldly old order takes place under the incandescent heat of God’s anger. For his faithful worshipers it will be as when Noah and his family had entered into the completed, seaworthy ark and Jehovah God had shut the one door of it behind all those safely inside, to protect them from the elemental forces that he now let loose upon the “ancient world” of ungodly people. (Gen. 7:16) But as for the heedless world of mankind, with a blood-chilling shock they will realize that the unbelievable “presence of the day of Jehovah” is upon them! They will see the shape of their old order dissolve, like a snowball thrown into a roaring furnace. The unity of human society will disintegrate. The unity of human society will crumble, so that every man’s hand will be against his brother. What a contrast to those then standing loyally in favor of Jehovah’s righteous new order!
26. Advocates of the New Order will have to resist pressures in what direction, and why will Christlike love be of aid in that behalf?
26 Amid the worldwide breakdown of law and order among supporters of the old order, the advocates of God’s new order will have to resist the pressures toward world anarchy. They will have to hold together as a divinely organized people, maintaining true Christian unity. This will require them to be at peace with one another. With inspired foresight the apostle Peter has admonished us that, when Jehovah’s day for executing his judicial decision arrives with thieflike suddenness, we spotless and unblemished ones must also be found to be “in peace.” We have the means with which to preserve our peace with Jehovah God and with one another. For long we have been cultivating the Christlike love, which is the “perfect bond of union.” (Col. 3:14) Still, there is more than that one binding force.
27. What others kinds of oneness will not fail them during the dissolution caused by the “great tribulation”?
27 There is that force also, of which love is the prime fruit, and that is God’s holy spirit. So we must have the oneness of the spirit. Besides this, there are also the oneness of belief, the oneness of Christian activity in preaching and disciple-making, and the oneness with the one living and true God Jehovah through his Son Jesus Christ. These potent things make for harmony and peace within the organization of Jehovah’s Christian witnesses. These peacemaking things will not fail them during the approaching “great tribulation” that will melt down the worldly old order to a formless mass.
28. For peace to act as a uniting bond, what unifying things do we have, as noted in Ephesians 4:3-6?
28 All along, during this “time of the end” since the year 1914 C.E., the devoted advocates of Jehovah’s righteous new order have been applying themselves to what the apostle Paul exhorts us to do: “earnestly endeavoring to observe the oneness of the spirit in the uniting bond of peace. One body there is, and one spirit, even as you were called in the one hope to which you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all persons, who is over all and through all and in all.”—Eph. 4:3-6.
29. We are also one in awaiting what, and so what thing prescribed by Peter is there for us to keep doing?
29 Finally, we are one in awaiting shortly the dissolution of this moribund old order of things. What, then, shall we keep on doing until the thieflike arrival of the “presence of the day of Jehovah”? For us who desire to prove ourselves worthy of God’s new order, the apostle Peter under inspiration prescribes what to do: “Do your utmost to be found finally by him spotless and unblemished and in peace.”—2 Pet. 3:10-14.