Obedience to the Good News a Way of Life
“What is Jehovah asking back from you but to exercise justice and to love kindness and to be modest in walking with your God?”—Mic. 6:8.
1. How do people today often view their religion?
IT IS a common thing today to see people who profess to believe the tenets of a religion, but who fail to follow these teachings in their everyday life. Often people consider religion as something to which to “belong,” but not as something to influence their actions in homelife, in business, in dealing with others.
2. Why was Christianity, in the first century, called “The Way”?
2 However, true Christianity is not a matter of outward appearance. In fact, in Christianity’s early days it was called “The Way,” because it was more than formal worship. (Acts 19:9, 23) It was a WAY OF LIFE permeated by the worship of God, guided by his spirit. (John 4:23, 24; 1 Cor. 2:11-13) Throughout the Christian Scriptures we find strong expressions that allow for no halfhearted service to God. The person wishing to be a real Christian is told: ‘Make your mind over,’ “be made new in the force actuating your mind” and “put on the new personality.” (Rom. 12:2; Eph. 4:22-24) Along with zealous witnessing, good conduct is continually emphasized.—1 Pet. 1:15; 2:12; 3:16; 5:12.
3. To what extent does true Christianity affect an individual’s life?
3 Accordingly, true Christianity reaches into every aspect of life, of the individual and of the family. The Christian must love and serve God ‘with his whole heart and whole soul and whole mind and whole strength.’ (Mark 12:30) This leaves out no part of his body, his life or his personality.—Matt. 22:37-39.
IS BEING A CHRISTIAN BEYOND HUMAN ABILITY?
4, 5. (a) Does God require very difficult or unreasonable things of the Christian? (b) Does the difficulty of being a Christian overshadow its advantages in this world?
4 Is it, then, an extremely difficult thing to be a Christian? Does God require more than is reasonable, or demand something “great” or beyond human ability? No. He said to his ancient people Israel: “He has told you, O earthling man, what is good. And what is Jehovah asking back from you but to exercise justice and to love kindness and to be modest in walking with your God?”—Mic. 6:8.
5 What is really difficult or unreasonable about this requirement? Actually, God is pleased if people live as they were created naturally to live—as they ought to live—that is all. It is true that following this course in a world that has deviated from God’s standards will bring opposition and difficulty. (John 16:33; 2 Tim. 3:12) But the fact is that the person who lives by God’s standards is freer in conscience, has greater peace of mind and, in addition, possesses a purpose in life and a hope ahead.—1 Tim. 4:8; 6:6-8.
6. What provision has God made so that we can be successful in the Christian course, even though we are imperfect?
6 In view of our imperfection, it may seem difficult for a person to follow Bible principles and to produce their good fruitage. True, imperfect persons make many mistakes, some serious, but Christ’s propitiatory sacrifice was given for this very reason. It allows the repentant Christian to approach God to receive forgiveness, and God’s spirit helps the Christian to make over his personality—to change his ways to conform more and more to God’s ways. (Heb. 4:15, 16; 2 Cor. 3:17, 18) The apostle John wrote to fellow Christians: “My little children, I am writing you these things that you may not commit a sin. And yet, if anyone does commit a sin, we have a helper with the Father, Jesus Christ, a righteous one. And he is a propitiatory sacrifice for our sins, yet not for ours [anointed Christians’] only but also for the whole world’s [the sins of all others of mankind].”—1 John 2:1, 2.
HOW IMPORTANT IS THE BIBLE AS A GUIDE IN LIFE?
7. How do true Christians regard and use the Bible?
7 Appreciating the need for God’s guidance in order to follow his righteous principles, Christians will make Bible study a regular part of their lives. They hold firmly to the apostle Paul’s declaration that “all Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight, for disciplining in righteousness, that the man of God may be fully competent, completely equipped for every good work.”—2 Tim. 3:16, 17.
8. If we accept the Bible as inspired, is it all to be taken literally? Give examples.
8 So, the entire Bible, both the Hebrew Scriptures, or “Old Testament,” and the Greek Scriptures, or “New Testament,” comprises the complete Word of God, wholly true and inspired by God as a guide for the Christian in all his ways. However, this does not mean, as some Fundamentalists believe, that it is all to be taken literally. It is true that there are many literal commands. But there is much history and there are also many symbolic and pictorial statements. For example, world governments are sometimes represented by beasts. (Dan. 8:1-8, 20-22; Rev. 17:3, 9-12) And a “day” may be a twenty-four-hour day or may stand for a period of years. (Gen. 2:4; John 8:56) The context and other related statements in the Bible help the student to distinguish which texts are literal and which ones are symbolic and prophetic.
9. Why is the entire Bible of value to the Christian?
9 Viewing the Bible in this way, Christians study the Christian Greek Scriptures, which contain many direct commands and laws, and also the Hebrew Scriptures, which set forth many principles, illustrations, prophecies and a record of actual historical events that reveal God’s attitude and view on matters of life. (1 Cor. 10:11) Throughout the entire Bible there are many incidents and events that demonstrate God’s way of dealing with various situations and circumstances. All these things acquaint one with the personality of God and help the Christian to “have the mind of Christ,” who knows God more intimately than anyone else does.—1 Cor. 2:16; Matt. 11:27.
IS THE CHRISTIAN’S LIFE AN ASCETIC ONE?
10. How did Jesus’ life on earth show that he was not an ascetic or that he lived by ritual?
10 The life of the Christian, therefore, is not a matter of a code of rules or ritual. Christ’s life reflects the spirit and the love the Christian must strive to develop. (Matt. 5:44; 1 John 5:3) Jesus was a man who pleased God in every respect. (John 8:29) He did not commit any unrighteousness. But even though he was perfect he was not an ascetic. He attended weddings and feasts, he appreciated the good things in life. (John 2:1-10; Luke 5:29; Matt. 11:18, 19) He exhibited moderation in everything and did not demand of himself or of others more than what was reasonable. (Mark 6:31; John 4:6) Jesus enjoyed life and the work that he did of helping others to know about God. (John 4:34) He did not constantly make comparisons between his righteousness and the mistakes of others. He had compassion and mercy toward people. (Matt. 9:36; Mark 1:41) However, he condemned wrongdoing and exposed hypocrisy.—Matt. 15:1-9; 23:23-32.
11. (a) Should Jehovah’s Witnesses use their imperfection as an excuse for sin, or exult in their own righteousness? (b) What conflict does every Christian undergo, as described by the apostle Paul?
11 In these things Jesus set the pattern for Christians. Of course, they recognize that, unlike Jesus, they are not perfect, but they strive earnestly to follow his pattern. They try to avoid wrongdoing but realize that what righteousness they have is due to the mercy of God and is a result of following the Bible. It is not something to be credited to themselves. They recognize, as did the psalmist: “If errors were what you watch, O Jah, O Jehovah, who could stand?” (Ps. 130:3) They know that they are sinners and sometimes do wrong things, even as the apostle Paul himself said:
“I find, then this law in my case: that when I wish to do what is right, what is bad is present with me. I really delight in the law of God according to the man I am within, but I behold in my members another law warring against the law of my mind and leading me captive to sin’s law that is in my members. Miserable man that I am! Who will rescue me from the body undergoing this death? Thanks to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So, then, with my mind I myself am a slave to God’s law, but with my flesh to sin’s law.”—Rom. 7:21-25.
12, 13. (a) How do Christians avoid being “righteous overmuch” or “excessively wise”? (b) When sin overtakes a Christian witness, what does he do about it? (c) Why do the Witnesses take the “good news” to others?
12 Therefore, the person who is truly following “The Way” tries to avoid being “righteous overmuch” or “excessively wise,” in the sense that he does not assume an air of wisdom or self-righteousness and look for the faults and poor judgment of others. (Eccl. 7:16) But he sincerely makes righteousness his aim. He does not weakly give in to wrong desires or succumb to pressures that would force him to commit serious wrongs, breaking his integrity toward God. Nonetheless, imperfection will at times cause him to make mistakes and to sin. If he does commit a sin, he acknowledges it and repents, asking forgiveness through prayer to Jehovah in Christ’s name. (Acts 10:43) He relies on Christ’s perfect sacrifice as a basis for forgiveness of sins. (1 Tim. 2:5, 6) Then he puts forth every effort not to repeat that sin. He knows that to take up a course of sin would result in loss of God’s favor. The “good news” that he has found he gives to others out of love for them. As a zealous proclaimer of the “good news,” he tries to help people to see the need for faith and the importance of conforming their lives to Bible principles. He holds up as examples Jesus Christ and other persons whose lives of faith are described in the Bible.—Heb. 11:1–12:3.
13 Since obedience to the “good news” involves the Christian’s conduct in all things, we herewith discuss some of the basic standards that God sets forth for all who would be Christians.
THE PART THAT TRUTHFULNESS PLAYS IN A CHRISTIAN’S LIFE
14, 15. (a) Why must Jehovah be worshiped ‘with truth’? (b) What does “truth” mean to the family circle?
14 Since Jehovah God made man and knows his needs, it is essential for man, for his own welfare, to live according to the moral standards that God has expressed in the Bible. First of all, Jehovah is “the God of truth.” (Ps. 31:5) He must be worshiped “with spirit and truth.” (John 4:24) Truthfulness is essential, not only in order to have peace with God, but also to live in peace with others. The apostle Paul counsels Christians: “Wherefore, now that you have put away falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor.”—Eph. 4:25.
15 Think of what “truth” means in the family circle. If “truth” is always spoken, there is trust between family members. There is respect and closeness between husband and wife. The ‘communication gap’ does not exist. Children are anxious to let their parents know what is going on in their lives, for they are confident that they will receive consideration and guidance in solving their problems. They also know that their parents are not saying one thing and doing another. They can count on their parents for help in any situation.
16. How do Jesus’ words at John 14:6 emphasize the need of truthfulness on the part of the Christian?
16 Jesus Christ said: “I am the way and the truth and the life.” (John 14:6) The “way” for the Christian is to think, feel and act as Jesus did. This requires him to follow the “truth” in all its aspects, just as Jesus fulfilled all things that God had set forth for him. The following article discusses some other requirements of that “way.”
[Picture on page 619]
Jesus was pleasing to God, compassionate toward others, but not an ascetic . . .
And he manifested none of the pride and superpious attitude of the Pharisees