Basis for a Purposeful Life
“See what sort of love the Father has given us, so that we should be called children of God.”—1 John 3:1.
1-3. What factors interfere with the enjoyment of life? (Eccl. 1:15; 2:18-21; 4:1-3; 9:11, 12)
EVERY normal person would like to make something of his or her life. But many make the complaint that the system in which we live offers little to encourage real purpose.
2 These individuals point to the fact that a person may start out with a goal, spend years getting an education in his chosen field and then find that he cannot get employment. A good many college graduates are having to accept common labor for a livelihood.
3 On the other hand, those who have achieved financial success know that a war or other calamity can quickly wipe out all that they have gained. And the death of a loved one can doom them to a life of loneliness.
4. (a) Why do some say, ‘God is dead’? (b) How does Jehovah feel about mankind? (Job 14:14, 15; Lam. 3:34-36; Jonah 4:10, 11)
4 Looking at things in this way, some say, ‘God is dead.’ That is, God has no concern for humankind’s affairs. But, having designed and brought forth the universe, God does have intense interest in dealing with it. In fact, in the mind of God there is a future for man and a purpose toward every person who lives, or has lived. Furthermore, that purpose takes our feelings into consideration, so that our fulfilling life’s purpose also means our fullest happiness and enjoyment. That is what we want, is it not?
OUR HELPLESS CONDITION
5. How did Moses describe mankind’s situation?
5 But it must be admitted that mankind is powerless to change matters. The inspired psalmist Moses described our helpless situation: “In themselves the days of your years are seventy years; and if because of special mightiness they are eighty years, yet their insistence is on trouble and hurtful things; for it must quickly pass by, and away we fly.”—Ps. 90:10.
6. Why are humans unable to free themselves from enslavement to death?
6 Man’s helplessness in getting free from enslavement to death is expressed in the forty-ninth psalm, Ps 49 verses six to nine: “Those who are trusting in their means of maintenance, and who keep boasting about the abundance of their riches, not one of them can by any means redeem even a brother, nor give to God a ransom for him; (and the redemption price of their soul is so precious that it has ceased to time indefinite) that he should still live forever and not see the pit.” The writer of the psalm knew that the price was too precious, too high, beyond the reach of all mankind. As far as imperfect man’s ability was concerned, relief was so far away that it was “to time indefinite,” actually beyond hope.
7. How did Adam sell his offspring, and what did he receive from this “sale”?
7 This sad, helpless situation is upon us all because our forefather Adam sold his future offspring, without their consent, into slavery to sin and death. The price he received for the “sale” was the selfish doing of what he wanted to do, stepping out in independence, in rebellion against God. Hence, everyone is, just as the apostle Paul said that he was, “fleshly, sold under sin.”—Rom. 7:14.
8. On account of their enslavement, how might sincere persons make their appeal to God?
8 So, if man was ever to be delivered, God had to act to make provision. Sincere ones cry out: “Help us, O God of our salvation, for the sake of the glory of your name; and deliver us and cover over our sins on account of your name.”—Ps. 79:9.
GOD CANNOT OVERLOOK SIN
9. Into what situation did mankind come with reference to God?
9 Does Jehovah God hear this prayer? And, if he does, can he answer it? Is man’s powerlessness a problem that God can solve? Here, indeed, is a real problem. It arose about six thousand years ago. The first man, Adam, had joined with God’s enemy, Satan, in bringing wickedness into the earth. He made himself an enemy of God, and his children, who, inheriting sin and imperfection from him, performed unrighteous works. As the apostle Paul tells us, Adam brought the human race into the position of enemies of God.—Rom. 5:10.
10, 11. (a) Why could Jehovah not simply overlook the sin that had come into the universe? (b) What illustrates that a minimizing of lawlessness results in serious problems?
10 Nevertheless, Jehovah loved his creation, knowing that they could not help themselves. But in his love for humankind, could he condone the wickedness that Satan, along with Adam, had brought into the universe? Could God say to any sinning individual, ‘Well, I like you and want to show you mercy, so I’ll just overlook your sin’? In harmony with his justice and righteousness he could not ignore sin and let it go unaccounted for. If he should do this, he would be undermining the foundation of his government, for the Bible says: “Justice and judgment are the foundation of your throne.”—Ps. 89:15, New American Bible (Ps 89:14).
11 We have an example in some nations of earth today of the results of being “soft” with and, in effect, condoning lawlessness. In many cases they have been slack and not zealous in acting against wrongdoers. Criminals have been let run loose. The result has been that people lose faith in the governments, and everything finally breaks down. However, the Universal Ruler will not let that take place with the laws that he made.
THE SOLUTION THROUGH A “SEED”
12. After Adam sinned, how did God reveal the means by which he would rescue the human race?
12 From the human viewpoint, there was no solution to the problem. But Jehovah works out seemingly impossible problems in a marvelous way, still maintaining the dignity of his universal sovereignty and, at the same time, extending mercy. After seeing the outcome, we are moved to say, ‘It just couldn’t have been done in any other way and have been so thorough, righteous and altogether good.’ So, as the Bible shows, at the very time that God pronounced judgment upon Adam for his sin, God revealed that he would come to the rescue of the human race when he announced: “He [the seed] will bruise you [Satan] in the head.” (Gen. 3:15) As time went on, God would let men see the outworking of his purpose.
13. Who did the ‘seed of the woman’ prove to be, and why was he the one chosen by God?
13 Who, particularly, would be designated by God to be the “seed” eventually to crush Satan’s head? Jehovah’s only-begotten Son! He was chosen as the primary one to serve for the settlement of the issue regarding the worthiness and righteousness of Jehovah’s rulership or sovereignty, which had been challenged. Why did Jehovah choose this great One who was so close to his heart? Well, when Satan made his challenge it called into question the loyalty of all creatures in the universe, right up to this Son of God. More than that, the question of loyalty would focus more on him than on any other one of God’s creatures, because he was the chief Son of Jehovah, next to Him in the universe.
14. How did the Son of God feel about mankind?
14 Furthermore, in the Proverbs, chapter eight, this Son, symbolized by wisdom, says, speaking of God’s creative work: “The things I was fond of were with the sons of men.” (Pr 8 Vs. 31) He deeply loved mankind. He gladly took this assignment to vindicate his Father, first out of loyalty to Him and, additionally, out of the love that he had for mankind.
15. Why has God permitted wrongdoing to continue?
15 Because of the universal issue involved, Jehovah the Universal Sovereign permitted sin to exist for a time in order to settle the question of his sovereignty; and of the loyalty of his great family of intelligent creatures. He also had to take time to lay a foundation for the removal of sin and then to allow sinful humans opportunity to learn of and to take hold of his arrangements. So, altogether for a good purpose and for a relatively short period in universal time, God has let wrongdoing take place. Really, the way that God has decided on is the only way that he can effectively and genuinely help mankind.
A LEGAL BASIS FOR DEALING WITH MANKIND
16. Why was a legal basis needed for God to deal with humankind?
16 Now, in order to have dealings with those who were born in sin, though it was through no fault of their own, God had to have some legal basis on which to deal with them. Otherwise, all men would have to die forever, since God’s law required that sinners be removed from the universe. Only the sacrifice of another man, a perfect one, as that “precious” price that was beyond humankind’s reach, could buy back what Adam had lost, canceling off the judgment that God’s righteous court had against humankind. About this, Jesus said: “The Son of man came, not to be ministered to, but to minister and to give his soul a ransom in exchange for many.”—Matt. 20:28.
17, 18. What would God be demonstrating by establishing this legal basis?
17 By establishing this legal basis, Jehovah would demonstrate the rightness of his universal rulership. At the same time he could extend mercy to humans. The apostle Paul expresses it in this way:
18 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and it is as a free gift that they are being declared righteous by his undeserved kindness through the release by the ransom paid by Christ Jesus. God set him forth as an offering for propitiation [that is, a covering for sins] through faith in his blood. This was in order to exhibit his own righteousness . . . in this present season, that he might be righteous even when declaring righteous the man that has faith in Jesus.”—Rom. 3:23-26.
19. How do humans get a proper standing with Jehovah God?
19 Thus, God deals with the human family through his Son, Jesus Christ, who acts as Jehovah’s representative in the matter. The sacrifice of his life offset the judgment, purchasing the human race. Then, those obedient to God’s arrangement can come to have a legal standing with Him. The apostle Paul said of this merciful action on the part of Jehovah and his Son: “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, a man, Christ Jesus, who gave himself a corresponding ransom for all.”—1 Tim. 2:5, 6.
20. What was the Son of God to accomplish while on earth?
20 God in his wisdom, designed the only means by which he could help humankind to get a righteous standing and a hope of everlasting life as members of his clean, righteous, perfect universal family. At the exactly appropriate moment in his time schedule, God performed his act of greatest generosity. He sent his Son from the heavens to earth, to become a human. Here on earth this Son could first and primarily prove that perfect men who love God can be loyal to God and his rulership through any and every test or circumstance. His life could also be the ransom price for humankind, for there was among them no perfect man to provide this price. This, of course, would require that he die.—Titus 2:11-14.
JESUS CHRIST, OUR HELPER
21. According to 1 John 2:1, 2, what did Jesus’ faithful life course qualify him to become?
21 By his faithful course Jesus qualified to become the Helper of all who desire to serve God. The apostle John wrote: “If anyone does commit a sin, we have a helper with the Father, Jesus Christ, a righteous one. And he is a propitiatory [covering] sacrifice for our sins.”—1 John 2:1, 2.
22. Why do God’s faithful servants not lose their approved standing when they fall short in some way?
22 Now, the Devil has tried to find fault with God’s servants from the time of Abel, the son of Adam. In fact, Satan is called “the accuser of our brothers . . . who accuses them day and night before our God!” (Rev. 12:10) So, in due time in the contest with respect to integrity, Jesus Christ has appeared before God as a helper. He has access to the throne of God in our behalf. When faithful servants of God have made a mistake, have committed a sin, and have sincerely repented and confessed, Jesus has presented the merit of his sacrifice so that they should not be put to death—for his propitiatory sacrifice can cover their mistakes and sins.
23. What attitude toward our sinful state must we maintain?
23 The apostle Paul describes the fight that he had, and that all other Christians have, and how, in spite of their best efforts, they will make mistakes, though not deliberately, insolently and willfully. He said: “The good that I wish I do not do, but the bad that I do not wish is what I practice. If, now, what I do not wish is what I do, the one working it out is no longer I, but the sin dwelling in me.” (Rom. 7:19, 20) The value of Christ’s atonement sacrifice as applied for their sins, over which they repent and make confession, is the basis for their being declared righteous.—1 John 1:9.
24. In his position as helper, how can Jesus prove that the charges of Satan are false?
24 Also, in Jesus’ office of helper, he has proved before God that the Devil’s charges against Christians are slander. He calls attention to the Christians’ acts of faith and their calling on God in true repentance when they have sinned. For he knows that, as stated at Hebrews 6:10: “God is not unrighteous so as to forget your work and the love you showed for his name, in that you have ministered to the holy ones and continue ministering.” Jesus has also shown before the heavenly court that the servants of God on earth have realized their own incompetence and lack of righteousness and have called for mercy on the basis of Christ’s sacrifice—God’s appointed way.
25. Why do those in union with Christ have no condemnation?
25 And Jehovah God has accepted Jesus’ intercession for them. The Devil has been defeated in every attack he has made. Thus Jesus has loyally carried out his high priesthood, protecting them from all condemnation, as the Bible says: “Therefore those in union with Christ Jesus have no condemnation. For the law of that spirit which gives life in union with Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.”—Rom. 8:1, 2.
26, 27. How can individuals be brought forth as children of Christ, with a clean standing before God?
26 The prophet Isaiah helps us further to see how Christ imparts real life to all who exercise faith in him. Isaiah wrote prophetically of Christ’s sufferings and said, speaking to Jehovah: “If you will set his soul as a guilt offering, he will see his offspring.” (Isa. 53:10) Christ does not get offspring through the natural method. When he was on earth he had the power to have a family of his own. But he did not. Instead, he gave up that potential in his sacrifice. As he said: “The Son of man came . . . to give his soul a ransom in exchange for many.”—Matt. 20:28.
27 Jesus therefore became the “last Adam.” The first Adam brought forth a family, an imperfect one, with bad traits. Jesus Christ brings forth a family that attains to righteousness. Individuals can be transferred from the family of Adam and be regenerated through the sacrificed life of Jesus Christ and, by putting on the new personality, they can come to be ‘in his image.’ They can be cleaned up to be sons of the “Eternal Father,” the “last Adam.” Jehovah has “set his soul as a guilt offering,” and accepts this offering to atone for the guilt of all who exercise faith.—1 Cor. 15:45; Isa. 9:6.
28. For whom is Jesus Christ bringing forth a family of perfect humans?
28 Truly, because of what Jehovah God and Jesus Christ have done for humankind, our life can have real purpose. All who avail themselves of the atoning benefits of Jesus’ sacrifice during his rule as King-priest can become perfect human children of God’s Son. This leads also to their being counted as children of the Most High for all eternity and living under righteous conditions. How so? Because Jesus is not bringing forth a family to keep as his own. After bringing them to human perfection, he turns purchased and rehabilitated mankind over to Jehovah God, “the Father, to whom every family in heaven and on earth owes its name,” in order for God to prove their unbreakable loyalty and worthiness to be his children forever.—Eph. 3:14, 15; 1 Cor. 15:26, 28.