Follow the Great Exemplar
PEOPLE often are influenced by what others say and do. Whether for good or for bad, the example set by a family head, a religious leader or a well-known national figure affects individuals. Has your own attitude and way of life been affected by those to whom you have looked as examples?
Tragic have been the results of following the bad examples of religious and political leaders. Recently, Jim Jones brought over 900 of his religious followers to a suicidal end in Jonestown, Guyana. Earlier in this century, the whole world suffered when Adolf Hitler and his party followers plunged the world into a holocaust. Many present-day acts of terrorism throughout the world are due to the influence of men who are seeking to publicize their cause or aspirations. The increasing number of persons seeking notoriety may remind us of the Bible’s prediction: “Wicked men and impostors will advance from bad to worse, misleading and being misled.”—2 Tim. 3:13.
The trend today, as far as wicked men and their aims are concerned, is moving in that direction—“from bad to worse.” But who is chiefly responsible for this state of affairs? The Bible alone provides the reliable answer. Please note that at 2 Timothy 3:13, just quoted, the apostle Paul stated that wicked men not only were misleading others but were “being misled.” Basically, by whom? The same apostle identified “the god of this system of things” as the one chiefly responsible for blinding so many. (2 Cor. 4:4) And who is this? Satan the Devil, who has used his deceptive powers for centuries, from the very time of mankind’s fall into sin, when this archdeceiver misled the first two human creatures. He then used the serpent as his visible instrument. (Gen. 3:1-7) Since then, the Devil has used a variety of individuals and organizations, including the worldwide false religious empire Babylon the Great. And it can be said that “the whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.”—Rev. 17:1-5; 1 John 5:19.
At this point in history, the Devil knows that his time is short. This adds to the increasing dangers among which we live. As individuals, we must be sure that we do not fall into his trap, for he “is misleading the entire inhabited earth.” After disclosing his vision of heavenly warfare, the apostle John wrote: “So down the great dragon was hurled, the original serpent, the one called Devil and Satan, who is misleading the entire inhabited earth; he was hurled down to the earth, and his angels were hurled down with him.” We are in the advanced period of his short confinement within the vicinity of the earth. This accounts for the widespread deception, trouble and woe, with wicked men misleading and being misled, all under the influence of God’s chief adversary, Satan the Devil.—Rev. 12:7-12.
Our Great Exemplar
There is one Leader who never was nor ever will be under the control and influence of “the god of this system of things.” Nineteen centuries ago, that Leader provided an example that has influenced his followers in a wholesome, lifesaving way. Shortly after his baptism in the Jordan River and his anointing with the holy spirit, that One had an encounter with the Devil. Read the Bible account of it at Matthew 4:1-11. Who is there identified as having resisted the Devil’s wily efforts to turn him aside from serving and worshiping God? Why, none other than Jesus Christ, the Son of the Most High God, Jehovah!
Jesus did not allow himself to be influenced by the Devil’s temptations, but resisted each thrust. By effectively using the Scriptures, Jesus turned aside each of Satan’s temptations. Failing in his wicked efforts, the Devil was bent on ‘bruising’ Jesus by bringing about his death.—Gen. 3:15.
There is no question that Jesus Christ was different from sinful human leaders. His whole life was devoted to accomplishing his Father’s will, not his own. (John 5:30) In preaching about God’s kingdom and making known his Father’s name and purpose, Jesus Christ was willing to undergo insults, reproach and persecutions. (Matt. 26:67, 68; John 15:20, 21; Rom. 15:3) Finally, he submitted to an ignominious death on a torture stake. (Phil. 2:8) Jesus Christ was, indeed, the Great Exemplar for all who desire to please the heavenly Father, Jehovah.—Heb. 12:1-3.
“No Part of the World”
When standing before the Roman governor Pontius Pilate, Jesus made it clear that His kingdom is “no part of the world.” (John 18:36, 37) Accordingly, rather than fighting with carnal weapons and rising up against the established order, Jesus’ followers remain neutral as far as worldly controversies are concerned. This is because they, like their Great Exemplar, are “no part of the world.” (John 15:19; 17:14, 16) For them to be truly influenced by what their Master taught and did, they must avoid the spirit of the world and must not get entangled in its affairs.—1 John 2:15-17.
This is not easy, and it cannot be done in the disciples’ own strength. Fittingly, therefore, Jesus petitioned God in their behalf, saying: “I request you, not to take them out of the world, but to watch over them because of the wicked one.” (John 17:15) Jesus knew that he would be leaving the earthly scene and that his followers would need heavenly watchcare and protection. Moreover, there would be a constant need for them to be on guard against the Adversary.—Jas. 4:7, 8.
Although being absent because of laying aside his fleshly body in sacrificial death, Jesus Christ would still be in a position to influence and direct the steps of his true followers, doing so from his lofty place at God’s right hand. (Heb. 10:12, 13) In addition, they would have the help of the holy spirit.—John 14:25, 26.
How comforting all of this is to true Christians today! Regardless of our circumstances and the trials that we may face, by following our Great Exemplar we will never be misled by wicked men, impostors, or Satan himself. Rather, with full faith we will rely on the support of Jehovah God and of his Son, who promised: “Look! I am with you all the days until the conclusion of the system of things.”—Matt. 28:20.