Feed Regularly on Bible Truths!
THE greatest Teacher that ever lived once stated that man does not live on bread alone, but also needs spiritual food, God’s Word. From that, can we not reasonably conclude that Christians should feed regularly on spiritual food, even as they do on literal bread? Certainly. (Matt. 4:4) Such spiritual food includes not only the Bible but literature that helps us to understand the Bible. That is why the publishing and administrative agency for Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Watch Tower Society, does not content itself with just printing Bibles. It also publishes Bible aids on a regular basis to aid readers to a fuller understanding of the Bible.
The question has been raised as to the value of regularly reading these publications, since at times the same subject may come up for repeated consideration. But do we not eat bread, potatoes or rice regularly? Also, the apostle Peter wrote: “For this reason I shall be disposed always to remind you of these things, although you know them and are firmly set in the truth that is present in you.” (2 Pet. 1:12) Let it be noted, too, that when a subject is considered more than once there are often new angles, new points of view, additional insights, more and effective presentations. As Proverbs 4:18 puts it: “The path of the righteous ones is like the bright light that is getting lighter and lighter until the day is firmly established.”
GETTING TO UNDERSTAND THE CONSCIENCE BETTER
For a specific example, take the matter of conscience. In September 1972, The Watchtower published a number of articles on the human conscience in its role as “witness-bearer.” These showed that our conscience is an inborn witness, testifying for or against us, and that it functioned even before Jehovah God gave man written codes or laws. These articles also pointed out the need to respect the conscience of others and what role conscience plays in matters of employment. Never before had these matters been so clearly elucidated.
Then in April 1975, two more articles appeared on the conscience. Among the various points made by these articles were that there are two basic roles that the conscience plays. One is what might be viewed as a judicial capacity. This is the role the conscience plays “after the fact,” when it judges us guilty because of our having transgressed in some manner. (2 Sam. 24:10) However, for Christians, the conscience more often should play what might be termed a legislative role. Of course, this does not mean that it actually legislates new laws for the Christian. But, based on the laws and principles in the Bible, a Christian’s strong conscience will be a guide for him. It is as if it legislates for him ahead of time that a certain course is wrong. A well-known Scriptural example of this is that of Jacob’s son Joseph refusing the importunities of Potiphar’s wife.—Gen. 39:9.
Then still more recently, The Watchtower (of September 1, 1976) had a further article on conscience entitled “Training Our Conscience to Do More for Us.” Generally, when considering matters of conscience the question is whether a thing is good or bad, right or wrong. But in this article emphasis was placed on the Bible’s association of a good conscience with faith and love. (1 Tim. 1:5) Yes, not only should our conscience keep us from transgressing Jehovah God’s laws but it should also come into play as to our taking advantage of opportunities to do unselfish, noble, kind, loving things.—Compare Luke 10:29-37.
So, never take for granted that just because an article appearing in The Watchtower deals with a subject previously discussed it is a mere repetition. True, sometimes the refinements are not great, but they all add something to reveal the Bible truth as more beautiful, more meaningful, yes, more helpful to us.
All of this calls to mind an anecdote told about Michelangelo. A friend had admired a beautiful statue that Michelangelo had carved. Coming to him some time later, the friend was surprised to find him still working on the same statue. Michelangelo pointed out all the improvements he had made in the meantime, to which his friend replied, ‘But these are only trifles.’ In reply, Michelangelo said: ‘Yes, that is true. But trifles make perfection and perfection is no trifle!’ So while many times the refinements made in understanding may not seem of great importance, they do help to make our understanding of a subject more nearly complete or perfect.
KEEPING IN FIGHTING TRIM
Nor is that all. The Bible and the publications that help us to understand the Bible better are not merely concerned with head knowledge. God’s Word is ‘a lamp for our feet and a light to our roadway.’ (Ps. 119:105) Also, we are told that God’s Word is “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) But only to the extent that we apply it to our lives can it serve these purposes. And how can we apply it if we have forgotten what we have read?
That we keep on being reminded of the counsel contained in God’s Word is vitally important in view of the three enemies with which we have to contend. There is the world; friendship with it means enmity with Jehovah God. (Jas. 4:4) Concerning our conflict with the world, the apostle John wrote: “This is the conquest that has conquered the world, our faith.” (1 John 5:4) Faith is dependent upon knowledge—knowledge that is easily brought to mind, not information that has long since been forgotten. Because the world presses in upon us so forcibly day after day, we need to be reminded continually not to be loving the world nor the things in it; for the world and all that is in it will pass away, but the one that does the will of God will remain forever.—1 John 2:15-17.
We also have the Devil and his demons as our enemies. “Your adversary, the Devil, walks about like a roaring lion, seeking to devour someone.” (1 Pet. 5:8) He and his demons wage warfare on us and so we need to put on the whole spiritual armor of God, which the apostle Paul describes at Ephesians 6:11-17. Our wearing this armor and making use of it depends again upon our continually feeding on God’s Word. Undoubtedly, to be able to wield the ‘sword of the spirit, God’s word,’ effectively, we need to have that word fresh in our minds and hearts.
Our third enemy is none other than our own inborn, inherited sinful inclinations, against which we must struggle earnestly and continuously. Since our mothers ‘conceived us in sin and gave birth to us in error,’ from youth up our inclination is bad. (Gen. 8:21; Ps. 51:5) Because this is so, we can all lament, as did the apostle Paul: “The good that I wish I do not do, but the bad that I do not wish is what I practice.” (Rom. 7:19) Due to this inheritance, we find that the human heart is devious, treacherous, deceitful. But with the help of God’s Word and of Bible aids that assist us to understand and apply Bible principles, we can cope with this enemy within us. However, like the apostle Paul, we must pummel our bodies and lead them about as slaves.—Prov. 3:32; Jer. 17:9; 1 Cor. 9:27.
WHAT ABOUT THE TIME FOR IT?
The Christian’s life is a full one. There is the Bible to be read, along with a new magazine each week, preparation to be made for meetings and attending them, and participation in the grand work of making disciples of those who listen gladly. Also, there are everyday obligations of a mundane kind in caring for ourselves and our families. Each one might well ask himself or herself: How much time do I spend reading secular periodicals, newspapers and magazines? How much time do I devote to viewing television or listening to popular music? True, these are forms of recreation and entertainment, whereas many might view preparing for Christian meetings and reading Christian literature as ‘so much work.’ But need such preparation and reading be viewed in that way? The psalmist said: “I am exulting over your saying just as one does when finding much spoil.” (Ps. 119:162) So we need to consider carefully whether our life course really identifies us as spiritual rather than physical persons.—1 Cor. 2:14-16.
All of this calls to mind the words of Jesus about the happiness of those who are conscious of their spiritual need. (Matt. 5:3) The lower earthly creatures—birds, insects, mammals, fish, and so forth—have no spiritual needs. But man does have them. His neglecting of these has contributed toward the sorry mess in the world today. Materialistic philosophies and ideologies drive men ever farther away from God. Their physical needs—food, clothing and shelter—and sex, as well as pleasure, or lust for power, become paramount in their lives. But if we are truly conscious of our spiritual needs, we will regularly feed on Bible truths, finding time to do so and appreciating them to the full. The reward? Well, we will be helped to pursue the course of godly devotion, which is “beneficial for all things, as it holds promise of the life now and that which is to come.”—1 Tim. 4:8.