Reject Worldly Desires!
1, 2. (a) How should Jehovah be worshiped? (b) What does this require of his Witnesses?
JEHOVAH GOD deserves to be worshiped in a clean, upright way by all those dedicated to him. At all times and in every way, they should honor him in word and deed. They certainly must not have “this world’s spirit”—its sinful and selfish, often corrupt, dominant feeling or activating force. (1 Corinthians 2:12, Today’s English Version) As a people organized to praise God, Jehovah’s Witnesses must stand out as being different from this world. They must wholeheartedly apply divine instruction to “repudiate ungodliness and worldly desires and to live with soundness of mind and righteousness and godly devotion amid this present system of things.”—Titus 2:11-14.
2 Sadly, however, not all those claiming to love Jehovah have always honored him and given clear evidence that they have rejected worldly desires or ways. It is reported that certain dedicated Christian men attended a masquerade party dressed as women. Could such behavior be considered unworldly or an honor to Jehovah? Surely, actions of that kind are not what we would expect of those who are “no part of the world.” (John 15:19) Why, under most circumstances a man wearing a woman’s wig and clothing would not only appear effeminate but also open the way to propositions for unnatural sex use by other men!—Deuteronomy 22:5.
3. As to worldly ways and desires, what questions merit consideration?
3 As witnesses of Jehovah, we may acknowledge that we should ‘not be overly absorbed in worldly affairs,’ as shown in the previous article. (1 Corinthians 7:31, The New Testament: A New Translation, by Olaf M. Norlie) We may realize that God’s undeserved kindness “teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions.” (Titus 2:11, 12, New International Version; NW) But what if our heart does not really react that way? Or suppose we desire to strengthen our determination to reject worldly desires. What can help us?
Appeal to the “Hearer of Prayer”
4, 5. (a) Of what can our prayers properly consist? (b) As regards our heart, how may we need to pray at times?
4 One way to succeed in rejecting worldly desires is to make earnest and regular petitions for help from the “Hearer of prayer.” (Psalm 65:2) But how might we pray if our heart yearns somewhat for worldly things?
5 As witnesses of Jehovah, we should ‘let our petitions be made known to God in everything.’ If we do so in faith, the unequaled “peace of God” will guard our mind and heart. Of course, Jehovah himself said that “the inclination of the heart of man is bad from his youth up.” (Philippians 4:6, 7; Genesis 8:21) So at times we need to pray for a different attitude, a change of heart. For instance, if the world’s allurements tug at our heart, we need to ask our heavenly Father to help us replace that yearning with spiritually wholesome desires.
6. If the world’s ways and allurements seem especially appealing to us, how might we pray?
6 Centuries ago, the psalmist David petitioned God: “Make me know your own ways, O Jehovah . . . Make me walk in your truth and teach me.” (Psalm 25:4, 5) Jehovah did this for David, and surely He can answer such a prayer for His present-day servants. Since Jehovah’s “ways” and “truth” are not worldly, prayerful sentiments like David’s may be helpful if this world’s ways seem particularly appealing to us.
7. What is the wise course to follow if we are drawn to unwholesome worldly entertainment?
7 The world holds immoral views and is rife with wickedness. Often this is apparent in worldly songs, dances, books, plays, motion pictures, television programs, and the like. If we, as dedicated Christians, are drawn to unwholesome, worldly entertainment, then what? First, we will do well to appraise entertainment possibilities in the light of God’s Word. It shows that we should “abhor what is wicked, cling to what is good.” (Romans 12:9) Then we should pray for Jehovah’s help so that our heart, imperfect though it is, will cease to desire vile things. Surely, our God can ‘create in us a pure heart’ if we sincerely ask him to do so.—Psalm 51:10.
Help by Holy Spirit
8. According to Psalm 51:11, what can happen even though we now have the holy spirit?
8 After the gravity of his sin with Bath-sheba had been dramatically impressed upon Israel’s King David, he pleaded with Jehovah: “Do not throw me away from before your face; and your holy spirit O do not take away from me.” (Psalm 51:11) God answered that prayer. But note that the holy spirit can be lost or withdrawn.
9. What could draw us into worldly corruption, and with what possible consequences?
9 If we, as dedicated Christians, permit the world to draw us back into its “low sink of debauchery,” we may drown there spiritually. (1 Peter 4:4) This may start with curiosity, perhaps by our beginning to feed the mind and heart on immoral, worldly thoughts implanted therein by Scripturally objectionable literature and forms of entertainment. God’s Word urges that we be “babes as to badness,” not seeking knowledge of things immoral or wicked. (1 Corinthians 14:20) But curiosity could draw us into a vortex of corruption, and we may unwisely conclude that we are mature or strong enough spiritually to withstand defilement. Then arrogance may develop so that we want no one—ultimately not even God—to ‘tell us what to do.’ The consequences can be disastrous, since no one can defy God by stubbornly rejecting his counsel and “come off uninjured.”—Job 9:1-4.
10. (a) As to the holy spirit, what can happen to us if worldly desires are left unchecked? (b) So what will help us to resist the world and its enticements?
10 If left unchecked, worldly desires can cause us to grieve God’s holy spirit by disregarding it, taking a course contrary to its leading and setting our heart on objectives other than those toward which the spirit would impel us. “Grieving God’s holy spirit” also means rejecting his Word. (Ephesians 4:30; compare Acts 7:51-53.) This can lead to deliberate rebellion against the evident manifestation of Jehovah’s spirit and can mean blasphemy against that spirit, an unforgivable sin. (Matthew 12:31, 32; Mark 3:29; compare Hebrews 6:4-6; 10:26-31.) So may we never start down the path of independence and indulgence in worldly practices from which we once were rescued through Jehovah’s undeserved kindness. Instead, let us pray for the holy spirit and yield to its influence, which will help us to resist the world and its enticements.—Psalm 143:10; Luke 11:13.
God’s Word an Aid
11. What will we now consider that should help us to resist the temptation to ‘use the world to the full’?
11 A marvelous product of God’s holy spirit is his inspired Word. (2 Samuel 23:2; 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20, 21) Within its pages are ‘things written aforetime for our instruction’ and ‘warning examples for us upon whom the ends of the systems of things have arrived.’ (Romans 15:4; 1 Corinthians 10:11) How, then, did some people of Bible record view the world?
12. Who was Demas, and how can we benefit from considering his course?
12 Even an unfavorable example is beneficial, for it shows us what to avoid. To illustrate: The apostle Paul was forsaken by his fellow worker Demas ‘because of his love for the present system of things.’ The exact nature and extent of his forsaking Paul is not disclosed, but a love for worldly pleasures and material things may have become stronger than that for spiritual things. In any event, Demas failed to use his excellent opportunity to strengthen his brother Paul. (2 Timothy 4:10) How this should move us to stick with fellow believers, not abandoning them because of permitting love for the present system of things to fill our heart!
13. What proof is there that Abraham and Sarah were not ‘overly absorbed in worldly affairs’?
13 Today we have the entire Bible as our guide. But without having even one full Bible book—Genesis—the godly patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and their loyal wives, ‘did not use the world to the full.’ For example, Abraham (Abram) did as Jehovah God directed by leaving Ur, a Chaldean city of fine homes and many advantages. Yes, excavations there reveal that he and his beloved wife Sarah (Sarai) must have made notable material sacrifices to go where God directed, dwelling in tents as alien residents in the land of promise. Isaac and Jacob also acted in faith as “heirs with [Abraham] of the very same promise.” Worldly interests were of relatively little consequence to Abraham, “for he was awaiting the city having real foundations, the builder and maker of which city is God.”—Hebrews 11:8-10.
14. (a) How can it be shown that Moses ‘did not use the world to the full’? (b) As to our view of spiritual interests, how can we benefit from Moses’ example?
14 The prophet Moses furnishes another fine example of one who trusted in Jehovah and rejected worldly desires. By faith, Moses chose ill-treatment with God’s people and “esteemed the reproach of the Christ [that is, of being God’s anointed servant] as riches greater than the treasures of Egypt.” Therefore, he had marvelous privileges while serving steadfastly ‘as though seeing the invisible One,’ Jehovah. (Hebrews 11:24-27) Clearly, Moses could have made no finer decision than that of putting spiritual interests first in life despite any worldly enticements. Neither can we.—Matthew 6:33.
15. Our considering what experience of the Israelites should move us to shun worldly enticements to immorality?
15 The things of the world that will soon pass away with it include “the desire of the flesh,” which manifests itself in various ways, some of them wicked. (1 John 2:15-17) Worldly enticements to immorality are numerous and have at times had devastating effects even on people dedicated to Jehovah. For instance, although the Israelites had been delivered from Egyptian bondage, thousands of them later were put to death because of having “immoral relations with the daughters of Moab.” (Numbers, chapter 25; 1 Corinthians 10:8) How this should move us to shun worldly enticements to immorality!
16. (a) When tempted to act immorally, what did Joseph do? (b) How might we benefit from Joseph’s example?
16 Consider the fine example of Joseph, the son of Jacob. Repeatedly, his Egyptian master’s wife urged him to have sexual relations with her. However, he staunchly refused. It is not said that the woman was so ugly that she would repel a man. Rather, Joseph fled from her presence because he did not want to sin against his righteous God, Jehovah. (Genesis 39:7-20) Do we need to make adjustments in our reading, recreation or certain circumstances so as to avoid sinning against God? If so, let us act without delay, as did godly Joseph.—1 Peter 2:11, 12.
17. (a) Worldly thinking often fosters what attitude? (b) How did certain haughty women of Judah adorn themselves, and what happened to them and their ornaments?
17 Worldly thinking often fosters independence and pride. The world’s emphasis on the material aspects of life extends to adornment, particularly significant to women who desire to have a fine appearance. In ancient Judah of Isaiah’s day, haughty women decked themselves with many ornaments. Apparently to be in fashion, such proud females wore “step chains,” or chainlets, fastened to their anklets. These chains made a “tinkling sound” as a woman walked, and they restricted her stride so that she went along “with tripping steps,” having what might be considered a genteel feminine gait. Of course, the Babylonian conquest of Judah in 607 B.C.E. brought an end to those ornaments and to freedom.—Isaiah 3:16-24.
18. What is the Scriptural standard as regards feminine adornment?
18 As regards feminine adornment, what a difference in attitude there was between immodest, worldly Jezebel and modest, godly, though well-attired, Esther! (2 Kings 9:30; Esther 2:7; 5:1) Obviously, Christian women wish to be like Esther. Hence, they attire themselves “in well-arranged dress, with modesty and soundness of mind.” They make their principal adornment “the secret person of the heart in the incorruptible apparel of the quiet and mild spirit, which is of great value in the eyes of God.”—1 Timothy 2:9; 1 Peter 3:3-5.
19. How did Jesus Christ provide the finest example of unworldliness?
19 Jesus Christ provides the chief example of unworldliness. Although he was a perfect man with far more potential for worldly success than any other human, his prime concern was spiritual—so much so that he had “nowhere to lay down his head.” (Matthew 8:20) Far from having been corrupted morally by this world, Jesus is described as “loyal, guileless, undefiled, separated from the sinners.” (Hebrews 7:26) We who are imperfect cannot now follow Jesus’ steps perfectly. But we ought to do our best, with Jehovah’s help.—1 Peter 2:21, 22.
Continue Rejecting Worldly Desires
20. If you are a worshiper of Jehovah, how can you remain free of this world’s spirit?
20 If you find yourself in the happy throng of Jehovah’s worshipers, you are blessed indeed. You have found something far better than all that this corrupt and dying world can offer. Cling to true worship, then, and remain free of this world’s spirit. To that end, appeal often to the “Hearer of prayer,” seek the aid of his holy spirit, always yield to the counsel of God’s Word and never abandon the ranks of the long—now centuries-old—line of Jehovah’s faithful witnesses.—Compare Hebrews 12:1-3.
21. As to this world, what should be our determination?
21 May it be your determination not to use this world to the full. Rather, may you keep your mind and heart fixed on the doing of God’s will. If you do so, you will have the unfailing support of Jehovah’s “everlasting arms.” (Deuteronomy 33:27, An American Translation) Confident in such divine aid, may you continue living with soundness of mind, righteousness and godly devotion while rejecting ungodliness and worldly desires.
How would you answer?
□ If our heart yearns somewhat for worldly things, how can prayer be helpful?
□ How can the holy spirit help us to resist the world and its enticements?
□ What Biblical examples can help us to reject worldly ways and desires?
□ How can we remain free of this world’s spirit?
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Do not let curiosity draw you into worldly corruption
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Joseph fled to keep from sinning. We, too, should act quickly to avoid ungodly conduct