Remain “Without Spot From the World”
“The form of worship that is clean and undefiled from the standpoint of our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their tribulation, and to keep oneself without spot from the world.”—JAMES 1:27.
1, 2. What are some requirements of clean worship?
JEHOVAH requires clean worship. (John 4:23, 24) Among other things, undefiled religion prompts active, loving concern for the needy. (Galatians 2:10) It also calls upon us to keep ourselves unspotted by the world, that is, unrighteous human society alienated from God and “lying in the power of the wicked one,” Satan the Devil.—1 John 5:19.
2 “The form of worship that is clean and undefiled from the standpoint of our God and Father is this,” wrote the disciple James, “to look after orphans and widows in their tribulation, and to keep oneself without spot from the world.” Another rendition is: “Pure, unspoilt religion, in the eyes of God our Father is this: coming to the help of orphans and widows when they need it, and keeping oneself uncontaminated by the world.”—James 1:27, The Jerusalem Bible.
3. What questions will we now consider?
3 But how can we as Jehovah’s servants keep ourselves “uncontaminated by the world”? What is the Scriptural view of such things as the world’s social affairs, educational arrangements, business dealings and recreational activities?
‘Keeping Uncontaminated by the World’
4 Since we as witnesses of Jehovah are “no part of the world,” we must differ from unrighteous human society. (John 17:14) In part, this requires that we remain neutral as regards the world’s political affairs. We must also refrain from involvement in its violence and must pursue peace as those who have ‘beaten their swords into plowshares.’—Isaiah 2:2-4.
5 As people desiring to remain uncontaminated by this world, we must avoid the speech, conduct and attitudes that are so common among worldly individuals, but that are out of harmony with God’s Word. For instance, hatred, greediness, shameful conduct and obscene jesting have no proper place in our life. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Ephesians 5:3-5) It is not surprising that our acts and attitudes differ from those of worldly people, for they do not share our Christian hope.
Time Is Short for This World Order
6. In view of 1 Corinthians 7:29-31, how should Jehovah’s Witnesses look upon marriage, possessions or other earthly things?
6 The apostle Paul wrote: “The time is growing short. From now on let those who have wives behave as if they had none, and the mourners as if they were not mourning, and the joyful as if they did not rejoice; those who purchase as if they were not possessors, and those who made use of the world as if they had no use for it, because the present world order is passing away.” (1 Corinthians 7:29-31, Modern Language Bible) This indicates that although Christian husbands must discharge marital obligations, they should not make marriage their whole life. At death, spirit-begotten Christians will forever leave behind all earthly relationships, joys, sorrows and possessions. Why, even now, Christians, whether they have a heavenly or an earthly hope, may lose a wife or material possessions! Moreover, during the “great tribulation” life, not material possessions, will be preserved. (Matthew 24:21; Ecclesiastes 9:11) So none of Jehovah’s Witnesses today should place marriage, possessions or other earthly things first in life. Instead, all Christians should make a good relationship with Jehovah God the matter of supreme importance. Especially is this so since we are living in “the last days” and “the present world order is passing away.”—2 Timothy 3:1.
7. According to one economist, what has grown along with growth in education, income, and so forth?
7 Many people are concerned about the future of “the present world order.” For example, journalist Nancy Brown cited economist Ezra Misham as saying concerning growth in education and income: “[It has] not brought social betterment. Along with the growth in science, education and material goods, society has seen a growth in violence, delinquency, petty crime, vandalism, homicide and suicide, vulgarity and obscenity.” Significant indeed was this newspaper article’s opening statement: “Only Divine intervention can save the world from destroying itself.”—Times-Colonist, Victoria, British Columbia, March 25, 1982.
8. Why not get all we can out of this world?
8 Of course, Jehovah created the earth to be inhabited, not by unrighteous human society, but by righteous, perfect humans. (Isaiah 45:18; Psalm 37:29, 38) So God will not allow humankind to destroy itself. But there is no doubt that this old world order soon will pass away completely. Therefore, dedicated servants of Jehovah should not use the world “to the full.” Or as one version puts it: “While you use the world, don’t try to get out of it all you can, since this world in its present form is passing away.”—1 Corinthians 7:31, The New Testament in the Language of Today, by William F. Beck.
Use This World At All?
9 As Jehovah’s dedicated witnesses, then, is it right for us to get anything out of this world? Yes, Paul indicated that we can use the world but not to the full. Hence, we can use the world’s legitimate provisions in discharging our Scriptural obligations and getting the Kingdom message preached. (1 Timothy 5:8; 6:17-19) Since we wish to remain “without spot from the world,” however, we cannot properly get involved in its controversies, protest marches, cold and hot wars or similar affairs. Not even secretly should we favor one side over another. Nor should we be unduly concerned about our livelihood and material prosperity, for Jesus said: “Never be anxious and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or, ‘What are we to drink?’ or, ‘What are we to put on?’ For all these are the things the nations are eagerly pursuing. For your heavenly Father knows you need all these things. Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you.” And Jesus practiced what he preached, for although foxes have dens and birds have roosts, he had nowhere to lay his head. May we, therefore, be content with sustenance and covering while “seeking first the kingdom.”—Matthew 6:31-33; Luke 9:58; 1 Timothy 6:7, 8.
10. Concerning education, what questions merit prayerful thought, and how would you answer them?
10 What, then, about a worldly career? Well, since this world will pass away in our day, would it be reasonable to plan on a life devoted to secular advancement? (Matthew 24:34) Hardly! And surely this outlook would affect our attitude toward worldly education, would it not? Although a basic education is needed, in schools of higher learning it is nearly impossible to escape being swept along with the prevailing tide of worldly thinking. Of course, personal decisions must be made regarding education. (Galatians 6:5) But such questions as the following merit prayerful thought: During years spent in universities, have students also been able to ‘keep seeking first the Kingdom and Jehovah’s righteousness’? Are they totally unaffected by the theories and philosophies that undermine true faith? (Colossians 2:8) Have worldly associates had a good influence on them, or has it been spiritually detrimental? (1 Corinthians 15:33) And have many highly educated individuals really maintained humility?—Philippians 2:2, 3.
11. Despite the nature of a person’s education, what help is here provided in testing motives?
11 For that matter, some who go to trade schools can become so immersed in a profession that they no longer have much time to spend in the service of Jehovah. Hence, whatever is the nature of the education, much depends on the person’s motives. Is a desire for independence and riches the prime factor? Will the education result in a drastic reduction of service to Jehovah or will it help to sustain you in sacred service? Though a Christian who should remain unspotted by the world, are you instead trying to carve out a niche for yourself in this system of things or are you actually absorbed in keeping Kingdom interests first in life?
12. What has moved some highly educated individuals to embrace Kingdom truth?
12 We are pleased that some highly educated individuals have embraced Kingdom truth. But they did not do so because of their higher education. Rather, they came to the realization that, in spite of their advanced education, life was meaningless because they were without God and a sure hope. Now they know that ‘not many wise, powerful and noble’ have divine approval. (1 Corinthians 1:26-31) Yet, they themselves are delighted that, at last, they have found a real purpose in life as witnesses of Jehovah.
“The Commercial Businesses of Life”
13. Second Timothy 2:3, 4 suggests what concerning business pursuits and the dedicated Christian?
13 Since we want to remain uncontaminated by this world, what attitude should we have toward its business pursuits? Well, the apostle Paul told Timothy: “As a fine soldier of Christ Jesus take your part in suffering evil. No man serving as a soldier involves himself in the commercial businesses of life, in order that he may gain the approval of the one who enrolled him as a soldier.” (2 Timothy 2:3, 4) Christians must work and make honest provision for themselves and their families. But would it not be strange if a dedicated Christian were to be spoken of primarily as a business executive instead of a minister? Should he not, first of all, be known as a Kingdom proclaimer and “a fine soldier of Christ Jesus”?
14. How might Hebrews 13:18 be applied to our business dealings?
14 In business situations, then, self-examination is needed in various ways. For one thing, the fact that we may be dealing with selfish worldly people furnishes no excuse for adopting their sharp, dishonest practices and their bad language. Rather, we must “conduct ourselves honestly in all things.” (Hebrews 13:18) True, we may not receive reciprocal treatment from hardened business people of this world. But we may be sure that Jehovah will bless us for our honest course, and this is one way we can “adorn the teaching of our Savior, God.”—Titus 2:9, 10.
15. What Scriptural counsel is given regarding personal business ventures?
15 As those desiring to remain uncontaminated by this world, we should “work what is good toward all, but especially toward those related to us in the faith.” (Galatians 6:10) But we would not be doing this if we selfishly promoted some personal business venture by using our acquaintance with God’s people to make a profit from them. Of course, Christians should ‘walk as wise persons.’ (Ephesians 5:15) The fact that someone called a brother comes to us with a get-rich-quick scheme should be no reason for us to be easily persuaded to part with our money. With good reason God’s organization occasionally has warned against those who profess to be our spiritual brothers, but who seek to take undue advantage of Jehovah’s “sheep.”
Unworldly in Every Way
16. What are some ways to demonstrate that we are remaining “without spot from the world”?
16 Obviously, we cannot cite every way in which Jehovah’s Witnesses demonstrate that they are remaining “without spot from the world.” Surely, however, overindulging in alcoholic beverages, reveling in highly competitive or violent sports activities, spending hours watching movies or television programs that feature gangsters, murderers, and other immoral characters, reading sex-drenched books and playing violent video games are not ways to stay unspotted by this world. (1 Corinthians 6:9, 10; 15:33; Galatians 5:19-26; 1 Peter 4:3) Jehovah expects his witnesses to avoid the excesses, immorality and violence of this world. So we should not seek knowledge of or experience in worldly wickedness but should be innocent “babes as to badness.”—1 Corinthians 14:20; compare 1 John 3:2, 3.
17. How should our being unspotted by the world affect our relations with others?
17 Being unspotted by this world extends to every aspect of our life and certainly involves our relations with others. Whereas such traits as bitter jealousy, contentiousness, bragging and lying are so common in this world, they have no place among us, for James wrote: “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show out of his fine conduct his works with a mildness that belongs to wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and contentiousness in your hearts, do not be bragging and lying against the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is the earthly, animal, demonic. For where jealousy and contentiousness are, there disorder and every vile thing are.” (James 3:13-16) How important it is to manifest “a mildness that belongs to wisdom” and to “pursue peace with all people”! (Hebrews 12:14) Surely, as loyal witnesses of Jehovah, we cannot permit mere personal differences to ruin our relationship with our brothers and sisters in the faith. Instead, we must ‘put up with one another and be forgiving, even as Jehovah has freely forgiven us.’ (Colossians 3:13) That is not the common worldly way of dealing with others, but it is the godly way.
18. Our separateness from the world is especially evident when we do what?
18 Pursuing peace with people inside and outside the Christian congregation is a significant way to show that we are not spotted by this world. But our separateness from it is especially evident when we maintain our stand as valiant soldiers of Jesus Christ, fully clothed in spiritual armor from God and having our “feet shod with the equipment of the good news of peace.” (Ephesians 6:11-18) Multitudes still hunger and thirst for the life-giving Kingdom message. May we, therefore, unselfishly use our possessions, faculties and strength in the grand work of proclaiming the “good news” during the short time yet remaining until this system ends.—Matthew 24:14.
19. What can we expect Satan to do in these fleeting last days, but what will we succeed in doing with divine help?
19 In these fleeting last days, Satan, the god of this world, will make further onslaughts upon us as Jehovah’s loyal witnesses. The Devil will, in a last-ditch effort to turn us aside from sacred service to our God, flaunt the world’s material riches, its gaudy attractions, its higher education and much more. But with unfailing divine help we will succeed in remaining “without spot from the world” to the praise of our holy God, Jehovah.
How Would You Answer?
□ According to James 1:27, what are some requirements of true worship?
□ What are some ways to keep uncontaminated by this world?
□ The fact that this world is passing away can well have what effect on our view of higher education?
□ As to business dealings, self-examination is needed in what ways?
□ How can Jehovah’s Witnesses demonstrate that they are “without spot from the world” as regards their conduct and relations with others?
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As Christian neutrals, Jehovah’s Witnesses shun worldly violence
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It is not secular advancement that brings God’s approval
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Jehovah expects his witnesses to remain unspotted from this world’s excesses, immorality and violence