Keep Submitting to “the Spirit That Is Life-Giving”
“It is the spirit that is life-giving; the flesh is of no use at all.”—JOHN 6:63.
1. (a) How does Jehovah help his people to resist the influence of this world’s “air”? (b) How will cultivating the fruitage of God’s spirit assist us to have the right mental inclination?
JEHOVAH GOD’S holy spirit is vitally needed if we are to resist the influence of this world’s “air,” or its attitudes. (Ephesians 2:1, 2) We also need the Bible, which contains God’s thoughts recorded under the guidance of the holy spirit. And we need to have a humble Christian attitude, produced by cultivating the fruits of God’s spirit—“love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, self-control.” The apostle Paul urged: “Keep walking by spirit and you will carry out no fleshly desire at all. For the flesh is against the spirit in its desire, and the spirit against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, so that the very things that you would like to do you do not do.”—Galatians 5:16, 17, 22, 23.
2. How does what is produced by God’s spirit contrast with the results of adopting “the spirit of the world”?
2 Paul also wrote: “We received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is from God, that we might know the things that have been kindly given us by God.” (1 Corinthians 2:12) The “air,” or mental attitude, of this world kills, but what God gives by holy spirit brings everlasting life to those who accept it. Jesus said: “It is the spirit that is life-giving; the flesh is of no use at all. The sayings that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.” (John 6:63) Since “the flesh is of no use at all,” we need divine help to conquer sin and resist the world’s spirit.
3, 4. (a) What is greed, and how does ‘the ruler of the air’ play upon fleshly desire for material things? (b) How is a greedy person an idolater?
3 In the previous article, we discussed two dangerous aspects of this world’s “air”—toying with things immoral and improper styles of clothing and grooming. But there are many other aspects. For example, this world’s atmosphere is saturated with greed, by an intense selfish desire for material advantages or material things. ‘The ruler of the air’ has seen to it that this world’s propaganda and advertising make you feel unfulfilled if you do not have an abundance of material possessions. This aspect of the world’s “air” can intoxicate you with the idea that these are the big things in life. Have you been affected by this materialistic “air”?
4 The Bible says: “No fornicator or unclean person or greedy person—which means being an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of the Christ and of God.” (Ephesians 5:5) Note that a greedy person is really an idolater. You may think, ‘Surely, I will not go that far, becoming an idolater.’ But what is idolatry? Is it not putting something else in the place of Jehovah and his worship, giving attention to it rather than to God and his service? Greed may involve the virtual worshiping of money and its power and influence. If you put the getting of a new automobile, a video cassette recorder, or any other material thing ahead of increasing your opportunities in Jehovah’s service, is that not evidence that this world’s “air” is affecting you detrimentally? Are not material things becoming like idols to you?
5. In what ways is this world’s “air” filled with selfish desire for riches?
5 If you are seeking advanced education or a lucrative job, are you doing so to get rich and have more material advantages than you need? Are you intrigued by get-rich-quick schemes, wanting to get involved in them? This world’s “air” is filled with selfish desire for wealth and cheating as regards the paying of government-imposed taxes. In this atmosphere gambling and similar activities flourish. Do not be tempted. Those who avoid the influence of this world’s greed-laden “air” find that genuine happiness comes from being content with necessities and putting Kingdom interests first.—Matthew 6:25-34; 1 John 2:15-17.
Proper Use of the Tongue
6. What effect can this world’s speech habits have on us as Christians?
6 What about our speech habits? Obscenities, angry words, lying—this world’s “air” is thoroughly polluted with such foul speech. Yet, even the speech of a few associated with the Christian congregation at times reflects coarseness, even vulgarity. The disciple James forcefully tells us: “Out of the same mouth come forth blessing and cursing. It is not proper, my brothers, for these things to go on occurring this way. A fountain does not cause the sweet and the bitter to bubble out of the same opening, does it?” (James 3:10, 11) Have you picked up some of the jargon or slang of this world? Do you have two vocabularies, one for use among Christians, the other for use elsewhere? Paul wrote: “Let a rotten saying not proceed out of your mouth, but whatever saying is good for building up as the need may be, that it may impart what is favorable to the hearers.” (Ephesians 4:29) How important it is to use proper, clean speech all the time!
7. What is included in ‘putting away falsehood and speaking the truth’?
7 We also need to be careful that we always tell the truth. Being devious or deliberately misleading others in order to avoid responsibility really amounts to lying. So be sure to heed Paul’s counsel: “Now that you have put away falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, because we are members belonging to one another.”—Ephesians 4:25; Proverbs 3:32.
8. (a) How do many worldly people act when provoked? (b) If we are provoked to anger, what should we do?
8 Unrestrained venting of anger is another feature of this world’s spirit. Many worldly people lose self-control easily. They blow up, then excuse themselves by saying that they were just letting off steam. But this is not what Paul advised, for he wrote: “Let all malicious bitterness and anger and wrath and screaming and abusive speech be taken away from you along with all badness.” (Ephesians 4:31) But what if anger builds up despite our developing self-control and other fruits of God’s spirit? “Be wrathful, and yet do not sin,” wrote Paul. “Let the sun not set with you in a provoked state, neither allow place for the Devil.” (Ephesians 4:26, 27) So if we are provoked to anger, we should settle the matter quickly, before the day ends. Otherwise, bitterness and resentment begin to take root in the heart, and they are hard to uproot. Do not allow yourself to breathe in the angry, vengeful “air” of this world!—Psalm 37:8.
9. What are some common attitudes of employees, and why should we examine our work habits?
9 What about your work habits? Loafing on the job and stealing items from an employer are common today. Have you absorbed some of this “air”? Has the attitude that ‘everybody does it’ rubbed off on you? Never forget that the way we do our work as Christians reflects on Jehovah and his true worship. Would you want someone to reject the truth spoken by one of Jehovah’s Witnesses at his door because of the way you act on the job? “Let the stealer steal no more,” said Paul, “but rather let him do hard work . . . that he may have something to distribute to someone in need.”—Ephesians 4:28.
10. In doing secular work, how can we show that we are not being affected by the selfish “air” of this world?
10 Although the master-slave relationship that existed in the first century is rare today, Christian employees can learn from what Paul wrote to Christian slaves at Ephesians 6:5-8. There workers were told to ‘be obedient to those for whom they worked, not simply as men pleasers, but as Christ’s slaves.’ So a Christian should never maneuver things to avoid giving a full day’s work or providing promised goods or services. If we do things “as to Jehovah,” we will have the right attitude and will not be affected by the selfish, lazy “air” of this world.
Food, Drink, and Entertainment
11. How did a worldly attitude toward food and drink affect some of Jehovah’s people in Bible times?
11 Has the world’s immoderate use of food and drink affected you? Its attitude is ‘eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we may die.’ (1 Corinthians 15:32) And this spirit has affected some of God’s servants, even since ancient times. Recall the occasion in the wilderness when the Israelites “sat down to eat and drink. Then they got up to have a good time.” (Exodus 32:6) That “good time” led to unrestrained loose conduct and idolatry, so that God’s anger blazed against them. Let us never follow that course.—1 Peter 4:3-6.
12. If our eating and drinking habits need some attention, what should we do?
12 Jehovah has given us a huge variety of tasty, colorful, and nutritious foods and drinks, but he wants us to use these things in moderation. Gluttony and drunkenness are condemned in the Bible. (Proverbs 23:20, 21) So be honest and ask yourself: Is there room for improvement in my eating and drinking habits? If you need to exercise greater self-control, recognize this and work in harmony with your prayers for God’s spirit to help you overcome this problem. “Do not be getting drunk with wine, in which there is debauchery, but keep getting filled with spirit,” said Paul. (Ephesians 5:18) Yes, become filled with God’s spirit, and do not succumb to the unrestrained spirit of this world! “Whether you are eating or drinking or doing anything else, do all things for God’s glory.” (1 Corinthians 10:31) If you have persistent problems along these lines, however, seek the help of spiritually mature men in the congregation.—Galatians 6:1; James 5:14, 15.
13. (a) How is it evident that the Devil has corrupted much of the entertainment available today? (b) How can we avoid this world’s attitude toward entertainment?
13 This world is strongly addicted to sports, music, and various forms of entertainment. Unless they violate Scriptural principles, enjoying such things is not necessarily wrong. But the problem is that Satan, “the ruler who governs the air,” has corrupted much of the entertainment available today. (Ephesians 2:2, The Jerusalem Bible) Often, immorality is promoted, violence is condoned, and success through deceit, fraud, and even murder is portrayed. When we watch such entertainment, we breathe these attitudes deeply into our system, and their toxic effects are bound to harm us. Moreover, even where some forms of entertainment are not Scripturally objectionable, there is a danger of becoming addicted to them, so that little time is left for spiritual things. Hence, we need to be selective. Take time to enjoy some healthful and beneficial relaxation in moderation, but avoid imitating the excesses of the world. Whether this world’s “air” smells good or acrid, it is polluted and deadly!—Proverbs 11:19.
Pride of Race—An Evil Wind
14. With regard to social problems, how could we be affected by this world’s “air”?
14 A rather subtle aspect of this world’s “air” is pride of race and nationality. Some promote the erroneous idea that certain races are superior and others inferior. Nationalism encourages people to view their native land as superior to all others. In fact, many suffer needlessly and are deprived of basic human rights and necessities because of the selfishness and prejudice of others. Resentment, even violence, results. Many rise up in revolt, taking the law into their own hands, confident of solving social problems their own way. We, too, might get caught up in these ideas. When we observe or suffer injustices and then hear those who are pressing for social change, we could be influenced if we are not careful. We could begin to abandon our neutral position and take sides. (John 15:19) Even more serious, we might feel tempted to join in picketing, campaigning, or resorting to violence in order to force changes.
15. What course does the Bible recommend when we feel inclined to ‘avenge ourselves’?
15 A congregation’s spirit can be affected detrimentally by racial or nationalistic feelings. (Compare Acts 6:1-7.) But we will have the right spirit if we heed the counsel: “If possible, as far as it depends upon you, be peaceable with all men. Do not avenge yourselves, beloved, but yield place to the wrath; for it is written: ‘Vengeance is mine; I will repay, says Jehovah.’” (Romans 12:18, 19) Since all races came from the first human pair, and God is not partial, there is no room for pride of race or nationality in the Christian congregation.—Acts 10:34, 35; 17:26; Romans 10:12; Ephesians 4:1-3.
Keep Breathing Life-Giving “Air”
16. What will help to prevent our being affected by the spirit of this world?
16 We have discussed the main death-dealing features of this world’s “air,” or spirit. It surrounds us and exerts such pressure that if we allow a vacuum to develop in our spirituality, this foul “air” will rush in to fill it. Success in resisting it depends greatly on how much we love what is pure, clean, and righteous, and hate what is impure, unclean, and wicked. We will keep breathing the right “air” if we keep cultivating the right mental attitude in response to the leading of Jehovah’s holy spirit.—Romans 12:9; 2 Timothy 1:7; Galatians 6:7, 8.
17. What should be done immediately if we detect some of this world’s “air” blowing our way?
17 By all means, do not let any of this world’s foul “air” begin to smell pleasant to you. The ruler of this “air” knows just what is needed to appeal to the senses and to set up a craving that often leads to sin. (James 1:14, 15) Keep in the “no smoking” section, Jehovah’s spiritual paradise. When you detect a whiff of this world’s “air” coming your way, shun it. Turn aside from it just as you would shun death-dealing poison. “Keep strict watch that how you walk is not as unwise but as wise persons, buying out the opportune time for yourselves, because the days are wicked. On this account cease becoming unreasonable, but go on perceiving what the will of Jehovah is.”—Ephesians 5:15-17.
18. What will be the spirit of those privileged to live on the cleansed earth?
18 It is God’s will that we serve him as integrity keepers. Doing so will mean life in his new system, now very near. When we take in a breath of air then, how refreshing it will be! No death-dealing pollutants, just pure life-sustaining air. That will be true of the physical air and, more importantly, of the spirit of those privileged to live on the cleansed earth. They will have an obedient, humble, responsive attitude. The “air” of this old world, filled with rebellious, corrupt, and ungodly influences, will be gone.—Revelation 21:5-8.
19. Who will survive into Jehovah’s new system?
19 Surely, we do not want to be among those breathing the “air” of this system when Jehovah clears away both pollution and polluters at Armageddon. When the old world is gone and ‘the ruler of the air’ has been abyssed, what relief there will be! Everyone who loves Jehovah and keeps loving what is clean, decent, and righteous will be there. Jehovah wants them there and will help them by his spirit. He will give them eternal life in a clean, healthy new system. Let us not lose out on that privilege because of breathing in the death-dealing “air” of this old system!
How Would You Respond?
□ In what way does a greedy person become an idolater?
□ How might this world’s “air” affect your speech habits?
□ What spirit should Christian employees reflect while doing secular work?
□ How can you avoid being affected by this world’s attitude toward food, drink, and entertainment?
□ What spirit as to race and nationalism must not come into the Christian congregation?
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Is your family strong enough spiritually to resist this world’s “air”?
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If we do things “as to Jehovah,” we will not be affected by the selfish, lazy “air” of this world