Exposing “the Man of Lawlessness”
“Get out of her, my people, if you do not want to share with her in her sins, and . . . receive part of her plagues.”—REVELATION 18:4.
1, 2. (a) How can the man of lawlessness be identified? (b) What is God’s view of those who claim to serve him but who are bloodguilty? (Matthew 7:21-23)
GOD’S Word foretold the coming of a “man of lawlessness.” It also foretold that this lawless element would be ‘done away with and brought to nothing’ by God’s heavenly Executioner, Christ Jesus. (2 Thessalonians 2:3-8) As the preceding articles have shown, that man of lawlessness is the clergy of Christendom. Long ago they abandoned the truths of God’s Word and adopted pagan teachings, such as the Trinity, hellfire, and immortality of the soul. In addition, they produced works contrary to God’s laws. Like those Paul warned Titus against, “they publicly declare they know God, but they disown him by their works, because they are detestable and disobedient and not approved for good work of any sort.”—Titus 1:16.
2 Jesus said: “Be on the watch for the false prophets that come to you in sheep’s covering, but inside they are ravenous wolves. By their fruits you will recognize them.” False prophets would produce “worthless fruit.” (Matthew 7:15-17) An evidence of the clergy’s bad fruitage is their enormous bloodguilt. For centuries they have supported crusades, inquisitions, and wars that have shed the blood of millions. They have prayed for and blessed both sides in wars in which members of their own religions have killed one another. In contrast, the apostle Paul was able to state: “I am clean from the blood of all men.” (Acts 20:26) The clergy are not. To such ones God declares: “Even though you make many prayers, I am not listening; with bloodshed your very hands have become filled.”—Isaiah 1:15.
3. What events of global significance are fast approaching?
3 The time for God to execute his judgment against the man of lawlessness is fast approaching. Soon, as Jesus foretold, “there will be great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now, no, nor will occur again.” (Matthew 24:21) That unprecedented time of trouble will begin with the execution of Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion, which includes the religions of Christendom. The political elements “will make her devastated and naked, and will eat up her fleshy parts and will completely burn her with fire.” (Revelation 17:16) The great tribulation will end with the destruction of the remainder of Satan’s world at Armageddon, “the war of the great day of God the Almighty.”—Revelation 16:14, 16; 19:11-21.
Obligated to Love Others
4. What must those who worship God “with spirit and truth” keep in mind?
4 Since these world-shaking events are soon to come upon the inhabited earth, what obligations rest upon those who “worship the Father with spirit and truth”? (John 4:23) For one, they must keep in mind that Jesus said: “If you observe my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have observed the commandments of the Father and remain in his love. . . . This is my commandment, that you love one another just as I have loved you. No one has love greater than this, that someone should surrender his soul in behalf of his friends. You are my friends if you do what I am commanding you.”—John 15:10-14; 1 John 5:3.
5, 6. (a) What did Jesus command his disciples to do that would identify them? (b) In what sense was this a new commandment?
5 True Christians are thus obligated to love other people, especially their Christian brothers and sisters in all lands. (Acts 10:34; Galatians 6:10; 1 John 4:20, 21) Indeed, fellow Christians must have “intense love for one another.” (1 Peter 4:8) That kind of love on a global scale identifies them as true worshipers, for Jesus said: “I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love among yourselves.”—John 13:34, 35.
6 What was new about that commandment? Were not the Jews under the Mosaic Law given the command, “Love your fellow as yourself”? (Leviticus 19:18) Yes, but Jesus indicated something additional when he said, “Just as I have loved you.” His love included his giving up his life for others, and his disciples must be willing to do the same. (John 15:13) That was a higher level of love, since such a sacrifice was not required by the Mosaic Law.
7. Which religion has obeyed the law of love in this century?
7 In our century, which religion has obeyed this law of love? Surely not the religions of Christendom, for they have slaughtered one another by the tens of millions in two world wars and other conflicts. It is Jehovah’s Witnesses who have obeyed the law of love earth wide. They have maintained strict neutrality in the wars of the nations, for Jesus said that his followers must be “no part of the world.” (John 17:16) Thus, they can say, as did Paul, that they are “clean from the blood of all men.” As an example, note the opening part of a resolution adopted by Jehovah’s servants at the Washington, D.C., convention on November 27, 1921:
“As Christians earnestly striving to follow the teachings of Christ Jesus our Lord and his Apostles, we hold: that war is a relic of barbarism, destructive of good morals and a reproach to Christian peoples; that the principles taught by the Lord Jesus Christ preclude consecrated Christians from engaging in war, bloodshed or violence in any form.”
8. What does the historical record say about Jehovah’s Witnesses during World War II?
8 How was that view applied during World War II? In that worst war of all human history, some 50 million people were killed. But not one was killed by one of Jehovah’s Witnesses! For example, nearly all the German clergy actively or passively supported Nazism. In contrast, Jehovah’s Witnesses under Nazi rule maintained strict neutrality and refused to heil Hitler or be part of his military machine. Hence, they did not kill any of their spiritual brothers of other countries, or anyone else for that matter. And Jehovah’s Witnesses in all other lands remained neutral too.
9. What happened to Jehovah’s Witnesses in Germany and Austria under Nazi rule?
9 Many of Jehovah’s Witnesses have surrendered their soul in behalf of their friends in obeying the law of love. A review of the book Kirchenkampf in Deutschland (Fight of the Churches in Germany), by Friedrich Zipfel, says regarding the Witnesses: “Ninety-seven percent of the members of this small religious group were victims of National Socialistic [Nazi] persecution. One third of them were killed, either by execution, other violent acts, hunger, sickness or slave labor. The severity of this subjection was without precedent and was the result of uncompromising faith which could not be harmonized with National Socialistic ideology.” In Austria, 25 percent of Jehovah’s Witnesses were executed, beaten to death, or died from disease or exhaustion in Nazi camps.
10. What confidence did those have who died for obeying the law of love?
10 Those martyred for obeying the law of love were confident that “God is not unrighteous so as to forget [their] work and the love [they] showed for his name.” (Hebrews 6:10) They knew that “the world is passing away and so is its desire, but he that does the will of God remains forever.” (1 John 2:17) They had the sure hope of being resurrected with eternal life in view.—John 5:28, 29; Acts 24:15.
11. In what way are Jehovah’s servants unique, and what prophecy is being fulfilled in them?
11 Jehovah’s servants are unique in obeying the rule spoken by Peter and other apostles to a high court: “We must obey God as ruler rather than men.” (Acts 5:29) Because Jehovah’s Witnesses do this, they are backed by “the holy spirit, which God has given to those obeying him as ruler.” (Acts 5:32) That is the power that enables them to fulfill the prophecy at Isaiah 2:2-4. It foretold that in our time true worship would be reestablished and that people from all nations and religions would flow to it. One result would be: “They will have to beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning shears. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, neither will they learn war anymore.” Because Jehovah’s servants are preparing for life in a peaceful new world, they will not learn war anymore. They learn the law of love.—John 13:34, 35.
12. What must those obeying the law of love do for others?
12 Since Christian love includes ‘loving your neighbor as yourself,’ God’s servants cannot be selfish about what they know. (Matthew 22:39) There are still many others who would want to serve God and live in his new world. While there is yet time, these too need to learn about the law of love and the many other truths related to the Universal Sovereign, Jehovah God. They must be taught that Jehovah alone is worthy of our worship and how that worship is to be rendered. (Matthew 4:10; Revelation 4:11) Those who have already learned these things are under obligation to tell others about them so that they too may come into Jehovah’s favor.—Ezekiel 33:7-9, 14-16.
Exposing the Man of Lawlessness
13. As part of our worldwide witness, what must we make known, and why?
13 Jesus said that the “good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14) As part of this worldwide witness, God’s servants are under obligation to make known his judgment against false religion, especially the clergy of Christendom. These are more reprehensible in God’s sight because they claim to be Christian. They must be exposed so that those who want to serve God can be freed from their influence and can take the proper steps for survival. As Jesus said: “The truth will set you free.”—John 8:32.
14. What clear message must be proclaimed regarding false religion?
14 Thus, Jehovah’s Witnesses must make known this inspired message regarding false religion: “Get out of her, my people, if you do not want to share with her in her sins, and if you do not want to receive part of her plagues. For her sins have massed together clear up to heaven, and God has called her acts of injustice to mind. . . . In one day her plagues will come, death and mourning and famine, and she will be completely burned with fire, because Jehovah God, who judged her, is strong.”—Revelation 18:4-8.
15. How did the year 1914 play a part in Jehovah’s timetable, and what resulted after World War I?
15 Bible prophecies show that “the last days” for this system of things began in the crucial year 1914. (2 Timothy 3:1-5, 13; Matthew 24:3-13) Since that year we have been in “the time of the end.” (Daniel 12:4) Right after World War I, in harmony with Jehovah’s timetable, his servants began vigorously to expand their announcement of God’s Kingdom as foretold at Matthew 24:14. They also began to expose false religion more strongly, particularly the lawless clergy class of apostate Christendom.
16. How has the exposing of the man of lawlessness gathered force for more than 70 years?
16 For over 70 years now, with ever greater force, God’s servants have alerted people to the deceptive activity of the man of lawlessness. There were only a few thousand Witnesses doing this after World War I. But now they have become “a mighty nation” of over three and a half million active ministers organized into more than 60,000 congregations all over the earth. (Isaiah 60:22) On an expanding scale, God’s servants are zealously proclaiming the Kingdom of God as the only hope for mankind and, at the same time, are exposing the clergy for what they are—a deceptive man of lawlessness.
Why So Powerful?
17. Why have Jehovah’s servants powerfully exposed the man of lawlessness?
17 Why have Jehovah’s servants powerfully exposed the man of lawlessness all these years? Because the millions of the great crowd of Jehovah’s sheep that are already on the way to salvation must be protected from Satan’s world and its false religion. (John 10:16; Revelation 7:9-14) Moreover, unless the clergy are exposed, honesthearted people who are not yet part of God’s flock would not know how to avoid a wrong course. So they must be informed, just as Jesus informed people when he said regarding the hypocritical religious leaders of his day: “Blind guides is what they are. If, then, a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.”—Matthew 15:14; see also 2 Corinthians 4:4; 11:13-15.
18. What do truth seekers need to know?
18 The clergy are part of Satan’s world. (John 8:44) But it is a world that God will soon crush out of existence. (2 Peter 3:11-13; 1 John 2:15-17) So God’s Word warns: “Whoever, therefore, wants to be a friend of the world is constituting himself an enemy of God.” (James 4:4) The clergy ignore that warning and continue to meddle in political affairs. They tell their followers that a better world will come through efforts of politicians. But that is a false hope, since this world under Satan is on its way out. So people who look to this world for hope are being deceived. They need to be told the truth about where the world is heading and what will take its place.—Proverbs 14:12; 19:21; Matthew 6:9, 10; Revelation 21:4, 5.
19. How has the worldliness of some clergy been exposed in the media in recent times?
19 The worldliness of some clergy has even been exposed in the media in recent times, as for example the licentious and luxurious life-styles of some TV clergymen. One modern songwriter composed a song with the title: “Would Jesus Wear a [$10,000] Rolex [watch] on His Television Show?” The song goes on to say: “Would Jesus be political if He came back to earth, have His second home in [luxurious] Palm Springs and try to hide His worth?” In addition, more and more clergymen condone or practice homosexuality. Even now the Catholic Church in the United States is paying millions of dollars in damages to compensate for priests guilty of sexual abuse of children.—Romans 1:24-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10.
20. Why must God’s servants keep exposing the man of lawlessness?
20 Such wrongdoing cannot be ignored by God’s servants but must be exposed for the benefit of others. The great crowd of other sheep must be protected from those who would try to lead them to break God’s laws. And those “sighing and groaning over all the detestable things that are being done” need to be searched out and gathered to the protective guidance of the Great Shepherd, Jehovah God, and “the fine shepherd,” Christ Jesus.—Ezekiel 9:4; John 10:11; Proverbs 18:10.
21. What will Jehovah’s Witnesses continue to declare?
21 Therefore, God’s people will not hesitate to declare his vengeance against all of Satan’s world, including its man of lawlessness, the clergy of Christendom. They will proclaim with vigor the angelic message of Revelation 14:7: “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of the judgment by him has arrived.” And they will include in this proclamation the urgent warning of Revelation 18:4 regarding false religion: “Get out of her, my people, if you do not want to share with her in her sins, and . . . receive part of her plagues.”
Questions for Review:
◻ What will be the fate of the man of lawlessness, and why?
◻ What obligation do Jehovah’s servants have regarding others?
◻ How have Jehovah’s people kept free from the blood of all men?
◻ What must we do regarding Babylon the Great?
◻ Why will we continue our powerful message regarding the man of lawlessness?
[Picture on page 23]
The apostles told a high court: “We must obey God as ruler rather than men”
[Picture on page 24]
Sincere people need to know where the world and its religions are heading