Reject Worldly Fantasies, Pursue Kingdom Realities
“Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you.”—MATTHEW 6:33.
1. What warning does God’s Word give regarding the figurative heart, and what is one of the chief ways that it deceives us?
“MORE than all else that is to be guarded, safeguard your heart, for out of it are the sources of life.” (Proverbs 4:23) Why was it necessary for wise King Solomon to give this warning? Because “the heart is more treacherous than anything else and is desperate.” (Jeremiah 17:9) One of the chief ways in which our figurative heart can deceive us is by causing us to indulge in worldly fantasies. But what are fantasies? They are unrealistic imaginations, daydreams, idle mind wanderings. When these daydreams become worldly fantasies, they are not merely a waste of time but are also very harmful. Hence, we must reject them completely. In fact, if we hate lawlessness as Jesus did, we will guard our heart against indulging in worldly fantasies.—Hebrews 1:8, 9.
2. What are worldly fantasies, and why should we reject them?
2 But what are worldly fantasies? They are fantasies characteristic of this world lying in Satan’s power. Concerning it, the apostle John wrote: “Everything in the world—the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes and the showy display of one’s means of life—does not originate with the Father, but originates with the world.” (1 John 2:16; 5:19) Why must Christians reject worldly fantasies? Because such fantasies stir up selfish desires in mind and heart. Daydreaming about doing what is wrong can in fact be a rehearsal in the mind of what a person will actually do. The disciple James warns us: “Each one is tried by being drawn out and enticed by his own desire. Then the desire, when it has become fertile, gives birth to sin; in turn, sin, when it has been accomplished, brings forth death.”—James 1:14, 15.
3. Whose case provides the foremost warning example of the harmfulness of selfish fantasies?
3 Let us consider examples showing why worldly fantasies must be rejected. Satan the Devil’s case provides the foremost example of the harm that can result from indulging in selfish fantasies. He allowed feelings of self-importance to develop in his heart to the extent that he envied Jehovah’s unique position as the Universal Sovereign and wanted to be worshiped. (Luke 4:5-8) An unrealistic fantasy? It certainly was! That will be proved beyond question when Satan is bound for a thousand years and especially when he is hurled into “the lake of fire,” the second death.—Revelation 20:1-3, 10.
4. How did Satan deceive Eve?
4 We have another warning example in the case of the first woman, Eve. In Satan’s efforts to realize his ambition, he seduced Eve by presenting to her mind the fantasy that if she ate of the forbidden fruit, she would not die but would be like God, knowing good and bad. Was that fantasy unrealistic, selfish? Indeed it was, as we can see from Jehovah’s condemnation of Eve and her husband, Adam, when holding court. As a result, they lost the right to life in Paradise for themselves and for all their imperfect offspring.—Genesis 3:1-19; Romans 5:12.
5. What brought about the downfall of certain angelic sons of God, and with what result to them?
5 We also have the warning example of certain angelic sons of God. (Genesis 6:1-4) Instead of being satisfied with the blessings they enjoyed in the heavenly presence of Jehovah, they fantasized about women on the earth and how pleasurable it would be to have sexual relations with them. Because of acting on these fantasies, the disobedient angels are now confined to the spiritual darkness of Tartarus, awaiting their annihilation at the end of the Thousand Year Reign of Jesus Christ.—2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6; Revelation 20:10.
Reject Worldly Fantasies
6, 7. Why are worldly fantasies about material riches harmful and deceptive?
6 Let us now consider one of the most common and dangerous fantasies promoted by Satan. Through every form of the media, we are tempted to indulge in worldly fantasies. These are often caused by a craving for riches. In itself, there is nothing wrong with possessing wealth. Godly Abraham, Job, and King David were very rich, but they did not crave material riches. Materialistic fantasies motivate people to work laboriously for years to acquire wealth. Such fantasies also prompt them to indulge in all kinds of gambling, such as betting on horses and buying lottery tickets. Let us not entertain any illusions about wealth. If we think that material riches will provide security, consider this realistic proverb: “Valuable things will be of no benefit on the day of fury, but righteousness itself will deliver from death.” (Proverbs 11:4) Indeed, material riches will be of no avail in surviving the “great tribulation.”—Matthew 24:21; Revelation 7:9, 14.
7 Material riches can easily deceive us. That is why we are told: “The valuable things of the rich are his strong town, and they are like a protective wall in his imagination.” (Proverbs 18:11) Yes, only “in his imagination,” for material wealth offers little protection in times of runaway inflation, economic collapse, political upheaval, or terminal illness. Jesus Christ warned against the folly of putting our trust in material riches. (Luke 12:13-21) We also have the apostle Paul’s warning words: “The love of money is a root of all sorts of injurious things, and by reaching out for this love some have been led astray from the faith and have stabbed themselves all over with many pains.”—1 Timothy 6:10.
8. How prevalent are worldly fantasies of a sexual nature, and what dangers do these pose?
8 Other fantasies relate to illicit sex. The extent to which sinful human nature likes to dwell on sexual fantasies can be seen from the popularity of the verbal filth available by dialing certain telephone numbers and listening to pornographic messages. In the United States, dial-a-porn is a multibillion-dollar business. If we were to let our minds dwell on illicit sex, would we not be hypocrites, only appearing to be clean Christians? And is there not the danger that such fantasies may lead to immoral intimacies? This has happened and has resulted in some being disfellowshipped from the Christian congregation for committing fornication or adultery. In view of Jesus’ words at Matthew 5:27, 28, are not all who persistently indulge in such fantasies guilty of committing adultery in their hearts?
9. What fine counsel do the Scriptures contain to warn us against worldly fantasies?
9 To counteract the tendency of our sinful hearts to indulge in such fantasies, we need to bear in mind Paul’s warning: “There is not a creation that is not manifest to [God’s] sight, but all things are naked and openly exposed to the eyes of him with whom we have an accounting.” (Hebrews 4:13) We should at all times want to be like Moses, who “continued steadfast as seeing the One who is invisible.” (Hebrews 11:27) Yes, we must keep telling ourselves that worldly fantasies are displeasing to Jehovah and can only result in harm to ourselves. We must be concerned about cultivating all the fruits of God’s spirit, particularly self-control, for we cannot escape the fact that if we sow to the flesh, we will reap corruption from the flesh.—Galatians 5:22, 23; 6:7, 8.
The Realities of the Kingdom
10, 11. (a) What facts argue for the reality of the Creator? (b) What proof is there that the Bible is in reality God’s Word? (c) What evidence is there of the reality of the King of God’s Kingdom?
10 The best way to reject worldly fantasies is to keep pursuing Kingdom realities. The realities of the Kingdom that are produced by God stand in striking contrast to worldly fantasies. Is God a reality? There is no question about his existence. Visible creation testifies to that fact. (Romans 1:20) We are reminded of what was said more than a hundred years ago in the book The Divine Plan of the Ages, published by the Watch Tower Society. It stated: “He who can look into the sky with a telescope, or even with his natural eye alone, and see there the immensity of creation, its symmetry, beauty, order, harmony and diversity, and yet doubt that the Creator of these is vastly his superior both in wisdom and power, or who can suppose for a moment that such order came by chance, without a Creator, has so far lost or ignored the faculty of reason as to be properly considered what the Bible terms him, a fool (one who ignores or lacks reason).”—Psalm 14:1.
11 We learn all about the Kingdom in the Holy Bible. Is the Bible in reality the written Word of God? It most certainly is, as can be seen from its harmony, its scientific accuracy, and its power to change people’s lives and especially by the fulfillment of its prophecies.* What about the King of God’s Kingdom, Jesus Christ? Did he really exist? The Gospel accounts and the divinely inspired letters of the Christian Greek Scriptures unequivocally and eloquently testify to the historicity of Jesus Christ. As to Jesus’ historicity, there is also the testimony of the Jewish Talmud, which refers to him as a person. So do Jewish and Roman historians of the first century C.E.
12, 13. What facts testify to the reality of God’s Kingdom?
12 What about the reality of the Kingdom itself? It is largely ignored by Christendom, as shown in this complaint by a prominent Presbyterian: “It has certainly been more than thirty years since I have listened to a minister attempt to explain to his people the reality of the Kingdom for them.” Yet, the sanctification of Jehovah’s name by means of the Kingdom is the theme of his Word. God himself made the first Kingdom promise, saying: “I shall put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed. He will bruise you in the head and you will bruise him in the heel.” (Genesis 3:15) The Kingdom was foreshadowed by the nation of Israel, especially during King Solomon’s reign. (Psalm 72) Further, the Kingdom was the theme of Jesus’ preaching. (Matthew 4:17) He featured it in many of his illustrations, such as those in Matthew chapter 13. Jesus told us to pray for the Kingdom and to keep on seeking it first. (Matthew 6:9, 10, 33) In fact, God’s Kingdom is mentioned close to 150 times in the Christian Greek Scriptures.
13 The Kingdom is a real government, with power and authority, and it will fulfill all rightful expectations. It has a set of laws, found in the Bible. The Kingdom has already brought many things to reality. It has loyal subjects—over 4,000,000 Witnesses of Jehovah. In 211 lands they are preaching the good news of God’s Kingdom, in fulfillment of Matthew 24:14. During their 1991 service year, they spent 951,870,021 hours preaching the Kingdom message. This activity is producing tangible, lasting results as multitudes learn the “pure language” of Bible truth.—Zephaniah 3:9.
Pursuing Kingdom Realities
14. How can we strengthen our appreciation for the reality of the Kingdom?
14 How, then, can we pursue Kingdom realities? Our hope must be securely based on strong conviction. God’s promised new world must be real to us. (2 Peter 3:13) And we must have faith in the promise that God “will wipe out every tear from [our] eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore.” (Revelation 21:4) How can we be sure that this is no fantasy? It is bound to be realized in God’s due time, for it is impossible for him to lie. (Titus 1:1, 2; Hebrews 6:18) We need to meditate on those promises. Picturing ourselves in God’s new world and enjoying its blessings is not an unrealistic fantasy but gives evidence of faith. As Paul defined it, “faith is the assured expectation of things hoped for, the evident demonstration of realities though not beheld.” (Hebrews 11:1) Let us strengthen our faith by regularly feeding on God’s Word and Christian publications that help us to understand and apply it. And the more time we devote to telling others about the Kingdom, formally and informally, the more we strengthen our faith and brighten our hope in it.
15. What obligation do we have regarding the Christian ministry?
15 We also need to work in harmony with Kingdom realities by improving the quality of our ministry. Since there is still much to be done, how can we do this? (Matthew 9:37, 38) The saying is true that one is never too old to learn. No matter how many years we have been sharing in the witness work, we can improve. By becoming more effective in handling the Word of God, we are better able to help others to hear the voice of the King, Jesus Christ. (Compare John 10:16.) When we consider that the everlasting destinies of people are involved, we should want to cover our territory thoroughly so as to give them repeated opportunity to demonstrate where they stand, either as “sheep” or as “goats.” (Matthew 25:31-46) Of course, that means keeping careful records of those not at home and especially of those interested in the Kingdom message.
Keep Pursuing the Kingdom
16. Who have set a fine example in pursuing Kingdom realities, and how are they “seizing” the Kingdom?
16 Earnest effort is required to keep on pursuing Kingdom realities. Are we not encouraged by the zealous example of the remaining anointed Christians? They have been pursuing Kingdom realities for decades. This pursuit was described in Jesus’ words: “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of the heavens is the goal toward which men press, and those pressing forward are seizing it.” (Matthew 11:12) Here the thought is not that of enemies seizing the Kingdom. Rather, this pertains to the activity of those in line for the Kingdom. One Bible scholar said: “In this way is described that eager, irresistible striving and struggling after the approaching Messianic kingdom.” Anointed ones have spared no effort in making the Kingdom their own. Similar vigorous efforts are required of the “other sheep” in order for them to qualify as earthly subjects of God’s heavenly Kingdom.—John 10:16.
17. What will be the lot of those pursuing worldly fantasies?
17 Truly, we are living in a special period of opportunity. Those who pursue worldly fantasies will someday awaken to stark reality. Their lot is well described in these words: “It must occur just as when someone hungry dreams and here he is eating, and he actually awakes and his soul is empty; and just as when someone thirsty dreams and here he is drinking, and he actually awakes and here he is tired and his soul is dried out.” (Isaiah 29:8) For a certainty, the fantasies of the world will never make anyone satisfied and happy.
18. In view of the reality of the Kingdom, what course should we pursue, with what prospect in view?
18 Jehovah’s Kingdom is a reality. It is actively ruling, whereas this wicked system of things faces an imminent, permanent destruction. Therefore, take to heart Paul’s counsel: “Let us not sleep on as the rest do, but let us stay awake and keep our senses.” (1 Thessalonians 5:6) May we keep our hearts and minds focused on Kingdom realities and thus enjoy eternal blessings. And may it be our lot to hear the King of that Kingdom say to us: “Come, you who have been blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the founding of the world.”—Matthew 25:34.
See the book The Bible—God’s Word or Man’s? published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.
How Would You Answer?
□ What are worldly fantasies, and why should we reject them?
□ What examples show the folly of indulging in worldly fantasies?
□ What facts prove the reality of the Creator, his written Word, Jesus Christ, and the Kingdom?
□ How can we strengthen our faith in Kingdom realities?
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Worldly fantasies are often caused by a craving for material wealth
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Preaching the good news is one way to pursue Kingdom realities
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Are you pursuing Kingdom realities by diligently studying God’s Word?