Be Sound in Mind—The End Is Close
“The end of all things has drawn close. Be sound in mind, therefore, and be vigilant with a view to prayers.”—1 PETER 4:7.
1. (a) What disappointment did one religious leader and his followers experience? (b) Because certain expectations have not been fulfilled, what questions may be asked?
“I RECEIVED a calling from God during tonight’s final prayer. He said 116,000 persons would ascend to heaven and the graves of 3.7 million dead believers will open up toward the sky.” So said a leader of the Mission for the Coming Days on the eve of October 28, 1992, their prophesied day of reckoning. However, as October 29 rolled around, not one person had ascended to heaven, and no tombs of the dead had been opened. Instead of being whisked away in a heavenly rapture, those doomsday believers in Korea saw just another day dawn. Doomsday deadlines have come and gone, but doomsayers remain undaunted. What are Christians to do? Should they stop believing that the end is fast approaching?
2. Who spoke to the apostles of a future day of judgment, and under what circumstances did they learn of this?
2 To answer, let us recall the occasion when Jesus was in private conversation with his disciples. There, in the district of Caesarea Philippi, northeast of the Sea of Galilee, with majestic Mount Hermon providing a dramatic backdrop, they heard him say bluntly that he would be killed. (Matthew 16:21) Other sobering words were to follow. After explaining to them that discipleship means living a life of continual self-sacrifice, Jesus warned: “The Son of man is destined to come in the glory of his Father with his angels, and then he will recompense each one according to his behavior.” (Matthew 16:27) Jesus spoke of a future coming. On this occasion, however, he would be a Judge. At that time everything would rest on whether he would find a person faithfully following him or not. Jesus’ judgment would be based on behavior, no matter how much that person might or might not have in worldly goods. This fact his disciples had to keep firmly in mind. (Matthew 16:25, 26) Hence, it is Jesus Christ himself who tells his followers to look for his glorious coming, with its judgment.
3. How did Jesus illustrate the certainty of his future coming?
3 What Jesus next says illustrates the certainty of his future coming. Authoritatively he states: “Truly I say to you that there are some of those standing here that will not taste death at all until first they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.” (Matthew 16:28) These words are fulfilled six days later. A brilliant vision of Jesus transfigured amazes his intimate disciples. They actually see Jesus’ face shining as the sun and his clothing glitteringly white. The transfiguration was a foreview of Christ’s glory and Kingdom. What a strengthening confirmation of the Kingdom prophecies! What a powerful incentive for the disciples to be sound in mind!—2 Peter 1:16-19.
Why It Is Urgent to Be Sound in Mind
4. Why must Christians be spiritually alert to his coming?
4 Less than one year later, we find Jesus sitting upon the Mount of Olives, again in private conversation with his disciples. As they gaze over the city of Jerusalem, he explains what the sign of his future presence will be and then warns: “Keep on the watch, therefore, because you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.” His followers must be constantly alert because the time of his coming is unknown. They must be ever ready for it.—Matthew 24:42.
5. How can the need for vigilance be illustrated?
5 In the manner of his coming, the Lord resembles a thief. He goes on to say: “But know one thing, that if the householder had known in what watch the thief was coming, he would have kept awake and not allowed his house to be broken into.” (Matthew 24:43) A burglar does not make an announcement informing the householder when he will strike; his main weapon is surprise. Therefore, the householder must be on constant guard. However, for the faithful Christian, unflagging vigilance is not due to any fearful apprehension. Rather, it is motivated by an eager expectation of Christ’s coming in glory to usher in a Millennium of peace.
6. Why must we be sound in mind?
6 Despite all the watching, no one will ever figure out in advance the exact day he is due to come. Jesus says: “On this account you too prove yourselves ready, because at an hour that you do not think to be it, the Son of man is coming.” (Matthew 24:44) Hence the need for soundness of mind. If a Christian were to think that on a certain day, Christ would not come, perhaps that would be the very day that he did come! Of course, well-meaning, faithful Christians in the past have sincerely tried to predict when the end would come. Yet, Jesus’ caution has been proved true time and time again: “Concerning that day and hour nobody knows, neither the angels of the heavens nor the Son, but only the Father.”—Matthew 24:36.
7. To be followers of Christ, how must we live our lives?
7 What, therefore, should we conclude? That to be followers of Christ, we have to live always believing that the end of this wicked system is imminent.
8. What has been an earmark of Christians since the earliest days of Christianity?
8 Such an attitude has always been an earmark of Christians, as secular historians and Bible scholars recognize. For example, the editors of The Translator’s New Testament, under the word “Day” in their glossary, state: “Christians of N[ew] T[estament] times lived in expectation of the Day (that is the time) when the present world with all its evil and wickedness would be brought to an end and Jesus would return to earth to judge all mankind, inaugurate a new age of peace and enter upon his Lordship over the whole world.” Encyclopædia Britannica notes: “The unique global expansion of Christianity is directly related to the Christian expectation of the end time, in the form of an imminent expectation of the return of Christ. The Christian expectation of the end time never consisted simply of a passive yearning for the coming Kingdom of God.”
What It Means to Be Sound in Mind
9. Even though some of Peter’s expectations about the Messiah were incorrect, why could he remain confident?
9 The apostle Peter, some 30 years after those intimate conversations that Jesus had with his closest disciples, did not tire out waiting for the end to come. Even though his and his fellow disciples’ initial expectations about the Messiah were incorrect, he remained confident that Jehovah’s love and power guaranteed the realization of their hope. (Luke 19:11; 24:21; Acts 1:6; 2 Peter 3:9, 10) He strikes a note heard consistently through the Greek Scriptures when he says: “The end of all things has drawn close.” Then he urges fellow Christians: “Be sound in mind, therefore, and be vigilant with a view to prayers.”—1 Peter 4:7.
10. (a) What does it mean to be sound in mind? (b) What is involved in seeing matters in their proper relationship to God’s will?
10 Being “sound in mind” does not mean being smart from a worldly standpoint. Jehovah says: “I will make the wisdom of the wise men perish, and the intelligence of the intellectual men I will shove aside.” (1 Corinthians 1:19) The word Peter uses can mean “to be sober-minded.” This spiritual sobriety is connected with our worship. Therefore, being steady in mind, we see things in their proper relationship to Jehovah’s will; we understand which things are important and which are not. (Matthew 6:33, 34) In the face of the imminent end, we are not swept away in a frenzied life-style; neither are we indifferent to the period of time we are living in. (Compare Matthew 24:37-39.) Rather, we are ruled by moderation and balance in thought, disposition, and conduct, expressed first toward God (“vigilant with a view to prayers”) and then toward our neighbor (“have intense love for one another”).—1 Peter 4:7, 8.
11. (a) What does it mean to be “made new in the force actuating [our] mind”? (b) How does a new mental force help us to make good decisions?
11 Being sound in mind involves our having been “made new in the force actuating [our] mind.” (Ephesians 4:23) Why made new? Since we have inherited imperfection and live in sinful surroundings, our mind is dominated by a tendency that is opposed to spirituality. That force constantly pushes thoughts and inclinations in a materialistic, selfish direction. Hence, when someone becomes a Christian, he needs a new force, or dominant mental attitude, that will push his thoughts in the right direction, the spiritual direction, toward a readiness for self-sacrifice. Thus, when a choice is presented, for example, in education, career, employment, entertainment, recreation, clothing style, or whatever it may be, his first inclination will be to consider the matter from a spiritual rather than a fleshly, selfish viewpoint. This new mental attitude makes it easier to decide matters with soundness of mind and with the awareness that the end is near.
12. How can we remain “healthy in faith”?
12 Being sound in mind implies that we are in good spiritual health. How can we remain “healthy in faith”? (Titus 2:2) We must feed our mind with the right kind of food. (Jeremiah 3:15) A steady diet of God’s Word of truth supported by the operation of his holy spirit will assist us to maintain our spiritual balance. Therefore, regularity in personal study, as well as field service, prayer, and Christian association, is vital.
How Soundness of Mind Safeguards Us
13. How does soundness of mind safeguard us from committing foolish mistakes?
13 Soundness of mind can safeguard us from committing a foolish mistake that could cost us our everlasting life. How is this possible? The apostle Paul speaks of “the law of [the] mind.” For a person healthy in faith, that law of the mind is governed by something he delights in, namely “the law of God.” True, “sin’s law” wars against the law of the mind. However, the Christian can be victorious with Jehovah’s help.—Romans 7:21-25.
14, 15. (a) Which two influences struggle to control the mind? (b) How can we win the battle of the mind?
14 Paul continues by drawing a sharp contrast between the mind dominated by the sinful flesh, whose focus is on a life of self-indulgence, and the mind dominated by God’s spirit, whose focus is on a life of self-sacrifice in service to Jehovah. Paul writes at Romans 8:5-7: “Those who are in accord with the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those in accord with the spirit on the things of the spirit. For the minding of the flesh means death, but the minding of the spirit means life and peace; because the minding of the flesh means enmity with God, for it is not under subjection to the law of God, nor, in fact, can it be.”
15 Paul, in Ro 8 verse 11, then explains how the mind that cooperates with holy spirit wins the battle: “If, now, the spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he that raised up Christ Jesus from the dead will also make your mortal bodies alive through his spirit that resides in you.”
16. Soundness of mind protects us from what enticements?
16 Therefore, by being sound in mind, we will not be seduced by the omnipresent enticements of this world, which is characterized by immeasurable self-indulgence in all kinds of pleasures, material things, and sexual misconduct. Our sound mind will tell us to “flee from fornication” and escape its disastrous consequences. (1 Corinthians 6:18) Our sound mental attitude will impel us to put Kingdom interests first and will guard our thinking when we are tempted with offers of a secular career that may weaken our relationship with Jehovah.
17. How did a pioneer sister show soundness of mind when faced with financial obligations?
17 For example, in a tropical country in Southeast Asia, there is a young sister who kept Kingdom interests foremost in mind. She had cultivated a love for full-time service. In that country most jobs require six or seven days of full-time work. After she graduated from university, her father, who was not one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, expected her to earn a lot of money for the family. But since she had a strong desire to pioneer, she found a part-time job and started pioneer service. This angered her father, who threatened to throw her belongings into the street. Because of gambling, he was heavily in debt, and he expected his daughter to pay off his debts. Her younger brother was studying at a university, and because of the debts, there was no money to pay his tuition fees. The younger brother promised that if she helped him, he would care for the family when he got a job. Her heart was torn between her love for her brother and her love for the pioneer service. After considering the matter carefully, she resolved to continue pioneering and look for a different job. In answer to her prayers, she found a good job where she was able not only to aid her family and her brother financially but also to continue with her first love, the pioneer service.
Seek Jehovah’s Help in Maintaining Soundness of Mind
18. (a) Why may some people feel sick at heart? (b) What scriptures may comfort those sick at heart?
18 Some followers of Christ may be finding it difficult to maintain their soundness of mind. Their patience may be wearing thin because this present wicked system of things is lasting longer than they expected. They may feel sick at heart about it. However, the end will come. Jehovah promises that. (Titus 1:2) And so will his promised earthly Paradise. Jehovah guarantees it. (Revelation 21:1-5) When the new world does come, there will be “a tree of life” for all those who maintained their soundness of mind.—Proverbs 13:12.
19. How can soundness of mind be maintained?
19 How can we maintain soundness of mind? Seek Jehovah’s help. (Psalm 54:4) Stay close to him. How we rejoice that Jehovah desires our intimacy! “Draw close to God, and he will draw close to you,” writes the disciple James. (James 4:8) Paul says: “Always rejoice in the Lord. Once more I will say, Rejoice! Let your reasonableness become known to all men. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious over anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication along with thanksgiving let your petitions be made known to God; and the peace of God that excels all thought will guard your hearts and your mental powers by means of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7) And when the burdens of this dying system of things seem to be too great to carry any longer, throw them upon Jehovah, and he himself will sustain you.—Psalm 55:22.
20. In what course should we continue, according to 1 Timothy 4:10?
20 Yes, the end is close, so be sound in mind! It was good advice 1,900 years ago; it is vital advice today. Let us continue to use our sound mental faculties to praise Jehovah as he continues to guide us safely into his new world.—1 Timothy 4:10.
How Would You Answer?
□ What is soundness of mind?
□ Why is it so urgent to be sound in mind?
□ How can we be made new in the force actuating our mind?
□ What constant battle must we fight in our minds?
□ How do we maintain soundness of mind?
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Drawing close to God in prayer helps us maintain soundness of mind
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Being sound in mind, we will not be seduced by the enticements of this world