Walk as Instructed by God
“Let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah . . . , and he will instruct us about his ways, and we will walk in his paths.”—MICAH 4:2.
1. According to Micah, what would God do for his people in the last days?
GOD’S prophet Micah foretold that in “the final part of the days,” our time, many people would actively seek God, to worship him. These would encourage one another, saying: “Let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah . . . , and he will instruct us about his ways, and we will walk in his paths.”—Micah 4:1, 2.
2, 3. How is Paul’s prediction about men being lovers of money being fulfilled today?
2 Our studying 2 Timothy 3:1-5 can help us to see the results of being instructed by God in “the last days.” In the preceding article, we began by noting benefits coming to those who take to heart Paul’s warning not to be “lovers of themselves.” Paul added that in our time men would also be “lovers of money.”
3 No one needs a college degree in modern history to see how well those words fit our times. Have you not read of financiers and corporate leaders who are not satisfied with earning millions each year? These lovers of money keep wanting more, even by illegal means. Paul’s words also fit many today who, while not wealthy, are just as covetous, never satisfied. You may know many of such in your area.
4-6. How does the Bible help Christians to avoid becoming lovers of money?
4 Is what Paul mentioned just an unavoidable aspect of human nature? Not according to the Author of the Bible, who long ago set out this truth: “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.” Notice, God did not say, ‘Money is the root of all injurious things.’ He said that it is “the love of money.”—1 Timothy 6:10.
5 Interestingly, the context of Paul’s words acknowledged that some fine Christians in the first century were rich in the present system of things, whether they inherited wealth or earned it. (1 Timothy 6:17) It should be evident, then, that whatever our financial status, the Bible warns us of the danger of becoming a lover of money. Does the Bible offer any further instruction about avoiding this grievous and common defect? Indeed it does, such as in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Its wisdom is world famous. Note, for example, what Jesus said at Matthew 6:26-33.
6 As recorded at Luke 12:15-21, Jesus spoke of a rich man who kept trying to accumulate more wealth but who suddenly lost his life. What was Jesus’ point? He said: “Guard against every sort of covetousness, because even when a person has an abundance his life does not result from the things he possesses.” Along with giving such counsel, the Bible condemns laziness and stresses the value of honest labor. (1 Thessalonians 4:11, 12) Oh, some may object that these teachings do not fit our times—but they do, and they are working.
Instructed and Benefited
7. What reason do we have for confidence that we can successfully apply the Bible’s counsel about riches?
7 In nation after nation, you can find real-life examples of men and women from all social and economic levels who have applied divine principles about money. They have benefited themselves and their families, as even outsiders can see. For instance, in the book Religious Movements in Contemporary America, from the publisher for Princeton University, an anthropologist wrote: “In [Witness] publications and in congregation talks they are reminded that they do not depend upon new cars, expensive clothes, or lavish living for their status. At the same time a Witness is to give a just day’s work to his employer [and is to] be scrupulously honest . . . Such traits make even a man without many skills a useful employee, and some Witnesses in North Philadelphia [U.S.A.] have moved up to positions of considerable job responsibility.” Clearly, people who have accepted instruction from God through his Word have been alerted to attitudes that make it harder to deal with present conditions. Their experience proves that Bible instruction leads to a better, happier life.
8. Why can “self-assuming,” “haughty,” and “blasphemers” be linked, and what is the meaning of these three terms?
8 We can link the next three things Paul lists. In the last days, men would be “self-assuming, haughty, blasphemers.” These three are not identical, but all are related to pride. The first is “self-assuming.” A dictionary says that the basic Greek word here means: “‘One who makes more of himself than reality justifies,’ or ‘promises more than he can perform.’” You can understand why some Bibles use the term “boastful.” Next comes “haughty,” or literally “superior-appearing.” Last, “blasphemers.” Some may think of blasphemers as those who speak irreverently of God, but the underlying term includes injurious, defamatory, or abusive speech against humans. So Paul is referring to blasphemy directed against both God and man.
9. In contrast with prevailing harmful attitudes, what attitudes does the Bible encourage people to develop?
9 How do you feel when you are around people who fit Paul’s description, whether they be workmates, schoolmates, or relatives? Does it make your life easier? Or do such people complicate your life, making it harder for you to deal with our times? God’s Word, though, teaches us to shun these attitudes, offering instruction such as found at 1 Corinthians 4:7; Colossians 3:12, 13; and Ephesians 4:29.
10. What indicates that Jehovah’s people are benefited from accepting Biblical instruction?
10 Though Christians are imperfect, their applying this fine instruction greatly helps them in these critical times. The Italian journal La Civiltà Cattolica said that one reason why Jehovah’s Witnesses keep growing “is that the movement gives its members a precise and strong identity.” But, by “strong identity,” did the writer mean “self-assuming, haughty, blasphemers”? On the contrary, the Jesuit magazine notes that the movement “gives its members a precise and strong identity, and it is a place for them where they are welcomed with warmth and a sense of brotherhood and solidarity.” Is it not evident that the things the Witnesses have been taught are helping them?
Instruction Benefits Family Members
11, 12. How did Paul accurately indicate what the situation in many families would be like?
11 We might group the next four things, which are somewhat related. Paul foretold that during the last days, many would be “disobedient to parents, unthankful, disloyal, having no natural affection.” You know that two of these defects—being unthankful and being disloyal—are all around us. Still, we can easily see why Paul set them between being “disobedient to parents” and “having no natural affection.” The four are intertwined.
12 Virtually any observant person, young or old, would have to admit that disobedience to parents is rampant, and it is growing worse. Many parents complain that young people seem unthankful for all that is done for them. Many youths protest that their parents are not really loyal to them (or to the family in general) but are wrapped up in their jobs, pleasures, or themselves. Rather than try to figure out who is at fault, look at the results. Estrangement between adults and youths often leads teenagers to form their own code of morality, or immorality. The consequence? A soaring rate of teenage pregnancies, abortions, and sexually transmitted diseases. All too often, lack of natural affection at home leads to violence. You can probably relate examples from your area, proof that natural affection is evaporating.
13, 14. (a) In the face of the deterioration of many families, why should we give attention to the Bible? (b) What sort of wise advice does God offer about family life?
13 This may explain why more and more are turning against those who once seemed to be part of their extended family, of the same clan, tribe, or group. Keep in mind, however, that we are not bringing these things up to stress the negatives of life today. Our two key interests are: Can Bible teachings help us to avoid suffering from the faults that Paul listed, and will we benefit from applying Bible teachings in our lives? The answers can be yes, as is evident regarding those four points in Paul’s list.
14 A sweeping statement is well justified: No teaching excels that from the Bible in producing family life that warms the heart and has good success. That is borne out by a mere sample of its counsel that can help family members not just to avoid pitfalls but to succeed. Colossians 3:18-21 well illustrates that, though there are many other beautiful and practical passages directed to husbands, wives, and children. This instruction works in our day. Granted, even in families of true Christians, there are complications and challenges. Yet, the overall results prove that the Bible is providing very helpful teaching for families.
15, 16. What situation did a researcher find when studying Jehovah’s Witnesses in Zambia?
15 For a year and a half, a researcher from the University of Lethbridge, Canada, studied social life in Zambia. She concluded: “Jehovah’s Witnesses experience greater success than members of other denominations in maintaining stable marital unions. . . . Their success represents a modified exchange relationship between husband and wife, who, in their newly discovered, nonthreatening, cooperative endeavors, have become accountable in their treatment of one another to a new figurehead, God. . . . The Jehovah’s Witness husband is taught to mature into practicing responsibility for the well-being of his wife and children. . . . Husband and wife are encouraged to be individuals with integrity . . . This overriding demand for integrity cements marriage.”
16 That study was based on numerous real experiences. For instance, this researcher said that contrary to the norm, “Jehovah’s Witness men more frequently are found helping their wives in gardens, not only during the preparation phase, but also with planting and digging.” It is thus evident that countless experiences earth wide show that Bible instruction touches lives.
17, 18. What surprising results surfaced in a study about religious heritage and premarital sex?
17 The preceding article mentioned findings in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion. In 1991 it contained an article entitled “Religious Heritage and Premarital Sex: Evidence From a National Sample of Young Adults.” You probably know how prevalent premarital sex is. At a young age many give in to passion, and many teenagers have multiple sex partners. Can Bible teachings alter this common pattern?
18 Three associate professors who studied the issue expected to find ‘that adolescents and young adults raised in the more conservative Christian tradition would be less likely to have premarital sex.’ But what did the facts show? Overall, between 70 percent and 82 percent had engaged in premarital sex. For some “a fundamentalist heritage [reduced] the likelihood of premarital sex, but not in the case of ‘teenage premarital sex.’” The researchers commented on some youths from seemingly religious families who “exhibited a significantly higher probability of premarital sex when compared to Mainline Protestants.”—Italics ours.
19, 20. How has God’s instruction helped and protected many youths among Jehovah’s Witnesses?
19 The professors found just the opposite among youths of Jehovah’s Witnesses, who were among “the group most distinct from others.” Why? “The level of commitment and social integration engendered by experiences, expectations, and involvement . . . may generally create higher levels of adherence to principles of faith.” They added: “Witnesses are expected to fulfill missionary responsibilities as adolescents and young adults.”
20 So Bible instruction affected Jehovah’s Witnesses for the good by helping them to avoid immorality. That means protection from sexually transmitted diseases, some of which are incurable and others fatal. It means no pressure toward abortions, which the Bible teaches are the equivalent of taking life. It also means young adults who are able to enter marriage with clean consciences. That means marriages built on a more solid foundation. It is such teachings that can help us to cope, to be healthier, happier.
21. What things did Paul accurately foretell for our time?
21 Now go back to 2 Timothy 3:3, 4, and note what else Paul said would make our times hard to deal with for many—but not for all: “[Men would be] not open to any agreement, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, without love of goodness, betrayers, headstrong, puffed up with pride, [and] lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God.” How accurate! Nevertheless, instruction from the Bible can protect us and equip us to cope, to succeed.
22, 23. Paul concluded his list with what positive exhortation, and what is its import?
22 The apostle Paul ends his list on a positive note. He turns the last item into a godly command that can also bring us immeasurable benefit. Paul mentions those “having a form of godly devotion but proving false to its power; and from these turn away.” Recall that youths in some churches actually have a higher rate of premarital sex than the average. Why, even if the immorality of those churchgoers were only at the average level, would that not be proof that their form of worship was powerless? Furthermore, do religious teachings change how people act in business, how they deal with subordinates, or how they treat relatives?
23 Paul’s words show that we ought to put into practice what we learn from God’s Word, having a way of worship that manifests the real power of Christianity. Concerning those whose form of worship is powerless, Paul tells us: “From these turn away.” That is a clear command, one that will bring us definite benefits.
24. How does the exhortation in Revelation chapter 18 parallel Paul’s counsel?
24 In what way? Well, the last book of the Bible depicts a figurative woman, a harlot, called Babylon the Great. Evidence shows that Babylon the Great represents the worldwide empire of false religion, which Jehovah God has examined and rejected. Yet, we do not have to be included. Revelation 18:4 exhorts us: “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.” Is that not the same message that Paul conveyed, “from these turn away”? Our complying is another way in which we can benefit from God’s instruction.
25, 26. What future is in store for those who now accept and apply instruction from Jehovah God?
25 Soon God will directly intervene in human affairs. He will wipe away all false religion and the rest of the present wicked system. That will be a cause for rejoicing, as Revelation 19:1, 2 indicates. On earth those who accept and follow God’s instruction will be allowed to keep following his teachings when the obstacles of these critical times are past.—Revelation 21:3, 4.
26 Living in that restored earthly Paradise will certainly be delightful beyond our imagination. God promises that it is possible for us, and we can trust him implicitly. He thus gives us abundant reason to accept and follow his helpful teaching. When? Let us follow his instructions now in our critical times and on into the Paradise that he promises.—Micah 4:3, 4.
Points to Ponder
□ How are Jehovah’s people benefited from his counsel about riches?
□ A Jesuit magazine testified to what good results coming to God’s servants through applying his Word?
□ A study in Zambia revealed what benefits that came to families applying divine instruction?
□ What protection does divine instruction provide for young people?
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WHAT A PRICE TO PAY!
“Teenagers face an enormous risk of AIDS because they like to experiment with sex and drugs, take risks and live for the moment, and because they feel immortal and defy authority,” says a report presented at a conference on AIDS and teenagers.—New York Daily News, Sunday, March 7, 1993.
“Sexually active teen-age girls are emerging as the next ‘leading edge’ of the AIDS epidemic, a United Nations study in Europe, Africa and Southeast Asia has found.”—The New York Times, Friday, July 30, 1993.
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Bible instruction benefits Jehovah’s Witnesses in the congregation and at home