Youths—Whose Teaching Do You Heed?
“Some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to . . . teachings of demons.”—1 TIMOTHY 4:1.
1. (a) What choice do youths have? (b) How does Jehovah teach?
THE question here addressed to youths is, Whose teaching do you heed? This suggests that you young ones have a choice. The choice is between responding to divine teaching and following the teachings of demons. Jehovah teaches by means of his Word, the Bible, as well as through the ministry of the ones he uses as his representatives on earth. (Isaiah 54:13; Acts 8:26-39; Matthew 24:45-47) But are you surprised that the demons also teach?
2. Why is it vital to be on guard against the teachings of demons particularly at this time?
2 The apostle Paul wrote: “In later periods of time some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to misleading inspired utterances and teachings of demons.” (1 Timothy 4:1) Since we are living in “the last days” when Satan and his demons are especially active, do you see why we ask the question, Whose teaching do you heed? (2 Timothy 3:1-5; Revelation 12:7-12) Because Satan and his demons are so cunning, so seductive in their methods of operation, it is vital that you give careful consideration to this question.—2 Corinthians 11:14, 15.
The Demons and Their Teachings
3. Who are the demons, what is their purpose, and how do they seek to accomplish it?
3 The demons were at one time angels of Jehovah, but they rebelled against their Creator and thus became the cohorts of Satan. (Matthew 12:24) Their purpose is to corrupt people and turn them away from serving God. To accomplish this, the demons use human teachers to promote a selfish, immoral way of life that is condemned by Jehovah. (Compare 2 Peter 2:1, 12-15.) A review of how once faithful angels became demons will help you to identify their teachings and the way of life that these teachings promote.
4. (a) Why did disobedient angels come to earth in Noah’s day? (b) What happened to the wicked angels and their offspring during the Flood?
4 In the days of Noah, certain angels became so attracted to the beautiful daughters of men that these spirit creatures left their positions in heaven to come to earth. Their sexual union with women resulted in hybrid offspring called Nephilim. Since it is unnatural for spirit creatures to cohabit with humans, what the disobedient angels did with those women was just as wrong as were the homosexual acts later committed by the men and boys of Sodom. (Genesis 6:1-4; 19:4-11; Jude 6, 7) Although the mates of the angels perished in the floodwaters along with their hybrid children, the wicked angels shed their materialized fleshly bodies and returned to heaven where they became the demon companions of Satan the Devil.—2 Peter 2:4.
5. What kind of creatures are the demons, and how do they try to subvert God’s laws?
5 In view of this historical background, do you see what kind of creatures the demons really are? They are sex perverts who are the behind-the-scenes manipulators of this sex-mad world. Although they have been barred from again materializing as humans, they derive pleasure from the sexual perversions of those they can corrupt on earth. (Ephesians 6:11, 12) The demons try to subvert Jehovah’s laws regarding chastity and morality by making them seem needlessly restrictive. These wicked angels advocate sexual immorality as a normal, pleasurable way of life.
Promoting Teachings of Demons
6. Why should we not be surprised that the demons promote their teachings in a subtle way?
6 That the demons would promote their teachings in a subtle way should not surprise us, since this is the method that their leader, Satan the Devil, used in deceiving Eve. Recall that he spoke to her as though he wanted to be of help. “Is it really so that God said you must not eat from every tree of the garden?” asked Satan. Then he craftily tried to undermine God’s teaching by telling Eve that she would benefit from eating from the prohibited tree. “In the very day of your eating from it,” the Devil promised, “your eyes are bound to be opened and you are bound to be like God, knowing good and bad.” (Genesis 3:1-5) Thus Eve was enticed, yes seduced, into disobeying God.—2 Corinthians 11:3; 1 Timothy 2:13, 14.
7. What has been the effect of the subtle teachings of demons, and what warning does this provide?
7 In recent times, too, many have been seduced. The demons have so cunningly promoted sexual immorality that it has come to be accepted by many who once condemned it. For example, when a well-known advice columnist in the United States answered a letter on the matter of unmarried people having sexual relations, she wrote: “I never thought I would reverse myself on this issue, but I now believe that couples who are serious about marriage should take a few weekend trips together to test their compatibility.” Then she added: “I can’t believe I wrote that!” Even she could not believe that she had recommended fornication, but she had! Clearly, we must be careful that the teachings of demons do not affect our view of practices that God condemns.—Romans 1:26, 27; Ephesians 5:5, 10-12.
8. (a) How is the word “world” used in the Bible? (b) Who rules the world, and how should Jesus’ followers view the world?
8 We must never forget that Satan is “the ruler of this world.” In fact, the apostle John said that “the whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.” (John 12:31; 1 John 5:19) True, Jesus sometimes used the word “world” to refer to all humankind. (Matthew 26:13; John 3:16; 12:46) More frequently, however, he used the word “world” to refer to all organized human society that exists outside the true Christian congregation. For instance, Jesus said that his followers must be “no part of the world” (unrighteous human society) and that because they were no part of the world, the world would hate them. (John 15:19; 17:14-16) The Bible further warned that we should avoid becoming friends of this world ruled by Satan.—James 4:4.
9, 10. (a) What worldly things stimulate improper sexual desire? (b) How is it possible to identify who is behind what the world’s entertainment teaches?
9 The apostle John urged: “Do not be loving either the world or the things in the world.” He also said: “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.” (1 John 2:15, 16) Think about this. What is there in the world today that stimulates wrong desire, say for illicit sex? (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5) What about much of the world’s music? A California police probation officer said: “Basically, the music teaches that you don’t have to listen to your parents, and that you should live life the way you want.” Do you recognize the source of the teaching supplied by such music?
10 Recall that Satan, in effect, told Eve: ‘You are missing out. Live life the way you want. Make up your own mind as to what is good and what is bad. You don’t need to listen to God.’ (Genesis 3:1-5) Is that not the same kind of message found in much of the world’s music? But the demons do not teach only by means of music. They also use commercial television programs, movies, and videos to teach. How so? Well, the communication channels of the world present entertainment that makes the moral teachings of God appear repressive. They advocate fornication by emphasizing it and presenting it as desirable.
11. Morally speaking, what does television often teach?
11 The magazine U.S.News & World Report stated: “In 1991, the three [U.S.] networks displayed more than 10,000 sexual incidents during prime time; for every scene depicting sexual intercourse between married partners, the networks showed 14 scenes of sex outside marriage.” By showing over 9,000 incidents of illicit sex during prime time in one year, what would you say television is teaching? Barry S. Sapolsky, who coauthored the report “Sex in Primetime Television: 1979 Versus 1989,” states: “If an adolescent watches years of TV where people engage in flirtatious or explicit behavior, these thousands of images over the years will teach them that sex is pleasant—and without any consequences.” There is no question about this: The world’s entertainment teaches young ones that there are no rules, that fornication is acceptable, and that there are no bad consequences for living in a way that God condemns.—1 Corinthians 6:18; Ephesians 5:3-5.
12. Why does the world’s entertainment pose a threat particularly to Christian youths?
12 The world’s music, movies, videos, and television are designed to appeal to young people. They propagate the corrupt teachings of demons! But should this be surprising? Think about it. If false religion and politics are part of Satan’s world—and they clearly are—does it make sense to believe that the entertainment promoted by the world is free of demon influence? You young people in particular need to be on guard not to “let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould.”—Romans 12:2, The New Testament in Modern English, by J. B. Phillips.
Make a Self-Examination
13. What self-examination should be made?
13 The matter of whose teachings you heed is determined not only by your speech but also by your deeds. (Romans 6:16) So ask yourself, ‘Are my attitude and my course of life being unduly affected by what I learn through the world’s propaganda channels? Could the teachings of the demons be making inroads in my life?’ To help you answer such questions, why not compare the amount of time and effort you spend studying the Bible, attending Christian meetings, and talking to others about God’s Kingdom with that spent watching TV, listening to music, participating in your favorite sport, or engaging in similar activities? Since so much—indeed, your very life—is at stake, make an honest self-examination.—2 Corinthians 13:5.
14. What will affect our spiritual health, and what sobering thought should we keep in mind?
14 You are well aware that the material food you eat will affect your physical health. Similarly, your spiritual health is affected by what you feed your mind and heart. (1 Peter 2:1, 2) While you may deceive yourself regarding what your real interests are, you cannot deceive our Judge, Jesus Christ. (John 5:30) So ask yourself, ‘If Jesus were on earth, would I be embarrassed to have him walk in and hear my music or see what I am watching?’ The sobering fact is that Jesus is watching and knows our deeds.—Revelation 3:15.
Resist Teachings of Demons
15. Why should Christians fight hard to resist the teachings of demons?
15 The pressure that the demons exert on young ones to heed their teachings is tremendous. These wicked spirits seem to offer a life of immediate gratification—one of fun and pleasure. In order to please God, Moses of old rejected “the temporary enjoyment of sin” as a prominent member of Pharaoh’s household. (Hebrews 11:24-27) It is not easy to reject what the demons offer, so you must fight hard to do what is right. This is especially true because we have inherited sin and our hearts often crave to do what is bad. (Genesis 8:21; Romans 5:12) Because of sinful inclinations, even the apostle Paul had to get tough with himself and not allow his fleshly desires to dominate him.—1 Corinthians 9:27; Romans 7:21-23.
16. How can youths resist pressures to engage in immoral conduct?
16 Although you may be tempted to “follow after the crowd for evil ends,” God can help you resist pressure from your peers to pursue their wrong course. (Exodus 23:2; 1 Corinthians 10:13) But you must listen to God’s directions, treasuring up his sayings in your heart. (Psalm 119:9, 11) You need to realize that when young people isolate themselves, sexual desire can build up and lead to breaking God’s law. “When I’m alone with my boyfriend, my body wants to do one thing and my brain tells me to do another,” admitted one youth. So recognize your limitations and realize that your heart is treacherous. (Jeremiah 17:9) Do not isolate yourself. (Proverbs 18:1) Set limits on expressions of affection. And of particular importance, keep close company only with those who love Jehovah and who have deep respect for his laws.—Psalm 119:63; Proverbs 13:20; 1 Corinthians 15:33.
17. What can help Christian youths gain the strength to resist the teachings of demons?
17 A careful study of Christian publications designed for your spiritual strengthening will help you. For instance, consider the book Questions Young People Ask—Answers That Work and the chapter “The Fight to Do What Is Right” in the book You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth. Let the Scriptural instruction provided sink deep into your mind and heart, and it will strengthen you. A fact that you must never forget is that in this demon-controlled world doing what is right is not easy. So fight hard. (Luke 13:24) Build up your spiritual strength. Do not imitate the weak, fearful ones who follow after the crowd.
Benefit From Divine Teaching
18. What are some benefits of heeding divine teaching?
18 Remember, too, that you will never miss out on anything worthwhile by heeding Jehovah’s teaching. He truly loves you, and that is why he is “teaching you to benefit yourself.” (Isaiah 48:17) So heed Jehovah’s teaching, and avoid the heartache of a ruined conscience, loss of self-respect, unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, or similar tragedies. Jehovah rejoices when his servants provide him with an answer to Satan’s challenge that humans will not remain faithful to God under test. (Job 1:6-12) If you make Jehovah’s heart glad by being faithful to him, you will survive when he renders adverse judgment against this world, whereas all who flout his laws will perish.—Proverbs 27:11; 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10; 1 John 2:17.
19. What is the value of associating with those who appreciate the benefits of Jehovah’s teaching?
19 If you associate closely with those who appreciate what Jehovah has done for them, you can learn from their experience. One person who had formerly been addicted to drugs and who had practiced immorality explained: “If I had not listened to Jehovah, I would be dead. The person I was to marry is dead from AIDS. All my former worldly close friends are dead from AIDS or are on their way to dying. I see them often in the streets, and I thank Jehovah every day for his laws that govern his people and will keep us holy if only we apply them. I have never been so happy, content, and secure in my life.” Truly, heeding Jehovah’s teaching always benefits us!
Make the Right Choice
20, 21. (a) What two choices do youths have? (b) What lasting benefit will result from heeding divine teaching?
20 We urge you young ones: Make the right choice by serving Jehovah. Then be resolute in sticking to that decision. (Joshua 24:15) Actually, you can make only one of two choices. Jesus said that there is the broad and spacious road—the easy one of doing what pleases oneself. That road leads to a dead end, to destruction. The other road is cramped. It is a difficult road to travel in this loose-living, demon-controlled world. But that road will eventually take those traveling it into God’s wonderful new world. (Matthew 7:13, 14) Which road will you take? Whose teaching will you heed?
21 Jehovah leaves the choice up to you. He does not try to force you to serve him. “I have put life and death before you,” said God’s prophet Moses, urging: “Choose life.” This choice is made “by loving Jehovah your God, by listening to his voice and by sticking to him.” (Deuteronomy 29:2; 30:19, 20) May you wisely choose to heed divine teaching and enjoy life without end in God’s glorious new world.
How Would You Answer?
□ Who are the demons, and what do they teach?
□ How do the demons promote their teachings today?
□ How is it possible to resist the teachings of the demons?
□ What are the benefits of heeding Jehovah’s teaching?
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Before the Flood, the disobedient angels and their offspring promoted violence and debauchery
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Would you be embarrassed if Jesus heard your favorite music?