All Must Render an Account to God
“Each of us will render an account for himself to God.”—ROMANS 14:12.
1. What limits were placed on the freedom of Adam and Eve?
JEHOVAH GOD created our first parents, Adam and Eve, as free moral agents. Though they were lower than the angels, they were intelligent creatures capable of making wise decisions. (Psalm 8:4, 5) Yet, that God-given freedom was not a license to exercise self-determination. They were accountable to their Creator, and this accountability has extended to all their descendants.
2. Jehovah will soon make what accounting, and why?
2 Now that we are nearing the climax of this wicked system of things, Jehovah will make an accounting on the earth. (Compare Romans 9:28.) Soon, ungodly men will have to render an account to Jehovah God for the despoiling of earth’s resources, the destruction of human life, and especially the persecution of his servants.—Revelation 6:10; 11:18.
3. What questions will we consider?
3 Faced with this sobering prospect, it is beneficial for us to reflect on Jehovah’s righteous dealings with his creatures in times past. How can the Scriptures help us, on our part, to render an acceptable account to our Creator? What examples may be helpful, and which ones should we avoid imitating?
Angels Are Accountable
4. How do we know that God holds angels accountable for their actions?
4 Jehovah’s angelic creatures in the heavens are just as accountable to him as we are. Before the Flood of Noah’s day, some angels disobediently materialized in order to engage in sexual relations with women. As free moral agents, these spirit creatures could make this decision, but God held them accountable. When the disobedient angels returned to the spirit realm, Jehovah did not permit them to regain their original position. The disciple Jude tells us that they have been “reserved with eternal bonds under dense darkness for the judgment of the great day.”—Jude 6.
5. What fall has been experienced by Satan and his demons, and how will the account for their rebellion be settled?
5 These disobedient angels, or demons, have Satan the Devil as their ruler. (Matthew 12:24-26) This wicked angel rebelled against his Creator and challenged the rightfulness of Jehovah’s sovereignty. Satan led our first parents into sin, and this resulted in their eventual death. (Genesis 3:1-7, 17-19) Although Jehovah permitted Satan to have access to heavenly courts for a period thereafter, the Bible book of Revelation foretold that in God’s due time, this wicked one would be cast down to the vicinity of the earth. Evidence indicates that this took place shortly after Jesus Christ received Kingdom power in 1914. Eventually, the Devil and his demons will go into everlasting destruction. With the issue of sovereignty finally resolved, the account for rebellion will then have been justly settled.—Job 1:6-12; 2:1-7; Revelation 12:7-9; 20:10.
God’s Son Is Accountable
6. How does Jesus view his own accountability to his Father?
6 What a fine example has been set by God’s Son, Jesus Christ! As a perfect man on a par with Adam, Jesus was delighted to do the divine will. He was also glad to be held accountable for compliance with Jehovah’s law. Concerning him, the psalmist fittingly prophesied: “To do your will, O my God, I have delighted, and your law is within my inward parts.”—Psalm 40:8; Hebrews 10:6-9.
7. When praying on the eve of his death, why could Jesus say the words recorded at John 17:4, 5?
7 Despite the hateful opposition that Jesus experienced, he did God’s will and maintained integrity to death on a torture stake. He thereby paid the ransom price to redeem mankind from the death-dealing consequences of Adam’s sin. (Matthew 20:28) Hence, on the eve of his death, Jesus could confidently pray: “I have glorified you on the earth, having finished the work you have given me to do. So now you, Father, glorify me alongside yourself with the glory that I had alongside you before the world was.” (John 17:4, 5) Jesus could say those words to his heavenly Father because he was successfully meeting the test of accountability and was acceptable to God.
8. (a) How did Paul show that we must render an account of ourselves to Jehovah God? (b) What will help us to find acceptance with God?
8 Unlike the perfect man Jesus Christ, we are imperfect. Yet, we are accountable to God. The apostle Paul said: “Why do you judge your brother? Or why do you also look down on your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written: ‘“As I live,” says Jehovah, “to me every knee will bend down, and every tongue will make open acknowledgment to God.”’ So, then, each of us will render an account for himself to God.” (Romans 14:10-12) In order that we may do so and find acceptance with Jehovah, he has lovingly given us both a conscience and his inspired Word, the Bible, to guide us in what we say and do. (Romans 2:14, 15; 2 Timothy 3:16, 17) Taking full advantage of Jehovah’s spiritual provisions and following our Bible-trained conscience will help us to find acceptance with God. (Matthew 24:45-47) Jehovah’s holy spirit, or active force, is an added source of strength and guidance. If we act in harmony with the spirit’s direction and the leadings of our Bible-trained conscience, we show that we do not ‘disregard God,’ to whom we must account for all our actions.—1 Thessalonians 4:3-8; 1 Peter 3:16, 21.
Accountable as Nations
9. Who were the Edomites, and what happened to them because of their treatment of Israel?
9 Jehovah calls nations to account. (Jeremiah 25:12-14; Zephaniah 3:6, 7) Consider the ancient kingdom of Edom, situated south of the Dead Sea and north of the Gulf of Aqaba. The Edomites were a Semitic people, closely related to the Israelites. Though the forefather of the Edomites was Abraham’s grandson Esau, the Israelites were denied permission to travel through Edom on “the king’s road” while en route to the Promised Land. (Numbers 20:14-21) Over the centuries Edom’s animosity developed into an implacable hatred for Israel. Finally, the Edomites had to account for their urging the Babylonians to destroy Jerusalem in 607 B.C.E. (Psalm 137:7) In the sixth century B.C.E., Babylonian troops under King Nabonidus conquered Edom, and it became desolate, as Jehovah had decreed.—Jeremiah 49:20; Obadiah 9-11.
10. How did the Moabites act toward the Israelites, and how did God call Moab to account?
10 Moab fared no better. The Moabite kingdom was north of Edom and east of the Dead Sea. Before the Israelites entered the Promised Land, the Moabites did not act hospitably toward them, evidently supplying them with bread and water only for financial gain. (Deuteronomy 23:3, 4) Moab’s King Balak hired the prophet Balaam to curse Israel, and Moabite women were used to lure Israelite men into immorality and idolatry. (Numbers 22:2-8; 25:1-9) However, Jehovah did not let Moab’s hatred for Israel pass unnoticed. As prophesied, Moab suffered desolation at the hands of the Babylonians. (Jeremiah 9:25, 26; Zephaniah 2:8-11) Yes, God called Moab to account.
11. Moab and Ammon became like what cities, and what do Bible prophecies indicate regarding the present wicked system of things?
11 Not only Moab but also Ammon had to render an account to God. Jehovah had foretold: “Moab herself will become just like Sodom, and the sons of Ammon like Gomorrah, a place possessed by nettles, and a salt pit, and a desolate waste, even to time indefinite.” (Zephaniah 2:9) The lands of Moab and Ammon were devastated, even as God had destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. According to the Geological Society of London, researchers claim to have located the sites of ruined Sodom and Gomorrah on the east coast of the Dead Sea. Any reliable evidence that may yet come to light in this regard can only support Bible prophecies indicating that the present wicked system of things will also be called to account by Jehovah God.—2 Peter 3:6-12.
12. Although Israel had to render an account to God for its sins, what had been foretold regarding a Jewish remnant?
12 Though Israel had been highly favored by Jehovah, it had to render an account to God for its sins. When Jesus Christ came to the nation of Israel, the majority rejected him. Only a remnant exercised faith and became his followers. Paul applied certain prophecies to this Jewish remnant when he wrote: “Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: ‘Although the number of the sons of Israel may be as the sand of the sea, it is the remnant that will be saved. For Jehovah will make an accounting on the earth, concluding it and cutting it short.’ Also, just as Isaiah had said aforetime: ‘Unless Jehovah of armies had left a seed to us, we should have become just like Sodom, and we should have been made just like Gomorrah.’” (Romans 9:27-29; Isaiah 1:9; 10:22, 23) The apostle cited the example of the 7,000 in Elijah’s time who had not bowed to Baal, and then he said: “In this way, therefore, at the present season also a remnant has turned up according to a choosing due to undeserved kindness.” (Romans 11:5) That remnant was made up of individuals personally accountable to God.
Examples of Personal Accountability
13. What happened to Cain when God called him to account for murdering his brother Abel?
13 The Bible cites many cases of personal accountability to Jehovah God. Take Adam’s firstborn son, Cain, as an example. Both he and his brother Abel offered sacrifices to Jehovah. Abel’s sacrifice was acceptable to God, but Cain’s was not. When called to account for brutally murdering his brother, Cain callously told God: “Am I my brother’s guardian?” For his sin, Cain was banished to “the land of Fugitiveness to the east of Eden.” He showed no sincere repentance for his crime, regretting only his just punishment.—Genesis 4:3-16.
14. How was personal accountability to God illustrated in the case of high priest Eli and his sons?
14 One’s personal accountability to God is also illustrated in the case of Israel’s high priest Eli. His sons, Hophni and Phinehas, served as officiating priests but “were guilty of injustice towards men, and of impiety towards God, and abstained from no sort of wickedness,” says historian Josephus. These “good-for-nothing men” did not acknowledge Jehovah, engaged in sacrilegious conduct, and were guilty of gross immorality. (1 Samuel 1:3; 2:12-17, 22-25) As their father and Israel’s high priest, Eli had the duty to discipline them, but he merely reproved them mildly. Eli ‘kept honoring his sons more than Jehovah.’ (1 Samuel 2:29) Retribution came upon the house of Eli. Both sons died the same day as their father, and their priestly line was eventually cut off completely. Thus the account was settled.—1 Samuel 3:13, 14; 4:11, 17, 18.
15. Why was King Saul’s son Jonathan rewarded?
15 An entirely different example was set by King Saul’s son Jonathan. Soon after David killed Goliath, “Jonathan’s very soul became bound up with the soul of David,” and they concluded a covenant of friendship. (1 Samuel 18:1, 3) Likely, Jonathan discerned that God’s spirit had left Saul, but his own zeal for true worship remained undiminished. (1 Samuel 16:14) Jonathan’s appreciation for David’s God-given authority never faltered. Jonathan realized his accountability to God, and Jehovah rewarded him for his honorable course by ensuring that his family line continued for generations.—1 Chronicles 8:33-40.
Accountability in the Christian Congregation
16. Who was Titus, and why can it be said that he rendered a good account of himself to God?
16 The Christian Greek Scriptures speak well of many men and women who rendered a good account of themselves. For instance, there was the Greek Christian named Titus. It has been suggested that he became a Christian during Paul’s first missionary journey to Cyprus. Since Jews and proselytes from Cyprus may have been in Jerusalem during Pentecost of 33 C.E., Christianity may have reached the island shortly thereafter. (Acts 11:19) Nevertheless, Titus proved to be one of Paul’s faithful fellow workers. He accompanied Paul and Barnabas on the journey to Jerusalem about 49 C.E., when the vital issue of circumcision was resolved. The fact that Titus was uncircumcised added weight to Paul’s argument that converts to Christianity should not be under the Mosaic Law. (Galatians 2:1-3) The fine ministry of Titus is attested to in the Scriptures, and Paul even directed a divinely inspired letter to him. (2 Corinthians 7:6; Titus 1:1-4) Evidently to the very end of his earthly course, Titus continued to render a fine account of himself to God.
17. What account did Timothy render, and how can this example affect us?
17 Timothy was another zealous individual who rendered an acceptable account of himself to Jehovah God. Though Timothy had some health problems, he displayed ‘faith without any hypocrisy’ and ‘slaved with Paul in furtherance of the good news.’ The apostle could therefore tell fellow Christians in Philippi: “I have no one else of a disposition like [Timothy’s] who will genuinely care for the things pertaining to you.” (2 Timothy 1:5; Philippians 2:20, 22; 1 Timothy 5:23) In the face of human frailties and other trials, we too can have unhypocritical faith and can render an acceptable account of ourselves to God.
18. Who was Lydia, and what spirit did she display?
18 Lydia was a godly woman who evidently rendered a fine account of herself to God. She and her household were among the first individuals in Europe to embrace Christianity because of Paul’s activity in Philippi in about 50 C.E. A native of Thyatira, Lydia was probably a Jewish proselyte, but there may have been few Jews and no synagogue in Philippi. She and other devout women were meeting by a river when Paul spoke to them. As a result, Lydia became a Christian and prevailed upon Paul and his associates to stay with her. (Acts 16:12-15) The hospitality that Lydia showed remains a hallmark of true Christians.
19. By what good deeds did Dorcas render a fine account of herself to God?
19 Dorcas was another woman who rendered a fine account of herself to Jehovah God. When she died, Peter went to Joppa in response to a request by disciples living there. The two men who met Peter “led him up into the upper chamber; and all the widows presented themselves to him weeping and exhibiting many inner garments and outer garments that Dorcas used to make while she was with them.” Dorcas was brought back to life. But is she to be remembered solely for her magnanimous spirit? No. She was a “disciple” and surely engaged in disciple-making work herself. Christian women today similarly ‘abound in good deeds and gifts of mercy.’ They are also delighted to have an active share in proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom and making disciples.—Acts 9:36-42; Matthew 24:14; 28:19, 20.
20. What questions may we ask ourselves?
20 The Bible clearly shows that nations and individuals must render an account to the Sovereign Lord Jehovah. (Zephaniah 1:7) If we are dedicated to God, we may therefore ask ourselves, ‘How do I view my God-given privileges and responsibilities? What kind of account am I giving of myself to Jehovah God and Jesus Christ?’
What Are Your Answers?
□ How would you prove that angels and God’s Son are accountable to Jehovah?
□ What Bible examples are there to show that God holds nations accountable?
□ What does the Bible say about personal accountability to God?
□ Who were some individuals of Bible record that rendered a fine account to Jehovah God?
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Jesus Christ rendered a fine account of himself to his heavenly Father
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Like Dorcas, Christian women today render a good account of themselves to Jehovah God
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The Death of Abel/The Doré Bible Illustrations/Dover Publications, Inc.