The Truth Transforms Lives
IT IS sad but true that the lives of so many people today are difficult, even desperate. Is it possible for such people to find happiness? Some are criminals and prey on their neighbors. Can they ever become honest members of society? The answer to both these questions is yes. People can change. Lives can be transformed. The apostle Paul showed how when he wrote: “Be transformed by making your mind over, that you may prove to yourselves the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”—Romans 12:2.
The mention of the “perfect will of God” may call to mind what Jesus said to his disciples more than 20 years before Paul wrote the above words. Jesus said: “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32) By “the truth,” Jesus meant the divinely inspired information—especially information regarding God’s will—that is preserved for us in the Bible. (John 17:17) Does Bible truth really make people free? Does living in harmony with God’s will really transform lives? Indeed it does. Consider a few examples.
A Purpose in Life
Not long ago, Moisés, in Gibraltar, was a very unhappy man. He says: “I was a drunkard and slept in the street. I felt lost. Every night I asked God to have mercy on me and not make me endure another day. I wept as I asked God why I was in this world if I was good for nothing, out of work, without family, and with no one to help me. Why should I keep living?” Then, something happened.
Moisés continues: “I knew that God had heard my prayer when I met Roberto, one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Roberto gave me a Bible and a copy of the Bible study aid What Does God Require of Us?a Every day we studied the Bible together on the bench where I slept at night. After a month Roberto took me to a meeting in the local Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Soon, Bible truth had completely altered my outlook. I no longer sleep outdoors; nor do I drink or smoke. My life has changed, and I am happy. I hope to get baptized soon and serve Jehovah as one of his Witnesses.”
What a transformation! When people are without hope, the reason is often lack of knowledge. They do not know about God or his wonderful purposes. In the case of Moisés, when he gained that knowledge, it gave him the strength and courage to turn his life around. The psalmist’s prayer to God was answered in Moisés’ case: “Send out your light and your truth. May these themselves lead me. May they bring me to your holy mountain and to your grand tabernacle.”—Psalm 43:3.
In Belize, Daniel had a comparable experience. Daniel was not sleeping in the streets—he had a prestigious job. But for 20 years he battled drug and alcohol addiction and led an immoral life. Although raised a Catholic, Daniel could see no meaning in life, and he doubted the existence of God. He went to different churches seeking help but found that many of his churchgoing friends and even some of his clergymen friends abused drugs or alcohol. Meanwhile, his wife was about to divorce him.
In desperation Daniel checked himself into a rehabilitation center. Still, he knew that after his release, he would soon be back on drugs if he did not receive help. But what kind of help? In May 1996, two days out of rehabilitation, Daniel approached one of Jehovah’s Witnesses and surprised him with the plea, “Study the Bible with me please.” The Witness arranged to study the Bible twice a week with Daniel, and Daniel soon began to conform his life to God’s will and replaced his old friends with Christian friends who did not abuse drugs or alcohol and who shunned immorality. Thus Daniel found that what the Bible says is true: “He that is walking with wise persons will become wise, but he that is having dealings with the stupid ones will fare badly.” (Proverbs 13:20) Soon, he said: “This is the first time in my life that I have known what it is to have a clean conscience.” Daniel’s life too was transformed.
In Puerto Rico, another man experienced a notable transformation. He was in prison and was viewed as very dangerous, since he had killed a number of people. Could Bible truth change him? Yes. One of Jehovah’s Witnesses was able to give him some copies of the Watchtower and Awake! magazines, and he quickly asked for more. A Bible study was started with him, and as Bible truth began to affect his heart, the changes he made were visible to all. One of the first evidences of his change was that he cut short his long hair and shaved off his straggly beard.
The Bible says that God forgives sinners who truly repent and change their life-styles. Paul wrote: “Do you not know that unrighteous persons will not inherit God’s kingdom? . . . And yet that is what some of you were. But you have been washed clean.” (1 Corinthians 6:9, 11) Doubtless, these words comforted this man, as did the words of Acts 24:15: “There is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous.” He said: “I want to be there when the resurrection of the dead takes place so that I can ask forgiveness of those whose lives I took.”
A New Family
One day Luis, a full-time evangelizer of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Argentina, was introduced to a young man who had a sad history. Abandoned by his parents at birth, he was brought up in various institutions. When he was about 20 years old, he learned the whereabouts of his mother and decided to live near her. He worked hard, saved up a lot of money, and traveled to the city where his mother was. She let him stay with her until his money ran out and then asked him to leave. This rejection made him suicidal.
However, Luis was able to share Bible truth with this young man. That truth includes the assurance: “In case my own father and my own mother did leave me, even Jehovah himself would take me up.” (Psalm 27:10) The young man found that he had a heavenly Father who would never abandon him. He is now happy to be part of a new family, Jehovah’s family.
Another man in the same country told one of Jehovah’s Witnesses that he liked the Watchtower magazine. Why? Because it had saved his marriage. It seems that one day this man, as he left work, saw in the garbage a Watchtower magazine with the title “Divorce” in large letters. Since his marriage was in trouble and he and his wife had begun proceedings for a legal separation, he retrieved the magazine and began to read it. He took it home and read it with his wife. The couple tried to apply the Bible-based counsel in the magazine. (Ephesians 5:21–6:4) Soon, their relationship improved. They stopped the separation proceedings and are now studying the Bible as a united married couple.
In Uruguay, another man named Luis was far from happy. Drug addiction, spiritism, idol worship, alcohol abuse—these were some of the things that made his life chaotic. Finally, Luis, completely frustrated, became an atheist. A friend gave him the book Life—How Did It Get Here? By Evolution or by Creation?b This resulted in brief contact with Jehovah’s Witnesses, but Luis soon returned to alcohol and drugs. When, in a moment of great anguish, he found himself sitting in a pit full of garbage, he prayed, offering his prayer to “the father of Jesus Christ,” since he was not sure about God’s name.
He asked God to show him if there was any reason for his being in the world. “The very next day,” reports Luis, “an acquaintance gave me a book that he had no more use for. Its title? Revelation—Its Grand Climax At Hand!”c The book helped him to answer his question. Luis prayed again for help in finding the religion that would show him how to serve God. What a surprise! The doorbell rang, and standing outside were two of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Luis immediately started to study the Bible with them. He made rapid progress and now feels blessed to be a baptized Witness. He lives a clean life and helps others also to find a purpose for their lives. For him, the words of Psalm 65:2 have come true: “O Hearer of prayer, even to you people of all flesh will come.”
In the Philippines, Allan used to be a student activist. He belonged to an organization whose purpose was “to bring down the government so that future generations could enjoy equality.” One day, though, he was contacted by Jehovah’s Witnesses and learned from the Bible God’s purpose for mankind. That purpose includes the inspired promise: “Just a little while longer, and the wicked one will be no more . . . But the meek ones themselves will possess the earth, and they will indeed find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.” (Psalm 37:10, 11) Allan said: “I soon discovered that what our movement was fighting for was long ago promised in the Bible. All the things we so ardently desired will be granted under God’s Kingdom.” Allan now supports God’s Kingdom and helps others to have faith in Bible truth.
Yes, lives are transformed when people heed the truth of God’s Word, the Bible. Indeed, the time is coming when all surviving humankind will have harmonized their lives with God’s will. What a transformation that will be! Then, the prophecy will be fulfilled: “They will not do any harm or cause any ruin in all my holy mountain; because the earth will certainly be filled with the knowledge of Jehovah as the waters are covering the very sea.”—Isaiah 11:9.
a Published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.
b Published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.
c Published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.