Keep On Walking With God
“Keep walking by spirit and you will carry out no fleshly desire at all.”—GALATIANS 5:16.
1. (a) Amid what conditions and for how long did Enoch walk with God? (b) How long did Noah walk with God, and what heavy responsibilities did he have?
THE Bible tells us that Enoch “kept walking with the true God.” In spite of the shocking speech and ungodly conduct of people around him, he persisted in walking with God until the end of his life at 365 years of age. (Genesis 5:23, 24; Jude 14, 15) Noah too “walked with the true God.” He did so while raising his family, while coping with a world influenced by rebel angels and their violent offspring, and while caring for all the details involved in building a huge ark that was larger than any seagoing vessel of ancient times. He kept on walking with God after the Deluge, even when rebellion against Jehovah again reared its head at Babel. Indeed, Noah kept on walking with God right down till his death at 950 years of age.—Genesis 6:9; 9:29.
2. What is meant by ‘walking with God’?
2 When saying that these men of faith “walked” with God, the Bible is using the term in a metaphoric sense. It means that Enoch and Noah conducted themselves in a way that gave evidence of strong faith in God. They did what Jehovah commanded them and regulated their lives in harmony with what they knew about him from his dealings with humankind. (Compare 2 Chronicles 7:17.) Not only did they express mental agreement with what God said and did but they acted on everything he required—not just some of it but all of it to the extent possible for them as imperfect humans. Thus Noah, for example, did exactly what God commanded him. (Genesis 6:22) Noah was not running ahead of the directions given to him, and he was not negligently lagging behind. As one who enjoyed intimacy with Jehovah, feeling free to pray to God and cherishing divine direction, he was walking with God. Are you doing that?
A Consistent Course of Life
3. What is vitally important for all who are dedicated and baptized servants of God?
3 It is heartwarming to observe people start walking with God. As they take positive steps in harmony with Jehovah’s will, they give evidence of faith, without which no one can please God. (Hebrews 11:6) How we rejoice that each year, on an average for the past five years, over 330,000 persons have dedicated themselves to Jehovah and have presented themselves for water baptism! But it is also important for them and for all of us to keep on walking with God.—Matthew 24:13; Revelation 2:10.
4. Although they showed some faith, why did most of the Israelites who left Egypt not enter the Promised Land?
4 In Moses’ day, it took faith for an Israelite family to celebrate the Passover in Egypt and to spatter the blood on the doorposts and on the upper part of the doorway of their home. (Exodus 12:1-28) However, the faith of many wavered when they saw Pharaoh’s army close behind them at the Red Sea. (Exodus 14:9-12) Psalm 106:12 shows that when they had safely passed through on the dry seabed and had seen the surging waters annihilate the Egyptian army, they again “had faith in [Jehovah’s] word.” A short time later in the wilderness, however, the Israelites began to complain about drinking water, food, and oversight. The negative report of 10 of the 12 spies who returned from the Promised Land made them fearful. Under those circumstances, as Psalm 106:24 says, “they had no faith in [God’s] word.” They wanted to go back to Egypt. (Numbers 14:1-4) Whatever faith they had came to life only when they saw certain extraordinary displays of divine power. They did not keep on walking with God. As a result, those Israelites did not enter the Promised Land.—Psalm 95:10, 11.
5 The Bible admonishes us: “Keep testing whether you are in the faith, keep proving what you yourselves are.” (2 Corinthians 13:5) Being “in the faith” means adhering to the body of Christian beliefs. This is vital if we are to succeed in walking with God all the days of our life. To walk with God, we must also exercise the quality of faith, fully trusting in Jehovah. (Proverbs 3:5, 6) There are numerous traps and pitfalls that can ensnare those who fail to do so. What are some of these?
Shun the Snare of Self-Confidence
6. What do all Christians know about fornication and adultery, and how do they feel about these sins?
6 Everyone who has studied the Bible, dedicated his life to Jehovah, and been baptized knows that God’s Word condemns fornication and adultery. (1 Thessalonians 4:1-3; Hebrews 13:4) Such ones agree that this is right. They mean to live in harmony with it. Yet, sexual immorality continues to be one of Satan’s most effective snares. Why?
7. On the Plains of Moab, how did Israelite men get involved in conduct that they knew was wrong?
7 Initially, those who get involved in such immoral conduct may not be planning to do so. Perhaps that was also true of the Israelites on the Plains of Moab. To Israelite men who were weary of life in the wilderness, the Moabite and Midianite women who enticed them may at first have seemed friendly and hospitable. But what happened when the Israelites accepted invitations to fellowship with people who served Baal and not Jehovah, people who allowed their girls (even from prominent families) to have sexual relations with men that they had not married? When men from the camp of Israel began to view such associations as desirable, they were enticed to do things they knew were wrong, and this cost them their lives.—Numbers 22:1; 25:1-15; 31:16; Revelation 2:14.
8. In our day, what may lead a Christian into sexual immorality?
8 What might cause a person to fall into a similar snare in our day? Although he may know the seriousness of sexual immorality, if he does not also appreciate the danger of self-confidence, he may allow himself to get into a situation where the enticement to wrongdoing overwhelms his reason.—Proverbs 7:6-9, 21, 22; 14:16.
9. What Scriptural warnings can safeguard us against immorality?
9 In plain language God’s Word warns us not to be misled into thinking that we are so strong that bad associations will not corrupt us. That includes watching television programs that feature the lives of immoral people and looking at magazines that stimulate immoral desires. (1 Corinthians 10:11, 12; 15:33) Even association with fellow believers under wrong circumstances can lead to serious problems. The attraction between the sexes is strong. With loving concern Jehovah’s organization has therefore cautioned against being alone and out of public view with someone of the opposite sex to whom we are not married or who is not a family member. In order to keep on walking with God, we need to shun the snare of self-confidence and heed the warning counsel that he gives us.—Psalm 85:8.
Do Not Let Fear of Man Control You
10. How does “trembling at men” lay a snare?
10 Another danger is identified at Proverbs 29:25, which says: “Trembling at men is what lays a snare.” A hunter’s snare often involves a noose that pulls tight around the neck or ropes that entangle the feet of an animal. (Job 18:8-11) Trembling at men can similarly choke a person’s ability to speak freely and to conduct himself in a way that pleases God. The desire to please others is normal, and a callous disregard for what other people think is not Christian. But balance is needed. When concern about possible reactions of other humans causes a person to do what God forbids or to refrain from doing what God’s Word commands, that individual has been ensnared.
11. (a) What is the safeguard against allowing fear of man to control one? (b) How has Jehovah helped his servants who were struggling with fear of men?
11 The protection against such a snare lies, not in one’s natural disposition, but in “trusting in Jehovah.” (Proverbs 29:25b) With trust in God, even a person who is shy by nature can prove to be courageous and steadfast. As long as we are surrounded by the pressures of this satanic system of things, we will need to be on guard against the ensnaring fear of man. Although the prophet Elijah had a fine record of courageous service, when Jezebel threatened to have him put to death, he fearfully fled. (1 Kings 19:2-18) Under pressure, the apostle Peter fearfully denied knowing Jesus Christ, and years later he allowed fear to cause him to conduct himself in a manner contrary to the faith. (Mark 14:66-71; Galatians 2:11, 12) However, both Elijah and Peter accepted spiritual help and, with confidence in Jehovah, continued to serve God acceptably.
12. What modern-day examples show how individuals have been helped to avoid letting fear cause them to hold back from pleasing God?
12 Many of Jehovah’s servants in our day have also learned how to win out over ensnaring fear. A teenage Witness in Guyana acknowledged: “At school the fight to resist peer pressure is strong.” But she added: “So is my faith in Jehovah.” When her teacher ridiculed her before the entire class on account of her faith, she quietly prayed to Jehovah. Later in private she gave a tactful witness to the teacher. During a visit to his hometown in Benin, a young man who was learning Jehovah’s requirements determined to get rid of an idol that his father had crafted for him. The young man knew that the image was lifeless, and he did not fear it, but he was also aware that irate villagers might seek to kill him. He prayed to Jehovah, and then at night he took the idol into the bush and disposed of it. (Compare Judges 6:27-31.) When a woman in the Dominican Republic began to serve Jehovah, her husband demanded that she choose between him and Jehovah. The man threatened her with divorce. Would fear make her abandon her faith? She replied: “If infidelity were involved, I would be ashamed, but I am not ashamed of serving Jehovah God!” She kept on walking with God, and in time her husband joined her in doing Jehovah’s will. With complete trust in our heavenly Father, we too can avoid allowing the fear of man to cause us to hold back from doing what we know will be pleasing to Jehovah.
Avoid Minimizing Counsel
13. About what snare are we warned at 1 Timothy 6:9?
13 Though some snares used by hunters are designed to catch any animal that chances to pass a certain place, other snares lure animals by means of deceptively appealing bait. To many humans, riches are like that. (Matthew 13:22) At 1 Timothy 6:8, 9, the Bible encourages us to be content with sustenance and covering. Then it warns: “Those who are determined to be rich fall into temptation and a snare and many senseless and hurtful desires, which plunge men into destruction and ruin.”
14. (a) What might prevent a person from taking to heart the counsel to be content with sustenance and covering? (b) How might a wrong definition of riches cause one to minimize the warning recorded at 1 Timothy 6:9? (c) In what way might “the desire of the eyes” make some blind to the snare that awaits them?
14 Despite this warning, many get ensnared because they do not apply the counsel to themselves. Why? Could it be that pride pushes them to insist on adhering to a life-style that calls for more than the “sustenance and covering” with which the Bible urges us to be content? Do they perhaps minimize the Bible’s warning because they define riches in terms of what very wealthy people possess? The Bible simply sets the determination to be rich in contrast with being content with sustenance and covering. (Compare Hebrews 13:5.) Does “the desire of the eyes”—the desire to possess things that they see, even at the sacrifice of spiritual pursuits—cause them to push the interests of true worship into second place? (1 John 2:15-17; Haggai 1:2-8) How much happier are those who truly take to heart the Bible’s counsel and walk with God by making the service of Jehovah the focal point of their lives!
Coping Successfully With Anxieties of Life
15. What situations understandably cause anxiety to many of Jehovah’s people, and to what snare must we be alert when we are under such pressure?
15 More common than determination to get rich is anxious concern over obtaining the necessities of life. Many of Jehovah’s servants live with only minimal possessions. They work hard for many hours in order to have even basic clothing, a place for their family to sleep at night, and at least some food for the day. Others struggle with problems because of illness or aging of themselves or of family members. How easy it would be to let such circumstances choke spiritual interests out of their lives!—Matthew 13:22.
16. How does Jehovah help us to cope with the pressures of life?
16 Lovingly, Jehovah tells us about the relief that will be experienced under the Messianic Kingdom. (Psalm 72:1-4, 16; Isaiah 25:7, 8) He also helps us to cope with the pressures of life now by giving us counsel on how to keep our priorities straight. (Matthew 4:4; 6:25-34) By means of the record of how he helped his servants in times past, Jehovah reassures us. (Jeremiah 37:21; James 5:11) He fortifies us with the knowledge that, regardless of any adversity that comes upon us, his love for his loyal servants remains constant. (Romans 8:35-39) To those who put their trust in Jehovah, he declares: “I will by no means leave you nor by any means forsake you.”—Hebrews 13:5.
17. Give examples of how individuals experiencing severe adversity have been able to keep walking with God.
17 Strengthened by this knowledge, true Christians keep on walking with God instead of turning aside to worldly ways. A common worldly philosophy among the poor in many lands is that taking from someone who has more so that you can feed your family is not stealing. But those who walk by faith reject that view. They value God’s approval above all else and look to him to reward their honest conduct. (Proverbs 30:8, 9; 1 Corinthians 10:13; Hebrews 13:18) A widow in India found that willingness to work coupled with resourcefulness helped her to cope. Instead of being resentful over her lot in life, she was aware that if she put God’s Kingdom and his righteousness first in her life, Jehovah would bless her efforts to obtain the necessities for herself and her son. (Matthew 6:33, 34) Many thousands around the earth demonstrate that, regardless of the adversity they may experience, Jehovah is their refuge and stronghold. (Psalm 91:2) Is that true of you?
18. What is the key to avoiding the snares of Satan’s world?
18 As long as we live in the present system of things, there will be snares to avoid. (1 John 5:19) The Bible identifies these and shows us how to avoid them. Those who truly love Jehovah and have a wholesome fear of displeasing him can successfully deal with such snares. If they “keep walking by spirit,” they will not succumb to worldly ways. (Galatians 5:16-25) Before all who truly build their lives around their relationship with Jehovah, there is the grand prospect of walking with God, enjoying intimacy with him forever.—Psalm 25:14.
What Is Your Comment?
◻ How can self-confidence be a snare?
◻ What can safeguard us against being controlled by fear of man?
◻ What might cause us to fail to apply counsel on the danger of pursuing riches?
◻ What can enable us to avoid being ensnared by anxieties of life?
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Many keep on walking with God throughout life