Have You Made the Truth Your Own?
“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.
1, 2. Why is it not easy to be a true Christian today?
TO BE a true Christian in these last days—these “critical times hard to deal with”—is not easy. (2 Timothy 3:1) The fact is that to follow Christ’s example, one must conquer the world. (1 John 5:4) Recall what Jesus said about the Christian way: “Go in through the narrow gate; because broad and spacious is the road leading off into destruction, and many are the ones going in through it; whereas narrow is the gate and cramped the road leading off into life, and few are the ones finding it.” He also said: “If anyone wants to come after me, let him disown himself and pick up his torture stake day after day and follow me continually.”—Matthew 7:13, 14; Luke 9:23.
2 Having found the cramped road to life, a Christian’s next challenge is to stay on it. Why is that a challenge? It is because our dedication and baptism make us a target of Satan’s crafty acts, or subtle machinations. (Ephesians 6:11; footnote) He takes note of our weaknesses and seeks to exploit them in an effort to subvert our spirituality. After all, he attempted to break down Jesus, so why should he leave us alone?—Matthew 4:1-11.
Satan’s Crafty Tactics
3. How did Satan plant doubts in Eve’s mind?
3 One ploy that Satan uses is to plant doubts in our mind. He looks for weaknesses in our spiritual armor. In the very beginning, he used that tactic with Eve, asking: “Is it really so that God said you must not eat from every tree of the garden?” (Genesis 3:1) In other words, Satan was saying, ‘Is it really possible that God could have placed such a prohibition on you? Would he hold back something so good from you? Why, God knows that in the very day of your eating from the tree your eyes are bound to be opened and you are bound to be like God, knowing good and bad!’ Satan planted a seed of doubt and waited for it to germinate.—Genesis 3:5.
4. What doubts might affect some today?
4 How does Satan use this tactic today? If we neglect our Bible reading, our personal study, our prayers, and our Christian ministry and meetings, we may leave ourselves open to doubts raised by others. For example: “How do we know that this is the truth as Jesus taught it?” “Are these really the last days? After all, we are already in the 21st century.” “Are we on the threshold of Armageddon, or is it a long way off?” If such doubts should arise, what can we do to remove them?
5, 6. What must we do if doubts should arise?
5 James gave practical counsel when he wrote: “If any one of you is lacking in wisdom, let him keep on asking God, for he gives generously to all and without reproaching; and it will be given him. But let him keep on asking in faith, not doubting at all, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven by the wind and blown about. In fact, let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from Jehovah; he is an indecisive man, unsteady in all his ways.”—James 1:5-8.
6 What, then, must we do? We should “keep on asking God” in prayer for faith and understanding and bolster our efforts in personal study regarding any questions or doubts. We can also ask for help from those who are strong in the faith, never doubting that Jehovah will give us the support we need. James also said: “Subject yourselves, therefore, to God; but oppose the Devil, and he will flee from you. Draw close to God, and he will draw close to you.” Yes, our doubts will dissipate as we draw close to God through study and prayer.—James 4:7, 8.
7, 8. What are some basic criteria for determining the form of worship that was taught by Jesus, and who meet these criteria?
7 Take, for example, the question: How do we know that we are practicing the form of worship that Jesus taught? To answer this, what criteria must be considered? The Bible points out that authentic Christians must have true love among themselves. (John 13:34, 35) They must sanctify God’s name, Jehovah. (Isaiah 12:4, 5; Matthew 6:9) And they must make known that name.—Exodus 3:15; John 17:26.
8 Another identifying feature of true worship is respect for God’s Word, the Bible. It is the unique book that reveals God’s personality and his purposes. (John 17:17; 2 Timothy 3:16, 17) Additionally, true Christians proclaim the Kingdom of God as man’s only hope for everlasting life on a paradise earth. (Mark 13:10; Revelation 21:1-4) They keep separate from this world’s corrupt politics and its defiling way of life. (John 15:19; James 1:27; 4:4) Who today have really met these criteria? The facts establish that there is only one answer—Jehovah’s Witnesses.
What if Doubts Linger?
9, 10. What can we do to overcome lingering doubts?
9 What if we do find ourselves in a tunnel of doubts? What should we do then? Wise King Solomon provides the answer: “My son, if you will receive my sayings and treasure up my own commandments with yourself, so as to pay attention to wisdom with your ear, that you may incline your heart to discernment; if, moreover, you call out for understanding itself and you give forth your voice for discernment itself, if you keep seeking for it as for silver, and as for hid treasures you keep searching for it, in that case you will understand the fear of Jehovah, and you will find the very knowledge of God.”—Proverbs 2:1-5.
10 Is that not a staggering thought? If we are willing to pay earnest attention to God’s wisdom, we will “find the very knowledge of God.” Yes, the knowledge of the Sovereign Lord of the universe is within our reach if we are willing to receive and treasure his sayings. That means turning to Jehovah in prayer and through personal study. The hidden treasures of his Word can dispel any doubts and help us see the light of truth.
11. How was Elisha’s attendant affected by doubt?
11 A clear example of how prayer helped a fearful and doubting servant of God is found at 2 Kings 6:11-18. Elisha’s attendant lacked spiritual perception. He could not perceive that heavenly hosts were there to support God’s prophet, who was under siege by the Syrian army. In fear the attendant cried out: “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” How did Elisha respond? “Do not be afraid, for there are more who are with us than those who are with them.” But how was the attendant to be convinced? He could not see the heavenly hosts.
12. (a) How were the attendant’s doubts resolved? (b) How can we resolve any doubts that we might have?
12 “Elisha began to pray and say: ‘O Jehovah, open his eyes, please, that he may see.’ Immediately Jehovah opened the attendant’s eyes, so that he saw; and, look! the mountainous region was full of horses and war chariots of fire all around Elisha.” In that case Jehovah caused the attendant to see the heavenly armies that were protecting Elisha. We should not expect the same kind of divine help today, however. Remember, that attendant of the prophet did not have the complete Bible to study in order to strengthen his faith. We do have the Bible. If we put it to good use, our faith can similarly be strengthened. For example, we might ponder the several accounts that describe Jehovah in his heavenly court. These leave no room for doubt that Jehovah does have a heavenly organization supporting his servants in the worldwide educational work today.—Isaiah 6:1-4; Ezekiel 1:4-28; Daniel 7:9, 10; Revelation 4:1-11; 14:6, 7.
Beware of Satan’s Machinations!
13. By what means does Satan try to weaken our hold on the truth?
13 What are some of Satan’s other ways of weakening our spirituality and our hold on the truth? One of them is immorality, in all of its diverse manifestations. In today’s sex-mad world, what is called an affair (a euphemism for infidelity) or a one-night stand (casual fornication) has become the daily fare for a hedonistic generation bent on having a good time at all costs. Movies, TV, and videos promote this life-style. Pornography pervades the media, especially the Internet. Temptation awaits the curious.—1 Thessalonians 4:3-5; James 1:13-15.
14. Why have some Christians fallen victim to Satan’s machinations?
14 Some Christians have allowed their curiosity to get the better of them and have polluted their minds and hearts by viewing soft-core or even hard-core pornographic images. They have allowed themselves to fall into Satan’s alluring trap. Doing so has often led to spiritual shipwreck. Such ones have failed to remain “babes as to badness.” They have not become “full-grown in powers of understanding.” (1 Corinthians 14:20) Each year, thousands pay the price for not abiding by the principles and standards of God’s Word. They have neglected to put on and maintain their “complete suit of armor from God.”—Ephesians 6:10-13; Colossians 3:5-10; 1 Timothy 1:18, 19.
Treasure What We Have
15. Why might some find it difficult to appreciate their spiritual heritage?
15 “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free,” said Jesus. (John 8:32) Most Witnesses have had to break away from their former life-style and religious associations. Therefore, they may more readily appreciate the freedom that the truth brings. On the other hand, some young people who have been brought up by parents who are in the truth may find it difficult to appreciate their spiritual heritage. They have never been a part of false religion or a part of this world with its emphasis on pleasure-seeking, its drug addiction, and its immorality. As a consequence, they may fail to see the stark contrast between our spiritual paradise and Satan’s corrupt world. Some may even give in to the temptation to taste the world’s poison to see what they have missed!—1 John 2:15-17; Revelation 18:1-5.
16. (a) What questions might we ask ourselves? (b) What are we taught and encouraged to do?
16 Do we really need to burn our fingers in order to know pain and suffering? Can we not learn from the negative experiences of others? Do we need to turn to “the mire” of this world to see if we have missed out on something? (2 Peter 2:20-22) Peter reminded Christians of the first century who had formerly been a part of Satan’s world: “The time that has passed by is sufficient for you to have worked out the will of the nations when you proceeded in deeds of loose conduct, lusts, excesses with wine, revelries, drinking matches, and illegal idolatries.” Certainly, we do not need to experience the world’s “low sink of debauchery” to see how debased life can be. (1 Peter 4:3, 4) On the contrary, we are taught Jehovah’s high moral standards at our Kingdom Halls, which are centers for Bible education. And we are encouraged to use our power of reason to prove to ourselves that we have the truth and thus make the truth our own.—Joshua 1:8; Romans 12:1, 2; 2 Timothy 3:14-17.
Our Name Not Merely a Label
17. How can we be effective Witnesses of Jehovah?
17 If we make the truth our own, we will seek to share it with others on every suitable occasion. This does not mean that we will try to force it on those who show no interest. (Matthew 7:6) Rather, we will not be timid about identifying ourselves as Jehovah’s Witnesses. If a person shows a glimmer of interest by raising a sincere question or by accepting a Bible publication, we will be ready and prepared to share our hope. Of course, this would recommend that we always have some form of literature with us no matter where we may be—at home, at work, in school, at the store, or at places of recreation.—1 Peter 3:15.
18. How may clearly identifying ourselves as Christians be a positive force in our life?
18 When we clearly identify ourselves as Christians, we strengthen our defense against Satan’s insidious attacks. If there is a birthday or Christmas party or an office lottery, fellow workers will often say, “Don’t bother with her. She is one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.” For the same reason, people may be less inclined to recount lewd jokes in our presence. Thus, our making known our Christian stand is a positive force in our life, even as the apostle Peter pointed out: “Indeed, who is the man that will harm you if you become zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are happy.”—1 Peter 3:13, 14.
19. How do we know that we are deep in the last days?
19 Another benefit of making the truth our own is that we will be convinced that these are indeed the last days of this system of things. We will know that many of the Bible’s prophecies are reaching their culmination in our time.a Paul’s warning that “in the last days critical times hard to deal with will be here” is amply confirmed by the horrifying events of the past century. (2 Timothy 3:1-5; Mark 13:3-37) A recent newspaper article regarding the 20th century was entitled “It Will Be Remembered as the Age of Barbarism.” The article stated: “1999 turned out to be the most murderous year in the second half of the most murderous century.”
20. Now is the time for what action?
20 Now is not the time to vacillate. Jehovah’s blessing is clearly evident on the greatest Bible educational work that has ever been done in all the world as a witness to the nations. (Matthew 24:14) Make the truth your own, and share it with others. Your everlasting future depends on what you do now. Slacking the hand will not merit Jehovah’s blessing. (Luke 9:62) Rather, it is the time to “become steadfast, unmovable, always having plenty to do in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in connection with the Lord.”—1 Corinthians 15:58.
Do You Recall?
• How can we dispel doubts?
• What can we learn from the example of Elisha’s attendant?
• Against what moral temptations must we be on guard constantly?
• Why should we clearly identify ourselves as Jehovah’s Witnesses?
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Regular Bible study and prayer can help us dispel doubts
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Elisha’s attendant had his doubts resolved by a vision
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We are taught Jehovah’s high moral standards at Kingdom Halls like this one in Benin