Let Jehovah’s “Saying” Safeguard You
IN 490 B.C.E. at the historic battle of Marathon, from 10 thousand to 20 thousand Athenians faced a greatly superior Persian army. A key factor in the Greek tactics was the phalanx—a block of soldiers marching in tight formation. Their shields presented an almost unbroken wall of armor, one bristling with spears. The phalanx gave the Athenians a famous victory over the vastly superior forces of the Persians.
True Christians are engaged in spiritual warfare. They contend with powerful foes—the invisible rulers of the present wicked system, who are described in the Bible as “the world rulers of this darkness, . . . the wicked spirit forces in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12; 1 John 5:19) God’s people continue to be victorious—but not in their own strength. All credit goes to Jehovah, who safeguards and instructs them, as stated at Psalm 18:30: “The saying of Jehovah is a refined one. A shield he is to all those taking refuge in him.”
Yes, by means of his refined “saying,” which is contained in the Sacred Scriptures, Jehovah shields his loyal servants from spiritual harm. (Psalm 19:7-11; 119:93) Concerning the wisdom manifest in God’s Word, Solomon wrote: “Do not leave it, and it will keep you. Love it, and it will safeguard you.” (Proverbs 4:6; Ecclesiastes 7:12) How does divine wisdom safeguard us against harm? Consider the example of ancient Israel.
A People Shielded by Godly Wisdom
Jehovah’s Law protected and guided the Israelites in every facet of life. For example, the regulations on diet, hygiene, and quarantine spared them from many of the diseases that ravaged other nations. Only after the discovery of bacteria in the 19th century did science begin to catch up with God’s Law. The laws on land ownership, repurchase, debt release, and usury brought social benefits in Israel by promoting a stable society and a just economy. (Deuteronomy 7:12, 15; 15:4, 5) Jehovah’s Law even helped to preserve the health of Israel’s soil! (Exodus 23:10, 11) Commandments against false worship safeguarded the people spiritually, shielding them from demon oppression, child sacrifice, and many other evils, besides the demeaning practice of humans’ bowing down before lifeless idols.—Exodus 20:3-5; Psalm 115:4-8.
Clearly, Jehovah’s “saying” proved to be “no valueless word” for Israel; rather, it meant life and length of days to all who heeded it. (Deuteronomy 32:47) The same is true today of those who observe Jehovah’s wise sayings, even though Christians are no longer under the Law covenant. (Galatians 3:24, 25; Hebrews 8:8) In fact, instead of a code of laws, Christians have a broad range of Bible principles to guide and safeguard them.
A People Protected by Principles
Laws may have a limited application and may be just temporary. However, Bible principles, being fundamental truths, usually have a broad and permanent application. Consider, for instance, the principle stated at James 3:17, which says in part: “The wisdom from above is first of all chaste, then peaceable.” How can that fundamental truth serve as a shield to God’s people today?
To be chaste means to be morally clean. Hence, those who value chastity strive to avoid not just immorality but even things that lead up to it, including sexual fantasizing and pornography. (Matthew 5:28) Likewise, courting couples who have taken the principle at James 3:17 to heart avoid intimacies that may lead to a loss of self-control. As lovers of principle, they are not lured away from chastity, perhaps thinking that as long as they do not break the letter of the law, their conduct has Jehovah’s approval. They know that Jehovah “sees what the heart is” and responds accordingly. (1 Samuel 16:7; 2 Chronicles 16:9) Such wise ones safeguard their flesh against the many sexually transmitted diseases rampant today as well as preserve their mental and emotional well-being.
Godly wisdom is also “peaceable,” says James 3:17. Satan, we know, tries to estrange us from Jehovah by sowing a spirit of violence in our hearts, in part by way of questionable literature, movies, music, and computer games—some of which incite players to simulate unimaginable brutality and slaughter! (Psalm 11:5) That Satan is succeeding is evident in the growing wave of violent crime. Concerning such crime, some years ago the Australian newspaper The Sydney Morning Herald quoted Robert Ressler, coiner of the term “serial killer.” Ressler said that the killers he interviewed in the 1970’s were inflamed by soft-core material that “pales by today’s standards.” Hence, Ressler expressed “a bleak outlook for the future—a new century in which multiple murderers multiply.”
Indeed, just months after that news item appeared, a gunman killed 16 infants and their teacher at a kindergarten in Dunblane, Scotland, before killing himself. The following month another crazed gunman massacred 32 people in the quiet Tasmanian town of Port Arthur, Australia. In recent years the United States has been rocked by a number of school massacres, causing Americans to ask, Why? In June 2001, Japan made world headlines when a deranged man entered a school and knifed 8 children in the first and second grades to death and slashed 15 other people. To be sure, the reasons behind such evils are complex, but media violence is increasingly seen as a contributing factor. “If a 60-second commercial can move mountains in the marketplace,” wrote Australian columnist Phillip Adams, “don’t tell me that a two-hour, mega-million movie doesn’t modify attitudes.” Interestingly, in the home of the Port Arthur gunman, police confiscated 2,000 violent and pornographic videos.
Those who cleave to Bible principles shield their mind and heart from all forms of entertainment that nurture a lust for violence. Hence, “the spirit of the world” finds no welcome mat in their thinking and desires. Instead, they are “taught by the spirit [of God],” and they strive to cultivate a love for its fruitage, which includes peace. (1 Corinthians 2:12, 13; Galatians 5:22, 23) This they do through regular Bible study, prayer, and upbuilding meditation. They also avoid fraternizing with individuals of violent bent, choosing instead to associate with those who, like them, yearn for Jehovah’s peaceful new world. (Psalm 1:1-3; Proverbs 16:29) Yes, what protection godly wisdom affords!
Let Jehovah’s “Saying” Guard Your Heart
When tempted in the wilderness, Jesus refuted Satan by accurately quoting God’s Word. (Luke 4:1-13) However, he did not engage the Devil in a mere battle of wits. In resting his defense on the Scriptures, Jesus spoke from his heart, and that is why the Devil’s strategy, which had worked so well in Eden, failed in Jesus’ case. Satan’s machinations will also fail with us if we fill our heart with Jehovah’s sayings. Nothing could be more important, for “out of [the heart] are the sources of life.”—Proverbs 4:23.
Furthermore, we must continue to guard our heart, never letting up. Satan, having failed in the wilderness, did not cease to test Jesus. (Luke 4:13) He will also persist with us, trying a variety of strategies to break our integrity. (Revelation 12:17) Hence, let us imitate Jesus by cultivating a deep love for God’s Word, at the same time praying incessantly for holy spirit and wisdom. (1 Thessalonians 5:17; Hebrews 5:7) For his part, Jehovah promises all who take refuge in him that they will come to no spiritual harm.—Psalm 91:1-10; Proverbs 1:33.
God’s Word Safeguards the Congregation
Satan cannot prevent the foretold “great crowd” from surviving the great tribulation. (Revelation 7:9, 14) Nevertheless, he still feverishly tries to corrupt Christians so that at least some individuals will lose Jehovah’s favor. That strategy worked in ancient Israel and led to the death of 24,000 on the very portals of the Promised Land. (Numbers 25:1-9) Of course, erring Christians who show true repentance receive loving help so as to be restored spiritually. But unrepentant sinners, like Zimri of old, endanger the moral and spiritual welfare of others. (Numbers 25:14) Like soldiers in a phalanx who have thrown away their shields, they expose not just themselves to harm but their companions as well.
Hence, the Bible commands: “Quit mixing in company with anyone called a brother that is a fornicator or a greedy person or an idolater or a reviler or a drunkard or an extortioner, not even eating with such a man. . . . Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.” (1 Corinthians 5:11, 13) Do you not agree that this wise “saying” helps to safeguard the moral and spiritual purity of the Christian congregation?
In sharp contrast, many of Christendom’s churches as well as apostates regard as obsolete those parts of the Bible that contradict modern, liberal views of morality. Hence, they excuse all forms of gross sin, even among the clergy. (2 Timothy 4:3, 4) Note, however, that Proverbs 30:5, which also refers to Jehovah’s shieldlike “saying,” is followed by the command in Pr 30 verse 6: “Add nothing to [God’s] words, that he may not reprove you, and that you may not have to be proved a liar.” Yes, those who tamper with the Bible are really spiritual liars—the most reprehensible liars of all! (Matthew 15:6-9) Let us be truly grateful, then, to be part of an organization that deeply respects God’s Word.
Shielded by “a Sweet Odor”
Because God’s people cleave to the Bible and share its comforting message with others, they diffuse an incenselike “sweet odor” of life that gives pleasure to Jehovah. But to unrighteous individuals, the bearers of that message emit, according to the J. B. Phillips’ translation, “the deathly smell of doom.” Yes, the figurative sense of smell of the wicked has been so distorted by Satan’s system of things that they feel uncomfortable or even hostile in the presence of those diffusing the “sweet odor of Christ.” On the other hand, those zealously spreading the good news become “a sweet odor of Christ among those who are being saved.” (2 Corinthians 2:14-16) Such honesthearted ones are often disgusted with the hypocrisy and religious lies that characterize false religion. Thus, when we open God’s Word and share with them the Kingdom message, they feel drawn to Christ and want to learn more.—John 6:44.
So do not feel discouraged when some react negatively to the Kingdom message. Rather, view the “sweet odor of Christ” as a form of spiritual protection that repels many potentially harmful individuals from the spiritual estate inhabited by God’s people, while attracting those of good heart.—Isaiah 35:8, 9.
Because the Greek soldiers at Marathon closed ranks and held on to their shields with all their might, they won despite overwhelming odds. Likewise, Jehovah’s loyal Witnesses are assured of complete victory in their spiritual warfare, for that is their “hereditary possession.” (Isaiah 54:17) Hence, let each of us continue to take refuge in Jehovah by maintaining “a tight grip on the word of life.”—Philippians 2:16.
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‘The wisdom from above is chaste, then peaceable’