Keep Clear of False Worship!
“‘Get out from among them, and separate yourselves,’ says Jehovah, ‘and quit touching the unclean thing.’”—2 CORINTHIANS 6:17.
1. In what spiritual condition do many sincere people find themselves?
MANY sincere people do not know the truth about God and the future of mankind. Not having found answers to their deepest spiritual concerns, they live in confusion and uncertainty. Millions are enslaved to superstitions, rituals, and celebrations that offend our Creator. Likely, you have neighbors and relatives who believe in a fiery hell, a triune God, the immortality of the soul, or some other false teaching.
2. What have religious leaders done, and with what result?
2 What is responsible for this widespread spiritual darkness? Ironically, it is religion—specifically the religious organizations and leaders who have promoted ideas contrary to God’s thoughts. (Mark 7:7, 8) As a result, many people have been deceived into believing that they worship the true God, while in reality they offend him. False religion is directly responsible for this sad situation.
3. Who is the principal promoter of false religion, and how is he described in the Bible?
3 There is an unseen entity behind false religion. Referring to him, the apostle Paul said: “The god of this system of things has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, that the illumination of the glorious good news about the Christ, who is the image of God, might not shine through.” (2 Corinthians 4:4) “The god of this system of things” is none other than Satan the Devil. He is the principal promoter of false worship. “Satan himself keeps transforming himself into an angel of light,” wrote Paul. “It is therefore nothing great if his ministers also keep transforming themselves into ministers of righteousness.” (2 Corinthians 11:14, 15) Satan makes bad things appear good and deceives people into believing lies.
4. What did God’s Law to ancient Israel say about false prophets?
4 No wonder the Bible strongly condemns false religion! For instance, the Mosaic Law specifically warned God’s chosen people against false prophets. Anyone promoting untrue teachings and the worship of false gods was to be ‘put to death for speaking of revolt against Jehovah.’ The Israelites were commanded ‘to clear out what was evil from their midst.’ (Deuteronomy 13:1-5) Yes, Jehovah views false religion as evil.—Ezekiel 13:3.
5. What warnings should we heed today?
5 Jesus Christ and his apostles reflected Jehovah’s strong feelings about false religion. Jesus warned his disciples: “Be on the watch for the false prophets that come to you in sheep’s covering, but inside they are ravenous wolves.” (Matthew 7:15; Mark 13:22, 23) Paul wrote that “God’s wrath is being revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who are suppressing the truth.” (Romans 1:18) How vital that true Christians heed these warnings and stay clear of anyone who suppresses the truth of God’s Word or spreads false teachings!—1 John 4:1.
Flee From “Babylon the Great”
6. How is “Babylon the Great” portrayed in the Bible?
6 Consider how the Bible book of Revelation describes false religion. It is portrayed as a drunken prostitute who has power over many kingdoms and their peoples. This figurative woman commits fornication with many kings and is drunk with the blood of God’s true worshippers. (Revelation 17:1, 2, 6, 18) She has a name written on her forehead that matches her filthy and repulsive conduct. The name is “Babylon the Great, the mother of the harlots and of the disgusting things of the earth.”—Revelation 17:5.
7, 8. How has false religion prostituted herself, and with what results?
7 The Scriptural description of Babylon the Great fits the world’s collective body of false religion. Although the thousands of religions are not formally united as one world organization, they are inseparably joined in purpose and deed. As depicted by the immoral woman in Revelation, false religion has tremendous influence over governments. Resembling a woman not faithful to her marriage vows, false religion has prostituted herself by forming alliances with one political power after another. “Adulteresses, do you not know that the friendship with the world is enmity with God?” wrote the disciple James. “Whoever, therefore, wants to be a friend of the world is constituting himself an enemy of God.”—James 4:4.
8 This mixing of false religion with the governments has resulted in much human suffering. African political analyst Dr. Xolela Mangcu observed that “world history is littered with examples of mass killings caused by linking religion and politics.” One newspaper recently stated: “The bloodiest and most dangerous disputes today . . . are wrapped in religion.” The lives of millions have been snuffed out in religiously supported conflicts. Babylon the Great has even persecuted and killed God’s true servants, becoming drunk with their blood, as it were.—Revelation 18:24.
9. How is Jehovah’s hatred for false worship expressed in the book of Revelation?
9 That Jehovah hates false worship is clearly seen from what happens to Babylon the Great. Revelation 17:16 states: “The ten horns that you saw, and the wild beast, these will hate the harlot and will make her devastated and naked, and will eat up her fleshy parts and will completely burn her with fire.” First, a huge beast mauls her to death and eats up her fleshy parts. Then, whatever remains of her is completely burned. Correspondingly, soon the world governments will take such action against false religion. God will make it happen. (Revelation 17:17) Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion, is doomed to destruction. “She will never be found again.”—Revelation 18:21.
10. What should be our position regarding false religion?
10 What position should true worshippers take regarding Babylon the Great? In no uncertain terms, the Bible commands: “Get out of her, my people, if you do not want to share with her in her sins, and if you do not want to receive part of her plagues.” (Revelation 18:4) Those who want to be spared must get out of false religion before it is too late. When on earth, Jesus Christ foretold that in the last days, many would merely claim to follow him. (Matthew 24:3-5) To such ones, he says: “I never knew you! Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness.” (Matthew 7:23) The now enthroned King, Jesus Christ, has nothing to do with false religion.
11. What should we do to keep clear of false worship?
11 True Christians keep clear of false worship, rejecting false religious teachings. This means that we avoid exposure to religious programs on radio and television as well as religious literature that promotes lies about God and his Word. (Psalm 119:37) We also wisely refrain from sharing in social functions and recreational activities sponsored by any organization associated with false religion. Additionally, we do not support false worship in any way. (1 Corinthians 10:21) Taking such measures protects us from being carried off by someone “as his prey through the philosophy and empty deception according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary things of the world and not according to Christ.”—Colossians 2:8.
12. How can a person break free from any connection with false religious organizations?
12 What if a person who wishes to become one of Jehovah’s Witnesses is currently a registered member of a false religion? In most cases, a letter of resignation serves as evidence that a person no longer wants to be viewed as a member of a false religion. It is especially important that the person take decisive action to avoid completely any kind of spiritual contamination from false worship. The actions of a prospective Witness should make it clear to the religious organization and observers in general that he has ended that religious affiliation.
13. What counsel does the Bible offer regarding the need to keep clear of false worship?
13 “Do not become unevenly yoked with unbelievers,” wrote the apostle Paul. “For what fellowship do righteousness and lawlessness have? Or what sharing does light have with darkness? Further, what harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what portion does a faithful person have with an unbeliever? And what agreement does God’s temple have with idols? . . . ‘Therefore get out from among them, and separate yourselves,’ says Jehovah, ‘and quit touching the unclean thing.’” (2 Corinthians 6:14-17) We heed these words by keeping clear of false worship. Does Paul’s advice require that we also stay away from false worshippers?
“Go On Walking in Wisdom”
14. Must we completely avoid those who engage in false worship? Explain.
14 Should true worshippers shun all contact with people who engage in false worship? Should we hold ourselves completely aloof from those who do not share our faith? The answer is no. The second of the two greatest commandments states: “You must love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39) We certainly display love for our neighbors when we share with them the good news of the Kingdom. Our love for them is also shown when we study the Bible with them and make them aware of the need to keep clear of false worship.
15. What does it mean to be “no part of the world”?
15 Although we preach the good news to our neighbors, as Jesus’ followers we are “no part of the world.” (John 15:19) The term “world” here refers to human society alienated from God. (Ephesians 4:17-19; 1 John 5:19) We are separate from the world in that we shun attitudes, speech, and conduct that offend Jehovah. (1 John 2:15-17) Moreover, in harmony with the principle that “bad associations spoil useful habits,” we avoid intimacy with those who do not live by Christian standards. (1 Corinthians 15:33) To be no part of the world is to remain “without spot from the world.” (James 1:27) Hence, being separate from the world does not mean that we physically withdraw from all contact with other people.—John 17:15, 16; 1 Corinthians 5:9, 10.
16, 17. How should Christians treat those who are not acquainted with Bible truth?
16 How, then, are we to treat those who are not acquainted with Bible truths? To the congregation in Colossae, Paul wrote: “Go on walking in wisdom toward those on the outside, buying out the opportune time for yourselves. Let your utterance be always with graciousness, seasoned with salt, so as to know how you ought to give an answer to each one.” (Colossians 4:5, 6) The apostle Peter wrote: “Sanctify the Christ as Lord in your hearts, always ready to make a defense before everyone that demands of you a reason for the hope in you, but doing so together with a mild temper and deep respect.” (1 Peter 3:15) Paul counseled Christians “to speak injuriously of no one, not to be belligerent, to be reasonable, exhibiting all mildness toward all men.”—Titus 3:2.
17 As Jehovah’s Witnesses, we avoid being harsh or arrogant toward others. We certainly do not use derogatory terms to describe people of other religions. Instead, we are tactful, even if the householder, neighbor, or workmate is unkind or uses abusive terms.—Colossians 4:6; 2 Timothy 2:24.
“Keep Holding the Pattern of Healthful Words”
18. What deplorable spiritual condition is experienced by those who regress to false worship?
18 After learning Bible truths, how tragic it would be if one regressed to false worship! The Bible describes the sad consequences of such a course when it says: “Certainly if, after having escaped from the defilements of the world by an accurate knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they get involved again with these very things and are overcome, the final conditions have become worse for them than the first. . . . The saying of the true proverb has happened to them: ‘The dog has returned to its own vomit, and the sow that was bathed to rolling in the mire.’”—2 Peter 2:20-22.
19. Why is it vital to remain alert to anything that can endanger our spirituality?
19 We must remain alert to anything that can endanger our spirituality. The dangers are real! The apostle Paul warns: “The inspired utterance says definitely that in later periods of time some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to misleading inspired utterances and teachings of demons.” (1 Timothy 4:1) We live in “later periods of time.” Those who do not keep clear of false worship can be “tossed about as by waves and carried hither and thither by every wind of teaching by means of the trickery of men, by means of cunning in contriving error.”—Ephesians 4:13, 14.
20. How can we protect ourselves against the damaging influence of false religion?
20 How can we protect ourselves against the damaging influence of false religion? Consider all that Jehovah has provided. We have God’s Word, the Bible. (2 Timothy 3:16, 17) Jehovah has also provided abundant spiritual food through “the faithful and discreet slave.” (Matthew 24:45) As we progress in the truth, should we not cultivate a taste for ‘solid food that belongs to mature people’ and a desire to come together where we learn spiritual truths? (Hebrews 5:13, 14; Psalm 26:8) Let us be determined to take full advantage of Jehovah’s provisions so that we can “keep holding the pattern of healthful words” that we have heard. (2 Timothy 1:13) Thus we can keep clear of false worship.
What Have You Learned?
• What is “Babylon the Great”?
• What must we do to keep clear of false religion?
• What dangers to our spirituality should we avoid?
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Do you know why “Babylon the Great” is portrayed as an immoral woman?
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“Babylon the Great” is doomed to destruction
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We display “a mild temper and deep respect” toward those who do not share our beliefs