Receive God’s Spirit, Not the World’s
“We received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is from God, that we might know the things that have been kindly given us by God.”—1 COR. 2:12.
1, 2. (a) In what sense are true Christians at war? (b) What questions will we consider?
TRUE Christians are at war! Our enemy is powerful, cunning, and battle-hardened. He has at his disposal a weapon so effective that it has subdued the majority of mankind. But we need not feel powerless or doomed to defeat. (Isa. 41:10) We have a defense available to us that is impenetrable and unbeatable.
2 Our war is not physical; it is spiritual. Our enemy is Satan the Devil, and a prime weapon that he uses is “the spirit of the world.” (1 Cor. 2:12) Our key defense against his attacks is God’s spirit. To survive this war and remain spiritually vibrant, we need to ask for God’s spirit and then display its fruitage in our lives. (Gal. 5:22, 23) What, though, is the spirit of the world, and how did it become so influential? How can we determine whether the spirit of the world is influencing us? And what can we learn from Jesus about receiving God’s spirit and resisting the spirit of the world?
The Spirit of the World—Why So Pervasive?
3. What is the spirit of the world?
3 The spirit of this world originates with Satan, “the ruler of the world,” and it is in opposition to God’s holy spirit. (John 12:31; 14:30; 1 John 5:19) It is the world’s dominant inclination, and it moves people to action. This animating force leads human society into conflict with God’s will and purpose.
4, 5. How did the spirit that Satan promotes become so pervasive?
4 How did the spirit that Satan promotes become so pervasive? First, Satan deceived Eve in the garden of Eden. He convinced her that independence from God would improve her life. (Gen. 3:13) What a liar he proved to be! (John 8:44) Then, through the woman, he maneuvered Adam into becoming disloyal to Jehovah. Because of Adam’s choice, mankind was sold into sin, thus inheriting a tendency to be influenced by Satan’s spirit of disobedience.—Read Ephesians 2:1-3.
5 Satan also influenced a considerable number of angels, who became demons. (Rev. 12:3, 4) That betrayal of God occurred sometime before the Flood of Noah’s day. Those angels believed that they would be better off forsaking their assigned positions in heaven and giving free rein to unnatural desires on earth. (Jude 6) With the help of those demons, now back in the spirit realm, Satan is “misleading the entire inhabited earth.” (Rev. 12:9) Sadly, the majority of mankind remain blind to demonic influence.—2 Cor. 4:4.
Is the World’s Spirit Influencing You?
6. How only can the spirit of the world infect us?
6 Many are blind to Satan’s influence, but there is no need for true Christians to be ignorant of his tactics. (2 Cor. 2:11) In fact, the spirit of the world cannot influence us unless we allow it to do so. Let us examine four questions that will help to reveal whether we are being influenced by God’s spirit or by that of the world.
7. What is one way that Satan tries to alienate us from Jehovah?
7 What does my choice of entertainment reveal about me? (Read James 3:14-18.) Satan tries to alienate us from God by stirring up love of violence in our hearts. The Devil knows that Jehovah hates anyone who loves violence. (Ps. 11:5) Therefore, Satan tries to use literature, movies, music, and electronic games—some of which incite players to simulate gross immorality and brutality—to appeal to our fleshly desires. Satan does not mind if part of our heart is loving what is right as long as part of it loves what is bad, what he promotes.—Ps. 97:10.
8, 9. What questions regarding entertainment should we ask ourselves?
8 On the other hand, God’s spirit moves those who receive it to be chaste, peaceable, and full of mercy. We would do well to ask ourselves, ‘Does the entertainment I choose encourage positive qualities in me?’ The wisdom from above is “not hypocritical.” Those who are influenced by God’s spirit do not preach chastity and peace to their neighbors and then revel in watching sadistic violence and immorality in the privacy of their homes.
9 Jehovah expects exclusive devotion. Satan, though, will settle for just one act of worship, as he sought from Jesus. (Luke 4:7, 8) We might ask ourselves: ‘Does the entertainment I choose make it possible for me to give God exclusive devotion? Does my choice make it harder or easier for me to resist the spirit of the world? Should I make any adjustments as to future choices?’
10, 11. (a) Regarding material possessions, what attitude does the spirit of the world promote? (b) God’s spirit-inspired Word encourages what attitude?
10 What is my attitude toward material possessions? (Read Luke 18:24-30.) The spirit of the world promotes “the desire of the eyes” by encouraging greed and materialism. (1 John 2:16) It has nurtured in many a determination to be rich. (1 Tim. 6:9, 10) That spirit would have us believe that a stockpile of material things will provide lasting security. (Prov. 18:11) However, if we allow a love for money to supplant our love for God, Satan will have gained a victory. We should ask ourselves, ‘Has my life become focused on a quest for material comforts and pleasures?’
11 By contrast, God’s spirit-inspired Word encourages us to have a balanced view of money and to work hard to provide material necessities for ourselves and our family. (1 Tim. 5:8) God’s spirit helps those who receive it to reflect Jehovah’s generous personality. Such ones are known as givers, not takers. They value people more highly than things and gladly share what they have when they can afford to do so. (Prov. 3:27, 28) And they never allow the pursuit of money to take precedence over serving God.
12, 13. In contrast with the world’s spirit, how can God’s spirit affect us for our good?
12 Which spirit does my personality reflect? (Read Colossians 3:8-10, 13.) The spirit of the world advances the works of the flesh. (Gal. 5:19-21) A real test as to which spirit influences us comes, not when things are going well, but when they are not, such as if a Christian brother or sister ignores us, offends us, or even sins against us. Additionally, in the privacy of our homes, it may become evident which spirit holds sway. Some self-examination may be in order. Ask yourself, ‘Over the past six months, has my personality become more Christlike or have I slipped back into some bad habits of speech and conduct?’
13 God’s spirit can help us to “strip off the old personality with its practices” and to clothe ourselves with “the new personality.” That will help us to become more loving and kind. We will be inclined to forgive one another freely, even if there seems to be a legitimate cause for complaint. We will no longer react to perceived injustices with outbursts of “malicious bitterness and anger and wrath and screaming and abusive speech.” Instead, we will put forth effort to become “tenderly compassionate.”—Eph. 4:31, 32.
14. How do many in the world view God’s Word?
14 Do I respect and love the Bible’s moral standards? (Read Proverbs 3:5, 6.) The spirit of the world reflects rebellion against God’s Word. Those influenced by this spirit ignore what they view as inconvenient parts of the Bible, preferring instead human traditions and philosophies. (2 Tim. 4:3, 4) Some disregard God’s Word altogether. Such ones question the Bible’s relevance and authenticity, becoming wise in their own eyes. They water down its pure standards regarding adultery, homosexuality, and divorce. They teach that “good is bad and bad is good.” (Isa. 5:20) Have we been affected by this spirit? Do we rely on human wisdom, including our own ideas, when facing problems? Or do we strive to follow the Bible’s advice?
15. Rather than lean on our own wisdom, what should we do?
15 God’s spirit engenders in us a respect for the Bible. Like the psalmist, we view God’s word as both a lamp to our foot and a light to our roadway. (Ps. 119:105) Rather than lean on our own wisdom, we confidently rely on God’s written Word to help us discern right from wrong. We learn not only to respect the Bible but also to love God’s law.—Ps. 119:97.
Learn From Jesus’ Example
16. What is involved in having “the mind of Christ”?
16 To receive God’s spirit, we must develop in ourselves “the mind of Christ.” (1 Cor. 2:16) Having “the same mental attitude that Christ Jesus had” requires our knowing the way he thought and acted and then imitating him. (Rom. 15:5; 1 Pet. 2:21) Consider some ways that we can do so.
17, 18. (a) What do we learn from Jesus about prayer? (b) Why should we “keep on asking”?
17 Pray for God’s spirit. Before facing trials, Jesus prayed for God’s spirit to help him. (Luke 22:40, 41) We too need to ask God for his holy spirit. Jehovah gives it freely and generously to all who ask for it in faith. (Luke 11:13) Jesus said: “Keep on asking, and it will be given you; keep on seeking, and you will find; keep on knocking, and it will be opened to you. For everyone asking receives, and everyone seeking finds, and to everyone knocking it will be opened.”—Matt. 7:7, 8.
18 When seeking Jehovah’s spirit and help, do not be too quick to stop asking for it. We may need to pray more often and to linger in prayer. At times, Jehovah allows his petitioners to demonstrate the depth of their concern and the genuineness of their faith before he answers their prayers.*
19. What did Jesus always do, and why should we imitate him?
19 Obey Jehovah completely. Jesus always did the things pleasing to his Father. On at least one occasion, Jesus’ inclination on how to deal with a situation was different from what his Father wanted. Yet, with confidence he said to his Father: “Let, not my will, but yours take place.” (Luke 22:42) Ask yourself, ‘Do I obey God even when doing so is not easy?’ Obedience to God is essential for life. We owe him implicit obedience as our Maker, the Source and Sustainer of our life. (Ps. 95:6, 7) There is no substitute for obedience. We cannot gain God’s favor without it.
20. Jesus’ life revolved around what, and how can we imitate him?
20 Know the Bible well. When resisting Satan’s direct attack on his faith, Jesus quoted the Scriptures. (Luke 4:1-13) When confronting his religious opposers, Jesus used God’s Word as his authority. (Matt. 15:3-6) Jesus’ whole life revolved around knowing and fulfilling God’s law. (Matt. 5:17) We too want to keep feeding our mind with the faith-strengthening Word of God. (Phil. 4:8, 9) Finding time for personal and family study may prove to be a challenge for some of us. Rather than find time, though, we may have to make time.—Eph. 5:15-17.
21. What arrangement can we use to help us know God’s Word better and apply it?
21 “The faithful and discreet slave” has helped us to have time for personal and family study by arranging for a Family Worship evening each week. (Matt. 24:45) Are you making wise use of this arrangement? To help you gain the mind of Christ, could you include in your study session a systematic consideration of what Jesus taught on subjects of your choice? You could use the Watch Tower Publications Index to locate informative discussions of the subject you are pursuing. For example, from 2008 to 2010, the public edition of this magazine carried a series of 12 articles that had the theme “What We Learn From Jesus.” You may want to use these articles as a basis for study. Beginning in 2006, Awake! carried the feature “How Would You Answer?” This quiz was designed to help broaden and deepen your knowledge of God’s Word. Why not include material from such features in your Family Worship program from time to time?
We Can Conquer the World
22, 23. What must we do to conquer the world?
22 To be led by God’s spirit, we must resist the spirit of the world. Such resistance does not come easily. It can be a struggle, a hard fight. (Jude 3) But we can win! Jesus said to his disciples: “In the world you are having tribulation, but take courage! I have conquered the world.”—John 16:33.
23 We too can conquer the world if we resist its spirit and do all we can to receive God’s spirit. Really, “if God is for us, who will be against us?” (Rom. 8:31) By receiving God’s spirit and by following its direction as outlined in the Bible, we will find contentment, peace, happiness, and the assurance of everlasting life in the new world near at hand.
For more information, see pages 170-173 of the book What Does the Bible Really Teach?
Do You Remember?
• Why is the spirit of the world so pervasive?
• What four questions should we ask ourselves?
• What are three things we learn from Jesus about receiving God’s spirit?
[Picture on page 8]
How did some angels become demons?
[Picture on page 10]
Satan uses the spirit of the world to control people, but we can break free of its influence