“No greater joy do I have than this: that I should hear that my children go on walking in the truth.”—3 JOHN 4.
SONG 54 “This Is the Way”
1. As indicated at 3 John 3, 4, what makes us happy?
CAN you imagine how happy the apostle John felt when he heard that those whom he had helped to learn the truth were continuing to serve Jehovah faithfully? They faced many problems, and John was working hard to strengthen the faith of these loyal Christians whom he viewed as his spiritual children. Similarly, we feel happy when our children, whether natural or spiritual, dedicate themselves to Jehovah and persevere in serving him.—Read 3 John 3, 4.
2. What was the purpose of the letters that John wrote?
2 In 98 C.E., John was likely living in or near Ephesus. He may have moved there after being released from exile on the island of Patmos. About that time, Jehovah’s holy spirit moved him to write three letters. The purpose of those letters was to motivate loyal Christians to maintain their faith in Jesus and to keep on walking in the truth.
3. What questions will we answer?
3 John was the last living apostle, and he was concerned about the effect that false teachers were having on the congregations.* (1 John 2:18, 19, 26) Those apostates claimed to know God, but they did not obey Jehovah’s commands. Let us consider the inspired counsel John gave. As we do, we will answer three questions: What does it mean to walk in the truth? What obstacles do we face? And how can we help one another to remain in the truth?
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO WALK IN THE TRUTH?
4 To walk in the truth, we need to know the truth found in God’s Word, the Bible. In addition, we must “observe [Jehovah’s] commandments,” that is, we need to obey them. (Read 1 John 2:3-6; 2 John 4, 6.) Jesus set the perfect example of obeying Jehovah. So one important way that we obey Jehovah is by following Jesus’ steps as closely as possible.—John 8:29; 1 Pet. 2:21.
5. Of what must we be convinced?
5 To keep walking in the truth, we must be convinced that Jehovah is the God of truth, that everything he tells us in his Word, the Bible, is true. And we must also be convinced that Jesus is the promised Messiah. Many today doubt that Jesus has been anointed as King of God’s Kingdom. John warned that there were “many deceivers,” who could mislead those who were not prepared to defend the truth about Jehovah and Jesus. (2 John 7-11) John wrote: “Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ?” (1 John 2:22) The only way we can avoid being deceived is by studying God’s Word. Only if we do that will we come to know Jehovah and Jesus. (John 17:3) And only then will we be convinced that we have the truth.
WHAT OBSTACLES DO WE FACE?
6. What is one obstacle that young Christians face?
6 All Christians must be on guard against being misled by human philosophy. (1 John 2:26) Young Christians in particular need to beware of this trap. Alexia,* a 25-year-old French sister, says: “When I was younger, I was troubled by the world’s reasonings, such as the theory of evolution and human philosophy. At times, those teachings appealed to me. But I felt that I could not just listen to what I was being taught in school and not give Jehovah a chance to speak.” Alexia studied the book Life—How Did It Get Here? By Evolution or by Creation? Within a few weeks, her doubts vanished. Alexia says: “I proved to myself that the Bible contains the truth. And I realized that living by its standards would give me joy and peace.”
7. What pressure must we resist, and why?
7 All Christians, young and old, must resist the pressure to live a double life. John pointed out that we cannot be walking in the truth and at the same time be living an immoral life. (1 John 1:6) If we are to have God’s approval now and in the future, we need to behave as if everything we do were under a spotlight. In a sense, there is no such thing as a secret sin because everything we do is visible to Jehovah.—Heb. 4:13.
8. What must we reject?
8 We have to reject the world’s view of sin. The apostle John wrote: “If we make the statement, ‘We have no sin,’ we are misleading ourselves.” (1 John 1:8) In John’s day, apostates claimed that a person could deliberately follow a course of sin and still have a relationship with God. Today, we are living among people who have a similar view. Many claim to believe in God, but they do not agree with Jehovah’s view of sin, especially when it involves the subject of sex. What Jehovah views as sinful conduct they call a personal preference, or an alternative lifestyle.
9. How do young ones benefit by sticking to their Bible-based convictions?
9 Young Christians in particular may feel pressured to adopt their classmates’ or workmates’ views of immoral conduct. That is what happened to Aleksandar. He recalls: “Some girls at school tried to pressure me into having sex with them. They said that since I did not have a girlfriend, I must be a homosexual.” If you face similar tests, remember that when you stick to your Bible-based convictions, you protect your self-respect, your health, your emotional well-being, and your relationship with Jehovah. And each time you resist temptation, it will get easier for you to do what is right. Remember, too, that this world’s twisted view of sex originates with Satan. So when you refuse to compromise, you ‘conquer the wicked one.’—1 John 2:14.
10. How does 1 John 1:9 help us to serve Jehovah with a clean conscience?
10 We acknowledge that Jehovah has the right to define what is sinful conduct. And we do our best not to commit a sin. But when we do sin, we confess our wrongdoing to Jehovah in prayer. (Read 1 John 1:9.) And if we commit a serious sin, we seek the help of the elders, whom Jehovah has appointed to care for us. (Jas. 5:14-16) However, we should not be consumed by feelings of guilt over past mistakes. Why not? Because our loving Father provided the ransom sacrifice of his Son so that our sins can be forgiven. When Jehovah says that he will forgive repentant sinners, he means what he says. So there is nothing to stop us from serving Jehovah with a clean conscience.—1 John 2:1, 2, 12; 3:19, 20.
11. How can we protect our mind from teachings that could harm our faith?
11 We must reject apostate teachings. Since the beginning of the Christian congregation, the Devil has been using many deceivers to plant doubts in the minds of God’s faithful servants. As a result, we need to know how to discern the difference between facts and lies.* Our enemies may use the Internet or social media to try to undermine our trust in Jehovah and our love for our brothers. Remember who is behind such propaganda, and reject it!—1 John 4:1, 6; Rev. 12:9.
12. Why should we deepen our appreciation for the truths we have learned?
12 To resist Satan’s attacks, we need to deepen our trust in Jesus and in the role he plays in God’s purpose. We also need to trust in the only channel that Jehovah is using today. (Matt. 24:45-47) We deepen our trust by regularly studying God’s Word. Then our faith will be like a tree that has roots that go deep into the ground. Paul made a similar point when writing to the Colossian congregation. He said: “Just as you have accepted Christ Jesus the Lord, go on walking in union with him, being rooted and built up in him and being stabilized in the faith.” (Col. 2:6, 7) There is nothing that Satan or those influenced by him can do that will destabilize a Christian who has strengthened his own faith.—2 John 8, 9.
13. What should we expect, and why?
13 We must expect to be hated by the world. (1 John 3:13) John reminds us that “the whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.” (1 John 5:19) As this system draws to an end, Satan’s anger grows hotter. (Rev. 12:12) He uses more than subtle forms of attack, such as the lure of immorality or the lies of apostates. He will also use brute force. Satan knows that he has only a short period of time left to try to stop our preaching work or to break our faith. It is no surprise, then, that our work is restricted or banned in a number of countries. Even so, our brothers and sisters in those lands are enduring. They are proving that no matter what the wicked one throws at us, we can be victorious!
HELP ONE ANOTHER TO REMAIN IN THE TRUTH
14. What is one way we can help our brothers and sisters to remain in the truth?
14 To help our brothers and sisters to remain in the truth, we must show compassion. (1 John 3:10, 11, 16-18) We need to love one another not only when things are going well but also when problems arise. For example, do you know someone who has lost a loved one in death and needs to be comforted or helped in practical ways? Or have you heard that fellow believers suffered loss from a natural disaster and need help to rebuild their Kingdom Halls or homes? We show the depth of our love and compassion for our brothers and sisters not only by what we say but, more important, by what we do.
15. As stated at 1 John 4:7, 8, what do we need to do?
15 We imitate our loving heavenly Father when we show love for one another. (Read 1 John 4:7, 8.) An important way that we show love is by forgiving one another. For example, someone might hurt us but then apologize. We show love by forgiving him and putting his error behind us. (Col. 3:13) A brother named Aldo faced this test when he heard a brother whom he respected make a hurtful comment about his ethnic background. Aldo says, “I constantly prayed to Jehovah to help me not to have negative feelings toward this brother.” But Aldo did something else. He decided to ask the brother to go out in service with him. As they worked together, Aldo explained how he was affected by the remark. “When the brother heard how I felt about his hurtful comment,” says Aldo, “he apologized. From the tone of his voice, I could sense how much he regretted what he had said. We parted as friends and put the problem behind us.”
16-17. What should be our determination?
16 The apostle John felt a deep, loving concern for the spiritual welfare of his brothers, and that feeling is clearly reflected in the counsel he gave in his three inspired letters. How encouraging it is to know that men and women, like him, are anointed to be corulers with Christ!—1 John 2:27.
17 May we take to heart the counsel we have discussed. Let us be determined to walk in the truth, obeying Jehovah in all aspects of our life. Study his Word, and put your trust in it. Build strong faith in Jesus. Reject human philosophies and apostate teachings. Resist the pressure to live a double life and to give in to sin. Live by Jehovah’s high moral standards. And let us help our brothers remain strong by forgiving those who hurt us and helping those in need. Then, despite the struggles we face, we will keep walking in the truth.
SONG 49 Making Jehovah’s Heart Glad
We live in a world dominated by the father of the lie, Satan. So we face a constant struggle to walk in the truth. Christians living at the end of the first century C.E. had the same challenge. In order to help them and us, Jehovah inspired the apostle John to write three letters. The contents of those letters will help us identify the obstacles we face and learn how to overcome them.
See the box “The Background to John’s Letters.”
Some names have been changed.
See the study article “Do You Have the Facts?” in the August 2018 issue of The Watchtower.
PICTURE DESCRIPTION: While in school, a young sister is bombarded with homosexual propaganda. (In some cultures, rainbow colors are used to signify homosexuality.) Later, she takes time to do research to fortify her Christian beliefs. This helps her to handle a difficult challenge.