Will You Pay Attention to Jehovah’s Clear Warnings?
“This is the way. Walk in it, you people.”
1, 2. What is Satan determined to do, and how does the Bible help us?
WHEN you are traveling on a road, a sign that points in the wrong direction can make you go the wrong way. This may be dangerous. Imagine that a friend warns you that an evil man changed a sign on the road because he wants people to get lost. You would certainly pay attention to your friend’s warning.
2 The Bible talks about two roads. One leads to destruction and one leads to everlasting life. It says that many are on the road to destruction. Satan has deceived them like that evil man. He is determined to deceive us too. (Revelation 12:9) All the dangers that we talked about in the last article are things that Satan uses to make us disobey Jehovah and leave the road to everlasting life. (Matthew 7:13, 14) But we also learned that our friend, Jehovah God, warns us about Satan’s tricks. We will now talk about three more things that Satan uses to fool us and how the Bible helps us to avoid them. When we read the Bible, we can imagine that Jehovah is walking behind us and that he is saying: “This is the way. Walk in it, you people.” (Isaiah 30:21) As we study these clear warnings, we will become more determined to do what Jehovah says.
DO NOT FOLLOW “FALSE TEACHERS”
3, 4. (a) Why are false teachers like wells with no water? (b) Where do false teachers come from, and what do they want to do?
3 Imagine that on your journey, you go through a desert and you get thirsty. In the distance, you see a well. You think that you will find water in it, so you walk toward it. But when you get to the well, there is no water. You are very disappointed! We can say that the truth is like water and that false teachers are like wells with no water. People who think that these teachers have the truth will be disappointed. Through the apostles Paul and Peter, Jehovah warns us about false teachers. (Read Acts 20:29, 30; 2 Peter 2:1-3.) Who are these false teachers? The words of Paul and Peter tell us where false teachers come from and how they fool people.
4 Paul said to the elders of the congregation in Ephesus: “From among you yourselves men will rise and speak twisted things.” And Peter wrote in a letter to several congregations: “There will also be false teachers among you.” So false teachers may come from inside the congregation. These false teachers are apostates.* (See footnote.) What do they want? Paul said that when they leave Jehovah’s organization, they want “to draw away the disciples after themselves.” The disciples Paul is talking about are the disciples of Jesus Christ. These false teachers do not go outside the congregation to make disciples. They try to take, or steal, disciples from inside the congregation. Jesus said that apostates are like wolves that eat the sheep. Apostates want to destroy the faith of the members of the congregation and want them to leave the truth.
5. How do false teachers fool people?
5 How do false teachers fool people? They do this in a very clever way. Apostates “quietly” bring their ideas into the congregation, like criminals who secretly bring things into a country. Apostates use “counterfeit words.” This means that they say things that make their false ideas sound true, like criminals who make false documents look real. They try to get as many people as possible to believe their “deceptive teachings.” Peter also said that they like twisting the Scriptures. They explain Bible verses in the wrong way to make others believe their ideas. (2 Peter 2:1, 3, 13; 3:16) Apostates do not care about us. If we follow them, we will leave the road to everlasting life.
6. What clear warning does the Bible give us about false teachers?
6 How can we protect ourselves against false teachers? The Bible tells us exactly what to do. (Read Romans 16:17; 2 John 9-11.) The clear instruction in the Bible is: “Avoid them.” That means that we have to stay away from them. The warning from the Bible is like a warning from a doctor who tells you to avoid a person who has a disease that may spread to others. The doctor knows that if you get this disease, you will die. His warning is clear, and you will do what he says. The Bible says that apostates are mentally diseased and that they use their teachings to make others think like them. (1 Timothy 6:3, 4) Jehovah is like that good doctor. He clearly tells us to stay away from false teachers. We must always be determined to follow his warning.
7, 8. (a) What must we do to avoid false teachers? (b) Why are you determined to avoid false teachers?
7 What must we do to avoid false teachers? We do not speak to them or invite them into our houses. We also do not read their books, watch them on television, read what they write on the Internet, or add our own comments about what they write on the Internet. Why are we so determined to avoid them? First of all, it is because we love “the God of truth.” So we do not want to listen to false teachings that go against the truth in God’s Word. (Psalm 31:5; John 17:17) We also love the organization that Jehovah uses to teach us wonderful truths. It was Jehovah’s organization that taught us about Jehovah’s name and what it means, his purpose for the earth, what happens to us when we die, and the hope of the resurrection. Do you remember how happy you were when you first learned these and other truths? Then do not allow the lies from false teachers to turn you against the organization that taught you these truths.
8 No matter what false teachers say, we will not follow them! We have no reason to listen to people who are like wells with no water. Those who listen to them will be disappointed. We are determined to be loyal to Jehovah and to his organization. This organization has never disappointed us and always gives us an abundance of pure waters of truth from God’s Word.
DO NOT “PAY ATTENTION TO FALSE STORIES”
9, 10. What warning about false stories did Paul give to Timothy? What false stories was Paul thinking about? (See also footnote.)
9 A sign on the road that someone has turned to point the wrong way can fool us. Sometimes it is easy to see that the sign is pointing the wrong way, but at other times it is not easy. The same is true with the lies that come from Satan. If we are not careful, some of his lies can easily fool us. The apostle Paul warns us about these lies. He calls them “false stories.” (Read 1 Timothy 1:3, 4.) What are these false stories, and how can we avoid paying attention to them? We need the answers to these questions so that we can stay on the road to everlasting life.
10 Paul’s warning about false stories is in the first letter he wrote to Timothy, a Christian elder. Paul told Timothy to keep the congregation clean and to help his brothers and sisters to stay loyal to Jehovah. (1 Timothy 1:18, 19) The Greek word that Paul used for “false stories” means “a lie” or “a made-up story.” One book says that a false story is a religious story that has no connection with what is real. (The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia) Perhaps Paul was thinking about the religious lies that came from old stories that people made up and that made others curious.* (See footnote.) Paul said that these stories were dangerous because they “furnish questions for research.” This means that people who pay attention to these stories start having questions about things that are not true and then use their time trying to find the answers. Satan uses these made-up stories and religious lies to make people forget the most important things. Paul’s words are clear: Do not pay attention to false stories!
11. How does Satan use false religion to fool people? What warning should we pay attention to?
11 What are some false stories that could fool us if we are not careful? We can say that a false story is any religious teaching that turns our ears “away from the truth,” that is, that makes us stop listening to the truth. (2 Timothy 4:3, 4) Satan is smart. He uses false religion to fool people. That is why the Bible says that he makes himself into “an angel of light.” (2 Corinthians 11:14) For example, the religions of Christendom say that they follow Christ, but they teach lies like the Trinity and hellfire. They also teach that some part of humans lives on after the death of the body. Many think that Christmas and Easter please God, but the things that people do during these celebrations really come from false worship. False stories will not fool us if we pay attention to God’s warning to separate ourselves from false religion and “quit touching the unclean thing.”
12, 13. (a) What are three lies that come from Satan? What is the truth about each of these lies? (b) What must we do if we do not want Satan to fool us with false stories?
12 There are other lies from Satan that can fool us if we are not careful. Let us talk about three of these lies. The first lie is: You can do whatever you want; you decide what is right and what is wrong. We often hear this on television, in movies, in magazines, in newspapers, and on the Internet. Because we hear this lie all the time, it is easy for us to start to think that way and follow the immoral ideas of the world. But the truth is that we need God to tell us what is right and what is wrong. (Jeremiah 10:23) The second lie is: God will never change anything on the earth. This idea makes people think only about today. They do not care about the future or about pleasing God. We might start to think like them and then become “inactive or unfruitful” in our service to God. (2 Peter 1:8) The truth is that Jehovah will soon change things on the earth, and we must show by the way we live that we really believe this. (Matthew 24:44) The third lie is: God does not care about you. Satan wants us to believe that we are not good enough for God to love us. If Satan makes us believe this lie, we might stop serving Jehovah. The truth is that Jehovah loves each one of his servants, and each one is very important to him.
13 We must always be careful not to think like people in Satan’s world. Sometimes it seems that what they say and think is really true. But remember that Satan wants to fool us, and no one knows better how to fool people than he does. We must pay attention to the warnings in the Bible if we do not want Satan to fool us with false stories.
DO NOT “FOLLOW SATAN”
14. What warning did Paul give to some younger widows? Why do all of us need to pay attention to this warning?
14 Imagine that a sign on the road says: “This Way to Follow Satan.” Of course, no Christian wants to follow a sign like that. But even true Christians could start to “follow Satan.” Paul warns us about how this could happen. (Read 1 Timothy 5:11-15.) He wrote about some younger widows in the congregation at that time, but all of us can learn from what he said. Those widows did not think that they were following Satan, but what they did and what they talked about showed that they really were doing that. How can we avoid following Satan without knowing it? We will now talk about Paul’s warning against harmful gossip, that is, saying bad things about other people.
15. What does Satan want? According to Paul, what things does Satan use to make us do what he wants?
15 Satan does not want us to talk about what we believe in. He wants us to stop preaching the good news. (Revelation 12:17) He wants us to use our time to do things that are foolish or that cause fights among Jehovah’s people. Paul mentioned some of the things that Satan uses to make us do what he wants. Paul said that the widows in his time were “unoccupied, gadding about.” These widows used most of their time to visit their friends and talk about things that were not important. We need to be careful not to do the same thing. For example, we could use a lot of our time and the time of other people by reading and sending e-mails about things that are not important and sometimes not true. Paul also said that the widows were “gossipers.” Gossipers sometimes say bad things about other people. This is dangerous because gossip can become slander, that is, lies about others. These lies often cause people to fight. (Proverbs 26:20) Those who tell lies about others are like Satan the Devil, even if they do not know it.* (See footnote.) Next, Paul said that the widows were “meddlers in other people’s affairs.” They tried to tell others how to live their lives. No one has the right to do that. All these dangers can make us stop thinking about the important work that Jehovah gave us to do. We should use our time to preach about God’s Kingdom. If we stop preaching, we start following Satan. And if we are on Satan’s side, we are against Jehovah. We all have to choose which side we are on.
16. What should we do if we do not want to follow Satan?
16 If we pay attention to what the Bible says, we will not follow Satan. Paul mentions some things that will help us. He says that we should have “plenty to do in the work of the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 15:58) When we work hard for Jehovah, we have no time for things that are not important and that can be dangerous for us. (Matthew 6:33) Something else that Paul tells us to do is to speak what is “good for building up.” (Ephesians 4:29) Do not gossip, and do not listen to others who gossip. (See the box “Feathers in the Wind.”) Trust and respect your brothers and sisters. If you do, you will always say good things about them. Paul also tells us what our aim should be. He says: “Mind your own business.” (1 Thessalonians 4:11) Show people that you care about them, but do this with respect. Remember that there may be personal things that they do not want to talk about and that they do not want others to know about. And remember that we should not make decisions for others about things that they need to decide for themselves.
17. (a) Why does Jehovah give us the warnings that we talked about? (b) What must we be determined to do?
17 We thank Jehovah for telling us so clearly what not to follow! We should always remember that Jehovah gives us the warnings that we talked about because he loves us very much. He does not want Satan to deceive us and make us suffer. The road that Jehovah wants us to choose is difficult, but it is the only road to everlasting life. (Matthew 7:14) We must always be determined to pay attention to Jehovah when he tells us: “This is the way. Walk in it.”
Apostasy is a rebellion against true worship and an abandoning of it.
The book of Tobit, or Tobias, which some people think is part of the Bible, is an example of the false stories that existed in Paul’s time. It was written about the third century before Christ. This book is full of false beliefs and stories of magic. It tells impossible stories but says that they are true.
SOME WORDS EXPLAINED
▪ Christendom: Religions that call themselves Christian but that do not follow the teachings of Christ
▪ False teachers, or apostates: People who rebel against true worship and abandon it
WHAT IS YOUR ANSWER?
How can you show that you pay attention to the warnings in these scriptures?
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We are determined to avoid apostates because we love Jehovah and his organization
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We must pay attention to the warnings in the Bible if we do not want Satan to deceive us with false stories
FEATHERS IN THE WIND
There is an old Jewish story that shows what harmful gossip does.
A man told lies to many people about the wisest man in his village. Some time later, the man who lied wanted the wise man to forgive him. So he asked the wise man: “What can I do to show you that I am sorry for what I said about you?” The wise man told him: “There is one thing you can do. Take a pillow full of feathers. Cut it open, and let the wind take the feathers.” The man did not know the reason for that, but he did what the wise man asked him to do. Later, he returned to the wise man and asked him: “Do you forgive me now?” The wise man said: “First, go and find all the feathers.” The man said: “But that is very difficult. The wind blew the feathers everywhere. I cannot find them anymore.” Then, the wise man replied: “Just as the feathers went to many places, your lies went to many people. And just as you cannot find the feathers, you cannot make people forget what you said.”
The lesson is clear. We cannot change what we say after we say it. And sometimes we cannot change the bad results of what we said. So before we say something bad about others, it is good to remember that our words are like feathers in the wind.
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How may some invite apostates into their home?