Serve the God of Freedom
“This is what the love of God means, that we observe his commandments; and yet his commandments are not burdensome.”—1 JOHN 5:3.
CAN YOU ANSWER?
What does Satan want us to think about God’s requirements?
Why must we choose our friends very carefully?
What will help us to continue to be loyal to the God of freedom?
1. How does Jehovah use his freedom? What freedom did he give Adam and Eve?
ONLY Jehovah has unlimited freedom. But he always uses his freedom the right way. And he does not control every little thing his servants do. Instead, he has given them the freedom to make their own decisions and to satisfy all their right desires. For example, there was only one thing that God told Adam and Eve they were not allowed to do. He told them not to eat from “the tree of the knowledge of good and bad.” (Genesis 2:17) So it was possible for them to do God’s will and still have amazing freedom!
2. Why did Adam and Eve become slaves to sin?
2 Why did God allow Adam and Eve to have so much freedom? Because Jehovah gave them a conscience and created them in his image. He expected them to do what was right because of their love for him as their Creator. (Genesis 1:27; Romans 2:15) Sadly, Adam and Eve were not grateful to their Creator for the freedom he had given them. Instead, they chose to decide for themselves what was right and what was wrong. They thought that this would give them more freedom, but in reality, their choice made them and their children slaves to sin and resulted in suffering and death.—Romans 5:12.
3, 4. What does Satan want us to think about God’s requirements?
3 If Satan could influence two perfect humans and many angels to reject God’s rule, he could do the same to us. Satan’s tricks have not changed. He wants us to think that God’s requirements are too strict. Satan wants us to think that if we serve God, we will have no fun or excitement in life. (1 John 5:3) People in the world think this way, and if we regularly spend time with them, we may start thinking like them. A sister who is now 24 years old said that she was greatly influenced by the wrong kind of friends. She was afraid of having an opinion different from that of other young people. As a result, this sister committed immorality. Perhaps you too have felt how strong the influence of friends can be.
4 Sadly, even some in the Christian congregation may become bad influences. A young brother said that some of his friends in the congregation were dating people who did not serve Jehovah. The more time he spent with these friends, the more he became like them. He said: ‘My relationship with Jehovah became weaker. I was not enjoying the meetings, and I almost never went out in service anymore. That is when I realized that I had to stop spending time with them, and I did!’ Do you realize how much your friends influence you? Consider a Bible example that can help us today.—Romans 15:4.
HE STOLE THEIR HEARTS
5, 6. How did Absalom fool others? Did his plan have success?
5 There are many examples in the Bible of those who were a bad influence on others. One of these examples is Absalom, a son of King David. Absalom was a very handsome man. Like Satan, he allowed a wrong desire to grow in his heart. He wanted to become king instead of his father, even though Absalom did not have the right to be king.* (See footnote.) To try to get what he wanted, Absalom made the people believe that he wanted to help them but that the king did not want to help them. Just like the Devil in the garden of Eden, Absalom made people think that he cared for them and at the same time told a terrible lie about his own father.—2 Samuel 15:1-5.
6 Did Absalom’s plan have success? We know that it had some success. The Bible says that “Absalom kept stealing the hearts of the men of Israel.” (2 Samuel 15:6) Absalom fooled many people, but in the end, he was defeated. His pride resulted in his death and the death of thousands who were tricked by him.—2 Samuel 18:7, 14-17.
7. What lessons can we learn from Absalom’s example? (See picture above.)
7 Why was it so easy for Absalom to mislead those Israelites? Maybe because they desired the things he promised them. Or maybe they were influenced by his good looks. Whatever the reason, we can be sure of this: They were not loyal to Jehovah and to the king whom he had chosen. Today, Satan continues to use people like Absalom to try to fool Jehovah’s servants. They may say that Jehovah’s requirements are too strict or that people who do not serve Jehovah have more fun. When you hear these things, will you recognize that they are lies and continue to be loyal to God? Will you recognize that only Jehovah’s “perfect law,” the law of the Christ, can result in true freedom? (James 1:25) If you do, show that you love that law, and use your freedom in a way that pleases Jehovah.—Read 1 Peter 2:16.
8. What are some examples that show that disobeying Jehovah’s requirements does not make people happy?
8 Satan especially wants to deceive young people. A brother who is now over 30 years old said that when he was a teenager, he did not think that Jehovah’s requirements protected him. He felt that he had no freedom. As a result, he committed sexual immorality. But that did not make him happy. Instead, he had strong feelings of guilt and regret for many years. One sister who committed immorality when she was a teenager wrote that afterward she felt sad and worthless. She added: “Even now after 19 years, bad memories come back.” Another sister said that it caused her great pain to think of the effects her actions had on the people she loved. She added, “It is terrible to live without Jehovah’s favor.” Satan does not want you to think about the consequences of sin.
9. (a) What questions should we ask ourselves about Jehovah and his laws and principles? (b) Why is it important to know God well?
9 As these examples show, the consequences of disobeying God are terrible. It is so sad that many young ones in the truth, and even older ones, have had to suffer to learn that! (Galatians 6:7, 8) So ask yourself: ‘Do I recognize the tricks that Satan uses to try to deceive me? Do I think of Jehovah as my best Friend, the one who always tells the truth and wants what is best for me? Do I really believe that he would never deny me something that is truly good and that would make me happy?’ (Read Isaiah 48:17, 18.) You can answer yes to these questions only if you know Jehovah well. You need to recognize that the laws and principles in the Bible show that Jehovah loves you, not that he wants to take your freedom away.—Psalm 25:14.
PRAY FOR A WISE AND OBEDIENT HEART
10. Why should we try to imitate young King Solomon?
10 When he was still a young man, Solomon humbly prayed to Jehovah and said: “I am but a little boy. I do not know how to go out and how to come in.” Solomon then asked Jehovah to help him become wise and obedient. (1 Kings 3:7-9, 12) Jehovah answered that sincere prayer. If you ask Jehovah for the same thing, he will listen to your prayer too, whether you are young or old. Of course, Jehovah will not instantly make you wise. But he will make you wise if you seriously study his Word, pray for holy spirit, and follow the guidance and instruction you receive in the Christian congregation. (James 1:5) In fact, Jehovah makes even his young servants wiser than all those who do not obey him, including the “wise and intellectual ones” of this world.—Luke 10:21; read Psalm 119:98-100.
11 Let us now discuss some scriptures that teach us important lessons about our choice of friends. This will help us understand how important it is to study the Bible and to meditate on it so that we can get to know Jehovah well. Psalm 26:4 says: “I have not sat with men of untruth; and with those who hide what they are I do not come in.” At Proverbs 13:20, we read: “He that is walking with wise persons will become wise, but he that is having dealings with the stupid ones will fare badly.” And 1 Corinthians 15:33 says: “Bad associations spoil useful habits.”
12 What important lessons can we learn from those scriptures? (1) Jehovah wants us to choose our friends carefully. He wants to protect us from doing something that could harm us and our friendship with him. (2) Our friends influence us to do good things or to do bad things. That is simply a fact of life. The way the verses above are written shows that Jehovah is trying to touch our heart. Notice that these verses are written as simple truths, not as rules, such as “you must not do this” or “you must not do that.” It is as if Jehovah is telling us: ‘These are the facts. What will you do? What is in your heart?’
13 Finally, because these three scriptures are written as simple truths, they are as true today as they were when they were written and can apply to people in many situations. Ask yourself such questions as: In what situations could I meet people “who hide what they are”? How can I avoid becoming friends with them? (Proverbs 3:32; 6:12) Who are the “wise persons” Jehovah wants me to be friends with? Who are the “stupid ones” he wants me to avoid? (Psalm 111:10; 112:1; Proverbs 1:7) What are the “useful habits” that I will ruin if I choose the wrong kind of friends? Are there “bad associations” only in the world? (2 Peter 2:1-3) How would you answer these questions?
14. How can you improve your Family Worship evening?
14 In the same way that you just reasoned on these three scriptures, you can read other scriptures to understand God’s thinking on subjects that are important to you and your family.* (See footnote.) Parents, think about discussing these subjects during your Family Worship evening. When you do this, remember that your goal is to help each person in the family to understand that God’s laws and principles show how much he loves us. (Psalm 119:72) If you study like that as a family, your relationship with Jehovah and with one another will become stronger.
15. How can you know if you are really becoming wise and obedient?
15 How can you know if you are really becoming wise and obedient? One way is to compare your thinking with the thinking of faithful servants of God in the past, such as King David. He wrote: “To do your will, O my God, I have delighted, and your law is within my inward parts.” (Psalm 40:8) Also, the writer of Psalm 119 said: “How I do love your law! All day long it is my concern.” (Psalm 119:97) You must work hard to have this kind of love. This love grows when you study the Bible seriously, pray, and meditate. It also grows when you notice in your own life that obeying Jehovah’s requirements results in many blessings.—Psalm 34:8.
FIGHT FOR YOUR CHRISTIAN FREEDOM!
16. If we want to win the fight to keep our freedom, what must we remember?
16 All through history, nations have been willing to fight cruel wars to have freedom. You should be even more willing to fight to keep the freedom you have as a Christian! Remember, your enemies are not just Satan and the deadly thinking of the world. You also have to fight against your own imperfections and a heart that can deceive you. (Jeremiah 17:9; Ephesians 2:3) With Jehovah’s help, you can win the fight. Every time you choose to do what is right, there are at least two good results. First, you will make Jehovah’s heart glad. (Proverbs 27:11) Second, every time you realize that obeying “the perfect law that belongs to freedom” is good for you, you will become even more determined to stay on the road to everlasting life. In the future, you will have the greater freedom that Jehovah promises to all who are loyal to him.—James 1:25; Matthew 7:13, 14.
17. When we make mistakes, why should we not feel depressed? How does Jehovah help us when we make a mistake?
17 Of course, we all make mistakes sometimes. (Ecclesiastes 7:20) When that happens, do not feel worthless or depressed. If you make a mistake, do what is needed to correct it, even if you have to ask the elders for help. James wrote that their “prayer of faith will make the indisposed one well, and Jehovah will raise him up. Also, if he has committed sins, it will be forgiven him.” (James 5:15) Never forget that God is truly merciful and that he wanted you to be in the congregation because he saw something good in you. (Read Psalm 103:8, 9.) Jehovah will always help you as long as you try to serve him with a complete heart.—1 Chronicles 28:9.
18. What must we do to have Jehovah’s protection?
18 On the night before he died, Jesus prayed with his 11 faithful apostles and asked his Father to protect them. He said these unforgettable words: “Watch over them because of the wicked one.” (John 17:15) Just as Jesus cared about his apostles, he cares about all his followers today. So we can be sure that Jehovah will answer Jesus’ prayer by protecting us during these difficult times. Proverbs 2:7, 8 tells us that Jehovah is like a shield for those who are faithful to him, and “he will guard the very way of his loyal ones.” It is not always easy to obey Jehovah’s requirements. But only those who obey Jehovah will have everlasting life and true freedom. (Romans 8:21) Others may think differently, but do not let them fool you!
When God promised to give David a “seed,” or son, to become king after David, Absalom had already been born. So Absalom should have known that Jehovah had not chosen him to be the next king.—2 Samuel 3:3; 7:12.
Good examples of scriptures you can consider with your family are 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, where Paul describes love, and Psalm 19:7-11, which talks about the many blessings we can have if we obey Jehovah’s laws.
SOME EXPRESSIONS EXPLAINED
“Bad associations”: The wrong kind of friends (1 Corinthians 15:33)
[Blurb on page 10]
Satan wants you to think that if you obey God, you will have no fun in life
[Blurb on page 12]
Jehovah is your best Friend. He wants what is best for you
[Pictures on page 11]
How can we identify modern-day Absaloms and guard ourselves against them?