“Brothers, . . . we request of you not to be quickly shaken from your reason.”—2 THESSALONIANS 2:1, 2.
1, 2. Why is deception so common, and what type of deception do we see today? (See opening picture.)
DECEPTION and lies are very common in the world we live in. This should not surprise us. The Bible clearly says that Satan the Devil is an expert at deceiving people and that he is the ruler of this world. (1 Timothy 2:14; 1 John 5:19) The closer we get to the end of this wicked world, the angrier Satan becomes because he has only “a short period of time” left. (Revelation 12:12) So we can expect that those influenced by the Devil will become more and more dishonest. They will especially try to deceive those who serve Jehovah.
2 When the media mention Jehovah’s servants and their beliefs, they sometimes report only part of the truth or even lies. Newspaper headlines, television shows, and Internet Web pages are used to spread false stories. Some people become upset or even angry because they believe these lies without first checking the facts.
3. What can help us not to be deceived?
3 Thankfully, we can defend ourselves from Satan’s lies. To help us avoid being deceived, we have the Bible, which is “beneficial . . . for setting things straight.” (2 Timothy 3:16) What the apostle Paul wrote shows us that some Christians in Thessalonica had been deceived by lies. He wrote to them: “We request of you not to be quickly shaken from your reason.” (2 Thessalonians 2:1, 2) What lessons can we learn from Paul’s loving warning, and how can we apply them?
4. How were Christians in Thessalonica warned about the coming of “Jehovah’s day,” and how are we being warned?
4 In his first letter to the Christians in Thessalonica, Paul warned them about the coming of “Jehovah’s day.” He did not want his brothers to be confused or unprepared. He told them that they were “sons of light,” and then he added: “Let us stay awake and keep our senses.” (Read 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6.) Today, we are waiting for the destruction of Babylon the Great, that is, all false religion. This destruction will be the beginning of the great day of Jehovah. We understand how Jehovah will fulfill his purpose. In the congregation, we regularly receive good reminders that can help us be prepared for Jehovah’s day. If we listen carefully to these repeated warnings, we can strengthen our determination to serve God with our “power of reason.”—Romans 12:1.
We understand how Jehovah will fulfill his purpose
5, 6. (a) What did Paul write about in his second letter to the Thessalonians? (b) What will Jesus soon do, and what should we ask ourselves?
5 Paul wrote a second letter to the Thessalonians. In that letter, he wrote about the coming tribulation when Jesus will execute God’s judgment on “those who do not know God and those who do not obey the good news.” (2 Thessalonians 1:6-8) In chapter 2 of that letter, Paul writes that some in the congregation had become so “excited” about Jehovah’s day that they believed that it was very close. (Read 2 Thessalonians 2:1, 2.) The early Christians did not completely understand how Jehovah’s purpose was going to be fulfilled. Paul admitted this when he later wrote the following about prophecy: “We have partial knowledge and we prophesy partially; but when that which is complete arrives, that which is partial will be done away with.” (1 Corinthians 13:9, 10) But they could remain faithful by listening to the warnings that Jehovah had Paul, the apostle Peter, and other faithful anointed brothers of that time write down.
6 To correct their thinking, God inspired Paul to explain that before Jehovah’s day, there was going to be a great apostasy and “the man of lawlessness” would arrive.* (See footnote.) After that, at God’s chosen time, Jesus would “bring to nothing,” or completely destroy, all those who had been deceived. Paul explained that the reason for this judgment was that “they did not accept the love of the truth.” (2 Thessalonians 2:3, 8-10) We should ask ourselves: ‘How much do I love the truth? Do I study this magazine and other publications provided for God’s people worldwide so that I can know our present understanding of Bible teachings?’
CHOOSE YOUR ASSOCIATES WISELY
7, 8. (a) What were some dangers for the early Christians? (b) What can be especially dangerous for Christians today?
7 The teachings of the apostates would not be the only danger to Christians. Paul wrote to Timothy that “the love of money is a root of all sorts of injurious things.” He also said that “by reaching out for this love some have been led astray from the faith and have stabbed themselves all over with many pains.” (1 Timothy 6:10) “The works of the flesh” would also be a constant danger.—Galatians 5:19-21.
8 Paul strongly warned the Thessalonians about those he called “false apostles.” Some of them spoke “twisted things to draw away the disciples after themselves.” (2 Corinthians 11:4, 13; Acts 20:30) Jesus praised the congregation in Ephesus because they did not accept “bad men” in the congregation. They had proven that these men were actually false apostles and liars. (Revelation 2:2) In his second letter to the Thessalonians, Paul gave this counsel: “Now we are giving you orders, brothers, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, to withdraw from every brother walking disorderly.” He then mentioned Christians who did “not want to work.” (2 Thessalonians 3:6, 10) So if they had to avoid someone who was lazy and did not want to work, it would be even more important to avoid someone who started to behave like an apostate. Choosing to spend time with such a person back then was especially dangerous and had to be avoided. This is also true today.—Proverbs 13:20.
9. Why should we be careful if someone begins to guess about things not explained in the Bible or to criticize Jehovah’s organization?
9 We are getting closer to the great tribulation and the end of this wicked world. The warnings from Jehovah given in the first century are even more important today. We definitely do not want “to accept the undeserved kindness of God and miss its purpose.” If that happens, we will lose the chance to live forever. (2 Corinthians 6:1) We should be very careful if someone who attends our meetings tries to tempt us to guess about things not explained in the Bible or to criticize the elders and others who serve God.—2 Thessalonians 3:13-15.
We should be very careful if someone who attends the meetings tries to tempt us to guess about things not explained in the Bible
“MAINTAIN YOUR HOLD ON THE TRADITIONS”
10. What traditions were the Christians in Thessalonica told to follow?
10 Paul counseled his brothers in Thessalonica to “stand firm” and to continue doing what they had learned. (Read 2 Thessalonians 2:15.) What were “the traditions” that they had been taught? They were the teachings of Jesus and what God inspired Paul and others to write. He was not referring to the traditions taught by false religions. Paul praised his brothers in the congregation in Corinth because, as he wrote, “in all things you have me in mind and you are holding fast the traditions just as I handed them on to you.” (1 Corinthians 11:2) These teachings came from a reliable source and could be trusted.
11. In what ways are some people affected when they are deceived?
11 When Paul wrote to the Hebrews, he mentioned two ways that a Christian might lose faith and not remain loyal to Jehovah. (Read Hebrews 2:1; 3:12.) He wrote about drifting away from Jehovah and about drawing away from him. It can be hard to notice that a boat is drifting away from the shore. It can slowly move farther and farther away. However, a man can also choose to push his boat away from the shore. Both examples show what can happen if a person allows himself to be deceived and lets his confidence in the truth become weak.
12. What could harm our friendship with Jehovah?
12 Some of the Thessalonians may have allowed themselves to be deceived. Can this happen today? Many activities can take away our time. Think about how many hours are spent working on hobbies, using social networks, reading and answering electronic messages, or checking the latest sports news. Any one of these activities could distract a Christian and weaken his zeal for Jehovah. What could be the result? He might stop praying from the heart. He might also use less time to study the Bible, to go to meetings, and to preach the good news. What can we do to avoid being quickly shaken from our reason?
PROTECTION AGAINST BEING SHAKEN
13. As foretold in the Bible, what attitude do many people have, and what can protect our faith?
13 We must remember that the end of Satan’s world is near and that choosing to spend time with people who will not admit we are living in “the last days” can be dangerous. The apostle Peter wrote about our time: “There will come ridiculers with their ridicule, proceeding according to their own desires and saying: ‘Where is this promised presence of his? Why, from the day our forefathers fell asleep in death, all things are continuing exactly as from creation’s beginning.’” (2 Peter 3:3, 4) Reading the Bible every day and studying it regularly will help us remember that we are living in “the last days.” The apostasy foretold in the Bible began a long time ago, and it continues to this day. “The man of lawlessness” still exists and opposes God’s servants. For all these reasons, we should never forget that Jehovah’s day is near.—Zephaniah 1:7.
Reading the Bible every day and studying it regularly will help us remember that we are living in “the last days”
14. How are we protected if we keep busy in God’s service?
14 Another way to avoid being shaken from our reason is to preach the good news regularly. So when Christ Jesus commanded his followers to make disciples of people of all the nations and to teach them to obey what he had taught, he was giving advice that would protect his followers. (Matthew 28:19, 20) To obey this command, we need to be zealous in the preaching work. Can you imagine the brothers in Thessalonica being satisfied to preach and teach only because they had to? Remember what Paul wrote to them: “Do not put out the fire of the spirit. Do not treat prophesyings with contempt.” (1 Thessalonians 5:19, 20) The prophecies we study and share with others are truly exciting!
15. What are some things that we can consider during family worship?
15 We want to help our families improve as preachers of the good news. To do this, many brothers and sisters use part of their family worship to practice for the ministry. Maybe you can prepare to make return visits. What do you plan to talk about? What can you say that will make the householder want to learn more? What is the best time to visit again? Many also use part of their family worship to prepare for the meetings. Can your family do that? If you participate in the meetings, you will strengthen your faith, and this will help you to avoid being shaken from your reason. (Psalm 35:18) Family worship will protect us from guessing about things not explained in the Bible and from having doubts.
Family worship will protect us from having doubts
16. What motivates anointed Christians to avoid being shaken from their reason?
16 Jehovah has blessed his people over the years with more understanding of Bible prophecy. This makes us confident that we will have a wonderful reward in the future. The anointed look forward to being with Christ in heaven. Surely this hope motivates them to avoid being shaken from their reason! What Paul wrote to the Thessalonians applies to the anointed today: “We are obligated to thank God always for you, brothers loved by Jehovah, because God selected you . . . by sanctifying you with spirit and by your faith in the truth.”—2 Thessalonians 2:13.
17. How are you encouraged by what is written at 2 Thessalonians 3:1-5?
17 Those who look forward to everlasting life on earth should do their best to avoid being quickly shaken from their reason, just as the anointed do. If you hope to live on earth forever, always obey Paul’s loving encouragement to the anointed Christians in Thessalonica. (Read 2 Thessalonians 3:1-5.) We should be grateful for those loving words. The letters to the Thessalonians warn us against guessing about things not explained in the Bible and believing questionable ideas. Because we live so close to the end, we are very grateful for these warnings.
At Acts 20:29, 30, we read Paul’s warning to Christian congregations: “Men will rise and speak twisted things to draw away the disciples after themselves.” In time, there started to be a difference between those taking the lead and the other members of the congregation. After the year 200, it became clear that the clergy of Christendom as a group is “the man of lawlessness.”—See The Watchtower, February 1, 1990, pages 10-14.