“Let everyone calling on the name of Jehovah renounce unrighteousness.”—2 TIMOTHY 2:19.
1. What has a special place in our worship?
AROUND the world, the name Jehovah can be found engraved on many buildings and on various objects in museums. If you have ever seen that name in such places, you no doubt felt excitement. For us as Jehovah’s Witnesses, God’s name has a special place in our worship. No other people use God’s name as we do. But more is involved than simply using his name. Because we have the privilege to be his Witnesses, we have the responsibility to act in a way that will honor him.
2. Because we have the privilege of being identified by God’s name, what responsibility do we have?
2 To have God’s approval, we must do more than simply use his name. We must also follow his moral standards and “turn away from what is bad.” (Psalm 34:14) Paul made this responsibility clear when he wrote: “Let everyone calling on the name of Jehovah renounce unrighteousness.” (Read 2 Timothy 2:19.) So as God’s people, how can we make sure that we “renounce unrighteousness,” that is, reject wickedness?
“MOVE AWAY” FROM BADNESS
3, 4. What words have been difficult for some to understand, and why?
3 At 2 Timothy 2:19, Paul refers to “the solid foundation of God.” Engraved on this foundation are two statements. The first statement, “Jehovah knows those who belong to him,” is taken from Numbers 16:5. (See previous article.) But what about the second statement, “Let everyone calling on the name of Jehovah renounce unrighteousness”? Some have difficulty understanding these words. Why?
4 Paul’s words suggest that he was quoting from another part of the Hebrew Scriptures. But there does not seem to be any verse that matches this statement. So, what was the apostle referring to when he said: “Let everyone calling on the name of Jehovah renounce unrighteousness”? Paul’s first statement was taken from Numbers chapter 16, and it refers to the rebellion of Korah. Could the second statement also refer to the same event?
5-7. What events in Moses’ day was Paul referring to at 2 Timothy 2:19? (See opening picture.)
5 Dathan and Abiram joined Korah as leaders of the rebellion. (Numbers 16:1-5) They were disrespectful to Moses and rejected the authority he had received from God. They became a danger to the Israelites because they still lived among them. Before Jehovah identified his loyal worshippers, he gave one simple command.
Those who were loyal to God survived
6 The Bible states: “Jehovah then said to Moses: ‘Speak to the assembly and tell them, “Get away from around the tents of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram!”’ Then Moses got up and went to Dathan and Abiram, and the elders of Israel went with him. He told the assembly: ‘Move away, please, from the tents of these wicked men and do not touch anything that belongs to them, so that you may not be swept away in all their sin.’ They immediately moved away from the tents of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, from every side.” (Numbers 16:23-27) Then Jehovah destroyed all the rebels. But those who were loyal to God survived. How? They ‘renounced unrighteousness’ by moving away from the rebels.
7 When Paul wrote the words “Jehovah knows those who belong to him,” he was quoting from Numbers 16:5. And when he made the statement “Let everyone calling on the name of Jehovah renounce unrighteousness,” he might have been referring to the events recorded at Numbers 16:5, 23-27. So it seems reasonable to conclude that both statements found at 2 Timothy 2:19 refer to the same events. What do we learn from these statements? That Jehovah reads hearts. He knows who his loyal servants are, and he expects them to separate themselves from those who are wicked.
Loyal ones must clearly separate themselves from those who are wicked
“REJECT FOOLISH AND IGNORANT DEBATES”
8. Besides using God’s name and belonging to a congregation, what else must we do?
8 Paul also used the events of Moses’ day to remind Timothy that he needed to protect his relationship with Jehovah. Christians had to do more than belong to the congregation, just as God’s loyal servants in Moses’ day had to do more than simply use Jehovah’s name. All faithful servants of God must reject wickedness. What did this mean for Timothy? And what can we learn from Paul’s counsel?
9. How did “foolish and ignorant debates” affect the early Christian congregation?
9 In Paul’s letter to Timothy, he gave wise advice on how to reject wickedness. For example, Paul tells Timothy “not to fight about words” and to “reject empty speeches.” (Read 2 Timothy 2:14, 16, 23.) What did these words mean? Some in the congregation were teaching apostate doctrines. Others were spreading ideas that caused arguments. Some of these ideas were not directly against Bible teachings, but they threatened the unity of the congregation. That is why Paul encouraged Timothy to “reject foolish and ignorant debates.”
10. What should we do if we are exposed to apostasy?
10 Today, it is not common to find apostates in the congregation. Yet, we may still be exposed to ideas that go against Bible teachings. No matter where these ideas come from, we need to be determined to reject them. It is not wise to have communication with apostates, either in person, over the Internet, or in any other way. Even though we may want to help the person, we would be disobeying God if we had such a conversation. He commands us to reject, yes, completely avoid, apostasy.
No matter where apostate ideas come from, we need to be determined to reject them
11. What could divide a congregation, and how can Christian elders set a good example?
11 There are other things that can disturb the peace of a congregation besides apostate ideas. For example, there may be different opinions about what entertainment is appropriate for a Christian. Trying to force these opinions on others could cause “foolish and ignorant debates.” But what if someone in the congregation is promoting entertainment that goes against God’s moral standards? Elders would not tolerate this behavior simply to avoid an argument. (Psalm 11:5; Ephesians 5:3-5) Yet, elders are careful not to promote their own ideas. Instead they follow the Bible’s counsel: “Shepherd the flock of God under your care, . . . not lording it over those who are God’s inheritance, but becoming examples to the flock.”—1 Peter 5:2, 3; read 2 Corinthians 1:24.
12, 13. (a) How do Jehovah’s Witnesses decide which entertainment to choose, and what Bible principles apply? (b) How do the principles discussed in paragraph 12 apply to various personal matters?
12 Our organization does not review movies, video games, books, or songs to decide which ones we should avoid. Why not? Because the Bible tells each person to train his conscience “to distinguish both right and wrong.” (Hebrews 5:14) We can use Bible principles to help us make wise decisions about entertainment. With all such decisions, we need to “keep on making sure of what is acceptable to the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:10) The Bible also teaches that the head of the family has authority, so he may decide not to allow certain entertainment in his household.* (See footnote.)—1 Corinthians 11:3; Ephesians 6:1-4.
13 The Bible principles mentioned above can help us to make wise decisions in other areas of life. For example, there are different opinions about dress and grooming, health and nutrition, and other personal matters. Some may want to force their opinions about such matters on others, and this can cause disagreements. But if no Bible principle is being violated, there is no reason to argue about what each Christian should do. The Bible says that “a slave of the Lord does not need to fight, but needs to be gentle toward all.”—2 Timothy 2:24; footnote.
AVOID BAD ASSOCIATIONS!
14. How did Paul illustrate the need to avoid bad associations?
14 As servants of God, in what other way can we “renounce unrighteousness”? By avoiding bad associations. How did Paul illustrate this? After mentioning “the solid foundation of God,” he wrote about “a large house.” Inside this house there were “utensils,” that is, objects, made “not only of gold and silver but also of wood and earthenware, and some for an honorable use but others for a use lacking honor.” (2 Timothy 2:20, 21) Paul then encouraged Christians to keep clear of the “utensils” used for a purpose “lacking honor.”
15, 16. What can we learn from the illustration of “a large house”?
15 What is the meaning of Paul’s illustration? The “large house” can be compared to the Christian congregation. The “utensils” in the house can be compared to each member of the congregation. In a house, some objects may be harmful if they become contaminated, that is, unclean. When this happens, the owner of the house must separate the unclean objects from the clean ones, such as the ones he uses for cooking.
16 It is similar for God’s servants today. If we want to be clean in all areas of our lives, we must separate ourselves from people within the congregation who continually refuse to obey Jehovah’s principles. (Read 1 Corinthians 15:33.) If we must avoid those inside the congregation who disobey God, we certainly must avoid close association with those outside the congregation. We do that because many people outside the congregation are lovers of money, disobedient to parents, disloyal, liars, violent, without love for what is good, betrayers, and lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God.—2 Timothy 3:1-5.
If we must avoid those inside the congregation who disobey God, we certainly must avoid close association with those outside the congregation
JEHOVAH BLESSES OUR LOYALTY
17. How careful were loyal Israelites to “renounce unrighteousness”?
17 When Jehovah gave the command to “get away from around the tents of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram,” the faithful Israelites “immediately moved away.” (Numbers 16:24, 27) They did not delay in separating themselves from the rebels or seem unsure about doing so. They “moved away . . . from every side.” Loyal ones were eager to obey with their whole heart. They made it very clear that they supported Jehovah and opposed unrighteousness. What can we learn from this example?
18. What did Paul mean when he told Timothy to “flee from youthful desires”?
18 Our friendship with Jehovah is valuable to us. We must act promptly to protect it. This is what Paul meant when he told Timothy to “flee from youthful desires.” (2 Timothy 2:22) Timothy was probably more than 30 years old. But even adults can have foolish “youthful desires.” When facing such desires, Timothy had to “flee” from them. He needed to “renounce unrighteousness.” Jesus stated something similar: “If your eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it away from you.” (Matthew 18:9) Christians who want to obey this advice and protect their friendship with God must act quickly and with determination.
All of us should be careful to protect our relationship with Jehovah
19. How have some protected their friendship with Jehovah?
19 How have some Christians protected their relationship with Jehovah? Some who once had problems with alcohol have decided not to drink at all. Others who have certain weaknesses avoid any type of entertainment that might excite wrong desires. (Psalm 101:3) For example, before becoming a Witness, one brother enjoyed going to dance parties where people behaved immorally. After learning the truth, he decided not to dance at all, not even at Witness gatherings. He does not want to bring back improper thoughts or desires. Of course, this does not mean that all Christians need to avoid alcohol, dancing, or other things that are not wrong in themselves. However, all of us should be careful and protect our relationship with Jehovah.
20. Although it might not be easy to “renounce unrighteousness,” what comforts us?
20 It is a privilege to be called one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Yet, this privilege comes with responsibility. We must “renounce unrighteousness” and “turn away from what is bad.” (Psalm 34:14) Doing so is not always easy. But how comforting it is to know that Jehovah will always love “those who belong to him” and obey him.—2 Timothy 2:19; read 2 Chronicles 16:9a.
See the jw.org article “Do You Ban Certain Movies, Books, or Songs?” under ABOUT US > FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS.