‘Keep Spotless, Unblemished, and in Peace’
“Do your utmost to be found finally by him spotless and unblemished and in peace.”—2 PETER 3:14.
1, 2. What is holiness?
JEHOVAH GOD is holy. His Son, Jesus Christ, prayerfully addressed him as “Holy Father.” (John 17:1, 11) And spirit creatures in heaven are described declaring: “Holy, holy, holy is Jehovah of armies.” (Isaiah 6:3) But what is holiness?
2 The terms “holy” and “holiness” are translated from Hebrew words having the possible root meaning “to be bright,” “to be new or fresh, untarnished or clean” physically. In the Scriptures, however, these words are used primarily in a moral or spiritual sense. The original Hebrew also conveys the thought of separateness, exclusiveness, or sanctification to the holy God, Jehovah. In the Christian Greek Scriptures, too, the words rendered “holy” and “holiness” denote separation to God. They are also used to refer to holiness as a quality of Jehovah, as well as to purity or perfection in an individual’s personal conduct. So holiness means cleanness, purity, and sacredness.
Holiness Required of Jehovah’s People
3. Why does Jehovah deserve clean worship?
3 What, then, is meant by the heavenly declaration: “Holy, holy, holy is Jehovah God, the Almighty”? (Revelation 4:8) Why, this ascribes to God holiness, cleanness in the superlative degree! Therefore, Jehovah, “the Most Holy One,” deserves clean worship. (Proverbs 9:10) Accordingly, Jehovah God instructed the prophet Moses to tell the Israelites: “You should prove yourselves holy, because I Jehovah your God am holy.”—Leviticus 19:1, 2.
4. How only is it possible to worship Jehovah acceptably?
4 Anyone claiming to render acceptable service to Jehovah while practicing uncleanness is disgusting in his sight, for only with godly wisdom and in holiness is it possible to worship him acceptably. (Proverbs 20:25; 21:27) Thus, when God foretold that he would make the way clear for his exiled people to return to Jerusalem from Babylon, he said: “The Way of Holiness it will be called. The unclean one will not pass over it.” (Isaiah 35:8) The remnant that returned in 537 B.C.E. did so with holy motives, to restore true worship of “the Most Holy One.” And the Israelites could have proved holy by obeying God. But they failed to keep holy, spotless from his standpoint.—Compare James 1:27.
5. How did Paul show that spiritual Israelites must worship God in holiness?
5 Spiritual Israelites, or anointed Christians, must also worship Jehovah in holiness. (Galatians 6:16) In this regard, the apostle Paul entreated fellow believers ‘to present their bodies a living, holy, acceptable sacrifice to God.’ To do this, these believers would have to make sure that they were doing the divine will, for Paul added: “Quit being fashioned after this system of things, but be transformed by making your mind over, that you may prove to yourselves the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”—Romans 12:1, 2.
6. Against what must all Christians be on guard?
6 In this time of increase, many new ones are flocking into Jehovah’s organization. They, too, worship Jehovah in holiness. How they rejoice in the prospect of surviving the “great tribulation” and of enjoying eternal life on a paradise earth in God’s righteous new system! (Matthew 24:21; Luke 23:43) But if those with heavenly hopes and the “great crowd” having earthly prospects are to enjoy unending life, they must be on guard against defiling habits or anything else that goes contrary to Scriptural morals and teaching.—Revelation 7:9, 14.
7. What did Peter say that highlights the need to be exemplary “in holy acts of conduct”?
7 Pointing to our time, the apostle Peter wrote: “Jehovah’s day will come as a thief, in which the heavens [worldly governments] will pass away with a hissing noise, but the elements [worldly attitudes and ways] being intensely hot will be dissolved, and earth [human society alienated from God] and the works in it will be discovered” to be as combustible as “the heavens” and “the elements” in the destructive “fire” of Jehovah’s day. So Peter added: “Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of persons ought you to be in holy acts of conduct and deeds of godly devotion, awaiting and keeping close in mind the presence of the day of Jehovah, through which the heavens being on fire will be dissolved and the elements being intensely hot will melt!” Yes, all witnesses of Jehovah should be exemplary “in holy acts of conduct.” And those maintaining holiness can look forward to a secure place within God’s righteous ‘new heavens and new earth.’ (2 Peter 3:7, 10-13) What blessed prospects!
8. What does a Christian need to do if he has deviated from the course of holiness?
8 However, what if a Christian has done well in Jehovah’s service for some time but later develops defiling habits or goes contrary to Bible doctrine or morals? Then he has deviated from the course of holiness and needs to demonstrate true repentance and take proper remedial steps. As Paul told fellow anointed ones: “Since we have these promises, beloved ones, let us cleanse ourselves of every defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in God’s fear.” (2 Corinthians 7:1) Any Christian needing to correct his wayward course will find the Scriptural counsel of loving overseers to be a blessing indeed.—Proverbs 28:13; James 5:13-20.
9. In view of 2 Peter 3:14, what question arises?
9 After pointing to the righteous new system, Peter added: “Beloved ones, since you are awaiting these things, do your utmost to be found finally by [Jehovah God] spotless and unblemished and in peace.” (2 Peter 3:14) Those words were directed to anointed Christians, but indeed all witnesses of Jehovah must be found ‘spotless, unblemished, and in peace.’ So, what must we do?
“Spotless and Unblemished”
10. How have those of the “great crowd” made their “robes” clean in Jesus’ blood?
10 We need to do our utmost to be found “spotless and unblemished.” Those of the “great crowd” have ‘washed their robes and made them white in the Lamb’s blood.’ At one time, they were part of this sinful world and their robes of identification were spotted with it, soiled in Jehovah’s sight. How did they make their robes spotlessly white in “the blood of the Lamb,” Jesus Christ? By demonstrating their belief that ‘no forgiveness takes place unless blood is poured out’ and that Jesus is “the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.” (Revelation 7:9, 14; Hebrews 9:22; John 1:29, 36) This they did by making an unconditional dedication to God and symbolizing it by baptism, total immersion in water. Such a dedication had to be made through Jesus Christ and with the conviction that his shed blood makes it possible for God to forgive their sins and make them acceptable in His sight.
11. Since sin disrupts our peace with Jehovah, in what condition do we need to remain?
11 The “great crowd” must keep their “robes” white by not getting spotted with worldliness and thus losing their Christian personality and identification as Jehovah’s approved witnesses. Indeed, all genuine Christians need to refrain from becoming blemished by worldly ways, actions, and attitudes. Since sin disrupts our peace with Jehovah, only by remaining in a condition wherein our sins can be atoned for can we be found “in peace” at the coming of the great “day of Jehovah.” We must have no spots due to false religious practices or this world’s immorality.
12. How can 2 Peter 2:13 be applied even within the Christian congregation?
12 Remaining spotless and unblemished calls for conduct and attitudes opposite to those of “false teachers” concerning whom Peter wrote: “They consider luxurious living in the daytime a pleasure. They are spots and blemishes, indulging with unrestrained delight in their deceptive teachings while feasting together with you.” (2 Peter 2:1, 13) Yes, even within the congregation, we must beware of false teachers who “consider luxurious living in the daytime a pleasure.” During daylight hours, when so much could be done for the spiritual benefit of others, unspiritual persons may engage in wrongdoing, including revelries and excesses in food and drink. They may try to convert such social events as wedding receptions into occasions for passion-arousing music, sensuous dancing, gluttony, and overindulgence in alcoholic beverages. None of this should be allowed to happen among Jehovah’s people.—Isaiah 5:11, 12; see The Watchtower, April 15, 1984, pages 16-22.
13. What can the host do so that a social gathering will be spiritually upbuilding?
13 The host at a social gathering is responsible for what occurs there. So that the event will be spiritually upbuilding, it is wise to keep it manageable in size and not to invite anyone likely to bring in an unwholesome influence. As Paul’s words at 2 Timothy 2:20-22 indicate, not all who associate with a congregation are necessarily desirable companions. Hence, a Christian host is under no obligation to invite individuals known to be unbridled in speech or given to excesses in food or drink. He remembers that ‘whether we are eating or drinking or doing anything else, we should do all things for God’s glory.’—1 Corinthians 10:31.
14. What position should be taken regarding false teachers?
14 Only a few are ‘spots and blemishes, indulging with delight in deceptive teachings’ while associating with us. But overseers and others in the congregation must be vigilant, firmly rejecting any false teachers who may sneak into the congregation and try to promote immorality or wrong doctrine. (Jude 3, 4) Only by firm adherence to God’s righteous standards will it be possible to keep the congregation spotless and unblemished.
What Is Required to Be “in Peace”?
15. (a) How can one attain peace with God? (b) What must we do to be found “in peace” at the coming of Jehovah’s great day?
15 To be found “in peace,” Jehovah’s people must maintain peace with him. (2 Peter 3:14) We have been granted this standing by means of Jesus Christ, concerning whom Paul wrote: “God saw good for all fullness to dwell in him, and through him to reconcile again to himself all other things by making peace through the blood he shed on the torture stake, no matter whether they are the things upon the earth or the things in the heavens.” (Colossians 1:19, 20) Serious sins put a strain upon a person’s relationship with Jehovah and cause the individual to be in a conscience-stricken, disturbed state, whereas peace is the possession of those heeding God’s commandments. (Psalm 38:3; Isaiah 48:18) To be found “in peace” at the coming of Jehovah’s great day, then, we must remain in a godly state that allows for our sins to be atoned for by the blood Jesus shed on the torture stake.
16. According to the apostle Paul, how can we pursue peace with fellow believers?
16 We must also be at peace with other worshipers of Jehovah. Paul urged: “Let us pursue the things making for peace and the things that are upbuilding to one another.” The context shows that we must be careful not to stumble fellow believers in connection with food, drink, or anything else. (Romans 14:13-23) But there is more to the matter than that, for Paul told Ephesian Christians: “I . . . entreat you to walk worthily of the calling with which you were called, with complete lowliness of mind and mildness, with long-suffering, putting up with one another in love, earnestly endeavoring to observe the oneness of the spirit in the uniting bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:1-3) Surely, we want to demonstrate our unity by avoiding all peace-disturbing words and deeds and by standing firm as supporters of Jehovah’s sovereignty.
17. According to 1 Peter 3:10-12, what is involved in ‘seeking peace’?
17 ‘Seeking peace’ certainly requires that we guard both our deeds and our words, for the apostle Peter wrote: “He that would love life and see good days, let him restrain his tongue from what is bad and his lips from speaking deception, but let him turn away from what is bad and do what is good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of Jehovah are upon the righteous ones, and his ears are toward their supplication; but the face of Jehovah is against those doing bad things.” (1 Peter 3:10-12; Psalm 34:12-16) In various ways, then, Jehovah’s loyal servants must continue to “seek peace” if they are to be found “in peace.”
Depend on Jehovah’s Help
18. What can we do if worldly ways, actions, or attitudes appeal to us?
18 Peter indicated that “the elements,” the worldly spirit, or attitudes and ways, will be “dissolved,” or destroyed, during “Jehovah’s day.” (2 Peter 3:7, 10) But what can we do if worldly ways, actions, or attitudes appeal to us? Surely, we need to take full advantage of spiritual provisions made through Jehovah’s organization. Among other things, we should regularly study God’s Word and the Christian publications provided by “the faithful and discreet slave.” (Matthew 24:45-47) We must also show continuing gratitude for the ransom provision, Jesus’ “precious blood, like that of an unblemished and spotless lamb.”—1 Peter 1:18, 19.
19. How can prayer be helpful if worldly attitudes are influencing us?
19 We should pray for God’s help to “pursue righteousness.” (1 Timothy 6:11-14) If we realize that worldly attitudes are influencing us, or if some loving fellow believer has drawn this to our attention, it would be wise to be specific about this problem in our prayers by asking Jehovah to help us overcome these leanings. Surely, it would be appropriate to ask for God’s spirit and for his help in cultivating its fruitage that is so unlike worldly attitudes and ways. (Galatians 5:16-26; Psalm 25:4, 5; 119:27, 35) Jehovah can help us to concentrate on righteous, chaste, virtuous, and praiseworthy things. And how fitting to supplicate him earnestly so that the incomparable “peace of God” will guard our hearts and mental powers! (Philippians 4:6, 7) Then anxieties, temptations, and the like, will not grow to the point of being out of control. Rather, our lives will be marked by God-given tranquillity. Indeed, “abundant peace belongs to those loving [Jehovah’s] law.”—Psalm 119:165.
Remain ‘Spotless, Unblemished, and in Peace’
20. Why can we say that a spiritually unblemished state is possible?
20 Happily, all within Jehovah’s organization, including the new ones now coming in, can be acceptable to God. (Acts 10:34, 35) With Jehovah’s help, it is possible “to repudiate ungodliness and worldly desires” and live as true Christians should. (Titus 2:11-14) Though we were once alienated from Jehovah, and our minds were on wicked works, we have been reconciled to God through the death of Christ. Thus a spiritually unblemished state is possible, provided that we continue in the faith and are not shifted away from the hope of the good news.—Colossians 1:21-23.
21. How can we finally be found ‘spotless, unblemished, and in peace’?
21 With the help of Jehovah, his Word, and his organization, we can remain unspotted by the world and unblemished by its ways, actions, and attitudes. Thus we can also know true peace. Yes, by persevering in our holy worship of Jehovah, we can finally be found ‘spotless, unblemished, and in peace.’
[Pictures on page 16, 17]
Aspects of keeping ‘spotless, unblemished, and in peace’ Serving God in wholehearted dedication
Cultivating the Christian personality
Having spiritually upbuilding association
Seeking peace with God through prayer