Skip to content

Skip to table of contents

The Spirit Behind the Present Old Order

The Spirit Behind the Present Old Order

Chapter 3

The Spirit Behind the Present Old Order

1. What question arises as to the spirit that has pervaded the present old order of things, and what must we conclude?

THE PRESENT order of things is old​—thousands of years old. Throughout all those millenniums of time one spirit has pervaded the human order of things. Has it been holy spirit? No one will talk so contrary to the facts of history as to claim that holy spirit from Jehovah God has been the invisible force activating all human society in its pursuits, or in its style of life. If it had been holy spirit that all along had been backing up and motivating this old system of things, the results would be far different from the world state of affairs today.

2. (a) By what kind of laws do people who go along with this old order have to be controlled? (b) What are the “works of the flesh,” and of what does the “fruitage of the spirit” consist?

2 Holy spirit from Jehovah God, when at work in the lives of people, produces an identifying fruitage. Judged by the fruitage that it has had ample time to produce, this old order is not being led by God’s holy spirit. The mass of mankind who go along with this old order show themselves to be persons needing to be restrained by laws that are enacted for criminally minded people, laws that therefore command them to refrain from all sorts of wrongdoing. Nineteen hundred years ago there was a man who had come out from under such a code of laws. He wrote a letter to show that we need a better inducement, a superior force to be active in our lives, if we want to be different from the present old order. We need the spirit, the invisible active force that comes from One who is far better morally than this old world order, far better than any lawgiver of human society. To the holy force that can activate us aright the letter writer pointed, saying:

“Keep walking by spirit and you will carry out no fleshly desire at all. For the flesh is against the spirit in its desire, and the spirit against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, so that the very things that you would like to do you do not do. Furthermore, if you are being led by spirit, you are not under law.

“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, and they are fornication, uncleanness, loose conduct, idolatry, practice of spiritism, enmities, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, contentions, divisions, sects, envies, drunken bouts, revelries, and things like these. As to these things I am forewarning you, the same way as I did forewarn you, that those who practice such things will not inherit God’s kingdom.

“On the other hand, the fruitage of the spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.”​—Galatians 5:16-23; note also 1 Timothy 1:8-11.

3. Those looking forward to inheriting the blessings of God’s kingdom do not practice what works?

3 Quite a list of opposites, is it not? Certainly those who are producing the fruitage of God’s spirit are not practicing the things called “the works of the flesh.” They are looking forward to God’s kingdom with a sincere desire to inherit its blessings.

4. Why do we ourselves not need to point out the faults of the old order, and why will that old order not help people to inherit God’s kingdom?

4 What, though, about the present old order? We do not have to point out its faults. That is done for us by its newspaper reports, its magazine articles, its police records, the general insecurity due to a rising crime rate, the high-priced hospitals for mental ailments as well as dread social diseases, the political tensions along with the mounting threat of a global nuclear war. Innumerable other things could be cited to incriminate the old order as one abounding in the “works of the flesh.” This old order will never help people to “inherit God’s kingdom.” It has no connection with God’s kingdom. It is not pervaded, motivated or backed up by holy spirit from God. It is by no means holy, not even that part of it that is called Christendom.

5, 6. Why is the natural desire of the flesh to do things that are opposed to the Creator’s spirit not traceable to God?

5 How is it that God’s spirit is back of no part of this old order? How did human flesh get into the state where it naturally desires to do works that are opposed to God’s spirit? Human flesh was not that way at its start. At that time it was motivated by its Creator’s spirit. God would never impart to newly created flesh that which is bad and in opposition to him. He is not the Source of badness. As a champion for the cause of right, the prophet Moses cleared Jehovah God of all responsibility for the wrongful tendencies in human flesh. Moses said: “Perfect is his activity, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness, with whom there is no injustice; righteous and upright is he. They have acted ruinously on their own part; they are not his children, the defect is their own.”​—Deuteronomy 32:4, 5.

6 The defect in mankind is not traceable to God. He made the first man perfect, a credit to His creative ability. There is no defect about God. With the cooperation of his only-begotten Son, God made the first man “in our image, according to our likeness.” The first man, Adam, was an image of divine perfection, and so, to be a true image, he had to be perfect.​—Genesis 1:26-28; 2:7, 8.

7. At the time that Adam was in Eden, what state existed between heaven and earth to make God happy?

7 In the paradise Garden of Eden the first man walked according to God’s holy spirit. On occasion he had conversation with God. In a way unseen to human eye and yet perceptible to the man Adam, God walked in that lovely Garden of Eden. There was unity between God and man. At that time there was unity between things heavenly and things earthly. Why? Because God’s spirit was all-pervasive. All this made Jehovah God happy. He is “the happy God.”​—1 Timothy 1:11.

8. Because of what kind of sin do we not have on earth today a perfect order of things, and by whom was that sin committed?

8 Here, now, was the groundwork for the development of a perfect order of things that would never grow old and get ready to pass away. But today we do not have a clean, righteous, perfect order of things. Why is this? It is because there occurred a sin against the holy spirit. Committed by whom? Committed by the one whom Jesus Christ identified when he was talking to men who were eager to kill him for telling God’s truth. To these would-be murderers Jesus said: “You are from your father the Devil, and you wish to do the desires of your father. That one was a manslayer when he began, and he did not stand fast in the truth, because truth is not in him. When he speaks the lie, he speaks according to his own disposition, because he is a liar and the father of the lie.”​—John 8:44.

9. Who is the spiritual father of a practicer of sin, and why?

9 The first sinner against holy spirit is also identified by Jesus’ disciple named John, who writes: “He who carries on sin originates with the Devil, because the Devil has been sinning from the beginning.” (1 John 3:8) The practicer of sin could have no other spiritual father than the one who started him off.

10. How did the first liar make himself a Devil?

10 This calling the first liar in all creation a devil indicates that his lie was against God, for the name Devil means Slanderer. He left the truth and cultivated in himself the disposition to lie. In slanderous contradiction of what God had told Adam, the Devil told Adam’s wife, Eve, that the penalty for eating from the forbidden tree would not be death: “You positively will not die. For God knows that in the very day of your eating from it your eyes are bound to be opened and you are bound to be like God, knowing good and bad.” (Genesis 3:1-5) The liar made himself a Devil, primarily with respect to God.

11. How might the Devil have schemed to keep God from carrying out his word if Adam and Eve sinned?

11 The Slanderer against God could not guarantee that Adam and Eve would not positively die if they ate the forbidden fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and bad. His word was not mightier than God’s. (Hebrews 4:12; Genesis 2:16, 17) But likely the Devil thought that he could maneuver Jehovah God into an embarrassing position where it would be inconsistent for God to put Adam and Eve to death, especially if the Devil directed the sinful couple to eat of the “tree of life” before divine sentence could be pronounced upon them.​—Genesis 2:9; 3:22, 23.

12. How did the Devil become a manslayer, and what awaits him now?

12 Despite all this maneuvering, the Devil turned out to be a liar. His victims did die as human souls, for Jehovah God the Judge sentenced them to death and kept them from getting to the “tree of life” by driving them out of the paradise Garden of Eden. (Genesis 3:17-24) Because of unlovingly inducing the death of the first man and his wife, the Devil became a “manslayer.” For this he deserved to be put to death according to the rule stated by the Founder of Christianity: “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung round his neck and he were thrown into the sea.” (Mark 9:42, Revised Standard Version) Exactly so, endless destruction does await the manslayer, the Devil.

13. To what did Jehovah liken the Devil, and before this one is put to death what is he allowed to produce?

13 Such an end for the Devil was indicated when the Judge of all, Jehovah, likened him to the serpent that had been used to deceive the woman Eve into eating the forbidden fruit contrary to God’s command. Directing the words really to the symbolic Serpent, Jehovah said: “Because you have done this thing, you are the cursed one out of all the domestic animals and out of all the wild beasts of the field. Upon your belly you will go and dust is what you will eat all the days of your life. And I shall put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed. He will bruise you in the head and you will bruise him in the heel.” (Genesis 3:14, 15) Thus the Devil became the one cursed of God. So it lies with God to have this cursed one put to death. But this would not occur before the cursed Serpent had the opportunity to have a “seed,” offspring in a figurative or spiritual way. As a spirit, the Devil has no inherent reproductive powers like man.

14. What did the figurative crawling on the belly mean for the Devil as the Great Serpent, and by whom was he later joined in his abasement?

14 Jehovah likened the Devil to a serpent that crawls on its belly and eats food dusted with particles of soil. Thus he indicated the deep abasement into which the cursed Devil was now thrown down. As it was the lowest station in existence, it was compared to the place that came to be called Tartarus. In course of time the Devil came to be joined in this place by other spirits, by other angels who renounced the Fatherhood of God and adopted the fatherhood of the Devil. These spirits became his “seed.”

15. What do Peter and Jude say about the angels who joined the Great Serpent in sinning?

15 In reference to this spiritual seed of the original Serpent, the Christian apostle Peter wrote: “God did not hold back from punishing the angels that sinned, but, by throwing them into Tartarus, delivered them to pits of dense darkness to be reserved for judgment.” (2 Peter 2:4) The Christian disciple Jude refers to the same angelic “seed” of the Serpent, when he writes: “The angels that did not keep their original position but forsook their own proper dwelling place he has reserved with eternal bonds under dense darkness for the judgment of the great day.”​—Jude 6.

16. Why did the Devil act single-handedly in tricking Eve into sin, and why do some think that he had been a cherub?

16 At the time that the Devil tricked Adam’s wife, Eve, into rebelling against God her heavenly Father, there was no “seed” of the Great Serpent. The Devil acted single-handedly. He did not choose to have an angelic associate who could become a rival in claiming control over the offspring of Adam and Eve. He coveted the sole control over all mankind. What position he occupied in God’s original organization we do not precisely know. Many Bible students have understood the prophecy of Ezekiel 28:11-19 concerning the king of ancient Tyre to apply also to Satan the Devil, and hence they reason that the self-made Devil was originally a “cherub” among the heavenly “sons of God.” If this is so, then the degree of his abasement as the Great Serpent is all the greater.

17. In what way do rebel angels share Tartarean darkness with the Devil?

17 The other angel rebels against God, who became the “seed” of the Serpent, share the Tartarean darkness with him, like cursed serpents. They no longer have the light of God’s favor and counsel. At their rebellion God took his holy spirit away from them.

18. (a) Why is the future pitch black for the Devil and his angels? (b) What was the question of mystery that was now raised?

18 The future is pitch black for the Great Serpent and his angelic “seed.” God’s day of judgment awaits them, with the prospect of their being ‘bruised in the head.’ God will use the “seed” of his “woman” to do the bruising. (Genesis 3:15) The bruise inflicted is no mere scalp wound. It is the crushing of the head, which results in death to the Great Serpent and his “seed.” There is no room for misunderstanding about this, for, at Romans 16:20, it is written to Christ’s disciples: “The God who gives peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly.” This is sound reason for Satan and his “seed” to be at enmity with the “seed” of God’s “woman.” At God’s mention of the “seed” of his “woman,” a mystery confronted both heaven and earth. The mystery or sacred secret that now roused universal curiosity was, Who is this woman’s seed?


19. Why are Christians exhorted to be the opposite of Cain, the firstborn son of all mankind?

19 The mysterious “seed” of God’s “woman” did not prove to be Eve’s firstborn son, whom she named Cain. Cain’s being the firstborn son of all mankind did not give him the right to serve as that promised “seed.” Moreover, Cain’s heel never did get bruised by the Great Serpent, the Devil. As for bruising anyone in the head, Cain murdered his God-fearing brother Abel, possibly by striking him a crushing blow on the head. Instead of being blessed by God and receiving God’s holy spirit, Cain became the second one in the Bible to be called “cursed,” the symbolic Serpent or the Devil being the first one. (Genesis 3:14; 4:11) In this manner Cain made himself a part of the earthly “seed” of the Great Serpent, the Devil, whom he imitated in lying and committing manslaughter. He loved neither his brother, whom he could see, nor God, whom he could not see. Followers of Christ are exhorted to be the opposite of Cain, in the following words:

“We should have love for one another; not like Cain, who originated with the wicked one and slaughtered his brother. And for the sake of what did he slaughter him? Because his own works were wicked, but those of his brother were righteous.” (1 John 3:11, 12) “Too bad for them, because they have gone in the path of Cain.”​—Jude 11.

20, 21. Cain imitated the Devil in committing what kind of sin, and in view of what manifestation was this possible for Cain?

20 Cain imitated the Devil, his spiritual father, “the wicked one,” in sinning against God’s holy spirit. This does not mean that Cain, the first son of Adam and Eve, ever had the holy spirit. His earthly parents had lost holy spirit because of willfully breaking God’s commandment. But Cain saw the operation of holy spirit. When and how?

21 This was at the time that Cain presented to God an offering from his farming, whereas his younger brother Abel presented to God a sacrifice from slaughtered animals of his flock of sheep. Were the presentations of both of these brothers acceptable to God? Genesis 4:4-7 tells us: “Now while Jehovah was looking with favor upon Abel and his offering, he did not look with any favor upon Cain and upon his offering. And Cain grew hot with great anger, and his countenance began to fall. At this Jehovah said to Cain: ‘Why are you hot with anger and why has your countenance fallen? If you turn to doing good, will there not be an exaltation? But if you do not turn to doing good, there is sin crouching at the entrance, and for you is its craving; and will you, for your part, get the mastery over it?’”

22. What manifestation of holy spirit did Cain observe?

22 Of course, God did not appear to Cain and Abel on this occasion. How he looked with favor upon Abel and his sacrificial offering, we are not told. But there must have been some visible evidence of this. An operation of God’s holy spirit this was. Cain saw this and, also, with no word from God. So he grew hot with great anger and his countenance fell. He did not react humbly and with repentance at the visible operation of holy spirit from the God to whom he was making an unacceptable offering.

23. Cain’s sin against holy spirit took what form, and why?

23 Plainly, Cain was not doing right. God’s voice out of the invisible explained to him the situation. Too proud to humble himself, Cain did not repent and turn to doing good, even though sin was crouching as if at the door of his home and craving to seize him as its victim. He did not want to get the mastery over it, no matter what God’s holy spirit indicated to him. Not wanting an exaltation of his countenance, he schemed against the one approved by God and killed him. Thus he sinned against holy spirit.

24. What can be said about whether the one now the Devil had holy spirit and saw the operation of holy spirit?

24 This displeased God and brought his curse upon Cain. But it pleased the Great Serpent, the Devil, for he now saw an earthly son of his who acted in true copy of his spiritual father. The Devil himself had sinned against holy spirit. Besides seeing God himself, the one now the Devil had seen all the operation of holy spirit with regard to the heavenly realm and with regard to the creation of the earth and of perfect man upon it. (Job 38:7) During the time of being free from all selfish enticement, he himself had a due measure of his heavenly Father’s spirit. What this holy spirit had enabled him to do, he knew. He also saw the “spirit of undeserved kindness” expressed by God toward Adam and Eve in providing for them to enjoy perfect human life in an earthly paradise. And yet what did the heavenly ‘son of God’ do?​—Hebrews 10:29.

25. How did that ‘son of God’ proceed in sinful action against holy spirit and thus what did he make of himself?

25 He misrepresented the “spirit of undeserved kindness” by telling Eve that it was motivated by selfishness on God’s part. Also, that the prohibition that God placed upon the eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and bad was motivated by God’s fear that his human creatures might gain the ability to make decisions independently of him, decisions as to what is right and what is wrong, what is good and what is bad. So, when the spirit ‘son of God’ willfully and designedly twisted the plain facts of the case and lied to deceive Eve into sinning, he sinned against the holy spirit, a sin that has no forgiveness. He had let himself be enticed by the selfish prospect of wielding sovereignty over the earth and its human inhabitants and then acted to seize that sovereignty. At that he lost God’s holy spirit. The fruitage of God’s spirit in his life shriveled up and died. He made a Devil of himself, fit only for destruction.​—Hebrews 12:29; 6:7, 8.

26. How did the Devil become the “ruler of the demons,” and why will those practicing spiritism have no share in God’s kingdom?

26 This first sinner against holy spirit made a demon of himself. Angelic “sons of God” who later joined him in rebellion against God became demons like the Devil. These demons became the “seed” of the Great Serpent, and thus the Devil became the “ruler of the demons,” who came to be called Beelzebub. (Matthew 12:24-27) These are the promoters of demonism, to turn people away from worshiping the one living and true God, Jehovah. They are classed as “unclean spirits.” (Matthew 10:1, 8; 12:43-45) The practice of spiritism under the influence of these demons can result only in spiritual uncleanness to the practicer and make him unclean in God’s sight. The practice of spiritism is one of the works of the fallen flesh and will debar a person from having any share in the kingdom of God and its blessings. The unclean spirits are opposed to God’s holy spirit, and he condemns a person for having anything to do with unclean spirits.​—Deuteronomy 18:9-14; Galatians 5:19, 20; Revelation 9:20, 21; 21:8.


27. Why should we by now be able to determine what kind of spirit is behind the present old order?

27 It is of the highest importance to us to know the above things. By knowing them we can understand the reason for the present state of mankind. Here we are today, in our twentieth century, a century that started off so promisingly from the human standpoint. By the count of time according to the Sacred Scriptures, we have progressed practically six thousand years from when the self-seeking ‘son of God’ rebelled against Jehovah’s universal sovereignty and led Adam and Eve into a similar disobedience to God. After these two human rebels were put out of the paradise of Eden, a new human order was set up on earth, one different from what God their Creator has purposed for our planet Earth. So by now we should be able to determine what kind of spirit is behind the now old order.

28. In speaking about the spirit behind the old order, what do we mean by “spirit”?

28 By “spirit” we mean an invisible active force, an animating, enlivening, energizing force that moves human society in common. It influences their course in life. It moves them in a certain common direction. Thus the people in general carry on in quite a uniform way almost unconsciously, without really giving thought to it. Things that they do become almost instinctive, moved by some inner urge so as to follow a regular routine and to weave a certain pattern of life. There may be little variations depending upon individual differences in personality, yet life and its aims have a common aspect that brands it as characteristic of human society now under the present system of things.

29, 30. (a) Who is the invisible ruler of this old order, and has he been alone in such rule? (b) The effects of such invisible rule have been of what kind?

29 Such a spirit behind today’s old order of things has been greatly affected by unseen superhuman personalities that dominate this order of things and have taken over its administration. There can be no question as to who the predominating one is who controls the whole order. Down as far as into the fifth millennium of the old order, Jesus Christ declared that Satan the Devil is “the ruler of this world,” with whom he had no friendly dealings. On the last night of his life on earth as a man, Jesus Christ said to his apostles: “The ruler of the world is coming. And he has no hold on me.” (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11) In the invisible rulership of mankind Satan the Devil is not alone. He has demon angels associated with him as their sovereign. All these demon powers have had their hand in the affairs of the present old order of human society.

30 The effects of their superhuman rule have been harmful. Testifying to this there is the prophecy written down by the apostle John with respect to the then future ouster of the demons from the holy heavens. This prophecy, as found in Revelation 12:7-12, reads:

“And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels battled with the dragon, and the dragon and its angels battled but it did not prevail, neither was a place found for them any longer in heaven. So down the great dragon was hurled, the original serpent, the one called Devil and Satan, who is misleading the entire inhabited earth; he was hurled down to the earth, and his angels were hurled down with him. . . . ‘Woe for the earth and for the sea, because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger, knowing he has a short period of time.’”

31. According to Revelation 13:4, in what worship has Satan the “dragon” misled all the inhabited earth?

31 One of the things into which the Deceiver, Satan the Devil, has misled the entire inhabited earth is the worship of him himself. Sincere but deceived persons may be shocked at such a revelation, but Revelation 13:4 says respecting people who go in for worldly politics: “They worshiped the dragon because it gave the authority to the wild beast, and they worshiped the wild beast.”

32. Who the “god of this system of things” is becomes clear from what action of his toward the light of the good news?

32 We also have the words of the apostle Paul for it, that the Devil is the main one worshiped by the world of mankind, knowingly or unknowingly. Paul said: “If, now, the good news we declare is in fact veiled, it is veiled among those who are perishing, among whom the god of this system of things has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, that the illumination of the glorious good news about the Christ, who is the image of God, might not shine through.” (2 Corinthians 4:3, 4) This system of things has a “god.” His godship and also his rulership of the world certainly ought to affect the spirit behind the present old order of things.

33. How have all of us naturally been affected by what “the god of this system of things” did near the start of human history?

33 Near the start of human history the one who is now “the god of this system of things” induced the fall of our first human parents. Adam and Eve were pressured into disobeying their Creator. This was before we were born. We have all felt the ill effects of this. In Romans 5:12 the apostle Paul speaks true to the facts when he writes: “Through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men because they had all sinned.” We came under the divine condemnation to death because of naturally inheriting imperfection, sinfulness and moral corruption. We were as good as dead. To God we did not live.

34, 35. Why were we at that time as good as dead to God, and what was said to be at work in us?

34 Naturally, we were heirs of God’s anger, “children of wrath.” We were “alienated from the life that belongs to God.” (Ephesians 4:18) As Colossians 1:21 also says: “You . . . were once alienated and enemies because your minds were on the works that were wicked.” Because of that state of affairs and at that time, Jehovah God was not working in us. Well, then, who or what was?

35 In answer to that question, the words in Ephesians 2:1-5, written to converted Christians, tell us: “You were dead, through the crimes and the sins in which you used to live when you were following the way of this world, obeying the ruler who governs the air, the spirit who is at work in the rebellious. We all were among them too in the past, living sensual lives, ruled entirely by our own physical desires and our own ideas; so that by nature we were as much under God’s anger as the rest of the world. But God loved us with so much love that he was generous with his mercy: when we were dead through our sins.”​—The Jerusalem Bible; An American Translation.

36. According to some Bible translators, the “spirit” spoken of in Ephesians 2:2 means what, and under whose rulership is it?

36 Who is that “spirit who is at work in the rebellious”? He is the original rebel of all rebels against Jehovah God, namely, the Devil, “the original serpent.” But here we should remark that, in Ephesians 2:2, the word “spirit” is viewed by some Bible translators as meaning something impersonal. They view it as an invisible active force that is under the control of the “ruler who governs the air” and that is operating within those who are disobedient to Jehovah God. For example, Young’s translation of Ephesians 2:2 reads: “in which once ye did walk according to the age of this world, according to the ruler of the authority of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.” (See also Rotherham’s translation.) Such an impersonal “spirit” would be under the rulership of the wicked user of the “air.” It would energize those who are conducting themselves “according to the system of things of this world,” disobeying God.

37, 38. How does 1 John 2:15-17 show the way in which the spirit behind the present old order manifests itself?

37 Where can we gain some specific idea of what the spirit behind the present old order of things is or how it manifests itself? Well, let us look at what the apostle John writes. In warning Christians against that worldly spirit, he writes: “Do not be loving either the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him; because everything in the world​—the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes and the showy display of one’s means of life—​does not originate with the Father, but originates with the world. Furthermore, the world is passing away and so is its desire.”​—1 John 2:15-17.

38 Consequently the spirit of the old order moves worldlings to desire the things so attractive to their eyes and to desire the things that feel so good to the flesh; and, logically, such desires lead to selfish action. Because of selfishly desiring so much that pleases the eye and the fallen flesh, those worldlings accumulate a lot of things that constitute their means of life, for their enjoyment of life. In their pride at possessing things, they like to make a showy display of their means of life so as to impress others. This moves the ones who do not have such means to want to possess such things also for themselves.

39. In what way did first-century Jews refuse to receive God’s spirit, and, according to Romans 1:26-32, what resulted to them for being allowed to go their own way?

39 Back in the first century of our Common Era there were Jews who preferred to be imbued with the spirit behind the worldwide order of things. The temple built by King Herod still stood at their national capital of Jerusalem, and they were acquainted with the Law code given through the prophet Moses. They did not want to receive the spirit of God that was being expressed in the pure Christianity then being proclaimed throughout the inhabited earth. Hence Jehovah God let them go their way, like apostate Israel of old. With what results to them? In Romans 1:26-32, the apostle Paul informs us, saying:

“That is why God gave them up to disgraceful sexual appetites, for both their females changed the natural use of themselves into one contrary to nature; and likewise even the males left the natural use of the female and became violently inflamed in their lust toward one another, males with males, working what is obscene and receiving in themselves the full recompense, which was due for their error. And just as they did not approve of holding God in accurate knowledge, God gave them up to a disapproved mental state, to do the things not fitting, filled as they were with all unrighteousness, wickedness, covetousness, badness, being full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malicious disposition, being whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, insolent, haughty, self-assuming, inventors of injurious things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, false to agreements, having no natural affection, merciless. Although these know full well the righteous decree of God, that those practicing such things are deserving of death, they not only keep on doing them but also consent with those practicing them.”

40, 41. With the spread of Christianity, was the spirit behind the old order displaced, and what did Paul predict in 2 Timothy 3:1-12?

40 In that apostolic age of the first century C.E. the true Christian faith was being proclaimed, and so would not God’s holy spirit replace the spirit behind the old order of things as Christianity spread? And was not this more especially the case after Christendom was established by the Roman emperor, Constantine the Great, in the fourth century C.E.? Was not then a morally clean, religiously holy, new spirit infused into the progressing human society? No, not according to what the imprisoned apostle Paul wrote, about the year 65 C.E. or so. In his last letter, as addressed to his long-time companion, Timothy, he predicted:

41 “In the last days critical times hard to deal with will be here. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, self-assuming, haughty, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, disloyal, having no natural affection, not open to any agreement, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, without love of goodness, betrayers, headstrong, puffed up with pride, lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God, having a form of godly devotion but proving false to its power; . . . In fact, all those desiring to live with godly devotion in association with Christ Jesus will also be persecuted.”​—2 Timothy 3:1-5, 12.

42. Why do we not want to have the spirit that is behind the backers of the old order?

42 All the foregoing array of qualities expresses the spirit that motivates the mass of mankind in general as they back up the old order of things. Is that the kind of spirit that we desire to have as the impelling, guiding force in our lives? No; not if we have to judge by the fruitage of their spirit that backers of the old order are harvesting today! We sincerely desire to have a different spirit, a spirit that is active in behalf of a better order of things. This requires that we have the only other spirit that there is​—holy spirit.

[Study Questions]