Resist Wrong Thinking!
WHEN experiencing calamity, the patriarch Job received a visit from his three friends Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. They came to sympathize with him and to comfort him. (Job 2:11) The most influential and perhaps the oldest of the three was Eliphaz. He was the first one to speak and had the most to say. What type of thinking did Eliphaz reflect in his three speeches?
Recalling a supernatural experience he once had, Eliphaz said: “A spirit itself went passing over my face; the hair of my flesh began to bristle. It began to stand still, but I did not recognize its appearance; a form was in front of my eyes; there was a calm, and I now heard a voice.” (Job 4:15, 16) What kind of spirit had influenced the thinking of Eliphaz? The critical tone of the words that followed shows that the spirit certainly was not one of God’s righteous angels. (Job 4:17, 18) It was a wicked spirit creature. Otherwise, why would Jehovah have reproved Eliphaz and his two associates for having spoken lies? (Job 42:7) Yes, Eliphaz had come under demon influence. His comments reflected ungodly thinking.
What ideas can be identified from the statements of Eliphaz? Why is it important that we guard against wrong thinking? And what measures can we take to resist it?
“In His Servants He Has No Faith”
In all three speeches, Eliphaz presented the idea that God is so exacting that nothing his servants do is good enough for him. “Look! In his servants he has no faith,” Eliphaz told Job, “and his angels he charges with faultiness.” (Job 4:18, footnote) Eliphaz later said of God: “In his holy ones he has no faith, and the heavens themselves are actually not clean in his eyes.” (Job 15:15) And he asked: “Does the Almighty have any delight in that you are righteous?” (Job 22:3) Bildad was in agreement with this viewpoint, for he stated: “There is even the moon, and it is not bright; and the stars themselves have not proved clean in [God’s] eyes.”—Job 25:5.
We must be on guard against being influenced by such thinking. It can lead us to feel that God requires too much of us. This view attacks our very relationship with Jehovah. Moreover, if we succumb to this type of reasoning, how would we respond when we are given needed discipline? Rather than humbly accepting the correction, our heart may become “enraged against Jehovah himself,” and we may harbor resentment toward him. (Proverbs 19:3) How spiritually disastrous that would be!
“Can an Able-Bodied Man Be of Use to God?”
Closely related to the idea that God is too exacting is the view that he regards humans as useless. Eliphaz’ third speech contains the question: “Can an able-bodied man be of use to God himself, that anyone having insight should be of use toward him?” (Job 22:2) Eliphaz was implying that man is useless to God. In a similar vein, Bildad argued: “How can mortal man be in the right before God, or how can one born of a woman be clean?” (Job 25:4) According to that line of reasoning, how could Job, a mere mortal, ever presume to have a righteous standing before God?
Some people today are plagued with negative feelings about themselves. Such factors as family upbringing, exposure to the pressures of life, or being victims of racial or ethnic hatred may have contributed to this. But Satan and his demons also take delight in crushing a person. If they can influence an individual to feel that nothing he does is good enough for Almighty God, he is more vulnerable to despondency. In time, such a person could drift away, even draw away, from the living God.—Hebrews 2:1; 3:12.
Advancing age and health problems put limitations on us. The share we have in Kingdom service may seem quite small in comparison with what we did when we were younger, healthier, and stronger. How important it is to recognize that Satan and his demons want us to feel that what we do is not good enough for God! We must resist such thinking.
How to Resist Negative Thinking
Despite the suffering brought upon him by Satan the Devil, Job said: “Until I expire I shall not take away my integrity from myself!” (Job 27:5) Because he loved God, Job was determined to maintain his integrity no matter what happened, and nothing was going to change that. Herein lies a key to resisting negative thinking. We must acquire a good understanding of God’s love and cultivate heartfelt appreciation for it. We also need to deepen our love for him. This is achieved by means of a regular study of God’s Word and prayerful meditation on what we learn.
For example, John 3:16 states: “God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son.” Jehovah has deep love for the world of mankind, and his dealings with humans over time show that love. Meditating on examples from the past ought to build up our appreciation for Jehovah and deepen our love for him, thus helping us to resist wrong or negative thinking.
Consider the way Jehovah treated Abraham at the time of the impending destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham inquired of Jehovah eight times respecting His judgment. At no point did Jehovah show irritation or frustration. Instead, his replies reassured and comforted Abraham. (Genesis 18:22-33) When God later rescued Lot and his family from Sodom, Lot asked to escape to a nearby city rather than to the mountains. Jehovah replied: “Here I do show you consideration to this extent also, by my not overthrowing the city of which you have spoken.” (Genesis 19:18-22) Do these accounts portray Jehovah as an exacting, unloving, authoritarian ruler? No. They show him to be what he really is—a loving, kind, merciful, and understanding Sovereign.
Disproving the idea that God is a faultfinder and that no one can be good enough for him are the examples of Aaron, David, and Manasseh of ancient Israel. Aaron was guilty of three serious wrongs. He made the golden calf, joined his sister Miriam in criticizing Moses, and failed to sanctify and honor God at Meribah. Nevertheless, Jehovah saw good in him and allowed him to continue serving as high priest right up to his death.—Exodus 32:3, 4; Numbers 12:1, 2; 20:9-13.
King David committed grave sins during his reign. These included adultery, plotting an innocent man’s death, and taking an illegal census. However, Jehovah noted David’s repentance and loyally stuck to the Kingdom covenant by allowing him to serve as king until his death.—2 Samuel 12:9; 1 Chronicles 21:1-7.
Judaean King Manasseh set up altars to Baal, made his sons pass through fire, promoted spiritistic practices, and built false religious altars in the temple courtyards. After he showed heartfelt repentance, however, Jehovah forgave him, released him from captivity, and gave him back the kingship. (2 Chronicles 33:1-13) Are these the actions of a God for whom no one is good enough? Hardly!
The False Accuser Himself Is Guilty
It should not surprise us that Satan is the chief embodiment of the very characteristics he accuses Jehovah of having. Satan is harsh and exacting. This can clearly be seen from the practice of child sacrifice connected with false worship in times past. The apostate Israelites burned their sons and daughters in the fire—a thing that had not even come up into Jehovah’s heart.—Jeremiah 7:31.
It is Satan, not Jehovah, who is a faultfinder. Revelation 12:10 refers to Satan as “the accuser of our brothers . . . , who accuses them day and night before our God!” On the other hand, concerning Jehovah, the psalmist sang: “If errors were what you watch, O Jah, O Jehovah, who could stand? For there is the true forgiveness with you.”—Psalm 130:3, 4.
When Wrong Thinking Will Be No More
What relief the angelic spirit creatures must have felt when Satan the Devil and his demons were cast out of the heavens! (Revelation 12:7-9) Thereafter, these wicked spirits could no longer have any effect on the activities of Jehovah’s angelic family in heaven.—Daniel 10:13.
The inhabitants of the earth will rejoice in the near future. Soon, an angel coming down out of heaven with the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand will bind Satan and his demons and hurl them into the abyss of inactivity. (Revelation 20:1-3) What relief we will experience when that happens!
Meanwhile, we must be on guard against wrong thinking. Whenever we find that wrong or negative thoughts are creeping into our mind, we need to resist them by focusing our minds on Jehovah’s love. Then ‘the peace of God that excels all thought will guard our hearts and our mental powers.’—Philippians 4:6, 7.
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Job resisted negative thinking
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Lot learned that Jehovah is an understanding Sovereign