An Issue That Involves You
DO YOU have a friend or a family member you are especially close to? What if someone were to accuse you of maintaining that relationship purely for selfish reasons? Would you not feel hurt, perhaps even indignant? That is precisely the accusation that Satan the Devil has brought against all who have a close relationship with Jehovah God.
Reflect on what occurred when Satan succeeded in getting the first human couple, Adam and Eve, to break God’s law and join him in his rebellion against God. Did what happened mean that people would remain obedient to Jehovah only as long as doing so was to their advantage? (Genesis 3:1-6) Some 2,500 years after Adam’s deflection, Satan brought up this very matter—this time in connection with a man named Job. Since the accusation that the Devil made clearly identifies the issue involved, let us carefully examine that Bible account.
“I Shall Not Take Away My Integrity”
Job is “a man blameless and upright, fearing God and turning aside from bad.” Satan, however, gives Job’s uprightness an ugly twist. “Is it for nothing that Job has feared God?” he asks Jehovah. Then, the Devil maligns both God and Job by charging that Jehovah has bought Job’s loyalty by protecting and blessing him. “For a change,” Satan challenges, “thrust out your hand, please, and touch everything he has and see whether he will not curse you to your very face.”—Job 1:8-11.
To answer these claims, Jehovah permits Satan to test Job. In an effort to turn him away from serving God, the Devil brings one calamity after another upon that faithful man. All of Job’s livestock is either stolen or destroyed, his attendants are murdered, and his children are killed. (Job 1:12-19) But is Satan successful? No, indeed! Although unaware that the Devil is the cause of his trials, Job says: “Jehovah himself has given, and Jehovah himself has taken away. Let the name of Jehovah continue to be blessed.”—Job 1:21.
Afterward, Satan comes before Jehovah, who says to him: “[Job] is holding fast his integrity, although you incite me against him to swallow him up without cause.” (Job 2:1-3) The vital issue is that of Job’s integrity—a quality that calls for uncompromising loyalty to God and close adherence to righteousness. Job has thus far come out victorious on the issue of integrity. However, the Devil does not give up.
Next, Satan makes a sweeping claim that affects all mankind. “Skin in behalf of skin,” he says to Jehovah, “and everything that a man has he will give in behalf of his soul. For a change, thrust out your hand, please, and touch as far as his bone and his flesh and see whether he will not curse you to your very face.” (Job 2:4, 5) By using the general term “a man” instead of the name Job, the Devil brings into question the integrity of every human. In effect, he asserts: ‘A man will do anything to save his life. Give me a chance, and I can turn anyone away from God.’ Will no human remain loyal to God under all conditions and at all times?
Jehovah permits the Devil to afflict Job with a malignant disease. Job suffers so much that he prays that he might die. (Job 2:7; 14:13) Yet, Job states: “Until I expire I shall not take away my integrity from myself!” (Job 27:5) Job says this because he loves God, and nothing can change that. Job proves himself to be a man of integrity. “As for Jehovah,” states the Bible, “he blessed the end of Job afterward more than his beginning.” (Job 42:10-17) Have there been others like Job? What has the passing of time revealed?
How the Challenge Has Been Answered
In chapter 11 of the Bible book of Hebrews, the apostle Paul names a number of faithful men and women of pre-Christian times, including Noah, Abraham, Sarah, and Moses. The apostle then declares: “The time will fail me if I go on to relate about [others].” (Hebrews 11:32) These faithful servants of God were so numerous that Paul refers to them as ‘a great cloud of witnesses,’ comparing them to a huge cloud mass that stretches across the sky. (Hebrews 12:1) Yes, down through the centuries, unnumbered multitudes of people have exercised their free will and chosen to give their allegiance to Jehovah God.—Joshua 24:15.
The ultimate answer to Satan’s claim that he can turn humans away from Jehovah came from God’s own Son, Jesus Christ. Not even the excruciating pain of death on a torture stake broke his integrity to God. As Jesus took his last breath, he cried out: “Father, into your hands I entrust my spirit.”—Luke 23:46.
The passing of time has clearly shown that the Devil has not been able to turn everyone away from serving the true God. Countless humans have come to know Jehovah and ‘to love him with their whole heart and with their whole soul and with their whole mind.’ (Matthew 22:37) Their unwavering loyalty to Jehovah has proved Satan wrong on the issue of human integrity. You too can prove the Devil wrong by being a man or woman of integrity.
What Must You Do?
It is God’s will that “all sorts of men should be saved and come to an accurate knowledge of truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4) How can you do that? Make time to study the Bible and ‘take in knowledge of the only true God and of the one whom he sent forth, Jesus Christ.’—John 17:3.
Satan challenged man’s integrity by questioning man’s motives for serving God. If knowledge is to influence your motives, it must reach your heart. And for this to happen, you need to do more than merely seek information from the Bible. Cultivate the practice of meditating on what you learn. (Psalm 143:5) When reading the Bible or a Bible-based publication, be sure to take time to reflect on such questions as these: ‘What does this teach me about Jehovah? What qualities of God do I see expressed here? In what areas of my life do I need to be like this? Of what does God approve or disapprove? How does that affect the way I feel about God?’ Such pondering will fill your heart with love and appreciation for the Creator.
Integrity to God is not restricted to the realm of religious belief. (1 Kings 9:4) Maintaining your integrity to Jehovah God requires moral soundness in all areas of life. However, maintaining integrity will not deprive you in any way. Jehovah is “the happy God,” and he wants you to enjoy life. (1 Timothy 1:11) Consider now certain practices you need to avoid in order to remain morally clean and thus to enjoy a happier life and God’s approval.
Avoid Sexual Misconduct
Jehovah himself set the standard for marriage in his Word, the Bible, which says: “A man will leave his father and his mother and he must stick to his wife and they must become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:21-24) Since marriage mates have become “one flesh,” they honor God’s marital arrangement if they confine their sexual relations to each other. The apostle Paul stated: “Let marriage be honorable among all, and the marriage bed be without defilement, for God will judge fornicators and adulterers.” (Hebrews 13:4) The expression “marriage bed” denotes sexual intercourse between a man and a woman legally married to each other. For either of them to engage in sexual relations outside of marriage is to commit adultery and can bring adverse judgment from God.—Malachi 3:5.
What about premarital sex? That too is against the moral standards set out by Jehovah. “This is what God wills . . . that you abstain from fornication,” says the Bible. (1 Thessalonians 4:3) Homosexuality, incest, and bestiality are also sins against God. (Leviticus 18:6, 23; Romans 1:26, 27) Anyone wanting to please God and enjoy a truly happy life must keep away from immoral practices.
What about premarital passion-arousing sexual behavior? This practice displeases Jehovah. (Galatians 5:19) The mind must also be kept clean of immoral thoughts. Jesus said: “Everyone that keeps on looking at a woman so as to have a passion for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28) Those words apply equally to viewing pornographic images on paper, a screen, or the Internet; to reading accounts of sexual activities; and to listening to suggestive lyrics of songs. Avoiding such material pleases God and has an upbuilding influence on one’s life.
What about flirting? Flirtation is defined as “frivolously amorous or sexually enticing” behavior. For a married man or woman to direct such attention to a person outside his or her marriage is against Bible principles and is a sign of disrespect for Jehovah. (Ephesians 5:28-33) How inappropriate it is for single people to send romantic signals to each other just for amusement! What if such flirting is taken more seriously than intended? Think of the emotional pain that it can cause. Sobering too is the fact that flirting can lead to adultery or fornication. On the other hand, treating members of the opposite sex with chasteness increases one’s self-respect.—1 Timothy 5:1, 2.
Pleasing God in Other Areas of Life
Alcoholic beverages are readily available in many lands. Is it wrong to partake of them? Drinking wine, beer, or other alcoholic drinks in moderation is not forbidden in the Scriptures. (Psalm 104:15; 1 Timothy 5:23) However, heavy drinking and drunkenness are wrong in God’s eyes. (1 Corinthians 5:11-13) Surely you do not want overdrinking to ruin your health and disrupt your family life.—Proverbs 23:20, 21, 29-35.
Jehovah is “the God of truth.” (Psalm 31:5) “It is impossible for God to lie,” states the Bible. (Hebrews 6:18) If you want God’s approval, you will avoid lying. (Proverbs 6:16-19; Colossians 3:9, 10) “Speak truth each one of you with his neighbor,” the Bible admonishes Christians.—Ephesians 4:25.
There is also the practice of gambling. Though popular among many, gambling is a form of greed, since it is an attempt to make money through the losses of others. Jehovah does not approve of those who are “greedy of dishonest gain.” (1 Timothy 3:8) If you wish to please Jehovah, then, you will refrain from any form of gambling, including lotteries, bingo, and betting on horse races. In turn, you may well find that you actually have more money on hand to meet the needs of your family.
Stealing, that is, taking something that does not belong to you, is another form of greed. “You must not steal,” says the Bible. (Exodus 20:15) It is wrong to buy stolen property knowingly and to take things without permission. “Let the stealer steal no more,” says the Bible, “but rather let him do hard work, doing with his hands what is good work, that he may have something to distribute to someone in need.” (Ephesians 4:28) Rather than stealing time from their employer, lovers of Jehovah do an honest day’s work. They ‘wish to conduct themselves honestly in all things.’ (Hebrews 13:18) And a clear conscience certainly contributes to one’s peace of mind.
How does God view someone who has a violent temper? The Bible warns: “Do not have companionship with anyone given to anger; and with a man having fits of rage you must not enter in.” (Proverbs 22:24) Uncontrolled anger often leads to acts of violence. (Genesis 4:5-8) As for taking revenge, the Bible states: “Return evil for evil to no one. Provide fine things in the sight of all men. If possible, as far as it depends upon you, be peaceable with all men. Do not avenge yourselves, beloved, but yield place to the wrath; for it is written: ‘Vengeance is mine; I will repay, says Jehovah.’” (Romans 12:17-19) When we follow such counsel, our life will be more peaceful—and that will increase our happiness.
You Can Succeed
Can you succeed in maintaining your integrity to God despite pressures to do otherwise? Yes, you can. Recognize that God wants you to succeed in proving Satan wrong on the issue of integrity, for His Word says: “Be wise, my son, and make my heart rejoice, that I may make a reply to him that is taunting me.”—Proverbs 27:11.
You can pray to Jehovah to strengthen you to do what is right in his eyes. (Philippians 4:6, 7, 13) So put forth determined effort to increase your knowledge of God’s Word, the Bible. Appreciatively reflecting on what you learn from the Bible will help you deepen your love for God and will move you to please him. “This is what the love of God means,” says 1 John 5:3, “that we observe his commandments; and yet his commandments are not burdensome.” Jehovah’s Witnesses in your community will be happy to assist you in studying the Bible. You are invited to contact them locally, or you can write to the publishers of this magazine.
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Job remained faithful under test
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Increasing your knowledge of God’s Word will strengthen your resolve to do what is right