Thursday, March 26, 2009

Are We Really "Walking by Faith"?

As Jehovah's Witnesses, we know what the Bible says. We know what God's plans are for the future, what His will is for man, and what regulations He wants us to follow. We try our hardest to follow these commands. And that is good.

However, put ourselves in the shoes of the rich, young ruler. As we talk to Jesus Christ, and he says to us "Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother", would we answer just as the ruler did? "Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth on." (Mark 10:19-20) Just as the rich, young ruler thought, would we think the same way? I have followed the Law, what else do I need?

Jesus makes a good point to this man. To the ruler, these are regulations he has always worked to keep, relying on his own strength. His faith in God did not tell him that he cannot perfectly keep them. He fell into the same trap as the Israelites. Paul says, "Israel, although pursuing a law of righteousness, did not attain to the law. For what reason? Because he pursued it, not by faith, but as by works." (Romans 9:31-32) Many, though not even close to all, Jehovah's Witnesses follow the "law of the Christ" in exactly the same manner. We look at it and try to accomplish this "by works". How many of us have ever prayed, "Jehovah, help me keep your laws. I cannot do it on my own?"

This type of prayer is not uncommon. Jesus said in his model prayer for us to ask Jehovah, "Do not bring us into temptation." (Matthew 6:13) We know that Jehovah does not tempt anyone at all. (James 1:13) So this phrase cannot mean that. What it truly means is that Jehovah protect us from temptation. We are to ask for Jehovah to keep us from sinning.

This is echoing the words of Hezekiah when he said, "Cause me to tread in the pathway of your commandments, for in it I have taken delight. Incline my heart to your reminders, and not to profits. Make my eyes pass on from seeing what is worthless; preserve me alive in your own way." (Psalm 119:35-37) We have to beg Jehovah to help us to keep His commandments.

Now, I am about to quote a very familiar passage from Scripture. Read it with spiritual eyes and see how you can apply it through faith, not works.

"Now an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus, saying, 'Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?' [Jesus] said to him, 'What is written in the law? How do you understand it?' The expert answered, 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.' Jesus said to him, 'You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.' But the expert, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, 'And who is my neighbor?' Jesus replied, 'A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him up, and went off, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, but when he saw the injured man he passed by on the other side. So too a Levite, when he came up to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan who was traveling came to where the injured man was, and when he saw him, he felt compassion for him. He went up to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, 'Take care of him, and whatever else you spend, I will repay you when I come back this way.' Which of these three do you think became a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?' The expert in religious law said, 'The one who showed mercy to him.' So Jesus said to him, 'Go and do the same.'"-Luke 10:25-37, New English Translation

The admonition of the Apostle Paul is this: "Keep walking by spirit and you will carry out no fleshly desire at all." (Galatians 5:16) Jehovah will give us His holy spirit if we ask for it. In turn, Jehovah, by that same holy spirit, will help us to keep "the law of the Christ". All this is only possible if we seek to accomplish this by faith and not by works.

As we ponder all of this do we feel that we need to follow the words of Zephaniah again, as we did when we were new to this spiritual walk? "Seek Jehovah, all you meek ones of the earth, who have practiced His own judicial decision. Seek righteousness, seek meekness." (Zephaniah 2:3) Remember, Zephaniah is speaking to those people who have already "practiced [Jehovah's] own judicial decision" and followed it.

Stop walking with Jehovah in the Truth by works and walk with Jehovah in the Truth by faith. Only then can you truly know what it is like to serve Jehovah.