“Bible Teach,” Chapter 12, paragraph 17 (p. 121) emphasizes the importance of obeying Jehovah’s commandments. Paragraph 18 (p.121) refers you to a box entitled “Shun What Jehovah Hates” (p. 122). The list includes the following:
- Participation in wars or political controversies of this world
- Misuse of blood
- Use of tobacco or so-called recreational drugs
If your discussion of Chapter 10 covered the Watchtower’s citing of Johannes Greber, a known spiritualist, in support of its “a god” rendering in John 1:1, I would recommend bypassing the reference to spiritism here. If not, this would be another opportunity to raise that issue with the Witnesses.
The Watchtower’s assertion that Jehovah hates you participating in wars or political controversies gives you an opportunity to use The Christian Freedom Approach (pp. 226-232) from my book, Getting Through to Jehovah’s Witnesses: Approaching Bible Discussions in Unexpected Ways, where I discuss these matters under the heading “War.”
“Misuse of blood” refers to the Watchtower’s claim that the Scriptures forbid Christians from taking blood transfusions, even to save their lives or the lives of their children. Because Chapter 13 contains 10 paragraphs dealing with this issue, I recommend that you defer use of The Life and Death Issues Approach until then.
The claim that God hates the “use of tobacco or so-called recreational drugs” is based on two verses.
The first is Mark 15:23. That verse tells us that Jesus refused to drink “wine drugged with myrrh” to lessen the pain of his execution. You can point out that that passage has nothing whatever to do with tobacco or recreational drugs.
The second is 2 Corinthians 7:1, where Paul says Christians should “cleanse ourselves of every defilement of flesh and spirit.” Point out that some people use that verse to teach that Christians must not drink any alcohol, but the Watchtower doesn’t observe such a prohibition.
You can also ask the Witness how Jesus’ statement in Mark 7:15 applies: “Nothing from outside a man that enters into him can defile him; but the things that come out of a man are the things that defile him.”
The point isn’t to argue in favor of tobacco and recreational drugs. It is to argue against misusing Scriptures in order to override individual conscience in such matters.
The need for a new birth
Paragraph 20 (p. 124) says, “Jehovah’s friends display what the Bible calls ‘the fruitage of the spirit.’ It includes such qualities as ‘love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, self-control.’”
This is the time to use The New Birth Approach. The Watchtower has convinced Jehovah’s Witnesses that the new birth is God’s way of designating Jesus and 144,000 “anointed” Witnesses for spirit life in heaven.
Because of that misunderstanding, the objective of the New Birth Approach is to show them that the new birth involves an inner transformation of a person by the Holy Spirit and is the only way by which anyone can obtain eternal life.
Because the Watchtower teaches that only the 144,000 can have the Holy Spirit indwell them, ask the Witnesses, “How can we produce the fruitage of the spirit if we don’t have the spirit indwelling us? The flesh can’t produce spiritual fruit, can it?”
As I recommended on p. 133 of The New Birth Approach, have one of the Witnesses read aloud Romans 8:8-9: “So those who are in harmony with the flesh cannot please God. However, you are in harmony, not with the flesh, but with the spirit, if God’s spirit truly dwells in you. But if anyone does not have Christ’s spirit, this person does not belong to him.”
Ask, “According to this passage, can we please God and belong to Christ unless we have God’s spirit dwelling within us? How do we get God’s spirit dwelling within us except by the inner transformation of the new birth?”
Paragraph 22 (p. 124) concludes the chapter, stating, “Effort is required to live in a way that pleases Jehovah. The Bible likens changing your life to stripping off your old personality and clothing yourself with a new one. (Colossians 3:9-10).”
But those verses aren’t talking about changing your personality through dedication and self-effort.
True righteousness is a gift of God (Romans 5:17), not something we can generate ourselves, no matter how hard we try.
Colossians 3:9-10 is talking about living in reliance on the Holy Spirit and on the new self he creates within us when we are born again.
Make clear to the Witnesses that without that experience, we are making the same mistake as the zealous Israelites Paul described in Romans 10:1-4: “Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.”
Next week, we’ll move on to Chapter 13 of “Bible Teach”—“A Godly View of Life.”
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