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The Most Asked Question "WHAT IS A REAL CHRISTIAN?"
Worldwide Church of God   
Church of God

On January 5, 1968, the Radio Church of God (founded October 21, 1933) was renamed the Worldwide Church of God. Soon after, the church began to broadcast a television version of The World Tomorrow. The program would eventually expand to 382 U.S. television stations, and 36 television outlets internationally.

Thousands have asked us. According to Jesus, there is a simple way to identify a real Christian. Do you know what it is?

   WHAT is a Christian?
   What is true Christianity? It is time to clear away the uncertainty.

Why Such Confusion?

   Jesus clearly explained what a real Christian is like. He left no doubt. As we consider what he said, we need to ask ourselves why the qualities he described seem to be so difficult to 'find even in the Christian — professing nations of the world.
   Take, for instance, one of Jesus' teachings in what is often referred to as the Sermon on the Mount, recorded in Luke 6. Surely nothing is more central to Christianity than this portion of the Scriptures. But how often do you see Jesus' statement in verse 27 put into practice? It says: "Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you."
   Some of the most bloody battles in history have been waged by "Christian" nations. "No nations are more warlike than those which profess Christianity," observed Pierre Bayle, a 17th-century French philosopher.
   Professing Christians have even risen up in war against each other. They have impaled each other, burnt each other, blown each other to pieces on the battlefield, all the while praying to the same God for victory.
   The English poet Shelley commented: "The same means that have supported every other popular belief have supported Christianity. War, imprisonment, assassination and falsehood; deeds of unexampled and incomparable atrocity have made it what it is."
   How can this be? The one who is supposed to be the Founder of the "Christian" religion — the One whom professing Christians call "Lord" — taught his followers, "Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you" (Luke 6:27-28).
   This instruction of Jesus certainly is not followed in times of war. But then it is hardly followed in times of peace either. Where is it put into practice in neighborhoods, in social circles, among the people you know on a day-to-day basis?
   Jesus also said: "And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise" (verse 31). That has been called the Golden Rule. It is thought of as a good slogan to hang on the wall, or to dangle from a charm bracelet, or to teach little children.
   But live by it? That is something else!
   Jesus, however, did not mean it as a suggestion. He didn't give it as a thought for the day. For Jesus it was a living law that he commanded his followers — Christians — to apply in their daily lives.

But Will It Work?

   "Be ye therefore merciful," continued Jesus, "as your Father [God] also is merciful. Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven" (verses 36-37).
   Look around you. How often does merciful kindness govern what is said and done? Think of the competition and greed in business — the cheating, the gouging. A primary emphasis in today's world is to get the advantage over others, even if it is necessary to hurt them a little to do it.
   The political sphere resounds with name calling, propaganda and condemnation.
   Gossip, judging and backbiting are ever popular themes in private conversation. Movies, novels and television programs — including children's shows — dwell on the idea of getting even or seeking revenge.
   Where is forgiveness stressed? Instances of genuine mercy from one human being toward another are remarkable and memorable because they are so uncommon.
   Jesus' teaching even applies to simple lacks of consideration such as a blaring radio, a loud motorcycle, littering the landscape with rubbish, damaging public facilities, spraying graffiti on walls — factors that make life unpleasant for others. Yet so commonplace are infringements of the principles Jesus gave, it makes one wonder: Where are the Christians?

Is This a Christian World?

   The Bible describes what a society is like when its religion is a mere form, not having the power to change people's lives. It reads like the front page of a newspaper.
   "For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, inhuman, implacable, slanderers, profligates, fierce, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding the form of religion but denying the power of it" (II Tim. 3:2-5, RSV).
   It all sounds so familiar!
   As Jesus was speaking, he knew there were some listening to him who would call him their "Lord," who would profess to belong to him, but who would not put his teachings into practice.
   These are the words of Jesus to them: "Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?" (Luke 6:46.) A "lord" is a ruler, a master, one who is to be obeyed. In plain words, Jesus said: "If you don't obey me, don't call me 'Lord'!"
   Too often people talk about "the Lord," or "the Lord Jesus," when they don't have the faintest idea what Jesus said his followers are to do. Jesus exclaimed: "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven" (Matt. 7:21).
   That, in simple terms, is what makes a person a Christian. He or she does what Jesus said to do. He or she follows Christ. The ones who are allowed to become members of his spiritual family are "these which hear the word of God, and do it" (Luke 8:21).
   "Ye are my friends," Jesus stated, "if ye do whatsoever I command you" (John 15:14).
   Again, "If ye love me, keep my commandments" (John 14:15).
   Clearly, only a person who does what Jesus said to do has the right to call him "Lord." That is the biblical definition of a real Christian.

A Way of Life

   True Christianity is not merely a set of beliefs. It is not joining a church. It is not something to be practiced one day a week or at odd intervals.
   It is a way of life. Early Christians referred to original Christianity as "the way of the Lord" (Acts 18:25) and "the way of God" (verse 26). "I am the way, the truth, and the life," Christ declared (John 14:6).
   True Christianity is the Christian way of life. No one can follow what Jesus taught without experiencing a marked change in life and life-style.
   Notice how this fact is illustrated in the following example: A rich young man once came to Jesus and asked: "Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?" (Matt. 19:16.)
   This man knew following Christ involves doing something. He asked: "What good thing shall I do?"
   Many today would have answered: "Why, there is nothing to do. Just accept Christ and it's all done for you. There are no works involved in salvation."
   How different was Jesus' answer! "And he [Jesus] said unto him... if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments" (verse 17).
   There was no doubt that Jesus was talking about the Ten Commandments. When the young man asked, "Which ones?" Jesus named specifically the commandments having to do with showing love toward one's neighbor. To this, the rich man responded that he had been keeping those commandments since childhood (verse 20). The young man, of course, had been reared a Jew. But he wanted to become a follower of Christ.
   Which church today would not welcome with open arms such a wealthy and moral individual into its ranks?
   But Jesus did not do so. He required in his followers true depth of conversion. He knew the young man had a problem — keeping in their true intent those commandments regarding love toward, giving to, one's neighbor. So Jesus bluntly told him that his wealth was an obstacle to him, that he needed to get rid of it. Only after that could he become a follower of Jesus — a Christian.
   Sadly, the young man departed, unwilling to change his attitude toward life.
   Most people, it is true, do not have excess wealth as their major problem. The fact remains, though, that literally keeping the Ten Commandments is essential if you are to inherit God's free gift of eternal life. So said Jesus!
   Maybe you think you have been keeping the Ten Commandments fairly well — like the rich young man. Have you really? Try something. Read them off one by one (they are found in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5) and see if there is not room for improvement in your life. In this materialistic, industrial age, you may be especially surprised at what the fourth and tenth commandments have to say.
   Our free booklet The Ten Commandments explains the commandments in detail, gathering together the various scriptures to show how each one is applicable in today's world. You may have a copy through the link above.

True Conversion

   Being a real Christian involves every moment of every day.
   Every activity, every social situation, every endeavor, every goal and plan — Christ has revealed laws that bear on every facet of life. We are even to let our thoughts be ruled by the Lord Jesus, "bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ," as the apostle Paul expressed it (II Cor. 10:5).
   To some that sounds extreme. But it's in the Christian Bible. The apostle Paul was only repeating what the Bible says time and again: To do God's will is to follow his way of life totally. There is a price to pay, however, and for some that price may be too high. That price is surrender of the SELF.
   "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts...." God says through the prophet Isaiah. "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts" (Isa. 55:7-9).
   A real Christian is one who seeks God's way of life, his thoughts, his will. What Isaiah was describing was genuine repentance — the kind of repentance necessary to begin the Christian way of life. When multitudes asked the apostle Peter how to become Christians, Peter responded with the same thoughts (Acts 2:38).
   But these inspired instructions are seldom followed today. Why? Why in the mass evangelistic campaigns of the world are people encouraged to make a spur-of-the-moment "decision for Christ" and to come forward in an "altar call," and to be pronounced "saved" or "born again"? — when that is not how Peter said to receive the Holy Spirit, which is God's free gift that leads to eternal life. No wonder such "conversions" often last only a matter of days or weeks!

Why Do So Few Know?

   Here is where many people stumble. They begin to grasp what real Christianity is all about, then they look around them at the people they know. Or they think of individuals they have known in the past-friends, relatives, perhaps. And they use them as standards of comparison.
   They say to themselves: "Uncle Henry and Aunt Ruth and my friend John did not literally obey Jesus' instructions. But they weren't 'bad' people either. They lived the way they thought was right. I'll take my chances along with them and with the millions and millions of other professing Christians who are just average people. Surely God won't deny eternal life or salvation to them! God is merciful."
   God is merciful. That's true. But then what did Jesus mean when he said keeping the commandments and other lesser requirements are necessary to inherit God's free gift of eternal life? He meant exactly what he said. Uncle Henry and Aunt Ruth and friend John and all the millions who have professed Christianity without ever understanding what it really is to become a Christian — a follower of Jesus Christ — will eventually have their opportunity to understand. They too will learn that it is necessary to keep the commandments. If it doesn't happen during this life, then it will happen in a future period of judgment when God's government rules the earth and all the dead who have not had an opportunity for salvation will be resurrected and given the opportunity to choose the way of life that is based on obedience to God's laws — the only way to true happiness. That period of time is described in Revelation 20:11-13.
   Every human who ever lived will have an opportunity to receive salvation. For most people that time comes after they have lived their entire lives and died. God is just not trying to save the entire world now. That's why the Scripture says that in general, "it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this [in a future resurrection!] the judgment [not a sentencing, but a period of testing and judging — their first and only genuine opportunity for salvation]" (Heb. 9:27).
   Jesus told his disciples: "Enter ye in at the strait [restricted] gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many [the millions, the hundreds and thousands of millions] there be which go in thereat: because strait [restricted] is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and FEW [during this present age] there be that find it" (Matt. 7:13-14). You probably have not understood this before. So why not write for our free article "Is This the Only Day of Salvation?"
   Don't make the mistake of judging what the Bible describes as true Christianity by the lives of people you have known who may not even have understood what real Christianity is.
   To be a real Christian is simply to do what Jesus said to do. He showed the way to truly abundant living. His words are recorded in the Scriptures. But they will only profit someone who reads them there and follows them. "If ye know these things," Jesus exclaimed, "happy are ye if ye do them " (John 13:17).
"But where's the evidence?"    In the Scriptures, God is quoted as promising many incredible and very desirable blessings. And the Bible claims that it is impossible for God to lie.
   But how can you be sure? What evidence do we have?
   The free booklet What is Faith? explains the evidence many have overlooked.

Why Jesus Magnified The Law by Roderick C Meredith

A tremendous Delusion is gripping the Christian World. You need to know the TRUTH!

   Today over four hundred different denominations and sects call themselves Christian. Yet they ALL disagree on certain doctrines and practices or they would not be divided!
   Jesus said: "Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I SAY unto you, LOVE YOUR ENEMIES, bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you" (Matt. 5:43-44).
   Do all the professing Christians in our Western culture follow Christ by LOVING their enemies and turning the other cheek (Matt. 5:39) as He commanded?
   Of course not!
   That would not be practical, we are told.
   The truth is that the greatest and most bloody wars in all human history have been waged primarily in Europe — the very heart of Western, "Christian" civilization. German "Christians" slaughtered and butchered French believers, and so on, ad infinitum.
   In fact, the professing Christian church directly instigated a series of "holy wars" during the Middle Ages called the "Crusades." The Encyclopedia Britannica (11th ed., Vol. VII, art. "Crusades") describes the supposed BLESSING put on the murderous and bloodthirsty activities of the Crusaders: "The knight who joined the Crusades might thus indulge the bellicose side of his genius — under the aegis and at the bidding of the Church; and in so doing he would also attain what the spiritual side of his nature ardently sought — a perfect salvation and remission of sins. He might butcher all day, till he waded ankle-deep in blood, and then at nightfall kneel, sobbing for very joy, at the altar of the Sepulcher — for was he not red from the winepress of the Lord?"
   Were THESE men true followers of the humble carpenter of Nazareth who said: "Love your enemies"?
   Yet remember that these men called themselves by the NAME of Christ — "Christian." It seems that nearly all Western religions, philosophies and sects must persist in applying the name of CHRIST to their ideas, teachings and practices. In ancient times, the pagans openly and honestly acknowledged their worship of the various "gods" and demon spirits of their own choosing.

Using the NAME of Christ Proves NOTHING!

   But since the life, death and the resurrection of the Son of God, a great DECEPTION has resulted in the placing of Christ's NAME on every type of pagan, heathen, and perverted philosophy of man that has come along!
   Shocking as it may sound, the fact that many churches, doctrines, ideas and practices of men are called "Christian" proves absolutely NOTHING!
   Did Christ start these ideas and institutions? Do they follow His teaching and His example?
   How can you KNOW?
   Almighty God inspired the Apostle John to describe the Devil as "that old serpent, called the devil, and Satan, which DECEIVETH the WHOLE WORLD" (Rev. 12:9). Again, in Revelation 20:1-3, God describes how Satan will soon be restrained "that he should DECEIVE the NATIONS no more.
   These inspired scriptures certainly show that most people and nations have certainly NOT followed Christ's example and teaching. Rather, they have been misled and DECEIVED by Satan me Devil! This, very frankly, is the "key" which explains WHY there are so many obvious contradictions in our supposedly "Christian" society. It shows WHY this world is so mixed up and CONFUSED about what the word "Christian" really means. It shows that our civilization has NOT been following Christ, but bas been DECEIVED into going many different ways under Satan's confusing influence!
   Strangely, yet at least honestly, some of this world's noted religious leaders and scholars have acknowledged that our professing "Christianity" has NOT EVEN SERIOUSLY TRIED to follow the literal teaching and example of Jesus Christ — its supposed Author!
   A candid admission of the above fact was made by Dr. Rufus M. Jones. In his well-known work, The Church's Debt to Heretics, Dr. Jones acknowledges: "If by any chance Christ Himself had been taken by His later followers as the model and pattern of the new way, and a serious attempt had been made to set up His life and teaching as the standard and norm for the Church, Christianity would have been something VASTLY DIFFERENT from what it became. Then 'heresy' would have been, as it is not now, deviation from His way, His teaching, His spirit, His kingdom." [Emphasis ours]
   This noted church historian here plainly acknowledges that church leaders did NOT take Jesus' life and HIS TEACHING as the standard for their so-called "Christian" churches!
   Ask yourself, honestly: What other true standard COULD THERE POSSIBLY BE?

What IS a True Christian?

   Our dictionaries have preserved part of the truth about what a "Christian" is supposed to be. The American College Dictionary states: "Christian, pertaining to or derived from Jesus Christ or His teachings... believing in or belonging to the religion of Jesus Christ."
   But what WAS the teaching of Jesus Christ? What was His religion — Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, "Mind Science" — WHAT?
   The only authoritative ANSWER is found in the inspired record of what Jesus did teach and of the perfect EXAMPLE He set for us to follow. Your Bible contains this inspired record!
   With the above questions in mind, let's look into it — honestly — openly — without prejudice.
   What DID Jesus — the Author of true Christianity — actually TEACH and Do? And remember that a true Christian is one who follows Christ and His teaching!

What Jesus DID Teach

   At the beginning of His ministry, "Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel" (Mark 1:14-15).
   The word "kingdom" means government. Jesus was talking about the coming government of God over this earth. He commanded: "REPENT YE, and believe the gospel!"
   To "repent" means to be so sorry that you are not only willing to quit — but to turn around and go the other way. Of course we must repent of SIN. But what is sin? God answers: "Sin is the transgression of the law" (I John 3:4).
   So we must repent of DISOBEYING God's government — of breaking His LAW!
   Again, notice Jesus' own inspired words on this subject: "Think NOT that I am come to destroy the LAW, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill" (Matt. 5:17). In other words, Jesus in His own life perfectly performed the spiritual intent and purpose of God's law. Why did He do this?
   Let GOD answer! In His inspired prophecy about the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ, Isaiah wrote: "The Lord is well pleased for his righteousness' sake; he will MAGNIFY the LAW, and make it honorable" (Isa. 42:21).
  To magnify does NOT mean to destroy, but to show forth and enlarge an object or a thing to the fullest possible extent. Jesus perfectly fulfilled and magnified God's law to show us its fullest spiritual application and also to set us an EXAMPLE that we should follow in His steps (I Pet. 2:21).
   Jesus continued in this same discourse: "Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall DO and TEACH them, the same shall be called GREAT in the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 5:19). So according to Jesus' literal teaching, you have to both DO AND TEACH even the LEAST of God's commandments if you are to become great in His Kingdom.
   Isn't that PLAIN?
   Throughout the rest of this teaching, commonly called the "Sermon on the Mount," Jesus continued to MAGNIFY God's law and bring out the spiritual intent and purpose of that law for Christians with God's Spirit.

How Jesus MAGNIFIED the Law

   He showed that we are not only to restrain ourselves from literal murder, but that to even HATE a brother — involving as it does the spirit of murder — is bringing us into judgment before the spiritual law of God. He vividly illustrated how one can commit adultery not only by performing the literal act, but by LUSTING after another woman in his heart (verses 21-31).
   Read these examples in your own Bible. Think about them. In every case, they obviously do NOT do away with God's law but rather make it all the more binding!
   Matthew's fifth chapter ends with Jesus' instruction: "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect" (Matt. 5:48).
   Obedience to God and His law is the keynote in the entire Sermon on the Mount. Jesus declared: "Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that DOETH the WILL of my Father which is in heaven" (Matt. 7:21).
   Later, notice Jesus' own words His teaching — on how to be saved. "And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, KEEP the COMMANDMENTS" (Matt. 19:16-17). Then (verses 18-19) Jesus proceeded to name some of the Ten Commandments.

God's Government Has Laws

   Speaking about the New Testament Gospel which He preached, Jesus stated: "The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it. And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the LAW to fail" (Luke 16:16-17). Here Jesus clearly showed that God's Kingdom or GOVERNMENT — is inseparably connected with GOD'S LAW. He showed that that law would NEVER fail! Then He went on to show what law He was talking about (verse 18) by commenting on the commandment concerning adultery — one of the Ten Commandments!
   So the good news of God's Kingdom is inseparably related to the LAW of God as contained in the Ten Commandments. Jesus always magnified and kept THIS LAW during His lifetime. He said: "I have KEPT my Father's commandments" (John 15:10).
   After His resurrection, as Christ was commissioning His disciples to preach His message to ALL NATIONS — certainly including the Gentiles — Jesus commanded: "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe ALL THINGS whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world" (Matt. 28:19-20).
   Here Jesus is clearly and plainly telling His apostles to go out to all nations preaching exactly the SAME message of obedience to God's LAW and His government as He Himself had taught them!
   But carnal-minded men REBEL at the teaching of obedience to God's commandments. They say it is IMPOSSIBLE for human beings to obey God's law. They come up with many different excuses for disobeying the commandments of God and teaching that you are saved by a sentimental acceptance of Christ's NAME or PERSON without any real obedience to Him or God as your LORD and MASTER!

Jesus Set a Perfect Example

   Remember that a Christian is one who literally follows the example of Jesus Christ! Jesus was the "light" that God sent into the world to show man HOW he ought to be living. "That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world" (John 1:9).
   Peter was inspired to write: "For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an EXAMPLE, that ye should follow His steps: who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth" (I Pet. 2:21-22). Jesus OBEYED GOD. He did NO SIN — and sin is the "transgression of the law." He obeyed God and suffered persecution willingly and in all this set us an EXAMPLE that we should follow His steps!
   The apostle John wrote: "He that saith he abideth in him [Christ] ought himself also to walk [to LIVE], even as he walked" (I John 2:6).
   This passage clearly shows that the true Christian must LIVE just as Jesus Christ did live — setting us an example. The New English Bible renders this in more modern English: "Here is the test by which we can be sure that we are in him: whoever claims to be dwelling in him, binds himself to LIVE as Christ himself lived."
   So we are LITERALLY to follow the inspired EXAMPLE of Jesus Christ's perfect life! And we have seen that Jesus DID KEEP the Ten Commandments — LITERALLY (John 15:10).
   If you really study the inspired record of Jesus' life carefully, you will see where Jesus prayed constantly on both knees to God the Father and fasted when He was in need of being especially close to God (Mark 1:35; 2:20; 9:29). You will see where Jesus literally OBEYED the fourth commandment — setting us an example (Luke 4:16, 31). You will see where Jesus refused to be drawn into worldly wars and politics (John 18:36-37).
   You will see that Jesus OBEYED the commandments of God both in the letter AND in the spirit; that He lived a life of GIVING and SERVICE; and that He conducted Himself as an ambassador of a foreign kingdom or government — God's government in heaven which will soon come to replace ALL governments on this earth — and therefore had no part in the religions, politics, wars and disputes of His time.
   True Christians are LITERALLY to follow this marvelous example! And Paul was inspired to write: Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever" (Heb. 13:8).
   Christ has NOT CHANGED. He will guide you to live the same kind of life today that He DID LIVE in His own human body more than 1900 years ago! And remember, Jesus "was in ALL POINTS tempted like as we are, yet without sin" (Heb. 4:15).

How You CAN Follow Christ's Example!

   The apostle Paul was inspired to write: "Now if any man have not the spirit of Christ, he is NONE of his" (Rom. 8:9). In plain language, if you are without God's Spirit you are NOT Christian! You do not belong to Christ — you are not His.
   But what good is the Holy Spirit, some will ask, What does it do? Jesus answers: "If ye love me, keep my COMMANDMENTS. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him; but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be IN you" (John 14:15-17).
   Then Jesus continued by saying: "I will not leave you comfortless; I will come unto you." Obviously He was going to come unto and "comfort" BY this Spirit which would dwell IN the disciples. He stated in Verse 23: "If a man love me, he will keep MY WORDS [obeying His commandments]: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him." It is obvious that both Jesus and God the Father do not come down and live INSIDE of someone in bodily form! Rather, they live IN the Christian through the Holy Spirit!
   And Jesus continued by stating: "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you" (verse 26). Notice that the SAME Spirit emanates out from Christ and the Father. That Spirit TEACHES Christ's true followers and helps them remember and apply the truth.
   So it is that the apostle Paul could exclaim: "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but CHRIST liveth IN me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith OF the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me" (Gal. 2:20).
   Here we see that — through the Holy Spirit — Christ comes to live His LIFE literally IN the true Christian who not only lives by faith in Christ but by the very faith OF Jesus Christ — the same faith that guided and motivated Him in His human body over 1900 years ago!
   Through the Holy Spirit, then, you receive the very nature and power of CHRIST to obey the commandments, laws and ways of Almighty God! But it is actually CHRIST doing it — He gets the credit, not you!
   However, you must surrender your will to Him, and you must REPENT of your lawlessness and ACCEPT CHRIST as your SAVIOR and as your Lord and MASTER! Then you must yield and strive to be an effective instrument in His hands!
   Now can you understand?
   It is actually CHRIST who keeps the commandments all over again — just as He did over 1900 years ago — in your mortal body! It is His righteousness operating in your body which you have willingly yielded to Him as His instrument.

HOW the Holy Spirit Functions

   The inspired formula for receiving God's Holy Spirit was given by Peter on the Day of Pentecost, 31 A.D. "Then Peter said unto them, REPENT, and BE BAPTIZED every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38).
   Since your old self must be buried or baptized for the remission of SIN, you must REPENT of sin! Recall that "sin is the transgression of the law." So you must repent of BREAKING GOD'S LAW!
   You must be baptized in a watery grave as an outward acknowledgment of the death penalty you have brought on yourself by disobeying the LAW of your Creator, and of your willingness to let the old self die. Then, after real repentance of your rebellion against God and your own carnal ways and desires, and fulfilling the ordinance of humility in being baptized and accepting Christ's shed blood as payment for your past sins in FAITH, you are PROMISED the "gift" of God's Holy Spirit. Then, through His Spirit, CHRIST places His nature within you — His love, His faith, His strength to overcome your own weaknesses and the temptations of Satan and of this world.
   The LOVE you receive through God's Spirit is not mere human love, but the very love of God, "because the LOVE of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us" (Rom. 5:5).
   Now how does this love operate?
   Let Christ's WORD give the true answer! "For this is the love of God, that we KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS: and his commandments are not grievous" (I John 5:3).
   It is through GOD'S love placed in us by His Spirit that we are enabled to KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS!
   Not through your strength, but through the spiritual POWER which God's Holy Spirit imparts, you CAN follow the perfect example of Jesus Christ. You CAN yield to let Jesus live the same kind of life in you which He DID live over 1900 years ago — keeping the same laws of God, worshipping on the same Holy Days which GOD ordained, remaining separate from this world's society, politics and wars, and — through constant Bible study, earnest prayer, occasional fasting, and consistent spiritual overcoming and GROWTH — you can yield to let God literally fashion you in HIS spiritual image to be born of Him in the resurrection as His LITERAL son — possessed of His very nature!
   This is, in fact, the very PURPOSE of your existence!

Identity of the True Christians

   Down through history, God has always set apart and marked those who truly serve Him by keeping His commandments and His LAWS. The apostle John was inspired to write: "He that saith, I know him, and keepeth NOT his commandments, is a LIAR and the truth is not in him" (I John 2:4).
   The true God doesn't even hear our prayers unless we keep His commandments! "And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS, and do things that are pleasing in his sight" (I John 3:22).
   GOD further states: "Whosoever transgresseth and abideth not in the DOCTRINE of Christ, HATH NOT GOD. He that abideth in the DOCTRINE of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this DOCTRINE, receive him NOT into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds" (II John 9-11).
   The true teaching — the matter of OBEDIENCE to the true God and His LAW — this is of PARAMOUNT importance in the eyes of the God of your Bible!
   Even in the final book of your Bible, the book of Revelation, this standard of OBEDIENCE is used as a sign of IDENTITY of God's true Church down through the ages.
   Notice! Speaking of the true Church which has to flee from the Devil at the time of the end, God says: "And the dragon [Satan the Devil] was wroth with the woman [the true Church], and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ" (Rev. 12:17; 14:12).
   And, at the very END of your Bible, as His final message to YOU, God states: "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. Blessed are they that DO HIS COMMANDMENTS, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city" (Rev. 22:13-14). You might read our free booklet entitled Where Is God's True Church Today?

Now You KNOW!

   Now you know what true Christianity MEANS! It means yielding yourself to let Jesus Christ literally LIVE His life in you! It means surrendering to the will of your Maker — and KEEPING HIS COMMANDMENTS through the POWER of His Spirit within you!
   It means living a life of constant prayer, Bible study, constant overcoming and OBEDIENCE to the will of God the Father — following the perfect EXAMPLE of Jesus Christ which He set that you should follow in His steps! It means doing these things LITERALLY — not arguing and "reasoning" so you can keep on going your own way or the way of this deceived world. But rather you should GROW in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ — His WAYS, His LAWS.
   True Christianity means being able to state sincerely, as the Apostle Paul: "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but CHRIST LIVETH IN ME: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith OF the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me" (Gal. 2:20).
   True Christianity means really doing all this LITERALLY — remembering that Jesus Christ is the SAME yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8), and that He will live the SAME kind of life in you today that He did over 1900 years ago. In a true Christian today, Christ will keep the same commandments He DID keep on earth, worship on the same days He DID observe while on earth, live the same WAY of life He DID LIVE on earth well over 1900 years ago!
   Strive to study God's Word so you can apply all the details of this tremendous principle to every phase of your life — by accepting the true Christ as Savior and Living LORD — learn to LIVE as Jesus Christ did live through His Spirit within you!
   Then — through His POWER — you will be made FIT to live forever in the glorious WORLD TOMORROW!

What is WORLDLINESS? by Roderick C Meredith

Does the Bible REALLY condemn such things as dancing, card playing, drinking, theater going? Here is a frank, straight-from-the shoulder explanation of what GOD regards as "sinful."

   CAN YOU be a completely dedicated Christian without being some kind of "freak"?
   Without missing out on the interest and excitement of our fast-moving jet age? Without appearing sanctimonious or "nicey-nice" and talking a lot of religious gobbledegook?
   Just what kind of personal, private, cultural and recreational life should a real man or woman of GOD be living in this twentieth century? I mean a man who wants to obey and honor his Creator — a dedicated and consecrated individual who wants to fulfill the purpose for which he was born. I mean someone who is really on fire for his Maker and who wants to be used in God's Work today!
   Read on carefully — because many of you may be SHOCKED.
   But if you really want truth — whether or not it agrees with your present ideas and convictions — then you need to study and prove this in your Bible. Consult the Bible — because it is God's Word — and it is His opinion you want, not the scores of disagreeing, conflicting, confusing HUMAN ideas on this subject.

How to Be Sure

   The Apostle Paul was inspired to write: "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good" (I Thes. 5:21). So don't just try to argue and "defend" the ideas you grew up with. Don't take your former opinion — or any opinion — for granted. Learn to think — to carefully meditate and consider the end result of each course of action in broadest terms — and to PROVE what your Creator says in His inspired Bible!
   If you do, you will find that the great Creator of this vast universe is NOT a "pin-headed," small-minded, old fuddy-duddy type or creaky great grandfather figure at all. He is not trying to "catch" people in some little act He arbitrarily defines as "sinful." Rather, He is reproducing man in His own image! He is revealing to a select few — those whom He calls — a WAY OF LIFE and an approach to building character which fit them to live forever as members of His Kingdom, His ruling family in the universe.
   This BIG-minded, all-wise, all-powerful Creator has also set LIVING LAWS. These laws define THE WAY to produce peace, prosperity, happiness and everything men want. They also, conversely, reveal the opposite way which leads eventually to frustration, misery, suffering and DEATH.
   In the society of His day, Jesus of Nazareth — the very Son of God — upset a lot of human ideas and traditions by turning water into wine, using His powerful, muscular arms and shoulders to violently overthrow the large tables of the money changers in the temple and make a real "scene." And He did many other things which upset to no end the old religious "fuddy-duddies" of His day. Yet, this same Jesus Christ often rose up early while it was yet dark and went out in the early morning mists and dews to pray fervently to His God and Father for strength and wisdom (Mark 1:35). He constantly talked to God.
   When giant problems or decisions loomed ahead, Jesus literally prayed all night to the great Creator of the universe for help and wisdom (Luke 6:12-13). He walked with God and OBEYED God — setting us an example. He said: "I have kept my Father's commandments" (John 15:10). He also attended sumptuous dinners and banquets with the Pharisees (Luke 7:36).
   Yet, because of His particular ministry and foreordained approaching death, He sacrificed the comforts of a home and family in order to do the will of His Almighty Father and God.
   Can we get our balance on these things? Can we earnestly and sincerely find the way to LIVE as Jesus lived? And can we truly AVOID becoming involved with "worldliness" as Got defines it — walking in the footstep of Christ instead?
   Bearing all these points in mind, be willing to look through the entire Bible on this matter. Consult all the Scriptures and examples — not just part of them. Completely rid yourself of blinding PREJUDICES. Seek GOD'S will with open-mindedness and honesty!

God's Attitude Toward Material Things

   Since the problem of "worldliness'' revolves around material things one their uses, let's understand God's overall attitude toward the physical things and circumstances surrounding man.
   First of all, many people assume that God loves the poor people — and that He would have us all do without any abundance of material things. Because James wrote: "Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith?" (James 2:5), a lot of professing Christians can hardly bring themselves to believe that a person of means could really be a sincere follower of Christ.
   What about this? Must we give up material wealth, must we drive a secondhand car, must we buy cheap things in order to be a really zealous Christian?
   The answer to James' inspired statement lies in a proper understanding of it. God has "called" or "chosen" more of the poorer classes in this present age because — as a general rule — they are the ONLY ones who will willingly yield themselves to Him. They have not become so wrapped up in and OVERLY attached to material things as to prevent them from understanding God's message. Having little in a material sense to lose, they will more readily accept spiritual truth.
   But IF we can learn to rightly use material possessions, God intends that we should PROSPER. After all, God Himself is no pauper!
   Notice these inspired words of the Apostle John: "Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest PROSPER and be in health" (III John 2).
   Yes, it is God's will to bless us in material goods if we will learn to use them properly.
   Jesus said, "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more ABUNDANTLY" (John 10:10). Solomon wrote: "The substance [material wealth] of a diligent man is PRECIOUS" (Prov. 12:27), and he exhorted: "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy MIGHT" (Eccl. 9:10).
   So if we work hard, if we use our God-given minds, if we are diligent, it is God's will that we be blessed and prospered materially, and that we live a happy, full, ABUNDANT life.
   The danger in material wealth is that most people come to "set their hearts" on it. They get so involved in making a living, in making an impression on their business and social acquaintances, and participating in general in this world's ways and customs, that they find it almost impossible to accept and obey God's truth when it comes along.
   Material prosperity as such is certainly not "worldliness"! In fact, the lack of sufficient material goods usually indicates a lack of diligence and wisdom. God's concern is that we learn to evaluate material things properly, and to use them wisely for our own good and the good of others.

Are Physical Pleasures Evil?

   Now that we see that just having wealth or physical goods is not a sin, what about the physical pleasures men indulge in? Are they necessarily evil?
   One of the principal texts often used to condemn the pleasures of the "world" is I John 2:15-16. Let's examine it carefully, bearing in mind that it does not contradict the rest of the Bible.
   "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world."
   You will notice that it is the LUST of the flesh, eyes and life that God condemns. Lust is illicit, illegal desire. Lust is desiring or using something contrary to God's will and to His revealed laws.
   For instance, many people who have grown up in ignorance of God's true plan and purpose for humanity suppose that SEX is sinful. Just the very word — "sex" — is a nasty, filthy word to them, and they cannot imagine how anything good could possibly be associated with it.
   It has probably never occurred to them — or to those who taught them — that it is GOD who made us male and female — it is God who created SEX. And it is God who even commanded the man and woman to use sex in a righteous, holy, God-intended manner when He told them: "Be FRUITFUL, and multiply and replenish the earth" (Gen. 1:28).
   Notice that it is not the THING that is wrong. It is lust — the wrong USE of the thing — that is sin.
   Lust is not a "thing," an object, or an entertainment. Lust is the WRONG USE of material objects or things.
   Lust is a wrong attitude of heart and mind which causes one to misuse, to misapply what God has created for good.
   Sex is not evil — it is the wrong use of sex, outside of marriage, in a way God never intended. The motion picture is not "sin" — it is the wrong use of this invention that becomes sin.
   Dancing, liquor, a deck of cards — these things are not "sinful" or "worldly." It is only the wrong use of these things which violates God's will.
   Remember that it is the lust of the flesh and eyes that constitutes "worldliness." The pleasurable use of your five senses — as such — is NOT "worldly."
   God gave us our five senses so that we might enjoy life to the full. God is not some fiendish MONSTER who delights in our suffering — who wishes us to do without and deny ourselves all the right enjoyments and pleasures of this physical life.
   Christ came to show us the way to happy, ABUNDANT living. So the right enjoyment of physical pleasures is not "worldliness" — or sin in any sense.

What Is Being "Worldly"?

   If it isn't wrong and "worldly" for us to enjoy material things and physical pleasures, then just what is being "worldly"?
   Again, recall that it is only the wrong USE of physical things that God calls "worldliness." This involves the lust of the flesh or eyes — which is COVETOUSNESS. And covetousness is breaking one of the ten points of God's great spiritual law.
   God tells us through the Apostle James: "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of ALL" (James 2:10).
   So "worldliness" is just one form of breaking God's Law, which is SIN. For as we read in I John 3:4, "Sin is the transgression of the law."
   Contrary to much of today's religious teaching, that is God's definition of sin — a plain, direct statement in His Word. Don't ever forget that definition — because it is God's definition!
   Thus we see that "worldliness" is simply lusting for, or using material things in a way which violates the principles of God's Law. No thought or action is "worldly" — regardless of what misguided, mixed-up men might think — UNLESS it breaks the letter or spirit of the Ten Commandments.

"Sinful" Pleasures?

   Now let's get specific. Many people who think they are Christians firmly believe that "worldliness" and "sin" consist mainly of drinking, dancing, card-playing and theatre-going.
   How can we prove whether or not these things are worldly or sinful?
   ONLY by the Word of God and the inspired example of Jesus Christ and other true servants of God. And much of this proof will be up to YOU and to your honesty before God. For to completely answer every little technical point and trick argument that people might bring up on this subject would require an entire book of several hundred pages!
   But let's be HONEST — and look at the plain, clear principles involved, and the examples of Christ and His servants and prophets. Let's look for TRUTH — not an excuse to get around it!
   First of all, is DRINKING a sin?
   The principle is this: Jesus Christ set us an example that we should follow in His steps (I Peter 2:21). Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever (Heb. 13:8). Jesus has not changed! He would still be living the same kind of life if He were to come in the flesh today as He did live 1900 years ago.
   Now notice His example in John 2:1-11. Here is the account of how Jesus turned water into wine. If you will look up the meaning of the word "firkin" (verse 6), you will see that this amounted to many gallons of wine!
   The account is very clear. It simply shows that — according to Jewish custom — they were having real wine at the wedding feast, and ran out. Jesus helped them out, for it was a time of rejoicing, and there were probably several hundred people there.
   So He turned the water into wine — and it was real, fermented wine. They would NEVER have said to the bridegroom: "Thou hast kept the good wine until now" — if Jesus had provided only grape juice — which they would have regarded as an inferior beverage for this occasion.
   Also, the original Greek word used here is oinos, and it always means the fermented juice of the grape — nothing else.
   Jesus was here only carrying out the principle He gave through Solomon: "A feast is made for laughter, and wine maketh merry" (Eccl. 10:19). If properly used, wine is an aid to relaxation and affability at a special occasion.
   But being "merry" is NOT being "tight" or "drunk" — which God's Word condemns (I Cor. 6:10).
   Paul instructed Timothy about the medicinal and health values of wine when he wrote: "Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities" (I Tim. 5:23).
   Again, the Greek word is oinos — fermented wine, not grape juice!
   There are many, many examples in the Old Testament where God's servants used wine in a proper way and with God's blessing. Perhaps the most significant one is given in Genesis 14:18. Here we read of Melchisedek — whom we have proved in our article, The Mystery of Melchisedek Solved!, to be none other than Christ — "brought forth bread and wine: and He was the priest of the Most High God." This seems to be a type of the observance later called the Passover — which many mistakenly call the "Lord's Supper" today.
   God Himself here gave wine to Abraham — the father of the faithful. And again, the original Hebrew word used proves that it was fermented wine - NOT grape juice. The original word is yayin — and always means fermented wine.
   This same Hebrew word is used in Amos 9:14 to show that when Christ frees our people from captivity after His return, and brings them to the land of Palestine, they will "plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof."
   So Christ — who is the same always — is going to bless His people with good food and wine in the millennial rule!

Contradictory Texts?

   Some diehards still cling to certain texts which appear (to them at least) to condemn wine, but in reality condemn only the wrong USE of alcohol.
   One of these is Proverbs 20:1: "Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise."
   The simple explanation is that wine certainly does mock and deceive many individuals who have not learned the proper, temperate use of such beverages. Yes, God's way is moderation and temperance — NOT prohibition! And there is a great difference between these, which so-called "temperance" people seem unable to recognize.
   Another text which is often twisted and misapplied is Proverbs 23:29-32. Here is a warning to those who "tarry long" at wine. Of course! One who "tarries long" at wine is a "winebibber," or in modern terminology a "barfly" or an "alcoholic."
   Such excessive use of wine is bound to bring harm on the person involved and on others. Therefore, it is breaking the spirit of God's Law and is SIN. But this is no condemnation WHATEVER against the moderate, sensible use of wine, following Jesus' example.
   The latter part of this passage warns us not to "look" upon the wine when it is "red," when it "moveth itself aright."
   In the first place, it is not a sin to LOOK on anything except in lust. Secondly, the terms "red" and "moveth itself" refer to wine when it is in the process of fermentation. This is BEFORE it is fully fermented. And if at this time you "look" on it so as to finally drink it, you will become violently ill and possibly even DIE!
   Even today, the term "red" is often applied to wine which is in the midst of the process of fermentation. Again, this has NOTHING to do with the proper use of fully aged wine.

God's Way Is Moderation

   There are many other texts which some people will want to argue about. But the principle should be clear to any honest person from the examples we have covered.
   Can't we get our BALANCE?
   Drunkenness and alcoholism are breaking God's Law and are therefore SIN — which leads to death! (Rom. 6: 23). No drunkard shall inherit God's Kingdom (Gal. 5:21).
   But on the other hand, wine has been given as a blessing from God. It can help one relax at a meal or rejoice at a social occasion, and it can be a definite aid in building up one's blood and health — as Paul advised Timothy. It is a thing which glorifies God when it is used sensibly and moderately.
   Incidentally, true moderation means drinking a great deal LESS than do many who call themselves "moderate drinkers" today. Overindulgence in drink is NOT to be tampered with! Alcoholism is a growing CURSE in our land today! (See our article, Alcoholism — A Worldwide Curse)
   Nevertheless, God gave us wine and alcoholic beverages to learn to use properly — and to develop CHARACTER by the proper exercise of wisdom and self-control. Prohibition is NOT God's way — and it does not develop character.
   This proper use of alcohol and moderation in drinking is a great responsibility to God. But it is only the wrong USE which becomes sin.
   The same principle of the right or wrong USE of a thing applies to nearly every action which some consider as "worldly." The real question in each case is "Is this particular thing being used in a way that BREAKS God's Law?"
   If so, then it is sin — or "worldliness."

Dancing and Card-Playing

   But if any action or pleasure does NOT of itself break God's Law, then it may be quite harmless as long as it is properly used, and only the wrong or "worldly" use needs to be guarded against.
   Such is the case with dancing. The Bible is full of examples of dancing. To cite a few, we can turn first to Exodus 15:20, where Miriam and the women of Israel rejoiced in the dance over God's deliverance of their people from Egypt.
   In I Samuel 18:6, the women came out singing and dancing to greet Saul as he returned after a military victory. In Psalm 149:3, we read that the saints are to praise God "in the dance."
   In the account of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), we are given an example of how human joy ought to be expressed — for the "father" is obviously typical of God Himself. Here we see that dancing (verse 25) is a natural and RIGHTEOUS way to express human joy.
   Certainly, we do not know exactly how the people danced and what particular steps they employed. But the principle is that dancing as such is not evil.
   Wrong USES of dancing such as in a lustful manner in a smoke-filled nightclub while half-drunk — these uses of dancing are obviously WRONG. And it is sadly true that these wrong uses characterize the vast majority of dancing situations today!
   But, if real Christians — young or old — wish to relax or rejoice by dancing with others of godly faith and character in a righteous manner, and in a clean, wholesome atmosphere and surroundings, that is NOT sinful or "worldly."
   God says: "There is a time to dance" (Eccl. 3:4). Let's see to it that this time is used properly!
   The principle regarding such matters as card-playing or theatergoing ought to be clear by now. The Bible makes no direct statement about either — but the principle is obvious in the light of God's laws and the Biblical examples.
   A deck of cards is NOT a sin — and neither is playing with those cards merely for amusement. The only danger is that one might waste too much time in such amusements, and Christians are to use their time wisely (Eph. 5:15-16).
   The wrong use of a deck of cards — or any physical object — for the purpose of gambling DOES become sin. God commands: "Six days shalt thou LABOR, and do all thy work" (Ex. 20: 9). As God is the supreme Builder and Creator — so are we to learn to build, to construct, to produce.
   Gambling makes one a leech on society and violates this entire principle and thwarts the very purpose of human existence! Also, the very basis of gambling is the idea of getting something for nothing — of desiring material gain at the EXPENSE of someone else. This directly breaks another of the Ten Commandments: "Thou shalt not covet" (Ex. 20:17).
   So card-playing as such is not sin. But the wrong USE of this activity does break God's Law and is therefore "worldly" in the truest sense.

Movies, Video and the Theater

   The matter of watching videos, films or plays revolves around the reason why one goes, and the type of play, video or movie in question.
   To frequently watch any kind of plays or movies for the purpose of pleasing "self" and of escaping from the responsibilities of life is definitely "worldly." And this very thing is done all too frequently. Let's not deceive ourselves about this. Too many people are dedicated escapists!
   Also, common sense ought to tell any real Christian that most plays and movies today are simply filled and saturated with scenes of illicit sex, murder upon murder, hate, greed, lying, cheating, gambling, drunkenness and every conceivable type of vice and sin. Indeed, the movies are a living testimony as to why God is going to punish this world. Having one's mind filled with this sort of thing hour after hour is certain to cause one to break God's laws in his heart, and probably his actions as well.
   You cannot vicariously kill, steal, seduce, gamble, and get drunk through the eyes of a movie hero and not have those thoughts affect your character! And what a frightful curse television and video recorders can become by these same means. Let this be a warning against the improper use of movies and TV!
   But on the other hand, the right use of motion pictures, stage plays, or television can certainly be worthwhile. For instance, Walt Disney produced a number of full-length feature movies showing the astonishing wonders and beauty of nature as God created it. These were truly educational and inspirational in every sense of the word.
   There are a number of plays and movies which have a historical or other type of educational basis, and are not unbalanced in regard to violence and lust. But they are in the minority, and you will have to be alert to find them. Even a clean, wholesome love story or comedy should not influence you to break God's Law.
   The right kind of play or movie is hard to find. But God will condemn no one who sincerely uses these means as a proper educational or recreational experience. It is only their wrong use which becomes sin. The same principles apply to the subject of music.

But DO Avoid What Really IS "Worldliness"!

   God does want us to have a happy and abundant life. He actually intends any human being who will serve and obey Him to become healthy and prosperous — according to his abilities.
   And although the "old-fashioned gospel" preachers of a bygone puritanical Protestant era invented the idea that drinking, dancing, card playing and theatergoing were "wordly," we have seen that they are NOT wrong at all if used in the proper manner. Again, it is simply a matter of what is SIN. And sin is defined as breaking God's Law — the Ten Commandments.
   The Ten Commandments — as spiritually magnified by Jesus Christ — reveal a way of life. They teach us how to love, worship and serve our God and how to love and serve our fellowman. Any activity, atmosphere or "system" which tends to break or cause you to break the spirit of the Ten Commandments is, however, real "worldliness." If you are to be a man or woman of God, develop God's character, be finally BORN into His family to help rule this world under Jesus Christ, you MUST avoid this kind of actual worldliness!
   Writing to the ancestors of the British Commonwealth and the American peoples the Apostle James stated under inspiration: "Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God" (James 4:4). What does this mean — we are not to "love the world"? Does this mean we are to hate our fellowman?
   Certainly not.
   For James had just written that we should keep the royal law: "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" (James 2:8).

The "World" Defined

   To understand the meaning of this and similar passages we need to know the definitions for the Greek word translated "world" in the New Testament. One of these — the one used in James 4:4 — is cosmos, which means the society or system of things men have set up on this earth. So, this passage simply means that true Christians are not to love the system or society that men have set up here on earth. This system is based on corn-petition, greed, selfishness and vanity. At the present time this system is bringing more and more wars, total corruption of morals, and soon — unless Almighty God intervenes — WORLD SUICIDE.
   And yet it is so easy to get wrapped up and want to be part of this vanity-filled, competitive and, humanly speaking, "exciting" system! This is perhaps the greatest danger to most sincere believers.
   It just seems natural and "right" to get into the clubs, lodges, activities and social life of the people and society around us. To think and talk and dress and act like they do. To have our minds on what is simply more blatant VANITY — keeping up with the Joneses, drinking too much alcohol, getting involved with this world and its politics, backbitings, wars, etc.
   No matter how sincere, people who watch many hours of television and movies each week are simply FILLING their minds and hearts with "worldliness"! Because they cannot escape the effect of having their minds bombarded by countless examples of wrong emphasis on sex and various implications involving the MISUSE of God's gift of sex; plus fantastic amounts of violence, bloodshed and rebellion against authority; and endless scenes or commercials concerned with interest on "self, self, self" and blatant appeals to build the ego and great swelling VANITY of the viewer or listener!
   So much of television and the motion pictures is a fake, a fraud, a false world in every way. It is not truly "realistic" in any sense of the word. It presents a completely UNBALANCED view of violence, sex, family, home, religion and almost anything else you care to name!

Prepare for Tomorrow's World

   The true Christian simply cannot live and walk in this kind of make-believe world. Nor can he live in the world of cut-throat competition, shady deals, dirty jokes and misused sex; or in the cocktail lounge or 'Jet set" world of lust and vanity. And the permissive world of the "swingers," the "wife swappers," the wild, hedonistic drug users — this is "worldliness" to the total extreme and must be avoided.
   The person who would avoid what the Bible really does describe as "worldly," the person who would surrender to God and yet at the same time live a happy and balanced life — this person must have definable values, definable goals and a way of life to achieve these. He or she must, therefore, be a person who carefully studies, meditates on and lives by every word of God (Matt. 4:4). He or she must be one who, following Christ's example, gets up early in the morning and PRAYS to God for help, wisdom, love and guidance. He or she must be one who is carefully and diligently studying and following the inspired example of Jesus Christ as revealed in the Bible — not in someone's human imagination of what he thinks Christ would be like.
   Such a man will be building real balance and character to qualify him to live forever in Tomorrow's World. Therefore, he will NOT allow himself to get overly involved in the passions, politics and petty stupidities of this present evil world (Gal. 1:4).
   If this goal rings true to you, then you should write immediately for your free copy of our vital booklet, "The Wonderful World Tomorrow - What It Will Be Like." Also, for an in-depth understanding of how to apply God's Law to your daily life in every way — how to WALK WITH GOD — write also for our important free booklet entitled, "The Ten Commandments."


Should You Try To Convert Others by Herbert W Armstrong

   HAVE YOU tried to induce others to read The Plain Truth or listen to the World Tomorrow program? Perhaps your wife — your husband — one of your family — a close relative, or friend?
   Have YOU tried to change others' views? Have YOU started to "preach" to them?
   If you have, you have probably stirred controversy, antagonism — lost a friend, or even a wife or husband. But if you haven't — DON'T!
   I know that many of our readers — yes, thousands of you, out of our several million readers of The Plain Truth — have been led to understand God's TRUTH. You have learned to LOVE your Creator's TRUTH, which he reveals — and which we make plain. The truth becomes the most precious thing in your life. You become excited about it. You are filled with enthusiastic ZEAL over it.
   Before, like all unconverted people, you were SELF-centered, selfish. But now, your mind is GOD-centered. Now, instead of exclusive SELF-concern you have an enthusiastic OUTGOING concern for others. Especially those in your own family — your relatives, your closest friends. You want to share this wonderful truth. You want them to inherit eternal life in the kingdom of God. You want to save them from perishing.
   Your motives are well-intended. Your zeal is splendid — but you may be like a woman I knew years ago who had more zeal than wisdom. This woman tried by her TALK to "save" her husband and her teenage son. But instead of arguing them into it, she turned them to hostility, resentment, embitterment against God! This woman tried to save her neighbors — almost her whole town. She only turned them all against her.
   But, some will ask, didn't Jesus tell us we are the light of the world — and that we must let our light SHINE?
   Oh yes! But did you notice HOW he said we must let our light shine? Listen: "Ye are the light of the world…. Let your light so shine before men, that they may SEE your GOOD WORKS …" (Matt. 5:14, 16). Notice that carefully! He did NOT say "that they may HEAR your good ARGUMENTS." He said "that they may SEE your GOOD WORKS"!
   But now wait a minute!
   Should you ever tell anyone about the radio program, or let anyone see The Plain Truth? Yes, by all means — but be CAREFUL how you do it. To just MENTION the broadcast to a friend, and SUGGEST that he or she might find it interesting, is fine. I wish you would. BUT, don't go too far! Don't URGE, ARGUE or try to TEACH religion.
   Did you ever notice that our program makes plain the REAL MEANING of today's world news, and that it reports tomorrow's world news before it happens? Your friends may be interested in news, but not in religion.
   Did you ever notice that our broadcast is not at all like the religious broadcasts on the air? It NEVER starts out with religious hymns, and a voice in a sentimental syrupy tone. Do you know what happens when such religious broadcasts start? Most people who are tuned in change stations quickly. Either they tune to a different program, or they turn it off. Only the "religious audience" — a small part of the whole audience — remains. And they probably tune in specially because they are regular listeners to that particular program.
   But do you know why millions of people buy and read such magazines as Reader's Digest, Good Housekeeping, McCalls, etc.? These magazines are filled with articles about people — about their everyday problems — about world conditions — HUMAN-INTEREST subjects. Many are interested in those things. But only a very few by comparison are interested in a sentimental, emotional, religious program that sounds just like a church service.
   On the World Tomorrow program we want ALL people to hear the good news. So we talk about the things all people want to hear! We talk about the very questions, problems, conditions and subjects that cause multiple millions to buy and read these other magazines, and the newsmagazines.
   But we make these interest-gripping subjects far more interesting by injecting life and spark and meaning into them by use of biblical material that astonishes — in a nonreligious-sounding manner — giving the surprising, eye-opening, practical and authoritative answers to the many increasingly disturbing questions, problems, and happenings of our day. In this way, we open people's eyes to the real ANSWERS to the otherwise un answerable problems that plague governments, science, and people generally.
   People are ASTONISHED to learn that such answers are in the Bible. They are being told by educators that "there are no answers. There are NO SOLUTIONS." Then they hear the ANSWERS on our program — answers that MAKE SENSE. It SURPRISES people to learn that the Bible is up-to-date, dealing with TODAY'S conditions, news, problems.
   Then there's a lot in HOW it is done. It is done in the professional MANNER of a network news analyst, or a network documentary.
   So, if you want to induce more and more people to listen to the broadcast, tell them it is an exciting NEWS, HUMAN-INTEREST, EDUCATIONAL program.

The Plain Truth

   You might do many of your friends a great service by letting them see your copy of The Plain Truth. Don't URGE them to read it. Don't ARGUE about it or try to talk them into reading it. If it doesn't grab their interest, FORGET IT! If it does, tell them they may have a free subscription, already paid — NO COST to them — and show them on the inside front cover the mailing address, so they may write in for it.
   We must let our light shine by our GOOD ACTIONS. I learned this lesson about letting people see your good deeds rather than your good ARGUMENTS many years ago.

Don't YOU Make THIS Mistake!

   The year 1927 was a very eventful year in my life.
   As soon as I swallowed my bitterest pill of rebellion, surrendered to obey the Mighty God through faith in Jesus Christ, this new Christian WAY became the most happy, joyful experience of my life. Studying the Bible became a passion. I plunged into it with a fierce zeal.
   The all-day sessions at the Portland, Oregon, public library did not stop with my capitulation to the truth following the six months' anger-inspired study to end my wife's "fanaticism."
   No longer was it an intensive study driven by anger and determination to have my own way. Now it was an enthusiastic study of eager anticipation, literally thrilling to every new discovery of spiritual "light" and biblical truth.
   Now a passion swept over me. With the best intentions in the world, I set out on a vigorous campaign. To me, it was the loving and intense desire to share the wonders and glories of salvation and Bible knowledge with those we felt we loved most. But to most of them, it was an unwanted effort to "cram my religion down their throats."
   I did succeed, apparently, in talking one sister-in-law into a certain start. I had to learn later it was a false start. As too often happens when a high-pressure salesman talks one into something he doesn't really want, she turned against it all shortly afterward.
   I had to learn, however, that, even though I had believed I was a pretty good salesman in my earlier business experience, I was utterly unable to "cram my religion down my relatives' throats." My efforts only aroused hostility.
   This is a near universal mistake committed by the newly converted. Especially is this true where a husband or wife yields to God's truth without the other.
   It nearly broke up our marriage even though my wife Loma did NOT attempt to inject her new religious belief into me. In our case the marriage was saved only because I accepted the challenge to study into it myself, confident I could prove she was wrong. But most mates will not study into it. Most unconverted mates, especially if the converted one tries to talk the other into his or her religion, will break up the home.
   In the more than fifty years since my conversion, I have known of dozens and scores of marriages that have ended in divorce because the newly converted mate tried to talk the unconverted one into accepting his or her religion. In very few, if any, instances has the unconverted mate been talked into accepting it.
   Of all things evil and harmful a newly converted Christian can do, the very WORST is to try to talk your husband or wife into your religion. WHATEVER else you do, let me plead with every such reader, NEVER commit this tragic mistake. If you love your husband or wife, don't do it!! If you love your Savior who died for you, and now lives for you, DON'T DO IT!
   Remember these scriptures: "No man can come to me," said Jesus, "except the Father which hath sent me draw him" (John 6:44). Again, Jesus said: "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother… And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother [or wife or husband] more than me is not worthy of me…. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me" (Matt. 10:34-38; cf. Luke 12:51-53).
   God made every human a free moral agent. Thank God! — no one has power to force on you any unwanted religion.
   Every individual makes his own decision. A religious difference between husband and wife is a serious handicap.
   But if such difference already exists, do not make matters worse by talking religion to your mate. Do all your talking to God in prayer. Let your mate see your happy, pleasant, cheerful, joyful, loving WAY of life — not hear your arguments or nagging! Allow your mate complete religious latitude and freedom — whether to be converted, religious, irreligious, or atheistic!
   I am glad I learned that lesson early. I have had to maintain certain business connections with many people, since being plunged into God's Work.
   I never try to talk anyone into accepting Bible truth or being converted. We go to the world over the air and in print, and everyone is free to listen or read — or to tune out or not read. We try never to force God's truth on anyone. That's GOD'S WAY!
   Do you know how the apostle Paul won individuals to Christ? Not the way people attempt to do it today. He said, "I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some"(I Cor. 9:22). When he talked to an unconverted Jew, do you suppose he spoke as a typical Christian, thinking he is "witnessing for Christ"? Do you suppose Paul said to the unconverted Jew: "Have you received Christ as your personal Savior? Oh, won't you just kneel with me right here, dear brother, and give your heart to the Lord?"
   Or, do you suppose he said: "Look here, my Jewish sinner-friend, you're on the way to hell. Your religion is wrong. Every day you reject Christ as your Savior you are crucifying him afresh. You are worse than a thief or a murderer. I'm going to keep after you with my arguments, and drum them into your stubborn ears, and beat them into that stiff, rebellious mind of yours until I force you to become a Christian."
   No, that is not the way Paul spoke to Jews. Paul said: "Unto the Jews I became as a Jew" (I Cor. 9:20, 22). Paul spoke to others from their point of view! He talked to a Jew just like another Jew — from the Jewish viewpoint showing sympathy and understanding of the Jew's way of looking at Christianity. They were hostile to the idea of Jesus being the promised Messiah. Paul did not arouse hostility — he put it down. He came to them as one of them, so that they were sympathetic toward him, not hostile. He became as a Jew, "that I might gain the Jews." Even so he gained only a small minority, yet it was a large number.
   Perhaps you have had your eyes opened to the fact that sin is the transgression of God's law. Most professing Christians have been taught, and consequently sincerely believe, that "the law is done away." Paul was inspired to write that the carnal mind is hostile to God and to God's law, "it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be" (Rom. 8:7). If you say to your unconverted mate who is hostile to God's law, "You're just a rebellious sinner, and your church is one of these false, worldly churches. You've got to repent, and obey God's Commandments" — you have not only aroused hostility, you have yourself been hostile, and you probably have broken up your marriage.
   How did Paul talk to such people? Listen: "And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews… To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some" (I Cor. 9:20, 22).
   One of the first principles of successful advertising I learned early in my career is that to get results you must first learn the attitude of your reading audience toward whatever product or service you are advertising. You must not antagonize those whom you expect to persuade. You must approach them from their point of view not from yours, especially if your viewpoint is contrary to theirs. To win them to your point of view, you must approach them from their viewpoint. Otherwise you only arouse hostility.
   I know that these words are addressed to a very large number who have made this terrible mistake. That is why I have devoted so much space to this point.
   If you believe God's truth, and your husband or wife does not, NEVER TALK RELIGION to him or her. If your mate normally thinks and speaks only of material and worldly things, then you must speak of material things to your spouse. Don't try to make them read The Plain Truth or booklets. If our broadcast has, probably because of your own aggressiveness in trying to get your mate to listen, become a sore spot, tune into the television program when your mate is not around. Or go off to some private room to hear the radio program. Keep the volume turned down. Make every effort NOT to antagonize your husband or wife.
   And again, when you talk about it, talk to God in prayer. Let your mate see your good works, in a manner that he or she will naturally approve. Avoid every hostility. Be pleasant. Keep cheerful! Be happy! Radiate JOY! Give LOVE and warm affection! Do everything to cause your husband or wife to like you! That is the Christian way!

         
Publication Date: 1983
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