[From ws1/17 p. 12 March 6-12]
“Where the spirit of Jehovah is, there is freedom.”—2Co 3:17
The study this week opens with this thought:
WHEN faced with making a personal choice, one woman told a friend: “Do not make me think; just tell me what to do. That is easier.” The woman preferred being told what to do instead of using a precious gift from her Creator, the gift of free will. What about you? Do you like making your own decisions, or do you prefer that others decide for you? How do you view the matter of free will? – par. 1 [boldface added]
Do we even have to comment on the irony of this paragraph? There are few Christian religions on earth at the present time that require greater submission to the will of men than that of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
While it might seem easier to have someone else make decisions for us, doing so would rob us of one of the great blessings of free will. That blessing is revealed at Deuteronomy 30:19, 20. (Read.) Verse 19 describes the choice that God gave to the Israelites. In verse 20 we learn that Jehovah gave them the precious opportunity to show him what was in their hearts. We too can choose to worship Jehovah. We could have no greater motive than to use God’s gift of free will to express our love for him and to bring him honor and glory! – par. 11
Let’s apply this paragraph’s counsel within the framework of the congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Say you feel that putting in 80 hours a month in the field ministry is the best way to serve God. This is your free will at work. However, you do not wish to be a pioneer because you do not want to answer to men and you don’t want to go to pioneer school, or receive the praise of men. Would you be allowed to exercise your free will without any pressure from the elders?
Now let’s say you’re a good publisher, putting in 15 to 20 hours a month, but you decide that reporting your time means that men will become aware of your gift of mercy. Remembering the admonition of our Lord Jesus found at Matthew 6:1-4, you decide to keep your gifts of mercy a secret. Will the elders respect your decision arrived at because of your god given gift of free will, or will they harass you for a report?
May we never fall into the trap of choosing to rely on our own understanding, as did Adam and the rebellious Israelites. Instead, may we “trust in Jehovah with all [our] heart.”—Prov. 3:5. – par. 14
This is excellent counsel. However, it will be misapplied. It will enter the ear of all Jehovah’s Witnesses and be processed by a subroutine in the brain implanted long ago by repeated doctrinal programming through meeting parts and the publications. This subroutine will replace “Jehovah” with “Organization” in the collective JW consciousness.
It is easy to put this to the test. I’ve done it many times. For example, provide a Witness with proof that the Governing Body compromised their neutral standing with Jesus Christ as their husbandly owner by—to use their own reasoning—committing adultery with the wild beast through membership in its image, the United Nations. (For detailed proof, click here.) Invariably, the response will be to ignore the dire implication of this scandal, and instead embark on a kill-the-messenger course of action that starts with the affirmation, “I love Jehovah…”
Jehovah, of course, has nothing to do with this egregious sin, but in saying this, the Witness demonstrates that he equates the Organization with Jehovah. The two are synonymous. Jesus said, “I and the father are one.” (John 10:30) But to Witnesses, a truer phrase is, “The Organization and Jehovah are one.”
One of the limitations on our freedom is that we must respect the right that others have to make their own decisions in life. Why? Since we all have the gift of free will, no two Christians will always make exactly the same decision. This is true even in matters that involve our conduct and worship. Remember the principle found at Galatians 6:5. (Read.) When we recognize that each Christian must “carry his own load,” we will respect the right that others have to use their own gift of free will. – par. 15
This particular ‘limitation on our freedom’ is not one which Witnesses accept readily. This paragraph pays lip service to it, but in practice, the Organization will impose its will on the individual. Ask yourself, is a brother truly able to exercise his free will in the minor decision of whether or not to grow a beard? Is a young person able to exercise his or her free will in their choice of higher education? Both of these decisions, and countless more, are matters of conscience as the next paragraph goes on to say, yet a JW making the ‘wrong’ choice is sure to be pressured and even ostracized.
Therefore, should we not also respect our brother’s right to make personal decisions in matters of lesser importance?—1 Cor. 10:32, 33. – par. 17
What a strange little sentence. What is the implication here? Are we free to disrespect a “brother’s right to make personal decisions” when the matters are not of “lesser importance”? Is the exercise of free will limited to minor matters? If so, then who gets to decide on the major ones? The Organization?
The theme text is, “Where the spirit of Jehovah is, there is freedom.” (2Co 3:17) However, one of the expressions we hear from everyone who has awakened to a greater knowledge of the Christ is that they feel free for the first time. Perhaps if the Witnesses realized that what Paul wrote to the Corinthians refers to the Lord Jesus, they would begin to understand the freedom they are missing.
But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. 15Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. 16But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. – 2Co 3:14-18
Sadly, the veil continues to lie over the hearts of my JW brethren when they read from God’s word. It is removed only when one turns to the Lord; but even in their translation, they turn away from the Lord and mistakenly attribute these verses to Jehovah.