Monday, October 26, 2009

daily text 10/26

Monday, October 26th, 2009
"If a person wants to go to court with you and get possession of your inner garment, let your outer garment also go to him; and if someone under authority impresses you into service for a mile, go with him two miles." (Matthew 5:40, 41)

In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus pointed out the need to yield to authority. Consideration for others and a desire to help them also move us to go the extra mile, so to speak. (1 Corinthians 13:5; Titus 3:1, 2) Never should our desire to be yielding, though, lead us to compromise with apostates. Our clear, firm stance in this regard is needed to preserve the purity of the truth and the unity of the congregation. Regarding “false brothers,” Paul wrote: “To these we did not yield by way of submission, no, not for an hour, in order that the truth of the good news might continue with you.” (Galatians 2:4, 5) In the rare instance that apostasy does appear, devoted Christians will remain firm for what is right.
(Watchtower issue: 03/15/08, 1:13, 14)

*FYI-the type of 'apostate' being refered to in this instance would be a former 'brother' (a person who was once a former Witness of Jehovah)...not someone of another religion who has never learned about Jehovah and his scriptural requirements. Otherwise, as is mentioned in the following info below, the apostle Paul himself would have been considered an apostate, since that's what the members of his former religious group claimed against him after he converted to Christianity.
Jesus' criteria for determining a wicked person from a righteous one by their 'fruitage'... also makes it easier to identify an apostate, since they do not produce 'good fruits.' Apostates consistently attempt to cause divisions among brothers, and they manipulate, slander, and twist information in order to tear down members of the congregation, instead of working to build them up in a spirit of peace and unity. So no matter how 'smooth' or convincing their speech is, you can learn more about their true motives by looking at the 'fruitage' they produce by their actions.
Here's some additional reference material on this subject from Insight on the Scriptures Vol. 1, pgs 126 & 127:

This term in Greek (a‧po‧sta‧si′a) comes from the verb a‧phi′ste‧mi, literally meaning “stand away from.” The noun has the sense of “desertion, abandonment or rebellion.” (Acts 21:21, ftn) In classical Greek the noun was used to refer to political defection, and the verb is evidently employed in this sense at Acts 5:37, concerning Judas the Galilean who “drew off” (a‧pe′ste‧se, form of a‧phi′ste‧mi) followers. The Greek Septuagint uses the term at Genesis 14:4 with reference to such a rebellion. However, in the Christian Greek Scriptures it is used primarily with regard to religious defection; a withdrawal or abandonment of the true cause, worship, and service of God, and hence an abandonment of what one has previously professed and a total desertion of principles or faith. The religious leaders of Jerusalem charged Paul with such an apostasy against the Mosaic Law.

What characteristics identify apostates as distinct from true Christians?
An apostasy among professed Christians was foretold by the apostle Paul at 2 Thessalonians 2:3. He specifically mentioned certain apostates, such as Hymenaeus, Alexander, and Philetus. (1Timothy 1:19, 20; 2Timothy 2:16-19) Among the varied causes of apostasy set forth in apostolic warnings were: lack of faith (Hebrews 3:12), lack of endurance in the face of persecution (Hebrews 10:32-39), abandonment of right moral standards (2Peter 2:15-22), the heeding of the “counterfeit words” of false teachers and “misleading inspired utterances” (2Peter 2:1-3; 1Timothy 4:1-3; 2Timothy 2:16-19; compare Proverbs 11:9), and trying “to be declared righteous by means of law” (Galatians 5:2-4). While still making profession of faith in God’s Word, apostates may forsake his service by treating lightly the preaching and teaching work that he assigned to followers of Jesus Christ. (Luke 6:46; Matthew 24:14; 28:19, 20) They may also claim to serve God but reject his representatives, his visible organization, and then turn to ‘beating’ their former associates to hinder their work. (Jude 8, 11; Numbers 16:19-21; Matthew 24:45-51) Apostates often seek to make others their followers. (Acts 20:30; 2Peter 2:1, 3) Such ones willfully abandoning the Christian congregation thereby become part of the “antichrist.” (1John 2:18, 19) As with the apostate Israelites, destruction is likewise foretold for apostates from the Christian congregation.—2Peter 2:1; Hebrews 6:4-8;

During the period of persecution that the early Christian congregation experienced at the hands of the Roman Empire, professed Christians were at times induced to deny their Christian discipleship, and those who did so were required to signify their apostasy by making an incense offering before some pagan god or by openly blaspheming the name of Christ.
It is evident that there is a distinction between a ‘falling’ due to weakness and the ‘falling away’ that constitutes apostasy. The latter implies a definite and willful withdrawal from the path of righteousness. (1John 3:4-8; 5:16, 17) Whatever its apparent basis, whether intellectual, moral, or spiritual, it constitutes a rebellion against God and a rejection of his Word of truth.—2Thessalonians 2:3, 4

*it's important not to throw that term around lightly though, because there were brothers during WWII (and other times of intense persecution when nationalistic fervor was running high) who were considered 'apostates' after succumbing to the pressure from authorities in a moment of weakness, or who fell away because of not having a strong foundation & spiritual maturity to begin with. But quite a few of those returned to the congregation years later, when they came back to their senses.