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Conscience individual and collective


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We all think about moral issues all the time. What we think is good and what we think is bad.

We have a conscience. We have a knowledge feedback loop with ourselves. Is this an open system or a closed system and if it's open, what is it open to? If it's closed, what is it closed to?

Now I can't speak to anyone else or their conscience except as a presumption - the presumption that they have one as much as they have a mind. We could go on at length in the manner of Descartes and on down the line to the existential and materialist philosophers as to whether anyone has a mind/or free will. I simply presume it on the basis of my own knowledge feedback loop. When I say "I know" I'm not saying "I know" in any Gettier "True, Justified, Belief" "know" because that would take reams of unnecessary paper. Not only that Goedel's Incompleteness Theorem (as I apply this to knowledge in general) is true in all realms (you'll always be able to "know" things you can't prove from any set of axions(or scriptures)).

So you get born into a culture with a baked-in morality. You get born into a family with a baked-in morality. You are born (infant studies prove) with a sense of right and wrong.

There's history which you have nothing to do with which created the climate into which you and your conscience has been birthed.

Now you exist, and you have a feedback loop with the world and your conscience. You come to understand things like the permanence of objects which don't cease to exist when you stop seeing them. (Later we somehow can't ratchet that up to the conscience's constant awareness when it comes to God).

You interact with the world and your various groups with intersecting circles of implicit or explicit moral ideas and you assent with these or deny these and deal with the consequences to yourself as a result (this could be you simply misjudged reality and got it wrong, or you got censured by the group(s) you're associated with).

I prefer "rewards" over "consequences", but "rewards" indicates I've been informed by some external authority (which I presume exists as in God, or which I see) who will give me "as a reward" the thing I've decided I want in return for a given action or actions.

"Consequences" sound more threat-ish, and yet these are similar. Consequences come as a result of me as an individual doing or saying something and the thing happening like one domino fell intro another. There can, of course be unintended consequences, but that's something else.

So the external world allows me all manner of illusions which I may choose to hold as "true" in my head which may be "false". It's only when the connections between some false idea and a painful consequence (physical or psychological) occurs and I see the one event (me holding a false idea or acting falsely) as directly connected with the pain event that I stop believing the false thing or acting falsely. (I still might, if I feel the cost/benefit ratio is such that I'll deal w/the pain/consequence).

Ideally our sense of morality is tied in with certain egalitarian ideas (we're no better than anyone else, as we're all creations, as a sentient creation something has a certain right to maintain itself and try to exist and thrive, but w/in limits...yada, yada) and most importantly that a Creator exists who is the penultimate judge of all things.

You know where this is going....

Then you have to have the Creator telling us good/bad right/wrong. We need examples and life stories. So we have the Bible.

Bringing it up to the 1st century, and the Christian Congregation we have many accounts which we can read to tell us that nothing was perfect then. (would we expect that today? why?)

Of course we do have arguments as to what organization IS the most Christian on the planet.

This would have to be argued scripturally.

Why talk about organization?

Because organizations necessarily involve themselves w/the individual conscience at some level.

We can argue(and do and should) as to what degree. Guess what? They did in the 1st century. We can "get in trouble" and not actually "be in trouble" w/Jehovah by this arguing, but there has to be balance and there should be (and was in the 1st century...unless Demas and others who split were "faithful" and just went on to live their lives...maybe so, maybe not).

We have to expect that there's going to be a "middle ground" which makes everyone less than comfortable in the Christian Congregation. But, if we refuse to be a part of organization, how can we expect to prosper? We never see Jehovah NOT use organization or recommend scripturally that someone should go it alone.

So where ever you might be you're going to have to choose.

Don't want other people influencing you by telling you things you'd rather not hear, telling you maybe you have it all wrong or that there's a place to argue and a time, but in the middle of the hall during a meeting just might not be met w/the best response?

Could be like one brother said "He doesn't take counsel."

Will your conscience work right if it doesn't get recalibrated by scripture AND by others who admit to the same scriptures?

***BTW This is me thinking out loud for ME, not anyone else***

    Hello guest!

(Link for me to look at or anyone else)

    Hello guest!

Interesting paper.

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I liked your KH building experience. We've all had that experience when we would have made different decisions if we were in charge, and then we are glad we weren't. But I can't seem to fit your musing on conscience into what I thought was the most common use of the term "conscience" in the Bible. Of course, it might be right anyway, depending on what you mean by consequences. For example: Let's say that you would love the experience of eating roast beef a couple times a week, but depe

Correctly handling the "Word of Truth", is the same as correctly handling a saw, a hammer, a level, or any other tool.  WORDS are the tools with which we think. If we use tools in a wrong way, what we build will be crap. If we use words in a wrong way, what we think will be crap. My considered dogged opinion is that Sen-yor Chavez is on the verge of hysterical panic.

In the 1970's it was common for Bethelites to order Bible commentaries like Matthew Henry's and Barnes' Notes on the NT and various Bible translations. Later, they also allowed orders for Jay Green's Hebrew Interlinear and William Whiston's Josephus. Bethelites paid for them, but the price was fairly low because all requests were ordered through a one of Dean Songer's assistants. Then there was a meeting in 1979, and all such books became impossible to order, and anyone who already had them

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If you want to hear my opinion. :) 

There are two types of conscience. First is Natural conscience (in biblical terminology) given by God. It is obtained by birth and inherited by genetics that began with Adam  and Eve. After birth, a child or in another situation an adult, comes under the influence of family, environment, society and their own choices.

Second is Artificial conscience. For example, JW members have two types of conscience. The first one, natural, from God. The second type of conscience is called in the WTJWorg publication; "Bible-trained conscience." It is an artificially created conscience based on religious-ideological interpretations and doctrines. It has some positive aspects, but not always. For example, not greeting a former member of the Organization creates a certain conflict in the JW member. There is a conflict between two types of conscience: between the Natural Conscience given by God and the Artificially Created Conscience trained in the Organization.

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A person's conscience has to be that person's individual conscience.  And as @Srecko Sostar has said the other option is the Artificial conscience. But in reality the Artificial conscience is not a conscience, it is a person's life being controlled by other people. 

16 hours ago, xero said:

I prefer "rewards" over "consequences", but "rewards" indicates I've been informed by some external authority who will give me "as a reward" the thing I've decided I want in return for a given action or actions.

This is how the JW Org works for men. Rewards of Ministerial Servant or Elder for obeying the orders from the GB downward.

16 hours ago, xero said:

"Consequences" sound more threat-ish, and yet these are similar.

The JW Org also uses this and it is a threat to all those baptised into the Org. Small consequence = Reproved. Big consequence = D/fed..

16 hours ago, xero said:

Bringing it up to the 1st century, and the Christian Congregation we have many accounts which we can read to tell us that nothing was perfect then. (would we expect that today? why?)

You do realise of course that Christianity was NEW back then. Completely new. There had never been anything like it before. We are now 2000 years into Christianity. 

16 hours ago, xero said:

Why talk about organization?

Because organizations necessarily involve themselves w/the individual conscience at some level.

But the JW Org takes over people's consciences.  The GB makes rules, the congregants obey those rules.  JW congregants just become a number, just like 'boots on the ground'.  Reports put in to count numbers. Memorial attendance, to count numbers. 

16 hours ago, xero said:

But, if we refuse to be a part of organization, how can we expect to prosper? We never see Jehovah NOT use organization or recommend scripturally that someone should go it alone.

As for : if we refuse to be a part of organization, how can we expect to prosper?    That depends what you mean by prosper.  BUT A person can be part of organisation, with out of being part of AN Organisation.  I notice you did not say  We never see Jehovah NOT use AN organization. 

Quote - Could be like one brother said "He doesn't take counsel."     

This is an Elders way of saying that a person 'does not do as WE tell him'. They would say it about me when i didn't wear a jacket and tie to meetings. :).

Quote  -  Will your conscience work right if it doesn't get recalibrated by scripture AND by others who admit to the same scriptures?

Will your conscience work right if you just follow orders coming down from Leaders that are NOT inspired of God's Holy Spirit. And others that are seeking rewards from men as mentioned earlier in the comment. 

  

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2 hours ago, Srecko Sostar said:

"Bible-trained conscience." It is an artificially created conscience based on religious-ideological interpretations and doctrines.

Sorry to say Srecko, You, John and JWI are wrong with this opinion. The Watchtower DOES NOT, nor will it EVER, brainwash people.

God's given ability for humans to know from good and bad was entwined in our DNA since the crimes of the first pair. So, the Watchtower "provides" the necessary tools for each one of us to succeed in their Christian life. 

The problem here, ex-witnesses "demand" the Watchtower should be accountable for our own personal actions. I posed a question to John about JTR, why should the Watchtower be deemed responsible for his personal behavior, when he understood the laws of God. In essence, BIBLE TRAINED conscience. It would appear, that didn't work for JTR, now did it. 

So, no! Conscience is something that is a mechanism to determine and decide from good or evil. It's up to the individual, how they are going to train (Personal Development) themselves with bible help, on how they with to lead a Christian Life.

Think about it. If that artificial creation of conscience as you assume, then you wouldn't be arguing this point from a standpoint, as an ex-witness.

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2 hours ago, César Chávez said:

Sorry to say Srecko, You, John and JWI are wrong with this opinion. The Watchtower DOES NOT, nor will it EVER, brainwash people.

God's given ability for humans to know from good and bad was entwined in our DNA since the crimes of the first pair. So, the Watchtower "provides" the necessary tools for each one of us to succeed in their Christian life. 

The problem here, ex-witnesses "demand" the Watchtower should be accountable for our own personal actions. I posed a question to John about JTR, why should the Watchtower be deemed responsible for his personal behavior, when he understood the laws of God. In essence, BIBLE TRAINED conscience. It would appear, that didn't work for JTR, now did it. 

So, no! Conscience is something that is a mechanism to determine and decide from good or evil. It's up to the individual, how they are going to train (Personal Development) themselves with bible help, on how they with to lead a Christian Life.

Think about it. If that artificial creation of conscience as you assume, then you wouldn't be arguing this point from a standpoint, as an ex-witness.

I agree w/all of this.

I'm reading the pdf attached...Even though it's writing about evangelicals in general, the outline does discuss the problem that not only Ex-JW's are examples of in many cases (I don't know all), but the spirit that operates in the world right now - the deification of the individual conscience (low church (deification of conscience) vs high church(deification of organizations) are the terms he uses and discusses the "ditches" each represents)

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11 hours ago, xero said:

Will your conscience work right if it doesn't get recalibrated by scripture AND by others who admit to the same scriptures?

I appreciated your take on the questions you raised. I have heard ex-Witnesses claim that there is no such thing as a collective conscience or an organizational conscience, and that all of us are therefore completely on our own when we stand individually before the judgment seat. I agree with the Bible statement that we stand alone for judgment, but you have made an excellent point about how all of us will develop morality based on what has been passed down to us and what we get (or even choose to get) from our various environments. But we all have opportunities for further conforming our environment by choosing association with those who will prod us and encourage us in the direction of an ever clearer Bible-trained conscience.

No one can argue that there isn't already a collective conscience that waits for us to absorb it, much of it subconsciously I suspect. But if we accept that, then we should have no problem "artificially" maneuvering our environment to strengthen our conscience. And, of course, many of us have found the environment of the brotherhood of Witnesses to be perfectly suited to the needs of our conscience.

I also agree with Srecko, that to some extent we will probably accept some decisions made by a "collective" conscience that will be seem artificial to us.

(2 Timothy 3:1-5) . . .But know this, that in the last days critical times hard to deal with will be here. 2 For men will be . . .3 having no natural affection, . . .

Our conscience tells us that we can't turn our back on the physical and psychological needs of family members who might be disfellowshipped. This is a case, as Srecko says, where our own "natural affection" might say we must do one thing, but the collective environment of our congregation tells us to do something else. Perhaps it will not always be right for everyone to respond in exactly the same way the "collective" conscience tells us to. After all:

(James 4:17) 17 Therefore, if someone knows how to do what is right and yet does not do it, it is a sin for him.

But without the additional training of conscience from the congregation, would we even have stopped to think about the application of Jesus' words about how he came to put a sword on the earth?

(Matthew 10:34-36) . . .Do not think I came to bring peace to the earth; I came to bring, not peace, but a sword. 35 For I came to cause division, with a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 Indeed, a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.

There will be some tension between the two extremes on this topic, but I think that's a good part of what a conscience is for.

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8 hours ago, JW Insider said:

Our conscience tells us that we can't turn our back on the physical and psychological needs of family members who might be disfellowshipped.

Unfortunately, you sway this argument in the wrong direction. Your philosophy has nothing to do with conscience, but rather morals and standards. You can train yourself to have good morals, how you apply those morals within your conscience is a development of an unforeseen nature. You train yourself to be a good Christian, that's a moral standard. As a good Christian, you decide to interpret scripture in your own selfish way, that's your conscience.

Once again, don't confuse the two to win a nonsensical point. You and that ex-witness, Srecko, have none. It would also be unconscionable to manipulate scripture toward your own understanding, just to contradict others, on the way you apply, scripture. That means, your personal conscience accepts adding to scripture that isn't there in context or intent.

That's means, we have to accept and take responsibility for our personal actions and behavior. Galatians 6:5

For we are each responsible for our own conduct. (NLT) or

*** Bible Citations ***
(Galatians 6:5) For each one will carry his own load.

Why is this a provision in scripture,

(2 Corinthians 5:9, 10) . . .. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of the Christ, so that each one may be repaid according to the things he has practiced while in the body, whether good or bad.

 

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JWI - I'm trying to find a way to formulate, by way of illustration or otherwise (the shorter the explanation the better), the dividing line between conscience and scriptural responsibility and actively being told by authority that some non-obvious thing is true and that one must believe the non-obvious thing is true and teach someone else in the same manner that this non-obvious thing is true.

You can and do have people in every organization JW/and non JW orgs who cross over the line either deifying conscience or deifying organization. Both of these are wrong and both of these may be done by individuals who are individually or collectively being "faithful" as they see what it means to be faithful.

Granted that imperfection exists in all humans, one would assume this imperfection would find some manifestation in organizations used by Jehovah (some latitude is demanded by this fact scripturally and practically).

So just as we see that there is a difference between allowing something to pass (Jehovah allowing) and causing (Jehovah causing) something to pass there is a difference between Jehovah actively approving of a given idea/interpretation and his allowance of a given idea/interpretation being present among those organizations he is using.

I remember reading the account in the book of Acts about Paul being told by holy spirit how he was to give a witness to Caesar and showed him many things he would suffer, and the delta between the elders in Jerusalem and their particular local agenda and Jehovah's agenda when it came about that Paul was accused of teaching an apostasy from Moses. The elders in Jerusalem in all their wisdom decided to get Paul to take care of two men and their closure of their vows of naziriteship at the temple publicly to dispel this idea. (Never mind that Paul's understanding would still likely have been considered an apostasy "no, you don't get it", Paul might say "I'm not saying it's WRONG to do these things, it's just not required for salvation!"). So the brothers in Jerusalem had one agenda (were they being cowardly, or discreet?), but Jehovah had a different one, because Jehovah could see that this would lead to a riot, Roman soldiers getting involved and then Paul appealing on the basis of his Roman citizenship to Caesar, thus fulfilling the dictates of Jehovah's will.

So this scriptural account, and there are others which are less proximate in my mind which might be used could be used as an example of Jehovah's earthly organization imagining one thing to be the thing which is important, but Jehovah had something else in mind. (It could also be an inducement to be less dogmatic)

***Again I'm just thinking aloud and using this thread to keep track****

 

 

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31 minutes ago, César Chávez said:

That's means, we have to accept and take responsibility for our personal actions and behavior. Galatians 6:5

Exactly! And if we feel our conscience is weak, or has made us react too strongly or strictly, we can improve our conscience through association with a collective group (congregation/brotherhood) of serious persons who continually train their conscience with Bible principles.

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12 minutes ago, xero said:

and there are others which are less proximate in my mind which might be used could be used as an example of Jehovah's earthly organization imagining one thing to be the thing which is important, but Jehovah had something else in mind.

That example (Paul's ministry) was an excellent example, because we consider both Paul and some of the elders and apostles at Jerusalem to be analogous to a 'governing body' which Paul sometimes good direction from -- but we also consider Paul himself to be a part of that same body, which covers the potential problem of Paul making statements that were not immediately acceptable to the Jerusalem body.

Of course, one of the more obvious examples is the one that Paul spoke of directly as a matter of conscience: the eating of meats that had been sacrificed to idols. The Jerusalem body evidently said no, and Paul said that it was or had become a matter of conscience. (Also a possibility of timing at play here.) It seems probable that he still wouldn't eat meats in front of Jerusalem's body of elders to avoid stumbling their weak consciences.

That interpretation is likely controversial to some, and I might not have it right, but we do know that Paul said conscience was directly related to this issue.

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    • folens  »  Eric Ouellet

      Bonjour Eric merci pour cet exposé.
      Bonne journée Michel
      1LE BATEAU.pdf
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    • Eric Ouellet

      La sagesse est plus précieuse que l’or et la crainte envers Jéhovah est notre salut.
       
      La vraie sagesse de Dieu est un cadeau inestimable, car seul ceux qui obéissent et suivent ces préceptes en recoivent les bienfaits. En Psaume 111:10 déclare ceci: “La crainte de Jéhovah est le commencement de la sagesse.”
      Qu’est-ce que cela veut dire? La sagesse est la capacité d’utiliser efficacement sa connaissance et son intelligence pour résoudre un problème, éviter un danger, atteindre un objectif. Elle sous-entend un bon jugement. Le commencement, la première partie, le fondement de cette sagesse, c’est la crainte de Jéhovah. Pourquoi cela? Bien que toute création est l’œuvre de ses mains et dépend de lui. Il a accordé aux humains le libre arbitre, mais pas la faculté de diriger leurs pas avec succès sans tenir compte de sa direction (Josué 24:15; Jérémie 10:23). Nous ne connaîtrons le succès durable qu’à la condition de bien saisir ces idées fondamentales sur la vie, et de nous y conformer. Si notre connaissance de Jéhovah nous donne la ferme conviction que la volonté divine est promise au succès, et qu’il tiendra sa promesse de récompenser ses fidèles, alors la crainte pieuse nous poussera à agir sagement. — Proverbes 3:21-26; Hébreux 11:6.
      Prenons un exemple: Il y a quelques dizaines d’années, un jeune homme fréquentait l’université de Saskatchewan, au Canada. Au programme de sa formation figurait la biologie, et on lui a enseigné l’évolution. Après avoir été diplômé, il s’est spécialisé dans la physique nucléaire, profitant d’une bourse pour continuer ses études à l’université de Toronto. Au cours de ses études, il a constaté dans la structure des atomes révélaient des témoignages stupéfiants d’un ordre et d’une finalité extraordinaire . Mais personnes ne répondait pas à ces questions: Qui a conçu tout cela? Quand? Et pourquoi? Sans ces réponses, pouvait-il utiliser sagement ses connaissances dans un monde remplis interrogations ? Qu’est-ce qui le guiderait? Le nationalisme? Le désir de gratifications matérielles? Avait-il acquis la vraie sagesse?
      Peu après avoir été diplômé, cet homme ainsi que sa femme se sont mis à étudier la Bible avec les Témoins de Jéhovah. Dans la Parole de Dieu, ils ont peu à peu trouvé les réponses qui leur manquaient. Ils ont appris à connaître le Créateur, Jéhovah Dieu. En étudiant ce qui est arrivé à Moïse à la mer Rouge, à Daniel et à ses compagnons à Babylone, ils ont appris l’importance de craindre Dieu, et non les hommes (Exode 14:10-31; Daniel 3:8-30). Cette crainte pieuse mêlée d’un amour sincère pour Jéhovah a commencé à les animer. Rapidement, leur vie a changé. Enfin cet homme connaissait Celui dont il avait étudié l’œuvre en biologie. Il a progressivement compris le dessein de Celui dont il avait constaté la sagesse dans ses cours de physique. Au lieu d’employer sa connaissance à élaborer des instruments de destruction, il a choisi, avec sa femme, d’aider autrui à aimer Dieu et son prochain. Ils ont entrepris le service de prédicateurs du Royaume de Dieu à plein temps. Par la suite, ils ont suivi les cours de Galaad, l’École biblique de la Société Watchtower, et ont été nommés missionnaires.
      Bien entendu, tout le monde ne peut pas être missionnaire. Mais tous nous pouvons bénéficier de la sagesse fondée sur la crainte de Jéhovah. Si nous cultivons cette sagesse, nous ne consacrerons pas le meilleur de notre vie à étudier les philosophies humaines, qui n’échafaudent que des suppositions sur le but de la vie. Nous nous appliquerons à l’étude de la Bible, livre inspiré de Jéhovah Dieu, la Source de la vie, celui qui peut nous donner la vie éternelle (Psaume 36:9; Colossiens 2:8). Au lieu de nous rendre esclaves d’un système commercial chancelant, au bord de la ruine, nous écouterons Jéhovah, qui nous conseille de nous contenter de la nourriture et du vêtement, et d’accorder à nos relations avec lui la priorité dans notre existence (1 Timothée 6:8-12). Au lieu de nous comporter comme si notre avenir dépendait d’une belle situation dans le monde actuel, nous croirons la Parole de Jéhovah, qui nous affirme que le monde est en train de passer, de même que le désir du monde, alors que celui qui fait la volonté divine demeure pour toujours. — 1 Jean 2:17.
      Dans le livre de Proverbes 16:16, Salomon nous encourage par cette déclaration certaine: “Acquérir la sagesse [la sagesse qui commence par la crainte de Jéhovah], oh! combien cela vaut mieux que l’or! Et acquérir l’intelligence est préférable à l’argent.” Poussés par cette sagesse et cette intelligence, nous considérerons l’accomplissement de la volonté de Dieu comme le premier centre d’intérêt de notre vie. Et quelle activité Dieu a-t-il confiée à ses Témoins en cette période de l’histoire humaine? Faire connaître son Royaume par la prédication et aider les personnes sincères à devenir de vrais disciples de Jésus Christ (Matthieu 24:14; 28:19, 20). Il s’agit d’une activité dont on retire une satisfaction véritable et un grand bonheur. C’est donc à propos que la Bible dit: “Heureux l’homme qui a trouvé la sagesse, et l’homme qui acquiert le discernement.” — Proverbes 3:13.
      Elle nous retient de commettre le mal
      Un deuxième bienfait que nous procure la crainte de Dieu est qu’elle nous retient de commettre le mal. Celui qui respecte profondément Dieu ne détermine pas par lui-même ce qui est bien et mal. Il ne tient pas pour mauvais ce que Dieu déclare bon, ni ne considère comme bon ce que Dieu déclare mauvais (Psaume 37:1, 27; Ésaïe 5:20, 21). De plus, celui que motive la crainte pieuse ne se contente pas de savoir ce que Jéhovah déclare bon ou mauvais. Une telle personne aime ce que Jéhovah aime et elle hait ce que Jéhovah hait. En conséquence, elle agit en harmonie avec les préceptes divins. Ainsi, comme le dit Proverbes 16:6, “par la crainte de Jéhovah, on se détourne du mal”. Cette crainte pieuse devient une motivation puissante qui permet d’atteindre des résultats qu’on n’obtiendrait pas même si une personne commence tout juste à l’éprouver, la crainte pieuse peut lui donner le courage de ne pas faire quelque chose qu’elle regretterait le restant de ses jours. Au Mexique, par exemple, une femme enceinte a demandé à une chrétienne Témoin de Jéhovah ce qu’elle pensait de l’avortement. La chrétienne lui a lu plusieurs versets bibliques, puis lui a tenu ce raisonnement: “Pour le Créateur, la vie est très importante, même la vie de ceux qui ne sont pas encore nés.” (Exode 21:22, 23; Psaume 139:13-16). Des examens laissaient entendre que le bébé serait anormal. Néanmoins, après ce qu’elle avait vu dans la Parole de Dieu, cette femme a décidé de garder son enfant. Son médecin a refusé de la revoir, et son mari l’a menacée de la quitter, mais elle a tenu bon. Elle a finalement donné naissance à une magnifique petite fille, normale et en bonne santé. Par gratitude, elle a recherché les Témoins et s’est mise à étudier la Parole de Dieu avec eux. Moins d’un an après, son mari et elle se faisaient baptiser. Quelques années plus tard, à une assemblée de district, tous deux ont été enchantés de rencontrer la chrétienne qui avait parlé à la femme la première fois. Ils lui ont présenté leur jolie fillette de quatre ans. Incontestablement, le respect de Dieu et le désir puissant de ne pas lui déplaire exercent une grande influence.
      La crainte pieuse peut nous garder d’un grand nombre de mauvaises actions (2 Corinthiens 7:1). Cultivée avec soin, elle est capable d’aider quelqu’un à mettre un terme à des péchés cachés, connus de lui seul et de Jéhovah. Elle peut l’aider à se libérer de la dépendance de l’alcool ou de la drogue. Un ancien drogué d’Afrique du Sud a raconté: “Au fur et à mesure que j’apprenais à connaître Dieu, la crainte de le décevoir ou de lui déplaire grandissait en moi. Je savais qu’il m’observait, et je désirais ardemment son approbation. Cela m’a incité à me débarrasser de la drogue qui était en ma possession en la jetant dans les toilettes.” La crainte pieuse a aidé des milliers de personnes de la même manière. — Proverbes 5:21; 15:3.
      La crainte salutaire de Dieu nous préserve également de la crainte de l’homme. La plupart des humains connaissent, à des degrés divers, la crainte de l’homme. Les apôtres de Jésus Christ l’ont abandonné et se sont enfuis lorsque les soldats se sont emparés de lui dans le jardin de Gethsémané. Plus tard, dans la cour du grand prêtre, désarçonné et en proie à la crainte, Pierre a nié faire partie des disciples de Jésus et même le connaître (Marc 14:48-50, 66-72; Jean 18:15-27). Mais grâce à l’aide qu’ils ont reçue, les apôtres ont retrouvé leur équilibre spirituel. Par contre, aux jours du roi Jéhoïakim, Urie, fils de Schémaïah, fut terrassé par la crainte au point d’abandonner son service de prophète de Jéhovah et de fuir le pays, ce qui ne l’empêcha pas d’être capturé et tué. — Jérémie 26:20-23.
      Comment vaincre la crainte de l’homme? 
      Après nous avoir prévenus que “trembler devant les hommes, voilà ce qui tend un piège”, Proverbes 29:25 ajoute: “Mais celui qui se confie en Jéhovah sera protégé.” La réponse tient donc dans la confiance en Jéhovah. Cette confiance s’appuie sur la connaissance et l’expérience. L’étude de sa Parole nous démontre que les voies de Jéhovah sont droites. Nous découvrons des événements attestant qu’il est digne de confiance, que ses promesses sont sûres (y compris celle de la résurrection), qu’il est amour et qu’il est tout-puissant. Lorsqu’ensuite nous agissons conformément à cette connaissance, accomplissant ce que Jéhovah demande et rejetant fermement ce qu’il condamne, nous commençons à constater dans notre propre cas qu’il prend soin de ses serviteurs avec amour et que l’on peut compter sur lui. Nous acquérons personnellement la certitude que sa puissance est à l’œuvre pour que s’accomplisse sa volonté. Notre confiance en lui s’accroît, de même que notre amour pour lui et notre désir sincère de ne pas lui déplaire. Cette confiance est bâtie sur un fondement solide. Elle est un rempart contre la crainte de l’homme.
      Notre confiance en Jéhovah, alliée à la crainte pieuse, nous rendra fermes en faveur du bien dans le cas où un employeur menacerait de nous renvoyer si nous refusions de participer à des pratiques commerciales malhonnêtes (voir Michée 6:11, 12). Grâce à cette crainte pieuse, des milliers de chrétiens persévèrent dans le vrai culte malgré l’opposition de membres de leur famille. Elle donne aussi aux jeunes le courage de se faire connaître comme Témoins de Jéhovah à l’école, et elle les affermit face aux moqueries de leurs camarades de classe qui méprisent les principes bibliques. Ainsi, une adolescente Témoin de Jéhovah a dit: “Ce qu’ils pensent m’est bien égal. L’important, c’est ce que pense Jéhovah.”
      La même conviction donne aux vrais chrétiens la force de rester attachés aux voies de Jéhovah lorsque leur vie est en jeu. Ils savent qu’ils risquent d’être persécutés par le monde. Ils sont conscients que les apôtres ont été fouettés et que même Jésus Christ a été frappé et tué par des hommes méchants (Marc 14:65; 15:15-39; Actes 5:40; voir aussi Daniel 3:16-18). Mais les serviteurs de Jéhovah sont assurés qu’il peut leur donner la force d’endurer, qu’avec son aide ils peuvent remporter la victoire, que Jéhovah récompensera sans faute ses fidèles, si besoin en les ressuscitant dans son monde nouveau. Leur amour pour Dieu ajouté à la crainte pieuse les pousse puissamment à éviter toute action qui pourrait lui déplaire.
      C’est parce qu’ils étaient animés d’une telle motivation que les Témoins de Jéhovah ont supporté les horreurs des camps de concentration nazis dans les années 30 et 40. Ils ont pris à cœur le conseil de Jésus consigné en Luc 12:4, 5: “D’autre part, je vous le dis à vous, mes amis: Ne craignez pas ceux qui tuent le corps, et qui après cela ne peuvent rien faire de plus. Mais je vais vous indiquer qui vous devez craindre: craignez celui qui, après avoir tué, a le pouvoir de jeter dans la Géhenne. Oui, je vous le dis, Celui-là, craignez-le.” Par exemple, Gustav Auschner, un Témoin qui avait été interné dans le camp de concentration de Sachsenhausen, a écrit plus tard: ‘Les SS ont exécuté August Dickmann et ont menacé de nous passer tous par les armes si nous refusions de signer un document par lequel nous abjurions notre foi. Pas un seul n’a signé. Notre crainte de déplaire à Jéhovah était plus forte que la crainte de leurs balles.’ La crainte de l’homme mène aux compromis, mais la crainte de Dieu nous affermit pour faire le bien.
      La préservation de la vie
      Noé a connu les derniers jours du monde antédiluvien. Jéhovah avait décidé de détruire le monde d’alors en raison de la méchanceté des humains. Toutefois, en attendant, Noé a vécu dans un monde où régnaient la violence, l’immoralité sexuelle choquante et le mépris de la volonté divine. Noé a prêché la justice, et pourtant “ils ne s’aperçurent de rien jusqu’à ce que le déluge vînt et les emportât tous”. (Matthieu 24:39.) Noé n’a cependant pas renoncé à l’activité que Dieu lui avait confiée. Il fit “selon tout ce que Dieu lui avait ordonné. Ainsi fit-il”. (Genèse 6:22.) Qu’est-ce qui a permis à Noé, année après année et jusqu’au déluge, de toujours agir comme il convenait? Hébreux 11:7 répond: “Par la foi, Noé, divinement averti de choses qu’on ne voyait pas encore, fit montre d’une crainte pieuse.” Pour cette raison, sa femme, ses fils, leurs femmes et lui ont été sauvés du déluge.
       Notre époque ressemble de bien des manières à celle de Noé (Luc 17:26, 27). De nouveau un avertissement est lancé. Révélation 14:6, 7 parle d’un ange qui vole au milieu du ciel et invite les gens de toute nation et tribu et langue à ‘craindre Dieu et à lui donner gloire’. Quel que puisse être le comportement du monde autour de vous, obéissez à ces paroles, puis transmettez l’invitation à autrui. À l’instar de Noé, agissons avec foi et manifestons une crainte pieuse. Par cela, des vies peuvent être sauvées: la vôtre et celle de nombre de vos semblables. Lorsque nous considérons les bienfaits dont profitent ceux qui craignent le vrai Dieu, nous ne pouvons que souscrire aux paroles du psalmiste divinement inspiré qui chanta: 
      “Heureux est l’homme qui craint Jéhovah, dans les commandements de qui il prend grand plaisir!” — Psaume 112:1.

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    • Darlene  »  T.B. (Twyla)

      I can not open study material 
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    • Darlene  »  T.B. (Twyla)

      Can not open weekly study material 
      · 3 replies
    • Deborah T. Calloway  »  T.B. (Twyla)

      Thank you so much for the meeting work book. I really appreciate your hard work 
      · 0 replies
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