"There is a generation that is pure in its own eyes but that has not been washed from its own excrement."
―Proverbs 30:12, NWT.
Jesus asked: “Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time?” (Matthew 24:45) He thus indicated that there would be a household that would have a slave appointed to feed and take care of the members of that household. Eventually Jesus, as the master, would hold the appointed slave accountable for how he carried out the responsibility he was entrusted with. The apostle Peter also clearly indicates that God has a household, and Paul told the Ephesians that they were members of God’s household. (1 Peter 4:17; Ephesians 2:19) Jesus promised his disciples that he would be with them until “the end of the age”, therefore his household would survive until the time of its inspection.―Matthew 28:20; 24:46-51.
Where today do we find God’s household? Is it made up of all those who profess to follow Jesus? Jesus himself said that there would be many who would claim to belong to him, but he would tell them, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” (Matthew 7:22,23) None of us want to be among such ones. Is it possible today to identify God’s household? Indeed, does belonging to God’s household guarantee that a person has God’s approval?
Lessons from History
Is it possible for God’s people ever to be wrong or wicked? A better question might be, is it actually possible for them ever to be true and righteous? The pages of history tell us that although Jehovah has always had individuals who loyally loved and obeyed him, yet time and again his people as a whole rebelled against his true worship and followed the way of the nations around them.
Consider the example of God’s chosen people, the nation of Israel, who we are told were “stubborn and rebellious,” “whose spirit was not trustworthy with their God.” “They did not keep the covenant of God, and in his law they refused to walk.” Yes, “they began to speak against God,” “they did not put faith in [him],” “they tried to fool him with their mouth and lie to him.” Whereas Jehovah was “merciful” and “cover [their] error,” keeping in mind that they were flesh, they would “make him feel hurt” and “pained even the Holy One of Israel.” They kept on “offending him, and inciting him to jealousy.” Although he is a God “slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness and truth, pardoning error and transgression and sin,” yet he does not “give exemption from punishment;” which resulted in their repentance again and again, “until there was no healing.”―Psalms 78:8, 10, 19, 22, 36, 38-41, 58; Exodus 34:6-7; 2 Chronicles 36:15,16.
What about the disciples of Jesus? Surely they must have learned from the terrible examples of the Israelites. Concerning some of the Christians in the first century the disciple Jude wrote: “Beloved ones, though I was making every effort to write you about the salvation we hold in common, I found it necessary to write you to exhort you to put up a hard fight for the faith that was once for all time delivered to the holy ones. My reason is that certain men have slipped in who have long ago been appointed by the Scriptures to this judgment, ungodly men, turning the undeserved kindness of our God into an excuse for loose conduct and proving false to our only Owner and Lord, Jesus Christ.”―Jude 3-4
The apostle Peter likewise drew attention to the ungodly within the congregations, when he wrote: “However, there also came to be false prophets among the people, as there will also be false teachers among you. These very ones will quietly bring in destructive sects and will disown even the owner that bought them, bringing speedy destruction upon themselves. Furthermore, many will follow their acts of loose conduct, and on account of these the way of the truth will be spoken of abusively. Also, with covetousness they will exploit you with counterfeit words. But as for them, the judgment from of old is not moving slowly, and the destruction of them is not slumbering.”―2 Peter 2:1-3, 10-22
It’s sobering when one considers the many scriptures that reveal how quickly God’s people deflected from the true teachings of Jesus and his apostles within a few short years. For that reason Jesus sent letters to the seven congregations, as recorded in the book of Revelation, to help us today understand what the situation was like by the end of the first century.―Revelation 2:1-3:22
”A Generation that is Pure in its Own Eyes”
Surely, we today have learned the lessons of history by now and taken them to heart. Since we believe that we are living deep in the time of the end, Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 10:11 have special meaning for us: “Now these things went on befalling them as examples, and they were written for a warning to us upon whom the ends of the systems of things have arrived.”
Have we heeded the warning? Is it impossible in this modern age for God’s people to again find themselves in the situation of those mentioned as “warning examples”? We have put our trust in our leaders who are assuring us that we—Jehovah’s witnesses—are a blessed people who have God’s approval because we speak the “pure language” of truth. (Zephaniah 3:9) From our point of view it is unthinkable for Jehovah to find causes for complaint against us. Therefore we fail to acknowledge the prophecies of judgment which God has addressed to “my people” as applying to us; deflecting such ones as finding their fulfillment in the various churches of Christendom; although at the same time we don’t allow that Christendom represents the true God Jehovah. If we claim to be God’s people then certainly we must also accept God’s words of denunciation as applying to us. The words recorded in Proverbs 30:12 well describe our present condition: “There is a generation that is pure in its own eyes but that has not been washed from its own excrement.” (New World Translation)
Jesus denounced the hypocrisy of the Pharisees in his day, who he said resembled “whitewashed graves, which outwardly indeed appear beautiful but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every sort of uncleanness.” To the people the religious leaders appeared to be spiritual men, even holy, but Jesus exposed their “hypocrisy and lawlessness.” (Matt. 23:27,28) The situation among God’s people today closely resembles that of the Jews in Jesus’ day. When the Watchtower Society consistently preaches that friendship with the world means enmity with God, how can they then at the same time join themselves to that which they also condemn, as was exposed in the Media in 2001? On October 15, 2001, Stephen Bates, religious affairs correspondent for The Guardian Newspaper, revealed the Watchtower Society’s 10 year secret affiliation with the Department of Public Information (DPI) of the United Nations. Although the Society acknowledged having been an NGO member of the UN for the ten years, they minimized the significance of this adulterous relationship by claiming it was only for the purpose of gaining access to the extensive UN Library for their research. They joined themselves to the most powerful political organization on earth, of which Satan is the ruler, for a mere library card.―James 4:4
(See the story on The Guardian)
The majority of Jehovah’s people have not responded with alarm as they should have when they discovered these things, although they know full well that “the form of worship that is clean and undefiled from the standpoint of our God and Father” requires us “to keep [ourselves] without spot from the world.” (James 1:27) Yet there are many others who were stumbled upon learning of this hypocrisy, and some among them have even come to question whether God has a household. Should we be surprised by these developments? Should we be puzzled over the growing loss of faith in our leaders who are regulating every aspect of our worship; resulting also in questioning the reliability of what has always been our principal guide, the Watchtower and its interpretation of Bible prophecies; including such teachings as the establishment of God’s kingdom in 1914; that we have been living in the time of the end for the past hundred years, which included the promise made back in the 1960s that we would not grow old in this old system. Faith in such promises made by men have caused much hardship for anyone who had put his trust in them. It is as Proverbs 13:12 says, “Unrelenting disappointment leaves you heartsick.” (MSG) And many of God’s precious sheep have become “heartsick” over their many disappointments in men’s promises.
The reason we should not let all these things throw us off balance is knowing that these things were prophesied. (Matt. 26:54; Luke 21:22) Jesus indicated that the slave who was appointed to provide food for the master’s household would include both, a faithful slave who would be pronounced happy by his master upon his arrival for having being faithful in carrying out his responsibility; and an evil slave who had exalted himself over his fellow slaves, eating and drinking with the confirmed drunkards of this world, and beating God’s servants as if claiming ownership of them.―Luke 12:45-46; 22:25-26; Isaiah 26:13.
On account of the foretold troubling developments within God’s household many have had their faith tested to the limit; but please reflect on what has already been stated above, ― has there ever been a time in the history of God’s people when they did not turn aside from true worship and apostatize from God? The very fact that the Scriptures are finding their fulfillment in us provides strong evidence that Jehovah recognizes us as his people, although “on account of these things the way of the truth [is being] spoken of abusively.” (2 Peter 2:2) Apostasy can only happen among God’s people, for to apostatize means a turning away from Jehovah. (Jer. 17:13; 23:14-17; Isa. 9:15-17; 2 Thess. 2:3,4) Let us not trust the words of those who are misleading us with their promise of peace, that God’s judgment will not come upon us, for it will come.―Isaiah 30:9-13; Jeremiah 6:13-15; 7:4, 8-10; Amos 9:10
Jehovah has a day of reckoning for his people. He says: “For the sake of my name I shall check my anger, and for my praise I shall restrain myself toward you that there may be no cutting you off. Look! I have refined you, but not in [the form of] silver. I have made choice of you in the smelting furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake I shall act, for how could one let oneself be profaned? And to no one else shall I give my own glory.”―Isaiah 48:9-11
The righteous among God’s people recognize the reproach that we have brought upon God’s holy name. We want Jehovah to act on behalf of his name, and show the whole world that not everyone that identifies himself with his name belongs to him. Therefore our heartfelt prayer is: “Even if our own errors do testify against us, O Jehovah, act for the sake of your name; for our acts of unfaithfulness have become many; it is against you that we have sinned.”―Jeremiah 14:7; Ezekiel 36:22-2