Tested and Found Wanting!

Every industry has a quality control section. There, the shelf-life, microbial load, purity and safety levels of the product are assessed. There is usually a standard chart against which the product’s qualities are compared. If there is a breach in this process, it poses a great danger to the consumers and the integrity of the organization will plummet.

In the field of religion, the testing of truth claims is essential. The more gnomic the claims religious leaders make, the more they should be held up to scrutiny. The Watchtower Society is one organization headed by a Governing Body with such exclusive claims:

“[W]hen the Master arrived, he found his faithful slave conscientiously feeding the domestics as well as preaching the good news. Greater responsibility now awaited that slave. Jesus said: “Truly I say to you, He will appoint him over all his belongings.” (Matthew 24:4) Jesus did this in 1919, after the slave had passed through a period of testing” (The Watchtower, March 1, 2004, 12).

“While all anointed Christians collectively form God’s household, there is abundant evidence that Christ chose a small number of men out of the slave class to serve as a visible governing body. The early history of the congregation shows that the 12 apostles, including Matthias, were the foundation of the first-century governing body” (The Watchtower, March 15, 1990, 11).

“Naturally, all elders must submit to Christ’s right hand of control, guidance, and direction, which he exercises by means of the spirit and the spirit-begotten members of the Governing Body” (The Watchtower August 1, 1987, 19).

It’s on the bases of their claims as God “faithful and discreet slave,” “Christ’s right hand of control” and “spirit begotten” successors of the 12 apostles that the Watchtower leadership demands blind loyalty and absolute obedience from millions of Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide. JWs are forbidden to pit their reasoning, opinions, personal feelings or harbour private understanding of the Bible against this Society.

They are not allowed to test this authoritarian leadership; they have no quality standard to asses whether they are being led by true or false leaders but are made to believe that everyone outside “Jehovah’s organization” is a false teacher:

No matter what false teachers may say, we must not follow them! Why go to such dried up wells, only to be deceived and disappointed? Instead, let us be determined to remain loyal to Jehovah and to the organization…” (The Watchtower, July 2011, 17).

By using pronouns “we” and “us” the Watchtower subtly conditions JWs into a groupthink. Since the Witness has already taken the epistemological leap of embracing the Society as Jehovah’s organization, he/she is precluded from asking the real questions: What really makes our leaders true teachers and the outsiders false? Where are the “abundant evidence” underpinning the Watchtower leadership’s special claims?

In a study edition of The Watchtower, they are told:

How can we protect ourselves against false teachers? The Bible’s counsel regarding how to deal with them is clear. (Read Romans 16:17; 2 John 9-11) “Avoid them,” says God’s Word. Other translations render the phrase “turn away from them,” “keep away from them,” and “stay away from them.” There is nothing ambiguous about that inspired counsel” (July 15, 2011, 16).

Notice that the real question has been moved back one step: how to detect false teachers. If we are directly warned to avoid them, then there must be ways to identify them before we turn away from them. The Watchtower magazine was curiously silent about this crucial aspect. That’s not a coincidence; it’s a tactic of institutional self-preservation.

It further says: “When we learn that Jehovah disapproves of something that we enjoy, for example, our initial reaction might be to rebel. That indicates that we need to make progress in the realm of being “ready to obey.” (James 3:17) In this article, we will review a few areas in which our willingness to fit in with God’s purpose to be obedient from the heart – would be put to test” (p. 28).

Nothing is still said about how false teachers can be discerned, instead, the moral responsibility of being “put to the test” is shifted back on the individual JW to “keep pace with Jehovah’s organization” (p. 29). The words “put to test” comes from Revelation 2:2 which says:

“I know your deeds and your labor and endurance and that you put those to the test who say they are apostles; but they are not and you found them liars” (NWT).

This verse unequivocally stresses the necessity of Christians to test those who claim to be apostles, yet the magazine doesn’t quote it. The term apostle means “a sent one” and it’s technically identical to the claims made by Watchtower leaders – of being Jehovah’s mouthpiece and “the faithful slave” sent by Christ to feed the people. If they were truly appointed by Christ since 1919 then they must be tested just as the early Christians tested those claiming to be apostles. And if found to be liars, they should be rejected.

Until a Jehovah’s Witness does this, he/she has no yardstick of determining whether he has been feeding on pure lies or a mixture of truth and lies. But Watchtower leaders don’t want to tested and found wanting, so they de-emphasize Revelation 2:2 in their materials such that JWs will seldom encounter it let alone apply it – unless they directly read the Bible. The Watchtower 2006 library CD shows that Revelation 2:2 has been quoted a total of only six times in Watchtower literature from 1950-2006.

In almost every instance, the text is so remotely interpreted that its real meaning is somewhat muddled. Below are 3 examples of their explanations after quoting the verse:

(I) “We can see that the apostles, during the ‘last hour’ of apostolic care on earth, stood in the way, preventing the organizing of the ‘mystery of this lawlessness’ into a corporate body, the ‘man of lawlessness’ (The Watchtower April 15, 1957, 253).

In the verse Jesus was commending the Ephesian believers for testing those claiming to be false apostles. But The Watchtower avoids talking about this but applies it to a singular figure: “the man of lawlessness.”

(II) “Faithful ones soon find that the speech and conduct of these deceivers do not ring true. Like the Ephesians, Christians today “cannot bear bad men” so they disfellowship them from their congregations” (Revelation – Its Grand Climax at Hand! 1988, 34).

They deflected the verse to apply to individuals who didn’t claim to be Christ’s right hand of control or Spirit anointed leaders instead of the Governing Body of the Society.

(III) “Today, congregations of Jesus’ true followers have a similar record of good deeds, hard work and endurance. They do not put up with false brothers who want to be viewed as apostles. (2 Corinthians 11:13, 26) Like the Ephesians, loyal Christians today “cannot bear bad men.” To maintain the purity of Jehovah’s worship and to protect the congregation, therefore, they do not extend the hand of fellowship to unrepentant apostates” – Galatians 2:4, 5; 2 John 8-11 (The Watchtower May 15, 2003, 12)

Again, the text is flipped around and placed on ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses (“apostates”). But these individuals have not claimed to be apostles or their successors. For some people to have claimed to be apostles in the 1st century implied they were in leadership positions so what we see here is a classic shell game to hide the truth.

People who make special claims must be tested and critically assessed before being accepted as true teachers/leaders. The Bible is clear on this testing:

a) Deut. 18:22 says “If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken.” Leaders who truly speaking for God give accurate prophecies, but the Watchtower leadership have given many false prophecies.

b) Gal. 1:8 says “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned.” The Gospel revolves around the death and resurrection of Christ but Watchtower leadership preaches a false gospel and a false Christ.

c) Isa. 8:20 says “To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn.” True teachers teach in harmony with the Bible, whereas Watchtower leadership teach doctrines that conflict with plain Bible teachings.

d) Matt. 7:15-16 say “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them….” True teachers bear godly fruit but Watchtower leadership has historically and presently borne the fruitage of falsehood, hypocrisy, cruelty, sexual depravity and hate.

e) 1 Pet. 5:3 says to church leaders: “not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.” Godly leaders lead by example, personal growth and gentleness, but the Watchtower leadership lords it over JWs, binding heavy burdens on them, forbidding them from independent thinking and holding their leaders accountable.

An outgrowth of all man-centred, authoritarian leaderships is exemplified by the Society’s desperate efforts at mentally and spiritually subjugating JWs, demanding they have “complete confidence” in whatever the organization reveals. This is like consuming food and drinks that haven’t passed through quality control on the leverage of blind faith and sentiment. The spiritual consequences of such stupor is perilous.

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Straight Talk on Sexual Self-Stimulation

“I was [sexually] abused when I was young. I’m so addicted to pornography and masturbation” said a married man to a Christian counselor. Two single young men also shared their struggles:

“I’ve been battling with masturbation for a long time now and it’s killing me. I notice I masturbate each time I feel depressed. I’ve prayed and done a lot still I find myself doing the same thing over and over again.”

“I have a very big problem with both sex and masturbation. It has really gotten to me. I am a devoted Christian … yet I find it difficult to quit … I have planned to cut myself off media, phone and internet so as to stop going through porn sites and downloading its content … Why is stopping sex and masturbation too difficult for me, or is it my FATE? I am really confused.”

Unfortunately, sexuality is still a no-go area topic in many Christian circles. This is why I applaud Christians who summon the courage to open up about their personal sexual struggles. I’ve come to realise that when such “uncomfortable” issues are swept under the carpet of church rules and “uptight” conservatism, they not only fester but eventually become elephants in the pews. Many people in the church today are suffering from silent frustration as a result of private problems that have created turmoils in their hearts. They can’t find anyone who understands or is able to handle the details of what ails them.

Sexual issues need to be openly discussed because they are crucial to life, and it’s an area where the devil is enslaving many believers. I was told of a Christian guy in my undergraduate days who broke with “tradition” during a Bible study by telling how God helped him beat the sinful habit of masturbation. Typical of hyper-conservative student fellowships, his audience looked on with shock and distaste, but he defied their countenances. As he was leaving the fellowship that evening, about 5 Christian brothers walked up to saying “Please sir, I’m struggling with masturbation, can you help me?” If we are really going to help people find freedom and healing, we’ll need to blow open the citadels of pretence and role-playing that the devil has used to wall us in.

Masturbation or “solo sex” is a hot topic on several fronts. A 2016 survey by TENGA, a sexual health and wellness company, indicates that “88 % of 1,200 Americans masturbate.” To remove the stigma from self-pleasure, this company launched “an online empowerment campaign that celebrates and encourages masturbation” called #DoItInMay. Secular society has always lauded masturbation as a safe, healthy valve of release from sexual pressure. Some scientists tell us that it boosts the mood; has a natural sedative effect; helps maintain body immunity; prevents prostate cancer, heart diseases and STDs and even confers a longer lifespan!

If one’s life is patterned by their claims, solo sex becomes a placebo to cure almost all of life’s hitch. I guess a time would soon come when we will be told that if we don’t masturbate frequently, our brains will stop functioning and our hearts will stop beating! From a scientific perspective, however, one needs to tread with caution before touting masturbation as a “silver bullet” to bodily infirmity.

Masturbation triggers the brain into releasing a flood of internal chemicals like dopamine, endorphins and serotonin into the bloodstream. These natural “drugs” give quick, temporary escape and relief from stress, insomnia and anxiety. This can make masturbation a convenient “drug” for instant pleasure and self-medication. It results in a chemical dependency that people use to escape from boredom, negative emotions and the stresses of life. We all know how drug addicts resort to drugs to escape from reality. Sexual self-stimulation works out the same way. Thankfully, the debilitating effects of addictions are not disputed by secular society.

Frequent masturbation stimulates acetylchlorine and parasympathetic nervous functions and when it is excessively done, large amount of this hormone and neurotransmitters are being produced, thus altering the body’s chemistry. This leads to fatigue, erectile dysfunction and pelvic cramps. Even in the medical world, there are check and balances that govern drug use. That’s why pain relievers are given with prescriptions. When the body is made to naturally circumvent these regulations through masturbation, it becomes a form of self-abuse.

Many scientists, psychologists and even some Christian leaders argue that masturbation is not a sin. If that is the case, why do many men and women feel so guilty after indulging in it? The ready-made answer that such people are conditioned by social indoctrination and upbringing doesn’t cut it. That response is an indication of our God-given conscience which must not be muffled with empty rationalizations.

This is why science, psychology and philosophy – albeit beneficial – cannot be our final arbiter of truth, ethics or morals. The Bible, God’s Word is. Science sees man as a “higher animal” that is subject to all baser instincts and desires, but the Bible dignifies man, stating that he is created in God’s image. Psychology also fails to address the complexity and depravity of the human heart. The Encyclopedia Britiannica presents a lengthy discussion on sexual deviations but adds that:

“Although most psychiatrists and psychologists consider masturbation an expected practice on the path to heterosexual relations, it serves equally to gratify in fantasy many of the sexual deviations discussed above” (16:610).

That is, masturbation can be fuelled by fantasies involving sexually debased acts like paedophilia, rape, sado-masochism, voyeurism, homosexuality, lesbianism and bestiality. The human heart is so deceitful and depraved that most sex criminals usually start off by masturbating to fantasies of what they later indulged in. With the way sex toys like strokers, dildos, sex dolls etc are becoming lucrative even here in Nigeria, God’s view – not man’s opinions – of solo sex needs to be emphasised.

Granted, masturbation is not directly mentioned in the Bible and cannot be accurately termed as the “sin of Onanism,” but it’s still a sin because it involves lust of the mind (Matt. 5:28). Virtually all sexual self-stimulation is accompanied by either sexual fantasies or pornographic materials. It cannot be imagined or carried on without committing the sin of lust. It also fails the Bible’s eight fold test: what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy (Phil. 4:8).

Our body “is the temple of the Holy Spirit … You are not your own. You were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body” (1 Cor. 6:19-20). Solo sex spiritually defiles our body. God says we are to “put to death … whatever belongs to [our] earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires…” (Col. 3:5), but masturbation does the very opposite: it energizes the fleshy nature.

Furthermore, masturbation is a selfish act. God intended sexuality to help relieve a person’s loneliness, but solo sex does not relieve loneliness. In fact, one feels more lonely than ever after this sin. Being immersed in one’s body sensations is a form of narcissism. As time goes on, self-pleasuring becomes the brain’s preferred method for achieving sexual gratification and this ultimately undercuts a healthy relationship with one’s spouse.

I am not writing this to lay a guilt trip on anyone struggling with this habit. What I’m saying is that it is a sin that one can repent of and forsake just like any other (1 Jn. 1:9). There is one more reason why self-sex should be avoided: it often attracts sexual spirits called incubi (those appearing to be men) and succubi (those appearing as women). These demon spirits are responsible for the sexual dreams many men and women frequently have.

These sex demons are also sought after in the occult and are invited by sexual fantasies. When these spirits latch themselves to men or women, they wield a web around them, draw away their virtues, potentials and vitality and pump their garbage into them. In some cases where the demon already resides in the victim, it will control his or her hands to sexually stimulate himself or herself, at times after having an erotic dream.

One of the ways to know if masturbation has led a person into spiritual bondage is that, it becomes a besetting sin and he/she would be having relationship or marital troubles (if married). That person may be oppressed by a demonic sex partner and needs to be ministered to. Such persons would tell you that they feel more pleasure when they have sex in dreams with demons (who appear as very beautiful ladies or handsome men) or when they masturbate, unlike with their physical spouses. This problem is a very common one. I have personally met real Christians victimized by it.

The way out

Although there are no specific “formulas” to conquer masturbation, some steps are crucial.

1. Repent and forsake the sin. This involves getting rid of porn or sex materials. Because masturbation feeds off secrecy, sharing your struggles with someone matured is also good, but it’s not compulsory.

2. Know what triggers you. Some masturbation triggers are: depression, porn, indecent dress, images of past sexual acts, erotic chats or phone calls, stories or TV shows that border on sexual themes. A guy named Immanuel wrote: “I can remember heavily masturbating to Rihanna’s Rude Boy’s music video immediately it was released till my organ got painful sores.”

Now if Immanuel is going to maintain his victory, he will have to avoid music videos or lyrics with sex innuendos. Some are triggered by certain places, smells, gestures, words or objects. A Christian guy once admitted he gets “triggered” to masturbate once he sees a boxer short. So know your own trigger and address it.

3. Filling one’s heart with God’s Word has a cleansing and renewing power (Ps. 119: 11; Rom. 12:2). Daily meditate on the Bible and control your thoughts

4. Resistance. You can only resist what you dislike. This involves:

a) directly resisting the urge to masturbate by avoiding compromising situations and exercising bodily control (1 Cor. 9:27). One can be tensed up and unable to sleep and feel tempted to give in to it; don’t yield. Endure hardness as a soldier and resist the sin (1 Tim. 2:2).

b) standing back on your feet if you have a relapse (Prov. 24:16). Don’t let the devil beat you down with guilt. Some gain victory quickly, some don’t. Focus on Christ.

c) praying fervently, especially before going to bed. That is how to draw on the power of Christ (Mt. 26:41). A friend told me how God set him free from the bondage of masturbation. After praying one night, he went to bed and while he was asleep, he felt a strange pressure mount over his body. With his eyes still closed, he felt someone raise his hands up and make him say: “You spirit of masturbation, I renounce you in Jesus’ name!” and the pressure lifted. Since that day, the urge to masturbate vanished. There is great power in Jesus Christ.

If you are struggling with this sin but not yet born again, I want to tell you that the Lord Jesus Christ died for your sins at the cross of Calvary and rose again for us to have a new life. Repent of your sins and believe in Jesus and His sacrifice on the cross. Ask Him to forgive your sins and make you a new creature.

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