Revised from 2007 Jehovah’s Witnesses frequently refer to themselves as being “in the truth.” That is because the faith itself is referred to as “the truth.”
Actually, Jesus himself first used the expression, when he said concerning the Devil: “He did not stand fast in the truth.”
So, according to Jesus Christ the Devil was once “in the truth,” just like Jehovah’s Witnesses claim to be.
Being in the truth is not a static thing, then, as can be seen in the case of Satan. A person may not stay in the truth or the truth may change. But how can the truth change? Well, consider this: what was the significance of Jesus referring to himself as “the way, the truth and the life”? Had Jesus always been the way to God, the truth of God and the means of life for dying mankind?
No. He only became such when he presented himself to the Jews as the Messiah and sacrificed his perfect human life. His sacrifice opened up the way to heaven for the chosen ones and made it possible for all mankind to be redeemed from the grave. Jesus became the truth, not only because he always spoke the truth but also because he fulfilled many messianic prophecies and because he became the centerpiece of all of God’s future purposes.
But before the truth was revealed in Christ the Jewish system of religion was the only approved way to approach God. In fact, Jesus himself was a formal worshipper of God according to the Jewish tradition. That is why Jesus once told a Samaritan woman with whom he was conversing that the Jewish way of worship was the true way to worship God, but even it was going to give way to a fuller expression of the truth. Christ said to her: “Believe me, woman, the hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you people worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, because salvation originates with the Jews. Nevertheless, the hour is coming, and it is now, when the true worshipers will worship the Father with spirit and truth, for, indeed, the Father is looking for suchlike ones to worship him. God is a Spirit, and those worshiping him must worship with spirit and truth.” – John 4:21-24
It was in the Spring of 29 C.E, when holy spirit anointed Jesus that the truth first began to be revealed in all of its glory; in the sense that God’s purpose took a dramatic new direction with the revelation of his chosen Messiah. Even though the Law came down from Jehovah – the God of truth – no longer was adherence to the Mosaic Law God’s will for the Jews. That phase of God’s work had accomplished its purpose and the Law eventually became obsolete. And shortly after Jesus’ sacrificial death the Jews were no longer even God’s exclusive chosen people. From then on anyone who put faith in the truth – that is to say, in Jesus – was acceptable to God. Ironically, the Jews who continued to adhere to what once was the truth from God were no longer in the truth and the non-Jews (whom the Jews despised) were accepted by God as his own children – provided they continued to walk in the truth.
What a breathtaking turn of events the revelation of the truth brought about in the first- century!
The reason the revelation of the truth presented a stumbling block to the Jewish establishment back then is because they had false expectations concerning the messiah. For example, even Jesus’ apostles initially could not grasp the truth concerning his sacrificial death. That is why Peter ignorantly counseled Jesus that he would not have such an inglorious death. (See chapter: Who is Blind?)
The Pharisees and other leaders apparently expected the Christ to be part of their religious establishment. That is because the Psalms and prophecies foretold that the Christ would be an heir to the throne of David. So, it was natural that the earthly-minded Jews would think in terms of the Christ sitting upon a restored throne of David in Jerusalem. They had no concept of a heavenly Jerusalem; nor could they grasp the truth regarding the death and heavenly resurrection of the king of Israel. Truly, God had carefully concealed all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (the truth) in Christ, as Paul later observed.
Under the Devil’s insidious influence the Jewish establishment was unreceptive to the truth and became completely corrupt and ossified in their own dogma to the point that they even murdered the beloved son of God, as well as many of his followers.
The apostle Paul foretold a similar turn of events was due to affect Christians immediately prior to the ultimate revelation of Jesus Christ. In the second of his letters to the Thessalonians Paul foretold that men posing as the apostles would try to convince Christians that Christ’s presence had already commenced. Writing as if he and the apostles were alive at that time, Paul warned: “However, brothers, respecting the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we request of you not to be quickly shaken from your reason nor to be excited either through an inspired expression or through a verbal message or through a letter as though from us, to the effect that the day of Jehovah is here.” – 2 Thessalonians. 2:1-2
There is no record of anyone in the first century falsely announcing that the presence of Christ had begun. However, it is noteworthy that Paul mentioned two characters by the name of Hymenaeus and Philetus, whose gangrenous teachings concerning the resurrection supposedly having already occurred, were subverting the faith of some.
Interestingly, the Watchtower also teaches that the kingdom is here and the first resurrection has already begun, sometime after 1914.
As regards the verse quoted above, it seems as if Paul’s warning applies most aptly to Jehovah’s Witnesses at this present time. That is because the Watchtower Society has been the fountainhead of a steady stream of messages heralding that “the day of Jehovah is here.” Not only that, but as an institution the Governing Body is organized in imitation of the first-century council of apostles and older men. And there is no question but that the leadership of the organization has taken to themselves apostolic authority over Jehovah’s Witnesses to interpret the Scriptures.
As regards the quasi-inspired, apostolic letters the apostle Paul warned against, there is only one organization that teaches, “the day of Jehovah is here.” Through verbal messages delivered in kingdom halls and convention arenas; through millions of magazines, tracts and books; the Watchtower Society has announced to Jehovah’s Witnesses and the world that Christ’s presence began back in 1914. In effect, the message is –“The day of Jehovah is here” – exactly as Paul forewarned.
Further, Paul wrote: “Let no one seduce you in any manner, because it will not come unless the apostasy comes first and the man of lawlessness gets revealed, the son of destruction. He is set in opposition and lifts himself up over everyone who is called “god” or an object of reverence, so that he sits down in the temple of The God, publicly showing himself to be a god. Do you not remember that, while I was yet with you, I used to tell you these things?” – 2 Thessalonians 2:3-5
Paul went on to foretell the presence – not of Christ – but of a man of lawlessness, whose apostate presence immediately precedes Christ’s parousia. The man of lawlessness is destined to foment apostasy and presumptuously sit down in the very temple of Jehovah. (See article: Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Man of Lawlessness)
Jehovah’s Witnesses realize that Paul was not speaking of the stone and mortar Jewish temple. Nor was he referring to a heavenly temple. The temple to which Paul was referring has to do with Christ’s anointed congregation. So, the man of lawlessness has direct influence over Christ’s congregation, which is why Paul so sternly warned his brothers against being seduced by his influence.
Paul continues: “But the lawless one’s presence is according to the operation of Satan with every powerful work and lying signs and portents and with every unrighteous deception for those who are perishing, as a retribution because they did not accept the love of the truth that they might be saved. So that is why God lets an operation of error go to them, that they may get to believing the lie, in order that they all may be judged because they did not believe the truth but took pleasure in unrighteousness.”
Let the reader take note that Paul referred to a singular “operation of error” and a single lie. (“Believing the lie”) Of course, the Society claims that the man of lawlessness is the entire clergy class of Christendom and that the Watchtower has been instrumental in exposing the nefarious man of lawlessness. However, it must be recognized that the religions of Christendom are founded upon numerous lies to such an extent that there is no truth. Any competent Bible student can expose the doctrinal errors taught by the churches. It certainly does not require the manifestation of Jesus Christ to expose the fact that Christendom is a fraud.
On the other hand, Jehovah’s Witnesses are established upon the doctrinal foundation of the truth. And as Paul indicated, those to whom God allows to be influenced by “an operation of error” actually know the truth, or are “in the truth,” as the expression goes. That is evident by reason of the fact that they are allowed to believe the lie because they “did not accept the love of the truth.” Obviously, though, in order to love the truth a person must first know the truth.
Is it possible that even though possessing the truth Jehovah’s Witnesses are under the influence of a lie? According to Paul it is.
So, what is the lie?
The context indicates that “the lie” relates to the seemingly inspired pronouncements issuing from the man of lawlessness declaring that the parousia has begun and “the day of Jehovah is here.” How might these pronouncements be “the operation of Satan”? Very simply, if the Society’s 1914 teaching is not true – as it most assuredly is not – then it must come from the one whom Jesus identified as “the father of the lie” – Satan the Devil.
Satan has always been keenly interested in insinuating himself into the company of God’s people. Take for instance the encounter Paul had with a girl who was possessed by a demon of divination, who tried to associate herself with Paul and Silas by heralding that the two traveling missionaries were slaves of God and preaching the truth. What the demon said was actually true, Paul and Silas were servants of God and their message could bring salvation. However, the demon was obviously not interested in given credence to Paul’s message. It was trying to give the soothsaying girl credibility. The demon kept the ruse up until Paul wearied of its presence and expelled it from the host.
As another example, Satan was even able to overreach one of Christ’s closest associates – Judas, one of the original apostles. (Not coincidently, Jesus referred to Judas as “the son of destruction.” Paul gave the man of lawlessness the same designation.)
The Devil surely knows he cannot prevent Christ’s presence from occurring. Not only that, but it would be difficult for him to effectively counterfeit the parousia after it begins. So, in his cunning the wily serpent has endeavored to fabricate a convincing faux parousia before the genuine parousia begins. In this he has been wildly successful. Up until now the Society’s 1914 teaching has been somewhat innocuous. But that will not always be the case. Undoubtedly, accepting the satanically inspired parousia now will make it difficult for those who believe that lie to accept the truth, even after it is revealed.
But isn’t that exactly what Christ also forewarned; namely, that the genuine parousia will be marked by widespread deception regarding Jesus that could even deceive the chosen ones?
Obviously, Christendom’s deceptions have little influence upon Jehovah’s Witnesses. But what about if the deception comes through the much revered and trusted Watchtower Society? The stage is certainly set for the teachings of the Society to serve as a snare for those who have not accepted the love of the truth from God but who are mere followers of men.
Please take note of the fact that Paul said that those who do not love the truth would be judged. Judgment day has not commenced yet. Judgment day is the conclusion, when the angels are sent forth to separate the wheat and the weeds. So, those who believe the lie will be adversely judged during the conclusion and not before.
The false parousia is complete with sophisticated biblical chronology and convincing evidence of prophetic fulfillment; and most convincing of all, the leadership of Jehovah’s Witnesses has given convincing proof of their own insight into the Scriptures in non-prophetic matters so that they have put the full authority of the Watchtower Society behind the 1914 doctrine. As a result, whether knowingly or unwittingly, the Society has brought Jehovah’s Witnesses under Satan’s influence and placed an enormous stumbling block before the entire organization come the actual presence of Christ.
As Paul forewarned, the Devil’s operation is designed to give credence to his man of lawlessness by performing “every powerful work and lying signs and portents.” What powerful works and lying signs has the Devil performed? As the Watchtower has acknowledged, C.T. Russell adopted pyramidology in conjunction with the Dispensationalist’s seven-times chronology a full forty years before 1914. All during the run-up to that fateful year anticipation was building for 1914. And seemingly the First World War erupted right on cue. What amazing foresight C.T. Russell had! Or so we have been led to believe. Of course, Russell and the International Bible Students were expecting the war of Armageddon; but in the decades following 1914 the Watchtower Society has continued to mold Jehovah’s Witnesses’ understanding of the Scriptures so as to now teach that World War One was merely the beginning pangs of distress that Christ foretold would mark the coming of his kingdom.
(The Watchtower Society has stated that the sign of Christ’s presence is like a human fingerprint, in that, it is unique and cannot be duplicated. This is true. However, there are many things related to the Society’s 1914 teaching that simply do not line up with the Scriptures. See essay: A closer Look at 1914)
But surely, triggering the Great War at the precise time, so as to lend credibility to the seven-times chronology would not have been an extraordinary feat for the god of this world. As a consequence, the Devil has been able to place his own “lying signs” as the very sign of Christ’s presence. How deceptive! Furthermore, Satan could have easily instigated the brief wave of rebellion at Bethel and the government persecution that occurred in 1916-1918, which has since then served as the basis for interpreting dozens of prophecies and parables as having been fulfilled upon the handful of International Bible Students back then. As Paul foretold, Satan has indeed used “every unrighteous deception” to prop up “the lie” he has spawned.
Another aspect of the Devil’s assemblage of “unrighteous deception” is that the 1914 doctrine has allowed the Watchtower Society to write themselves a blank check. They have done so by claiming that Christ appointed his faithful slave over all of his belongings in 1918-19. As a result, Jehovah’s Witnesses have been led to believe that there is no future day of reckoning for the faithful slave. The doctrine is similar to the Papacy’s teaching of infallibility and has led to the idolization of the organization, which suits the Devil and his man of lawlessness.
Naturally, the belief that Christ has already begun ruling and making God’s judgments known has tended to make Jehovah’s Witnesses less watchful. No wonder that Jesus emphasized he was coming as a thief in the night at a time his disciples did not think to be it!
To gauge the effect Satan’s deception has over Jehovah’s Witnesses one merely has to ask them if they think it is possible for the sign of Christ’s presence and the conclusion to display itself more convincingly in the future. The answer will inevitably be “no.” In other words, Jehovah’s Witnesses believe it to be impossible that nation might rise against nation, kingdom against kingdom, with attendant food shortages, pestilence and earthquakes, in the future.
Yet, at the present moment this dark world stands at the brink of an unimaginable calamity. Apparently the decision has already been made in the highest circles of the Anglo-American establishment to go to war against Iran, even in the knowledge that it may well ignite World War Three – a nuclear war. An all-out war in the Persian Gulf arena will most assuredly trigger the sudden collapse of the already-teetering financial system, with inevitable dire consequences such as food shortages and martial law. The breakdown of the economic system is already making uncontrollable disease epidemics a certainty. Increasing intensity of seismic activity also seems posed to create havoc on an unprecedented scale.
In spite of the precarious state of affairs in the world, the Watchtower apparently sees no significance in these developments. Bethel continues to tout 1914 as the most important date in all human history. Only Satan the Devil could so effectively blind the very ones who boast of being vigilant watchmen. But the blindness of men only serves God’s purpose. The stage is now fully set to test whether those who claim to be in the truth really do love the truth or whether they will continue, “believing the lie.”