Why should I consider another religion after leaving Jehovah’s Witnesses

.:WHY SHOULD I CONSIDER ANOTHER RELIGION AFTER LEAVING JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES?

I would like to know why a person should take the time to consider another religion after leaving the Jehovah’s Witnesses. I have several family members in this religion that will not even speak to me now that I have left.  I am so hurt that I really don’t feel like thinking about ‘God’ or ‘spirituality’ anymore.  What should I do?”

OUR RESPONSE:

Dear friend,

Wow! That’s a good question.  So, many feel the way you do when they have been burned by a controlling religion, like the Jehovah’s Witnesses.  We can definitely identify with those feelings of distrust in anything “religious” or even “God” focused.  After all, how can you know who or what to trust if the people you trusted the most in your life were hypocrites?  Didn’t Jesus say the sign of His true followers is “love”? Yet, the Jehovah’s Witness “shunning” policy is anything but “loving” as you know from your personal experience.

There are no “simple” answers for what you “should do” now that you are out and are being shunned by your Jehovah’s Witness family, but we can provide the hope that many of the Ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses in our ministry have found—and that is, the difference between a “religion” and a “relationship” with the true God.

RELIGION VS. RELATIONSHIP

Religion involves a system of beliefs, rules, and a code of ethics that if violated results in spiritual and physical consequences.  On the surface, spiritual beliefs and a standard of ethics are not in themselves harmful, but when the level of rules instituted by religious authorities becomes overbearing upon followers to the point that emotional and physical pain is suffered by those unable to bear up under the standards imposed, religion crosses the line from being a helpful moral guide, to a harmful institution.  Such is often the case where religious abusers utilize “religion” as a means to control and manipulate those under their care.  You have no doubt experienced this, and it is little wonder you question the need of submitting to “spiritual authority” once more.

There are those who would say that Christianity, in its purest form, is not a “religion,” but rather a “relationship” with the living God.  This is because true Christianity, unlike all other forms of religious devotion, is not based upon mankind’s efforts to please God, but rather, God’s efforts to redeem and forgive mankind through the substitutionary death penalty that His Son, Jesus Christ, paid for mankind’s disobedience to His moral law.  The following chart, illustrates some of the key distinctions between a “Religion” vs. a “Relationship” with the living God:

RELIGION

RELATIONSHIP

God’s favor  = Earned through mankind’s best efforts and good deeds to prove “worthy” of God’s acceptance and forgiveness.

God’s favor = Freely granted to those who personally accept the forgiveness offered in Christ’s blood (Ephesians 1:7; 2:8-10; Romans 4:4-5; 6:23; 11:6).

Rules = A standard of conduct to earn God’s favor and approval.

Rules = A means of expressing gratitude for God’s unconditional forgiveness (1 John 4:19; John 14:15).

Salvation = Never guaranteed, people are always required to “do more” human efforts in the “hopes” of being good enough to merit eternal life.

Salvation = Forever guaranteed to those who have been bought by the blood of Christ, whose sacrificial death was “sufficient” to cover “all” wrongs forever (2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 7:25; 1 John 1:9).

Unworthy Behavior = Person is physically and emotionally isolated from the group’s members until performance is improved through self-effort.

Unworthy Behavior = Person is counseled with love, grace and humility but never completely isolated from friends and family, and he is still considered a “brother” in the faith (2 Thessalonians 3:15).

Life Change = Empowered through human self-effort and determination.

Life Change  = Empowered through the indwelling Holy Spirit who changes heart motivations and strengthens believers to overcome sin and destructive behaviors (Ephesians 1:11-14; Romans 8:1-2, 4-5, 11-17; Ezekiel 36:26-27; Psalm 103:10, 12; Micah 7:18-19).

As you can see from the above chart, a “relationship” with God is far different from a “religion” that tries to earn God’s approval through human efforts.  Operating under the “religion” of the Old Covenant given to the Israelites in the Hebrew Old Testament Scriptures, the Jews constantly struggled to try to be worthy enough for God’s forgiveness by obeying 613 commandments given to Moses (including the 10 Commandments that encompass the heart of the Law).  No matter how hard the Jews tried to be righteous, they always fell short of fulfilling the Law requirements perfectly.  This is why Jesus told the followers of His day:

“For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. …Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”—Matthew 5:20, 48 1.

Because no man can keep God’s laws perfectly enough to merit eternal life, animal sacrifices were performed on an on-going basis under the Old Covenant to atone for mankind’s sin and disobedience because, “without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22).  This is where Jesus Christ stepped in to become the ultimate blood sacrifice to atone for the sins of humanity.  1 Peter 2:24 explains:

Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.”—King James Bible Version

Thus, under the New Covenant given to Christian followers through the blood atonement of Christ (Hebrews 8:7-13; 12:24), humans are now able to move from the legalistic standards of “religion” to a personal “relationship” with God, by being “adopted” out of Satan’s family (John 8:44) and the condemnation of death due to sin (Ezekiel 18:4), into God’s forever family (Galatians 4:4-7).

The Watchtower “religion” tries to block people from experiencing these New Covenant privileges by telling them that they cannot have Jesus as their personal “mediator” 2., that they cannot be “born again” 3. and that they cannot be “adopted” into God’s family. 4.  This is a lie! The Bible nowhere says that the New Covenant is limited to only 144,000 followers of Christ. Rather, it promises:

Everyone believing that Jesus is the Christ has been born from God, and everyone who loves the one that caused to be born loves him who has been born from that one.”—1 John 5:1, New World Translation

So, to have this personal “relationship” with God, all that you need to do is put your faith and trust in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) and confess Him as Lord and Savior of your life (Romans 10:9), by “coming to” Jesus, asking Him to forgive you of your sins and to give you eternal life (John 5:39-40; 6:37, 39-40; 14:6; 1 John 1:9).  In return, Jesus promises:

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”—Matthew 11:28-30

Are you “weary and heavy-laden”? Are you ready for “rest”?  This is what a personal “relationship” with Jesus Christ is all about.  You come to Him with you sin and guilt and He will give you forgiveness, a clear conscience (Romans 8:1), and “rest” from your wearisome toil of endless human efforts of “filthy rags” of pride (Isaiah 64:6).  Exchange your “rags” of human “righteousness” for His worthiness, and you will be clothed with the righteousness of Christ!

“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”—2 Corinthians 5:21

YOU HAVE NO NEED FOR A HUMAN SPIRITUAL “TEACHER”

One of the key principles that the Jehovah’s Witness religion is built upon is the idea that the Bible is so complicated that it takes a spiritual “teacher” to make it understandable for mankind.  Thus, the Watchtower Society claims that its leaders were appointed by God to dispense spiritual truth to followers.  To support the idea that a human “teacher” is needed, they often appeal to Acts 8:30-31 about the Ethiopian eunuch who asked Philip for help in understanding the Scriptures.  What is not mentioned is the fact that after the eunuch placed his trust in Jesus Christ and was baptized as a symbol of his faith, his human teacher, Philip, was taken away (Acts 8:39).  If a human teacher is needed after a person is baptized into the Christian faith, what was God’s Holy Spirit doing taking the eunuch’s teacher away?  Rather, to the contrary of the Watchtower Society’s claims, the Bible declares:

“As for you, the anointing that you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to be teaching you; but, as the anointing from him is teaching you about all things, and is true and is no lie, and just as it has taught you, remain in union with him.” —1 John 2:27, New World Translation

Think about it this way.  If God is a loving God and He wants everyone to come to know His Truth so that they can be forgiven and receive eternal life, why would He make the Bible so difficult that it would take a religious expert to understand it?  Doesn’t it make more sense that God, being the loving God that He is, would send His Holy Spirit to teach spiritual truth to those who are seeking Him?  Consider what Jesus declared to His followers:

“But YOU, do not YOU be called Rabbi, for one is YOUR teacher, whereas all YOU are brothers.” —Matthew 23:8, New World Translation

“But the helper, the holy spirit, which the Father will send in my name, that one will teach YOU all things and bring back to YOUR minds all the things I told YOU.” —John 14:26, New World Translation

“However, when that one arrives, the spirit of the truth, he will guide YOU into all the truth, for he will not speak of his own impulse, but what things he hears he will speak, and he will declare to YOU the things coming.” —John 16:13, New World Translation

YOU ARE FREE TO BE WHO GOD CREATED YOU TO BE!

Finally, when you are in a personal “relationship” with God, you are free to be who He created you to be.  You don’t have to conform to some “cookie-cutter” spiritual mold that a “religion” may try to impose upon you.  In the Watchtower religion, you were discouraged from pursuing personal hobbies, unique talents or special interests that took you outside of this religion’s goal for your life — namely Kingdom Hall activities and the door-to-door preaching service.

This is the opposite of God’s goal for you life.  He made you a unique individual with special gifts, talents and abilities that He wants to see you put into practice.  If you have a gift in artistic design, pursue it!  If you are interested in music or poetry, don’t let the Watchtower’s stale clone mold spoil you from experiencing the joy of being who God created you to be.  Try new things! If you don’t have any hobbies or special talents of your own, experiment and discover the unique gifts God has given you.

Consider the rest of creation.  God didn’t make all the flowers one color, nor did He make all animals or humans to look alike.  He LOVES creativity!  So, go out and see what you can create with the gifts He has given you.  It is in doing this that all the rest of creation worships God. So, you can too! Fulfill this ultimate act of Christian worship by being the unique, special person God made you to be and looking for ways to serve others with your gifts and talents.  Find a healthy spiritual association where you are free to be the person God created you to be without man-made guilt trips, legalism and fear. In this way, as you use your gifts and abilities to serve, you demonstrate your love for God and others in fulfillment of the law (Mark 12:28-31).

FOR MORE INFORMATION SEE:

bullets  OUT OF THE WATCHTOWER—INTO WHAT?

bullets  SALVATION – WHAT IS REQUIRED TO HAVE ETERNAL LIFE? (4witness.org)

bullets  I PRAYED TO RECEIVE JESUS. WHAT NOW? — Should I Join a Church? How Do I Know God’s Will and Avoid Satan’s Deceptions? (4witness.org)

bullets  ANSWER TO AN EX-JEHOVAH’S WITNESS ATHEIST: “WHY BELIEVE IN GOD?” 

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1. Unless otherwise noted, all Scriptures are quoted from the New American Standard Bible.
2. See Worldwide Security Under the “Prince of Peace,” p. 10
3. See The Watchtower, February 15, 1998, p. 13
4.  See The Watchtower, February 1, 1998, p. 20

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