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SPOKANE, Wash. (RNS) Churches in Washington state are being reminded that collecting money for a political cause is not OK -- including a high-stakes ballot battle over gay marriage. By Tracy Simmons.

 

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  1. Maintaining Virtue in a Vice-Filled World ***

    The Vice-Filled Roman World

    First-century Christians faced the challenge of maintaining virtue because vice permeated every aspect of Roman society. The Roman philosopher Seneca said of his contemporaries: “Men struggle in a mighty rivalry of wickedness. Every day the desire for wrong-doing is greater, the dread of it less.” He compared Roman society to “a community of wild beasts.” It is no surprise, then, that for entertainment the Romans sought out sadistic gladiatorial contests and lewd theatrical performances.

    The apostle Paul may have had in mind the decadent behavior of people in the first century when he wrote: “God gave them up to disgraceful sexual appetites, for both their females changed the natural use of themselves into one contrary to nature; and likewise even the males left the natural use of the female and became violently inflamed in their lust toward one another, males with males, working what is obscene and receiving in themselves the full recompense, which was due for their error.” (Romans 1:26, 27)
    Bent on the pursuit of unclean fleshly desires, Roman society became inundated with vice.
    History does not make clear how prevalent homosexuality was among the Romans. No doubt, though, they were influenced by their Greek predecessors, among whom it was widely practiced. It was customary for older men to corrupt young boys, taking them under their wing in a student-teacher relationship that often steered the youngsters into deviant sexual behavior. Undoubtedly, Satan and his demons were behind such vice and mistreatment of children.—Joel 3:3; Jude 6, 7.

    Writing under divine inspiration, Paul told Christians in Corinth: “What! Do you not know that unrighteous persons will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be misled. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men kept for unnatural purposes, nor men who lie with men, nor thieves, nor greedy persons, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit God’s kingdom. And yet that is what some of you were. But you have been washed clean, but you have been sanctified, but you have been declared righteous in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and with the spirit of our God.”—1 Corinthians 6:9-11.

  2. The End of False Religion Is Near!

    Are you distressed about crimes committed in the name of religion? Do the warfare, terrorism, and corruption perpetrated by those who claim to serve God offend your sense of justice? Why does religion seem to be at the root of so many problems?

    The fault lies, not with all religion, but with false religion. Jesus Christ, indicated that false religion produces bad works, just as a “rotten tree produces worthless fruit.” (Matthew 7:15-17) What fruit does false religion yield? False Religion . . .

    ? MEDDLES IN WAR AND POLITICS: “Across Asia and beyond,” says the journal Asiaweek, “power-hungry leaders are cynically manipulating people’s religious sentiments for their own needs.” As a result, the journal warns: “The world threatens to sink into madness.” A prominent religious leader in the United States declared: “You’ve got to kill the terrorists before the killing stops.” His solution? “Blow them all away in the name of the Lord.” By contrast, the Bible says: “If anyone makes the statement: ‘I love God,’ and yet is hating his brother, he is a liar.” (1 John 4:20) Jesus even said: “Continue to love your enemies.” (Matthew 5:44) How many religions can you think of whose members engage in war?

    ? SPREADS FALSE DOCTRINE: Most religions teach that the soul or spirit is some invisible part of a human that survives the death of the physical body. By means of this teaching, many of these religions exploit their members, charging money to pray for departed souls. However, the Bible teaches a different doctrine. “The soul that is sinning—it itself will die.” (Ezekiel 18:4) “The living are conscious that they will die; but as for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all.” (Ecclesiastes 9:5) Jesus taught that the dead will be resurrected—an unnecessary action if humans had an immortal soul. (John 11:11-25) Does your religion teach that the soul does not die?

    ? TOLERATES IMMORAL SEX: In Western lands, church groups ordain gay and lesbian members of the clergy and urge governments to recognize same-sex marriages. Even churches that condemn immorality have tolerated religious leaders who have sexually abused children. What, though, does the Bible teach? It plainly states: “Do not be misled. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men kept for unnatural purposes, nor men who lie with men . . . will inherit God’s kingdom.” (1 Corinthians 6:9, 10) Do you know of religions that condone immoral sex?

    What does the future hold for religions that produce rotten fruit? Jesus warned: “Every tree not producing fine fruit gets cut down and thrown into the fire.” (Matthew 7:19) Yes, false religion will be chopped down and destroyed! But how and when will this happen? A prophetic vision recorded in the Bible book of Revelation, chapters 17 and 18, provides the answer.

    How Will False Religion End?

    Picture the scene. A harlot is sitting on the back of a fearsome beast. The beast has seven heads and ten horns. (Revelation 17:1-4) Whom does the harlot represent? She exerts influence “over the kings of the earth.” She dresses in purple, uses incense, and is exceedingly wealthy. In addition, by means of her spiritistic practice, ‘all the nations are misled.’ (Revelation 17:18; 18:12, 13, 23) The Bible helps us to see that this harlot is a worldwide religious entity. She depicts, not any one religion, but all religions that produce rotten fruit.

    The beast that the harlot rides pictures the world’s political powers. (Revelation 17:10-13) False religion straddles the back of this political beast, attempting to influence its decisions and to control its direction.

    Soon, though, an amazing event will take place. “The ten horns that you saw, and the wild beast, these will hate the harlot and will make her devastated and naked, and will eat up her fleshy parts and will completely burn her with fire.” (Revelation 17:16) In a sudden, shocking move, the world’s political powers will turn on false religion and completely destroy her! What will prompt this action? The Bible book of Revelation answers: “God put it into their hearts to carry out his thought.” (Revelation 17:17) Yes, God will call false religion to account for all the despicable acts she has committed in his name. In a stroke of perfect justice, he will use her political paramours as his instrument of execution.

    “Get out of her, my people,” urges God’s messenger. (Revelation 18:4) Now is the time to GET OUT from false religion! But to where can you GO? (2 Thessalonians 1:6-9) The only haven is within true religion. How can you identify true religion?

    How to Identify True Religion

    Please go to JW.ORG. They all are over the world preaching and helping all honest hearted people that want to know and Free to everyone and all materials.

    What good fruit should true religion produce?—Matthew 7:17.