I was a member of the religious group known as Jehovah’s Witnesses for nearly 30 years. This is a group whose members believe that only they have God’s truth; all other religions are satanic counterfeits. They believe that they are the only truly spiritual people on earth, and that their organization is God’s sole channel of communication with mankind. Witnesses are taught that their organization alone speaks for God and must be obeyed in all things in order to please God.
Yet, in practice, they measure their level of spirituality in very mechanical ways. The person most favored in the organization is the one who spends the most time knocking on doors and offering literature. These numbers are known to the leadership, since every Witness is required to report on a monthly basis the amount of time spent preaching the Witness version of the “good news” to outsiders, along with the amounts of literature distributed. Attendance at all of the five hours of meetings required during each week is also taken as a barometer of “spirituality”.
Witnesses are encouraged to spend time in “personal Bible study,” but it almost never focuses directly on the Bible. Rather, a publication of the Watchtower Society is studied, using the Bible like a dictionary to look up proof texts. Indeed, some years back, when it became something of a fad among Witnesses to gather in private groups and study the Bible independently, the Watchtower Society outlawed these private studies, since they found that people who studied the Bible alone soon stopped believing in Witness teachings.
They are also encouraged to “cultivate the fruitage of the holy spirit” (“holy spirit” not being capitalized since they believe that the Holy Spirit is a force, not a person). They are expected to work hard in developing these character traits mentioned in the fifth chapter of Galatians, so as to merit God’s approval. The concept of the Holy Spirit living within them is completely lost upon them. Even the simple meaning of the word “fruitage” in this context seems to elude them. An apple tree does not strain itself to put forth apples. While Christians must fight against sinful inclinations, the fact is that, when we are saved, we undergo a fundamental change. The Holy Spirit comes to dwell within us, and we begin to manifest His fruitage as a result. It’s not a case of us having to work at “being good” so that God will accept us; it is Him working from within us to make us what He wants us to be (Philippians 2:12, 13).
I cite all these examples of how Jehovah’s Witnesses think - of how I used to think - to illustrate an outstanding example of the principle presented at 1 Corinthians 2:14. Clearly, the majority of Jehovah’s Witnesses (and especially their leadership) are “natural men,” who, while considering themselves to be very spiritual, nonetheless “do not accept the things of the Spirit of God,” and, “cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.” Though they believe that they are very spiritual, and even tend to mock those of other religions as being deceived, they do not comprehend the true meaning of spirituality as expressed through a personal relationship with God. They are like those who Paul said would appear in the “last days”: “having a form of godliness but denying its power.” (2 Timothy 3: 1,5) Ultimately, Jehovah’s Witnesses, though many of them may be sincere, are followers of men, not of God. They lack the personal relationship with God that comes with true Christian salvation.