God created Adam and Eve as intelligent creatures and free moral agents. As their descendants, we too are free moral agents. What does that mean? It means that we can decide to do good or to do bad. In other words, God has given us the freedom to choose to obey him or to disobey. Along with such great freedom comes responsibility, accountability. Indeed, our moral decisions mean life or death for us. They also impact on those around us.
Because of our inherited imperfection, obedience does not come naturally. It is not always easy to obey God’s laws. Paul faced this struggle. He wrote: “I behold in my members another law warring against the law of my mind and leading me captive to sin’s law that is in my members.” (Rom. 7:23) Of course, when no sacrifice, pain, or inconvenience is involved, obedience is easier. But how do we respond when there is a conflict between our desire to be obedient and “the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes”? These negative forces arise from our imperfection as well as from the influence of “the spirit of the world” around us, and they are very powerful. (1 John 2:16; 1 Cor. 2:12)
To resist them, we must ‘prepare our heart’ before we are faced with a crisis or temptation and determine that we will obey Jehovah, come what may. (Ps. 78:8) We have many Biblical examples of those who were successful because they did prepare their heart.—Ezra 7:10; Dan. 1:8.
One way to prepare our heart is by diligently studying the Scriptures and Bible-based publications. Imagine yourself in the following situation. Suppose it is your evening for personal study. You have just prayed for Jehovah’s spirit to help you to apply what you learn from his Word. You have plans to watch a particular movie on TV the next evening. You have heard that it received favorable reviews; yet you also know that it contains some immorality and violence.
You ponder Paul’s counsel at Ephesians 5:3: “Let fornication and uncleanness of every sort or greediness not even be mentioned among you, just as it befits holy people.” You also recall Paul’s advice at Philippians 4:8. (Read.) As you weigh this inspired counsel, you ask yourself, ‘If I deliberately expose my heart and mind to such programs, am I following Jesus’ example of strict obedience to God?’ What will you do? Will you go ahead and watch that movie anyway?
It would be a mistake to lower our moral and spiritual standards, perhaps thinking that we are strong enough to resist the effects of bad association, including when that association might be in the form of violent, immoral entertainment. Instead, we must protect ourselves and our children from the corrupting influences of Satan’s spirit. Computer users take pains to prevent their equipment from becoming infected with malicious viruses that can destroy data, interfere with operation, and even take over the machine and use it in an attack on other computers. Should we be any less vigilant in protecting ourselves from Satan’s “crafty acts”?—Eph. 6:11, ftn.
Practically every day, in some way we have to choose if we will do things Jehovah’s way or not. In order to gain salvation, we must obey God and live by his righteous principles. By following Christ’s example of obedience even “as far as death,” we show that our faith is real. Jehovah will reward our faithful course. Jesus promised: “He that has endured to the end is the one that will be saved.” (Matt. 24:13) Clearly, this calls for developing true courage, such as Jesus displayed.—Ps. 31:24.