4 Know the Element of Maliciousness in Our Nature
Meng’en Fuyang City, Anhui Province
In The man’s fellowship attached to Christ’s Talks with Church Leaders and Workers, it says: “For one to know the substance of his corruption, he has to dig out the poisonous root of his corruption and exert some effort to know it according to God’s word. In particular, he has to lay before God’s word all his malicious intents, arrogant ambitions, contemptible purposes, and extravagant desires, dissect them with the truth, and judge them according to God’s word.” From this we see that it is very crucial to truly know the various elements of corruption in our nature. Only if we truly know the element of maliciousness in our nature and dig out the poisonous root of our corruption, can we have a true knowledge of the substance of our corruption and then step onto the right track of belief in God to be saved.
Now, most of us can acknowledge, in the exposing of God’s words and by the exposing of the facts, that in our nature there are indeed such elements of corruption as arrogance and conceit, crookedness and craftiness, selfishness and baseness, perfunctoriness and deceitfulness, and so on. Moreover, we are more or less able to associate them with ourselves and check ourselves against them. However, many people only admit with their lips that the element of maliciousness exposed by God’s words exists in man’s nature, and say formulaically that all the words by which God exposes man are absolutely correct, but they fail to associate these words with themselves. Someone even does not admit there is the element of maliciousness in his nature. He thinks that since he has not done anything against reason and nature and has never been engaged in anything illegal and criminal, this element must exist in some people, yet he indeed does not have it. If we know ourselves this way, we have virtually denied the accuracy of God’s word, and it will bring a hindrance to our knowing the substance of our nature. Now, we’d better have a fellowship about the elements of corruption exposed by God’s words and take a look at the fact of their existence in us.
We cannot truly realize the various poisons of corruption in our nature or perceive our maliciousness and inhumanity mainly because we do not know ourselves by the root or the substance of our nature, but merely by our outward practices and expressions. Therefore, we only admit what we have expressed but deny what has not been obviously revealed. In consequence, we always cannot know the truth of our being corrupted and even live in our feelings and imaginations, believing that we have a heart of gold, more kind and sympathetic than anyone else. For example, to our thinking, we prove not bad people as long as we have not done things like stealing, robbing, picking, pilfering, or swindling and bluffing; we prove not ruthless or malicious people as long as we cannot do things like murder or arson; we prove very sympathetic people without the element of maliciousness in our nature as long as we can respect and care for people around us and give alms and help others; we sufficiently prove to have a good humanity as long as people around us have a fairly good opinion of us; we prove to have no element of maliciousness as long as we have never fixed others, made them suffer, or taken revenge on them in God’s family; we prove to be ones having a God-fearing heart and shunning evil as long as we have not done anything like disturbing, destructing, or counteracting others’ efforts in God’s family; and so on. For these reasons, we conclude ourselves as kindhearted people. However, it is because we measure and know ourselves only by these outward appearances or by feelings and imaginations that we can barely see clearly our true self and find it difficult to recognize the element of maliciousness in our nature.
I was formerly such a person who did not have the slightest knowledge of my malicious nature. I only admitted in my heart that I was a person of arrogance and conceit, crookedness and craftiness, and also admitted that there were the elements of perfunctoriness and deceitfulness, evil and greed in my nature. But I had never regarded myself as a person whose nature was malicious. On the contrary, I considered myself of a pretty good character and humanity. What’s more, I held the belief in my heart that my feelings were not irrational or unfounded. These were my reasons: I am a citizen observing disciplines and abiding laws in the world, and have never done anything illegal or criminal in my life. Though my moral character is not lofty, I respect the old and cherish the young, and all my relatives and neighbors think favorably of me. Furthermore, that God’s end-time salvation has come upon me today is a better proof of my good humanity. How could God have chosen me if I were malicious-hearted? Besides, I have been such an “obedient” person as to go wherever asked and do whatever required ever since I came to God’s family. Never have I taken revenge on anyone or fixed anyone, much less have I counteracted others’ efforts in God’s family, disturbed or disrupted the order of the church. Therefore, I had in my heart a firm belief that I was a “kindhearted” person, though I had already read the words by which God exposes man’s malicious nature from God’s word. For example: “Your lips are kinder than doves, but your heart is more sinister than the ancient serpent. Your lips are as pretty as the daughters of Lebanon, but your heart is not as kind as that of the daughters of Lebanon….” “You are even more sinister and diabolic in your hearts than the ghosts in the depths of the sea. …” Nevertheless, I felt distanced from those words as if they were not directed at me, and I could in no way associate them with myself. So I just cursorily read over words on this aspect like looking at flowers while riding a horse. It was after many times of exposing by God later that I gained a little knowledge of the elements of corruption in my nature. I saw the element of maliciousness in the depth of my soul, no longer regarded myself as a kind-hearted person, and realized that I was really a sinister and malicious person. When later I read the words by which God exposes man’s malicious nature, I no longer felt that I was distanced from them, but felt that God’s words were really penetrating and laid bare my true self.
My first time of being exposed, still very much alive, is stamped indelibly on my memory. At that time I just arrived at a new place and performed my duty there. When taking over the work, I heard several brothers and sisters casually fellowship that the former leader was quite good, and she was genial and could bear hardships. After hearing that, I felt somewhat uncomfortable in my heart but did not dissect that reaction. Later in a meeting with my leader, he also made favorable comments on that transferred sister. He said that the work here had been poor in every aspect but was improved quite a lot after she was in charge of the work for six months, and that it was because her family had come here and looked for her that she was transferred to another place in consideration of safety. At those words I made a silent vow that I will by all means do a good job and achieve better results than her. Directed by my nature of being emulative and self-seeking, I worked extremely hard afterwards. Some time later there was really some progress made in the gospel work. I thought to myself, “This time the brothers and sisters and my leader would not speak good words about the transferred sister any more. They should have noticed that I am more capable than her.” Unexpectedly, the leader mentioned that sister again at a meeting of co-workers, saying that she never complained of hardship or bitterness in the new place…. Hearing that, I flared up within, thinking, “Humph! What’s good of her? You are always full of praise of her. Why don’t you say I have done a better job than her since I came here? Biased you are!” An uprush of jealousy arose from within me, but I still did not know to dissect my nature and know myself, and always felt much aggrieved at it. It was so until one morning I heard that sister was arrested. Instead of worrying about her and hating the great red dragon, my first reaction at that point was actually a sort of undefined pleasure. It was as if there would be one less competitor, one less opponent for me. I thought to myself, “This time there won’t be any praise of her from the leader!” I was full of delight in her misfortune at that very moment. Yet with my lips, I said very nice words, saying that the great red dragon was really abominable. And I even made a pretense of being very sad and worried. But after that I could hardly calm down, feeling awfully rebuked inside. It was not until then that I constantly asked myself, “The sister has been arrested. Why don’t I hate the great red dragon and worry about how she may suffer its torture and affliction as I worried before when hearing other brothers and sisters were arrested? How come I have no such feelings today but on the contrary take delight in it? Am I not vicious and malicious-hearted?” At that moment, God’s words of judgment were also pricking my conscience: “Your lips are kinder than doves, but your heart is more sinister than the ancient serpent. Your lips are as pretty as the daughters of Lebanon, but your heart is not as kind as that of the daughters of Lebanon….” “You are even more sinister and diabolic in your hearts than the ghosts in the depths of the sea. …” God’s words like a sharp two-edged sword cut open my ugly soul and enabled me to see the element of maliciousness in my nature, and see that I was not at all a kind-hearted person with a good humanity, but was an unsympathetic person like a devil. Thinking of my cutting a shameless figure, gloating over her misfortune, I felt it both terrifying and detestable, and even unbelievable. But this is indeed my real self. Such malicious thing is completely directed by my nature and comes from my nature, and is thus beyond my control. After this exposing I became convinced of God’s words of judgment and exposing. I realized the maliciousness and sinisterness of my nature, and no longer crowned myself with “excellence in virtue,” “righteousness and kindness,” and so on.
Similarly, most of us seem to have not done very evil things at usual times. Nevertheless, there is also the element of maliciousness hidden in our nature, and this is all what satan has deeply planted in us. It is only that we are corrupt to the extreme, too sinister and crafty, and are all good at hiding, concealing, and disguising ourselves; thereby it is not easily discovered. What’s more, we who have been corrupted by satan are all numb and obtuse and cannot easily accept the truth. Therefore, without the many times of exposing, a host of facts, and hard evidence, we will not acknowledge our maliciousness. In fact, so long as we are ones corrupted by satan, there must be malicious nature in us; so long as we have not really gained purification or the transformation of our nature, our malicious nature will break out and expose itself in suitable backgrounds or situations. Particularly when what God does is not in conformity with our notions or touches the interests of our flesh, our malicious nature will surface and be thoroughly exposed. For example, when we see that what God incarnated this time has brought us are all the truth, the judgment and chastisement, and the merciless smiting and curses, rather than the sufficient grace and blessings bestowed upon our flesh, we not only do not treasure the truth that God has bestowed to us, nor be grateful for his salvation, but on the contrary, we detest the truth and drive away the truth, are full of resentment and hostility toward God, and only wish that God would leave the earth at once. We do not perform our duties by principles and God’s requirements and thus bring losses and disturbance to the work of God’s family. In spite of that, God does not remember our transgressions and still gives us opportunities to repent and make a fresh start. Instead of knowing to be grateful to God and seek ways to return his grace, we complain that God does not keep us and always let us make a fool of ourselves and be criticized. We then are unwilling to perform our duties or we perform them perfunctorily. Although we believe in God and follow him, we do not obey his arrangements in the position of a created being, but criticize him, restrict him, control him, and force him to work and speak according to our will. Otherwise, we are full of complaints and pour out our “grievances” everywhere to let others sympathize with us, stand on our side and resist God together. In this way we are to fulfill our purpose of making God yield so that we can continue treating him like a servant and manipulating and ordering him as we wish. And so on. Thus evidently, we have resisted God to the utmost and our nature has been malicious to the extreme. In all aspects we make use of him, cheat him, restrict him, confine him, and allow no freedom for him. Once a thing done by God is a bit against our liking, we will complain against him, pass judgment on him, and even deny him, blaspheme him and revile him.
We also frequently express our malicious nature when getting along with others. And it is very obviously expressed especially when others’ words or deeds touch our interests, or they do not listen to or obey us. For example, when seeing that the results of others’ work have surpassed ours or seeing that others are quicker in learning to sing hymns or understanding God’s words than us, we feel jealous of them, hate our worthlessness, and even speak words or do things to demotivate them. When we know that those who are prejudiced against us, more capable than us, or long since unpleasant to our eyes, become passive or get weak and draw back after receiving discipline or undergoing great trials and pains, we not only do not sympathize with them, but instead are pleased about it. If everything runs smoothly with them, we even wish in our heart that they would be exposed or suffer some adversities. When we cooperate with others to perform duties, if we see that they are quite active in pursuing the truth or they get up earlier and sleep later than us, we feel oppressed and even look for excuses to frustrate and disturb them. When we see that others are better able than us or have certain strong points, we do not learn from or imitate them with pleasure, but feel a sort of unspeakable pain. In addition, among brothers and sisters, we confuse black and white, gossip and alienate one person from another, and provoke dispute and discord. Directly or indirectly, we spread some notions causing others to misunderstand God and complain against God. We speak such deceiving words as, “For ordinary believers like us, also poor in quality, it is impossible to be made perfect.”, “Without the transformation of our disposition, even if we run our legs off and break our neck in performing our duties, God will not commend us. We these people are nothing but service-doers.”, and so on. In treating the host families, if their hosting is not good due to their temporary weakness, we will want to leave and even want to put them aside and ignore them, not paying them a visit or watering them within a period of time. As to people around us, if we find that any of them is not to our liking or does not listen to us, we will intend to take measures to fix them. As to brothers and sisters below us, if we see that someone is not active in the pursuit, we will be inclined to purge him from the church. All these reactions and manifestations and the like are directed and driven by our malicious nature and all come from our nature, and they are not occasional or temporary expressions. Furthermore, these manifestations exist in each of us in varying degrees. It suffices to prove that we are so deeply corrupted by satan as to have completely become the embodiment of satan and have no difference from satan at all. Satan’s various poisons have long since taken deep root in the depth of everyone’s soul. As the devils follow “Those who obey me will prosper and those do not shall perish”, so do the mankind corrupted by it. We intend to fix anyone disagreeable in our eyes. If we do not fix him, it is because we are not so competent as to outmatch him, or because we are afraid of suffering God’s punishment for our evil deeds and therefore somewhat restrain our behaviors. But it cannot prove that we do not have that inclination or the malicious intent and spiteful desire in us, because there is the element of maliciousness in every one’s nature. That is also to say, satan has already instilled into people its poisons like callousness and sinisterness, ruthlessness and mercilessness, baseness and maliciousness, and so on. As a result, the nature of all corrupt mankind is filled with evil. They have completely lost the humanity and conscience of those whom God created in the beginning, and become the inheritors and expressers of all evil and ugliness. Even though they have not done any evil things, or they put such a nice and kind front and seem to have such a great and noble human dignity, their substance has been corrupted and processed by satan and completely possesses satan’s nature. Naturally, it is malicious and ugly. Therefore, by no mean can it express anything good. As God’s word says: “God is the origin of all justice and beauty and good, and man is the inheritor and expresser of all ugliness and evil….” From this we can see that whether we are good or evil is absolutely determined by our substance, and is not concluded by our personal feelings or laws and regulations in the world, nor judged by opinions from people around us or by some of the outside right and wrong, ethics, and moral standards, but it should be evaluated according to the exposing of God’s word, that is, according to true facts and the substance of our nature. Only such a way of knowing ourselves is objective and realistic.
In fact, God’s word has long since clearly exposed the element of maliciousness in our nature and our malicious manifestations. God says: “Maybe you have never sworn at anyone or done a bad thing over the many years of your believing in God, but when you contact Christ, you cannot speak honest words, do honest things, or obey the words of Christ’s mouth. Then I say that you are the most sinister and diabolic man in the world. You are very friendly and very faithful to your relatives and friends, your wife (husband) and children, and your parents, and you never take advantage of anyone, but you cannot be compatible with Christ or live in harmony with Christ. Then even if you give your all as alms to your neighbors or you take meticulous care of your parents and family, I say that you are still a wicked man, a wicked man who is full of wiles.” These words of God explicitly tell us that whoever cannot obey words from Christ’s mouth, and cannot be an honest person in God’s eyes or be in harmony with Christ, is an evil person, the most sinister and diabolic person. This fact cannot be altered despite how good his outward behavior or how high others’ opinions of him. What God’s words have exposed are things in the substance of our nature and are entirely true facts. Moreover, they have precisely pointed out our imaginations, notions and erroneous viewpoints—so long as we can live harmoniously with people around us or win praises from them, it shows that we are good people. In reality, those who cannot be in harmony with God nor treat him according to their conscience, however good their outward practices, are all malicious-hearted people, and cannot be called good people at all. If not so, why can we only get on well with people but not with the kind and lovely God? Why are we so considerate and attentive to our own relatives and friends, but cannot sincerely expend a bit for the God who has bestowed us everything? Why do we only care for preserving our own interests but ignore the interests of God’s family? There is one sole explanation—our heart is too sinister and malicious. If we can know the substance of our nature in God’s word, we will realize the element of maliciousness in our nature and acknowledge that we are sinister and diabolic. In the past, when we ate and drank God’s word, we always could not receive it from the standpoint of the truth. We used to think that God was speaking to the public and to the world, and even took God’s words for bureaucratic remarks. Seldom did we believe that God was exposing the substance of everyone’s nature. Therefore, we always placed ourselves outside them, so that we did not know the element of maliciousness in our nature for a long time. We lived in our imaginations, cheating and blinding ourselves. Even when we were in imminent danger, we still indulged in self-appreciation and self-boasting. Therefore, to know the substance of our nature, it is of great importance to drop our imaginations and notions, know ourselves in God’s word and make judgment according to God’s word. Away from it, we cannot possibly know the elements of corruption in our nature.
In conclusion, whoever corrupted by satan inevitably has the element of maliciousness in his nature. Only the degree of it, as well as the way of its manifestation and expression, varies from one another. Yet it is undeniable that each possesses such an element. Thus we can also see the great importance of knowing the root of our corruption, the substance of our nature and all kinds of satanic poisons and elements of corruption in us according to God’s word. It is because anything God has exposed, in whatever aspects, is that which exists in our nature. If we are truly the ones who pursue the truth and transformation, we should accept them, associate them with ourselves, and strictly examine and dissect ourselves. We also need to pray more and ask God to expose and inspire us. Only in this way can we soon truly know our corrupt substance and enter the right track of belief in God to be saved.