A person’s belief in God is not man-made. Some say, “I like to believe in God. I am kind-hearted and honest by nature, often bullied by others, and I am a conscientious follower of rules. I am naturally believer material.” Is that correct? (No.) How is it incorrect? (It is determined by God.) Some say, “I am a natural born singer; I have a good voice.” Is that correct? (No.) How is it incorrect? (It is given of God.) Yes, regardless of what a person can do, what duty he performs, what talents he has, and whether or not he is chosen by God—these things are all ordained of God. Is this not so? (It is.) So, today you are all performing your duty together; do you say this is a coincidence? Is it arranged by man? (No.) Why is this so, then? (It is ordained and arranged by God.) Some would say, “If it is planned by God, why have I not noticed God doing anything toward it? And how have I also not seen God say any particular thing or personally lead us here? Nor do I have any spiritual feeling; I have not the slightest portion or shred of feeling. I have never had the feeling that God led me here or brought me to this place.” Is it necessary for there to be a perception of this? (It is not.) If not, then how do you know this is brought about by God? (Everything along the way is ordained and planned by God; the Holy Spirit does His work of guiding people very naturally.) The life of man is entirely in God’s hands. Where a person can go and where he cannot go, what duty he may perform, where he lives every day, where he will live during what years, what else he will go do and for how many years, and at what points he will change life direction—all these things have been appointed by God in advance. Even before your birth, God planned out for you who would be your forebears and what would be your prior lives. He appointed the year of your birth in this life and what family you would be born into, who your parents would be, on what day you would accept this stage of work and come into God’s presence. He appointed when you would start to perform your duty, what talents you would possess, how tall you would be, how you would look, what kind of voice you would have, what dances you could dance, and what duty you would be able to perform someday—all this was determined long ago. Some say, “Is not what You’re saying a little blind and a little vague?” Is it vague? (No.) How can you tell it is not vague? Some say, “To not be vague there must be a feeling, an intense spiritual reaction, a moving feeling, and an intense, clear knowledge; only such can be said not to be vague.” Is that correct? Some say, “If it is done by God, then we should be able to very clearly and very plainly feel it and see it. Even if we can’t see our previous or future lives, we should see at least that everything in this life comes from God.” Is it necessary that these things be seen? It is not necessary that these be seen. As a person who thinks normally, who is of normal humanity, reason, and conscience, when you have lived into adulthood and after you have passed through and experienced these things, think back on each stage of your life. You can sit down and quietly think back, and try to see which step of your life over these years has resulted from your own planning.
Perhaps someone will say, “I’m not convinced. Many things came of my own planning and came about according to my own plans.” You are not convinced. You pick this battle and take this gamble. Then, starting today—it doesn’t have to be for too long—list out your plans for the next two years: Today I plan to do this, tomorrow I plan to do that—this month I plan to accomplish this thing and reach this goal, and next month I will do some other thing and accomplish some goal. If I don’t achieve this goal then I’ll not eat, not sleep, or some-such. List out your two-year plan item by item. After you have listed it out, act in accordance with your own goals and plan, to the minute, and see which items you have brought about after two years, how many goals you have reached and achieved, turning your hopes into reality. Some people will split hairs and like to argue, “Since You say that everything is planned by God, I’ll try it and look at how many things were planned by God and how many came out of my plans.” So, pick this battle, then. Write out a chart of your plans for the next two years. Live according to this plan every day, and see how many of your desires can be accomplished and how many things go beyond your expectations. See how many things you fundamentally cannot anticipate and which come out better than you think they would. See how many things turn out worse than you think they would. Make a record of all these. There’s no need to plan too far out. People generally don’t have the brains or the skills to plan out twenty years or the ability to plan out such a distance. There’s no way to make such a plan because people do not have supernatural capability, after all, do they? The happenings of two years should be sufficient for you to notice. List everything out, for example, your health status, hair status, height, weight, skills, and, as a believer, how much of God’s word you read, how many songs you memorize, and your degree of life progress. When the two years is up, these facts will all appear with a quick scan of your record. Everybody imagine the final result; what will it be like? (It’s something that a person cannot imagine or anticipate.) How many of the things will not be able to be imagined or anticipated? Which things could you not imagine or anticipate? Which things could you anticipate? (None of those things can be anticipated.) It’s a little irresponsible to speak this way, because nothing has happened, yet, within the period from now to two years hence, has it? In the past you were muddleheaded and confused and moved forward through time like that. Maybe some of you thought in your hearts, “Yes, well, most things were arranged by God, but that is not so clear of the specific things; I have not clearly seen God’s hand in directing those.” Well, carefully consider what will happen from now through the next two years, and make a careful plan. Then, take a look and see which things were actually planned by God; see God’s hand and His dominion through these things. It seems a little premature to say these things now, doesn’t it? Is it early?
Actually, whether or not you make a plan or have made a plan, whether or not you are earnest in these things, if you as a believer truly seek to know God, seek truth, and seek to understand truth, then you need not wait two years; much happens within two months, and you will feel to varying degrees within your spirits that God is directing man’s destiny and that God has dominion over and is arranging your everyday life. For example, you plan that, however this month turned out, starting next month, you will regularly get up at a certain time in the morning and go to bed at a certain time at night, spend so much time on spiritual devotions, and do such and such when not performing your duty. You start out planning like this, but two months later something that you had never imagined happens suddenly, and all your plans for after the second month have been wrecked. Then, you do not give up but continue to plan. You plan the next two months, but at that time some more unexpected things happen. You keep planning in this way, “Ugh, I can’t plan anymore because plans cannot keep up with changes, and everything of man’s is in God’s hands; people need not use their poor planning for anything.” You can plan to have structure for every day of your life, plan what you need to do and that you will perform your duty well, that you will live every moment in God’s presence, that you will reflect on everything you do each day, everything that fell through, and everything you understood. However, it is impossible for man to plan what he will do tomorrow, or the day after, or in the future. You can only have one hope: that you can submit to each day’s environment that God prepares and each day of life He gives you, letting Him lead you, that you can most happily and peacefully live in His presence, allow Him to lead you, and are able to submit to His sovereignty. If you have this kind of attitude, you will then come to see without conscious effort that all this is under God’s command.
Some say that man’s fate is ordered in God’s hands, that man’s entire life is ordained in God’s hands. Saying so is a little overarching, a little empty, isn’t it? However, if you can genuinely and clearly perceive that God is leading every day of your life, every period, every stage, that He rules over your everyday life, then isn’t it easy to say, “God rules man’s destiny”? When one sees and truly perceives that every step and stride he takes in this life and every day of his life are all held in God’s hands and do not follow from his own plans or arrangements, then would he still think it’s difficult to feel that his life and lifetime are all held in God’s hands? (It’s not difficult.) Yes, it’s not difficult. Experiencing God’s dominion and orchestration and planning is a subtle thing, and it may not be clear in some things when one has shallow short-term experience. However, as one experiences more and learns more from experience, it becomes clear. According to the nonbelievers’ saying, at what age does one “acknowledge the will of Heaven”? (At fifty one acknowledges the will of Heaven.) Yes. That is to say that when one lives into his twenties, he has only just come in contact with the world and begun to experience. By his forties, he starts to have some realization and does not struggle so much against fate, and by fifty he acknowledges the will of Heaven. What does it mean to acknowledge the will of Heaven? After living through life and looking back, one says: “For over thirty years I sought my fortune in the world and struggled so much, and it’s not been easy! Starting a household and establishing a career, working, reaching for professional goals, raising children—it’s not easy! There has not been a step along the way that happened according to my plans and calculations.” He has thus acknowledged the will of Heaven, understood, and no longer struggles against it. “At fifty, one acknowledges the will of Heaven” refers to the age at which one stops fighting against fate, doesn’t it? Those at the age of striving do not understand. They are foolish, always struggling against destiny. They fail to see clearly that their lifetime is all controlled in the hands of God. They always want to struggle against fate, feeling like they are capable, that they have some unique skill, some sort of capital, and that they can attain such and such an office, earn so much money, have some position, or achieve some level of fame and fortune. They always have goals and do not quit. They always want to fight another round, take another chance, give another try. Finally, when they reach age fifty, they are unable to continue struggling, and they are tired from it. They’ve seen through these things, and after seeing through these they no longer struggle. Is it not so? God has dominion over the fate of humankind, and His method of rule is the same for both believers and nonbelievers. When people believe in God and truly come into His presence and understand truth from His word, then they gradually see these things clearly: the nature of life, how God exercises dominion over humanity, the nature of man’s life, and what a person should live for and how. They are clear about these things and no longer muddled. What do those nonbelievers who do not believe in God know, at most? “Don’t fight it anymore; let nature take its course! As for posterity, ‘children and grandchildren have their own lives to live,’ so I won’t worry. They can struggle for themselves, and once they have struggled up to age fifty and acknowledge the will of Heaven, then they will stop. Oh, people: Generation after generation goes like this. They all have to struggle against fate, struggling for some years and then stopping. They live to an old age and then can no longer keep struggling, and they acknowledge the will of Heaven. They then are more well-behaved, no longer so unbridled or aggressive, and they are much more stable.” A nonbeliever at most can see up to here. Can he understand truth? (No.) Does “acknowledging the will of Heaven at fifty” represent an understanding of truth? (It does not.) People believe that “man’s life is fated by Heaven”; does that represent submission to Heaven’s will? (No.) This is useless! If you do not come into God’s presence and understand truth, then knowing these things is useless. After learning these things someone only ceases struggling, he would have ceased anyway because he would have been unable to keep struggling. In that case one ceases to struggle and fight but still does not understand truth.
If people are to understand truth, then they must come into God’s presence, accept God’s salvation, and accept God’s word—the supply of words, truth, and life from God. Only then can they understand all these mysteries. Otherwise, even if they live to fifty or sixty, seventy or eighty, as they struggle less against fate as their age increases, their desire for knowledge will also increase, “What is human life actually about? Why must humans live? Is it simply a matter of coming to the earth and living a life? Is that it? Is it over after that? That can’t be!” They thus feel some unwillingness. You see that when nonbelievers die they go unwillingly, worrying about this and that, and they leave with regret, having obtained nothing; if they are reincarnated in another lifetime they will still be this way. Is this not pathetic? (It is.) Generation after generation is like this, coming and going so pathetically, going and coming, generation after generation. The living send off the dying, and then the living are seen off by the newly born—generation succeeding generation in this way. Thus bewildered and filled with regret they enter the tomb, and if they come back, they will still understand nothing if they do not come into God’s presence. You are different. Your opportunity is great; you have come into the last days and accepted the supply of life from God. You are blessed to obtain salvation. God has revealed all these mysteries in the last days: The purpose of God’s three-stage work to save and manage humankind and every other aspect of vision has been revealed to humankind. Those who are able to hear God’s voice have heard God’s voice and received these words and have understood many mysteries and truth from these words. Do you think understanding these truths has value in comparison with understanding something of the stars and the universe, something of astronomy and geography, the I Ching and eight trigrams, or engaging in scientific research? (It is very valuable!) When the people who understand those things eventually reach the time of death, do they not have regret? Does such a one not feel more regret the closer he is to death? (He does.) How do such regrets manifest themselves? What is it that he regrets? What does he have to regret after learning so much? He knows how large the earth is, how many steps it takes to walk from east to west, where the earth’s poles are, where the earth’s axis is, whether the earth’s core is empty, and the amount of water, mountains, trees, and land over the earth, doesn’t he? He knows all the varieties of trees, all the varieties of living things, and during what seasons they grow, and he is clear about where they grow and how they are distributed. He knows how many stars come out at each night and what time they appear. He knows when the moon is full and when it’s new. So, how can he still feel regret at the time of death? (The more he knows, the less he understands the reasons for it and who it is that rules over all. He does not know God.) Yes, the more clearly he knows of these things, then the more he feels the mystery of them, and the more he researches these things, the more he feels that these things are beyond comprehension. You see that artificial flowers never wither, but biological plants are always metabolizing. When weather is warm they bloom, and when it is cold they lose their leaves. They have a natural law. Whatever mankind creates, he cannot recreate this kind of natural law, can he? You see that no matter what kind of muscle mankind uses to create a heart, it is insufficient to maintain the life of a person into whom it is placed; a person can live as long as the heart within him is beating and he continues breathing. Man cannot figure out why a person can live, speak, move about, and engage in all common activities when he is breathing and his heart beats. How can this be? From the outside, he can see the human body, he can see the material cells, molecules, blood, and veins and arteries and has obtained a clear idea of it. However, he cannot ponder out why people can live, speak, do things, and think while they are breathing. He cannot understand this. It seems more mysterious to him the less he is able to understand it, and when he dies he regrets that he has not understood it. The eye of the flesh cannot see into these true mysteries, and the discoveries of research in the material world cannot replace them. Answers can only be found from God. So, the more people study the molecular science of the material world, those ions, the I Ching and eight trigrams, scientific research, chemistry, medicine—the more people study those the emptier they feel, and the more they study them the more they think: Incomprehensible! It is just too unbelievable. It is simply inconceivable. The more they research the more they fail to find answers, and in the end they get to the point where they have confused themselves. They leave with regret at the time of their deaths. Why is this? Look for an answer.
No matter how much one understands of the knowledge, theories, and scholarship of the material world, these cannot substitute for an understanding of truth. Only when one understands truth, the words of God, and the fact and reality of God’s dominion over all things, will he understand everything and have no regret. Even if he is to die today he will feel he lives in the presence of the Lord of creation and that his death is in God’s hands. He will feel that his passing is ordained of God, and he will be comforted in his heart and free of regret and fear; for whether he lives or dies is entirely in God’s hands, and there is nothing to fear and nothing to regret. Those who come to understand this or that knowledge or study this science or that mystery do not understand truth; such a one thinks that understanding and researching those other things is worthwhile, but it results in his thinking becoming more muddled the more he understands those things. It is these who believe in God who are smart. They come to God’s presence to accept God’s work, and unconsciously they come to understand the purpose of God’s management of humanity and the mystery of His management and salvation of humanity. They come to understand God’s will and know His dominion. They live with peaceful hearts and abundance, and they are filled with the confidence of living in the right. Do you now feel like you are living with the confidence of righteousness? (Yes.) Is it a real confidence or pretended? You don’t really dare to say, do you? God allows you to live, and if you can live for God and live to perform the duties of a created being, then you are living confidently in righteousness. If you live the life of a walking corpse, without spirit and only struggling for breath, neither accepting nor understanding truth, only living for the flesh, then you do not live in a way that is confident and righteous because your living has no value. So, do you really feel that confidence and justification in how you live? (Yes!) Where does this feeling come from? You can’t quite say, can you? You should see it like this: In this vast world with so many people, God has predestined and chosen you from among all of humanity; you were born in this era, in the country of the great red dragon, and He allows you to be able to perform the duty you are performing now. You have been favored by God and have been chosen by Him. Is this not a blessing? This is a blessing—God favors you and allows you to spend for God and perform your duty in God’s family. Some say, “I can’t say that I perform my duty; I dare not speak so highly of my actions. Rather, how about saying that I am doing some service for God, that I am meeting a created being’s obligations toward God, expending a little energy, contributing some of my energy for God?” Now your lives and your every day can be lived to testify of God and spread this gospel of God’s work; now, is this not living confidently in righteousness? (It is.) It is approved by God. To use common speech, God permits you to live this way and gives you this opportunity. This opportunity is given to you by God, is it not? (It is.) Is not God’s giving you this opportunity and allowing you to live in this way, to spend for Him, something that gives righteous confidence? (It is.) So, if someone asks you again later, “Do you feel that you are now living with the confidence of righteousness?” How will you answer? (We do.) They say, “How are you so sure of the rightness of your life? Are you not getting a little carried away in your excitement?” How would you respond? (I feel extremely proud.) Yes, you should. You should treasure this opportunity and feel pride, and honor. To be of this age, to have this sort of opportunity, and also to be able to perform this duty and to do so in this environment and under these conditions—this is a rare opportunity! God carefully selects from among humanity, and He has chosen you. This is your opportunity; what is it? (A blessing.) This is the greatest blessing. This current blessing of ours should be even greater than the blessings of the saints throughout the ages and generations!
The blessing you enjoy is great! Even though, without your knowing it, sometimes you suffer a little, endure some dealing and pruning, are judged and chastised, or your flesh suffers—even though sometimes you get knocked around or are weak and negative and stumble about—as of today, don’t you feel more and more blessed the more you think about it? Is this blessing received through your effort? (No.) Where does it come from? (It is bestowed by God.) It is bestowed freely by God. In the past there was a saying, and church people always loved to say it as soon as they felt blessed: “God is gracious to whom He will be gracious!” And what’s the implication? It is, “God has been gracious to me; how about that? Don’t you envy that? Aren’t you jealous? This is a blessing of God, from God.” Isn’t it the confidence of righteousness? Don’t get carried away in your excitement, but you should know to thank God because all this comes from God, and people have nothing to boast of themselves, right? (Right.) Actually, to God the living being called man is basically like a wooden doll, and they are all unconsciously in God’s hands and subject to His orchestration and planning. Whether or not you intend it, you are entirely under God’s orchestration, dominion, and planning. It’s just that people are sometimes rebellious and have corrupt dispositions; people always have selfish desires and desire to do this or that and plan like this or calculate like that. They do not know to submit to God’s dominion and planning and do not know how to seek truth, and they often cannot act in line with God’s will. They often reveal their corrupt dispositions. Sometimes they strive for positions. Sometimes they will become negative and weak because of something said. Sometimes their performance of duty is affected by a loss of face. Sometimes they feel a lack of face because someone else was esteemed or given important work, and they feel some resentment. They are often controlled by these trivial matters, becoming weak and negative and affected by them. Is this not a common occurrence? (It is.) If you can recognize these things by experience, that proves that you have the means to enter into life and have really made an entry. If you do not have any experience of these things and feel like you are always firm, when others say, “How is it you are not weak?” you would say, “What weakness? What negativity? Love God, why don’t you! Have faith in God, why don’t you! Look at the time we are in, with God’s word spoken to this extent, and you’re still weak?” What is this kind of talk? Without any experience a person is prone to say empty words and prone to shouting slogans. Is that not so? If people with a little experience weaken and become negative, are a little sad after being dealt with, or give up their own idea of something after being dealt with and pruned, then, after experiencing some things and understanding clearly that God is in command, they will say, “I must submit to God. People cannot stiffen their necks. People must satisfy God and cannot rebel against Him and hurt His feelings.” To have the ordinary thought of a person and the growth process of normal humanity is entering into life, isn’t it? If someone has none of these, if he is never weak, if he is forever unyielding, then he certainly is the type who usually shouts slogans and has not entered into life.
Can a person with a corrupt disposition possibly not be weak? (No.) Is it possible that somebody with a corrupt disposition never once quibbles over some trivial matter? (It’s not possible.) Well, is it possible that he never reveals any arrogance or self-righteousness? (It’s not possible.) These things are nothing to be afraid of. In God’s eyes, a corrupt disposition is actually easy to resolve. It’s just that people are immature in life. Sometimes they cannot endure setbacks, as soon as they face a setback, they feel like, “It’s over! It’s over for me, this time. Today I let out my arrogance again. I swore long ago that I wouldn’t let out arrogance or hurt God’s feelings. How is it that it came out again? It’s over. I’m irredeemable. I can’t live up to any of my promises; what must God think of this? I’m always hurting God’s feelings, always disobeying God. I am not redeemable!” What kind of behavior is this? This is a matter of one’s stature being too small. It’s just like a child who always wants to get a hundred percent, but one time he fails to get a hundred and cries and fusses and refuses to go to school and doesn’t want to keep on living. How does an adult resolve such a situation? (Soothing him.) Yes, they need to sooth him. How do they sooth him? “It’s all right. You didn’t get one hundred this time, but you will next time. Even though you didn’t get a hundred this time, you were still number one in the class!” In this situation you need to sooth. If soothing doesn’t work, then what do you do? If it doesn’t work then give him a beating: “Why are you carrying on so? Acting like this after only not getting one hundred…. If you’d worked your hardest, wouldn’t you have gotten a hundred? Wouldn’t you have gotten a hundred if you’d played less?” He himself will think about it, “Yeah, I did play quite a bit, and I still wanted to get a hundred; it’s my fault! So, I’ll play less in the future!” And the challenge is passed, isn’t it? There must be every sort of means, and every sort of means must be used. When believers are obtaining salvation, there are often times when they stumble. If you have really entered into life, if you can differentiate well between these situations and grasp them, and you can know what circumstances are normal for a person to be in and under what circumstances a person should accept pruning or dealing, or seek help through fellowship with others, then you have grown up. If you slip into negativity too often, if, after something disappointing happens, you say, “It’s over; once again I have not shown consideration for God’s will, and why am I always like this?”—if you are always producing this sort of negativity and despondency, then that proves that your stature is too small. Not being able to live independently or adjust your own situation is a matter of too-small stature. How is your stature now? Is it a little greater, or is it still very small? (It’s still very small.) How small? When you fail once you are sad and hate yourself, saying, “It’s over; it’s over!” And you condemn and mischaracterize yourself, “It’s over. This arrogance is incurable and irredeemable. Being arrogant once or twice is already disgraceful enough; how is it that I always let out arrogance? It’s over; I’m irredeemable!” You write yourself off. Is this acceptable? (No.) Using this sort of method to manage one’s entry into life is inappropriate. You must think of ways to resolve the problem at the same time you correctly respond to it. This is a positive and progressive attitude. It is the most positive attitude and most effective attitude. You must resolve problems. Do not sink into them. You will never be able to resolve problems if you sink into them. You must come out of them and use a different method to resolve them. Repression is also not acceptable. Sometimes one must dissect. Sometimes one must accept judgment and chastisement. Sometimes one must accept pruning and dealing. Sometimes one must accept discipline.
Some things within the corrupt disposition of human flesh, such as an arrogant disposition and self-righteousness, are like a chronic disease. It’s like when an ulcer or tumor grows within the human body: It cannot be fixed unless you suffer a little. It’s not like occasionally getting a pimple or zit that will go away in a few days when circulation gets back to normal. A chronic disease is not a minor defect; it must be treated with extreme measures. But there is a reality you must know: There is no unsolvable problem. Any aspect of a person’s corrupt disposition will surely gradually decrease as you seek truth, your life progresses, and your understanding and experience of truth increase. At what point of decrease is that aspect of corrupt disposition considered to be gone? It is when you no longer are controlled by it. Sometimes it will manifest itself, but you don’t follow after it and can turn away from it: “If it comes out then let it come out. I will perform my duty however I should, do whatever I should, be as loyal as I should, and fulfill my responsibility as I should; I will not be controlled by it.” You yourself know that you have revealed that disposition, that there is that impurity, but you are not tied down by it, and this part of your disposition is no longer a problem to you. In this way you have defeated it and transcended it. You have matured. You must know this. Do not say, “Whenever I do something my corrupt disposition is revealed, so I will no longer do anything.” Is this not the method of fools? (It is.) Why is it foolish? There is an expression, “to give up on food for fear of choking.” Some say, “Last time I ate I choked, so I am not going to eat anymore.” What is the result of not eating? (Starving to death.) Right, there is only death by starvation. So, what is the result if you say, “I am not doing anything anymore, so I will not reveal my corrupt disposition anymore; problem solved, right? This way I can please God.” (There is no change.) You cannot evade or escape your corrupt disposition. You must face it. Your corrupt disposition is like a bitter enemy that you face one-on-one. You cannot escape it, and it will control you if you cannot defeat it. If you can control it, if you can defeat it and not be controlled by it, then you are free. But, sometimes it will appear in your thoughts, making you feel pleased with yourself or think you’re so great. You’ll have these thoughts, but when you act it will not bind your hands and feet and will not bind your intentions. If you can say, “My intentions are out of consideration for the benefit of God’s family, and I act in order to satisfy God and do my duty as a loyal created being. Sometimes this sort of disposition will come out, but I am not affected by it in the least,” then this is fine, and this corrupt disposition has actually basically been resolved from within you. Is the changing of the human disposition vague or abstract? It’s as real as this. You say, “Even though I understand many truths, sometimes I still have living thoughts. What’s to be done about that? And what can I do about impure thoughts?” Don’t be bound by them. When you have those thoughts, and you know they’re wrong, you needn’t pray, “Oh God, don’t let me think this way! Oh God, discipline me! Oh God, shut off my thoughts; do not let them be chaotic and constantly bubble up like this!” You don’t need to worry about it; when they come up just let them go. When your life has matured and you are possessed of some positive things, when you have understood in your heart some things that are positive, things that satisfy God’s will, things that accord with truth, then those negative, bad things will gradually be replaced until they are no longer there, and they will be at a disadvantage and not have an advantage.
The greatest difficulty for everyone in the course of seeking the transformation of life disposition is being controlled by the corrupt disposition and often concluding that one is “finished.” If it reveals itself a little or is constantly revealing itself and, feeling like there is no way to take control, one condemns himself and concludes that he has “failed,” that he’s “finished,” that he “can’t change.” This is the most confusing and misunderstood thing for most people. What does everyone think? They think that as long as the corrupt disposition is revealing itself or as long as there are living thoughts within, then that disposition is inside and it’s no use to perform their duty, nothing can fix it, and they must stop advancing and, only after resolving it, come into God’s presence completely clean to perform their duty. Is that possible? These things are inevitable throughout the process of your entering into life; it is a kind of battle. While your disposition is transforming, you use the truths you understand to fight against your original corrupt disposition, to fight against Satan, and the process of transformation is that the truths you understand gradually replace the heresies and fallacies to which you originally held and also the elements of your corrupt disposition and the elements that come from Satan—the ideological logic, the life philosophy, the notions and imaginations of men, and men’s wicked intentions and deception—they are gradually replaced. To gage the progress of the transformation of your disposition, see how many truths you have understood, how many truths you have put into practice, and how much truth you can live out. See how much of your corrupt disposition has been replaced by the truth you understand and have obtained. See to what degree those truths can control the corrupt disposition within you. That is, to what degree the truth you understand can direct your thoughts and intents, as well as your daily life and practice. Which has the advantage and primarily directs you: the corrupt disposition or the truths you understand? This is the standard by which you evaluate your stature and how far you have entered into life.
Right now, you are all of small stature; that is, it’s difficult for you to wield the truths you know to be victorious over your way of thinking, your mistaken understanding, and your selfish intent and corrupt disposition. You are often off to one side or the other, walking with unsure footing; you are either tilted in one direction or the other and often live in extremes. Is this not so? (It is.) After you’ve understood a little bit more and performed your duty just a little better, you’ll bounce higher than a rubber ball that has been hit a few times. If some two days go especially smoothly, you walk with a bounce in your step. But, if some other two days do not go so smoothly, and your mood is not very good, then you feel like, “I just want to find a crack in the earth to crawl into; I’m irredeemable,” and you are extremely depressed. You are alternately hot and cold or moving in one direction or the other: This is the manifestation of someone of small stature. Look at someone with some stature: He has matured and can be independent; he is not very influenced by his life environment and not very influenced by these external things. When today he does something that does not go very smoothly, he says, “Yeah, it’s all right. It’s all right if things are not going smoothly, for God’s good will is in this. I will submit to God’s plans; I should seek God’s will in this thing.” There’s no problem; he does not become negative. When today he does something well, writing a song or a tune that everyone likes and which they say is inspired and written under enlightenment from the Holy Spirit, he says, “Thank God! Everything God does is good. This comes from God, not from me, myself. I have a small gift and a small amount of will to cooperate, and see how God has moved me and blessed me with so much. What God bestows exceeds the expectations and requests of humankind, and man has nothing to boast of himself.” It’s not that he intentionally constrains himself to be a low-key person; rather, this is the true condition of his heart. Is this not stability? Not being able to achieve this is a manifestation of small stature. As soon as you’re happy, you jump so high that you poke holes in the ceiling. And, as soon as you’re depressed, it is to the point that you are seeking holes in the ground to dig yourself into, that you refuse to be called out of for days, no matter how you are called. When you gain a little understanding, some awareness, you think “Living like this seems too painful; I need to change my way of life,” and then you come out. You see, this is a manifestation of too-small stature. What is the most outstanding characteristic of small stature? Try describing it. (Always gravitating to extremes; not being able to respond properly; being headstrong.) It is being uncertain and having an unstable disposition. Happiness is excessive; sadness is also excessive—it is not relieved with any amount of comforting. This is the manifestation of small stature. It is a general inability to be victorious over one’s mood; such a one’s condition is very difficult to control, stabilize, and master. He cannot frequently live in God’s presence, and it is difficult for him to have a submissive heart toward the people, events, and things that God has arranged around him. When he has done something well, he says, “Thank God! God did it!”—repeating slogans. And, when he does something poorly, he is full of complaints, “Oh God, how could You let me be so embarrassed? How could God allow me to make such a fool of myself? How is it that God does not lead me but leads other people? Why doesn’t God bless me?” How could God do this or that … he always has demands of God and words of complaint. Is it easy for someone like this to submit? (It is not easy to submit.) For example, when one is of small stature, if you assign him to perform a duty, he will say, “Okay, I’ll do it.” If you assign him to perform another duty, he will say, “Okay, I can. I have no complaints; I will do my best and strive to satisfy God’s will.” On the outside, he appears to submit, but when he faces a situation and is very sad, or when something does not accord with his own preferences, the most difficult thing for a person of small stature to do is to submit to God—the hardest thing to do is to submit.
What is genuine submission? When things go according to your desires and you are satisfied with everything and feel that it is appropriate, and it allows you to stand out, shine, and have some honor, you say thank God, and you can submit to God’s orchestration and planning. But, when things put you off to the side and you can’t stand out, and no one ever pays attention to you, then you feel it is no longer palatable. For a day or two you subdue yourself, “I submit to God. I submit to God.” But, after some time has passed, you feel, “I submit to God, but God pays no attention to me and hasn’t said two good words about me. Why doesn’t He ever bring me up? How is it that He brings up others’ names but never mine? This is no good. I also am a believer. How is it that God never pays attention to me?” You see, there is some resentment there. Then, when you are dealt with, when you are made to take responsibility for something, “Who did this?” “I did.” “Why did you do this?” You think for a moment: “Look, nothing honorable includes my participation, but how is it that every time my portion is to be dealt with? It’s so unlucky!” You see, the resentment has come out. “Anything honorable is given to others. How is it that any matter that includes being dealt with involves me?” Such behavior comes of a small stature, is irresponsible, and does not comprise submission. Surely this shows! It shows when something happens. When things are going well, and there is an occasion to eat dumplings, such a one will bound over and say, “Eat what?” “Dumplings.” “Okay! Ah, this is a good life, thank God. This is favor from God!” But when it’s time to eat and he asks, “What are we eating?” “Cornbread.” “Why are we eating cornbread again?” “Cornbread is also a blessing for us given from God; We should thank God!” “Oh, okay, thank God!” The others say, “Are you really thankful or are you being insincere?” “Hmph! Thank God? This time I’ve done so much work, been tired to death all day, and we’re eating cornbread? It doesn’t seem like God’s favor, does it? Eating cornbread doesn’t count as a blessing from God! And yesterday my stomach was upset, but today we’re eating cornbread. Don’t they know that my stomach is feeling like this? How can they make me eat cornbread again?” He can’t submit anymore, can he? Stature is a real ability to submit, and the real ability to submit is true maturity. Someone with stature[a] can take responsibility for things and be considerate of God’s will. The words come from deep within the heart and are not just a shouting of slogans, not just a child mimicking adult speech. This is not learned; it is stature. What is stature? (It grows out of genuine experience.) It grows out of genuine experience, so what must one have accomplished internally in order to have stature? (To have understood some truth; to have understood God’s will; to have understood God’s heart.) One must have understood truth, possessed truth within, resolved the corrupt disposition, experienced all this for oneself, been able to appreciate the earnest pondering of God’s salvation of humanity—isn’t that so? It’s like a person growing up and realizing how difficult it was for his parents to raise children. Your parents work so hard through their lives, and you no longer hold against them any of their past excesses or cases of their yelling at or hitting you. People never understand when they’re young, “You hit me, so you’re bad to me! You’re not my dad! You’re not my mom!” As soon as they strike or scold they are no longer mom or dad. But, as soon as they buy some new clothes, “Dad is great! Mom’s great!” After a couple of strikes or kicks, “You’re not my dad! I’m going to go find my dad in another family!” It’s troublesome, isn’t it? After you grow up, you don’t say these silly things. When you get a little angry, you think about it: “Don’t be angry. It’s not easy for them. Regardless of whatever else, raising me this long is extremely difficult, having had to deal with handfuls of poo and pee and work so hard!” You can now understand, and your heart is in a different state. The things in your life are different; you’ve grown. That comes of growing up. It does not come just from passing years, nor does it come from the experience of years of repeating slogans. These are entirely the fruits achieved from a person’s understanding truth day by day, day by day understanding truth, experiencing truth, understanding God’s word, and gaining experience of and coming to know God’s word, are they not? The result achieved is the ability generally to submit even under adverse circumstances. Submitting under favorable circumstances is usually easy. If you can also submit under adverse circumstances—those that go against your will, that hurt your feelings, that make you weak, that make you suffer in the flesh and not have face, that cannot satisfy your vanity and pride, that make you suffer a little in body and mind—then that is enough, and you have truly grown up. Is this not the goal you should be pursuing? If you have this intent, this goal, then that is right: There is hope, isn’t there!
The corrupt disposition of man is nothing more than those things, the worst of which is man’s arrogant disposition, and the remainder of which little things are some ideas and thoughts, some little personality traits, a slight propensity to seek attention, self-righteousness, deception, being unyielding toward others, and also doing some things without principle. The main one of these is the arrogant disposition. The arrogant disposition is the root of man’s corrupt disposition. How severe is this problem? Not only do people with arrogant dispositions have no place in their haughty hearts for other people, but, worst of all, they have no place in their hearts for God. Even though people follow God, they do not treat God as God. This is the essence and root of the arrogant disposition, and it comes from Satan, so it must be resolved. Feeling one is above all other people is a small matter. The critical thing is that one’s arrogant disposition causes him not to submit to God and makes him not want to submit to God’s dominion and plan. Such a one does not have a God-revering heart in the slightest, to say nothing of loving God, being considerate of His will, or satisfying it. Such a one does not have a God-revering heart in the slightest. If a person wants to achieve having a heart that reveres God, then he must first resolve the arrogant disposition. The more deeply you resolve your arrogant disposition, the more your heart will revere God, and only such is a real person.
Some people bring items as offerings, some of which are valuable and some of which are ordinary, and here they are swallowed up and stolen by those leaders. These people have also abandoned, spent, and given up home and career, and yet because of this thing they are finished. Do you think those people who steal offerings revere God in their hearts? (No.) Why is that? (They do not fear God in their hearts.) But what do they themselves think? “Offerings from those below are donations to the house of God, for the brothers and sisters who are performing their duty”; this is how they understand it. “What is given to God’s house is everybody’s. Everyone shares what everyone contributes; it has nothing to do with God. So, you have a portion, and I have a portion, and he has a portion. Everybody has a share. You and I both get something, and everybody gets something—it’s split up evenly. Isn’t God righteous? Righteousness is fairness and being the same toward everyone. If there are ten shares of something, then each person gets one share if there are ten people and it’s divided evenly. If there are twenty people, then each person gets half a share—it’s divided evenly. Egalitarianism, fairness, that’s what righteousness is.” It is with this thinking and this motive that they steal the offerings. Is stealing offerings a frightful thing? (It is!) Are people who steal offerings detestable? (Yes!) Do you think that a person who steals offerings deserves sympathy when he is expelled or disciplined in God’s house? (He does not deserve sympathy.) Why not? Some might say, “What’s the big deal with stealing offerings! Isn’t it just some few things given to God, and God doesn’t want it and says, ‘why don’t you keep it for yourselves,’ and so someone takes it and enjoys it? Isn’t it just a few things? What’s the big deal? As soon as nonbelievers become officials or even get some small position like driver in a work unit, they become insatiably corrupt. What’s the big deal with taking some few offerings in God’s house? Why make such a big issue out of it, and even discipline for it?” Do you think these people are being treated unfairly? (No.) How is it they are not being treated unfairly? (They do not revere God in the least.) So, let’s talk about the people making these offerings; what is their motive? They believe in God and make a contribution. If they give a name and say to give a thing to that brother or sister, they’ll say to give this to sister (or brother) so-and-so; they’ll say who to take the item to. How do you understand it if they say it is an offering? (It is given to God.) It is given to God. So, who has the authority to distribute this object, this offering? (God.) Then does man have the authority to distribute it, saying the following? “This object isn’t worth any money, so we can do whatever with it—it’s not worth any money, after all, so God will certainly not want it. God wants valuable objects, good objects. He does not want any of the bad. And besides, God wants people’s hearts. He doesn’t want these objects, so let’s take them.” (That is not right.) What is not right about it? (God should be responsible for the distribution of offerings; people are unqualified to participate in it.) Some say, “A pair of socks was contributed and is not worth giving to God! Why take that? There’s no need. God won’t want it even if we take it, so let’s just use it; there’s no need to notify God. We don’t need to tell anyone and don’t need to deliver it. It’s okay if we just quietly use it for ourselves; after all, if we wear it we won’t need to buy socks, so God’s house will not have to pay to buy socks, and money is saved!” What do you think of this point of view? (They do not have hearts that revere God.) (It’s not a matter of the value of the object but the nature of the act.) Considered narrowly, this object is not given to you; regardless of whether the object is good or awful, you should not be the one to determine how it will be disposed of. If they say it is to be given to a certain person, then you tell that person, “Somebody gave you a pair of socks. Do you want them?” They say, “What kind of socks?” “They’re just ordinary socks. We’ll bring them to you if you want them, and we’ll still bring them even if you don’t want them. If you don’t like them after you’ve seen them, then you can do what you will with them. You decide where they go. We’ll go along with whatever you decide to do with them. We submit.” Is this not a very rational way of handling the situation? What are its components? From what standpoint does a person handle the situation in this way? What truths must a person possess in order to handle it like this? First, a person speaking and acting in this way is reasonable. He also has a heart that reveres God, saying, “I don’t care whether this object is nice or awful. It is not given to me; it is given to God. I cannot be responsible for it!” What is it for man to take responsibility for it? Did they say it was given to you? Did they want you to dispose of it? Did they entrust you with it? They entrusted you to deliver it. They did not entrust you to use it. So, you do not have the authority to dispose of this object. Take it to the person you are told to take it to. If, after you’ve delivered it, the person you take it to does not want it and gives it to you, then you can accept it. However, if they do not say it is for you, then the object does not belong to you. Someone’s having you deliver an object does not mean it reverts to you and that you can dispose of it however you please, does it? (No.) That’s right, behaving in this way is reasonable.
This isn’t just the way to handle offerings from brothers and sisters; this is also how delivering something for a relative or friend outside should be handled. Anybody who is a good person, who is somewhat reliable, or who is fairly trustworthy will handle it in this way. For example, if I get out a bag of something and tell you, “Take this bag of things to My friend,” and I haven’t told you what it is, and haven’t opened it to show you, how would you handle it? (Take it directly to that person and hand it over.) (Give it to the person I was asked to give it to.) What kind of handling of this situation would earn someone’s trust? (Deliver it without even disturbing the seal.) First of all, when you take the thing you don’t rifle through it; don’t ask, “What is this? Let me have a look!” If you are not at that level of familiarity, then don’t say that. If the person didn’t entrust you to look, then don’t look. If they say, “Have a look at what this is, and see if he’ll like it when it’s delivered,” then you can do so, right? You look if the person has you look. If they do not ask you to look then don’t open it; don’t look. What does it mean if you look? Low character! And what if you say this, “What’s this thing I’m to carry? Let me see. Can you give me a little of what you’re giving her”? How’s that? That’s even more outrageous, isn’t it? “For what am I taking it to him? Why don’t you give me some of it? You should leave half of it to me for delivering it; when good fortune passes by one should take a piece, right?” What is that? Low character! Not being worthy of trust! When you do this for another person, you keep some of it for yourself, and further, if someone asks you to take it tomorrow, who knows but that you won’t take it until next year. The other person is waiting for a reply, “Has the stuff been delivered yet?” “Oh, no, I forgot! Deliver what … what was that thing you wanted me to take over there?” The other says, “Oh, no, this person is too unreliable. I’ve encountered someone unreliable and cannot trust this person to do anything in the future. He is too unreliable! Not only did he not deliver the stuff, but he lost it.” And what is even more infuriating? “Two days ago, I just happened to be short of what you wanted me to deliver, and I used it.” How was this handled? The person said nothing after he used it up. Not only did he not deliver, but he used it up. When the other person has him take something to deliver, they say, “Give me word about it soon!” There is no word, for days, and nothing happens. What kind of person is this? (A person who does not care about trustworthiness and who does not have integrity.) Would you say that a person without integrity, who does not worry about trustworthiness, who is not reasonable, deserves trust? (No.) Does a person unworthy of trust have normal humanity? (No.) Can a person who does not have normal humanity be called a person? (No.) Then what kind of thing is he? It’s a bit much if you say he is an animal. It’s a little excessive to demote a person to the status of animal for how he delivers something. That is making too much out of a small thing and putting a broad label on him, and it is not quite fitting. But, if you say he’s not a person, what on earth is he? (He does not have humanity.) After all, he’s nothing good. If you say he’s a person, he merely wears human flesh but does not behave as a human. If you say he is an animal, sometimes he says some human words, and when he speaks human language it is quite clear, but he does not do the things a person does. In any case, he is not a decent thing. Would you say that this sort of person can be changed through some education? Can some education achieve this transformation? Is this type of person easy or difficult to change? (Difficult to change.) Why is that? (It’s a matter of humanity.) (It’s a matter of nature.) (He is of a bad mold.) (He cannot attain anything that humanity and reason can attain.) I think so; it is difficult for such to change. This sort of person is of such low character and lacks conscience. He is treacherous, venomous, and greedy. In his lust to take things he is willing to take unfair advantage of anybody, use anyone’s things, and dares even to disturb offerings. He does not have a God-revering heart in the slightest. He has no character to speak of, and he will use any means to achieve his own ends. This sort of person is difficult to change. There may be some who say: “Could it be that he’s poor? Poverty kills ambition! A skinny bird hangs its head. Someone who fears a return to poverty cannot endure the sight of nice things. As soon as he sees fine things his hand naturally stretches out a bit, and if he reaches just a little farther, he may take some advantage. If there were more things maybe he wouldn’t be so captivated by them.” Is that the case? Are there people whose ambition is not killed by poverty? (Yes.) What type of people? (People with humanity.) (People with some integrity and dignity.) People who have dignity and care what others think. That’s right. I love to hear this. I understand from hearing the word “dignity” coming from your mouths that you also despise this sort of person in your hearts. The person who cares what others think and has a sense of dignity lives with moral integrity and does not crave to take unfair advantage of others. A person who seeks to take unfair advantage of others and does not regard dignity lives without character. He is shameless and does not fear others speaking behind his back about his taking advantage. He does not fear rebuke or punishment for stealing offerings. He has no sense of shame. Such a person has no dignity. What do you say is the point of someone’s living without dignity? Is he worthy of life? (No.) He is not worthy of living.
Imagine that you go to someone’s house, someone you consider to be reliable, and you put your bag down somewhere and go out for a bit. When you get back you discover that the bag has been opened. How do you feel? (Disgusted.) First of all, you have no good feeling for this person, and you say, “This person has sticky hands. Even if nothing is lost and he didn’t take anything, just going through it like this is disgusting! Here he is, a mature adult: How can someone in his thirties or forties do such a thing? This is not something people do. No one with even a basic understanding of etiquette could behave like this.” This sort of person does not understand this norm while all normal people understand it, right? Do you think that he doesn’t understand it, that he’s pretending he doesn’t understand it, or that he is being governed by avarice? (He is being governed by avarice.) (In his own heart he feels that doing this seems like no big deal. He cannot differentiate this from normal behavior but instead feels that acting this way is very natural and easy.) He has become accustomed to doing so, does so often, thinks nothing of it, and doesn’t think of it as anything bad or embarrassing. Do you think this type of person should be censured? Can this weakness of sticky hands be changed after he is censured? (It’s hard to change. He carries these things in his bones.) He carries thievery in his bones! Someone with a thieving nature is difficult to change; this sort of person is revolting! He himself doesn’t think so, and he doesn’t know it for himself. Would he be able to constrain himself a little if he could think like this, “People look down on those who do this kind of thing, so I will not do this kind of thing anymore. Fine, so I did it in the past, and now it’s embarrassing to face those people who know about it, so I’m not going to do this again and won’t make other people look down on me. I should have some integrity.” Is it easy for him to change? A person of low character, who is too despicable, is difficult to change; he doesn’t care what others think! He is shameless, without dignity—that is, his character is too low, and he does most things unreliably.
If this type of person is like this to other people, then can he have a heart that reveres God? He says, “I’m not afraid of people; anyway, stealing people’s things is nothing. Occasionally disturbing others’ things or taking advantage of someone is no big deal.” So then with regard to God, will he hold himself back a little? (No.) Maybe he will; you can’t summarily write someone off. Maybe he will think, “I’m not afraid of people, but I’m afraid of God! I cannot take advantage of God.” Will he think like this? (Maybe when he starts, the first time or the second time, he’ll think like this, but he is controlled by his nature, and as time goes on he will become more and more bold, until eventually he will certainly be the same toward God.) You speak correctly. What is this called? Nature. Nature does not change! You see that he is that way toward people, but toward God, if he suddenly sees Him, he would think, “Oh, no, this is God. I should control myself a little, be more careful, and not give myself away or do anything wrong!” After some time has passed, he’ll think, “It’s nothing; is this not just a normal person? I’ll just do it! I won’t make any big mistake, and there will be no judgment for it.” This is how he treats God. What does it mean that he can treat God in such a way? He has this thing in his nature, and he does not have a heart that reveres God. People with hearts that revere God behave the same way whether toward God or other people; this is a matter of the heart. Why is it that one who reveres God in his heart does not treat other people in this way? In his heart he does not want to offend God, saying, “Behaving this way toward people offends God and displeases Him. I cannot behave that way.” He has a heart that reveres God, so, even though at times he may feel a little hatred or displeasure toward others, upon pondering he thinks, “I cannot do anything that would offend God. I cannot hurt God’s feelings. Doing so is not consistent with truth, so I will not do it.” His thinking and acting in this way is governed by his God-revering heart. When it comes to God, sometimes he will see God do this or that which is inconsistent with man’s conceptions, and he will ponder, “He is God. I should have a heart that reveres God. I should have a heart that fears God. I cannot do anything that disobeys God.” In this way, a thought can protect you from doing things that resist God, from doing things that hurt God’s feelings. You see, a person of thieving nature does not fear God. After a while of not seeing him, people say, “Hey, you’ve changed. It’s been a long time since you did that bad thing.” Don’t worry, after a few days of interaction with him, his nature will reveal itself. A fox cannot hide its tail! If he is not taking unfair advantage then he feels anxious in his heart, just like a thief who becomes accustomed to stealing—wanting to steal even if he has money, even if he lacks no money to spend—to the point it has become part of his nature, his habit, and a part of his life, right? (Yes.) That’s a problem; it is difficult to change. As soon as it becomes habitual it is difficult to change; he cannot induce his heart to revere God. He has this kind of character and humanity; he does not have dignity and is without shame, and it is difficult for him to have a God-revering heart. So, when people say, “This person is too sensitive and worries too much about what others think,” maybe that’s not a bad thing. Wanting to be thought well of is always better than not caring what others think; at least we can say such a person has some perception of conscience, that he has self-respect, that he lives with dignity, that he doesn’t let others look down on him. At the very least, this is a positive thing. But, there are some who care too much about face, and that is bad when it affects how they perform their duty. This is impelled by the corrupt disposition. This is man’s weakness, isn’t it? (Yes.) It seems that living with dignity, living with integrity is a good thing, isn’t it!
People should live with dignity and moral integrity and should be able to attain a heart that submits to God, a heart that reveres God—it is not enough just to live with moral integrity alone. You are living with dignity and character when you truly have a God-revering heart. If you do not have a God-revering heart and do not genuinely submit to God, never understanding truth when you act, always being woolly-headed and off toward the left or right, not understanding any principle, then it’s of no use no matter how much you care about face: You still have no dignity and are a dimwit. Is a person with total enthusiasm and no understanding of truth worth anything? He is not worth anything, and it doesn’t matter how much he cares about face. What does this mean? What is most important? (Pursuing truth; having a heart that submits to God; having a heart that reveres God.) Yes, pursuing these things is most important; it is fundamental. No matter how high of preaching you have heard, no matter how much doctrine you understand, in the end you must come back to the pursuit of truth and be able to be a person who submits to God and reveres God. This is the most important thing and the key point.
a. The original text reads “You.”