After the lies

By Chen Shi, China

Almighty God says, “You ought to know that God likes those who are honest. In substance, God is faithful, and so His words can always be trusted; His actions, furthermore, are faultless and unquestionable, which is why God likes those who are absolutely honest with Him. Honesty means giving your heart to God, being genuine with God in all things, being open with Him in all things, never hiding the facts, not trying to deceive those above and below you, and not doing things only to curry favor with God. In short, to be honest is to be pure in your actions and words, and to deceive neither God nor man” (“Three Admonitions” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). The Lord Jesus also said, “Truly I say to you, Except you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3). We can see from God’s words that He is faithful, that He likes the honest and despises the deceitful, and that only honest people can be saved and enter the heavenly kingdom. That’s why God demands over and over that we be honest, and that we resolve our lying and deceitful motives. But in real life, whenever something touched upon my reputation and status, I couldn’t help but lie and be deceptive. Without the judgment and revelation of God’s words, without His chastening and discipline, I’d never have truly repented, turned away from lies, and practiced the truth as an honest person.

A couple years ago, I was performing the duty of a church leader. One day my leader asked me to attend a co-workers’ gathering. I was so happy. I thought about how hard I’d worked in the church recently, holding gatherings and fellowshiping every day, and most brothers and sisters were actively engaged in their duty. Some groups had made a lot of progress, so I thought for sure this gathering would be a chance for me to be seen. I could show the leader and co-workers how capable I was, that I was better than the others. When I arrived, I saw Sister Liu was frowning worriedly, and she said with a sigh, “How’s your work of watering and supporting brothers and sisters going? We’re having a hard time. I must be lacking the reality of the truth. There are a lot of issues I just can’t resolve.” I smiled and said, “The watering work is going pretty well in our church, a lot better than before.” The leader came in just then and started asking about the watering work in the churches. I thought it was my chance to shine, so I had to make a good show. Surprisingly, she didn’t ask us about our successes in watering work, but asked about what difficulties had come up, how they had been resolved through fellowship on the truth, and which difficulties hadn’t been resolved. I panicked. Generally, I just organized the work and didn’t know the details at all, so I hadn’t done any real watering. I didn’t know what to do. What should I say when the leader asked me? If I told the truth, would she think that I wasn’t doing practical work? I’d just been bragging to Sister Liu, saying the work I was responsible for had been going well. If I couldn’t talk about the details, would she say I had been bragging over nothing? What could I do? I felt more and more worried. Just then, Brother Zhou talked about some issues they’d encountered in the watering work in their church and the corruptions he’d revealed in his work. Then he explained how he’d sought the truth to resolve these things. He explained it in a very practical, detailed way, that showed us a path of practice. I felt a real sense of shame after hearing his fellowship. Knowing I hadn’t done any practical work, I lowered my head and my face burned. The leader then asked me to speak. My heart skipped a beat. What should I say? I had no details to share, and just an overview would show I wasn’t doing practical work. What would people think of me if I told the truth? I felt I couldn’t be forthright. So I just said, “My situation is pretty much the same as Brother Zhou’s. There’s no need to repeat it.” The leader listened and said nothing, then started the gathering by reading God’s words. In that gathering, I felt as if I’d stolen something from someone. I was really on edge, afraid of the day my leader would check on or supervise my work, find out that my practice wasn’t like Brother Zhou’s, and remove me from my duty for not doing practical work, for lying and deceiving. My anxiety grew but I still lacked the courage to tell the truth. I quietly resolved, “I absolutely have to work the way Brother Zhou does to make up for my dishonesty today.”

When I got back to the church, I met with the deacons and group leaders right away, gave a detailed, in-person fellowship, and had them start immediately. Then I rode my bike to Sister Lyu’s house. I told her about Brother Zhou’s path in detail, and told her to share it with the other brothers and sisters on watering duty. Three days flew by just like that and I very happily waited to harvest the fruit of my labors. To my surprise, they told me they’d encountered a lot of problems in their watering work, some of which they couldn’t resolve, and that newcomers had been taken in by the lies of the CCP and religious pastors because they hadn’t been watered in time, and so they didn’t dare come to gatherings anymore. My mind was reeling. How could that have happened? I rushed back to Sister Lyu’s house and as soon as she saw me, she said anxiously, “Now what should we do about these problems with our watering work? I really don’t know.” I just didn’t know what to say. I had especially instructed her through fellowship and had gone into great detail in my fellowship, but she still didn’t understand. I wondered what was wrong with those people. I’d fellowshiped so clearly but they still didn’t get it. What would the leader think of me if my work wasn’t done well? The more I thought about it, the more frustrated and depressed I felt. I tossed and turned in bed that night, unable to sleep, feeling totally devoid of energy. I finally came before God in prayer: “God, I’ve worked so much harder in my duty these last few days, but I’ve accomplished nothing. I can’t feel Your guidance, and I’m living in darkness. God, am I doing something contrary to Your will, arousing Your disgust and hatred? Please enlighten me so that I may understand my own state.”

I then read these revealing words from God: “Are your goals and intentions made with Me in mind? Are all your words and actions said and done in My presence? I examine all of your thoughts and ideas. Do you not feel guilty? You put on a false front for others to see and you calmly assume an air of self-righteousness; you do this to shield yourself. You do this to conceal your evil, and you even think up ways to push that evil onto someone else. What treachery dwells in your heart!” (“Chapter 13” of Utterances of Christ in the Beginning in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “Do not act one way to others’ faces but another way behind their backs; I see clearly everything you do, and though you may fool others, you cannot fool Me. I see it all clearly. It is not possible for you to conceal anything; all lies within My hands. Do not think yourself so very clever for making your petty little calculations come out to your advantage. I tell you: However many plans man may hatch, even unto the thousands and ten thousands, in the end they cannot escape from the palm of My hand. All things and all objects are controlled by My hands, never mind a single person! Do not try to evade Me or hide, do not try to wheedle or conceal. Can it be that you still do not see that My glorious countenance, My wrath and My judgment, have been publicly revealed? Whosoever does not want Me sincerely, I will judge them immediately and without mercy. My pity has come to its end; there is no more left. Do not be hypocrites any longer, and put a stop to your wild and reckless ways” (“Chapter 44” of Utterances of Christ in the Beginning in The Word Appears in the Flesh). I reflected on myself after reading this. I had been rushing around holding gatherings and fellowshiping with deacons and group leaders, but what was it all for? Was I really doing it for the sake of the church work, for the lives of my brothers and sisters? Was I doing it to resolve their practical problems? Then I thought of how I’d lied in that gathering. When the leader asked about the watering work, I knew well I hadn’t done any practical work, but I was deceptive so I wouldn’t look like a fool, so people wouldn’t see through me or look down on me. I had rushed back to patch the holes in my work just so the leader wouldn’t find out I had lied. I realized then that I had worked so hard just to keep my lie going, to cover up the truth that I hadn’t done practical work, and for my own reputation and status. I had just used the path Brother Zhou had fellowshiped about instead of truly understanding brothers’ and sisters’ actual difficulties and resolving their issues by fellowshiping on the truth. I had been careless in my duty, harboring that despicable motive. How could that be in line with God’s will? God sees into our innermost hearts, so how could He not be disgusted by me trying to deceive Him, cheat Him, and fool Him that way? The darkness I had fallen into was God chastening and disciplining me. Realizing this left me feeling a bit afraid and I thought about practicing the truth and being open in the next gathering. But I felt some concern, thinking about how I’d told such a big lie. What would the others think of me if I admitted it? Would they say I was cunning?

I then read another passage of God’s words. “When you tell a lie, you do not lose face there and then, but in your heart you feel that you have been utterly discredited, and your conscience will accuse you of being dishonest. Deep down, you will despise yourself and hold yourself in contempt, and will think, ‘How come I live so pitifully? Is it really so hard to speak the truth? Must I tell these lies just for the sake of my reputation? Why is life so wearisome for me?’ You do not have to live a wearisome life, but you have not chosen a path of ease and freedom. You have chosen a path of upholding your reputation and your vanity, so for you, life is very tiresome. … You cannot relinquish things such as your reputation and prestige, so you can only uphold them with lies. You feel that you can use lies to hold onto these things, but actually, you cannot. Not only have your untruths not succeeded in maintaining your integrity and dignity, but, more importantly, you have lost a chance to practice the truth. Even if you have upheld your reputation and prestige, you have lost the truth; you have lost an opportunity to put it into practice, as well as a chance to be an honest person. This is the greatest of losses” (Records of Christ’s Talks). Every one of God’s words went straight to my heart. I maintained my reputation after telling my lie, but I couldn’t feel a shred of happiness. Instead, I was uneasy, constantly feeling bad about what I’d done. Sometimes I didn’t want to meet people’s eyes when I spoke, afraid they’d see my deception and wouldn’t trust me anymore. I even tried all sorts of things to cover up my lie, to make it believable. It was a difficult, exhausting way to live, and I couldn’t find any relief. I had lied and been deceitful, and I lived in a despicable, undignified way. Not wanting to cover up for myself anymore, I prayed to God to confess and repent and resolved I’d forsake my flesh and open up next time I saw the brothers and sisters.

The leader came to attend a gathering with us a few days later and I felt it was God giving me a chance to practice the truth. I prayed, “Oh God, I’m willing to reveal my lie and my deceit. Please give me the resolve to practice the truth.” When I arrived, I learned that she had come to choose a work companion from among us church leaders. An internal struggle rose up within me. Out of us church leaders, my caliber and accomplishments were somewhat better than the others’ so maybe they already saw me as a suitable candidate. But if I told the truth and revealed my lie, would they think less of me? Would they think I was too cunning, and not pick me? How could I ever show my face again if someone else was picked? I figured I couldn’t talk about it. Just as I had my head down, lost in thought, the leader asked me to share how I’d been recently. Stumbling over my words, I glossed over it. “I’ve been in a good state. When facing difficulties, I know to pray to God and seek the truth to resolve them. …” After saying this, I felt I had done a shameful thing and I was filled with anxiety. I broke out in a sweat. Seeing that I kept wiping sweat away, the leader got me a cup of hot water and kindly asked if I had a cold. I said, “I don’t know why, I just feel anxious and can’t stop sweating.” In fact, I knew very well that it was because I’d lied again and had not practiced the truth. I made a silent prayer to God: “God, I’ve lied time and again, stubbornly refusing to practice the truth. I’m so rigid, so rebellious. Please guide me so I may practice the truth and be an honest person.”

Sister Liu then suggested that we sing a hymn of God’s words. “1 Honesty means giving your heart to God, being genuine with God in all things, being open with Him in all things, never hiding the facts, not trying to deceive those above and below you, and not doing things only to curry favor with God. In short, to be honest is to be pure in your actions and words, and to deceive neither God nor man. If your words are riddled with excuses and valueless justifications, then I say that you are someone who is loath to put the truth into practice. 2 If you have many confidences that you are reluctant to share, if you are highly averse to laying bare your secrets—your difficulties—before others to seek the way of the light, then I say that you are someone who will not attain salvation easily, and who will not easily emerge from the darkness. If seeking the way of the truth pleases you well, then you are someone who dwells always in the light” (“God Blesses Those Who Are Honest” in Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs). While I sang this hymn, I felt both distressed and ashamed. I had prayed before the gathering because I wanted to open up about how I had lied and been deceitful, but when I found out the leader was selecting someone to work with her, I didn’t want to divulge anything. I was afraid of the leader and co-workers knowing I hadn’t done practical work and had even lied, that they would say I was too cunning and wouldn’t choose me for the position. Then I’d lose my chance at being a leader. I was being so deceitful! God sees everything. I may be able to fool others, but God? These words really stood out: “If you have many confidences that you are reluctant to share, if you are highly averse to laying bare your secrets—your difficulties—before others to seek the way of the light, then I say that you are someone who will not attain salvation easily, and who will not easily emerge from the darkness.” I felt even more uncomfortable. Wasn’t I someone with many confidences she was reluctant to share, just as God said? I had known perfectly well that I didn’t know the specifics of watering work, but when the leader asked me about it, I’d played games, and had knowingly lied, and when I got back to the church I didn’t open up to the others to reveal my corruption and the faults in my work. Instead I’d tried to cover up for my lies and keep them going whilst appearing to do my duty. How was that doing my duty? It was all to protect my name and status. I was trying to fool God, and misleading people. And once again, in order to win this new position, I brazenly went back on my vow, cheating both God and man. I was lying and being deceitful time after time after time! These words from God then occurred to me: “But let your communication be, Yes, yes; No, no: for whatever is more than these comes of evil” (Matthew 5:37). “You are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and stayed not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it” (John 8:44). I knew full well that God likes honest people, but I had lied and covered up my lies over and over, trying to deceive God and my brothers and sisters. How was I any different from Satan? Did I have even a shred of proper humanity? If I didn’t repent and change, I knew I’d be bound for the same end as Satan. This thought frightened me, so I prayed to God and I mustered up the courage to tear my own reputation to shreds. I revealed the lying and whitewashing I’d been doing and my despicable, crafty motives in great detail, leaving nothing out. After I’d totally come clean I felt like a great weight had been lifted and I suddenly felt much more relaxed. I felt free and at ease in my heart.

The brothers and sisters didn’t scorn me and the leader even read a passage of God’s words to me. “When people engage in deceit, what intentions stem from this? What sort of disposition do they reveal? Why are they able to express this kind of disposition? What is the root of it? It is that people see their own self-interests as being more important than everything else. They engage in deceit in order to benefit themselves, and their deceitful dispositions are thereby revealed. How should this problem be resolved? First, you must relinquish your own interests. Getting people to relinquish their own interests is the hardest thing to do. Most people seek nothing but profit; people’s interests are their life, and making them relinquish those things is tantamount to forcing them to give up their lives. So, what should you do? You must learn to relinquish, to forsake, to suffer, and to endure the pain of letting go of the interests you love. Once you have endured this pain and relinquished a few of your interests, you will feel a little relieved and a bit liberated, and in this way, you will overcome your flesh. However, if you cling to your interests and fail to let go of them, saying, ‘I’ve been deceitful, but so what? God has not punished me, so what can people do to me? I won’t relinquish anything!’ When you do not relinquish anything, no one else suffers any losses; it is you yourself who ultimately loses out. When you recognize your own corrupt disposition, this is, in fact, an opportunity for you to enter, to progress, and to change; it is a chance for you to come before God and accept His scrutiny and His judgment and chastisement. This is, moreover, an opportunity for you to attain salvation. If you give up on seeking the truth, then that is tantamount to giving up an opportunity to attain salvation and to accept judgment and chastisement. … If people choose to practice the truth, then even if they have lost their self-interests, they are gaining God’s salvation and eternal life. Those people are the smartest ones. If people benefit at the expense of the truth, then what they lose are life and God’s salvation; those people are the stupidest. As for what a person ultimately will choose—self-interests or the truth—this is a matter that reveals a person more than any other. Those who love the truth will choose the truth; they will choose to submit before God, and follow Him. They would rather abandon their own interests. No matter how much they have to suffer, they are determined to stand testimony to satisfy God. This is the fundamental route of practicing the truth and entering the reality of truth” (“Knowing Dispositions Is the Basis for Changing Dispositions” in Records of Christ’s Talks). Hearing these words brightened my heart. I reflected on how I’d lied and cheated time after time mainly because I cared too much about reputation and position, and because I had a deceitful nature. I’d been educated and indoctrinated by Satan since I was little and had absorbed so many of its poisons like “Heaven destroys those who are not for themselves,” “As a tree lives for its bark, a man lives for his face,” “A lie will become the truth if it’s repeated ten thousand times,” “Man can achieve nothing without telling lies,” “Think before you speak and then talk with reservation” and so on. Those satanic philosophies had become my laws for survival. I’d lived by them, becoming more selfish, deceitful, and fake. I only ever thought of my own interests and couldn’t help but lie and deceive to that end. Though I felt guilty and reproached myself after lying and I wanted to repent to God and open up to the others, my fear of being shamed and laughed at kept me covering for myself and putting on a false front. I wasn’t willing to open up and reveal my own cunning motives and deceptive behavior. I particularly lacked the courage to set my face aside and be honest, thinking that the moment I told the truth, people would see me for what I was, and they would no longer think highly of me. I preferred struggling in darkness and pain over practicing the truth and being honest. I saw how deeply corrupted by Satan I was! Without God exposing me that way, without the judgment and revelation of His words, I’d never have seen how cunning my nature was, and I wouldn’t have been motivated to practice the truth and reveal my true self. I perceived then that God’s judgment and chastisement were Him protecting and saving me, and I felt how important pursuing the truth and practicing being honest are.

From then on, I set my mind to practicing telling the truth and being an honest person. After a while, I found that a leader who joined us in gatherings could sometimes be arrogant and self-righteous and wouldn’t easily accept others’ suggestions. I wanted to mention it to her a few times, but then I thought, “It’s all well and good if she accepts what I say, but if not, what will she think of me?” I decided to wait and see. One day she asked me, “Sister, we’ve known each other for a while now. If you see any problems in me, please let me know. That would be helpful for me.” I looked at her and was about to say, “I haven’t noticed anything. You’re great.” But I realized that would be deceptive, so I prayed to God and made myself willing to accept His scrutiny. I couldn’t keep lying and deceiving, inciting God’s disgust. So, I opened up and told her about her problem. She listened, then quickly nodded and said, “Thanks be to God! I never would have realized this if you hadn’t told me. I really need to reflect on myself and understand this.” I was so happy when I saw she was able to accept it. I felt an incredible sense of peace and release and really experienced how wonderful it is to practice the truth and be an honest person!

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