Item Twelve: They Want to Withdraw When They Have No Status and No Hope of Gaining Blessings (Section One)

Today’s fellowship regarding the various manifestations of antichrists is on item twelve: They want to withdraw when they have no status and no hope of gaining blessings. This item also deals with antichrists’ dispositions and it is one of their concrete manifestations. From a superficial perspective, an antichrist will want to withdraw if they lack status and have no hope of gaining blessings. Once they have lost these two things, they will want to withdraw. The superficial meaning appears very easy to understand—it doesn’t seem very complex or abstract, but what are the specific manifestations here? In other words, what sorts of situations cause an antichrist to want to withdraw because of an impact on their status or hope of gaining blessings? Is this something that is worth an in-depth fellowship? If you were asked to share fellowship on this, what would you have to say about its specific details and manifestations? Some people might say, “We’ve fellowshipped on this so many times. Antichrists love status and power, they enjoy having high prestige, and their goal in having faith is to be blessed, to be crowned and rewarded. If these hopes are dashed and lost, then they will lose their interest in believing in God and will no longer want to have faith.” Would your fellowship on this be as simple as just these few words? (Yes.) If that were the case, if this fellowship could be wrapped up with these few statements, then this aspect of antichrists’ manifestations would not merit its own section in our fellowship series on the manifestations of antichrists, nor would it touch on any particular nature essence. However, since this item is related to antichrists’ essence and disposition, as well as their personal pursuits and perspectives on existence, then it must be the case that it is a multifaceted topic. So, what precisely is involved? That is to say, which matters that antichrists encounter involve their status and their hope of gaining blessings? What are their perspectives, thoughts, and attitudes toward these matters? Of course, there will be some overlap between our fellowship on these matters and our previous fellowships on antichrists’ perspectives on various issues, but the focus of today’s fellowship is different, and it comes at the issue from a different angle. Today we will fellowship specifically on the manifestations that present themselves when antichrists lose their status and their hopes of gaining blessings, which can prove that antichrists have an incorrect perspective on pursuit, and that their faith in God is not true; they can also verify that these people indeed possess the essence of an antichrist.

I. Antichrists’ Approach to Being Pruned

First, we should take a look at the behaviors that antichrists manifest when they are pruned, how they handle such situations, what their attitudes, thoughts, and perspectives on pruning are, and what, specifically, they say and do—these matters merit our dissection and analysis. We have fellowshipped quite a bit on topics involving being pruned; this is a common topic that you are all familiar with. Only after being pruned several times do most people experience some transformation—they can seek the truth and handle matters according to principle when doing their duty, and only then does their faith begin anew, and it undergoes some change for the better. It can be said that every instance of being pruned harshly is branded into every person’s heart; it leaves an indelible memory. Of course, every instance of being pruned harshly leaves an indelible memory for antichrists, too, but where do the differences lie? An antichrist’s attitude toward and various manifestations concerning this, as well as their thoughts, perspectives, ideas, and such that come out of this situation all differ from those of a regular person. When an antichrist is pruned, the first thing they do is resist and reject it deep in their heart. They fight it. And why is that? This is because antichrists, by their very nature essence, are averse to and hate the truth, and they do not accept the truth at all. Naturally, an antichrist’s essence and disposition prevent them from acknowledging their own mistakes or acknowledging their own corrupt disposition. Based on these two facts, an antichrist’s attitude toward being pruned is to reject and defy it, completely and utterly. They detest and resist it from the bottom of their heart, and have not the slightest hint of acceptance or submission, much less any genuine reflection or repentance. When an antichrist is pruned, no matter who does it, what it pertains to, the degree to which they are to blame for the matter, how blatant their error, how much evil they commit, or what consequences their evil creates for the church’s work—the antichrist doesn’t consider any of this. To an antichrist, the one pruning them is singling them out, or finding faults to torment them. The antichrist may even think that they are being bullied and humiliated, that they are not being treated as a human, and that they are being belittled and scorned. After an antichrist is pruned, they never reflect on what it was that they have actually done wrong, what corrupt disposition they have revealed, and whether they’ve sought the principles they ought to abide by, acted in accordance with the truth principles, or fulfilled their responsibilities in the matter in which they are pruned. They do not examine or reflect on any of this, nor do they think over and ponder these issues. Instead, they approach pruning according to their own will and with hot-headedness. Any time an antichrist is pruned, they will be full of anger, disobedience, and resentment, and will listen to advice from no one. They refuse to accept their being pruned, and are unable to come back before God to know and reflect on themselves, to address their actions that violate the principles, such as being perfunctory or running amok in their duty, nor do they use this chance to resolve their own corrupt disposition. Instead, they find excuses to defend themselves, to vindicate themselves, and they will even say things to provoke discord and incite others. In short, when antichrists are pruned, their specific manifestations are disobedience, dissatisfaction, resistance, and defiance, and some complaints arise in their hearts: “I paid such a high price and did so much work. Although I did not follow the principles or seek the truth in some things, I did not do this all for myself! Even if I caused some damage to the work of the church, I did not do so on purpose! Who doesn’t commit mistakes? You cannot seize onto my mistakes and prune me endlessly without showing consideration for my weaknesses, and without caring for my mood or self-esteem. God’s house has no love for people and it’s so unjust! Furthermore, you prune me for making such a small mistake—doesn’t this mean you look at me with unfavorable eyes and want to eliminate me?” When antichrists are pruned, the first thing on their mind is not to reflect on what they have done wrong or on the corrupt disposition they have revealed, but to argue, explain and justify themselves, while making conjectures. What conjectures? “I’ve paid such a great price in doing my duty in the house of God only to be pruned. It appears that there is not much hope of me gaining blessings. Could it be that God does not want to reward people, so He uses this method to reveal people and eliminate them? Why should I make any effort if there is no hope of gaining blessings? Why should I bear hardships? Since there is no hope of gaining blessings, I might as well not believe at all! Isn’t the purpose of believing in God to obtain blessings? If there is no hope of that, why should I expend myself? Maybe I should just stop believing and be done with it? If I don’t believe, can you still prune me? If I don’t believe, you cannot prune me.” Antichrists cannot accept being pruned from God at all. They cannot accept and obey through a proper viewpoint and attitude. They cannot reflect on themselves through this and understand their corrupt dispositions so that their corrupt dispositions can be cleansed. Instead, they speculate and study with a mean and narrow mind the purpose of their being pruned. They watch the development of the situation carefully, listen to people’s tones when they speak, observe how people around them look at them, how they speak to them, and their attitude, and use these things to confirm whether they have any hope of being blessed or whether they really are revealed and eliminated. One simple instance of them being pruned produces such great turmoil and so much contemplation in the antichrists’ hearts. Whenever they are pruned, their first reaction is repulsion, and in their hearts, they feel averse to it, they reject it, and fight it, before then examining people’s language and countenance, followed by engaging in conjecture. They employ their brains, their thought, and their petty shrewdness to watch the development of the situation, observe how the people around them look at them, and observe the senior leaders’ attitude toward them. From these things, they judge how much hope they still have of being blessed, whether they have a shred of hope to be blessed, or whether they really are revealed and eliminated. When they are backed into a corner, antichrists again begin to research God’s words, trying in God’s words to find an accurate basis, a sliver of hope, and a lifeline. If, after they have been pruned, someone comforts and supports them and helps them with a loving heart, these things make them feel like they’re still regarded as a member of God’s house, they believe that hope still exists for them to be blessed, that their hope is still strong, and they will dispel any thought of withdrawing. However, the moment the situation is reversed, so that they see their hopes of being blessed have become slim and disappeared, their first reaction is: “If I can’t gain blessings, then I won’t believe in God anymore. Whoever loves believing in God can believe in Him, but in any case I won’t accept being pruned by you, and everything you say when you’re pruning me is wrong. I don’t want to hear it, I’m not willing to listen to it, and I won’t accept being pruned even when you say it’s the most beneficial thing for a person!” When they see their hopes of being blessed go up in smoke, when they see their long-pursued status and dreams of entering the kingdom of heaven about to come to nothing and be lost, they don’t think of changing their manner of pursuit or changing the goals they pursue, but rather they think of leaving and withdrawing, they no longer want to believe in God, and they think they no longer have any hope of being blessed in their belief in God. To antichrists, if their fantasies and hopes of the rewards, blessings, and crowns they wanted to gain when they first started believing in God are gone, then their motivation for believing in God disappears, as does their motivation to expend themselves for God and do their duty. When their motivation is gone, they no longer want to remain in the church, to muddle on in this way any longer, and they want to abandon their duty and leave the church. This is all antichrists think about when they are pruned, and their nature essence is entirely exposed. Overall, in both what they say and what they do, antichrists never accept the truth. What is a disposition of not accepting the truth? Isn’t it being averse to the truth? That’s precisely what it is. The simple act of being pruned is, on its own, quite easy to accept. First, there is no ill will on the part of the person who prunes them; second, it is certain that, judging by the matters in which antichrists are pruned, they must have gone against the arrangements of God’s house, and against the truth principles, that there was an error or oversight in their work that brought disruption and disturbance to the church’s work. They are pruned because of the adulteration of their human will, because of their corrupt disposition, because, lacking an understanding of the truth principles, they act wantonly. This is a very normal thing. Throughout the entire world, any large organization, any group or company has rules and regulations, and anyone who violates these rules and regulations must be punished and kept in line. This is perfectly normal, and perfectly proper. However, an antichrist regards being appropriately kept in line as a result of violating the rules and regulations as others making things difficult for them, unfairly punishing them, finding fault with them, and causing trouble for them. Is that an attitude of accepting the truth? Very clearly, it is not. Without an attitude of acceptance of the truth, is it possible for someone like this to avoid committing errors and causing disruptions and disturbances in their performance of their duty? Certainly not. Is this sort of person well suited to do a duty? Strictly speaking, they are not. It is unlikely that this kind of person will be competent in any task.

Doing a duty is an opportunity that God provides His chosen people with so that they may train themselves, but people do not know to treasure this. Instead, when they are pruned, they throw temper tantrums; they fight it and clamor against it; they are recalcitrant and indignant. It’s as if they were saints who have never made mistakes. Who among corrupt humans does not make mistakes? It is a very normal thing to make mistakes, and God’s house will not hold you responsible or condemn you for this, much less will God’s house curse you, God’s house will simply verbally prune you. Sometimes this may be quite harsh, the words may sound sharp or unpleasant, and your feelings may be hurt. Those who have caused damages to the finances or equipment of the house of God will be disciplined by God’s house using fines or by requesting compensation—does that count as harsh? Or can it be considered proper? You are not asked to provide double compensation, nor are you being extorted, you only need to repay the same amount. Is that not very proper? This is much lighter than the fines given in some countries of the world. In some cities, you will be heavily fined for just spitting on the ground or littering a scrap of paper. Could you defy this, or refuse to pay the fine? If you refused, you would likely be sent to prison, and there would be even harsher legal penalties. Such is the system. Some people don’t understand this, and think that people being pruned in this way by God’s house is too harsh, and that keeping people in line like this is too draconian. If such people are pruned in a slightly harsher manner, and their pride is wounded and their satanic nature stirred, they feel that this is unbearable, and it does not conform to their notions. They believe that, since this is the house of God, people should not be treated in this way, that the house of God should exercise tolerance and patience at every turn, and allow people to act wantonly and do as they please. They think that everything people do is good, and should be commemorated by God. Is this reasonable? (No.) What nature essence do people possess? Are they truly human? To put it more tastefully, they are Satans and devils. To put it more coarsely, they are animals. People do not know the rules of how to behave, they are very scummy, as well as lazy, loving of leisure and averse to hard work, and they want to run amok doing bad things. The most troubling part is that many who do a duty in God’s house always wish to bring the secular world’s philosophies for worldly dealings, methods, and evil trends along with them. They even put their energy into researching, learning, and imitating these things, and as a result create chaos and turmoil in some of the work of God’s house. This is unbearable for everyone, and even some brothers and sisters who are new to the faith say that these people are not pious, that their actions are of worldly trends, and aren’t anything like the actions of a Christian—even these new believers can’t accept the actions of these people. These people pay a little price, have a little enthusiasm, and a tiny bit of drive and goodwill, and they bring whatever nonsense they have learned into God’s house, and apply it to their duty and work, and as a result, they cause disruptions and disturbances to the work of the church, and end up getting pruned. Some people don’t understand this: “Doesn’t God say He will commemorate people’s good deeds? Then why am I being pruned for doing my duty? Why can’t I understand this? How are God’s words being fulfilled? Could it be that they’re all just empty, high-sounding words?” Then why don’t you reflect on whether your actions are good deeds that deserve to be commemorated? What has God required of you? Do the duty you have performed, the work you have done, and the ideas and suggestions you have provided conform to the decorum of saints? Are they in accordance with the required standards of God’s house? Have you thought about the testimony of God, and the name of God? Have you considered the reputation of the house of God? Have you considered the decorum of saints? Do you acknowledge that you are a Christian? You have not considered any of this, so then what have you actually done? Are your actions worthy of commemoration? You have made a mess of the church’s work, and God’s house has only pruned you, without revoking your eligibility to perform a duty. This is the greatest love, the truest love. And yet, you feel annoyed. Do you have any reason to be? You are extremely unreasonable!

There are some people who have only believed in God for two or three years, and their actions, the way they talk and laugh, and the viewpoints they reveal, and even their facial expressions and movements when speaking with others are unpleasant, and show that they are absolutely nonbelievers and disbelievers. These people should be kept in line, they should be pruned, and rules should be laid down for them, so that they know what normal humanity is, what saintly decorum is, and what a Christian should be like, and so that they learn how to be a human, and can have human likeness. There are some who have believed in God for eight or 10 years, or even longer, but judging by their thoughts and perspectives, words and actions, and the way they handle things and the ideas they come up with when things befall them, it is clear that they are absolutely nonbelievers and disbelievers. These people have listened to quite a few sermons, and they have some experience and insight; they have interacted with their brothers and sisters quite a bit, and should have their own form of everyday language, and yet the majority of them are unable to share testimony, and when they talk and express their views, their language is overly simplistic, and they can’t explain anything clearly. They truly are impoverished, pathetic, and blind—they clearly have an utterly pitiful countenance. When someone like that does a duty and takes on a little responsibility, they always get pruned. This is inevitable. Why will they be pruned? It’s because their actions violate the truth principles too much; they cannot even attain the conscience and reason of normal people, and they speak and act like nonbelievers, it’s as if a nonbeliever has been hired to come to do the work of God’s house. So, how’s the quality of the work produced by these people in the performance of their duties? What is its value? Is there any part of them that is submissive? Don’t they have too many problems and only cause disruptions and disturbances? (Yes.) Then shouldn’t these people be pruned? (Yes.) Some people write scripts about a Christian’s life, about how the protagonist goes through persecution, tribulation, and various situations, and how they appreciate and experience God’s words. However, throughout the entire story, the protagonist hardly ever prays, and sometimes when faced with something, they don’t even know what to say in prayer. Before, some people used to write the same old thing for prayer after prayer; when the protagonist encountered something, they’d pray: “Oh God, I’m so upset right now! I’m so miserable, so totally miserable! Please guide me and enlighten me.” They just wrote trivial words like these, but in the face of a different event, a different situation, a different mood, the protagonist didn’t know how to pray and had nothing to say. This makes Me wonder, if these people depict their protagonists as not praying when they run into problems, do they themselves have the habit of praying? If they don’t pray when they encounter something, then what do they rely on in their daily lives and the performance of their duty? What are they thinking about? Do they have God in their hearts? (They don’t have God in their hearts. They rely on their own thinking and gifts in the things they do.) The result of this is that they are pruned. How do you think I will assess this matter? People such as this should be pruned. These people, who do not make progress, who have brains but lack hearts, have been believers for years, yet they have no idea what to say in prayers when encountering an issue; they have nothing to say to God, nor do they know how to confide in God, and they do not have heart-to-hearts with God. God is the One closest to you, the One who is most worthy of your trust and reliance, and yet you don’t have a single thing to say to Him—so whom are you reserving your innermost thoughts for? No matter whom it is, if you don’t have anything to say to God, then what kind of person are you? Aren’t you a person who is most devoid of humanity? If there is nothing in the script about the protagonist’s humanity, their life as a believer, and how they experience and appreciate God’s words, and so on, if it’s just a hollow shell of a script, then what do you want to show people by making this film? What’s the use in that script you’re writing? Are you bearing witness to God, or to the little knowledge and education you have? The best concrete evidence for testimony to God is how a person prays and seeks, and how their ideas, attitude, perspectives, and their thoughts on God transform, when something befalls them, or when they run into difficulties. Unfortunately, some people have no understanding whatsoever of this. They still don’t know how to pray after several years of faith—it’s no wonder they still haven’t made progress. Their professional skills haven’t improved, and they’ve made no progress in their life entry. Shouldn’t such people be pruned? And so, there is an antecedent to people being pruned. If you refuse to accept pruning, or if you are not pruned, the consequence of this and your outcome will be dangerous. You are fortunate to have people to prune and discipline you now. This wonderful, beneficial thing is something that antichrists cannot accept. They think that when they get pruned, it means that they’re done, that they no longer have hope, that they can see what their outcome will be. They think being pruned demonstrates that they are no longer valued, and no longer a favorite of the Above, and that they are likely to be eliminated. Then they lose motivation in their faith and begin making plans to go out into the world and make a lot of money, to follow worldly trends, to eat, drink, and be merry, and their schemes begin to come to light. This puts them in danger, and their next step will lead them to cross the threshold, to depart from the house of God.

When an antichrist has status and power in the house of God, when they can take advantage and capitalize at every turn, when people look up to and flatter them, and when they think that blessings and rewards, and a beautiful destination all seem to be within reach, then on the surface they appear to be overflowing with faith in God, in God’s words and His promises to mankind, and in the work and prospects of God’s house. However, as soon as they are pruned, when their desire for blessings is threatened, then they develop suspicions and misunderstandings toward God. In the blink of an eye, their apparently abundant faith disappears, and is nowhere to be found. They can hardly muster up the energy to even walk or talk, they lose interest in doing their duty, and they lose all enthusiasm, love and faith. They’ve lost the little bit of goodwill they had, and they pay no mind to anyone who speaks with them. They turn into a completely different person in an instant. They are revealed, aren’t they? When such a person is holding on to their hopes of being blessed, they appear to have boundless energy, to be loyal to God. They can get up early and work until late at night, and are able to suffer and pay a price. But when they’ve lost hope of being blessed, they are like a deflated balloon. They want to change their plans, find another path, and to give up their faith in God. They become discouraged and disappointed with God, and are filled with grievances. Is this the expression of someone who pursues and loves the truth, someone with humanity and integrity? (No.) They are in danger. When you encounter this sort of person, if they are able to render service, then be gentle when pruning them, and find some pleasant-sounding words with which to praise them. Flatter them and puff them up like a balloon, and then they will have a spring in their step. You can say things like, “You are so blessed, you have a shine in your eyes, and I can see you have boundless energy, and you’re sure to be a mainstay in God’s house. God’s kingdom could never be without you, and without you the work of God’s house would suffer a loss. But you just have one tiny flaw. You can overcome it with a little effort and once that’s fixed everything will be fine, then the greatest crown of all is sure to be yours.” When a person like this does something wrong, you can prune them to their face. How should you do that? Just say, “You’re so smart. How could you make such a basic mistake? That shouldn’t have happened! You have the best caliber and are the most educated in our team, and you’re the most prestigious among us. You shouldn’t have been the one to make a mistake like this—how embarrassing! Be sure not to make a mistake like this again, or it’ll certainly be hurtful to God. If you do it again, it will damage your reputation. I won’t say this to you in front of everyone—I’m letting you know about it in secret so that the brothers and sisters don’t get any ideas about you. I’m just trying to make sure you don’t lose face, and taking your feelings into consideration, right? See, isn’t God’s house loving?” Then they say, “Yes.” “So what’s next?” And they will respond, “Keep up the good work!” What do you think of treating them like that? That kind of person just wants to gain blessings by laboring, they never seek the truth principles in their words or actions, and they don’t accept the truth at all. They never think about whether they should be saying what they say or doing what they do, nor do they consider the consequences of what they do, nor do they pray, ponder, seek or fellowship. They just do things according to their own ideas, they do whatever they want. When someone damages their pride or interests with something they say or do, exposes their flaws or problems, or makes a reasonable suggestion to them, then they fume with rage, hold a grudge, and want to get revenge, and in more serious cases, they want to abandon their faith and go report the church to the great red dragon. We have a way to handle this sort of person, namely to avoid pruning them, and coddle them instead.

We have just been fellowshipping about how when antichrists are pruned, they always see it in connection to their hopes of gaining blessings. This attitude and view is incorrect, and it is dangerous. When someone points out an antichrist’s flaws or problems, they feel they have lost their hope of gaining blessings; and when they are pruned, or disciplined, or reproached, they also feel they have lost their hope of gaining blessings. As soon as something does not go their way or does not conform to their notions, as soon as they are exposed and pruned, feeling their self-esteem has suffered a blow, their thoughts go at once to whether they no longer have hope of gaining blessings. Is this not overly sensitive of them? Are they not too strongly desirous of gaining blessings? Tell Me, are such people not pitiful? (They are.) They are pitiful, indeed! And in what way are they pitiful? Is whether one can obtain blessings related to their being pruned? (No.) They are unrelated. Why, then, do antichrists feel they have lost their hope of gaining blessings when they are pruned? Does this not have something to do with their pursuit? What do they pursue? (Gaining blessings.) They never let go of their desire and intent to gain blessings. They have intended to gain blessings from the start of their belief in God, and though they have listened to plenty of sermons, they have never accepted the truth. They have never given up their desire and intent to gain blessings. They have not rectified or changed their views on belief in God, and their intent in doing their duty has not been purified. They always do everything while clutching their hope and intent to gain blessings, and in the end, when their hopes of gaining blessings are about to be dashed, they erupt in anger, and complain bitterly, finally laying bare the ugly state of their doubt about God and their denial of the truth. Are they not courting death? Such is the inevitable consequence of the antichrists’ not accepting the truth in the least, nor accepting being pruned. In their experience of God’s work, all God’s chosen people can know that God’s judgment, chastisement, and His pruning are His love and blessings—yet antichrists believe that this is just something people say, and do not believe it is the truth. So, they do not see prunings as lessons to be learned from, nor do they seek the truth or reflect on themselves. On the contrary, they believe that pruning is born of human will, that it is intentional torment, laden with human intents, and certainly not from God. They choose to resist and disregard it, and even study why someone would treat them so. They do not submit at all. They link everything that happens in the performance of their duty to gaining blessings and rewards, and they regard gaining blessings as the most important pursuit in their life, as well as the ultimate and highest goal of their belief in God. They cling for life to their intent to gain blessings, no matter how God’s house fellowships about the truth, and do not let it go, thinking that belief in God that is not for the sake of gaining blessings is idiocy and folly, that it is a great loss. They think that anyone who gives up their intent to gain blessings has been duped, that only a fool would give up hope of gaining blessings, and that accepting pruning is a display of idiocy and incompetence, something a smart person would not do. This is the thinking and logic of an antichrist. So, when an antichrist is pruned, they are very resistant at heart, and adept at sophistry and pretense; they do not accept the truth in the least, nor do they submit. Instead, they brim with disobedience and defiance. This is liable to lead to opposing God, passing judgment on God, and fighting against God, and in the end, to being revealed and eliminated.

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