What It Means to Pursue the Truth (1) Part One

Today’s fellowship is on a topic that everyone is familiar with. It is closely linked to man’s belief in God and their pursuit, and it is a topic that people encounter and hear about every day. Well then, what is it? The topic is what it means to pursue the truth. What do you think of this topic? Is it novel enough for you? Is it compelling? No matter how compelling this topic is, I know that it is relevant to each and every one of you; it is relevant to people’s salvation, to their entry into the reality of God’s words and their dispositional change, and to their future outcome and destination. Most of you are now willing to pursue the truth and have begun to awaken, but you are not so sure about what it means to pursue the truth or how the truth should be pursued. That is why it is necessary for us to fellowship on this topic today. The pursuit of the truth is a topic that people often encounter in their daily lives; it is a practical problem that people face when things befall them during their daily lives, while performing their duties, and so on. When something befalls most people, they simply make self-motivated efforts to read God’s words, and they keep their thoughts from becoming negative, hoping to thereby stop themselves from plunging into negativity or misunderstandings of God, and to enable themselves to submit to His work. People of better caliber are capable of positively and proactively seeking all aspects of the truth within God’s words; they look for the principles, God’s requirements, and paths of practice. Or they are able to examine themselves, contemplate, and gain knowledge through the things that befall them, and thereby come to understand the principles of the truth and enter into the reality of the truth. However, this remains a great hurdle for most people, and whether they can achieve these things is uncertain. Most people have not yet entered into this aspect of reality. So, it will not be easy for you to arrive at a practical, objective, and true understanding of this ordinary, commonplace, and specific topic, even if you are given time to contemplate on it. So, to return to our main topic, let us fellowship on what it means to pursue the truth. You are not skilled at contemplating, but I hope that you are good at listening—not just with your ears, but with your heart. I hope that you will put your heart into understanding and comprehending this, and that you will take to heart, as something of import, everything that you are able to comprehend, and everything that corresponds to your state, your disposition, and each aspect of your situation. After that, I hope that you will set out to resolve your corrupt dispositions, and strive to take all the principles of practice to heart, so that when related issues arise, you will have a path to follow, and you will be able to treat God’s words as a path of practice, and carry out and obey them as such. That would be best.

What does it mean to pursue the truth? This may be a conceptual question, but it is also the most practical question about believing in God. Whether people can pursue the truth or not is directly related to their preferences, their caliber, and their pursuit. The pursuit of the truth encompasses many practical elements. We should fellowship on them one by one, so that you can understand the truth as quickly as possible, and know exactly what it means to pursue it and what issues relate to that pursuit. That way, you will ultimately be able to understand what it means to pursue the truth. First, let us discuss this: Are you pursuing the truth by listening to this sermon? (Not really.) Listening to sermons is merely a prerequisite and action of preparing to pursue the truth. What elements are involved in pursuing the truth? There are many topics that touch on the pursuit of the truth, and naturally there are also many problems that exist in people that we need to discuss here. For instance, some people say, “If one eats and drinks of God’s words and fellowships about the truth every day, if they are able to do their duty normally, if they do whatever the church arranges, and never cause disturbances or disruptions—and though there may be times they violate the principles of the truth, they don’t do so consciously or with intent—doesn’t this demonstrate that they are pursuing the truth?” This is a good question. Many people have this idea. First of all, you must understand whether someone could attain an understanding of the truth and gain the truth by practicing consistently in this way. Share your thoughts. (Although practicing in this way is correct, it seems more along the lines of religious ritual—it’s rule-following. It can’t lead to an understanding of the truth or gaining the truth.) So, what sort of behaviors are these, really? (They’re superficially good behaviors.) I like that answer. They are merely good behaviors that arise after a person comes to believe in God, upon the foundation of that person’s conscience and reason, once they have been influenced by various good and positive teachings. But they are no more than good behaviors, and they are far from being the pursuit of the truth. What, then, is the root of these good behaviors? What gives rise to them? They arise from a person’s conscience and reason, their morality, the favorable feelings they have toward believing in God, and their self-restraint. Since they are good behaviors, they have no relation to the truth, and they are certainly not the same thing. Possessing good behaviors is not the same as practicing the truth, and if a person behaves well it does not mean that they have God’s approval. Good behaviors and practicing the truth are two different things—they have no bearing on each other. Practicing the truth is God’s requirement and it is entirely in line with His will; good behavior comes from man’s will and carries with it man’s intents and motives—it is something that man regards as good. Although good behaviors are not evil deeds, they contravene the principles of the truth and have nothing to do with the truth. No matter how good these behaviors are, or how much they accord with man’s notions and imaginings, they have no relation to the truth. So no amount of good behavior can attain God’s approval. Since good behavior is defined in this way, clearly good behaviors do not relate to the practice of the truth. If people were to be sorted into types according to their behavior, then these good behaviors would, at the most, be the actions of loyal service-doers and nothing more. They have no relation at all to the practice of the truth or to true submission to God. They are merely a sort of behavior, and are completely irrelevant to people’s dispositional change, to their submission to and acceptance of the truth, to the fear of God and shunning of evil, or any other practical elements that truly involve the truth. So, why are they called good behaviors, then? Here is an explanation, and naturally it is also an explanation of the essence of this question. It is that these behaviors stem only from people’s notions, their preferences, their volition, and their own self-motivated efforts. They are not manifestations of the repentance that come with gaining true self-knowledge by accepting the truth and the judgment and chastisement of God’s words, nor are they the behaviors or actions of practicing the truth that arise when people try to submit to God. Do you understand this? It means that these good behaviors do not in any way involve a change in a person’s disposition, or what comes of undergoing the judgment and chastisement of God’s words, or the true repentance that arises from coming to know one’s corrupt disposition. They certainly do not relate to man’s true submission to God and the truth; still less do they relate to having a heart of reverence and love for God. Good behaviors have nothing at all to do with these things; they are merely something that comes from man and something that man regards as good. Yet there are many people who see these good behaviors as a sign that someone is practicing the truth. This is a grave mistake, an absurd and fallacious view and understanding. These good behaviors are just a performance of religious ceremony, and going through the motions. They are not at all related to practicing the truth. God may not condemn them outright, but He absolutely does not approve of them; that is certain. You ought to know that these outward actions that accord with man’s notions and these good behaviors are not the practice of the truth, nor are they a manifestation of the pursuit of the truth. Having heard this fellowship, you have merely a little conceptual knowledge about what it means to pursue the truth, an initial understanding of a simple concept of pursuing the truth. If you wish to truly understand what it means to pursue the truth, there is more that we must fellowship on.

To pursue the truth, one must understand it; only by understanding the truth can one practice it. Are people’s good behaviors related to the practice of the truth? Are good behaviors born of the pursuit of the truth? What manifestations and actions belong to the practice of the truth? What manifestations are possessed by people who pursue the truth? You need to understand these questions. In order to fellowship on the pursuit of the truth, we must first speak about the difficulties and mistaken views people have toward it. It is essential to resolve these first. There are some people of pure understanding, who have a relatively clear perspective on what the truth is. They have a path upon which to pursue the truth. There are others who do not understand what the truth is, and though they have an interest in it, they do not know how to practice it. They believe that doing good things and behaving well are the same as practicing the truth—that to practice the truth is to do good things. It is not until they have read many of God’s words that they realize that doing good things and behaving well are completely different to practicing the truth. You can see how absurd people’s notions and imaginings are—those who do not understand the truth cannot see anything clearly! Many people have performed their duty for years, they busy themselves every day, and have undergone more than a few hardships, so they think of themselves as people who practice the truth, and who possess the reality of the truth. However, they cannot offer any experiential testimony. What is the problem at play here? If they understand the truth, why can they not speak about their actual experiences? Is this not something of a contradiction? Some people say, “When I was performing my duty before, I didn’t pursue the truth, and I didn’t pray-read God’s words thoroughly. I wasted a great deal of time. I was so engrossed in my work, thinking that keeping busy with my duty was the same as practicing the truth and submitting to God’s work—but I was just squandering my time.” What is implied here? That they put off pursuing the truth because they were so busy performing their duty. Is that really the case? Some absurd people believe that as long as they keep busy with their duty, there will be no time for their corrupt disposition to reveal itself, that they will no longer reveal a corrupt disposition or live in a corrupt state, and therefore, they do not need to eat and drink of God’s words in order to resolve their corrupt disposition. Is this idea correct? Do people really not reveal corrupt dispositions when they are busy with their duties? It is an absurd idea—it is a bald-faced lie. They say that they have no time to pursue the truth because they are busy with their duty. This is pure fallacy; they are using being busy as an excuse. We have fellowshiped many times on the truths about life entry and performing a duty: It is only by seeking the truth to resolve problems while performing a duty that people can grow in life. Therefore, if all one does while performing their duty is busy themselves with tasks, if they fail to seek the truth to resolve problems, then they will never understand the truth. Some people who do not love the truth are content merely to render service, and hope to trade it for the blessings of the kingdom of heaven. They wind up giving the excuse that they are so busy performing their duty that they have no time to pursue the truth; they even say that they are so busy performing their duty that they do not reveal a corrupt disposition. This implies that because they are busy with their duty, their corrupt disposition has disappeared, that it no longer exists. This is a lie, is it not? Does their claim accord with the facts? Not at all—it may be called the biggest lie of all. How could a corrupt disposition no longer reveal itself because a person is busy with their duty? Do such people exist? Does such experiential testimony exist? Certainly not. People have been deeply corrupted by Satan; they all have a satanic nature, and they all live in satanic dispositions. Is there anything positive inside man, anything besides corruption? Is there anyone who was born without a corrupt disposition? Is there anyone who was born able to perform a duty with loyalty? Is there anyone who was born able to submit to God and love Him? Absolutely not. Because all people have satanic natures and are filled with corrupt dispositions, if they are not able to understand and practice the truth, they can only live by their corrupt dispositions. So, it is an absurdity and a fallacy to say that a person will not reveal a corrupt disposition if they keep busy with their duty. It is a bald-faced lie meant to mislead people. No matter if they are busy performing their duty or not, no matter if they have time to read God’s words or not, people who do not love the truth will find reasons and excuses not to pursue it. These people are service-doers, plain and simple. If a service-doer does not eat and drink of God’s words and does not accept the truth, will they be able to render good service? Certainly not. All those who do not accept the truth are devoid of conscience and reason, they are people who would live by their corrupt dispositions and commit a multitude of evils. They are by no means loyal service-doers, and even though they render service, there’s nothing great about them. Of this, you can be sure.

Some people are too tangled up with their families and often wallow in anxiety. When they see younger brothers and sisters who have given up their families and careers to follow God and perform their duties, they envy them and say, “God has been kind to these young people. They began believing in Him at a young age, before getting married and having kids; they have no family ties and they don’t have to worry about how they’ll get by. They have no concerns that keep them from following God and performing their duties. They came just in time for God’s work and His expansion of the gospel in the last days—God has provided them with such favorable conditions. They can devote themselves, body and soul, to performing their duties. They can pursue the truth, but it’s not the same for me. God has not arranged a suitable environment for me—I have too many family entanglements, and I have to make money to support them. That’s where my real problems lie. That’s why I don’t have time to pursue the truth. Pursuing the truth is for people who perform their duties full time and don’t have any of these ties. I’m saddled with family entanglements, and my heart is full of the trivialities of getting by, so I have no time or energy to spare to eat and drink God’s words or perform my duty. No matter what aspect of my circumstances you look at, there’s no way for me to pursue the truth. You can’t blame me for that. It just isn’t my destiny to pursue the truth, and my circumstances don’t allow me to perform a duty. All I can do is wait for my family entanglements to abate, for my children to become independent, and for me to retire and be free of my material worries—then I’ll pursue the truth.” People like this experience hardship in their daily lives, and they can occasionally feel their corrupt disposition pouring forth in the trivial matters of their day-to-day lives. They can detect these things, but because they are caught in the snares of the secular world, they believe that they are doing well by living, believing in God, listening to sermons, and getting by comfortably in this way. They believe that pursuing the truth can wait, and that it will not be too late to resolve whatever corrupt dispositions they have a few years down the line. That is how they defer the great matter of pursuing the truth, and put it off time and again. What do they always say? “It’s never too late to pursue the truth. I’ll give it a few years. So long as God’s work hasn’t finished, I still have time—I still have a chance.” What do you think of this view? (It’s wrong.) Have they taken on the burden of pursuing the truth? (No.) Well, what burden have they taken on, then? Is it not the burden of getting by, of providing for their families, of raising their children? They devote all their energy to their children, to their families, to their own days and lives, and only after these things are taken care of will they make plans to begin pursuing the truth. So, are these excuses of theirs valid? Are they not stumbling blocks to their pursuit of the truth? (They are.) While these people believe in God’s sovereignty and arrangements, they also complain about the environment that God has arranged for them. They disregard God’s requirements and they do not proactively cooperate with them at all. Instead, they only care about satisfying their flesh, family, and relatives. What reason do they give for not pursuing the truth? “We’re too busy and exhausted just trying to exist. We don’t have time to pursue the truth; we don’t have the right environment to pursue the truth.” What view do they hold? (It’s never too late to pursue the truth.) “It’s never too late to pursue the truth. I’ll do it in a few years.” Is this not foolish? (It is.) It is foolish—they are fooling themselves with their excuses. Will God’s work wait for you? (No.) “I’ll do it in a few years”—what do those “few years” mean? They mean that you have less hope of being saved and that you will have fewer years to experience God’s work. A few years will pass like this, then another few years, and before you know it, ten years will have gone by, and you will not have understood the truth or entered into its reality at all, and not a single shred of your corrupt disposition will have been resolved. Just speaking one honest word is such a struggle for you. Is this not dangerous? Is this not a pity? (It is.) When people offer all these excuses and reasons to justify not pursuing the truth, who is it they harm, in the end? (Themselves.) That’s right—in the end, it is themselves who they harm. And when they are on their deathbed, they will hate themselves for not having gained the truth in their years of belief in God, and they will regret their entire lives!

Some people are somewhat well-educated, but their caliber is poor and they do not understand spiritual matters. No matter how many sermons they listen to, they are unable to understand the truth. They always have their own ambitions and desires, and they are always contending for status. If they do not possess status, they will not pursue the truth. They say, “God’s house never arranges for me to perform a duty that reflects my value, like text-based work, AV work, being a church leader, or being the supervisor of a group. They don’t give me any of that important work to do. God’s house doesn’t promote me or cultivate me, and every time the church holds an election, no one votes for me, and nobody likes me. Do I really have no desirable qualities? I’m an intellectual, I’m well-educated, but God’s house never promotes me or cultivates me, so I have no motivation to pursue the truth. All of the brothers and sisters who began believing in God around the same time as me are performing important duties, and serving as leaders and workers—why is it that I’m left to idle around? I only get to play a supporting role by spreading the gospel every now and then, and they don’t let me testify, either. Whenever God’s house promotes people to important duties, there’s nothing there for me; I’m not even allowed to lead gatherings, and they don’t give me any responsibilities. I feel so wronged. This is the environment that God has arranged for me. Why can’t I feel the value of my existence? Why does God love others but not me? Why does He cultivate others but not me? God’s house should give me more of a burden, and make me a supervisor or something. That way, I’d have a bit of motivation to pursue the truth. How can I pursue the truth without motivation? People always need a bit of motivation to pursue the truth; we need to be able to see the benefits of pursuing it. I know that people have corrupt dispositions that need to be changed, and I know that pursuing the truth is a good thing, that it allows us to be saved and perfected—but I’m never used for anything important, and I feel no incentive to pursue the truth! I’ll start pursuing the truth when the brothers and sisters hold me in esteem and support me—it won’t be too late then.” Are there not people of this sort? (There are.) What is the problem with them? The problem is that they want status and standing. Clearly, they are no lovers of the truth, yet they would like standing and a seat at the table in God’s house. Is this not shameless? It is a fine enough thing for you to be a service-doer; whether you can rise to be a loyal service-doer remains to be seen. Why is that not clear to you? Do you think that if you have status and standing, you will be saved? That you will be someone who pursues the truth? Are these sentiments of yours valid? (No.) These people want to stand out, to make their presence felt, and when their desires go unmet, they complain that God is unjust, that He is biased in how He treats people, that His house does not promote them, that the brothers and sisters do not elect them—surely these things are not the foundation one needs in order to pursue the truth? Does it say anywhere in God’s words that a pursuer of the truth must be embraced by all and held in esteem by their brothers and sisters? Or that they must be able to take on an important duty and do important work, and also make a great contribution to God’s house? Do God’s words say that only people like that can pursue the truth, that only they are fit to pursue the truth? Do His words say that only those people meet the criteria for pursuing the truth, that only they can enter the reality of the truth, or that in the end, it is only they who can be saved? Is this written anywhere in God’s words? (No.) It is obvious that the claims made by this sort of person are invalid. So, why do they say these things? Are they not making excuses for not pursuing the truth? (They are.) They love status and prestige. They only care about chasing reputation and personal gain and pursuing status in their belief in God. They feel that it would be shameful to say this out loud, so they come up with a host of justifications, defending themselves for not pursuing the truth and foisting the blame onto the church, onto the brothers and sisters, and onto God. Is this not sinister? Are they not evil people pointing fingers at the innocent party? (They are.) They are making unreasonable trouble and harassing others with illogical demands; they are entirely without conscience or reason! Not pursuing the truth is a serious enough problem on its own, and yet they also try to debate and be difficult—that is truly unreasonable, is it not? Pursuing the truth is voluntary. If you love the truth, then the Holy Spirit will work in you. When you love the truth; when you pray to and depend on God, reflect on yourself and try to know yourself no matter what persecution or tribulation befalls you; when you actively seek the truth to resolve problems that you discover in yourself, you will be able to perform your duty adequately. In this way, you will be capable of standing firm in your testimony. When people love the truth, all of these manifestations come naturally to them. They occur voluntarily, gladly, and without coercion, without any extra conditions attached. If people can follow God in this way, they will ultimately gain the truth and the life, they will enter into the reality of the truth, and they will live out the image of man. Do you need any additional conditions to be met in order to pursue the truth? No. Belief in God is voluntary, it is something that one chooses for themselves, and pursuing the truth is ordained by Heaven and acknowledged by earth; it is approved of by God. Those who do not pursue the truth are unwilling to renounce the pleasures of the flesh and still wish to gain God’s blessings, but when they are faced with some tribulations and persecution, or a bit of ridicule and defamation, they grow negative and weak, and no longer wish to believe in God or follow Him. They may even blame and deny Him. Is this not unreasonable? They wish to be blessed and yet they still pursue the pleasures of the flesh, and when met with any tribulations or persecution, they blame God. That is how unreasonable these people who do not love the truth are. It will be difficult for them to follow God until the end; as soon as they are met with some tribulations or persecution, they will be exposed and cast out. There are too many people like this. Whatever your reason for believing in God, God will ultimately determine your outcome based on whether you have gained the truth. If you have not gained the truth, then none of the justifications or excuses you make will hold water. Try to reason as you like, tie yourself in knots as you please—will God care? Will God converse with you? Will He debate and confer with you? Will He consult you? What is the answer? No. He absolutely will not. No matter how strong your reasoning is, it won’t stand up. You must not misunderstand God’s intentions, and think that if you offer all sorts of reasons and excuses then you do not need to pursue the truth. God wants you to be able to seek the truth in all environments and in every matter that befalls you, and finally achieve entry into the reality of the truth and gain the truth. Regardless of what circumstances God has arranged for you, what people and events you encounter, and what environment you find yourself in, you should pray to God and seek the truth in order to face them. These are precisely the lessons you should learn in pursuing the truth. If you always look for excuses to get out of, to evade, to refuse, or to resist these circumstances, then God will give up on you. There is no point in reasoning, or being intractable or difficult—if God does not concern Himself with you, you will lose your chance at salvation. For God, there is no problem that cannot be solved; He has made arrangements for each and every person, and has a way of handling them. God will not discuss with you whether your reasons and excuses are justified. God will not listen to whether the arguments you make in your defense are rational. He will only ask you, “Are God’s words the truth? Do you have a corrupt disposition? Ought you pursue the truth?” You just need to be clear about one fact: God is the truth, you are a corrupt human, so you should take it upon yourself to seek the truth. No problem or difficulty, no reason or excuse will stand—if you do not accept the truth, you shall perish. Any price a person pays to pursue the truth and enter its reality is worthwhile. People should let go of all their excuses, their justifications, and their troubles to accept the truth and gain the life, because God’s words and the truth are the life that they should attain, and it is a life for which nothing can be exchanged. If you miss this opportunity, you will not just regret it for the rest of your life—it is not a mere matter of regret—you will have ruined yourself quite completely. There will no longer be an outcome or a destination for you, and you, created being that you are, will have come to the end of the line. You will never again have the chance to be saved. Do you understand? (We do.) Do not look for excuses or reasons for not pursuing the truth. They are of no use; you are only fooling yourself.

Some leaders never work according to the principles, they are a law unto themselves, arbitrary and rash. The brothers and sisters may point this out, and say, “You rarely consult anyone before you take action. We don’t know what your judgments and decisions are until after you’ve made them. Why don’t you discuss them with anyone? Why don’t you let us know ahead of time when you make a decision? Even if what you’re doing is right and your caliber is greater than ours, you should still inform us about it first. At the least, we have a right to know what’s going on. By always acting as a law unto yourself you’re walking the path of an antichrist!” And what would you hear the leader say to that? “In my house, I’m the boss. All matters, great and small, are decided by me. That’s what I’m used to. When anyone in my extended family has an issue, they come to me and have me decide what to do. They know that I’m good at solving problems. That’s why I’m in charge of my family’s affairs. When I joined the church, I thought I wouldn’t have to bother with things anymore, but then I was chosen to be a leader. I can’t help it—I was born to this fate. God gave me this skill. I was born to make decisions and to call the shots for other people.” The implication here is that they were destined to be an official, and other people were born to be foot soldiers and slaves. They think that they should get the final say, and that other people should listen to them. Even when the brothers and sisters see this leader’s problem and point it out to them, they will not accept it, nor will they accept being dealt with and pruned. They will fight and resist until the brothers and sisters clamor for their removal. All the while, the leader will be thinking, “With a caliber like mine, I’m fated to be in charge wherever I go. With calibers like yours, you’ll always be slaves and servants. It’s your fate to be ordered around by other people.” What kind of disposition are they revealing by often saying such things? Clearly, it is a corrupt disposition, it is arrogance, self-conceit, and extreme egotism, yet they shamelessly show it off and flaunt it as though it were a strength and an asset. When a person reveals a corrupt disposition, they should reflect on themselves, know their corrupt disposition, repent, and forsake it, and they should pursue the truth until they can act according to the principles. But that is not how this leader practices. Instead, they remain incorrigible, sticking to their own views and methods. From these behaviors, you can see that they do not accept the truth at all and that they are absolutely not someone who pursues it. They do not listen to anyone who exposes and deals with them, and instead they remain full of self-justifications: “Hmph—this is just how I am! It’s called competence and talent—do any of you have those? I’m fated to be in charge. Wherever I go, I’m a leader. I’m used to having the final say and making decisions about everything without consulting other people. That’s just who I am, it’s my personal charm.” Is this not wanton shamelessness? They do not admit that they have a corrupt disposition, and they clearly do not acknowledge the words of God that judge and expose man. On the contrary, they take their own heresies and fallacies to be the truth, and try to make everyone else accept and revere them. Deep down, they believe that they should rule in God’s house, not the truth, that they should call the shots there. Is this not brazen shamelessness? They say that they want to pursue the truth, but their behavior is quite the opposite. They say that they obey God and the truth, but always want to wield power, to have the final say, and for all the brothers and sisters to submit to and obey them. They will not permit others to supervise or advise them, regardless of whether what they are doing is appropriate or in accordance with the principles. Instead, they believe that it is everyone else who must heed and obey their words and decisions. They do not reflect at all on their actions. No matter how the brothers and sisters counsel and help them, and no matter how God’s house prunes and deals with them, or even if they are dismissed several times, they do not reflect on their problems. In every instance, they hold to that line of theirs: “In my house, I’m the boss. I make all the decisions. In all matters, I alone have the final say. That is what I’m used to, and there’s no way around it.” They are truly outrageous and irredeemable! They propagate these negative practices as if they were positive things, all the while thinking very highly of themselves. They are so shameless! These people do not accept the truth at all and they are incorrigible—so you can be certain that they do not love or pursue it. In their hearts, they are sick of the truth and hostile to it. The prices they pay and the hardships they undergo to satisfy their desires and gain status are all in vain. God does not approve of any of it, He loathes it. It is a manifestation of their opposition to the truth and resistance toward God. One can be perfectly sure of this, and all who understand the truth can discern it.

There are also some people who have believed in God for years, but do not possess any reality of the truth; they have listened to sermons for years, but do not understand the truth. Though they have poor caliber, they do have “talents” in which they are unrivaled: telling lies and covering them up, and duping and tricking others with florid words. If they say a dozen sentences, there will be a dozen adulterations within them—each will contain impurities to some extent. To put it precisely, nothing they say is true. But because they have poor caliber and appear quite well-behaved, they think, “I’m a timid, guileless person by nature, and my caliber is poor. I’m bullied wherever I go, and when people bully me, I just have to endure it and suffer. I don’t dare talk back or fight them—all I can do is hide, yield, and take it. I’m the ‘honest but ignorant man’ that God’s words talk about, I am one of His people.” If someone asks them, “How is it that you lie, then?” They will say, “When did I lie? Whom did I trick? I haven’t lied! How could I tell a lie, being the guileless person that I am? My mind is slow to react to things, and I’m not very well-educated—I don’t know how to lie! Those deceitful people out there, they can produce a couple of wicked ideas and plots in the blink of an eye. I’m not wily like that, and I’m always getting bullied. So I’m the honest person God speaks of, and there’s no basis for you to call me a liar or a trickster. There’s simply nothing to it—you’re just trying to smear me. I know you all look down on me: You think that I’m stupid and that my caliber is poor, so you all want to bully me. God’s the only One who doesn’t bully me, He treats me with grace.” This sort of person will not even admit to lying, and they have the audacity to say that they are the honest people God speaks of, and with that statement, they hoist themselves directly onto a throne. They believe that they are honest but ignorant people by nature and loved by God. They think that they do not need to pursue the truth or reflect on themselves. They think that from the moment they were born no lies could be found in their mouths. They do not admit to lying, no matter what anyone says, and instead they trot out the same old excuses to argue and defend themselves. Have they reflected on themselves? They have, in a sense. What came to them in that “self-reflection”? “I’m the honest but ignorant man who God speaks of. I may be a bit ignorant, but I’m an honest person.” Are they not putting feathers in their own cap? They are not clear on which they are, an ignorant person or an honest person, but they deem themselves to be an honest person. Do they have self-awareness? If someone is a fool who gets bullied and lives a cowardly life, does that mean they are necessarily a good person? And if someone is seen as a good person by others, does that mean they do not need to pursue the truth? Are such people somehow just naturally possessed of the truth? Some people say, “I’m a pretty guileless person, I always try to speak the truth, I’m just a bit ignorant. I don’t need to pursue the truth, I’m already a good and honest person.” By saying this, are they not implying that they are possessed of the truth and do not have a corrupt disposition? All of mankind has been corrupted deeply by Satan. All people have corrupt dispositions, and when one possesses a corrupt disposition, they can lie, cheat, and deceive whenever they please. They may even flaunt some trifling achievement or contribution of theirs, pouring forth an arrogant disposition. All the while they are full of notions about God and extravagant demands of Him, and trying to reason with Him. Are these not problems? Is this not a corrupt disposition? Does this not require examination? It does. Yet these people have already anointed themselves as honest people who never lie or trick others; they proclaim that they do not have deceitful dispositions, so they do not need to pursue the truth. Therefore, no one who behaves in this way is pursuing the truth, and none of them have entered the reality of the truth. When they pray to God, they often cry bitterly about their stupidity, about how they are always being bullied, about their particularly poor caliber: “God, only You love me; only You take pity on me and treat me graciously. People all bully me, and say that I’m a liar—but I’m not!” Then, they wipe away their tears and stand up, and when they see other people, they think, “None of you are loved by God. Only I am.” These people think highly of themselves, and do not accept that they display any of the various behaviors and outpourings of corrupt dispositions spoken of by God. Even when a specific problem befalls them and produces a corrupt state or outpouring within them, they just admit to it verbally after a moment’s thought, and then they are done with the matter. They do not seek the truth at all, and they do not accept the fact that they have corruption and are a corrupt human. Less still, of course, would they admit to having poured forth a corrupt disposition in any particular instance. No matter how many problems they give rise to, and no matter how many corrupt dispositions they pour forth, they always wind up saying the same thing: “I’m the honest but ignorant man that God speaks about. I’m the object of His pity, and He will bless me greatly.” And so, with these words, they feel that they do not have to pursue the truth; these words are the excuse such people offer for not pursuing the truth. Are such people not absurd? (They are.) They are absurd and ignorant. How absurd are they? So much so that they seize on one phrase of God’s words that benefits them and use it as a sigil with which to coerce God and exonerate themselves for not pursuing the truth, while treating the words of God that expose and judge man as having nothing to do with them. They feel that they do not need to listen to them because they are already an honest person. To put it precisely, such people are pathetic wretches. They have poor caliber, no sense, and very little shame, yet they still wish to gain blessings. And though they have poor caliber, and neither sense nor shame, they are very proud, and they look down upon ordinary people. They have no respect for people of good caliber who are able to pursue the truth, and who can fellowship on the reality of the truth. They think, “What good are these strengths of yours, anyway? With all your pursuing the truth and knowing yourselves—I don’t need to do that stuff. I’m an honest person; I may be a bit ignorant, but that’s not really an issue. And the corrupt dispositions I pour forth are nothing to worry about, either. As long as I equip myself with some good behaviors, I’ll be fine.” What do they require of themselves? “God knows my heart, at any rate, and my faith in Him is genuine. That’s enough. Talking day in and day out about experiential testimony and knowledge of God’s words—what’s the use of all this talk? When all is said and done, sincerely believing in God is enough.” Is that not as foolish as it gets? Firstly, such people are not at all interested in the truth; secondly, it is fair to say that they have no ability to comprehend the truth or God’s words. And yet, they still think much of themselves and act so high and mighty. They look for a justification for why they do not pursue the truth, or a method of pursuit or something they perceive as a strength to replace the pursuit of the truth. Is this not foolish? (It is.)

Some people who do not pursue the truth have no major problems in terms of their humanity. They stick to the rules and behave themselves. Such women are gentle and virtuous, dignified and decent, and do not fool around. They are good girls in front of their parents, they are good wives and mothers in their family lives, and they dutifully spend their days taking care of their homes. Such men are guileless and dutiful, and they behave themselves; they are filial sons, they do not drink or smoke, and they do not steal or rob, they do not gamble or go whoring—they are model husbands, and outside of the home, they seldom quarrel or dispute with others about who’s right or wrong. Some people think that it is enough to achieve these things as a believer in God, and that those who do so are standard, acceptably good people. They believe that if they are charitable and helpful, humble and patient, and tolerant after coming to believe in God, and if they do whatever work the church arranges for them diligently and well, without being careless or perfunctory, then they have attained the reality of the truth and are close to fulfilling God’s requirements. They think that if they buckle down and put in a bit more effort, if they read more of God’s word, if they remember more of its phrases, and preach them more to others, then they will be pursuing the truth. But they do not recognize their outpourings of corruption, they do not know what corrupt dispositions they have, and less still do they know how a corrupt disposition arises, or how it should be known and resolved. They know none of these things. Are there people like this? (Yes.) They regard their natural “goodness” as a standard to be achieved by those who pursue the truth. If someone were to call them arrogant, deceitful, and evil, they would not dispute it openly, and they would display an attitude of humility, patience, and acceptance. But deep down, instead of taking it seriously, they would resist it: “I’m arrogant? If I’m arrogant, there’s not a single good person on earth! If I’m deceitful, then no one in the world is honest! If I’m evil, then no one in the world is decent! Is it easy to find someone as good as me nowadays? No—it’s impossible!” It will not do to call them deceitful or arrogant, or to say that they do not love the truth, and it certainly will not do to call them a nonbeliever. They will just slam their hands on the table and argue: “So, I’m a nonbeliever, you say? If I can’t be saved, not one of you can!” Someone may expose them by saying, “You don’t accept the truth. When people call out your problems, you appear quite humble and patient, but deep down you’re really resistant. What you preach when you’re fellowshiping on the truth is correct, but the fact remains that you do not accept a single one of God’s words that expose and judge the essence of man’s corrupt disposition. You resist those and you are averse to them. You have a vicious disposition.” If you call them “vicious,” they simply cannot accept it. “Vicious, am I? If I were vicious, I’d have trampled you all underfoot long ago! If I were vicious, I’d have already destroyed you all!” They cannot comprehend anything you expose about them or fellowship with them correctly. What does it mean to comprehend things correctly? It means that no matter what problems someone reveals in you, you hold them up against God’s words for comparison to examine whether there really were any mistakes in your intents and thoughts, and no matter how many problems are revealed in you, you approach them all with an attitude of acceptance and submission. That is how a person can truly gain knowledge of their problems. One cannot gain knowledge of their corrupt disposition according to their notions and imaginings, this must be done on the basis of God’s words. So, what is the prerequisite for self-knowledge? You must acknowledge the fact that Satan has deceived and corrupted mankind, and that all people have corrupt dispositions. It is only by accepting this fact that you can reflect on yourself according to the revelation of God’s words, and in the process of this self-reflection, gradually uncover your problems. Unbeknownst to you, your problems will rise to the surface, little by little, and then you will understand with clarity what your corrupt disposition is. And on this foundation, you can gain knowledge of what sort of person you are and what your essence is. You will thereby achieve acceptance of all that God says and that which He reveals, and then go on to find in God’s words the path of practice He has laid out for man, and practice and live according to His words. That is what it means to pursue the truth. But is that how this sort of person receives God’s words? No—they may profess to acknowledge that God’s words are the truth and that His words exposing corrupt mankind are all facts, but if you ask them to know their own corrupt disposition, they will neither accept nor acknowledge it. They believe that it has nothing to do with them. This is because they think themselves to be dignified and decent people—upright people, people of honor. Does being an upright person mean that they possess the truth? Being an upright person is merely a positive manifestation of one’s humanity; it does not represent the truth. So, just because you have one characteristic of normal humanity, it does not mean that you do not need to pursue the truth, nor does it mean that you have already gained the truth—and less still does it mean that you are a person who God loves. Is that not the case? (It is.) These so-called “people of honor” believe that they do not have arrogant, deceitful dispositions, or a disposition of being sick of the truth, and that they certainly do not have evil, vicious dispositions. They think that none of these corrupt dispositions exist within them, because they are people of honor, they are by nature upright and kind, they are always bullied by others, and although they are poor of caliber and ignorant, they are honest. This “honesty” is not true honesty, it is guilelessness, timidity, and ignorance. Are such people not great fools? Everyone sees them as good people. Is this view correct? Do those who people perceive to be good have corrupt dispositions? The answer is “yes”—this is a certainty. Do guileless people not tell lies? Do they not cheat others or disguise themselves? Are they not selfish? Are they not greedy? Do they not wish for high office? Are they free of all extravagant desires? Certainly not. The only reason they have done no evil is that they lacked the right opportunity. And they take pride in this—they anoint themselves as people of honor and believe that they do not have a corrupt disposition. So, if anyone were to point out some sort of corrupt disposition, outpouring, or state in them, they would refute it by saying, “I do not! That’s not who I am, and that’s not how I act, or how I think. You’ve misunderstood me. You all see that I’m guileless, that I’m dumb, that I’m timid, so you bully me.” What is to be made of such people, who would bite back like this? If anyone dared to rile such a person, they would be hounded by them forever. They would never hear the end of it; they would be unable to shake that person off, try as they might. These unreasonable, relentlessly vexatious people still think that they are pursuers of the truth, that they are guileless, ignorant people who have no corrupt dispositions. Often, they even say, “I may be ignorant, but I’m guileless—I’m an honest person, and God loves me!” To them, these are things to capitalize on. Is this not just a bit shameless? You say that God loves you. Is that right? Do you have a basis for saying so? Do you have the work of the Holy Spirit? Has God said that He will perfect you? Does God plan to make use of you? If God has not said these things to you, then you cannot say that He loves you—you can only say that He takes pity on you, which is already a great thing. If you say that God loves you, that is just your personal understanding; it does not prove that God truly loves you. Would God love a person who does not pursue the truth? Would God love an ignorant, timid person? God has pity for the ignorant and the timid—that much is true. God loves those who are truly honest, who pursue the truth, who can practice the truth and submit to Him, who can exalt Him and testify for Him, who can be considerate of His will and love Him sincerely. Only those who can truly expend of themselves for God and loyally perform their duties have God’s love; only those who can accept the truth, as well as being pruned and dealt with, have God’s love. Those who do not accept the truth, who do not accept being pruned and dealt with, are those whom God detests and rejects. If you are sick of the truth and resist all of the words spoken by God, then God will be sick of you and spurn you. If you always think of yourself as a good person, as a pathetic, simple and guileless person, but do not pursue the truth, will God love you? It is impossible; there is no basis for that in His words. God does not look at whether you are guileless, nor does He care what sort of humanity or caliber you were born with—He looks at whether, having heard His words, you accept them or ignore them, whether you submit to them or resist them. He looks at whether His words have an effect on you and bear fruit in you, at whether you can bear true testimony to the many words He has spoken. If what your experience comes down to in the end is, “I’m guileless, I’m timid, I get bullied by every person I meet. Everyone looks down on me,” then God will say that this is not testimony. If you add, “I’m the honest but ignorant man whom God speaks of,” God will say that you are full of lies and that a single word of truth cannot be found in your mouth. If, when God has requirements of you, you not only fail to obey them at all, but also try to reason with God and make excuses for yourself, saying, “I’ve suffered and paid a price, and I love God,” that will not stand. Do you pursue the truth? Where is your true experiential testimony? How does the love you have for God manifest? No one will be convinced if you cannot provide evidence. You say, “I’m a person of honor and I act with decency. I don’t engage in fornication, and I follow all the rules in my actions. I’m a well-behaved person. I don’t go around drinking, whoring, and gambling. I don’t cause disruptions or disturbances in God’s house or sow dissension, I endure suffering and work hard. Are these not signs that I pursue the truth? I’m already pursuing the truth.” And God will say: Have you resolved your corrupt disposition? Where is your testimony to your pursuit of the truth? Can you obtain the approval and admiration of God’s chosen people? If you cannot offer any experiential testimony, yet you say that you are an honest person who loves God, then you are someone who beguiles others with false words—you are an unreasonable devil Satan, and you deserve to be cursed. All that is left for you is to be condemned and cast out by God.

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