What It Means to Pursue the Truth (1) (Part Two)
Some people, in the course of performing their duties, often act arbitrarily and recklessly. They are extremely capricious: When they are happy, they do a bit of their duty, and when they are not, they sulk and say, “I’m in a bad mood today. I won’t eat anything and I won’t perform my duty.” Others then have to negotiate with them, and say: “That won’t do. You can’t be so capricious.” And what will those people say to that? “I know it won’t do, but I grew up in a rich, privileged family. My grandparents and aunts all spoiled me, and my parents were even worse. I was their sweetheart, the apple of their eye, and they acquiesced to me in everything and spoiled me. That upbringing left me with this capricious temperament, so when I perform a duty in God’s house, I won’t discuss things with others, or seek the truth, or submit to God. Am I to blame for that?” Is their understanding correct? Is their attitude one of pursuing the truth? (No.) Whenever anyone brings up a slight fault of theirs, like how they take the best pieces of food at meals, how they only care for themselves, and give no thought to others, they will say, “I’ve been like this since I was a child. I’m accustomed to it. I’ve never thought about other people. I’ve always lived a privileged life, with parents who adore me and grandparents who dote on me. I’m the apple of my whole family’s eye.” This is a pile of drivel and fallacy. Is this not a bit shameless and impudent? Your parents dote on you—does that mean everyone else must, too? Your relatives adore you and dote on you—does that give you reason to act recklessly and arbitrarily in God’s house? Is that a valid reason? Is this the correct attitude to have toward your corrupt disposition? Is it an attitude of pursuing the truth? (No.) When anything befalls these people, when they have any problem to do with their corrupt disposition or their lives, they seek objective justifications to answer for it, to explain it, to justify it. They never seek the truth or pray to God, and they do not come before God to reflect on themselves. Without self-reflection, can one know their problems and their corruption? (No.) And can they repent without knowing their corruption? (No.) If someone cannot repent, what condition is it that they will invariably be living in? Will it not be one of self-forgiveness? Of feeling that though they have poured forth corruption, they have not done evil or violated the administrative decrees—that though doing so was not in accordance with the principles of the truth, this was not intentional, and it is pardonable? (Yes.) Well, is that the sort of condition that someone who pursues the truth ought to have? (No.) If someone never truly repents and always lives in this sort of condition, will they be able to turn themselves around? No, they will never be able to. And if a person does not turn themselves around, they will be unable to truly let go of their evil. What does it mean to be unable to truly let go of one’s evil? It means that one cannot truly practice the truth and enter its reality. That is the obvious outcome. If you cannot let go of your evil or practice the truth and enter its reality, then if you wish to make God change His mind about you, attain the work of the Holy Spirit, gain God’s enlightenment and illumination, and have God pardon your transgressions and resolve your corruption, will that be possible? (No.) If that is not possible, then can your belief in God result in your salvation? (No.) If a person lives in a condition of forgiving and admiring themselves, they fall miles short of pursuing the truth. The things they busy themselves with, look at, listen to, and run about doing may be somewhat related to believing in God, but they will have nothing to do with pursuing the truth or practicing it. This outcome is obvious. And since they are not related to pursuing or practicing the truth, that person will not have reflected on themselves, nor will they have knowledge of themselves. They will not know the extent to which they have been corrupted, and they will not know how to practice repentance, so it is even less likely that they will achieve true repentance or make God change His mind about them. If you live in such a condition and want God to reconsider, pardon, or approve of you, that will be difficult indeed. What does “approve” mean here? It means that God acknowledges what you do, approves of it, and remembers it. If you cannot gain any of these things, it proves that you are not pursuing the truth in the things that you do, in your exertions, in your outpourings and behavior. It does not matter what you think, even if you are able to perform some good behaviors, these behaviors only represent that there is a bit of conscience and reason within your humanity. But these good behaviors are not a manifestation of the pursuit of the truth, because your starting point, intents, and motives are not those of pursuing the truth. What grounds are there for saying so? The grounds are that none of your thoughts, actions, or deeds are in pursuit of the truth, and they have nothing to do with the truth. If everything that one does is not to gain God’s approval and recognition, then nothing they do will be able to attain God’s approval or recognition, and it is obvious that these behaviors and practices can only be called good human behaviors. They are not signs that they are practicing the truth, and they are certainly not signs that they are pursuing it. People who are particularly capricious and often behave recklessly and arbitrarily do not accept the judgment and chastisement of, nor do they accept being pruned and dealt with. They also often make excuses for their failure to pursue the truth and their inability to accept being pruned and dealt with. What disposition is that? Obviously, it is a disposition that is sick of the truth—the disposition of Satan. Man is possessed of Satan’s nature and its disposition, so without a doubt, people are of Satan. They are devils, the progeny of Satan, and the offspring of the great red dragon. Some people are able to admit that they are devils, Satans, and the offspring of the great red dragon, and they speak very prettily about their self-knowledge. But when they reveal a corrupt disposition and someone exposes them, deals with them, and prunes them, they will try with all their might to justify themselves and they will not accept the truth at all. What is the issue here? In this, these people are exposed utterly. They speak so prettily when they talk about knowing themselves, so why is it that when faced with being pruned and dealt with, they cannot accept the truth? There is a problem here. Is this sort of thing not quite common? Is it easy to discern? It is, in fact. There are quite a few people who admit that they are devils and Satans when they speak of their self-knowledge, but do not repent or change afterward. So, is the self-knowledge they speak of true or false? Do they have sincere knowledge of themselves, or is it just a ruse meant to trick others? The answer is self-evident. Therefore, to see whether a person has true self-knowledge, you should not merely listen to them talk about it—you should look at the attitude they have toward being pruned and dealt with, and whether they can accept the truth. That is the most crucial thing. Whoever does not accept being pruned and dealt with has an essence of not accepting the truth, of refusing to accept it, and their disposition is sick of the truth. That is beyond doubt. Some people do not permit others to deal with them, no matter how much corruption they have revealed—no one may prune or deal with them. They are allowed to talk about their own self-knowledge, in any way that they please, but if someone else exposes them, criticizes them, or deals with them, no matter how objective or in accordance with the facts it is, they will not accept it. No matter what kind of outpouring of a corrupt disposition another person exposes in them, they will be extremely antagonistic and keep giving specious justifications for themselves, without even the slightest bit of true submission. If such people do not pursue the truth, there will be trouble. In the church, they are untouchable and irreproachable. When people say something good about them, it will make them happy; when people point out something bad about them, they will grow angry. Should someone expose them and say: “You’re a good person, but you’re very capricious. You’re always acting arbitrarily and recklessly. You need to accept being pruned and dealt with. Wouldn’t it be better for you to be rid of these deficiencies and corrupt dispositions?” in response, they will say, “I haven’t done anything evil. I haven’t sinned. Why are you dealing with me? I’ve been doted on at home since I was a child, by both my parents and grandparents. I’m their sweetheart, the apple of their eye. Now, here in God’s house, no one dotes on me at all—it’s no fun living here! You’re always picking at some fault of mine or another and trying to deal with me. How am I supposed to live like that?” What is the problem here? The clear-sighted can tell at once that these people have been spoiled by their parents and family, and that even now, they do not know how to comport themselves or live independently. Your family has doted on you like an idol, and you do not know your place in the universe. You have developed the vices of arrogance, self-righteousness, and extreme capriciousness, which you are not aware of and do not know to reflect on. You believe in God but do not listen to His words or practice the truth. Can you gain the truth with such a belief in God? Can you enter into its reality? Can you live out the true likeness of a human being? Certainly not. As a believer in God, you must at least accept the truth and know yourself. Only thus will you be able to change. If you always rely on your notions and imaginings in your faith, if you only seek peace and happiness instead of pursuing the truth, if you are incapable of true repentance, and have no change in your life disposition, then your belief in God is meaningless. As a believer in God, you must understand the truth. You must put effort into knowing yourself. You must seek the truth no matter what befalls you, and you must resolve whatever corrupt disposition pours forth from you by fellowshiping on the truth according to God’s words. If someone points out your corrupt disposition, or you take the initiative to examine it yourself, if you can consciously hold it against God’s words for comparison, and introspect, examine, and know yourself, and then go on to fix your problem and practice repentance, you will be capable of living as a human being. Those who believe in God must accept the truth. If you are always relishing the feeling of being doted on by your family, always pleased to be the apple of their eye, their sweetheart, what will you be able to gain? No matter how much you are the apple of your family’s eye and their sweetheart, if you do not have the reality of the truth, you are trash. Believing in God only has value if you pursue the truth. When you understand the truth, you will know how to comport yourself, and you will know how to live in order to experience true happiness and be a person that pleases God. No family environment, and no personal strengths, merits or gifts, can stand in for the reality of the truth, nor should any such thing serve as an excuse for you to not pursue the truth. Gaining the truth is the only thing that can bring people true happiness, allow them to live a life of significance, and grant them a beautiful destination. These are the facts of the matter.
Some people, after becoming leaders and workers in the church, believe themselves to be golden and think that they finally have the chance to shine. They feel good about themselves and begin to put their strengths to use; they give free rein to their ambitions and demonstrate their full capabilities. These people have class and education, organizational skills, and the manner and bearing of a leader. They were at the top of their class and the head of the student union at school, they were the manager or president of the company they worked at, and when they began believing in God and came to His house, they were elected as a leader, so they think to themselves, “Heaven never lets me down. It would be tough for someone as capable as I to keep a low profile. As soon as I stepped down from the position of company president, I came to God’s house and took on the role of a leader. I couldn’t be an ordinary person even if I tried. This is God’s exaltation of me, it is what He has arranged for me to do, so I’ll submit to it.” After becoming a leader, they put their experience, knowledge, organizational skills, and leadership style to use. They think that they are capable and bold, and a truly adept and talented individual. It is a pity, then, that there is a problem here. These adept, talented leaders, who were born with an ability to lead—what are they best at doing in the church? Establishing an independent kingdom, arrogating all power to themselves, and dominating discussions. After becoming a leader, they do nothing except work, run about, undergo hardships, and pay a price for the sake of their own prestige and status. They care about nothing else. They believe that their busyness and work is in line with God’s will, that they have no corrupt disposition, that the church always needs them, and that the brothers and sisters need them too. They believe that no work could get done without them, that they can take it all on themselves and monopolize power. And they have quite a way of establishing their independent kingdom. They are capable of all manner of inventive, novel things, they are particularly skilled at acting like officials and putting on airs, and practiced at lecturing others from on high. There is just one important thing they cannot do: After becoming a leader, they are no longer able to speak to others from the heart, to know themselves, to notice their own corruption, or to listen to suggestions from the brothers and sisters. Should someone raise some different ideas during work discussions, these leaders will not only reject them—they will justify doing so by saying, “You haven’t thought that proposal through. I’m the church leader—if I do as you say and nothing goes wrong, that’s fine, but if something bad does happen, the responsibility will fall on me alone. So, most of the time, you can voice your opinions—we can observe that formality—but in the end, it must be I alone who makes the choice and decides how things are done.” Over time, most of the brothers and sisters stop taking part in discussions or fellowshiping about work, and these leaders will not bother fellowshiping with them about any problems in the work. They will keep making decisions and passing judgments without speaking a word to anyone, and they will still be full of their justifications. They believe, “The church is the leader’s church, the leader plots the course. It’s the leader who has the final say over the direction the brothers and sisters go and the path they walk.” Naturally, these leaders then take control of the brothers’ and sisters’ life entry, the path they walk, and the direction of their pursuit. Once they have been made “captain,” they monopolize power and establish an independent kingdom. There is no transparency to their actions, and without realizing it, they suppress a few people and exclude some brothers and sisters who pursue the truth and are capable of understanding. All the while, they still think that in doing so, they are protecting the church’s work and the interests of God’s chosen people. They do everything with such precise reasoning, with such a plethora of justifications and excuses—and what of it, in the end? Everything they do is to protect their status and their monopoly on power. They bring the principles, ways, and means of behavior from secular society and family life into God’s house, and think that in doing so, they are protecting its interests. Yet they never know themselves or reflect on themselves. Even if someone were to point out that they are violating the principles of the truth, even if they were to meet with God’s enlightenment, discipline, and chastening, they would have no awareness of it. Where does the problem lie? From the day they took on the position of leader, they treated their duty like a career, and it is this that dooms them to walk the path of the antichrists and ensures that they are unable to pursue the truth. And yet, in the course of this “career,” they believe that everything they do is pursuing the truth. How do they view the pursuit of the truth? They safeguard their own status and authority under the guise of protecting the interests of the brothers and sisters and God’s house, and they believe that this is a manifestation of their pursuit of the truth. They know nothing at all of the corrupt disposition that manifests and pours forth from them while they are in this post. Even if they sometimes have a faint sense that it is a corrupt disposition, that it is loathed by God, that it is a vicious, intransigent disposition, they quickly change their mind, thinking: “That won’t do. I’m the leader, and I need to have the dignity of one. I can’t let the brothers and sisters see me pour forth a corrupt disposition.” And so, though they realize that they have poured forth a great deal of corruption, and that they have done many things that contravene the principles in order to safeguard their status and authority, when someone exposes them, they resort to sophistry or try to block it, so that no one else will learn of it. As soon as they gained authority and status, they put themselves in a sacrosanct and inviolable position, thinking themselves to be great, correct, irreproachable, and undoubtable. And having occupied such a position, they uniformly resist and reject any dissenting voices, any suggestions or advice that could be of benefit to the brothers’ and sisters’ life entry and to the church’s work. What excuse do they give for not pursuing the truth? They say, “I have status, I’m a person of standing—that means that I have dignity and that I am sacrosanct and inviolable.” Can they pursue the truth, having come up with such reasons and excuses? (No.) They cannot. They always speak and act from their high station while enjoying the trappings of their status. By doing this, they hold themselves over a fire, and make it necessary to expose them. Are such people not pitiful? They are pitiful and detestable, and also abhorrent—they are revolting! As a leader, they dress themselves up in the image of a saint. A saint, a great, glorious, and correct person—what are the titles? They are shackles, and whoever puts them can no longer pursue the truth. If someone dons these shackles, it means that they no longer have any relation to pursuing the truth. What is the principal reason that these people do not pursue the truth? In fact, the reason is that they have been constrained by status. They are always thinking to themselves: “I’m the leader. I’m in charge here. I’m a person of standing and status. I’m a dignified person. I can’t have an arrogant or evil disposition. I can’t open up and fellowship about my corrupt disposition—I have to protect my dignity and prestige. I have to make people look up to me and venerate me.” They are always constrained by these things, so they are unable to open up or reflect and know themselves. They are ruined by these things. Do their views and mindset accord with the truth? It is quite obvious that they do not. Are the behaviors that they usually display in their duties—arrogance and self-righteousness, acting as a law unto themselves, pretense, trickery, and so on—are these practices the pursuit of the truth? (No.) Quite clearly, none of them are the pursuit of the truth. And what is the justification or reason they give for not pursuing the truth? (They believe that leaders are people with status and dignity, and that even if they have a corrupt disposition, it can’t be exposed.) Is this not an absurd point of view? If a person admits to having a corrupt disposition but does not permit it to be exposed, are they someone who accepts the truth? If, as a leader, you cannot accept the truth, how will you experience God’s work? How will your corruption be cleansed? And if your corruption cannot be cleansed and you go on living by your corrupt disposition, then you are a leader who cannot do practical work—you are a false leader. As a leader, you do have status, but that is a mere matter of having a different job, a different duty—it does not mean that you have become a person of standing. You do not become more dignified than others or a person of distinguished standing because you have gained this status and performed a different duty. If there really are people who think this way, are they not shameless? (They are.) What is a more colloquial way to put it? They are brazenly cheeky, are they not? When they are not leaders, they treat people with sincerity; they are able to open up about their outpourings of corruption and analyze their corrupt dispositions. Once they take on a post as a leader, they become another person entirely. Why do I say they become another person? Because they put on a mask, and the real person stays behind it. The mask betrays no expressions at all, no crying, no laughter, no pleasure or anger, no sorrow or joy, no emotions and desires—and certainly no corrupt disposition. At all times, its expression and condition remain the same, while all of the leader’s true states, personal thoughts and ideas stay hidden behind the mask, where no one can see them. There are some leaders and workers who always think of themselves as having standing and status. They are terrified that they would lose their dignity if someone were to prune and deal with them, so they do not accept the truth. They draw from their status and authority to speak honeyed, false words and cover up their corrupt disposition. At the same time, they mistakenly believe that they are more distinguished and holier than others on account of their status, and that they therefore do not need to pursue the truth—that pursuing the truth is for others to do. This way of thinking is mistaken, and it is somewhat shameless and senseless. That is how this sort of person behaves. From the essence of such people’s behavior, it is clear to see that they are not pursuing the truth. Instead they are pursuing status and prestige. As they work, they are protecting their status and authority, and deluding themselves into thinking that they are pursuing the truth. They are just like Paul, making frequent summaries of the work they have done and the duties they have performed, the tasks they have handled in doing church work, and the achievements they have attained while doing the work of God’s house. They frequently make tallies of these things, like when Paul said, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: From now on there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness” (2 Timothy 4:7–8). By this, he meant that after finishing his course and fighting a good fight, it was time to calculate how great a chance he had at salvation, how great his contributions had been, how great his reward would be, and to ask God to reward his contributions. He meant that he would not think God to be a righteous God if He did not reward him with a crown, that he would refuse to submit and even complain about God’s unrighteousness. Is such a person, with this kind of mindset and disposition, pursuing the truth? Are they someone who truly submits to God? Can they put themselves at the mercy of God’s orchestrations? Is this not clear at a glance? They think that their running of courses and fighting of battles is the pursuit of the truth, they do not seek the truth at all and they do not possess the manifestations of truly pursuing it—so they are not someone who pursues the truth.
Which of man’s problems did our fellowship just now primarily expose? Specifically, which of man’s corrupt dispositions did it primarily expose? A basic one is man being fed up with the truth and refusing to accept it; this is one very specific sort of behavior. Another main one is something that exists in the essence of every person’s disposition: intransigence. This also manifests quite concretely and obviously, does it not? (It does.) These are two of the main ways in which man’s corrupt disposition manifests and pours forth. These specific behaviors, these specific views, attitudes, and so forth, truly and accurately illustrate that there is an element of being fed up with the truth within the corrupt disposition of man. Of course, what is more prominent in man’s disposition are manifestations of intransigence: Whatever God says, and whatever corrupt dispositions of man are exposed in the course of God’s work, people stubbornly refuse to acknowledge it and resist it. Beyond obvious resistance or contemptuous rejection, there is, of course, another sort of behavior, which is when people do not concern themselves with God’s work, as if God’s work has nothing to do with them. What does it mean to not concern oneself with God? It is when a person says, “Say what You will—it has nothing to do with me. None of Your judgment or exposure has anything to do with me. I don’t accept it or acknowledge it.” Might we call such an attitude “intransigent”? (Yes.) It is a manifestation of intransigence. These people say, “I live however I like, in whatever way makes me comfortable, and in whatever way makes me happy. The behaviors You talk about like arrogance, deceit, being fed up with the truth, evil, viciousness, and so on—even if I do have them, so what? I won’t examine them, or know them, or accept them. This is how I believe in God, what are You going to do about it?” This is an attitude of intransigence. When people do not concern themselves with God’s words or pay heed to them, which means that they uniformly ignore God, regardless of what He says, whether He speaks in the form of reminders or warnings or exhortations—no matter which manner of speaking He employs, or what the source and goals of His speech are—then their attitude is an intransigent one. It means that they pay no heed to God’s urgent will, much less to His sincere, well-intentioned desire to save man. No matter what God does, people do not have hearts of cooperation and they are unwilling to strive toward the truth. Even if they acknowledge that God’s judgment and revelation are entirely factual, there is no remorse in their hearts, and they go on believing as they did before. In the end, when they have heard many sermons, they say the same thing: “I’m a true believer, at any rate, my humanity’s not poor, I wouldn’t deliberately do evil, I’m able to forsake things, I can take on hardship, and I’m willing to pay a price for my faith. God won’t forsake me.” Is this not just like how Paul said: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: From now on there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness”? That is the sort of attitude people have. What is the disposition behind such an attitude? Intransigence. Is an intransigent disposition difficult to change? Is there a path for doing so? The simplest and most direct method is to transform your attitude toward God’s words and toward God Himself. How can you transform these things? By analyzing and coming to know the states and mindsets that arise from your intransigent attitude, and by looking to see which of your actions and words, which of the viewpoints and intents that you cling to, and even specifically which of the thoughts and ideas that you pour forth, are under the sway of your intransigent disposition. Examine and resolve these behaviors, outpourings, and states, one by one, and then, turn them around—as soon as you have examined and detected something, hurry to turn it around. For instance, we were just speaking about acting based on one’s preferences and moods, which is capriciousness. The disposition of capriciousness carries with it a quality of being sick of the truth. If you realize that you are that sort of person, with that sort of corrupt disposition, and you do not reflect on yourself or seek the truth to resolve it, stubbornly thinking that you are just fine, that is intransigence. After this sermon, you may suddenly realize, “I’ve said things like that, and I have views like that. This disposition of mine is one that’s sick of the truth. As that’s the case, I’ll set about resolving that disposition.” How are you to set about resolving it, then? Begin by letting go of your sense of superiority, your capriciousness, and your arbitrariness; no matter if you are in a good or bad mood, look to what God’s requirements are. If you can forsake the flesh and practice in line with God’s requirements, how will He view you? If you can truly begin to resolve these corrupt behaviors, it is a sign that you are positively and proactively cooperating with God’s work. You will be consciously forsaking and resolving that disposition which is sick of the truth, and at the same time, you will be resolving your intransigent disposition. When you have resolved both of these corrupt dispositions, you will be able to obey and satisfy God, and this will please Him. If you have understood the content of this fellowship and practice forsaking the flesh in this way, I will be very happy. Then I will not have spoken these words in vain.
Intransigence is a problem of a corrupt disposition; it is something in one’s nature, and it is not easy to resolve. When someone has an intransigent disposition, it manifests mainly as a propensity for offering justifications and specious arguments, sticking to their own ideas, and not easily accepting new things. There are times when people know that their ideas are wrong, yet they stick to them for the sake of their vanity and pride, obstinate to the end. Such an intransigent disposition is difficult to transform, even if one is aware of it. To resolve the problem of intransigence, one must know man’s arrogance, deceit, viciousness, being sick of the truth, and other such dispositions. When one knows their own arrogance, deceit, viciousness, that they are sick of the truth, that they are unwilling to forsake the flesh though they wish to practice the truth, that they are always offering excuses and explaining their difficulties though they wish to obey God, it will be easy for them to recognize that they have a problem with intransigence. To resolve this problem, one must first be possessed of normal human sense and begin by learning to listen to God’s words. If you wish to be God’s sheep, you must learn to listen to His words. And how should you listen to them? By listening for any problems that God exposes in His words that are relevant to you. If you find one, you should accept it; you must not believe that it is a problem that other people have, that it is everyone’s problem, or humanity’s problem, and that it has nothing to do with you. It would be wrong for you to have such a belief. You should reflect, through the revelation of God’s words, on whether you have the corrupt dispositions or erroneous views that God is exposing. For instance, when you hear God’s words revealing manifestations of an arrogant disposition pouring forth from someone, you should think to yourself: “Do I show manifestations of arrogance? I am a corrupt human, so I must show some of those manifestations; I should reflect on where I do that. People say I’m arrogant, that I’m always acting high and mighty, that I constrain people when I speak. Is that truly my disposition?” Through reflection, you will finally realize that the revelation of God’s words is entirely accurate—that you are an arrogant person. And as the revelation of God’s words is entirely accurate, as it matches up perfectly with your situation without the least discrepancy, and appears even more accurate upon further reflection, you should accept the judgment and chastisement of His words, and discern and come to know the essence of your corrupt disposition according to them. Then you will be able to feel true remorse. In believing in God, it is only by eating and drinking of His words in this way that you can come to know yourself. In order to resolve your corrupt dispositions, you must accept the judgment and exposure of God’s words. If you cannot do that, there will be no way for you to cast off your corrupt dispositions. If you are a smart person who sees that the revelation of God’s words is generally accurate, or if you can admit that half of it is correct, then you should accept it at once and submit before God. You must also pray to Him and reflect on yourself. Only then will you understand that all of God’s words of revelation are accurate, that they are all facts, and nothing short of that. It is only by submitting before God with a heart of reverence for Him that people can truly reflect on themselves. Only then will they be able to see the variety of corrupt dispositions that exist within them, and that they are indeed arrogant and self-righteous, without the least bit of sense. If someone is a lover of the truth, they will be able to prostrate themselves before God, admit to Him that they have been deeply corrupted, and have the will to accept His judgment and chastisement. In this way, they can develop a heart of remorse, begin to deny and hate themselves, and regret not having pursued the truth before, thinking, “Why was I unable to accept the judgment and chastisement of God’s words when I began reading them? This attitude I held toward His words was one of arrogance, wasn’t it? How could I be so arrogant?” After frequently self-reflecting in this way for some time, they will recognize that they are indeed arrogant, that they are not entirely capable of admitting that God’s words are the truth and facts, and that they truly do not have a shred of sense. But it is a difficult thing to know oneself. Each time a person reflects, they can only gain a bit more and a bit deeper knowledge of themselves. To gain clear knowledge of a corrupt disposition is not something that can be accomplished in a short span of time; one must read more of God’s words, pray more, and reflect more on themselves. Only thus can they gradually come to know themselves. All those who truly know themselves have failed and stumbled a few times in the past, after which, they read God’s words, prayed to Him, and reflected on themselves, and thereby came to see the truth of their own corruption clearly, and to feel that they were indeed profoundly corrupted, and absolutely bereft of the reality of the truth. If you experience God’s work like this, and you pray to Him and seek the truth when things befall you, you will gradually come to know yourself. Then one day, your heart will finally be clear: “I may have slightly better caliber than others, but this was given to me by God. I’m always boastful, attempting to outdo others when I speak, and trying to get people to do things my way. I truly lack sense—this is arrogance and self-righteousness! Through reflection, I’ve learned of my own arrogant disposition. This is God’s enlightenment and grace, and I thank Him for it!” Is it a good thing or a bad thing to learn of your own corrupt disposition? (A good thing.) From there, you should seek how to speak and act with sense and obedience, how to stand on equal footing with others, how to treat others fairly without constraining them, how to correctly regard your caliber, gifts, strengths, and so on. In this way, like a mountain being hammered into dust, one strike at a time, your arrogant disposition will be resolved. After that, when you interact with others or work with them to perform a duty, you will be able to treat their views correctly and pay careful, close attention while you listen to them. And when you hear them voice a view that is correct, you will discover, “It seems my caliber isn’t the best. The fact is that everybody has their own strengths; they’re not inferior to me at all. Before, I always thought that I had better caliber than others. That was self-admiration and narrow-minded ignorance. I had a very limited outlook, like a frog at the bottom of a well. Thinking like that really lacked sense—it was shameless! I was blinded and deafened by my arrogant disposition. Other people’s words didn’t get through to me, and I thought that I was better than them, that I was right, when in fact, I’m no better than any of them!” From then on, you will have true insight into and knowledge of your deficiencies and your small stature. And after that, when you fellowship with others, you will listen closely to their views, and you will realize, “There are so many people who are better than me. My caliber and capacity for understanding are both middling, at best.” With this realization, will you not have gained a bit of self-awareness? By experiencing this, and frequently reflecting on yourself according to God’s words, you will be able to gain true self-knowledge that grows ever deeper. You will be able to see through to the truth of your corruption, to your poverty and wretchedness, to your deplorable ugliness, and at that time, you will be sickened by yourself and hate your corrupt disposition. Then it will be easy for you to forsake yourself. That is how you experience God’s work. You must reflect on your outpourings of corruption according to God’s words. In particular, after revealing a corrupt disposition in any kind of situation, you must frequently reflect on and know yourself. It will then be easy for you to see your corrupt essence clearly, and you will be able to hate your corruption, your flesh, and Satan from the heart. And from the heart, you will be able to love and strive for the truth. In this way, your arrogant disposition will keep diminishing, and you will gradually cast it off. You will gain more and more sense, and it will be easier for you to submit to God. In the eyes of others, you will appear steadier and more grounded, and you will seem to speak more objectively. You will be capable of listening to others, and you will give them time to talk. When others are right, it will be easy for you to accept their words, and your interactions with people will not be so taxing. You will be able to cooperate harmoniously with anyone. If this is how you perform your duty, will you not then have sense and humanity? That is the way to resolve this kind of corrupt disposition.
Let us now fellowship a little on the way to resolve corrupt dispositions through the issue of intransigent disposition that I just mentioned. To resolve a corrupt disposition, one must first be able to accept the truth. To accept the truth is to accept God’s judgment and chastisement; it is to accept His words that expose the essence of man’s corruption. If you come to know and analyze your outpourings of corruption, your corrupt states, and your corrupt intentions and behaviors on the basis of God’s words, and you are able to uncover the essence of your problems, then you will have gained knowledge of your corrupt disposition, and you will have set in motion the process of resolving it. On the other hand, if you do not practice in this way, not only will you be unable to resolve your intransigent disposition, you will also have no way to eradicate your corrupt dispositions. Every person is possessed of multiple corrupt dispositions. Where should one begin resolving them? Firstly, one must resolve their intransigence, as intransigent disposition hinders people from drawing close to God, seeking the truth, and submitting to God. Intransigence is the greatest stumbling block to man’s prayer and fellowship with God; it is what interferes most with man’s normal relationship with God. After you have resolved your intransigent disposition, the others will be easy to resolve. Resolving a corrupt disposition begins with self-reflection and self-knowledge. Resolve whichever corrupt dispositions you are aware of—the more of them you gain knowledge of, the more you can resolve; the deeper your knowledge of them, the more thoroughly you can resolve them. This is the process of resolving corrupt dispositions; it is done by praying to God, and by reflecting on and knowing oneself and analyzing the essence of one’s corrupt disposition through God’s words, until one is able to forsake the flesh and practice the truth. Knowing the essence of your corrupt disposition is no simple task. Knowing yourself is not saying, broadly, “I’m a corrupted person; I’m a devil; I’m the offspring of Satan, the descendant of the great red dragon; I’m resistant and hostile toward God; I’m His enemy.” Such talk does not necessarily mean that you have true knowledge of your own corruption. You may have learned those words from someone else and not know much about yourself. True self-knowledge is not based in man’s learning or judgments, it is based in God’s words—it is seeing the consequences of corrupt dispositions and the suffering that you have experienced as a result of them, feeling how a corrupt disposition harms not only you, but also other people. It is seeing through to the fact that corrupt dispositions originate in Satan, that they are Satan’s poisons and philosophies, and that they are entirely inimical to the truth and to God. When you have seen through this problem, you will have come to know your corrupt disposition. After some people acknowledge that they are the devil Satan, they still do not accept being pruned and dealt with. They do not admit that they have done anything wrong or violated the truth. What is the matter with them? They still do not know themselves. Some people say they are the devil Satan, yet if you were to ask them, “Why do you say that you are the devil Satan?” they would be unable to respond. This goes to show that they do not know their corrupt disposition, or their nature and essence. If they could see that their nature is the devil’s nature, that their corrupt disposition is Satan’s disposition, and admit that they are therefore the devil, Satan, they would then have come to know their own nature and essence. True self-knowledge is achieved through the exposure, judgment, practice, and experience of God’s words. It is achieved through understanding the truth. If a person does not understand the truth, then no matter what they say about their self-knowledge, it is hollow and impractical, because they cannot find or grasp those things that are at root and essential. To know oneself, one must acknowledge which corrupt dispositions they have revealed in specific instances, what their intent was, how they behaved, with what they were adulterated, and why they could not accept the truth. They must be able to state these things clearly, only then can they know themselves. When some people are faced with being pruned and dealt with, they admit that they are sick of the truth, that they have suspicions and misunderstandings about God, and that they are guarded against Him. They also acknowledge that all of God’s words that judge and expose man are factual. This shows that they have a bit of self-knowledge. But because they do not have knowledge of God or His work, because they do not understand His will, their self-knowledge is quite shallow. If someone only acknowledges their own corruption but has not found the root of the problem, can their suspicions, misunderstandings, and guardedness surrounding God be resolved? No, they cannot. This is why self-knowledge is more than just a mere acknowledgment of one’s corruption and problems—one must also understand the truth and resolve the problem of their corrupt disposition at its root. That is the only way to see through to the truth of one’s corruption and achieve true repentance. When those who love the truth come to know themselves, they are also able to seek and understand the truth to resolve their problems. Only this sort of self-knowledge yields results. Whenever a person who loves the truth reads a phrase of God’s words that reveals and judges man, before anything else, they have faith that God’s words that reveal man are real and factual, and that God’s words that judge man are the truth, and that they represent God’s righteousness. Lovers of the truth must, at least, be able to recognize this. If someone does not even believe God’s words, and does not believe that God’s words exposing and judging man are facts and the truth, can they know themselves through His words? Certainly not—even if they wished to, they could not. If you can be firm in your belief that all of God’s words are the truth, and believe them all, no matter what God says or His manner of speaking, if you are able to believe and accept God’s words even if you do not understand them, it will be easy for you to reflect on and know yourself through them. Self-reflection must be based in the truth. That is beyond doubt. Only God’s words are the truth—none of man’s words and none of Satan’s words are the truth. Satan has been corrupting mankind with all kinds of learning, teachings, and theories for thousands of years, and people have become so numb and dull-witted that they not only lack the slightest knowledge of themselves, but they even uphold heresies and fallacies and refuse to accept the truth. Humans like these are irredeemable. Those who have true faith in God believe that only His words are the truth, they are able to know themselves on the basis of God’s words and the truth, and thereby achieve true repentance. Some people do not pursue the truth; they base their self-reflection only on man’s learning, and they admit to nothing more than sinful behavior, and all the while, they are unable to see through to their own corrupt essence. Such self-knowledge is a futile endeavor and it yields no results. One must base their self-reflection on God’s words, and after reflecting, gradually come to know the corrupt dispositions that they reveal. One must be able to measure and know their deficiencies, the essence of their humanity, their views on things, their life outlook and values, based on the truth, and then come to an accurate assessment and verdict on all these things. In this way, they can gradually attain knowledge of themselves. But self-knowledge grows ever deeper as one experiences more in life, and before one has gained the truth, it will be impossible for them to see entirely through to their nature and essence. If a person truly knows themselves, they can see that corrupted human beings are indeed the offspring and embodiments of Satan. They will feel that they do not deserve to live before God, that they are unworthy of His love and salvation, and they will be able to completely prostrate themselves before Him. Only those who are capable of such a degree of knowledge truly know themselves. Self-knowledge is a precondition for entering the reality of the truth. If someone wants to practice the truth and enter reality, they must know themselves. All people have corrupt dispositions and, despite themselves, they are always fettered and controlled by these corrupt dispositions. They are unable to practice the truth or obey God. So if they wish to do these things, they must first know themselves and resolve their corrupt dispositions. It is only through the process of resolving a corrupt disposition that one can understand the truth and gain knowledge of God; only then can one submit to God and bear witness for Him. That is how one gains the truth. The process of entering the reality of the truth is that of resolving one’s corrupt disposition. So, what must one do to resolve their corrupt disposition? Firstly, one must know their corrupt essence. Specifically, this means knowing how one’s corrupt disposition arose, and which of Satan’s lies and fallacies they accepted gave rise to it. Once one fully comes to understand these root causes on the basis of God’s words and has discernment of them, they will no longer be willing to live by their corrupt disposition, they will want only to submit to God and live by His words. Whenever they reveal a corrupt disposition, they will be able to recognize it, reject it, and forsake their flesh. By practicing and experiencing in this way, they will slowly cast off all of their corrupt dispositions.
Some people say, “When I read God’s words of exposure and judgment, I reflected on myself and realized that I’m arrogant, deceitful, selfish, evil, intransigent, and devoid of humanity.” There are some who even say that they are extremely arrogant, that they are beasts, that they are the devil Satan. Is this true self-knowledge? If they are speaking from the heart, and not just copying something, then it shows that they, at least, have some self-knowledge, the only question being whether it is shallow or deep. If they are copying something, repeating someone else’s words, then that is not true self-knowledge. Knowledge of one’s corrupt disposition must be concrete, down to every matter and state—this means details such as states, outpourings, behaviors, thoughts and ideas that relate to the corrupt disposition. Only then can one truly come to know themselves. And when a person truly knows themselves, their heart will fill with remorse, and they will become capable of true repentance. What is the first thing that one must practice in order to repent? (One must admit to their mistakes.) “Admitting to their mistakes” is not the right way to express this; rather, it is a matter of acknowledging and knowing that one has a certain corrupt disposition. If one says that their corrupt disposition is a kind of mistake, they are wrong. A corrupt disposition is something that belongs to one’s nature, something that controls a person. It is not the same thing as a one-off mistake. Some people, after revealing corruption, pray to God: “Oh God, I made a mistake. I am sorry.” This is inaccurate. “Admitting to a sin” would be more appropriate. The specific way that people practice repentance is by knowing themselves and resolving their problems. When a person reveals a corrupt disposition or commits a transgression, and realizes that they are resisting God and invoking His hatred, they should then self-reflect and know themselves within the relevant words of God. Consequently, they will gain some knowledge of their corrupt disposition and acknowledge that it comes from Satan’s poisons and corruption. After that, when they have found the principles for practicing the truth and been able to put the truth into practice, that is true repentance. No matter what corruption a person reveals, if they are able to first know their corrupt disposition, seek the truth to resolve it, and come to practice the truth, that is true repentance. Some people know a bit about themselves, but there are no signs of repentance within them, nor any testimony to their practice of the truth. If they remain unchanged after gaining self-knowledge, that is far from true repentance. To achieve true repentance, one must resolve their corrupt dispositions. So, how, specifically, should one practice and enter in order to resolve their corrupt dispositions? Here is an example. People have deceitful dispositions, they are always lying and cheating. If you realize that, then the simplest and most direct principle of practice to resolve your deceitfulness is to be an honest person, to tell the truth and do honest things. Thesaid, “But let your communication be, Yes, yes; No, no.” To be an honest person, one should follow the principles of God’s words. This simple practice is the most effective, it is easy to understand and to put into practice. However, because people are so deeply corrupted, because they all have satanic natures and are living by satanic dispositions, it is quite difficult for them to practice the truth. They would like to be honest, but they cannot. They cannot help but tell lies and engage in trickery, and though they may feel remorse after recognizing this, they will still be unable to cast off the constraints of their corrupt disposition, and they will go on lying and cheating as they did before. How should this problem be resolved? Part of it is knowing that the essence of one’s corrupt disposition is ugly and despicable, and being able to hate it from one’s heart; another part is training oneself to practice according to the principle of the truth, “But let your communication be, Yes, yes; No, no.” When you are practicing this principle, you are in the process of resolving your deceitful disposition. Naturally, if you are able to practice according to the principles of the truth while resolving your deceitful disposition, that is a manifestation of you turning yourself around and the beginning of your true repentance, and God approves of it. This means that when you turn yourself around, God will change His mind about you. In fact, God doing this is a sort of pardon for man’s corrupt dispositions and rebelliousness. He forgives people and does not remember their sins or their transgressions. Is that specific enough? Have you understood this? Here is another example. Say you have an arrogant disposition, and no matter what happens to you, you are very willful—you always want to call the shots, have others obey you, and do what you want them to do. The day then comes when you realize that this is caused by an arrogant disposition. Your admission that it is an arrogant disposition is the first step toward self-knowledge. From there, you should seek out a few passages of God’s words that expose arrogant disposition against which to compare yourself, and reflect on and know yourself. If you find that the comparison is completely apt, and you admit that the arrogant disposition that God exposes exists in you, and then you discern and uncover where your arrogant disposition comes from, and why it arises, and which of Satan’s poisons, heresies, and fallacies govern it, then, having seen to the heart of all these questions, you will have dug down to the root of your arrogance. This is true self-knowledge. When you have a more precise definition of how you reveal this corrupt disposition, it will facilitate deeper and more practical knowledge of yourself. What should you do next? You should look for the principles of the truth in God’s words, and understand what sort of human comportment and speech are manifestations of normal humanity. After you find the path of practice, you must practice according to God’s words, and when your heart has turned around, you will have truly repented. Not only will there be principles to your speech and actions, you will also be living out human likeness and gradually shedding your corrupt disposition. Others will see you as a new person: You will no longer be the old, corrupt person you once were, but one reborn in God’s words. Such a person is one whose life disposition has been changed.