What It Means to Pursue the Truth (1) (Part Three)
Knowing oneself is no simple task. It is achieved by accepting the truth, as well as practicing and experiencing, and true self-knowledge can only be attained by accepting God’s judgment and chastisement. Those who have not experienced judgment and chastisement can, at the very most, admit to the mistakes they have made and the things they have done wrong. It will be very hard for them to see their nature and essence clearly. Why was it that even though believers in the Age of Grace stopped committing certain sins and changed their behavior for the better, they never achieved a transformation of their life dispositions? Why, though they believed in God, did they resist Him, and even betray Him? It is difficult for corrupt humanity to recognize the source of this issue. Why do all people have satanic dispositions? It is because Satan has corrupted mankind, and people have accepted its lies and philosophies. That is what gave rise to corrupt dispositions, and that is how Satan’s disposition became the source of man’s resistance against God. This is the most difficult thing for people to recognize. God is doing His work of judgment in the last days to save mankind from Satan’s influence, and to resolve the source of mankind’s sin and resistance against God. Satan has corrupted mankind for thousands of years, and its nature has taken root in the hearts of man. Therefore, no sort of corrupt disposition can be resolved and cast off with just one or two attempts at self-reflection and self-knowledge. Corrupt dispositions pour forth constantly and repeatedly, so people need to accept the truth and wage a long battle with their satanic dispositions until they overcome Satan. Only then can they thoroughly cast off their corrupt dispositions. So, people must ceaselessly pray to God, seek the truth, self-reflect, know themselves, and practice the truth, until corruption no longer pours forth from them, their life dispositions change, and they achieve submission to God. Only then will they gain God’s approval. The results of each battle may not be immediately apparent, and you may still reveal corrupt dispositions afterward. You may feel a bit negative and discouraged, but unwilling to give up, and you can still keep trying hard, looking up to God and relying on Him. If you persevere in that way for two or three years, you will truly be able to put the truth into practice, and there will be peace and joy in your heart. Then you will see clearly that every failure, every effort, and every gain you made was a good sign that you were moving toward a transformation of your disposition and getting God to change His mind about you. Though each change is imperceptible to human consciousness, the dispositional transformation that comes with each turn cannot be achieved by any other action or thing. This is the path that one must take to change their disposition and enter into life. This is how the pursuit of dispositional change must be practiced. Of course, people should have an accurate understanding of how dispositional change happens: It is not a sudden, earthshaking change that surprises and delights, as they imagine. That is not how it happens. It is a matter of changing unconsciously, slowly, bit by bit. When one is able to put the truth into practice, they will see the fruits of their labor. When you look back after walking this path for three, five, ten years, you will be surprised to find that your disposition has changed vastly in those ten years, that you are entirely different. It may be that your personality and temper have not changed, or that your lifestyle and so forth have not changed, but the dispositions, states, and behaviors you pour forth will be worlds apart, as if you have truly become a different person. Why will such a change occur? Because in those ten years, you will have been judged and chastised, pruned and dealt with, tested and refined by God’s words many times, and you will have understood many truths. It will begin with a change in your views on things, a change in your outlook on life and your values, which will be followed by a change in your life disposition, a change in the foundation which you rely on to survive—and as these changes occur, you will gradually become another person, a new person. Though your personality, temper, lifestyle, and even your speech and deportment may be unchanged, you will have transformed your life disposition, and that alone is a fundamental, essential change. What are the signs of dispositional change? How does it manifest specifically? It begins with a change in a person’s views on things—it is when the numerous views on things of unbelievers that a person harbors change as they gain an understanding of the truth, and those views grow closer to the truth of God’s words. This is the first stage of dispositional change. Beyond that, through self-reflection and self-knowledge, people can focus on practicing the truth. By reflecting on the various intents, motives, thoughts and ideas, notions, viewpoints, and attitudes that arise within them, they can locate their problems, and begin to feel remorse for them. Then, they can forsake the flesh and put the truth into practice. And as they do, they will come to cherish God’s words and the truth even more, and acknowledge that Christ is the truth, the way, and the life. They will be more willing to follow Christ and submit to Him, and they will feel that God expresses truths to expose, judge, and chastise man, and to change people’s corrupt dispositions, and that by doing so God saves and perfects man in a truly practical way. They will feel that without God’s judgment and chastisement or the provision and guidance of His words, people would have no way to achieve salvation, nor could they reap such rewards. They will begin to love God’s words, and they will feel that they depend upon them in their real life, that they need His words to provide for them, to guide them, and to clear the way for them. Their hearts will be filled with peace, and when something befalls them, they will unconsciously seek out God’s words to serve as their basis, and look for the principles and the path of practice within them. This is one result achieved through knowing oneself. There is another: People will no longer treat their outpourings of corrupt dispositions as they once did, with an attitude of intransigence. Instead, they will be able to quiet their hearts and listen to God’s words with an attitude of honesty, and they will be able to accept the truth and positive things. This means that when they pour forth a corrupt disposition, they will no longer be as they were before—intransigent, difficult to tame, wildly aggressive, arrogant, insolent, and vicious—instead, they will proactively reflect on themselves and gain knowledge of their real problems. They may not know what the essence of their corrupt disposition is, but they will be able to quiet themselves, pray to God, and seek the truth, after which they will admit to their problems and to their corrupt disposition, and repent to God, and resolve to comport themselves differently in the future. That is wholly an attitude of submission. In this way, they will gain hearts of submission to God. Whatever God says, whatever He requires of them, whatever work He does or environments He arranges for them, it will be easy for people to submit to it. Their corrupt dispositions will not present such a great obstacle for them, they will be easy to resolve and overcome. At that point, putting the truth into practice will be effortless for them, and they will be able to achieve submission to God. These are the signs of dispositional change. When someone can put the truth into practice and truly submit to God, it is fair to say that their life disposition has already undergone a change—a true change, one that is entirely achieved through the pursuit of the truth. And all of the behaviors that arise in people during this process, whether they be positive behaviors or normal negativity and weakness, are indispensable and inexorable. Since there are positive behaviors, there must also be behaviors of negativity and weakness—but negativity and weakness are temporary. Once a person possesses a certain stature, they will have ever fewer negative, weak states, and ever more positive behaviors and entry, and their actions will grow increasingly principled. Such a person is one who obeys God, and one whose life disposition changed after their corrupt dispositions were cleansed. It can be said that these are the results that pursuers of the truth attain by experiencing the judgment and chastisement of God’s words, and by being repeatedly pruned and dealt with, tested, and refined.
Since people have all now heard and understood the specific, normal processes of pursuing the truth, they should no longer fabricate different justifications or excuses for why they are sick of the truth, or resist it, or do not pursue it. Having understood these truths and seen this issue clearly, do you now have discernment of the justifications and excuses people give for not pursuing the truth? If an older person says, “I’m old. I’m not driven or enthusiastic like a young person. With age, I lose the aggressiveness and ambition of youth, and I don’t get arrogant anymore. So, you saying that I’m arrogant is nonsense—I’m not!” Are they correct? (No.) Obviously not. All of you have discernment of such words now. You would be able to reveal that person and say, “Even though you’re old, you still have an arrogant disposition. You’ve been arrogant your whole life without ever resolving it. Do you want to go on being arrogant?” Some younger people say, “I’m so young, I haven’t experienced the chaotic parts of society or struggled and drifted along within different groups. I don’t have the experiences that people who’ve been around in the world do—and more importantly, of course, I’m not as slippery or treacherous as those old foxes. As a young person, it’s normal for me to have a bit of an arrogant disposition; at least I’m not as calculating, deceptive, and evil as an old person.” Is it appropriate to say this? (No.) Every person has a corrupt disposition. It has nothing to do with age or gender. You have what others have, and they have what you have. There is no need for anyone to point fingers. Of course, it is not enough to merely acknowledge that everyone has a corrupt disposition. Since you have acknowledged that you have a corrupt disposition, you must seek the truth to resolve it—you will not have reached your goal until you have gained the truth and your disposition has changed. Resolving a corrupt disposition ultimately depends on you accepting the truth, letting go of your justifications and excuses, and being able to face your corrupt disposition properly. You must not avoid it or shirk it with excuses, and you certainly must not reject it. These are easy things to achieve. What is the hardest thing to do? I can think of something. There are people who say, “Say that I pursue the truth or that I don’t, say that I don’t love the truth or that I’m sick of it, reveal me to have any corrupt disposition—I’ll just ignore you. I do whatever God’s house asks me to or whatever work needs doing. I listen during sermons and gatherings, I read along when everyone is eating and drinking of God’s words, I sit and watch videos of experiential testimony alongside you, and I eat when you eat. I’m in lock-step with you. Who among you could say that I don’t pursue the truth? This is how I believe, so you can do or say whatever you like, I don’t care!” This sort of person puts up a front of not making excuses or justifications, but also has no intention of pursuing the truth. It is as if God’s work of salvation has nothing to do with them, as if they have no need of it. People of this sort do not explicitly say, “My humanity is good, I truly believe in God, I’m willing to forsake things, I’m able to suffer and pay a price. Do I need to accept God’s judgment and chastisement, on top of that?” They do not explicitly say this, they do not have a clear attitude toward the truth, and they do not outwardly condemn God’s work. However, how does God treat such people? If they do not pursue the truth, if they are very indifferent about God’s words and disregard them, then God’s attitude toward them is very clear. It is just like that line in the Bible, which goes, “So then because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of My mouth” (Revelation 3:16). God does not want them, and that means trouble. Are there such people in the church? (Yes.) So, how are they to be sorted? Where should they be sorted to? There is no need to sort them. In brief, such people do not pursue the truth. They do not accept the truth or reflect and know themselves, and they do not have hearts of repentance—instead they have a muddled and confused faith in God. They do whatever God’s house asks them to, without causing any disturbances or disruptions. Ask them, “Do you have any notions?” “No.” “Do you have any corrupt dispositions?” “No.” “Do you wish to attain salvation?” “I don’t know.” “Do you acknowledge that God’s words are the truth?” “I don’t know.” Ask them anything, and they say they do not know. Is there a problem with such people? (Yes.) There is, yet they feel that it is not a problem, and that it needs no resolving. The Bible says, “So then because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of My mouth.” That phrase—“I will spew you out of My mouth”—is the principle for handling such people; it is the result that comes to them. To be neither cold nor hot means that these people do not have any views; it means that no matter how you fellowship on matters of dispositional change or salvation with them, they remain indifferent. What does “indifferent” mean here? It means they are uninterested in such matters and unwilling to hear about them. Some may say, “What’s so wrong with having no views or outpourings of corruption?” What absolute drivel! These are soulless, dead people, neither cold nor hot, and there is no way for God to work upon them. When it comes to people who cannot be saved, God just spews them out and is done with them. He does not work upon them, and we will make no sort of appraisal of such people, we will just ignore them. If there are such people in the church, they may remain so long as they do not cause any disturbances—if they do, they are to be cleansed away. This is an easy thing to resolve. My words are directed at those who can accept the truth, who wish to pursue it and have a clear attitude about it, who acknowledge that they have corrupt dispositions and can be saved; they are aimed at those who can understand God’s words and hear His voice, they are aimed at God’s sheep—those are the people who God’s words are directed at. God’s words are not directed at those who are neither cold nor hot toward Him. Such people are uninterested in the truth, and neither cold nor hot about God’s words and work. The way to handle such people is to say, “Leave. How you are has nothing to do with Me”—to ignore them and not waste any effort on them.
We have fellowshiped on some negative examples relating to the topic of pursuing the truth. People often unconsciously think up various justifications, excuses, and pretexts with which to deny their outpourings of corrupt dispositions—of course, they also often hide the existence of their corrupt dispositions, deluding themselves and others. These are man’s foolish and stupid ways. On the one hand, people acknowledge that all God’s words that judge man are the truth; on the other, they deny the existence of their own corrupt dispositions, as well as their erroneous behaviors that violate the truth. This is a clear sign that they do not accept the truth. Regardless of whether you deny or acknowledge that you have a corrupt disposition, or whether you offer excuses, justifications, or specious arguments for your outpourings of corrupt behavior—in brief, if you do not accept the truth, you cannot gain God’s salvation. This is indisputable. Anyone who does not pursue the truth at all will ultimately be exposed and cast out, no matter how many years they have been a believer. This outcome is a terrifying one. It will not be long until the disasters descend and you are revealed, and when the disasters come, you will feel afraid. You may have many justifications and ample excuses, or it may be that you are well disguised and wrapped up tightly, but there is one fact that cannot be denied: Your corrupt disposition is intact, it has not changed at all. You are unable to know yourself truly, you are incapable of true repentance, and in the end, you will not be able to truly turn yourself around or submit to God, and God will not change His mind about you. Will you not be in big trouble then? You will be in danger of being cast out. That is why a smart person would drop these unwise excuses and foolish justifications and cast off their disguises and wrappings. They would face the corrupt dispositions they pour forth properly and use the correct methods to handle and resolve them, striving to make everything that they do and act out good deeds, so that God will change His mind about them. If God changes His mind about you, it proves that He has truly absolved you of your past rebelliousness and resistance. You will feel peace and joy, and you will no longer feel repressed, as though a weight has been lifted. This feeling is your spirit’s confirmation; you now have a hope at salvation. This hope is what you traded the prices you paid in your pursuit of the truth and your good deeds for. It is the result you achieved by pursuing the truth and preparing good deeds. Conversely, you may think yourself smart enough already, and you may be able to find ample justifications with which to defend and exculpate yourself every time you pour forth corruption. You may disguise and package your corrupt disposition, and thus cleverly avoid having to reflect on it and know it, as though you did not pour forth any corruption. You may think yourself quite smart, evading, time and again, being exposed by the various environments that God has arranged. You will not have reflected or known yourself, you will not have gained the truth, and you will have missed many chances to be made perfect by God. What will the consequences of this be? Let us put aside whether you are capable of repentance or attaining salvation for now, and just say that if God gives you chances to repent over and over, and none of them ever compel you to change your mind, then you will be in great trouble. What will it matter how well you defend yourself, how well you present yourself, how well you disguise yourself, how well you excuse and justify yourself? If God has given you opportunities time and time again, and this has not even compelled you to change your mind, then you are in danger. Do you know what danger that is? You go on stubbornly making excuses for your corrupt disposition, offering excuses and justifications for not pursuing the truth, and resisting and rejecting God’s judgment and His work, and yet, you think yourself to be quite fine and believe your conscience to be clear. You refuse to accept being supervised, pruned, and dealt with by God’s house, evading once and again God’s judgment, chastisement, and salvation, with a heart full of rebelliousness against Him—God already loathes you and He has already abandoned you, and yet, you think that you may yet be saved. Do you not know that you have already walked farther and farther down the wrong path and that you are already beyond redemption? God reigns in God’s house. Do you think that you are beyond God’s reach when you resist Him and do your assortment of evils? You do not accept God’s judgment and chastisement, you have not gained the truth and the life, and you have no experiential testimony at all. For this, God condemns you. You are bringing catastrophe upon yourself. There is nothing smart about that—it is foolishness, extreme foolishness! It is catastrophic! We have laid this out here—if you do not believe it, just wait and see. You had better not think that if you have your pack of justifications for not pursuing the truth, and you have your eloquence and your scheming, that if no one can out-argue you and the brothers and sisters cannot expose you, and that if the church has no justification for clearing you out, then God’s house can do nothing at all to you. You are wrong about that. You keep contending with God; I will see how long you can compete with Him! Will you be able to compete with Him until the day that God rewards the good and punishes the evil after His work is done? Can you ensure that you will not die in the disasters—that you will survive them? Do you truly have sovereignty over your own fate? Your justifications and excuses may allow you to escape the investigation of God’s house for a while; they may enable you to drag out your ignoble existence for a time. You may be able to temporarily blind people, and keep disguising and cheating others in the church and filling a seat there—but you cannot escape God’s inspection or scrutiny. God decides a person’s outcome based on whether or not they have the truth; He does His own work and threshing. No matter what sort of person or what devil you are, you cannot escape God’s judgment and condemnation. As soon as God’s chosen people understand the truth and gain discernment, no one will be able to escape, that is when you will be cleared out of the church. Some people may be unconvinced and grumble, “I’ve run about so much for God, done so much work for Him, and paid such a price. I abandoned my family and my marriage; I gave my youth for God and His work. I abandoned my career and spent half my life’s energy, thinking I was sure to gain the blessings that He bestows. I never imagined that I’d be cast out for not pursuing the truth and never practicing it!” Do you not know that the truth reigns in God’s house? Is it not clear to you whom God rewards and whom He blesses? If your renunciation and expenditure have led to true experiential testimony, and they also testify to God’s work, then God will reward and bless you. If your renunciation and expenditure are not true experiential testimony, and much less testimony to God’s work, if they are instead testimony to yourself, a request to God to recognize your achievements, then you are walking the same path as Paul. What you are doing is evil and it is resisting God, and God will say to you, “Get away from Me, you evildoer!” And what will this mean? It will be proof that you are blighted, doomed to fall into the disasters and be punished. You will meet with catastrophe. Paul was superior to the average person of his time in terms of status, the work that he did, his competence, and his gifts—but what came of it? From start to finish in his belief in God, Paul was trying to strike a deal with God, to set conditions; he sought a reward and a crown from God. In the end, he did not truly repent or prepare many good deeds—and naturally, he was far from possessing much true experiential testimony. Could he have gained God’s pardon without even having truly repented? Could he have gotten God to change His mind about him? That would be impossible. Paul spent his whole life for the Lord, but because he walked the path of an antichrist and absolutely refused to repent, not only was he not rewarded—he was punished by God. It goes without saying that the consequences he suffered were catastrophic. So, I am now telling you clearly that if you are not someone who pursues the truth, then you should, at least, have a bit of sense and not argue with God or stake your outcome and destination as a wager, as if you were gambling. That is attempting to strike a deal with God, which is a way of resisting Him. What good ending can come to those who believe in God yet resist Him? People become well-behaved in the face of death; those who are impervious to reason will not give up their ways until they are at death’s door. In order to be saved, the best, simplest, and wisest method is to set down all your excuses, justifications, and conditions, and to accept and pursue the truth with your feet firmly on the ground, thereby getting God to change His mind about you. When God changes His mind about you, you have hope of being saved. Man’s hope of salvation is given by God, and the precondition for God giving you this hope is that you let go of everything you cherish and forsake all to follow Him and pursue the truth, without trying to strike a deal with Him. It does not matter whether you are old or young, male or female, educated or uneducated, nor does it matter where you were born. God looks at none of these things. You may say, “I have a good temper. I’m patient, tolerant, and compassionate. If I keep being patient to the end, that will get God to change His mind about me.” Those things are useless. God does not look at your temper, or your personality, or your education, or your age, nor does it matter how much you have suffered or how much work you have done. God will ask you, “In all your years of faith, has your disposition changed? What is it that you live by? Have you pursued the truth? Have you accepted God’s words?” You may say, “I have listened to them and accepted them.” God will then ask you, “Since you have listened to them, and you have accepted them, has your corrupt disposition been resolved? Have you truly repented? Have you truly submitted to God’s words and accepted them?” You say, “I have suffered and paid a price; I have expended of myself and forsaken things, and I have made offerings—I have offered my children up to God too.” All your offerings are useless. Such things cannot be traded for the blessings of the kingdom of heaven or used to make God change His mind about you. The only way to get God to change His mind about you is to embark on the path of pursuing the truth. There is no other option. Man must not be opportunistic or crafty when it comes to salvation, and there is no back door. Do you understand? You must be clear on this. Do not get muddled about this—even if you do, God will not. So, what should you do from now on? Reverse your attitude and change your point of view, and let God’s words be your foundation, no matter what you are doing. No man-made “goodness,” no human excuse, no human philosophy, knowledge, morals, ethics, or even conscience, nor man’s so-called integrity and dignity, can stand in for the truth. Set these things aside, silence your heart, and find the foundation for all your comportment and action within God’s words. And as you do, find God’s revelation of the various aspects of man’s corrupt disposition within His words. Hold yourself up against them for comparison, and resolve your corrupt dispositions. Strive to know yourself as soon as possible, cast off corruption, and hasten to repent and turn yourself around. Let go of your evil and seek the principles of the truth in your comportment and actions, basing them all on God’s words—you absolutely must not base these things upon human notions and imaginings. You absolutely must not try to strike a deal with God; you must not attempt to trade your insignificant suffering and sacrifices for God’s rewards and blessings. Stop doing such foolish things, lest God grow angry with you, and curse you, and eradicate you. Is that clear? Have you understood this? (Yes.) Well then, ponder on it carefully going forward.
Everything that we just fellowshiped on was related to the pursuit of the truth, and though we did not provide a specific answer to the conceptual question of what it means to pursue the truth, we did engage in some fellowship that targeted man’s various misapprehensions and fallacious knowledge of the pursuit of the truth, as well as the various difficulties and problems that exist when one pursues the truth. To finish, I would like to summarize what it means to pursue the truth, the ways that the pursuit of the truth manifests, and what exactly the path of practice for pursuing the truth is. So, what does it mean to pursue the truth? To pursue the truth is to begin practicing and experiencing God’s words, and to then achieve an understanding of the truth and to enter into its reality through the process of experiencing God’s words, and to become someone who truly knows and obeys God. That is the final result that is achieved by pursuing the truth. Of course, the pursuit of the truth is a process with steps, and it is divided into several stages. When you have read God’s words and found that they are the truth and reality, you will begin to reflect on yourself within God’s words and gain knowledge of yourself. You will see that you are so rebellious and that you pour forth so much corruption. You will yearn to be able to put the truth into practice and achieve submission to God, and you will begin to strive toward the truth. That is precisely the result that comes of self-reflection and self-knowledge. From that moment on, your life experience begins. When you start to investigate and examine the states and problems that arise from your corrupt disposition, this proves that you have begun to pursue the truth. You will be able to proactively reflect on and examine any problems that occur or any corruption that you pour forth. And when you realize that they are indeed outpourings of corruption and a corrupt disposition, you will naturally seek the truth and begin to resolve those problems. Life entry begins with self-reflection; it is the first step of pursuing the truth. Right after that, through self-reflection and self-knowledge you will see that all of God’s words of exposure accord with the facts. You will then be able to submit to them from your heart, and accept the judgment and chastisement of God’s words. That is the second step of pursuing the truth. Most people are able to accept God’s words that reveal man’s corrupt behaviors, but they cannot easily accept the words of God that expose man’s corrupt essence. After reading God’s words, they do not acknowledge the great depth of their own corruption; they only acknowledge the words of God that reveal man’s corrupt behaviors. Because of this, they cannot accept God’s judgment and chastisement from their hearts. Instead, they brush it aside. Some say, “I just have a few corrupt behaviors, but I can do some good things. I’m a good person, I’m not of Satan. I believe in God, so I should be of God.” Is this not drivel? You were born into the human world, you have lived under Satan’s influence, and you have received the education of traditional culture. Your innate inheritance and the knowledge you have learned come from Satan. All of the great and famous people you venerate are of Satan. Will saying that you are not of Satan allow you to escape its corruption? It’s just like how little children are able to lie and insult others from the moment they open their mouths. Who teaches them to do that? No one. What could that be, other than a consequence of Satan’s corruption? These are the facts. People cannot see Satan and the evil spirits of the spiritual world, but living demons and the kings of devils are everywhere in the human world. All of them are incarnations of Satan. This is a fact that all people must acknowledge. Those who understand the truth can see through to these things, and they can acknowledge that all of God’s words of exposure are facts. Some people may talk of knowing themselves, but they never acknowledge that the corruptions revealed by God’s words are factual, or that His words are the truth. This is equivalent to being unable to accept the truth. If one does not acknowledge the fact that they have a corrupt disposition, they will not be able to truly repent. Of course, one must experience God’s work for a while in order to acknowledge and accept the fact that all people have corrupt dispositions. After pouring forth many corrupt dispositions, they will naturally bow their head in submission before that fact. They will have no choice but to acknowledge that all of God’s words that reveal, judge, and condemn man are facts and the truth, and to completely accept them. That is what it means to be conquered by God’s words. When people are able to know their corrupt dispositions and corrupt essence on the basis of God’s words, and admit that they have a satanic disposition and that their corruption runs deep, they can then fully accept and submit to God’s judgment and chastisement. They will be willing to submit to God’s words that reveal and judge mankind, no matter how harsh or piercing they are. When you have understood and know a bit about how God’s words define, classify, and condemn corrupt mankind, as well as how they judge and reveal corrupt mankind, when you have truly accepted the judgment and chastisement of God’s words and have begun to know your own corrupt disposition and corrupt essence, when you have begun to hate your corrupt disposition, Satan, and your own flesh—and when you long to gain the truth, to live as a human is meant to, and to become someone who truly submits to God—that is when you will begin focusing on pursuing a change in your disposition. This is the third step of pursuing the truth.
To truly know oneself is to reflect on and know one’s corrupt disposition based on God’s words, thereby achieving knowledge of one’s corrupt essence and the fact of one’s corruption. When a person does this, they will see the great depth of mankind’s corruption with complete clarity—they will see that mankind does not live as people are meant to, that humanity only lives out corrupt dispositions, and that mankind is bereft of even the slightest bit of conscience or reason. They will see that people’s views on things are all of Satan, and that none of them are correct or in accordance with the truth, and that people’s preferences, pursuits, and the paths that they choose are all adulterated with Satan’s poisons, and that these all contain man’s extravagant desires and intent to gain blessings. They will see that the dispositions man pours forth are precisely the disposition, nature and essence of Satan. Knowing oneself to such an extent is no simple matter; it can only be achieved upon the basis of God’s words. If it is done on the basis of the moral theories, statements, and thoughts of traditional culture, will one be able to achieve true self-knowledge? Absolutely not. Your corrupt disposition came from within these satanic philosophies and theories. Would it not be absurd, to base your self-knowledge in these things that belong to Satan? Would it not be blind nonsense? Therefore, self-knowledge must be based in God’s words. Only God’s words are the truth, and only God’s words are the criterion by which all people, matters, and things are measured. If you truly see that God’s words are the truth, and that they are the only correct basis upon which to measure all people, matters, and things, then you have a way forward. You can then live in the light, which is to live before God. When people gain true knowledge of their own corrupt essence within God’s words, how will they subsequently behave and practice? (They will repent.) That is right. When a person has gained knowledge of their nature and essence, remorse will arise naturally in their heart, and they will begin to repent. This means that they will seek to rid themselves of their corrupt dispositions, and no longer live by satanic dispositions. Instead, they will live and comport themselves according to God’s words, and be capable of submitting to God’s orchestrations and arrangements. This is true repentance. This is the fourth step of the pursuit of the truth. You are all clear on what true repentance is now, so how should you practice it? Practice turning yourself around. This means giving up things you cling to and think to be right, not living by a satanic disposition, and being willing to practice the truth according to God’s words. That is what it means to turn yourself around. Specifically, you must first deny yourself and characterize, based on God’s words, whether your thoughts, ideas, acts, and deeds are aligned with the truth, and how they arose. If you determine that these things are of a corrupt disposition and born of satanic philosophies, then you should adopt an attitude of condemnation and cursing toward them. Doing so is conducive to forsaking the flesh and Satan. What kind of behavior is this? Is it not the denial, abandonment, renunciation, and forsaking of your corrupt disposition? Denying the things you believe to be right, letting go of your interests, forsaking your incorrect intents, and thus achieving a reversal of your course is not so simple, and there are many specific details to it. If you are willing to repent, but you just say this, and do not deny, abandon, renounce, or forsake your corrupt disposition, then this is not a manifestation of repentance, and you have not yet practically entered into repentance. How does true repentance manifest? First, you deny those things you believe to be right, for instance: your notions and demands of God, as well as things like your views on things, your methods and ways of handling problems, your human experience, and so on. Denying all these things is a concrete practice of being repentant at heart and turning toward God. You can only let go of erroneous things when you have seen through to them and denied them. If you do not deny these things, and still believe them to be good and right, then you will not be able to let go of them, even if others tell you to do so. You will say, “I’m very well-educated, and I’ve got a wealth of experience. I believe that these things are correct, why should I let go of them?” If you cling to your ways and persist in doing so, will you be able to accept the truth? It would not be easy at all. If you want to gain the truth, you must first deny those things that you think are right and positive, then see clearly that they are negative in essence, that they originate in Satan, that they are all specious fallacies—and that holding onto satanic things will only lead you to do evil, resist God, and ultimately, be punished and destroyed. If you can see clearly that the thoughts and poisons with which Satan corrupts man are capable of leading to man’s destruction, you will be able to abandon them completely. Of course, denial, abandonment, renunciation, forsaking, and so on are all approaches and methods one adopts against Satan’s forces and nature, as well as against the philosophies, logic, thoughts, and views which Satan uses to mislead people. For example, letting go of the interests of one’s flesh; abandoning the preferences and pursuits of one’s flesh; renouncing Satan’s philosophies, thoughts, heresies, and fallacies; forsaking Satan’s influence and its evil forces. This whole series of practices are all methods and paths by which people can practice repentance. To enter into true repentance, one must understand a great many truths, only then can they completely deny themselves and forsake their flesh. For instance, say that you believe yourself to be knowledgeable and rich in experience, and that you ought to be an asset to God’s house and of great use. And yet, having heard several years of sermons about the truth and understood some truths, you feel that your knowledge and learning are worthless and not of the slightest use to God’s house. You realize that it is the truth and God’s words that can save people, and that it is the truth that can be a person’s life. You come to feel that no matter how much knowledge or experience a person has, this does not mean that they possess the truth, and that no matter how much human things conform with human notions, they are not the truth. You realize that all of them come from Satan, and that they are all negative things with no relation to the truth. Regardless of how educated, knowledgeable, or experienced you are, it is of little use if you do not understand spiritual matters and cannot understand the truth. If you were to serve as a leader, you would not have the reality of the truth, and you would be incapable of resolving problems. If you were to write an experiential testimony essay, you would not be able to get the words out. If you were to testify to God, you would not have knowledge of Him. If you were to spread the gospel, you would not be able to fellowship on the truth to resolve people’s notions. If you were to water newcomers, you would not be clear on the truth of visions, and you would only be able to preach the words and phrases of doctrine. If you cannot resolve your own notions, how can you resolve the notions of newcomers? You cannot do any of this work—so what can you do? If you were asked to labor, you would think it a waste of your talent. You say that you are talented, yet you cannot handle any task nor perform any duty well—so what is it, exactly, that you can do? It is not that God’s house does not wish to put you to use, it is that you have not fulfilled the duty you were supposed to. You cannot blame the church for that. Yet still, you may think to yourself, “Doesn’t God expect too much of man? These requirements are beyond me. Why is so much demanded of me?” If someone harbors such a great misunderstanding of God, it proves that they have no knowledge of Him and that they do not understand the least bit of the truth. If you feel that your views are right and do not need to be reversed, and if you acknowledge that God’s words are the truth in theory, but you cannot let go of the rubbish you are clinging on to, this demonstrates that you do not yet understand the truth. You should come before God and seek more on the truth, and you should read more of His words and listen to more sermons and fellowship, then you will gradually come to understand that God’s words are the truth. As a person, the first way in which you should treat the truth and God is with obedience. This is man’s bounden duty. If you are able to understand these things, it means that you are reversing your course. Reversing your course is the path of practice for repentance; it is to abandon entirely those things you once thought right, which come from Satan, and to choose anew the road you will take. It is to put God’s words into practice according to His requirements and the principles of the truth, and to walk the road of pursuing the truth. This is the meaning of reversing one’s course. It is to have truly come before God, and to have entered the reality of repentance. When one can put the truth into practice, it goes without saying that they have begun entering the reality of the truth and truly repented. It is only when man has truly repented that they may be said to have set off on the road toward salvation. Doing so is to have engaged in the fourth step of pursuing the truth.
When a person has truly repented, they will have embarked on the road of pursuing the truth, they will basically harbor no notions or misunderstandings about God’s work, they will be willing to submit to God’s judgment and chastisement, and they will formally begin to experience God’s work. There is a long period of transition between a person first coming to believe in God to them formally experiencing God’s judgment and chastisement. This period of transition is the phase that goes from a person beginning to believe in God until they truly repent. If someone does not love the truth, they will not accept the least bit of God’s judgment and chastisement, nor the least bit of the truth, and they will never be capable of knowing themselves. Such people will be cast out. If someone does love the truth, then, in reading God’s words and listening to sermons alike, they will be able to truly gain something, and know that God’s work is that of saving man, and reflect on themselves and know themselves in the truths that they understand; they will come to hate their own corrupt dispositions more and more and to be ever more interested in the truth, they will unwittingly gain true self-knowledge, and they will be truly remorseful and repentant. When people who love the truth read God’s words or listen to sermons, they naturally achieve such results. They gradually come to know themselves and achieve true repentance. Once one is truly repentant, how should they practice? They should seek the truth in all things; no matter what befalls them, they should be able to find the principles and paths of practice based in God’s words, and then go on to begin practicing the truth. This is the fifth step of pursuing the truth. What is the purpose of seeking the truth? To practice the truth and achieve submission to God. But in order to practice the truth, one must do so according to its principles. That alone is the accurate practice of the truth; that alone allows one to gain God’s approval. So, being able to act according to the principles of the truth is what pursuing the truth is meant to achieve. Reaching this step means that one has entered into the reality of practicing the truth. Seeking the truth is done in order to resolve man’s corrupt dispositions. When a person is able to put the truth into practice, their corrupt dispositions will naturally fall away, and their practice of the truth achieves the result that God demands. Such is the process that leads from true repentance to practicing the truth. To once have lived amid corrupt dispositions was to live under Satan’s power, to have all one’s actions and behaviors condemned and loathed by God; now, being able to accept the truth, having truly repented, being able to practice the truth and submit to God, and living by His words—this, of course, meets with God’s approval. Those who pursue the truth should reflect on themselves often. They should acknowledge their corrupt dispositions and accept God’s judgment and chastisement, they should gain true knowledge of their corrupt essence and develop a heart of remorse; they should begin to seek the truth in all things after repenting, practice according to the principles of the truth, and achieve submission to God. This is what pursuing the truth and the gradual deepening of one’s life entry can accomplish. If one does not truly know themselves, it is impossible for them to submit to God’s judgment and chastisement or to truly repent. And if one does not truly repent, that person will continue to live by a satanic disposition. True change will not come about in them, no matter how many years they believe in God. Their behavior will change a bit; that is all. It is impossible for those who do not pursue the truth to accept the truth as their life, so it is certain that their acts and behaviors will still be outpourings of a corrupt disposition, that these things will be incompatible with the truth, and resistant to God. Those who pursue the truth can accept the truth as their life, they can cast off their corrupt dispositions, put the truth into practice, and achieve true submission to God. Those who pursue the truth will seek it when things happen that are unclear to them. They will no longer plot for their own sake and they will shun all evil, with a heart that is compatible with God. Those who pursue the truth submit ever more to God, and they can fear God and shun evil, living ever more as man is meant to. Such changes are impossible for those who do not pursue the truth. What do those who do not pursue the truth pursue? They pursue prestige, gain and status; they pursue blessings and rewards. Their ambitions and desires grow ever greater, and they do not have the correct goal in life. No matter what it is they like to pursue, they will not give up if they cannot achieve their goal, and less still will they change their minds. As soon as circumstances allow and the setting is right, they will be capable of doing evil and resisting God, and they may try to establish an independent kingdom. This is because they do not have hearts that revere God or submit to Him, and in the end, they can only be obliterated by God for committing multifarious evils and betraying Him. All those who do not pursue the truth are people who are sick of the truth, and all those who are sick of the truth are lovers of evil. In their spirits and blood and bones, all they revere is prestige, gain, status, and influence; they are happy to live by satanic dispositions, and to fight against Heaven, earth, and man in order to achieve their goals. They think that such a life is joyful; they wish to live as an outstanding individual and die a hero. Obviously, they are walking the satanic road of destruction. The more that those who pursue the truth understand it, the more they love God and feel how precious the truth is. They are willing to accept God’s judgment and chastisement, and no matter how many hardships they endure, they are resolved to pursue the truth and gain it. This means that they have embarked on the path of salvation and perfection, and that they are capable of achieving compatibility with God. Most importantly, they are able to submit to God, they have returned to their original stations as created beings, and they have hearts of reverence for God. They can rightfully gain God’s leadership, guidance, and blessings, and God no longer detests or rejects them. What a wonderful thing! Those who do not pursue the truth cannot cast off their corrupt dispositions, so their hearts grow ever further from God, and they are sick of the truth and reject it. As a result, they grow increasingly resistant toward God and set off on a road in opposition to Him. They are just like Paul, openly asking God for their reward. If they do not receive it, they will try to argue with God and oppose Him, and in the end, they will become antichrists, wholly exposing the hideous countenance of Satan, after which God will curse and destroy them. Those who walk the road of pursuing the truth, on the other hand, can accept the truth and submit to it. They can cast off Satan’s corrupt disposition, they are willing to forsake everything to perform their duties well and repay God’s love, and they are able to become people who obey and. A person who is willing to submit to God, and who does so absolutely, has completely returned to the original station of a created being, and they are capable of submitting to God’s orchestrations and arrangements in everything. This means that they are possessed of fundamental human likeness. What does true human likeness refer to? It is when a person obeys and reveres the Creator, like Job and Peter did. Such are they who God truly blesses.
The major steps of pursuing the truth that we have fellowshiped about today are as simple as that. Repeat the steps back to Me. (First, reflect on yourself according to God’s words; second, acknowledge and accept the facts that God’s words reveal; third, know your own corrupt disposition and essence, and begin hating your corrupt disposition and Satan; fourth, practice repentance, and cast aside all of your evil deeds; fifth, seek the principles of the truth, and practice the truth.) Those are the five steps. Practicing each of those steps is very difficult for people who live amid corrupt dispositions, there are many impediments and difficulties involved in each one, and they all require the expenditure of painstaking effort to practice and achieve, and of course, one cannot avoid experiencing some failures and setbacks along the way—but what I would tell you is this: Do not lose heart. Though others may condemn you, saying, “You’re done for,” “You’re no good,” “This is just how you are—you can’t change it”—however unpleasant their words may be, you must be clear in your discernment. Do not lose heart, and do not give up, because only the path of pursuing the truth, only the entry and practice of these steps, will truly enable you to elude your catastrophe. Smart people will choose to set all their difficulties aside; they will not avoid failures and setbacks, and they will press on, no matter how hard it is. Even if you remain at the step of examining and knowing yourself for three or five years, or if you cannot get any further than acknowledging and accepting your corrupt disposition after eight or ten years, and you remain unable to enter into the reality of repentance, I would still tell you the same thing: Do not lose heart. Though you are not yet capable of achieving a true reversal, you have already entered into the first three steps, so why worry about not being able to enter into the remaining two? Do not worry; work harder, push harder, and you will get there. There may also be some who come to the fourth step of repentance, but they fall short of seeking the principles of the truth and cannot enter into this step. What is to be done then? You, too, must not lose heart. So long as you have the will to do so, you should persist in your pursuit of seeking the truth in all things, and pray more to God—doing so is often fruitful. Pursue as well as you can, based on your caliber and your circumstances, and work hard to achieve what you can. So long as you are doing all that you can, your conscience is clear, and you will definitely be able to make greater gains. Even understanding one more truth is a good thing—your life will become a little happier and a little more joyful for it. In summary, the pursuit of the truth is no hollow thing; there is a specific path of practice for each of its steps, and it requires people to suffer some pain and pay a certain price. The truth is not a field of academic study, or a theory, or a slogan, or an argument; it is not hollow. Each truth requires people to experience and practice it for several years before they can understand and know it. But no matter what price you pay or what efforts you make, as long as your approach, method, path, and direction are correct, then sooner or later, the day will come when you will reap a great bounty, gain the truth, and be able to know God and submit to Him—and with that, you will be perfectly contented.
January 8, 2022