What It Means to Pursue the Truth (3) (Part One)

These days, those performing duties are getting busier and busier. They feel that time is going by too fast, that there isn’t enough of it. Why is that? The fact is that it’s because they now understand the truth and have insight into many matters. A sense of responsibility weighs more and more on them, and they are performing their duties ever more assiduously, doing ever more detailed work. So, they feel there are more and more duties they should perform. That’s why they are getting busier and busier with their duties. And apart from that, every day, most who perform duties must also read God’s words and fellowship about the truth. They must reflect on themselves, and when a problem befalls them, they must seek the truth to resolve it. They must learn some professional skills, as well. They always feel there isn’t enough time, that each day goes by too fast. At night, they think through what they did that day, and it seems to them that what they did didn’t have much value, that nothing great came of it. They feel so small of stature and deficient, and they are eager to grow quickly in stature. Some of them say, “When will the busyness of this work be done? When will I be able to quiet my heart and read God’s words properly, and properly furnish myself with the truth? There’s such a limit to what I gain from one or two gatherings a week. We should be gathering more and listening to more sermons—that’s the only way to understand the truth.” So they wait and yearn, and in the blink of an eye, three, four, five years have gone by, and they feel that time goes too fast. Some people can’t offer much experiential testimony even after ten years of belief. They get restive, afraid they will be abandoned, and wish hurriedly to equip themselves with more of the truth. That is why they feel the press of time. There are many who think in this way. All who carry the burden of performing a duty and who pursue the truth feel that time goes by so quickly. Those who do not love the truth, who covet comfort and enjoyments, don’t feel that time moves quickly; some of them even complain, “When will God’s day come? They’re always saying His work is reaching its end—why hasn’t it ended yet? When will God’s work expand throughout the universe?” People who say such things feel that time moves so slowly. At heart, they are uninterested in the truth; they wish always to go back out into the world and get on with their little lives. This state of theirs is obviously different from that of people who pursue the truth. No matter how busy people who pursue the truth are with their duties, they can still seek the truth to resolve problems that befall them, and seek fellowship about things that are unclear to them in sermons they have heard, and quiet their hearts daily to reflect on how they performed, then consider God’s words and watch videos of experiential testimony. They gain things from this. No matter how busy they are with their duties, it doesn’t hamper their life entry at all, nor does it delay it. It is natural for people who love the truth to practice in this way. People who do not love the truth do not seek the truth and are unwilling to quiet themselves before God to reflect on themselves and know themselves, regardless of whether they are busy with their duty and of what problems befall them. So, no matter whether they are busy or at leisure in their duty, they do not pursue the truth. The fact is that if someone is of a heart to pursue the truth, and longs for the truth, and carries the burden of entering into life and changing their disposition, then they will grow closer to God at heart and pray to Him, however busy they are with their duty. They are sure to gain some of the enlightenment and brilliance of the Holy Spirit, and their life will grow without cease. If someone does not love the truth and does not carry any of the burden of entering into life or changing their disposition, or if they are uninterested in these things, then they cannot gain anything. Reflecting on what outpourings one has of corruption is a thing to be done anywhere, at any time. For instance, if one has poured forth corruption while performing their duty, then in their heart, they must pray to God, and reflect on themselves, and know their corrupt disposition, and seek the truth to resolve it. This is a matter of the heart; it has no bearing on the task at hand. Is this easy to do? That depends on whether you are someone who pursues the truth. People who do not love the truth are uninterested in matters of growth in life. They do not consider such things. It is only people who pursue the truth who are willing to apply themselves to growth in life; it is only they who frequently ponder problems that actually exist, and how to seek the truth to resolve those problems. In fact, the process of resolving problems and that of pursuing the truth are the same thing. If one is constantly focused on seeking the truth to resolve problems while performing their duty, and has resolved quite a few problems over several years of such practice, then their performance of their duty is certainly up to standard. Such people have many fewer outpourings of corruption, and they have gained much true experience in performing their duties. They are thus able to testify for God. How do such people undergo the experience that began when they first took up their duty, until they were able to testify for God? They do so by relying on seeking the truth to resolve problems. That’s why no matter how busy people who pursue the truth are with their duties, they will seek the truth to resolve problems and succeed in performing their duties according to the principles, and they will be able to practice the truth and submit to God. This is the process of growing in one’s life, and it is also the process of entering the reality of the truth. Some people are always saying they are so busy with their duties that they have no time to pursue the truth. This doesn’t hold. With someone who pursues the truth, whatever work they may be doing, as soon as they detect a problem, they will seek the truth to resolve it, and come to understand and gain the truth. That is a certainty. There are many who think the truth can only be understood by gathering daily. This could not be more wrong. The truth is not a thing that can be understood merely by gathering and listening to sermons; one also needs to practice and experience God’s words, and they also need that process of discovering and resolving problems. What is crucial is that they must learn to seek the truth. Those who do not love the truth do not seek it, whatever problems befall them; lovers of the truth seek it, no matter how busy they are with their duties. So, we can say with certainty that those people who are always complaining that they’re so busy with their duties that they have no time to gather, so they consequently have to put off their pursuit of the truth, are not lovers of the truth. They are people of absurd comprehension who do not understand spiritual matters. When they read God’s words or listen to sermons, why can they not practice or apply them in their performance of their duties? Why can they not apply God’s words to their real lives? This suffices to show that they do not love the truth, and so whatever difficulty they may encounter in performing their duties, they do not seek or practice the truth. Clearly, these people are service-doers. Some people may wish to pursue the truth, but their caliber is too poor. They cannot even arrange their own lives well; when they have two or three things to do, they do not know which to do first and which last. If two or three problems befall them, they do not know how to resolve them. Their heads spin. Can such people gain access to the truth? Can they succeed in seeking the truth to resolve problems? Not necessarily, because their caliber is too poor. Many people are willing to pursue the truth, yet having believed in God for ten or twenty years, they wind up unable to offer any testimony to their experience, and they have gained no truth at all. The main reason for this is that their caliber is too poor. Whether someone pursues the truth is not a matter of how busy they are with their duty or how much time they have; it depends on whether they love the truth at heart. The fact is that everyone has the same abundance of time; what’s different is where each person spends it. It is possible that anyone who says they do not have time to pursue the truth is spending their time on fleshly enjoyments, or that they are busy with some external endeavor. They do not spend that time on seeking the truth to resolve problems. This is how people are who are negligent in their pursuit. This delays the great matter of their life entry.

In our last two gatherings, we fellowshiped on the topic of “What It Means to Pursue the Truth,” as well as some specifics that topic entails. Let’s begin by going over what we fellowshiped about in our last gathering. We established an accurate definition of “What It Means to Pursue the Truth,” then went on to fellowship about some specific problems and specific ways people behave that are involved in what it means to pursue the truth. What was the final item of our fellowship in our last gathering? (God put forth a question: Given that what man holds to be good and right is not the truth, why does he still pursue them as if they were the truth?) Given that those things man holds to be good and right are not the truth, why does he still uphold them as if they were, while thinking himself to be pursuing the truth? We fellowshiped last time on three things that address this question. The first: These things man pursues are not the truth, so why does he still practice them as if they were? Because to man, the things he sees as right and good seem as if they were the truth, so man pursues those things he thinks are good and right as if they were the truth. Is that not a clear way to put it? (It is.) So, what is the accurate answer to this question? People uphold the things they think are right and good as if they were the truth, and in doing so, think they are pursuing the truth. Is that not the full answer? (It is.) The second: Why, in upholding things he thinks are good and right as if they were the truth, does man think he is pursuing the truth? This may be answered thus: Because man has a desire to be blessed. Man goes into pursuing these things he holds to be right and good with desire and ambition, and thus thinks he is practicing and pursuing the truth. In essence, this is trying to strike a bargain with God. The third: If a person is possessed of normal conscience and reason, then in cases where they do not understand the truth, they will instinctively choose to act according to their conscience and reason, following regulations, laws, rules, and so on. We may say that man instinctively upholds the things he considers in his conscience to be positive, constructive, and aligned with humanity, as though they were the truth. This can be achieved within the parameters of man’s conscience and reason. There are many who can give their labor normally in God’s house; they are willing to render service and submit to the arrangements of God’s house because they are possessed of normal conscience and reason. In order to gain blessings, they will even undergo suffering and pay any price. So, man also takes what he is capable of within the parameters of his conscience and reason to be the practice and pursuit of the truth. These are the three main pieces to the answer to that question. Last time, we fellowshiped about these three pieces in a general way; today, we will conduct specific, detailed fellowship about the problems these three points leave in their wake, and analyze the problems that each point entails, as well as how each element is different from, or in conflict with, the pursuit of the truth, so that you may know more clearly what it is to pursue the truth and how, exactly, that pursuit is to be practiced. Doing so will act as a better incentive for people to practice and pursue the truths accurately in their daily lives.

We’ll begin by fellowshiping about the first item. Simply put, our fellowship for the first item will focus on things that man holds in his notions to be right and good. Why should our fellowship focus on that content? What are the problems that content entails? Think about that first, in detail. Would you be capable of accurate knowledge of them if we didn’t properly fellowship about it in gatherings? If we did no specific fellowship about it, and you just went by your contemplation of it, or if you spent time experiencing it and getting to know it? Would you then know what truths this content touches on? Would you be able to figure those out with contemplation? (No.) We’ll begin by considering the literal words of the phrase “things that man holds in his notions to be right and good” and see how far your knowledge of it goes. First, what does the important part of this phrase, which we’re going to fellowship about, address? Can you not tell? Is it an abstract phrase? Is there a mystery to it? (It addresses notions and imaginings in man.) That’s a general way to put it; give an example. (Man believes in his notions that so long as he can renounce, expend of himself, suffer, and pay prices, he will be able to meet with God’s approval. There’s some traditional culture, too—things like filial piety and women attending to their husbands and raising their children. People take these to be good things, too.) You got a few of them. Have you caught the point? What parts are there that touch on our topic? (Renunciation, expenditure, suffering, and price-paying.) (Filial piety, and women attending to their husbands and raising their children.) Yes. Is there more? (A show of devoutness, patience, and tolerance, like the Pharisees.) Humility, patience, tolerance—it has to do with a few specific, behavioral demonstrations and sayings. Since we’re going to fellowship about such content, we’d best fellowship specifically, using specific sayings. People can gain a more accurate and precise understanding if we focus like that on the question. As of now, you can’t offer any leads, so I’ll just go ahead and fellowship, alright? (Yes.) China’s five thousand years of culture is “vast and profound,” replete with all manner of popular sayings and idioms. It also has a host of vaunted “ancient sages,” such as Confucius, Mencius, and the like. They created the Chinese teachings of Confucianism, which comprise the main part of traditional Chinese culture. There’s a lot of language, vocabulary, and sayings in Chinese traditional culture that were drawn up by generations of people. Some of them allude to antiquity, some don’t; some of them come from common folk, and others come from famous men. It may be that you don’t like traditional culture much, or you’ve removed yourself from base, traditional culture, or you’re young enough not yet to have engaged in deep study or research of China’s “vast and profound” traditional culture, and that’s why you don’t yet know about it or understand such things. That’s actually a good thing. Though one may not understand it, their thinking and notions are subliminally inculcated and infected by the things of traditional culture. They end up living by those things without their knowing it. That which is passed down from the forebears, meaning the traditional culture passed down from man’s forefathers, makes many claims of all sorts about how man should speak, act, and comport himself. And though people may have different understandings and views of traditional culture’s various statements, they’re by and large sure about such things of traditional culture. From this observation, we can see that the sources of influence on mankind’s life and existence, on its view of people and things, and on its comportment and action are all things of traditional culture. Although the various ethnicities of mankind differ in their statements about the moral standards and moral criteria they uphold, the general ideas behind them are alike. Today, we will fellowship about and analyze a few of them in detail. Though we won’t be able to mention and analyze everything that man holds to be right and good, their general content is nothing else than those two elements touched on in the definition of pursuing the truth: one’s views on people and things, and how one comports oneself and acts. One is views, the other is behaviors. This means that man regards the people and events of the world through things he holds in his notions to be right and good, and he takes those things as the foundation, basis, and criteria by which he comports himself and acts. So, what, exactly, are these good and right things? Put broadly, the things man holds in his notions to be right and good are nothing but requirements that man behave well and that he have good human morals and character. It’s those two things. Think on it: Is it not basically those two things? (It is.) One is good behavior; the other is human character and morals. Mankind has basically established two things as the standards by which to measure the humanity with which someone lives and how they comport themselves: One is the requirement for man to behave well externally, and the other is that he conduct himself morally. They use these two factors to measure a person’s goodness. Because they use these two factors to measure a person’s goodness, standards by which to judge people’s behavior and morals arose to that end, and as they did, people naturally began to hear all sorts of statements about man’s moral conduct or his behavior. What specific sayings are there? Do you know? Something simple, for example: What standards and sayings are there for measuring people’s behavior? Being well-educated and sensible, being gentle and refined—these have to do with outward behaviors. Is being courteous one? (Yes.) The rest are similar, more or less, and by analogy, you’ll know which words and statements are standards for measuring man’s behavior, and which statements are standards for measuring his morals. Now, “A woman must be virtuous, kind, gentle, and moral”—is that a standard for external behavior or morals? (It’s about morals and ethics.) How about magnanimity? (That’s about morals, too.) That’s right. These have to do with morals, with man’s moral character. The main statements that have to do with man’s behavior are those such as being courteous, being gentle and refined, and being well-educated and sensible. These are all things that man believes in his notions to be right and good; they are things he believes are positive, based on the claims of traditional culture, or at least in line with conscience and reason, not negative things. What we’re talking about here are things that people generally acknowledge to be right and good. So, what other statements are there about man’s good behavior, apart from the three I just said? (Respecting the old and caring for the young.) Respecting the old and caring for the young, being amiable, being approachable—these are all things people are somewhat familiar with and understand. Being well-educated and sensible, being gentle and refined, being courteous, respecting the old and caring for the young, being amiable, being approachable—in man’s mind, everyone with these behaviors is believed to be a good person, a kind person, a person with humanity. Everyone measures others based on their behavior; they judge someone’s goodness by their external behavior. People judge, determine, and measure whether a person is cultivated and has humanity, whether they are worthy of interaction and of trust, according to the thoughts and ideas of traditional culture and the behaviors of that person they can see. Do people have the ability to penetrate the material world? Not a bit of it. People can only judge and distinguish whether a person is good or bad, or what sort of person they are, by their behavior; only by interacting, talking, and collaborating with someone can people observe and determine those things. Regardless of whether you explicitly use statements such as “Be well-educated and sensible,” “Be amiable,” and “Respect the old and care for the young” in your measurements, the standards of your measurements do not go beyond these statements. When someone cannot see another’s internal world, they measure whether they are good or bad, noble or base, by observing their behavior and actions and applying these criteria for behavior. These are essentially all they use. Is that not so? (It is.) Based on the statements just outlined, what standards for measurement does mankind have? What are the things mankind holds to be good and right in its notions? Rather than beginning with stuff about moral conduct, let us begin our fellowship and analysis with the good, right, and positive things that man pours forth and manifests in his behavior. Let us look at whether these truly are positive things. So, is there anything in the statements we just listed that touches on the truth? Is any of their content in accord with the truth? (No.) If someone’s pursuit is to be such a person, a person with such behaviors and such an exterior, is that person pursuing the truth? Is what they pursue related to the pursuit of the truth? Is someone possessed of these behaviors practicing and pursuing the truth? Is someone possessed of these behaviors and demonstrations a good person, in the term’s true significance? The answer is negative—they are not. This is plain to see.

Let’s look first at the statement that one is to be well-educated and sensible. Talk about what the statement “Being well-educated and sensible” means on its own. (It describes someone who is fairly seemly and well-mannered.) What does it mean to be “seemly”? (It means to be somewhat regulated.) Correct. What regulations does such a person heed? The more specific your answer, the more thorough your understanding of this matter and its essence will be. So, what does it mean to be regulated? Here’s an example. When eating, the younger generation must not sit until their elders are seated, and they must stay quiet when their elders are not speaking. With food left for the elders, none may eat it unless the elders say so. Beyond that, no talking while eating, or baring one’s teeth, or loud laughter, or lip-smacking, or any rummaging around the plate. When the elder generation has finished, the younger must stop eating at once and stand up. They may only continue eating once they have seen their elders off. Is this not the observance of regulations? (It is.) These regulations are there, to greater or lesser extents, in every home and household, in families of every name and lineage. People all observe these regulations, to a greater or lesser extent, and as they do, they are restricted by them. There are different regulations in different families—and who is it who set them? That family’s forebears and venerable elders of different eras past set them. They take on special importance when celebrating important holidays and days of memorial; everyone must then follow them, without exception for anyone. If someone should break the regulations or violate them, they will be severely punished by the family’s strictures. Some may even have to kneel for forgiveness at the family altar. That’s what regulations are. What we were talking about just now were merely some of the regulations that may apply in a given household or family. Are such regulations not a part of what it means to be “seemly”? (They are.) One can tell whether a person is seemly just by watching them eat. If they smack their lips when they eat, or pick at the food, or are always serving morsels to others, and talking while eating, and loudly laughing, and even, in some cases, pointing at whom they’re speaking to with their chopsticks, then in all of this, they are demonstrating their unseemliness. To say a person is unseemly implies that others admonish, question, and despise them in terms of their behavior. As for those who are seemly, they do not speak when eating, or giggle, nor do they pick through the food or serve morsels to others. They are quite regulated. Others see their behavior and performance, and say on that basis that this is a seemly person. And because of this seemliness of theirs, they gain the respect and esteem of others, as well as their fondness. This is a part of what underlies seemliness. So, what is seemliness, really? We just said: “Seemliness” has to do only with people’s behavior. In these last examples, say, there has been an order of generational precedence when eating. Everyone must locate their seats according to the regulations; they must not sit in the wrong spot. The elder and younger generations alike follow the family regulations, which no one may violate, and they seem so regulated, so genteel, so noble, so dignified—yet no matter how much they may seem so, it all comes back to mere outward good behavior. Does this involve corrupt dispositions? No; it is no more than a standard by which to measure people’s outward behaviors. What behaviors? Mainly their speech and actions. For instance, one shouldn’t talk when eating or make noise while chewing. When sitting for a meal, there is an order to who sits first. There are proper ways to stand and sit in general. All these are no more than behaviors, external behaviors, all of them. So, are people really willing to follow these regulations? What do people think to themselves about the issue? How do they feel about it? Is following these pathetic regulations of benefit to people? Can they confer on them advancement in life? What is the problem with following these pathetic regulations? Does it have to do with the issue of whether there is a change in someone’s outlook on things and life disposition? Not at all. It has to do only with people’s behavior. It just makes a few requirements of people’s behavior, requirements concerning which regulations people are to achieve and follow. Whatever someone may think of these regulations, and even if they hate and despise them, they have no choice but to live bound by them because of their family and forebears, and because of their domestic code. Yet no one sets out to investigate what specific thoughts people have about these regulations, or how people view and regard them in their thinking, or their outlook and attitude toward them. It’s enough for you to demonstrate good behavior and follow these rules in this specified ambit. Those who do so are seemly people. “Be well-educated and sensible” places its various demands only on people’s behavior. It is used only to delimit people’s behavior, behavior that encompasses people’s posture when sitting and standing, their bodily movements, the gestures of their sensory organs, how their eyes are to seem, how their mouth is to move, how their head is to turn, and so on. It gives people a standard for external behavior, without a care for how their minds, dispositions, and essence of their humanity are. Such is the standard of being well-educated and sensible. If you meet this standard, then you are a well-educated and sensible person, and if you are possessed of the good behavior that is being well-educated and sensible, then in the eyes of others, you are someone who calls for esteem and respect. Is that not how it is? (It is.) So, is this statement’s focus man’s behavior? (Yes.) What is the use, really, of this behavioral standard? Mainly, its use is to measure whether a person is seemly and well-regulated, whether they might earn others’ respect and esteem in their dealings with them, and whether they are worthy of admiration. Measuring people in this way is entirely out of line with the principles of the truth. It is insignificant.

Our fellowship just now mainly had to do with a person’s cultivation, which is one of the requirements imposed by the statement, “Be well-educated and sensible.” What does “being sensible” refer to? (Showing an understanding of manners and etiquette.) That’s a bit superficial, but it’s part of it. Does “being sensible” not mean having the politesse to see reason, to be amenable to reason? May we go so far with it? (Yes.) To show an understanding of manners and etiquette, and to have the politesse to see reason. So, to put it all together, if someone is possessed of the behaviors entailed in “being well-educated and sensible,” how, exactly, do they show it, on the whole? Have you seen a person who is well-educated and sensible? Is there a well-educated and sensible person among your elders and relations, or among your friends? What is their distinguishing feature? They follow an exceptional number of regulations. They are quite particular about their speech, which is neither coarse, nor crude, nor hurtful to others. When they sit, they seat themselves properly; when they stand, they stand with posture. In every regard, their behavior seems refined and poised to others, who feel fondness and envy to see them. When they meet people, they lower their head and incline their body, and they bow and genuflect. They speak politely, adhering strictly to the rules of public decency and order, without the habituality or hooliganism of the lower strata of society. On the whole, their external behavior elicits comfort and praise in those who see it. There’s one troubling thing about this, though: There are regulations for everything to them. Eating has its regulations; sleeping has its regulations; walking has its regulations; even leaving home and coming back have regulations. One feels quite constrained and ill at ease when they’re with such a person. You don’t know when they’re going to pop up with a regulation, and if you carelessly violate it, you look quite reckless and ignorant, while they appear so refined. They are just so refined even in their smile, which bares no teeth, and in their crying, which they never do in front of others, but in the folds of their blanket late at night, while others are asleep. Whatever they do, it’s regulated. That’s what’s called “upbringing.” Such people live in a land of etiquette, in a great big family; they have a great many regulations and a great deal of upbringing. However you put it, the good behaviors entailed in being well-educated and sensible are behaviors—outwardly good behaviors that are inculcated in a person by the environment in which they were raised, and gradually tempered into in a person by the high standards and strict requirements they place on their own behavior. Whatever influence such behaviors might exert on people, they touch on nothing more than man’s outward behavior, and though such outward behaviors are held by man to be good behaviors, behaviors that people strive toward and approve of, they are a different thing from man’s disposition. However good one’s outward behavior is, it cannot cover up their corrupt disposition; however good one’s outward behavior is, it cannot stand in for a change in their corrupt disposition. Though the behavior of a well-educated and sensible person is quite regimented, eliciting quite a bit of others’ respect and esteem, that good behavior of theirs is of no use at all when their corrupt disposition pours forth. However noble and mature their behavior may be, when something that touches on the principles of the truth befalls them, that good behavior of theirs is of no use at all, nor does it prompt them to understand the truth—instead, because they believe in their notions that being well-educated and sensible is a positive thing, they go on to take that thing as the truth, with which they measure and question the words God says. They measure their own speech and acts according to that statement, and it is their standard for measuring others, too. Look now at the definition of “What It Means to Pursue the Truth”—to view people and things, and to comport oneself and act, wholly according to God’s words, with the truth as their criterion. Now, does the standard for external behavior that calls for being well-educated and sensible have anything at all to do with God’s words and the truth? (No.) They’re not just unrelated—they’re in conflict. Where’s the conflict there? (Such sayings would only have people focus on external good behavior while ignoring the intents and corrupt dispositions inside them. They make it so that people are beguiled by these good behaviors and don’t reflect on what is in their own thoughts and ideas, and so that they’re unable to see into their corrupt disposition, and even blindly envy and worship others according to their behavior.) Such are the consequences of accepting the statements of traditional culture. So, when man sees a performance of these good behaviors, he will treasure those behaviors. He begins by believing that these behaviors are good and positive things, and on the basis of their being positive things, he treats them as if they were the truth. Then, he uses this as the criterion by which he inhibits himself and measures others; he takes it as the basis for his views on people and things, and as he does, he also takes it as the basis for his comportment and actions. Is this not then in conflict with the truth? (It is.) We will put aside for now whether the statement that one is to be well-educated and sensible beguiles people and speak on the statement itself. “Be well-educated and sensible”—it’s a civilized, noble phrase. Everyone likes this statement, and man uses this statement to measure others and to view people and things, founded on the assumption that it is right, good, and a criterion. And as he does, he also takes it as the basis for his comportment and actions. For instance, man does not base his measurement of someone’s goodness in God’s words. What does he base it on? “Is this person well-educated and sensible? Is their outward behavior cultivated? Are they well-regulated? Are they respectful of others? Do they have manners? Do they adopt a humble attitude when talking with others? Do they have the good behaviors of politeness and respect, as Kong Rong once did in offering the biggest pear to his brother? Is that the sort of person they are?” On what basis do they raise these questions and views? It is firstly based on the criterion of being well-educated and sensible. Is it right of them to use that as their criterion? (No.) Why isn’t it right? Such a simple answer, yet you cannot come up with it. Because that is not how God measures, and He would not have man do so. If man does so, he is mistaken. If someone should measure a person or an event in this way, if they use it as a standard with which to view people and things, they are violating the truth and God’s words. That is the conflict between traditional notions and the truth. Is that not so? (It is.) In what does God have man base his measurements of others? According to what does He have man view people and things? (His words.) He has man view people according to His words. Specifically, this means measuring whether a person has humanity according to His words. That’s part of it. Beyond that, it’s based in whether that person loves the truth, whether they have a heart of reverence for God, and whether they can submit to the truth. Are these not the specifics of it? (They are.) So, in what does man base his measurements of another’s goodness? In whether they are cultivated and well regulated, in whether they smack their lips or tend to rummage around for morsels when they eat, in whether they wait for their elders to sit before seating themselves at meals. They use such things to measure others. Is using these things not using the standard for behavior as being well-educated and sensible? (It is.) Are such measurements accurate? Do they align with the truth? (They don’t.) It’s quite clear that they don’t align with the truth. What, then, ultimately comes of such measuring? The measurer believes that anyone who is well-educated and sensible is a good person, and if you have them fellowship about the truth, they’ll always be inculcating people with those domestic rules and teachings, and good behaviors. And what ultimately comes of their inculcating these things in people is that they will lead people into good behaviors, but those people’s corrupt essence will not change at all. This way of doing things is a far departure from the truth and God’s words. Such people are merely possessed of a few good behaviors. So, can the corrupt dispositions inside them be changed because of good behavior? Can they achieve submission and loyalty to God? Not by a long shot. Whom have these people turned into? Pharisees, who have only outward good behavior but fundamentally do not understand the truth, and who cannot submit to God. Is that not so? (It is.) Look at the Pharisees—by appearances, were they not impeccable? They kept the Sabbath; on the Sabbath, they did nothing. They were courteous in speech, quite well regulated and rule-abiding, quite cultivated, quite civilized and learned. Because they were good at disguise and did not revere God at all, but passed judgment on Him and condemned Him, they were cursed by Him in the end. God proclaimed them as hypocritical Pharisees, who are all evildoers. Likewise, the sort of people who use the good behavior of being well-educated and sensible as the criterion for their comportment and action are evidently not people who pursue the truth. When they use this rule to measure others, and to comport themselves and act, they are, of course, not pursuing the truth; and when they make a judgment about someone or something, the standard and basis for that judgment do not align with the truth, but are in violation of it. The only thing they focus on is a person’s behavior, their ways, not their disposition and essence. Their basis is not God’s words, not the truth; instead, their measurements are based on this standard for behavior in traditional culture as being well-educated and sensible. The upshot of such measurement is that a person is good and in line with God’s will to them, so long as that person has such external good behaviors as being well-educated and sensible. When people adopt such classifications, they have obviously taken an opposing stance to the truth and God’s words. And the more use they make of this behavioral criterion to view people and things, and to comport themselves and act, what comes of it brings them all the further away from God’s words and the truth. Even then, they enjoy what they are doing and believe that they are pursuing the truth. In upholding a few of the good statements of traditional culture, they believe that they are upholding the truth and the true way. Yet however they adhere to those things, however they insist on them, they will ultimately not have any experience or exposure to God’s words, the truth, nor will they submit to God in the least. Less still can this give rise to true reverence for God. That is what happens when people uphold any and all such good behaviors as being well-educated and sensible. The more man focuses on good behavior, on living it out, on pursuing it, the further his remove from God’s words—and the further removed man is from the words of God, the less able he is to understand the truth. This is only to be expected. If someone’s behavior improves, does that mean their disposition is changed? Do you have experience of this? Have you ever unconsciously sought to be well-educated, sensible people? (Yes.) That’s because everyone understands that by being a well-educated, sensible person, one seems to others to be quite respectable and noble. Others regard them highly. That’s how it is, yes? (Yes.) So, it shouldn’t be a bad thing to be possessed of these good behaviors. But can gaining these good behaviors, these good displays, resolve man’s corrupt disposition? Can it keep people from doing bad things? If not, what use is there in such good behaviors? It’s just a good look; it’s of no use. Can people with such good behavior submit to God? Can they accept and practice the truth? Clearly not. Good behavior cannot replace man’s practice of the truth. It is just as it was with the Pharisees. Their behavior was great, and they were quite pious, but how did they treat the Lord Jesus? No one would have imagined that they could go on to crucify the Savior of mankind. So, those who only have outward good behaviors but have not gained the truth are in danger. They may go on as they have, resisting and betraying God. If you cannot see through this, you may yet be beguiled by people’s good behavior, as ever.

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