7. The Difference Between External Good Deeds and Changes in Disposition
Relevant Words of God:
A change in disposition mainly refers to a transformation of a person’s nature. The things of a person’s nature cannot be seen from external behaviors; they are directly related to the worth and significance of his existence. That is, they directly involve a person’s outlook on life and his values, the things in the depths of his soul, and his essence. If a person cannot accept the truth, he will have no transformation in these aspects. Only by experiencing God’s work, fully entering the truth, changing one’s values and one’s outlooks on existence and life, aligning one’s views with God’s, and becoming capable of completely submitting to and being devoted to God, can one’s disposition be said to have changed. You may appear to put forth some effort, you may be resilient in the face of hardship, you may be able to carry out work arrangements from the above, or you may be able to go wherever you are told to go, but these are but minor changes of behavior and are not enough to count as a transformation of your disposition. You may be able to run down many paths, suffer many hardships, and endure great humiliation; you may feel very close to God, and the Holy Spirit may do some work on you. However, when God asks you to do something that does not conform to your notions, you still might not submit; rather, you might look for excuses, rebelling against and resisting God, even to the point that you criticize and protest against Him. This would be a serious problem! It would show that you still have a nature that resists God, and that you have not undergone any transformation whatsoever.
Excerpted from “What Should Be Known About Transforming One’s Disposition” in Records of Christ’s Talks
People can behave well, but that does not necessarily mean they are possessed of the truth. People’s fervor can only make them abide by doctrine and follow regulation; people who are without the truth have no way of resolving substantive problems, and doctrine cannot stand in for the truth. Those who have experienced a change in their dispositions are different. Those who have experienced a change in their disposition have understood the truth, they are discerning on all issues, they know how to act in accordance with God’s will, how to act in accordance with the principles of the truth, how to act to satisfy God, and they understand the nature of the corruption they reveal. When their own ideas and notions are revealed, they are able to be discerning and forsake the flesh. This is how a change in disposition is expressed. The main thing about a change in disposition is that they have clearly understood the truth, and when carrying things out, they put the truth into practice with relative accuracy and their corruption is not revealed as often. Generally, people whose dispositions have changed appear to be particularly reasonable and discerning, and because of their understanding of the truth, they do not exhibit as much self-righteousness and arrogance. They can see through and discern much of the corruption that is revealed, so do not give rise to arrogance. They are able to have a measured grasp on what man’s place is, how to behave reasonably, how to be dutiful, what to say and what not to say, and what to say and what to do to which people. This is why it is said that people like this are relatively reasonable. Those who have a change in disposition truly live out the likeness of a human, and they possess truth. They are always able to speak and see things in accordance with the truth, and they are principled in everything they do; they are not subject to the influence of any person, matter, or thing, and they all have their own views and can maintain the principles of the truth. Their dispositions are relatively stable, they do not blow hot and cold, and no matter what their situation, they understand how to do their duty properly and how to do things to satisfy God. Those whose dispositions have changed are not focused on what to do to make themselves look good on a superficial level—they have internal clarity on what to do to satisfy God. Therefore, from the outside they may not seem so enthusiastic or like they have done anything very great, but everything they do is meaningful, is valuable, and has practical results. Those whose dispositions have changed are certain to possess a lot of truth—this can be confirmed by their perspectives on things and their principles in their actions. Those who do not possess the truth have absolutely not had any change in disposition. A change in disposition does not mean having a mature and seasoned humanity. It mainly refers to instances in which some of the satanic poisons within people’s nature change as a result of attaining knowledge of God and understanding of the truth. That is to say, those satanic poisons are cleansed, and the truth expressed by God takes root within these people, becomes their life, and becomes the foundation of their existence. Only then do they become new people, and as such, their disposition changes. A change in disposition does not mean that people’s outer dispositions are meeker than before, that they used to be arrogant but now speak reasonably, or that they used to listen to no one but now can listen to others; such external changes cannot be said to be transformations in disposition. Of course, changes in disposition do include these states and expressions, but the most key thing is that their inner life has changed. The truth expressed by God becomes their very life, the satanic poisons within have been eliminated, their perspectives have completely changed, and none of them is in line with that of the world. They see the schemes and poisons of the great red dragon clearly; they have grasped the true essence of life. So their life values have changed—this is the most fundamental change and the essence of a change in disposition.
Excerpted from “The Difference Between External Changes and Changes in Disposition” in Records of Christ’s Talks
In religion, many people suffer a great deal throughout their lives: They subdue their bodies and bear their cross, and they even continue to suffer and endure when on the very verge of death! Some are still fasting on the morning of their death. All their lives they deny themselves nice food and clothing, focusing only on suffering. They are able to subdue their body and forsake their flesh. Their spirit for enduring suffering is commendable. But their thinking, their notions, their mental attitude, and indeed their old nature, have not been dealt with in the slightest. They lack any true knowledge of themselves. Their mental image of God is that traditional one of an abstract, vague God. Their resolve to suffer for God comes from their zeal and their positive natures. Even though they believe in God, they neither understand Him nor know His will. They merely work and suffer blindly for God. They place no value whatsoever on acting with discernment, care little about how to ensure that their service actually fulfills God’s will, and much less are they aware of how to achieve the knowledge of God. The God they serve is not God in His original image, but a God shrouded in legend, a product of their own imagination, a God they have only heard of, or found in writings. They then use their fertile imaginations and piousness to suffer for God and undertake God’s work that God wants to do. Their service is too inexact, such that practically none of them are truly able to serve in accordance with God’s will. Regardless of how gladly they suffer, their original perspective on service and their mental image of God remain unchanged, because they have not undergone God’s judgment, chastisement, refinement and perfection, and nor has anyone guided them using the truth. Even if they believe in Jesus the Savior, none of them has ever seen the Savior. They only know of Him through legend and hearsay. As a result, their service amounts to no more than serving randomly with eyes closed, like a blind man serving his own father. What, ultimately, can be achieved by such service? And who would approve of it? From beginning to end, their service remains the same throughout; they receive only man-made lessons and base their service only on their naturalness and their own preferences. What reward could this bring? Not even Peter, who saw Jesus, knew how to serve in accordance with God’s will; he only came to know this in the end, in his old age. What does this say about those blind people who have not experienced the slightest bit of being dealt with or of being pruned, and who have had no one guiding them? Is not the service of many among you today like that of these blind people? All those who have not received judgment, not received pruning and dealing, and who have not changed—are they not all incompletely conquered? Of what use are such people? If your thinking, your knowledge of life, and your knowledge of God show no new change and you do not truly gain anything, then you will never achieve anything remarkable in your service! Without a vision and a new knowledge of God’s work, you cannot be conquered. Your way of following God will then be like those who suffer and fast: of little value! It is precisely because there is little testimony in what they do that I say their service is futile! They spend their lives suffering and sitting in prison; they are ever forbearing, loving, and they ever bear the cross, they are ridiculed and rejected by the world, they experience every hardship, and although they are obedient to the very end, they are still not conquered, and can offer no testimony to being conquered. They have suffered a great deal, but inside they do not know God at all. None of their old thinking, old notions, religious practices, man-made knowledge, and human ideas have been dealt with. There is not the slightest hint of new knowledge in them. Not one bit of their knowledge of God is true or accurate. They have misunderstood God’s will. Does this serve God? Whatever your knowledge of God in the past, if it stays the same today and you continue to base your knowledge of God on your own notions and ideas no matter what God does, which is to say that if you possess no new, true knowledge of God and if you fail to know God’s true image and disposition, if your knowledge of God is still guided by feudal, superstitious thinking and is still born of human imagination and notions, then you have not been conquered. I say all these words to you today so that you may know, so that this knowledge may lead you to a newer, accurate knowledge; I also say these words in order to eradicate the old notions and the old way of knowing in you, so that you may possess new knowledge. If you truly eat and drink My words, then your knowledge will change considerably. As long as you eat and drink God’s words with a heart of obedience, then your perspective will be reversed. As long as you are able to accept the repeated chastisements, your old mentality will gradually change. As long as your old mentality is thoroughly replaced with the new, your practice will also change accordingly. In this way, your service will become increasingly on-target, increasingly able to fulfill God’s will. If you can change your life, your knowledge of human life, and your many notions about God, then your naturalness will gradually diminish. This, and nothing short of this, is the effect when God conquers people, it is the change that occurs in people. If, in your faith in God, all you know about is subduing your body and enduring and suffering, and you do not know whether that is right or wrong, much less for whose sake it is done, then how can such practice lead to change?
Excerpted from “The Inside Truth of the Work of Conquest (3)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Whenever those religious people congregate, they might ask, “Sister, how have you been these days?” She might reply, “I feel I owe a debt to God, and that I am unable to satisfy His will.” Another might say, “I, too, feel indebted to God and that I am unable to satisfy Him.” These few sentences and words alone express the vile things deep within them; such words are most loathsome, and exceedingly repugnant. The nature of such people is in opposition to God. Those who focus on reality communicate whatever is on their mind, and open up their hearts in fellowship. They do not engage in a single false exercise, displaying neither such civilities nor empty pleasantries. They are always straightforward, and observe no secular rules. Some people have a penchant for outward displays, even to the point of utterly lacking sense. When someone sings, they begin to dance, not even realizing that the rice in their pots has already burned. Such people are not godly or honorable, and they are far too frivolous. All of these things are manifestations of a lack of reality. When some people fellowship about matters of spiritual life, though they speak not of owing anything to God, they do retain a true love for Him deep down. Your feeling of indebtedness to God has nothing to do with other people; you are indebted to God, not humanity. What use is it for you to constantly speak of this to others? You must place importance on entering into reality, not on any outward zeal or display.
What do the superficial good deeds of humans represent? They represent the flesh, and even the best of outward practices do not represent life; they can only show your own individual temperament. The outward practices of humanity cannot fulfill the desire of God. You constantly speak of your indebtedness to God, yet you cannot supply the life of others or inspire them to love God. Do you believe that those actions of yours will satisfy God? You feel that your actions are in line with God’s will, and that they are of the spirit, but in truth, they are all absurd! You believe that what pleases you and what you are willing to do are precisely those things in which God delights. Can your likes represent God? Can a person’s character represent God? What pleases you is precisely that which God abhors, and your habits are those which God loathes and rejects. If you feel indebted, then go and pray before God; there is no need to speak of it to others. If you do not pray before God, and instead constantly draw attention to yourself in the presence of others, can this satisfy God’s will? If your actions always exist in appearance alone, then this means that you are vain in the extreme. What manner of humans are those who only carry out superficial good deeds and are devoid of reality? Such people are just hypocritical Pharisees and religious figures! If you do not shed your outward practices and are unable to make changes, then the elements of hypocrisy in you will grow even more. The greater your elements of hypocrisy, the more resistance there is toward God. In the end, such people will surely be eliminated!
Excerpted from “In Faith, One Must Focus on Reality—Engaging in Religious Ritual Is Not Faith” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
In the religious world, there are many devout people saying, “We have changed due to our faith in the Lord Jesus. We are able to expend for the Lord, do work for the Lord, endure prison for the Lord and do not deny His name. We are able to do many virtuous things, give to charity, donate and help the poor. These are big changes! So we are qualified to be brought into the kingdom of heaven.” What do you think about these words? Do you have any discernment when it comes to these words? What does it mean to be cleansed? Do you think that if your behavior has changed and you do good deeds then you have been cleansed? Someone says, “I have cast aside everything. I have cast aside my job, my family and the desires of the flesh in order to expend for God. Is this the equivalent of getting cleansed?” Even if you have done all this, this is not solid evidence that you have been cleansed. So, what is the key point? In which aspect can you obtain cleansing that can be considered real cleansing? The cleansing of the satanic disposition that resists God means a true cleansing. What are the manifestations of satanic disposition that resists God? The most obvious manifestations are a person’s arrogance, conceit, self-righteousness and self-pride, as well as his crookedness, treachery, telling lies, deception and hypocrisy. When these satanic dispositions are no longer part of someone, then they have been truly cleansed. It has been said that there are 12 key manifestations in man’s satanic disposition, such as considering oneself to be the most honorable; letting those who comply with me thrive and those who resist me perish; thinking only God is superior to you, submitting to no one else, having no regard for others; creating an independent kingdom once you have power; wanting to be the sole wielder of power and the master of all things and to decide things all by yourself. All of these manifestations are satanic dispositions. These satanic dispositions must be cleansed before someone experiences a change in his life disposition. A change in one’s life disposition is a rebirth because his essence has changed. Before, when he was given power, he was able to create his own independent kingdom. Now, when he is given power, he serves God, bears witness for God and becomes a servant for the chosen people of God. Isn’t this a genuine change? Before, he showed off himself in all situations and wanted other people to think highly of him and worship him. Now, he bears witness for God everywhere and does not show off himself. No matter how people treat him, he feels it is fine. No matter how people comment about him, he feels it is fine. He does not care. He only focuses on exalting God, bearing witness for God, helps others gain an understanding of God, and helps others obey in the presence of God. Isn’t this a change in life disposition? “I will treat the brothers and sisters with love. I will be compassionate of others in all situations. I will not think about myself, and I will provide benefit for others. I will help others advance their lives and fulfill my own responsibilities. I will help others understand the truth and obtain the truth.” This is what it means to love others as yourself! When it comes to Satan, you can discern it, have principles, draw a demarcation line with it and thoroughly reveal the evils of Satan so that God’s chosen people will be spared from its harm. This is protecting God’s chosen people, and this is even more loving others as yourself. Additionally, you should love what God loves and hate what God hates. What God hates are antichrists, evil spirits and wicked people. That means we also have to hate antichrists, evil spirits and wicked people. We must stand on God’s side. We cannot compromise with them. God loves those who He wants to save and bless. For these people, we must be responsible, treat them with love, help, lead, provide and support them. Isn’t this a change in one’s life disposition? Additionally, when you have committed some transgressions or mistakes, or neglected the principles in doing something, you can accept the brothers and sisters’ criticism, reproach, dealing and pruning; you can treat all of these things correctly and receive them from God, harbor no hatred, and seek the truth to resolve your own corruption. Isn’t this a change in your life disposition? Yes, it is. …
Can the change in one’s behavior that is talked about in the religious world represent a change in life disposition? Everyone says it cannot. Why? The main reason is because he still resists God. It is just like the Pharisees who were very devout externally. They often prayed, they explained the scripture and they followed the regulations of the law very well. It could be said that externally, they were beyond reproach. People were unable to pick out any faults. However, why were they still able to resist and condemn Christ? What does this indicate? No matter how good people appear to be, if they do not have the truth and thus do not know God, they will still resist God. Externally, they were so good, but why does this not count as a change in life disposition? It is because their corrupt disposition did not change in the slightest, and they were still arrogant, conceited and especially self-righteous. They believed in their own knowledge, theories and they believed they had the best understanding of the scriptures. They believed that they understood everything and that they were better than other people. This is why they resisted and condemned the Lord Jesus when He was preaching and doing His work. That is why when the religious world hears that Christ of the last days has expressed all of the truth, they condemn Him even though they know it is the truth.
Excerpted from Sermons and Fellowship on Entry Into Life