2. What are the differences between dispositional change and good behavior?

Relevant Words of God:

Transformation in disposition mainly refers to the 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 undergo 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 transformed. 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 the 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

What do you know about changes in disposition? The essences of changes in disposition and changes in behavior are different, and changes in practice are also different—they are all different in essence. Most people place special emphasis on behavior in their belief in God, as a result of which certain changes occur in their behavior. After they have begun to believe in God, they stop contending with others, insulting and fighting with people, smoking and drinking, and stealing any public property—whether it be but a nail or a plank of wood—and they even go so far as to not take it to the courts whenever they suffer losses or are wronged. Without doubt, they do indeed undergo some behavioral changes. Because, once they believe in God, accepting the true way makes people feel especially good, and because they have also now tasted the grace of the work of the Holy Spirit, they are particularly fervent, and there is even nothing that they cannot forsake or suffer. Nevertheless, after having believed for three, five, ten, or thirty years, because there has been no change in their life dispositions, they end up sliding back into old ways; their arrogance and haughtiness grow more pronounced, they begin to compete for power and profit, they covet the church’s money, they do anything that serves their own interests, they crave status and pleasures, and they have become parasites of God’s house. In particular, most of those who serve as leaders are abandoned by people. And what do these facts prove? Mere behavioral changes are unsustainable; if there is no alteration in people’s life dispositions, then sooner or later, their vicious sides will show themselves. Because the source of the changes in their behavior is fervor, coupled with some work by the Holy Spirit at the time, it is extremely easy for them to become fervent or to exhibit temporary kindness. As the unbelievers say, “Doing one good deed is easy; what’s hard is doing a lifetime of good deeds.” People are incapable of doing good deeds throughout their entire lives. One’s behavior is directed by the life; whatever one’s life is, so is one’s behavior, and only that which is revealed naturally represents the life, as well as one’s nature. Things that are fake cannot last. When God works to save man, it is not to adorn man with good behavior—the purpose of God’s work is to transform people’s dispositions, to make them reborn into new people. Thus, God’s judgment, chastisement, trials, and refinement of man all serve to change his disposition so that he may achieve absolute submission and devotion to God, and come to worship Him normally. This is the aim of God’s work. Behaving well is not the same as submitting to God, much less does it equal being compatible with Christ. Changes in behavior are based on doctrine and born of fervor; they are not based upon true knowledge of God or upon the truth, much less do they rest upon guidance from the Holy Spirit. Even though there are times when some of what people do is directed by the Holy Spirit, this is not an expression of the life, much less is it the same as knowing God; no matter how good a person’s behavior is, it does not prove that they have submitted to God or that they put the truth into practice. Behavioral changes are but a momentary illusion; they are but manifestations of zealousness. They cannot be counted as expressions of the life.

Excerpted from “The Difference Between External Changes and Changes in Disposition” in Records of Christ’s Talks

People can behave well, but that does not necessarily mean they are possessed of the truth. Having fervor can only make them abide by doctrine and follow rules; those who are without the truth have no way of resolving essential problems, nor can doctrine take the truth’s place. People who have experienced a change in their dispositions are different; they 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 truth principle, and how to act to satisfy God, and they understand the nature of the corruption they exhibit. 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 people who have undergone a change in disposition is that they have come to clearly understand the truth, and when carrying things out, they put the truth into practice with relative accuracy and they do not exhibit corruption as often. Generally, those whose dispositions have transformed appear to be particularly reasonable and discerning, and due to their understanding of the truth, they do not exhibit as much self-righteousness or arrogance. They can see through and discern much of the corruption that has been revealed in them, so they do not give rise to arrogance. They are able to have a measured grasp on what man’s place is, on how to behave reasonably, on how to be dutiful, on what to say and what not to say, and on what to say and what to do to which people. This is why it is said that people like these are relatively reasonable. Those who have undergone a change in their dispositions truly live out a human likeness, and they possess the 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 uphold the truth principle. Their dispositions are relatively stable, they do not blow hot and cold, and no matter what their circumstances, they understand how to do their duties properly and how to behave to God’s satisfaction. Those whose dispositions have actually changed are not focused on what to do to make themselves look good on a superficial level; they have gained internal clarity on what to do to satisfy God. Therefore, from the outside, they may not seem to be so enthusiastic or to have done anything very great, but everything they do is meaningful, is valuable, and yields practical results. Those whose dispositions have changed are certain to possess a lot of truth, and this can be confirmed by their perspectives on things and their principled actions. Those who do not possess the truth have absolutely not achieved any change in disposition. A change in disposition does not mean having a mature and seasoned humanity; it primarily refers to instances in which some of the satanic poisons within a person’s nature change as a result of attaining knowledge of God and an understanding of the truth. That is to say, those satanic poisons are cleansed, and the truth expressed by God takes root within such people, becomes their life, and becomes the very foundation of their existence. Only then do they become new people and, as such, experience a transformation of disposition. A transformation in disposition does not mean that people’s outer dispositions are meeker than before, that they used to be arrogant but now can communicate 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, transformations in disposition do include such states and expressions, but the most crucial ingredient is that internally, their life has changed. The truth expressed by God becomes their very life, the satanic poisons within have been eliminated, and their perspectives have completely changed—and none of them is in line with that of the world. These people can see the schemes and poisons of the great red dragon clearly for what they are; they have grasped the true essence of life. Thus, their life values have changed, and this is the most fundamental sort of transformation, as well as the essence of a change in disposition.

Excerpted from “The Difference Between External Changes and Changes in Disposition” in Records of Christ’s Talks

Achieving transformation in one’s disposition is not a simple matter; it does not mean just having a few changes in behavior, gaining some knowledge of the truth, being able to talk a bit about one’s experience with every aspect of the truth, or changing some or becoming a little obedient after being disciplined. These things do not constitute transformation in one’s life disposition. Why do I say this? Though you may be able to put a few things aside, what you are practicing has not yet reached the level of truly putting the truth into practice. Or, perhaps because you are in a suitable environment for a while, and a favorable situation, or your current circumstances have compelled you, you behave in this way. In addition, when your state of mind is stable and the Holy Spirit is at work, you are able to practice. If you were undergoing trials, and suffering through them like Job did, or like Peter whom God asked to die, would you be able to say, “Even if I died after getting to know You, it would be alright”? Transformation in disposition does not happen overnight, and once you understand the truth you cannot necessarily put it into practice within every environment. This involves man’s nature. Sometimes it might seem as though you are putting the truth into practice, but in reality, the nature of your actions does not show that you are doing so. Many people have certain outward behaviors, such as being able to cast aside their families and careers and fulfill their duties, and therefore they believe they are practicing the truth. However, God does not recognize that they are practicing the truth. If everything you do has a personal motive behind it and is adulterated, then you are not practicing the truth; you are simply exhibiting superficial conduct. Strictly speaking, your conduct will probably be condemned by God; it will not be praised or remembered by Him. Dissecting this further, you are doing evil and your conduct is in opposition to God. From the outside, you are not interrupting or disturbing anything and you have not done real damage or violated any truth. It appears to be logical and reasonable, yet the essence of your actions pertains to doing evil and resisting God. Therefore, you should determine whether there has been a change in your disposition and whether you are putting the truth into practice by looking at the motives behind your actions in light of God’s words. It does not depend on a human view of whether your actions conform to the human imagination and human intentions, or whether they are suited to your taste; such things are not important. Rather, it depends on God saying whether or not you are conforming to His will, whether or not your actions possess truth reality, and whether or not they meet His requirements and standards. Only measuring yourself against God’s requirements is accurate. Transformation in disposition and putting the truth into practice are not as simple and easy as people imagine. Do you understand this now? Do you have any experience with this? When it comes to a problem’s essence, you might not understand it; your entry has been overly superficial. You run about all day long, from dawn until dusk, rising early and going to bed late, yet you have not achieved transformation in your life disposition, and you cannot grasp what such a transformation involves. This means your entry is too shallow, does it not? Regardless of how long you have believed in God, you might not sense the essence and deep things to do with achieving transformation in disposition.

Excerpted from “What Should Be Known About Transforming One’s Disposition” in Records of Christ’s Talks

At what stage are you now? That is, you have already come to know your point of view is wrong, but you can still rely on your point of view to live, and you use it to measure God’s work and to pass judgment on and give thought to all God does, His sovereignty, and the circumstances He puts in place for you, and you can treat God’s sovereignty by means of your point of view and your methods. Is this practicing the truth? Is this result one that is achieved after one’s disposition is changed? No, it is not. You now merely acknowledge that God’s words are good and right, and, to look at your outward behavior, you do not do things that go against the truth, much less do you do things that pass judgment on God’s work. You are also able to submit to the work arrangements of God’s house. Such a person has gone from being an unbeliever to a follower of God with the decency of a saint. You go from someone who lives decidedly by Satan’s philosophies for living, and by Satan’s concepts, principles, and knowledge to someone who, having heard God’s words, feels they are good, right, and the truth, who wants to live by God’s words, and who has come to accept God’s words and take them as their life. It is that sort of process—nothing more. So, during this period, your behavior and ways of doing things will certainly undergo some changes and will certainly be wholly different from before. No matter in what way they differ, however, nor how many things are different, what manifests in you is, to God, no more than changes in your behavior and methods, changes in your thinking and points of view, changes in your innermost desires, and changes in your aspirations—nothing more than this. You may now be able, with an effort, to offer your life for God, but you cannot achieve absolute obedience to God in a matter you find particularly distasteful. This is the difference between a change in behavior and a change in disposition. Perhaps, your kind heart enables you to behave in such a way as to lay down your life for God at once, saying, “I’m ready and willing to give up my life’s blood. In this life, I have no regrets and no complaints! I’ve given up on marriage, on worldly prospects, on all glory and riches, and I accept these circumstances that God has laid out. I can withstand and take all the ridicule and slander of the world.” Yet all God has to do is lay out circumstances that do not fit your notions and you then shout at Him and resist Him. This is the difference between a change in behavior and a change in disposition. It is also possible that you can lay down your life for God and give up the people and things you love most, or the thing with which your heart can bear least to part—but when you are called to say an honest word to God and be an honest person, you find it quite difficult and cannot do it. This is the difference between a change in behavior and a change in disposition. Then again, perhaps you do not crave fleshly comfort in this life, neither eating fine food nor wearing fine clothes, each day working yourself ragged and to exhaustion. You can withstand all manner of pain brought to you by the flesh, but, when God’s arrangements do not accord with your notions, you cannot understand, and when you cannot understand, grievances against God arise in you, misunderstandings about Him arise in you, and at such a time, the relationship between you and God will grow increasingly strained until you wish to shun and betray Him and are unable to submit completely. This is the difference between a change in behavior and a change in disposition. You can give up your life for God, so why can you not say an honest word to Him? You can lay aside everything outside of yourself, so why can you not be singularly loyal to the commission and task God has given you? You can give up your life for God, so why, when you reveal your feelings and uphold your relations with others, can you not take a stand to uphold God’s work and His interests? You have made a vow before God to expend yourself for Him your whole life and to accept whatever suffering comes your way, so why does one instance of being dismissed from your duty make you sink so much into negativity that you cannot crawl back out for many days? Your heart is full of resistance and grievance and misunderstanding—it is all negative. What is going on? This is the difference between a change in behavior and a change in disposition.

Excerpted from “Only by Resolving One’s Notions Can One Enter the Right Track of Believing in God (3)” in Records of Christ’s Talks

What was the basis on which people used to live? All people live for themselves. Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost—this is the summation of human nature. People believe in God for their own sakes; they abandon things, expend themselves for Him, and are faithful to Him, but still they do all these things for their own sakes. In sum, it is all done for the purpose of gaining blessings for themselves. In society, everything is done for personal benefit; believing in God is solely done to gain blessings. It is for the sake of gaining blessings that people forsake everything and can withstand much suffering: This is all empirical evidence of man’s corrupt nature. However, those who have undergone a change in disposition are different; they believe that how to live meaningfully, how to fulfill a person’s duties in order to be worthy of being called human, how to worship God, and how to satisfy and submit to God—all of this—is the foundation of what it means to be human, and is an obligation that is ordained by Heaven and acknowledged by earth. Otherwise, they would not be worthy of being called human; their lives would be empty and meaningless. They feel that people should live in order to satisfy God, to perform their duties well, and to live lives of meaning, so that even when it is their time to die, they will feel content and not have the slightest regret, and that they have not lived in vain. In comparing these two different situations, one can see that the latter is one of a person whose disposition has transformed, and because his life disposition has transformed, his outlook on life has certainly changed, too. Now having different values, he will never again live for himself, and he will never again believe in God for the purpose of gaining blessings. Such a person will be able to say, “If I die after having gotten to know God, then what is death to me? If I can know God, then I will be able to live a meaningful life, and then I will not have lived in vain, nor will I die with any regrets; I will have no complaints.” Is this not a changed outlook on life? Therefore, the main cause of a change in one’s life disposition is possessing the truth within and having knowledge of God; one’s outlook on life is therefore changed, and one’s values are different from before. The transformation starts from within, and from one’s life; it is certainly not a mere external change. Some new believers, after they have begun to believe in God, leave the secular world behind. When they later encounter unbelievers, these believers have little to say, and they rarely contact their unbelieving relatives and friends. The unbelievers say, “This person has changed.” The believer then thinks, “My disposition really has transformed; these unbelievers are saying I’ve changed.” Has such a person’s disposition, in fact, actually transformed? What he manifests are merely external changes. There has been no real change in his life, and his satanic nature remains rooted within him, completely untouched. Sometimes, people are gripped by fervor because of the work of the Holy Spirit; some external changes might occur, and they might do a few good deeds. However, this is not the same as achieving a transformation of disposition. If you do not possess the truth and your view of things has not changed, even to the point of being no different from that of unbelievers, and if your values and outlook on life have not altered, either, and if you do not even have reverence for God—which is the very least that you should possess—then you are nowhere close to having achieved a change in disposition.

Excerpted from “The Difference Between External Changes and Changes in Disposition” in Records of Christ’s Talks

Previous: 1. What is change in one’s disposition? How is it manifested?

Next: 3. How should one pursue the truth in order to achieve change in their disposition and perfection?

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