1. What it is to fear God and shun evil and how fearing God and shunning evil are manifested
Relevant Words of God:
What is to fear God? And how can one shun evil?
“To fear God” does not mean nameless fright and horror, nor to evade, nor to put at a distance, nor is it idolization or superstition. Rather, it is admiration, esteem, trust, understanding, caring, obedience, consecration, love, as well as unconditional and uncomplaining worship, requital, and submission. Without genuine knowledge of God, humanity will not have genuine admiration, genuine trust, genuine understanding, genuine caring or obedience, but only dread and unease, only doubt, misunderstanding, evasion, and avoidance; without genuine knowledge of God, humanity will not have genuine consecration and requital; without genuine knowledge of God, humanity will not have genuine worship and submission, only blind idolization and superstition; without genuine knowledge of God, humanity cannot possibly act in accordance with the way of God, or fear God, or shun evil. Conversely, every activity and behavior in which man engages will be filled with rebellion and defiance, with slanderous imputations and maligning judgments about Him, and with evil conduct running contrary to the truth and to the true meaning of God’s words.
Once humanity has genuine trust in God, they will be genuine in following Him and depending on Him; only with real trust in and dependence on God can humanity have genuine understanding and comprehension; along with real comprehension of God comes real caring for Him; only with genuine caring for God can humanity have genuine obedience; only with genuine obedience to God can humanity have genuine consecration; only with genuine consecration to God can humanity have requital that is unconditional and without complaint; only with genuine trust and dependence, genuine understanding and caring, genuine obedience, genuine consecration and requital, can humanity truly come to know God’s disposition and essence, and to know the identity of the Creator; only when they have truly come to know the Creator can humanity awaken in themselves genuine worship and submission; only when they have real worship for and submission to the Creator will humanity be able truly to put aside their evil ways, that is to say, to shun evil.
This constitutes the whole process of “fearing God and shunning evil,” and is also the content in its entirety of fearing God and shunning evil. This is the path that must be traversed in order to attain fearing God and shunning evil.
—The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. Preface
Exactly what sort of path is the way of fearing God and shunning evil? It involves seeking to submit to God, and submitting to Him completely and absolutely. It involves being genuinely afraid and fearful of God, without any elements of deception, resistance, or rebellion. It is being completely pure of heart and absolutely loyal and obedient toward God. This loyalty and obedience must be absolute, not relative; it is not dependent upon time or place, or how old one is. This is the way of fearing God and shunning evil. While walking this path of seeking, you will gradually come to know God and experience His deeds; you will feel His care and protection, sense the truth of His existence, and feel His sovereignty. Only then will you finally really feel God’s existence in all things, as well as sense His presence beside you; only then will you have this kind of realization. If you do not seek this sort of way, then you will never gain knowledge of these things.
—“Man Is the Greatest Beneficiary of God’s Management Plan” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days
Though God’s essence contains an element of love, and He is merciful toward each and every person, people have overlooked and forgotten the fact that His essence is one of dignity as well. That He has love does not mean that people can offend Him freely, without inciting in Him feelings or a reaction, nor does the fact that He has mercy mean that He has no principles in how He treats people. God is alive; He genuinely exists. He is neither an imagined puppet nor any other object. Given that He does exist, we should carefully listen to the voice of His heart at all times, pay close attention to His attitude, and come to understand His feelings. We should not use human imaginings to define God, nor should we impose human thoughts or wishes on Him, making God treat people in a human manner based on human imaginings. If you do this, then you are angering God, tempting His wrath, and challenging His dignity! Thus, once you have come to understand the severity of this matter, I urge each and every one of you to be cautious and prudent in your actions. Be cautious and prudent in your speech, as well—with regard to how you treat God, the more cautious and prudent you are, the better! When you do not understand what God’s attitude is, refrain from speaking carelessly, do not be careless in your actions, and do not apply labels casually. Even more importantly, do not come to any arbitrary conclusions. Instead, you should wait and seek; these actions, too, are an expression of fearing God and shunning evil. Above all else, if you can achieve this, and above all else, if you possess this attitude, then God will not blame you for your stupidity, ignorance, and lack of understanding of the reasons behind things. Rather, owing to your attitude of fear of offending God, respect for His intentions, and willingness to obey Him, God will remember you, guide and enlighten you, or tolerate your immaturity and ignorance. Conversely, should your attitude toward Him be irreverent—judging Him as you wish or arbitrarily guessing at and defining His ideas—God will condemn you, discipline you, and even punish you; or, He might offer comment on you. Perhaps this comment will involve your outcome. Therefore, I wish to emphasize once more: Each of you should be cautious and prudent about everything that comes from God. Do not speak carelessly, and do not be careless in your actions. Before you say anything, you should stop and think: Would this action of mine anger God? In doing it, am I revering God? Even in simple matters, you should try to figure these questions out, and spend more time considering them. If you can truly practice according to these principles in all aspects, in all things, at all times, and adopt such an attitude especially when you do not understand something, then God will always guide you and provide you with a path to follow. No matter what sort of show people put on, God sees them quite clearly and plainly, and He will offer an accurate and appropriate evaluation of these displays of yours.
—The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. How to Know God’s Disposition and the Results His Work Shall Achieve
When the truth holds sway in your heart and has become your life, then, when you see something passive, negative, or evil arising, the reaction in your heart is entirely different. First, you feel reproach and a sense of uneasiness, followed immediately by this feeling: “I can’t just remain idle and turn a blind eye. I must stand up and speak, I must stand up and take responsibility.” You can then stand up and put a stop to these evil deeds, exposing them, striving to safeguard the interests of God’s house and prevent God’s work from being disturbed. Not only will you have this courage and resolve, and will you be capable of understanding the matter completely, but you will also fulfill the responsibility you should bear for God’s work and for the interests of His house, and your duty will thereby be fulfilled. If you could consider performing your duty as your responsibility and obligation and as God’s commission, something that must be done well in order to face God as well as your conscience, would you not thus be living out conscience, reason, integrity, and dignity? Your deeds and behavior would be the “fearing God and shunning evil” of which He speaks. You would be performing the essence of these words and living out their reality. When the truth becomes a person’s life, they are then able to live out this reality.
—“Only Those Who Practice the Truth Are God-Fearing” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days
Job was perfect, he feared God and shunned evil, and he was possessed of great wealth and venerable status. For a normal person living in such an environment and under such conditions, Job’s diet, quality of life, and the various aspects of his personal life would be the focus of most people’s attention; thus we must continue reading the scriptures: “And his sons went and feasted in their houses, every one his day; and sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them. And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually” (Job 1:4–5). … Where the Bible describes the feasting of Job’s sons and daughters, there is no mention of Job; it is said only that his sons and daughters often ate and drank together. In other words, he did not hold feasts, nor did he join his sons and daughters in eating extravagantly. Though affluent and possessed of many assets and servants, Job’s life was not a luxurious one. He was not beguiled by his superlative living environment, and he did not, because of his wealth, gorge himself on the enjoyments of the flesh or forget to offer burnt offerings, and much less did it cause him to gradually shun God in his heart. Evidently, then, Job was disciplined in his lifestyle, was not greedy or hedonistic as a result of God’s blessings to him, and he did not fixate upon quality of life. Instead, he was humble and modest, he was not given to ostentation, and he was cautious and careful before God. He often gave thought to God’s graces and blessings, and was continually fearful of God. In his daily life, Job often rose early to offer burnt offerings for his sons and daughters. In other words, not only did Job himself fear God, but he also hoped that his children would likewise fear God and not sin against God. Job’s material wealth held no place within his heart, nor did it replace the position held by God; whether for his own sake or his children’s, Job’s daily actions were all connected to fearing God and shunning evil. His fear of Jehovah God did not stop at his mouth, but was something he put into action and reflected in each and every part of his daily life. This actual conduct by Job shows us that he was honest, and was possessed of an essence that loved justice and things that were positive. That Job often sent and sanctified his sons and daughters means he did not sanction or approve of his children’s behavior; instead, in his heart he was frustrated with their behavior, and condemned them. He had concluded that the behavior of his sons and daughters was not pleasing to Jehovah God, and thus he often called on them to go before Jehovah God and confess their sins. Job’s actions show us another side of his humanity, one in which he never walked with those who often sinned and offended God, but instead shunned and avoided them. Even though these people were his sons and daughters, he did not forsake his own principles of conduct because they were his own kin, nor did he indulge their sins because of his own sentiments. Rather, he urged them to confess and gain Jehovah God’s forbearance, and he warned them not to forsake God for the sake of their own greedy enjoyment. The principles of how Job treated others are inseparable from the principles of his fear of God and shunning of evil. He loved that which was accepted by God, and loathed that which repulsed God; he loved those who feared God in their hearts, and loathed those who committed evil or sinned against God. Such love and loathing was demonstrated in his everyday life, and was the very uprightness of Job seen by God’s eyes. Naturally, this is also the expression and living out of Job’s true humanity in his relations with others in his daily life, about which we must learn.
—The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself II
After God said to Satan, “All that he has is in your power; only on himself put not forth your hand,” Satan departed, soon after which Job came under sudden and fierce attacks: First, his oxen and donkeys were plundered and some of his servants killed; next, his sheep and some more servants were consumed in fire; after that, his camels were taken and even more of his servants were murdered; finally, his sons’ and daughters’ lives were taken away. This string of attacks was the torment suffered by Job during the first temptation. As commanded by God, during these attacks Satan only targeted Job’s property and his children, and did not harm Job himself. Nevertheless, Job was instantly transformed from a rich man possessed of great wealth to someone who had nothing. No one could have withstood this astonishing surprise blow or properly reacted to it, yet Job demonstrated his extraordinary side. The Scriptures provide the following account: “Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down on the ground, and worshipped.” This was Job’s first reaction after hearing that he had lost his children and all of his property. Above all, he did not appear surprised, or panic-stricken, much less did he express anger or hate. You see, then, that in his heart he had already recognized that these disasters were not an accident, or born from the hand of man, much less were they the arrival of retribution or punishment. Instead, the trials of Jehovah had come upon him; it was Jehovah who wished to take his property and children. Job was very calm and clear-headed then. His perfect and upright humanity enabled him to rationally and naturally make accurate judgments and decisions about the disasters that had befallen him, and in consequence, he behaved with unusual calm: “Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down on the ground, and worshipped.” “Rent his mantle” means that he was unclothed, and possessed of nothing; “shaved his head” means he had returned before God as a newborn infant; “fell down on the ground, and worshipped” means he had come into the world naked, and still without anything today, he was returned to God as if a newborn baby. Job’s attitude toward all that befell him could not have been achieved by any creature of God. His faith in Jehovah went beyond the realm of belief; this was his fear of God, his obedience to God; he was not only able to give thanks to God for giving to him, but also for taking from him. Furthermore, he was able to take it upon himself to return to God all that he owned, including his life.
Job’s fear and obedience toward God is an example to mankind, and his perfection and uprightness were the peak of the humanity that ought to be possessed by man. Though he did not see God, he realized that God truly existed, and because of this realization he feared God, and due to his fear of God, he was able to obey God. He gave God free rein to take whatever he had, yet he was without complaint, and fell down before God and told Him that, at this very moment, even if God took his flesh, he would gladly allow Him to do so, without complaint. His entire conduct was due to his perfect and upright humanity. This is to say, as a result of his innocence, honesty, and kindness, Job was unwavering in his realization and experience of God’s existence, and upon this foundation he made demands of himself and standardized his thinking, behavior, conduct and principles of actions before God in accordance with God’s guidance of him and the deeds of God that he had seen among all things. Over time, his experiences caused in him a real and actual fear of God and made him shun evil. This was the source of the integrity to which Job held firm. Job was possessed of an honest, innocent, and kind humanity, and he had actual experience of fearing God, obeying God, and shunning evil, as well as the knowledge that “Jehovah gave, and Jehovah has taken away.” Only because of these things was he able to stand firm in his testimony amid such vicious attacks by Satan, and only because of them was he able to not disappoint God and to provide a satisfactory answer to God when God’s trials came upon him.
—The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself II
When his wife advised him to curse God and die, her meaning was: “Your God treats you thus, so why not curse Him? What are you doing still living? Your God is so unfair to you, yet still you say ‘blessed be the name of Jehovah.’ How could He bring disaster upon you when you bless His name? Hurry up and forsake the name of God, and follow Him no more. Then, your troubles will be over.” At this moment, there was produced the testimony that God wished to see in Job. No ordinary person could bear such testimony, nor do we read of it in any of the stories of the Bible—but God had seen it long before Job spoke these words. God merely wished to use this opportunity to allow Job to prove to all that God was right. Faced with the advice of his wife, Job not only did not give up his integrity or renounce God, but he also said to his wife: “Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” Do these words carry great weight? Here, there is only one fact capable of proving the weight of these words. The weight of these words is that they are approved of by God in His heart, they are what was desired by God, they are what God wanted to hear, and they are the outcome that God yearned to see; these words are also the marrow of Job’s testimony. In this, Job’s perfection, uprightness, fear of God, and shunning of evil were proven. The preciousness of Job lay in how, when he was tempted, and even when his whole body was covered with sore boils, when he endured the utmost torment, and when his wife and kinfolk advised him, he still uttered such words. To put it in another way, in his heart he believed that, no matter what temptations, or however grievous the tribulations or torment, even if death was to come upon him, he would not renounce God or spurn the way of fearing God and shunning evil. You see, then, that God held the most important place in his heart, and that there was only God in his heart. It is because of this that we read such descriptions of him in the Scriptures as: In all this did not Job sin with his lips. Not only did he not sin with his lips, but in his heart he did not complain about God. He did not say hurtful words about God, nor did he sin against God. Not only did his mouth bless the name of God, but in his heart he also blessed the name of God; his mouth and heart were as one. This was the true Job seen by God, and this was the very reason why God treasured Job.
—The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself II