If one does not pursue truth, and in the end has no truth, even though he may have abided by certain rules and committed no major sins, he can’t gain God’s approval. Why? Because he possesses no truth. God says, “I decide the destination of each man not on the basis of age, seniority, amount of suffering, or least of all, the degree of misery, but on whether they possess truth. There is no other choice but this.” Without the truth, no amount of outwardly appearing to be good will matter. Without the truth, even if outwardly you commit no major sins, your spirit is dark and evil. Tell me, can a person without the truth abide by rules? Though outwardly he does not sin, he has sinned countless times in his heart, and though he appears not to lie, his heart is full of deception. Can a heart overflowing with deception remain concealed? Which is to say that without pursuing the truth, the evil in the hearts of deeply corrupted men can never be cleansed. The one who asks this question doesn’t know what it means to tell the truth and to lie. Why? I don’t mean this person lacks the ability to determine the truth or falsity of spoken statements, I mean he lacks the perception to understand certain hidden facts, “You say the Pharisees were hypocrites, then what is a hypocrite?” He doesn’t know, so everything he says is judged by standards based entirely on what man can glean from his subconscious understanding, and the result is that the false and deceptive essence of some things that remain hidden, he cannot discern or penetrate with his mind. So what is the reason behind such a question? Could it be that his experience is very superficial? He can’t see through to the deeper order of things. For example, some say, “Do you understand the truth in your faith in God?” “A little.” “Then do you still lie?” “Very little, most of the time not at all.” “But at times the viewpoints you express are doctrines, what do you call that? Isn’t that lying?” Some people don’t have the discernment to perceive this. Some say, “I think this doctrine is correct, so I speak it, how is that a lie?” But when you speak it, is it truly something you are? Is it something you possess? If not, what you say is doctrinal, the only reason you speak it is to cover the fact that you lack the truth. Is this not falsification? Is this not deceiving God? You use this doctrine as a disguise and call it your reality, is this not deception? If this is deception, then aren’t you lying? You may have not lied about outward matters or simple things, but where your spirit and life are concerned, you have falsified too much, you have spoken your letters and doctrines to deceive your brothers and sisters, you have spoken your letters and doctrines to make others look up to you, and you have spoken your letters and doctrines to disguise yourself and make yourself appear to be a saint. What is your essence of such acts? Are these not acts which deceive God? Then why do you argue and plead so for your reputation and status? Are your words in accord with the facts? At this realization, some people are stunned to discover, “That’s absolutely right! I’ve believed in God for so many years, why haven’t I thought of that before? When you put it like that, I lie quite a lot, and I falsify quite a lot. I also deceive God. I’m nothing but a hypocrite! When you put it like that, I realize how serious this is. I have years of experience of being an honest person, why haven’t I experienced it to that degree? This is a very serious question!” The realization suddenly hits people after such fellowship. How much of what you’ve said in the past has been deceit or a lie? Are those who speak letters and doctrines honest people? Why do we say they aren’t honest people? Can you answer this question clearly? I’d often spoken of something in my sermons and fellowship in the church, and I also spoke of it when I still believed in the Lord Jesus. It is an experience in the 1990’s when I clearly felt the Holy Spirit work on me, enlighten me, and illuminate me. That experience gave me some practical words to share, but at the time my heart was like a mirror—I knew everything I was saying was enlightenment from the Holy Spirit, I didn’t possess the reality of it, so what did I say? I said, “What I’m saying is not of what I am. The Holy Spirit enlightened me and showed me these things, I do not possess the reality of this truth, I have only been inspired by the Holy Spirit. Don’t assume that because I’ve come to this point in my sermon, I’ve possessed all the reality of this truth. I have not. These are only things I’ve seen. But, this is my desire, this is how I want to practice, this is how I want to experience my entry.” That’s what I said at the time. And what have I said with regard to this in recent years? I said that I’ve gained a little experience and entry with what I fellowship. I dare not say I’ve gained any deep entry, but I have experienced a little. Even more often I’ve said that entry into the truth is endless and boundless. In the Age of Grace, I possessed no entry, and the things I fellowshiped about were only things I saw; in the Age of Kingdom, today, I have gained some entry, I can’t deny that, but it’s only a little, not nearly as deep as people imagine. I’ve gained some entry in being an honest person, in obeying God, in consideration for God’s will, and in loving God, I’ve made some progress in all these areas, but I’m not satisfied yet. I’ve said in my hymns that I am not satisfied, because my entry has been too superficial and too limited. I’ve said this before. So, once you make clear to yourself just how much of the truth you understand and whether you have gained any entry, the words you speak will be true. If you don’t thoroughly understand the reality of these truths, if you simply say “I understand, and I believe that I gain entry by simply understanding,” what kind of talk is this? It is false, a lie, and in terms of its consequences, it is deceptive and misleading. You see how serious of an issue it is.
If we practice the truth, can we become honest people? In what style will we live? Will it be that of an honest person? By what standard should we judge? One is the degree to which you understand the truth; the other is the depth of your experience practicing the truth. In the practice of truth, the depth of your experience with God’s word determines your practical understanding of the truth. If you have experienced too little, is it possible for your understanding of the truth to be very deep? If someone’s experience with the truth is not deep, but he speaks with grandiose doctrines, is he not lying? His words are lies, deceit, and disguise. And what does this deceit and disguise add up to? What is the essence underneath? Hypocrisy, plain and simple. He covers himself up so well. He tries to hide his true face, but who does he think he is fooling? From this fact, we can clearly see that anyone full of letters and doctrines is a hypocrite. That’s exactly right. Some say, “I’ve read the Bible, so why can’t I fully penetrate what makes a hypocrite and the hypocrisy of the Pharisees? What are hypocrites usually like? What do they usually say? What do they do?” What about now? Now do you understand? You can see it in the false leaders who always speak letters and doctrines. To understand the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, “Look to the false leaders, hear the high-sounding words they say, see how they always lord their authority over others, pray in front of crowds, and constantly praise, stand witness, and raise themselves up.” Make no mistake, these are the signs of a hypocrite. When you ask them to raise questions, they say, “Brother, there is a problem I’ve never been able to penetrate, how do you think I should practice?” In insignificant things, such a person raises questions to make you think, “He seeks truth even in such small matters! If he seeks truth in such small matters, then I needn’t ask him about large matters, because there he must be seeking truth even more carefully.” But he doesn’t seek truth in significant matters at all. “Straining out the gnat while swallowing the camel.” He prays and becomes distraught over trivial matters, but stays silent when he accuses, judges and forms notions about God in his heart. That is the very meaning of hypocrisy! So many people raise such trivial issues with me, and inside I think, “What a master of disguise! So calculating and detailed in small things, and having done so much damage in important things, and yet you don’t speak a word of it. You do not understand yourself, you do not repent, and you do not reflect.” What is a hypocrite? Now do you understand? Such a man does two things, first is the use of letters and doctrines to deceive people, show off, raise himself in the eyes of others, and make people think he is clever and has truth; second is that outwardly he uses tricks to deceive people in small matters, and commits every manner of sin in large matters, all the while hiding it and never speaking of it. Those two facts alone are enough to prove this person is a Pharisee. When we fellowship about experience and witness, he always describes his small testimony and affairs in great detail, but he remains silent about his wicked deeds in major things and the rebelliousness that foments in him. His disguise is airtight, and should anyone expose his misconduct in major affairs, he immediately turns on that person. This is a hypocritical Pharisee. He usually has a loving heart and brings warmth and comfort to others. No concern is too small for him. Outwardly he is virtuous as he cares for orphans, fetches water for widows, and does chores for the lame, and he does all of these things very well, but the moment one of his brothers or sisters catches a glimpse of what lies beneath or reveals the wicked deeds he does in secret, he immediately bears a grudge and wants to banish them from the church, he wants to eliminate them, he wants to make them vanish into thin air and disappear from the church forever. Is this virtue? His heart is as toxic as a scorpion, his methods are ruthless, and he disguises himself better than anyone. This is the meaning of hypocrisy.
In the past I asked some leader, “As a leader, do you have any mottos? What evil deeds can you promise you will never commit?” “I will never disrupt or disturb the work of God’s house.” I told him that speaking such a high-sounding promise was useless. I said to him, “If one day one of your brothers or sisters says something compatible with the truth, and says it better than you, can you assure me you won’t feel jealous or want to suppress him or her? That’s my first question. The second is, if one of your brothers or sisters exposes the fact of your corruption, can you assure me you won’t seek revenge or try to discriminate against him or her? Can you promise me both of those things? If you can meet those conditions, very well, you can stand; if you can’t meet those conditions, nothing else you say will matter, because it will be impossible.” Are these two conditions easy to meet? Ordinary people all feel jealousy, “You are stronger than me, you do better than I ever could, but we’ll see if that’s so after I destroy you.” Also, if someone exposes your ugly side or personal secrets, you will hate them so much you want them to disappear. You’ll want to exterminate them! And if you have the desire and carry through with it, you are finished. You are more evil than an evildoer, and more toxic than a snake. But if you can guarantee such a thing won’t happen, if you can make such an oath, then you are essentially doing your duty as a leader, and may not be bound for elimination.
Question 2: What specific principles should we grasp when speaking? Sometimes when I open my heart and speak with people, I worry that I will hurt the listener if I speak about my true state, and I feel restrained in speaking the truth, so I’m not sure how to handle this issue.
Answer: If we don’t speak the truth because we’re afraid of hurting the listener, does it count as falsification? Not really. In this case, why do you bottle up your words inside? Out of good intentions. “I don’t want to hurt my listener or cause trouble or negative consequences for anyone.” What virtuous intent! If you don’t speak these harmful words, will God deem you to be lying? Has God ever said you are lying if you refrain from saying something? Never. You don’t say it because you love people and you want to protect them, what a kind thought! Why wouldn’t you be happy with it? Why do you feel that you would be restrained? “I feel restrained in speaking the truth, so I’m not sure how to handle this issue.” Isn’t this a simple problem to solve? Where is this person’s mistake? The asker believes that choosing to keep silent about the truth is wrong, that it’s lying. He thinks, “If I don’t say this, I am lying, and if I do say this, I’m afraid of hurting others or causing negative consequences for them, so I’m stuck. This is a difficult position, so what should I do?” Isn’t this his question? The solution to this problem is simple, isn’t it? First, your intent in not speaking is correct. Second, God will not convict you or call you a liar for not speaking, because you do it out of kindness. God not only won’t call you a sinner, He will call you kind! This is good! You won’t be restrained, will you? No, not at all!