49. The Principles of Denying Oneself and Forsaking the Flesh
Relevant Words of God:
God Himself is life, and the truth, and His life and truth coexist. Those who are incapable of gaining the truth shall never gain life. Without the guidance, support, and provision of the truth, you shall only gain letters, doctrines, and, above all, death. God’s life is ever-present, and His truth and life coexist. If you cannot find the source of truth, then you will not gain the nourishment of life; if you cannot gain the provision of life, then you will surely have no truth, and so apart from imaginations and notions, the entirety of your body shall be nothing but your flesh—your stench-ridden flesh. Know that the words of books do not count as life, the records of history cannot be feted as the truth, and the regulations of the past cannot serve as an account of words presently spoken by God. Only that which is expressed by God when He comes to earth and lives among man is the truth, life, God’s will, and His current way of working.
Excerpted from “Only Christ of the Last Days Can Give Man the Way of Eternal Life” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
We should all know that man, who is of the flesh, has been corrupted by Satan. Mankind’s very nature is to oppose God. Mankind cannot be on par with God, much less can mankind hope to advise the work of God. As for how God guides man, this is the work of God Himself. It is fitting that man should submit, without professing this or that view, for man is but dust. Since it is our intent to seek God, we should not superimpose our notions onto His work for God’s consideration, still less should we employ our corrupt disposition to its utmost to deliberately oppose the work of God. Would that not make us antichrists? How could such people believe in God? Since we believe that there is a God, and since we wish to satisfy Him and to see Him, we should seek the way of truth, and should look for a way to be compatible with God. We should not stand in stiff-necked opposition to Him. What good could possibly come of such actions?
Excerpted from Preface to The Word Appears in the Flesh
Many have a bad feeling about the second incarnation of God, for people find it difficult to believe that God would become flesh to do the work of judgment. Nevertheless, I must tell you that the work of God often goes far beyond the expectations of man, and is difficult for human minds to accept. For people are but maggots upon the earth, while God is the supreme One who fills the universe; the mind of man is like a pit of foul water that breeds only maggots, whereas each stage of the work directed by the thoughts of God is the distillation of God’s wisdom. People are always trying to contend with God, to which I say it is self-evident who will lose out in the end. I exhort you all not to think yourselves more valuable than gold. If others can accept the judgment of God, why can’t you? How much higher do you stand above others? If others can bow their heads before the truth, why can’t you, too?
Excerpted from “Christ Does the Work of Judgment With the Truth” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Let go of your opinions about the “impossible”! The more that people believe something is impossible, the more likely it is to occur, because the wisdom of God soars higher than the heavens, God’s thoughts are higher than man’s thoughts, and the work of God transcends the limits of man’s thinking and notions. The more that something is impossible, the more it has truth that can be sought; the more something lies beyond man’s notions and imagination, the more it contains the will of God.
Excerpted from “The Appearance of God Has Ushered in a New Age” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Something happens that requires you to endure hardship, at which time you should understand what God’s will is and how you should be mindful of His will. You must not satisfy yourself: First put yourself to one side. Nothing is more abject than the flesh. You must seek to satisfy God, and you must fulfill your duty. With such thoughts, God will bring especial enlightenment to you in this matter, and your heart will also find comfort. Be it big or small, when something happens to you, you must first put yourself to one side and regard the flesh as the most lowly of all things. The more you satisfy the flesh, the more liberties it takes; if you satisfy it this time, next time it will ask for more. As this carries on, people come to love the flesh even more. The flesh always has extravagant desires; it always asks that you satisfy it and that you gratify it within, whether it be in the things you eat, what you wear, or in losing your temper, or pandering to your own weaknesses and laziness…. The more you satisfy the flesh, the greater its desires become and the more debauched the flesh becomes, until it gets to the point when people’s flesh harbors even deeper notions, and disobeys God, and exalts itself, and becomes doubtful about the work of God. The more you satisfy the flesh, the greater the weaknesses of the flesh; you will always feel that no one sympathizes with your weaknesses, you will always believe that God has gone too far, and you will say: “How could God be so harsh? Why won’t He give people a break?” When people satisfy the flesh and cherish it too much, then they ruin themselves. If you truly love God and do not satisfy the flesh, then you will see that everything God does is so right and so good, and that His curse of your rebelliousness and judgment of your unrighteousness is justified. There will be times when God chastens and disciplines you and raises up an environment to temper you, forcing you to come before Him—and you will always feel that what God is doing is wonderful. Thus you will feel as if there is not much pain, and that God is so lovely. If you pander to the weaknesses of the flesh and say that God goes too far, then you will always feel in pain, and will always be depressed, and you will be unclear about all of the work of God, and it will seem as if God is not sympathetic to man’s weakness at all and unaware of man’s difficulties. And thus you will always feel miserable and alone, as if you have suffered great injustice, and at this time you will begin to complain. The more you pander to the weaknesses of the flesh in this way, the more you will feel that God goes too far, until it gets so bad that you deny the work of God, and begin to oppose God, and become full of disobedience. Thus, you must rebel against the flesh, and not pander to it: “My husband (wife), children, prospects, marriage, family—none of them matter! In my heart there is only God, and I must try my best to satisfy God and not satisfy the flesh.” You must have this resolve. If you are always possessed of such resolve, then when you put the truth into practice and put yourself aside, you will be able to do so with but a little effort. It is said that there was once a farmer who saw a snake that was frozen stiff on the road. The farmer picked it up and held it to his breast, and after the snake was revived it bit the farmer to death. Man’s flesh is like the snake: Its essence is to harm their lives—and when it completely gets its own way, your life becomes forfeit. The flesh belongs to Satan. Within it are extravagant desires, it thinks only for itself, it wants to enjoy comfort and revel in leisure, wallowing in sloth and idleness, and having satisfied it to a certain point you will ultimately be eaten up by it. Which is to say, if you satisfy it this time, next time it will come asking for more. It always has extravagant desires and new demands, and takes advantage of your pandering to the flesh to make you cherish it even more and live among its comforts—and if you do not overcome it, you will ultimately ruin yourself. Whether you can gain life before God and what your ultimate end will be, depend on how you carry out your rebellion against the flesh. God has saved you and chosen you and predestined you, yet if today you are unwilling to satisfy Him, you are unwilling to put the truth into practice, you are unwilling to rebel against your own flesh with a heart that truly loves God, ultimately you will ruin yourself, and will thus endure extreme pain. If you always pander to the flesh, Satan will gradually swallow you up, and leave you without life, or the touch of the Spirit, until the day comes when you are completely dark inside. When you live in darkness, you will have been taken captive by Satan, you will no longer have God in your heart, and at that time you will deny God’s existence and leave Him. Thus, if people wish to love God, they must pay the price of pain and endure hardship. There is no need for external fervency and hardship, reading more and running about more; instead, they should put aside the things within them: the extravagant thoughts, personal interests, and their own considerations, notions, and intentions. Such is God’s will.
Excerpted from “Only Loving God Is Truly Believing in God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
God’s dealing with people’s external disposition is also one part of His work; dealing with people’s external, abnormal humanity, for example, or their lifestyle and habits, their ways and customs, as well as their external practices and their fervency. But when He asks that people put the truth into practice and change their dispositions, what is primarily being dealt with are the intentions and notions within them. Only dealing with your external disposition is not hard; it’s like asking you not to eat the things you love, which is easy. That which touches upon the notions inside you, however, is not easy to let go of. It requires people to rebel against the flesh, and pay a price, and suffer before God. This is particularly so with people’s intentions. Since people began to believe in God, they have harbored many incorrect intentions. When you are not putting the truth into practice, you feel that all your intentions are correct, but when something happens to you, you will see that there are many incorrect intentions within you. Thus, when God makes people perfect, He causes them to realize that there are many notions within them that are obstructing their knowledge of God. When you recognize that your intentions are wrong, if you are able to stop practicing according to your notions and intentions, and are able to bear testimony to God, and stand firm in your position in all that happens to you, this proves that you have rebelled against the flesh. When you rebel against the flesh, there will inevitably be a battle within you. Satan will try and make people follow it, will try and make them follow the notions of the flesh and uphold the interests of the flesh—but God’s words will enlighten and illuminate people within, and at this time it is up to you whether you follow God or follow Satan. God asks people to put the truth into practice primarily to deal with the things inside them, to deal with their thoughts and notions that are not after God’s heart. The Holy Spirit touches people in their hearts and enlightens and illuminates them. So behind everything that happens is a battle: Every time people put the truth into practice, or put the love of God into practice, there is a great battle, and though all may seem well with their flesh, in the depths of their hearts a life-and-death battle will, in fact, be going on—and only after this intense battle, after a tremendous amount of reflection, can victory or defeat be decided. One does not know whether to laugh or cry. Because many of the intentions within people are wrong, or else because much of God’s work is at odds with their notions, when people put the truth into practice, a great battle is waged behind the scenes. Having put this truth into practice, behind the scenes, people will have shed countless tears of sadness before finally making up their mind to satisfy God. It is because of this battle that people endure suffering and refinement; this is true suffering. When the battle comes upon you, if you are able to truly stand on the side of God, you will be able to satisfy God. While practicing the truth, it is inevitable that one will suffer inside; if, when they put the truth into practice, everything within people were right, then they would not need to be made perfect by God, and there would be no battle, and they would not suffer. It is because there are many things within people that are not fit for use by God, and because there is much of the rebellious disposition of the flesh, that people need to learn the lesson of rebelling against the flesh more profoundly. This is what God calls the suffering that He asked man to undergo with Him. When you encounter difficulties, hurry up and pray to God: “O God! I wish to satisfy You, I wish to endure the final hardship to satisfy Your heart, and regardless of how great the setbacks I encounter, still I must satisfy You. Even if I have to give up my whole life, still I must satisfy You!” With this resolve, when you pray thus, you will be able to stand firm in your testimony.
Excerpted from “Only Loving God Is Truly Believing in God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
If you wish to subdue your heart and rebel against the flesh, you must first know whether your intentions are correct; only then can you subdue your heart. If you do not know whether your intentions are correct, can you possibly subdue your heart and rebel against the flesh? Even if you do rebel, you will do so in a confused manner. You should know how to rebel against your misguided intentions; this is what it means to rebel against the flesh. Once you recognize that your intentions, thoughts and ideas are wrong, you should quickly reverse course and walk the right path. Resolve this issue first, and train yourself to attain entry in this regard, because you know best whether you have the right intentions or not. Once your incorrect intentions are corrected and are now for God’s sake, then you will have attained the goal of subduing your heart.
Excerpted from “Be Mindful of God’s Will in Order to Attain Perfection” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
When something happens to you that has no bearing on your notions, you are able to carry on eating and drinking the words of God and performing your duty as normal. But when something happens that conflicts with your notions, and is incongruous with them, how do you resolve them? Do you give free rein to your notions and let them run their course, or do you deal with them, try to contain them, and forsake them? There are some people with notions who not only do not put them aside, but seek out others to spread them to. They look for a chance to give vent to these notions, and try to justify themselves: “You say that everything God does has meaning, but as far as I can tell, there is no meaning in what happened. This is at odds with the truth, and when I encounter things that are at odds with the truth, I have to say something, I have to stand up for righteousness!” Is such behavior appropriate? What should you do to follow the right path? There are some people with notions who think things over and realize that their relationship with God is not normal, that misunderstandings about God have arisen within them, and their having such notions is a serious problem. They think that, if their notions are not solved, they could be in a lot of danger, and they may become liable to resist, doubt, and even turn their back on God. They therefore pray to God, and put aside their notions. First they refute their own fallacious viewpoints, and then they seek the truth. As a result, as time goes by, though they may not have fully dissected their notions, or completely put them aside and resolved them, the truth directs their thoughts and behavior from within, and it also guides them in their performance of their duty, so their duty is not affected. It may be that a day comes when something happens to them and their notions are resolved. Is this not the correct way to practice? Some people may be somewhat disgruntled with an arrangement God has made for them, or with something God has done, which engenders notions in them, and they subsequently become apathetic about performing their duty, and do not perform it properly. They constantly exist in a kind of negative state, with resistance, dissatisfaction, and resentment in their hearts. Is such behavior correct? Are such things easy to solve? Say, for example, you think yourself very smart, and then I say you do not understand spiritual matters. Hearing this makes you angry and antagonistic: “No one would dare say I do not understand spiritual matters. Today is the first time I’ve heard that. I cannot accept these words. Could I lead the church if I did not understand spiritual matters? Could I do such great work?” There is a conflict between your own assessment of yourself and what God says about you—so what should be done? Is it easy for people to reflect on themselves when such things happen to them? What kind of people are able to reflect on themselves? People who accept and seek the truth. First, you must refute yourself. Even if you lack an accurate knowledge of yourself, and are incapable of evaluating yourself accurately, as soon as you hear God say that you do not understand spiritual matters—which is God’s definition regarding your nature and essence—you must embrace these words as the truth, and apply them to yourself, even if you think differently. Afterward, while working and interacting with others, through comparing yourself with them, you see that not only do you not understand spiritual matters, but you are also very ignorant. Having discovered that you have a serious problem, are you not able to completely accept what God said? You must accept everything God says. First accept it from the perspective of a rule, definition, or concept, and then think of a way to apply it to yourself in your actual life, think of a means to know and experience it. When you experience thus, as time goes on, you will come to have the correct evaluation of yourself—and will you, then, still have misunderstandings about God? When there is no disagreement between you and God on this matter, will you still be capable of objecting to God’s assessment of you? You will accept it and cease to disobey. If you are able to accept the truth and fully understand this matter, you will take a step forward; if you do not accept it, you will forever remain stuck where you are, and will not make any progress.
Excerpted from “Only by Resolving One’s Notions Can One Enter the Right Track of Believing in God (1)” in Records of Christ’s Talks
When people give rise to misunderstandings and notions about God, they first must acknowledge that God is the truth and that people do not have the truth, and it is certainly they who are mistaken. Is this a kind of formality? If you only adopt this practice superficially, as a formality, then can you come to know your own mistakes? Never. It takes several steps. First, you must determine whether your actions are in line with principles. Do not look at your intentions at first; there are times when your intentions are correct but the principles you practice are wrong. Why do I say the principles you practice are wrong? You may have sought, but perhaps you have no understanding at all of what principles are; perhaps you have not sought at all, and have based your actions solely on your good intentions and enthusiasm, and on your imagination and experience, and you have therefore made a mistake. Can you imagine that? When you fail to anticipate something, you make a mistake—and have you not then been exposed? Once you are exposed, if you keep competing with God, then how are you mistaken? (You are mistaken in insisting you are right, rather than acknowledging that God is right.) Therein lies your mistake. Your greatest mistake was not that you did something wrong and violated the principles, thereby causing a loss or other consequences, but that, having done something wrong, you yet persist and cannot acknowledge your error; you still resisted God with your notions and imaginings, denying that His work was right. This was your greatest and most serious mistake. Why would such a state in a person be one of resistance to God? Whether or not people recognize that everything God does and His sovereignty are right, and what their significance is, if they cannot first recognize that they themselves are wrong, then their state is one of resistance against God. What is to be done to rectify this state? Seeking God’s will, as has been mentioned, is not so practical for people. Some say, “If seeking isn’t so practical, then does that mean it isn’t necessary, and that there’s no need to seek what can be sought and understood? I can just skip that step.” Will this do? Is one who acts in this manner not beyond saving? Such people are really skewed and erroneous in their interpretations. Seeking God’s will is a somewhat roundabout task for people; if they wish to take a more realistic shortcut, then they should start by denying themselves, setting themselves aside, knowing that their actions are wrong and not in line with the truth, and then seeking the principles of the truth. These are the steps. They may seem simple, yet putting them into practice presents many difficulties, for humans have corrupt dispositions as well as all manner of imaginings, all manner of demands, and they have desires, as well, all of which interfere with people denying themselves and setting themselves down. These are not easy things to do.
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
Some people never seek the truth while performing their duty. They merely do as they please, stubbornly acting according to their own imaginings, and are ever arbitrary and rash. What does it mean to be “arbitrary and rash”? It means, when you encounter an issue, to act however you see fit, with no thought process, heedless of what anyone else says. No one can get through to you, and no one can change your mind, such that you cannot be swayed in the slightest; you stand your ground, and, even when what others say makes sense, you do not listen, and believe your way to be the right one. Even if it is, should you not pay heed to others’ suggestions? If you do not, they will say you are stubborn. How stubborn? So stubborn that ten oxen could not pull you back—dead stubborn, arrogant and willful in the extreme, the sort that does not see the truth until it is staring you in the face. Does such stubbornness not rise to the level of willfulness? You do whatever you want, whatever you think to do, and you listen to no one. Were someone to tell you something you are doing does not accord with the truth, you would say, “I’ll do it whether it accords with the truth or not. If it doesn’t accord with the truth, I’ll give you such-and-such a reason, or so-and-so a justification. I’ll make you hear me. I’m set on this.” Others may say what you are doing is disruptive, that it will lead to serious consequences, that it is detrimental to the interests of God’s house—yet you do not heed them, but offer yet more of your reasoning: “This is what I’m doing, whether you like it or not. I want to do it this way. You’re completely wrong, and I’m completely justified.” Perhaps you are indeed justified, and what you are doing will have no serious consequences—but what disposition is it that you are revealing? (Arrogance.) An arrogant nature makes you willful. When people have this willful disposition, are they not prone to being arbitrary and rash? How, then, do you resolve your arbitrariness and rashness? When you have an idea, you tell it to others and say what you think and believe about this matter, and then, you communicate with everyone about it. First, you can shed light on your view and seek the truth; this is the first step you put into practice in order to overcome this disposition of being arbitrary and rash. The second step happens when other people voice dissenting opinions—what practice can you put in place to keep from being arbitrary and rash? You must first have an attitude of humility, set aside what you believe to be right, and let everyone have fellowship. Even if you believe your way to be correct, you should not keep insisting on it. That, first of all, is a kind of step forward; it shows an attitude of seeking the truth, of denying yourself, and of satisfying God’s will. Once you have this attitude, at the same time that you do not adhere to your own opinion, you pray. As you do not know right from wrong, you allow God to reveal and tell you what the best, most suitable thing to do is. As everyone joins in fellowship, the Holy Spirit brings you all enlightenment. God enlightens people according to a process, which sometimes simply takes stock of your attitude. If your attitude is one of rigid self-assertion, God will hide His face from you and close Himself off to you; He will expose you and ensure you hit a wall. If, on the other hand, your attitude is correct, neither insistent on your own way, nor self-righteous, nor arbitrary and rash, but an attitude of seeking and acceptance of the truth, then, when you fellowship with the group, and the Holy Spirit sets to work among you, perhaps He will lead you to understanding by means of someone’s words. Sometimes, when the Holy Spirit enlightens a person, He leads you to understand the crux of a matter with just a few words or phrases. You realize, in that instant, that whatever you have been clinging to is erroneous, and, in the same instant, you understand the most appropriate way to act. Having reached such a level, has one successfully avoided doing evil, walking the wrong path, and bearing the consequences of a mistake? How is such a thing achieved? It is achieved by means of a heart that obeys and seeks. Once you can achieve this, then, in the end, you will act appropriately, and you will have satisfied God’s will.
Excerpted from God’s Fellowship
A problem or state can always be resolved with the truth, no matter what sort of problem or state it is. Regardless of what kind of problem you have, as long as you accept the truth and turn it from theory into your reality and practice it and enter it, then no matter what kind of person you are, you will undergo a transformation and growth. This is absolute; it is most definitely true. The emphasis lies in people’s hearts and their choices, and whether, when encountering a problem, they turn their backs on God or obey Him and submit to His words. It is also about whether people choose to satisfy their physical cravings when faced with something, or whether they can instead forsake their flesh and practice the truth, acting in line with God’s words. The main focus is on these things. As for those people who invariably choose to satisfy their flesh and fulfill their cravings by following their physical likes and desires, they can never experience the meaning or worth of practicing the truth. On the other hand, people who can forsake the flesh, let go of their own plans and desires, who can practice according to the truth and enter the reality of the truth can gradually experience what it means to practice the truth, come to realize the fun and enjoyment of practicing the truth, and can, step by step, gain a sense of the significance of God’s words and what the meaning and value are in God’s requirement that humans behave this way. What is the outcome when people do this? It is that they enjoy positive things more and more, and gain an ever-stronger ability to discern negative things, toward which they also feel more and more hatred, disgust, and disdain. Once people have these states and expressions, their faith in God will grow greater. If they practice like this often, then they will loathe their own corruption, evil, arrogance, selfishness, disobedience, and resistance, and will give rise to hatred, disgust, and antipathy for their nature and essence. Meanwhile, they will also feel dislike for any negative things around them with which they come in contact. They will give rise to these states. This is achieved, on the one hand, by coming to know themselves. On the other hand, while giving rise to this hatred and disgust, what changes do people have in their attitudes toward the truth? They begin to yearn to be able to put the truth into practice, to be able to have stature and sufficient willpower to practice the truth, and they hope to be able to enter the reality of the truth, satisfy God’s will, and be a created being with conscience, with sense, and with the reality of the truth. They also thirst to be able to submit to God, submit to all the environments God has arranged, and refrain from rebelling against Him; they wish to be able to satisfy God’s will.
Excerpted from “Only by Seeking the Truth in Everything Can One Enter Its Reality” in Records of Christ’s Talks