49. The Principles of Denying Oneself and Forsaking the Flesh

(1) It is necessary, on the basis of God’s words, to know one’s corrupt essence, and to see through to the truth that the flesh is controlled by satanic nature. In this way, one can truly abhor the flesh;

(2) The more a matter is deemed impossible by man, and the less it accords with his notions and imaginings, the more he ought to seek the truth, deny himself, and submit to God;

(3) No matter how correct human notions, imaginings, and feelings happen to be, they are not the truth, and no matter how little God’s words happen to accord with human notions, His words are the truth;

(4) It is necessary to seek the truth principle in all matters, to renounce one’s own convictions and views, and to forsake the flesh. Only thus can one practice the truth and live out a human likeness.

Relevant Words of God:

If people can truly see clearly the right path of human life, as well as the purpose of God’s management of mankind, they would not hold their individual future and destiny as a treasure in their heart. They then would no longer be interested in serving their parents, who are worse than pigs and dogs. Are man’s future and destiny not precisely the present-day so-called “parents” of Peter? They are just like man’s flesh and blood. Just what will the destination and future of the flesh be? Will it be to see God while still alive, or for the soul to meet God after death? Will the flesh end up tomorrow in a great furnace of tribulations, or in conflagration? Are not questions such as these concerned with whether man’s flesh will endure misfortune or suffer the biggest news with which anyone in this current stream who has a brain and is sensible is most concerned? (Here, suffering refers to receiving blessings; it means that future trials are beneficial for man’s destination. Misfortune refers to being unable to stand firm, or being deceived; or, it means that one will meet with unfortunate situations and lose one’s life in the midst of disaster, and that there is no suitable destination for one’s soul.) Though humans have sound reason, perhaps what they think does not entirely correspond to that with which their reason should be equipped. This is because they all are rather confused and follow things blindly. They should all have a thorough grasp of what they should enter into, and in particular, they should sort out what should be entered into during the tribulation (that is, during the refinement in the furnace), as well as what they should be equipped with during the trials of fire. Do not always serve your parents (meaning the flesh) who are like pigs and dogs and are even worse than ants and bugs. What is the point of agonizing over it, thinking so hard, and racking your brains? The flesh does not belong to you, but is in the hands of God, who not only controls you but also commands Satan. (This means that the flesh originally belongs to Satan. Because Satan is also in God’s hands, it can only be worded this way. This is because it is more persuasive to say it that way; it suggests that men are not entirely under Satan’s domain, but are in God’s hands.) You are living under the torment of the flesh—but does the flesh belong to you? Is it under your control? Why bother racking your brains over it? Why bother obsessively pleading with God for the sake of your putrid flesh, which has long been condemned, cursed, and defiled by unclean spirits? What need is there to always hold the associates of Satan so close to your heart? Do you not worry that the flesh could ruin your actual future, your wonderful hopes, and your life’s true destination?

Excerpted from “The Purpose of Managing Mankind” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

If you could comprehend thirty percent of the work of the last days (this mere thirty percent means comprehending the work of the Holy Spirit today as well as God’s work of the word in the last days), then you would not continue to “serve” or be “filial” to your flesh—a flesh that has been corrupt for many years—as is the case today. You ought to see clearly that humans have now advanced to an unprecedented state, and will no longer continue to roll forward like the wheels of history. Your moldy flesh has long been covered with flies, so how can it have the power to reverse the wheels of history that God has enabled to continue on to this day? How can it make the mutely ticking clock of the last days tick again, and keep its hands moving clockwise? How can it retransform the world that seems shrouded in dense fog? Can your flesh revive the mountains and rivers? Can your flesh, which has only a little function, really restore the sort of human world for which you have yearned? Can you truly educate your descendants to become “human beings”? Do you understand now? What exactly does your flesh belong to? God’s original intention for saving man, for perfecting man, and for transforming man was not to give you a beautiful homeland or to bring peaceful rest to man’s flesh; it was for the sake of His glory and His testimony, for mankind’s better enjoyment in the future, and so that they would soon be able to rest. Still, it was not for your flesh, for man is the capital of God’s management, and man’s flesh is merely an adjunct. (A man is an object with both spirit and body, whereas flesh is merely an item that decays. This means that flesh is a tool for use in the management plan.) You should know that God’s perfection, completion, and gaining of men bring nothing but swords and smiting upon their flesh, as well as endless suffering, conflagration, merciless judgment, chastisement, and curses, and boundless trials. Such is the inside story and truth of the work of managing man. However, all these things are directed at man’s flesh, and all of the arrows of hostility are mercilessly aimed toward man’s flesh (for man is innocent). All of this is for the sake of His glory and testimony, and for His management. This is because His work is not solely for the sake of mankind, but also for the entire plan, as well as to fulfill His original will when He created mankind. Therefore, perhaps ninety percent of what man experiences involves sufferings and trials of fire, and there are very few, or even none, of the sweet and happy days for which man’s flesh has yearned. Much less is man able to enjoy happy moments in the flesh, spending beautiful times with God. The flesh is filthy, so what man’s flesh sees or enjoys is nothing but God’s chastisement, which man finds unfavorable, as if it were lacking in normal sense. This is because God will manifest His righteous disposition, which is not favored by man, does not tolerate man’s offenses, and loathes enemies. God openly reveals His entire disposition by any means necessary, thereby concluding the work of His six-thousand-year battle with Satan—the work of the salvation of all of mankind, and the destruction of Satan of old!

Excerpted from “The Purpose of Managing Mankind” 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 substance 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

The pursuit of truth demands perseverance and determination. If you have failed to satisfy God’s will this time, then you must be able to loathe yourself and, deep down, be quietly determined to succeed the next time. If, this time, you were not mindful of God’s burden, then you should be determined to rebel against the flesh when facing the same obstacle in the future, and resolve to satisfy God’s will. This is how you will become praiseworthy. Some people do not even know if their own thoughts or ideas are correct; those people are fools! 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 goes beyond them, and that causes contradictions to arise, 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 who have notions when they encounter an issue, 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, so that others can have these notions, too. Some 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 are foolish and 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?” A conflict arises, yes? 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 cannot sense whether you are right or wrong, or you have some degree of ignorance, as soon as you hear God say that you are foolish and do not understand spiritual matters, though you are not aware of it yourself, this is God’s definition regarding your nature 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 these words. First accept them as a rule, a definition, or a 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. As time goes on, you will come to have the correct evaluation of yourself. 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. Is it important to accept the truth? (It is.) People must put aside their notions about God, and must not have any hostility or resistance toward His words; only this is an attitude of acceptance toward the truth.

Excerpted from “Only by Resolving One’s Notions Can One Enter the Right Track of Believing in God (1)” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days

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 as a formality, superficially, 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 intents at first; there are times when your intents 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? 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 truth principle. 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 Talks of Christ of the Last Days

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, and follow 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 truth reality 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 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 the effect achieved, on the one hand, in knowing 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 have stature and sufficient willpower to practice the truth, and they hope to be able to enter truth reality, satisfy God’s will, and be a created being with conscience, with sense, and with truth reality. 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 Truth Reality” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days

If people’s knowledge of themselves is too shallow, they will find it impossible to solve problems, and their life dispositions simply will not change. It is necessary to know oneself on a profound level, which means knowing one’s own nature: what elements are included in that nature, how these things originated, and where they came from. Moreover, are you actually able to hate these things? Have you seen your own ugly soul and your evil nature? If you are truly able to see the truth about yourself, then you will start to loathe yourself. When you loathe yourself and then practice God’s word, you will be able to forsake the flesh and have the strength to carry out truth without difficulty. Why do many people follow their fleshly preferences? Because they consider themselves to be pretty good, feeling that their actions are right and justified, that they have no faults, and even that they are entirely in the right, they are therefore capable of acting with the assumption that justice is on their side. When one recognizes what one’s true nature is—how ugly, how despicable, and how pitiful—then one is not overly proud of oneself, not so wildly arrogant, and not so pleased with oneself as before. Such a person feels, “I must be earnest and down to earth, and practice some of God’s word. If not, then I will not measure up to the standard of being human, and will be ashamed to live in God’s presence.” One then truly sees oneself as paltry, as truly insignificant. At this time, it becomes easy for one to carry out truth, and one will appear to be somewhat like a human should be. Only when people truly loathe themselves are they able to forsake the flesh. If they do not loathe themselves, they will be unable to forsake the flesh. Truly hating oneself comprises a few things: First, knowing one’s own nature; and second, seeing oneself as needy and pitiful, seeing oneself to be extremely small and insignificant, and seeing one’s own pitiful and dirty soul. When one fully sees what one truly is, and this outcome is achieved, one then truly gains knowledge of oneself, and it can be said that one has come to know oneself fully. Only then can one truly hate oneself, going so far as to curse oneself, and truly feel that one has been corrupted profoundly by Satan such that one does not even resemble a human being. Then, one day, when the threat of death appears, such a person will think, “This is God’s righteous punishment. God is indeed righteous; I really should die!” At this point, he will not lodge a complaint, much less blame God, simply feeling that he is so needy and pitiful, so filthy and corrupt that he should be wiped out by God, and a soul like his is not fit to live on earth. At this point, this person will not resist God, much less betray God. If one does not know oneself, and still considers oneself to be pretty good, then when death comes knocking, this person will think, “I have done so well in my faith. How hard I have sought! I have given so much, I have suffered so much, yet ultimately, God is now asking me to die. I don’t know where God’s righteousness is. Why is He asking me to die? If even a person like me has to die, then who will be saved? Won’t the human race come to an end?” First of all, this person has notions about God. Secondly, this person is complaining, and not showing any submission whatsoever. This is just like Paul: When he was about to die, he did not know himself, and by the time God’s punishment was nigh, it was too late to repent.

Excerpted from “To Know Oneself Is Primarily About Knowing Human Nature” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days

Previous: 48. The Principles of True Repentance

Next: 50. The Principles of Forsaking Oneself

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