69. Getting Back on the Right Track
By Chen Guang, the United States
Almighty God says, “Serving God is no simple task. Those whose corrupt disposition remains unchanged can never serve God. If your disposition has not been judged and chastised by God’s words, then your disposition still represents Satan, which proves that you serve God out of your own good intentions, that your service is based on your satanic nature. You serve God with your natural character, and according to your personal preferences. What’s more, you always think that the things you are willing to do are what are delightful to God, and that the things you do not wish to do are what are hateful to God; you work entirely according to your own preferences. Can this be called serving God? Ultimately, there will not be the slightest change in your life disposition; instead, your service will make you even more stubborn, thus deeply ingraining your corrupt disposition, and as such, there will be formed within you rules about service to God that are primarily based on your own character, and experiences derived from your service according to your own disposition. These are the experiences and lessons of man. It is man’s philosophy of living in the world. People like this can be classed as Pharisees and religious officials. If they never wake up and repent, then they will surely turn into the false Christs and the antichrists who deceive people in the last days” (“Religious Service Must Be Purged” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). When I read this passage, “Serving God is no simple task. Those whose corrupt disposition remains unchanged can never serve God. If your disposition has not been judged and chastised by God’s words, then your disposition still represents Satan,” I feel deeply moved. I have experienced failure in the past. I fulfilled my duty based on an arrogant disposition, and was very boastful. I showed off, preaching superficial words and doctrines to make people think highly of me and adore me, and without even being aware of it, I had set foot upon the path of resisting God. It was only later, by means of the judgment and revelations of God’s words, that I came to recognize the source of my resistance against God and my satanic nature, and began to repent to God.
It was in 2013 that I was chosen to be a church leader. Back then I was quite enthusiastic. Whenever I saw my brothers and sisters in a predicament, I would fellowship with them on God’s words to help them resolve their problems. Once everyone’s difficulties had been resolved, they could fulfill their duties as normal. After a few months, my leader said to me, “There is a church that has a relatively large number of newly joined brothers and sisters, and your co-workers have all recommended that you go there and serve as a leader.” Full of confidence, I accepted. I just thought that I had to do a good job of watering those brothers and sisters so that they could understand the truth as quickly as possible and lay foundations on the true way. After I arrived at the church, I got an understanding of the overall situation there, and I also took notes on the brothers’ and sisters’ problems and difficulties, planning to look up relevant passages of God’s words afterward to fellowship and resolve their issues. I just felt that because I was new on the scene there, a lot of the brothers and sisters did not know me, and so I had to put in effort and gather with them to fellowship more. If I could do a good job on the church’s work within a short period of time, then these brothers and sisters were sure to feel that I possessed the reality of the truth, and was capable in my work—and when that happened, then my leaders, too, could think highly of me. The church then issued a notice of the truths that were to be entered at that stage, and that we had to find relevant passages of God’s words to fellowship on. I felt quite elated because this was a perfect opportunity to prove myself. So I found some utterances of God that related to all these aspects of the truth, and then gave special care to organizing them, all the while thinking, “It just so happens that a co-worker gathering is being held tomorrow. My co-workers will see that I spent all night looking up these words of God, and surely they’ll say I’m conscientious and responsible in my duty.” And so, it was nearly daybreak before I finished preparing. Sure enough, during the gathering, after seeing the words of God I had looked up, my co-workers all looked at me with admiration. Some said, “Have a look at Brother Chen! He’s so conscientious. He spent all night looking up all these relevant passages of God’s words.” Some said, “So true! It looks like Brother Chen reads God’s words a lot.” The brother who was hosting the gathering said with concern, “Brother Chen, how late did you have to stay up before you found all these passages of God’s words?” Hearing all this made me feel ecstatic. My staying up till dawn hadn’t been in vain, and my brothers and sisters could see how much effort I’d put in. Masking the excitement I felt inside, I said, “It was nearly dawn when I finished looking them up. I often stay up all night to fulfill my duty, as it should be. It’s nothing to brag about. I had to make sure my brothers and sisters didn’t get held up from being able to fellowship at gatherings.” The host brother then said I was conscientious in my duty, and that I was able to stay up all night and endure hardship. My heart swelled with a rush of happiness. I had to keep working hard so that my brothers and sisters would all say I was a competent leader.
Later on, as the work of spreading the gospel progressed, we established a few more churches. Every day, I worked from dawn to dusk, going around to every church to water my brothers and sisters. I would read God’s words to anyone in difficulty, patiently fellowshiping to resolve their problems, and people’s opinions of me grew even higher. Once, a few brothers and sisters encountered a problem while spreading the gospel and were unable to resolve it. They grew negative and weak, so they came to me to fellowship about it. I shared with them my experiences with spreading the gospel in the past. I said, “The people I was spreading the gospel to had notions and wouldn’t accept it. Some of them kicked me out of their homes. At the time, I thought it was really hard, too, so I constantly prayed to God. I stayed up all night looking for related passages of His words, and time and again I went to fellowship with those people to fix their problems. I did it so they would be able to hear God’s voice and be granted His salvation in the last days. No matter how much humiliation and difficulty I faced, I refused to give up. In the end, I brought them all into the fold….” When I was done talking, a brother said admiringly, “Have a look at our Brother Chen here. He really knows how to endure hardship. He really shoulders the burden.” Some said, “We should all spread the gospel the way Brother Chen does.” When I saw what a high opinion these brothers and sisters had of me, I felt like I was on cloud nine. After that, others who encountered difficulties in their duties would come to seek me out for help, and very few went to the brother I worked alongside. While fulfilling their duties, brothers and sisters would actively do anything I asked of them. Seeing how highly they thought of me, I started appreciating myself more and more; I felt like I had become a pillar of the church.
During one gathering, I went on and on about how much I had suffered and what prices I had paid in my duty, and what results I had achieved. A sister suddenly said to me, “Brother Chen, most of what I hear you saying is about how much you suffered and expended while fulfilling your duty, but you haven’t talked about what weaknesses you had when you encountered hardship or what corrupt dispositions you revealed, or what knowledge you gained of yourself, or how you sought the truth to resolve your difficulties. It makes it seem like you don’t have any corruption at all….” After she was finished saying this, the others all just looked at me. I was stunned. I felt put on the spot, and my face flushed. Inwardly, I thought, “Talking to me like that has made me look a fool in front of all these brothers and sisters. What are they going to think of me?” In an effort to claw back some pride, I quickly said, “Sister, what you have fellowshiped is correct, and I can accept it. However, our brothers and sisters are encountering difficulties in their duties, and they grow negative and weak. We should not just talk about our corruption. We have to fellowship more on positive practices; this is the only way our brothers and sisters can have a path forward and find their faith….” Later on, some other brothers and sisters told me that when talking about my experiences and knowledge, I had skipped over most of the corruption that had been revealed in me, and that since I had spoken so much on how I had suffered, what prices I had paid, and how I had forsaken my flesh in my duty, it had made me seem really adept at practicing the truth. Faced with these cautions from my brothers and sisters, I felt a bit ill at ease. Were these things I’d been fellowshiping on really not suitable? Sometimes I did fellowship on how I was arrogant and selfish. Moreover, I had always achieved very good results in my duty, and had not impeded the church’s work. So that meant there shouldn’t be anything wrong with how I’d been fellowshiping, right? And so, I did not reflect on myself in earnest.
Later on, because my duty required it, I was transferred to another church to continue my work. During a gathering with my co-workers, Brother Zhang said to me in a grave tone, “Brother Chen, since you left that other church, some brothers and sisters there have lost interest in doing their duties. Whenever they encounter some difficulty, they neither read God’s words nor seek the truth; they just want you to solve their problems. Some have even stopped wanting to attend gatherings. This shows that you have not been exalting God or bearing testimony for Him in your duty. You have just been showing off so that others will think highly of you and adore you. This is an act of evil, and you need to spend some time reflecting on yourself!” After hearing what he had to say, I was flabbergasted. How had this happened? My brothers and sisters all adored me? This was a serious problem! I felt very apprehensive. After that, I didn’t hear any of what was fellowshiped during the gathering; my head was all ajumble. I had no idea how I was to get through this situation. After I got home, I kept mulling over Brother Zhang’s words. Originally, I’d thought my duty had yielded some results and that I could fellowship on the truth to resolve some problems. Never in a thousand years would I have thought it would have this sort of consequence. Actually, this had upset me greatly. In my helplessness, I prayed to God. I said, “God, please enlighten me so that I can find the source of my problem and have a real understanding of myself.”
Later, I saw some of God’s words, “All of those who go downhill exalt themselves and bear testimony to themselves. They go around boasting about themselves and self-aggrandizing, and they have not taken God to heart at all. Do you have any experience of what I am talking about? Many people are constantly bearing testimony to themselves: ‘I’ve suffered in this way and that; I’ve done this work and that; God has treated me in this way and that; He asked me to do such and such; He thinks especially highly of me; now I’m like this and that.’ They deliberately speak in a certain tone and adopt certain postures. Ultimately, some people end up thinking that these people are God. Once they have gotten to that point, the Holy Spirit will long since have abandoned them. Although, for the meantime, they are ignored, and not expelled, their fate is set, and all they can do is to await their punishment” (“People Make Too Many Demands of God” in Records of Christ’s Talks). “Others might use their positions to repeatedly testify about themselves, aggrandize themselves, and compete with God for people and status. They use various methods and measures to make people worship them, constantly trying to win people over and control them. Some even intentionally mislead people into thinking that they are God so that they can be treated like God. They would never tell someone that they have been corrupted—that they too are corrupt and arrogant, not to worship them, and that no matter how well they do, it is all due to God’s exaltation and that they are doing what they ought to, anyway. Why do they not say these things? Because they are deeply afraid of losing their place in people’s hearts. This is why such people never exalt God and never bear witness to God” (“God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself I” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). After reading God’s words, I felt very distressed. Only after reflecting upon myself did I see that while on the outside I had given the appearance of having suffered and paid a price, and fellowshiped to my brothers and sisters about God’s words so as to resolve their problems, I had actually just been doing it to make myself stand out and to show off so that others would think highly of me and adore me. Thinking back to when my co-workers had recommended me to be a leader at a church with new members, I realized that all I’d thought about was how I could rack up some achievements that would make my brothers and sisters think highly of me and my leader have a high opinion of me. To this end, I’d worked overtime, staying up all night to find relevant passages of God’s words and organizing what we would fellowship on in gatherings. When my brothers and sisters had encountered difficulties while spreading the gospel, I had not fellowshiped to them about God’s will to lead them into the principles of the truth, but instead had bragged and shown off about how much I’d suffered and what prices I’d paid while spreading the gospel. As my work had improved, my brothers and sisters had praised me. I had enjoyed this, and had taken personal credit for the results achieved by the Holy Spirit’s work, shamelessly flaunting them as my own accomplishments. While fellowshiping at gatherings, I had frequently put myself in the limelight, only fellowshiping positive practices while avoiding any mention of the corrupt dispositions I’d revealed. If the subject ever did come up, I just glossed right over it. As for my own ignoble motives for fulfilling my duty, I was even more reluctant to dissect them or bring them to light. Time after time, God had used my brothers and sisters to mention my problems, but in order to protect my position and image, I had only verbally said that I accepted their points, when I had not actually reflected upon myself in the least. During fellowship I’d just continued to talk high-soundingly to deceive my brothers and sisters. In this way, I’d come to believe that I was responsible in my duty and could endure hardship and pay the price. Whatever problem or difficulty the church had, or whatever state my brothers and sisters found themselves in, I would not shrink back, but would always help them to find solutions. Exposed by the facts, I saw that when doing my duty, I’d not been practicing the truth at all, nor had I been considerate of God’s will. I had taken advantage of the opportunity provided by fulfilling my duty to show off so that others would think highly of me, thus satisfying my desire for fame and position. In doing this, I hadn’t brought my brothers and sisters before God; instead, I’d gotten them to worship me. This meant I’d been contending with God for people and position. Only then did I become conscious of the fact that I had already set foot upon the path of resisting God and committed a serious transgression. I was scared and felt really guilty. Then I asked myself: How have I, without knowing it, gotten onto the path of resisting God?
Later, I read a passage of God’s words: “Since mankind was corrupted by Satan, their nature began to change and they gradually lost the sense of reason possessed by normal people. They now no longer act as human beings in the position of man; rather, they wish to surpass the status of man, and they yearn for something higher and greater. And what is this higher something? They wish to surpass God, to surpass the heavens, and to surpass all else. What is at the root of why people have become like this? When all is said and done, man’s nature is overly arrogant. … Once people have grown arrogant in nature and essence, they become capable of doing things that disobey and resist God, things that do not heed His words, things that generate notions about Him, things that rebel against Him, and things that exalt and bear testimony to themselves. You say you are not arrogant, but suppose you were given a number of churches and allowed to lead them; suppose that I did not deal with you, and that no one in God’s family pruned you: After leading them a while, you would bring them to your feet and make them submit before you. And why would you do that? This would be determined by your nature; it would be none other than a natural revelation. You do not need to go out of your way to learn this, nor do you have to specially get others to teach it to you. You do not need to do any of this deliberately; this kind of situation comes about naturally to you: You make people submit before you, worship you, exalt you, testify about you, and listen to you in all things, and you do not allow them to go beyond your jurisdiction. Under your leadership, such situations occur naturally. And how do these situations come about? They are determined by man’s arrogant nature” (“An Arrogant Nature Is the Root of Man’s Resistance to God” in Records of Christ’s Talks). Reading God’s words made me understand why I’d wanted to satisfy God in my duty but had unintentionally set foot upon the path of resisting Him. The source of this had been the arrogant satanic nature inside of me. Under the control of my arrogant nature, I’d had a very high opinion of myself, and had often tried to show off both in speech and action so that others would think highly of me and adore me. When my brothers and sisters had encountered problems while fulfilling their duties, I had not fellowshiped on the principles of the truth to get them to understand the truth and have a path to practice, but had just spoken superficial words and doctrines to make myself look good, and had even used my own experiences of suffering and working as capital with which to show off. This had led my brothers and sisters to look up to me and to believe I understood the truth and could resolve their problems. Whenever they encountered any difficulties, they always came to me, unaware that they should be relying on God and seeking the truth to resolve their problems. They did not have a place for God in their hearts. It even got to where after I was transferred away, some brothers and sisters had not wanted to attend gatherings anymore. How could that be called fulfilling my duty? I was just committing evil and resisting God! That I was capable of such evil was all down to my arrogance and conceit. All I’d wanted was to lord it over people while protecting my status and image, getting all my brothers and sisters to adore me and put me at the center. I was so covetous of the blessing of my status. I could see that deep down, I had not had a shred of reverence for God. When living by an arrogant nature, resisting God happens involuntarily. It really is so dangerous. I thought of the pastors and elders in the religious world. They do not exalt God or bear testimony for Him, nor do they lead believers to put the Lord’s words into practice. Instead, they blindly expound biblical knowledge and theological theory to deceive believers, and show off about how much they have suffered, how much good has come out of the gospel they have spread, and how many churches they have established. This causes the believers to worship them, look up to them, and do whatever they say. Some have read Almighty God’s words and heard God’s voice, but even so, they go ask the pastors and elders and check it with them. Without the pastors’ consent, they don’t dare accept Almighty God’s work even though they know it’s the true way. True. The pastors and elders of the religious world have people firmly under their control. They walk the God-resisting path of the antichrist, and are trying to create an independent kingdom! I often tried to show off in my duty so that people would think highly of me and look up to me. How was I any different from those pastors and elders? I thought about those brothers and sisters in that church with new members: They had just accepted God’s work of the last days, and there were still a lot of truths they had not come to understand. God had raised me up to fulfill the duty of leading the church, so I should have fellowshiped to them more on God’s words and borne more testimony to His work so that they would understand the truth and gain knowledge of God, and lay foundations on the true way. But what did I do? What came of my attempts to fulfill that duty? I made everyone worship me, and kept them from having any knowledge of God. In doing this, I had harmed my brothers and sisters, and interrupted and disturbed the church’s work. The path I was walking was none other than the God-resisting path of the antichrist! The more I thought about it, the more worried and unsettled I felt. I could see just how arrogant I had been, how totally lacking in reverence for God, and my actions had been offending His disposition for a very long time. Had He not used my brothers and sisters to prune and deal with me like that, I would not have known to reflect upon my actions. If I had continued along that path, there’s no telling how much evil I would have done to incur God’s curses and punishment. Feeling a lingering fear, I prostrated myself before God and prayed. I said, “God! I have been so arrogant. I always show off in my duty, and this has led my brothers and sisters to adore me and not have a place for You in their hearts. I have done evil and resisted You. I deserve Your punishment. God! I wish to repent before You, to pursue the truth in earnest, and to make a fresh start.”
Afterward, I read these words of God: “As one of the creatures, man must keep his own position, and behave conscientiously. Dutifully guard that which is entrusted to you by the Creator. Do not act out of line, or do things beyond your range of ability or which are loathsome to God. Do not try to be great, or become a superman, or above others, nor seek to become God. This is how people should not desire to be. Seeking to become great or a superman is absurd. Seeking to become God is even more disgraceful; it is disgusting, and despicable. What is commendable, and what the creatures should hold to more than anything else, is to become a true creature; this is the only goal that all people should pursue” (“God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself I” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “No matter what it is that humans seek or what they desire, only those who return before the Creator and dutifully fulfill and complete what they are supposed to do, and what has been entrusted to them, will live with an easy conscience and in a way that is right and proper, without any suffering. This is the meaning and the value of living” (“Only by Performing the Duty of a Created Being Well Does One’s Life Have Value” in Records of Christ’s Talks). After reading God’s words, I understood that He is the Lord of creation, and it is only right and proper—only natural—that humans should worship Him and submit to Him. Furthermore, I knew that I was just a tiny created being, a corrupt human. I was full of satanic dispositions—I was arrogant, deceitful, and evil. Even so, I was always trying to show off and take my place in people’s hearts. I truly knew no shame and was arrogant beyond all reason! The more I thought about it, the more ashamed I felt. I hated myself for being blind and not knowing God. I didn’t know who I was. That I could be here today to fulfill my duty was thanks to the grace and elevation from God. I should take my proper place as a created being, and be an honest, upright person who focuses on pursuing the truth, exalting God and bearing testimony for Him, and fulfilling duties well—for only then would I have the conscience and sense a created being should have.
Later on, I sought a path to practice and entry through God’s words. I read some words of God that said, “When bearing testimony for God, you should mainly talk more about how God judges and chastises people, what trials He uses to refine people and change their dispositions. You should also talk about how much corruption has been revealed in your experience, how much you have endured and how you were eventually conquered by God; talk about how much real knowledge of God’s work you have, and how you should bear witness for God and repay Him for His love. You should put substance into this kind of language, while putting it in a simple manner. Do not talk about empty theories. Speak more down-to-earth; speak from the heart. This is how you should experience. Do not equip yourselves with profound-seeming, empty theories in an effort to show off; doing so makes you appear quite arrogant and senseless. You should speak more of real things from your actual experience that are genuine and from the heart; this is most beneficial to others, and most appropriate for them to see” (“Only by Pursuing the Truth Can One Achieve a Change in Disposition” in Records of Christ’s Talks). After reading God’s words, I understood a little about how I should practice exalting God and bearing testimony for Him in my duty. In bearing testimony for God, I should speak more on how I had experienced His work, which corrupt dispositions had been revealed in me, how I had rebelled against and resisted Him, how I had reflected upon and come to know myself by comparing myself with His words, and how I had repented and changed. Through fellowshiping on the truth, I should help people understand God’s will and His demands, help them to understand the work He does to save people, as well as His disposition, and be able to revere and submit to God and fulfill the duties of created beings. Only by doing this could I truly exalt God and bear testimony for Him. I thought about when I used to fellowship with my brothers and sisters. Most of the time I just talked about how much I had suffered and what price I had paid, and how I had witnessed God’s deeds and been granted God’s blessings. When it came to which corrupt dispositions had been revealed in me or what sort of ignoble motives I’d had, I always covered them up and rarely even mentioned them. I was terrified that if my brothers and sisters saw my corruption, their opinion of me would plummet. I really did have such a deceitful nature. After recognizing these things, I sought out Brother Zhang and opened up to him about my evil deeds of showing myself off to deceive people. I also asked Brother Zhang to go to the church at which I had previously served and dissect my behavior with the brothers and sisters there, thus allowing everyone to be more discerning. During the gathering, I also opened up to my brothers and sisters about my evil behavior, bore testimony to God’s righteous disposition, and told everyone to use me as an example to learn what not to do so they would not walk the path of resisting God the way I had.
In my duty after that, I consciously exalted and testified to God and fellowshiped on His will, His requirements, and His love for man. I exposed my own corruption, my ugliness, and the motives behind my actions. I opened up and fellowshiped on how God’s words guided me to know myself and practice the truth. All this was so that my brothers and sisters would know I was corrupted, too. When resolving others’ problems, sometimes I still wanted to brag about my past achievements, but I’d immediately pray to God and forsake myself. I’d seek the truth with them and fellowship on the principles of practice. This kind of practice gave me such a sense of peace in my heart. Acting in accordance with God’s words felt wonderful. Being able to change and get back on the right track was all thanks to being judged, chastised, and pruned and dealt with by God. After I practiced that way, I felt a great sense of inner peace. For me to be able to undergo this tiny transformation, and to know how to practice exalting God and bearing testimony for Him in my duty, is all thanks to the judgment and chastisement of God’s words.