God Himself, the Unique IV
God’s Holiness (I)
We had some further fellowship about God’s authority during our last meeting. For now, we will not be discussing the topic of God’s righteousness. What we will be talking about today is an entirely new topic—God’s holiness. God’s holiness is yet another aspect of God’s unique essence, so it is crucial that we fellowship about this topic. I previously fellowshiped about two other aspects of God’s essence—God’s righteous disposition and God’s authority; are these aspects, and the aspect about which I will be fellowshiping today, all unique? (Yes.) God’s holiness is also unique, so the theme for our fellowship today will be what constitutes the basis and root of this uniqueness. Do you understand? Today we are going to fellowship about the unique essence of God—His holiness. Perhaps some of you have some misgivings, and are asking, “Why should we fellowship about God’s holiness?” Worry not, I will talk you through it slowly. Once you have heard what I have to say, you will know why it is so necessary for Me to fellowship about this topic.
First, let us define the word “holy.” Drawing on your perception and all the knowledge you have gained, what do you understand the definition of “holy” to be? (“Holy” means unstained, entirely without human corruption or flaws. Holiness radiates all things positive, whether in thought, speech or action.) Very good. (“Holy” is divine, untainted, unoffendable by man. It is unique, it is of God alone and it is His symbol.) This is your definition. In each person’s heart, this word “holy” has a scope, a definition and an interpretation. At the very least, when you see the word “holy,” your minds are not empty. You have a certain scope of definition for this word, and some people’s definition comes close to using this word to define the essence of God’s disposition. This is very good. Most people believe the word “holy” to be a positive one, and this is certainly true. But today, as we fellowship about the holiness of God, I will not merely be talking about definitions or explanations. Instead, I will present facts as proof to show you why I say God is holy, and why I use the word “holy” to describe the essence of God. By the time our fellowship is over, you will feel that the use of the word “holy” to define God’s essence and in reference to God is fully justified and most appropriate. At the very least, in the context of current human language, using this word to refer to God is particularly apt—it alone of all the words of human language is an entirely fitting way to refer to God. This word, when used to refer to God, is not an empty word, nor is it a term of groundless praise or empty flattery. The purpose of our fellowship is to allow every person to recognize the truth of this aspect of God’s essence. God does not fear man’s understanding, but He fears his misunderstanding. God wishes for every person to know His essence and what He has and is. So every time we mention an aspect of God’s essence, we can call on many facts to allow people to see that this aspect of God’s essence does indeed exist.
Now that we have a definition of the word “holy,” let us discuss some examples. In people’s notions, they imagine many things and people to be “holy.” For example, virgin boys and girls are defined as holy in mankind’s dictionaries. But are they actually holy? Are this so-called “holy” and the “holy” that we will fellowship about today one and the same? (No.) Looking at those among men of sound morals, who have refined and cultured speech, who never hurt anyone, and who, by the words they speak, make others comfortable and agreeable—are they holy? The scholars or gentlemen with sound morals, refined in both word and deed—are they holy? Those who often do good, are charitable and provide great assistance to others, those who bring much enjoyment into people’s lives—are they holy? Those who harbor no self-serving thoughts, who place no harsh demands on anyone, who are tolerant of everyone—are they holy? Those who have never quarreled with or taken advantage of anyone—are they holy? And what of those who work for the good of others, who benefit others and bring edification to others in every way—are they holy? Those who give all their life savings away to others and live a simple life, who are strict with themselves but treat others liberally—are they holy? (No.) You all remember how your mothers cared for you and looked after you in every conceivable way—are they holy? The idols you hold dear, whether they be famous people, celebrities or great men—are they holy? (No.) Let us look now at those prophets in the Bible who were able to tell things about the future that were unknown to many people—were these people holy? The people who were able to record God’s words and the facts of His work in the Bible—were they holy? Was Moses holy? Was Abraham holy? (No.) How about Job? Was he holy? (No.) Job was called a righteous man by God, so why is even he said to be not holy? Are people who fear God and shun evil really not holy? Are they or not? (No.) You are a little apprehensive, you are not sure of the answer, and you do not dare to say “No,” but neither do you dare to say “Yes,” so in the end you half-heartedly say “No.” Let Me ask another question. God’s messengers—the messengers God sends down to earth—are they holy? Are angels holy? (No.) Mankind uncorrupted by Satan—are they holy? (No.) You keep answering “No” to every question. On what basis? Are the words I spoke just now the reason you say “No”? You are confused, are you not? So why are even angels said to be not holy? You feel apprehensive now, do you not? Can you work out on what basis the people, things or uncreated beings we mentioned previously are not holy? I am sure you are unable to, right? So isn’t your saying “No” then a little irresponsible? Are you not answering blindly? Some people are wondering: “Since You have phrased Your question in this way, the answer must certainly be ‘No.’” Do not give Me pat answers. Think carefully whether the answer is “Yes” or “No.” You will know why the answer is “No” once we have fellowshiped about the following topic. I will give you the answer shortly. First, let us read from the scriptures.
Jehovah God’s Command to Man
Gen 2:15–17 And Jehovah God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And Jehovah God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it: for in the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die.
The Serpent’s Seduction of the Woman
Gen 3:1–5 Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which Jehovah God had made. And he said to the woman, Yes, has God said, You shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said to the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, You shall not eat of it, neither shall you touch it, lest you die. And the serpent said to the woman, You shall not surely die: For God does know that in the day you eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be as God, knowing good and evil.
These two passages are excerpts from the book of Genesis in the Bible. Are you all familiar with these two passages? They relate events that happened at the beginning, when mankind was first created; these events were real. First let us look at what kind of command Jehovah God gave to Adam and Eve; the content of this command is very important for our topic today. “And Jehovah God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it: for in the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die.” What is the import of God’s command to man in this passage? Firstly, God tells man what he can eat, namely, the fruits of many kinds of trees. There is no danger and no poison; all can be eaten and eaten freely as man wishes, free from worry and doubt. This is one part of God’s command. The other part is a warning. In this warning, God tells man there is a tree from which he cannot eat the fruit—he must not eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. What will happen if he eats from this tree? God told man: If you eat from it you will surely die. Are these words not straightforward? If God told you this but you did not understand why, would you treat His words as a rule or an order to be obeyed? Such words should be obeyed, should they not? But whether or not man is able to obey, God’s words are unequivocal. God told man very clearly what he may eat and what he may not eat, and what will happen if he eats what he may not eat. In these brief words that God spoke, can you see anything of God’s disposition? Are these words of God true? Is there any deception? Is there any falsity? Is there any intimidation? (No.) God honestly, truthfully and sincerely told man what he may eat and what he may not eat. God spoke clearly and plainly. Is there any hidden meaning in these words? Are these words not straightforward? Is there any need for conjecture? (No.) There is no need for guesswork. Their meaning is obvious at a glance. Upon reading them, one feels entirely clear about their meaning. That is, what God wants to say and what He wants to express comes from His heart. The things God expresses are clean, straightforward and clear. There are no covert motives, nor any hidden meanings. He speaks to man directly, telling him what he may eat and what he may not eat. That is to say, through these words of God, man can see that God’s heart is transparent and true. There is no trace of falsehood here; it is not a case of telling you that you may not eat what is edible, or telling you “Do it and see what happens” with things that you cannot eat. This is not what God means. Whatever God thinks in His heart, that is what He says. If I say God is holy because He shows and reveals Himself within these words in this way, you may feel that I have made a mountain out of a molehill or that I have stretched a point a little too far. If so, do not worry; we are not yet finished.
Let us now talk about “The Serpent’s Seduction of the Woman.” Who is the serpent? (Satan.) Satan plays the role of the foil in God’s six-thousand-year management plan, and it is a role that we have to mention when we fellowship about the holiness of God. Why do I say this? If you do not know the evil and corruption of Satan, if you do not know of Satan’s nature, then you have no way to acknowledge holiness, and nor can you know what holiness really is. In confusion, people believe that what Satan does is right, because they live within this kind of corrupt disposition. With no foil, with no point of comparison, you cannot know what holiness is. That is why Satan must be mentioned here. Such mention is no empty talk. Through Satan’s words and deeds, we will see how Satan acts, how Satan corrupts mankind, and what is the nature and countenance of Satan. So what did the woman say to the serpent? The woman recounted to the serpent what Jehovah God had said to her. When she said these words, was she certain that what God had said to her was true? She could not be sure, could she? As someone who was newly created, she had no ability to discern good from evil, and nor did she have any cognition about anything around her. Judging by the words she spoke to the serpent, she was not sure in her heart that God’s words were right; such was her attitude. So when the serpent saw that the woman had an attitude of uncertainty toward God’s words, it said: “You shall not surely die: For God does know that in the day you eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be as God, knowing good and evil.” Is there anything problematic within these words? When you read this sentence, do you gain a sense of the serpent’s intentions? What are those intentions? (To tempt man, to induce him to sin.) It wanted to tempt this woman, to stop her from heeding God’s words. But it did not say these things directly. Thus, we can say that it is very cunning. It expresses its meaning in a sly and evasive way in order to reach its intended objective, which it keeps concealed within its mind, hidden from man—such is the serpent’s cunning. This has always been Satan’s way of speaking and acting. It says “not surely,” without confirming one way or the other. But upon hearing this, this ignorant woman’s heart was moved. The serpent was pleased, because its words had had the desired effect—such was the serpent’s cunning intention. Furthermore, by promising an outcome that seems desirable to humans, it seduced her, saying, “[I]n the day you eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened.” So she ponders: “To have my eyes opened is a good thing!” And then it said something even more enticing, words never before known to man, words that wield a great power of temptation over those who hear them: “[Y]ou shall be as God, knowing good and evil.” Are these words not powerfully seductive to man? It is like someone saying to you: “Your face is shaped wonderfully, except that the bridge of your nose is a little short. If you have that corrected, then you will be a world-class beauty!” Would these words move the heart of someone who had never previously harbored any desire to have cosmetic surgery? Are these words not seductive? Is this seduction not tempting to you? And is this not a temptation? (Yes.) Does God say things like this? Was there any hint of this in the words of God that we just now perused? (No.) Does God say what He thinks in His heart? Can man see God’s heart through His words? (Yes.) But when the serpent spoke those words to the woman, were you able to see its heart? (No.) And because of man’s ignorance, man was easily seduced by the serpent’s words, easily hooked, easily led. So were you able to see Satan’s intentions? Were you able to see the purpose behind what Satan said? Were you able to see Satan’s plots and ruses? (No.) What kind of disposition is represented by Satan’s way of speaking? What kind of essence have you seen in Satan through these words? Is it not insidious? Perhaps on the surface it smiles at you, or perhaps it reveals no expression whatsoever. But in its heart it is calculating how to obtain its objective, and it is this objective that you are unable to see. All the promises it makes to you, all the advantages it describes, are the guise of its seduction. You see these things as good, so you feel that what it says is more useful, more substantial than what God says. When this happens, does man not then become a submissive prisoner? Is this strategy that Satan has used not diabolical? You allow yourself to sink into degeneracy. Without Satan having to move a finger, but merely by speaking these two sentences, you become happy to follow along with Satan, to comply with Satan. Thus, Satan’s objective has been attained. Is this intention not sinister? Is this not Satan’s most primal countenance? From Satan’s words, man can see its sinister motives, see its hideous countenance and see its essence. Is that not so? In comparing these sentences, without analysis you may perhaps feel as though Jehovah God’s words are dull, commonplace and banal, that they do not justify waxing lyrical here in praise of God’s honesty. However, when we take Satan’s words and Satan’s hideous countenance as a foil, do these words of God not carry significant weight for the people of today? (Yes.) Through this comparison, man can sense God’s pure flawlessness. Every word Satan says, as well as Satan’s motives, intentions and the way it speaks—they are all adulterated. What is the main feature of Satan’s way of speaking? Satan uses equivocation to seduce you, without letting you see through its duplicity, nor does it allow you to discern its objective; Satan lets you take the bait, but you also have to praise and sing its merits. Is this ploy not Satan’s habitual method of choice? (Yes.) Let us now look at what other words and expressions of Satan allow man to see its hideous countenance. Let us read some more from the scriptures.
Dialogue Between Satan and Jehovah God
Job 1:6–11 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before Jehovah, and Satan came also among them. And Jehovah said to Satan, From where come you? Then Satan answered Jehovah, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. And Jehovah said to Satan, Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that fears God, and eschews evil? Then Satan answered Jehovah, and said, Does Job fear God for nothing? Have not You made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. But put forth Your hand now, and touch all that he has, and he will curse You to Your face.
Job 2:1–5 Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before Jehovah, and Satan came also among them to present himself before Jehovah. And Jehovah said to Satan, From where come you? And Satan answered Jehovah, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. And Jehovah said to Satan, Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that fears God, and eschews evil? and still he holds fast his integrity, although you moved Me against him, to destroy him without cause. And Satan answered Jehovah, and said, Skin for skin, yes, all that a man has will he give for his life. But put forth Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse You to Your face.
These two passages consist entirely of a dialogue between God and Satan; they record what God said and what Satan said. God did not speak much, and He spoke very simply. Can we see the holiness of God within His simple words? Some will say this is not easily done. So can we see the hideousness of Satan in its replies? (Yes.) Let us first look at what kind of question Jehovah God asked of Satan. “From where come you?” Isn’t this a straightforward question? Is there any hidden meaning? (No.) It is just a question, pure, unadulterated by any ulterior motive. If I were to ask you: “Where do you come from?” how then would you answer? Is it a difficult question to answer? Would you say: “From going to and fro, and from walking up and down”? (No.) You would not answer like this. So, how then do you feel when you see Satan answering in this way? (We feel that Satan is being absurd, but also deceitful.) Can you tell what I am feeling? Every time I see these words of Satan, I feel disgusted, because Satan talks, and yet its words contain no substance. Did Satan answer God’s question? No, the words Satan spoke were not an answer, they did not yield anything. They were not an answer to God’s question. “From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.” What is your understanding of these words? Just where does Satan come from? Have you received an answer to this question? (No.) This is the “genius” of Satan’s cunning schemes—not letting anyone discover what it is actually saying. Having heard these words you still cannot discern what it has said, even though it has finished answering. Yet Satan believes it has answered perfectly. How then do you feel? Disgusted? (Yes.) Now you begin to feel disgust in response to these words. Satan does not speak directly, but leaves you scratching your head, unable to perceive the source of its words. Sometimes it speaks deliberately, and sometimes when it speaks its words are governed by its own essence, its own nature. These are words that come straight out of Satan’s mouth. Satan did not weigh these words for a long time or speak them in a way that it considered clever; rather, it expressed them naturally. As soon as you ask Satan where it comes from, it answers you thus, with these words. You feel very puzzled, never knowing exactly where Satan is from. Are there any among you who speak like this? (Yes.) What kind of way is this to speak? (It is ambiguous and does not give a certain answer.) What kind of words should we use to describe this way of speaking? It is diversionary and misleading, is it not? Suppose someone does not want to let others know where they went yesterday. You ask them: “I saw you yesterday. Where were you going?” They do not tell you directly where they went yesterday. Rather, they say: “What a day it was yesterday. It was so tiring!” Did they answer your question? They did, but they did not give the answer you wanted. This is the “genius” within the artifice of man’s speech. You can never discover what they mean, nor perceive the source or intention of their words. You do not know what they are trying to avoid because in their heart they have their own story—this is insidious. Do you also often speak in this way? (Yes.) What then is your purpose? Is it sometimes to protect your own interests, sometimes to maintain your own position, your own image, to keep the secrets of your private life, to save your own reputation? Whatever the purpose, it is inseparable from your interests, linked to your interests. Is this not the nature of man? Is not everyone with this kind of nature akin to Satan? We can put it like this, can we not? Generally speaking, this manifestation is detestable and abhorrent. You also now feel disgusted, do you not? (Yes.)
Looking again at the first passage, Satan responds again to Jehovah’s question, saying: “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan is opening an attack on Jehovah’s assessment of Job, and this attack is colored by hostility. “Have not You made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he has on every side?” This is Satan’s understanding and assessment of Jehovah’s work on Job. Satan assesses it like this, saying: “You have blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. But put forth Your hand now, and touch all that he has, and he will curse You to Your face.” Satan always speaks ambiguously, but here it speaks in certain terms. However, these words, though they are spoken in certain terms, are an attack, a blasphemy and an act of defiance to Jehovah God, to God Himself. How do you feel when you hear these words? Do you feel aversion? Are you able to see through to Satan’s intentions? First of all, Satan repudiates Jehovah’s assessment of Job—a man who fears God and shuns evil. Then Satan repudiates everything Job says and does, that is, it repudiates his fear of Jehovah. Is this not accusatory? Satan is accusing, repudiating and doubting all Jehovah does and says. It does not believe, saying, “If You say things are like this, then how is it that I have not seen it? You have given him so many blessings, so how can he not fear You?” Is this not a repudiation of all that God does? Accusation, repudiation, blasphemy—are Satan’s words not an assault? Are they not a true expression of what Satan thinks in its heart? These words are certainly not the same as the words we read just now: “From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.” They are completely different. Through these words, Satan completely lays bare the contents of its heart—its attitude toward God and its loathing of Job’s fear of God. When this happens, its malice and evil nature are completely exposed. It loathes those who fear God, loathes those who shun evil, and even more so loathes Jehovah for bestowing blessings on man. It wants to use this opportunity to destroy Job, whom God raised with His own hand, to ruin him, saying: “You say Job fears You and shuns evil. I see it differently.” It uses various ways to provoke and tempt Jehovah, and uses various ploys so that Jehovah God hands Job over to Satan to be wantonly manipulated, harmed and mishandled. It wants to take advantage of this opportunity to destroy this man who is righteous and perfect in God’s eyes. Is it just a momentary impulse that causes Satan to have this kind of heart? No, it is not. It has been long in the making. God does His work, God cares for a person, looks upon this person, and all the while Satan dogs His every step. Whomever God favors, Satan also watches, trailing along behind. If God wants this person, Satan would do everything in its power to obstruct God, using various evil ploys to tempt, disrupt and wreck the work God does, all in order to achieve its hidden objective. What is this objective? It does not want God to gain anyone; all those that God wants it wants for itself, it wants to occupy them, control them, to take charge of them so they worship it, so they join it in committing evil acts. Is this not Satan’s sinister motive? You often say that Satan is so evil, so bad, but have you seen it? You can only see how bad man is. You have not seen in reality how bad Satan actually is. But have you seen Satan’s evil in this issue concerning Job? (Yes.) This issue has made Satan’s hideous countenance and essence very clear. In warring with God, and trailing along behind Him, Satan’s objective is to demolish all the work God wants to do, to occupy and control those whom God wants to gain, to completely extinguish those whom God wants to gain. If they are not extinguished, then they come to Satan’s possession, to be used by it—this is its objective. And what does God do? God says only a simple sentence in this passage; there is no record of anything more that God does, but we see there are many more records of what Satan does and says. In the following passage of scripture, Jehovah asks Satan, “From where come you?” What is Satan’s answer? (It is still “From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.”) It is still that same sentence. This has become Satan’s motto, Satan’s calling card. How is this so? Is Satan not hateful? Surely it is enough to utter this disgusting sentence just once. Why does Satan keep repeating it? This proves one thing: Satan’s nature is unchanging. Satan’s hideous face is not something it can keep hidden for long. God asks it a question and this is how it responds. Since this is so, imagine then how it must treat humans! Satan is not afraid of God, does not fear God, and does not obey God. So it dares to be wantonly presumptuous before God, to use these same words to brush off God’s question, to repeatedly use this same answer to God’s question, to attempt to use this answer to confound God—this is the ugly face of Satan. It does not believe in the almightiness of God, does not believe in the authority of God, and is certainly not willing to submit to the dominion of God. It is constantly in opposition to God, constantly attacking all that God does, attempting to wreck all that God does—this is its evil objective.
As recorded in the Book of Job, these two passages of speech uttered by Satan and the things Satan did are representative of its resistance to God in His six-thousand-year management plan—here, Satan’s true colors are revealed. Have you seen Satan’s words and deeds in real life? When you do see them, you may not think them to be things spoken by Satan, but instead think them to be things spoken by man. What is represented, when such things are spoken by man? Satan is represented. Even if you recognize it, you still cannot perceive that it is really being spoken by Satan. But here and now you have unequivocally seen what Satan itself has said. You now have an unequivocal, crystal-clear understanding of the hideous countenance and the evil of Satan. So are these two passages spoken by Satan of value in helping people today to gain knowledge about Satan’s nature? Are these two passages worth carefully retaining in order for mankind today to be able to recognize Satan’s hideous face, to recognize Satan’s original, true face? Although this may not seem like an appropriate thing to say, these words, expressed thus, can nonetheless be considered accurate. Indeed, this is the only way that I can express this idea, and if you can understand it, then that is enough. Again and again, Satan attacks the things Jehovah does, throwing out accusations about Job’s fear of Jehovah God. Satan attempts to provoke Jehovah by various methods, trying to get Jehovah to condone its temptation of Job. Its words therefore have a highly provocative nature. So tell Me, once Satan has spoken these words, can God clearly see what Satan wants to do? (Yes.) In God’s heart, this man Job that God looks upon—this servant of God, that God takes to be a righteous man, a perfect man—can he withstand this kind of temptation? (Yes.) Why does God say that this is possible with such certainty? Is God always examining the heart of man? (Yes.) So is Satan able to examine the heart of man? Satan cannot. Even if Satan could see your heart, its evil nature would never let it believe that holiness is holiness, or that sordidness is sordidness. The evil Satan can never treasure anything that is holy, righteous or bright. Satan cannot help tirelessly acting in accordance with its nature, its evil, and through its habitual methods. Even at the cost of itself being punished or destroyed by God, it does not hesitate to stubbornly oppose God—this is evil, this is the nature of Satan. So in this passage, Satan says: “Skin for skin, yes, all that a man has will he give for his life. But put forth Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse You to Your face.” Satan thinks that man’s fear of God is due to man having obtained so many advantages from God. Man obtains advantages from God, so he says God is good. But it is not because God is good, it is only because man obtains so many advantages that he can fear God in this way. Once God deprives him of these advantages, he then abandons God. In Satan’s evil nature, it does not believe that man’s heart can truly fear God. Because of its evil nature, it does not know what holiness is, much less what fearful reverence is. It does not know what it is to obey God or what it is to fear God. Because it does not know these things, it thinks that man cannot fear God either. Tell Me, is Satan not evil? Excepting our church, none of the various religions and denominations, religious and social groups, believe in the existence of God or that God can perform work, so they think that what you believe in is not God. A promiscuous man looks around him and sees everyone else as promiscuous, just as he is. A mendacious man looks around and sees only dishonesty and lies. An evil man sees everyone else as evil and wants to fight everyone he sees. Those with a measure of honesty see everyone else as honest, so they are always duped, always cheated, and there is nothing they can do about it. I give these few examples to fortify you in your conviction: Satan’s evil nature is not a fleeting compulsion or determined by circumstances, nor is it a temporary manifestation arising from any reason or contextual factors. Absolutely not! Satan just cannot help but be this way! It can do nothing good. Even when it says something pleasant to hear, it is just to seduce you. The more pleasant, the more tactful, the more gentle its words are, the more malicious the sinister intentions behind these words. What kind of face, what kind of nature does Satan show in these two passages? (Insidious, malicious and evil.) Satan’s primary characteristic is evil; above all else, Satan is evil and malicious.
Now that we have finished our discussion of Satan, let us return to talking about our God. During God’s six-thousand-year management plan, very little of God’s direct speech was recorded in the Bible, and that which has been recorded is very simple. So let us start at the beginning. God created man and since then has ever guided the life of mankind. Whether in bestowing upon mankind blessings, creating laws and commandments for men, or stipulating the various rules for life, do you know what God’s intended aim is in doing these things? Firstly, can you say with certainty that all that God does is for the good of mankind? These may seem to you like grand, hollow words, but upon examining the details within, is not everything that God does intended to lead and guide man toward living a normal life? Whether it be causing man to abide by His rules or to keep His laws, God’s aim is for man not to fall into worshiping Satan and not to be harmed by Satan; this is most fundamental, and this is what was done in the very beginning. At the very beginning, when man did not understand God’s will, God made some simple laws and rules and made regulations that covered every conceivable matter. These regulations are simple, yet within them they contain God’s will. God treasures, cherishes and dearly loves mankind. Is that not the case? (Yes.) So can we say that His heart is holy? Can we say His heart is clean? (Yes.) Does God have any additional motives? (No.) So is this aim of His right and positive? (Yes.) In the course of God’s work, all of the regulations He has made have a positive effect on man, leading the way for man. So are there any self-serving thoughts in God’s mind? Does God have any additional aims where man is concerned? Does God want to make use of man in some way? (No.) Not in the slightest. God does as He says, and His words and actions are matched by His thoughts in His heart. There is no tainted purpose, no self-serving thoughts. Nothing He does is for Himself; all that He does, He does for man, without any private objectives. Although He has plans and intentions, which He places upon man, none of it is for Himself. Everything He does is done purely for mankind, to protect mankind, to keep mankind from being led astray. So is this heart of His not precious? Can you see even the tiniest sign of such a precious heart in Satan? (No.) You cannot see the slightest hint of this in Satan. Everything God does is revealed naturally. Now, let us look at the way God works; how does He do His work? Does God take these laws and His words and bind them tightly around the head of every person, like the band-tightening spell,[a] imposing them on each and every human being? Does He work in this way? (No.) So in what way does God do His work? (He guides us. He advises and encourages us.) Does He threaten? Does He beat about the bush when He speaks to you? (No.) When you do not understand the truth, how does God guide you? (He shines a light.) He shines a light on you, telling you clearly that this is not in keeping with the truth, and then He tells you what you should do. From these ways in which God works, what kind of relationship do you feel you have with God? Do you feel that God is beyond your grasp? (No.) So how do you feel when you see these ways in which God works? God is exceptionally close to you; there is no distance between you and God. When God guides you, when He provides for you, helps you and supports you, you feel how amiable God is, the reverence He inspires; you feel how lovely He is, you feel His warmth. But when God reproaches you with corruption, or when He judges and disciplines you for rebelling against Him, what method does He use? Does He reproach you with words? Does He discipline you through your environment and through people, affairs, and things? (Yes.) To what extent does God discipline you? Does God discipline man to the same degree that Satan harms man? (No, God disciplines man only to the extent that man can endure.) God works in a gentle, loving, delicate and caring way, a way that is extraordinarily measured and proper. His way does not provoke in you intense emotional reactions such as: “God must let me do this” or “God must let me do that.” God never gives you that kind of mental or emotional intensity that makes things unbearable. Is that not so? Even when you accept God’s words of judgment and chastisement, how do you feel then? When you sense the authority and power of God, how do you feel then? Do you feel that God is divine and inviolable? (Yes.) Do you feel distance between yourself and God at these times? Do you feel the fear of God? No—rather, you feel fearful reverence toward God. Is it not because of God’s work that people feel all of these things? Would they have these feelings if it were Satan who was at work? (No.) God uses His words, His truth and His life to continuously provide for man, to support man. When man is weak, when man is feeling dispirited, God certainly does not speak harshly, saying: “Do not feel dispirited. What is there to be dispirited about? Why are you weak? What reason is there to be weak? You are so weak, and you are always so negative! What is the use of you being alive? Just die and have done with it!” Does God work in this way? (No.) Does God have the authority to act in this way? (Yes.) Yet God does not act in this way. The reason why God does not act in this way is because of His essence, the essence of the holiness of God. His love for man, His treasuring and cherishing of man cannot be expressed clearly in just one or two sentences. It is not something that is brought about by man’s boasting but is something that God brings forth in actual practice; it is the revelation of God’s essence. Can all these ways in which God works cause man to see the holiness of God? In all of these ways in which God works, including God’s good intentions, including the effects God wishes to work on man, including the different ways God adopts to work on man, the kind of work He does, what He wants man to understand—have you seen any evil or deceitfulness in God’s good intentions? (No.) So in everything God does, everything God says, everything He thinks in His heart, as well as all the essence of God that He reveals—can we call God holy? (Yes.) Has any man ever seen this holiness in the world, or within himself? Apart from God, have you ever seen it in any human being, or in Satan? (No.) Based on our discussion thus far, can we call God the unique, the holy God Himself? (Yes.) All that God gives to man, including the words of God, the different ways in which God works on man, what God tells man, what God reminds man of, what He advises and encourages—it all originates from one essence: the holiness of God. If there were no such holy God, no man could take His place to do the work He does. If God had handed these men entirely over to Satan, have you ever considered what kind of condition all of you would be in today? Would you all be sitting here, whole and inviolate? Would you also say: “From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it”? Would you be so brazen, so cock-sure and full of swagger as to speak such words and boast without shame before God? (Yes.) You absolutely would, without a shadow of doubt! Satan’s attitude toward man allows man to see that Satan’s nature and essence are utterly different from God’s. What is it about the essence of Satan that is the opposite of the holiness of God? (Satan’s evil.) Satan’s evil nature is the opposite of the holiness of God. The reason why the majority of people do not recognize this revelation of God’s and this essence of God’s holiness is because they live under the domain of Satan, within the corruption of Satan and within Satan’s living enclosure. They do not know what holiness is, or how to define holiness. Even when you perceive the holiness of God, you still cannot define it as being the holiness of God with any certainty. This is a disparity within man’s knowledge of the holiness of God.
What kind of representative feature characterizes Satan’s work on man? You should be able to learn this through your own experiences—it is Satan’s most representative feature, the thing it repeatedly does, the thing it tries to do with every single person. Perhaps you cannot see this feature, so you do not feel that Satan is so frightful and hateful. Does anyone know what this feature is? Tell Me. (Everything it does, it does to harm man.) How does it harm man? Can you tell Me more specifically and in more detail? (It seduces, entices and tempts man.) That is correct; these are several ways in which this feature manifests. Satan also deludes, attacks and accuses man—these are all manifestations. Are there any more? (It tells lies.) Cheating and lying come most naturally to Satan. It does these things so often that lies flow from its mouth without it even needing to think. Are there any more? (It sows dissension.) This one is not so important. Now I will describe something to you that will make your hair stand on end, but I do not do it to scare you. God works on man and cherishes man both in His attitude and in His heart. Conversely, does Satan cherish man? No, it does not cherish man. On the contrary, it spends much time thinking about harming man. Is that not so? When it is thinking about harming man, is its state of mind one of urgency? (Yes.) So, as regards Satan’s work on man, I have two phrases that can amply describe the malicious and evil nature of Satan, that can truly allow you to know the hatefulness of Satan: In Satan’s approach to man, it always wants to forcefully occupy and possess man, each and every one, to the extent that it can gain complete control of man and harm man grievously, so that it can achieve its objective and fulfill its wild ambition. What does “forcefully occupy” mean? Is it something that happens with your consent, or without your consent? Does it happen with your knowing, or without your knowing? The answer is that it happens completely without your knowing! It happens in situations where you are unaware, perhaps without it even saying or doing anything to you, with no premise, no context—there Satan is, circling around you, surrounding you. It looks for an opportunity to exploit and then it forcefully occupies you, possesses you, achieving its objective of gaining complete control of you and of inflicting harm upon you. This is a most typical intention and behavior of Satan as it struggles to wrest mankind away from God. How do you feel when you hear this? (Terrified and fearful in our hearts.) Do you feel disgusted? (Yes.) As you feel this disgust, do you think that Satan is shameless? When you think that Satan is shameless, do you then feel disgusted with those people around you who always want to control you, those with wild ambitions for status and interests? (Yes.) So what methods does Satan use to forcefully possess and occupy man? Are you clear on this? When you hear these two terms “forceful occupation” and “possession,” you feel a strange sensation inside you, and you feel disgust, do you not? Do you get a sense of evil about these words? Without either your consent or your knowledge, Satan possesses you, occupies you and corrupts you. What can you taste in your heart? Do you feel loathing and disgust? (Yes.) When you feel this loathing and disgust for these ways of Satan, what kind of feeling do you have for God? (Gratitude.) Gratitude to God for saving you. So now, at this moment, do you have the desire or the will to let God take over and control all that you have and you are? (Yes.) In what context do you answer thus? Do you say “yes” because you are afraid of being forcefully occupied and possessed by Satan? (Yes.) You must not have this kind of mentality; it is not right. Do not be afraid, for God is here. There is nothing to be afraid of. Once you have understood the evil essence of Satan, you should have a more accurate understanding or a deeper cherishment of God’s love, God’s good intentions, God’s compassion and tolerance for man and His righteous disposition. Satan is so hateful, yet if this still does not inspire your love of God and your reliance on and trust in God, then what kind of person are you? Are you willing to let Satan harm you so? After seeing the evil and hideousness of Satan, we turn around and look then at God. Has your knowledge of God now undergone any change? Can we say that God is holy? Can we say that God is flawless? “God is unique holiness”—can God live up to this designation? (Yes.) So in the world and among all things, isn’t it only God Himself that can live up to this understanding that man has of God? Are there any others? (No.) So what exactly does God give to man? Does He only give you a little care, concern and consideration without your being aware of it? What has God given to man? God has given life to man, given man everything, and bestows all this on man unconditionally without demanding anything, without any ulterior motive. He uses the truth, His words, and His life to lead and guide man, bringing man away from the harm of Satan, away from Satan’s temptations and inducements, allowing man to see clearly through Satan’s evil nature and hideous face. Is God’s love and concern for mankind true? Is it something that every one of you can experience? (Yes.)
Look back on your lives until now, at all the work God has done on you in all the years of your faith. Whether the feelings this evokes for you are deep or shallow, is this not the thing that was most necessary of all for you? Was it not what you most needed to obtain? (Yes.) Is this not truth? Is this not life? (Yes.) Has God ever bestowed enlightenment upon you, and then asked you to give anything to Him in return for all that He has given to you? (No.) So what is God’s purpose? Why does God do this? Does God have the objective of occupying you? (No.) Does God want to ascend His throne within the heart of man? (Yes.) So what is the difference between God ascending His throne and Satan’s forceful occupation? God wants to gain the heart of man, He wants to occupy the heart of man—what does this mean? Does it mean that God wants man to become His puppets, His machines? (No.) So what is God’s purpose? Is there a difference between God wanting to occupy the heart of man and Satan’s forceful occupation and possession of man? (Yes.) What use does God have for your heart? And what use does God have for occupying you? How in your hearts do you understand “God occupies man’s heart”? We must be fair in how we talk about God here, otherwise people will always misunderstand, and think: “God always wants to occupy me. What does He want to occupy me for? I do not want to be occupied, I just want to be my own master. You say Satan occupies people, but God also occupies people. Isn’t it the same either way? I do not want to let anyone occupy me. I am myself!” What is the difference here? Give it some thought. I ask you, is “God occupies man” an empty phrase? Does God’s occupation of man mean that He lives in your heart and controls your every word and every move? If He tells you to sit, do you dare not stand? If He tells you to go east, do you dare not go west? Does this “occupation” refer to something along these lines? (No, it does not. God wants man to live out what God has and is.) Through these years that God has managed man, in His work on man up until now in this last stage, what has been the intended effect on man of all the words He has spoken? Is it that man lives out what God has and is? Looking at the literal meaning of “God occupies man’s heart,” it seems as if God takes man’s heart and occupies it, lives in it and does not come out again; He becomes the master of man’s heart and is able to dominate and manipulate man’s heart at will, so that man must do whatever God tells him to do. At this level of meaning, it seems as if every person had become God and was in possession of God’s essence and disposition. So in this case, could man also perform the deeds of God? Can “occupation” be explained in this way? (No.) So what is it? Do you know what the deserved life is that God bestows upon man? I ask you this: Are all the words and truth that God supplies to man a revelation of the essence of God and what He has and is? (Yes.) This is certainly true. But is it essential that God Himself practice and possess all of the words that He supplies to man? Give this some thought. When God judges man, why does He judge? How did these words come into being? What is the content of these words that God speaks when He judges man? What are they based on? Is it man’s corrupt disposition upon which they are based? (Yes.) So is the effect achieved by God’s judgment of man based on the essence of God? (Yes.) So is God’s “occupation of man” an empty phrase? It certainly is not. So why does God say these words to man? What is His purpose in saying these words? Does He want to use these words to serve as the life of man? (Yes.) God wants to use all of this truth that He has spoken in these words to act as the life of man. When man takes all of this truth and the word of God and transforms them into his own life, can man then obey God? Can man then fear God? Can man then shun evil? When man has reached this point, can he then obey God’s sovereignty and arrangement? Is man then in a position to submit to the authority of God? When people like Job, or like Peter, reach the end of their road, when their life can be considered to have reached maturity, when they have a real understanding of God—can Satan then still lead them astray? Can Satan then still occupy them? Can Satan still forcefully possess them? (No.) So what kind of person is this? Is this someone who has been completely gained by God? (Yes.) At this level of meaning, how do you see this kind of person who has been completely gained by God? From God’s perspective, under these circumstances, He has already occupied this person’s heart. But what does this person feel? Is it that the word of God, God’s authority, and God’s way, become life within man, that this life then occupies man’s entire being, making the things that he lives out as well as his essence adequate to satisfy God? From God’s perspective, is mankind’s heart at this very moment occupied by Him? (Yes.) How do you understand this level of meaning now? Is it God’s Spirit that occupies you? (No, it is the word of God that occupies us.) It is the way of God and the word of God that have become your life, and it is the truth that has become your life. At this time, man then possesses the life that comes from God, but we cannot say that this life is God’s life. In other words, we cannot say that the life man should derive from the word of God is God’s life. So no matter how long man follows God, no matter how many words man obtains from God, man can never become God. Even if one day God said, “I have occupied your heart, you now possess My life,” would you then feel that you are God? (No.) What would you then become? Would you not have an absolute obedience to God? Would your body and your heart not be filled with the life God has bestowed on you? This would be a very normal manifestation of what happens when God occupies man’s heart. This is fact. So looking at it from this aspect, can man become God? When man has obtained all of the words of God, when man can fear God and shun evil, can man then possess God’s identity and essence? (No.) No matter what happens, man is still man when all is said and done. You are a being of creation; when you have received the word of God from God and received God’s way, you only possess the life that comes from the word of God, and can never become God.
Now we will return to the topic that we just discussed. During this discussion, I asked you a question—is Abraham holy? (No.) Is Job holy? (No.) This “holiness” contains within it the essence of God. Man does not have God’s essence or God’s disposition. Even when man has experienced all of God’s word and possesses the essence of God’s word, man can still never be called holy; man is man. You understand, yes? So what is your understanding now of this phrase: “God occupies man’s heart”? (It is God’s words, God’s way and His truth that become man’s life.) You have memorized these words. I hope you will have a deeper understanding. Some people may ask, “So why say that God’s messengers and angels are not holy?” What do you think about this question? Perhaps you have not considered it before. I will use a simple example: When you turn on a robot, it can both dance and talk, and you can understand what it says. You may call it cute and vivacious, but it will not understand because it does not have life. When you turn off its power supply, can it still move about? When this robot is activated, you can see that it is vivacious and cute. You make an evaluation of it, whether it be substantive or superficial, but whatever the case, your eyes can see it moving. But when you turn off its power supply, do you see any kind of personality in it? Do you see it possessing any kind of essence? Do you understand the meaning of what I am saying? That is to say, even though this robot can move and stop, you could never describe it as having any kind of essence. Is this not a fact? Now, we will not talk any more on this. It is enough for you to have a general understanding of the meaning. Let us end our fellowship here. Goodbye!
December 17, 2013
a. The “band-tightening spell” is a spell used by the monk Tang Sanzang in the Chinese novel Journey to the West. He uses this spell to control Sun Wukong by tightening a metal band around the latter’s head, giving him acute headaches, and thus bringing him under control. It has become a metaphor to describe something that binds a person.