God Himself, the Unique V
God’s Holiness (II)
Today, brothers and sisters, let us sing a hymn. Find one you like and that you sing regularly. (We’ll sing hymn No. 760 of God’s words, “Pure Love Without Blemish.”)
1 “Love” refers to an emotion that is pure and without blemish, where you use your heart to love, to feel, and to be thoughtful. In love there are no conditions, no barriers, and no distance. In love there is no suspicion, no deceit, and no cunning. In love there is no trade and nothing impure. If you love, then you will not deceive, complain, betray, rebel, exact, or seek to gain something or to gain a certain amount.
2 “Love” refers to an emotion that is pure and without blemish, where you use your heart to love, to feel, and to be thoughtful. In love there are no conditions, no barriers, and no distance. In love there is no suspicion, no deceit, and no cunning. In love there is no trade and nothing impure. If you love, then you will gladly dedicate yourself, will gladly suffer hardship, you will be compatible with Me, you will forsake all that you have for Me, you will give up your family, your future, your youth, and your marriage. If not, your love would not be love at all, but deceit and betrayal!
from Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs
This hymn was a good choice. Do you all enjoy singing it? What do you feel after singing it? Are you able to feel this kind of love within yourselves? (Not yet.) Which of its words move you most deeply? (In love there are no conditions, no barriers, and no distance. In love there is no suspicion, no deceit, and no cunning. In love there is no trade and nothing impure. But within myself I still see many impurities, and many parts of me that try to make deals with God. I really haven’t attained a kind of love that is pure and unblemished.) If you have not attained a pure, unblemished love, what is the degree of your love, then? (I am merely at the stage where I am willing to seek, where I am yearning.) Based on your own stature and speaking from your own experience, what degree have you attained? Do you have deceit? Do you have complaints? Do you have demands within your heart? Are there things you want and desire from God? (Yes, I have these tainted things within.) In what circumstances do they come out? (When the situation that God has arranged for me doesn’t match up with my notions, or when my desires have not been met: in such moments, I reveal this kind of corrupt disposition.) You brothers and sisters who come from Taiwan, do you often sing this hymn, too? Can you talk a little about how you understand “pure love without blemish”? Why does God define love in this way? (I like this hymn very much because I can see from it that this love is a complete love. However, I still have quite a ways to go to meet that standard, and I am still very far from attaining true love. There are some things in which I have been able to make progress and cooperate through the strength His words give me and through prayer. However, when faced with certain trials or revelations, I feel I don’t have a future or a destiny, that I don’t have a destination. At such moments, I feel very weak, and this issue often disturbs me.) What ultimately are you referring to when you say “future and destiny”? Is there something specific you are referring to? Is it a picture or something you imagined, or is your future and destiny a thing you can actually see? Is it a real object? I want each one of you to think about it: To what does the concern you have for your future and your destiny refer? (It’s being able to be saved so that I can survive.) You other brothers and sisters, you too talk a little about your understanding of “pure love without blemish.” (When a person has it, there is no impurity coming from their own individual self, and they are not controlled by their future and destiny. Regardless of how God treats them, they are able to fully obey God’s work and His orchestrations, and to follow Him to the very end. Only this kind of love for God is pure and unblemished love. In measuring myself against it, I have discovered that, though I appear to have expended of myself or cast aside certain things in the last few years of believing in God, I have not been truly able to give my heart to Him. When God exposes me, I feel I can’t be saved, and I dwell in a negative state. I see myself performing my duty, but at the same time I’m trying to make deals with God, I’m unable to love God with all my heart, and my destination, my future, and my destiny are always on my mind.) It seems that you have gained some comprehension of this hymn, and have made some connections between it and your actual experience. However, you have different degrees of acceptance of each of the phrases in the hymn, “Pure Love Without Blemish.” Some people think it is about willingness, some people are seeking to cast their future aside, some people are seeking to let go of their families, and some people are not seeking to receive anything. Still others are requiring themselves to have no deceit, no complaints, and to not rebel against God. Why would God want to suggest this kind of love and require that people love Him in this way? Is this a type of love that people can attain? That is to say, are people able to love this way? People may see that they cannot, because they do not possess any hint of this type of love. When people do not possess it, and when they fundamentally do not know about love, God speaks these words, and these words are unfamiliar to them. Since people live in this world and in a corrupt disposition, if people had this type of love or if a person could possess this type of love, love that makes no requests and no demands, a love with which they are willing to devote themselves and endure suffering and give up everything they own, then what would other people think of someone who possesses this type of love? Would such a person not be perfect? (Yes.) Does a perfect person like that exist in this world? This type of person does not exist at all in this world. This is absolute. Therefore, some people, through their experiences, expend great effort to measure themselves against these words. They deal with themselves, restrain themselves, and they even constantly forsake themselves: They endure suffering and make themselves give up their notions. They give up their rebelliousness, and their own desires and wants. But in the end they still cannot measure up. Why does that happen? God says these things to provide a standard for people to follow, so people will know the standard demanded by God for them. But does God ever say that people must achieve this right away? Does God ever say how much time people have to achieve this? (No.) Does God ever say that people have to love Him this way? Does this passage of text say that? No, it does not. God is just telling people about the love He was referring to. As for whether people are able to love God this way and treat God this way, what are God’s requirements of men? It is not necessary to reach them instantly, because that would be beyond people’s capabilities. Have you ever thought about what sort of conditions people need to meet in order to love this way? If people frequently read these words will they gradually have this love? (No.) What are the conditions, then? First, how can people be free from suspicions about God? (Only honest people can achieve this.) What about being free from deceit? (They also have to be honest people.) What about being someone who does not make deals with God? That is also part of being an honest person. What about being free of cunning? What does it mean to say there is no choice in love? Do all of these things come back to being an honest person? There are a lot of details in here. What does it prove that God is able to speak about and define this type of love in this way? Can we say that God possesses this kind of love? (Yes.) Where do you see this? (In the love God has for man.) Is God’s love for man conditional? Are there barriers or distance between God and man? Does God have suspicions about man? (No.) God observes man and understands man; He truly understands man. Is God deceitful toward man? (No.) Since God speaks so perfectly of this love, could His heart or His essence also be so perfect? (Yes.) Without a doubt, they are; when people’s experiencing has reached a certain point, they can feel this. Have people ever defined love in this way? In what circumstances has man defined love? How does man speak of love? Does man not speak of love in terms of giving or offering? (Yes.) This definition of love is simplistic; it lacks essence.
God’s definition of love and the way God speaks of love are connected to an aspect of His essence, but which aspect is it? Last time we fellowshiped about a very important subject, a subject that people have often discussed before. This subject consists of a word that is often spoken about in the course of believing in God, and yet it is a word with which everyone feels both familiar and unfamiliar. Why do I say this? It is a word that comes from the languages of man; however, among man its definition is both distinct and vague. What is this word? (Holiness.) Holiness: that was our topic the last time we fellowshiped. We fellowshiped about one part of this topic. Through our last fellowship, did everyone gain some new understanding about the essence of God’s holiness? What aspects of this understanding do you consider to be entirely new? That is, what is it within this understanding or within those words that made you feel that your understanding of God’s holiness was different or varied from God’s holiness as I spoke about it during fellowship? Do you have any impressions about this? (God says what He feels in His heart; His words are untainted. This is a manifestation of one aspect of holiness.) (There is also holiness when God is wrathful toward man; His wrath is without blemish.) (As for God’s holiness, I understand that there is both God’s wrath and His mercy within His righteous disposition. This left a very strong impression on me. In our last fellowship, it was also mentioned that God’s righteous disposition is unique—I did not understand this in the past. Only after hearing what God had fellowshiped did I understand that God’s wrath is different from human anger. God’s wrath is a positive thing and it is principled; it is sent forth due to the inherent essence of God. God sees something negative, and so He releases His wrath. This is something not possessed by any created being.) Our topic today is God’s holiness. People have all heard and learned something about God’s righteous disposition. Furthermore, many people often talk about God’s holiness and God’s righteous disposition in the same breath; they say that God’s righteous disposition is holy. The word “holy” is certainly not unfamiliar to anyone—it is a commonly used word. But in regard to the meanings within that word, what expressions of God’s holiness are people able to see? What has God revealed that people can recognize? I am afraid this is something that no one knows. God’s disposition is righteous, but then if you take God’s righteous disposition and say that it is holy, that seems a little vague, a little garbled; why is this? You say God’s disposition is righteous, or you say His righteous disposition is holy, so in your hearts how do you characterize God’s holiness, how do you understand it? That is to say, what about what God has revealed, or what He has and is, would people recognize as holy? Have you thought about this before? What I have seen is that people often come out with commonly used words or have phrases that have been said over and over again, yet they do not even know what they are saying. That is just how everyone says it, and they say it habitually, so it becomes a set term for them. However, if they were to investigate and really study the details, they would find that they do not know what the real meaning is or what it refers to. Just like the word “holy,” no one knows exactly what aspect of God’s essence is being referred to in regard to His holiness that they speak of, and no one knows how to reconcile the word “holy” with God. People are confused in their hearts, and their recognition of God’s holiness is vague and unclear. As for how God is holy, no one is quite clear. Today we will fellowship on this topic in order to reconcile the word “holy” with God so that people can see the actual content of the essence of God’s holiness. This will prevent some people from habitually and carelessly using this word and saying things randomly when they do not know what they mean or whether they are correct and accurate. People have always spoken like this; you have, he has, and thus it has become a habit of speech. This inadvertently tarnishes such a term.
On the surface, the word “holy” seems very easy to understand, does it not? At the very least people believe the word “holy” to mean clean, unsoiled, sacred, and pure. There are also those who associate “holiness” with “love” in the hymn “Pure Love Without Blemish” which we sang just now. This is correct; this is one part of it. God’s love is part of His essence, but it is not the entirety of it. However, in people’s notions, they see the word and tend to associate it with things that they themselves view as pure and clean, or with things they personally think are unsoiled or unblemished. For example, some people said the lotus flower is clean, and that it blooms unblemished from dirty mud. So people began to apply the word “holy” to the lotus flower. Some people see fabricated love stories as holy, or they might view some fictional, awe-inspiring characters as holy. Furthermore, some consider people from the Bible, or others recorded in spiritual books—such as saints, apostles, or others who once followed God while He did His work—as having had spiritual experiences that were holy. These are all things that were conceived of by people; they are notions held by people. Why do people hold notions like this? The reason is very simple: It is because people live amongst corrupt disposition and dwell in a world of evil and filth. Everything they see, everything they touch, everything they experience is Satan’s evil and corruption as well as the scheming, infighting, and war that occur among people under the influence of Satan. Therefore, even when God performs His work in people, and even when He speaks to them and reveals His disposition and essence, they are not able to see or know God’s holiness and essence. People often say that God is holy, but they lack true understanding; they are just saying empty words. Because people live among filth and corruption and are in the domain of Satan, and they do not see the light, know nothing of positive matters, and furthermore, do not know the truth, no one truly knows what “holy” means. So, are there any holy things or holy people among this corrupt humanity? We can say with certainty: No, there are not, because only God’s essence is holy.
Last time, we fellowshiped about one aspect of how God’s essence is holy. This provided some inspiration for people to gain knowledge of God’s holiness, but it is not enough. It cannot sufficiently enable people to fully know God’s holiness, nor can it sufficiently enable them to understand that God’s holiness is unique. Furthermore, it cannot sufficiently enable people to understand the true meaning of holiness that is fully embodied in God. Therefore, it is necessary that we continue our fellowship on this subject. Last time, our fellowship addressed three topics, so we should now discuss the fourth. We will begin by reading from the Scriptures.
The Temptation of Satan
Mat 4:1–4 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He was afterward an hungered. And when the tempter came to Him, he said, If You be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But He answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.
These are the words with which the devil first tried to tempt the Lord Jesus. What is the content of what the devil said? (“If You be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.”) These words that the devil spoke are quite simple, but is there a problem with their essence? The devil said, “If You be the Son of God,” but in its heart, did it or did it not know that Jesus was the Son of God? Did it or did it not know that He was Christ? (It knew.) Then why did it say “If You be”? (It was trying to tempt God.) But what was its purpose in doing so? It said, “If You be the Son of God.” In its heart it knew that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, it was very clear about this in its heart, but despite knowing this, did it submit to Him and worship Him? (No.) What did it want to do? It wanted to use this method and these words to anger the Lord Jesus, and then fool Him into acting in line with its intentions. Was this not the meaning behind the devil’s words? In Satan’s heart, it clearly knew that this was the Lord Jesus Christ, but it said these words nonetheless. Is this not Satan’s nature? What is Satan’s nature? (To be sly, evil, and have no reverence for God.) What consequences would result from having no reverence for God? Was it not that it wanted to attack God? It wanted to use this method to attack God, and so it said: “If You be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread”; is this not Satan’s evil intention? What was it really trying to do? Its purpose is very obvious: It was trying to use this method to deny the position and identity of the Lord Jesus Christ. What Satan meant by those words is, “If You are the Son of God, turn these stones into bread. If You cannot do this, then You are not the Son of God, so You should not carry out Your work any longer.” Is this not so? It wanted to use this method to attack God, it wanted to dismantle and destroy God’s work; this is the malevolence of Satan. Its malevolence is a natural expression of its nature. Even though it knew the Lord Jesus Christ was the Son of God, the very incarnation of God Himself, it could not help but do this kind of thing, following closely behind God’s back, persistently attacking Him and going to great lengths to disrupt and sabotage God’s work.
Now, let us analyze this phrase that Satan spoke: “Command that these stones be made bread.” To turn stones into bread—does this mean anything? If there is food, why not eat it? Why is it necessary to turn stones into food? Can it be said there is no meaning here? Although He was fasting at the time, surely the Lord Jesus had food to eat? (He did.) So, here we can see the preposterousness of Satan’s words. For all Satan’s treachery and malice, we can still see its preposterousness and absurdity. Satan does a number of things through which you can see its malicious nature; you can see it doing things that sabotage God’s work, and seeing this, you feel that it is hateful and infuriating. But, on the other hand, do you not see a childish, ridiculous nature behind its words and actions? This is a revelation about Satan’s nature; since it has this kind of nature, it will do this kind of thing. To people today, these words of Satan are preposterous and laughable. But Satan is indeed capable of uttering such words. Can we say that it is ignorant and absurd? Satan’s evil is everywhere and it is constantly being revealed. And how did the Lord Jesus answer it? (“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”) Do these words have any power? (They do.) Why do we say that they have power? It is because these words are the truth. Now, does man live by bread alone? The Lord Jesus fasted for forty days and nights. Did He starve to death? He did not starve to death, so Satan approached Him, prompting Him to turn the stones into food by saying things such as: “If You turn the stones into food, won’t You then have things to eat? Won’t You then not have to fast, not have to go hungry?” But the Lord Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone,” which means that, although man lives in a physical body, it is not food that allows his physical body to live and breathe, but each and every one of the words uttered from the mouth of God. On the one hand, these words are truth; they give people faith, making them feel that they can depend on God and that He is truth. On the other hand, is there a practical aspect to these words? Was the Lord Jesus not still standing, still alive after fasting for forty days and nights? Is this not a real example? He had not eaten any food for forty days and nights, and yet He was still alive. This is powerful evidence confirming the truth of His words. These words are simple, but for the Lord Jesus, did He speak them only when Satan tempted Him, or were they already naturally a part of Him? To put it another way, God is truth, and God is life, but were God’s truth and life a subsequent addition? Were they born of later experience? No—they are innate in God. That is to say, truth and life are God’s essence. Whatever happens to Him, all that He reveals is truth. This truth, these words—whether the content of His speech be long or short—can enable man to live and give man life; they can enable people to gain truth and clarity about the path of human life, and enable them to have faith in God. In other words, the source of God’s use of these words is positive. So can we say that this positive thing is holy? (Yes.) Those words of Satan come from Satan’s nature. Satan reveals its evil and malicious nature everywhere, constantly. Now, does Satan make these revelations naturally? Does anyone direct it to do this? Does anyone help it? Does anyone coerce it? No. All of these revelations, it makes of its own accord. This is Satan’s evil nature. Whatever God does and however He does it, Satan follows on His heels. The essence and the true nature of these things that Satan says and does are Satan’s essence—an essence that is evil and malicious. Now, as we read on, what else did Satan say? Let us read.
Mat 4:5–7 Then the devil takes Him up into the holy city, and sets Him on a pinnacle of the temple, And said to Him, If You be the Son of God, cast Yourself down: for it is written, He shall give His angels charge concerning you: and in their hands they shall bear you up, lest at any time you dash your foot against a stone. Jesus said to him, It is written again, You shall not tempt the Lord your God.
Let us first see the words that Satan spoke here. Satan said, “If You be the Son of God, cast Yourself down,” and then it quoted from the Scriptures: “He shall give His angels charge concerning you: and in their hands they shall bear you up, lest at any time you dash your foot against a stone.” How do you feel when you hear Satan’s words? Are they not very childish? They are childish, preposterous, and disgusting. Why do I say this? Satan often does foolish things, and it believes itself to be very clever. It often quotes from the Scriptures—even the very words spoken by God—trying to turn these words against God to attack Him and to tempt Him in an attempt to achieve its objective of sabotaging God’s plan of work. Are you able to see anything in these words spoken by Satan? (Satan harbors evil intentions.) In all that Satan does, it has always sought to tempt mankind. Satan does not speak straightforwardly, but in a roundabout way using temptation, beguilement, and seduction. Satan approaches its temptation of God as though He were an ordinary human being, believing that God is also ignorant, foolish, and unable to clearly distinguish the true form of things, just as man is unable to. Satan thinks that God and man alike are unable to see through its essence and its deceit and sinister intent. Is this not what Satan’s foolishness is? Furthermore, Satan overtly quotes from the Scriptures, believing that doing so lends it credibility, and that you will be unable to pick out any flaws in its words or to avoid being fooled. Is this not Satan’s absurdity and childishness? This is just like when people spread the gospel and bear witness to God: Will not nonbelievers sometimes say something similar to what Satan said? Have you heard people say something similar? How do you feel when you hear such things? Do you feel disgusted? (Yes.) When you feel disgusted, do you also feel aversion and hate? When you have these feelings are you able to recognize that Satan and the corrupt disposition Satan works into man are wicked? In your hearts, do you ever have this realization: “When Satan speaks, it does so as an attack and a temptation; Satan’s words are absurd, laughable, childish, and disgusting; however, God would never speak or work in such a way, and indeed He has never done so”? Of course, in this situation people are only able to faintly sense it, and remain unable to grasp God’s holiness. With your current stature, you merely feel that: “Everything God says is the truth, is beneficial to us, and we must accept it.” Regardless of whether you are able to accept this or not, you say without exception that God’s word is truth and that God is truth, but you do not know that truth itself is holy and that God is holy.
So, what was Jesus’ response to these words of Satan? Jesus said to it: “It is written again, You shall not tempt the Lord your God.” Is there truth in these words that Jesus said? There is definitely truth in them. On the surface, these words are a commandment for people to follow, a simple phrase, yet nonetheless, both man and Satan have often offended these words. So, the Lord Jesus said to Satan, “You shall not tempt the Lord your God,” because this is what Satan often did, taking pains as it went about it. It could be said that Satan did this brazenly and without shame. It is in Satan’s nature and essence to not fear God and to not have reverence for God in its heart. Even when Satan stood beside God and could see Him, it could not help itself but to tempt God. Therefore, the Lord Jesus said to Satan, “You shall not tempt the Lord your God.” These are words that God has often said to Satan. So, is it appropriate for this phrase to be applied in the present day? (Yes, as we also often tempt God.) Why do people often tempt God? Is it because people are full of corrupt satanic disposition? (Yes.) So are the words of Satan above something people often say? And in what situations do people say these words? One could say that people have been saying things like this irrespective of time and place. This proves that the disposition of people is no different from the corrupt disposition of Satan. The Lord Jesus said a few simple words, words that represent truth, words that people need. However, in this situation, was the Lord Jesus speaking in such a way as to argue with Satan? Was there anything confrontational in what He said to Satan? (No.) How did the Lord Jesus feel about Satan’s temptation in His heart? Did He feel disgusted and repulsed? The Lord Jesus felt repulsed and disgusted, and yet He did not argue with Satan, and much less did He speak about any grand principles. Why is that? (Because Satan is always like this; it can never change.) Could it be said that Satan is impervious to reason? (Yes.) Can Satan recognize that God is truth? Satan will never recognize that God is truth and will never admit that God is truth; this is its nature. There is yet another aspect of Satan’s nature that is repulsive. What is it? In its efforts to tempt the Lord Jesus, Satan thought that even if it was unsuccessful, it would nonetheless still try to do so. Even though it would be punished, it chose to try anyway. Even though it would gain no advantage out of doing so, it would try nonetheless, persisting in its efforts and standing against God until the very end. What sort of nature is this? Is it not evil? If a man becomes infuriated and flies into a rage when God is mentioned, has he seen God? Does he know who God is? He does not know who God is, does not believe in Him, and God has not spoken to him. God has never troubled him, so why would he be angry? Could we say that this person is evil? Worldly trends, eating, drinking, and pleasure-seeking, and chasing celebrities—none of these things would bother such a man. However, at the very mention of the word “God,” or of the truth of God’s words, he flies into a rage. Does this not constitute having an evil nature? This is sufficient to prove that this is man’s evil nature. Now, speaking for yourselves, are there times when truth is mentioned, or when God’s trials of mankind or God’s words of judgment against man are mentioned, you feel an aversion; you feel repulsed, and you do not want to hear such things? Your heart may think: “Don’t people all say that God is truth? Some of these words are not truth! They are clearly just God’s words of admonishment toward man!” Some people might even feel a strong aversion in their hearts, and think: “This is spoken about every day—His trials, His judgment, when will it end? When will we receive the good destination?” It is not known where this unreasonable anger comes from. What sort of nature is this? (Evil nature.) It is directed and guided by the evil nature of Satan. From God’s perspective, with regard to the evil nature of Satan and the corrupt disposition of man, He never argues or holds grudges against people, and He never makes a fuss when people act foolishly. You will never see God hold similar views on things to human beings, and moreover you will not see Him use mankind’s viewpoints, knowledge, science, philosophy or imagination to handle matters. Rather, everything God does and everything He reveals is connected to truth. That is, every word He has said and every action He has taken is bound to the truth. This truth is not the product of some baseless fantasy; this truth and these words are expressed by God by virtue of His essence and His life. Because these words and the essence of everything God has done are truth, we can say that God’s essence is holy. In other words, everything God says and does brings vitality and light to people, enables people to see positive things and the reality of those positive things, and points the way for humanity so that they may walk the right path. These things are all determined by God’s essence and by the essence of His holiness. You see this now, do you not? Now, we will continue with another reading from the Scriptures.
Mat 4:8–11 Again, the devil takes Him up into an exceeding high mountain, and shows Him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And said to Him, All these things will I give You, if You will fall down and worship me. Then said Jesus to him, Get you hence, Satan: for it is written, You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve. Then the devil leaves Him, and, behold, angels came and ministered to Him.
The devil Satan, having failed at its previous two ploys, tried yet another: It showed all the kingdoms in the world and their glory to the Lord Jesus and asked Him to worship it. What can you see about the true features of the devil from this situation? Is the devil Satan not absolutely shameless? (Yes.) How is it shameless? All things were created by God, and yet Satan turned around and showed all things to God, saying, “Look at the wealth and glory of all of these kingdoms. If You worship me I’ll give them all to You.” Is this not a complete role reversal? Is Satan not shameless? God made all things, but did He make all things for His own enjoyment? God gave everything to mankind, but Satan wanted to seize it all and having seized it all, it told God, “Worship me! Worship me and I’ll give this all to You.” This is the ugly face of Satan; it is absolutely shameless! Satan does not even know the meaning of the word “shame.” This is just another example of its evil. It does not even know what shame is. Satan clearly knows that God created all things and that He manages and has dominion over all things. All things belong not to man, and much less to Satan, but to God, and yet the devil Satan brazenly said that it would give all things to God. Is this not another example of Satan once again acting absurdly and shamelessly? This causes God to hate Satan even more, does it not? Yet no matter what Satan tried, was the Lord Jesus fooled? What did the Lord Jesus say? (“You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve.”) Do these words have a practical meaning? (Yes.) What sort of practical meaning? We see Satan’s evil and shamelessness in its speech. So if man worshiped Satan, what would be the outcome? Would they obtain the wealth and glory of all of the kingdoms? (No.) What would they obtain? Would mankind become just as shameless and laughable as Satan? (Yes.) They would be no different from Satan then. Therefore, the Lord Jesus said these words, which are important for each and every human being: “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve.” This means that except for the Lord, except for God Himself, if you served another, if you worshiped the devil Satan, then you would wallow in the same filth as Satan. You would then share Satan’s shamelessness and its evil, and just like Satan you would tempt God and attack God. Then what would the outcome be for you? You would be loathed by God, struck down by God, destroyed by God. After Satan had tempted the Lord Jesus several times without success, did it try again? Satan did not try again and then it left. What does this prove? It proves that Satan’s evil nature, its malice, and its absurdity and preposterousness are not worth even mentioning in the face of God. The Lord Jesus defeated Satan with only three sentences, after which it scurried away with its tail between its legs, too ashamed to show its face, and it never again tempted the Lord Jesus. Since the Lord Jesus had defeated this temptation of Satan, He could now easily continue the work that He had to do and the tasks that lay before Him. Would everything that the Lord Jesus did and said in this situation carry any practical meaning for each and every human being if it were applied to the present day? (Yes.) What sort of practical meaning? Is defeating Satan an easy thing to do? Must people have a clear understanding of Satan’s evil nature? Must people have an accurate understanding of Satan’s temptations? (Yes.) When you experience Satan’s temptations in your own life, if you were able to see through to Satan’s evil nature, would you not be able to defeat it? If you knew about Satan’s absurdity and preposterousness, would you still stand on Satan’s side and attack God? If you understood how Satan’s malice and shamelessness are being revealed through you—if you clearly recognized and understood these things—would you still attack and tempt God in this way? (No, we would not.) What would you do? (We would rebel against Satan and cast it aside.) Is that an easy thing to do? It is not easy. To do this, people must frequently pray, they must often place themselves before God and examine themselves. And they must let God’s discipline and His judgment and chastisement come upon them. Only in this way will people gradually extricate themselves from Satan’s deception and control.
Now, by looking at all of these words spoken by Satan, we will summarize the things that make up the essence of Satan. Firstly, Satan’s essence can generally be said to be evil, in contrast to the holiness of God. Why do I say that Satan’s essence is evil? To answer this question, one must examine the consequences of what Satan does to people. Satan corrupts and controls man, and man acts under the corrupt disposition of Satan, and lives in a world of people corrupted by Satan. Mankind is unwittingly possessed and assimilated by Satan; man therefore has the corrupt disposition of Satan, which is Satan’s nature. From everything Satan has said and done, have you seen its arrogance? Have you seen its deceit and malice? How is Satan’s arrogance primarily displayed? Does Satan always harbor the desire to occupy God’s position? Satan always wants to tear down God’s work, and God’s position and take it for itself so that people will follow, support, and worship Satan; this is the arrogant nature of Satan. When Satan corrupts people, does it directly tell them what they should do? When Satan tempts God, does it come out and say, “I am tempting You, I am going to attack You”? It absolutely does not. So what method does Satan use? It seduces, tempts, attacks, and sets traps, and even quotes from the Scriptures. Satan speaks and acts in various ways to achieve its sinister objectives and fulfill its intentions. After Satan has done this, what can be seen from what is manifested in man? Do people not also become arrogant? Man has suffered from Satan’s corruption for thousands of years and so man has become arrogant, deceitful, malicious, and beyond reason. All of these things are brought about due to Satan’s nature. Since Satan’s nature is evil, it has given man this evil nature and brought to man this evil, corrupt disposition. Therefore, man lives under the corrupt satanic disposition and, like Satan, resists God, attacks God, and tempts Him, such that man cannot worship God and does not have a heart that reveres Him.
Five Ways in Which Satan Corrupts Man
Regarding God’s holiness, even though it may be a familiar topic, it is a topic which, when spoken about, might become a bit abstract for some people and be a bit profound and beyond their reach. But there is no need to be anxious. I will help you to understand what God’s holiness is. To understand what kind of person someone is, look at what they do and the outcomes of their actions, and then you will be able to see the essence of that person. Could it be put in this way? (Yes.) Then, let us first fellowship on God’s holiness from this perspective. It can be said that Satan’s essence is evil, and so Satan’s actions toward man have been to ceaselessly corrupt them. Satan is evil, so the people it has corrupted are certainly evil. Would anyone say, “Satan is evil, but perhaps someone it corrupted is holy”? That would be a joke, would it not? Could such a thing be possible? (No.) Satan is evil, and contained within its evil there is both an essential and a practical side. This is not just empty talk. We are not trying to smear Satan; we are merely fellowshiping about truth and reality. Fellowshiping on the reality of this topic might hurt some people or a certain subsection of people, but there is no malicious intent; perhaps you will hear this today and feel a bit uncomfortable, but someday soon, when you are able to recognize it, you will despise yourselves, and you will feel that what I talk about today is very useful to you and very valuable. The essence of Satan is evil, so could we say that the results of Satan’s actions are inevitably evil, or at the very least, are bound to its evil? (Yes.) So how does Satan go about corrupting man? Of the evil that Satan does in the world and among humanity, which specific aspects of it are visible and perceptible to people? Have you ever thought about this before? You might not have given it much thought, so let Me bring up several main points. Everyone knows about the theory of evolution that Satan proposes, right? This is an area of knowledge studied by man, is it not? (Yes.) So, Satan first uses knowledge to corrupt man and uses its own satanic methods to impart knowledge to them. Then it uses science to corrupt man, arousing their interest in knowledge, science, mysterious matters or in matters people desire to explore. The next things Satan uses to corrupt man are traditional culture and superstition, and following that, social trends. These are all things that people encounter in their daily lives, and all exist in close proximity to people; they are all connected to the things they see, things they hear, things they touch, and things they experience. One could say that each and every human being lives their life surrounded by these things, unable to escape or free themselves of them even if they wanted to. In the face of these things, mankind is helpless, and all that man can do is to be influenced, infected, controlled and bound by them; man is powerless to free himself from them.
a. How Satan Uses Knowledge to Corrupt Man
First, we will talk about knowledge. Is knowledge something that everyone considers to be a positive thing? At the very least, people think that the connotation of the word “knowledge” is positive rather than negative. So why are we mentioning here that Satan uses knowledge to corrupt man? Is the theory of evolution not an aspect of knowledge? Are Newton’s scientific laws not a part of knowledge? The gravitational pull of the earth is also a part of knowledge, is it not? (Yes.) So why is knowledge listed among the things that Satan uses to corrupt mankind? What is your view on this? Does knowledge have even a shred of truth in it? (No.) Then what is the essence of knowledge? On what basis is all the knowledge that man acquires learned? Is it based on the theory of evolution? Is not the knowledge that man has gained through exploration and summation based on atheism? Does any of this knowledge have a connection to God? Is it connected with worshiping God? Is it connected to truth? (No.) So how does Satan use knowledge to corrupt man? I just said that none of this knowledge is connected with worshiping God or with truth. Some people think about it like this: “Knowledge might not have anything to do with truth, but still, it doesn’t corrupt people.” What is your view on this? Were you taught by knowledge that a person’s happiness must be created with their own two hands? Did knowledge teach you that man’s fate was in his own hands? (Yes.) What kind of talk is this? (It is devilish talk.) Absolutely right! It is devilish talk! Knowledge is a complicated subject to discuss. You may state simply that a field of knowledge is nothing more than knowledge. That is a field of knowledge that is learned on the basis of not worshiping God and on not understanding that God created all things. When people study this type of knowledge, they do not see God having sovereignty over all things; they do not see God being in charge of or managing all things. Instead, all they do is endlessly research and explore that area of knowledge, and seek out answers based on knowledge. However, is it not true that if people do not believe in God and instead only pursue research, they will never find the true answers? All that knowledge can give you is a livelihood, a job, income so that you do not go hungry; but it will never make you worship God, and it will never keep you far from evil. The more people study knowledge, the more they will desire to rebel against God, to subject God to their studies, to tempt God, and to resist God. So, what do we now see that knowledge is teaching people? It is all the philosophy of Satan. Do the philosophies and rules of survival spread by Satan among corrupt men have any relation to truth? They have nothing to do with truth and, in fact, are the opposite of the truth. People often say, “Life is motion” and “Man is iron, rice is steel, man feels famished if he skips a meal”; what are these sayings? They are fallacies, and hearing them causes a feeling of disgust. In man’s so-called knowledge, Satan has imbued quite a bit of its philosophy for living and its thinking. And as Satan does this, it allows man to adopt its thinking, philosophy, and points of view so that man may deny the existence of God, deny God’s dominion over all things and over man’s fate. So as man’s studies progress and he gains more knowledge, he feels the existence of God become vague, and might even no longer feel that God exists. Because Satan has instilled certain thoughts, views, and notions in man, once Satan has instilled this venom inside man, is man not duped and corrupted by Satan? So what would you say the people of today live by? Do they not live by the knowledge and thoughts instilled by Satan? And the things hidden inside this knowledge and thoughts—are they not the philosophies and venom of Satan? Man lives by the philosophies and venom of Satan. And what lies at the core of Satan’s corruption of man? Satan wants to make man deny, oppose, and stand against God like it does; this is Satan’s goal in corrupting man, and also the means by which Satan corrupts man.
We will start by addressing the most superficial aspect of knowledge. Are the grammar and words in languages able to corrupt people? Can words corrupt people? Words do not corrupt people; they are a tool that people use to speak and they are also the tool with which people communicate with God, not to mention that at present, language and words are how God communicates with people. They are tools, and they are a necessity. One plus one equals two, and two multiplied by two equals four; is this not knowledge? But can this corrupt you? This is common knowledge—it is a fixed pattern—and so it cannot corrupt people. So what type of knowledge does corrupt people? Corrupting knowledge is knowledge that is intermingled with Satan’s viewpoints and thoughts. Satan seeks to inculcate these viewpoints and thoughts into humanity through the medium of knowledge. For example, in an article, there is nothing wrong with the written words in themselves. The problem lies with the viewpoints and intent of the author when they wrote the article, as well as the content of their thoughts. These are things of the spirit, and they are able to corrupt people. For example, if you were watching a television show, what sort of things in it could change people’s view? Would what the performers said, the words themselves, be able to corrupt people? (No.) What sort of things would corrupt people? It would be the core thoughts and content of the show, which would represent the director’s views. The information carried in these views could sway people’s hearts and minds. Is that not so? Now you know what I am referring to in My discussion of Satan using knowledge to corrupt people. You will not misunderstand, will you? So the next time you read a novel or an article, will you be able to evaluate whether or not the thoughts expressed in the written words corrupt mankind or contribute to humanity? (Yes, to a small extent.) This is something that must be studied and experienced at a slow pace, and it is not something that is easily understood right away. For example, when researching or studying an area of knowledge, some positive aspects of that knowledge may help you to understand some general knowledge about that field, while also enabling you to know what people should avoid. For example, take “electricity”—this is a field of knowledge, is it not? Would you not be ignorant if you did not know that electricity can shock and hurt people? But once you understand this field of knowledge, you will not be careless about touching objects with electrical currents, and you will know how to use electricity. These are both positive things. Are you now clear on what we have been discussing in terms of how knowledge corrupts people? There are many types of knowledge studied in the world, and you must take your time to differentiate them for yourselves.
b. How Satan Uses Science to Corrupt Man
What is science? Is not science held in high prestige in the mind of each and every human and considered profound? When science is mentioned, do people not feel: “This is something beyond the reach of ordinary people; this is a topic that only scientific researchers or experts can touch; it has nothing to do with us regular folks”? Does it have any connection to ordinary people? (Yes.) How does Satan use science to corrupt people? In our discussion here, we will talk only about the things that people frequently encounter in their own lives, and disregard other matters. There is a word “genes.” Have you heard of it? You are all familiar with this term. Were genes not discovered through science? What exactly do genes mean to people? Do they not make people feel that the body is a mysterious thing? When people are introduced to this topic, will there not be some people—especially the curious—who will want to know more and want more details? These curious people will focus their energy on this subject and when they do not have other things to do, they will search for information in books and on the internet to learn more details about it. What is science? To speak plainly, science is the thoughts and theories of things that man is curious about, things that are unknown, and not told to them by God; science is the thoughts and theories about the mysteries that man wants to explore. What is the scope of science? You could say that it is rather broad; man researches and studies everything in which he is interested. Science involves researching the details and the laws of these things and then putting forth plausible theories which cause everyone to think: “These scientists are really terrific! They know so much, enough to understand these things!” They have so much admiration for scientists, do they not? People that research science, what sort of views do they hold? Do they not want to research the universe, to research the mysterious things in their area of interest? What is the final outcome of this? In some of the sciences, people draw their conclusions by conjecture, and in others they rely on human experience to draw conclusions. In yet other fields of science, people come to their conclusions based on historical and background observations. Is this not so? So what does science do for people? What science does is merely to allow people to see the objects in the physical world, and to satisfy man’s curiosity, but it cannot enable man to see the laws by which God has dominion over all things. Man seems to find answers in science, but those answers are puzzling and bring only temporary satisfaction, a satisfaction that only serves to confine the heart of man to the material world. Man feels that they have received answers from science, so whatever issue arises, they use their scientific views as a basis to prove and accept that issue. Man’s heart becomes seduced by science and possessed by it to the point that man no longer has the mind to know God, worship God and believe that all things come from God and that man should look to Him for answers. Is this not so? The more a person believes in science, the more absurd they become, believing that everything has a scientific solution, that research can solve anything. They do not seek God and they do not believe He exists. There are many long-term believers in God who, when faced with any problem, will use a computer to look things up and search for answers; they believe only in scientific knowledge. They do not believe that God’s words are the truth, they do not believe that God’s words can solve all of mankind’s problems, they do not view mankind’s myriad problems from the perspective of the truth. No matter what problem they encounter, they never pray to God or seek a resolution by searching for the truth in God’s words. In many matters, they’d prefer to believe that knowledge can solve the problem; for them, science is the ultimate answer. God is totally absent from such people’s hearts. They are nonbelievers, and their views on belief in God are no different from those of many distinguished academics and scientists, who are always trying to examine God using scientific methods. For example, there are many religious experts who have gone to the mountain where the ark came to rest, and thus they proved the existence of the ark. But in the appearance of the ark they do not see the existence of God. They believe only in the stories and the history; this is the result of their scientific research and study of the material world. If you research material things, whether it be microbiology, astronomy, or geography, you will never find a result that determines that God exists or that He has sovereignty over all things. So what does science do for man? Does it not distance man from God? Does it not cause people to subject God to studies? Does it not make people more doubtful of God’s existence and sovereignty, and thus deny and betray God? This is the consequence. So when Satan uses science to corrupt man, what aim is Satan trying to achieve? It wants to use scientific conclusions to deceive people and make them numb, and use ambiguous answers to hold on to people’s hearts so that they will not seek out or believe in God’s existence. So this is why I say that science is one of the ways in which Satan corrupts people.
c. How Satan Uses Traditional Culture to Corrupt Man
Are there or are there not many things that are considered part of traditional culture? (There are.) What does this “traditional culture” mean? Some say it is passed down from the ancestors—this is one aspect. From the beginning, ways of life, customs, sayings and rules have been passed down within families, ethnic groups and even the entire human race, and they have become instilled in people’s thoughts. People consider them an indispensable part of their lives and regard them as rules, observing them as though they were life itself. Indeed, they never want to change or abandon these things, because they were passed down from their ancestors. There are other aspects of traditional culture which are ingrained into people’s very bones, like the things that were passed down from Confucius and Mencius, and the things taught to people by Chinese Taoism and Confucianism. Is this not so? What things are included in traditional culture? Does it include the holidays people celebrate? For example: the Spring Festival, the Lantern Festival, Tomb Sweeping Day, the Dragon Boat Festival, as well as the Ghost Festival and Mid-Autumn Festival. Some families even celebrate the days when seniors achieve a certain age, or when children reach one month or one hundred days of age. And so on. These are all traditional holidays. Is there not traditional culture underlying these holidays? What is the core of traditional culture? Does it have anything to do with worshiping God? Does it have anything to do with telling people to practice the truth? Are there any holidays for people to offer sacrifice to God, go to God’s altar and receive His teachings? Are there holidays like this? (No.) What do people do on all of these holidays? In modern times they are seen as occasions for eating, drinking, and fun. What is the source underlying traditional culture? Who does traditional culture come from? It comes from Satan. Behind the scenes of these traditional holidays, Satan instills certain things in man. What are these things? Ensuring that people remember their ancestors—is that one of them? For example, during Tomb Sweeping Day, people tidy up graves and offer sacrifices to their ancestors, so as not to forget their ancestors. Also, Satan ensures that people remember to be patriotic, of which an example is the Dragon Boat Festival. What about the Mid-Autumn Festival? (Family reunions.) What is the background of family reunions? What is the reason for it? It is to communicate and connect emotionally. Of course, whether it be celebrating Lunar New Year’s Eve or the Lantern Festival, there are many ways of describing the reasons behind these celebrations. However one describes those reasons, each one is Satan’s way of instilling its philosophy and its thinking in people, so that they will stray from God and not know there is God, and offer sacrifices either to their ancestors or to Satan, or eat, drink, and have fun for the sake of desires of the flesh. As each of these holidays is celebrated, Satan’s thoughts and views are planted deep within the minds of the people without their knowing. When people reach their forties, fifties or even older ages, these thoughts and viewpoints of Satan are already deeply rooted in their hearts. Moreover, people do their utmost to transmit these ideas, whether right or wrong, down to the next generation, indiscriminately and without reservation. Is not this so? (Yes.) How do traditional culture and these holidays corrupt people? Do you know? (People become constrained and bound by the rules of these traditions, such that they have no time or energy to seek God.) This is one aspect. For example, everyone celebrates during Lunar New Year—if you did not celebrate it, would you not feel sad? Are there any superstitions that you hold in your heart? Might you feel, “I didn’t celebrate the New Year, and since Lunar New Year’s day was a bad day, won’t the whole of the rest of the year also be bad”? Would you not feel ill at ease and a bit afraid? There are even some people who have not made sacrifices to their ancestors in years and who suddenly have a dream in which a deceased person asks them for money. What would they feel? “How sad that this person now gone needs money to spend! I’ll burn some paper money for them. If I don’t, that just wouldn’t be right. It might cause trouble for us living people—who can say when misfortune will strike?” They will always have this little cloud of fear and worry in their hearts. Who gives them this worry? Satan is the source of this worry. Is this not one of the ways that Satan corrupts man? It uses different means and pretexts to control you, to threaten you, and to bind you, so that you fall into a daze and yield and submit to it; this is how Satan corrupts man. Often when people are weak or when they are not fully aware of the situation, they may inadvertently do something in a muddle-headed way; that is, they inadvertently fall into Satan’s grasp and might act unwittingly, might do things without knowing what they are doing. This is the way Satan corrupts man. There are even quite a few people now who are reluctant to part with deep-rooted traditional culture, who just cannot give it up. It is especially when they are weak and passive that they wish to celebrate these kinds of holidays and they wish to meet Satan and satisfy Satan again, to bring comfort to their hearts. What is the background to the traditional culture? Is the black hand of Satan pulling the strings behind the scenes? Is Satan’s evil nature manipulating and controlling? Does Satan hold sway over all of this? (Yes.) When people live in a traditional culture and celebrate these kinds of traditional holidays, could we say that this is an environment in which they are being fooled and corrupted by Satan, and moreover that they are happy to be fooled and corrupted by Satan? (Yes.) This is something you all acknowledge, something that you know about.
d. How Satan Uses Superstition to Corrupt Man
You are familiar with the term “superstition,” yes? There are some links between superstition and traditional culture, but we will not talk about those today. Rather, I will discuss the most commonly encountered forms of superstition: divination, fortune-telling, burning incense and worshiping Buddha. Some people practice divination, others worship Buddha and burn incense, while others have their fortunes read or have someone read their facial features and tell their fortunes in this way. How many of you have had your fortunes told or had a face-reading? This is something most people are interested in, is it not? (Yes.) Why? What sort of benefit do people gain from fortune-telling and divination? What kind of satisfaction do they gain from it? (Curiosity.) Is it just curiosity? That is not necessarily it, as I see it. What is the goal of divination and fortune-telling? Why is it done? Is it not to see the future? Some people have their face read to predict the future, others do it to see whether or not they will have good luck. Some people do it to see what their marriage will be like, and yet others do it to see what fortune the year ahead will bring. Some people have their face read to see what their prospects and those of their sons or daughters will be, and some business people do it to see how much money they will make, seeking the guidance of the face-reader about what actions they should take. So, is this done just to satisfy curiosity? When people have their face read or do these sorts of things, it is for their own future personal benefit; they believe that all of this is closely connected with their own fate. Is any of this useful? (No.) Why is it not useful? Is it not a good thing to gain some knowledge through these things? These practices may help you know when trouble may strike, and if you learn about these troubles before they happen, could you not avoid them? If you have your fortune told, it might show you how to find the right path out of the maze, so that you may enjoy good luck in the year ahead and come into great wealth through your business. So, is it or is it not useful? Whether it is useful or not has no connection with us, and our fellowship today will not involve this topic. How does Satan use superstition to corrupt man? People all want to know their fate, so Satan takes advantage of their curiosity to entice them. People engage in divination, fortune-telling, and face-reading in order to learn what will happen to them in the future and what sort of road lies ahead. In the end, though, in whose hands are the fate and prospects with which people are so concerned? (In God’s hands.) All of these things are in God’s hands. In using these methods, what does Satan want people to know? Satan wants to use face-reading and fortune-telling to tell people that it knows their future fortunes, and that it not only knows these things but is also in control of them. Satan wants to take advantage of this opportunity and use these methods to control people, such that people put blind faith in it and obey its every word. For example, if you have a face-reading done, if the fortune-teller closes his eyes and tells you everything that has happened to you in the last few decades with perfect clarity, how would you feel inside? You would immediately feel, “He’s so accurate! I’ve never told my past to anyone before, how did he know about it? I really admire this fortune-teller!” For Satan, is it not too easy to know about your past? God has led you to where you are today, and all the while Satan has been corrupting people and following you. The passage of decades of your life is nothing to Satan and it is not difficult for Satan to know these things. When you learn that all that Satan says is accurate, are you not giving your heart over to it? Are you not depending on it to take control of your future and your fortunes? In an instant, your heart will feel some respect or reverence for it, and for some people, their souls may already be snatched away by it at this point. And you will immediately ask the fortune-teller: “What should I do next? What should I avoid in the coming year? What things must I not do?” And then, he will say, “You must not go there, you must not do this, do not wear clothes of a certain color, you should go to certain places less, do certain things more….” Will you not take everything he says immediately to heart? You would memorize his words faster than the words of God. Why would you memorize them so quickly? Because you would want to rely on Satan for good luck. Is this not when it seizes your heart? When its predictions come true, one after the other, would you not want to go right back to it to find out what fortune the next year will bring? (Yes.) You would do whatever Satan tells you to do and you would avoid the things it says to avoid. In this way, are you not obeying everything it says? Very quickly, you will fall into its embrace, be deceived, and come under its control. This happens because you believe what it says is the truth and because you believe that it knows about your past lives, your life now, and what the future will bring. This is the method Satan uses to control people. But in reality, who is really in control? God Himself is in control, not Satan. Satan is just using its clever ploys in this case to trick ignorant people, trick people who only see the material world, into believing and relying on it. Then, they fall into Satan’s grasp and obey its every word. But does Satan ever loosen its grip when people want to believe in and follow God? Satan does not. In this situation, are people really falling into Satan’s grasp? (Yes.) Could we say that Satan’s behavior in this regard is shameless? (Yes.) Why would we say that? Because these are fraudulent and deceitful tactics. Satan is shameless and misleads people into thinking it controls everything about them and that it controls their very fate. This causes ignorant people to obey it completely. They are fooled with just a few words. In their daze, people bow down before it. So, what sort of methods does Satan use, what does it say to cause you to believe in it? For example, you might not have told Satan how many people are in your family, but it might still be able to tell you how many people there are, and the ages of your parents and children. Though you might have had your suspicions and doubts about Satan before this, after hearing it say these things, would you not then feel it is a little more believable? Satan might then say how difficult work has been for you recently, that your superiors do not give you the recognition you deserve and are always working against you, and so on. After hearing that, you would think, “That’s exactly right! Things haven’t been going smoothly at work.” So you would believe Satan a bit more. Then it would say something else to deceive you, making you believe it even more. Little by little, you would find yourself unable to resist or remain suspicious of it anymore. Satan merely uses a few trivial tricks, even trifling little tricks, and in this way confounds you. As you become confounded, you will be unable to establish your bearings, you will be at a loss as to what to do, and you will begin to follow what Satan says. This is the “brilliant” method Satan uses to corrupt man, which causes you to unwittingly fall into its trap and be seduced by it. Satan tells you a few things that people imagine to be good, and then it tells you what to do and what to avoid. This is how you are unwittingly tricked. Once you have fallen for it, things will get sticky for you; you will constantly be thinking about what Satan said and what it told you to do, and you will unknowingly be possessed by it. Why is this? It is because mankind lacks the truth and so is unable to stand firm and resist Satan’s seduction and temptation. Faced with Satan’s evil and its deceit, treachery, and malice, mankind is so ignorant, immature and weak, is it not? Is this not one of the ways Satan corrupts man? (Yes.) Man is unwittingly deceived and tricked, little by little, by Satan’s various methods, because they lack the ability to differentiate between the positive and the negative. They lack this stature, and the ability to triumph over Satan.
e. How Satan Uses Social Trends to Corrupt Man
When did social trends come into existence? Did they only come into being in the present day? One could say that social trends came to be when Satan started corrupting people. What do social trends include? (Styles of clothing and makeup.) These are things that people often come into contact with. Styles of clothing, fashion, and trends—these things make up one small aspect. Is there anything else? Do the popular phrases that people often come out with count too? Do the lifestyles that people desire count? Do the music stars, celebrities, magazines, and novels that people like count? (Yes.) In your minds, which aspect of social trends is able to corrupt man? Which of these trends is most alluring to you? Some people say: “We’ve all reached a certain age, we are in our fifties or sixties, our seventies or eighties, and we can’t fit in with these trends anymore and they don’t really hold our attention.” Is this correct? Others say: “We don’t follow celebrities, that’s something youngsters in their twenties do; we also don’t wear fashionable clothes, that’s something image-conscious people do.” So which of these is able to corrupt you? (Popular sayings.) Can these sayings corrupt people? I will give an example, and you can see whether or not it corrupts people: “Money makes the world go round”; is this a trend? Compared to the fashion and gourmet trends you mentioned, is this not much worse? “Money makes the world go round” is a philosophy of Satan. It prevails among the whole of mankind, in every human society; you could say it is a trend. This is because it has been instilled in the heart of every single person, who at first did not accept this saying, but then gave it tacit acceptance when they came into contact with real life, and began to feel that these words were in fact true. Is this not a process of Satan corrupting man? Perhaps people do not understand this saying to the same degree, but everyone has different degrees of interpretation and acknowledgment of this saying based on things that have happened around them and on their own personal experiences. Is that not the case? Regardless of how much experience someone has with this saying, what is the negative effect that it can have on someone’s heart? Something is revealed through the human disposition of the people in this world, including each and every one of you. What is it? It is the worship of money. Is it hard to remove this from someone’s heart? It is very hard! It seems that Satan’s corruption of man is deep indeed! Satan uses money to tempt people, and corrupts them into worshiping money and venerating material things. And how is this worship of money manifested in people? Do you feel that you could not survive in this world without any money, that even one day without money would be impossible? People’s status is based on how much money they have, as is the respect they command. The backs of the poor are bent in shame, while the rich enjoy their high status. They stand tall and proud, speaking loudly and living arrogantly. What does this saying and trend bring to people? Is it not true that many people make any sacrifice in the pursuit of money? Do many people not lose their dignity and integrity in the pursuit of more money? Do many people not lose the opportunity to perform their duty and follow God for the sake of money? Is losing the chance to gain the truth and be saved not the greatest of all losses for people? Is Satan not sinister to use this method and this saying to corrupt man to such a degree? Is this not a malicious trick? As you progress from objecting to this popular saying to finally accepting it as truth, your heart falls completely into Satan’s grasp, and therefore you inadvertently come to live by the saying. To what degree has this saying affected you? You might know the true way, and you might know the truth, but you are powerless to pursue it. You may clearly know that God’s words are the truth, but you are unwilling to pay the price or to suffer in order to gain the truth. Instead, you would rather sacrifice your own future and destiny to resist God to the very end. No matter what God says, no matter what God does, no matter whether you understand how deep and how great God’s love for you is, you would stubbornly insist on having your own way and pay the price for this saying. Which is to say, this saying has already tricked and controlled your thoughts, it has already governed your behavior, and you would rather let it rule your fate than set aside your pursuit of wealth. That people can act thus, that they can be controlled and manipulated by the words of Satan—does this not mean that they have been tricked and corrupted by Satan? Have the philosophy and mindset of Satan, and the disposition of Satan, not taken root in your heart? When you blindly pursue wealth, and abandon the pursuit of the truth, has Satan not achieved its aim of tricking you? This is exactly the case. So can you feel it when you are tricked and corrupted by Satan? You cannot. If you cannot see Satan standing right in front of you, or feel that it is Satan acting in the shadows, would you be able to see the wickedness of Satan? Could you know how Satan corrupts mankind? Satan corrupts man at all times and in all places. Satan makes it impossible for man to defend against this corruption and makes man helpless against it. Satan makes you accept its thoughts, its viewpoints and the evil things that come from it in situations where you are unknowing and when you have no recognition of what is happening to you. People accept these things and take no exception to them. They cherish and hold on to these things like a treasure, they let these things manipulate them and toy with them; this is how people live under the power of Satan, and unconsciously obey Satan, and Satan’s corruption of man grows ever deeper.
Satan uses these several methods to corrupt man. Man has knowledge and an understanding of some scientific principles, man lives under the influence of traditional culture, and every human is an inheritor and transmitter of traditional culture. Man is bound to carry on the traditional culture given to him by Satan, and man also conforms with the social trends Satan provides to mankind. Man is inseparable from Satan, conforming with all that Satan does at all times, accepting its evil, deceit, malice and arrogance. Once man came to possess these dispositions of Satan, has he been happy or sorrowful living among this corrupt mankind? (Sorrowful.) Why do you say that? (Because man is tied down and controlled by these corrupt things, he lives in sin and is engulfed in an arduous struggle.) Some people wear spectacles, appearing to be very intellectual; they might speak very respectably, with eloquence and reason, and because they have gone through many things, they might be very experienced and sophisticated. They might be able to speak in detail about matters great and small; they might also be able to assess the authenticity and reason of things. Some might look at the behavior and appearance of these people, as well as their character, humanity, conduct, and so on, and find no fault with them. Such people are particularly able to adapt to current social trends. Even though these people might be older, they never fall behind the trends of the times and are never too old to learn. On the surface, no one can find fault with such a person, yet right down to their inner essence they are utterly and completely corrupted by Satan. Though no external fault can be found with these people, though on the surface they are gentle, refined, and possess knowledge and a certain morality, and they have integrity, and though in terms of knowledge they are in no way inferior to young people, yet in regard to their nature and essence, such people are a full and living model of Satan; they are the spitting image of Satan. This is the “fruit” of Satan’s corruption of man. What I have said may be hurtful to you, but it is all true. The knowledge man studies, the science he understands, and the means he chooses by which he fits in with social trends are without exception tools of Satan’s corruption of man. This is absolutely true. Therefore, man lives within a disposition that is completely corrupted by Satan, and man has no way of knowing what God’s holiness is or what God’s essence is. This is because on the surface one cannot find fault with the ways Satan corrupts man; one cannot tell from someone’s behavior that anything is amiss. Everyone goes about their work normally and lives normal lives; they read books and newspapers normally, they study and speak normally. Some people have learned a few ethics and are good at talking, are understanding and friendly, are helpful and charitable, and do not pick petty quarrels or take advantage of people. However, their corrupt satanic disposition is rooted deep within them and this essence cannot be changed by relying on external effort. Because of this essence, man is not able to know God’s holiness, and despite the essence of God’s holiness being disclosed to man, man does not take it seriously. This is because Satan has, through various means, already come to completely possess man’s feelings, ideas, viewpoints and thoughts. This possession and corruption is not temporary or occasional, but is present everywhere and at all times. Thus, a great many people who have believed in God for three or four years, or even five or six, still take these evil thoughts, views, logic, and philosophies that Satan has instilled in them as treasures, and are unable to let go of them. Because man has accepted the evil, arrogant and malicious things that come from the nature of Satan, inevitably in man’s interpersonal relationships there are often conflicts, arguments and incompatibility, which come about as a result of Satan’s arrogant nature. If Satan had given mankind positive things—for example, if the Confucianism and Taoism of traditional culture that man has accepted were good things—similar types of people should be able to get along with one another after accepting those things. So why is there such a great divide between people who have accepted the same things? Why is that? It is because these things come from Satan and Satan creates division among people. The things from Satan, no matter how dignified or great they appear on the surface, bring to man and bring out in man’s life only arrogance, and nothing more than the deceit of Satan’s evil nature. Is that not so? Someone who is able to disguise themselves, who possesses a wealth of knowledge or who has a good upbringing would still have a hard time concealing their corrupt satanic disposition. That is to say, no matter how many ways this person cloaked themselves, whether you thought of them as a saint, or if you thought they were perfect, or if you thought they were an angel, no matter how pure you thought they were, what is their real life like behind the scenes? What essence would you see in the revelation of their disposition? Without a doubt you would see the evil nature of Satan. Is it admissible to say that? (Yes.) For example, suppose you know someone close to you who you thought of as a good person, perhaps someone you idolized. With your current stature, what do you think of them? First, you evaluate whether or not this type of person has humanity, whether they are honest, whether they have true love for people, whether their words and actions benefit and help others. (They do not.) What is the so-called kindness, love or goodness that these people reveal? It is all false, it is all a facade. Behind this facade there is an ulterior evil purpose: to make that person adored and idolized. Do you see this clearly? (Yes.)
What do the methods Satan uses to corrupt people bring to mankind? Do they bring anything positive? Firstly, can man differentiate between good and evil? Would you say that in this world, whether it be some famous or great person, or some magazine or other publication, are the standards they use to judge whether something is good or evil, and right or wrong, accurate? Are their assessments of events and people fair? Do they contain truth? Does this world, this humanity, assess positive and negative things based on the standard of truth? (No.) Why do people not have that ability? People have studied so much knowledge and know so much about science, so they are possessed of great abilities, are they not? So why are they incapable of differentiating between positive and negative things? Why is this? (Because people do not have truth; science and knowledge are not truth.) Everything that Satan brings to humanity is evil, corrupt and lacking in truth, life and the way. With the evil and corruption that Satan brings to man, can you say that Satan has love? Can you say that man has love? Some people might say: “You’re wrong; there are many people around the world who help the poor or homeless. Aren’t those good people? There are also charitable organizations that do good work; isn’t the work they do good work?” What would you say to that? Satan uses many different methods and theories to corrupt man; is this corruption of man a vague concept? No, it is not vague. Satan also does some practical things, and it also promotes a viewpoint or a theory in this world and in society. In every dynasty and in every epoch, it promotes a theory and instills thoughts into the minds of man. These thoughts and theories gradually take root in people’s hearts, and then they begin to live by them. Once they start to live by these things, do they not unwittingly become Satan? Do people not then become one with Satan? When people have become one with Satan, what is their attitude toward God in the end? Is it not the same attitude that Satan has toward God? No one dares to admit this, do they? How horrifying! Why do I say that Satan’s nature is evil? I do not say this groundlessly; rather, Satan’s nature is determined and analyzed based on what it has done and the things it has revealed. If I just said Satan was evil, what would you think? You would think: “Obviously Satan is evil.” So I ask you: “Which aspects of Satan are evil?” If you say: “Satan’s resistance toward God is evil,” you still would not be speaking with clarity. Now that I have spoken about the specifics in this way, do you have an understanding about the specific content of the essence of Satan’s evil? (Yes.) If you are able to see clearly Satan’s evil nature, then you will see your own conditions. Is there any relationship between these two things? Is this helpful to you or not? (It is.) When I fellowship about the essence of God’s holiness, is it necessary that I fellowship about the evil essence of Satan? What is your opinion about this? (Yes, it is necessary.) Why? (Satan’s evil sets God’s holiness in relief.) Is that how it is? This is partially correct, in the sense that without Satan’s evil, people would not know that God is holy; it is right to say this. However, if you say that God’s holiness only exists due to its contrast with Satan’s evil, is this right? This dialectical way of thinking is wrong. God’s holiness is the inherent essence of God; even when God reveals it through His deeds, this is still a natural expression of God’s essence and it is still God’s inherent essence; it has always existed and is intrinsic and innate to God Himself, though man cannot see it. This is because man lives amidst the corrupt disposition of Satan and under Satan’s influence, and they do not know about holiness, much less about the specific content of God’s holiness. So, is it essential that we fellowship first about Satan’s evil essence? (Yes, it is.) Some people may express some doubt: “You are fellowshiping about God Himself, so why are You always talking about how Satan corrupts people and how Satan’s nature is evil?” Now you have put these doubts to rest, haven’t you? When people have discernment of Satan’s evil and when they have an accurate definition of it, when people can clearly see the specific content and manifestation of evil, the source and essence of evil, only then, through discussion of God’s holiness, can people clearly realize or recognize what God’s holiness is, what holiness is. If I do not discuss the evil of Satan, some people will mistakenly believe that some things that people do in society and among people—or certain things that exist in this world—may bear some relation to holiness. Is this not a wrong viewpoint? (Yes, it is.)
Now that I have fellowshiped on Satan’s essence in this way, what sort of understanding of God’s holiness have you gained through your experiences in the past few years, from your reading the word of God and from experiencing His work? Go ahead and speak about it. You do not have to use words that are pleasing to the ear, but just speak from your own experiences. Does God’s holiness consist solely of His love? Is it merely God’s love that we describe as holiness? That would be too one-sided, would it not? Besides God’s love, are there other aspects of God’s essence? Have you seen them? (Yes. God detests festivals and holidays, customs and superstitions; this is also God’s holiness.) God is holy, so therefore He detests things, is that what you mean? When it comes down to it, what is God’s holiness? Is it that God’s holiness has no substantial content, only hate? In your minds are you thinking, “Because God hates these evil things, therefore one can say that God is holy”? Is this not speculation here? Is this not a form of extrapolation and judgment? What is the greatest misstep that absolutely must be avoided when it comes to our understanding God’s essence? (It is when we leave reality behind and instead speak of doctrines.) This is a very great misstep. Is there anything else? (Speculation and imagination.) These are also very serious missteps. Why are speculation and imagination not useful? Are things that you speculate about and imagine things you can truly see? Are they the true essence of God? (No.) What else must be avoided? Is it a misstep to just recite a string of pleasant words to describe God’s essence? (Yes.) Is this not grandiose and nonsensical? Judgment and speculation are nonsensical, as is the act of picking out pleasant words. Empty praise is also nonsensical, is it not? Does God enjoy listening to people talk this kind of nonsense? (No, He does not.) He feels uncomfortable when He hears it! When God guides and saves a group of people, after this group of people have heard His words, they nonetheless never understand what He means. Someone may ask: “Is God good?” and they would respond, “Yes!” “How good?” “So very good!” “Does God love man?” “Yes!” “How much? Can you describe it?” “So very much! God’s love is deeper than the sea, higher than the sky!” Are these words not nonsense? And is this nonsense not similar to what you just said: “God hates Satan’s corrupt disposition, and therefore God is holy”? (Yes.) Is what you just said not nonsense? And where do the majority of nonsensical things that are said come from? Nonsensical things that are said primarily come from people’s irresponsibility and irreverence to God. Could we say that? You did not have any understanding, and yet still you talked nonsense. Is that not irresponsible? Is that not disrespectful to God? You have learned some knowledge, understood some reasoning and logic, you have used these things and, furthermore, done so as a way to understand God. Do you think God feels upset when He hears you speak in that way? How can you try to know God using these methods? When you speak like that, does it not sound awkward? Therefore, when it comes to knowledge of God, one must be very cautious; speak only to the extent that you know God. Speak honestly and practically and do not adorn your words with bland compliments, and do not use flattery; God does not need it; this sort of thing comes from Satan. Satan’s disposition is arrogant; Satan likes to be flattered and to hear nice words. Satan will be pleased and happy if people recite all the pleasant words they have learned and use them for Satan. But God does not need this; God does not need adulation or flattery and He does not require that people speak nonsense and praise Him blindly. God abhors and will not even listen to praise and flattery that does not align with reality. So, when some people praise God insincerely, and blindly make vows and pray to Him, God does not listen at all. You must take responsibility for what you say. If you do not know something, just say so; if you do know something, express it in a practical way. So, as to what God’s holiness specifically and actually entails, do you have a true understanding of it? (When I expressed rebelliousness, when I committed transgressions, I received God’s judgment and chastisement, and therein I saw God’s holiness. And when I encountered environments that didn’t conform to my expectations, I prayed about these things and I sought God’s intentions, and as God enlightened and guided me with His words, I saw God’s holiness.) This is from your own experience. (From what God has said about it, I have seen what man has become after being corrupted and harmed by Satan. Nonetheless, God has given everything to save us and from this I see God’s holiness.) This is a realistic manner of speaking; it is true knowledge. Are there any different ways of understanding this? (I see Satan’s evil from the words it spoke to entice Eve into sinning and its temptation of the Lord Jesus. From the words with which God told Adam and Eve what they could and could not eat, I see that God speaks straightforwardly, cleanly, and trustworthily; from this I see God’s holiness.) Having heard the above remarks, whose words most inspire you to say “amen” to? Whose fellowship was closest to our fellowship topic today? Whose words were most realistic? How was the fellowship of the last sister? (Good.) You say “amen” to what she said. What did she say that was right on target? (In the words the sister just spoke, I heard that God’s word is straightforward and very clear, and that it is not at all like Satan’s beating about the bush. I saw God’s holiness in this.) This is part of it. Was it right? (Yes.) Very good. I see that you have gained something in these past two fellowships, but you must continue to work hard. The reason you must work hard is because understanding the essence of God is a very profound lesson; it is not something that one comes to understand overnight, or that one can express clearly with just a few words.
Every aspect of people’s corrupt satanic disposition, knowledge, philosophy, people’s thoughts and viewpoints, and certain personal aspects of individual people hinder them greatly from knowing God’s essence; so when you hear these topics, some of them may be beyond your reach; some you may not understand, while some you may fundamentally not be able to match up with reality. Regardless, I have heard about your understanding of God’s holiness and I know that in your hearts you are beginning to acknowledge what I have said and fellowshiped about God’s holiness. I know that in your hearts your desire to understand the essence of God’s holiness is starting to sprout. But what makes Me even happier is that some of you are already able to use the simplest words to describe your knowledge of God’s holiness. Even though this is a simple thing to say and I have said this before, yet in the hearts of the majority of you, you have yet to accept these words, and indeed they have made no impression in your minds. Nonetheless, some of you have committed these words to memory. This is very good and is a very promising start. I hope that you will continue to ponder and fellowship more and more on the topics that you think of as profound—or the topics that are beyond your reach. For those issues that are beyond your reach there will be someone to give you more guidance. If you engage in more fellowship regarding the areas that are within your reach now, the Holy Spirit will do His work and you will come to greater understanding. Understanding the essence of God and knowing the essence of God is of the utmost importance to people’s entry into life. I hope that you do not ignore this or see it as a game, because knowing God is the foundation of man’s faith and the key for man to pursue truth and attain salvation. If people believe in God yet do not know Him, if they only live in words and doctrines, it will never be possible for them to attain salvation, even if they act and live in accordance with the superficial meaning of the truth. That is to say, if you believe in God but do not know Him, then your faith is all for naught and contains nothing of reality. You understand, don’t you? (Yes, we understand.) Our fellowship will end here for today.
January 4, 2014