We can love our enemy, bear the cross, overcome our body, and spread the gospel of the Lord. These are positive behaviors coming from our belief in the Lord. Our exhibition of such good behaviors signifies that our faith in the Lord is true. These good behaviors may appear correct to people, as if these are in line with the word of God, but it does not mean that we are practicing God’s word and following the will of the heavenly Father, it doesn’t mean that we have quit our sinful nature and become sanctified. There is a reason why we cannot just look at people’s good behaviors by appearance. We also need to look at their intentions and ultimate purposes. If our intention is to obey God, love God, and satisfy God, this kind of good behavior is practicing the truth and obeying the will of the heavenly Father. On the other hand, if our good behavior is solely for the solicitation of blessing and reward, for the reward of a crown, but not from a loving heart for God, then this kind of good behavior is the hypocritical behavior of the Pharisees instead of doing the heavenly Father’s will. If the mere exhibition of good behavior signifies that we are following the will of the heavenly Father, signifies that we have become sanctified, then why do we often commit sins and resist God? Why do we still lead the lifestyle of sinning during the day and confessing at night? This adequately shows that the mere exhibition of good behaviors does not mean that we are practicing the truth and living out the reality of God’s word. Nor does it mean that we have an understanding or a fearful heart to God, much less the ability to love and obey God. As Almighty God says: “Changes in nothing more than behavior are unsustainable. If there is no alteration in people’s life disposition, then sooner or later their wicked side will show itself. Because the source of the changes in their behavior is fervor, coupled with some work by the Holy Spirit at the time, it is extremely easy for them to become fervent, or to be good for a time. As the unbelievers say, ‘Doing one good deed is easy, what’s hard is doing a lifetime of good deeds.’ People are incapable of doing good deeds their whole life. Their behavior is directed by the life; whatever their life is, so is their behavior, and only that which is revealed naturally represents the life, and one’s nature. Things that are fake cannot last. … Behaving well is not the same as obeying God, much less does it equal being compatible with Christ. Changes in behavior are based on doctrine, and born of fervor—they are not based on the true knowledge of God, or upon the truth, much less do they rest on the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Even though there are times when some of what people do is directed by the Holy Spirit, this is not the expression of the life, much less is it the same as knowing God; no matter how good a person’s behavior, it does not prove that they obey God, or that they put the truth into practice” (“The Difference Between External Changes and Changes in Disposition” in Records of Christ’s Talks). Almighty God’s word clearly explains to us about the essence and source of good behavior. The good behavior of man comes from enthusiasm, which is the practices based on his notions of rules and regulations, not from comprehension of the practicing principles after understanding many truths, or the desire to love and satisfy God from understanding the intention of God. Good behavior stems from man’s conceptions and imaginations. Man’s conceptions and imaginations come from man’s own opinions and his corrupt nature. Therefore no matter what we do, whatever pain we suffer or the price we pay, it is not practice of the truth. It does not mean obedience to God or the outcome of the Holy Spirit’s work. Even when we exhibit good behavior and the ability to follow the rules while we appear to be very pious and spiritual, we are still prone to committing sin and resisting God because of our inveterate corrupt disposition of Satan, our unresolved sinful nature, and lack of true understanding of God. As we can see, many well behaving people still frequently commit sins and confess their sins after believing in God. This is an undeniable fact. When they show good behaviors while sinning and resisting God at the same time, it adequately proves that they are not following the will of the heavenly Father. They do not readily deserve the praise of God. The Jewish Pharisees were law-abiding people with impeccable behaviors cosmetically. But when the Lord Jesus came to work, why did they frantically resist, condemn, scheme, and crucify the Lord Jesus? This was enough to explain that the nature of resisting God was innate in them. Regardless of how well they were behaving overtly, it did not mean that they understood, obeyed and were compatible with God, much less followed God’s will and became sanctified. If we want to resolve our sinful nature and become sanctified, we must experience God’s work of judgment in the last days, understand the ample truths therein and gain real knowledge of God, thus begetting true obedience and fear of God. Otherwise the deep-rooted corrupt disposition of Satan in us will never be cleansed and altered, and we will never be after God’s heart and admitted to the kingdom of God.
The Lord Jesus just did the work of redemption. Therefore, during the Age of Grace, we couldn’t break free from our sins and moreover we couldn’t attain sanctity, regardless of how we strived or read the Bible. According to the steps of His management plan for saving humanity, God predestined the work of judgment that begins at God’s house to purify and transform men and help them out of sin and become holy. It is just as Almighty God says: “Though Jesus did much work among man, He only completed the redemption of all mankind and became man’s sin offering, and did not rid man of all his corrupt disposition. Fully saving man from the influence of Satan not only required Jesus to take on the sins of man as the sin offering, but also required God to do greater work to completely rid man of his disposition, which has been corrupted by Satan. And so, after man was forgiven his sins, God has returned to flesh to lead man into the new age, and begun the work of chastisement and judgment, and this work has brought man into a higher realm. All those who submit under His dominion shall enjoy higher truth and receive greater blessings. They shall truly live in the light, and shall gain the truth, the way, and the life” (Preface to The Word Appears in the Flesh). “Through the sin offering, man has been forgiven his sins, for the work of the crucifixion has already come to an end and God has prevailed over Satan. But the corrupt disposition of man still remains within them and man can still sin and resist God; God has not gained mankind. That is why in this stage of work God uses the word to reveal the corrupt disposition of man and asks man to practice in accordance with the right path. This stage is more meaningful than the previous one and more fruitful as well, for now it is the word that directly supplies man’s life and enables the disposition of man to be completely renewed; it is a stage of work more thorough. Therefore, the incarnation in the last days has completed the significance of God’s incarnation and completely finished God’s management plan for the salvation of man” (“The Mystery of the Incarnation (4)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). From God’s words, we can see that the Lord Jesus’ work of redemption set the foundation for God’s work of salvation in the last days and the work of judgment in the last days is the core, the focal point, of God’s work of salvation. It is the key, the most important part of the salvation of mankind. Through experiencing God’s work in the Age of Grace, we are forgiven of our sins, but we cannot be freed from them, nor can we attain sanctity. Only God’s work of judgment in the last days can work the necessary truth into us, allow us to really know God, change our life dispositions, obey and worship God, and be after God’s heart. That is how God will complete His management plan to save mankind.
from Classic Questions and Answers on the Gospel of the Kingdom
If we only accept the Lord Jesus’ redemptive work in the Age of Grace, but do not accept Almighty God’s work of judgment and chastisement in the last days, we will not be able to free ourselves from sin, do the heavenly Father’s will, and enter God’s kingdom. This is beyond doubt! That’s because during the Age of Grace, the Lord Jesus did His work of redemption. Due to the stature of the people at that time, the Lord Jesus only gave them the way of repentance, and asked people to understand a few rudimentary truths and paths to practice them. For example: He asked people to confess their sins and repent and bear the cross. He taught them about humility, patience, love, fasting, baptism, etc. These are a few very limited truths that people of that time could understand and attain. The Lord Jesus never expressed other deeper truths that have to do with changing life disposition, being saved, becoming cleansed, being made perfect, etc., because at that time, the people lacked the necessary stature to bear those truths. Man must wait until the Lord Jesus returns to do His work in the last days. He will bestow upon corrupt mankind all the truths they need to be saved and perfected according to God’s management plan of saving mankind and the needs of the corrupt mankind. It is just as the Lord Jesus said, “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come” (Jhn 16:12-13). The Lord Jesus’ words are very clear. During the Age of Grace, the Lord Jesus never gave corrupt humans all the truths they required to be saved. There are still many deeper, higher truths, that is, there are many truths that the Lord Jesus did not tell mankind that will allow people to be freed from their corrupt satanic dispositions and achieve holiness, as well as truths that man requires to obey and know God. Therefore, in the last days, Almighty God expresses all truths necessary to save mankind. He uses these truths to judge, chastise, cleanse, and perfect all who accept Almighty God’s salvation in the last days. In the end, these people will be made complete and taken into God’s kingdom. This is how God’s management plan to save mankind shall be completed. If we only accept the Lord Jesus’ redemptive work, but do not accept Almighty God’s work of judgment in the last days, we will never be able to obtain the truths and change our disposition. We will never become one who does God’s will and will definitely never be qualified to enter God’s kingdom.
People of the last days have been deeply corrupted by Satan; we are filled with Satan’s poison. Our viewpoints, principles of survival, outlook on life, values, etc., go against the truth and are in enmity to God. All of us worship evil and have become enemies of God. If humanity that is full of corrupt satanic disposition, does not experience Almighty God’s judgment and chastisement and burning and cleansing by words, how can they rebel against Satan and free themselves from its influence? How can they revere God, shun evil, and do God’s will? We can see that many people have believed in the Lord Jesus for years, but despite the fact that they enthusiastically testify that Jesus is the Savior and work hard for many years, their failure to know God’s righteous disposition and revere God still causes them to judge and condemn God’s work and deny and reject God’s return when Almighty God carries out His work in the last days. They even re-crucify Christ on the cross when He returns in the last days. This is enough to show that if we do not accept Almighty God’s work of judgment and chastisement in the last days, the source of our sin and satanic nature will never be resolved. Our resistance to God will cause us to perish. This is a fact that no one can deny! Among us believers, only those who honestly accept God’s judgment and chastisement in the last days will obtain the truth as life, become those who do the heavenly Father’s will, and become the ones who know God and are compatible with Him. They are the ones who will be qualified to share in God’s promise and be taken into His kingdom.
from Classic Questions and Answers on the Gospel of the Kingdom
Are this holiness that people of religion speak of, and the holiness that God demands, the same thing? They are not the same, therefore the holiness of which man speaks is not true holiness. If in believing in Jesus you are truly holy, does God still need to do the work of the last days? You have not believed in Jesus for several years, but now you say that you have changed; then have a look at all the pastors who believe in Jesus, the Christians who have believed in God for all their lives, are they holy? Which one of them is holy? Who among them dares to say that, having believed in God his whole life, he is holy, and has been completely saved? You will not find a single person like this. They have believed in God their entire lives and yet they dare not say that they are holy. Does it make sense to say that you have arrived at holiness having believed in God for a short time? If a son or daughter were to say “I’ve been out in society for a number of years and I’ve seen through society,” would this not be naive? You can ask your father and mother and those who are much older than you, have they seen through society? If none of them has seen through society, are you able to see through it? Therefore, man does not understand the truth, and does not know what is real holiness. He believes that he behaves well in a small number of ways, he has faith in God and does not get into fights, he does not steal things, he does not curse at people, he does not drink and so he is holy. This does not represent holiness. What does genuine holiness refer to? This also involves a truth. True holiness refers to being free of Satan’s toxins. The satanic logic in men’s hearts, Satan’s philosophy, all kinds of Satan’s fallacies, Satan’s laws for man’s life, the outlook on life and values of life that belong to Satan, are these not Satan’s toxins? What governs man’s sinning and resistance to God? It is Satan’s toxins within man that drive man to sin, that lead man to judge, misconstrue, and disobey. The source of man’s sinning is Satan’s nature within man. All things belonging to Satan in the eyes of God are dirty, evil, and therefore man who has all sorts of Satan’s toxins within him has become a dirty and evil degenerate. These toxins that belong to Satan have taken root within man, flowered, and produced fruit, and man has become corrupted mankind, dirty mankind, evil mankind. It is a fact, therefore, that mankind resists God and is an enemy of God. According to this fact, what problem do we see that man must resolve to arrive at genuine holiness? He needs to resolve Satan’s toxins, to resolve Satan’s outlook on life and values of life, Satan’s logic, Satan’s laws, all sorts of Satan’s fallacies. If these things are completely removed from the hearts of men, this is being truly purified. If these things are not expelled from the hearts of men, man will still be able to resist God, judge God, be an enemy of God, and betray God. Therefore, mankind can only be considered to be a truly holy mankind when the things of Satan have been gotten rid of, and resolved. Well, by believing in Jesus is it possible to resolve Satan’s toxins? Can faith in Jesus change man’s outlook on life and values of life? Can it lead man to truly obey God and not to resist God? Can it lead man to truly know God, to worship God? By believing in Jesus you just have had your sins forgiven; to arrive at true resolution of man’s corruption and to become holy, man needs God to perform His work of judgment and chastisement in the last days. Without the work of the last days, corrupted mankind cannot obtain purification. Purification is not just obtained through forgiveness of sin, but true purification is obtained by means of ridding man of his corrupt disposition through judgment and chastisement. When man’s corrupt disposition is resolved, he no longer resists God, he is able to obey God, he can love God in his heart, and he is able to love the truth; only this kind of man is holy mankind. Some fail to understand what is called holiness, believing that to be holy is not to steal, not to plunder, not to smash, that holiness is not beating others and not cursing at others. Is this correct? This is a long way off the mark and they are only looking at the problem from its external appearance. Because people of religion do not have the truth, they all think along these lines. They have too simplistic a view of things, they do not see the source, they do not see the substance; therefore, it is hardly surprising that these people could think in this way. Some say that “The Lord Jesus has still not returned, there is still time to pursue holiness,” does such talk stand up or not? Ask them: “If you still have time to pursue holiness, based on your estimate around how much time do you need before you are able to arrive at holiness? Can you come up with an estimate?” You go on to ask them: “If the Lord Jesus does not come in five years, are you able to be holy?” “Five years would not do.” “If He does not come in ten years, can you be holy?” “Ten years, perhaps not.” “What about twenty years?” “That’s just about enough time.” “Well, can you see if those whose faith is better than yours are holy or not? Are those who have believed in God for all their lives holy or not? Can you speak based on facts, and not on what you imagine?” Is it all right to speak in this way?
from “Answers to Questions From Various Places About Spreading the Gospel” in Only by Believing in Almighty God Can One Be Saved