How to Identify the Nature Essence of Paul
You have fellowshiped for quite a long time on the section of God’s words titled “Success or Failure Depends on the Path That Man Walks.” What issues does it discuss, and what truths does it concern? (It concerns the path man walks as a believer.) The topic mainly revolves around the paths Peter and Paul took, am I right? After fellowshiping for such a long time, I am sure you have gained something from it—probably many things. You must summarize the gist of the sermons you have listened to during this period of time, then sort out the main threads of this, and go experience in line with this way of thinking, and the important things and threads you have summarized. This will help you with how to experience God’s work, how to perform your duty properly, and how to testify well in real life. I hope that after you finish summarizing, your life entry and spiritual stature will take a big step forward. So, when you summarize the truth realities that you were supposed to understand from that chapter, will you begin with Paul’s experience, or Peter’s? (Paul’s.) Why? (By reflecting on ourselves based on the reasons that Paul failed, we will know whether we are on Paul’s path. Then, we will look at what sort of path Peter was on, so that we have a goal and a direction in which to pursue.) Actually, that is how it should be. Draw lessons and summarize the experiences from everything Paul went through and the road he followed. Understand what road he was on, why God demands believers to follow the right path, and what the right path is. If you can follow the path of pursuing the truth, you will be able to avoid walking astray in real-life situations, as well as while you are experiencing God’s work during the performance of your duty. You will also be able to avoid disrupting God’s work, mistakenly falling onto the wrong path, or ultimately ending up bringing punishment upon yourself, like Paul did.
Now, in light of Paul’s experiences, let’s sum up the characteristics of the road he took, the way he believed in God, and the goals and direction he pursued. We will first look at the quality of Paul’s humanity and his disposition from these angles. Judging from Paul’s life and the stories about what happened to him, there are a few aspects to his disposition: arrogance, self-righteousness, deceitfulness, hatred of the truth, evilness, and ferocity. No matter how many main aspects of Paul’s disposition people are able to see or summarize, if you only talk about these aspects of his disposition, you will probably feel it is quite hollow, am I right? When you mention these aspects of his disposition, are they tied to his pursuits, the direction of his life, and the path he followed as a believer? When you talk about his arrogance, do you have any facts to back it up? What makes you see him as arrogant? What makes you see him as deceitful? What makes you see him as having hatred of the truth? If you only summarize the essence of these aspects of his disposition and do not talk about his pursuits, the direction of his life, and the path he followed as a believer, then they are hollow words, and will not have any positive or beneficial use for people now. It is better to speak from the perspective of Paul’s pursuits and his path. It is no simple matter to understand a person’s essence. A person’s nature essence cannot be deduced when they do nothing, or just do a few unimportant things. You must look at how they regularly display themselves and the intention and motivation behind their actions, that is, look at their pursuits, desires, and the path they follow. An even more important aspect, is to look at how a person handles it when they are faced with a situation that God has designed for them, or when God does something to them personally, like trying them, refining them, pruning and dealing with them, or when God personally illuminates and guides them. God mainly looks at these aspects. What do these aspects pertain to? They pertain to the principles by which a person acts, lives, conducts themselves and interacts with the world, as well as the goals and direction they pursue, the path they follow, how they live, what they live by, and the foundation of their existence. This is what they pertain to. That is why I say that if we avoid all these things and just talk about Paul’s nature essence, no matter how much we say or how comprehensive we are, they are just hollow words. If we want to look at Paul’s essence from every aspect of who he is, and help people today, or give them a mirror in which to view themselves, then we must first summarize the path that Paul followed, the goals he pursued, the foundation of their existence, and his attitude toward God. If we dissect every aspect of his disposition by approaching it from these angles, then do we not have a basis? Fellowshiping and summarizing in this way, is partially so that you will be able to see Paul more clearly, but mainly so that when people today face God’s salvation and sovereignty, they will know how to approach it, and how they should pursue the truth, so that they can avoid following in Paul’s footsteps and avoid ending up being punished like him. This is the most effective method.
When you look at all the ways Paul presented himself, you should be able to see his nature essence, and be fully capable of concluding that the direction, goals, source, and motivation for his pursuits were wrong, and that these things were disobedient and resistant toward God, displeased Him, and were despised by God. What is the first main way Paul presented himself? (He labored and worked in exchange for a crown.) Where did you see him present himself in this way, or see that he was in this state? (Through his words.) Through his famous sayings. Usually, famous sayings are positive, and are helpful and beneficial to those with ambition, hope, and aspiration; they can encourage and motivate such people, but what was the function of Paul’s famous sayings? He had many. Can you recite one of his more famous ones? (“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: From now on there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness” (2 Timothy 4:7–8).) What aspect of his nature essence do these words represent? How should we define it according to the truth? (Arrogant, self-righteous, and making a deal with God.) It was his arrogant nature that prompted him to say these words—he would not run the race, work, or even believe in God if there was not a crown at the end of it. After listening to so many sermons, people now should be able to recognize this manifestation and this state that Paul displayed, but can you define it? When we say “summarize,” we mean to define something; the words you use to define something are true understanding. When you can accurately define something, it proves that you see the matter clearly; when you cannot define something and only copy other people’s definitions, it proves you do not truly understand it. What mindset or state prompted Paul to speak those words at that moment? What intention made him do it? What is the essence of his pursuits that these words show you? (To gain blessings.) He ran hard, expended himself and gave so much of himself because his intention was to gain blessings. That was his nature essence, and what resided in the innermost place of his heart. Just now, while you were dissecting the issue, you said that Paul was making a deal with God. What attitude in Paul does this represent? Right now we are trying to summarize Paul’s truest attitude toward a crown, getting blessings, and believing in God; we are not trying to summarize whether Paul was making a deal with God and whether he was a true believer. Tell Me again. (He did not love the truth and was disdainful.) This is not an attitude; it is part of his disposition. Right now we are talking about his attitude. (He was greedy.) This is an aspect of his nature essence, just like his intention to gain blessings, and his desire. What is an attitude? For example, I say that eating spicy things all the time is bad for the stomach, and someone replies, “I know that eating spicy food is bad, but I like to eat spicy food! What can I eat if I don’t eat spicy food?” I respond, “For the sake of your health, so long as you don’t eat anything spicy, I will give you five dollars every meal to buy something else to eat.” Then, they are really happy, and say, “Okay then, I won’t eat spicy food!” A deal has been struck and they keep to it. But why are they able to keep themselves from eating spicy food? It is actually because of the money. If I did not give them money, they would not be able to control themselves; they would keep eating spicy food just like before. They have stopped eating spicy food only because there is something to gain from it—money. This is their attitude. This is what is concealed deep within their heart. Have they stopped eating spicy food because they are practicing the truth, doing as they were told, or doing it in order to please God? (No.) No, it is for none of those reasons. They have not restrained themselves from eating spicy food because they are practicing the truth, or with an eye to their health; their attitude is deceptive and superficial; they view it as a transaction, and are doing it to curry favor. If they do not achieve their objective and do not receive the money, they will go back to eating what they want, and may even eat more than before. This may not be the most fitting example, but what similarities are there when we compare it to Paul? (It is similar to how Paul was motivated by obtaining blessings and struck a deal with God.) Paul saw fighting the good fight, running the race, working, expending himself, and even watering the church as chips he could use in exchange for the crown of righteousness, and as paths toward it. So, no matter whether he suffered, expended himself, or ran the race, no matter how much he suffered, the only goal in his mind was to obtain the crown of righteousness. He treated pursuing the crown of righteousness and pursuing blessings as the appropriate objective of believing in God, and suffering, expending himself, working, and running the race as paths toward it. All of his outwardly good behavior was done for show; he did it in exchange for getting blessings in the very end. This is the first of Paul’s major sins.
Everything Paul said and did, what he displayed, the intention and goal of both his work and the race he ran, as well as his attitude toward both—is there anything about these things that is in keeping with the truth? (No, there is not.) There is nothing in him that is in keeping with the truth, and nothing he did was in line with what the Lord Jesus instructed people to do, but did he reflect on this? (No, he did not.) He never reflected on it at all, nor did he seek, so what basis did he have for assuming his thinking was correct? (His notions and imaginings.) There is an issue with this; how could he make something he imagined the goal that he would pursue for his entire life? Did he ever give it any consideration or ask himself, “Is what I think correct? Other people do not think this way, just me. Is this a problem?” Not only did he not have these doubts, but he wrote his thoughts in letters and sent them to all the churches, so that everyone could read them. What is the nature of this behavior? There is a problem with this; why did he never question whether his thinking was in line with the truth, seek the truth, or compare it to what the Lord Jesus said? Instead, he treated what he imagined, and what he thought was right in his notions as the goals he should pursue. What is the problem here? He treated what he imagined and what he thought was right as the truth, and as a goal to be pursued. Is this not exceedingly arrogant and self-righteous? Did God still have a place in his heart? Was he still able to treat God’s words as the truth? If he was unable to treat God’s words as the truth, then what would be his attitude toward God? Did he want to be God as well? If not, he would not treat what he imagined in his own thoughts and notions as goals which he should pursue, nor would he pursue his notions or what he imagined as if they were the truth. He believed that what he thought was the truth, and that it was in line with the truth and God’s will. He also shared what he thought was correct with the brothers and sisters in the churches, and instilled it in them, making everyone abide by the ridiculous things he said; he replaced the Lord Jesus’ words with his own, and used these ridiculous words of his to testify that for him to live is Christ. Is this not the second major sin that Paul had? This problem is extremely severe!
There have been many people throughout the ages that resemble Paul, so why do we use Paul as a classic example? Because he is recorded in the Bible, and the ridiculous, evil things he said, as well as he himself, have a huge impact on all Christians. You could say that the harm he has caused is too great. There are so many people who have been deceived and poisoned by him. Not only has he poisoned many generations of people, but the poison goes deep. How deep? (All Christians see him as a role model and imitate him; they practice his words as if they were God’s.) If you fellowship on Christ’s words and God’s words, no one makes much of a deal about it. But when you fellowship on Paul’s words, they immediately sit up and listen. What does this mean? (That they treat Paul like Christ.) When people treat Paul like Christ, he has taken the Lord Jesus Christ’s place in their hearts. Is this not a sin of extreme proportions? (It is.) Paul is the biggest antichrist in history! The intention of his words is exceedingly obvious; his goals and insidiousness are clearly on display; his essence is exceedingly insidious and poisonous. The nature of this is severely problematic! That is why I had to bring it up and dissect it. If I did not, people would continue to be deceived by him. However, if I was going to dissect Paul’s issues, I had to make him serve a better purpose for people today, as an example of what not to do. Just now we summarized two of Paul’s sins. What was the first? (Paul treated work and running the race as chips that he could trade in for a crown. He viewed obtaining blessings and a crown as an appropriate goal that he should be pursuing.) That is correct. Paul’s biggest problem was that he treated these things as goals he should pursue. From the start, it was a transaction that carried with it disobedience and an evil nature, but Paul treated it as an appropriate goal to pursue. This is the most severe problem. What was the second? (Paul treated the things he imagined, and that he thought were right in his notions, as the truth. He never reflected on this or sought concerning it; instead, he deceived people, and made the brothers and sisters adhere to his words and absurd theories, making people treat him like Christ.) This is a particularly serious issue. Make accurate note of these issues; after we are finished summarizing them, you should compare yourselves to them. When we discuss a topic, we must first talk about that particular aspect of the truth, then make comparisons. Dissecting how Paul displayed himself serves as a warning to everyone, as well as tells people that they should choose the correct path, then find an accurate path of practice and avoid following in Paul’s footsteps. Then, you will be completely effective.
Paul has another serious sin, and that is that he did his work completely on the basis of his mental caliber, academic knowledge, theological knowledge and theory. This is something which pertains to his nature essence. You should summarize this, and then examine what his attitude is toward these things. This is a very crucial and important sin, and one that people must understand. Ponder for a moment on which of Paul’s manifestations this sin involves; look at what his nature essence is through these manifestations, and get a clear picture of what he placed importance on deep down inside, what his goals are. His intention and goals are at the root of why he started down the wrong path. These are the most important things for you to understand clearly. What gifts did Paul have? (Paul had a good grasp of a lot of biblical knowledge from the Age of Law.) Only the Old Testament existed at that time. Paul was familiar with these scriptures, and was very knowledgeable about them, like the theological teachers, pastors, preachers, and fathers of today. His theological knowledge may even have been broader than theirs, but he learned it after he was born into the world. What did Paul possess from birth? (His innate abilities.) Paul was naturally smart, good at speaking, expressed himself well, and did not get stage fright. Let us focus now on talking about his innate abilities, gifts, intelligence, capabilities, as well as the knowledge he learned throughout his life. What does the fact that he was good at speaking mean? In what way did he display and present himself? He liked to ramble on about lofty theories; he constantly talked about profound spiritual doctrine, theories and knowledge, and his famous texts and sayings that people often mention. What is one word that sums up Paul’s words? (Empty.) Are empty words constructive for people? When they hear those words, they feel emboldened, but after a while their gusto fades away. The things Paul talked about were vague and illusory, things you cannot really lay out in concrete terms. In the theories he talked about, you cannot find any path to practice, or direction in which to practice; you cannot find anything you can accurately apply to real life—whether theories or foundations, none are applicable to real life. That is why I say that the religious theories and spiritual doctrine he talked about were empty, impractical words. What was Paul’s goal in talking about these things? Some people say, “He always talked about these things because he wanted to suck more people in, and make them revere and look up to him. He wanted to take the place of the Lord Jesus and win over more people, so that he would be blessed.” Is this the topic that we want to talk about today? (No, it is not.) It is exceedingly normal for a person who has not been pruned or dealt with, has not been judged or chastised, has not gone through trials or refinement, who has gifts like his, and has the nature essence of an antichrist to show off like this and exhibit the behavior he did, so we will not delve into this matter. What are we going to delve into? The essence of this problem of his, the root cause and motivation behind him doing these things, and what prompted him to act this way. No matter whether people today would view all the things he talked about as doctrine, theories, theological knowledge, innate gifts, or his own interpretation of things, generally speaking, Paul’s biggest problem was that he treated things that came from human will as the truth. That is why he had the guts to use these theological theories decisively, boldly, and openly to suck people in and teach them. This is the essence of the problem. Is this a serious problem? (Yes, it is.) What things did he treat as the truth? The gifts he was born with, as well as the knowledge and theological theories he learned throughout life. His theological theories were learned from teachers, from reading the scriptures, and also generated from what he understood and imagined. He treated the notions and imaginings of his human understanding as the truth, but this was not the most serious problem, there was one even greater. He treated those things as the truth, but did he think at the time that those things were the truth? Did he have a concept of what the truth was? (No, he did not.) Then what did he treat those things as? (As life.) He treated all of those things as life. He thought that the more sermons he could preach, or the more lofty, the greater his life would be. He treated those things as life. Is this a serious matter? (Yes, it is serious.) What impact did this have? (It had an impact on the path he followed.) This is one side of it. What else? (He thought that obtaining these things would bring him salvation and allow him to enter the kingdom of heaven.) It still has to do with obtaining blessings; he thought that the greater his life was, the greater his chances of entering the kingdom of heaven and ascending to heaven. What is another way of saying “ascending to heaven”? (To reign and wield power alongside God.) His purpose in entering the kingdom of heaven was to reign and wield power alongside God, but this was not his ultimate goal, he had one more. He talked about it. How did he put it? (“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).) He said for him to live is Christ, and to die is gain. What does this mean? That he will turn into God after he dies? His ambition knows no limits! His problem is so severe! So, is it wrong for us to dissect Paul’s case? Not at all. He should never have treated his gifts and the knowledge he learned as life. This is his third major sin. You can see Paul’s nature essence in any one of these three sins. The characteristics of his nature essence are exposed in each of the sins; nothing is hidden or left out. His nature essence is represented in all of them.
Next, we will look at Paul’s most crucial and severe problems, which are most representative of him. In the letters Paul wrote, what words did he often use? Go and look at what the original text of the Bible says, and we will analyze and dissect it, see what was actually in his mind, and why God despised and hated him. Why did someone as famous and instrumental to the work of the early churches as Paul end up being punished? How did God evaluate Paul in His mind? How did God see him? Why did God evaluate him in this way, and pass the verdict that He did? On what basis did God ultimately define Paul and determine his end? List all of these things out so that people can see the facts of how he resisted God, so they will not think he was wrongfully condemned. When people do not understand the truth, they are the most prone to defining people based on outward appearances. What is people’s basis for defining others according to their outward appearance? Part of it is traditional culture and societal teachings. Another part is education in the home, black-and-white ideas and concepts, and ideas and concepts of right and wrong. Yet another part is the education in schools. Together, these things constitute an entirely satanic system of education. The consequence of Satan instilling these things in people is that people define this as good, that as bad, this as right, and that as wrong according to their own notions and preferences. What is the basis for all these definitions people have? In actuality, they are based on satanic theories and philosophies; these bases that people have absolutely do not come from God or from the truth. That is why corrupted humans are wrong no matter how they define a person or event—it has no connection with the truth, and is not in line with God’s will; it has nothing to do with God or His words. God passes verdicts on people and events according to His disposition and essence. What is God’s disposition and essence? It is the truth. The truth is the expression of all positive things, and the reality of all positive things. God passes verdicts on everything in existence, and all the people, matters, and things that people come into contact with, in accordance with the truth. God bases His verdicts about people on their nature essence, what motivates their actions, the path they are walking, and their attitude toward positive things and the truth. This is the basis for God’s conclusions. God’s verdicts on all things accord with the truth. What is Satan’s basis for defining all things? (Its own logic.) Satanic philosophy and logic, which is exactly opposite to the truth. All of humanity is corrupted by Satan. Humans do not have the truth; they represent Satan and embody it. They define all things in accordance with satanic philosophies and logic. Therefore, what conclusions do they reach when they define things? Conclusions that are exactly opposite, and in opposition, to the truth. Have you found the words that Paul often used in his letters? Read them out. (“Paul called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God” (1 Corinthians 1:1).) See? This is how Paul ranks God and Christ: “Paul called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God.” Where is Paul in this ranking? (Third.) In Paul’s mind, who is number one? (God.) And number two? (The Lord Jesus.) Jesus Christ. Who is third? (Paul himself.) It is himself. “Paul called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God.” Paul used this phrase often, and it is a loaded phrase. For starters, we know that Paul is an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ. So, from Paul’s perspective, who is the Lord Jesus Christ? He is the Son of man, and second to the God in heaven. No matter whether he called the Lord Jesus Christ Master or called Him the Lord, from Paul’s perspective, the Christ on earth was not God, but rather a man who could teach people and get them to follow Him. What was Paul’s function as an apostle of a man such as this? To share the gospel, visit churches, preach sermons, and write letters. He believed he was doing these things on behalf of the Lord Jesus Christ. In his heart, he thought, “I will help You by going where You are not able to go, and I will take a look on Your behalf at the places You do not want to go.” This was Paul’s concept of an apostle. The ranking in his mind, was that both he and the Lord Jesus were regular people. He saw himself and the Lord Jesus Christ as equals, as human beings. In his mind, there was essentially no difference between their positions, nor was there a difference in their identities, let alone their ministries. Only their names, ages, family circumstances and backgrounds were different, and they had different external gifts and knowledge. In Paul’s mind, he was the same as the Lord Jesus Christ in every other way, and could be called the Son of man, too. The only reason he was second to the Lord Jesus Christ was because he was the apostle of the Lord Jesus; he exercised the Lord Jesus Christ’s power, and was sent to visit churches and do church work by the Lord Jesus Christ. This is what Paul believed his position and identity was as an apostle—this is how he interpreted it. Also, the second word at the beginning of the phrase, “Paul called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ” is “called.” From this word we can see Paul’s mindset. Why did he use the six words “called … through the will of God”? He did not think that he was called by the Lord Jesus Christ to be His apostle; he thought, “The Lord Jesus Christ does not have the power to order me to do anything. I am not doing as He commanded; I am not doing anything for Him. Rather, I am doing these things through the will of God in heaven. I am the same as the Lord Jesus Christ.” This indicates another thing—Paul thought he was a Son of man, just like the Lord Jesus Christ. The six words “called … through the will of God” reveal how Paul denied and doubted the identity of the Lord Jesus Christ in the depths of his heart. Paul said he was an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ through the will of God, that God told him to, he was ordained and established by God, and that he became an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ because God called him and willed it. In Paul’s mind, that was the relationship between himself and the Lord Jesus Christ. However, this is not even the worst part of it. What is the worst part? That Paul thought he was the Lord Jesus Christ’s apostle through God’s will, not the Lord Jesus Christ’s, that it was not the Lord Jesus who called him, but God in heaven who made him do it. He thought no one had the power or qualifications to make him an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, that only God in heaven had that power, and that he was being guided directly by God in heaven. So, what does this indicate? That deep in Paul’s heart, he believed that God in heaven was number one, and he himself was number two. So where did he put the Lord Jesus? (In the same position as himself.) This is the problem. With his lips, he proclaimed that the Lord Jesus was the Christ, but he did not recognize that Christ’s essence was that of God; he did not understand the relationship between Christ and God. It was this lack of understanding that caused such a severe problem. In what way was it severe? (He did not admit that the Lord Jesus was God incarnate. He denied the Lord Jesus.) Yes, that is really severe. He denied that the Lord Jesus Christ was God become flesh, that the Lord Jesus Christ was the flesh of God when He had come down from heaven to earth, and that the Lord Jesus was God’s incarnated flesh. Does this not imply that Paul denied the existence of the God on earth? (Yes, it does.) If he denied the existence of the God on earth, then could he acknowledge the Lord Jesus’ words? (No, he could not.) If he did not acknowledge His words, then could he accept it? (No, he could not.) He did not accept the Lord Jesus Christ’s words, teachings, or identity, so could he accept the Lord Jesus Christ’s work? (No, he could not.) He did not accept the work the Lord Jesus Christ did, or the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ was God, yet this was not the worst part. What was the worst part? Two thousand years ago, the Lord Jesus came to earth to do the biggest work of all—the work of redemption in the Age of Grace, where He was incarnated and became the likeness of sinful flesh, and was nailed to the cross as a sin offering for all mankind. Was this a big work? (Yes, it was.) It was the work of redeeming all mankind, and it was done by God Himself, yet Paul stubbornly denied it. He denied that the work of redemption the Lord Jesus did was done by God Himself, which was denying the fact that God had already accomplished the work of redemption. Is this a serious problem? It is extremely serious! Not only did Paul not seek to understand the fact of the Lord Jesus Christ’s crucifixion, but he did not admit it, and to not admit it is to deny it. He did not admit that it was God who was crucified and redeemed all mankind, nor did he admit that God served as a sin offering for all mankind. This implies that he did not admit that all of mankind was redeemed after God did His work, or that their sins were pardoned. At the same time, he thought that his sins had not been pardoned. He did not admit the fact that the Lord Jesus redeemed mankind. From his standpoint, that had all been erased. This is the most serious issue. Just now, I mentioned that Paul was the biggest antichrist in the past two thousand years; this fact has already been revealed. If these facts had not been recorded in the Bible, and God said that Paul defied God and was an antichrist, would people believe it? They absolutely would not. Thankfully, the Bible kept a record of Paul’s letters, and there is factual proof here in those letters; otherwise, there would be nothing to back up what I am saying, and you may not accept it. Now, when we bring Paul’s words out and read them, how did Paul view all the things the Lord Jesus said? He thought the things the Lord Jesus said were not equal to even one of Paul’s own religious doctrines. So, after the Lord Jesus had left this world, although Paul spread the gospel, worked, preached, and shepherded churches, he never preached the Lord Jesus’ words, let alone practiced or experienced them. Instead, he preached his own understanding of the Old Testament, which was out-of-date and empty words. For the last two thousand years, those who believe in the Lord do so in accordance with the Bible, and everything they accept is Paul’s empty theories. As a result, people have been in the dark for two thousand years. If you say to a group of religious people today that Paul was wrong, they will protest and will not accept it, because they all look up to Paul. Paul is their idol and their founding father, and they are Paul’s filial sons and descendants. To what extent have they been deceived? They are already standing on the same side as Paul in opposition to God; they have the same views as Paul, the same nature essence, and the same method of pursuit. They have been thoroughly assimilated by Paul. This is Paul’s fourth major sin. Paul denied the Lord Jesus Christ’s identity, and he denied the work God did in the Age of Grace after the Age of Law. This is the most serious thing. Another serious thing is that he put himself in the same league as the Lord Jesus Christ. In the age Paul lived in, he met the Lord Jesus Christ but did not see Him as God; instead, he treated the Lord Jesus Christ as a regular person, as though He was just another member of the human race; a man who had the same nature essence as corrupted humans. In no way did Paul treat the Lord Jesus as the Christ, let alone treat Him as God. This is a very serious matter. So why would Paul do this? (He did not recognize that God incarnate possessed the essence of God, so he did not treat the Lord Jesus Christ as God.) (He did not see the Lord Jesus’ words as the truth, nor see that the Lord Jesus Christ was the embodiment of the truth.) (On the surface, Paul professed to believe in the Lord Jesus, but what he actually believed in was a vague God in heaven.) (He did not seek the truth, so he was incapable of realizing that Christ was the truth and the life.) Keep going. (Paul said that for him to live was Christ. He wanted to become God and replace the Lord Jesus.) Everything you have said lines up with the facts. Each of the ways in which Paul manifested himself, and each of his sins, were more severe than that which came before.
Let us analyze this phrase Paul said: “There is laid up for me a crown of righteousness.” These are impressive words. Look at the words he chose: “a crown of righteousness.” Usually, it is quite bold to use the word “crown” itself, but who would dare use “righteousness” as an attributive expression to define a crown? Only Paul would dare to use this word. Why did he use it? This word has an origin, and it was carefully chosen; there are deep connotations behind his words! What connotations? (He was trying to force God’s hand with this word.) Wanting to force God’s hand is one aspect of it. His intention was definitely to make a transaction, and there’s an element of trying to set conditions with God to it too. Besides this, was there a purpose behind why he always preached about this crown of righteousness? (He wanted to deceive people, and make them think that if he did not get a crown, God was not righteous.) There’s an element of incitation and deception to him preaching about this, and this is connected to Paul’s desires and ambitions. In order to ultimately materialize and fulfill his desire of obtaining a crown of righteousness, he used the tactic of preaching about it everywhere. In part, his goal in preaching these words was to incite and deceive people; it was to instill a particular thought in those listening, namely, “Someone like me who expends so much of himself, who travels around so much, and pursues the way I do will be able to get a crown of righteousness.” After listening to this, people naturally felt that God was only righteous if a person like Paul received a crown. They felt that they must pursue, travel around, and expend themselves like Paul did, that they could not listen to the Lord Jesus, and that Paul was the benchmark, he was the Lord, and he was the direction and the goal toward which people should walk. They also thought that if people did things the way Paul did, they would get the same crown, end, and destination as him. In one respect, Paul was inciting and deceiving people. In another respect, he had a most sinister goal. Deep in his heart, he thought, “In the unlikely circumstances that I do not get a crown, where it turns out to just have been my own imagining and my own wishful thinking, this will mean that everyone who believes in Christ, including myself, was misguided in their faith. It will mean that no God exists on earth, and I will also deny Your existence in heaven too, God, and You won’t be able to do anything about it!” What he was implying was: “If I do not get this crown, not only will the brothers and sisters deny You, but I will prevent You from gaining all the people I have incited and who know these words. I will also prevent them from gaining You, and at the same time, I will deny Your existence as God in heaven. You are not righteous. If I, Paul, cannot get a crown, no one should!” This was the sinister part of Paul. Is this not the behavior of an antichrist? This is the behavior of an antichrist demon: inciting, deceiving, and enticing people, as well as openly clamoring against God and opposing Him. Deep in his heart, Paul thought, “If I do not get a crown, God is not righteous. If I get a crown, only then is it a crown of righteousness, and only then is God’s righteousness truly righteous.” This is the origin of his “crown of righteousness.” What was he doing by this? He was openly inciting and deceiving those who followed God. At the same time, he was using these methods to openly clamor against and oppose God. In other words, his behavior was rebellious. What was its nature? On the surface, the words Paul used seem genteel and proper, and there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with them—who would not believe in God in order to get a crown of righteousness and be blessed? Even people with no caliber, at the very least, believe in God in order to get into heaven. They would be happy even if they were asked to sweep the streets or to guard a gate there. Having this intention and objective in one’s belief in God can be considered proper and understandable. However, that was not Paul’s only objective. He put in a lot of effort, spent a lot of energy, and made a lot of fuss when it came to him preaching about his crown of righteousness. The things Paul said exposed his malicious nature, as well as hidden, dark things deep within himself. At the time, Paul made a big name for himself and there were many people who idolized him. He went around everywhere preaching these theories and high-sounding ideas, his notions and imaginings, as well as the things he had learned in his studies, and the things he had deduced using his mind. When Paul preached these things everywhere, how big of an impact must it have had on people back then, and how severely must it have harmed and poisoned them deep in their hearts? Also, how big of an impact has it had on the people in later generations who learned these things from his letters? People who have read his words cannot rid themselves of these things no matter how long they try—they have been poisoned too deeply! How deep? A phenomenon has appeared, called the “Paul Effect.” What is the Paul Effect? There is a phenomenon in religion where people are influenced by Paul’s thoughts, views, arguments, and the corrupt dispositions he revealed. It particularly affects people whose families have believed in God for several generations—families who have followed Christ for many decades. They say, “Our family has believed in the Lord for generations, and does not follow worldly trends. We have distanced ourselves from the secular world, and given up our families and careers to expend ourselves for God. Everything we do is the same as Paul did. If we do not receive crowns or get into heaven, we will have a bone to pick with God when He comes.” Don’t people make this argument? (Yes, they do.) And this trend is quite significant. Where does this trend come from? (From what Paul preached.) It is the malignant result of the tumor Paul planted. If Paul did not incite people like this, and did not always say, “There is laid up for me a crown of righteousness” and “To me to live is Christ,” then without the backdrop of that era of history, people now would not have any knowledge of those things. Even if they had that way of thinking, they would not have Paul’s gall. It was all due to Paul’s encouragement and incitement. If there comes a day when they are not blessed, these people will have the boldness to openly challenge the Lord Jesus, and will even want to march up to the third heaven and dispute this matter with the Lord. Is this not the religious world rebelling against the Lord Jesus? It is clear that the religious world has been severely impacted by Paul! Now that I have talked up to this point, you can conclude what Paul’s fifth sin was, can’t you? When it comes to summarizing the origin of the “crown of righteousness” Paul spoke of, the focus is on the word “righteousness.” Why did he mention “righteousness”? On earth, it was because he wanted to incite and deceive God’s chosen people, so they would think the way he did. In heaven, he wanted to force God’s hand with this word, and clamor against Him. This was Paul’s goal. Although he never vocalized this, the word “righteousness” already completely betrayed his goal and inclination to clamor against God. It was already out in the open; these are all facts. Based on these facts, can Paul’s nature essence be summed up just as being arrogant, self-righteous, deceitful, and not loving the truth? (No.) These terms cannot sum it up. By Me bringing up these facts and dissecting, analyzing, and defining them, you should be able to see Paul’s nature essence more clearly and thoroughly. This is the effect that is achieved by analyzing an essence based on the facts. When Paul clamored against God, he was not having a minor emotional moment, a bit of a rebellious disposition, or an inability to obey, in private. This was not an average problem of revealing a corrupt disposition; rather, it had escalated to openly using all sorts of methods to incite and deceive people through letters and in public settings, so that everyone rose up together in anger to oppose and clamor against God. Not only did Paul clamor against God, but he incited everyone else to come clamor against God too—he was not just arrogant, he was a devil! This sin is more serious than the last. Is it a good thing or a bad thing that we are talking about increasingly serious sins? (It is good.) How is it good? (Because we are gaining more discernment of Paul.) When you have more discernment, you will be able to thoroughly unearth and clearly see Paul’s various manifestations, revelations of corruption, and his true face. By doing this will you have achieved our goal? (No, we won’t have.) You should take all the manifestations of Paul that we have summarized, as well as their main content, themes, and essence, and connect them to yourself and those around you. When you have seen clearly exactly how big a difference there is between the path you walk and your own essence compared with Paul’s, you will have completely achieved results, and you will have achieved our goal of dissecting Paul. There are some who say, “There aren’t any manifestations of Paul’s pursuit of a crown of righteousness in me.” Your manifestations and your essence may not be as severe as those of Paul, but there is some overlap between your essence and his. He possessed manifestations like this, and you possess states like this. It can be said that Paul’s manifestations were a 10 or a 12 on the scale, so what about you? (I’m at a seven or an eight.) Paul revealed these things at all times, and was filled with these things at all times. While you may not reveal these things all the time, you still reveal them often. You probably spend half your life doing these things, and living in these states. Especially when God puts you in trials, when God’s work does not match your notions, when He deals with you, and when the environments He orchestrates for you do not meet your expectations, it may give rise to these sorts of states within you; you might clamor against God and oppose Him. At times like that, our analysis of how Paul incited and deceived people could be of use to you. Why? Because now, your mind is aware of how severe Paul’s manifestations were in nature; they were not simple revelations of corrupt dispositions, but rather a devilish nature essence that opposes God. When states like this arise in you, you will know just how serious this problem is. You should then turn back, repent, and abandon this incorrect state. You should walk away from it, seek the truth, and seek a path of obedience to God. That is the true path that humans should follow, and the law that created beings should hold to. This fellowship is of help to people.
Paul has another famous phrase—what is it? (“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).) He did not acknowledge the identity of the Lord Jesus Christ, that the Lord Jesus Christ was the incarnate God living on earth, or the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ was the embodiment of God. By contrast, Paul saw himself as Christ. Isn’t that revolting? (It is.) It is revolting, and the essence of this problem is very severe. In Paul’s mind, who exactly was Christ? What was His identity? How could Paul be so obsessed with being Christ? If, in Paul’s mind, Christ was an ordinary person with corrupt dispositions, or an insignificant person who played an unremarkable role, who had no power, no noble status, and no abilities or skills that surpassed those of ordinary people, would Paul still want to be Christ? (No, he would not.) He certainly would not. He thought of himself as well-educated, and did not want to be an ordinary person, he wanted to be a superhuman, great man, and to surpass others—how could he wish to be a Christ that other people considered humble and insignificant? Given this, what status and role did Christ have in Paul’s heart? What identity and status must someone have, and what authority, power, and bearing must they display in order to be Christ? This exposes what Paul imagined Christ to be, and what he knew about Christ, that is, how he defined Christ. This is why Paul had the ambition and desire to be Christ. There is a certain reason why Paul wanted to be Christ, and it is partly revealed in his letters. Let us analyze several matters. When the Lord Jesus was performing work, He did some things which represented His identity as Christ. These things are symbols and concepts that Paul saw the identity of Christ as possessing. What things were these? (Performing signs and wonders.) Exactly. Those things were Christ healing people of their illnesses, casting out demons, and performing signs, wonders, and miracles. Even though Paul admitted that the Lord Jesus was Christ, it was just because of the signs and wonders that He performed. Therefore, when Paul spread the gospel of the Lord Jesus, he never talked about the words the Lord Jesus spoke, or what He preached. In the eyes of Paul, a nonbeliever, the fact that Christ could say so many things, preach so much, perform so much work, and get so many people to follow Him, lent a certain honor to the Lord Jesus’ identity and status; He had limitless glory and nobleness, making the Lord Jesus’ position among men particularly great and distinguished. This is what Paul saw. From what the Lord Jesus Christ manifested and revealed while performing work, as well as His identity and essence, what Paul saw was not God’s essence, truth, way, or life, nor God’s loveliness or wisdom. What did Paul see? To use a modern turn of phrase, what he saw was the glitter of fame, and he wanted to be a fan of the Lord Jesus. When the Lord Jesus spoke or performed work, so many people listened—how glorious must that have been! This was something that Paul had long-awaited, he coveted the arrival of this moment. He longed for the day when he could preach without end like the Lord Jesus, who had so many people looking at Him in rapt attention, with admiration and longing in their eyes, wanting to follow Him. Paul was bowled over by the Lord Jesus’ impressive bearing. Actually, he was not truly bowled over by it; rather, he envied having an identity and bearing which people looked up to, paid attention to, idolized, and thought highly of. This is what he envied. So how could he achieve it? He did not believe the Lord Jesus Christ achieved these things through His essence and identity, but believed that it was because of His title. Therefore, Paul longed to be a personage, and to have a role, where he could bear the name of Christ. Paul put a lot of effort into getting himself into a role like that, didn’t he? (Yes.) What efforts did he go to? He preached all over the place, and even performed miracles. Ultimately, he used a phrase to define himself which satisfied his inner desires and ambitions. What phrase did he use to define himself? (“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”) To live is Christ. This is the main thing he wanted to accomplish; his chief desire was to be Christ. What connection does this desire have to his personal pursuits and the path he walked? (He revered power, and sought to have people look up to him.) This is a theory; you should speak about some facts. Paul manifested his desire to be Christ in practical ways; My definition of him is not just based on a single phrase that he said. From the style, methods, and principles of his actions, we can see that everything he did revolved around his goal of becoming Christ. This is the root and essence of why Paul said and did so many things. Paul wanted to be Christ, and this influenced his pursuits, his path in life, and his belief. In what ways was this influence manifested? (Paul showed off and testified to himself in all of his work and preaching.) This is one way; Paul showed off at every turn. He made it clear to people how he had suffered, how he did things, and what his intentions were, so that when people heard this, they thought he resembled Christ to a tee, and truly wanted to call him Christ. That was his goal. If people truly did call him Christ, would he have denied it? Would he have rejected it? (No, he would not.) He definitely would not have—he would certainly have been elated. This is one way the influence it had on his pursuits manifested. What other ways were there? (He wrote letters.) Yes, he wrote some letters so that they would be passed down through the ages. In his letters, work, and throughout the process of him shepherding churches, he never once mentioned the Lord Jesus Christ’s name, or did things in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, or exalted the Lord Jesus Christ’s name. What negative effect did him always working and speaking in this way have? How did it influence those who followed the Lord Jesus? It made people deny the Lord Jesus Christ, and Paul took His place. He longed for people to ask, “Who is the Lord Jesus Christ? I’ve never heard of Him. We believe in Paul the Christ.” That way he would be happy. This was his goal, and one of the things he sought after. One way that influence manifested was the way he worked; he rambled on about hollow ideas, and talked endlessly about empty theories to make people see how capable and compelling he was in his work, how much he helped people, and that he had a certain bearing, as though the Lord Jesus Christ had reappeared. Another way that influence manifested was that he never exalted the Lord Jesus Christ, and he certainly did not exalt His name, nor did he testify to the Lord Jesus Christ’s words and work, or how people benefited from them. Did Paul preach sermons about how people should repent? He certainly didn’t do that. Paul never preached about the work the Lord Jesus Christ performed, the words He spoke, or all the truths He taught people—Paul denied these things in his heart. Not only did Paul deny the words the Lord Jesus Christ said and the truths He taught people, but he treated his own words, work, and teachings as the truth. He used these things to replace the words of the Lord Jesus, and made people practice and adhere to his words as though they were the truth. What prompted these manifestations and revelations? (His wish to be Christ.) They were prompted by his intention, desire, and ambition to be Christ. This was closely connected to his practice and pursuits. This is Paul’s sixth sin. Is it a serious one? (Yes, it is.) Actually, all of his sins are serious. They all spell death.
Now I will fellowship on Paul’s seventh sin. This one is even more serious. Before Paul was called by the Lord, he was a believer in Judaism. Judaism is the belief in Jehovah God. What concept do those who believe in Jehovah God have of God? It is of the things their forefathers experienced when Jehovah God led them out of Egypt to the good land of Canaan: how Jehovah God appeared to Moses, how He sent ten plagues down on Egypt, how He used pillars of cloud and fire to lead the Israelites, and how He gave them His laws, and so on. Did those who believed in Judaism at the time think all these things were just fantasy, notions, and legends, or did they think they were facts? At the time, God’s chosen people and those who were true followers believed and acknowledged that God in heaven existed and was real. They thought, “The fact that God created humankind is true. No matter how long ago it happened, this fact remains true. Not only must we believe it, but we must be certain, and share this fact. This is our responsibility and our obligation.” However, another group of people who were nonbelievers felt that these things were likely just legends. No one tried to verify the stories or research whether they were real or fictional, they just half believed them. When they needed God, they hoped He was real and could grant them what they pursued, prayed, and yearned for; when they prayed to God hoping to get something, they hoped this God existed. By doing this, they were just treating God like a psychological crutch. They did not see the fact that God saves man, nor did they accept the truths God expressed. This was not true belief in God; they were already nonbelievers. How did the most inferior type of person manifest themselves? All they did was serve God at church, make offerings to Him, follow all the rituals, and even believe all sorts of legends. However, God was not in their heart, and the God of their notions and imaginings was vague and hollow. What did a person like this believe in? Materialism. They only believed in things they could see. In their eyes, the stuff of legends, vague things, and anything in the spiritual realm that they could not touch with their hands, see with their eyes, or hear with their ears did not exist. Some people say, “Then, do they believe in the existence of things they cannot see, like microorganisms?” They absolutely believe in those things. They absolutely believe in science, electrons, microbiology, and chemistry. Nonbelievers believe those things are true more than anything. They are true materialists. We are talking about this in order to analyze these three types of people: true believers, those who half believe, and materialists who do not believe in the existence of God at all. Some people say, “Is there really a God? Where is He? What does He look like? I heard that God is in the third heaven. So, how high up is the third heaven? How far away is it, and how big is it? People also say there is a heaven, and that it is paved with gold bricks and jade tiles, and that the walls are gold too. How could there be such a wonderful place? It’s nonsense! I heard that in the Age of Law, God gave His laws to His chosen people, and that the tablets of the laws still exist. That’s probably all just legend, something the ruling class uses to control the masses.” Does this group of people have true belief in God? (No, they do not.) They do not believe that God really exists, or the fact that He created humans and has led humankind up until the present day. So, why do they still serve in the church? (Because they treat serving God as a job and a meal ticket.) That’s right. They see it as a job and a meal ticket. So, which type of person was Paul? (The third type.) This is connected to his nature essence. Paul liked to ramble on about empty theories. He liked empty things, vague things and things which are fantasy. He liked things which are deep and hard to grasp, and which can’t be laid out in concrete terms. He liked to overthink things, he was prejudiced and stubborn, and he had a distorted understanding. People like this are not human. This is the sort of person he was. Looking at Paul’s disposition and nature essence, as well as his preferences, hopes, pursuits, and aspirations, although he served in the church and was a student of a famous teacher, the knowledge he learned was just a tool for him to satisfy his own desires, ambitions, and vanity, and to get himself a meal ticket, status, and standing in society. Looking at Paul’s nature essence and pursuits, how much faith did he have in Jehovah? His faith was not a promise, just empty words. He was a nonbeliever, an atheist, and a materialist. Some people ask, “If Paul was a nonbeliever, why did he become the Lord Jesus Christ’s apostle and spread the gospel of the Age of Grace?” Tell Me, how was he able to walk this path? What prompted him? What was the turning point for him that made him take up this role, and made a nonbeliever like him able to walk a path like this, and make a turnabout? What am I referring to when I talk about a “turnabout”? It was when Paul was struck down on the road to Damascus—that was the turnabout of his life. He experienced two kinds of turnabouts: One is that he went from not believing in God to believing that God definitely exists because the Lord Jesus who he had initially been persecuting appeared to him on the road to Damascus. Paul exclaimed, “Who are You, Lord?” Actually, deep down inside, Paul did not believe that this Lord and God existed, but he couldn’t help himself from calling out, “Who are You, Lord?” What did the Lord Jesus say? (“I am Jesus whom you persecute” (Acts 9:5).) The moment the Lord Jesus said that, Paul was convinced of a fact: A Lord had appeared who he had never seen before, was incapable of imagining, and who was more powerful than he could imagine. How was he convinced that the Lord was more powerful than he could imagine? Because when Paul least expected it, the Jesus who he absolutely did not believe to be God appeared right in front of him. How powerful is the Lord Jesus? Paul was convinced of the magnitude of His power when his eyes were blinded by His light. Then, could he be convinced that the Lord Jesus is God? (No.) Why not? (Because Paul didn’t believe God existed in the first place.) That’s right, because he didn’t believe in God’s existence at all. Right now, you all have faith and a foundation in your hearts, so if God were to appear to you, even if it was just His voice or His back, and if He spoke to you or called your name, you would be convinced of a fact: “This is the God I believe in. I have seen Him and I have heard Him. God has approached me.” You would be convinced because you have faith in your heart, you have dreamed of this moment, and you are not afraid. But is this what Paul thought? (No.) He never had faith in his heart. What was his first thought? (Fear.) He was afraid because this entity was capable of striking him down and killing him! This scared and terrified him more than hell, which he couldn’t see. He was scared out of his mind. His heart had no faith in God at all—you could say he had no concept of God. Therefore, when the Lord Jesus did His work, whether it was performing signs and wonders or preaching sermons, no matter how many people followed Him, how impressive He was, or how big a scene it was, in Paul’s mind, the Lord Jesus was nothing more than an ordinary person. He looked down on the Lord Jesus and had no regard for Him. But now, the ordinary Son of man that he looked down on was standing right in front of him, no longer in the body of an ordinary person, and with not just a voice, but a column of light! For him, it was a moment he would never forget in a million years. The light was blinding! How did God strike Paul down? When God approached Paul, Paul was blinded in an instant and fell to the ground. What was going on? Did he fall willingly and of his own volition, or was he already prepared for it? (No, he just couldn’t bear it.) Man’s body is just flesh; it cannot bear it. When God truly approaches you, He will not be in the ordinary physical body that you saw the Lord Jesus in—so pleasant and approachable, so humble and ordinary, made of flesh and blood, someone who seems unremarkable to you, and who you give no second thought. When God truly approaches you, even if He does not strike you down you will not be able to bear it! Deep in Paul’s heart, the first thing he felt was, “I have been approached by the Lord Jesus who I used to persecute and look down on. This light is so powerful!” Did God tell him to bow down? Did He say, “You should bow down”? (No, He didn’t.) Then why was Paul face-down on the ground? (He was scared.) No. Humankind was created by God, and they are so small and weak that when God’s light touches their flesh, they cannot help but fall to the ground. God is too big and strong; He is too much for their capacities and nerves to handle. Paul did not acknowledge the Lord Jesus as God, or as Lord, so why would he bow down of his own accord? He had fallen down flat on his face; he was completely incapacitated and paralyzed. His initial pride, arrogance, cockiness, self-righteousness, and self-importance disappeared in that instant. God did not even appear to Paul in His real person; it was just His light that shone on him, and when Paul saw it, this was the result; this was how much of an impact it had on him. This was Paul’s turnabout. If there was no unique context behind this turnabout, or it was not a special case, then to an ordinary person with humanity and a conscience, who pursues positive things and who pursues the truth, it would be a good thing because when a person sees God, it influences the pursuit of their entire life. Judging from what is recorded in the Bible, throughout the centuries it was rare for a person to hear God speak. Job heard God speak to him in a whirlwind after testing him. Job spent his whole life seeking to submit to God’s arrangements, and to understand God’s sovereignty, but Job never saw God until he was seventy years old; he only experienced His sovereignty, yet Job had the faith that he did. When he heard God speak to him with his own ears, was it not a huge turnabout in his faith? (Yes, it was.) This turnabout was an elevation, a point at which his faith was increased even more. It confirmed to him even more that all the work the God he believed in and obeyed did in people was right and good, and that people should obey Him. It was not a small turnabout like the average person experiences, where they gradually move from a doubtful faith to true faith free of doubt. Rather, it was an elevation, through which his faith reached a higher plane. With regard to Paul, what turnabout was it that God’s appearance in the form of striking him down should have brought about? Certainly not elevation, because he never believed in God before that, so it couldn’t be called elevation. So, what impact did it have on him? This is yet again connected to his pursuits. Tell Me. (In order to preserve his life, Paul wanted to atone for his sins by sharing the gospel and rendering service.) That is exactly right. He was afraid of death, too, and he was very slippery. When he found out that the Jesus he had persecuted was actually God, he was scared out of his wits, and thought, “What should I do? All I can do is listen to the Lord’s orders, otherwise I will die!” From that point on, he accepted God’s commission and started to spread the gospel and render service in order to atone for his sins. He thought, “If I am actually successful in spreading the gospel and the Lord Jesus is satisfied, I might even get a crown and reward!” Those were the calculations deep in his heart. He thought he had finally found a better chance at obtaining blessings. Paul accepted the Lord’s commission in order to atone for his sins and save his life; that was the intention and goal behind him believing in and accepting the Lord. Ever since he met the Lord Jesus on the road to Damascus and was struck down, he made a turnabout which marked a new start for his pursuits and life of belief in God. Was this new start positive or negative? (It was negative.) He did not recognize God’s righteousness, and he accepted the Lord Jesus’ commission using a method of transaction that was even more slippery, unspeakable, and underhanded just because he feared God’s majesty and being struck down. This is even more disgusting. However, that is not the point of My fellowship today. From Paul’s turnabout after encountering God’s great light, and the various ways he manifested himself, we can clearly see what path Paul was on, and what sort of a person his nature essence showed him to be. These things are completely clear.
Ever since being struck down, Paul believed that the Lord Jesus Christ existed, and that the Lord Jesus Christ was God. The God he believed in had instantly switched from God in heaven to the Lord Jesus Christ—it had switched to God on the earth. From that moment on, he could not refuse the Lord Jesus’ commission, and began to render service for the incarnate God—the Lord Jesus—unyieldingly. Of course, the goal of his service was partly to absolve him of his sins, but it was also partly to satisfy his desire to be blessed, and to obtain the destination he wanted. When Paul said “through the will of God,” did “God” refer to Jehovah or Jesus? He became a bit confused, and thought, “I believe in Jehovah, so why was I struck down by Jesus? Why didn’t Jehovah stop Jesus when He struck me down? Exactly which one of Them is God?” He couldn’t figure it out. Either way, he would never see the Lord Jesus as his God. Even if he acknowledged Him verbally, there was still doubt in his heart. As time went on, he gradually went back to believing that “only Jehovah is God,” so in all of Paul’s letters after that, when he wrote “through the will of God,” “God” likely referred mainly to Jehovah God. Because Paul never clearly stated that the Lord Jesus is Jehovah, always saw the Lord Jesus as God’s Son, referred to Him as the Son, and never said anything like “the Son and the Father are one,” it proves that Paul never recognized the Lord Jesus as the one true God; he was doubtful and only half believed it. Looking at this view he had of God, and his method of pursuit, Paul was not someone who pursued the truth. He never understood the mystery of incarnation, and never recognized the Lord Jesus as the one true God. From this, it’s not hard to tell that Paul was someone who worshiped power and was slippery and crafty. What does the fact that Paul worshiped evil, power, and status show us about what his belief was? Did he have true belief? (No.) He had no true belief, so did the God he defined in his heart actually exist? (No.) Then why did he still travel around, expend himself, and do work for the Lord Jesus Christ? (He was controlled by his intention to be blessed.) (He was afraid of being punished.) We have circled back to this point again. It was because he was afraid of being punished, and because he had a thorn in his flesh that he could not remove, so he always had to travel around and do work, lest the thorn in his flesh hurt more than he could bear. From these manifestations of his, from his words, his reaction to what happened on the road to Damascus, and the effect being struck down on the road to Damascus had on him after the fact, we can see that he had no belief in his heart; one can more or less be sure that he was a nonbeliever and an atheist. His perspective was, “Whoever has power, in them I will believe. Whoever has power and can subdue me, for them I will run errands and do my utmost. Whoever can give me a destination, a crown, and satisfy my desire to be blessed, that is who I will follow. I will follow them to the end.” Who was the God in his heart? Anyone could be his God, so long as they were more powerful than him and could subdue him. Was this not Paul’s nature essence? (Yes.) So, who was the entity he eventually believed in who was capable of striking him down on the road to Damascus? (The Lord Jesus Christ.) “The Lord Jesus Christ” was the name he used, but the entity he really believed in was the God in his heart. Where is his God? If you were to ask him, “Where is your God? Is he in the heavens? Is he amongst all created things? Is he the one who is sovereign over all humankind?” he would say, “No, my God is on the road to Damascus.” That’s who his God really was. Is the reason Paul was able to go from persecuting the Lord Jesus Christ to working, expending himself, and even sacrificing his life for the Lord Jesus Christ—the reason he was able to make such a big turnabout—because there was a change in his belief? Was it because his conscience had awakened? (No.) Then what caused it? What changed? His psychological crutch changed. Before, his psychological crutch was in the heavens; it was an empty, vague thing. If it were replaced with Jesus Christ, Paul would think He was too insignificant—Jesus was just a regular person, He couldn’t be a psychological crutch—and Paul had even less regard for famous religious figures. Paul just wanted to find someone he could rely on, who was capable of subduing him and making him blessed. He thought that the entity he encountered on the road to Damascus was the mightiest, and that that was the one he should believe in. His psychological crutch changed at the same time as his belief changed. Based on this, did Paul truly believe in God or not? (No.) Let’s summarize, now, in one sentence what influenced Paul’s pursuits and the road he was on. (His psychological crutch.) Then, how should we define Paul’s seventh sin? In all respects, Paul’s belief was a psychological crutch; it was empty and vague. He was a nonbeliever and an atheist through and through. Why didn’t an atheist and nonbeliever like him leave the religious world behind? For one thing, in his vague imagination there was the issue of destination. For another, there was the issue of him having a meal ticket in life. Fame, gain, status, and a meal ticket were his pursuits in life, and the idea of having a destination after death was a comfort to him. These things constitute every root and crutch behind what people like this pursue and display, and of the path they walk. From this perspective, what was Paul? (A nonbeliever. He believed in a vague God.) (An atheist.) It is accurate to say he was an atheist, and that he was a nonbeliever and an opportunist who lurked in Christianity. If you just call him a Pharisee, isn’t that an understatement? If you look at the letters Paul wrote, and see that on the surface they say “through the will of God,” you might assume that Paul viewed the God in heaven as the highest, and that it was only because of people’s notions, or because they were ignorant and didn’t understand God, that they divided God into three levels: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and that that is just man’s foolishness, and it is not a very serious problem, because the entire religious world thinks that way, too. However, now, after analyzing it is this the case? (No, it’s not.) Paul didn’t even acknowledge the existence of God. This is an atheist and a nonbeliever, and he should be put under the same umbrella as atheists and unbelievers.
I have finished summarizing Paul’s seven sins. Give Me a brief summary of what they are. (The first sin, is that Paul treated the pursuit of a crown of righteousness and the pursuit of blessings as appropriate objectives; the second, is that Paul treated his imaginings and the things he thought were right in his own notions as the truth, and preached them everywhere, deceiving people; the third, is that Paul treated his gifts and knowledge as life; the fourth, is that Paul denied the identity and essence of the Lord Jesus Christ, and denied the Lord Jesus’ work of redemption; the fifth, is that Paul preached “There is laid up for me a crown of righteousness,” and openly incited and deceived people, making them try to force God’s hand, clamor against Him, and oppose Him; the sixth, is that Paul believed that for him to live was Christ. He denied the truths that the Lord Jesus expressed, replaced the Lord Jesus’ words with his own, and made people practice and adhere to them. Paul’s seventh sin, is that he treated belief in God as a psychological crutch, and was an atheist and a nonbeliever through and through.) Our analysis of these issues Paul had is so detailed, that it can make everyone who worships Paul come to their senses. This is meaningful. Out of these dispositions and essences that Paul displayed and manifested, and his personal methods of pursuit, which of them has obvious correlations to you? (All of them do.) The first sin is treating the pursuit of a crown of righteousness and the pursuit of blessings as appropriate objectives. Why do I say this is wrong, and that people should reflect on it and change it? When Paul pursued a crown of righteousness, pursued blessings, and sought to enter the kingdom of heaven, he considered the pursuit of these benefits as appropriate. So, what displays and manifestations do you have in real life that match this state? (Sometimes I seek to do important work and make contributions to God’s house. I think that by pursuing these things, God will ultimately perfect me. I treat the work I do and the duties I perform as a list of achievements.) This is one part of it. Treating the duties you perform as a list of achievements is the same as pursuing a crown of righteousness; it is the same sort of thing; it is the same state. That is what you work and suffer for. That is what directs the source of your suffering, and the motivation for your suffering. If you did not have these things directing you, you would not have any energy; you would be utterly spent. Does anyone have anything else? (Treating past instances when I gave things up, expended myself, suffered, was arrested and spent time in jail, and things like that as personal capital, and as a basis and reason for being blessed.) This is just a description. What is the underlying state, here? What sort of situation makes you fall into this state? You wouldn’t think this way for no reason. There’s no way you’d always be thinking this when you’re eating, sleeping, or doing things in the day-to-day. You need to know what backgrounds and situations put you into this state. Tell Me. (When I am slightly effective in my duties, I think I have traveled around for God, expended myself for Him, labored and done a lot for Him. Just like Paul, I think I have fought the good fight for God, and made a contribution. This is when my ambitions and desires rear their heads.) Actually, you were not originally without ambitions and desires; they were hidden inside your heart right from the beginning, and now they are coming to the surface and revealing themselves. When this happens, you are no longer humble, your words are not indirect, and you become cocky. Paul’s incorrect views were at the root of everything he did. Because the views underlying his belief in God were wrong, it ensured the root of his actions was wrong. He didn’t realize this, however, and even thought it was appropriate, so he pursued in an incorrect direction. This caused the result of his pursuits to be the opposite of what he intended; they did not have a good result, and he did not gain the truth. People now are the same way. If the views and direction guiding your pursuit are always wrong, but you still treat them as correct methods of pursuit, then what will you ultimately gain? It will likely disappoint you or inflate your nature. For example, if God blesses you in a special way, or bestows something upon you alone, you will think, “Look, God is gracious toward me. This proves that God approves of everything I have done. God has accepted it. My sacrifices and effort were not in vain. God does not treat people unfairly.” This is how you comprehend God not treating people unfairly, His blessings, and acceptance, but this comprehension is wrong and distorted. The key, now, is how to transform these wrong and distorted intentions, views, and pursuits into correct and pure views and thoughts. Only doing things according to correct thoughts and views constitutes practicing the truth, and it is the only way you can gain the truth. This is the key.
By listening to sermons frequently, people are now beginning to reflect on themselves, and compare themselves to God’s words. They are starting to recognize problems they have performing their duties, and are able to detect abnormal states, extravagant desires, and displays of corruption within themselves. They are not completely unperceptive. The only problem, is when they detect they are in the wrong state, or are displaying corruption, they don’t have the ability to restrain it, and do not seek the truth to resolve it. Sometimes they live according to satanic philosophies, not offending anyone, and think they’re pretty good. However, they haven’t changed in any real way; they have muddled about wasting their days, and as a result, have no real experiential testimony to speak of even after believing in God for a decade, and feel ashamed. The key problem that needs to be resolved now, is how to change the incorrect direction of your pursuits. You are clear that the path of pursuing the truth is correct, yet you insist on pursuing fame, gain, and status. How can this problem be turned around so that you are able to get onto the path of pursuing the truth? This is a real problem that believers must resolve. You should fellowship often about how you experience God’s work, and see who has experiential testimony of pursuing the truth, and whose experiential testimony is good, then accept it and follow suit, so that you benefit from it and break free from the constraints of your corrupt disposition. It is no easy thing to walk the path of pursuing the truth—you must understand yourself, and not just understand your transgressions; the most important thing is to understand your corrupt disposition, what is wrong about your preferences and pursuits, and what consequences could result. This is the most crucial thing. The majority of people pursue fame, gain, and status. Every day, they think about how to become a leader, how to make other people look up to them, how they can show off, and how to live a dignified life. If people are incapable of reflecting on these things, cannot see the essence of living this way clearly, and keep muddling along until who knows how many years later when they hit a brick wall, stumble and finally come to their senses, won’t it delay the important matter of their life’s growth? Only by taking a clear look at their own corrupt disposition and the path they have chosen can people step onto the path of pursuing the truth. If this is the effect they want to achieve, isn’t it crucial to understand themselves? Some people don’t understand themselves in the slightest, yet have crystal clear insight into the smallest detail of others’ issues, and are particularly discerning. So, when they discern others, why don’t they use it as a mirror to examine themselves? If you always say other people are arrogant, self-righteous, deceitful, and don’t submit to the truth, but cannot see that you are the same way, then you are in trouble. If you never perceive your own problems, and no matter how many sermons on the truth you hear, while you understand what you hear, you don’t compare yourself to it, are not willing to examine your state, and are incapable of seriously handling and resolving your own problems, then you will have no life entry. If people are always incapable of entering into the truth realities, will they not have an empty feeling in their hearts? They will not sense what work God has done in them, as though they had no perception. They will always be in a foggy state, and their pursuits will not be aimed toward a correct objective or direction. They will just pursue according to their own preferences, and walk their own path. This is just like Paul, only putting importance on pursuing rewards and a crown, and not accepting or practicing the truth at all. If your mind is always in a vague state, and you do not have a correct path of pursuit, then you have not achieved any effect after listening to sermons for several years, and the true way has never taken root in your heart. Although you may know how to talk about a lot of doctrine, it is incapable of resolving your negative state or corrupt disposition at all. When you encounter any sort of difficulty, the doctrine you understand will not help you overcome it, or smoothly go through it; it will not help you change or correct your state, let you live with a sense of conscience, give you freedom and liberation, or stop you from being constrained by anything. You have never been in a state like this before, so it proves that you fundamentally have not entered into the truth realities. If you want to enter into the truth realities, understand God’s words, achieve true faith in God, know God, and be sure that God truly exists, then you must compare your state to God’s words, and then find a path to practice and entry in God’s words. Some people read God’s words and want to compare themselves to it, but no matter how hard they try, they aren’t able to. For example, when God reveals that man’s disposition is too arrogant, they think, “I’m very humble and stay in the background. I’m not arrogant.” What is this arrogance God talks about? It is a kind of disposition, not the manifestation of a haughty personality, or speaking in a loud voice or in a particularly cocky way. Rather, it refers to something in your disposition—it is a disposition where you do not yield to anything, and are disdainful of, look down on, and care nothing for everything. You are arrogant, conceited, self-righteous, always think you are capable, and do not listen to anyone. Even if you hear words of the truth you care nothing for them and see the truth as unimportant. You don’t think it’s a problem when you display a corrupt disposition, and even think that no one can match you, always thinking you are better than everyone else, and demanding that others listen to you. This is an arrogant, self-righteous person. People like this have no life entry, and no truth realities.
How should one evaluate whether a person has truth realities? Of course, an accurate appraisal must be made according to God’s words. First, look at whether you truly understand yourself, and whether you truly understand your corrupt disposition. For example, is your disposition arrogant? Do you display an arrogant disposition when doing things? If you don’t know, then you are someone who does not understand themselves. If a person cannot see their state clearly, hasn’t the slightest understanding of the corruption they display, does not base their words and actions on the truth, is not discerning in situations they encounter, and blindly applies the rules when looking at every matter, but does not know if it’s right or wrong, then they are someone who has no understanding of the truth. If you understand the truth, you will be able to understand yourself, know that you have an arrogant disposition, be able to discern your true state, truly repent and change, and know how to practice the truth. However, if you do not pursue the truth, have no understanding of the practical side of the truth of God’s words, do not reflect on people’s corrupt essences which God reveals, or compare yourself to them, then you will forever be a muddle-headed person. Only the truth can make you discerning, and make you able to differentiate between right and wrong, and black and white; only the truth can make you smart and rational, give you wisdom, and give you the ability to clearly distinguish between what positive things are and what negative things are. If you cannot clearly distinguish between these things, you will forever be a muddle-headed person; you will always be in a muddled, clueless, and mixed-up state. People like this have no way of understanding the truth, and no matter how many years they believe in God, they are still unable to enter into the truth realities. If their service is not up to standard, then all that is left for them is to be cast out. For example, a highly renowned person does something, and most people see it as a good thing, but if someone who understands the truth looks at it, they will have discernment, and determine that evil intentions are concealed within their actions—that it is fake goodness, tricks, and deceit, and that only an evil person or a devil king could do something like that. What is the basis for saying this? The essence of this “good thing” was determined according to the truth. No matter what other people say, only by using the truth to evaluate it can you see its essence clearly: If it’s good, then it’s good; if it’s bad, then it’s bad. Evaluating it according to God’s words will absolutely be accurate. However, if you do not understand the truth, notions will arise in you, and you will say, “Why are they being exposed and condemned for doing something good? They’re not being treated fairly!” This is how you will evaluate it. The truth is not your basis for evaluating this matter, but rather things imagined up by your mind. If you always view things according to human notions and imaginings, you will never be able to see the essence of problems clearly; you will only be deceived by outward appearances. When you don’t have the truth, no matter what you are looking at, your view will always be muddled, hazy, foggy, and unclear, yet you think you have insight and depth of thought. This is a lack of self-knowledge. For example, if God says a person is evil and should be punished, but you say they are a good person and have done good things, aren’t your words in exact opposition and contrary to God’s words? This is what happens when people do not understand the truth, and do not have discernment. Some people have believed in God for many years, but do not understand the truth. They are not meticulous in any matter, and there are many matters which they cannot see clearly. They are easily deceived by false leaders and antichrists; no matter what situation arises, so long as there is an evil person causing a disturbance, they get all mixed up and speak as the evil person would without realizing it. It is only when the evil person is exposed and revealed that they come to their senses. People like this often live in a clueless frame of mind, and their essence is that of a muddle-headed person. People like this haven’t an ounce of caliber; not only do they not understand the truth, but they can be deceived at any time, and so they have no way of entering into the truth realities. Every church has some people like this—when a false leader does work, they follow them; when an antichrist is deceiving people, they follow them. In short, they will follow the leader whoever that person is; they are like a woman who follows her husband in whatever he does. If the leader is a good person, then they follow a good person; if the leader is a bad person, then they follow a bad person. They do not have their own opinions or standpoints. Therefore, don’t expect this sort of person to be able to understand the truth or enter into reality. It’s already good if they can perform a small amount of service. The Holy Spirit works in people who love the truth. People who love the truth are all people of caliber who are at least able to understand God’s words, and understand the sermons and fellowship of God’s house. No matter how many heresies and fallacies the religious world disseminates and spreads, and no matter how the evil force of antichrists defames, condemns, and persecutes the church, people who love the truth are still convinced that God’s words are the truth, and believe that the sermons, fellowship, and experiential testimony of God’s house are in line with the truth and are real testimonies. That is what it means to have comprehension ability. If you realize that all the words God speaks are the truth and the life realities that people should possess, this realization proves that you already understand part of the truth. If you comprehend that all of the truths God expresses are positive things and are truth realities, and you are positive this is the case and acknowledge one hundred percent that this is the case, then you have understanding of God’s work. It is no easy thing to understand the truth; it is something only people enlightened by the Holy Spirit can achieve. Those who truly understand the truth already acknowledge deep in their hearts that everything God has done is positive, that it is all truth, and that it is all so precious to humankind. People who truly understand the truth can clearly see that everything in the world of unbelievers is negative, and goes against the truth. No matter how good their theories sound, they deceive and harm people. Everything God does is positive, is the truth, and is salvation for people. Everything Satan and devils do is negative, erroneous, and absurd, and deceives and harms people; it is the exact opposite of what God does. If you are completely clear on this, then you have discernment. If you are also able to pursue the truth, accept the judgment and chastisement of God’s words, understand yourself through God’s words and compare yourself to them, see your corruption as it truly is, resolve the corrupt dispositions you display in every circumstance God creates for you, and are ultimately able to not just understand yourself, but also to be discerning toward others, and can discern between who truly believes in God, who is a nonbeliever, who is a false leader, who is an antichrist, and who deceives people—if you are able to accurately evaluate and discern these things—it means you understand the truth and have some reality. Say, for example, that your relatives or parents are believers in God, and because of evildoing, creating disturbances, or not having any acceptance of the truth, they are cleared out. However, you are not discerning toward them, don’t know why they were cleared out, feel extremely upset, and are always complaining that God’s house has no love and is not fair to people. You should pray to God and seek the truth, then evaluate just what kind of people these relatives are based on God’s words. If you truly understand the truth, you will be able to accurately define them, and you will see that everything God does is right, and that He is a righteous God. Then, you will have no complaints, will be able to submit to God’s arrangements, and will not try to defend your relatives or parents. The point here is not to sever your kinship; it is just to define what kind of people they are, and make it so that you are discerning toward them, and know why they were cast out. If these things are truly clear to you in your heart, and your views are correct and in line with the truth, then you will be able to stand on the same side as God, and your views on the matter will be fully compatible with God’s words. If you are not able to accept the truth or view people according to God’s words, and still side with relationships and perspectives of the flesh when viewing people, then you will never be able to cast off this fleshly relationship, and will still treat these people as your kin—closer even than your brothers and sisters at church, in which case there will be a contradiction between God’s words and your views toward your family in this matter—a conflict, even, and in such circumstances, it would be impossible for you to stand on the side of God, and you would have notions and misunderstandings about God. Thus, if people are to achieve compatibility with God, first of all, their views on matters must be in line with God’s words; they must be able to view people and things based on God’s words, accept that God’s words are the truth, and be able to put aside the traditional notions of man. Regardless of what person or matter you are faced with, you must be able to maintain the same perspectives and views as God, and your perspectives and views must be in harmony with the truth. This way, your views and the way you approach people will not be hostile to God, and you will be capable of obedience to God and compatibility with God. Such people could never possibly resist God again; they are the very people that God wishes to gain.
The first step in entering into the truth realities is to reflect on yourself according to God’s words, and compare all of your different states to His words. If you want to enter deeper, you must dissect and understand your corrupt disposition more deeply. What should you do after you have understood it? You should find a way to practice and enter, and put thought into how to practice the truth and cast off your corrupt disposition; this is the correct path. Some people become negative after gaining an understanding of themselves; they cry and sob that they have been cast out and are service-doers and foils, and they don’t even want to perform their duties. What kind of people are these? These are absurd people, and drama queens. So, what is the best way to fix it? At the very least, they should not cry or make a fuss, and moreover, they should not give up or blame God. The most important things they should do are seek the truth and come to understand what God’s will actually is, what the most sensible course of action is, and what path they should choose; these are the most important things. It is easiest for people to lose their sense when they are constantly controlled by the intention to be blessed. People who lack sense are the most pitiful, but people who, in all things, choose to obey God and seek only to satisfy God, are those with the most sense and who have the biggest conscience. When a person is exposed by God, how should they handle it, and what choice should they make? They must seek the truth, and should not, under any circumstances, become muddle-headed. It is good for you to experience God’s judgment and chastisement, and to see your corruption as it truly is, so why are you negative? God exposes you so that you gain an understanding of yourself, and in order to save you. Actually, the corrupt disposition you display stems from your nature. It is not that God wants to expose you, but if He does not expose you, won’t you still display it? Before you believed in God, He had not exposed you yet, so wasn’t everything you lived out a satanic corrupt disposition? You are someone who lives according to a satanic disposition. You shouldn’t be so shocked by these things. When you display a little bit of corruption it scares you to death, and you think it’s over for you, that God doesn’t want you, and that everything you’ve done is for naught. Don’t overreact. It is corrupt humans whom God saves, not robots. What do I mean by corrupt humans? I mean people who display a satanic corrupt disposition, who are arrogant and self-righteous, do not accept the truth, are capable of resisting and rebelling against God, of being antagonistic toward Him, and who are capable of following in Paul’s footsteps. These are the sort of humans God saves. If you want to accept God’s salvation and achieve salvation, you must face the corrupt disposition that exists in your heart, face the corrupt disposition you display every day, and every day you must seek the truth and reflect on yourself, compare yourself to God’s words, practice discernment and dissection of the corrupt disposition you display, and battle it. Some people battle with it several times but are defeated, and say, “Why do I always display arrogance? Why don’t other people?” In fact, everyone displays arrogance. When other people display it, you don’t know, but they know. Or, it could be that they themselves don’t know when they are displaying arrogance, but God knows. Also, there is another issue people must remember: God fixes people’s corrupt dispositions; He does not fix their way of doing things. God does not hate the momentary intention you have while doing something, or a particular way of doing things, or if you are occasionally lazy or do not pay a price; these are not the things God hates. What God hates is your corrupt disposition. Whenever you feel you are displaying a corrupt disposition, you should become aware of it on your own before God disciplines you. You shouldn’t guess whether God hates you or has cast you out; you should be aware of your problem, then seek how you should repent, and what way of practicing the truth will bring about change. This is a manifestation of normal sense. What you should first become aware of is, “These words of mine are not sensible, and they display arrogance. I am not capable of doing this task, yet I talk myself up and say that I can, so isn’t it just a lot of big talk? Big talk and talking myself up show I have an arrogant disposition.” God does not condemn you for big talk, but does that mean you can just let it go? No, you cannot let it go. You must dissect it, and say, “Why am I so good at talking myself up and talking big? Why do I brag about things I can’t do, or things which I don’t even know if I can do? Why do I have this foible?” This is not a foible. A foible is a surface-level bad habit. Big talk is one of the ways an arrogant disposition displays itself; it is your satanic disposition that directs you to live in a state like this—you are entirely directed by your disposition. If you can suppress it, and not display an arrogant disposition, does this mean you do not have an arrogant disposition anymore? Does it mean it has been fixed? It is absolutely not that simple. It is not just by changing the way you do something, being outwardly rule-abiding and well-behaved, not being cocky, and having a cultured manner that makes you not arrogant. Those are just masks, and add new problems on top of being arrogant, and the result is even more troublesome. If you want to fix your arrogance, and fix every sort of corrupt disposition, you must seek the truth to fix it when performing your duties. This is the correct way. For example, suppose the leader arranges for you to perform a certain duty, and after listening you say cavalierly, “I have done duties like this before. This will be a piece of cake!” But right after, you realize you displayed arrogance, and that this way of thinking was wrong, and quickly pray and adjust your thinking, saying, “Oh, God! I’ve displayed arrogance yet again. Please deal with me; I am willing to perform my duty well,” this is the first thing you should do. Then, how should you treat your duty? You think, “I am doing this for God, and I am doing it in His presence, so I must handle it carefully. I cannot mess it up. If I do, it will be so embarrassing!” Then, you mull it over, and think, “No, that’s not right. Why should I be afraid of embarrassing myself?” This state isn’t right, either; you have started to stray from the path. How should you correct it? Which direction is the right way to go? Again, this has to do with practicing the truth to fix problems. You should think, “I am not afraid of embarrassing myself. The key is that I should not be detrimental to the church’s work,” and your state will have turned around. But if you then think, “What if I am detrimental to the church’s work, and am pruned and dealt with? I will have no pride,” your state will be incorrect again. How can this be fixed? In your heart, you must think, “I never place any importance on my duty, I’m lazy about doing it, and I’m so arrogant. I deserve to be dealt with. I must pray to God and let Him work. I’m a hard nut to crack, but God is almighty and nothing is impossible for Him, so I will lean on God.” This is right; this is the right way to practice. God has imparted certain talents to you, and let you acquire some knowledge, but acquiring this knowledge does not necessarily mean you can perform your duty well. Isn’t this a fact? (Yes.) How does a person arrive at this conclusion? (Through experience.) This experience taught you a lesson, and gave you insight. Namely, that what God gives to people is not something they inherently possess, nor is it their capital; God can take away what He has given them at any time. When God wants to expose you, no matter how talented you are at something, you will forget it and be unable to use it—you will be nothing. If, at this time, you pray, “God, I am nothing. I have this ability only because You gave it to me. I beg You to give me strength! Please bless and guide me, so I am not detrimental to Your work.” Is this the right way to pray? (No, it is not.) What changes should you make at this point? You say, “Oh, God! I am willing to submit to Your arrangements. I cannot always think that I am right. Although I know a few things about this area of work, and have some proficiency at it, it doesn’t necessarily mean I can do the task well. Because my corrupt disposition is a disturbance, I am given to doing things in a careless and sloppy manner, and do not take my duty seriously. I am incapable of controlling myself, and cannot get a grip on myself. I beg You to protect me and guide me. I am willing to submit to You, do the best I can, and give You the glory.” If you do your duty well, and give eighty percent of the credit to God and twenty percent to yourself, is that appropriate? (No, it’s not.) It isn’t sensible to divide things up that way. If God was not at work, could you do your duty well? Absolutely not, because not only do you lack the truth, you also have a corrupt disposition. No matter what sort of corrupt state exists in people’s hearts, they must always reflect on themselves, and seek the truth to fix it. Once their corrupt disposition has been cleansed, their state will be normal.
Sometimes a wrong thought or idea will appear in a person’s heart, and it disturbs their heart. They get stuck in that state, and are unable to emerge from it for a day or two. What should a person do at a time like this? You should seek the truth to fix the situation. First, you should get clear on how the wrong thought or idea arose, how it gained a hold over you, made you negative and depressed, and made you display all sorts of rebelliousness and unsightly ways. Then, when you realize that these things were dictated by your corrupt disposition, and that God hates it, you should quiet yourself before God and pray, “God, discipline me and let me learn the lessons I need to. I am not afraid of being exposed, nor am I afraid of being embarrassed or losing face. All I am afraid of is my actions offending Your administrative decrees, and displeasing You.” This is the right path, but do you have the stature to walk it? (No.) If you do not have the stature, does it mean you cannot pray in this direction? Since it is the right path, you should pray in this direction. Now, people’s stature is small, they must frequently come before God, lean on God, and let God protect them more and discipline them more. When their stature has grown, and they can shoulder a burden and do more tasks, God will not need to worry so much, and will not need to constantly protect them, discipline them, try them, or watch them. This is a matter of the heart, and God looks at people’s hearts. God does not care how well-behaved or obedient you are on the outside; He looks at your attitude. Maybe you say nothing all day, but what attitude do you have in your heart? “I have been given this duty, so I have a responsibility to do it well, but I have a habit of being unbridled, and I always do as I please. I know I have this issue, but I can’t control myself. I am willing for God to orchestrate my environment, and remove the people, matters, and things surrounding me which could disturb me, impact the performance of my duty, or impact my practice of the truth, so that I do not fall into temptation, can accept God’s trials, and can accept His discipline.” You must have a heart of willing submission. When these thoughts are in your heart, how can God not see them? How can He pay them no heed? So, God acts. Sometimes when you pray like this once or twice, God does not heed you. When He tests a person’s work and sincerity, He will not say anything, but this does not mean that what you did was wrong. Under no circumstances should you tempt God. If you always tempt God, and say, “Am I right in doing this? Did You see it, God?” then you are in trouble. This is an incorrect state. Just focus on taking action. No matter whether God is disciplining you, leading you, trying you, or guiding you, pay no heed. Just focus on putting effort into the truth you understand, and acting in line with God’s will. That is enough. So far as what the result will be, a lot of times it is not your responsibility. What should you take responsibility for? Performing the duty you should perform, spending the time you should, and paying the price you should. That is enough. Anything that concerns the truth must be examined, and effort must be put into understanding it. The crucial thing is that people walk the path they should. This is enough. This is what people should be doing. As for what level of stature you have, what trials you should go through, what discipline you should experience, what situations you should experience, and how God rules sovereign, you do not need to pay attention to these things. God will do it. You say, “I am small in stature. Don’t make me undergo any trials, God, I’m afraid!” Would God do that? (No, He wouldn’t.) There is no need for you to worry. You say, “I am so large in stature, and have ample faith. God, why don’t You put me through a few trials? Try me like You did with Job and take away everything I have!” God would not do that. You do not know your own stature, but God knows well and is very clear; He can see the heart of every person. Can people see God’s heart? (No, they can’t.) People cannot see God’s heart, so how do they understand God and cooperate with Him? (Through His words.) Through understanding His words, performing their duty well, and holding fast to their place as people. What is people’s duty? It is the labor that people should do, and are capable of doing. These are the tasks that God has given you. What do the tasks that have been given to you include? The area of work you are familiar with, those tasks which the church gives you, those tasks which you should do, and those tasks which are within your ability to do. This is part of it. Another part has to do with the matter of life entry. You must be able to practice the truth and obey God. Just focus on practicing and entering into the truth. Don’t pay attention to others’ evaluation of you or how God sees you. You do not need to pay attention to these things, nor is it necessary for you to pay attention to these things—these are not the things you should be bothering yourself with. People have no say in their good fortune, misfortune, longevity, all the things they experience in their lifetime, their luck, or their life; no one can change these things. You must be clear on this. God is sovereign over these things. People absolutely must clearly recognize and understand this in their hearts. Don’t concern yourself with anything on behalf of God; don’t try and decide what God wants to do. Just focus on effectively handling what you should do, what you should enter into, and the path you should be on. That is enough. As for what your future destination will be, do you have any say over it? (No.) Then how can you solve this problem? Part of it, is by doing everything you should do each day well, and fulfilling your duty as a person. This is the commission God gives to everyone. You came into this world, and God has led you this whole time—no matter whether He has given you various sorts of gifts, or nurtured you and given you a talent or ability, this shows that God has given you commissions. It is very obvious what commission God has given you, and there is no need for God to tell you directly. For example, if you know English, then God definitely has requirements for you in this area. This is your duty. There is no need for God to call down from heaven and say to you directly, “Your duty is translation, and if you don’t do it, I’ll punish you.” There is no need to say this. It is already very clear to you because God has given you normal rationality, thought processes and thinking, as well as the ability to understand this language. That is enough. What God has given you is what He is telling you to do, and this is very clear to you in your heart. During the process of performing your duties, and during the process of accepting God’s commission, you must accept everything God has done to you, including the positive guidance, watering, and provision He has given you. For example, by frequently eating and drinking God’s words, listening to sermons, living church life, fellowshiping on the truth, and harmoniously cooperating with others whilst performing your duty. Another part of it, is through individual life entry—this is the most important. Some people always want to know if they have life, and if they are effective. It is fine to reflect on these things momentarily, but don’t focus on them. It’s like planting crops every year—none of the farmers say how much yield there must be that year, and that if they don’t achieve that result, they will die. They are not this foolish. They all sow seeds when it is the season for it, then water them, fertilize them, and tend to them normally. Then, when the season is right, they are guaranteed a harvest. You must have faith like this; this is real faith in God. Don’t be so calculating with God, saying, “I have put in some effort the last while, will God reward me?” It’s not acceptable to always be asking for rewards, like an office worker asking for their wages at the end of the month. It’s not acceptable to always be asking for wages. People’s faith is too weak, and they do not have real faith in God. Once you see clearly that the path of following God is the path to salvation, and is real life, that it is the correct path that people should be following, and the life that created beings should have, just focus on pursuing the truth and seeking to enter into reality, listening to God’s words, and walking and acting in the direction God points you. This is right. Don’t always ask God, “God, how much longer is it until I have followed You to the end of the road? When will I be saved? When will I be rewarded and get a crown? When will the day of God arrive?” These are all states that people have, but does this make it right? (No.) Some people say “The law cannot be enforced when everyone is an offender,” but this saying is a fallacy, it does not hold water, and it is not in line with the truth. The fact that everyone has these states proves that everyone has a corrupt disposition, so they must all remedy this problem and get over this hurdle. You must always examine yourself in your heart, not focus on looking at how others are doing, and while you examine yourself, you must correct any corrupt states you have. People’s minds are dynamic, and are always actively thinking—one moment they lean left, and the other they lean right; their way of thinking is always a bit off. They do not walk the right path. They insist on following others, and on following evil trends in the world and walking the wrong path. This is people’s nature essence, and they couldn’t control it even if they wanted to. If you cannot control it, then don’t control it. When an incorrect intention or view surfaces, then fix it. This way, the corruption you display will gradually lessen. So, how can you fix it? By praying, and constantly gaining understanding and turning things around. Sometimes, no matter how you try to turn things around, those things surface, so pay them no heed, and just do what you are supposed to do. This is the easiest method. So what is it that people are supposed to do? Perform their duty well, and keep to their duty. You cannot reject the commission God has given you; you must complete it well. Apart from this, in terms of individual life entry, you must do your best to strive for the truth while doing your duty, and work hard to achieve whatever level of entry you can. Whether you are ultimately up to par will be decided by God. People’s own feelings and verdicts are of no use. People cannot decide their own fate, and are unable to evaluate their behavior, or determine what their ultimate end will be. Only God can evaluate and determine these things. You must trust that God is righteous. To borrow the words of unbelievers, you must dare to act, dare to be accountable for your actions, dare to face the facts, and be able to take responsibility. People who have a conscience and sense should perform their duty well and take responsibility.
It is crucial that people frequently examine themselves, and it is crucial for people to accept God’s scrutiny. It is also crucial for people to seek the truth, reverse their states and views, and emerge from them, when they examine themselves and find that they have incorrect states or views. In this way, without realizing it, you will experience fewer and fewer incorrect states, and you will become more and more discerning toward them. After you reverse your incorrect states, the positive things within you will increase, and you will perform your duty with greater and greater purity. Although, on the outside, the way you speak and your personality will be the same as before, your life disposition will have changed. In what ways will this be apparent? You will be able to follow the truth principles when doing things and performing your duty, and you will be able to take responsibility in these things; when you see others doing things in a careless and perfunctory manner you will be angry, and when you see evil phenomena, as well as passive, negative, improper and evil practices that reveal corrupt dispositions, you will detest them. The more you look at these things, the more distaste you will feel, and you will become increasingly discerning toward them. When you see some people who have believed in God for a very long time, and who speak very clearly about words and doctrines, but don’t do any real work and lack principles, you will get angry and loathe it. In particular, when you see leaders and workers who don’t do real work, who always talk about words and doctrines, and who have believed in God for years but haven’t changed, you will have discernment toward them, you will be able to expose and report them, and you will possess a sense of justice. Not only will you hate yourself, but you will also hate it when these evil and unjust things occur. This will prove that there has been a change inside of you. You will be able to look at issues and treat the people, events, and things around you from the perspective of the truth, from God’s side, and from the perspective of positive things—this will show there has been a change in you. So, will you still need God to evaluate you? No—you will be able to sense this yourself. For example, before, if you saw someone doing things in a careless and perfunctory manner, you thought, “That’s normal. I’m the same way. If he didn’t do things that way, then it would make me look like I was doing things in a careless and perfunctory manner.” Everyone was doing things in a careless and perfunctory manner, so you felt you were doing pretty good. At that time, you won’t think that way anymore. You will think, “Doing things in a careless and perfunctory manner is unacceptable. The work of God’s house is important. It was rebellious enough that I was doing things in a careless and perfunctory manner—why are you being like I was, and doing things that way too?” You will think you were so ignorant and immature before, that the way you saw things was so despicable and shameful, and that there’s no way you could give an account of it to God, and your conscience will not be able to get over it. The fact that you will be able to have thoughts and feelings like this will prove that the truth and God’s words have already taken root and germinated within you. The perspective from which you view things, and the standards by which you evaluate things will have changed. You will already be a completely different person from before, when you lived within your corrupt dispositions. You will have already changed in a real way. Have you changed a bit, now? (A little.) Now you have changed a little, and occasionally, when you see people doing things in a careless and perfunctory manner, not wanting to practice the truth, and always indulging in physical comfort, you don’t think it is a good thing. However, if you were asked to go help and support them, satanic philosophies would still have a hold over you. Though you discover this problem in people, you do not dare say anything out of fear of offending them, and even think, “No one elected me as group leader, so there is no need for me to stick my nose into other people’s business.” When you encounter these unjust and negative things, you are unable to stand on the side of the truth in your speech and actions, or take responsibility; you just turn a blind eye, and think that is a great way to comport yourself, distancing yourself from contention. You think, “If anything goes wrong it will have nothing to do with me. I’m dodging a bullet.” If you still have views like this, will you be able to practice the truth? Will you have life entry? With views like this in your heart, you are a nonbeliever, and cannot accept the truth. That is why views like this cannot go uncorrected. If you want to have life entry, in one respect, you must be able to supervise yourself. In another respect, you primarily need to accept God’s scrutiny. If you notice there is reproach inside your heart, you should reflect on yourself, and figure out where this reproach is coming from. If you can feel that God is scrutinizing you, and you believe that God is scrutinizing you, then you should accept His scrutiny. It is only by frequently feeling remorseful, unsettled in your heart, and that you owe God on account of being in those states, that you will have the motivation to practice the truth and enter into the truth. There are some standards for, and practical manifestations of, entering into the truth realities. To what extent have you entered into them, now? (When a situation arises, I can see many shortcomings in myself, but I spend a lot of time stuck in that state. I don’t know how to adopt the perspective of the truth to dissect or understand what issues I have; I do not have clear discernment toward myself; I do not see myself clearly, and I often can’t see other people’s states clearly, either.) If you cannot see yourself clearly, then you cannot see others clearly. This statement is correct. When other people have an issue, you think it has nothing to do with you, but in fact, the states are consistent, and the same. If you cannot see your own state clearly, you will not be able to resolve your issues, let alone resolve others’ issues. Once you have resolved your issues, you will be able to see others’ issues very clearly, and fix them right away. If you want to have life entry, you must abide by the following two things: One, is that you must perform your duty well, and the other, is that while you are performing your duty, you must frequently examine yourself, seek the truth to reverse your various incorrect views, thoughts, stances, intentions, and states, and emerge from every sort of incorrect state. If you have the strength to emerge from them, you will overcome Satan and cast off your corrupt dispositions. Then, you will have turned yourself around. You will have emerged from your passive and negative states, and will not be constrained or controlled by these states. This in and of itself is a step forward. You must resolve this issue first. What negative or passive states do you have? Some people think, “That’s just the way I am. There’s nothing I can do to fix my arrogant disposition. In any case, God knows about it, and I reckon that He has already classified me. I’ve tried to change so many times, but I’m still the same. This is just who I am.” You have a bad view of yourself, but this is a negative state; it’s a bit of a mindset of abandoning yourself to despair. You haven’t sought the truth to resolve this issue, so why do you think you are hopeless? People frequently live in states like this; one momentary revelation of corruption and they think they have been classified, and that this is the type of person they are. This is a negative state; it should be reversed, and you should emerge from it. What other negative or passive states do you have? (I frequently live in a state where I do things based on my gifts and caliber, and lack life entry. This state is very severe.) When people do things based on their gifts and caliber, they always like to compete with others, thinking, “How come you can complete this task but I can’t? I have to work hard and put effort into this task, to try and do it better than you!” In this your devilish nature has emerged. What should be done about this? If, when you do things, you have this motivation or starting point, pay it no heed. It is a momentary revelation, or a momentary ignorant thought. Don’t act according to it, and you will be fine. You must do things in a down-to-earth manner, and in the way they should be done. If you encounter a difficulty, take the initiative to look at how other people have handled it. If they’ve handled it well, talk with them and learn from them. This way, you will reverse your incorrect states. If you have those thoughts and reveal corruption inside, but do not act in that way, then your corrupt dispositions will be thwarted. However, if you have those thoughts and act in that way, and your actions are even more severe than your thoughts, then this spells trouble, and it will make a mess of things. People’s corrupt dispositions are what God hates the most.
God’s approach to your corrupt dispositions is not to make you hide them, cover them up, or disguise them. Rather, He allows you to reveal them, exposing you and making you gain knowledge of them. Once you have knowledge of them, is that it? No. After you have knowledge of them, and know it is wrong to do things according to your corrupt dispositions, and that it is a dead-end road, you must come before God, and pray to Him and seek the truth to resolve your corrupt dispositions. God will enlighten you, and give you a correct path of practice. God’s words talk about what people should do, but people have corrupt dispositions, and sometimes don’t want to do as God says; they want to do things their own way. So, what does God do? God gives you freedom, and allows you to act this way for the time being. As you go along acting this way, you will hit a wall and feel you have messed up. Then, you will go back to God and seek what you should do. God will say, “In your heart, you understand My requirements. So, why don’t you listen?” And you will say, “Then discipline me, God.” God will discipline you, and it will hurt, so you’ll think, “God doesn’t love me. How can He be so cruel to me? He is so heartless.” God will say, “Okay, then I won’t do this anymore. Keep doing things however you intend to,” and you will be back on the path that you were on before. You will do things, hit a wall again, and ponder, “There is something not right about what I’m doing. I have to go back and confess my sins. I am indebted to God.” You will go back to God again and pray and seek, understand that what God says is right, and then do as God says. But when you are doing it, you will think, “Doing this will hurt my pride. Maybe I’ll just take care of my pride first.” Then you will be in trouble again, and have fallen short again. You will go back and forth again and again like this over time. If people can reflect on themselves, always recognize the deviations within themselves, reflect on and understand their corrupt dispositions, and then seek the truth to resolve them, then during the course of this experience, their stature will also be constantly growing. For people who have hearts, who are willing to practice the truth and love positive things, they will gradually experience fewer setbacks and failures, the parts of them which are obedient to God will increase, and the parts of them that love the truth will increase. That is why God allows you to fail and rebel while you experience and practice the truth; He does not look at these things. It is not like God will no longer want you, or that He’ll send you to hell, or sentence you to death for not listening to Him on one occasion. God does not do this. Why is it said God’s love is extremely vast when He saves people? This is where God’s love is manifested. It is manifested in His tolerance and patience toward people. He is constantly tolerating you, but not indulging you. God’s tolerance is about Him knowing people’s stature, knowing their innate capacity, knowing what people reveal in certain circumstances, and what they can attain based on their stature, and allowing you to reveal these things, giving you a certain amount of space, and accepting you when you come back to Him and sincerely repent, while also recognizing the sincerity of your repentance. Therefore, when you return and ask God whether it is right to act in that way, God will continue to tell you and give you an answer. God will patiently tell you that it is right to act in that way, and give you validation. But when you change your mind again, and say, “God, I don’t want to do this. It isn’t beneficial to me, and it makes me unhappy and uncomfortable—I still think I should do things my way, that way, I’ll not lose face, I’ll be smooth and slick, and I’ll be able to satisfy myself in every regard—I will satisfy my individual desires first,” God will say, “You can come up short, but by doing so, you are the one who will ultimately lose out, not Me.” When God is saving you, He sometimes allows you to be willful like this; this is His tolerance and this is the mercy He shows people. However, people cannot be self-indulgent when they see His mercy, and treat His patience and tolerance as a sort of weakness, or see it as an excuse for rebelling against Him and not heeding His words. This is rebelliousness and wickedness on the part of people. People must see this clearly. The tolerance and patience God shows you stretches on without limit. If you can sense God’s earnest intentions, that is a good thing. It is not that God is incapable of using extreme measures to save you—you must understand that there are principles behind God’s actions. He does things in many ways, but He does not use extreme measures. Why is this? God allows you to experience all kinds of adversity, frustrations, and tribulations, as well as many failures and setbacks. In the end, through the process of allowing you to experience these things, God makes you realize that all He has said is correct and the truth. At the same time, He makes you realize that what you think and imagine, as well as your notions, knowledge, philosophical theories, philosophies, and the things you learned in the world and which were taught to you by your parents are all wrong, and that these things cannot guide you onto the right path in life, and cannot lead you to understand the truth or come before God. If you still live by these things, then you are walking the path of failure, as well as the path of resisting and betraying God. In the end, God will make you see this clearly. This process is something you must experience, and it is only in this way that results can be achieved, but it is also a painful thing for God to see. People are rebellious and have corrupt dispositions, so they must suffer a bit, and experience these setbacks. Without this suffering, they would have no way of being purified. If a person truly has a heart which loves the truth, and is truly willing to accept God’s various methods of salvation and to pay the price, then there is no need for them to suffer so much. God does not actually want to make people suffer so much, and does not want to make them experience so many setbacks and failures. However, people are too rebellious; they are unwilling to do as they are told, unwilling to obey, and unable to walk the right path or take shortcuts; they only go their own way, rebel against God and resist Him. People are corrupt things. All God can do is hand them over to Satan and put them in various situations to constantly temper them, thereby allowing them to gain all kinds of experiences and learn all kinds of lessons, and to come to understand the essence of all kinds of evil things. After that, when people return and take another look, they will realize that God’s words are the truth, admit that God’s words are the truth, and admit that God is the reality of all positive things, and the One who truly loves, worries about, and can save people. God does not want people to suffer so much, but humans are too rebellious, want to take the wrong path, and want to go through this suffering. God has no choice but to put people in various situations to constantly temper them. To what extent are people ultimately tempered? To the extent that you say, “I have experienced every kind of situation, and now I finally understand that apart from God, there is no person, matter or object that can make me understand the truth, that can make me enjoy the truth, or that can make me enter the truth realities. If I obediently practice according to God’s words, obediently stay in man’s place, uphold my status and duty as a created being, obediently accept God’s sovereignty and arrangements, have no further complaints nor desire extravagant things from God, and can truly submit before the Lord of creation, only then will I be someone who truly submits to God.” When people reach this level, they truly bow down before God, and God need not set out any more situations for them to experience. So, which path do you wish to take? No one, in their subjective desires, wants to suffer, and no one wants to experience setbacks, failure, difficulties, frustrations, or adversity, but there is no other way. People have satanic natures; they are too rebellious, and their thoughts and views are too complicated. Every day, your heart is in constant contradiction, strife, and turmoil. You understand few truths, your life entry is shallow, and you lack the power to overcome the notions, imaginings, and corrupt dispositions of the flesh. All you can do is take man’s usual approach: constantly experiencing failure and frustration, constantly falling down, being buffeted by hardship, and rolling around in the muck, until a day comes when you say, “I’m tired. I’m fed up. I don’t want to live like this. I don’t want to experience these failures. I am willing to come before the Creator in obedience; I shall listen to what God says, and do what He says. Only this is the right path in life.” Only on the day you are fully convinced and admit defeat will you be able to come before God. Have you come to understand something of God’s disposition from this? What is God’s attitude toward people? No matter what God does, He wants the best for people. No matter what situations He sets out or what He asks you to do, He always wishes to see the best outcome. Say you go through something and encounter setbacks and failure. God does not wish to see you discouraged when you fail, think you are finished and have been snatched by Satan, then give up on yourself, never find your feet again, and plunge into dejection—God does not wish to see this outcome. What does God wish to see? That while you may have failed in this matter, you are able to seek the truth and reflect on yourself, find the reason for your failure, accept the lesson this failure has taught you, remember it in the future, know that it is wrong to act this way and that only practicing according to God’s words is right, and realize, “I am a bad person. I have a corrupt satanic disposition. There is rebelliousness in me. I am far from the righteous people of whom God speaks, and I do not have a God-fearing heart.” You have seen this fact clearly; you have come to recognize the truth of the matter, and through this setback, this failure, you have gained some sense and matured. This is what God wants to see. What does maturing mean? It means that God can gain you, that you can be saved, that you can enter into the truth realities, and that you have embarked on the path of fearing God and shunning evil. God hopes to see people take the right path. God does things with earnest intentions, and all of this is His hidden love, but people often can’t sense this. People are narrow-minded and extremely petty. The moment they can’t enjoy God’s grace and blessings, they blame God, become negative, and act out in anger, but God doesn’t hold it against them. He just treats them like ignorant children and does not nitpick them. He lays out circumstances for people that let them know how grace and blessings are obtained, let them understand what grace means to man, and what man can draw from it. Say you like to eat something that God says is bad for your health when eaten in excess. You do not listen, and insist on eating it, and God allows you to make that choice freely. As a result, you get sick. After experiencing this several times, you realize that the words God speaks are actually right, that what He says is true, that you must practice according to His words, and that this is the correct path. So, what comes from the setbacks, failures and suffering that you experience? For one thing, you can sense God’s earnest intentions. For another, it makes you believe and feel sure that God’s words are right and that they are all practical, and your faith in God grows. On top of that, by experiencing this period of failure, you come to recognize the veracity and accuracy of God’s words, you see that God’s words are the truth, and you understand the principle of practicing the truth. And so, it is good for you to experience failure—though it is also something which makes you suffer, and which tempers you. But if being tempered thus ultimately makes you return before God, makes you understand His words and accept them into your heart as the truth, and makes you come to know God, then the tempering, setbacks and failures you experienced will not have been in vain. This is the result that God wishes to see. However, some people say, “Since God is so tolerant of people, I’ll just let loose, do things however I please, and live the way I want.” Is this okay? (No, it’s not.) What created beings should do is practice according to the correct path God has pointed them toward, and not waver from it. If they are unable to fully meet God’s will, so long as they do not contravene the truth, and can accept God’s scrutiny, it’s okay. This is the minimum standard. If you stray from the truth, do not pray, and do not seek, then you have strayed too far from God, and have already crossed over into dangerous territory. When you are too far from God, do not perform your duty in the church, and have already left the space where God works to save people, the Holy Spirit will stop working on you, and you will have no chance, and no salvation to speak of. To you, God’s love is just empty words.
When you believe in God, you first must understand God, understand His will, and His attitude toward man. By doing this, you will know what truth God ultimately wants you to understand and enter into, and understand what path you should follow. After you know these things, you must do your utmost to cooperate with what God wants to do, and what He wants to accomplish in you. If you truly cannot cooperate and your energy and strength are exhausted, then that’s just how it is; God will not force people. However, people now do not put all their strength into these things. If you do not put your full strength into practicing the truth, but put your full strength into obtaining blessings and a crown of righteousness, then you have strayed from the right path. You must put your effort into practicing the truth, and into cooperating with the missions and duties that God gives you; you must give of yourself and expend yourself for these things with all your heart. Then, you will meet God’s will. God pays no heed to people who do not attend properly to their duties, but paying them no heed does not mean there are no principles behind His actions. When God pays them no heed, it shows He is tolerant, accepting, and patient. He knows what things people must experience in their lives, what these created beings are capable of accomplishing, and what they are not, what certain types of people can accomplish at certain ages, and what they cannot. God has the most clarity about these things, much more so than the people themselves. However, just because God is clear about these things, it doesn’t mean you can say, “Okay, then, just do as You like, God. I don’t need to think about anything. I can just sit around all day and wait for manna to fall from the heavens. It’s fine for God to handle everything.” People must do their utmost to cooperate when carrying out their responsibilities, the things they should do, the things they should enter into, the things they should practice, and the things that are within people’s innate capability to accomplish. What does it mean to do one’s utmost to cooperate? It means that you must put time and energy into your duty, suffer and pay a price for it. Sometimes, your pride, vanity, and self-interest must take a loss, and you must completely let go of your yearning for a destination, and your desire to be blessed. These things should be let go, so you must let them go. For example, God says, “Do not lust after comforts of the flesh, for it is not beneficial to your life growth.” You are unable to obey Him, and after experiencing several failures, you think, “God is right. Why can’t I put it into practice, and rebel against the flesh? Am I incapable of changing? Is this how God sees me, too? Will He not save me? I’m a lost cause, so I will just be a service-doer, and render service until the end.” Is this acceptable? (No, it’s not.) People are often in this state. Either they only pursue blessings and a crown, or else—having experienced a few instances of failure—they think they are not up to the task, and that God has also passed a verdict on them. This is wrong. If you can turn things around in time, change your heart and mind, let go of the evil committed by your hands, return before God, confess and repent to God, acknowledge that your actions and the path you walk are wrong, and admit your own failures, then practice according to the path God has indicated to you, without giving up pursuing the truth no matter how tainted you are, then you’re doing the right thing. In the course of experiencing changes in their disposition and being saved, people will necessarily encounter many difficulties. For example, being unable to submit to the situations laid forth by God, their own various thoughts, views, imaginings, corrupt dispositions, knowledge, and gifts, or else their own various problems and faults. You must battle all manner of difficulties. Once you have overcome these myriad difficulties and states, and the battle in your heart has ended, you will possess the truth realities, you will no longer be bound by these things, and you will have been set free and liberated. One problem people often encounter during this process is that, prior to discovering problems in themselves, they think they’re better than everyone else, and will be blessed even if no one else is, just like Paul. When they discover their difficulties, they think themselves nothing, and that it’s all over for them. There are always two extremes. You must overcome both of these extremes, so that you do not veer one way or the other. When you encounter a difficulty, even if you are already aware that the problem is utterly intractable and will be hard to fix, you should face it properly, come before God and ask for His help in fixing it, and by seeking the truth, gnaw away at it bit by bit like ants gnawing on a bone, and turn this state around. You must repent to God. Repenting is proof that you have a heart that accepts the truth and an attitude of obedience, which means there is hope that you will gain the truth. And if, in the midst of this, any more difficulties appear, don’t be afraid. Quickly pray to God and lean on Him; God is secretly watching and waiting for you, and as long as you do not depart from the setting, stream, and scope of His management work, there is hope for you—you absolutely must not give up. If all you display is a normal corrupt disposition, then as long as you are able to understand it and accept the truth, and practice the truth, a day will come when these problems are solved. You must have faith in this. God is the truth—why do you need to fear this little problem of yours cannot be solved? This can all be solved, so why be negative? God has not given up on you, so why give up on yourself? You should not give up, and you should not be negative. You should face the problem properly. You must know the normal laws for life entry, and be able to see the display and manifestation of a corrupt disposition, as well as occasional negativity, weakness, and confusion, as normal things. The process of changing one’s disposition is a long and repetitious one. When you are clear on this point, you will be able to face problems properly. Sometimes, your corrupt disposition displays itself severely, and it disgusts anyone who sees it, and you hate yourself. Or, sometimes, you are too lax and are disciplined by God. This is no cause for fear. As long as God is disciplining you, as long as He is still caring for and protecting you, still working in you, and is always with you, this proves that God has not given up on you. Even when there are times that you feel God has left you, and that you have been plunged into darkness, do not be afraid: As long as you are still alive and not in hell, you still have a chance. However, if you are like Paul, who stubbornly walked the path of an antichrist, and ultimately testified that for him to live is Christ, it’s all over for you. If you can come to your senses, you still have a chance. What is the chance you have? It is that you can come before God, and can still pray to Him and seek, saying, “Oh God! Please enlighten me so I understand this aspect of the truth, and this aspect of the path of practice.” As long as you are one of God’s followers, you have hope of salvation, and can make it to the very end. Are these words clear enough? Are you still liable to be negative? (No.) When people understand God’s will, their path is a broad one. If they do not understand His will, it is narrow, there is darkness in their hearts, and they have no path to tread. Those who do not understand the truth are as follows: They are narrow-minded, they always split hairs, and they always complain about and misunderstand God. As a result, the further they walk, the more their path disappears. In fact, people don’t understand God. If God treated people as they imagined, the human race would have long since been destroyed.
Paul’s seven sins represent displays typical of corrupt humanity, but Paul was just the most severe case. His nature essence was already determined—that was the person he was. However, these corrupt dispositions are common to all corrupted humans; every person has them to a different extent. These states all stem from a corrupt disposition. Although you are not the same type of person as Paul, you possess these corrupt dispositions, too; you just do not manifest them as severely as he did. At the present time, states of this sort that the majority of you have are seen by God as displays of corrupt dispositions. However, Paul did not just display a corrupt disposition; he was on the path of resisting God, and stubbornly refused to repent. He was sentenced and condemned. He had a demonic nature, and this truth-hating demonic nature of his was beyond help. After this, you should fellowship on this discourse, and compare yourselves to it. The goal of this is to recognize the severity of these mistakes that Paul made, then uncover all of the corrupt states you have which are like Paul’s, and fix them step by step. The point of fixing these corrupt dispositions is to make people capable of living with increasing human likeness, and increasing compatibility with God. Only by fixing these corrupt dispositions can people truly come before God, be compatible with Him, be a true created being, and make God look upon them with satisfaction. Do you draw comparisons with yourselves? (We are a bit lacking in this regard.) The thing you lack the most is the truth. Truth is what you should be entering into. You have quite a few things inside you now, but the majority of these things are corrupt and negative. You have some absurd knowledge, are too petty, always think about making transactions and trades, have an overabundance of negative things, and become negative when you don’t do a task well, or perceive a difficulty. When you see that God’s work is not in line with your wishes, negative emotions rise up in you, and you are opposed to His work and fight it. When you accomplish some small result in your work, it goes to your head and you forget yourself. You become arrogant and don’t know your place in the universe, think you are a cut above everyone else, and want God to give you a crown and a reward in exchange; you also dare to be unrestrained in public. In sum, these states are consistent with Paul’s states—they are the same, and God despises them.
We have summarized and defined Paul’s seven major sins. Paul ultimately became the object of punishment. When God decided Paul’s end, did He base it on just one of his sins? (No.) Taken together, this was the end he should have had; it was the way he should have ended up. The facts are right in front of you; you cannot deny them. If there are some among you who walk a road like Paul’s from start to finish, manifest all of Paul’s seven sins, and cannot seek the truth to resolve them, what will your end ultimately be? (The same as Paul’s.) You will become an antichrist demon like Paul, and should be punished. When you are punished, do not accuse God of being unrighteous. Instead, you should praise God’s righteousness, and say, “God is righteous! God revealed Paul’s seven sins, and His words explained them. It was me who didn’t enter into His words!” Now things are different than two thousand years ago; God tells people about every truth clearly and transparently, and it is written out for you, so that you hear and understand it, and you see that that is how God works and accomplishes things in real life, too. If you are still unable to enter into the truth, and cannot fix your corrupt disposition according to God’s words, do not blame God for punishing you according to His righteous disposition. In the Book of Revelation, God said, “My reward is with Me, to give every man according as his work shall be” (Revelation 22:12). God repays people according to what they do. This is God’s righteous disposition. Those who believe in God should reflect on and understand themselves in light of God’s words, and in light of Paul’s seven sins that God revealed, and achieve true repentance. This is what God commends.
June 14, 2018