How to Resolve the Temptations and Bondage of Status

Corrupt mankind loves reputation and status. They all pursue power. You who are now leaders and workers, do you not feel that you bring your title or rank to bear on your actions? So do antichrists and false leaders, who all feel themselves to be the officials in God’s house, standing a head above the rest, superior to them. If they did not have official titles and ranks, they would have no burden in performing their duties, and they would not go about their work in earnest. Everyone treats being a leader and worker as equivalent to being an official, and everyone is willing to take action as an official. Presented in a favorable light, we call this pursuing a career—but in an uglier light, this is called engaging in one’s own business. It is setting up an independent kingdom in order to satisfy one’s own ambitions and desires. In the end, is it a good thing or a bad thing to have status? In the eyes of men, it is a good thing. When you have an official title, speaking and acting are different. Your words have force, and people will heed them. They will fawn on you, marching on in front of you with shouts and supporting you from behind. But without your status and titles, they would turn a deaf ear to your words. Though your words may be true, full of good sense, and beneficial to people, no one will heed you. What does this show? All men venerate status. They all have ambitions and desires. They all seek the worship of others and love to handle affairs from a position of status. Can one accomplish good from a position of status? Can they do things that are beneficial to people? That’s not certain. It depends on the path you take and how you treat status. If you don’t pursue the truth, but always want to gain others’ favor, wishing to satisfy your own ambitions and desires and to fulfill your yearning for status, then you are walking the path of the antichrists. Can someone who walks the path of the antichrists conform to the truth in their pursuit and their performance of their duty? Absolutely not. This is because the path one chooses determines everything. If one chooses the wrong path, all their efforts, their performance of their duty, and their pursuit are in no way aligned with the truth. What about them is at odds with the truth? What are they after in their actions? (Status.) What do all people who do things for the sake of status display? Some say, “They always speak words and doctrines, they never fellowship the truth reality, they always show off, they always speak for their own sake, they never exalt or testify to God. People in whom such things are exhibited act for the sake of status.” Is this right? (Yes.) Why do they speak words and doctrines and show off? Why do they not exalt and testify to God? Because, in their hearts, there is only status, and their reputation and profit—God is utterly absent. Such people especially idolize status and authority. Their reputation and profit are of huge importance to them; their reputation, profit, and status have become their life. God is absent from their hearts, they do not fear God, much less obey Him; all they do is exalt themselves, testify to themselves, and show off to gain others’ admiration. Thus, they often brag about themselves, about what they’ve done, how much they’ve suffered, how they satisfied God, how forbearing they were when they were dealt with, all in order to earn people’s sympathy and admiration. These people are the same type of people as antichrists, they walk the path of Paul. And what is their ultimate end? (They become antichrists and are cast out.) Do these people know that such an outcome awaits them? (They do.) They do? If they know, why do they keep doing as they do? They don’t know, in fact. They believe that their actions are good and right. They never interrogate themselves to find which of the things they do are resistant against God or displeasing to God, or which of the things they do have some intent behind them, or what path it is they’re walking. Such things always escape their scrutiny.

As leaders and workers, have you ever pondered these questions: The commission that God entrusted to me is a special commission, not the ordinary duty of an ordinary follower. This duty entails special responsibility and has a special significance. So, in performing this special duty and shouldering this responsibility, what path should I take to conform to God’s will, or at least to avoid God’s abhorrence? How should I pursue in order to be made perfect by God and avoid being cast out after taking the path of the antichrists? Have you ever considered these questions? (I felt that God had exalted me when I first started serving as a leader and worker. Though I knew I should pursue the truth and perform my duty well, due to my arrogant nature, I couldn’t help but always pursue reputation and status. After I recognized this, I was able to pray to God and find relevant passages in His words to find a solution. I was able to reverse my course somewhat at the time, but this situation would occur again in the future, and though I hated myself at heart, it was difficult to resolve this problem completely.) You can’t control your thoughts and ideas, and your ambition and desire to pursue fame and status are likewise beyond your control. This is evidence that a corrupt disposition has taken root in your heart. This is not a passing mood or a momentary emotion, nor is it imposed on you by others. You don’t need to be taught it by someone else; it is the natural bent of your thoughts and the natural course of your action. This is your nature. The things that are inherent in one’s nature are those least amenable to change. With satanic nature, therefore, once people gain status they are then in danger. So, what should be done? Do they have no path to follow? Once they have fallen into that dangerous situation, is there no way back for them? Tell Me, once corrupt people gain status—regardless of who they are—do they then become antichrists? Is this absolute? (If they do not pursue the truth, then they will become antichrists, but if they do pursue the truth, then they will not.) That is absolutely right: If people do not pursue the truth, they are sure to become antichrists. And is it the case that all who walk the path of the antichrists do so because of status? No, it is chiefly because they have no love of the truth, because they are not right people. Regardless of whether they have status or not, people who do not pursue the truth all walk the path of the antichrists. No matter how many sermons they have heard, such people do not accept the truth, they do not walk the right path, but are determined to go toward the crooked path. This is akin to how people eat: Some do not consume food that can nurture their bodies and support a normal existence, but instead insist on consuming things that do them harm, ultimately shooting themselves in the foot. Is this not their own choice? After being cast out, some leaders and workers spread notions, saying, “Don’t be a leader, and don’t let yourself gain status. People are in danger the minute they gain any status, and God will expose them! Once they are exposed, they will not even be qualified to be ordinary believers, and will receive no blessings at all.” What sort of thing is that to say? At best, it represents a misunderstanding of God; at worst, it is blasphemy against Him. If you do not walk the right path, do not pursue the truth, and do not follow God’s way, but instead you insist on going the way of the antichrists and end up on Paul’s path, ultimately meeting the same outcome, the same end as Paul, still blaming God and passing judgment on God as unrighteous, then are you not the genuine article of an antichrist? Such behavior is cursed! When people do not understand the truth, they always live by their notions and imaginings, frequently misinterpret God, and feel God’s actions to be at odds with their own notions, which produces negative emotions in them; this happens because people have corrupt dispositions. They say things that are negative and resentful because their faith is too paltry, their stature too small, and they understand too few truths—which is all forgivable, and not remembered by God. And yet, there are those who do not walk the right path, who specifically walk the path of deceiving, resisting, betraying God, and fighting against God. These people are ultimately punished and cursed by God, and plunged into perdition and destruction. How do they get to this point? Because they have never reflected on and known themselves, because they do not accept the truth at all, and are reckless and willful, and stubbornly refuse to repent, and even complain about God after they are exposed and cast out, saying that God is not righteous. Could such people be saved? (No.) They could not. So, is it the case that everyone who is exposed and cast out is beyond salvation? It cannot be said that they are utterly beyond redemption. There are those who understand too few truths, and are young and inexperienced—who, once they become leaders or workers and have status, are directed by their corrupt disposition, and pursue status, and enjoy this status, and so naturally walk the path of the antichrists. If, after being exposed and judged, they are able to reflect on themselves, and truly repent, forsaking wickedness like the people of Nineveh, no longer walking the path of evil as they used to, then they still have the opportunity to be saved. But what are the conditions of such an opportunity? They must be truly repentant and able to accept the truth. If they are, they still have some hope. If they are incapable of reflecting on themselves, don’t accept the truth at all, and have no intention of truly repenting, they will be completely cast out.

The word “status” is neither a trial nor a temptation, in itself. It depends on how people handle status. If you take leadership work as your duty, as a responsibility you must discharge, you will not be constrained by status. If you accept it as an official title or position, you will be in trouble and surely fall to the ground. What, then, is the mentality one should adopt upon becoming a leader and worker of the church? Where should your pursuit focus? You must have a path! If you do not seek the truth and have no path of practice, then this status of yours will become your trap, and you will tumble down. Some people are different once they gain status, and their mentality changes. They do not know how to dress themselves up, how to talk to others, what tone to adopt, how to interact with people, or what expressions to wear. As a result, they start to construct an image for themselves. Is this not a perversion? Some people look to the hairstyles of the unbelievers, the clothes they wear, and the qualities of their speech and bearing. They imitate them and follow the direction of the unbelievers down this path. Is this a positive thing? (It is not.) What is happening here? Though these seem to be superficial practices, they are actually a sort of pursuit. They’re an imitation. This is not the right way. Now, you can distinguish right from wrong in these obvious images and disguises, but can you reject and turn your back on the wrong? (Yes, when we’re aware of it.) This is your current stature. When these ideas are fresh in your heart, you can discern and identify them. If you are motivated to pursue status, you can moderate this desire yourself, so you won’t be like the obsessed fan who chases after their idol like a brute animal that has lost its reason. Subjectively, you can discern and identify those ideas. You can forsake the flesh without any temptation when you’re not surrounded by people. But what if people were to follow you, to revolve around you, to care for your daily necessities, feed and clothe you, and satisfy your every need? What feelings would stir in your heart? Would you not be enjoying the benefits of status? Would you still be able to forsake the flesh then? When people cluster around you, when they revolve around you as if you were a star, how would you handle your status then? The things in your consciousness, that is, those things amid your thoughts and ideas—appreciation of status, enjoyment of status, greed for, or even infatuation with, status—can you examine your heart to find these things? Can you recognize them? If you can examine your heart and recognize these things inside it, could you forsake the flesh in that situation? If you don’t have the will to practice the truth, you will not turn your back on these things. You will enjoy them and revel in them. Full of self-satisfaction, you will say, “To have status as a believer in God is truly wonderful. As a leader and worker, everyone does as I say. What a great feeling. I am the one who is leading and watering these people. They are now obedient to me. When I say go east, no one goes west. When I say pray, no one dares to sing. That’s an achievement.” You will then have started to enjoy the benefits of status. What will status be to you then? (Poison.) And though it is poison, you do not need to fear it. It is precisely in this situation that you need to have the correct pursuit and the correct methods of practice. Often, when people have status, but their work has yet to achieve results, they will say, “I don’t enjoy status, and I don’t enjoy everything that status brings me.” However, once their work shows some success, and they feel their status is secure, they lose their reason and enjoy the benefits that status brings. Do you believe that, just because you can recognize the temptation, you can forsake the flesh? Do you really have that stature? The fact is that you don’t. Your recognition and forsaking are achieved by no more than human conscience and the baseline rationality possessed by man. Those are what tell you not to act in this way. It is the standard of conscience and the bit of rationality you gain from having found faith in God that help you or keep you off the wrong path. What is the context for this? It is that when you love status but have not yet obtained it, you may still possess your little bit of conscience and reason. These words can still restrain you and make you realize that the enjoyment of status is not good and does not conform to the truth, that it is not the right way, and is resistant against God, and displeasing to Him. Then, you can consciously forsake the flesh and forgo the enjoyment of status. You can forsake the flesh when you have no accomplishments or merits to show, but once you have done meritorious work, will your sense of shame, your conscience, your rationality, and your moral concepts restrain you? The little standard of conscience you possess comes nowhere near having a God-fearing heart, and your little faith will be of no avail at all. So, is that little bit of conscience you now possess equivalent to the truth reality? Obviously not. And since it is not the truth reality, what you are capable of can be no more than that which comes from the limitations of human conscience and human rationality. As you do not now have the reality of God’s words as your life, what will become of you once you have status and official titles? Will you walk the path of the antichrists? (That’s unsure.) This is the time of greatest peril. Can you see this clearly? Tell Me, is it dangerous to be a leader and worker? (It is.) Knowing the danger, are you still willing to perform this duty? (Yes.) This willingness to perform your duty is human will, and it is a positive thing. However, will this positive thing alone allow you to put the truth into practice? Will you be able to forsake the wants of the flesh? Relying on human good intentions and human will, and relying on human desires and ideals, will you be able to bring your will to fulfillment? (No.) Then you must ponder what you must do to make your wishes, your ideals, and your will into your reality and into your true stature. That is not so much of a problem, really. The true problem is that given man’s current state and stature, and given the qualities of his humanity, he is far from satisfying the conditions of God’s approval. Your human character has no more than a bit of conscience and reason, not the will to pursue the truth. When performing your duty, you may wish not to be careless or perfunctory, nor to attempt to trick God, but you will. Given your current, true state and stature, you are already in a perilous place. Would you still maintain that to have status is dangerous, but to lack it means you are safe? In fact, to lack status is also dangerous. As long as you live in a corrupt disposition, you are in peril. Now, is it the case that it is only dangerous to be a leader, while those who are not leaders are safe? (No.) If you are not a person who pursues the truth and do not possess the slightest truth reality, you are in danger whether you are a leader or not. So, how should you pursue the truth so as to escape this danger? Have you considered this question? If you have only a small desire and simply follow some rules, will that work? Can you truly escape the place of peril in this way? It may work in the short term, but it’s hard to say what will happen in the long term. So, what’s to be done? Some people say that pursuing the truth is the best way. This is absolutely correct, but in what way must one pursue in order to enter the truth reality? How can man’s life grow? None of these are simple matters. First, you must understand the truth, and then you must put it into practice. So long as one understands the truth, half of these problems are already resolved. They will be able to reflect on their own state and see it clearly. They will feel the peril they are living in. They will be able to put the truth into practice proactively. Such practice naturally leads one to obedience to God. Is a person who obeys God out of danger? Do you really need an answer? Those who truly obey God will no longer rebel against or resist God, much less betray Him. Their salvation is assured. Is such a person not completely out of danger? Therefore, the best means of resolving problems is to bring one’s seriousness to bear on the truth and put one’s efforts into the truth. Once people have truly understood the truth, all problems will be solved.

For you, what is special about being a leader and worker? (Taking on more responsibility.) Responsibility is part of it. This is something you are all conscious of, but how can you fulfill your responsibilities well? Where do you start from? Fulfilling this responsibility well is, in fact, fulfilling one’s duty well. The word “responsibility” may sound as if there’s something special about it, but in the final analysis, it is one’s duty. For you, it is no easy thing to perform your duty well, because there are many things in front of you that obstruct you, things such as the barrier of status, which is the most difficult for you to break through. If you lack any status and are just an ordinary believer, you may face fewer temptations and it will be easier for you to perform your duty well. You can live a spiritual life every day, as ordinary people do, eating and drinking of God’s words, and fellowshiping on the truth, and performing your duties well. This is enough. If you have status, however, you must first break through the obstacle that status presents. You must pass this test first. How can you break through this barrier? This is not easy for ordinary people, because corrupt dispositions are deeply rooted in man. All people live in their corrupt dispositions and are inherently enamored of the pursuit of fame, profit, and status. After finally gaining status with such difficulty, who wouldn’t enjoy its benefits to the fullest? If you have the love of truth in your heart and have somewhat of a God-fearing heart, you will carefully and cautiously handle your status, while also being able to seek the truth in the performance of your duty. In this way, fame, profit, and status will find no place in your heart, nor will they hamper the performance of your duty. If you are too small of stature, you must pray frequently, restrain yourself with God’s words. You will have to find ways to do certain things or consciously avoid some environments and some temptations. For example, say you are a leader. When you are in the company of several ordinary brothers and sisters, will they not think you are somewhat superior to them? Corrupt mankind would see it this way, and this is already a temptation for you. This is not a trial, but a temptation! If you also believe that you are superior to them, this is very dangerous, but if you think that they are your equals, your mentality is normal and you will not be disturbed by corrupt dispositions. If you think that as the leader, your status is greater than theirs, how will they treat you? (They will look up to the leader.) Will they just look up to you and admire you, nothing more? No. They will have to speak and act on it. For example, if you catch a cold and an ordinary brother or sister also catches a cold, who will they tend to first? (The leader.) Is that not preferential? Is this not one of the benefits of status? If you get into a dispute with a brother or sister, will they treat you fairly because of your status? Will they take the side of the truth? (No.) These things are temptations you face. Can you avoid them? How should you deal with this? If someone treats you poorly, you may dislike them and consider how to attack them, exclude them, and get revenge on them, when in fact, there is nothing wrong with that person. On the other hand, some people may flatter you, and not only may you not object to it, but actually enjoy the feeling. Is that not troubling? Wouldn’t you promptly begin to promote and train your flatterer so that they become your confidant and do your bidding? If you did, what path would you be on? (The path of the antichrists.) If you fall into these temptations, you are in danger. Is it a good thing to have people in your orbit all day? I’ve heard that some people, after becoming leaders, do not do their own work or solve practical problems. Instead, all they think about are the pleasures of the flesh. Sometimes they even eat food made just for them, while having others wash their soiled clothes. After a time, they wind up being exposed and cast out. What should you do when you encounter something like this? If you possess status, people will flatter you and treat you with special consideration. If you can overcome and refuse these temptations and continue to treat people fairly, regardless of how they treat you, this proves that you are the right kind of person. If you possess status, some people will look up to you. They will always be around you, fawning and flattering. Can you put an end to this? How do you handle such situations? When you don’t need to be taken care of, but someone extends you a “helping hand” and panders to you, you might secretly rejoice, thinking that having status makes you different and that special treatment is to be enjoyed to the fullest. Do such things not happen? Is this not a real problem? When such things befall you, does your heart reproach you? Do you feel disgust and repugnance? If someone doesn’t feel disgust and repugnance, and doesn’t reject it, and is free at heart from accusation and blame, but instead loves to enjoy these things, feeling that it is good to have status, does such a person have a conscience? Do they possess reason? Is this someone who seeks the truth? (No.) What does this show? This is a lust for the benefits of status. Although this does not classify you as an antichrist, you have already started down the path of the antichrists. When you become accustomed to enjoying special treatment, if one day, you can no longer receive such special treatment, will you not become angry? If some brothers and sisters are poor and don’t have the money to host you, will you treat them fairly? If they tell you a truth that displeases you, will you use your power against them and ruminate on how to punish them? Will you feel displeasure when you see them and wish to teach them a lesson? Once these thoughts come to you, you are then not far from committing evil, are you not? Is it easy for people to walk the path of the antichrists? Is it easy to become an antichrist? (Yes.) This is very vexing! As leaders and workers, if you do not seek the truth in all things, you are walking the path of the antichrists.

Some people do not understand the work of God, and they do not know how or whom God saves. They see that all people have the disposition of antichrists and can walk down the path of the antichrists, and thus feel that such people must have no hope of salvation. In the end, they will all be judged to be antichrists. They cannot be saved and must all perish. Are such thoughts and views correct? (No.) So, how is this problem to be solved? First, you must have an understanding of God’s work. It is corrupt man whom God saves. Corrupt man can walk the path of the antichrists and resist God. That is why he requires God’s salvation. So, how can a man be made truly to follow God, rather than going down the path of the antichrists? He must understand the truth, interrogate and know himself, know his own corrupt disposition, and know his own satanic nature. Then, he must go on to seek the truth and solve his corrupt disposition. It is only thus that you can ensure you won’t walk the path of the antichrists, avoid becoming an antichrist yourself, and avoid becoming that which God detests and rejects. God does not work in supernatural ways. Rather, He searches deep in the hearts of people. If you are always enjoying the benefits of status, God will only reprimand you. He will make you conscious of this fault so that you examine yourself and know that this is unaligned with the truth and not pleasing to God. If you can come to this realization, and examine and know yourself, you will not have difficulty solving the problem. But if you live in such a state for an extended time, always enjoying the benefits of status, failing to pray to God or examine yourself, and failing to seek the truth, then God will do nothing. He will forsake you, so that you do not feel Him to be with you. God will bring you to the realization that, should you go on like this, you will certainly become that which God detests. God will make known to you that this path is wrong, that your way of living is wrong. God’s purpose in giving people such awareness is to make known to them those actions that are right and those that are wrong, allowing them to make the correct choice. However, whether one can choose to walk the right path depends on their faith and cooperation. When God is doing these things, He guides you to an understanding of the truth, but beyond that, He leaves the power of choice to you, and that comes down to whether you’re walking the right path. God never imposes on you. He never forcibly controls you or commands you to do something, having you do this or that. God does not act thus. He allows you to choose freely. At such times, what should one do? When you realize that what you’re doing is wrong, that your way of living is wrong, can you come at once to practice in accord with correct methods? That would be very difficult. There is a battle to be fought in it, because the things loved by man are Satan’s philosophy and logic, which stand in opposition to the truth. At times, you know what would be right and what would be wrong, and there is a battle in your heart. During such a battle, you must pray frequently, let God guide you, and let God rebuke you, so that you become aware of the things you should not do. Then, actively turn away from, shun, and avoid such temptations. This requires your cooperation. During the battle, you will still make mistakes, and it is easy to take the wrong path. Though you may choose the right direction in your heart, it isn’t assured that you will take the right path. Is this not how things really are? With a moment’s carelessness, you’ll take the wrong path. What does “a moment’s carelessness” mean here? It means that a temptation is too great. To you, this may come down to considerations of face, or your mood, or some special context or a special environment. The most serious factor is, in fact, your corrupt disposition, which dominates and controls you. This is what makes it difficult for you to follow the right path. You may have a little faith, but you are still tossed about and swayed to and fro by circumstance. It will not be until you are dealt with and pruned, until you are punished and disciplined, until obstacles litter your path and you see no way forward, that you will realize that the pursuit of fame, profit, and status is not the right way, but something despised and cursed by God, that only walking the path that God requires is the proper way in life, and that if you do not set your will on walking this path, you will be cast out entirely. People don’t weep until they see the coffin! However, in the course of this battle, if a man has great faith, a strong determination to cooperate, and the will to pursue the truth, it will be easier for him to overcome these temptations. If your vital weakness is a particular care for dignity and a love of status, a greed for fame and profit and the pleasures of the flesh, and your affliction in these areas is particularly severe, it will be difficult for you to emerge victorious. What does this mean, that it will be difficult for you to emerge victorious? It means that it will be difficult for you to choose the path of the pursuit of truth, so instead you may choose the wrong path, causing God to despise and forsake you. However, if you are always careful and prudent, and can often come before God to be rebuked and disciplined, and if you do not enjoy the benefits of status, nor covet fame, profit, or the comforts of the flesh, and if, when you have such thoughts, you rely on God to forsake them with all your strength, before they give rise to action, and pray to God and seek the truth, and are ultimately able to walk the path of practice of the truth and enter that reality, regardless of all else, will you not then be more likely to choose the right direction when confronted with great temptation? (Yes.) This depends on your usual accumulated reserves. Tell Me: If a man encounters a great temptation, can he fully satisfy God’s will by relying on his stature as it is, on his own will, or on his usual accumulated reserves? (No.) Can he satisfy it partially? (Yes.) Man may be able to satisfy it partially, but when he runs into great difficulties, God’s intervention is needed. If you wish to practice the truth, relying solely on human understanding of the truth and human will cannot afford you complete protection, nor can you satisfy the will of God and completely shun evil. The key is that man must have the determination to cooperate, and rely on the works of God for the rest. If you say, “I have expended great effort to this end and done all I could. Whatever temptations or circumstances confront me in the future, my stature is only so large, and I can only do so much.” Seeing you act thus, what will God do? God will guard you against these temptations. When God protects you from these temptations, you will be able to practice the truth, your faith will become increasingly firm, and your stature will gradually grow.

Corrupt man loves to pursue status and enjoy its benefits. This holds for any person, whether you presently have status or not: It is exceedingly difficult to abandon status and be rid of its temptations. This requires much cooperation on man’s part. What does such cooperation entail? Mainly, seeking the truth, accepting the truth, understanding God’s will, and clearly penetrating the essence of problems. With these things, one will have the faith to overcome the temptation of status. In addition, you must think of effective ways to rid yourself of temptation and satisfy God’s will. You must have paths of practice. This will ensure that you stay on the correct path. Without paths of practice, you will often fall into temptation. Though you will want to take the right path, your efforts will not come to much in the end, no matter how hard you try. So, what are the temptations you often encounter? (When I achieve some success in performing my duty and win the high regard of the brothers and sisters, I feel self-satisfied and enjoy this feeling greatly. Sometimes I don’t realize it; sometimes I do realize that this state is wrong, but I still can’t turn away from it.) That is a temptation. Who else will speak? (Because I am a leader, our brothers and sisters sometimes give me special treatment.) That is also a temptation. If you are not conscious of the temptations you encounter, but handle them poorly and can’t make the correct choices, these temptations will bring you to grief and misery. As an example, say the brothers’ and sisters’ special treatment of you includes the material perks of feeding you, clothing you, housing you, and providing your daily necessities. If what you enjoy is nicer than what they give you, you’ll look down on it, and you may spurn their gifts. However, if you met a rich man and he gave you a fine suit of clothes, saying that he does not wear it, could you stand firm in the face of such temptation? You might think over the situation, saying to yourself, “He is rich, and these clothes mean nothing to him. He doesn’t wear them anyway. If he doesn’t give them to me, he’ll just pack them away somewhere. So, I will keep them.” What do you make of that decision? (They are already enjoying the benefits of status.) Why is this enjoying the benefits of status? (Because they accepted fine things.) Is it enjoying the benefits of status just to accept the fine things offered to you? If you are offered something ordinary, but it is just what you need and so you accept it, does this also count as enjoying the benefits of status? (Yes. Whenever they accept things from others to satisfy their own selfish desires, it counts.) It seems you’re not clear on this. Have you ever thought about this: If you were not a leader and had no status, would he still offer this gift? (He wouldn’t.) He certainly would not. It is because you are a leader that he makes this gift to you. The nature of the thing has changed. This is not normal charity, and herein is the problem. If you asked him, “If I were not a leader, but simply an ordinary brother or sister, would you make such a gift to me? If this item were needed by a brother or sister, would you give it to them?” He would say, “I couldn’t. I can’t give things willy-nilly to anyone. I give it to you because you are my leader. If you did not have this special status, why would I give you such a gift?” Now see how you have failed to understand the situation. You believed him when he said he had no use for that fine suit of clothes, but he was deceiving you. His purpose is to have you accept his gift so that, in the future, you will be good to him and afford him special treatment. This is the intention behind his gift. The fact is that you know in your heart that he would never give you such a gift if you had no status, but you still accept it. With your tongue, you say “Thanks be to God. I have accepted this gift from God, it is God’s benevolence to me.” Not only do you enjoy the benefits of status, but you also take enjoyment in the things of God’s chosen people, as though they were your proper due. Is this not shameless? If man has no sense of conscience and lacks all shame, then that is the problem. Is this just a matter of behavior? Is it simply wrong to accept things from others and right to refuse them? What should you do when you encounter such a situation? You must ask this giver of gifts if what they are doing conforms to the principles. Say to them, “Let us look for guidance from God’s word or the administrative regulations of the church and see if what you are doing is in line with principles. If not, I cannot accept such a gift.” If those resources inform the giver that their action violates the principles but they still wish to give you the gift, what should you do? You must act according to principles. Ordinary people can’t overcome this. They long eagerly for others to give them more, and they wish to enjoy more special treatment. If you are the right kind of person, you should immediately pray to God when faced with such a situation, saying, “Oh God, what I’m faced with today is certainly a sign of Your good will. It’s a lesson You’ve set out for me. I’m willing to seek the truth and act according to the principles.” The temptations facing those with status are too great, and once a temptation comes, it is hard indeed to overcome. You need the protection and assistance of God; you must pray to God, and you must also seek the truth and frequently reflect on yourself. In this way, you will feel grounded and at peace. However, if you wait until after you receive such gifts to pray, will you still feel such groundedness and peace? (Not anymore.) What will God think of you then? Will your actions please God, or disgust Him? He will detest your actions. Is the problem simply one of whether you accept a thing? (No.) So, where is the problem? The problem lies in the opinions and attitude you adopt when confronting such a situation. Do you decide for yourself or do you seek the truth? Do you have any standard of conscience? Do you have a God-fearing heart at all? Do you pray to God whenever you encounter the situation? Do you first seek to satisfy your own desires, or do you first pray and seek God’s will? You are revealed in this matter. How should you handle such a situation? You must have principles to your practice. First, externally, you must refuse these special material considerations, these temptations. Even when you are offered something you especially desire or precisely the thing you need, you must likewise refuse it. What is meant by material things? Food, clothing, and shelter, and items for daily use are all included. These special material considerations must be refused. Why must you refuse them? Is doing so merely a matter of how you act? No; it’s a matter of your cooperative attitude. If you want to practice the truth, satisfy God, and shun temptation, you must first have this cooperative attitude. With this attitude, you will be able to shun temptation, and your conscience will be at peace. If you are offered something you want and you accept it, your heart will feel the reproach of your conscience, to some degree. However, due to your excuses and self-justifications, you will say that you ought to be given this thing, that it’s your due. And then, the pangs of your conscience won’t be so accurate or evident. Sometimes, your thoughts and views may sway your conscience, so that its pangs are not obvious. So, is your conscience a reliable standard? It is not. This is an alarm bell that warns people. What kind of warning does it give? That there’s no security in relying on feelings of conscience alone; one must also seek the truth principles. That is what’s reliable. Without the truth to constrain them, people can still fall into temptation, giving various reasons and excuses that let them satisfy their greed for the benefits of status. Therefore, as a leader, you should adhere in your heart to this one principle: I will always refuse, always shun, and absolutely reject any special treatment. Absolute rejection is the prerequisite for shunning evil. If you possess the prerequisite for shunning evil, you are already under the protection of God to some degree. And if you have such principles to your practice and hold fast to them, you are already practicing the truth and are satisfying God. You are already walking the correct path. When you are walking the correct path and already satisfying God, do you still require the test of your conscience? Acting according to principles and practicing the truth is higher than the standards of conscience. If someone has the determination to be cooperative and is able to act according to principles, they have already satisfied God. This is the standard God requires of men.

To a great extent, someone’s ability to fear God and shun evil depends on their cooperation. Cooperation is critical. As Job feared God and shunned evil, with the stature and reality he possessed, he must not have feared falling into any temptation. Had he been seated at a banquet table, he would not easily have offended God by any word or deed. So why, then, did he still refuse to attend such banquets? (He did not like them.) He disliked such occasions. This is an objective reason, but there is also a practical issue that you may not have considered. Job feared God and shunned evil. He took measures and adopted practices so that he would receive the protection of God, guarding against committing sin or offending God. He adopted human methods of cooperation. This is one side of the matter. In addition, there are some situations in which man cannot control his corrupt nature by himself, so Job would not attend occasions where he would be tempted. In this way, he avoided temptation. Now do you understand why Job would not attend such banquets? It is because such an occasion would be too great a temptation for anyone. What does it mean when something is too great of a temptation? People can commit sin and offend God at any time, wherever they may be. Alone, your God-fearing heart, and your faith in God and your determination, are not enough to allow you to free yourself of temptation. It cannot keep you from offending God when tempted. Do you understand? You must absolutely refuse the special treatment offered to you by others. You must refuse every time. What sort of way of doing things is this? At which realm of man’s problems are such principles and regulations directed? (They target man’s greedy nature.) Due to man’s corrupt disposition, he is prone to fall into temptation. Therefore, you must adopt certain principles or methods to avoid such temptations so as not to offend God. This is a powerful and effective way to cooperate. If you fail to do this, if you judge the situation and sometimes accept special treatment and other times refuse it, do you have a good grasp of the matter? (No.) Why is your grasp on it poor? (Because man has a satanic nature and can’t control himself.) Those without a God-fearing heart have no principles when confronted with such circumstances. They accept everything and never reject anything. If someone tells them that it is an offering, something dedicated to God, even then they are not afraid. They just put it in their own pocket. They dare to snatch up and commandeer such offerings, without even a bit of self-reproach. It is evident that they are entirely without a God-fearing heart, falling naturally into such conditions, as they do. Are they even believers in God? This is the consequence of seeking out comfort and ease and enjoying the benefits of status. If you often fall into temptation and do not shun it, you will inevitably be led, imperceptibly, down this path. Man’s corrupt disposition leads him to take the wrong path. Can things go well with this problem unresolved? That is why, regardless of the problems you encounter, you should adhere to the truth principles, adopting special means to cope with special problems. A rigid following of rules is not the way. Whatever means allow you to win victory over temptation, they are acceptable.

Material temptations are easier to overcome. So long as you have food to eat, clothes to wear, and a contented heart, you can do it. Then, such temptations are easily vanquished. The temptations of fame, profit, and status, however, are the hardest of all to overcome. For example, when two people are working together, if the other person’s status is lower than yours, if your status is higher than his, you will feel glad. But if your status is lower than his, you will be unhappy. Your heart will be in discomfort, you will feel constrained, discouraged, and weak, and you will not pray. Is this problem easy to solve? It does not have an easy solution. People can reject and shun material temptations, avoiding their contamination, but status, profit, fame, vanity, and reputation are the hardest to overcome. Although it is not easy, there is in fact a solution. As long as you can seek the truth, pray to God, and see through the emptiness of fame, profit, and status to penetrate to their essence, you will have the confidence to discard fame, profit, and status. As such, you will not fall into their temptations. Humans have a corrupt nature, which causes them to reveal and live out various corrupt dispositions. This leads them to resist and rebel against God. That which they live out is inhumane and inconsistent with truth. Whether it is human arrogance that refuses to bow to the truth, or human deceitfulness that acts with crooked intent, or human greed, ambition, and desire, what is it that gives rise to all these vices? (Satan’s corrupt disposition.) They arise from the corrupt disposition of Satan and are produced by the satanic nature that controls man. Man’s striving after status is just one manifestation of this. This manifestation, like man’s arrogant disposition, like his rebellion and resistance to God, arises from his satanic nature. What method can be used to solve this? You must still use the most basic method. As long as you follow the way of God and walk the path of pursuing the truth, all these problems can be solved. When you have no status, you can analyze yourself often and come to know yourself. Others can benefit from this. When you have status and can still analyze and understand yourself often, allowing people to see your strengths, that you understand the truth, that you have practical experience, and that you truly change, can’t others still benefit from this? No matter whether you have status or not, so long as you can practice the truth and have genuine experiential testimony, allowing people to understand God’s will and the truth from your experience, doesn’t this benefit people? So, what does status mean to you? In fact, status is simply an extra, additional thing, like a piece of clothing or a hat. It is just an ornament. It has no real use, and its presence doesn’t affect anything. Whether you have status or not, you are still the same person. Whether people can understand the truth and gain the truth and life has nothing to do with status. As long as you do not take status as too great a matter, it cannot constrain you. If you love status and place special emphasis on it, always treating it as a matter of importance, then it will have you under its control; you will not be willing to open up, lay yourself bare, know yourself, or set aside your leadership role to act, speak and interact with others and fulfill your duty. What sort of problem is this? Is this not a matter of being constrained by status? This happens because you speak and act from a place of status and can’t step down from your high horse. Aren’t you just tormenting yourself by doing this? If you really understand the truth, and if you can have status without holding yourself like you do, but can instead focus on how to perform your duties well, do everything you should and fulfill all the duties you ought, and if you see yourself as an ordinary brother or sister, then will you not have cast aside the yoke of status? When you are not constrained by status and have a normal life entry, would you still compare yourself against others? When others occupy a higher status, would you still feel discomfort? You must seek the truth and free yourself of the constraints of status and the constraints of all other people, matters, and things. There is nothing better than doing your duty well. Only then will you be a person who possesses the truth reality.

All corrupted humans suffer from a common problem: When they have no status, they do not put on airs when interacting or speaking with anyone, nor do they adopt a certain style or tone in their speech; they are simply ordinary and normal, and do not need to package themselves. They do not feel any psychological pressure, and can fellowship openly and from the heart. They are approachable and are easy to interact with; others feel that they are very good people. As soon as they attain status, they become high and mighty, they ignore ordinary people, nobody can approach them; they feel that they have a sort of nobility, and that they and ordinary people are cut from different cloths. They look down on ordinary people, put on airs when they speak, and stop fellowshiping openly with others. Why do they no longer fellowship openly? They feel that they now have status, and are leaders. They think that leaders must have a certain image, be a bit loftier than ordinary people, have more stature and are better able to assume responsibility; they believe that compared to ordinary people, leaders must have more patience, be able to suffer and expend more, and be able to withstand any temptation from Satan. Even if their parents or other family members die, they feel they must have the self-control to not cry, or that they must cry in secret at the very least, out of sight of others, so that no one can see any of their shortcomings, defects, or weaknesses. They even feel that leaders cannot let anyone know if they have become negative; instead, they must hide all such things. They believe this is how one with status should act. When they repress themselves to this extent, has status not become their God, their Lord? And this being so, do they still possess normal humanity? When they have these ideas—when they put themselves in this box, and put on this kind of act—have they not become enamored with status? Whenever another is stronger and better than them, this touches their vital weakness. Can they overcome the flesh? Can they treat the other person as is proper? Certainly not. To free yourself from status’s control over you, what must you do first? You must first purge it from your intentions, your thoughts, and from your heart. How is this achieved? Before, when you were without status, you would ignore those who were not appealing to you. Now that you have status, if you see someone who is unappealing, or who has issues, you feel responsible for helping them, and so spend more time fellowshiping with them, trying to solve some of the practical problems they have. And what is the feeling in your heart when you do such things? It is a feeling of joy and peace. So, too, should you confide in people and more often open up to them when you find yourself in difficulty or experience failure, fellowshiping your problems and weaknesses, how you disobeyed God, and how you then emerged from this, and were able to fulfill God’s will. And what is the effect of confiding in them in this way? It is, without doubt, positive. No one will look down on you—and they may well envy your ability to go through these experiences. Some people always think that when people have status, they should act more like officials and speak in a certain way so as to be taken seriously and respected. Is this way of thinking correct? If you are able to realize that this way of thinking is wrong, then you should pray to God and turn your back on fleshly things. Do not put on airs, and do not walk the path of hypocrisy. As soon as you have such a thought, you should address it by seeking the truth. If you do not seek the truth, this thought, this viewpoint, will take form and become rooted in your heart. As a result, it will come to dominate you and you will disguise yourself and craft your image to such an extent that no one will be able to see you through it or understand your thoughts. You will talk to others as through a mask that hides your true heart from them. You must learn to let others see your heart, and learn to open your heart to others and become close to them. You must forsake the wants of the flesh and conduct yourself according to God’s requirements. In this way, your heart will know peace and happiness. Whatever events befall you, first reflect on what problems exist in your own ideology. If you still wish to construct an image for yourself and disguise yourself, you should immediately pray to God: “Oh God! I again want to put on a disguise. I am once again deceptively scheming. What a true devil I am! I must truly be repugnant to You! I am now completely disgusted by myself. I beseech You to rebuke, discipline, and punish me.” You must pray, bring your attitude out into the open, and rely on God to expose it, dissect it, and restrict it. If you thus dissect and restrict it, your actions will produce no problems because your corrupt disposition is thwarted and does not reveal itself. At this time, what emotions are in your heart? At the very least, you will feel some release. Your heart will be joyful and at peace. Your pain will be lessened, and you will not suffer from refinement. In the worst case, there will be times when you momentarily feel a bit lost and think to yourself, “I am a leader, a person of status and standing, how can I be just like ordinary people? How can I converse with ordinary people in a heartfelt, genuine, and open way? This would be such a lowering of myself!” As you see, this is a bit troublesome. Man’s corrupt disposition cannot be shed entirely all at once, nor can it be completely solved in a short period of time. You thought that solving your corrupt disposition would be so simple, that it’s like what people imagine it to be—that once they fellowship clearly on the truth and recognize their corrupt disposition, then they will be able to promptly rid themselves of it. It is not so simple a thing. The process by which man practices the truth is the process of fighting against his corrupt disposition. Man’s individual will, imagination, and extravagant desires are not completely resolved by forsaking and overcoming them once and for all through prayer. Rather, they can only be finally abandoned after many repeated battles. Only when one can practice the truth will this process truly bear fruit. Especially in larger things, the battle in your heart will be even more intense, with endless tossing and turning that can sometimes last as long as one or two months, sometimes six months or even a year. Man’s corrupt disposition is quite stubborn. No sort of corrupt disposition can be resolved through one or two fellowships on the truth. It will fight against you again and again, and you must continue to pursue the truth until you clearly understand the truth, thoroughly know your corrupt disposition, and begin to hate the flesh and hate Satan. Then, practice of the truth will become an ordinary thing to you, something that is natural and effortless. This is what it means to overcome the flesh and win victory over Satan. During the battle, people must pray to God at all times and spend more time reading God’s words. They must never go to unbelievers or Satan and the devils to find the way. They must rely on and look up to God. They must seek the truth and engage in fellowship on the truth in accordance with God’s words. Only when they truly understand the truth can they overcome the flesh and overcome Satan. How does God view this? God sees your heart. He sees that you love the truth, you fear God, and you are willing to cast off unrighteousness and shun evil. Although your corrupt disposition has produced thoughts, ideas, and intents in you, these thoughts and intents do not control your behavior, they do not knock down and trample on your will. Ultimately, you are able to defeat them, and God will remember you. If you practice this frequently, your inner state will improve. At what point can it be said that you have completely overcome this aspect of your corrupt disposition, that you have changed in this aspect of your disposition and entered into the truth reality? That is, although bad thoughts and ideas may sometimes still enter your mind, and they still produce some intents and desires, these things no longer hold sway over your heart. You already feel that these things are not important, and you can recognize them as soon as they emerge. You do not need to artificially restrain and turn away from them, and you do not need to intentionally ask God to observe, discipline, and punish you. Such methods are not necessary for you. You can easily overcome it and give it up. Your heart is not discomforted and you feel no loss. This is well. You now possess stature and are of a changed disposition. Have you now gained entry to some extent? Have you changed somewhat? (No.) Then your stature is truly too lowly, and you still have to work hard to pursue truth and eat and drink the words of God. Then, when such things happen to you again, you will know how to practice the truth and act in accord with principles. You will know what you must do to stand firm in your witness. Then, you will truly possess stature. Only those who can practice the truth and stand firm in their witness can enter into the truth reality. This is currently beyond you. You are still in the stage of groping. Speaking of these actual situations, you feel that you have all these problems, yet you have never sought the truth to solve them. Does this mean that your stature is too small? If you have not entered into the truth reality, can you have life? You have not yet obtained the truth and you do not yet have life. If you live only by the life of the flesh and live only by your satanic disposition, then you are one living under the power of Satan. You have not yet attained God’s salvation. Salvation is not as simple as people imagine when they think that, if you can spout words and doctrines and abide by some rules, you are saved. You must truly know yourself, be able to rid yourself of some corrupt dispositions, be able to see through to the essence of reputation and status, be able to let go of status, and be able to truly submit to God. Only in this way is there salvation.

In fact, the solution to the problem of status is the same as the solution to other problems. These problems are all manifestations and revelations of corrupt dispositions. They are all human preferences and pursuits. What is My meaning in this? Provided you rid yourself of your corrupt disposition, status will not be a problem for you. People compete with each other for status, saying “You may stand above me today, but tomorrow I will raise myself above you.” What is the problem here? Does it arise solely due to status? (No.) What gave rise to it? (Man’s corrupt disposition.) This is correct. This problem arises from man’s corrupt disposition. Once this corrupt disposition is resolved, all these problems will be solved. In the end, those who want to choose the path of the pursuit of truth must focus on self-reflection and knowing themselves in all things. They must resolve their corrupt dispositions before they can embark on the path of the pursuit of the truth. If they fail to resolve their corrupt disposition, it will throw up many difficulties and obstacles. Even though they do their duties, they will go through the motions but achieve no result. To solve these problems, you must make every effort in the pursuit of truth, make every effort to know your corrupt disposition, and make every effort to solve problems. Don’t just say, “It is enough to pursue the truth, pray more, and read more of the word of God.” This is too vague. Without a practical path, it is not enough. Specific problems should be dealt with specifically. Do not follow rigid rules and dead laws. Truth is a living, practical thing, and the haphazard application of rules is not the way. You must solve practical problems according to the truth principle. If one is unable to solve practical problems by using the truth, such a person is not qualified to be a leader and worker. Anyone who cannot use the truth to solve problems is not a person who understands the truth. Even though they may become a leader and worker, they will be unable to use the truth to solve problems, they will not have the truth, and it will be impossible for them to act in accord with principles. Such a leader and worker has nothing at all of the truth reality.

February 16, 2017

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