Chapter 35. How to Take the Path of Peter
In summary, taking Peter’s path in one’s faith means to walk the path of pursuing the truth, which is also the path of truly getting to know oneself and changing one’s disposition. Only by walking the path of Peter will one be on the path of being perfected by God. One must be clear on how, exactly, to walk Peter’s path, as well as how to put it into practice. First, one must put aside one’s own intentions, improper pursuits, and even family and all things of one’s own flesh. One must be wholeheartedly devoted; that is, one must completely devote oneself to the word of God, focus on eating and drinking of God’s words, concentrate on the search for the truth and the search for God’s intentions in His words, and try to grasp God’s will in everything. This is the most fundamental and vital method of practice. This was what Peter did after seeing Jesus, and it is only by practicing in this way that one can achieve the best results. Wholehearted devotion to the words of God primarily involves seeking the truth, seeking God’s intentions within His words, focusing on grasping the will of God, and understanding and obtaining more truth from God’s words. When reading His words, Peter was not focused on understanding doctrines, much less was he focused on obtaining theological knowledge; instead, he concentrated on comprehending the truth and grasping God’s will, as well as achieving an understanding of His disposition and His loveliness. Peter also attempted to understand the various corrupt states of man from God’s words, as well as man’s corrupt nature and actual shortcoming, thus meeting all aspects of God’s requirements of man in order to satisfy Him. Peter had so many correct practices that abided by the words of God; this was most in line with God’s will, and it was the best way a person could cooperate while experiencing God’s work. When experiencing the hundreds of trials from God, Peter examined himself strictly against every word of God’s judgment of man, every word of God’s revelation of man, and every word of His demands of man, and strived to fathom the meaning of those words. He tried in earnest to ponder and memorize every word that Jesus said to him, and achieved very good results. Through this manner of practicing, he was able to achieve an understanding of himself from God’s words, and he not only came to understand the various corrupt states of man, but also came to understand man’s essence, nature, and various shortcomings. This is what it means to truly understand oneself. From God’s words, Peter not only achieved a true understanding of himself, but from the things expressed in God’s words—God’s righteous disposition, what He has and is, God’s will for His work, His demands of mankind—from these words he came to know God completely. He came to know God’s disposition, and His essence; he came to know and understand what God has and is, as well as God’s loveliness and God’s demands for man. Although God did not speak back then as much as He does today, results in these aspects were nevertheless achieved in Peter. This was a rare and precious thing. Peter went through hundreds of trials, but did not suffer in vain. He not only came to understand himself from the words and the work of God, but he also came to know God. In addition, he particularly focused on God’s requirements of mankind within His words. In whichever aspects man should satisfy God to be in line with God’s will, Peter was able to put forth great effort in these aspects and achieve full clarity; this was extremely beneficial with regard to his own entry. No matter what God spoke of, as long as those words could become his life and they belonged to the truth, Peter was able to carve them into his heart to ponder and appreciate them frequently. After hearing the words of Jesus, he was able to take them to heart, which shows that he was especially focused on God’s words, and he truly achieved results in the end. That is, he was able to freely put the words of God into practice, accurately practice the truth and be in line with God’s will, act entirely in accordance with God’s intention, and give up his own personal opinions and imaginations. In this way, Peter entered into the reality of God’s words. Peter’s service came in line with God’s will primarily because he had done this.
If one can satisfy God while fulfilling one’s duty, is principled in one’s words and actions, and can enter the reality of all aspects of the truth, then one is a person who becomes perfected by God. It can be said that the work and the words of God have been completely effective for such people, that God’s words have become their life, they have obtained the truth, and they are able to live in accordance with God’s words. After this, the nature of their flesh—that is, the very foundation of their original existence—will shake apart and collapse. After people possess God’s words as their life, they will become new people. If the words of God become their life, if the vision of God’s work, His requirements of humanity, His revelations to humans, and the standards for a true life that God requires them to meet become their life, if they live according to these words and truths, then they are perfected by the words of God. Such people are reborn, and have become new people through God’s words. This is the path by which Peter pursued the truth; it was the path of being perfected, perfected by God’s words, and gaining life from the words of God. The truth expressed by God became his life, and only then did he become a person who obtained the truth. We all know that around the time of Jesus’ ascension, Peter had many notions, disobediences, and weaknesses. Why did they completely change after that? This has a direct relationship to his pursuit of truth. Only understanding the doctrine is of no use; it cannot bring a change in life. Only understanding the literal meaning of God’s word is not equal to understanding truth; those essential things illustrated in God’s words are the truth. Every sentence of God’s words contains truth, but people may not necessarily understand it. For example, God’s word says, “You must be honest people”: There is truth in this statement. “You must become people obedient to God, who love God, and who worship God.” “You must do your duty well as a man.” These statements contain the truth even more. Each sentence of the words of God contains much truth, and many words are required to explain the essence of each statement of truth; only when this point is reached will it be considered an understanding of the truth. If you only understand the literal meaning and explain God’s words according to their literal meaning, this is not an understanding of truth—this is purely playing with doctrine.
Until people have experienced God’s work and gained the truth, it is Satan’s nature that takes charge and dominates them from within. What, specifically, does that nature entail? For example, why are you selfish? Why do you protect your own position? Why are your emotions so strong? Why do you love those things that are unrighteous? Why do you love those evils? What are these things based on? Where do they come from? Why are you so happy to accept these things? By now, you all have come to understand that the main reason behind all these things is that they contain Satan’s poison. As for what Satan’s poison is, it can be fully expressed with words. For example, if you ask some evildoers why they act that way, they will answer, “Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost.” This single phrase expresses the very root of the problem: The logic of Satan has become people’s lives. They do things for this purpose or that, but they are only doing it for themselves. People all think that it is “Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost,” that this is just the way it is, so everyone should live only for themselves—“Secure a position for creature comforts.” “Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost”—this is the life and the philosophy of man, and it also represents their nature. This statement is precisely Satan’s poison, and when internalized by people, it becomes their nature. Satan’s nature is exposed through these words; they completely represent it. This poison becomes people’s lives as well as the foundation of their existence, and corrupted humanity has been consistently dominated by this for thousands of years. Everything Satan does is for itself. It wishes to surpass God, break free of Him, and wield power itself, and to possess all of the things that God has created; therefore, man’s nature is Satan’s nature. In fact, a lot of people’s mottos can represent and reflect their nature. No matter how people try to disguise it, in everything they do and in everything they say, they cannot hide their nature. There are some who never speak the truth and are good at pretending, but once others have interacted with them for a while, their deceitful nature and their complete dishonesty will be found out. Time will tell all. After knowing them for a time, their nature will be discovered. In the end, others draw this conclusion: That person never speaks a word of truth, and is deceitful. This statement is the truth of such a person’s nature; it is the testimony to, and an illustration of, their nature; their philosophy of life is to not tell anyone the truth, and also to not believe anyone. Man’s satanic nature contains a great deal of philosophy. Sometimes you yourself are not even aware of that and do not understand it, yet every moment of your life is based on it. Moreover, you think that this philosophy is quite correct, reasonable, and not mistaken. Satan’s philosophy has become people’s truth, and they are living in complete accordance with Satan’s philosophy, without rebelling against it in the slightest. Therefore, they are constantly revealing their satanic nature, and in all aspects, they constantly live by their satanic philosophy. Satan’s nature is man’s life.
What nature is can be completely expressed through a verbal summary. In man’s nature, there is arrogance, conceit, and a desire to be outstanding; it also contains a mercenary greed with no regard for life, and this involves putting profit before everything. It also contains deceitfulness, crookedness, and a tendency to cheat people at every turn, as well as unbearable wickedness and filth. This is a summary of man’s nature. Therefore, if you are able to come to know many aspects of your own nature, then you have gained an understanding of it; however, if you have not discovered anything in your own nature, then you do not have any understanding of it. What Peter sought was to come to know himself and see what was revealed in him through the refinement of God’s words and within the various trials that God provided for him. In the end, when he truly came to understand himself, Peter realized how deeply corrupt man is, and how worthless and unworthy of serving God, and that man does not deserve to live before God. Peter then fell prostrate in front of God. Ultimately, Peter felt, “Knowing God is the most precious thing! If I could not know God, then my death would be such a pity; I feel that knowing God is the most important, most meaningful thing. If man does not know God, then he does not deserve to live, and he has no life.” By the time Peter’s experience had reached this point, he was fairly knowledgeable of his own nature and had a relatively good understanding of it. Although he perhaps would not have been able to thoroughly explain it as people might imagine, he had reached this state. Therefore, the path of seeking life and achieving perfection by God involves gaining a deeper understanding of one’s own nature from within the words of God, as well as comprehending the aspects of one’s nature and accurately describing it in words. To thoroughly understand one’s old life—the life of the old satanic nature—means to have achieved the results required by God. If your knowledge has not reached this point, yet you claim to understand yourself and that you have gained life, are you not simply bragging? You do not know yourself, nor do you know what you are in front of God, whether you have truly met the standard of a human being, or how many satanic elements you still contain. You are still unclear about who you belong to, and you do not even have any self-knowledge, so how can you possess reason in front of God? When Peter was pursuing life, he focused on understanding himself and changing his disposition over the course of his trials. He strove to know God, and in the end, he felt, “People must seek an understanding of God in life; knowing Him is the most critical thing. If I do not know God, then I cannot rest in peace when I die. Once I know Him, if God then has me die, I will still feel most gratified to do so; I will not complain in the least, and my entire life will have been fulfilled.” Peter was not able to obtain this understanding or reach this level immediately after he had begun to believe in God; he first had to undergo many trials. His experience had to reach a certain point, and he had to completely understand himself, before he could sense the value of knowing God. Therefore, the path Peter took was one of gaining life and of being perfected; his specific practice was mainly focused on this aspect.
What road are you all taking now? If you have not reached a pursuit of life, of understanding of yourself, or of God like Peter’s, then that is still not Peter’s path. These days, most people are in this sort of state: “In order to gain blessings, I must expend myself for God and pay a price for Him. In order to gain blessings, I must abandon everything for God; I must complete what He has entrusted me with, and perform my duty well.” This is dominated by the intention of being blessed; this is an example of expending oneself entirely for the purpose of gaining God’s rewards, for gaining the crown. Such people do not have the truth in their hearts, and surely their understanding merely consists of some words of doctrine which they show off everywhere. Theirs is the path of Paul. Such people’s belief in God is an act of constant work, and in their hearts, they feel that the more they do, the more it will prove their loyalty to God; also, that the more they do, the more God will certainly be satisfied, and that the more they do, the more they deserve to be granted the crown before God, and that they will certainly receive the greatest blessings in the house of God. They feel that if they can endure suffering, preach, and die for Christ, if they can disregard their own lives, and if they can complete all of the duties with which God has entrusted them, then they will be among God’s most blessed—those who gain the greatest blessings—and they will certainly receive the crown. This is exactly what Paul imagined and what he pursued; this is exactly the path that Paul walked, and it was under the guidance of such thoughts that Paul worked to serve God. Do such thoughts and intentions not originate from Satan’s nature? Just like worldly humans, on earth I must pursue knowledge, and only after obtaining knowledge can I be successful, become an official, and have status. Once I have status I can realize my ambition and bring my home and business up to certain levels. Do not all of the non-believers go on this path? Those who are dominated by this satanic nature can only be like Paul after they believe in God: “I must cast off everything to expend myself for God, I must be faithful in front of God, and in the end I will receive the greatest crown and the greatest blessings.” This is the same as worldly people who pursue worldly things, no different at all, and they are subject to the same nature. People have a satanic nature, so out in the world, they will pursue knowledge, status, learning, and worldly success; in God’s house, they will seek to expend themselves for God, be faithful, and eventually receive the crown and great blessings. If people do not pursue the truth after they become believers in God, and have not had a change in their disposition, then they will certainly be on this path. This is a reality that no one can deny, and this is diametrically opposed to Peter’s path. Which path are you all taking now? Though you may not have planned to take the path of Paul, your nature has ruled that you walk this way, and you are going in that direction in spite of yourself. Though you want to set foot upon the path of Peter, if you are not clear on how to do that, then you will take the path of Paul involuntarily: This is the reality of the situation.
So exactly how can you take the path of Peter? If you are unable to distinguish between Peter’s path and Paul’s path, or you don’t know them at all, then even if you say you should go on Peter’s path those will be empty words. You need to first be clear in your mind what the road of Peter is and what the road of Paul is. If you really understand that Peter’s path is the path of life and the only path to being perfected, only then will you be able to know and grasp the truths and specific ways of taking his path. If you do not understand Peter’s path, then the path you are going on will definitely be that of Paul’s because there will be no other path for you—you will have no choice. If you have no truth and no aspirations then it is difficult to go on Peter’s path. It can be said that God has now revealed to you the path to salvation and perfection. This is God’s grace and uplifting and it is He who guides you onto the path of Peter. Without God’s guidance and enlightenment, no one would be able to take Peter’s path; the only choice would be to go down Paul’s path, following in Paul’s footsteps to destruction. At the time, Paul did not feel it was wrong to walk down that path. He fully believed that it was correct, but he didn’t have the truth and he particularly didn’t have a change in disposition. He believed too much in himself and felt that there was not the slightest issue with going that way. He continued on full of confidence and with the utmost self-assurance. By the end, he never came to his senses, still thinking that for him to live was Christ. He continued going that way until the end, and when he was finally punished, it was all over. Paul’s path did not involve knowing himself or pursuit of a change in disposition. He never analyzed his own nature, and he had no knowledge of what he was; he simply knew that he was the chief culprit in the persecution of the Lord Jesus. He had not had the slightest understanding of his own nature, and after finishing his work, he felt that he was Christ and should be rewarded. The work that Paul did was merely a service rendered for God. For Paul personally, though he received some revelations from the Holy Spirit, he had no truth or life at all. He was not saved by God; he was punished by God. Why is it said that Peter’s path is the path to perfection? It is because in his practice, he focused particularly on life and on seeking to know God and himself. Through his experience of God’s work, he came to know himself, gained an understanding of man’s corrupt states, learned of his shortcomings, and discovered the most valuable thing that people should pursue. He was able to sincerely love God, he knew how to repay God, he obtained some truth, and he possessed the reality that God requires. From all the things that he said during his trials, it can be seen that Peter was indeed the one with the most understanding of God. Because he understood so much truth from God’s words, his path became brighter and brighter and more and more in alignment with God’s will. If he had not had this truth, then he would not have been able to go along such a correct path.
Right now there is still the question: If you know what Peter’s path was, can you walk along it? This is a realistic question. You must be able to clearly distinguish what kind of person can go along Peter’s path and what kind of person cannot. When people are incorrect they cannot be perfected by God. Those who go on Peter’s path must be correct; only if you are a correct person can you be perfected. Those who are like Paul cannot go on Peter’s path. A certain kind of person will go on a certain kind of path; this is entirely determined by their nature. No matter how clearly you explain Peter’s path to Satan, it cannot walk it. Even if it wanted to, it wouldn’t be able to get on it. Its nature has determined that it cannot take that path. Only those who love the truth are able to take Peter’s path. Rivers and mountains may be changed but it’s hard to alter a man’s nature; if there are no elements of love for the truth within your nature, then you are not suited to go on the path of Peter. If you are a person who loves the truth, if you are able to accept the truth in spite of your corrupt disposition, can receive the work of the Holy Spirit and can understand God’s will, this way you will be able to forsake the flesh and obey God’s plan. When you have changes in your disposition after undergoing some trials, this means that you are slowly stepping onto Peter’s path of being perfected.