4. What is hypocrisy?
Relevant Words of God:
What is the definition of the appellation, “Pharisees”? They are people who are hypocritical, completely fake, and put on an act in everything they do, while pretending to be good, kind, and positive. Is this what they are actually like? Given that they are hypocrites, everything that is manifested and revealed in them is false; it is all pretense—it is not their true face. Their true face is hidden within their hearts; it is out of sight. If people do not pursue the truth, and if they do not understand the truth, then what do those theories they have gained become? Do they not become the letters and doctrines to which people often refer? People use these so-called correct doctrines to camouflage and package themselves so nicely. Wherever they go, the things they talk about, the things they say, and their external behavior all appear right and good to others; they are all in line with human notions and tastes. In others’ eyes, they are both devout and humble, capable of forbearance and tolerance, and can love others and love God. Actually, though, all of this is fake; it is all just pretense and a way in which they package themselves. On the outside, they appear loyal to God, but they are actually just performing for others to see. When no one is looking, they are not the slightest bit loyal, and everything they do is perfunctory. Superficially, they have given up their families and careers, appearing to work hard and expend themselves; in actual fact, however, they are secretly profiting from the church and stealing offerings. Everything they outwardly reveal—all their behavior—is fake. This is what is meant by a hypocritical Pharisee. Where do “Pharisees”—these people come from? Do they emerge among the unbelievers? All of them emerge among believers. Why do these believers transform thusly? Could God’s words have made them that way? (No.) What is the reason? It is because of the path they have taken. They have taken God’s words as a tool with which to arm themselves; they arm themselves with these words, treating them as capital with which to secure a living and get something for nothing. They merely preach doctrines, yet have never put those words into practice. What sort of people are those who continue to preach words and doctrines despite never having followed God’s way? These are hypocritical Pharisees. That little bit of supposedly good behavior and good ways of expressing themselves, and what little they have given up and expended, are entirely forced; they are all just acts that they put on. They are entirely fake; all those actions are pretense. In these people’s hearts, there is not the slightest reverence for God, nor do they even have any genuine faith in God. More than that, they are of the nonbelievers. If people do not pursue the truth, then they will walk this sort of path, and they will become Pharisees. Is that not frightful?
Excerpted from “Six Indicators of Life Growth” in Records of Christ’s Talks
In Israel, “Pharisee” used to be a sort of title. Why is it now a label instead? This is because the Pharisees have become representatives of a type of person. What are the characteristics of this type of person? They chant slogans, they are skilled at pretending, at ornament, at hiding their true selves, and they affect great nobility, great holiness and uprightness, great fair-handedness and honor. As a result, they do not practice the truth in the least. How do they act? They read scripture, they preach, they teach others to do good, not to do evil, not to resist God; they say pleasant-sounding things and behave well in front of others, yet, when others’ backs are turned, they steal offerings. The Lord Jesus said they “strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.” This means that all their behavior seems good on its surface—they chant slogans ostentatiously, they speak lofty theories, and their words sound pleasant, yet their deeds are a disordered mess, entirely resistant of God. Their behaviors and outward appearances are all pretense, all fraud; in their hearts, they have not the slightest love for the truth, nor for positive things. They detest truth, detest all that comes from God, and detest positive things.What do they love? Do they love fairness and righteousness? (No.) How can you tell they do not love these things? (The Lord Jesus came to do work and spread the gospel of the kingdom of heaven, yet they condemned Him.) Had they not condemned Him, would you be able to tell? Before the Lord Jesus came to do work, what might have told you that they did not love fairness and righteousness? You would not have been able to tell, would you? All their behavior is pretense, and they use this pretense of good behavior to defraud others of their trust. Is this not hypocrisy and deceit? Can such deceivers love the truth? What is the hidden purpose of this good behavior of theirs? One part of their purpose is to cheat others; the other part is to deceive others, to win them over and be worshiped by them, and, in the end, to receive rewards. How clever must their techniques be, to pull off such a large swindle? Do such people love fairness and righteousness, then? Of course not. They love status, they love fame and fortune, and they wish to receive rewards. Do they put God’s words of guidance for people into practice? Not at all. They do not live out a bit of them; they just use ornament and disguise to trick people and win them over, to shore up their own status, to shore up their own reputation. Once these things are secure, they use them to procure capital and a source of income. Is this not contemptible? It can be seen in all these behaviors of theirs that it is their essence not to love the truth, for they never put the truth into practice. What is the sign that they do not put the truth into practice? This was the biggest sign: The Lord Jesus came to do work and everything He said was right, everything He said was the truth. How did they treat that? (They did not accept it.) Did they not accept the Lord Jesus’ words because they believed them to be wrong, or did they not accept them despite knowing they were right? (They did not accept them despite knowing they were right.) And what could cause this? They do not love the truth, and they abhor positive things. All the Lord Jesus said was correct, without any error, and though they could not find any fault in the Lord Jesus’ words to use against Him, they said, “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son?” They set out to find faults in the Lord Jesus’ words to use against Him, and, unable to find any, they condemned Him, and then they conspired: “Have Him crucified. It’s either Him or us.” In this way, they pit themselves against the Lord Jesus. Though they did not believe that Lord Jesus was the Lord, He was a good person who broke neither secular law nor the law of Moses; why would they condemn the Lord Jesus? Why did they treat the Lord Jesus so? It can be seen in how wicked and malicious these people are—they are evil in the extreme! The evil countenance the Pharisees expose could not be more different from their camouflage of kindness. There are many who cannot discern which is their true countenance and which is the falsehood, yet the Lord Jesus’ appearance and work revealed them all. How well Pharisees disguise themselves, how kind they seem on the outside—had the facts not been revealed, no one would be able to see them for what they are.
Excerpted from “The Most Important Part of Believing in God Is Putting the Truth Into Practice” in Records of Christ’s Talks
If, in believing in God, people treat the truth as a set of regulations to be adhered to, then will their belief not be liable to turn into just a bunch of religious ceremonies? And what are the differences between such religious ceremonies and Christianity? These people may be deeper and more progressive in how they say things, but if their faith has merely come down to a set of regulations and a type of ceremony, then does that not mean that it has turned into Christianity? (Yes, it does.) There are differences between the old teachings and the new, but if teachings are nothing more than a kind of theory, and have merely become a form of ceremony or regulation for people—and, likewise, if people can neither gain the truth from it nor use it to enter the truth reality—then has their faith not become just the same as Christianity? In essence, is this not Christianity? (Yes, it is.) Then, in your behavior and when performing your duties, in which things do you have views and states that are the same as or similar to those of believers in Christianity? (In adhering to regulations, and in equipping ourselves with letters and doctrines.) (In focusing on the appearance of being spiritual and exhibiting good behavior, and on being devout and humble.) You seek to outwardly exhibit good behavior, doing your utmost to package yourselves in a kind of spiritual appearance, and you do some things that are relatively approved of within human notions and imaginings, pretending to be virtuous. You stand in the high pulpit preaching letters and doctrines, teaching people to do good, be virtuous, and understand the truth; you preach spiritual doctrine, saying the right spiritual things; you put on airs of being spiritual and exude a superficial spirituality in everything you say and do, yet in practice and in performing your duty, you never seek the truth. As soon as you encounter a problem, you act entirely according to human will, tossing God aside. You have never acted according to the truth principle, nor do you have any idea what the truth even is, what God’s intentions are, or what the standards that He requires of man are; you have never taken these matters seriously or even concerned yourselves with them. Do such external actions and internal states of people—that is, does this type of faith—comprise a fear for God and the shunning of evil? If there is no connection between people’s faith and the pursuit of the truth, then do they or do they not believe in God? Regardless of how many years people who have no connection with pursuing the truth might believe in Him, can they or can they not truly fear God and shun evil? (They cannot.) What, then, is the outward behavior of such people? What kind of path can they walk? (The path of the Pharisees.) With what do they spend their days equipping themselves? Is it not with letters and doctrines? Do they not spend their days arming themselves, dressing themselves up with letters and doctrines to make themselves more like the Pharisees, more spiritual, and more like people who supposedly serve God? Just what is the nature of all these deeds? Is it worshiping God? Is it genuine faith in Him? (No, it isn’t.) So, what are they doing? They are deceiving God; they are just going through the steps of a process, and engaging in religious ceremonies. They are waving the flag of faith and performing religious rites, attempting to deceive God in order to achieve their aim of being blessed. These people do not worship God at all.
Excerpted from “Only by Constantly Living Before God Can One Walk the Path to Salvation” in Records of Christ’s Talks
In the word “impersonate,” the operative part is persona. So what persona do antichrists invest themselves with? Who are they pretending to be? Their impersonation, of course, is for the sake of status and reputation. It cannot be divorced from those things, or else they would not possibly put on such a pretense—there is no way they could do something so foolish. Given that such behavior is considered reproachful, loathsome and repulsive, why do they still do it? They undoubtedly have their own aims and motivations—there are intentions and motivations involved. If antichrists are to gain status in people’s minds, they must make these people think highly of them. And what makes people do that? In addition to impersonating some behaviors and expressions that, in people’s notions, are believed good, one other aspect is that antichrists also impersonate certain behaviors and images that people believe great and grand, in order to make others think highly of them. What people often encounter in the churches are some who pretend to be spiritual, so that others think they have believed in God for many years, and are very spiritual. And do people not believe those who are spiritual to be wonderful and grand? (Yes.) No matter what type of person or what kind of person the antichrists impersonate, it is bound to be the kind that people see as good, and grand, and noble, or else they would not impersonate them. Would people look highly upon them if they impersonated Satan? If they impersonated a bully, a gangster, a thug, or a whore, would people think highly of them then? (No.) If they said they were a Pharisee or a Judas, would people not reject them? (Yes.) Such individuals are clearly regarded as negative, as bad. Antichrists would never do that. So who do they impersonate? They impersonate those who, in people’s minds, are seen as grand, good, and wonderful. First are people in the churches who have believed in God for many years, who are possessed of spiritual experience and testimony, who have received the grace and blessings of God, experienced signs and wonders, beheld great visions, and who have had some unique experiences; there are also those who blow a lot of hot air when around others, who can go on for two or three hours, or even longer; there are those whose ways, means, and principles of doing things align with the rules of the church; and then there are those who appear to have great faith in God. These people are known as spiritual people, and they are relatively spiritual. So how do the antichrists impersonate spiritual people? They simply do these exact same things, so that people see them as spiritual. And when they do these things, do they happen spontaneously, from the heart? No. The antichrists are just imitating, following rules. And when they do these things, some of it seems to others like right behavior. For example, they are quick to pray when they encounter an issue, but they go through all the motions when they do so. In fact, they are not truly seeking and praying; they are just trying to make people say they love God, and have great reverence for God, and that they turn to prayer when they encounter some issue. What is more, no matter how seriously sick they become, they do not go to seek medical treatment when they should or take medicine when they should. People say, “If you don’t take medicine your illness could get worse. There’s a time for prayer, and there’s a time for medicine. You just need to follow your faith and not abandon your duty.” They reply, “It’s alright—I have God, I’m not afraid.” On the outside, they pretend to be calm and unafraid, and full of faith, but inside, they are terrified to death; in private, they take pill after pill, and secretly run to the doctor the second they feel any discomfort. If people discover them taking medicine, and ask them what it is, they say, “I’m just taking some health supplements. They give me energy, so I don’t hold things up when performing my duty.” They also say, “Illness is a trial from God. When we live amidst sickness, we get sick; when we live amidst God’s words, the sickness goes. We must not live amidst sickness—if we live amidst God’s words, this sickness will disappear.” That is what they often teach people on the surface, using the words of God to help others. But when something happens to them, they privately try to solve it by their own means. Outwardly, they still say: Rely on God in all things, and everything is in the hands of God. But that is not actually what they do in private. They have no true faith. When they encounter an issue, in front of other people they pray and say that they submit to the sovereignty and arrangements of God, that this issue has come from God, and people should not complain. But in their hearts, meanwhile, they are thinking: “I’m so devoted and I work so hard performing my duty, how could this illness befall me? And how come no one else has gotten it?” They dare not voice any complaints, but doubts about God arise in their heart; it seems to them that not everything God does is right. On the outside, though, they give the appearance that nothing is wrong, that despite getting sick, the illness still does not seem to hold them back, they can still perform their duty, they are still faithful, and can still expend themselves for God. When they are said to be an impersonator, their behavior is then shown to be contaminated. Such a person’s faith and obedience are fake, as is their loyalty. There is no true obedience here, nor true faith, much less do they truly rely on God and entrust matters into His hands. They do not care what is arranged by God, or what God’s will is; they do not examine their own corruption, they do not examine what the problem is with them, nor do they solve problems when problems arise, but outwardly pretend that nothing is holding them back, that they are able to submit, and have faith, and can stand firm. In their hearts, however, they are thinking, “Did this illness befall me because God hates me? And now that He hates me, am I a service-doer? Is God using me to render service? Do I still have an end? Is God using this to expose me, to stop me from performing this duty?” That is what they think in their hearts, while outwardly assuming the pretense of someone spiritual, saying “God’s kind intentions are behind this,” and not complaining, whenever something happens to them. They do not complain openly, but their hearts roil, and their minds are rocked like a stormy sea; the complaints, and the doubts and questions about God come on all at once. On the outside, they keep reading the words of God and are prompt in performing their duty, but in their hearts, they have already abandoned their duty. Is this not what putting on a pretense means?
Excerpted from “For Leaders and Workers, Choosing a Path Is of Utmost Importance (18)” in Records of Christ’s Talks
These antichrists want to play the role of spiritual people, they want to be the preeminent ones among the brothers and sisters, to be people who possess the truth, and understand the truth, and can help those who are weak and immature. And what is their aim in playing this role? First, they believe themselves to have already transcended the flesh, to have superseded worldly concerns, to have shed the weaknesses of normal humanity, and overcome the fleshly needs of normal humanity; they believe themselves those who can undertake important tasks in the house of God, who can be considerate to God’s will, whose minds are full of the words of God. They style themselves as people who have already attained the requirements of God and pleased God, and who can be considerate to God’s will, and can gain the beautiful destination promised by God’s own mouth. And so they are often smug, and they think themselves different from others. Using the words and phrases they can remember and are capable of understanding in their minds, they admonish, condemn, and form conclusions about others; so, too, do they often use the practices and sayings born of the imagination of their own notions to form conclusions about others and coach them, to make others follow along with these practices and sayings, thus achieving the status they desire among the brothers and sisters. They think that as long as they can say the right words and phrases, and the right doctrines, can shout a few slogans, can assume a little responsibility in the house of God, can undertake some important task, are willing to take the lead, and are able to maintain the normal order in a group of people, then that means they are spiritual, and that their position is secure. And so, whilst pretending to be spiritual, and boasting of their spirituality, they also pretend to be all-powerful and capable of anything, a perfect person, and think they can do everything, and are good at everything. Perhaps someone will have a problem with their computer and they ask them to fix it, and they will say it is easy to fix; inside, though, their heart will be pounding like a drum—they do not know how to fix it, and after a few attempts at repair all the files end up being lost. The person asks them whether they really can fix it, and they say, “I can, I’ve done it before, but now I’ve somehow forgotten. Let me think. I’ve got too much on now, though, I don’t have time. Best find someone else to fix it.” They are pretty good at pretending, right? They pretend they can do anything. Are you familiar with the kind of people who are always pretending? They have a name; do you know what it is? Did the archangel always think it could do anything? (Yes.) Do such people not have the disposition of the archangel? They never say, “That’s beyond me” or “I can’t” or “I’m not right for that” or “I’ve never seen this before” or “I don’t know, find someone else to take a look.” They never say such things. No matter what it is, if you ask them about a matter, even if they cannot do it or have never encountered such a thing, they will come up with a reason or reply to make you think that they are good at everything, can do anything, are capable of everything, that nothing is a problem for them. What kind of person are they trying to be? They are trying to be all-powerful—they are pretending to be the angel of light. Is this what they are? Because such people always try to pretend they are good at everything, if you ask them to work with someone else, to learn from them, to discuss things with them, to fellowship with them, or to communicate any problem with them, they are incapable of these things. They will say, “I don’t need to be paired up with anyone, I have no need of a helper. I don’t require someone else to assist me in doing anything, I’m okay on my own, I can do it all, I can do everything, nothing is beyond me, there is nothing I am incapable of, there is nothing I cannot do. Who am I? I’m nothing like you: You are only capable of doing one thing, and you are no expert at it. I learned one thing, but I can do anything—mastering one thing, I can then understand everything else by analogy. I can write articles and speak foreign languages; I may not be able to speak any now, but if I were to learn, I could master five foreign languages without any problem.” When other people ask them if they could act in a movie, if they can sing and dance, they say they can do it all. They are pretty good at boasting, right? They pretend to be all-powerful, able to do anything—truly, theirs is the nature of the archangel! When people ask them if they have ever been weak during the years they have believed in God, they say, “Weak? God speaks His words so clearly, I could never be weak. To be weak is to let God down. We should put all our effort into repaying God’s love.” When people ask them, “Do you miss home after being away all these years? And do you ever cry when you think about home?” they reply, “What is there to cry about? God is in my heart. As soon as I think of God, I stop missing home. The unbelievers at home are demons, they’re Satans—I pray for their damnation.” When people ask them if they have ever gone astray during their years of belief in God, they say, “Go astray? How could I go astray when God speaks His words so clearly? You’d have to be absurd and unable to understand spiritual matters to go astray. How could people with caliber like mine go astray? How could I take the wrong path? Never.” They are good at everything, better than other people at everything. And what do they think of those who are weak and negative? They say that those who are weak and negative waste their energy. Is that the case? In some cases, it is normal to be weak and negative; in some cases, there is a reason to feel this way. How could them wasting their energy explain the problem? This is the act the antichrists put on: They pretend to be spiritual, to be capable of anything, to have no faults, no shortcomings, no weaknesses, and more than this, they pretend to not be rebellious and to have never transgressed.
Excerpted from “For Leaders and Workers, Choosing a Path Is of Utmost Importance (18)” in Records of Christ’s Talks
No matter what the setting is, or where they are performing their duty, the antichrists give the appearance of not being weak, of having the utmost love for God, of being full of faith in God, of never having been negative, hiding from others the real attitude and the real view they hold in the depths of their heart on the truth and on God. In fact, in the depths of their heart, do they really believe themselves all-powerful? Do they really believe themselves to have no weakness? No. So, knowing that they are possessed of weakness, rebelliousness, and corrupt dispositions, why do they speak and behave in such a way in front of others? Their aim is obvious: It is simply to protect their status among and before others. They believe that if, in front of others, someone is openly negative, openly says things that are weak, reveals rebelliousness, and talks of knowing themselves, then this is something that harms their status and reputation, it is a loss. They would therefore rather die than say that they are weak and negative, and that they are not perfect, but are just an ordinary person. They think that if they admit that they have a corrupt disposition, that they are an ordinary person, a small and insignificant being, then they will have no status in people’s minds, that they will not gain such status, and that they will lose their status in people’s minds. And so, no matter what, they cannot let go of this status, but instead do their utmost to secure it. Every time they encounter a problem, they step forward—but upon seeing that they could be exposed, that people could see through them, they quickly hide. If there is any room to maneuver, if they still have the chance of parading themselves, of pretending that they are an expert, that they know about this matter, and understand it, and can solve this problem, then they rush forward to grab the opportunity to earn others’ appreciation, to let them know they are skilled in this area. If, in a situation, someone asks them what their understanding of an issue is, and what their view is, they are reticent to speak, and they let everyone else speak first. There is a reason for their reticence: It is not that they have no view, but that they are afraid that speaking up directly will cause them to lose face, or that they will say something ignorant or trivial that no one will agree with. This is one reason. Another is that they have no view, and dare not speak arbitrarily. Because of these two reasons, or many more other reasons, they shy away from speaking up and expressing their own point of view, they fear exposing their true face, they are afraid of revealing their real stature and true point of view, and impacting the image people have of them in their minds. And so, when people fellowship their points of view, thoughts, and understanding, they seize on statements by one person or certain people, statements that are more intelligent and tenable, and they use them as their own, they distill them and fellowship them to everyone, and by doing this gain their high position in people’s minds. When the time comes to really express a point of view, they never open up about their true state to people, or let people know what they really think, what their caliber is like, what their humanity is like, what their powers of understanding are like, and whether they have true knowledge of the truth. And so, at the same time as bragging and pretending to be spiritual, and a perfect person, they do their utmost to cover up their true face and real stature. They never reveal their weaknesses to the brothers and sisters, nor do they ever recognize their own deficiencies and weak points; instead, they do their utmost to cover them up. People ask them, “You’ve believed in God for so many years, have you ever had any doubts about God?” They reply, “No.” They are asked, “Did you cry when members of your family died?” They reply, “No, I didn’t shed a single tear.” They are asked, “You believed in God for all these years, you’ve given so much up and expended so much of yourself, have you ever had any regrets?” They reply, “No.” They are asked, “When there was no one to care for you when you were ill, did it upset you, did you miss home?” And they reply, “Never.” They portray themselves as so staunch, strong-willed, able to make sacrifices, capable of expending themselves—someone who is simply unassailable, without any faults. And how do they react if you tell them what their faults are, opening up and fellowshiping to them as a normal brother or sister? They do their utmost to vindicate and justify themselves, to save the situation, to undermine what you said, to make you take it back and ultimately acknowledge that they do not have this problem, and that they are still the perfect, spiritual person that people think they are. Is it not all a pretense? Anyone who thinks they are perfect and all-powerful is just pretending. Why do I say they are just pretending? Why am I tarring them all with the same brush? Is anyone perfect? Is anyone all-powerful? What does “all-powerful” mean? Does it mean almighty? No one in this universe world is all-powerful; only God is, and only God is almighty. So what are people if they claim themselves to be all-powerful, and almighty? They are the archangel, they are demons, and they are the antichrists among men. Antichrists pretend that they are all-powerful, that they are perfect. Do antichrists know themselves? (No.) They do not know themselves, so can they give fellowship about knowing themselves? (Some hypocrites do.) Correct; these people pretend to fellowship about knowing themselves. So what is the difference between them fellowshiping about knowing themselves, and truly knowing oneself? (Hypocrites fellowship about knowing themselves in order to make others think highly of them, to show their good side. Those who truly know themselves fellowship on and dissect their corrupt dispositions, gaining true knowledge of themselves and coming to manifest certain regrets by means of God’s words.) There is a difference. When antichrists talk of knowing themselves, they explain and vindicate themselves using things about them that everyone knows and sees, so that people think they are right, and think highly of them, and think that they know themselves even when there is not much wrong with them, and can still come before God to admit their mistakes and repent. What is their aim? To deceive people. They are not really dissecting their corrupt dispositions so that people can learn from them at all. What is the effect when they use knowing themselves to make people think more highly of them? They deceive people. How is this knowing oneself? It is tricking people, using the saying and practice of knowing oneself to deceive people and make others think more highly of them.
Excerpted from “For Leaders and Workers, Choosing a Path Is of Utmost Importance (18)” in Records of Christ’s Talks
Some people only arm themselves with certain truths for emergencies or to forsake themselves and help others, and not to solve their own troubles; we call them “selfless people.” They regard others as puppets of the truth and themselves as its masters, teaching others to hold fast to the truth and not to be passive, while they themselves remain as spectators on the sidelines. What kind of people are these? They arm themselves with some words of truth but merely use them to lecture others, while doing nothing at all to keep from meeting their own destruction. How pathetic! If their words can help others, then why can they not help themselves? We should label them as hypocrites who have no reality. They supply words of truth to others and ask others to put them into practice, while making no effort to practice them themselves. Are they not despicable? They themselves clearly cannot do it, yet they force others to put the words of truth into practice—what a cruel method this is! They are not using reality to help others; they are not using love to provide for others. They are simply deceiving and harming people. If this continues, with each person passing the words of truth onto the next, then will this not end up with everyone merely speaking the words of truth while being incapable themselves of putting it into practice? How can such people change? They do not recognize their own problems at all; how can there be a path forward for them?
Excerpted from “Those Who Love the Truth Have a Path Forward” in Records of Christ’s Talks
How many religious practices do you observe? How many times have you rebelled against the word of God and gone your own way? How many times have you put God’s word into practice because you are truly considerate of His burdens and seek to satisfy His will? You should understand the word of God and put it into practice accordingly. Be principled in all your actions and deeds, though this does not mean abiding by rules or doing something grudgingly just for show; rather, it means practicing the truth and living by the word of God. Only practice such as this satisfies God. Any course of action that pleases God is not a rule, but the practice of truth. Some people have a penchant for drawing attention to themselves. In the presence of their brothers and sisters, they might say they are indebted to God, but behind their backs, they do not practice the truth and act entirely differently. Are these not religious Pharisees? A person who truly loves God and possesses the truth is one who is loyal to God but does not outwardly show off as such. Such a person is willing to practice the truth when situations arise, and does not speak or act in a way that goes against their conscience. This sort of person demonstrates wisdom when matters arise, and is principled in his or her deeds regardless of the circumstances. This kind of person can provide true service. There are some who often pay lip service to their indebtedness to God; they spend their days with brows locked in worry, putting on an affected air and pretending to be pitiable. How despicable! If you were to ask them, “Can you tell me about how you are indebted to God?” then they would be rendered speechless. If you are loyal to God, then do not talk outwardly about it; instead, demonstrate your love for God by way of actual practice, and pray to Him with a true heart. Those who just deal with God verbally and perfunctorily are all hypocrites! Some speak of indebtedness to God each time they pray, and begin to weep each time they pray, even without being moved by the Holy Spirit. People such as this are possessed by religious rituals and notions; they live by such rituals and notions, always believing that those actions please God and that He favors superficial godliness or sorrowful tears. What good can come of such absurd people? In order to demonstrate humility, some feign graciousness when speaking in the presence of others. Some are deliberately servile when in the presence of other people, acting like lambs without an ounce of strength. Is this a manner befitting people of the kingdom? People of the kingdom should be lively and free, innocent and open, honest and lovable, and be living in a state of freedom. They should have integrity and dignity and be able to stand witness wherever they go; such people are beloved by both God and man. Those who are novices in the faith have too many outward practices; they must first undergo a period of being dealt with and broken. People who have faith in God deep down are not outwardly distinguishable from others, but their actions and deeds are commendable. Only such people can be deemed to be living out the word of God. If you preach the gospel every day to various people in an effort to bring them to salvation, yet in the end are still living by rules and doctrines, then you cannot bring glory to God. Such people are religious figures, as well as hypocrites.
Whenever those religious people congregate, they might ask, “Sister, how have you been these days?” She might reply, “I feel I owe a debt to God, and that I am unable to satisfy His will.” Another might say, “I, too, feel indebted to God and that I am unable to satisfy Him.” These few sentences and words alone express the vile things deep within them; such words are most loathsome, and exceedingly repugnant. The nature of such people is in opposition to God. Those who focus on reality communicate whatever is on their mind, and open up their hearts in fellowship. They do not engage in a single false exercise, displaying neither such civilities nor empty pleasantries. They are always straightforward, and observe no secular rules. Some people have a penchant for outward displays, even to the point of utterly lacking sense. When someone sings, they begin to dance, not even realizing that the rice in their pots has already burned. Such people are not godly or honorable, and they are far too frivolous. All of these things are manifestations of a lack of reality. When some people fellowship about matters of spiritual life, though they speak not of owing anything to God, they do retain a true love for Him deep down. Your feeling of indebtedness to God has nothing to do with other people; you are indebted to God, not humanity. What use is it for you to constantly speak of this to others? You must place importance on entering into reality, not on any outward zeal or display.
What do the superficial good deeds of humans represent? They represent the flesh, and even the best of outward practices do not represent life; they can only show your own individual temperament. The outward practices of humanity cannot fulfill the desire of God. You constantly speak of your indebtedness to God, yet you cannot supply the life of others or inspire them to love God. Do you believe that those actions of yours will satisfy God? You feel that your actions are in line with God’s will, and that they are of the spirit, but in truth, they are all absurd! You believe that what pleases you and what you are willing to do are precisely those things in which God delights. Can your likes represent God? Can a person’s character represent God? What pleases you is precisely that which God abhors, and your habits are those which God loathes and rejects. If you feel indebted, then go and pray before God; there is no need to speak of it to others. If you do not pray before God, and instead constantly draw attention to yourself in the presence of others, can this satisfy God’s will? If your actions always exist in appearance alone, then this means that you are vain in the extreme. What manner of humans are those who only carry out superficial good deeds and are devoid of reality? Such people are just hypocritical Pharisees and religious figures! If you do not shed your outward practices and are unable to make changes, then the elements of hypocrisy in you will grow even more. The greater your elements of hypocrisy, the more resistance there is toward God. In the end, such people will surely be eliminated!
from “In Faith, One Must Focus on Reality—Engaging in Religious Ritual Is Not Faith” in The Word Appears in the Flesh