16. How I Resolved My Cunning and Deceit
I always thought of myself as an honest person. I thought I was trustworthy in word and deed, and the people who knew me said that about me, too. I felt like I was an honest, dependable man. After gaining my faith, I hardly ever lied to brothers and sisters or willfully deceived others. So I always believed that even though I wasn’t a perfectly honest person, at least I wasn’t a cunning, deceitful person. Then through what the facts revealed, I gained some knowledge of my cunning nature and really saw my true face.
One day my partner, Sister Ashley, sent me a message asking whether I had followed up on a piece of work, and if there had been any progress. I suddenly realized I hadn’t been keeping track of it at all these days, so I didn’t know the details of any progress. I initially thought I’d just tell her that, but then hesitated, “I’ve always given the impression of being reliable, so if I state directly that I’ve forgotten to follow up on things recently, will she think I am irresponsible in my duty? I will leave her with a negative impression and will lose credibility in her eyes. No, I can’t answer her directly. I will quickly seek out the sister managing that project so as to understand the situation, and then respond to Ashley. Then no matter how things are progressing, at least it will show that I am on top of things.” So I acted like I hadn’t seen the message and then responded after I’d followed up. Ashley didn’t say anything to me at the time, but I kept feeling uneasy and anxious. Then I read this in God’s words: “Honesty means giving your heart to God, being genuine with God in all things, being open with Him in all things, never hiding the facts, not trying to deceive those above and below you, and not doing things only to curry favor with God. In short, to be honest is to be pure in your actions and words, and to deceive neither God nor man” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Three Admonitions). God’s words put me to shame. It didn’t seem like I’d lied, but what I’d revealed through my thinking, and my objectives in my actions, were to cover up and to hide my negligence in my duty, afraid that Ashley would see through me. When I acted like I hadn’t seen her message, then rushed to the sister in charge to understand the situation before responding, to give her the mistaken idea that I had followed up the work, wasn’t I creating a false impression and being deceptive? Wasn’t this cunning and deceptive behavior? On such a small issue, my thinking had been so complicated, and I had harbored intentions and employed tactics to hide the truth. How was that being honest? How was that being dependable? Realizing this, I saw I wasn’t as honest and sincere as I’d thought I was, and that sometimes I also played tricks and deceived others. Next time I had to speak the truth, and be an honest person, and no longer hide things to deceive others.
Just a few days later, Ashley let me know that our leader was going to check in on our work in two days’ time. Hearing this set my heart pounding, “The leader doesn’t usually suddenly seek us out, so why is she seeking us this time? Has she discovered a problem in our work? Recently I’ve been busy with watering work and haven’t been following up or achieving much in the video production that I’m managing. What should I say if the leader asks me about that?” So I guessed what questions she might ask, and what I wasn’t aware of, so I could quickly figure it out. Otherwise, if she had a question I couldn’t answer, wouldn’t it look like I wasn’t doing practical work? I was kind of worried and anxious. After some thought I realized it was normal for a leader to check up on work—why was I overthinking things? I was not only speculating on what the leader wanted, but I was racking my brains on how to cover up my issues, afraid she would see my problems and deal with me for not doing practical work and say I was a false leader. Wasn’t I trying to disguise myself? It was very normal for a leader to ask about work. I should confront it calmly and make changes if problems or deviations are found. Why was I overthinking things so much? Wasn’t I being cunning? I remembered the words of God: “I take pleasure in those who are not suspicious of others, and I like those who readily accept the truth; toward these two kinds of people I show great care, for in My eyes they are honest people” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. How to Know the God on Earth). “Let your communication be, Yes, yes; No, no: for whatever is more than these comes of evil” (Matthew 5:37). God’s words are clear. Honest people should call a spade a spade, they should speak frankly, but my thinking was so convoluted. I wanted to cover up the truth, so I was coming up with devious thoughts. So, I prayed to God, asking Him to guide me to practice the truth and be honest, and to be perfectly forthright no matter what the leader asked.
In our gathering, the leader asked first about video production work. I was directly responsible for this work, but I’d been spending most of my time and energy on watering work. I wasn’t keeping up with the video work much. After I explained this, she dealt with me for not doing practical work, and then asked me how many new believers weren’t regularly attending gatherings. I kind of panicked at that question. I hadn’t been keeping up with the details of that, and I asked about it sometimes, but didn’t take it seriously. I thought then, “I’ve just said most of my energy was devoted to watering work, so if I can’t even tell the leader how many newcomers aren’t regularly attending gatherings, what will she think of me? She might ask what I’m doing all day that I don’t even know that, and whether I am actually doing any practical work at all. So many issues have already been exposed in the video work, if she finds problems in the watering work too, will she just dismiss me right away?” So I just gave her an approximate figure, thinking it wasn’t a big deal if it was a little off. Anyway, it wasn’t an exact number, so it wasn’t really a lie. After our gathering, I looked into the details of it, and it turned out that my estimate was pretty far off. I was really concerned when I saw that. This time I had really told a bald-faced lie. I had been blatantly deceptive. Why couldn’t I keep myself from lying and deceiving? In prayer, I clearly had belief in being truthful. Why couldn’t I help myself when faced with this situation? I felt terrible about it. For two days, the word “deceit” kept popping up in my mind. I felt like I’d really done something disgraceful.
I prayed to God to seek on my problem. While self-reflecting, I read God’s words: “Isn’t life exhausting for crafty people? Spending the whole time telling lies, telling more lies to cover up their lies, and being deceitful, they bring their exhausting lives upon themselves. They know that living like this is exhausting, so why would they still want to be crafty, and not wish to be honest? Have you ever thought about this question? This is the consequence when people are fooled by their satanic nature; it stops them from being able to leave this kind of life behind, from being able to escape this kind of disposition. They are happy to accept this kind of fooling and are happy to live in this; they do not want to practice the truth and walk the path of light. You think that living like this is exhausting and acting this way unnecessary—but crafty people think it highly necessary, they think that not doing so would harm their interests, and that shame would be brought upon their image and reputation, too. They would lose too much. They treasure these things, they treasure their own image, reputation and status—which is the true face of people’s absence of love for the truth. In sum, when people do not wish to be honest or fail to practice the truth, it is because they do not love the truth; in their hearts, never do they not cherish reputation and status, never are they not chasing the trends of the outside world, or living under the influence of Satan—which is a problem of their nature. Today, there are people who have believed in God for years, who have heard many sermons, and know what the belief in God is all about, so why do they still not practice the truth, why has there been no change in them? Because they do not love the truth. Even when they do understand a little of the truth, they are still not able to put it into practice. For such people, belief in God is pointless no matter how many years they have done so” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. The Most Fundamental Practice of Being an Honest Person). “Some people never tell anyone the truth. Everything is deliberated and pre-edited in their mind before they say it to people; you can’t tell which of the things they say are true, and which are false. They say one thing today and another tomorrow, they say one thing to one person, and something else to another; everything they say contradicts itself. How can such people be believed? It’s very difficult to get an accurate grasp of the facts; you can’t get anything exact out of them. What disposition is this? This is craftiness. Is the crafty disposition easy to change? It’s the most difficult to change. Anything associated with dispositions involves people’s natures, and nothing is harder to change than things to do with people’s natures. There’s a saying that a leopard can’t change its spots. This is absolutely true. No matter what they’re talking about or doing, people who are crafty always harbor their own aims and motives. When they have no aims or motives, they say nothing. If you try to work out what their aims and motives are, they clam up; and if they do accidentally let something genuine slip, they’ll go to any length to think of a way to twist it around, to confound you and stop you knowing the truth. In everything crafty people do, they do not let anyone know the real lay of the land; no matter how long people have known them, no one can know what’s really going on in their minds. Such is the nature of crafty people. No matter how much crafty people say, others will never know what their motives are, nor what they’re really thinking, or exactly what aim they are trying to achieve. Even their parents have a hard time knowing this; trying to understand someone crafty is extremely difficult. This is how crafty people are: Even before doing anything, they have revealed their craftiness. This is a type of disposition, is it not? When you have a crafty disposition, it does not matter what you say or do—this disposition is within you, directing you throughout, making you play games and engage in trickery, toy with people, cover up the truth, and put up a good front. This is craftiness” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Only Knowledge of the Six Kinds of Corrupt Disposition Is True Self-Knowledge). God’s words showed me that I couldn’t help but lie and deceive and cover up the truth because I was crafty and treasured my own face and status. In order to protect those things, I would think over and over what I wanted to say, going over it again and again in my head, and no matter how tiring that was, I didn’t want to be direct. I thought of how I prayed to God for helping me be an honest person, but when the leader inquired about the very work I didn’t have a grasp on, I thought that if I directly said I didn’t know, she’d think I hadn’t been doing practical work and wasn’t reliable, and, at worst, might dismiss me. To protect my status, I didn’t want the leader to see the problems or deviations in my duty, so I was thinking of ways to cover up the truth. I really didn’t know how many newcomers weren’t coming regularly to gatherings, but I cunningly made up an approximate figure so the leader would think I understood every aspect of my work well and could do some practical work. I saw that I was willing to play tricks and be deceitful about something so simple just to protect my name and status. That was so cunning! In fact, it is not unusual for there to be problems or deviations while doing one’s duty. As long as things are turned around promptly after they are discovered, it’s fine. There’s no need whatsoever to cover up or be deceitful. But in my effort to protect my reputation and status, I was dishonest and deceitful and covered up my problems, sacrificing my character and dignity. Wasn’t this foolish? This made me realize that even though I outwardly seemed honest, I wasn’t being honest in my words and deeds, nor was I simple in my thoughts. What I revealed was an entirely satanic disposition. I was cunning, deceitful and disgraceful. I was truly sly, filthy and corrupt. I even disgusted myself, so how could God not be disgusted by me and detest me? I’d always thought of myself as a truthful person who was hardly ever deceitful. Nor had I ever overtly done anything to deceive or to work against God, so I felt like He would see me as a good, honest man. I even thought I didn’t need to work on practicing the truth of being honest, but I could keep doing my duty and following God that way, and ultimately I’d be saved. I truly had no knowledge of myself whatsoever. If it hadn’t been for reality showing me the facts, and for the judgment and exposure of God’s words, I wouldn’t have understood myself at all. I finally saw that I was a far cry from an honest person. I wasn’t even close.
After that, I read God’s words: “When antichrists are exposed, and dealt with and pruned, the first thing they do is to look for various reasons in their defense, to look for all kinds of excuses to try and get themselves off the hook, thus accomplishing their goal of shirking their responsibilities, and achieving their aim of being forgiven. What the antichrists fear most is that God’s chosen ones will see through to their personality, to their weaknesses and flaws, to their Achilles’ heel, to their true caliber and work ability—and so they try their utmost to put on an act and cover up their shortcomings, issues, and corrupt dispositions. When the game is up on their evildoing, the first thing they do is not admit or accept this fact, or do their utmost to make up for and compensate for their mistakes, but try to think of a way to cover them up, to confound and hoodwink those who are privy to their actions, to not let God’s chosen ones see the true face of the matter, to not let them know how harmful their actions have been to God’s house, how much they have disrupted and disturbed the work of the church. Of course, what they fear most is the Above finding out, because once the Above knows, they will be dealt with according to principle, and it will all be over for them, and they are bound to be dismissed and cast out. And so, when the antichrists commit evil and are exposed, the first thing they do is not to reflect on where they went wrong, where they violated principle, why they did what they did, what disposition they were governed by, what their motives were, what their state was at the time, whether it was because of waywardness or because of tainted motives. Instead of dissecting these things, much less reflecting on them, they rack their brains for any way to cover up the true facts. At the same time, they do their utmost to rationalize in front of God’s chosen ones, in order to hoodwink them, trying to minimize the things they’ve done, to bluff their way out of it, so that they can remain in the house of God, acting with impunity, abusing their power, so that they are still able to deceive and control people, to make them look up to them and do as they say to satisfy their wild desires and ambitions” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Eleven). God’s words were really alarming for me. Especially reading the words “antichrists,” “try to think of a way to cover them up,” “hoodwink,” and “confound,” I felt like God was judging and exposing me to my face. I thought about when Ashley asked if I’d followed up on that project, I didn’t immediately acknowledge I hadn’t, or even take the opportunity to reflect on myself and seek how to turn my deviations around. I pretended not to see her message, then rushed to find answers and respond. That way Ashley wouldn’t know I hadn’t been keeping up with the project or that I had taken no burden and no responsibility in my duty. She’d think I was reliable, someone to be trusted. Then when the leader came to check on my work, found some deviations and problems in my duty, and pruned and dealt with me, not only did I not accept it or self-reflect, acknowledging I wasn’t doing practical work and was being careless and irresponsible in my duty, but I had lied and been deceitful and covered up the truth. I even told myself, “I have to work harder in the future, to make sure I can quickly answer any of the leader’s questions, so she won’t find the errors or oversights in my work, but will think I am detail-oriented and responsible.” I was racking my brains to protect my name and status, dreading that people would see through me, and my good image as “conscientious, responsible, steadfast and reliable” would be lost. Wasn’t my goal to have others value me and think highly of me? I saw that my revealed disposition was truly that of an antichrist. When an antichrist is dealt with or exposed, they don’t submit and self-reflect, but they do their best to justify themselves, fob off responsibility and hide their own problems. They are totally shameless. Antichrists don’t show the slightest desire to accept the truth, but only their machinations to speak and act in a way that protects their status and name. Wasn’t I acting just like that? I wasn’t doing practical work or devoting myself to my duty, so I should have felt guilty and indebted. But not only did I have no perception, I continually tried my best to cover up and shield myself. I was truly deceptive and cunning, despicable and evil. I felt like I’d been totally laid bare, exposed to the light of day, and that my actions were judged and condemned by God. I could also sense that God’s disposition is righteous and tolerates no offense, and I felt fear and trembling. I knew I had to repent and make a change right away.
Then I read more of God’s words: “Only if people seek to be honest can they know how deeply corrupted they are, whether or not they really have any human likeness, and clearly take their own measure or see their shortcomings. Only when they are practicing honesty can they become aware of how many lies they tell and how deeply hidden their deceit and dishonesty are. Only while having the experience of practicing being honest can people gradually come to know the truth of their own corruption and recognize their own nature and essence, and only then can their corrupt dispositions be constantly purified. Only in the course of their corrupt dispositions being constantly purified will people be able to gain the truth. Take your time experiencing these words. God does not perfect those who are deceitful. If your heart is not honest—if you are not an honest person—then you will not be gained by God. Likewise, you will not gain the truth, and will also be incapable of gaining God. What does it mean if you do not gain God? If you do not gain God and you have not understood the truth, then you will not know God, and so there will be no way you can be compatible with God, in which case you are the enemy of God. If you are incompatible with God, God is not your God; and if God is not your God, you cannot be saved. If you do not seek to attain salvation, why do you believe in God? If you cannot attain salvation, you will forever be a bitter enemy of God, and your outcome will be set. Thus, if people wish to be saved, then they must start by being honest. There is a sign that marks those who shall ultimately be gained by God. Do you know what it is? It is written in Revelation, in the Bible: ‘And in their mouth was found no lie; they are without blemish’ (Revelation 14:5). Who are ‘they’? They are those who are saved, perfected and gained by God. How does God describe these people? What are the characteristics and the expressions of their actions? They are without blemish. They speak no lies. You can probably all understand and grasp what speaking no lies means: It means being honest. ‘Without blemish’: what does this refer to? It means doing no evil. And what foundation is doing no evil built on? Without any doubt, it is built upon the foundation of fearing God. To be unblemished, therefore, means to fear God and shun evil. How does God define someone without blemish? In God’s eyes, only those who fear God and shun evil are perfect; thus, people who are unblemished are those who fear God and shun evil, and only those who are perfect are unblemished. This is totally correct” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Six Indicators of Life Growth). From God’s words I saw that cunning people are full of lies. They live out an entirely satanic disposition and are enemies of God. They belong to Satan and can’t be saved by God. I saw how my lies and deceit had put me in grave danger, and that I was so shameless! If it were not for these instances of exposure, I would never have realized the extent of my lies and deceit, nor the severity of my crafty and cunning satanic disposition. I couldn’t carry on that way. I had to admit my mistakes, practice the truth, and be an honest person.
I got ready to send a message to the leader to tell her what really happened, but I felt kind of hesitant. “If I tell her I lied, what will the leader think of me? Won’t she think I’m such a cunning person, overthinking such a simple matter, even lying about it, and that I’m not trustworthy? Maybe this time I won’t say anything, but next time I’ll be straightforward, honest, and that will count as being repentant.” I kept comforting myself that I wouldn’t ever lie again, but my conscience was accused, and I felt guilty. I read a passage of God’s words: “Many practical problems will arise as people experience being honest. Sometimes they will open their mouths without thinking and, directed by a wrong thought, a wrong motive or aim, or vanity, they will tell a lie, with the consequence that they will then have to keep telling more and more lies to cover it up, ultimately resulting in mental turmoil—but they can’t take those lies back, they lack the courage to correct their mistakes, to admit that they told lies, and in this way, their mistakes go on and on. After this, it is always like there is a rock pressing on their heart; they always want to find an opportunity to come clean, to admit their mistake and repent, but they never put this into practice; ultimately, they think it over and say to themselves, ‘I’ll make up for it when I perform my duty in the future.’ They always say they’ll make up for it, but they never do. It is not as simple as apologizing after telling a lie. Can you make up for the harm and consequences of telling lies and being deceitful? If, amidst great self-hatred, you are able to practice repentance, and never do that kind of thing again, then what you did can be excused, and you may receive God’s tolerance and mercy. If you paint a pretty picture and say that you’ll make up for this in the future, but do not truly repent, and later continue to lie and be deceitful—if you stubbornly refuse to repent—then you are sure to be cast out. This should be recognized by people who are possessed of conscience and sense. After telling lies and being deceitful, it is not enough to only think about making amends; what matters most is that you must truly repent. If you wish to be honest, then you must address the problem of lying and being deceitful. You must tell the truth and do real things. Sometimes telling the truth makes you lose face and results in your being dealt with, but you have practiced the truth and obeyed and satisfied God a single time—this is worth it, and it is something that will bring you comfort. In any case, you have finally been able to practice being honest, you have finally been able to say what’s in your heart, you did not try to defend or vindicate yourself, and in this you have achieved true growth. Regardless of whether you are dealt with or replaced, you feel steadfast in your heart, for you did not lie; you feel that since you haven’t done your duty properly, you should be dealt with, and should take responsibility for it. This is a positive mental state. And yet, what is the consequence once you are deceitful? After being deceitful, how do you feel in your heart? Uneasy; you always feel guilt and corruption in your heart, you always feel accused: ‘How could I tell lies? How could I have been deceitful yet again? Why am I like this?’ You feel like you cannot lift your head high, like you cannot face God. In particular, when people are blessed by God, when they receive God’s kindness, compassion and tolerance, they feel that it is shameful to deceive God; deep down, they have a stronger sense of reproach—and, moreover, can find no peace or joy. What does this prove? To be deceitful is the outpouring of a corrupt disposition, it is to rebel, to oppose God, and so it will bring you pain” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Only by Being Honest Can One Live as a True Human Being). It was my own state that God’s words revealed. I felt like God was saying all that directly to me, and I saw that being deceitful and being an honest person are diametrically opposed paths. Being deceitful isn’t the right path, and it’s not within normal humanity. People might sometimes achieve their goals with lies and tricks, but what they lose is their integrity and dignity. It will bring nothing but guilt and uneasiness, and they’ll live in darkness, being duped and ridiculed by Satan. I saw that with all my lies and deceit, I was harboring shameful secrets that couldn’t bear the light of day, and I was being painfully toyed with by Satan! My lies and deceit satisfied my vainglory for the moment, but were detested and condemned by God and did not have His approval. Wasn’t this idiotic? At every crucial point when I needed to tell the truth, I was going easy on myself, saying, “Next time I will practice the truth, next time.” I was always forgiving of myself, not practicing the truth that I understood, so I never lived out the reality of being an honest person, and never put aside my deceitful disposition. How could God save someone like this? Thinking on this, I told myself I couldn’t keep doing that, that it didn’t matter how people saw me, and that I needed more than anything to live before God, accept His scrutiny, and be someone He can approve of. That’s what’s key. I should be simple and open and speak the truth. Even if someone saw me clearly and I lost my face and status, practicing the truth and being honest would mean gaining God’s approval, and that’s what matters most and is so valuable and meaningful! Also, I was always covering up my own problems, and though others might not find out about them and I might not be dealt with or blamed, I had no true knowledge of my own corruption and faults, so I couldn’t change my corrupt disposition or do better in my duty. Those things stayed buried deep in my heart like a tumor that just wouldn’t stop growing, and would ultimately be the end of me. But the brothers and sisters who were open and simple would just put all of their mistakes or problems in their duty on the table openly, and sometimes they were dealt with, blamed, or even dismissed, but that really touched them in their hearts. They were able to see their problems sooner and seek the truth to resolve them, and that brought them great progress in life. Although being open and simple might have been embarrassing, they gained God’s approval from practicing the truth. That’s being intelligent. I used to think I was full of ideas, that I was clever, and it was smart to pull the wool over others’ eyes, but I was a complete and utter fool, a total idiot! I was being too smart for my own good. I was totally ridiculous! Realizing this, I stopped caring what people might think of me and just wanted to practice the truth and shame Satan, instead of disappointing God again. So I mustered up my courage to tell the leader the truth, including the reason I’d lied and what my intentions were. After I sent the message, I felt peace and a sense of release. The leader replied shortly after that, saying, “Working to be honest this way is great. I also have a cunning corrupt disposition….” I was so moved to see that, and also really ashamed. This one attempt at being an honest person really showed me that it’s the only proper way to be a human being.
After that, I started intentionally trying to practice honesty in daily life in my words and actions, and I found that I wasn’t accurate or objective in many of the things I said. Sometimes I spoke based on my notions and imagination, and sometimes I’d exaggerate or speak incorrectly. Sometimes I’d intentionally misrepresent myself and be deceitful. It became more and more obvious that I really was a compulsive liar. I remember once a leader sent a message asking me how a project was coming along, and I unconsciously thought, “I haven’t found out the situation in time, but if I say ‘I don’t know, I need to go and ask,’ would the leader think I wasn’t pragmatic, and could only shout slogans? Maybe I shouldn’t say anything, but quickly check the situation and reply. At least then even if it isn’t done, the leader won’t have anything bad to say about me, and it will show I am at least following up on things.” When I was just about to do that, I realized that I was being deceptive for the sake of my own reputation and status again. So I prayed silently to God, “Oh God, I want to forsake my cunning intentions and practice the truth as an honest person. Please guide and help me.” After I prayed, these words of God came to mind: “When you lie, you are betraying your own character and dignity. These lies cost people their dignity, they cost them their character, and God finds them displeasing and hateful. Are they worth it? Not at all” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Only by Being Honest Can One Live as a True Human Being). The words “character” and “dignity” really spurred me to speak the truth, to stop living like a demon. So I just sent a straight answer back, saying, “I’m not sure of the details, I need to look into it first.” I felt such a sense of peace in my heart after sending that. I felt more and more that being honest is the most fundamental aspect of humanity, it is humanity’s bottom line. Only honesty is the likeness of a normal person. Thanks to God for saving me!