47. Lying Only Brings Pain
One day in May 2021, we were getting ready to film a video of Brother Luka singing a solo, and I was working on stage lighting. At first I was very careful, and there weren’t any problems with the first few shots, so I gradually relaxed a bit. We were almost done filming when the director said he wanted to try one shot again in a couple different ways. I wasn’t paying attention, so when we started rolling I was still watching another monitor, and didn’t notice until Luka had walked out of the lit area. I hurried to adjust the light, but wasn’t fast enough, causing Luka’s head to move out of the light and then back in again. The shot was unusable. Normally when we have a problem on stage, we are supposed to ask the director to do another take right away, but I just held the walkie-talkie, afraid to speak. The words caught in my throat and I felt really conflicted. I thought about how it wasn’t just the director that was there, but lots of other brothers and sisters as well. If I told them I’d made such a rudimentary mistake, what would everyone think of me? Would they say I’d been negligent in my duty? That would be so embarrassing! But I wouldn’t be doing my duty if I didn’t say anything. It would have a direct impact on the quality of the video if the footage was used in editing. As I was struggling with whether or not to speak up, I heard the director say, “We’re good on this one, let’s do the next one.” I saw that the brother who was doing the filming had already switched out his stand and was waiting, so I started justifying it to myself, thinking, “The filming is all done, if I say something now, everyone will have to switch their equipment back and will be a big hassle. I should just not say anything, it was just the first of the two shots anyway, and might not even be used. Besides, if people don’t look closely they probably won’t even see it.” I kept turning it over in my mind, but eventually decided to keep quiet. After filming I felt plagued with guilt, thinking: “Wasn’t I being knowingly deceptive? I can deceive people, but can I deceive God?” So I found the director and told him about my mistake. He said, “We’re done shooting and everyone’s packed up. What good is it telling me now? Why didn’t you tell me then? If you did, it wouldn’t have taken long to film it again.” Seeing the disappointment on the director’s face made me feel even worse and I wanted to slap myself. Why was it so hard for me to admit I was wrong in front of everyone? Why did it take so much effort to just be honest? In pain, I came to God and prayed: “God, I made a mistake while performing my duty, and didn’t have the courage to admit it in front of everyone because I was afraid they’d criticize me and look down on me. Now, I’m consumed by guilt. Please guide me to know myself.”
After that, I saw that God’s word says: “Say you were to choose between two roads. One is the road of choosing to be an honest person, of telling the truth and saying what is in your heart, of sharing your heart with others, or of admitting to your mistakes and saying the facts as they are, showing others your corrupt ugliness and bringing shame onto your person. The other is the road of giving your life in martyrdom for God and entering the kingdom of heaven when you die. Which do you choose? Some may say, ‘I choose to give up my life for God. I am willing to die for Him, and after death, I’ll have my reward and enter the kingdom of heaven.’ Laying down one’s life for God can be accomplished in a single, vigorous push, by those with a will to do so. But can practicing the truth and being an honest person be accomplished in a push? It could not even in two pushes. In doing a thing, if a person has a will, they can do it well in a single push; but in being an honest person, a single instance of telling the truth without a lie does not make one so, once and for all. Being an honest person is a matter of dispositional change, requiring ten or twenty years of experience. You must cast off your deceitful disposition of lies and fraud before you can pass the basic threshold of being an honest person. Would the difficulties in doing so not be great for anyone? It is an enormous challenge. God now wants to perfect and gain one group of people. All who pursue the truth must accept judgment and chastisement, trials and refinement, the goal of which is to resolve their deceitful dispositions and make them into honest people, people who submit to God. This is not something that can be achieved in a single push; it calls for true faith, and one must suffer many trials and much refinement before they can achieve it. If, today, God asked you to be an honest person and say something true, something that involves the facts, something that involves your future and your fate, the consequences of which perhaps were not to your advantage, and others were no longer to look up to you, and you felt your reputation were to be destroyed—in such circumstances, could you be frank, and not lie? Could you still be honest? This is the hardest thing to do, much harder than giving up your life. You might say, ‘Having me tell the truth won’t do. I’d rather die for God than tell the truth. I don’t want to be an honest person at all. I’d rather die than have everyone look down on me and think I am an ordinary person.’ What does this show to be the thing people cherish most? What people cherish most is not their life, but their status and reputation—things that are controlled by their corrupt satanic dispositions. If the situation forced them to, they would summon the strength to give their life, but for people who believe in God, giving their life is not of the utmost importance; God asks that people accept the truth, that you be a real honest person who says whatever is in your heart and shows it to everyone. Is that easy to do? (No.) God does not, in fact, ask you to give up your life. Was your life not given to you by God? What good would your life do for God? God does not want it. He wants you to speak honestly, to say who you are and what you think in your heart. Can you say these things? Here, the task becomes difficult, and you may say, ‘Have me work hard, and I’d have the strength to do it. Have me sacrifice, and I’d forsake all of my property, my parents, my children, my youth, my marriage, and my career. All of these are easy to sacrifice. But saying what is in my heart, speaking honestly—that’s the one thing I cannot do.’ What is the reason you cannot do it? It is that once you do, anyone who knows you or is familiar with you will see you differently. They will no longer look up to you. You will have lost face, you will have been utterly humiliated, and your character and dignity will also be gone. Your lofty status and prestige in the hearts of others will be no more. This is why, in such circumstances, no matter what, you will not speak the truth. When people encounter this, there is a battle in their hearts, and when that battle is over, some ultimately break through their difficulties, while others have not yet managed to break through, and are still controlled by their corrupt satanic dispositions and their own status, reputations, and so-called dignity. This is a difficulty, is it not? Merely speaking honestly and telling the truth is not some great act, yet so many brave heroes, so many people who have sworn to dedicate their lives for God and expend for God as long as they live, and so many who have said grandiose things to God find it impossible to do” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. The Proper Fulfillment of Duty Requires Harmonious Cooperation). God’s words described my true state. I put too much importance on face and status. I couldn’t say a single word admitting my mistake, afraid of looking bad in front of everyone. I was afraid everyone would say I wasn’t doing my job if I could make such a simple mistake. How embarrassing. To protect my image and status, I covered up my mistake, thinking that if I didn’t say anything, no one would know and they wouldn’t criticize me for it. Then my pride and image would remain intact. Even though I felt guilty and ill at ease, I still found an excuse to comfort myself: “It’s just one take, they might not even use it.” Wasn’t I lying to myself as well as others? At this thought I felt great remorse and regret for deceiving my brothers and sisters just to save face and maintain status. I prayed to God, “Oh God, I didn’t own up to my mistake because I wanted to save face and maintain status. I know that’s at odds with Your will, but I felt like I was led astray by the devil and couldn’t escape my corrupt disposition. God, please guide me so I can be free of the constraints and bonds of my corrupt disposition.”
Then I read a couple passages from God’s word that gave me some ways of practice. God says, “Only honest people can have a share in the kingdom of heaven, so if you do not try to be an honest person, and if you don’t experience and practice in the direction of pursuing the truth, if you don’t expose your own ugliness, and don’t show your true face, then you will never be able to receive the Holy Spirit’s work and gain God’s approval. No matter what you do or what duty you perform, you must have an honest attitude. Without an honest attitude, you cannot perform your duty well. If you always attempt to cope and muddle through as you perform your duty, and you fail to do something well, you should reflect on yourself, come to know yourself, open up to analyze yourself, and then seek the principles of truth and strive to do better next time instead of muddling through. If you do not try and satisfy God with a heart that is honest, and always look to satisfy your own flesh, or your own pride, then will you be able to do a good job while working in this way? Can you perform your duty well? Certainly not” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. The Most Fundamental Practice of Being an Honest Person). “If, having made a mistake, you can treat it correctly, and can allow everyone else to talk about it, permitting their commentary and discernment about it, and you can open up about it and analyze it, what will everyone’s opinion of it be? They will say you are an honest person, for your heart is open to God. Through your actions and behavior, they will be able to see your heart. But if you try to disguise yourself and deceive everyone, people will think little of you, and say you are a fool and an unwise person. If you do not try and put on a pretense or make excuses, if you can admit your mistakes, everyone will say you are honest and wise. And what makes you wise? Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone has faults and flaws. And actually, everyone has the same corrupt disposition. Do not think yourself more noble, perfect, and kind than others; that is being utterly unreasonable. Once people’s corrupt dispositions and the essence and true face of man’s corruption are clear to you, you will not try to cover up your own mistakes, nor will you turn the screws on others when they make a mistake, but will face both correctly. Only then will you be insightful and not do stupid things, which will make you someone wise” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. The Principles That Should Guide One’s Conduct). I learned from God’s word that everyone makes mistakes in the course of their duty. It’s normal. We shouldn’t cover these things up, we have to call a spade a spade, take the initiative to own up to our mistakes, and be open with others about our corruption and shortcomings. We shouldn’t be concerned about saving face and maintaining status, but instead be honest people as God demands. This is the only way to live a life of character and dignity, and obtain God’s approval and blessings. But I cared too much about what other people thought of me while doing my duty, always wanting to maintain my status and image. Because of this, I always wanted to cover up any mistakes I made and was afraid of others finding out. I didn’t have the courage to come clean even when I felt guilty. I didn’t give any thought whatsoever to the damage this could do to the work of the church. I wasn’t protecting the church’s work while carrying out my duties, and I wasn’t remotely honest. How could I do my duty properly if I carried on like this? I felt so guilty at this realization and wanted to correct the state in which I performed my duties.
After that, when I occasionally made a mistake in filming and felt conflicted about whether or not to say something, I was aware that I was just trying to protect my status and image in the eyes of others again. I’d pray to God and ask Him to guide me to practice the truth and be an honest person, so I could admit my mistake in front of everyone. When I did that, the brothers and sisters didn’t blame me and could handle my mistake appropriately. I felt much more grounded, and I felt the peace and joy that comes from practicing the truth.
One day, we were working on another solo video. Before we started shooting, the director asked if the lights were ready. I thought I’d checked them already, so I said confidently, “Everything’s fine, we’re good to go!” But after one shot, I suddenly realized I’d forgotten to turn a couple lights on. I panicked. I wanted to say something but hesitated, thinking, “I’ve assured everyone confidently everything was ready before shooting, so if I admit to making a mistake now, what will they think of me? Will they lose confidence in me? Forgetting to turn the lights on is such a rookie mistake. How could I show my face again if I admitted it? Would the brothers and sisters think I’m useless, having messed up such a simple task?” Conflicting emotions wrestled within me, and I felt like I was lying on a bed of nails. I wanted to own up to my mistake, but we’d already done several shots. If I said there was a lighting problem now, would everyone criticize me for waiting until now to say something rather than speaking up right away? After racking my brains, I figured out a solution: I could wait until we were done shooting and then go talk alone to the brother editing the video and ask him to adjust the lighting. That way, I wouldn’t have to admit my mistake in front of everyone. This solution wouldn’t impact the video quality and would let me save face and maintain my status at the same time. So after we finished filming, I went to the brother doing the editing and downplayed it, saying, “I had a problem with the lighting in the first shot, but I did a careful comparison to others and the difference isn’t that obvious. It’s just a small difference in brightness. It’d be great if you could help adjust it.” He took me at my word and said he’d help adjust it. I felt guilty as soon as the words left my mouth because whether the lights were on actually did make a big difference, but I’d said the difference was slight. Wasn’t I just looking my brother in the eye and lying? It ended up taking him over three hours to get the lighting right on the shot. First thing the next morning, the director messaged me asking, “Didn’t you notice there was such a big problem with the lighting yesterday?” I hadn’t expected the director to find out so quickly, and for a moment I didn’t know what to say, so I found some excuses to explain myself. He said, “This has happened before, you found a mistake on the spot but didn’t say anything. This is holding up our work. You really need to reflect on what you’ve done.” I felt so guilty when he said that. I hated that I’d been controlled and bound by my corrupt disposition and had failed to practice the truth again. I knelt and prayed, “God, I place too much importance on face and status. This time, not only did I not speak up about my mistake, but I tried my best to cover it up. I’m so devious! God, I want to repent. Please guide me and save me.”
Then I read this passage from God’s word: “The humanity of antichrists is dishonest, which means they are not truthful in the least. Everything they say and do is adulterated and contains their own intentions and goals, and hidden in it all are their unsaid and unspeakable tricks and conspiracies. So the words and actions of antichrists are too contaminated and too full of falsity. No matter how much they speak, it’s impossible to know which of their words are true, which are false, which are right, and which are wrong. Because they are dishonest, their minds are extremely complicated, full of treacherous schemes and rife with tricks. None of what they say is straightforward. They do not say one is one, two is two, yes is yes, and no is no. Instead, in all matters, they beat around the bush and think things through several times in their minds, working out the consequences, weighing the merits and drawbacks from every angle. Then, they manipulate things with their language such that everything they say sounds quite unwieldy. Honest people never understand what they say and are easily deceived and tricked by them, and whoever speaks and communicates with such people finds the experience tiring and laborious. They never say one is one and two is two, they never say what they are thinking, and they never describe things as they are. Everything they say is unfathomable, and the goals and intentions of their actions are very complicated. If their cover is blown—if other people see through them, and catch on to them—they quickly concoct another lie to get around it. This kind of person often lies, and after lying, they have to tell more lies to sustain the lie. They deceive others to hide their intentions, and fabricate all kinds of pretexts and excuses in aid of their lies, so that it is very difficult for people to tell what’s true and what’s not, and people don’t know when they are being truthful, much less when they’re telling a lie. When they lie, they do not blush or flinch, just as if they were telling the truth. Does this not mean lying has become their nature? For example, sometimes antichrists seem on the surface to be good to others, to be considerate of them, and to be warm-hearted in their speech, which is pleasing and moving to hear. Yet even when they speak like this, no one can tell whether they are being sincere, and it always requires waiting until things happen a few days later to reveal whether they were being sincere. Antichrists always speak with certain intentions, and no one can work out what it is, exactly, that they are after. Such people are habitual liars who give no thought to the consequences of any of their lies. As long as their lie benefits them and is able to deceive others, as long as it can achieve their goals, they don’t care what the consequences are. As soon as they are exposed, they will continue to conceal, to lie, to trick. The principle and method by which these people interact with others is tricking people with lies. They are two-faced and speak to suit their audience; they perform whatever role the situation demands. They are smooth and slick, their mouths are filled with lies, and they are untrustworthy. Whoever is in contact with them for a while grows deceived or disturbed and cannot receive provision, help, or edification. No matter if the words from such people’s mouths are nasty or nice, or reasonable or absurd, or in accord or disaccord with humanity, or coarse or civilized, they are essentially all falsehoods, untruths, lies” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Excursus Four (Part One)). God’s word exposes the antichrists’ devious and crafty nature. They are dishonest in their words and actions. You will not hear a single word of truth from them. To keep themselves from being exposed, they keep on shamelessly lying to hide their despicable motives. Antichrists are incredibly evil. I felt called out by God’s words. I caused a mistake because I was careless with checking during filming, and didn’t admit it because I was afraid of being looked down on by my brothers and sisters. I racked my brains to find a way to cover it up. I talked privately to the editing brother to get him to fix the problem and created an illusion, deliberately lying to him that the issue wasn’t obvious, so he’d think it was no big deal. I was way too devious. Wasn’t my disposition just as evil as an antichrist’s? God likes honest people, but I am so devious. How could God not despise and feel disgusted by this? I remembered the Lord Jesus saying, “But let your communication be, Yes, yes; No, no: for whatever is more than these comes of evil” (Matthew 5:37). “You are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and stayed not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it” (John 8:44). God says that lies come from the evil one, from the devil, and that those who always lie are devils. With my constant lying, and then more lies to cover up the first ones, wasn’t I just like Satan? What I was saying had a demonic element, it was deceptive, and it was disruptive to the work of the church. That mistake I made in filming could have been resolved with an honest admission, and avoided a lot of unnecessary trouble. But to save face and maintain status, after mulling it over in my mind I couldn’t say an honest word. I lied over and over again to cover it up, deceiving my brothers and sisters, and ended up making the editing brother spend over three hours fixing my mistakes. I had no consideration for other people’s work or what consequences there may be if the faulty shots were used in the final video. It was very selfish and despicable of me. I saw that I had given rein to my corrupt disposition and that everything I did was hurting myself and others. It made people sick, and disgusted God. I was filled with regret and self-reproach. I prayed to God that I wanted to stop caring about saving face and maintaining status, and be a simple, open and honest person.
I saw that God’s word says: “You must seek the truth to resolve any problem that arises, no matter what it is, and by no means disguise yourself or put on a false face for others. Your shortcomings, your deficiencies, your faults, your corrupt dispositions—be completely open about them all, and fellowship about them all. Do not keep them inside. Learning how to open yourself up is the first step toward entering into life, and it is the first hurdle, which is the most difficult to overcome. Once you have overcome it, entering the truth is easy. What does taking this step signify? It means that you are opening your heart and showing everything you have, good or bad, positive or negative; baring yourself for others and for God to see; hiding nothing from God, concealing nothing, disguising nothing, free of deceit and trickery, and being likewise open and honest with other people. In this way, you live in the light, and not only will God scrutinize you, but other people, too, will also be able to see that you act with principle and a degree of transparency. You do not need to use any methods to protect your reputation, image, and status, nor do you need to cover up or disguise your mistakes. You do not need to engage in these useless efforts. If you can let these things go, you will be very relaxed, you will live without shackles or pain, and you will live entirely in the light” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Part Three). In God’s words, I found the paths to practice the truth: I need to learn to open up, open my heart to God, and not be disingenuous, devious or deceitful to protect my image. I need to be open with my brothers and sisters about my corruption, shortcomings and mistakes, and my ulterior motives. That’s the most crucial step in entering into the truth. Achieving that is the only way to gradually be free from the bondage and control of one’s corrupt disposition and live in true human likeness. I can’t keep acting from a place of trying to save face and maintain status. I need to accept God’s scrutiny and the supervision of my brothers and sisters. So, I came clean to everyone about my mistakes and the corruption that had revealed itself in the process. I also did some things to punish myself, to make sure I wouldn’t forget. This experience made me aware of my devious disposition and I swore I’d change.
One day during filming, I took my eyes away for a moment to look at a detail on another camera screen, and the singer walked out of the lit area. By the time I realized, he’d already sung quite a few lines. We had over 10 seconds of unusable footage because of the lighting problem. I thought, “How could I make the same mistake again? I’ve been messing up so much lately. What would people think if I admitted it? Would they say I wasn’t taking my duty seriously?” Just as I was debating saying something, I suddenly realized I was trying to save face and maintain my status again. I remembered the damage I had caused to the church’s work in the past because I wanted to protect myself and didn’t tell the truth. I thought also of how disgraceful my efforts to hide my mistakes had been, and all the pain and distress I felt from lying. I realized I couldn’t deceive and trick others, that I had to forsake myself and practice the truth. So I stopped wavering, and told the director what had happened.
After that, I started consciously practicing being an honest person while performing my duties, proactively admitting my mistakes and not obsessing about status and face. I was able to consciously protect the work of the church. Even though I sometimes had to deal with being reprimanded and exhorted by my brothers and sisters after admitting to mistakes, as well as the loss of face that accompanied it, practicing the truth prevented my mistakes from damaging the church’s work. This made me feel particularly grounded and at peace. I truly experienced how painful it is to lie and deceive to protect my own status and reputation. Practicing the truth and being an honest person is the only way to be a person of character and dignity and live openly in the light. Thanks be to God!