84. Stick to the Principles to Do a Duty Well
By Xu Nuo, China
In August 2019, Sister Lin Xin, a leader of a church, wrote a resignation letter. My leader arranged for me to go to this church to investigate. She said if Lin Xin really couldn’t do practical work, she should be dismissed and there should be a new election. After I arrived, the deacons there told me about Lin Xin’s situation, saying that as soon as anything involved her family interests or personal affairs, she put aside church work and left everything for her partnered sister to handle. This gave her partner a heavy workload, and follow-up on the work wasn’t being done well. There were some urgent matters that were not being promptly resolved. The superior leaders had offered help and support to Lin Xin many times, but she hadn’t changed and things couldn’t be turned around. She didn’t have any enlightenment in her fellowship on God’s word at gatherings, and when the brothers and sisters had problems or difficulties, she couldn’t fellowship on the truth to resolve them, she could only encourage them with letters and doctrine, or she used her own methods and worldly philosophies to solve things. For example, if a brother or sister was in a poor spiritual state because of illness, she would only tell them what doctors to visit and what health products to take, rather than guiding them to seek God’s will, and learn a lesson. Also, when some people talked about investments during gatherings, Lin Xin not only lacked the discernment to expose and stop them, she actually took part and invited her brothers and sisters to do so as well. Some brothers and sisters had reminded her many times to focus on pursuing the truth and fulfilling her duties, but she didn’t listen. Fearing her brothers and sisters would say she lusts for money, she had invested in secret and lost over 400,000 yuan, which distracted her even more from her duties. Lin Xin was neglecting her duties and not doing practical work, so church life there was ineffective, and the brothers and sisters felt negative and weak. Some of them no longer wanted to come to gatherings, and she herself feared meeting the brothers and sisters, because she was unable to resolve their problems.
After hearing the deacons’ report of the situation, I thought, “Lin Xin doesn’t pursue the truth or do practical work, and her views on things are like an unbeliever. How can she lead a church like that? Even without her resignation letter, she should be dismissed as a false leader for her behavior.” So, I found the relevant principle and, based on that and her behavior, fellowshiped on discernment. When I finished, all the deacons confirmed that Lin Xin lacked the Holy Spirit’s work. But when I talked about dismissing Lin Xin from her duties, one of the deacons said, “Lin Xin has good humanity, she helps her brothers and sisters with whatever difficulties she can, and she is friendly and unpretentious.” One said she had good caliber, was clever, and when the brothers and sisters were in a poor state or had some difficulty, she could comfort them. If she was dismissed, the church wouldn’t be able to find a more suitable leader. Another deacon also said, “Lin Xin might just temporarily be in a bad state. Let’s try to help her first.” They discussed it back and forth and all agreed that she shouldn’t be dismissed. According to the principles for replacing leaders and workers, if a leader or worker doesn’t receive the Holy Spirit’s work and can’t do practical work for long periods, they should be replaced. If they lack the Holy Spirit’s work and we keep them, aren’t we singing a different tune to God? These deacons only saw that Lin Xin could care for people, that she considered their physical interests, was loving to a degree, and had some smarts and caliber, but they couldn’t see whether she was someone who pursued the truth, or whether she could do practical work. They weren’t evaluating her using the standards of God’s house for selecting people. Lin Xin was obviously someone who didn’t pursue the truth and held views just like those of unbelievers. She didn’t fellowship on the truth when things happened and she couldn’t resolve her brothers’ and sisters’ practical problems of life entry at all. She had been revealed as a false leader. If she remained in her duties, she would only disrupt and obstruct church work and delay her brothers’ and sisters’ life entry. So once again I fellowshiped with the deacons on the matter of replacing her. After my fellowship, the deacons were all silent, but I could see they still didn’t agree with dismissing her. At that point, I hesitated, “If I insist on my viewpoint here and continue fellowshiping on the truth and discerning Lin Xin, will these deacons say I am too arrogant and arbitrary and don’t accept other people’s opinions? If I spoil my relationship with these deacons after just arriving, the rest of my work will be harder.” When I thought of this, I stopped fellowshiping with the deacons on the principles of discerning false leaders, and I reported the church’s situation to the leader above me. I thought if the leader agreed with my point of view, then I could dismiss Lin Xin, and those deacons wouldn’t have any bad opinions of me. After that, I went to other sisters at that church to learn their views of Lin Xin, but I discovered that these sisters also lacked discernment of her. They all said she had good humanity, was loving toward them, was considerate of their difficulties, and was clever and had caliber. Their view was the same as the deacons’. When I saw this, I didn’t dare fellowship on the truth to discern Lin Xin. I feared they would say I was arrogant, self-righteous, and ignored others’ views, and that they would have a bad impression of me. So, I just passively waited for my leader’s letter with the answer. That way, I wasn’t burdened with the matter of Lin Xin’s dismissal. I clearly saw that these brothers and sisters lacked the truth and couldn’t discern, but I had no desire to fellowship with them. During those days, I felt darkness inside, and I couldn’t feel the presence of God. So I quickly went before God and prayed to ask for His enlightenment and guidance so that I could know my state.
After a few days, my leader asked to gather with me. We read a passage of God’s words, “In the house of God, you must grasp the principle of every duty you perform, no matter what it is, and be able to practice the truth. That is what it is to be principled. If something is not clear to you, if you are not sure what the appropriate thing to do is, use fellowship to achieve consensus. Once it has been determined what is most beneficial to the church’s work and to the brothers and sisters, do that. Do not be bound by rules, don’t delay, do not wait, do not be a passive observer. If you are always an observer and never have an opinion of your own, if you always wait until someone else has made a decision before doing anything and, when no one has made a decision, just drag your heels and wait, what will the consequence be? Every part of the work gets mired down, and nothing gets completed. You should learn to seek the truth, or at least be able to act by your conscience and reason. So long as the appropriate way to do something is clear to you, and a majority of the others think that way is workable, then that is how you should practice. Do not be afraid of taking on responsibility for the thing, or of offending others, or of incurring consequences. If someone does not do anything real, and is always calculating, and afraid of taking responsibility, and does not do practical work, then it shows that person has too many fiendish schemes. How iniquitous it is to wish to enjoy God’s grace and blessings and yet do nothing real. There is no one God despises more than such crafty and conniving people. Regardless of what you are thinking, you are not practicing the truth, you have no loyalty, and your own personal considerations are always involved, and you always have your own thoughts and ideas. God watches these things, God knows—did you think God does not know? It is foolish to think this. And if you do not immediately repent, you will lose God’s work. Why will you lose it? Because God surveys people’s innermost being. He sees, with absolute clarity, all the schemes and trickery they have, and He knows that their heart is walled off from Him, that they are not of one heart with Him. What are the main things that keep their heart from God? Their thoughts, their interests and pride, and their own little schemes. When there are things in people’s hearts that separate them from God, and they are constantly preoccupied with these things, always scheming, this is trouble” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Part Three). I learned from God’s word that when doing one’s duty in the church everything should be based on the principles of truth. In matters we can’t see clearly, we can discuss, reach a consensus, and do whatever most benefits church work. In matters we see clearly, we need to practice the truth and act according to principles. Only by doing so are we considerate of God’s will. But if we lack honest hearts, play tricks before God, always try to protect our personal interests, understand the truth but don’t practice it, and show no loyalty or consideration to God, then we will never receive the work of the Holy Spirit and never receive God’s enlightenment and guidance in our duties. I had clearly already determined Lin Xin as someone who didn’t pursue the truth, didn’t do practical work at all, and was a false leader who needed to be replaced immediately, but when I saw that the deacons wouldn’t agree, I was afraid they would say I was arrogant and self-righteous, so I didn’t dare uphold the principles of truth and didn’t want to make the effort to fellowship with them about the truth regarding discerning false leaders. When I wrote a letter to report to my leader, outwardly I was serious about my duties, but actually I was hesitant to step forward, because I was afraid my brothers and sisters would view me negatively. In my duty, I had no consideration for God’s will, I didn’t protect the work of the church, and only considered my own reputation and status. To protect my reputation and status I had even tolerated a false leader disrupting church work and hindering my brothers’ and sisters’ life entry. I saw that I really was selfish and cunning. God inspects people’s hearts and minds, and my thoughts may deceive other people, but not God. During that time, my spirit was dark and I couldn’t feel God’s presence. This was actually God’s chastisement and discipline!
Just at that moment, I heard about a church where an antichrist doing evil was discovered but no one reported or exposed him. Even when this antichrist was expelled, the members covered up and shielded him. This enraged God’s disposition, and everyone in the church was put in isolation to reflect. When I heard about that result, my heart trembled with fear. I asked myself over and over again why I couldn’t dismiss the false leader as soon as I discovered it. I read God’s words: “Once the truth has become life in you, when you observe someone who is blasphemous toward God, unfearful of God, and careless and perfunctory while performing their duty, or who interrupts and interferes with church work, you will respond according to the principles of the truth, and will be able to identify and expose them as necessary. If the truth has not become your life, and you still live within your satanic disposition, then when you discover wicked people and devils who cause interruptions and disturbances to the work of the church, you will turn a blind eye and a deaf ear; you will brush them aside, without reproach from your conscience. You will even think that anyone causing disturbances to the work of the church has nothing to do with you. No matter how much the work of the church and the interests of the house of God suffer, you don’t care, intervene, or feel guilty—which makes you someone who has no conscience or sense, a nonbeliever, a service-doer. You eat what is God’s, drink what is God’s, and enjoy all that comes from God, yet feel that any harm to the interests of the house of God is not related to you—which makes you a traitor who bites the hand that feeds you. If you do not protect the interests of the house of God, are you even human? This is a demon that has insinuated itself into the church. You feign belief in God, pretend to be a chosen one, and you want to freeload in God’s house. You are not living the life of a human being, and are clearly one of the nonbelievers” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Part Three). God’s words pierced my heart, and I was terrified. It was as if God was enraged with me. I clearly saw a false leader in the church disrupting work, hindering the life entry of my brothers and sisters, but to protect my relationship with the deacons and the brothers and sisters, and in fear of offending them, I didn’t dare expose or handle the false leader and didn’t fellowship on the truth to help the brothers and sisters discern. I had unwittingly become a shield for the false leader. I had become Satan’s accomplice. What I was doing was evil! God came incarnate and expressed so much truth to water and supply us, and I was enjoying all that comes from God, but when a false leader appeared in the church, for the sake of protecting my own interests I tolerated her disturbing church work. I was truly biting the hand that feeds. I lacked all conscience, reason, and didn’t have a shred of humanity. I had caused God so much grief. After that, I recalled another passage of God’s word, “All of you say you are considerate of God’s burden and will defend the testimony of the church, but who among you has really been considerate of God’s burden? Ask yourself: Are you someone who has shown consideration for His burden? Can you practice righteousness for Him? Can you stand up and speak for Me? Can you steadfastly put the truth into practice? Are you bold enough to fight against all of Satan’s deeds? Would you be able to set your emotions aside and expose Satan for the sake of My truth? Can you allow My intentions to be fulfilled in you? Have you offered up your heart in the most crucial of moments? Are you someone who does My will? Ask yourself these questions, and think about them often” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Utterances of Christ in the Beginning, Chapter 13). From these lines of God’s word, I understood His will. A false leader appeared in this church, and God hoped I would stand on His side, be considerate of His will, and protect the interests of the church. Since I had discovered a false leader, I should quickly dismiss her, use principles to select the right person, and give my brothers and sisters a good church life. If I always considered my own interests and couldn’t stand up to protect church work, I would certainly be detested and rejected by God. Realizing this, I decided to replace Lin Xin immediately. I no longer worried about being called arrogant and self-righteous. Because I knew clearly that doing so was upholding principles, practicing the truth, and protecting church work, it was not arrogance and self-righteousness. Only those who act without a basis in God’s word or the truth, do whatever they please, and cling to their own notions and ideas are arrogant, self-righteous, and going against the truth.
So, after that, I used God’s word to fellowship with them on what practical work that leaders and workers should do, on the consequences of not dismissing false leaders, on what good humanity is, what good caliber is, and what a loving heart is. Through my fellowship, my brothers and sisters developed discernment of Lin Xin. They also saw that there are principles for transfers and dismissals in God’s house. It is not about looking at a person’s superficial love, gifts or caliber, but at whether they can pursue the truth, practice the truth, and do practical work. Everyone saw clearly that Lin Xin was a false leader and had to be dismissed. After she was dismissed, I fellowshiped with the brothers and sisters regarding the principles of elections and we selected a new church leader.
After the election finished, I thought of how the brothers and sisters reported some of Xiao Lei’s behaviors. They said he never pursued the truth, that he believed in God for years without changing his views on things, that he lusted for worldly things and pursued money, and that he was only concerned with getting rich and living an extraordinary life. Each time he was given a duty, he was busy doing business to earn money and was unwilling to perform it. He roped the brothers and sisters of the church into making investments, as a consequence of which they all lost money. His behavior was already causing disturbances and disruption in church life. I thought about going to fellowship with him to warn him. But on the day of the gathering, he deliberately didn’t come home until the evening, when the gathering had finished. I asked him what he thought about the recent events, and if he’d reflected and tried to understand himself. He had no understanding and felt no regret at all for his actions, and he had many misunderstandings and complaints. He said he had believed in God for years and gained nothing. His son disobeyed him, his wife misunderstood him. … Everything he said was from the viewpoint of a nonbeliever. As I fellowshiped with him, I guided him to reflect and come to know himself, but he was very resistant. He also said, “What’s the use of practicing the truth?” The brothers and sisters had reminded him and helped him before, and his reactions had been the same. Xiao Lei had never pursued the truth, and had many manifestations of a nonbeliever. According to principles, someone who doesn’t accept the truth, doesn’t perform their duties, and disrupts church life needs to be isolated so they can reflect on themselves. They can’t be allowed to disrupt church life. Then, if they do not repent, they must be cleared out of the church. Xiao Lei should have been isolated and given time to reflect, to prevent him from deceiving and disturbing the brothers and sisters of lesser stature who lacked discernment. So, I fellowshiped and offered discernment with the church leaders and deacons. Everyone agreed that Xiao Lei should be isolated. But several days later, a sister sent me a letter saying that Xiao Lei wanted to repent and change and practice the truth, but was living with corrupt dispositions and couldn’t practice it. The sister didn’t know if isolating him was suitable. Having read the letter, I was hesitant. If Xiao Lei wanted to repent and change, would me arranging for him to be isolated make him even more negative? If Xiao Lei and the brothers and sisters learned it was my suggestion to do this, would they say I wasn’t giving people the chance to repent? I had only recently arrived at this church but I was dismissing false leaders and handling nonbelievers. Would the brothers and sisters say I was acting tough as soon as I started my new position and being too merciless? Xiao Lei was eloquent—when I went to expose him, if he didn’t agree, opposed me, or lost his temper with me, what would I do? When I thought of these things, I found myself in difficulty again and didn’t know what to do, so I went before God and prayed to ask Him to guide me in understanding His will so I could act by the principles of truth.
After that, I read a passage of God’s word: “The church is under construction, and Satan is trying its utmost to demolish it. It wants to demolish My construction by any means possible; for this reason, the church must be purified quickly. Not the slightest dregs of evil must remain; the church must be purified such that it becomes flawless and continues to be as pure as in the past. You must be awake and waiting at all times, and you must pray before Me more. You must recognize the various plots and cunning schemes of Satan, recognize the spirits, know people, and be able to discern all kinds of people, events, and things; you must also eat and drink more of My words and, more importantly, you must be able to eat and drink of them by yourselves. Equip yourselves with all of the truth, and come before Me so that I may open your spiritual eyes and allow you to see all the mysteries that lie within the spirit…. When the church enters its construction phase, the saints march to battle. Satan’s various hideous features are set before you: Do you stop and edge backward, or do you stand up and, relying upon Me, continue to move forward? Thoroughly expose Satan’s corrupt and ugly features, spare no feelings, and show no mercy! Fight Satan to the death! I am your backup, and you must have the spirit of the male child! Satan is lashing out in its final death throes, but it will still be unable to escape My judgment. Satan is beneath My feet and it is also being trodden under your own feet—this is a fact!” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Utterances of Christ in the Beginning, Chapter 17). I learned from God’s word that as God works to save people, Satan also does its best to disrupt and disturb God’s work. God permits false leaders, antichrists, evildoers, and nonbelievers to appear in the church so that we can develop discernment, and discern the people, matters, and things around us according to the principles of truth, understand which things come from God and which from Satan, stand on the side of truth, and discern and reject all of Satan’s negative things. Xiao Lei never pursued the truth, had believed in God for years yet still held unbeliever views, and when his brothers and sisters fellowshiped with him, he always had fallacies ready to refute them. He did not accept the truth whatsoever. Most importantly, during gatherings he always talked about things unrelated to the truth, and roped the brothers and sisters into making money and enriching themselves, disturbing the life of the church, and never playing a positive role. If this kind of person wasn’t handled promptly, the brothers and sisters couldn’t have a regular church life and those of lesser stature would be deceived. God’s house requires nonbelievers to be handled, because nonbelievers and those who sincerely believe and love the truth are entirely different types of people. Isolating nonbelievers is to limit their evil deeds and ensure they can’t disturb church life for the brothers and sisters, allowing God’s chosen ones to better pursue the truth and be saved. I had to handle nonbelievers according to principles. If I shrank back, if I didn’t handle them promptly so as to protect my interests and not offend others, wasn’t I covering up for Satan, and tolerating nonbelievers disturbing the life of the church? I read another passage of God’s word and learned about the root of why I couldn’t practice the truth or uphold principles. Almighty God says: “Most people wish to pursue and practice the truth, but much of the time they merely have a resolution and the desire to do so; the truth has not become their life. As a result, when they come across evil forces or encounter wicked and bad people committing evil deeds, or false leaders and antichrists doing things in a way that violates principles—thus disturbing the work of the church and harming God’s chosen ones—they lose the courage to stand up and speak out. What does it mean when you have no courage? Does it mean that you are timid or inarticulate? Or is it that you do not understand thoroughly, and therefore do not have the confidence to speak up? Neither; this is primarily the consequence of being restrained by corrupt dispositions. One of the corrupt dispositions you reveal is a crafty disposition; when something happens to you, the first thing you think of is your own interests, the first thing you consider is the consequences, whether this will be beneficial to you. This is a crafty disposition, is it not? Another is a selfish and mean disposition. You think, ‘What does a loss to the interests of God’s house have to do with me? I’m not a leader, so why should I care? It’s got nothing to do with me. It’s not my responsibility.’ Such thoughts and words are not something that you consciously think, but are produced by your subconscious—which is the corrupt disposition revealed when people encounter an issue. Corrupt dispositions such as this govern the way you think, they bind your hands and feet, and control what you say. There are things you wish to say, but you have misgivings…. You have no power over what you say and do. Even if you wanted to, you could not tell the truth or say what you really think; even if you wanted to, you could not practice the truth; even if you wanted to, you could not fulfill your responsibilities. Everything you say, do, and practice is a lie, and you’re just sloppy and perfunctory. You are wholly shackled and controlled by your satanic disposition. You may want to accept and practice the truth, but it’s not up to you. When your satanic dispositions control you, you say and do whatever your satanic disposition tells you to do. You are nothing but a puppet of corrupt flesh, you have become a tool of Satan” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Part Three). What God revealed was precisely my own state. Each time I needed to practice the truth and protect the work of the church, I was only concerned with my own reputation and status. I was very selfish and cunning. Satanic philosophies like “Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost” and “Sensible people are good at self-protection, seeking only to avoid making mistakes” had already taken root deep in my mind. I lived by these satanic poisons, so I didn’t dare uphold the principles of truth. In the matter of dismissing Lin Xin, I had been afraid my brothers and sisters would say I was arrogant and self-righteous, and that they wouldn’t have a good impression of me, so I didn’t dare uphold principles. When handling the problem of Xiao Lei, I clearly knew that according to principle he should have been isolated, but I feared that the brothers and sisters would say I wasn’t giving him a chance to repent and that I wasn’t considerate of his weaknesses. I had preferred the life of the church to be impacted than uphold the principles of truth. All that mattered to me was how to protect my own image and status, and I didn’t care how the church’s work or its interests were harmed. How could I call myself a sincere believer in God? Only then did I realize that I was poisoned deeply by satanic philosophies, that I was selfish and deceitful. God likes people who have a sense of justice and who can uphold the principles of truth, who can uphold and protect all positive things, and who dare to stand up and expose and reject all negative things. I should be someone with a sense of justice, upholding the principles of truth no matter what others might think of me. After that, through fellowship, the brothers and sisters learned to discern Xiao Lei’s nonbeliever behavior, and 80% of them agreed to isolate him so that he could reflect on himself. Next, I went to fellowship with Xiao Lei and used his consistent behavior to expose his problems. But even before I could finish, he was unyielding and discontent, saying that the brothers and sisters invested willingly, that it had nothing to do with him. … His behavior proved that he could not accept the truth whatsoever, and that he belonged to the nonbelievers. If he still showed no reflection or repentance during isolation, he would be cleared out of the church. After practicing according to the principles of truth, I felt an indescribable sense of security, peace and joy in my heart.
After that experience, I started to understand my corrupt dispositions, I could let go of my interests and practice the truth, and I could live out a little human likeness. All of this was God’s salvation. I also see that God’s house is different from the world. The truth rules in God’s house. When we practice the truth and act with principle, we gain God’s blessing and guidance.