3. What can true knowledge of oneself achieve?
Relevant Words of God:
Nowadays, most people have a very superficial understanding of themselves. They have not come to clearly know the things that are part of their nature at all. They only have knowledge of a few of their corrupt states, the things they are likely to do, or a few of their shortcomings, and this makes them believe that they know themselves. If, furthermore, they abide by a few rules, ensure that they do not make mistakes in certain areas, and manage to avoid committing certain transgressions, they then consider themselves to possess reality in their belief in God and assume that they will be saved. This is completely human imagination. If you abide by those things, will you really become able to refrain from committing any transgressions? Will you have attained a true change in disposition? Will you really be living out the likeness of a human being? Can you genuinely satisfy God that way? Absolutely not, this is for sure. Belief in God works only when one has high standards and has attained the truth and some transformation in one’s life disposition. So, if people’s knowledge of themselves is too shallow, they will find it impossible to solve problems, and their life dispositions simply will not change. It is necessary to know oneself on a profound level, which means knowing one’s own nature: what elements are included in that nature, how these things originated, and where they came from. Moreover, are you actually able to hate these things? Have you seen your own ugly soul and your evil nature? If you are truly able to see the truth about yourself, then you will start to loathe yourself. When you loathe yourself and then practice God’s word, you will be able to forsake the flesh and have the strength to carry out truth without difficulty. Why do many people follow their fleshly preferences? Because they consider themselves to be pretty good, feeling that their actions are right and justified, that they have no faults, and even that they are entirely in the right, they are therefore capable of acting with the assumption that justice is on their side. When one recognizes what one’s true nature is—how ugly, how despicable, and how pitiful—then one is not overly proud of oneself, not so wildly arrogant, and not so pleased with oneself as before. Such a person feels, “I must be earnest and down to earth, and practice some of God’s word. If not, then I will not measure up to the standard of being human, and will be ashamed to live in God’s presence.” One then truly sees oneself as paltry, as truly insignificant. At this time, it becomes easy for one to carry out truth, and one will appear to be somewhat like a human should be. Only when people truly loathe themselves are they able to forsake the flesh. If they do not loathe themselves, they will be unable to forsake the flesh. Truly hating oneself comprises a few things: First, knowing one’s own nature; and second, seeing oneself as needy and pitiful, seeing oneself to be extremely small and insignificant, and seeing one’s own pitiful and dirty soul. When one fully sees what one truly is, and this outcome is achieved, one then truly gains knowledge of oneself, and it can be said that one has come to know oneself fully. Only then can one truly hate oneself, going so far as to curse oneself, and truly feel that one has been corrupted profoundly by Satan such that one does not even resemble a human being. Then, one day, when the threat of death appears, such a person will think, “This is God’s righteous punishment. God is indeed righteous; I really should die!” At this point, he will not lodge a complaint, much less blame God, simply feeling that he is so needy and pitiful, so filthy and corrupt that he should be wiped out by God, and a soul like his is not fit to live on earth. At this point, this person will not resist God, much less betray God. If one does not know oneself, and still considers oneself to be pretty good, then when death comes knocking, this person will think, “I have done so well in my faith. How hard I have sought! I have given so much, I have suffered so much, yet ultimately, God is now asking me to die. I don’t know where God’s righteousness is. Why is He asking me to die? If even a person like me has to die, then who will be saved? Won’t the human race come to an end?” First of all, this person has notions about God. Secondly, this person is complaining, and not showing any submission whatsoever. This is just like Paul: When he was about to die, he did not know himself, and by the time God’s punishment was nigh, it was too late to repent.
Excerpted from “To Know Oneself Is Primarily About Knowing Human Nature” in Records of Christ’s Talks
What Peter sought was to come to know himself and see what had been revealed in him through the refinement of God’s words and within the various trials that God provided for him. When he truly came to understand himself, Peter realized just how deeply corrupt humans are, how worthless and unworthy of serving God they are, and that they do not deserve to live before Him. Peter then fell prostrate before God. Ultimately, he thought, “Knowing God is the most precious thing! If I died before knowing Him, it would be such a pity; I feel that knowing God is the most important, most meaningful thing there is. If man does not know God, then he does not deserve to live and has no life.” By the time Peter’s experience had reached this point, he had grown fairly knowledgeable with regard to his own nature and gained a relatively good understanding of it. Although he perhaps would not have been able to thoroughly explain it in terms that would accord with what people nowadays imagine, Peter had indeed reached this state. Therefore, the path of pursuing life and attaining perfection by God involves gaining a deeper understanding of one’s own nature from within God’s utterances, as well as comprehending the aspects of one’s nature and accurately describing it in words. To thoroughly understand one’s old life—the life of that old satanic nature—means to have achieved the results that God requires. If your knowledge has not yet reached this point, but you claim to know yourself and say that you have gained life, then are you not simply bragging? You do not know yourself, nor do you know what you are in front of God, whether you have truly met the standards of being human, or how many satanic elements you still have within you. You are still unclear about who you belong to, and you do not even have any self-knowledge—so how can you possess reason in front of God? When Peter was pursuing life, he focused on understanding himself and transforming his disposition over the course of his trials, and he strove to know God, and in the end, he thought, “People must seek an understanding of God in life; knowing Him is the most critical thing. If I do not know God, then I cannot rest in peace when I die. Once I know Him, if God then has me die, then I will still feel most gratified to do so; I will not complain in the slightest, and my entire life will have been fulfilled.” Peter was not able to gain this level of understanding or reach this point immediately after he had begun to believe in God; he first had to undergo a great many trials. His experience had to reach a certain milestone, and he had to completely understand himself, before he could sense the value of knowing God. Therefore, the path Peter took was one of gaining life and of being perfected; this was the aspect upon which his specific practice was primarily focused.
Excerpted from “How to Walk the Path of Peter” in Records of Christ’s Talks
Are corrupt dispositions easy to resolve? This involves one’s nature essence. People have this essence, this root, and it must be dug out bit by bit. It must be dug out from every state, from the intents behind every word you speak. It must be dissected and understood from the words you speak. When such awareness grows ever more clear and your spirit ever more astute, you can then achieve change. Resolving corrupt dispositions requires care and diligence. You must pay great attention and examine your intentions and states little by little. When you constantly examine these things, the day will arrive when you suddenly come to a realization about the way you usually speak: “This is evil, and is not an expression of normal humanity. It is at odds with the truth and I have to change how I speak.” From the day you possess this awareness, you will ever more clearly feel the grave severity of this evil disposition. So, what should you do next? Ceaselessly examine the intentions that exist in that same way you speak, and through the process of your incessant unearthing, you will be ever more able to truly and accurately determine that you have this sort of essence and disposition. When the day comes that you can genuinely admit to yourself that you do have an evil disposition, you will finally be able to loathe and detest it. When someone goes from believing that they are a good person, that they act uprightly and justly, that they are endowed with a sense of justice, that they are honorable and guileless, to recognizing their nature essence as being arrogant, hardened, deceitful, wicked, and with no love for the truth, only then will they be able to accurately know their place, and to know exactly what they are. Merely acknowledging or blithely recognizing that they have such manifestations and states, they are incapable of true hatred; true hatred is only attainable once they have recognized in their actions that they have these dispositions and essences. …
Only when people are able to recognize the various states produced by various dispositions will there begin to be a change in their dispositions. If people do not recognize these states, if they cannot assimilate them and apply them to themselves, can there be a change in their dispositions? (No.) Change in disposition starts from recognizing the various states produced by various dispositions. If one has not begun to recognize this, if one has not entered this aspect of reality, then a change in one’s disposition is out of the question.
Excerpted from “Only When You Know Yourself Can You Pursue the Truth” in Records of Christ’s Talks
So, as I judge you thus today, what degree of understanding will you have in the end? You will say that although your status is not high, you have nonetheless enjoyed the elevation of God. Because you are of lowly birth you do not have status, but you gain status because God elevates you—this is something He bestowed upon you. Today you are able to personally receive God’s training, His chastisement, and His judgment. This, even more so, is His elevation. You are able to personally receive His purification and burning. This is God’s great love. Through the ages there has not been a single person who has received His purification and burning, and not a single person has been able to be perfected by His words. God is now speaking with you face to face, purifying you, revealing your inner rebelliousness—this truly is His elevation. What abilities do people have? Whether they are the sons of David or the descendants of Moab, in sum, people are created beings who have nothing worthy of boasting about. Since you are God’s creatures, you must perform the duty of a creature. There are no other requirements of you. This is how you should pray: “Oh God! Whether I have status or not, I now understand myself. If my status is high it is because of Your elevation, and if it is low it is because of Your ordination. Everything is in Your hands. I have neither any choices, nor any complaints. You ordained that I would be born in this country and among this people, and all that I should do is to be completely obedient under Your dominion because everything is within what You have ordained. I do not give thought to status; after all, I am but a creature. If You place me in the bottomless pit, in the lake of fire and brimstone, I am nothing but a creature. If You use me, I am a creature. If You perfect me, I am yet a creature. If You do not perfect me, I will still love You because I am no more than a creature. I am nothing more than a minuscule creature created by the Lord of creation, just one among all created humans. It was You who created me, and now You have once again placed me in Your hands to do with me as You will. I am willing to be Your tool and Your foil because everything is what You have ordained. No one can change it. All things and all events are in Your hands.” When the time comes that you will no longer give thought to status, then you will break free from it. Only then will you be able to confidently and boldly seek, and only then can your heart become free of any constraints. Once people have been extricated from these things, then they will have no more concerns.
Excerpted from “Why Are You Unwilling to Be a Foil?” in The Word Appears in the Flesh