Chapter 36. Knowing Oneself Is Mainly Knowing Human Nature
The key to achieving a change in disposition is to know one’s own nature, and this must happen in accordance with revelations from God. Only in God’s word can one know one’s own hideous nature, recognize in one’s own nature Satan’s various poisons, realize that one is foolish and ignorant, and recognize the weak and negative elements in one’s nature. After these are fully known, and you are truly able to hate yourself and forsake the flesh, consistently carry out God’s word, and have the will to absolutely submit to the Holy Spirit and to the word of God, then you will have embarked on the path of Peter. Without the grace of God, and without enlightenment and guidance from the Holy Spirit, it would be difficult to walk this path, because people do not possess truth and are unable to betray themselves. To walk the path of being perfected that Peter walked, primarily a person must have the will to do so, they must have confidence, and rely on God. Furthermore, he or she must submit to the work of the Holy Spirit, and in everything not deviate from God’s word. These are the several key aspects, none of which can be violated. It is very difficult to know oneself within experience. Without the work of the Holy Spirit it is very hard to enter into it. To walk the path of Peter one must concentrate on knowing oneself, and on achieving a change of disposition. Paul walked a path that did not seek life, and did not focus on knowing oneself. Paul especially emphasized work, the prestige and influence of work. His motivation was to gain the blessings of God in exchange for his work and suffering, to receive a reward from God. His motivation was incorrect. He did not emphasize life, nor did he lay stress on a change of disposition. He focused only on rewards. Since he sought the wrong goal, the path on which he walked is of course also wrong. This is brought about by his arrogance and conceitedness. Clearly, he did not have any truth, and had no conscience or reason either. In saving and changing people, God mainly changes their disposition. The purpose of God’s words is to achieve in people the outcome of a change of disposition, such that people are able to know God, to submit to Him, and to worship Him in a normal way. This is the goal of God’s words and of His work. Paul’s method of seeking is in direct violation of and in conflict with the intention of God. It is completely at cross purposes. Peter’s way of seeking, however, is completely in accord with God’s intention, which is precisely the outcome that God desires to achieve in human beings. The way of Peter is therefore blessed and receives the praise of God. Because the path of Paul is in violation of God’s intention, God therefore loathes it, and curses it. To walk the path of Peter one must know the intention of God. If one is really able to fully understand God’s intention in His words, which means understanding what God wants to make of man and ultimately what outcome He desires to achieve, only then is one able to accurately know what path to follow. If you do not fully understand the path of Peter, and have only the desire to follow it, you will not be able to embark on it. In other words, you know a lot of doctrines, but ultimately are unable to enter into reality. Though you may make a shallow entry, you are unable to achieve a true outcome.
Nowadays most people have a very superficial understanding of themselves. They have not come to know clearly the things that are part of their nature at all. They only know a few corrupt manifestations of themselves, the things they are likely to do, or a few of their faults, and so they believe that they know themselves. If they further abide by a few rules, ensure that they don’t make mistakes in certain areas, and manage to avoid committing a few transgressions, they then consider themselves to have reality in their belief in God and that they will be saved. This is completely human imagination. If you abide by these, will you really become able to commit no transgression? Has a true change of disposition been attained? Have you really lived out the likeness of a human being? Can you really satisfy God? Absolutely not, this is for sure. Belief in God works only when one has high standards, attaining truth and some change in his 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—and to know what elements are included in that nature, how they originate, and where they come 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? It is because they consider themselves to be pretty good; they feel right and justified, that they have no faults, and even that they are entirely in the right. They therefore can act 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 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 or complain against 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.