What Is It, Exactly, on Which People Rely to Live?
Which aspect of the truth do you most want to hear today? I’ll give you a few topics to choose from, and we can fellowship on whichever you’d like. Here’s the first question: How do you know yourself? What is the way to know yourself? Why should you know yourself? The second question is: What have people lived by in all their years of belief in God? Have you lived by God’s word and the truth, or have you lived by satanic dispositions and philosophies? What behavior demonstrates that you live by God’s word and the truth? If you live by satanic dispositions and philosophies, how will your corruption manifest and reveal itself? The third question is: What is a corrupt disposition? We previously discussed six aspects of corrupt dispositions, so I will talk about which states are the specific manifestations of these corrupt dispositions. Now it’s your choice. Which question do you understand least, but want to understand most, and find the most difficult to grasp? (We choose the second question.) Then we’ll fellowship on this topic. Contemplate for a moment. What have people lived by in all their years of belief in God, and what things does this topic involve? The main point of this sentence is the word “what.” What is included in the scope of this “what”? What of it can you understand? The things you think are most critical, should be practiced when believing in God, and should be possessed by human beings fall within the scope of this word “what.” Whatever things you come into contact with in your daily life, whatever things your caliber and comprehension ability allow you to grasp, that you think are positive, that you think are close to and aligned with the truth, that you think are the reality of positive things, and that you think are in line with God’s will, are the things you have been living by while following God and performing your duty over these years, so we can bring them out and fellowship on them. What are the things you can think of? (I think that, in my belief in God, I just have to suffer, pay a price, and get results in my duty in order to gain God’s salvation.) This view is something that you regard as positive. Then what is the difference between this view and Paul’s view? Isn’t the essence the same? (It is.) The essence is the same. Isn’t the essence of this view just an imagining? (Yes.) Over the years, you have lived by this imagining and what you think is right. You have also relied on this to believe in God, perform your duty, and live the church life. This is one situation. First, you need to confirm whether your thoughts and views are correct and whether they have a basis in God’s word. If you think they are correct, that they have a basis, and that what you do is practicing the truth, but you are actually wrong, that is what we will be discussing in our fellowship today.
The simplest way to communicate the aspect of the truth of exactly what people have lived by is to start with a subject that everyone can understand, the case of Paul, and then relate it to your own state. Why talk about Paul? Most people know the story of Paul. What stories or topics are there about Paul in the Bible? For example, what are Paul’s famous sayings, or what are his characteristics, personality, and talents? Tell Me. (Paul was educated by the doctor of the law Gamaliel, which was a good brand for him, equivalent to graduating from a prestigious university.) In modern terms, Paul was a theological student who graduated from a prestigious school of theology. This is the first relatively representative topic about Paul, regarding his background, education level, and social status. As for the second topic, what is Paul’s most well-known saying? (“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: From now on there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness” (2 Timothy 4:7–8).) This is the motivation for his running about. In modern terms, Paul suffered and paid the price, worked, and preached the gospel, but his motivation was to gain a crown. This is the second topic. You can continue. (Paul said, “To me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).) This is also one of Paul’s classic sayings. This is the third topic. We just mentioned three topics. The first was that Paul was a student of the doctor of the law Gamaliel, the equivalent of a present-day seminary graduate. He was certainly more learned about the Bible than ordinary folks. Paul had knowledge of the Old Testament, having graduated from a school like that. That was the educational background Paul had. How did that sway his future preaching and provisioning of the churches? It may have had some benefit—but did it cause any harm? (Yes, it did.) Does theological learning line up with the truth? (No, it doesn’t.) Theological learning is all specious stuff, all empty theory. It’s not practical. What was the second topic? (Paul said, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: From now on there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness.”) Paul lived by these words; he pursued by them. Might we say, then, that they were Paul’s intent and aim in his suffering, in the price he paid? (Yes.) His intent, put plainly, was to be rewarded, which means that he ran his course, paid his price, and fought his good fight to trade those things in for a crown of righteousness. This goes to show that the years of Paul’s pursuit were about being rewarded and gaining a crown of righteousness. If this hadn’t been his intent and aim, would he have been able to undergo such suffering and pay such a price? Would he have been able to do the work he did and pay the price he did by merit of his own moral quality, ambition, and desires? (No.) Assume the Lord Jesus said to him in advance, “When I worked on the earth, you persecuted Me. People like you are punished and cursed. No matter what you do, you can’t make up for such mistakes; no matter how you repent, I will not save you.” What kind of attitude would Paul have? (He would have abandoned God and stopped believing.) Not only would he not have believed in God, he would have denied God, denied that the Lord Jesus was Christ, and denied the existence of God in heaven. So what did Paul live by? He didn’t love God sincerely, and he wasn’t someone who obeyed Him, so why was he able to persist through so many tribulations in preaching the gospel? It’s fair to say that his main support was his desire for blessings; that’s what gave him the strength. Also, back when Paul had seen God’s great light on the road to Damascus, he’d been blinded. He fell prostrate on the ground, trembling all over. He’d felt God’s greatness and His awesomeness, and was afraid of God smiting him, so he didn’t dare refuse God’s commission. He had to keep preaching the gospel, however great the hardships. He wouldn’t risk slackness. That was part of it. The greatest part of it, though, was his excessive desire to be blessed. Would he have done as he did without the desire to be blessed, that glimmer of hope? Certainly not. The third topic was that Paul testified that to him, to live is Christ. Let’s first take a look at the work Paul did. Paul had plenty of religious knowledge; he had a degree of renown and a fairly distinctive educational background. You could say he was more learned than ordinary folks. So, what did he rely on to do his work? (His gifts and talents, and his knowledge of the Bible.) By appearances, he may have been spreading the gospel and testifying to the Lord Jesus, but he testified only to the name of the Lord Jesus; he didn’t truly testify that the Lord Jesus was God manifest and at work, that the Lord Jesus was God Himself. So, who was Paul really testifying to, then? (He testified to himself. He said, “To me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”) What do his words imply? That Paul was the Christ, the Lord, and God, not the Lord Jesus. Paul was able to run around and preach in this way because of his intentions and ambitions. What was his ambition? To make all people, those who he preached to or those who heard of him, think that he lived as Christ and God. This is one aspect, he lived by his desires. Also, Paul’s work was based on his biblical knowledge. His preaching and words all displayed that he had knowledge of the Bible. He didn’t talk about the work and enlightenment of the Holy Spirit or the truth realities. These topics are nowhere to be found in his letters and he certainly didn’t have this type of experience. Nowhere in his work did Paul testify to the words the Lord Jesus spoke. Take the Lord Jesus’ teaching for how people should practice confession and repentance, for instance, or the many words of teachings that the Lord Jesus spoke to people—Paul never preached those. None of the work Paul did had anything to do with the Lord Jesus’ words, and everything he preached was stuff from the theological learning and theory he’d studied. What does that stuff of theological learning and theory consist of? Human notions, imaginings, philosophies, and inferences, as well as derivative experiences, lessons, and so on. In short, all that stuff arises from human thinking and reflects human thoughts and views; none of it is the truth, much less in line with the truth. It all flies in the face of the truth.
After hearing the example of Paul, compare yourselves to him. With regard to the topic we are talking about today, “What have people lived by in all their years of belief in God,” are you reminded of some of your own states and behaviors? (It makes me think of the fact that I believe if I never have a family, never betray God’s commission, make no complaints against God when great trials come to me, in the end, God won’t let me die.) That’s living by wishful thinking, which comes sort of close to the topic of today’s fellowship and touches on an actual state. It’s a view on practical pursuit in real life. Anything else? (I have a view: I feel that as long as I follow God to the end in my faith, I’m bound to be blessed and to obtain a wonderful outcome and destination.) Lots of people have such a view, don’t they? It’s basically a view that everyone can sort of agree on. Does anyone have a different view? Let’s hear it. I’ll point something out to you: Some people believe in God for many years, and based on their own personal experiences, imaginings, or some kind of experience and some examples that they have obtained from reading spiritual books, they summarize some approaches relating to practice, such as how believers in God should act in order to become spiritual, how they should act in order to practice the truth, and so on. They think what they do is practicing the truth, and that by doing these things, they can satisfy God’s will. For example, when some people suffer from sickness, this matter requires seeking God’s will and the truth. This is one of the most basic things believers in God should know. But how do they practice? They say, “This illness was orchestrated by God, and I have to live by faith, so I won’t take medicine, get injections, or go to the hospital. What do you think of my faith? Strong, isn’t it?” Does this kind of person have faith? (Yes.) You agree with this view, and this is also how you practice. You think that if you are sick, not getting injections, taking medicine, or going to a doctor is equivalent to practicing the truth to satisfy God’s will. So, on what basis do you say that this is practicing the truth? Is it correct to practice this way? What is the basis? Have you seen it verified? You aren’t certain. Since you don’t know whether this is or is not in accordance with the truth, why insist on practicing in this way? If you are sick, you just persist in praying to God, not getting injections, not taking medicine, not seeing a doctor, and you just inwardly rely on and pray to God, asking God to get rid of this sickness or putting yourself at His mercy—is practicing this way correct? (No.) Do you only think it is incorrect now, or did you realize that it was incorrect before? (In the past, when I got sick, I felt that seeing a doctor or taking medicine was an external method, and that this was an expression of faithlessness, so I was relying on prayer or other methods to handle the matter.) Does this imply that if God gives you a sickness, and you have it cured, then you are betraying God and disobeying God’s arrangements for you? (That was my viewpoint.) So, do you think that this view is right or wrong? Or are you still confused, and don’t know if it is right or wrong, and think that, after all, that’s how you’ve always acted, and no one else has said that it’s wrong, and you don’t feel guilty about it, so you just keep practicing in that way? (I always practiced this way, and I didn’t feel anything in particular.) Then do you feel a bit confused about doing this? Let’s put aside whether you are right or wrong, but we can be sure of at least one thing, which is that practicing like this doesn’t accord with the truth. Because, if it did accord with the truth, you would at least know which truth principle you were following and under the scope of which principle such practice fell. But when we look at it now, we see that people act this way based on their own imaginings. It is a constraint they put on themselves. In addition, people set this as a standard for themselves based on their own imaginings, thinking they should do this when they are sick, yet they do not know exactly what God requires or means. They just determine a kind of method for their behavior based on their own imaginings, not knowing what result will come from acting in this way. What do people live by when they are in this state? (Their own imaginings.) Is there a notion within these imaginings? What is their notion? (That they can win God’s approval by practicing this way.) This is a notion. Is this the correct understanding of the matter? (No.) There is a definition and a result here: When you live by such a notion and such imaginings, you are not practicing the truth.
By this point, you will have pondered a fair amount on the topic of “What Is It, Exactly, on Which People Rely to Live,” and you know more or less what will be fellowshiped on in this topic. So, let’s talk about a few kinds of states. Listen carefully and contemplate as you listen. What is the aim of this contemplation? To compare the states I speak about to your own states, to grasp them, and to know that you have those kinds of states and problems, and then to seek the truth to resolve them, striving to live by the truth instead of living by various things that are completely unrelated to it. “What Is It, Exactly, on Which People Rely to Live” is a topic that touches on a lot of things, so let’s begin with gifts. Some people can speak clearly and eloquently. They talk and interact with people with glib, silver tongues, and they are particularly quick thinkers. In every situation, they know exactly what to say. In God’s house, they also perform their duties with their silver tongues and quick wits. Their false, sweet words turn ordinary problems into non-issues. They seem able to resolve lots of problems. With their bright minds, coupled with their experience in society and their insightfulness, they can see what’s going on with any ordinary thing that happens to them; all it takes is a few words from them to resolve the problem. Others admire them, thinking, “They can deal with things so easily. Why can’t I?” They also feel very pleased with themselves, and they think, “Look, God gave me this eloquence and glib tongue, this clever mind, this insight, and this ability to react quickly, so there’s nothing I can’t handle!” And this is where the problem arises. Someone who is glib-tongued and quick-witted may use their talents and abilities to perform some duties, and in the course of performing their duty, they solve some problems or do a few things for God’s house, but if you examine everything they do in detail, you will only come away with a question mark regarding whether everything they do accords with the truth, whether it accords with the truth principles, and whether it satisfies God’s will. Such people often don’t understand the truth or how to act in accordance with the truth, yet they still perform their duties. But no matter how well they perform their duties, what is it that they rely on? What is the point of origin of their performance of their duties? Their thinking, insight, and their silver tongues. Is there anyone like this among you? (Yes.) Does the person who lives by their mind, high IQ, or glib tongue know whether what they do accords with the truth principles? (No.) Do you have principles when you act? Or, to put it another way, when you act, do you do so by satanic philosophies, by your own wits, by your own intelligence and wisdom—or do you do so according to God’s words and the truth principles? If you’re always acting by satanic philosophies, by your own preferences and ideas, then there aren’t any principles to your actions. But if you’re able to seek the truth, and act according to God’s words, to the truth principles—that’s acting with principles. Is there anything in how you speak and act now that goes against the truth? Do you go against the principles? When you do, do you know it? (Sometimes.) What do you do at those times? (We pray to God, steel our resolve to repent, and swear to God we’ll never act that way again.) And the next time something similar happens to you, do you act that way again, and steel your resolve again? (Yes.) You always fall back on steeling your will whenever things happen to you—well, once your will is steeled, do you actually put the truth into practice? Do you actually act with principles? Is it clear to you? Many people don’t seek the truth when things happen to them, but live by their petty devices, by their gifts. Is having a good head on your shoulders and being a smooth talker the only sort of gift there is? How else does living by gifts manifest? For example, some people like to sing very much, and they can sing an entire song after listening to it two or three times. They therefore have duties in this field, and they think that this duty is given to them by God. This feeling is correct and accurate. Over the years, they learn many hymns, and the more they sing, the better they get. However, there is a problem they’re not aware of. What is it? Their singing gets better and better, and they regard this gift as their life. Isn’t this wrong? They live by their gift every day, and as they sing hymns every day, they believe they have gained life, but isn’t this just an illusion? Even if you are moved by the singing, others enjoy it, and others benefit from it, can this prove you have gained life? It’s hard to say. It depends on how much you understand the truth, whether you can practice the truth, whether you have principles in your actions and duty, and whether you have real experiential testimony. Only from these aspects can you judge whether people possess the truth realities. If they possess the truth realities, they are ones with life, especially those who can fear God and shun evil, as well as those who can truly love and obey God. If a person has gifts and talents, and they also get good results in their duty, but they don’t pursue the truth and they only live by their gifts, show off their qualifications, and never submit to anyone, can such a person possess life? The key to whether someone has life or not is whether they possess the truth realities. How can a person with talents and gifts gain the truth? How can they live without relying on gifts? How can they escape living in this way? They should seek the truth. First, they should clearly know the difference between what gifts are and what life is. When someone is gifted or has a talent, it means that they are inherently better at something or excel in some way compared with others. For example, you may react a little faster than others, understand things a little quicker than others, have mastered certain professional skills, or you may be an eloquent speaker, and so on. These are gifts and talents that a person may have. If you have certain talents and strengths, how you understand and handle them is very important. If you think that you are irreplaceable because no one else has your talents and gifts, and that you are practicing the truth if you use your gifts and talents to perform your duty, is this view right or wrong? (Wrong.) Why do you say it is wrong? What exactly are talents and gifts? How should you understand them, use them and deal with them? The fact is that no matter what gift or talent you have, it doesn’t mean that you have the truth and life. If people have certain gifts and talents, it is appropriate for them to perform a duty that utilizes these gifts and talents, but it does not mean that they are practicing the truth, nor does it mean that they are doing things according to the principles. For example, if you are born with a gift for singing, does your ability to sing represent the practice of the truth? Does it mean that you sing according to the principles? It does not. Let’s say, for example, that you have a natural talent for words and are good at writing. If you don’t understand the truth, can your writing accord with the truth? Does it necessarily mean that you have experiential testimony? (No, it does not.) Hence, gifts and talents are different to the truth and they cannot be compared. No matter what gift you have, if you do not pursue the truth, you won’t perform your duty well. Some people flaunt their gifts often and generally feel that they are better than others, so they look down on other people and are unwilling to cooperate with others when performing their duties. They always want to be in charge, and as a result they often violate the principles when performing their duties, and their working efficiency is also very low. The gifts have made them arrogant and self-righteous, made them look down on others, and made them always feel that they are better than other people and that no one is as good as them, and because of this they become smug. Have these people not been ruined by their gifts? They have indeed. People who are gifted and have talents are most likely to be arrogant and self-righteous. If they don’t pursue the truth and always live by their gifts, that is a very dangerous thing. No matter what duty a person performs in God’s house, no matter what kind of talent they possess, if they don’t pursue the truth then they will certainly fail to fulfill their duty. Whatever gifts and talents a person has, they should perform that kind of duty well. If they can also understand the truth and do things according to the principles, then their gifts and talents will have a role to play in the performance of that duty. Those who don’t accept the truth, and don’t seek the truth principles, and only rely on their gifts to do things won’t achieve any results from performing their duties, and risk being cast out. Here’s an example: Some people are talented at writing but don’t understand the truth, and there’s no truth reality at all in the stuff they write. How can that edify others? It has less of an effect than someone who is uneducated but understands the truth talking about their testimony. Many people live amid gifts and think that they are useful figures in God’s house. But tell Me, if they never get around to pursuing the truth, are they still valuable? If someone has gifts and talents but lacks the truth principles, can they perform a duty well? Whoever truly sees through this issue and makes sense of it will know how gifts and talents are to be treated. What should you do, if your state is one where you’re always boasting of your gifts and thinking that you have the truth reality, that you’re better than others while privately looking down on them? You need to seek the truth; you must see through to the essence of boasting of gifts. Isn’t it the height of foolishness and ignorance, to boast of gifts? If someone’s a smooth talker, does that mean they have the truth reality? Does having gifts mean that someone has the truth and life? Isn’t someone who shows off with their gifts, despite having no reality at all, shameless? If they saw through these things, they wouldn’t brag. Here’s another question: What’s the greatest challenge these fairly gifted, talented people face? Do you have experience of such a thing or exposure to it? (Their greatest challenge is that they always think they’re better than others, that they’re good in every way. They’re so arrogant and conceited; they look down on everyone. It’s not easy for people like that to accept and practice the truth.) That’s part of it. What else? (It’s hard for them to let go of their gifts and talents. They always think that they can resolve a lot of problems by putting their gifts and talents to use. They just don’t know how to view things according to the truth.) (Gifted people always think they can handle things themselves, so when things happen to them, it’s hard for them to rely on God, and they’re unwilling to seek the truth.) What you’re saying are the facts, and nothing but the facts. People who are gifted and have talents think they are very clever, that they understand everything—but they do not know that gifts and talents do not represent the truth, that these things have no connection to the truth. When people rely on their gifts and imaginings in their actions, their thoughts and opinions often run contrary to the truth—but they can’t see this, they still think, “See how clever I am; I’ve made such smart choices! Such wise decisions! None of you can match me.” They forever live in a state of narcissism and self-appreciation. It is hard for them to quiet their hearts and contemplate what God asks of them, what the truth is, and what the truth principles are. So it is hard for them to understand the truth, and even though they perform duties, they are not able to practice the truth, and so, too, is it very difficult for them to enter into the truth reality. In short, if a person cannot pursue the truth and accept the truth, then irrespective of what gifts or talents they have, they will not be able to perform their duty well—of this there cannot be the slightest doubt.
Gifts and talents can be regarded as the same kind of thing. What talents are there? Some people are particularly proficient with a certain kind of technology. For example, some men like to fiddle with gadgets, and there are some people who are quite skilled with electronics, who are very much in their element when it comes to using those internal computer codes or software programs. They can master these things and remember them very quickly—that is, their ability to understand and memorize these things is extraordinary. This is a talent. Some people are good at learning languages. No matter which language they learn, they learn very quickly, and their memory exceeds that of ordinary people. Some people are good at singing, dancing, or art, some are good at makeup and acting, some can be directors, and so on. Regardless of the sort of talent, as long as someone engages in a kind of work, this touches on the topic of “What Is It, Exactly, on Which People Rely to Live.” Why do we need to analyze human gifts and talents? Because people enjoy living by their gifts and talents, and people regard them as capital, as the source of their livelihoods, as life, and as the value, pursuit goal, and significance of their lives. People feel that it’s natural for them to rely on these things to live, and see them as an indispensable part of human life. Almost everyone today lives by their gifts and talents. What kind of gifts do each of you live by? (I think I’ve got a gift with language. So I spread the gospel with that gift—when I’m talking with someone who’s investigating the true way, I can draw them in close, and they want to hear what I say.) Well, is it good or not that you have this gift? (Now that I’ve heard God’s fellowship, I think this gift would get in the way of my seeking the truth principles.) You’re saying that it’s not good to have a gift with language, and that you won’t want to use this gift anymore, is that right? (No.) What are you saying, then? You now need to understand what the focus of today’s discussion is, which of your problems it will resolve, what is wrong about living by these gifts, and what is right about it. You must be clear on these things. If you don’t understand these things, and if, in the end, after so much talking, you feel that the right things are wrong, and that the wrong things are also wrong, and that everything you do is wrong, can you resolve the problem of living by your gifts? (No. By relying on my gift with language to spread the gospel, I think that my intention is not to perform my duty well to satisfy God, and that it is instead to show off, admire myself, and feel good about myself.) You have just expressed the reason why living by your gifts is wrong. You think this gift is your capital, a realization of your self-worth, and these thoughts and this point of origin are wrong. How can you solve this problem? (I need to know that my gift is only a tool for fulfilling my duty. The purpose of using my gift is to perform my duty well and to complete God’s commission.) After thinking in this way, will you suddenly be able to practice the truth? (No.) So how can you come to practice the truth and not live by these gifts? If, when you are carrying out your duty, you are using your gifts to show off your personal skills and abilities, then you are living by your gifts. However, if you use your gifts and knowledge to perform your duty well and show your loyalty, and you are then able to satisfy God’s will and achieve the results that God requires, and if you ponder on how to speak and what to say so that you can better testify to God, and do better at helping people to understand and be clear about what work God is doing, and finally help people to accept God’s work, then you are practicing the truth. Is there a difference here? (Yes.) Have you ever gotten carried away while flaunting your gifts, talents, or abilities, and forgotten that you were performing your duty, and instead showed off in front of others, just like an unbeliever? Has this ever happened to you? (Yes.) So in these situations, what is a person’s inner state like? It is a state of indulgence, where they lack a God-fearing heart, restraint, or guilt, where there are no goals or principles in their mind when they do things, and where they have already lost the basic dignity and decency that a Christian should have. What does this become? It becomes them showing off their skills and selling their personality. In the course of performing your duty, do you often experience states where you only care about displaying your talents and gifts, and where you do not seek the truth? When you are in such a state, can you realize it on your own? Can you reverse your course? If you can realize this and reverse your course, then you will be able to practice the truth. But if you are always like this, and experience this state time and time again, for a long period of time, then you are someone who lives entirely by their gifts and who does not practice the truth at all. Where do you think that your restraint comes from? What is the power of your restraint determined by? It is determined by how much you love the truth and how much you hate evil or negative things. When you’ve understood the truth, you won’t want to do evil, and when you hate negative things, you won’t want to do evil, either—and just like that, a sense of restraint comes about. It’s impossible for people who don’t love the truth to hate evil things. That’s why they have no sense of restraint, and without that, they’re liable to give in to dissolution, without restraint. They’re arbitrary and reckless, and they don’t care a bit about how much evil they do.
There is another state that people who live by relying on their gifts experience. No matter what talents, gifts, or skills people have, if they just do things and labor, and have never sought the truth, nor tried to grasp God’s will, as though the concept of practicing the truth does not exist in their minds, and their only impetus is to finish the job and get the task done, is this not living completely by their gifts and talents, and by their own abilities and skills? In their belief in God, they just want to labor so that they can gain blessings, and exchange their own gifts and skills for God’s blessings. This is the state that most people are in. Most people harbor this perspective especially when the house of God assigns them some kind of routine work—all they do is labor. In other words, they want to rely on laboring to accomplish their goals. Sometimes it is by talking or taking a look at something; sometimes it is by working with their hands or running around. They think that by doing this, they have contributed a lot. This is what it means to live by relying on one’s gifts. Why do we say that living by your gifts and talents is laboring rather than doing your duty, to say nothing of practicing the truth? There is a difference. For example, say that the house of God gives you a task, and after you have taken it on, you think of how to complete the task as soon as possible, so you can report back to your leader and receive their praise. You may even have a fairly conscientious attitude and set out a step-by-step plan, but you only focus on completing the task and doing it for others to look at. Or, you may set yourself a standard while doing it, thinking about how to do the task in a way that satisfies you and makes you happy, and which meets the standard of perfection you seek. No matter how you set standards, if what you do bears no relation to the truth, if it is not done after seeking the truth, and coming to understand and confirm God’s requirements, and if it is instead done blindly and with a muddled mind, it is laboring. This is doing things by relying on your own mind, gifts, abilities, and skills while harboring a mindset of wishful thinking. What is the result of doing things this way? Maybe you complete the task, and no one points out any problems. You are very happy, but in the process of doing the task, for starters, you did not understand God’s will. Second, you did not do it with all your heart, mind, and strength; your heart did not seek the truth. If you had sought the truth principles and sought God’s will, then your performance of the task would have been up to standard. You also would have been able to enter into the truth realities, and would have been able to accurately understand that what you had done was in line with God’s will. However, if you do not put your heart into it, and do the task in a muddle-headed way, even though the job will be completed and the task done, you will not know in your heart how well you did it, you will not have any standards, and you will not know whether the task was done in line with God’s will or the truth. In that case, you’re not performing your duty, you are rendering service.
Everyone who believes in God should understand His will. Only those who perform their duties well can satisfy God, and only by completing God’s commission can one’s performance of their duty be satisfactory. There is a standard for the accomplishment of God’s commission. The Lord Jesus said: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” “Loving God” is one aspect of what God requires of people. Where should this requirement manifest itself? In that you must complete God’s commission. In practical terms, it is performing your duty well as a human. So what is the standard for performing your duty well? It is God’s requirement that you do your duty as a created being with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. This should be easy to understand. In order to meet God’s requirement, you mainly need to put your heart into your duty. If you can put your heart into it, then it will be easy for you to act with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. If you perform your duty by just relying on the imaginings of your mind, and by relying on your gifts, can you meet God’s requirement? Absolutely not. So, what is the standard that must be met in order to fulfill God’s commission, and to perform your duty loyally and well? It is to do your duty with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. If you attempt to perform your duty well without a God-loving heart, it will not work. If your God-loving heart grows ever stronger and more genuine, then you will naturally be able to perform your duty with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. All your heart, all your soul, all your mind, all your strength—the one that comes last is “all your strength”; “all your heart” comes first. If you’re not doing your duty with all your heart, how could you be doing it with all your strength? That’s why merely trying to do your duty with all your strength can’t achieve any results—or live up to the principles, either. What is the most important thing that God requires? (With all one’s heart.) No matter what duty or thing God entrusts to you, if you only labor, run around, and exert effort, can you be in accord with the truth principles? Can you walk in God’s will? (No.) Then how can you accord with God’s will? (With all our hearts.) The words “with all your heart” are easy to say, and people often say it, so how can you do it with all your heart? Some people say, “It’s when you do things with a little more effort and sincerity, think more, don’t let anything else occupy your mind, and just focus on how to do the task at hand, isn’t it?” Is it that simple? (No.) So let’s talk about a few fundamental principles of practice. According to the principles that you usually practice or observe, what should you do first to do things with all your heart? You must use all of your mind, use your energy, and put your heart into doing things, and not be careless or perfunctory. If a person is unable to do things with all their heart, then they have lost their heart, which is just like losing one’s soul. Their thoughts will wander while they speak, they will never put their heart into doing things, and they will be mindless no matter what they do. Consequently, they won’t be able to handle things well. If you don’t perform your duty with all your heart and don’t put your whole heart into it, you’ll perform your duty badly. Even if you perform your duty for several years, you won’t be able to do so adequately. You can’t do anything well if you don’t put your heart into it. Some people are not diligent workers, they are always unstable and capricious, they aim too high, and they don’t know where they have left their hearts. Do such people have hearts? How can you tell if a person has a heart or not? If someone who believes in God rarely reads God’s words, do they have a heart? If they never pray to God no matter what happens, do they have a heart? If they never seek the truth no matter what difficulties they face, do they have a heart? Some people perform their duties for many years without getting any clear results, do they have hearts? (No.) Can people who don’t have hearts perform their duties well? How can people perform their duties with all their hearts? First of all, you should think of responsibility. “This is my responsibility, I have to bear it. I can’t flee now when I’m needed most. I have to do my duty well and give an account of it to God.” This means you have a theoretical basis. But does merely having the theoretical basis mean you are doing your duty with all your heart? (No.) You are still far from fulfilling God’s requirements of entering into the truth reality and doing your duty with all your heart. So, what does it mean to do your duty with all your heart? How can people come to do their duties with all their hearts? First of all, you need to think, “Who am I performing this duty for? Am I doing it for God, or the church, or some person?” This must be figured clearly out. Also: “Who commissioned this duty to me? Was it God, or was it some leader or church?” This needs clearing up, too. This may seem like a small thing, but still, the truth must be sought to resolve it. Tell Me, was it some leader or worker, or some church, that commissioned you with your duty? (No.) That’s good, so long as you’re sure at heart about it. You must confirm that it was God who commissioned you with your duty. It may seem to have been given to you by a church leader, but in fact, it all comes from God’s arrangement. There may be times when it clearly comes from human will, but even then, you must first accept it from God. That’s the right way to experience it. If you accept it from God, and deliberately submit to His arrangement, and step up to accept His commission—if you undergo it like that, you will have God’s guidance and work. If you constantly believe that everything is done by man and comes from man, if you experience things in this way, then you won’t have God’s blessing or His work, for you are too conniving for that, too lacking in understanding of spiritual matters. You don’t have the right mindset. If you regard all matters with human notions and imaginings, you won’t have the work of the Holy Spirit, because it’s God who rules over all matters. No matter who God’s house arranges to do whatever kind of task, it comes from God’s sovereignty and arrangement, and God’s good will is in it. You must know this first. It’s very important to see it clearly; just understanding the doctrine won’t do. You must confirm in your heart, “This duty was entrusted to me by God. I am fulfilling my duty for God, not for myself, not for anyone else. This is my duty as a created being, and it was entrusted to me by God.” Since this duty was entrusted to you by God, how did God entrust it to you? Does this involve doing things with all your heart? Is it necessary to seek the truth? You must seek the truth, the requirements, standards, and principles of the duty entrusted to you by God, and what God’s word says. If His words are put quite clearly, then it’s time for you to contemplate how to practice them and make them real. You should also fellowship with people who understand the truth, and then act according to God’s requirements. That’s what it means, to do it with all your heart. Furthermore, say that before you perform your duty, you seek God’s will, come to understand the truth, and know what to do, but when it comes time to act, there’re discrepancies and contradictions between your own thoughts and the truth principles. When this happens, what should you do? You must hold to the principle of doing your duty with all your heart, and put your whole heart into obeying and satisfying God, without any personal adulterations, and certainly without acting on your own will. Some people say, “I don’t care about those things. This duty was entrusted to me after all, so I should have the final say. I have the right to act on my own initiative, I’ll do what I think should be done. I’m still doing my duty with all my heart, so what faults are there for you to pick at?” And then, they put some effort into figuring out what to do. Although the work gets done in the end, is this method of practice and this state correct? Is this doing their duties with all their hearts? (No.) What is the problem here? This is arrogance, being a law unto oneself, and being arbitrary and reckless. Is this performing their duties? (No.) This is engaging in personal enterprise, not performing their duties. It is merely doing what satisfies them and what they like based on their own will, it is not doing their duties with all their hearts.
Just now I mainly talked about talents and gifts. Do these talents and gifts include knowledge? Is there any difference between knowledge and talents? A talent refers to a skill. It may be an area where a person is more outstanding than others, a part of their caliber that is more prominent, what they are best at, or a skill in which they are relatively competent and well-versed. These are all called talents and gifts. What is knowledge? What exactly does knowledge refer to? If an intellectual has studied for many years, read many classics, has studied a certain profession or area of knowledge in great depth, has achieved results, and possesses specific and in-depth mastery, does this have anything to do with talents and gifts? Can knowledge be included in the category of talents? (No.) If a person uses talents to do their work, it is possible that they are an uncouth and rural person, that they lack an advanced education, haven’t read any famous books, or can’t even understand the Bible, but they might still have a little caliber, and be able to speak eloquently. Is this a talent? (Yes.) This person possesses such a talent. Does this mean that they have knowledge? (No.) So what does knowledge mean? How is it defined? Let’s put it this way, if a person has studied education, for example, do they have knowledge of this profession? Things like how to educate people, how to impart knowledge to others, what knowledge to impart, and so on? They have knowledge of this field, so are they an intellectual in this field? Can they be called a talented individual who possesses knowledge in this area? (Yes.) Let’s use this as an example, if a person is an intellectual engaged in education, what will such a person usually do when they work or lead the church? What are their usual practices? Do they talk to everyone like a teacher talks to a student? The tone of voice they use doesn’t matter, what matters is what they instill in others and teach to others. They have lived by this knowledge for many years, and this knowledge has basically become a part of their life, to the point that in every aspect of their behavior or life, you can see that they possess this knowledge and live out the knowledge they have acquired. This is very normal to see. So what do people like this often rely on to do their work? The knowledge they have acquired. Say, for example, they hear someone say, “I can’t read God’s words. I hold them there, but I just don’t know how to read them. How will I know what the truth is, if I can’t read God’s words? How will I understand His will, if I can’t read His words?” They say, “I know how, I have knowledge, so I can help you. This chapter is divided into four paragraphs. Usually, if the article is a narrative, there are six elements: time, place, characters, the cause of the event, the development process, and the conclusion. The time when this chapter of God’s word was published is at the end—October, 2011. This is the first element. As for the characters, this chapter of God’s word mentions ‘I,’ so the first person is God, and then God mentioned ‘you,’ which refers to us. Then it analyzes the states of some people, that some people are rebellious and arrogant, which refers to those who are arrogant and rebellious, who do not do actual work, who do mischief, bad people and evildoers. The course of things is that people do bad things. There are also some other things that relate to different aspects.” What do you think of this method of work? It is a good thing that they so lovingly help people, but what is the basis of their actions? (Knowledge.) Why do I bring up this example? To help people understand more clearly what knowledge is. Some people don’t know how to read God’s word, but they received an education and perhaps did well in humanities subjects in school, so they may open a page of God’s word, read, and say, “This chapter of God’s word is expressed so well! In the first section, God speaks straightforwardly, and then in the second, the tone shows a bit of majesty and wrath. In the third section, everything is revealed specifically and clearly. This is how God’s word ought to be. The fourth section, the general summary, gives people the path of practice. God’s word is perfect!” Does their conclusion and summary of God’s word come from knowledge? (Yes.) Although this example may not be too apt, what is it that I want you to understand by saying this? I want you to clearly see the ugliness of using knowledge to approach God’s word. It’s disgusting. Such people rely on knowledge to read God’s word, so can they rely on the truth to do things? (No.) Absolutely not.
What are the characteristics of how people who live by knowledge do things? First of all, what advantages do they think they possess? Their knowledge and learning, the fact that they are intellectuals, and the fact that they have worked in knowledge-based industries. Intellectuals possess the style, characteristics, and patterns of intellectuals when they do things, so they can’t help but bring a kind of intellectual air to the things they do, which makes other people admire them. That is how intellectuals do things; they always focus on that intellectual air. Regardless of how weak and gentle they outwardly appear, the things inside them are certainly not weak or gentle, and they always have their own views on everything. In everything, they always want to show off, to use their petty devices, and to analyze and handle things based on the views, attitudes, and thought patterns of knowledge. The truth is something extraneous for them, and it is something that is very difficult for them to accept. Therefore, such a person’s first attitude toward the truth is to analyze it. What is the basis of their analysis? Knowledge. I’ll give you an example. Do people who have studied directing possess knowledge of directing? Regardless of whether you have studied directing systematically in books, or studied it practically and done that kind of work, in short, you have a grasp on knowledge in this area. Whether you have studied directing in depth or just superficially, if you were engaged in the work of directing in the secular world, the knowledge you acquired in this field or your experience with directing would be very useful and valuable. However, does possessing this kind of knowledge mean that you will definitely be able to do well in the film work of God’s house? Can the knowledge you have acquired really help you to use movies to testify to God? Not necessarily. If you keep emphasizing what textbooks taught you and the rules and requirements of industry knowledge, can you do your duty well? (No.) Isn’t there a point of contention or conflict here? When the truth principles clash with this aspect of knowledge, how do you resolve it? Do you accept your knowledge as your guide, or the principles of truth? Can you guarantee that every shot, every scene, and every piece you film is not adulterated with or that it contains very little of the adulteration of your knowledge, and that it is completely in accordance with the standards and principles required by God’s house? If this is not possible, then none of the knowledge you acquired is of use in God’s house. Think about this, what is the use of knowledge? What knowledge is useful? What kind of knowledge contradicts the truth? What does knowledge bring to people? When people acquire more knowledge, do they become more pious and possess more of a God-fearing heart, or do they become more arrogant and self-righteous? Having acquired a lot of knowledge, people become complicated, dogmatic, and arrogant. There is something else fatal that they might not have realized: When people have mastered a lot of knowledge, they become chaotic inside, and devoid of principles, and the more knowledge they master, the more chaotic they become. In knowledge, can answers be found to the questions of why people live and the value and meaning of human existence? Can conclusions be found as to where people come from and where they go? Can knowledge tell you that you come from God and were created by God? (No.) So, what is it, exactly, that people study within knowledge? Or what things is it, exactly, that knowledge instills in them? Material things, atheistic things, things that people can see and things of the mind that they can recognize, many of which arise from people’s imaginings and are simply not practical. Knowledge also instills in people philosophies, ideologies, theories, natural laws, and so on, yet there are many things it cannot explain clearly. How thunder and lightning is formed, for example, or why the seasons change. Can knowledge give you those true answers? Why is the climate currently changing and becoming abnormal? Can knowledge explain this clearly? Can it resolve this problem? (No.) It cannot tell you about issues relating to the source of all things, so it cannot solve those problems. There are also those who ask, “Why do some people come back to life after dying?” Has knowledge given you the answer to this? (No.) What is it, then, that knowledge tells you? It tells people about many customs and rules. For instance, the idea that people must raise children and show filial piety toward their parents is a kind of knowledge about human life. Where does this knowledge come from? It is taught by traditional culture. What, then, does all this knowledge bring to people? What is the essence of knowledge? In this world, there are many people who have read the classics, received a high level of education, who are knowledgeable, or who have mastered a specialized field of knowledge. So, on the path of life, do such people have the right direction and goals? Do they have a baseline and principles for their conduct? Furthermore, do they know to worship God? (They do not.) To go a step further, do they understand any element of the truth? (They do not.) So, what is knowledge? What does knowledge give people? People probably have a bit of experience of this. In the past, when they did not possess knowledge, relationships between people were simple—are they still simple now that people have gained knowledge? Knowledge makes people more complicated and no longer pure. Knowledge makes people more lacking in normal humanity and devoid of life goals. The more knowledge people acquire, the farther they are from God. The more they acquire knowledge, the more they deny the truth and God’s word. The more knowledge people have, the more extreme, stubborn, and absurd they become. And what is the result? The world gets progressively darker and increasingly wicked.
We’ve just mentioned how conflicts or clashes between the application of knowledge and the truth principles are to be resolved when they arise. What do you do whenever you’re in such a situation? Some of you would offer doctrine: “What’s hard about practicing according to the truth principles? What is there that can’t be let go of?” But when something happens to you, you go on as before, following your own will and your notions and imaginings, and though there may be times when you’d like to practice the truth and act according to the principles, you just can’t seem to do it, no matter what. Everyone knows that it’s right, as a matter of doctrine, to act according to the truth principles; they know that knowledge is sure not to line up with the truth principles, and that when the two come into conflict or combat, they’re to begin by practicing according to the truth principles and letting go of their knowledge. But is it that simple, as a factual matter? (No.) No, it’s not that simple. So, what difficulties are there when practicing? How should one practice in order to act according to the truth principles? These are practical problems, no? How should they be resolved? First and foremost, one should submit. But people have corrupt dispositions, and sometimes, they can’t bring themselves to submit. They say, “‘You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink’—trying to get me to submit is a case of that, isn’t it? What’s bad about my acting on the strength of my knowledge? If you insist that I act according to the truth principles, I won’t submit.” What do you do at these times, when a rebellious disposition is set to cause trouble? (Pray.) Sometimes prayer can’t resolve the issue. Your attitude and mindset may be a bit better after praying, and you may turn a part of your state around, but if you don’t understand or lack clarity about the relevant truth principles, your submission may end up as no more than a mere formality. At these times, you need to understand the truth, seek the relevant truths, and strive to be able to know how what you’re doing benefits the work of God’s house, testimony to Him, and the spread of His words. You must be clear at heart about these things. Whatever your duty, whatever you’re doing, you must begin by thinking of the work and interests of God’s house, of spreading God’s words, or what performing your duty is meant to achieve. That comes first. There’s never room for ambiguity about this, nor for compromise. If you compromise at times like these, you’re not performing your duty sincerely, and you’re not practicing the truth—and what’s worse, it’s fair to say, is that you’re engaging in your own business. You’re doing things for yourself instead of performing the duty of a created being. If one would complete God’s commission and perform man’s duty well, the truth they should understand and practice first is that they must satisfy God’s will. You must have this vision. Performing a duty is not about doing things for yourself or engaging in your own business, much less testifying to yourself and promoting yourself, nor is it about your reputation, fortune, and status. That’s not your goal. Instead, it’s about performing your duty well and testifying to God; it’s about taking up your responsibility and satisfying God; it’s about living out the conscience and reason of normal humanity, living with the semblance of a human being, living before God. With this sort of correct mindset, one can easily vault over the hurdle of living by one’s knowledge. Even if a few challenges remain, they’ll gradually shift throughout this process, and circumstances will change for the better. So, what’s your experience like currently? Is it getting better, or is it stagnant? If you’re always acting by knowledge and your brain, and you never seek the truth principles, will you be able to grow in life? Have you come to a conclusion about that? It seems you all are still pretty confused about the matter of life entry and don’t have specific principles for it, meaning that you’re missing a deeper or more genuine experience of the principles and path for practicing the truth. Some people always act with their knowledge, no matter what happens to them. They only uphold a few truth principles in a big-picture way with simple matters, letting their knowledge take the lead all the while, with the truth principles subordinate. They practice in this sort of mediated, compromised way; they don’t strictly require of themselves full submission or action that’s in absolute accord with the truth principles. Is this right of them, or no? What’s the danger in this kind of practice? Isn’t it liable to stray off course? To resist God and offend His disposition? This is the thing that people ought most to figure out. Is it clear to you now, what the difference is between performing a duty in God’s house and getting a job and muddling through life in the world? Do you have a clear awareness of it in your heart? You should think on this issue and ponder it often. What is the greatest difference between the two? Do you know? (Performing a duty in God’s house is about gaining the truth and bringing about a change to our corrupt disposition; getting a job in the world is about the life of the flesh.) That’s pretty close, but there’s one thing you didn’t mention: To perform a duty in God’s house is to live by the truth. What is the significance of living by the truth? For people, it’s that their disposition can change, and that they can be saved in the end; for God, it’s that He can gain you, a created being, and acknowledge that you’re His creation. What do people live by when they get a job in the world, then? (Satan’s philosophies.) By Satan’s philosophies—taken collectively, this means they live by the corrupt disposition of Satan. It’s the same whether you’re out for fame, fortune, and status, or for wealth, or to get through your days and survive—you’re living by corrupt dispositions. When you get a job in the world, you have to rack your brain trying to make money. To climb the ladder to fame, fortune, and status, you need to depend entirely on things like competition, fighting, struggle, ruthlessness, malice, and killing—that’s the only way to stay on your feet. To perform a duty in God’s house, you must live by God’s words, and you must understand the truth. The negative things of Satan aren’t just useless—they must also be cast off. Not one satanic thing is tenable. If someone lives by satanic things, they must be judged and chastised; if someone lives by satanic things and is dead set on impenitence, they must be cast out and abandoned. That’s the biggest difference between performing a duty in God’s house and getting a job in the world.
When people live by their knowledge, what sort of state are they living in? What is it that they experience most deeply? As soon as you learn something in some realm, you feel that you’re competent, that you’re terrific—and then you’re fettered by your knowledge as a result. You’ve taken knowledge as your life, and when something happens to you, it’s that knowledge of yours that emerges, to dictate that you do such-and-such. You’d like to cast it off, but you can’t, because it’s been etched into your heart, and nothing else can replace it. This is what “first impressions are last impressions,” as it were, means. There are some bodies of knowledge that one would be better off not having studied at all. It’s a liability to have learned them, and a nuisance. Knowledge encompasses many fields: education, law, literature, math, medicine, biology, and so on, all of which are derived from people’s hands-on experience. These are forms of practical knowledge; people can’t live without them, and they ought to study them. But there are some forms of knowledge that are poisonous to mankind—they’re satanic poisons, they come from Satan. Take the social sciences, for instance, whose teachings include such things as atheism, materialism, and evolutionism, as well as Confucianism, communism, and feudal superstitions: These are all negative forms of knowledge that come from Satan, and the main purpose they serve is that of infesting, corroding, and twisting human thought, binding and controlling people’s thinking, toward the end of corrupting, harming, and destroying people. Passing on the family name, for example, and filial piety, and glorifying one’s family, and the formula that runs, “Cultivate oneself, put one’s family in order, govern the nation, and bring peace to all”—all these are the teachings of traditional culture. And beyond these are the various theological theories, current in civil society, of Buddhism, Taoism, and modern religion. These, too, fall within the scope of knowledge. Some people, for instance, have served as pastors or preachers, or they’ve studied theology. What comes of having acquired such knowledge? Is it a blessing or a curse? (A curse.) How does it come to be a curse? If such people don’t talk, then so be it—but when they open their mouths, religious doctrine comes out. They’re always trying to preach spiritual doctrine; they instill in people the hypocritical ways of the Pharisees, rather than letting them understand the truth. Theological knowledge is primarily about theological theory. What’s the most notable feature of theological theory? It instills things in people that they hold to be spiritual, and once people have taken in such pseudo-spiritual stuff, it’s their first and last impression. Even if you’ve listened to the words that God expresses, you won’t be able to understand them at that moment, and you will be governed by the knowledge and theories of the Pharisees. This is a very dangerous thing. Won’t it be hard for a person like that to accept the truth? To sum up, if you live by doctrine and knowledge, and if you perform your duty and act in reliance on your gifts, you may be able to do a few good things, as they seem to others. But when you’re living in a state like that, do you know it? Can you recognize that you’re living by your knowledge? Can you feel what consequences living by knowledge can bring about? Don’t you wind up with a hollow feeling in your heart, a sense that there’s no significance to a life like that? And why is that, exactly? These questions should be cleared up. That’s where we are on the issue of knowledge.
We’ve just discussed the issues of knowledge and gifts. There’s one more issue: Many people have come from their initial belief in God to the present without ever knowing what the truth is, or how they should practice and pursue it. They’ve been living this whole time by a conviction, or by human notions and imaginings. To put it simply, they live by things they believe to be right. They go around obsessively upholding these things, and even take them to be the truth. They think that so long as they persist in their practice until the end, they’ll be overcomers, and they’ll survive onward. They believe in God by virtue of such a notion. They can suffer, and give up their families and careers, and let go of the things they love—and they go on to sum things up in a few rules, which they practice as though they were the truth. For example, when they see someone is having a hard time, or someone’s family is going through a rough patch, they take it upon themselves to reach out and help them. They ask after them, care for them, and look after them. Where there’s dirty or demanding work to be done, they’ll proactively go and do it. Dirt and demands don’t bother them. They’re not picky. They don’t argue with others in their dealings with them, and they try their best to reach amicable accord with any and everyone. They don’t bicker with others, and they learn to be benevolent and tolerant of people, such that everyone who spends any time with them will say they’re a good person and a true believer. When it comes to God, they do whatever He has them do and go wherever He has them go. They don’t resist. What are they living by? (Zeal.) It’s not just a simple form of zeal—they’re living by a conviction that they hold to be right. Such people won’t understand the truth even after years of believing in God, nor know what it is to practice the truth, or what it is to submit to God, or what it is to satisfy God, or what it is to seek the truth, or what the truth principles are. They won’t know these things. They won’t even know what an honest person is or how to be one. They believe, “All I have to do is live like this and keep on following. Whatever sermons God’s house preaches, I’ll hold fast to my ways of doing things; however God treats me, I won’t give up my belief in Him or leave Him. I can perform whatever duty I’m asked to.” They’re under the impression that they can be saved by practicing like this. What a pity, though, that despite not having any big problem with their attitude, they understand no truths, even after hearing sermons for so many years. They don’t understand the truth of submission or know how to practice it, they don’t understand the truth of being an honest person, or the truth of loyally performing one’s duty, or what it means to be careless and perfunctory. They don’t know whether they lie or are a deceitful person. Aren’t such people to be pitied? (They are.) What do they live by? Might it be said that they’re living by their naked, childlike heart? Why might it? Because, as they believe, “My heart is out there for the universe to see. It’s not clear to people; they can’t see it—but Heaven knows it.” That’s how “sincere” their heart is: No one can understand it, and it’s out of reach to all. Why call this a naked, childlike heart? Because they have a mood of some sort, an emotion, and they use that personal emotion or wishful thinking of theirs to interpret what a believer in God should do and what it is to perform a duty. They also use such emotions to codify God’s requirements. They believe, “God doesn’t actually require that people do anything, nor that they have much skill or understand much truth. It’s enough for someone to have a naked, childlike heart. It’s so simple to believe in God—all you have to do is keep on acting on the strength of a naked, childlike heart.” Yet their lies don’t stop, nor their resistance, nor their rebelliousness, nor their notions, nor their betrayal. Whatever they do, they don’t feel that it matters, but think, “I have a God-loving heart. No one can rupture my relationship with God, no one can dampen my love for God, and no one can impinge on my loyalty to God.” What kind of mentality is this? An absurd one, no? It’s absurd, and it’s to be pitied. There’s a state in the spirit of such a person—parched, impoverished, and pitiful. Why “parched”? Because when they’re faced with some simple thing—they’ve told a lie, say—they don’t know it or realize it. They feel no self-reproach; they have no feeling of any sort. They’ve followed God up till now without rigorous criteria for measurement in anything they do. They don’t know what sort of person they are, nor whether they’re a deceitful person, or whether they’ve really been able to be an honest person, or whether they’re able to submit to God’s requirements. They know none of these things. They’re as pitiful as that, and they’re parched in their spirit. Why say they’re parched in their spirit? Because they don’t know what God requires of them, or why they believe in God, or what sort of person they should pursue being. They don’t know what acts are senseless, or what acts violate the truth principles. They don’t know what attitude to adopt with evil people and what attitude to adopt with good people; they don’t know whom they should interact with or whom they should draw close to. When they get negative, they don’t even know what states they’ve fallen into. That’s what it is to be parched in spirit. Are you like this? (Yes.) I don’t like it, to hear you say that, but that’s the sort of state you’re in. You’re always emotional, and no one knows when that’s going to change.
What is being emotional? We’ll look at an example. Some people feel themselves to love God very much. In particular, they feel greatly honored and twice blessed for having been born in the last days, for having accepted this stage of God’s work, and for being able to hear His words with their own ears and experience His work in person. Consequently, they think they ought to find some way to express their naked, childlike hearts. And how do they do that? Their emotions come to the surface, their ardor is fit to burst forth, they get a bit irrational, and their emotions grow abnormal. And ugliness emerges from that. Back in mainland China, they were in an abhorrent environment for belief in God, and they lived lives of oppression. They had ardor then, and wished to shout out, “Almighty God, I love You!” But there was nowhere to do so—they couldn’t, for fear of being arrested. Now they’re abroad and are free to believe; they finally have a place to give vent to their naked, childlike heart. They need to express how much they love God. So, they go out into the streets and find a place without many people around, where they’ll shout as they wish. Before they can, though, they feel as though they don’t have the confidence to proceed. They look at the scene around them, and their shout doesn’t come to them. What’s going through their mind? “This won’t do. It’s not enough just to have a naked, childlike heart. I don’t have a God-loving heart yet. No wonder I’ve got nothing to shout.” And so, saddened and in pain, they go home and pray in tears to God, “Oh God, I didn’t dare shout ‘I love You’ back when I was in a setting that didn’t allow it. Now, I’m in a setting that allows it, but I still don’t have the confidence. My shout won’t come. It seems my stature and my confidence are just too paltry. I don’t have the life.” From then on, they pray about this issue, and make preparations, and apply themselves to it. They often read God’s words and are moved to tears by them, and those emotions and enthusiasm of theirs brew and accumulate in their heart. This goes on until one day, they feel full enough of emotion that they could go to a public square with a several-thousand-person capacity and shout “I love You, Almighty God” in front of the crowd—yet when they go to the square and see all the people there, their shout doesn’t come. Maybe they still haven’t shouted it out, even now. But whether they have or not, what would it mean? Is it practicing the truth to shout like that? Is it testimony to God? (No.) So, why are they set on shouting that out? They hold the belief that that shout of theirs would be stronger and more effective than any other method of spreading God’s words and testifying to God. That’s what it means to be a person with a naked, childlike heart. Is it a good thing or a bad thing for a person to have such emotions? Is it normal or abnormal? Can it be classified as within the ambit of normal humanity? (No.) Why not? What is God’s goal in having people perform duties and in having them understand and practice the truth? Is it to heighten people’s emotion of love for Him or their emotion in performing their duty? (No.) Do you have such emotions sometimes, or maybe often? (Yes.) When you do, do you feel that they come on suddenly and abnormally, or that they’re hard to suppress? You must restrain them, as hard to suppress as they are. All else aside, these are merely emotions, not the achievements that come after people understand and practice the truth, or after they’ve followed God’s way. They’re an abnormal state. Can this abnormal state be classed under radical obstinance, then? That varies by case. There are different degrees; some can be classed under radical obstinance, and some rise to the level of absurdity. It’s normal for someone to pour forth a bit of this mood on occasion. So, what manifestations of it are abnormal, then? Doing something out of insuppressible emotion. When one lives their every day and scrambles around for that thing’s sake, reading God’s words and spreading the gospel for its sake, too, and performing any and all duties for its sake—when everything revolves around that thing, and it becomes the value and significance of their existence and life—that spells trouble. That person’s goal and direction get skewed. There’s an ugliness to people who live by their naked, childlike hearts. There’s something obstinate about them, and they have abnormal emotions. If someone lives by these things and often lives in such a state, can they understand the truth? (No.) If they can’t understand the truth, what’s their frame of mind when they listen to sermons? What intention do they have in reading God’s words? Can one who’s always believing in God with a naked, childlike heart and religious ceremony understand and gain the truth? (No.) Why not? All that they do isn’t based in the truth, but in religious theory and in notions and imaginings. It isn’t about pursuing and practicing the truth, either. They don’t care at all about what the truth really is or what God’s words say. They don’t care about that, as if all one needed to believe in God was a naked, childlike heart, as if all they had to do was handle things and put forth effort in church. It’s that simple to them. They don’t get what it is to understand and practice the truth, nor what to pursue in order to be saved. They may think about these things sometimes, but they just can’t work them out. The whole time, they’re thinking, “As long as I have zeal, reach a heightened level of emotion, and can persevere to the end, I may just be saved,” and consequently, carried away by their heightened emotions, they do nothing but foolish things, things that go against the truth principles. In the end, they are revealed and cast out. It seems heightened emotions aren’t such a great thing, after all.
There’s another fairly egregious state in living by a naked, childlike heart, and that’s that some people always rely on enthusiasm to believe in God. The fire in their hearts never goes out; they think all they need to believe in God is a naked, childlike heart. “I don’t need to understand the truth, I don’t need to reflect on myself, and I don’t need to come before God to confess my sins and repent—and I certainly don’t need to accept any judgment and chastisement, pruning and being dealt with, or censure and criticism from anyone” they think. “I don’t need those things. All I need is a naked, childlike heart.” This is the principle of their belief in God. They think, “I don’t have to accept judgment and chastisement. It’s enough for me just to feel good about myself. I believe that God’s certain to be happy with my doing that. If I’m happy, God’s happy—that’s all there is to it. I’ll be saved if I believe in God like that.” Isn’t this a terribly naive way of thinking? You used to be in a state like that, didn’t you? (Yes.) If you live to the end in a state like that, incapable of any reformation, then it’s fair to say that you don’t understand the least bit of the truth. The truth has no bearing on you. You don’t know the goal or significance of God’s salvation of man, and you don’t understand what belief in God is about. What’s the difference between faith in God and belief in religion? Everyone conceives of believing in religion being because that person lacks a livelihood, that they might have difficulties at home. Otherwise, it’s that they want to find something to lean on, to find spiritual sustenance. Belief in religion is often nothing more than getting people to be good, benevolent, help others, be kind to others, do more good deeds to accumulate virtue, not commit murder or arson, not break the law or commit crimes, not do bad things, not hit people or curse at them, not steal or rob, and not cheat or swindle. This is the concept of “belief in religion” that exists in everyone’s minds. How much of the concept of belief in religion exists within your hearts today? Are those things which are associated with belief in religion in line with the truth? Where, exactly, do they come from? Do you know? If you believe in God with a heart that harbors belief in religion, what will the result be? Is this the right way to believe in God? Is there a difference between the state of believing in religion and the state of having faith in God? What is the difference between belief in religion and faith in God? When you first started believing in God, you may have felt that believing in religion and having faith in God were the same thing. But today, after believing in God for several years, just what do you think having faith really is? Is there any difference from belief in religion? Belief in religion means following some religious rituals in order to bring happiness and comfort to one’s spirit. It doesn’t relate to questions of what path people walk or how they live their lives. There is no change in your inner world; you are still you, and your nature essence remains the same. You have not accepted the truths that come from God and made them your life, but have merely done some good deeds or followed ceremony and rules. You have merely engaged in some activities related to belief in religion—just this, that’s all. So what does faith in God refer to? It means a change in how you live, it means that there has already been a change in the value of your existence and your goals in life. You originally lived for things such as honoring your ancestors, standing out from the crowd, having a good life, and striving for fame and fortune. Today, you have abandoned those things. You no longer follow Satan, but you wish to forsake it, to forsake this evil trend. You are following God, what you accept is the truth, and the path you walk is that of pursuing the truth. Your life’s direction has completely changed. After believing in God, you are approaching life differently, having a different way of life, following the Creator, accepting and submitting to the Creator’s rule and arrangements, accepting the Creator’s salvation, and ultimately becoming a true created being. Isn’t this changing your way of life? It is the complete opposite of your previous pursuit, way of life, and the motivations and significance behind all you did—they’re entirely at odds, not even in the same ballpark. We’ll end there on the difference between faith in God and belief in religion. Can you see in yourselves the state of having a “naked, childlike heart” we’d been talking about? (Yes.) So, are you living by a naked, childlike heart most of the time, or do you just have that state on occasion? If it’s occasional, that proves that you’ve cast off that state already and begun to pursue the truth, that you’ve begun to emerge from that state of affairs; if you’re still living by a naked, childlike heart a majority of the time and don’t know how to live by God’s words, by the truth, nor how to cast off the restraints of a naked, childlike heart and emerge from that state, that proves that you’re not living before God, that you don’t yet know what the truth is or how to seek it. Is that a big distinction? (Yes.) If you go on living that way, without understanding the truth in the least, you’re in danger—you’ll have to be cast out, sooner or later. As to how that naked, childlike heart comes into being, you’ll have to seek the truth, analyze the state, and change that state. Why one would have that naked, childlike heart; what consequences will come of relying on fervor to believe in God; whether you can gain the truth by believing in God like that; whether it will bolster your faith in God—you must be clear at heart on these questions. This requires you to hold yourself up for comparison, to reflect, and to seek the resolution.
One sort of person is enthusiastic at heart in their belief in God. Any duty is fine for them, and so is a bit of hardship, but their temperament is unstable—they’re emotional and capricious, inconsistent. They act by their mood alone. When they’re happy, they do the job they’re tasked with well, and they get along well with whomever they’re partnered with and whomever they associate with. They’re willing to take on more of the duty, too—whatever duty they’re performing, they have a sense of responsibility for it. That’s how they act when they’re in a good state. There may be a reason that they’re in a good state: Maybe they were praised for doing a good job with their duty, and won the group’s esteem and approval. Or, maybe lots of people appreciate the work they produced, so they’re puffed up like a balloon that gets fuller with every puff of praise. And so, they go on performing the same duty each day, yet all the while, they never grasp God’s will or seek the truth principles. They’re always acting on the strength of their experience. Is experience the truth? Is it reliable to act on experience? Does it accord with the truth principles? Acting on experience doesn’t accord with the principles; there will necessarily be times when it fails. So, a day comes when they don’t perform their duty well. Many things go wrong, and they’re dealt with. The group is unsatisfied with them. They get negative then: “I’m not performing this duty anymore. I do it badly. You’re all better than I am. It’s me who’s no good. Whoever’s willing to do it, go ahead!” Someone fellowships with them about the truth, but it doesn’t get through to them, and they don’t understand, saying: “What’s there to fellowship about in this? I don’t care if it is the truth or not—I’ll do my duty when I’m happy and won’t when I’m not. Why make it so complicated? I’m not doing it now; I’ll wait for a day when I’m happy.” This is how they are, consistently. Whether in performing their duty; reading God’s words, or listening to sermons and attending gatherings; or in their interactions with others—in everything that bears on any aspect of their life, what they pour forth is cloudy one moment and sunny the next, elevated one moment and depressed the next, cold one moment and hot the next, negative one moment and positive the next. In brief, their state, good or bad, is always quite pronounced. You can see it at a glance. They’re inconsistent in everything they do, just giving themselves over to their temperament. When they’re happy, they do a better job, and when they’re not, they’re shoddy—they may even stop doing the thing and call it quits. Whatever they’re doing, they must do it according to their mood, according to the environment, according to their demands. They have no will at all to undergo hardship; they’re pampered and spoiled, hysterical, impervious to reason, and they do nothing to curb it. No one’s allowed to offend them; whoever does is a target for their temper, which comes on like a storm—and right after it passes, they’re negative and emotionally downcast. What’s more, they do everything based on their preferences. “If I like this job, I’ll do it; if I don’t, I won’t, and never will. Whichever of you is willing can do it. That has nothing to do with me.” What kind of person is this? When they’re happy and their state is good, they’re worked up at heart and say they want to love God. They’re so worked up that they cry, hot tears streaming down their face, loudly sobbing. Is theirs a heart that truly loves God? The state of loving God at heart is a normal one, but to look at their disposition, behaviors, and outpourings, you’d think they were a child of ten or so years. This disposition of theirs, their way of living, is capriciousness. They’re inconsistent, undevoted, irresponsible, and feckless in everything they do. They never undergo hardship and are unwilling to take on responsibility. When they’re happy, they’re fine doing anything; a bit of hardship is fine, and if their interests suffer a blow, that’s fine, too. But if they’re unhappy, they won’t do anything. What sort of person are they? Is a state like that normal? (No.) This issue goes beyond that of an abnormal state—it’s a manifestation of extreme capriciousness, extreme foolishness and ignorance, extreme childishness. What’s the problem with capriciousness? Some may say, “It’s an instability of temperament. They’re too young and have been through too little hardship, and their personality isn’t set yet, so there’s often capriciousness in their behavior.” The fact is that capriciousness doesn’t care about age: Forty-somethings and septuagenarians are capricious at times, too. How’s this to be explained? Capriciousness is in fact a problem in one’s disposition, and an extremely serious one, at that! If they’re performing an important duty, it may delay that duty and the work’s progress, incurring losses to the interests of God’s house; and with ordinary duties, too, it affects those duties at times, and hinders things. There’s nothing about it that benefits others, themselves, or the work of the church. The little tasks they do and prices they pay come at a net loss. Particularly capricious people are unfit to perform duties in God’s house, and there are many such people. Capriciousness is the most common manifestation among corrupt dispositions. Practically every person has such a disposition. And what is that disposition? Naturally, every corrupt disposition is one variety of Satan’s dispositions, and capriciousness is a corrupt disposition. In mild terms, it’s not loving or accepting the truth; in weightier terms, it’s being sick of the truth and hating it. Can capricious people submit to God? Certainly not. They can momentarily, when they’re happy and profiting, but when they’re unhappy and not profiting, they fly into a rage and dare to resist and betray Him. They’ll say to themselves, “I don’t care whether it is the truth or not—what matters is that I’m happy, that I’m content. If I’m unhappy, nothing anyone says will help! What does the truth count for? What does God count for? I’m the boss!” What kind of corrupt disposition is this? (Hating the truth.) It’s a disposition that hates the truth, one that’s sick of it. Is there an element of arrogance and conceit to it? An element of intransigence? (Yes.) There’s another egregious state here. When they’re in a good mood, they’re nice to everyone and responsible in performing their duty; people think they’re a good, obedient person, one who’s willing to pay a price, who really loves the truth. But as soon as they get negative, they’ll clock out, complain, and even be impervious to reason. Here, their vicious side emerges. No one’s allowed to reproach them. They’ll even say, “I understand every truth, I just don’t practice it. It’ll do for me just to be at ease with myself!” What disposition is this? (Viciousness.) These evil people aren’t just ready to fight back against anyone who might deal with them, they’d even hurt them and harm them, like an evil demon. No one would dare mess with them. Is this not highly capricious and vicious of them? Is this a youth-related problem? Would they not be capricious if they were older? Would they be more thoughtful and sensible if they were older? No. This isn’t a matter of their personality or their age. There’s a deep-rooted corrupt disposition hiding in there. They’re governed by a corrupt disposition, and it’s by a corrupt disposition that they live. Is there obedience in someone who lives in a corrupt disposition? Can they seek the truth? Is there a part of them that loves the truth? (No.) No, there’s none of those. Have all of you had a capricious state? (Yes.) Would you feel it was a problem if we didn’t fellowship about it? (We wouldn’t.) Now, having fellowshiped about it, do you feel it’s quite a serious problem? (Yes.) Some occasional capriciousness arises from objective causes. That’s not a dispositional problem. All dispositional problems, and all outpourings of a corrupt disposition in one’s actions, will yield negative consequences. Here’s an example of an objective cause: Say someone has a terrible stomachache today. They’re in such pain that they barely have the strength to speak. They just want to lie down for a while. Just then, someone comes along and has a few words with them, and their tone in responding is a bit harsh. Is this a problem with their disposition? No, it’s not. They’re only being like that because they’re sick and in pain. If that were the sort of person they were at normal times, one who spoke in that way, that would be a dispositional problem. In this case, there’s a bad tone to their speech because their pain has passed a certain threshold. That’s a normal thing to happen. If there’s an objective cause, and everyone acknowledges that speaking or acting in such a way is pardonable and reasonable, given the circumstances, and that it’s just human nature, then it’s a behavior and outpouring of normal humanity. Take the example of someone who lost a relative and begins crying in grief. That’s quite normal. Yet there are people who would pass judgment on them and say, “This person is sentimental. They’ve believed in God for all these years but still can’t let go of their affection for their family. They even cry when a relative of theirs dies. How foolish!” Then, it happens that when the speaker’s mother dies, they cry harder than anyone. How should one view this? You can’t blindly apply rules or make generalizations about it—some things have objective causes, and they’re behaviors and outpourings of normal humanity. What the behaviors and outpourings of normal humanity are, and what they aren’t—that varies with the circumstances. Whatever mention is made of what one lives by, what’s being said touches, in one regard, on problems in people’s dispositions, and in the other regard, it’s about problems in people’s viewpoints, their modes of pursuit, and their paths of pursuit. It’s not at all a question of their temper or personality, or of their outward ways of doing things.
There’s another sort of state, and that’s living by philosophies for dealing with the world. Most people like to pursue fame, fortune, and status in their belief in God, without focusing on pursuing the truth. So long as someone has a bit of caliber and a few ideas, they possess a set of Satan’s philosophies and rules for living. They each have their own “tricks up their sleeve” regarding how to live happily, how to live in a way that distinguishes them and brings honor to their family name, and wins everyone’s acclaim. What tricks are those? They’re philosophies of “supremacy” for dealing with the world. Some people may find that funny to hear: “Supremacy” and “philosophies for dealing with the world” are phrases that don’t belong together. They’re a strange pairing. So, why is the word “supremacy” used here? In general, someone with a philosophy for dealing with the world believes that in order to live, they need to be equipped with some rules for existence, that is, some secrets for survival. They think that’s the only way to achieve their goals in life. They hold these rules for existence, which are philosophies for dealing with the world, as their highest tenets, just like those mottos that people often say. They uphold and stick to their philosophy for dealing with the world as if it were the truth, without excluding even God’s chosen people from this treatment. They think, “All humans put their pants on one leg at a time. You believe in God, don’t you? You follow the principles, don’t you? You understand the truth, don’t you? Well then, I have a philosophy for dealing with the world to handle you. You’re meticulous, right? You go by the truth principles, right? Well, I don’t understand the truth principles, and I can still make you well disposed toward me and keep you running in circles. I’ll keep you all in my orbit; you’ll say I’m a good person and won’t say anything bad about me behind my back. I’ll even pass judgment on you when you’re not around, and do nasty things to you, and betray you—and you’ll be none the wiser.” That’s a person who lives by philosophies for dealing with the world. What’s inside those philosophies for dealing with the world? Subterfuge, deception, and tactics, as well as approaches and methods. For instance, when they see someone with status, someone who could be of use, they’re very polite, bowing and scraping and singing their praises. With those who they think have little to offer, and aren’t as good as them, they always speak condescendingly and look down on them, which makes those people feel that they’re superior and must always be looked up to. In their inner world, they have a system for toying with and manipulating people and a way for how they ought to treat each sort of person. When they encounter someone, they know at a glance what sort of person they are, and how they should deal with them and associate with them. Their mind comes up with the formula right away. They’re sophisticated and practiced at it. They don’t need to think about implementing these philosophies—they don’t need preliminary sketches or anyone’s instruction. They have their own methods. Some of those, they thought up themselves; some, they learned from others, or watched in others, or gained from others’ influence. It may be that no one told them about those methods, but they can infer the ins and outs, and so they learn their philosophies for dealing with the world, techniques, approaches and methods, schemes, and calculations. Do people who live by these things have the truth? Can they live by the truth? (No.) They cannot. So, what impact do they have on other people? Others are often deceived and hoodwinked by them, used and toyed with by them, and so on. These philosophies for dealing with the world aren’t necessarily the sole purview of intellectuals, or of some group of people—the fact is that they’re present in everyone.
In what other ways do satanic philosophies manifest? Some people are great talkers. They coax happiness and satisfaction out of people, who come away soothed for having heard them speak, but they do no practical work at all. What sort of person is this? One who manipulates people with pretty words. Some leaders and workers work for a while, then think to themselves, “Does the Above understand me? Does God know of me? I need to report a few problems so that the Above will know I’m working. If the Above sees that the problems I report are quite real and substantive, that they’re key issues, He perhaps holds me in esteem, seeing that I can do practical work.” And so, they find a chance to mention problems. They’re justified in mentioning problems, that’s common sense, and the work requires it. But this shouldn’t be tainted with their personal intent. Can you see the intent this person has in reporting these issues? What’s really the problem with this intent they have? This question calls for thought and discernment. If they were mentioning the issues in order to perform their duty well and please God, that would be justified; it would mean that they were a responsible person, one who did practical work. Yet there are currently some leaders and workers who don’t do practical work, but are opportunistic and cut corners, who lie to their superiors and hide things from those beneath them. Still, they’d like to be smooth and slick, and satisfy everyone. By practicing in this way, are they not living by satanic philosophies? If so, how should the problem be resolved? What truths are to be sought, how is it to be known and discerned—these things must be made clear before the problem of their corrupt intent can be resolved. Here’s another example. Two people are paired up to perform a duty. They’re going to go to a church in another area to handle a problem there. The living conditions there are relatively poor, public security isn’t great, and it’s a bit of a risky place. One of them says, “The people in that church don’t like me. Even if I went, there’s no guarantee that I could resolve the problem there. They all like you, though. It’d be productive for you to go resolve the problem.” The other finds this to be true and heads off. All else aside, is there not a problem with the one who found reasons and excuses not to go? Whether their excuses and reasons are valid or not, are they practicing the truth in this? Are they thinking of their brothers and sisters? No; they’re lying. They’re using pretty words to accomplish their own ends. Is this not a technique? If you think like this and act like this, you haven’t forsaken the flesh. You’re still living by satanic philosophies. But what if you could forsake yourself and didn’t live by satanic philosophies? You initially wouldn’t want to go to that church to handle its problems, but you’d mull it over: “That’s not right. The fact that I’d think like that means I’m a bad person, that I’m immoral. I’ve got to take what I said back, as fast as I can. I have to apologize to him and be open about the corruption I revealed. I must go to that place today, even if it means I’ll die there.” It’s not actually a sure thing that you’ll die there. Since when does death come so easily? Life and death are preordained by God. All in all, in such a case, you need to have resolve and the ability to forsake yourself. Only then will you be able to live by the truth. I’ll give you another example. Two people are paired up to perform a duty. They’re both afraid of taking responsibility for it, so it becomes a battle of wits. One says, “You go take care of this.” The other says, “It’d be better for you to handle it. I’m of worse caliber than you.” What they’re really thinking is: “There’ll be no reward for doing this thing well, and if it’s done poorly, I’ll be dealt with. I’m not going—I’m not that dumb! I know what you’re up to. Quit trying to get me to go.” What comes in the end of their back-and-forth? Neither of them goes, and the work is delayed as a result. Is that not immoral? (It is.) Isn’t delaying the work a serious consequence? It’s a bad result. So, what is it that these two are living by? They’re both living by satanic philosophies; they’re ruled over and bound up by satanic philosophies and their own trickery. They’ve failed to practice the truth, and as such, their performance of their duty isn’t up to standard. It’s careless and perfunctory, and there’s no testimony at all in it. Say two people are paired up to perform a duty. One of them tries to take a dominant position in everything and always wants to have the last word, and the other may think, “They’re the tough one; they like taking the lead. Well, they can take the lead in everything, and when something goes wrong, it’ll be them who get pruned and dealt with. ‘The bird that sticks its neck out is the one that gets shot’! I won’t stick out, then. It just so happens that I’m of poor caliber, and I don’t like to be bothered with stuff. They love taking the lead, right? Well, if there’s something to do, I’ll leave it to them!” A person who’d say such things enjoys being a people-pleaser, a follower. What do you make of their way of performing a duty? What is it they’re living by? (Philosophies for dealing with the world.) They’re thinking something else, too. “Won’t they get mad at me if I steal their thunder? Won’t there be discord between the two of us going forward? If this were to affect our relationship, we’d have a tough time getting along. I’ll be better off if I let them have their way.” Is this not a philosophy for dealing with the world? The way they’re living saves them trouble. It enables them to avoid taking responsibility. They’ll follow along in whatever they’re made to do, without having to take the lead or stick out, and without having to think about any problems. Everything’s being covered by someone else, so they won’t tire themselves out. Their willingness to be a follower proves that they have no sense of responsibility. They’re living by philosophies for dealing with the world. They don’t accept the truth or uphold the principles. That’s not harmonious cooperation—it’s being a follower, a people-pleaser. Why is that not cooperation? Because they don’t live up to their responsibility in anything. They don’t act with all their heart or all their mind, and it may be that they don’t act with all their strength, either. That’s why I say they’re living by philosophies for dealing with the world, rather than by the truth. Here’s another example: Someone does a bad thing while performing their duty, something that incurs a loss to the interests of God’s house. You see it, but you think to yourself, “That’s none of my business. It didn’t hurt my interests. And besides, I’m not the one responsible. What am I doing, sticking my nose into other people’s business? Someone else can go take care of it, whoever’s willing to. All I have to do is stay on top of my own work. It’s got nothing to do with me if others do bad things. I don’t care if I see it; I don’t care if they’ve gone astray; and if there’s a loss to the church’s work, that has nothing to do with me.” Is this not a philosophy for dealing with the world? (It is.) Are this person’s intentions good? (No.) They’re living by satanic philosophies. Some people do this occasionally in some matter; others do it frequently, without ever seeking the truth or reflecting on themselves, and without resolving their corrupt dispositions. These two sorts of people are in different situations. But regardless of whether it’s done in isolated incidents or in all matters, it touches on the problem of a corrupt disposition. It’s not a simple issue with one’s methods—it’s living one’s life by satanic philosophies. What other philosophies for dealing with the world do people commonly see and come into contact with? (Bribing others with petty favors, catering to others’ preferences, praising people, and pandering to them.) Catering to others’ preferences is one technique, one sort of philosophy for dealing with the world. What else? (Not speaking up directly after seeing someone do something that violates the principles, for fear of hurting their feelings.) Being indirect in speech, always circling the issue, always picking pleasant words that don’t involve the principles or the essential problem—this is another sort of philosophy for dealing with the world. Any others? (Flattering and ingratiating oneself to anyone with status.) That’s currying favor, and it’s also a sort of philosophy for dealing with the world. There are people who, by their nature, are always looking to manipulate and take advantage of others. They’re particularly treacherous. There are people who are smooth and slick everywhere they go. What they say depends on whom they’re saying it to. Their minds are very quick to react: They know how to handle a person from the first time they lock eyes. Such people are extremely cunning; they can’t live by the truth. In what other ways do philosophies for dealing with the world manifest? (Not daring to speak up after seeing a problem for fear of taking the blame if it turns out to be a mistake, watching what others are saying and doing, and not expressing a view until the majority has already spoken.) People tend to go along with the flow, thinking that the law cannot be enforced when everyone is an offender. What sort of problem is that? What sort of disposition? Isn’t it a deceitful disposition? Not daring to uphold the truth principles because you always want to be a people-pleaser and are afraid of causing offense, yet also fearing that you’ll be exposed and cast out for not practicing the truth—that’s quite a dilemma! That’s the pitiful plight of people-pleasers. When people don’t practice the truth, such are the ugly conditions they live out; all of them bear the demonic likeness of Satan. Some of these people are insidious, some are treacherous, some are despicable, some are vile, some are lowly, and others are pitiful. Are you living by satanic philosophies? Flattering anyone who’s a leader while ignoring leaders who have been replaced and cast out; ingratiating yourself to anyone chosen as a leader, no matter who they are; saying all kinds of nauseating things, “My goodness, you’re pretty, and so regular of build—the very image of beauty. You’ve got the speaking voice of a newscaster and the singing voice of a lark,” looking for ways to curry their favor; flattering them every chance you get; bribing them with petty favors; generally watching to see what they do and say, and thinking up ways to satisfy them when you see they like something. Are these tactics that you have? (Yes. Sometimes I see that a leader or worker has some problems or shortcomings, yet I don’t dare say anything, for fear that they’ll blame me and be badly disposed toward me.) That’s a lack of principles. Do you know, then, whether you’ve identified those problems correctly and whether it would benefit the work of the church for you to speak up about them? (A bit.) You know a bit—so what must you do in order to be aligned with the truth principles? If you are sure that you have found a problem, and you understand in your heart that this problem ought to be solved, otherwise it will delay the work, yet you are not able to adhere to the principles, and you’re afraid of offending other people, what problem is at play? Why would you be afraid to adhere to the principles? This is an issue of a serious nature, and it touches on whether you love the truth and whether you have a sense of righteousness. You should give voice to your opinion, even if you do not know if it is correct. If you have an opinion or idea, you should say it, and let the others assess it. There will be benefits for you in doing so, and it will go some way toward solving the problem. If you think to yourself, “I’m not getting involved. If what I say is right, I won’t get the credit, and if it’s wrong, I’ll be dealt with. It’s not worth it,” is that not selfish and contemptible of you? People are always considering their own interests, and unable to practice the truth. That is the most difficult thing about people. Do all of you not have a great many such philosophies for dealing with the world and schemes inside you? There are quite a few items of Satan’s philosophies in every person, and they have long since been overrun by them. It is no wonder, then, that people listen to sermons for years without understanding the truth, and that their entry into the truth reality is slow, and their stature remains always so small. The reason is that such corrupted things are hindering and disturbing them. By what do people live when they need to practice the truth? They live by these corrupt dispositions, by notions, imaginings, and philosophies for dealing with the world, as well as by gifts. Living by these things, it is very hard for people to come before God. Why is that? Their load is too great and their yoke too heavy. Man’s living by these things is so far divided from the truth. These things keep you from understanding the truth and from practicing the truth. If you do not understand the truth, will your faith in God increase? (No.) Your faith in God will certainly not increase, let alone your knowledge of Him. This is a very lamentable and scary thing.
What people live by has to do with their views on things, as well as with their dispositions. Some people are always striving toward their dreams and desires. Those are people with dreams. Some live always by their desires. What do their desires include? There’s the desire to do work and to make themselves known, and there’s the desire to show themselves off. As an example, there are those who like status. Without status, they won’t believe in God; without status, they’re not of a mind to do anything, and believing in God is boring to them, too. They live by their desire to pursue status, and they get through their days, one after the next, dominated by this desire. Whatever status they may have is quite precious to them. Nothing they do is for anything other than status: maintaining their status, shoring up their status, expanding their jurisdiction—all they do, in every way, is about this desire of theirs. They’re living by desire. There are others who lead pitiful lives in the world. They’re guileless people who always get bullied, who come from bad homes, from a poor social environment, with no one to depend on. They’re alone and uncared for, until they come to believe in God, at which point they feel they’ve finally found a pillar of support. They have an aspiration, and they’re driven by it in their belief in God. Their aspiration has never changed, even up to the present. They think, “Believing in God, I live with dignity and strength of character; believing in God, I can rise head and shoulders above others, and live a life that’s superior to others’. When I’ve gone to heaven, you’ll all have to hold me in esteem. No one will look down on me anymore.” This wish, this hope of theirs is very hollow and indistinct. They feel they were living such a wretched life in the world, because of their family’s circumstances or some other reason. Living in God’s house, they have something to rely on. The brothers and sisters don’t bully them. They’re a wretch no longer; they have a pillar of support. What’s more, their greatest hope is that they may gain a wonderful destination for themselves after they die, or in this life, where they’ll be able to hold their head up high. That’s their goal. They live by this aspiration, and everywhere, in all things, they use this thought, this wish, as their motivation. It’s quite hard for them to live by the truth. Such people live pitifully. There are others who have the desire to show themselves off or make themselves known. Because of that, they very much like living within a group, doing this and that to make others in the group think highly of them, which satisfies their vanity. They believe, “I may not be a leader, but so long as I can put my talents on display for the group and seem to shine with glamor, enhaloed, it’s worth it for me to believe in God. That’s what I live for; it’s no worse than being in the world.” So, that’s what they live for from then on. They live all their days and years like that, without any change to their original intention. Is this living by the truth? Certainly not. They’re living by dreams and desires, the same as unbelievers. This is a problem that has to do with one’s views on things, as well as with corrupt dispositions. If this problem goes unresolved, there’s no way to understand or practice the truth, and it’s quite hard to live by the truth then.
There are also some women who live by their looks, who are always thinking themselves pretty, thinking that wherever they go, everyone likes them, regards them highly, and approves of them. Wherever they go, they hear people’s complimentary language toward them and see people’s smiling faces directed at them. They’re quite pleased with themselves, and quite confident, living like that. So, they believe that living as they do gives them capital, that there’s much value in their living—that a lot of people appreciate them, at least. Aren’t there also men who are involved in living by their looks? Say you’re handsome, and in your talk with your sisters, you’re witty, dashing, and romantic. You’re quite pleased with yourself, with everyone thinking highly of you and in your orbit. “It’s not as if I’m trying to date anyone. I’m just living like this, and it’s lovely! Practicing the truth—how dull!” There are others who live off some sort of capital, and to have capital, they must of course have a real thing of some sort. What real things might those be? Some people, for instance, feel they came from the womb believing in God. They’ve believed in God for fifty years or more, and that’s their capital. When they see a brother or sister, they ask, “How many years have you believed in God for?” “Five years,” the other says. They’ve believed in God for ten times longer than this person, and seeing that, they think to themselves, “Have you believed in God for anywhere close to as many years as I have? You’re so young. You’d better behave yourself—you’ve got a long way to go!” This is them living off their capital. What other sorts of capital are there? Some people have served as leaders and workers at all levels. They’ve been out for a long time, doing work and running around and going among the churches, and they’ve got lots of experience. They’re fairly familiar with the work arrangements of the Above, as well as with the various sorts of people and areas of work in the church. So, they believe, “I’m a veteran leader with a veteran’s capital. I’ve been working for a long time, and I have experience. What do you all know? You’re children. How many days have you worked? You’re so green. You don’t know anything. Yeah, you listen to me, that’s right!” And so, they go on preaching all day, without anything practical in it—it’s all words and doctrines. They’ll make excuses, though: “I’m in a bad mood today. There’s an antichrist causing disruption and disturbance, and it’s gotten to me. I’ll preach properly next time.” That shows their true colors, doesn’t it? They’re living on their veteran’s capital, and immensely self-satisfied, no less. Truly, how disgusting, how sickening! That’s one sort of capital. There are others who have been imprisoned for believing in God, or have had some other exceptional experience, or have performed exceptional duties. They’ve suffered, and that, too, serves them as a sort of capital. Why are people always living off their capital? There’s a problem in this: They believe that such capital is their life. As long as they’re living off their capital, they’re able to admire and revel in themselves often, and use that capital to instruct and influence others, which is handy in winning their praise. They believe that with their capital as a foundation, as long as they pursue a bit of truth, or do their duty well and have some good deeds under their belt, then they, like Paul, may have a crown of righteousness in store for them. Certainly, they’ll survive; certainly, they’ll come to a good destination. Living off their capital, they’re often living in a self-pleased, immensely self-satisfied, contentedly complacent state. They feel that God is pleased with their capital, that He delights in them, that He’ll allow them to remain unto the end. Isn’t this living off capital? They pour forth this mindset at every turn. In the things they pour forth, in the things they live by, and in the things they preach to others at every chance they get, what’s on their mind is clear to see. There are others who have gotten special grace or care from God, something no one else has—just them. So, they think that they’re special, that they’re different from all the rest. They say, “Your belief in God is different from mine. God begins by giving you a lot of grace and leading you. Then, once you’ve slowly come to understand a few truths, God deals with you and prunes you, judges and chastises you. That’s what it’s like for all of you. It’s different for me: God gives me special grace. He treats me with special favor, and that special favor is my capital—it’s my voucher and my ticket into the kingdom.” What feeling do you get when you hear them say these things? Do they have knowledge of God’s work? Do they have knowledge of themselves? None at all. It’s fair to say that they don’t understand the truth, and that they believe they can be saved without having to pursue the truth, or to seek the truth, or to accept judgment and chastisement. Which people are they, who have states like this? They’re those few who have seen some visions, who’ve received some special protection and escaped calamity. Or, they’ve died and come back to life, and have some special testimony or experience. They take these things as their life, as the basis for their living, and use them as a substitute for practicing the truth. Moreover, they take these things to be signs and standards of salvation. That’s capital. Do you have such things? You may not have this sort of special experience, but if you’ve performed a particular duty for a long time and achieved results, you’ll assume you have capital. Say you’ve performed the duty of a director for a long while, and produced several good works. That takes shape as capital for you. You may not have any yet because you haven’t produced any works. Or, you may have filmed two movies that you think aren’t bad, yet you don’t yet dare regard them as your capital. You lack confidence in them; you feel you don’t have enough experience or capital yet, so you’re cautious, reserved, and subdued. You don’t dare step on any toes, much less be cocky and parade around. Even so, you’re immensely pleased with yourself and self-admiring at all times, and those are the things you live by. Is that not the pitiful plight of corrupt mankind?
Some people have very malevolent appearances. They’re big, burly, and strong, and they’re always looking to bully others. In speech, they’re quite domineering and imperious; they’re unyielding with everyone, whoever they are. So, people get a bit fearful when they see them, and treat them with deference, trying to ingratiate themselves. This makes them immensely proud. They feel that life’s a breeze, and believe all this to be a talent of theirs—they think that no one would dare bully them, living as they do. If you want to stand firm in a crowd, you have to be self-reliant, self-empowered, and strong and tough—this is their tenet in life. In order to stand firm among others, without anyone daring to bully them or toy with them, nor anyone daring to cheat and exploit them, they boil things down to a tenet like this: “I need to be strong and tough if I want to live well—the fiercer I am, the better. That way, no one anywhere will even think about bullying me.” So, they live like this for a few years, and indeed, as it turns out, no one dares bully them. They’ve finally accomplished their goal. Whatever group they’re in, they wear a serious expression, a poker face, playing up their gravitas and scowling in cool contempt. No one dares speak around them; children cry just to see them. Demons, reborn—that’s what they are! Living by the fist—what disposition is that? It’s a disposition of viciousness. Wherever they go, the first thing they do is learn how to maneuver and exploit people. They want to control people, too, and subdue them. They think of ways to give the what-for to anyone who disrespects them, and they look for chances to punish anyone who speaks impolitely to them with barbed words. Isn’t it vicious to live by these things? Handling things with their fists, as they do, has some effect: Many people fear them, which clears a path for them. But can such people accept the truth, given that they live by impetuousness and a malicious disposition? Can they truly repent? That would be impossible, because they endorse satanic philosophies and the use of force. They live only by satanic philosophies and the use of force; they make everyone submit to them and fear them, so they can run wantonly amok, doing whatever they like. What worries them isn’t having a bad reputation, but not having an evil one. That’s their principle. Once they’ve accomplished their goal like this, they think, “I’ve managed to stand firm in God’s house and among these groups. Everyone fears me; no one would dare mess with me. They’re all deferential toward me.” They believe that they’ve won. Is it really the case that no one would dare mess with them? Not daring to mess with them is external. How does everyone, deep in their hearts, view such people? No doubt about it: They’re fed up with them, disgusted, hateful, recoiling, and avoidant. Would you be willing to have dealings with such a person? (No.) Why not? They’d always be thinking of ways to torment you. Would you be able to stand it? Sometimes, instead of threatening you with force, they’ll employ some techniques to confuse you and then threaten you. Some people can’t withstand the threat, so they beg for mercy and surrender to Satan. Evil people speak and act by any means necessary. The timid and fearful surrender to them, then follow them in speech and action. They’re the evil person’s accomplices, no? What will you do when you see such an evil person? First, don’t be afraid. You must find a way to deal with them and expose them. You can also team up with brothers and sisters who truly believe in God to report them. Fear is useless—the more you fear them, the more they’ll bully and harass you. Teaming up to report the evil person is the only way to make them fearful and ashamed. If you’re too timid and lacking in wisdom, you’re bound to be savaged by that evil person. How small people’s faith is—how pitiful! What can an evil person really do to people, if they go all in? Would they dare swing their fists casually and beat someone to death? We’re in a society of laws now. They wouldn’t dare. Furthermore, the diabolically wicked are a small, isolated minority of people. If one should have the audacity to bully people and run roughshod over the church, all it would take is two or three people teaming up to report and expose them. That would take care of them. Is that not so? If just a few of God’s chosen people are of one mind and heart, they can easily take care of an evil person. You must believe that God is a righteous, almighty God, that He abhors evil people, and that He will bolster His chosen people. So long as someone has faith, they shouldn’t fear an evil person—and with a bit of wisdom and strategy, if they can team up with others, the evil person will naturally relent. If you don’t truly have faith in God, but fear evil people and believe they can take you in their clutches and command your fate, then you’re done for. You’ll have no testimony, nothing to offer, and you’ll live a craven, squalid life. What’s to be done in such a situation? Some people always live by their petty cunning, and think, “I don’t know where God is, and I’m not sure whether the Above knows about this matter. If I make a report and the evil person finds out, won’t they torment me all the more for it?” The more they think about it, the more scared they get, and they want to duck and cover under the table. Can someone who does that still practice the truth and uphold the principles? (No.) They’re craven little people, are they not? This is how most of you are. Some time ago, there was an antichrist who tormented some people. Those people were craven enough to get themselves tormented. Is being tormented a good thing or a bad thing? It’s a bad thing, from man’s perspective: It means being wronged, being caused pain. But one can take a lesson from it and benefit from it, and that’s not a bad thing—it’s a good one. There are some people, though, who lack wisdom and are weak-kneed. When someone torments and bullies them, they don’t resist, even though they’re in the right. They know that person is a false leader, an antichrist, but they don’t report him, nor do they dare refute and expose him. Craven trash! If someone can be constrained when it comes to such things, it shows that they’re too small of stature and pitiful of faith: They don’t know to rely on God, nor do they think to preserve the work of the church. They don’t understand God’s will. God’s chosen people have the right to make a stand against evil people and antichrists. Doing so is approved of and blessed by God. Isn’t it pitiful that you don’t wage war against Satan and overcome it? That person is clearly an evildoer, a negative force; he’s Satan the devil, a filthy, wicked spirit—yet you’re being tormented by him. And it’s not just you—there are so many others being tormented, as well. Is that not cravenness? Why can’t you join hands to do battle against him? How lacking in intelligence and wisdom you are. Find a few discerning people who understand the truth to analyze that person’s behavior. Do this, and most of God’s chosen people will be able to see things as they are and rise up. Won’t the problem then be easy to resolve? When you next encounter such a thing, will you be able to rise up and do battle with the antichrists? (Yes.) I’d like to see how many antichrists you’re able to handle and take care of. That’s the testimony of overcomers. You say you’re able to now, but will you be able to uphold the principles when it truly happens? You may again get so scared that you’ll take cover under the table. The pitiful, lamentable figure they cut, those people who don’t understand the truth when things befall them—it’s a painful thing to see! It’s so pitiful! They dare not say anything when they’re tormented, and the fear lingers in them afterward. They’re scared out of their wits. How small of stature a person is, who can’t even tell an evil person when they see one. They understand no truths at all. Aren’t they pitiful? Evil people live by the fist; they live by oppressing people, bullying the good, and benefiting at others’ expense; they live by their malicious natures and vicious dispositions, making others fear them, curry their favor, and pay tribute to them. They think it’s a great thing to live like that. Are they not outlaws-in-chief? Are they not brigands and bandits? You’re not evil people, but do you have such states? Don’t you also live by such things? When some of you get paired with someone and see they’re young, you think, “You don’t understand anything. I can bully you, and you can’t do a thing about it. I’m stronger than you and on higher ground; I’m bigger than you, and my fists hit harder—so, I can bully you.” What’s that living by? It’s living by the fist; it’s living and acting by a vicious disposition. When they see a guileless person, they bully them, and when they see a formidable person, they hide. They prey on the weak and fear the strong. Some evil people fear isolation when they see people are shunning them, so they pick a few guileless, craven people to engage with and make friends with. They thus grow their power, then put those guileless, craven people to use in tormenting good people, attacking people who pursue the truth, and tormenting everyone who’s discontented or insubordinate with them. It’s evident in this that an evil person has an intent and purpose in befriending a few guileless people. In summary, if you can’t accept the truth or reflect on whether you’re committing evil or doing good in your behaviors and actions, then no matter if you’re a good person or a bad one, and no matter how many years you’ve believed in God, you won’t be capable of true repentance. Maybe you’re not someone with a vicious disposition—you’re just living by satanic philosophies. You may not have done evil, or perhaps you have a few good deeds under your belt, but still, you’re not living by the truth. You’re living by things that have nothing to do with the truth. In summary, as long as you have a corrupt satanic disposition, then no matter how many years you’ve believed in God, you may be living by things that have nothing at all to do with the truth. These things may be tangible, or they may be intangible; you may be aware of them, or you may not be aware of them at all; they may come from the outside, or they may be things that have deep, solid roots in your disposition—in any case, none of these things is the truth. They all arise from corrupt mankind itself—or, to put it precisely, they have their origins in Satan. So, when people live by these satanic things, what kind of road are they on, exactly? Are they following God’s way? Certainly not. If someone isn’t practicing the truth in their actions and behaviors, then strictly speaking, they’re not performing the duty of a created being. They may be performing a duty on the outside, but there’s some distance between that and the standard for performing a duty, mainly in that it’s adulterated with their intents and with transactionality. They may be performing a duty, but they’re not faithful or principled, and their doing so certainly isn’t yielding practical results. This goes to prove that in their performance of their duty, they’ve been doing a lot of things that have nothing to do with the truth. None of those things touch on the truth principles; they’re all things done according to that person’s own imaginings and preferences. How could performing a duty in that way meet with God’s approval?
We’ve been fellowshiping on these states in all their aspects. Can you now gauge what it is you live by? Whether in performing your duty or in your daily life, do you live by the truth a lot of the time? (No.) I’m always exposing you to your core in our fellowship, and you’re feeling you’ve been living inglorious lives. You’ve lost your confidence; you’re not so glamorous anymore. And there are a lot of things you’re embarrassed to give voice to—you don’t feel so justified anymore in being blessed or coming to a good destination in the future. What’s to be done about that? Is it a good thing to expose you as you’ve been? (Yes.) What, then, is the purpose of exposing you to your core? People must have clear knowledge of the sorts of states they’re living in, of which states they’re living in; they must have clear knowledge of what road it is they’re walking, of what their mode of living is, of what abnormal behaviors they have, of what improper things they do, of whether they can gain the truth and come before God, living as they do. These are the most important things. You may say, “I have a clear conscience about how I’m living. I’ve never felt unsettled or unhappy about it, and I’ve never felt hollow.” But what comes of that? God’s displeasure. You’re not following His way. The road you’re on isn’t the true road of human life, the one that God points out for you—instead, you’re off along a road that you, in your wishful thinking, have found with your imaginings. Though you’ve been bustling happily about and have running around a lot, what will be your outcome, in the end? It will be your intents and desires and the road you walk that harm you and send you to ruin—your belief in God is doomed to fail. What does it mean for one’s belief in God to fail? (That they’ll have no outcome.) To see it now, it’ll be a consequence of your not having gained the truth. You’ll have believed in God for years, but without a focus on gaining the truth, and so the day will come when, for one reason or another, you’ll be exposed and cast out. And then, it will be too late for regrets. You say, “This is a reasonable way for me to live! I feel confident living this way, and I’m quite full and rich at heart.” Will that help, then? Whether how you walk the road of belief in God, how you live, and what things they are you live by are right depends on the results. That is, it depends on whether you ultimately gain the truth, and whether you have true testimony, and whether your life disposition is changed, and whether you’ve lived a life of value. If you’ve achieved all these results, then you’ll meet with God’s approval and the commendation of God’s chosen people, which proves that you’re on the right road. If you haven’t achieved these positive results, and have neither any true experiential testimony nor any true change in your life disposition, that proves that you’re not on the right road. Is this easy to understand, put like that? In brief, however you may live, however comfortably off you may be in life and whatever approval you may win from others, that isn’t the crux of the matter. You say, “There’s so much to enjoy in how I live and practice. I have a great sense of wellbeing, of being honored, and there’s corroboration.” Aren’t you fooling yourself? Say someone asks you, “Have you practiced being an honest person? What’s been challenging for you in that practice? What circumstances make it difficult for you to be an honest person? Talk a bit about that, if you have experience of it. Do you have testimony of loving God? Do you have experience of loving God and submitting to Him? Do you have experience of your disposition having changed after you’ve accepted judgment, chastisement, dealing, and pruning? What special things have you experienced along your path of growth in life that have kept your life constantly turning, and constantly growing nearer to the goal God has set for you, which He requires you to meet?” If you have no clear answers to these things, if you don’t know, it proves that you’re not on the right road. That is clear as day.
The words of fellowship above are just simple statements. There are some minor points, which don’t call for detailed elaboration. People doing things with their perseverance, for instance, or by the goodness of their heart, or by their willingness to suffer, or with their notions and imaginings, and so on—none of these is living by the truth. They’re all instances of people living by their wishful thinking, their corrupt dispositions, their human goodness, and the philosophies of Satan. All these things come from man’s brain, and to take it further, from Satan. Living by these things can’t possibly satisfy God. He doesn’t want them, no matter how good they are, because that’s not the practice of the truth. To live by these things is to live by Satan’s philosophies and corrupt dispositions. That’s an insult to God. It’s not true testimony. If you were to say, “I know these actions are just kind-heartedness, which doesn’t accord with the truth principles; that’s not how I should practice,” with a true understanding of that at heart, a feeling that it’s wrong to act like that, then you’d have knowledge. Your perspective would be altered. That’s the result God wants. You must know where you’ve deviated. Alter your perspective and let go of your notions, and come to understand the truth and God’s will. Once you have, practice by increments in that direction, and get on the correct path. That’s your only hope of achieving the goal God has given you. If you don’t practice and enter along the path required by God, but say, “This is what I’m doing. It’s not as if I’m idle: I’ve been performing my duty. I’m certain that I am a created being, and I’ve acknowledged my Creator,” will that be helpful? No, it won’t. You are resisting God, intransigent! Now is the time to choose a road in life. What’s crucial is what you have to do to follow the road that God requires you to walk. First, don’t operate off human notions and imaginings; second, don’t operate off human aspiration; third, don’t operate off human preferences; and fourth, don’t operate off human emotionality. More importantly, don’t operate off of a corrupt disposition. You must lose no time in ridding yourself of these things. Whatever capital you have, to God, it’s worthless stuff, cheap junk, all of it, that comes nowhere close to reality. You must toss those things away, one by one, and let go of them all, and you’ll understand more and more that only that which is gained by relying on practicing the truth has value and accords with the standards of God’s requirements for man. All that comes from man is worthless—useless in the end, no matter how much of it you learn. It’s all cheap junk, trash; only the truth that God bestows on man is treasure and the life. It has eternal value. You’re always upholding your own things, thinking, “It took me years of strenuous study to acquire my skills. My parents made such efforts on my behalf, and spent so much money, and paid such a price, in blood, sweat, and tears—how can I dissect and condemn that, just like that? This is a huge deal, a matter of life and death! What will I live by without those things?” How foolish you are. Live by those things, and you’re bound for hell. You must live by God’s words. Change up your way of living; let God’s words in, and clean out those old things of yours. You must dissect and know them, open up and show them for all to see, so that the group can gain discernment. Without realizing it, you’ll come to detest those things, to detest the things you once loved, to detest the things you once depended on to survive, to detest the things you once believed to be your life and to be the things you treasured most. That’s the way to isolate and cut those things off from yourself completely, the way to true understanding of the truth, and onto the road of practicing the truth. Of course, this is a complicated and difficult process, and a painful one, as well. But it’s a process that man must undergo. It won’t do not to. Experiencing God’s work is like being treated for an illness: If you have a tumor, the only way to handle it is on the operating table. If you don’t get on that table and submit to the knife that dissects the tumor and takes it away, your disease will go uncured, and you won’t get better.
Lots of people take honest people to be fools, thinking, “They follow whatever God says. He says to be an honest person, and they really do it; they speak the truth, without a single false word. They’re fools, aren’t they? You can be an honest person, but only insofar as it doesn’t incur you any losses or damages. You can’t just say everything! To tip your whole hand—that’s foolishness, isn’t it?” They think that being an honest person is foolishness. Is it? Such a person is the smartest of all, because they believe, “All God’s words are the truth, and to be an honest person is the truth, so to gain God’s approval, people should be honest. So, whatever God says, I do; as far as He’d have me go, that’s how far I’ll go. God requires me to submit, so I submit, and I’ll keep on submitting forever. I don’t care if someone says I’m foolish—God’s approval is enough for me.” Is such a person not the smartest of all? They’ve accurately seen what’s important and what’s not. There are some people with hidden agendas, who think, “To submit in all things would be foolish, wouldn’t it? To do that is to lack autonomy, isn’t it? Does someone have dignity if they don’t even have themselves? Surely, we get a pass to maintain a bit of dignity for ourselves, no? We can’t submit completely, can we?” And so, they practice submission in a drastically diminished way. Can that rise to the standards of practicing the truth? No—it falls way short of that! If you don’t practice the truth according to the principles, always opting instead for ways of compromise that veer neither toward the truth nor toward Satan, but keep to the middle road, are you then practicing the truth? This is Satan’s philosophy, the thing God loathes most. God detests this attitude of man’s toward the truth; He detests that people are always doubtful about the truth and His words, that they’re always mistrustful with His words, or are always adopting a discriminatory, contemptuous, impertinent attitude. As soon as man takes this attitude toward God, doubting Him, being mistrustful, questioning, analytic, and misunderstanding Him, always studying Him and trying to weigh Him with your mind, God will then be hidden from you. And can you still gain the truth, once God is hidden from you? “I can!” you say. “I read God’s words every day, I’m at gatherings all the time, and I listen to sermons every week, and mull them over and take notes every day afterward. I sing hymns and pray, too. I think the Holy Spirit is at work in me.” Will that work? Those ways of believing in God are fine, but they’re not what’s critical; what’s critical is that you are the right kind of person, and that your heart is right—only then will God not hide His face from you. With God not hiding His face from you, but enlightening and guiding you at all times, and having you understand His will and the truth in all things, such that you ultimately gain the truth, you will be greatly blessed. But if your heart’s not right, and you’re always doubting God, being defensive against Him, putting Him to the test, and misunderstanding Him with your petty cleverness and opinions, or with your learning and satanic philosophies, then you’re in trouble. Some people go beyond defensiveness, testing, doubting, and misunderstanding of God, to resistance against Him and rivalry with Him. They’ve become Satan; they’re in worse trouble. You won’t understand the truth just by understanding the literal meaning of its words and simple doctrine. Understanding the truth is no simple matter. Most people labor under this misapprehension, and they don’t come around even after it’s been emphasized to them again and again. They think, “Every day, I read God’s words and listen to sermons and fellowship, and I perform my duty year after year. I’m like a seed in a field—even if you don’t water or fertilize it, it’ll slowly grow on its own with the rain, and bear fruit in the autumn.” That’s not how it works. It’s the cooperative component of a person, their manner of cooperating, their heart, and their attitude toward the truth and God that are critical. These are what’s vitally important. Do these things not also pertain to what a person lives by? (They do.) If you’re always living by human preferences and satanic philosophies, always guarding yourself against God, and not taking His words as the truth, then God won’t bother with you anymore. And what will you be able to gain then, when God doesn’t bother with you? If the Lord of Creation ignores you, then you’re no longer a being of His creation. If He regards you as the devil Satan, will you still be able to come before God then? Will you still be an object of His salvation? Will you still have a hope of being saved? That would be impossible. Therefore, it doesn’t matter what your home life is like, or what sort of caliber you have, or how great your gifts are, nor does it matter what work you do in the church, what duty you perform, or what your role is. It doesn’t matter what sort of transgressions you’ve made in the past, or what sort of state you’re in currently, or the degree to which you’ve grown in life, or how great you are of stature. None of this is most important. What’s most important is how your relationship with God is, whether you’re constantly doubting and misunderstanding Him or always making studies of Him, whether your heart is set right. These things are critical. How can people know of these critical things? To do that, they must always examine themselves, not going around in confusion as unbelievers do, watching videos, playing, and fooling around when there’s nothing to do. How will someone perform a duty if their heart can’t come before God? If you don’t make the effort to come before God, He won’t make you, because God doesn’t force people to do things. God expresses the truth so that people may understand and accept it. If people don’t come back before God, how will they accept the truth? If people are always passive, if they don’t look for God or need Him in their hearts, then how will the Holy Spirit work in them? So, given that you believe in God, isn’t it critical that you should proactively seek Him and cooperate with Him? That’s your job! If believing in God is just a sideline to you, an extracurricular hobby, you’re in trouble! There are people who remain believers now and have listened to plenty of sermons, yet still think that to believe in God is to believe in religion, that it’s a hobby for their spare time. How frivolously they regard faith in God! Even now, at this stage, they still hold this viewpoint. In their belief in God, they haven’t just failed to establish a normal relationship with Him—they have no relationship with Him at all. If God doesn’t acknowledge you as His follower, do you still have a hope of being saved? No, you don’t. That’s why it’s important to establish a normal relationship with God! On what foundation, then, is that normal relationship established? That of people’s cooperation. So, what sort of stance or point of view must people adopt? What should their state be? What sort of will must they have? How do you treat the truth at heart? With doubt? With study? With distrust? With rejection? Are you right at heart if you have these things? (No.) If you mean to be right at heart, what sort of attitude must you have? You must have a heart of submission. Whatever God says, whatever He requires, you must be intent on submitting to it, without doubts and without justifications. That’s the right attitude. You must believe, accept, and submit, without any concessions. Is not making concessions immediately achievable? No—but you must try to enter it. Imagine if God were to say to you, “You’re sick,” and you said, “No, I’m not.” That wouldn’t be a problem; maybe you don’t believe it. But then, God says, “You’re quite ill. Take some medicine,” and you say, “I’m not sick, but I might as well take some medicine, as You say. It won’t hurt, either way, and if I am sick, it might be for the best. I’ll take some.” You take it, and you feel physically different from how you did; you keep taking it, in its assigned dosage, and after a while, you feel yourself getting better and better, physically. Then, you believe that the sickness God spoke of was indeed real. What result does this sort of practice yield? You’re cured of your sickness, because you believed and submitted to God’s words. Though the first time, you didn’t take as much medicine as God told you to, but instead made a bit of a concession for yourself, and had a bit of distrust, and were a bit grudging and reluctant, you wound up taking medicine as God told you to in the end, and felt its benefits afterward. So, you went on taking it, and the more you took, the greater your faith grew, and you came increasingly to feel that God’s words were right and you were wrong, and that you shouldn’t doubt His words. And in the end, when you’d taken all the medicine that God required you to take, your health was restored. At that point, would your faith in God not grow ever more genuine? You’d know that God’s words are right, that you should submit to Him without concession and practice His words without concession. What’s the point of this example? Your sickness in it is meant to be man’s corrupt disposition, and taking medicine represents accepting God’s judgment and chastisement. Its main message is that if people can accept God’s judgment and chastisement, their corruption may be cleansed, and they can attain salvation. This is what’s achieved by experiencing God’s work. Are you afraid of failing? You may say, “I have to aim for perfection. God said that I have to submit absolutely, without concession. So, I have to achieve absolute submission to His words the first time I practice them. If I can’t achieve it this time, I’ll wait for the next opportunity, and I simply won’t practice submission this time.” Is that a good way to be? (No.) From God’s vantage, there’s a process to people’s practice of the truth. He gives people chances. When someone has a corrupt state, God will expose it and say, “You’ve made concessions, you’re unsubmissive, you’re rebellious.” So, what is God’s goal in exposing it? It’s meant to have you make ever-fewer concessions, and practice submission more and more, and to make your apprehension ever purer and closer to the truth, so that you can truly submit to God. Did God punish you while He was exposing you? When He deals with and prunes you and puts you through trials, He’s just disciplining and chastening you. You’re a bit exposed, a bit reproached, and made to feel a bit of pain—but did God take your life from you? (No.) He didn’t take your life, and He didn’t hand you over to Satan. In that, His will may be seen. And what is His will? He would save you. Sometimes, after a bit of hardship, people grow reluctant and think, “God doesn’t like me. There’s no hope for me.” You’re in trouble if you’re always misunderstanding God like that. It’s such a delay of your growth in life. So, whatever the time may be, whether you’re weak or strong, whether your state is good or poor, whatever the extent of your growth in life may be—there’s no need to concern yourself with those things now. Concern yourself only with practicing the words that God has said, even if you’re only attempting to practice them. That’s fine, too. Try hard to cooperate, and do what you’re capable of; enter the state spoken of in God’s words; see what it feels like for you to practice the truths God has expressed, and whether you have benefited from it, and whether you have life entry. You must learn to strive toward the truth. People don’t understand the process of growing in life. They’re always hoping to build Rome in a day, thinking, “If I can’t achieve complete submission, I just won’t submit. I’ll only submit when I can do it completely. I won’t be shameless about it. That shows how much grit I have, how much character and dignity!” What sort of “grit” is that? It’s rebelliousness and intransigence!
Think well on what we’ve just fellowshiped. We’ve finished our fellowship on four sub-headers of the question, “What have people lived by in all their years of belief in God?” They rely on their gifts to live; on their knowledge; on their naked, childlike hearts; and on Satan’s philosophies. Do you understand what you’ve heard about these four states? Can you see what’s there of them in you? Are you capable of comprehending this? Have we fellowshiped about these things before? It may be that you have a handle on some states and know a bit about them, but not in a way that pertains to practicing the truth or to the topic of our fellowship today. Today, we have fellowshiped about these states from the topic and angle of “What have people lived by in all their years of belief in God?” This comes a bit nearer to practicing the truth and living by it. I have another question. Make note of it. It is: What are the things you love most? What is God’s attitude toward those things you love most? We’ll take our time fellowshiping about this question in the future. Today, we’ve mainly been exposing several negative states that come of what things people live by; we didn’t fellowship about how to practice the truth in specific reference to those negative states. Despite not having fellowshiped about that, do you know where the errors are in these states? Where do the problems stem from? What dispositions they’re part of? How the truth should be practiced? When such things crop up, when you have such states and such methods, do you know how you should use the truth to supplant them? Which truths you should practice? The important, preliminary thing you should do now is to begin by getting a grasp on these states and analyzing yourself. When you live in these states, you should at least know in your heart that they’re wrong. Reversing them is the step after knowing they’re wrong. If you don’t know whether they’re right or wrong, nor where their errors are, how can you turn them around? So, the very first step is for you to be able to discern whether these states are right or wrong. Only after that can you know how the next step should be practiced. We’ve only been fellowshiping about the issue of a few of the various corrupt states in man today, and there’s been so much to say. So, as for the specifics of how, exactly, you may come to live by the truth, give the issue some more consideration on your own. You should be able to produce results.
September 5, 2017