Practice (1)

In the past, there were a lot of deviations and even absurdities in the ways people experienced. They simply did not understand the standards of God’s requirements, so there were many areas in which people’s experiences went awry. What God requires of man is for them to be able to live out normal humanity. For example, it is all right for people to follow modern conventions with regard to food and clothing, to wear a suit and a tie, to learn a bit about modern art, and in their spare time they can enjoy arts, culture and entertainment. They can take some memorable photos, they can read and gain some useful knowledge, and have a relatively good living environment. These are all things that befit a life of normal humanity, and yet people see them as things detested by God and they hold themselves back from doing them. Their practice consists of merely following a few rules, which leads to a life that is as dull as ditchwater and entirely devoid of meaning. In fact, God has never demanded that people do things in this way. People all wish to curtail their own dispositions, praying unceasingly within their spirits to be closer to God, their minds constantly mulling over what God intends, their eyes constantly observing this or that, in great fear that their connection to God will somehow be severed. These are all conclusions that people have come to on their own; they are rules set by people for themselves. If you do not know your own nature and essence and you do not understand what level your own practice can reach, then you will have no way to be certain exactly what standards God requires of man, and neither will you have an accurate path of practice. Since you cannot understand what it is exactly that God requires of man, your mind is always churning, you rack your brains analyzing God’s intentions and fumble about searching for some way to be moved and enlightened by the Holy Spirit. As a result, you develop some ways of practice that you believe to be suitable. You simply have no idea what it is exactly that God requires of man; you just blithely carry out your own set of practices, caring little about the outcome and even less about whether there are deviations or errors in your practice. In this way, your practice naturally lacks accuracy and is unprincipled. What it particularly lacks are normal human reason and conscience, as well as God’s commendation and the corroboration of the Holy Spirit. It becomes entirely too easy to simply take your own road. This kind of practice is just following rules or intentionally taking up more of a burden in order to restrict yourself and control yourself. Yet you think that you have your practice down to a tee, not knowing that the majority of your practice consists of unnecessary processes or observances. There are many who practice like this for years with basically no change in their dispositions, no new understanding, and no new entry. They unknowingly recommit the same old mistakes and give full play to their brutish natures, even to the point where there are many times when they commit unreasonable, inhumane acts, and behave in ways that leave people scratching their heads and completely baffled. Could such people be said to have experienced dispositional transformation?

Now, belief in God has entered into the Age of God’s Word. Relatively speaking, people do not pray as much as they once did; God’s words have explicitly communicated all aspects of the truth and ways of practice, so there is no longer any need for people to seek and grope about. In the life of the Age of Kingdom, God’s words lead people onward, and it is a life in which everything is made clear for them to see—for God has laid everything out explicitly, and man is no longer left to feel their way through life. Regarding marriage, worldly affairs, life, food, clothing and shelter, interpersonal relationships, how one can serve in a way that meets God’s will, how one should forsake the flesh, and so forth, which of these things has God not explained to you? Do you still need to go praying and seeking? There really is no need! If you still do these things, you are just acting superfluously. It is ignorant and foolish, and wholly unnecessary! Only those who are too lacking in caliber and are unable to understand God’s words incessantly say foolish prayers. The key to practicing the truth is whether or not you possess resolve. Some people insist on following their fleshly preferences in their actions even when they know it is not in line with the truth. This then hinders their own progress in life, and even after praying and seeking they still want to act in obeisance to the flesh. By doing this, are they not knowingly committing sins? Like those who covet the pleasures of the flesh and long for money, and who then pray to God, saying: “God! Will You allow me to covet the pleasures of the flesh and to covet wealth? Is it Your will for me to earn money in this way?” Is this a suitable way to pray? People who do this know perfectly well that God takes no delight in these things, and that they should relinquish them, but the things they hold in their hearts have already been determined, and when they pray and seek they are trying to compel God to allow them to behave in this way. In their hearts, they may even demand that God say something to corroborate this—this is what is called rebelliousness. There are also those who bring brothers and sisters of the church over to their side and set up their own independent kingdoms. You know very well that these actions oppose God, but once you are determined to do something like this you still go seeking and praying to God, calm and undaunted. How shameless and brazen you are! As for leaving behind worldly things, this has been spoken of long ago. There are some who clearly know that God hates worldly things, yet still pray, saying: “Oh God! I understand that You would not have me go along with worldly things, but I do this so that shame may not be brought upon Your name; I do it so that worldly people can see Your glory in me.” What kind of prayer is this? Can you tell? It is a prayer intended to coerce and put pressure on God. Do you not feel ashamed of praying in this way? People who pray in this way intentionally oppose God, and this kind of prayer is entirely a matter of questionable motives; it is truly an expression of a satanic disposition. God’s words are crystal-clear, particularly those uttered regarding His will, His disposition, and how He treats different kinds of people. If you do not understand the truth, then you should read God’s words more—the results of doing this are much better than blindly praying and seeking. There are many instances in which seeking and praying should be replaced with reading God’s words more and fellowshiping on the truth. In your regular prayers, you should reflect on and try to know yourself more from within God’s words. This is more beneficial for your progress in life. If, now, you still seek by raising your eyes to heaven, does that not show that you are still believing in a vague God? Before, you saw results from your seeking and praying, and the Holy Spirit moved your spirit somewhat because that was the time of the Age of Grace. You could not see God, so you had no choice but to feel your way forward and seek in that way. Now God has come among man, the Word has appeared in the flesh, and you have seen God; thus the Holy Spirit no longer works as He did before. The age has changed and so has the way in which the Holy Spirit works. Though people may not pray as much as they once did, because God is on earth, man now has an opportunity to love God. Mankind has entered the age of loving God and can normally draw closer to God within themselves: “Oh God! You are indeed so good, and I wish to love You!” Just a few clear and simple words give voice to the love for God within people’s hearts; this prayer is spoken only for the sake of deepening the love between man and God. Sometimes you may see yourself manifesting some rebelliousness, and say: “Oh God! Why am I so corrupt?” You feel a strong urge to hit yourself a few times, and tears well up in your eyes. At such times, you feel regret and distress in your heart, but you have no way to express these feelings. This is the current work of the Holy Spirit, but only those who pursue life can attain it. You feel that God has great love for you and you have a special kind of feeling. Although you do not have the words to pray clearly, you always feel that God’s love is as deep as the ocean. There are no suitable words to express this state of being, and this is a state that often arises within the spirit. This sort of prayer and fellowship, which aims to draw one closer to God in one’s heart, is normal.

Although the time when people had to fumble about and seek is now past, that does not mean they do not need to pray and seek anymore, nor is it the case that people need not wait for God’s will to reveal itself before going on with the work; these are just the misconceptions of man. God has come amongst man to live with them, to be their light, their life, and their way: This is a fact. Of course, in God’s coming to earth, He surely brings mankind a practical way and life that suits their stature for them to enjoy—He has not come to break all the ways of man’s practice. Man no longer lives by groping and seeking because these have been replaced by God’s coming to earth to work and to speak His word. He has come to free man from the life of darkness and obscurity that they have been leading and enable them to have a life filled with light. The current work is to point things out clearly, to speak clearly, inform directly, and to define things explicitly, so that people can put these things into practice, just as Jehovah God led the people of Israel, telling them how to offer sacrifices and how to build the temple. Therefore, you no longer need to live a life of earnest seeking like you did after the Lord Jesus left. Should you have to feel your way through the work of spreading the gospel in the future? Should you have to fumble about trying to find a proper way to live? Must you grope about to discern how you should perform your own duties? Is it necessary for you to prostrate yourselves on the ground, seeking, in order to know how you should bear witness? Is it necessary for you to fast and pray to know how you should dress or live? Is it necessary for you to pray unceasingly to God in heaven to know how you should accept being conquered by God? Is it necessary for you to pray constantly, day and night, to know how you should obey God? There are many among you who say that you are unable to practice because you do not understand. People are simply not paying attention to God’s work in the present day! Many words I have said long ago, but you never paid the least attention to reading them, so it is no wonder that you do not know how to practice. Of course, in today’s age the Holy Spirit still moves people to allow them to feel enjoyment, and He lives together with man. This is the source of those[a] special, pleasurable feelings that often occur in your life. Every once in a while, a day comes when you feel that God is so lovely and you cannot help but pray to Him: “Oh God! Your love is so beautiful and Your image is so great. I wish to love You more deeply. I wish to devote all of myself to expend the entirety of my life. I will dedicate everything to You, as long as it is for You, as long as in doing this I am able to love You….” This is a feeling of pleasure given to you by the Holy Spirit. It is not enlightenment, nor is it illumination; it is the experience of being moved. Experiences similar to this will happen now and then: Sometimes when you are on your way to work, you will pray and draw close to God, and you will be moved to the point where tears will wet your face and you will lose all self-control, and you will be anxious to find a suitable place where you can express all of the fervor inside your heart…. There will be times when you are in some public place, and you will feel that you enjoy so much of God’s love, that your lot is anything but ordinary, and even more that you are living your life with more meaning than anyone else. You will know deeply that God has exalted you and that this is God’s great love for you. In the deepest recesses of your heart you will feel that there is a kind of love in God that is inexpressible and unfathomable for man, as if you know it but have no way to describe it, always giving you pause for thought but leaving you unable to express it completely. At times like this, you will even forget where you are, and you will call out: “Oh God! You are so unfathomable and so beloved!” This will leave people puzzled, but all such things occur quite frequently. You have experienced this sort of thing so many times. This is the life that the Holy Spirit has given to you today and the life that you should now be living. It is not to stop you from living life, but rather to change the way your life is lived. It is a feeling that cannot be described or expressed. It is also the true feeling of man and, even more so, it is the work of the Holy Spirit. You may understand it in your heart, but you have no way to express it clearly to anyone at all. This is not because you are slow of speech or that you stutter, but because it is a kind of feeling that cannot be described in words. You are allowed to enjoy these things today, and this is the life you should be living. Of course, the other aspects of your life are not empty; it is just that this experience of being moved becomes a sort of joy in your life that makes you always willing to enjoy such experiences from the Holy Spirit. But you should know that being moved in this way does not happen so that you may transcend the flesh and go to the third heaven or travel all over the world. Rather, it is so that you may feel and taste the love of God that you enjoy today, experience the significance of God’s work today, and reacquaint yourself with God’s care and protection. All of these things are so that you may come to have a greater knowledge of the work God does today—this is God’s goal in doing this work.

Seeking and groping about was the mode of life prior to God’s incarnation. At that time people could not see God and so had no choice but to seek and grope about. Today you have seen God and He tells you directly how you should practice; this is why you no longer need to grope about or seek. The path He leads man along is the way of truth, and the things He tells to man and that man receives are the life and the truth. You have the way, the life and the truth, so what need is there to go seeking everywhere? The Holy Spirit will not do two stages of work simultaneously. If, when I have finished speaking My word, people do not eat and drink God’s words carefully and pursue the truth properly, still acting as they did in the Age of Grace, groping about as if they were blind, constantly praying and seeking, would that not mean that this stage of My work—the work of words—is being done in vain? Though I may have finished speaking My word, people still do not completely understand, and this is because they are lacking in caliber. This problem can be resolved by living the church life and through fellowshiping with each other. Before, in the Age of Grace, though God was incarnated, He did not do the work of words, which is why the Holy Spirit worked that way at the time in order to maintain the work. At that time it was primarily the Holy Spirit that did the work, but now it is the incarnate God Himself that is doing it, having taken the place of the work of the Holy Spirit. Before, as long as people prayed frequently, they experienced peace and joy; there was reproach as well as discipline. This was all the work of the Holy Spirit. Now these states are few and far between. The Holy Spirit can only do one kind of work in any one age. If He did two kinds of work simultaneously, with the flesh doing one kind and the Holy Spirit doing another within people, and if what the flesh said did not count and only what the Spirit did counted, then Christ would not have any truth, way, or life to speak of. This would be a self-contradiction. Could the Holy Spirit work like this? God is almighty and all-wise, holy and righteous, and He absolutely does not make any mistakes.

There were too many deviations and errors in people’s past experiences. There were some things that people of normal humanity were meant to have or do, or there were mistakes that were difficult to avoid in human life, and when these things were handled poorly, people put the responsibility for it onto God. There was a sister who had guests over to her home. Her steamed buns were not steamed right, so she thought: “This is probably God’s discipline. God is dealing with my vain heart again; my vanity really is too strong.” Actually, as far as man’s normal way of thinking is concerned, when guests come over, you get excited and rush about, disorganized in everything you are doing, and so it is just a matter of course that either the rice gets burnt or the dishes end up too salty. This comes about from being too worked up, but people end up putting it down to “God’s discipline.” In fact, these are all just mistakes made in human life. Would you not also frequently encounter this kind of thing if you did not believe in God? The problems that occur are often the result of mistakes made by people—it is just not the case that such mistakes are the doing of the Holy Spirit. Such mistakes have nothing to do with God. Like when you bite your tongue while eating—could that be God’s discipline? God’s discipline has principles and is usually seen when you knowingly commit offense. Only when you do things involving God’s name or concerning His testimony or work will He discipline you. People understand enough of the truth now to have inner awareness of the things they do. For example: Could you possibly feel nothing if you embezzled the church’s money or you spent it recklessly? You would feel something when doing that. It is not possible to only feel something once the deed is done. You are clear in your heart on the things you do that go against your conscience. Because people have their own likes and preferences, they simply indulge themselves even though they clearly know how to put the truth into practice. As such, after they do something, they feel no apparent reproach or undergo any obvious discipline. This is because they have knowingly committed an offense, so God does not discipline them; once the time of righteous judgment comes, God’s retribution will be brought upon each according to their actions. There are currently some people in the church who embezzle money, some who do not keep clear boundaries between men and women, and some who judge, defy and try to demolish God’s work in secret. Why is all yet well with them? When doing such things, they possess awareness and feel reproach in their hearts and because of this they sometimes suffer chastisement and refinement, but they are just too shameless! Just like when people engage in promiscuity—they are aware of what they are doing at the time, but their lust is too great and they cannot control themselves. Even if the Holy Spirit disciplines them, it will be to no avail, so the Holy Spirit will not administer discipline. If the Holy Spirit does not discipline them then, if they feel no reproach and nothing happens to their flesh, what reproach could there be afterward? The deed is done—what discipline could there be? It only proves that they are too shameless and lacking in humanity, and that they are deserving of curses and punishment! The Holy Spirit does not work needlessly. If you know the truth very well but do not put it into practice, if you are capable of committing any evil, then all you can await is the coming of that day when you will be punished along with the evil one. This is the best end for you! Now I have repeatedly preached about conscience, which is the minimum criterion. If people lack conscience, then they have lost the discipline of the Holy Spirit; they can do whatever they wish and God pays them no mind. Those who truly have conscience and reason will be aware of it when they do something wrong. They will feel uneasy once they feel a bit of reproach in their conscience; they will undergo an inner battle and ultimately forsake the flesh. They will not reach the point where they do something that opposes God too gravely. Regardless of whether the Holy Spirit disciplines and chastises them, people will all have some feeling when they do something wrong. Therefore, people now understand all kinds of truths and if they do not practice them then that is a human issue. I do not react to people like this at all, nor do I hold onto any hope for them. You can do as you please!

When some people get together, they place God’s word to one side and are always talking about what this person or that person is like. Of course it is good to be a little discerning, so that no matter where you go you will not be easily deceived, nor easily duped or fooled—this is also an aspect that people should possess. But you must not focus solely on this aspect. This pertains to the negative side of things, and you cannot always keep your eyes fixed on other people. You now have too little knowledge of how the Holy Spirit works, your belief in God is too superficial, and you possess too few positive things. The one you believe in is God, and the one you need to understand is God, not Satan. If you only recognize how Satan works and all the ways in which evil spirits work, but have no knowledge of God whatsoever, what would be the point in that? Is it not God you believe in today? Why does your knowledge not include these positive things? You simply do not pay attention to the positive aspect of entry, nor do you have a grasp on it, so what on earth is it you want to gain in your faith? Do you not know how you should be pursuing? You know a lot about the negative aspects, but you draw a blank on the positive aspect of entry, so how can your stature ever grow? What future prospects for development will a person like you have who talks of nothing but the war with Satan? Would your entry not be too outdated? What would you be able to gain from the current work by doing this? What is now key is for you to understand what God wants to do now, how man should cooperate, how they should love God, how they should understand the work of the Holy Spirit, how they should enter into all the words that God says today, how they should eat and drink, experience, and understand them, how they should meet God’s will, be completely conquered by God and submit before God…. These are the things which you should focus on and which should be entered into now. Do you understand? What use is it to focus solely on discernment of other people? You can discern Satan here, discern evil spirits there—you can have a complete understanding of evil spirits, but if you are unable to say anything about the work of God, can such discernment act as a substitute for understanding God? I have previously fellowshiped about the expressions of the work of evil spirits, but this has not been the bulk of it. Of course people should have some discernment and this is an aspect that those who serve God should possess in order to avoid doing foolish things and interrupting God’s work. However, the most important thing remains having knowledge of God’s work and understanding God’s will. What knowledge of this stage of God’s work is there within you? Can you talk about what it is that God does, what God’s will is, what your own shortcomings are and what things you should equip yourself with? Can you say what your newest entry is? You should be able to reap fruit and achieve understanding in the new entry. Do not feign confusion; you must make more effort in the new entry to deepen your own experience and knowledge, and even more so you must gain a grasp of the current newest entries and the most correct way of experiencing. What is more, through the new work and new entries, you should possess discernment with regard to your previous outdated and deviated practices, and seek how to cast them off in order to enter into new experiences. These are things that you now urgently need to understand and enter into. You must understand the differences and the relationship between the old and new entries. If you do not have a grasp on these things, then you will have no way to progress, as you will be unable to keep pace with the work of the Holy Spirit. You must be able to take the normal eating and drinking of God’s word and normal fellowship and use them to change your previous outdated ways of practice and your old traditional notions so that you may enter a new practice, and enter into God’s new work. These are things you ought to achieve. I am not just asking you now to figure out precisely how you measure up; this is not the goal. Rather I am asking you to take your practice of the truth and your understanding of entry into life seriously. Your ability to know yourself is not a representation of your true stature. If you can experience God’s work, have experience and understanding of the truths in God’s words, and are able to discern your previous personal notions and errors, then this is your true stature and is something that every one of you should achieve.

There are many situations in which you simply do not know how to practice, and you know even less of how the Holy Spirit works. Sometimes you do something that is clearly disobedient to the Holy Spirit. Through your eating and drinking of God’s words, you already have a grasp of the principle at hand in the matter, so you have an inner feeling of reproach and disquiet; of course this is a feeling that one will feel only under the premise of knowing some truth. If people do not cooperate or practice in accordance with God’s word of today, then they are obstructing the Holy Spirit’s work and they will surely feel disquiet within. Say you understand the principle of a certain aspect but you do not practice accordingly, you would therefore suffer a feeling of reproach within. If you do not understand the principle and do not know this aspect of the truth at all, then you will not necessarily feel a sense of reproach on this matter. The Holy Spirit’s reproach is always in context. You think that because you have not prayed and have not cooperated with the Holy Spirit’s work that you have delayed the work. In actual fact, it cannot be delayed. The Holy Spirit will move someone else; the Holy Spirit’s work is constrained by no one. You feel you have let God down, and this is a feeling you should have in your conscience. Whether you can gain the truth or not is your own business and is unrelated to God. Sometimes it is your own conscience that feels accused, but this is not the enlightenment or illumination of the Holy Spirit, nor is it the reproach of the Holy Spirit. Instead it is a feeling within the human conscience. If you act wantonly in matters that involve the name of God, the testimony of God or the work of God, then God will not let you off. But there is a limit—God will not bother with you in common, small matters. He will ignore you. If you violate principles, and you disrupt and disturb God’s work, He will unleash His wrath upon you and absolutely will not let you off. Some of the mistakes you make are unavoidable in the course of human life. For example, you do not steam your buns the right way and say it is God disciplining you—this is an utterly unreasonable thing to say. Before you came to believe in God, did this kind of thing not often happen? You feel that it seems to be the Holy Spirit’s discipline, but in fact this is not the case (some exceptional circumstances aside), because this work does not come entirely from the Holy Spirit, but rather from human feelings. However, it is normal for people of faith to think along these lines. You could not have thought like this when you did not believe in God. Once you came to believe in God, you began to spend more time contemplating these things and so you naturally came to think along these lines. This arises from normal people’s thinking and has to do with their mentality. But let Me tell you, such thinking is not within the scope of the work of the Holy Spirit. This is an example of the Holy Spirit giving people a normal reaction through their thoughts; but you must understand that this reaction is not the work of the Holy Spirit. Having this kind of “knowledge” does not prove that you have the work of the Holy Spirit. Your knowledge does not arise from the Holy Spirit’s enlightenment, much less is it the work of the Holy Spirit. It is merely the product of normal human thought and it has absolutely no link to the enlightenment or illumination of the Holy Spirit—these are categorically distinct phenomena. Such normal human thought does not derive entirely from the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit works to enlighten people, He generally gives them knowledge of God’s work, and of their true entry and true state. He also allows them to understand God’s urgent intentions and His requirements for man today, so that they have the resolve to sacrifice everything to satisfy God, love God even if they meet with persecution and adversity, and stand witness for God even if it means shedding their blood or giving their life, and do so without regret. If you have this kind of resolve, it means you have the stirrings and work of the Holy Spirit—but know that you are not possessed of such stirrings at every passing moment. Sometimes at meetings when you pray and eat and drink God’s words, you can feel extremely moved and inspired. It feels so new and fresh when others share some fellowship on their experience and understanding of God’s words, and your heart is perfectly clear and bright. This is all the work of the Holy Spirit. If you are a leader and the Holy Spirit gives you exceptional enlightenment and illumination when you go down to the church to work, gives you insight into the problems that exist within the church, allows you to know how to share fellowship on the truth to resolve them, makes you incredibly earnest, responsible and serious in your work, all of this is the work of the Holy Spirit.

Footnotes:

a. The original text reads “These are some.”

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