Only by Practicing the Truth and Obeying God Can One Achieve a Change in Disposition
The great majority of you have believed in God for at least ten years, more or less, so what stage in your life experience have you now arrived at? At what stage is your stature presently situated? (When I see myself constantly revealing a corrupt disposition, I make up my mind that I must not be one of God’s people but only a service-doer; I then lose heart and become worried that I am unfit to receive salvation.) To grow fearful upon determining that one is a service-doer: this is a sign that your stature is childish and immature. To be childish of stature means to lack judgment, to lack the normal ability to weigh and consider problems, to lack an adult’s thought processes, and always to be at the mercy of one’s future prospects and fate. Would anyone else like to say a few words? (When, in fulfilling my duty, I deviate from my course, I always get worried, wondering whether God will lay me bare and cast me out.) Why are you afraid of being cast out? This thing that you take to be “casting out”: what, in the final analysis, does it mean? (To come to no good end.) When you take “casting out” to mean not being allowed to fulfill your duty, or losing any chance you may have of salvation, is this—the thing that you have determined it to be—the same thing as the way in which God sees you and how He treats you? Those who are childish of stature will as a matter of course approach everything on the basis of human notions and imaginings, rather than according to the word of God or the truth. But those who have grown up and matured in life will approach everything in accordance with the word of God and the truth; examining an issue in this way is much more accurate. It is common, when fulfilling one’s duty, to fall into deviations and difficulties; if one were to be cast out at the first error, no one would be able to fulfill their duty properly. You should understand that the whole thrust of fulfilling one’s duty is so that one’s corrupt disposition may be purified through the experience of God’s judgment, so that one may in the act of fulfilling one’s duty come to understand the truth and enter into the reality, and so that one may in the act of fulfilling one’s duty escape the toils of Satan’s influence and receive salvation. This is why God demands of people that, in the act of fulfilling their duty, they learn how to seek the truth in all things, and solve problems in accordance with God’s word: This is a necessary progression in the experience of life. Under ordinary circumstances, no one individual is proficient at everything, nor does any one individual have all-encompassing skills, so it is well-nigh impossible to avoid error in fulfilling one’s duty. But as long as this is not an intentional act of disturbance, it falls within the bounds of normal expectations. If, however, this comes about through human contrivance, if it is an evil consequence brought about by a deliberate misdeed, then there is something wrong with the humanity of the person concerned, and it would be a case of intentional disturbance and destruction. The wicked person would then be completely laid bare. God takes, in His own eyes, an accurate measure and assessment of people; that is, in using a person, in making them do something, God is certain to have standards that He requires this person to meet. God does not want you to be superhuman, to be omnipotent; rather, He makes demands of you, and renders you treatment, based on what lies within the capacity of ordinary people. According to the knowledge with which you are equipped, your caliber, the conditions in which you live, and all the insights you have gained, including what lies within your capacity given your present age and experience, God will set the most accurate and the most appropriate standard for your evaluation. What is God’s standard of evaluation? It is to examine the intent, principles, and goals in your way of doing things, to see if they conform to the truth. Maybe what you do conforms to the standards set for you by other people, and you should get a perfect score for this; but how does God evaluate you? The standard by which God measures you is whether you are capable of giving your whole heart, mind, and strength, whether you can arrive at the point where you can offer up your all, offer up your devotion. This is God’s standard of evaluation. If you have already offered up your all, then God will see you as already having met the standard. The demands that God makes of people are all within their capacity to meet, and do not lie beyond their reach.
At times, God uses a certain matter to lay you bare or discipline you. Does this then mean that you have been cast out? Does it mean your end has come? No. It is like when a child has been disobedient and made a mistake; his parents might chide and punish him, but if he cannot fathom his parents’ intention or understand why they are doing this, he will misunderstand their intent. For example, the parents may tell the child, “Don’t leave the house alone, and don’t go outside by yourself,” but this goes in one ear and out the other, and the child sneaks out alone anyway. Once the parents find out, they give the child a scolding and, as punishment, make him stand in the corner to reflect on his behavior. Not understanding his parents’ intentions, the child starts to have doubts: “Do my parents not want me anymore? Am I really theirs? If I’m not really theirs, would that mean I was adopted?” These are the things he ponders. What are the parents’ actual intentions? The parents said it was too dangerous to do that and told their child not to. But the child did not listen, and it went in one ear and out the other. Therefore, the parents needed to use some form of punishment to properly educate their child and make him learn from his mistakes. What is it that the parents want to achieve by doing this? Is it only to make the child learn from his mistakes? This kind of learning is not what they ultimately want to achieve. The parents’ aim in doing this is to make the child do as he is told, behave in accordance with their advice, and not do anything disobedient to make them worry—this would be the desired effect. If the child listens to his parents, it shows that he has matured in understanding, and then his parents will have less on their minds. Will they not then be satisfied with him? Will they still need to punish him like that? They will not need to anymore. Believing in God is just like this. People must learn to heed God’s words and understand His heart. They must not misunderstand God. In fact, in many cases, people’s concern stems from their own self-interest. Speaking generally, it is the fear that they will have no outcome. They’re always thinking, “What if God lays me bare, casts me out, and rejects me?” This is your misinterpretation of God; these are only your one-sided conjectures. You have to figure out what God’s intention is. When He lays people bare, it is not for the sake of casting them out. People are laid bare in order to expose their shortcomings, mistakes, and their nature essences, to make them know themselves and become capable of true repentance; for this reason, laying people bare is in order to help their lives to grow. Without a pure understanding, people are apt to misinterpret God and become negative and weak. They may even give in to despair. In fact, being laid bare by God doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be cast out. It is to help you get to know your own corruption, and to make you repent. Oftentimes, because people are rebellious, and do not seek to find resolution in the truth when their corruption is exposed, God must exercise discipline. And so, sometimes, He lays people bare, exposing their ugliness and pitifulness, getting them to know themselves, which helps their life to grow. Laying people bare has two different implications: For the wicked, being laid bare means they are cast out. For those who are able to accept the truth, it is a reminder and a warning; they are made to reflect on themselves, to see their true state, and to stop being wayward and reckless, because to carry on like this would be dangerous. Laying people bare in this way is to remind them lest, in performing their duty, they grow muddleheaded and careless, fail to take things seriously, become satisfied with only a few results, and think they have performed their duty to an acceptable standard when, in fact, measured by God’s demands, they have fallen far short, and yet they are still complacent and believe themselves to be doing fine. In such circumstances, God will discipline, caution, and remind people. Sometimes, God lays bare their ugliness—which is patently to serve as a reminder. At such times you should reflect on yourself: Performing your duty like this is inadequate, there is rebelliousness within you, there are too many negative elements, everything you do is perfunctory, and if you still do not repent, by rights you should be punished. Now and then, when God disciplines you, or lays you bare, this does not necessarily mean you will be cast out. This matter should be approached correctly. Even if you are cast out, you should accept it and submit to it, and make haste to reflect and repent. To sum up, whatever meaning lies behind laying you bare, you must learn to submit. If you show passive resistance, and instead of mending your flaws keep on going from bad to worse, you will surely be punished. Therefore, in dealing with matters of being laid bare, one must show obedience, one’s heart must become imbued with fear, and one must become capable of repentance: Only then does one conform to God’s will, and only by practicing in this way can one save oneself and be spared God’s punishment. Rational people should then be able to recognize their own faults and correct them, at the very least attaining to the point where they rely on their conscience to fulfill their duty. In addition, they must also reach up toward the truth, attaining not only to the point where their behavior is principled, but also to the point of giving their whole heart, their whole soul, their whole mind, their whole strength: Only doing it thus is an acceptable way of fulfilling their duty, only doing it thus makes them people who truly submit to God. What should one take as the standard for satisfying God’s will? One must base one’s actions on the truth principles, the major aspect of which is to place emphasis on the interests of God’s house and on the work of God’s house, to keep the whole picture in mind, and not focus on any one aspect at the risk of losing sight of another, and the minor aspect of which is to get one’s own work done properly, and to achieve the desired effect according to what is demanded of one, without going through the motions in a perfunctory manner, without bringing shame on God. If people master these principles, will they not let go of their worries and misconceptions? Once you put aside your worries and misconceptions, and no longer have any unreasonable ideas about God, negative elements will slowly cease to hold a dominant position within you, and you will approach these sorts of matters in the correct manner. Thus, it is important to seek the truth and strive to understand God’s will.
When performing their duty, some are often in a state of negativity and passivity, or resistance and misunderstanding. They are perpetually afraid of being exposed and cast out, and perpetually constrained by their future and destiny. Is this not the expression of a small stature? (Yes.) Some people always say they are afraid they will not perform their duty well, and without analyzing the details one might even take them to be quite loyal. What are they really worried about in their hearts? They worry that if they do not do their duty well, they will be cast out and have no good destination. Some people say they are afraid to become service-doers. When others hear this, they take it to mean that, in not wanting to become service-doers, these people just want to perform their duty well as one of God’s people, and mistake them for people with resolve. Actually, in their hearts, those people who are afraid to become service-doers are thinking, “If I become a service-doer, in the end I will still perish and have no good destination, and will not have a share in the kingdom of heaven.” This is the implication of their words; they are worried about their outcome and final destination. If God says they are service-doers, they put somewhat less effort into performing their duty. If God says they are one of His people and they have been praised by God, they devote somewhat more effort to doing their duty. What is the problem here? The problem is that when performing their duty in the house of God, they do not act according to the truth principle. They always consider their own prospects and fate, and are always constrained by the designation “service-doer.” As a result, they cannot do their duty well, and even though they want to practice the truth, they lack the strength to do so. They always live in a state of negativity, and look for the meaning behind God’s words, trying to ascertain whether they are people of God or service-doers. If they are people of God, then they will bend themselves to perform their duty well. If they are service-doers, then in performing their duty they will be careless and perfunctory, giving rise to many negative elements, and be constrained by the title of “service-doer,” unable to free themselves. Sometimes, after being harshly dealt with, they say to themselves, “There’s no hope for me, this is just how I am. I’ll just do what I can.” And with passive, negative, and degenerate thoughts, they resist it and go about performing their duty with reluctance. Can they possibly perform their duty well? At gatherings, such a person is constantly fellowshiping about the truth and talking about loving God, submitting to God, relying on God’s word to live life, and devoting himself to God, and yet he is nevertheless unable to put any of these things into practice, but instead is mindful only of his own future prospects and fate, perpetually under the sway of his greed for blessings, incapable of accepting any aspect of the truth. In this way, he is resistant and oppositional, negative and full of grievance, in his heart always harboring notions about God, putting up barriers against God, and keeping God at a distance. He is always on his guard against God, fearful lest God see through him, take control of him, and act against his interests. And, in following, he is always reluctant and begrudging, with people dragging him along from the front, and people pushing him forward from behind, as though he has fallen into a mire and every single step is so much hardship, and being alive is so much suffering! How did things get this way? It became like this because the human heart is too guileful, it always misunderstands the work that God does to save humanity. Whatever treatment God renders unto them, people will always be doubtful, thinking, “Does this mean that God doesn’t want me anymore? Is God going to save me in the end or not? For someone like me, is there any point in carrying on with my pursuit? Can I get into the kingdom?” When people are constantly harboring negative and contrary thoughts like these, will this not affect their ability to fulfill their duty? Will this not also affect their pursuit of the truth? Unless all these negative elements are disposed of, when will they ever be able to enter upon the right track of believing in God? That is hard to say. And so, people who refuse to accept the truth are the most difficult to handle, and in the end the only thing that can be done with them is to cast them out.
Amongst corrupt humanity, certain contrary elements have become deeply entrenched in their hearts, for example, such things as face, vanity, status, fame and fortune, and so forth. When you believe in God, if you wish to accept the truth, it means doing ceaseless battle with these contrary elements, and grappling with all manner of arduous experience and struggle. Not until the truth, triumphant within people, becomes life, will this battle come to an end. During this period, when people have come to understand the truth through eating and drinking God’s word and gained a grasp on God’s will, they will begin to practice truth and forsake the flesh. By the time that truth becomes their life, it will become possible for them to use truth to dispose of these negative and contrary elements. Vanity and personal prestige, fame, fortune, and status, human appetites, impure human intents, people’s misunderstanding of God, their choices and preferences, their self-righteousness, arrogance, deceitfulness, and what have you—all these problems will gradually find a solution after people come to understand the truth. The process of coming to believe in God is, in fact, none other than the process of accepting the truth, the process of using the truth to overcome the flesh, and the process of ceaselessly eating and drinking God’s word, seeking the truth, and using the truth that you have come to understand, the word of God that you have come to know, and the truth principles that you have come to grasp in order to solve these problems. To have life entry is to have undergone these experiences, and in doing so people will gradually become transformed. These corrupt elements are present in everyone, and there is not a single individual who does not live for the sake of profit and fame. Human beings all live for these things; only the way in which each person handles them and expresses a desire for them may be different. But what they reveal is, in essence, the same. Some people talk out loud, others will not; some reveal themselves in an obvious way, while others attempt to hide, using all sorts of methods to cover things up and keep them from getting out into the open, so that others will not see through them. Not letting other people see through you, and covering things up—do you think that, by doing this, you will keep God from finding out? Do you think that if you do this your corrupt disposition will be no more? Every single individual’s corrupt essence is the same—what is different between one individual and another? The attitude with which one approaches the truth may differ from one individual to the next. Some people, as soon as they have finished hearing the truth, are able to accept it. They take it as they would swallow medicine that is bitter in the mouth but good for healing, using it to treat the illnesses and solve the problems that afflict them from within. In managing affairs, conducting themselves, fulfilling their duty, interacting with others, and setting their aim and orientation in life, they seek answers in the word of God and use the word of God to solve the problems they encounter in life, practicing what they come to understand, bit by bit. For example, when God says, “You must all strive to become honest people,” such an individual will ponder, “How do I become an honest person?” God demands that people become honest; they must speak honest words, open up their hearts to fellowship with their brothers and sisters, and accept God’s scrutiny. These are the principles involved, and such a person will put them into practice as soon as he has heard them. Naturally, there will be times during the period of his practice when he might veer to the left or to the right, failing to find the right principles no matter how hard he looks, and there will be times when, in practicing, he will make silly mistakes. But in ceaselessly striving to meet this standard of becoming an honest person, he will in a few years come closer and closer to the desired effect. The more he lives, the more human he becomes and the more he feels himself to be in the presence of God, and the better his progress in life. Such are the people who are blessed by God. Such are the people of the first type.
Now that we have finished discussing people of the first type, let us go on to talk about the second. Although both types listen to sermons and read the word of God, a person of the first type is able to grasp the truth, and when their corrupt disposition is laid bare, they are able to reflect on themselves and open themselves up, saying, “I am arrogant and self-righteous. I like to show off in doing things, always harboring my own intents and appetites, taking pleasure in status and deriving enjoyment from jockeying for fame and profit.” So saying, they become capable of self-knowledge and of reaching up toward the truth. It is different, however, for the second type. Such a person may admit that he is corrupt within himself and, when faced with being pruned and dealt with, may even be able to admit that he has done wrong, but he simply will not reform. However much he listens to sermons, and however many words and doctrines he grasps, he just refuses to put the truth into practice, and keeps on doing as he feels he ought. Such a person is likewise able to open up to fellowship, and to accept being dealt with and pruned, as well as God’s discipline. But having accepted it, he takes it as doctrine, he’s all done as soon as he’s grasped it, and afterward returns to his old ways, remaining unchanged. To take the truth and treat it as if it were doctrine—what will the consequences be for such a person? Most certainly he will mistake observing the rules for practicing the truth. Such a person does not fulfill his duty according to God’s word or God’s demands, but rather attempts to solve problems according to Satan’s philosophy of dealing with the world and such ways and means as he has summarized for himself. For all that he may pay lip service to acknowledging God’s word to be truth and Satan’s philosophy to be fallacy, he still practices satanic fallacy in real life, and even feels peace of mind in doing so. One who acknowledges God’s word to be truth and yet fails to put it into practice—is this not someone who deceives God? For all that he may acknowledge God’s word to be truth and Satan’s philosophy to be fallacy, he senses that Satan’s philosophy could also come in handy, and so he adopts a method of compromise, choosing to walk the middle line between the two, and regards this to be practicing the truth. To stand neither on God’s side nor on Satan’s, thereby offending neither, he even finds himself mighty clever, thinking, “I am one who fulfills his duty, and also one who pursues the truth, so I will most definitely be able to receive God’s approval.” You tell Me, is this kind of person someone who practices the truth? (No.) He earnestly listens to the word of God, earnestly noting it down and memorizing it, and even spends time mulling it over, but what does he actually do with the word of God? What is his purpose in listening to God’s word? (He takes it to explicate for others, for the sake of showing himself off.) That’s one aspect. Anything more? (He takes it as rules to be observed.) Sometimes he takes it as rules to be observed, but what else? There are many situations here. Some people make the word of God into rules to be observed, following the literal meaning of God’s words and that’s all. For instance, when everyone fellowships about how to be an honest person, he fellowships along with them. And when someone else says, “Where is your actual experience of being an honest person?” he will say, “Ah, let me take a look at my notebook.” If he had any experience at all, wouldn’t he simply come out with it? If it is indeed his own experience, why would he need to read from a script? This completely exposes him as having no reality whatsoever. And then there are some people who, when they finish listening to the sermons, believe that they have understood them, and who, if they can quote a few lines of doctrine, believe that they have understood the truth: Isn’t this a mistaken way of thinking? Such a person says, “I am able to receive the truth, I have spiritual understanding, I can understand every aspect of God’s word and every aspect of what I have heard about the sermons, and this means that I possess the truth reality.” He is blind to the fact that God’s word is the truth, that it is what makes the life of a person, that not only does the truth need to be put into practice, but it should also be applied to solving every problem and difficulty that arises within a person. Because such a person is incapable of accepting the truth, whenever he rebels against God he always tries to make a plausible case for his behavior. Unaware that this is rebelling against God, it becomes impossible for him to seek the truth in order to solve this problem of his own rebelliousness. In that case, how do people of this type find a solution to their difficulties, do you know? For a person who does not take the word of God as the truth principle, once he has finished listening to God’s word, he will ponder as follows: “Am I indeed being rebellious? This is quite excusable under the circumstances. Anyone would think the same way, this is just a way of thinking, and doesn’t count as rebellion. It will be fine if I don’t think this way next time, I’ll be nice and obedient!” Then, he continues mulling it over, “If I can be obedient, this means I am still someone who loves God, someone God delights in.” And so, in this way, he lets himself off. He does not analyze why he is capable of rebelling against God or the source of his rebellion, he seeks no more to know himself in regard to this matter, and however much rebellion he harbors, he does not reflect on himself—this is someone who does not pursue the truth. Because such a person does not regard truth as life, no matter what he does, and no matter what rebellion or corruption he reveals, he makes no attempt to match up to or find a correlation with the truth and learn a lesson. This is enough to confirm that he does not love the truth and that he is not one who pursues the truth. Confronted with an issue, he never examines himself, never reaches up toward the truth, never tries to find a correlation with the truth—is he not the same as an unbeliever? However many years he has been a believer, he has not had the slightest life entry, and all he does is keep observing the rules and try to do fewer evil deeds: How can this be called practicing the truth? How can this manner of believing in God win His approval? A good many people profess belief in God for upward of ten or twenty years and can cite a whole bunch of words and doctrines. Hearing them, someone who has just started believing would be mighty impressed, and yet they do not have a single jot of the truth reality, nor are they able to share any genuine experiential testimony. How has this come about? Not having a jot of genuine experiential testimony becomes a problem. It means not having a jot of life entry! When others fellowship with him about the truth, such a person will say, “Save it; I understand everything, and I have grasped all doctrines.” What is his basis for saying this? And what is wrong with his saying this? Why is it that, when he listens to sermons and reads the word of God, he can only grasp doctrine and not the truth? He knows how to talk about doctrine but not how to experience God’s word, with the result that, however many years he has been a believer, he is unable to solve a single problem. How has this come about? (He does not accept the truth.) That’s it. It’s because he does not accept the truth. As in the case of a doctor who regularly treats his patients’ illnesses, writing them prescriptions and performing surgeries on them; he may understand every single aspect of the doctrine behind medical practice, and yet when he himself is diagnosed with cancer, he will say, “No one will be able to cure my illness.” When someone says to him, “You must get chemotherapy, you must have an operation!” he will reply, “You don’t need to tell me this, I know all about it.” But if, knowing all about it, he takes no steps to cure his own illness, would he be able to recover from it? Being a doctor won’t do him any good. One who understands every aspect of doctrine, and yet simply will not put it into practice—this is the second type of person. To all outward appearances, a person of this type seems to accept being pruned and dealt with, to listen to sermons and participate in gatherings on a regular basis, and to be enthusiastic about doing work, fulfilling duty, enduring hardships, and expending himself. But there is one point on which such a person falls short, and it is a failing of the deadliest nature: He never takes what he hears of the sermons or the word of God as the truth to be put into practice. This means he does not accept the truth. What is the essential problem with a person who does not accept the truth? (He does not love the truth.) For someone who does not love the truth, what is his perspective, what is his attitude, toward God? Why does such a person not love the truth? The main reason is that he does not regard the truth as truth. Seen from his perspective, the truth is just good doctrine. Does this type of person know how to discern Satan’s heresies and fallacies in all their multifarious shapes? Decidedly not, because Satan’s heresies and fallacies all appear to humans to be good doctrine. Even an evil person, in committing evil deeds, looks for fine-sounding reasons to pull the wool over other people’s eyes, so that they will back him up, approve of him, and see him as being in the right. If one who believes in God sees the truth as good doctrine, that would be simply too absurd. Not only does this type of person lack the comprehension ability, it is also easy for him to be misled by others and to serve as a tool of Satan. This is why I say: Whosoever lacks the ability to comprehend the truth, he is a person devoid of spiritual understanding. He thinks that to understand the truth means to understand doctrine, and as long as one knows how to spout doctrines, it means that one has understood the truth. This type of person will most decidedly not know how to put the truth into practice, nor will he be able to grasp what is meant by principle. All he can do is take a shot at observing the rules according to his own understanding of doctrine. Having believed in God for a good many years, and having come to understand a good bit of doctrine, he will observe a few more rules and do a few more good deeds, or he may make a bit of sacrifice, enduring many hardships without complaint. These things he considers to be practicing God’s word, to be practicing the truth. In fact, no matter how much one appears to obey the rules on the outside, and no matter how much one suffers and how much of a price one pays without complaining, none of this means that one is practicing the truth, let alone submitting to God.
When all is said and done, what is the standard for practicing the truth? How does one measure whether you are practicing the truth or not? When all is said and done, are you one who listens to and accepts the word of God—how does God look at this? God looks at the following: While professing belief in God and listening to sermons, have you taken your incorrect inner state, your rebellion against God, and all the different forms of your corrupt disposition, and replaced them with the truth? Have you changed? Have you only changed in your outward behavior and actions, or has your life disposition undergone a change? God measures you on the basis of these considerations. Having listened to sermons for so many years, and eaten and drunk of God’s word for so many years, are the changes within you superficial or are they of a fundamental nature? Have you changed in your disposition? Has your rebelliousness against God lessened? When confronted with an issue and your rebelliousness is exposed, are you capable of self-reflection? Are you capable of showing submission to God? Has your attitude toward your duty and the commission God has entrusted to you undergone any change? Has your loyalty grown? Do you still have impurities within you? The intents, ambitions, appetites, and plans that you harbor as an individual—have these things been cleansed away during the period you have been listening to sermons? All these are standards of evaluation. In addition to the above, how many of your notions and misconceptions about God have been eliminated? Are you still holding onto those vague notions, imaginings, and conclusions from before? Do you still harbor grievance, resistance, or negative emotions toward trials and refinements? If these negative elements have still not been truly addressed, and if you have still not undergone any real change, this goes to corroborate one fact—that you are not a person who practices the truth. In the same way, when a seed, after being sown in the ground, is watered and fertilized and yet fails to germinate after many days, this proves that the seed has no life. For instance, there are some people who believe in God because, previously, they were always being bullied, ostracized, and disdained, and they now believe in God so that in future they can hold their heads high. Having professed belief for a time, such a person continues to harbor this intent while fulfilling his duty and expending himself, and he keeps putting more and more energy into expending himself, until eventually he becomes a leader in the church, and then he feels that he can hold his head high. Inwardly, his intent still unresolved, he ponders: “If I were to become an even bigger leader, wouldn’t that allow me to hold my head even higher? Believing in God is the way to go!” His coming to the house of God was all for the sake of gaining status so he could hold his head high, and this intent remains unresolved throughout. He has done work for so many years, listened to sermons for so many years, and eaten and drunk of God’s word for so many years, and yet failed to address this one problem. Isn’t his believing in God this way neglecting his proper tasks? One listens to sermons and reads the word of God for the sake of gaining the truth, of gaining life, but he has professed belief for so many years without gaining any aspect of the truth or life. This is a problem worthy of contemplation. Some people, though they may not know how to fellowship about the truth or bear witness to God, nevertheless do have some real experience. When faced with being pruned and dealt with, they are capable of self-reflection, and they can moreover accept the truth, afterward genuinely making changes to reform themselves. This proves that these people have real faith. No matter how much suffering and misfortune are visited on them, they do not shrink back, but their God-loving heart grows ever more real. In managing affairs, they are now guided by principle, the corruption they reveal has lessened a good deal, and they have a stronger sense of responsibility when fulfilling their duty. Can you say, of this kind of person, that he does not understand the truth? Seen from the perspective of the changes in him, this person is assuredly living out the reality of the truth. Only in doing so has he imbibed God’s word down into his heart’s core. Though he may not have the gift of gab, he does know how to practice the truth, and is moreover guided by principles in his handling of affairs, doing his best to accomplish concrete goals and enduring all manner of hardship without a word of complaint. This is proof that God’s word is working within him, achieving its effect, and starting to become his life.
Just now we were talking about two types of people. The first type of person’s behavior is simple: Upon hearing God’s word, he is able to put it into practice. The second type, after listening to God’s word a great deal, does not entirely fail to put it into practice. In his own mind, he imagines himself to be practicing it, because he has forsaken his family and occupation and offered up his all. There are even some who give their whole lives to God, choosing the path of celibacy, rejecting the pursuit of wealth, and offering up everything, but their inner state never changes. Their grievances, misunderstandings, notions, and assumptions toward God, as well as their arrogant disposition, despotic and arbitrary conduct—all of these remain forever unchanged, and they go on living by Satan’s philosophy, with little difference from an unbeliever. This type of person only pays lip service to believing in God, and is only slightly better than unbelievers in that they don’t commit acts of great evil. On the outside, such a person appears to be good. Yet he does not pursue the truth, and however much he listens to sermons, he makes no change in his life disposition. What does this type of person make of God’s word? He takes it as good doctrine. He regards God’s word as the truth, but what he regards to be the truth is in fact doctrine—something of a doctrinal nature, something that’s not too bad. He can observe a few rules, but his life disposition doesn’t change a bit. These are the people of the second type.
Next I will go on to talk about the third type of people—nonbelievers. Nonbelievers are always skeptical about God. This kind of person, having listened to God’s words, acknowledges inwardly: “This sermon is right, these are the words spoken by the incarnate God. This church is predominantly filled with good people. It’s a good place, where people are neither oppressed nor abused, where they shed no tears and suffer no pain; it’s a veritable comfortable nest, a refuge. These people come from all over, from different countries and places, are kind and caring, able to open up their hearts in fellowship, and get along one with another in great harmony—they’re all good people. The sermons being given by the Above are good and filled with positive energy, and the words of God are all truth and positive things. Listening to these sermons nourishes and benefits the spirit. People live in the presence of God, experiencing comfort, joy, and happiness; there’s a sense of living in an earthly paradise. It would be even better if one could become a talented individual and make contributions in the house of God.” They take the words of God and the content of sermons as the positive theories, teachings, and good doctrines of famous figures and great people—but do they put them into practice? (No.) Why don’t they? It is because practicing these truths involves a certain level of difficulty; they would have to suffer hardship and pay a price! They think it’s fine to simply know how to speak these words, and that there’s no need to put them into practice, that one doesn’t have to take believing in God so seriously—just as, in religion, belief in God is merely a hobby, where it’s okay if you just exert a little effort and attend gatherings. They cannot completely and genuinely accept God’s words, and they even entertain notions about them. For example, when God says that to be an honest person means calling a spade a spade and never lying, they just don’t get it, thinking: “Doesn’t everyone lie? Being open with everyone, being unguarded, submitting wholly to God—isn’t that foolish?” They think acting that way is foolish, that one cannot conduct oneself like this. They acknowledge that the word of God is the truth, but asking them to practice according to God’s words is futile with them. Thus, such people treat the word of God with a halfhearted attitude, only acknowledging that all God’s words are correct and the truth, but refusing to accept and practice them. When the house of God needs people to exert some effort, they are willing to do this, but what is their aim in doing so? It is for the sake of gaining blessings and enjoying more of God’s grace; and if they did get a chance to enter the kingdom of heaven, that would be an even greater stroke of luck. These are the kinds of expectations they have; such is their conviction. But what about their attitude toward the truth and the word of God? To them, God’s word and the truth are optional and dispensable, something to be scrutinized in their spare time as a way of amusing themselves and whiling away their leisure hours; they simply don’t regard God’s word as the truth or life. What kind of person is this? They are a nonbeliever. Nonbelievers refuse to acknowledge that the truth can purify and save people, and don’t understand what the truth and life are all about. As far as matters of believing in God and receiving salvation, as well as how to resolve people’s sinful nature, they have only a vague understanding and are not interested. They say: “People don’t live in a vacuum, as long as we’re alive we have to eat; we’re not much different from animals, really. We humans are simply higher animals, existing solely for the sake of our survival.” As for the truth, they are disinterested, and so regardless of how many years they have believed in God or how many sermons they have heard, they still cannot clearly say whether God’s word is the truth, whether believing in God can grant salvation, or what mankind’s future end and destination will be. If they’re unclear on these matters, how severe must their confusion be! They show no interest in how God works to save people, nor in how people receive salvation by accepting God’s judgment and chastisement, nor in how people can achieve submission to God by entering the truth reality. In more detailed terms, they show no interest in how to be an honest person, how to fulfill their duty, and other such matters. Especially when others mention that people must have absolute submission to God, they feel even more repelled, thinking: “If people always submit to God, then what is the point of having a brain? People become slaves if they’re always submitting to God.” This is where the views of nonbelievers start to reveal themselves. They believe that submitting to God is a superfluous act, an act of self-abasement, a loss of dignity, that God should not make such demands of people and that people should not accept them. Certain sermons, such as those that discuss enabling people to obtain grace, do good deeds, and have good conduct, they can reluctantly accept, but with respect to Peter’s being perfected by accepting hundreds of trials, they just can’t wrap their heads around it. They think, “Isn’t that toying with and tormenting people? It’s true that God is sovereign over all things, but even so He can’t treat people like that!” They do not accept God’s work as the truth; they view this method by which God saves people as the way a slave master treats his slaves, doing as he pleases with them—this is the correlation they draw. Can this kind of person understand the truth? (No.) Are there such people in the church? (Yes.) Will a person like this leave the church on their own? (No.) Why won’t they leave? Because they’re hoping for a lucky break, thinking, “It’s a dark and wicked world out there; it’s not easy getting by. What’s the difference where I kill my time? I might as well do it in the church. Here I can even enjoy God’s grace, and I won’t lose much on this deal. There’s plenty to eat and drink, and the people here are pretty decent—no one’s going to bully me. What’s more, when you fulfill your duty and expend yourself and pay a price, you’ll even get blessings from God. This is a deal I can’t lose out on!” And so, after thinking it over, they conclude that it would be worth it to stay in the church. If one day it no longer seems worthwhile and they don’t feel there’s any more to get out of it, they will lose interest in believing in God and want to leave the church. “At any rate,” they think, “I didn’t suffer much of a loss, nor did I commit all my heart and mind. I possess skills, I know my profession, and I have a diploma, so I can still get by in the world just as I had been doing; I could scrape together a fortune or finagle a government job for myself. That would be great!” This is how they view things. In the eyes of this type of person, the words spoken by God and the truths expressed by God have even less value than a presidential speech; such is the contempt with which they regard God’s words. When people of this kind bring such views to believing in God and to rendering service “with ready willingness,” taking up residence and even killing time in God’s house, unwilling to leave—what is their aim in doing this? It is with this faint hope in mind: “If God shows tolerance and takes mercy on me, allowing me into the kingdom, my ideals will have been realized. But if I can’t enter the kingdom, I’ll still have enjoyed a goodly amount of God’s grace, so I won’t have lost out.” When they bring this kind of wait-and-see viewpoint to believing in God, can they accept the truth? Can they put the truth into practice? Can they worship God as the Creator? (No, they cannot.) With such a view, which states arise within them? They will often complain about God and misunderstand Him. They will subject each of God’s acts to a round of assessment, investigation, and scrutiny, and then arrive at the following conclusion: “This doesn’t seem like something God has done. If only this weren’t something God has done.” They harbor resistance, scrutiny, judgment, and a wait-and-see attitude in their hearts—can this be called rebelliousness? (Yes.) Theirs is no longer the corruption and rebelliousness of a normal person. What kind of people are these? (Nonbelievers.) How do nonbelievers behave? They are hostile toward God. When people who believe in God reveal a corrupt disposition, and sometimes fail to obey, God says that this is rebellious disposition, that they have a rebellious essence. But what does He say about those who don’t believe? And what about Satan—would God say Satan is rebellious? (No.) What would God say then? God would say that it is the enemy, His antithesis, and completely inimical to Him. Nonbelievers’ attitude toward God is one of scrutiny and observant hesitation, as well as resistance, grievance, opposition, and enmity. The more you fellowship about the truth and submitting to God, the more fed up such a person will become. The more you fellowship about how to attain salvation and become perfected by accepting God’s chastisement and judgment and being dealt with and pruned, the more fed up they become, refusing to take any of it in. As soon as they hear fellowship on these matters, they start fidgeting in their seats, becoming as jittery and restless as if they’d sat on a pincushion, or like an ant on a hotplate. But if you let them go to a dance club or a bar, they wouldn’t be at all irritated; they’d be delighted. They’d feel that staying in such places is carefree and joyful—if they could live like that, it would be totally worth it. It’s constantly hearing the truth that irritates them, so they refuse to listen. Can they accept the truth if they’re not even willing to listen to it? Absolutely not. They carry around negative, resistant, and hateful states inside them, and they are always scrutinizing and watching hesitantly. What is it they scrutinize? It is always God’s words that they scrutinize. This is no longer a matter of being small of stature; they are a nonbeliever and an evildoer. This type of person will, from start to finish, always stand in opposition to God, engaging in scrutiny, observant hesitation, and resistance, not accepting the truth at all, thinking: “Whoever sincerely expends themselves for God is a fool. Whoever pursues the truth and practices the truth is a fool. You cast aside your family, do not look after your own kin, and focus solely on believing in God; after all that believing, you just end up destitute and looked down upon. Look at how fashionable the unbelievers are, and what are you wearing? I’m not as foolish as the rest of you—I have to keep a card or two up my sleeve. I’ll pursue fleshly pleasure first—that’s being realistic.” This is the nonbeliever’s true colors. When God first appeared and started doing His work, His followers were very few—around ten thousand people at most—and there were only around a thousand who performed their duty. Later, as the work of the gospel began expanding, and this work began to show results, the number of people performing duty gradually increased. Some people, seeing the opportunity to stand out and put their talent on display, also joined in and started performing duty. “How odd!” I said, “The work of God’s house has already begun to unfold; how is it that there are now so many more people performing their duty? Where have these people been hiding all these years?” In fact, these folks had things figured out long ago: “If the work of God’s house becomes widespread, then I’ll come. If it doesn’t get off the ground, I won’t come. I certainly won’t contribute any effort for it!” What kind of people are these? They are opportunists. All opportunists are nonbelievers—they’re just getting in on the excitement. Outwardly, it appears as if people are the ones doing the work of God’s house, but in actuality God is leading and guiding everything; it is the Holy Spirit that is at work. This is certain beyond all doubt. God Himself is doing His own work; His will goes forward unimpeded. No human could accomplish such monumental work, it exceeds human capability. All of this is the result of the authority of God’s word and God’s own authority. People cannot grasp this point; they think: “When God’s house grows in power, I’ll have my share. So don’t forget to record my name in the book of merit!” What kind of person is this? In the words of unbelievers, they have “malicious intent”—can we say this of them? (Yes.) What sinister motives these people harbor! Of course, if one can accept the truth, at the outset, they may have such motives and views, or their faith may be too small—God will not remember them. In revealing these views and attitudes, God wishes only to make people walk the right path in life, to set them on the right track of believing in God without hesitantly observing and without scrutinizing. God is not something that you can figure out through scrutiny or detect with a telescope. God’s existence and His work of salvation are not results that you can derive using any form of research. These are the facts. Regardless of whether anyone acknowledges Him, believes in Him, or follows Him, the fact that God performs such great work is right there for them to see and touch. What God wishes to accomplish, no one can hinder and no one can change, nor can any power whatsoever obstruct. This is a fact that God has made true.
We were just talking about the third type of people—nonbelievers. This type of person believes in God with observant hesitation, by being opportunistic and scrutinizing. If there isn’t any hope of receiving blessings, they’ll think it best to scram and prepare an exit strategy for themselves. If such a person were to start self-reflecting right now and feel some remorse, it wouldn’t be too late for them. There would always be a glimmer of hope for them up until their death; but if they obstinately refuse to repent and continue being hesitantly watchful, always opposing God, then God will surely treat them like an unbeliever and leave them to their own devices in the midst of calamity. In terms of people’s essence, a human being is originally no more than a handful of dust into which God breathes, thus turning you into a living flesh-and-blood person, giving you life. Your life comes from God. When God wasn’t using you, He provided you with food and clothing and everything else. But when He does intend to use you, you make a run for it and constantly go against God, always in opposition to Him—can God still make use of you? By rights, God should put you aside. Whether it was during the creation of the world at the beginning, or in the Age of Law or the Age of Grace, or all the way down to the last days in the present age, God has spoken many words to people. Be it through inspiration or direct face-to-face communication, one could say God has spoken too many words to count. And what is God’s purpose in speaking so many words? It is to get people to understand and comprehend God’s meaning, to know God’s will, and to know that after gaining these words people will be able to achieve a change in their disposition, receive salvation, and gain life. Then, people can accept these words. God’s purpose in speaking so many words is none other than this. And, having accepted these words and accepted the various methods of God’s work, what is the result that people will ultimately achieve? They will become able to follow God all the way to the end and avoid being cast out and rejected halfway, and thus there is hope of remaining until the end. Regardless of whether God disciplines you, prunes you, or exposes you, or whether there are times when He forsakes you or tests you—no matter what God does, people cannot deny the fact of God’s intentions and earnest efforts in saying these words, right? (Right.) Thus, people shouldn’t quibble with God over trifling matters, always judging God’s noble intentions with their petty yardsticks and misunderstanding God. Regardless of what wrong views you used to espouse, regardless of what the state within you may be, as long as you are able to accept God’s words as your life, and take them as the principles that you practice and as the direction and goal of the path you walk, you will gradually be able to satisfy God’s demands step by step. What’s worrisome? What’s worrisome is when people listen to and treat God’s words as if they were doctrines, rules, mere phrases, and slogans, or even treat the word of God as an object of scrutiny, and treat God as a target of their scrutiny and resistance—this is problematic. Such people are not the recipients of God’s salvation, God has no means to save them. It is not that God doesn’t save them, but that they do not accept His salvation—that is all that can be said, and it is a fact.
What is the most important thing that will enable a person to follow God to the very end and achieve a change of disposition? Accepting and practicing the truth—this is what is most important, and it is the most crucial aspect of practice in the pursuit of truth. To practice and to experience God’s words is the most important aspect of practice; it is directly related to a person’s life entry. A person that sincerely believes in God, no matter what issues they are faced with, must learn to seek and practice the truth in any situation. Only this is to experience God’s work, and a few years of this kind of experience will enable a person to understand the truth and enter into reality. Therefore, no matter when, one cannot forget this matter of practicing and experiencing God’s words. Faced with an issue, you must always ponder internally: “What must I do to practice and experience God’s words in this matter? Which aspects of the truth are involved in this matter? What should I do to practice the truth?” This would be putting effort into pursuing the truth, and after several years of practicing and experiencing in this way, you will slowly enter upon the right track of believing in God, you will be walking the right path of life, and you will have direction. Always using your intellect to analyze and scrutinize whatever issue you are faced with and always relying on your own methods to resolve things is not a feasible approach. If you practice according to this method, it will be impossible to achieve compatibility with God and a change in disposition—you will never achieve them, this is the wrong path. It is futile for you to seek salvation through the pursuit of fame, fortune and status. Countless people have already failed and stumbled in this way. Some were identified as false leaders and some as antichrists—all were cast out. It is useless to pursue standing out in the church. It is better to follow Peter’s path—pursuing the truth is the safest and most secure way. Do you now see what is most important? The most important thing is to accept and practice the truth. Reading the word of God is for the sake of pondering it and gaining the truth. Do not scrutinize it, absolutely do not scrutinize it, and do not have resistant or antagonistic moods. As soon as you have this sort of state, immediately examine yourself and resolve it. These issues with corruption which exist within you are continuously resolved, your state gets better and better, and you have fewer and fewer outpourings of corruption, which ultimately yields a result: Your relationship with God will become more and more normal, your heart will fear God more and more and become closer and closer to God, you will perform your duty to increasingly greater effect, and your love for and faith in God will grow larger and larger. This confirms that you have absorbed the words of God into your heart, where they have taken root. Ultimately, you will see a result, and you will say: “Constantly reflecting on myself and addressing my corrupt manifestations, I prevented any irreparable consequences. I feel regret in my heart and hate myself for having served as Satan’s servant. Thankfully, God saved me, allowing me to find my way back, accept the truth, and submit to Him. I am no longer worried about whether I will be saved or not, nor am I worried about the possibility of being cleared out and cast out later. I am now certain that I will be a recipient of God’s salvation, that I am on the right path, and that I believe in the true God, the Lord of all creation. I do not have any doubts about this.” Only at this point will you take faith in God into your heart, and you can rely on Him in every situation. Then, you will have really entered into a sanctuary, and you will no longer have to worry about whether you are just a service-doer or whether you will die in a disaster. Only at this point will your heart be filled with peace and joy. What causes people to have these worries? It is because they know too little of God’s work, have too little understanding of the truth, and even have notions and misunderstandings about God. Because you have not understood God’s intentions in His words, and haven’t grasped God’s will, you always misunderstand God. Since you always misunderstand Him, you are constantly worried and never feel secure. Sometimes you are in a resistant mood; gradually, while you may not make big mistakes, you keep making plenty of small ones, until one day you suddenly do make a big mistake and really do get cast out. Making a big mistake is no insignificant matter. Some people are cast out, or cleared out or expelled, or do not receive any of the work of the Holy Spirit—isn’t there a root cause behind all of this? There is definitely a root cause; the issue here is about which path they walk. Some choose to follow the path of Peter, which is the path of pursuing the truth. Others choose to follow the path of Paul, which is the path of pursuing a crown and rewards. The essence of these two paths is different, as are the consequences and the outcomes they lead to. Those who are cast out never walk the path of pursuing and practicing the truth. They always stray from this path and just do what they will, acting according to their own desires and ambitions, safeguarding their own status, reputation, and pride, and satisfying their own desires—everything they do revolves around these things. Even though they have also paid a price, spent time and energy, and worked from dawn to dusk, what is their ultimate result? Because the things they did are condemned as wicked in the eyes of God, the result is that they are cast out. Do they still have a chance of being saved? (No.) This is an incredibly serious consequence! It’s just like when people get sick: A minor illness that is not promptly treated can develop into a major illness, or even become terminal. For example, if a person has a cold and a cough, they will quickly get better if they receive normal medical treatment. However, some people think they have a robust constitution and so do not take their cold seriously or seek treatment. As a result, it drags out for a long time and they contract pneumonia. After getting pneumonia, they still feel that they are young with a strong immune system, so they don’t treat it for several months. They pay no mind to their coughing every day until it reaches a point where the coughing becomes uncontrollable and unbearable, and they cough up blood. So they go to the hospital to get examined, where they find out they have developed tuberculosis. Others advise them to get immediate treatment, but they still think they are young and strong, with no need to worry, so they don’t seek proper treatment. Until one day, in the end, their body is too weak to walk, and when they go to the hospital for a checkup, they already have late-stage cancer. When people have corrupt dispositions which they do not treat, it can also bring about incurable repercussions. Having a corrupt disposition is not something to be frightened of, but someone with a corrupt disposition must seek the truth to promptly resolve it; only in this way can the corrupt disposition be gradually cleansed. If they do not focus on resolving it, it will become more and more severe, and they may offend and resist God, and be detested and rejected by Him and cast out.
Some people have the nature essence of an antichrist, such as people like Paul. They constantly focus on gaining blessings, obtaining a crown, and receiving rewards, and they try to make deals with God. They always want to be leaders and apostles who can control God’s chosen people, but they only end up making God detest and reject them. They walk the path of resisting God, which is the wrong path. Some people do not love the truth; they know that it is wrong to pursue fame, fortune, status, and benefits, but they still choose the wrong path anyway. God has patiently and earnestly urged His chosen people, offering them all kinds of comfort, exhortations, reminders, warnings, revelations, dealings, and reprimands. God has spoken so many words, and yet people do not take it seriously, treating it as if it’s just wind passing by their ears. They do not practice it, but still, according to their own motives and desires, safeguard their own status, pride, and vanity. They conspire everywhere for their own benefit, and plan and act everywhere for their own face and prospects, racking their brains and sparing no expense. In their hearts, they even think, “I have expended myself for God, there is a glorious crown reserved for me,” and even speak the words that Paul said. In fact, they don’t know what the path they are on is, nor do they know that they have been condemned by God. When one day this leads to a great disaster, will they know to repent? When that time comes they will resist, saying, “I work hard and have made significant contributions; if not contributions, then at least I’ve suffered; if not suffering, then at least I’ve exhausted myself!” The things they’ve done are not worth a penny—can they be good deeds? Was it performing their duty? Was it practicing the truth? They were engaging in personal management. During this period, they equipped themselves with plenty of profound-sounding words and doctrines; they could speak and lecture, and could run around expending themselves, but they did not do any practical work whatsoever. They did a good job of drawing in the people around them, pulling everyone into their orbit. They became king of the mountain, with no place for God in their heart. Isn’t this doing evil? Since they didn’t practice the truth at all, the final result for them should be self-evident. But even in this situation they still want a crown; how brazen can they be? This is called shameless audacity! Why can such people argue even in the end when they are cast out? They disrupt and disturb the work of the church, committing all kinds of evils; how can they still argue with God and defend themselves with conviction? What problem is it that they can resist God like this? Do you think there is any rationality behind their doing this? Do they have a conscience and reason? Normal people, having heard so many of God’s words—regardless of how God treats them, or whether this treatment conforms to their notions—at least have to acknowledge that God’s words are the truth and are all right. Even if there is some sentence that does not conform to their notions, they should not judge God; they should have a submissive heart. If one can acknowledge that the word of God is the truth and submit before God, isn’t this treating God as God? (Yes.) In such a case, if sometimes some notions and misunderstandings about God arise, is it not easy to seek the truth to resolve them? The key is that people must acknowledge the words and work of God—this is a prerequisite. Why is it that nonbelievers and antichrists, those similar to Paul, are still able to oppose God? (They do not treat God as God.) This is where the root lies. No matter how eloquent they are, no matter how diligently they work and run about, no matter how much they suffer and how great a price they pay, they never take the word of God as the truth—can they understand the truth then? (No.) So, no matter how God handles them, they either have objections or refuse to capitulate. They completely lack the least reason that a created being should have, which confirms the fact that they never accepted the truth. If, over the years, they had been able to accept God’s words as the truth, and practice and heed God’s words, they would not be so presumptuous and oppositional. They would not oppose God’s arrangements and God’s treatment of them. They would not have these moods; at the most, they would just feel a little upset or not very cheerful. Corrupt humans all have normal weaknesses, but there are several boundaries they must at least observe. Firstly, they cannot give up performing their duty. “No matter when, whatever task God entrusts to me, whether I do it well or not, I must give it my all, exerting as much effort as possible. Even if God no longer likes me or looks down on me, at the very least I must take on the task entrusted to me and do it well.” This is reasonable; one’s duty cannot be abandoned. Moreover, one cannot deny God. “No matter how God treats me or handles me, or how my brothers and sisters exclude or expose me, or even if everyone abandons me, God’s position in my heart remains the same, and the position I should hold as person remains unchanged. God is always my God, His essence and identity do not change, and I will forever acknowledge Him as my God.” There must also be this reason. What else is there? (No matter how God treats and punishes us, we must submit to Him.) This is the bare minimum, this is the most basic baseline one must have. You say, “I don’t understand God’s intentions, and I don’t understand why God acts this way. I feel a little wronged, and I have some justification for this, but I don’t say anything because I am a created being and should submit to God. This is the duty of a created being. Even though I currently don’t understand or know exactly how to practice or seek the truth, I should still submit.” Is this reasonable? (Yes.) When those who do not accept the truth and who lack reason are subjected to being pruned and dealt with, what manifestations do they display? They say, “Am I going to be exposed and cast out? If I don’t have any prospects or fate, and I’m not able to attain blessings, I won’t believe!” Does this kind of person have true faith in God? Their relationship with God is not normal, it is resistant and antagonistic. This kind of disposition is Satan’s disposition that resists God. Can they acknowledge God as their God? In their heart, they may say, “If He’s really God, why doesn’t He love me? If He’s really God, why doesn’t He use me for something important? All I see is a person—how could there be a God anywhere in this world? You are all fools. Where is God? In my heart, He only exists if I believe in Him; if I don’t believe in Him, He doesn’t exist, and He is not God.” Their viewpoint is thus revealed. They listened to so many of God’s words over the years; if they had accepted these words, would they develop viewpoints like this? (No.) More seriously, what will they do now? They’ll incite others and make a move: “You still believe? How could you be so foolish? Didn’t they say long ago that a disaster was coming? When is it coming? Didn’t God say the world would be destroyed? Where is the destruction? You fool, you’ve suffered a huge loss! Stop believing! What are you believing for? Look at how smart I am, I earn several thousand yuan a month, how much do you earn a month? Look at what’s popular in the world now. What do you see me wearing? It’s all name brand!” They will entice and mislead people, leaving some in a state of utter confusion. Is this not an evil person infiltrating the house of God to disturb the church? What attitude do such people have in performing their duty? “I do my duty if I’m in the mood. If I want to do it, I’ll do it. If not, I won’t. I don’t have to commit my heart and strength. Performing duty is not doing things for myself, it’s doing things for the church. And I can’t even see God anywhere. I don’t even know if God remembers me, and they still want me to devote my heart, my strength, my mind—what’s the point? It’s good enough if I just get through it by mumbling a few words.” This is the view they hold. They think it’s foolish and not worthwhile to devote one’s strength, heart, and mind to performing duty. If you were to encounter such a person now, would you be misled and influenced by them? If you lack a foundation and do not understand the truth, you will definitely be misled and influenced, and as time goes on, you will end up at a loss.
In believing in God, the purpose of eating and drinking the words of God, as well as which key problems doing so should resolve, must be clear. If one believes in God for several years without ever focusing on eating and drinking the words of God, not only will the problem of one’s corruption remain unresolved, but they will also not even understand the minimum amount of the truth that should be understood. So, what are the consequences of this? It is very easy to be misled and take a wrong turn. If one doesn’t understand the truth, they will be most likely to stumble. When faced with an issue, when faced with even the slightest sign of trouble, it will be difficult for them to keep their footing. Therefore, it is most beneficial for people to do more reading of God’s words and to fellowship the truth more often. There is something God said in the Bible which is very important: “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35). What do these words suggest to people? What does it mean that God’s words will not pass away? No matter when, the truth and the word of God will always be the truth—this will not change. No matter whether it’s the value or significance of these words to people, or the inner meaning and actuality of these words, they will never change. They will remain the original words and will not become anything else—the essence of God’s words cannot change. For example, God tells people to be honest; these words are the truth and shall never pass away. Why shall they never pass away? From God’s requirement for people to be honest, one can see the aspect of God’s essence that is faithful, which has existed from time immemorial and will continue to exist forever. It will not change due to changes in the times, geography, or space; God’s essence will exist forever. What is the reason for this eternal existence of God’s essence? Because it is a positive thing and the essence possessed by the Lord of creation; it shall never pass away and shall forever be the truth. If you experience all these truths expressed by the Creator and actualize them into your being, put all of them into practice, and live them out, won’t you then be able to live like a person? Won’t living have value? Would you be abandoned? Experiencing and living out all the truths that God has granted you—isn’t this your way out? Only this path can allow humankind to survive. If people cannot accept the truth and do not follow the path of pursuing the truth, they will ultimately pass away and be destroyed. You might say, “Aren’t I living just fine now?” But if you haven’t gained the truth, you will be cast out sooner or later. “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away”; this sentence has such profound significance; it is also the greatest warning for people. Only God’s words are the truth, and only if you accept the truth can you stand firm. That is, if you eat and drink the word of God, put it into practice, and live out some semblance of humanity, you will not be cast out. This is where the value of God’s words lies! So, can God’s words be a person’s life? What does life refer to here? It means that you can live, you are saved. If you accept these words, and understand and practice them, you become a living person in the eyes of God. If you are not an honest person, but a deceitful one, you are but a walking corpse in God’s eyes, a dead person, and like all things you shall pass away. Anything that has nothing to do with God’s words or the truth, be it material or immaterial, must pass away when God changes the age and renews the world. Only God’s words will not pass away, and only all things related to God’s words will not pass away. Practicing God’s words is that important!
People know that practicing and experiencing God’s words is important, but they must also have a path of practice. This is the path of life entry, and they must attach importance to it in their hearts and experience it every day. If you are always worried that you lack experiential testimony and fear that one day you will be cast out, then that is a problem. Those who don’t love the truth never practice or experience God’s words. This is not only because they don’t have faith; mainly it is because they are instigated by Satan’s nature. You only want to receive blessings but do not love the truth; if you are dominated by this motive, there can be no good outcome for you. So, what should you do? You definitely cannot let it spread unchecked within you; you must seek the truth and reflect on yourself: “Why am I not practicing the truth? Why am I always worried about being cast out? This state is not right, I must resolve it.” Isn’t it progress to know to seek the truth and resolve your problems? This is a good thing. People who don’t know to solve their problems are numb, imbecilic, rebellious, and intransigent. Some people know that this is a problem and yet they don’t try to fix it. They think, “Isn’t it quite normal for me to think this way? Why do I need to resolve my intention to receive blessings? If I resolve it, I’ll lose out.” Isn’t this intransigent? Some people are numb; they do not realize that wanting to receive blessings is a problem of intentions and disposition. They think, “Isn’t it normal for people who believe in God to want to be blessed? Having this intention doesn’t count as a problem.” Are such thoughts and views correct? If one’s intention to receive blessings is not resolved and their corrupt disposition is not cleansed, can they truly submit to God? What are the consequences of living by a corrupt disposition? It is like when someone doesn’t feel well; they know they are going to catch a cold, so they quickly find some medicine to take. Others, however, are numb; they don’t even know that they have inflammation. They just go around telling people that they haven’t been feeling well lately, unaware that they are experiencing the early signs of a cold, and not taking it seriously. Some people even think, “It’s just a cold; what’s the worst it can do?” They should drink water but they don’t, they should take medicine but they don’t do that either; they just tough it out. As a result, they get a cold and are sick for several days, which sets them back on quite a few matters. People treat their different states with the same attitude they treat their illnesses. Some people can resolve minor problems quickly but they don’t resolve major problems at all. By procrastinating in this manner, their corrupt disposition remains unresolved, leading to a lack of life entry and a loss to their life. Is this not foolish and ignorant? People who are too foolish cannot gain the truth and end up forfeiting their life. Believing in God in this manner, they will never be able to receive God’s salvation.
The pursuit of the truth must start with self-reflection and self-knowledge. No matter what situation one is faced with, they must always reflect on their inner state, identifying and resolving whichever wrong thoughts and views or rebellious states they have. After a period of time, when they are faced with a different circumstance or event, they will develop some incorrect views and states, and they must seek the truth to resolve those. By continually reflecting on and coming to know oneself, and continually resolving one’s own incorrect views and rebellious states, a person’s corrupt disposition will manifest less and less, and it will be easy for them to practice the truth. This is the process of life growth. No matter what situation one encounters, they must seek the truth, and no matter what one intends or plans, that which is in accordance with the truth must be adhered to, and that which is not in accordance with the truth must be suppressed. In addition, they must aspire to righteousness, and must strive for the truth, for knowledge of God, and to meet God’s requirements. In this way, they can more often discover their own shortcomings and corrupt manifestations, and develop a heart that yearns for the truth. After experiencing in this way for a period of time, they will be able to understand some of the truths, and their faith in God will become greater and greater. Without having such a path of practice, it cannot be said that one is practicing the truth. If one who lives within a corrupt disposition does not examine whether their words and actions align with the truth or go against principles, instead only checking if they’ve broken the law or committed crimes and that’s all, paying no mind to their corrupt disposition and not caring about their rebellious state whatsoever—and even though outwardly they may not have broken the law or committed crimes, the fact is they are still living by a corrupt disposition under the power of Satan—then such a person has not lived out the truth reality, and they are not someone who will receive salvation. When people live for several decades in the world and can understand worldly things, they think they are clever, infallible, and amazing, but in the presence of the truth, corrupted human beings are all foolish and mentally deficient, just as insignificant humans will forever be infants before God. The pursuit of receiving salvation is no simple matter; it requires understanding many truths, growing to a certain stature, having willpower, having a suitable environment, practicing the truth gradually. In this way, one’s faith will be cultivated bit by bit, and their doubts and misunderstandings about God will become fewer and fewer. As their doubts and misunderstandings about God diminish, their faith increases, and when faced with situations they will be able to seek the truth. When they understand the truth, they will be able to practice the truth, they will have fewer and fewer negative and passive things, have more positive and good things, and the times when they are able to practice the truth and obey God will increase. This is having the truth reality. Doesn’t this indicate they’ve grown up? That their heart has become increasingly resilient? What does resilience refer to? It is when a person has true faith, understands the truth, has the ability to discern, can rely on God to overcome the flesh, has the capacity to overcome sin, can stand firm in their witness, has true obedience to God, can suffer and pay a price for the sake of practicing the truth, can loyally fulfill their duty, and has the resolve to pursue the truth and seek being made perfect. Doesn’t this indicate continuous improvement? In this way, one can embark on the path of pursuing the truth and being made perfect. No circumstance or difficulty will be able to overwhelm such a person or stop them from following God. This is a person who is most blessed by God, a person whom God hopes to gain.
What state are you in currently? (Sometimes when we encounter difficulties we become somewhat negative, but we are able to strive upward and try to overcome them.) Having stature is being able to take the initiative to overcome your difficulties when you become aware of them. Knowing you have difficulties and yet not acting to overcome them or respond to them, carrying around a negative state, performing your duty in a passive and perfunctory manner—this is the common and typically-seen state. There is something even worse, which is not knowing what kind of person you are and not knowing what kind of state you are in—not knowing whether your state is good or bad, right or wrong, or negative or positive. This is the most troublesome. A person like this doesn’t know the detailed problems of their life entry, let alone from where to start practicing the truth. They only have enthusiasm but do not understand any truths or have any discernment, and they cannot talk about any experiential testimony. When will such a person be able to bear a resounding testimony for God? Some people can speak a lot of words and doctrines, but if you ask them, “Are you bearing witness to God?” they themselves don’t even know. They think they are doing their duty loyally, without any carelessness or perfunctoriness. They think everything about them is good, and that they are better than other people in everything. When others are weak, they even admonish them: “Why are you weak? Love God, come on! It’s already this point in time and you’re still weak?” Such a person clearly has no reality; they don’t understand the normal states and process of changing one’s life disposition. They just repeat commonly heard sayings like “This is no time to be weak!” and “You’re still concerned about your family now?” using such doctrines to urge others and lecture them, not resolving any practical problems at all. Not being able to perceive one’s own state and not being able to truly know oneself is the most obvious manifestation of an immature stature. Not being able to practice the truth and instead only following some rules is indicative of an immature stature. Desiring to fulfill one’s duty and do things well, but not knowing what principles to follow and only doing things according to one’s own preferences is indicative of an immature stature. Listening to others’ experiential testimony and not being able to discern it, nor being able to say clearly what benefits one should gain from this or what lessons one should draw, is indicative of an immature stature. Not being able to experience and practice the word of God, and not knowing what it means to exalt and testify to God—these are all signs of an immature stature. What stage are you in now? (We tend to be negative more often.) This situation is even more indicative of an immature stature. People who are too foolish and ignorant have no stature whatsoever. Only when they can understand many truths, discern matters, resolve their own problems, have fewer negative states and more normal states, take on heavy burdens, and lead and provide for others will they really have stature. You must strive for the truth; the more you strive, the more you will grow. If you don’t strive, you will not grow, and you might even regress. To believe in God, you must live by the truth; by understanding the truth more, you gain stature. If you don’t understand the truth, you will have no stature. When you begin to seek the truth and are able to resolve your own problems, your stature will have grown.
October 15, 2017