17. The Principles of Fearing God and Shunning Evil

(1) Accept God’s scrutiny at all times. In all things, reflect on yourself in light of His words, understand your every word and action, and pray to God often, laying bare your heart;

(2) It is necessary to base your treatment of all people, events, and things on God’s words. Do not let notions or imagination guide your actions; be able to seek the truth in all matters, and get to where you can act according to the principles;

(3) One should submit to God regardless of how He judges, tries, and refines them, and whether or not they understand it. Should notions arise, they should hasten to seek the truth;

(4) It is necessary to understand God’s administrative decrees and commandments, and to genuinely come to know His disposition and to give rise to reverence for Him. Only thus can one avoid offending Him.

Relevant Words of God:

What is to fear God? And how can one shun evil?

“To fear God” does not mean nameless fright and horror, nor to evade, nor to put at a distance, nor is it idolization or superstition. Rather, it is admiration, esteem, trust, understanding, caring, obedience, consecration, love, as well as unconditional and uncomplaining worship, requital, and submission. Without genuine knowledge of God, humanity will not have genuine admiration, genuine trust, genuine understanding, genuine caring or obedience, but only dread and unease, only doubt, misunderstanding, evasion, and avoidance; without genuine knowledge of God, humanity will not have genuine consecration and requital; without genuine knowledge of God, humanity will not have genuine worship and submission, only blind idolization and superstition; without genuine knowledge of God, humanity cannot possibly act in accordance with the way of God, or fear God, or shun evil. Conversely, every activity and behavior in which man engages will be filled with rebellion and defiance, with slanderous imputations and maligning judgments about Him, and with evil conduct running contrary to the truth and to the true meaning of God’s words.

Once humanity has genuine trust in God, they will be genuine in following Him and depending on Him; only with real trust in and dependence on God can humanity have genuine understanding and comprehension; along with real comprehension of God comes real caring for Him; only with genuine caring for God can humanity have genuine obedience; only with genuine obedience to God can humanity have genuine consecration; only with genuine consecration to God can humanity have requital that is unconditional and without complaint; only with genuine trust and dependence, genuine understanding and caring, genuine obedience, genuine consecration and requital, can humanity truly come to know God’s disposition and essence, and to know the identity of the Creator; only when they have truly come to know the Creator can humanity awaken in themselves genuine worship and submission; only when they have real worship for and submission to the Creator will humanity be able truly to put aside their evil ways, that is to say, to shun evil.

This constitutes the whole process of “fearing God and shunning evil,” and is also the content in its entirety of fearing God and shunning evil. This is the path that must be traversed in order to attain fearing God and shunning evil.

Excerpted from “Knowing God Is the Path to Fearing God and Shunning Evil” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

First of all, we know that God’s disposition is majesty and wrath; He is not a sheep to be slaughtered by anyone, much less a puppet to be controlled by people however they want. He is also not a bunch of empty air to be bossed around. If you truly believe that God exists, then you should have a God-fearing heart, and you should know that His essence is not one to be angered. This anger may be caused by a word, or perhaps a thought, or perhaps some kind of vile behavior, or perhaps even by mild behavior—behavior that is passable in the eyes and ethics of humans; or, perhaps it is provoked by a doctrine or a theory. However, once you have angered God, your opportunity is lost, and your end days have arrived. This is a terrible thing! If you do not understand that God must not be offended, then maybe you are not afraid of Him, and perhaps you are routinely offending Him. If you do not know how to fear God, then you are unable to fear God, and you will not know how to put yourself on the path of walking in God’s way—fearing God and shunning evil. Once you become aware, and are conscious that God must not be offended, you will know what it is to fear God and shun evil.

Excerpted from “How to Know God’s Disposition and the Results His Work Shall Achieve” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

Though God’s essence contains an element of love, and He is merciful toward each and every person, people have overlooked and forgotten the fact that His essence is one of dignity as well. That He has love does not mean that people can offend Him freely, without inciting in Him feelings or a reaction, nor does the fact that He has mercy mean that He has no principles in how He treats people. God is alive; He genuinely exists. He is neither an imagined puppet nor any other object. Given that He does exist, we should carefully listen to the voice of His heart at all times, pay close attention to His attitude, and come to understand His feelings. We should not use human imaginings to define God, nor should we impose human thoughts or wishes on Him, making God treat people in a human manner based on human imaginings. If you do this, then you are angering God, tempting His wrath, and challenging His dignity! Thus, once you have come to understand the severity of this matter, I urge each and every one of you to be cautious and prudent in your actions. Be cautious and prudent in your speech, as well—with regard to how you treat God, the more cautious and prudent you are, the better! When you do not understand what God’s attitude is, refrain from speaking carelessly, do not be careless in your actions, and do not apply labels casually. Even more importantly, do not come to any arbitrary conclusions. Instead, you should wait and seek; these actions, too, are an expression of fearing God and shunning evil.

Excerpted from “How to Know God’s Disposition and the Results His Work Shall Achieve” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

God is a living God, and just as people behave differently in different situations, His attitude toward these behaviors differs because He is neither a puppet nor is He a bunch of empty air. Getting to know God’s attitude is a worthy pursuit for humankind. People should learn how, by knowing God’s attitude, they can little by little attain knowledge of God’s disposition and come to understand His heart. When you gradually come to understand God’s heart, you will not feel that fearing Him and shunning evil is such a difficult thing to accomplish. Moreover, when you do understand God, you will not be as likely to draw conclusions about Him. Once you have stopped drawing conclusions about God, you will be less likely to offend Him, and without your realizing it, God will lead you to gain knowledge of Him; this will fill your heart with reverence for Him. You will then stop defining God by way of the doctrines, letters, and theories you have mastered. Instead, by constantly seeking out God’s intentions in all things, you will unconsciously become a person who is after God’s heart.

Excerpted from “How to Know God’s Disposition and the Results His Work Shall Achieve” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

I exhort you to get a better understanding of the content of the administrative decrees, and to make an effort to know the disposition of God. If not, you will find it difficult to keep your lips sealed, your tongues will wag too freely with high-sounding talk, and you will unwittingly offend the disposition of God and fall into the darkness, losing the presence of the Holy Spirit and the light. Because you are unprincipled in your actions, because you do and say that which you should not, you shall receive a fitting retribution. You should know that though you are unprincipled in word and deed, God is highly principled in both. The reason you receive retribution is because you have offended God, not a person. If, in your life, you commit many offenses against the disposition of God, then you are bound to become a child of hell. To man it may appear that you have only committed a few deeds that are at odds with the truth, and nothing more. Are you aware, however, that in the eyes of God you are already someone for whom there is no more sin offering? Because you have violated the administrative decrees of God more than once and have, moreover, shown no sign of repentance, there is no other recourse but for you to plunge into hell, where God punishes man. A small number of people, while following God, committed some deeds that violated principles, but after being dealt with and given guidance, they gradually discovered their own corruption, thereafter entered on the right track of reality, and they remain well-grounded today. Such people are those who shall remain in the end. Nevertheless, it is the honest that I seek; if you are an honest person and someone who acts according to principle, then you can be a confidant of God. If in your actions you do not offend the disposition of God, and seek the will of God, and have a heart of reverence toward God, then your faith is up to the standard. Whoever does not revere God and does not have a heart that trembles in fear is highly likely to violate the administrative decrees of God. Many serve God on the strength of their passion but have no understanding of the administrative decrees of God, still less any inkling of the implications of His words. And so, with their good intentions, they often wind up doing things that disrupt God’s management. In serious cases, they are thrown out, deprived of any further chance of following Him, and are cast into hell, all association with God’s house at an end. These people work in the house of God on the strength of their ignorant good intentions, and end by angering God’s disposition. People bring their ways of serving officials and lords to the house of God and try to put them into play, vainly thinking that they can be applied with effortless ease here. Never do they imagine that God has not the disposition of a lamb, but that of a lion. Therefore, those associating with God for the first time are unable to communicate with Him, for the heart of God is unlike that of man. Only after you understand many truths can you continuously come to know God. This knowledge is not made up of words and doctrines but can be used as a treasure by means of which you enter into close confidence with God, and as proof that He delights in you. If you lack the reality of knowledge and are not equipped with the truth, then your passionate service can only bring upon you the loathing and abhorrence of God.

Excerpted from “Three Admonitions” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

In every age, while working among humans, God bestows some words upon them and tells them of some truths. These truths serve as the way people should adhere to, the way they should walk in, the way that enables them to fear God and shun evil, and the way that people should put into practice and adhere to in their lives and over the course of their life journeys. It is for these reasons that God expresses these utterances to humanity. These words that come from God should be adhered to by people, and to adhere to them is to receive life. If a person does not adhere to them, does not put them into practice, and does not live out God’s words in their life, then this person is not putting the truth into practice. Furthermore, if people are not putting the truth into practice, then they are not fearing God and shunning evil, nor can they satisfy God. People who are incapable of satisfying God cannot receive His praise, and such people have no outcome.

Excerpted from “How to Know God’s Disposition and the Results His Work Shall Achieve” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

Walking in God’s way is not about observing superficial rules; rather, it means that when you are faced with a problem, you view it first and foremost as a situation that has been arranged by God, a responsibility He has bestowed upon you, or a task that He has entrusted to you. When facing this problem, you should even see it as a trial God has put to you. When you encounter this problem, you must have a standard in your heart, and you must think that this matter has come from God. You must think about how to deal with it in such a way that you can fulfill your responsibility while remaining loyal to God, as well as how to do it without infuriating Him or offending His disposition. … In order to keep to God’s way, we cannot let go of anything that happens either to us or around us, even the little things; whether we think we should pay attention to it or not, as long as any matter is facing us, we must not let it go. All things that happen should be viewed as tests God has given us. What do you think about this way of looking at things? If you have this kind of attitude, then it confirms one fact: Deep down, you fear God and are willing to shun evil. If you have this desire to satisfy God, then what you put into practice will not be far off meeting the standard of fearing God and shunning evil.

Excerpted from “How to Know God’s Disposition and the Results His Work Shall Achieve” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

What is the main thing one should understand when seeking to attain life entry? It is that in all the words spoken by God, regardless of what aspect they refer to, you should find out what His requirements and standards are for people, and from within them, seek out a path of practice. You should use them to check your conduct and perspective in life, and also check all your states and expressions against them. More importantly, you should check against these standards to determine how you should do things, how you should satisfy God’s will in the course of performing your duties, and how you can act in complete accordance with God’s requirements. Be a person with the reality of the truth; do not be someone who just arms yourself with words and doctrines and religious theories. Do not feign spirituality; do not be a fake spiritual person. You must concentrate on practicing and on using God’s words to compare and reflect upon your own states, and then change the viewpoint and attitude with which you treat every sort of situation. Ultimately, you will be able to revere God in every situation, and you will no longer act rashly or follow your own ideas, do things according to your desires, or live within a corrupt disposition. Instead, all of your actions and words will be based on God’s utterances and in accordance with the truth; as such, you will gradually give rise to reverence for God. A God-fearing heart is produced while pursuing the truth; it does not come from restraint. All restraint gives rise to is one type of behavior, but that is a kind of external constraint. Genuine reverence for God comes from—over the course of believing in God—understanding the truth, practicing in accordance with the truth, gradually reducing one’s corrupt disposition more and more, and improving one’s states bit by bit so that one can frequently come before God; this is the sort of process that gives rise to genuine reverence. When that happens, you will know what it means to revere God and how it feels, and then you will realize what sort of attitude, what kind of state, and what sort of disposition people should possess before they are truly God-fearing and are showing reverence of God.

Excerpted from “Only Those Who Practice the Truth Are God-Fearing” in Records of Christ’s Talks

Before, some people always harbored notions about what was done by the incarnate God. Later, a rule was proposed during fellowship: There should be no question that everything God does is right and meaningful; if people are unable to understand what God does, then they should concentrate on obeying, and not resist. They will certainly be ashamed of any notions they have. They have committed these words to memory. Every time they encounter an issue, they think to themselves: “I must not have notions, and I must not pass judgment. There is meaning to all that God does, and even if I can’t see it now, there will surely come a day when I will feel ashamed.” They abide by this rule. This rule can even solve problems for people who are muddleheaded in their faith. If people who are insightful approach everything that happens to them using this rule, they will realize many things. People who are not insightful can only cling to rules, ensuring they are protected, and that they do not violate God’s administrative decrees and cause any serious trouble. This rule is useful, not useless. This rule is remembered in all the churches. Some people record it in a notebook, others write it in the inside cover of a book, so that these are the first words they read each time they open it. They recite them during prayer, too. Doing this has its benefits; it keeps certain people in line and makes them fear God.

Excerpted from “How One Should Satisfy God Amidst Trials” in Records of Christ’s Talks

We will start by looking at Job’s home life, at what his normal conduct was like during his life. This will tell us about his principles and objectives in life, as well as about his personality and pursuit. … Where the Bible describes the feasting of Job’s sons and daughters, there is no mention of Job; it is said only that his sons and daughters often ate and drank together. In other words, he did not hold feasts, nor did he join his sons and daughters in eating extravagantly. Though affluent and possessed of many assets and servants, Job’s life was not a luxurious one. He was not beguiled by his superlative living environment, and he did not, because of his wealth, gorge himself on the enjoyments of the flesh or forget to offer burnt offerings, and much less did it cause him to gradually shun God in his heart. Evidently, then, Job was disciplined in his lifestyle, was not greedy or hedonistic as a result of God’s blessings to him, and he did not fixate upon quality of life. Instead, he was humble and modest, he was not given to ostentation, and he was cautious and careful before God. He often gave thought to God’s graces and blessings, and was continually fearful of God. In his daily life, Job often rose early to offer burnt offerings for his sons and daughters. In other words, not only did Job himself fear God, but he also hoped that his children would likewise fear God and not sin against God. Job’s material wealth held no place within his heart, nor did it replace the position held by God; whether for his own sake or his children’s, Job’s daily actions were all connected to fearing God and shunning evil. His fear of Jehovah God did not stop at his mouth, but was something he put into action and reflected in each and every part of his daily life. This actual conduct by Job shows us that he was honest, and was possessed of a substance that loved justice and things that were positive. That Job often sent and sanctified his sons and daughters means he did not sanction or approve of his children’s behavior; instead, in his heart he was frustrated with their behavior, and condemned them. He had concluded that the behavior of his sons and daughters was not pleasing to Jehovah God, and thus he often called on them to go before Jehovah God and confess their sins. Job’s actions show us another side of his humanity, one in which he never walked with those who often sinned and offended God, but instead shunned and avoided them. Even though these people were his sons and daughters, he did not forsake his own principles of conduct because they were his own kin, nor did he indulge their sins because of his own sentiments. Rather, he urged them to confess and gain Jehovah God’s forbearance, and he warned them not to forsake God for the sake of their own greedy enjoyment. The principles of how Job treated others are inseparable from the principles of his fear of God and shunning of evil. He loved that which was accepted by God, and loathed that which repulsed God; he loved those who feared God in their hearts, and loathed those who committed evil or sinned against God. Such love and loathing was demonstrated in his everyday life, and was the very uprightness of Job seen by God’s eyes. Naturally, this is also the expression and living out of Job’s true humanity in his relations with others in his daily life, about which we must learn.

Excerpted from “God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself II” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

After God said to Satan, “All that he has is in your power; only on himself put not forth your hand,” Satan departed, soon after which Job came under sudden and fierce attacks: First, his oxen and donkeys were plundered and some of his servants killed; next, his sheep and some more servants were consumed in fire; after that, his camels were taken and even more of his servants were murdered; finally, his sons’ and daughters’ lives were taken away. This string of attacks was the torment suffered by Job during the first temptation. As commanded by God, during these attacks Satan only targeted Job’s property and his children, and did not harm Job himself. Nevertheless, Job was instantly transformed from a rich man possessed of great wealth to someone who had nothing. No one could have withstood this astonishing surprise blow or properly reacted to it, yet Job demonstrated his extraordinary side. The Scriptures provide the following account: “Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down on the ground, and worshipped.” This was Job’s first reaction after hearing that he had lost his children and all of his property. Above all, he did not appear surprised, or panic-stricken, much less did he express anger or hate. You see, then, that in his heart he had already recognized that these disasters were not an accident, or born from the hand of man, much less were they the arrival of retribution or punishment. Instead, the trials of Jehovah had come upon him; it was Jehovah who wished to take his property and children. Job was very calm and clear-headed then. His perfect and upright humanity enabled him to rationally and naturally make accurate judgments and decisions about the disasters that had befallen him, and in consequence, he behaved with unusual calm: “Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down on the ground, and worshipped.” “Rent his mantle” means that he was unclothed, and possessed of nothing; “shaved his head” means he had returned before God as a newborn infant; “fell down on the ground, and worshipped” means he had come into the world naked, and still without anything today, he was returned to God as if a newborn baby. Job’s attitude toward all that befell him could not have been achieved by any creature of God. His faith in Jehovah went beyond the realm of belief; this was his fear of God, his obedience to God; he was not only able to give thanks to God for giving to him, but also for taking from him. Furthermore, he was able to take it upon himself to return to God all that he owned, including his life.

Job’s fear and obedience toward God is an example to mankind, and his perfection and uprightness were the peak of the humanity that ought to be possessed by man. Though he did not see God, he realized that God truly existed, and because of this realization he feared God, and due to his fear of God, he was able to obey God. He gave God free rein to take whatever he had, yet he was without complaint, and fell down before God and told Him that, at this very moment, even if God took his flesh, he would gladly allow Him to do so, without complaint. His entire conduct was due to his perfect and upright humanity. This is to say, as a result of his innocence, honesty, and kindness, Job was unwavering in his realization and experience of God’s existence, and upon this foundation he made demands of himself and standardized his thinking, behavior, conduct and principles of actions before God in accordance with God’s guidance of him and the deeds of God that he had seen among all things. Over time, his experiences caused in him a real and actual fear of God and made him shun evil. This was the source of the integrity to which Job held firm. Job was possessed of an honest, innocent, and kind humanity, and he had actual experience of fearing God, obeying God, and shunning evil, as well as the knowledge that “Jehovah gave, and Jehovah has taken away.” Only because of these things was he able to stand firm in his testimony amid such vicious attacks by Satan, and only because of them was he able to not disappoint God and to provide a satisfactory answer to God when God’s trials came upon him.

Excerpted from “God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself II” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

When his wife advised him to curse God and die, her meaning was: “Your God treats you thus, so why not curse Him? What are you doing still living? Your God is so unfair to you, yet still you say ‘blessed be the name of Jehovah.’ How could He bring disaster upon you when you bless His name? Hurry up and forsake the name of God, and follow Him no more. Then, your troubles will be over.” At this moment, there was produced the testimony that God wished to see in Job. No ordinary person could bear such testimony, nor do we read of it in any of the stories of the Bible—but God had seen it long before Job spoke these words. God merely wished to use this opportunity to allow Job to prove to all that God was right. Faced with the advice of his wife, Job not only did not give up his integrity or renounce God, but he also said to his wife: “Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” Do these words carry great weight? Here, there is only one fact capable of proving the weight of these words. The weight of these words is that they are approved of by God in His heart, they are what was desired by God, they are what God wanted to hear, and they are the outcome that God yearned to see; these words are also the essence of Job’s testimony. In this, Job’s perfection, uprightness, fear of God, and shunning of evil were proven. The preciousness of Job lay in how, when he was tempted, and even when his whole body was covered with sore boils, when he endured the utmost torment, and when his wife and kinfolk advised him, he still uttered such words. To put it in another way, in his heart he believed that, no matter what temptations, or however grievous the tribulations or torment, even if death was to come upon him, he would not renounce God or spurn the way of fearing God and shunning evil. You see, then, that God held the most important place in his heart, and that there was only God in his heart. It is because of this that we read such descriptions of him in the Scriptures as: In all this did not Job sin with his lips. Not only did he not sin with his lips, but in his heart he did not complain about God. He did not say hurtful words about God, nor did he sin against God. Not only did his mouth bless the name of God, but in his heart he also blessed the name of God; his mouth and heart were as one. This was the true Job seen by God, and this was the very reason why God treasured Job.

Excerpted from “God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself II” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

“Fearing God and shunning evil” and knowing God are indivisibly connected by a myriad threads, and the connection between them is self-evident. If one wishes to attain to shunning evil, one must first have real fear of God; if one wishes to attain to real fear of God, one must first have real knowledge of God; if one wishes to attain to knowledge of God, one must first experience God’s words, enter into the reality of God’s words, experience God’s chastening and discipline, His chastisement and judgment; if one wishes to experience God’s words, one must first come face to face with God’s words, come face to face with God, and ask God to provide opportunities to experience God’s words in the form of all sorts of environments involving people, events, and objects; if one wishes to come face to face with God and with God’s words, one must first possess a simple and honest heart, readiness to accept the truth, the will to endure suffering, the resolution and the courage to shun evil, and the aspiration to become a genuine created being…. In this way, going forward step by step, you will draw ever closer to God, your heart will grow ever more pure, and your life and the value of being alive will, along with your knowledge of God, become ever more meaningful and wax ever more radiant. Until, one day, you will feel that the Creator is no longer a riddle, that the Creator has never been hidden from you, that the Creator has never concealed His face from you, that the Creator is not at all far from you, that the Creator is no longer the One that you constantly long for in your thoughts but that you cannot reach with your feelings, that He is really and truly standing guard to your left and right, supplying your life, and controlling your destiny. He is not on the remote horizon, nor has He secreted Himself high up in the clouds. He is right by your side, presiding over your all, He is everything that you have, and He is the only thing you have. Such a God allows you to love Him from the heart, cling to Him, hold Him close, admire Him, fear to lose Him, and be unwilling to renounce Him any longer, disobey Him any longer, or any longer to evade Him or put Him at a distance. All you want is to care for Him, obey Him, requite all that He gives you, and submit to His dominion. You no longer refuse to be guided, provided for, watched over, and kept by Him, no longer refuse what He dictates and ordains for you. All you want is to follow Him, walk along by His side, all you want is to accept Him as your one and only life, to accept Him as your one and only Lord, your one and only God.

Excerpted from “Knowing God Is the Path to Fearing God and Shunning Evil” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

Previous: 16. The Principles of Exalting God as Great

Next: 18. The Principles of Relying on God and Looking Up to Him

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