102. The Principles of Identifying Whether One Understands Spiritual Matters

(1) First, look at whether, in reading God’s words, one’s understanding of them is pure, and whether they can synthesize their own corrupt state, and measure them against what is revealed by God’s words;

(2) Look to whether one can seek the truth and put it into practice in word and deed, or whether they yet act according to notions and imaginings or adhere to rules;

(3) Look to whether one can identify each sort of person; whether they treat each in accordance with the principles; whether, in listening regularly to sermons and fellowship, they can understand the truth and have a path of practice;

(4) Look to whether one’s talk of self-knowledge is practical; whether they have repented truly; and whether their views on things, their outlooks on life, and their values have undergone true transformation.

Relevant Words of God:

In their regard of the words of God, those who do not understand spiritual matters neither know what those words say nor to what they refer; such people also do not know the states God reveals, nor can they hold themselves up for comparison against these things. They treat the words of God, one and all, as rules, letters, slogans, and doctrine, and at no point do they comprehend the true meaning of the phrase, “God’s words are the truth.” This is an expression of people who do not understand spiritual matters. … Those who do understand spiritual matters understand the truth; they know what God’s words reveal, what the truth is in His words, and what His requirements are, and they are able to examine themselves in light of these things. Is being able to understand these things the same as having attained entry? (It is not.) To what, then, does “being able to understand” refer? Toward what is it aimed? One who is able to examine themselves in light of these things; who is able to acknowledge humanity’s corrupt disposition and various states, as revealed by God; who is able to know, to some degree, God’s requirements; and who is able to know the principles spoken in God’s words and His will—such a person, who has clarity and understanding regarding all these things, is therefore said to understand spiritual matters. Those who understand spiritual matters can hold themselves up for comparison against God’s words as they eat and drink of them; they can understand His references and what His requirements are. This demonstrates that such people have the capacity for reception, as well as the caliber and capacity to receive the truth.

Excerpted from “Only in the Pursuit of the Truth Is There Life Entry” in Records of Christ’s Talks

What are expressions of people who understand spiritual matters and people who do not? Those who do not understand spiritual matters know absolutely nothing of the meaning of the truth or of the states, backgrounds, and referents of which God speaks. They cannot figure them out, nor can they hold themselves up against them for comparison. Those who do understand spiritual matters are quite the opposite. For example, when I fellowship on the topic of people’s disobedience, a thing that includes their hardness, selfishness, foolishness, their antagonism toward God and resistance against Him, and their misunderstandings of Him, and when I speak of all the states that involve this topic–whether through examples, or by speaking on an aspect of the truth, or by pointing out a state that is exactly the state in your heart, or perhaps simply by speaking on topics within related principles—you understand, and some images float to the surface of your mind and thoughts, and you say, “It turns out my state that one time was one of disobedience!” Or when talk turns to misunderstandings of God, if you look at the states and expressions you have revealed, and realize that it is a misunderstanding of God for people to have such ideas, or such requests and imaginings of Him, then this means you have held yourself up against these things for comparison. When I speak of antagonism toward God and resistance against Him, if you have such feelings and live in such a state, or such a disposition or essence is inside you, you can hold these things up for comparison. What things can you submit to such comparison? Ideas and thoughts, or the actions and behaviors you manifest, can universally be checked; this means you are able to understand what God says and what is preached in sermons, and to know which of your own behaviors and your own revelations, manifestations, states, and essences are the same as those revealed by God and preached in sermons. These are the expressions of one who understands spiritual matters.

Excerpted from “Only in the Pursuit of the Truth Is There Life Entry” in Records of Christ’s Talks

What is the primary expression of the way in which those who do not understand spiritual matters pursue the truth? Their practice of the truth manifests as rule-following to the letter; they speak to people of doctrine, and rigidly apply the methods of others. What, then, is the essence of such people? What causes them to confuse abiding by the rules with pursuing the truth? What has led to this problem? There is a root cause; can you find it? (Such people are arrogant and self-righteous by nature. They do not seek the truth; rather, they treat what they think is right as if it were the truth.) That is true of some who do not understand spiritual matters, but it is not the root cause. When these people, who have no understanding of spiritual matters and who love to follow rules, listen to the truth and to sermons, they do so quite diligently, with careful attention—especially to those things that have to do with their own practice. They listen intently to ideas of how to perform their duties, for example, or of how to do well what they ought to do. The key problem is that they cannot compare the contents of the sermons they hear to their own states. For instance, as soon as they hear a discussion of human rebelliousness, they say, “Rebelliousness? I’m not rebellious! Since that’s not allowed, if I ever come across this kind of situation, I’ll just keep my mouth shut, try to hold still, take stock of the situation, and do what everyone around me does.” After hearing something, they take from it their own set of logical stylings and methods of practice, but, deep down, their thoughts are muddied with regard to the truth and to the various states exposed and mentioned in the sermons. What does it mean that their thoughts are muddied? It means they do not understand what is being said, and think to themselves, “What is all this fellowshiping about? Why not put it all a bit more simply? Today, it’s one kind of fellowship, and tomorrow, it’s another!” In their view, it is simple to effect change in one’s disposition—simply do as you are told. They cannot hold themselves up against these states and this corrupt disposition for comparison. It is essentially the same with them when it comes to the various revelations, thoughts, ideas, intentions, and manifestations of man’s corrupt disposition that emerge in different environments in the process of life entry: They are blank, and cannot hold themselves up for comparison against these things. How do people who cannot hold themselves up against these things feel when they hear the truth? (They feel it refers to other people, and has no bearing on them.) That is their primary trait—when bad things are mentioned, they believe those all apply to others, but when rules they can follow and grasp are mentioned, they feel they are relevant to them. They never acknowledge those things that involve states, changes in disposition, and the essence of a person’s nature; they cannot accept them, and do not understand them. Everyone who does not understand spiritual matters has this feature in common. That is, they cannot hold themselves up for comparison against all God says that reveals people’s various states and manifestations and revelations of their essence, and they have not the least discernment; they are always comparing apples with oranges. It is as if, when you ask them if they have eaten, they say they have not drunk any water; or, if you ask them if they are sleepy, they say they are not thirsty. Such a situation—such a state of affairs—happens quite often.

Excerpted from “Only in the Pursuit of the Truth Is There Life Entry” in Records of Christ’s Talks

The primary expression of people who do not understand spiritual matters is strict adherence to rules. They often take a sentence or an event and designate it as a rule or a mode to follow. Do these people, then, treat the truth in the same way? Those who do not understand spiritual matters remember one aspect of the manifestations of the truth that you fellowshiped today; they designate those words and behaviors as rules that should be practiced, remembering each of them without fail. Then, next time, upon encountering a different situation, and without anyone fellowshiping, they will apply those prior methods and rules indiscriminately, and put them into practice. This is a concrete manifestation of people who do not understand spiritual matters. How do such people feel while they are adhering so to rules? (Tired.) They do not feel tired; if they did, they would stop. They feel they are practicing the truth; they do not feel they are adhering to a set of rules, nor do they feel they do not understand spiritual matters. Still less do they feel they have not understood the truth, or that they have no understanding of what the principles of the truth are. On the contrary, they think they have understood the practical side of the truth, as well as the principles of that side of the truth; at the same time, they think they have understood God’s will, and that, if they can act in line with their rules, they will have entered the reality of that part of the truth, believing all the while that they are satisfying God’s will and putting the truth into practice. Is such a dogmatic practice of the truth really an expression of pursuing it? (No.) This is an expression of the sort of person who does not understand spiritual matters, who is bound by convention, and who is lazy; upon encountering a problem, this sort of person does not seek the truth; they neither think about the truth nor examine it, nor do they investigate it in detail. Moreover, even if they were to examine the truth, they would still be unable to understand it. Why can they not understand it? At root, it is because they have no understanding of spiritual matters.

Excerpted from “Only in the Pursuit of the Truth Is There Life Entry” in Records of Christ’s Talks

No matter how many years they have believed in God, or how they appear to pursue the truth, people who do not understand spiritual matters never make any progress. No matter how many years they’ve been a believer, people who do not understand spiritual matters are ignorant of what it means to know oneself, and what a corrupt disposition is. They are unaware of what the manifestation of an arrogant disposition is when they encounter an issue, or what the manifestation of submission to the truth is. They do not know how to conduct themselves as honest people, or what kind of behavior is deceitful. They do not know what obedience is, or what it means to rebel against, oppose, and reject the orchestrations and arrangements of God. They do not know what good human will is, or what it means to practice in accordance with the truth and submit to the orchestrations and arrangements of God. They do not know if they have been loyal when performing their duty or if they have been slipshod, or what corrupt dispositions have been revealed in them, what their motivations are, or whether the path they walk is the right one. They do not know if the perspective of their practice is correct, or what kind of behavior is beloved by God, and what kind is despised by God. They have no idea as to the differences between these minutiae. They believe that if they keep acting this way, they are bound to be praised by God, that they should do whatever they think—it’s so simple and does not involve any details. Some people have spiritual understanding, but they don’t pursue or practice the truth; they only seek to toil away and do some service. Some people have no spiritual understanding at all, and do not understand spiritual matters in life. They merely adhere to rules, and nothing more. They just stick to reading God’s words and leading a normal spiritual life. When performing their duty, they do not loaf or cause trouble. They do not deliberately do things that cause interruptions or disturbances. They do what they are asked to do and stick by simple principles. But when it comes to details, to the states involved in entry into life and the various perspectives and attitudes, they completely ignore them. When you speak of resolving notions, they don’t think they have any notions, they think that all their notions have already been resolved and what you’re fellowshiping has nothing to do with them. They don’t know what notions you’re referring to, or what the reality of the truth of what you’re fellowshiping is. When you speak of knowing oneself, they say, “Is man not rebellious and arrogant? When one encounters an issue, one should not be rebellious or show off, but should be unassuming and humble—is that not enough?” When you talk of obedience, they say, “Obedience? You go on about this being obedient, and that not—how can it be so complicated?” When you say people must forsake and discipline themselves, or that they must love God, and when they find themselves in a certain environment and must put aside their own motivations and ambitions, they say, “I don’t have that many motivations and ambitions.” That’s how simplistic their thinking is. Can such people ultimately gain the truth? (No.) What is their attitude toward the truth? They don’t think there is any corruption in them and they think they’ve heard all this before, that it’s all more or less the same: Obey and do what you’re told. But is it that simple? Some, seeing others who are negative and weak, say, “Just love God! What’s there to be negative about?” That’s how simple their minds are and they do not understand spiritual matters. What does it mean when people do not understand spiritual matters? It means that no matter what you say, what aspect of the truth you speak of, it all seems like theory to them. They don’t understand the stakes involved, or why you’re fellowshiping this. They understand none of what this aspect of the truth is, what its relationship with people’s entry and their life of faith in God is, what its relationship with the difficulties people encounter in real life and the corrupt dispositions they reveal is, what the relationship is between the truth and humanity, and between the truth and conscience. They are wholly ignorant of what these details and the words spoken by God have to do with what is revealed and manifested in people’s real lives, and what people must practice. They don’t understand what they hear; all they hear are letters and doctrines like, “Obedience, loyalty, do not be perfunctory, do not cause interruptions or disturbances”—from which they distill one thing: “I don’t need to remember any of that. I’ll just do what God asks; I’m happy to do service.” They do not know that in addition to doing service, man is possessed of many corruptions, as well as ambition, desires, preferences, notions, and imaginings. There are many things inside people that have yet to be addressed, and when God speaks these words, He is asking that people resolve these things, and replace them with the truth. God’s aim in speaking these truths is to make you understand and accept them, after which these truths can be used to solve the problems in real life, to solve the difficulties you have, so that these truths become your reality, and are lived out in you. What is then revealed in you is no longer arrogance, ambition, desires, notions, imaginings, knowledge, and philosophy, but the reality of the truth. People who have no spiritual understanding don’t understand this. After years of listening to sermons, they think, “How is it that every sermon is more or less the same? You’ve been preaching for years about knowing oneself—isn’t it just a matter of recognizing one’s mortal weaknesses and corruption?” Others say that today’s sermons are deeper and more detailed than before, but they have no sense of that. These are the manifestations of people who have no spiritual understanding.

Excerpted from “Only Those Who Understand the Truth Understand Spiritual Matters” in Records of Christ’s Talks

Whether or not you understand spiritual matters has nothing to do with how long it takes you to understand the truth. It has to do with whether you truly understand this aspect of the truth. If, after hearing a truth, you feel you understand it, but when you encounter an issue it turns out you don’t, then you do not understand spiritual matters. If, at the time, someone feels like they have understood what was said but don’t completely get it, but after experiencing for a time it becomes clear to them, and they understand this aspect of the truth, then they have spiritual understanding. It has nothing to do with how many words and phrases they understand. This is related to people’s caliber, as well as to the path they walk, and their pursuit. There are some antichrists who are of good caliber. After you’ve preached to them, they’re able to repeat what you said and even draw inferences from it, so that after others hear them speak, they think it clearer than the sermon you gave. But when something befalls these antichrists, their actions are utterly at odds with the doctrines they understood and they can’t apply what they understand. The sermons they give make it seem like they understand this aspect of the truth, and so they should know what to do, and be able to grasp the principles when something happens to them. But when it does, they go off-message and are liable to espouse some other theory—which proves that they do not understand this aspect of the truth, and what they are preaching is only doctrine to them, a kind of theory, and they don’t understand the truth. When you listen to them preach doctrine, it seems as if they understand it very well, but in fact, they have no spiritual understanding; they do not understand the truth, nor do they pursue the truth.

Excerpted from “Only Those Who Understand the Truth Understand Spiritual Matters” in Records of Christ’s Talks

Astute people and those of true caliber who understand spiritual matters are seekers of the truth; should something happen to them ten times, then, in perhaps eight of those cases, they would be able to gain some inspiration, learn some lesson, attain some enlightenment, and make some progress. When things befall a fool ten times—one who does not understand spiritual matters—not once will it benefit their life, not once will it change them, and not once will it cause them to understand their nature, and that’s the end for them. Each time something happens to them, they fall down, and each time they fall down, they need someone else to support them and coax them; without support and coaxing, they cannot rise. If, each time something happens, they are in danger of falling, and if, each time, they are in danger of being degraded, is this not the end for them? Are there any other grounds for such useless people to be saved? God’s salvation of mankind is a salvation of those who love the truth, a salvation of the part of them with will and resolve, and the part of them that is their yearning for truth and righteousness in their heart. A person’s resolve is the part of them in their heart that yearns for righteousness, goodness, and truth, and is possessed of conscience. God saves this part of people, and through it, He changes their corrupt disposition, so that they may understand and gain the truth, so that their corruption may be cleansed, and their life disposition may be transformed. If you do not have these things within you, you cannot be saved. If, within you, there is no love for the truth or aspiration for righteousness and light; if, whenever you encounter evil, you have neither the will to cast off evil things nor the resolve to suffer hardship; if, moreover, your conscience is numb; if your faculty for receiving truth is also benumbed, and you are unattuned to the truth and to events that arise; and if you are undiscerning in all matters, and unable to handle or resolve things on your own, then there is no way to be saved. Such a person has nothing to recommend them, nothing worth working on. Their conscience is numb, their mind is muddied, and they do not love the truth, nor yearn for righteousness deep in their heart, and, no matter how clearly or transparently God speaks of the truth, they do not respond, as if they were already dead. Aren’t things over for them? A person with a breath left in them may be saved by artificial respiration, but, if they have already died and their soul has left, artificial respiration will do nothing. If, whenever you encounter a problem, you shrink from it and try to avoid it, this means you have not borne witness; as such, you can never be saved, and you are completely done for.

Excerpted from “Confused People Cannot Be Saved” in Records of Christ’s Talks

When determining whether someone has spiritual understanding, is it acceptable to only look at whether they understand the literal meaning of God’s words? (No.) So just what exactly does it mean to have spiritual understanding? How can complete spiritual understanding be achieved? On the one hand, a person must hunger for God’s words, they must put effort into His words, and learn to contemplate them, pray-read them, fellowshiping them, and seek them. What’s the most important thing? They must practice and experience God’s words. Once you have practiced and experienced them, these words become your reality. Only then can you truly understand what the words are referring to, and just what truths they contain. Only then can you attain complete spiritual understanding. But attaining spiritual understanding is not the goal. What is the goal? The goal is to practice the truth, and to understand the truth. If you have a path to practicing the truth, and know how to practice it, and if, after practicing it, you are able to understand the truth within, and come to know the relationships and principles of practice within, then you are someone with spiritual understanding, and the outcome of understanding the truth will have been achieved.

Excerpted from “Only Those Who Understand the Truth Understand Spiritual Matters” in Records of Christ’s Talks

There are some who do not understand spiritual matters, but whose humanity is, nonetheless, quite good. They pay the price and expend themselves willingly, and heed whatever God says with hearts of obedience. Yet, when it comes to the truth, they do not have the capacity to be receptive. However, if they are able to understand some of God’s words, and can check themselves against them, and are then possessed of an entry and a practice, then such people have hope of being saved. They can come gradually to understand spiritual matters by undergoing such an experience for a while. The more intently they read the words of God, the more the Holy Spirit enlightens them; they will be able to compare whatever they understand of God’s words with their own states, to accept His dealing and pruning, His trials and refinement, and His judgment and chastisement. For this, they will pay the price, and, in the end, they will be able to achieve a corresponding change in disposition. Such a person, too, is counted as one who pursues the truth. Do people who can be counted as those who pursue the truth have hope of being saved? What do you say? They do; thus, such people cannot be handed the “death penalty.” On the contrary, it is hard to say what the outcome will be for the sort of people who can understand the truth and hold themselves up against it for comparison, yet never enter it. What is the root of this problem? It is their attitude toward the truth, which is one of contempt and disdain. What does “disdain” mean? It means not being able to accept the truth; it means to despise the truth. It means not to acknowledge the words of God as truth, and not to regard them as important. No matter how much they understand of what they hear, they do not practice; and, no matter the extent to which they hold themselves up against God’s words for comparison, and know what sort of people they are, they still do not practice. The very word “practice” has no bearing on such people, and their salvation will not come easily.

Excerpted from “Only in the Pursuit of the Truth Is There Life Entry” in Records of Christ’s Talks

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