1. What practicing the truth is
Relevant Words of God:
The truth that man needs to possess is found in the word of God, and it is a truth that is the most beneficial and helpful to mankind. It is the tonic and sustenance that your body needs, something that helps man restore his normal humanity. It is a truth that man should be equipped with. The more you practice God’s word, the more quickly your life will blossom, and the clearer the truth will become. As you grow in stature, you will see things of the spiritual world more clearly, and the more strength you will have to triumph over Satan. Much of the truth that you do not understand will be made clear when you practice the word of God. Most people are satisfied to merely understand the text of God’s word and focus on equipping themselves with doctrines rather than on deepening their experience in practice, but is that not the way of the Pharisees? So how can the phrase, “The word of God is life” be real for them? A person’s life cannot grow simply by reading God’s word, but only when the word of God is put into practice. If it is your belief that to understand God’s word is all that is needed to have life and stature, then your understanding is warped. Truly understanding God’s word occurs when you practice the truth, and you must understand that “only by practicing the truth can it ever be understood.” Today, after reading the word of God, you can merely say that you know God’s word, but you cannot say that you understand it. Some say that the only way to practice the truth is to understand it first, but this is only partially correct, and is certainly not entirely accurate. Before you have knowledge of a truth, you have not experienced that truth. Feeling that you understand something you hear in a sermon is not truly understanding—this is just taking possession of the literal words of the truth, and it is not the same as understanding the true meaning therein. Just having a superficial knowledge of the truth does not mean that you actually understand it or have knowledge about it; the true meaning of the truth comes from having experienced it. Therefore, only when you experience the truth can you understand it, and only then can you grasp the hidden parts of it. Deepening your experience is the only way to grasp the connotations, and to understand the essence of the truth. Therefore, you can go everywhere with the truth, but if there is no truth in you, then do not think of trying to convince even your family members, much less religious people. Without the truth you are like fluttering snowflakes, but with the truth you can be happy and free, and none can attack you. No matter how strong a theory is, it cannot overcome the truth. With the truth, the world itself can be swayed and mountains and seas moved, whereas a lack of the truth can lead to strong city walls being reduced to rubble by maggots. This is an obvious fact.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Once You Understand the Truth, You Should Put It Into Practice
What is the most important thing in practicing the truth? Is it not that you must first grasp the principles? What are the principles? The principles are the practical side of the truth. When you read a sentence of God’s words, you think it is the truth, but you do not grasp the principles within it; you feel the sentence is correct, but you do not know in what way it is practical, or what state it is meant to address. You cannot grasp its principles or its path of practice. To you, this truth you perceive is merely doctrine. However, once you grasp the truth reality of that sentence, as well as what God’s requirements are—if you truly understand these things, and are able to pay the price and put them into practice—then you will gain that truth. As you gain that truth, little by little, your corrupt disposition is resolved, and that truth is worked into you. When you are able to put the reality of the truth into practice, and when your performance of your duty, your every action, and your conduct as a person are based in the principles of practice of this truth, are you not then changed? Above all, you have become someone who is in possession of truth reality. Is someone who is in possession of truth reality not the same as someone who acts with principles? And is someone who acts with principles not the same as someone who is in possession of the truth? Is someone who is in possession of the truth not also able to conform to God’s will? That is how these things relate.
Practicing the truth is not saying empty words and reciting set phrases. Rather, it means that no matter what you may encounter in life, as long as it involves the principles of human conduct, perspectives on events, matters of belief in God, the truth principles, or the attitude with which one performs their duty, everyone must make a choice—everyone must have a path on which to practice. For example, if your original viewpoint is that you should not offend anyone, but maintain the peace and avoid making anyone lose face, so that in the future, everyone can get along, then, constricted by this viewpoint, when you see someone do something bad, make a mistake, or commit an act that goes against the principles, you would rather take it upon yourself to make it right than confront that person. Constricted by your viewpoint, you become averse to offending anyone. No matter whose presence you are in, hindered as you are by thoughts of face, of emotions and relationships, or of feelings that have grown over many years of interaction, you will always say nice things to protect that person’s dignity. Where there are things you find unsatisfactory, you only vent your anger behind their backs and make private assertions, instead of harming their face. What do you think of such conduct? Is it not that of a yes-man who is smooth and deceitful? It violates the principles; is it not lowly to act in such a manner? Those who act like this are not good people, nor are they noble. No matter how much you have suffered, and no matter the price you have paid, if you conduct yourself without principles, then you have failed and will meet no approval before God, nor be remembered by Him, nor please Him. Having realized this, do you feel distressed? (Yes.) The distress you feel is proof that you still love the truth, that you have a heart of love for the truth, a will to love the truth, and that your conscience is still perceptive. … Perception provides you with the ability to distinguish between right and wrong, and between positive and negative things. With perception and the ability to practice discernment, it is easy to hate such negative things and to hate incorrect views and corrupt dispositions. This is because, at the very least, you already have the most fundamental thing—a sense of conscience. This sense of conscience is all too valuable, as is the ability to distinguish between right and wrong, as well as having that part of humanity that loves righteousness and positive things. These are the most precious things—they are the three most desirable and valuable things a person can have, and once possessed, the truth may be put into practice. Let us set aside the second two for now. As long as you have a perceptive conscience, will a wicked person who flagrantly commits an evil act that is a disruption and disturbance stir up feelings and opinions in you? (Yes.) If you have opinions and feelings, you have met one of the most basic requirements for practicing the truth. If you can see and feel that what they did is an evil act, and you step forward to take action, is this not practicing the truth? What is it to practice the truth? (Exposing, reporting, and stopping these acts.) Yes. When such things arise, and you fulfill your responsibility according to the principles, this is practicing the truth.
—“Performing Duty Well Requires a Conscience, at the Very Least” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days
If you are capable of practicing the truth, then in everything that happens to you in your life, everyone you have contact with, and all the work that God entrusts to you, you must check it against the truths that you understand and put them into practice. That is, when something happens, by what means should you act, and what should be the theoretical foundation and basis of your existence? The words of God. Suppose, for example, you are given a duty: In the way you perform it, you must have a path by which you practice, which first requires a basis in the theory of the truth. How should this duty be carried out in order to be in accordance with God’s will? You must not be careless and perfunctory; in terms of the passive aspect, this is the very least that should be accomplished. Suppose, for example, you are washing dishes. This is a duty, one that you have accepted. You give each dish a quick rinse with water, and then stop. Is this practicing the truth? You think that you have practiced the truth. You have washed the dishes; you have rinsed them clean. So, what were you thinking whilst washing them? What was your principle for washing dishes? If you follow a principle while doing this, then you are practicing the truth. So, what should you do in order to be practicing the truth when you are given a task that is your duty? Is there a principle? The principle in question is the theoretical basis. First of all, you should not be careless or perfunctory; first, abide by this principle. What should you be thinking in your mind, and what should you do, in order to not be careless or perfunctory? There are several steps. You see that the dishes are dirty and scummy, that just rinsing it is not enough; there could be bacteria, so you must use washing-up liquid to kill the bacteria, rinse the dish several times to get it clean, and give it a thorough inspection. This is not being careless and perfunctory. This is having a principle in your mind, and doing things according to principle. You do not simply give the dish a quick glance and a rinse and leave the job there, ignoring whether there is grease or bacteria on it, and thinking to yourself, “I was asked to do it, so I’ll do it—as long as I do it, then I’m not being careless or perfunctory.” This is not practicing the truth, this is just deploying some energy, doing service, engaging in brute toil. You finished washing the dishes; how is it that you were not practicing the truth? How has this become just “deploying some energy”? If you do not act according to principle, then that is not practicing the truth, and it means that the task was done without adhering to the truth principles; there was no principle in your heart, you acted based on your own inclinations, mood, emotions, imaginings, and opinions. “I’ll give it a quick rinse, that’s all—why use washing-up liquid? There’s no bacteria. Just use it; there won’t be any problem.” Is that not your own opinion? You think in that way, so you act according to your own opinions—this is not practicing the truth. To act according to the truth principles, you must think to yourself, “I must not be careless or perfunctory, the principle must be to wash it clean and kill the bacteria, so it’ll be safe and hygienic for people to use.” This is a principle, and if you do everything based around this principle, you will not be careless or perfunctory, but will be diligent, will do your best, in which case you will abide by your duty with all your heart and all your mind. That is what practicing the truth is.
—“The Most Important Part of Believing in God Is Putting the Truth Into Practice” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days
Exactly what are the criteria for putting the truth into practice? How is whether you are putting the truth into practice measured and defined? How does God determine whether you are someone who accepts His words upon hearing them? He looks at whether, during the time that you have believed in Him and listened to sermons, there has been any change in your internal state, in your disobedience toward Him, and in the essence of the various aspects of your corrupt disposition. He looks at whether you have replaced these with the truth, and at whether you have changed in your external behavior and actions or in the essence of your corrupt disposition deep within your heart. God measures you according to these things. Having listened to sermons and eaten and drunk of God’s words for all these years, are your changes just superficial, or essential? Have there been changes in your disposition? Have there been changes in your misconceptions about God, your disobedience toward God, and in how you approach the commissions and duties that God entrusts to you? Has there been a reduction in your disobedience against God? When something happens and you are revealed to be disobedient, are you able to reflect upon yourself? Are you capable of obedience? Have you become more loyal to the commissions and duties that God entrusts to you, and is this loyalty pure? During the time that you have been listening to sermons, have your motives, ambitions, desires, and intentions been cleansed? Are these not criteria for measurement? Then there are also your misconceptions about God: Do you still cling to your original notions, vague and abstract imaginings, and conclusions? Do you still have complaints and other negative emotions? Have there been changes in terms of these things? If there has not been any change in these aspects, then what kind of person are you? This proves one fact: You are not someone who practices the truth.
—“Only by Practicing God’s Words Can One Achieve a Change in Disposition” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days
Many people have certain outward behaviors, such as being able to cast aside their families and careers and fulfill their duties, and therefore they believe they are practicing the truth. However, God does not recognize that they are practicing the truth. If everything you do has a personal motive behind it and is adulterated, then you are not practicing the truth; you are simply exhibiting superficial conduct. Strictly speaking, your conduct will probably be condemned by God; it will not be praised or remembered by Him. Dissecting this further, you are doing evil and your conduct is in opposition to God. From the outside, you are not interrupting or disturbing anything and you have not done real damage or violated any truth. It appears to be logical and reasonable, yet the essence of your actions pertains to doing evil and resisting God. Therefore, you should determine whether there has been a change in your disposition and whether you are putting the truth into practice by looking at the motives behind your actions in light of God’s words. It does not depend on a human view of whether your actions conform to the human imagination and human intentions, or whether they are suited to your taste; such things are not important. Rather, it depends on God saying whether or not you are conforming to His will, whether or not your actions possess truth reality, and whether or not they meet His requirements and standards. Only measuring yourself against God’s requirements is accurate. Transformation in disposition and putting the truth into practice are not as simple and easy as people imagine. Do you understand this now? Do you have any experience with this? When it comes to a problem’s essence, you might not understand it; your entry has been overly superficial. You run about all day long, from dawn until dusk, rising early and going to bed late, yet you have not achieved transformation in your life disposition, and you cannot grasp what such a transformation involves. This means your entry is too shallow, does it not? Regardless of how long you have believed in God, you might not sense the essence and deep things to do with achieving transformation in disposition. Can it be said that your disposition has changed? How do you know whether God praises you or not? At the very least, you will feel exceptionally steadfast regarding everything that you do, and you will feel the Holy Spirit guiding and enlightening you and working in you while you are fulfilling your duties, doing any work in God’s house, or ordinarily. Your conduct will fit hand-in-hand with God’s words, and once you have gained a certain degree of experience, you will feel that how you acted in the past was relatively suitable. If, however, after gaining experience for a period of time, you feel that some of the things you did in the past were not suitable, and you are dissatisfied with them, and feel that indeed there was no truth in the things you did, then this proves that everything you did was done in resistance to God. It is evidence that your service was full of rebelliousness, resistance, and human ways of acting.
—“What Should Be Known About Transforming One’s Disposition” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days
If you believe in God but do not pursue the truth, then you could believe for ten years without experiencing any change. In the end, you will think that this is precisely what it means to believe in God; you will think it is pretty much the same as how you were living in the world previously, and that being alive is meaningless. This truly shows that without the truth, life is empty. You may be able to speak some words of doctrine, but you will still feel uncomforted and uneasy. If people have some knowledge of God, know how to live a meaningful life, and can do some things that satisfy God, then they will feel that this is real life, that only by living in this way will their lives have meaning, and that they have to live this way in order to bring a little satisfaction to God and feel gratified. If they can consciously satisfy God, put the truth into practice, forsake themselves, abandon their own ideas, and be obedient and considerate toward God’s will—if they are able to do all these things consciously—then this is what it means to accurately put the truth into practice, and to genuinely put the truth into practice, and this is very unlike their previous reliance on their imaginations and their sticking to doctrines and rules. In actual fact, it is exhausting to do anything when they do not understand the truth, exhausting to adhere to doctrines and rules, and exhausting to have no goals and to be doing things blindly. Only with the truth can they be free—this is no lie—and with it, they can do things easily and happily. Those who possess this sort of state are people who possess the truth; they are the ones whose dispositions have been transformed.
—“Only by Pursuing the Truth Can One Achieve a Change in Disposition” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days