48. The Principles of True Repentance
(1) Accept and submit to God’s judgment and chastisement. Come to see the truth of your corruption, purify your corrupt disposition, and live out a human likeness;
(2) When you have committed a transgression, be capable of knowing yourself through self-reflection, and be able to seek the truth and act according to the principles. Achieve genuine change, thus becoming one who truly submits to God;
(3) Be able to practice and experience God’s words, cast off falsehood and disguise, and lie and deceive no longer; rather, perform your duty well out of loyalty, and become an honest person;
(4) Experience God’s judgment, chastisement, trials, and refinement, come to know His righteous disposition, and be able to fear God, shun evil, and live before Him.
Relevant Words of God:
Everyone has at some time opposed God and everyone has at some time rebelled against God. However, if you willingly obey the incarnate God, and from this point satisfy God’s heart with your loyalty, practice the truth that you ought, perform your duty as you ought, and keep the regulations that you ought, then you are one who is willing to cast away your rebelliousness to satisfy God and one who can be perfected by God. Should you stubbornly refuse to see your errors and have no intention of repenting yourself, should you persist in your rebellious conduct without the least intention of cooperating with God and satisfying Him, then such an obstinate and incorrigible person as you will certainly be punished and will certainly never be one to be perfected by God. This being so, you are the enemy of God today and tomorrow you will also be the enemy of God, and so too will you remain the enemy of God the day after; you will forever be an opponent of God and the enemy of God. In that case, how could God possibly let you off? It is in the nature of man to oppose God, but man must not seek out on purpose the “secret” of opposing God just because changing his nature is an insurmountable task. If that were the case, then you had better walk away before it were too late, lest your chastisement in the future become more severe, and lest your brutish nature erupt and become ungovernable, until your fleshly body were terminated by God in the end. You believe in God to receive blessings; but if in the end only misfortune befell you, would not that be a shame? I urge you, you had better make another plan. Anything that you can do would be better than believing in God: Surely it cannot be that there is just this one path. Would you not go on surviving if you did not seek the truth? Why must you be at odds with God in this way?
Excerpted from “All People Who Do Not Know God Are People Who Oppose God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Every person, in the course of living their life of faith in God, has done things that resist and deceive God. Some misdeeds need not be recorded as an offense, but some are unforgivable; for there are many deeds that violate the administrative decrees, which offend the disposition of God. Many who are concerned about their own fates may ask what these deeds are. You should know that you are arrogant and haughty by nature, and unwilling to submit to the facts. For this reason, I shall tell you bit by bit after you have reflected upon yourselves. 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.
Excerpted from “Three Admonitions” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
For a long time, people who believe in God have all been earnestly hoping for a beautiful destination, and all of God’s believers hope that good fortune will suddenly come to them. They all hope that before they know it, they will find themselves peacefully seated at one place or another in heaven. But I say that these people, with their lovely thoughts, have never known whether they are qualified to receive such good fortune that falls down from heaven or even to sit on a seat there. You, at present, have a good knowledge of yourselves, yet you still hope to escape the disasters of the last days and the hand of the Almighty when He punishes the evil ones. It seems as though having sweet dreams and wanting things just how they like is a common feature of all people whom Satan has corrupted, and not some stroke of genius by any lone individual. Even so, I still wish to put an end to these extravagant desires of yours, as well as your eagerness to gain blessings. Given that your transgressions are numerous, and that the fact of your rebelliousness is ever-growing, how can these things fit with your lovely blueprints for the future? If you want to go on as you please, remaining in the wrong with nothing holding you back, yet at the same time you still want your dreams to come true, then I urge you to continue in your stupor and never wake up—for yours is an empty dream and in the presence of the righteous God, He will not make an exception for you. If you simply want your dreams to come true, then never dream; rather, forever face the truth and the facts. This is the only way that you can be saved. What, in concrete terms, are the steps of this method?
First, take a look at all your transgressions, and examine any behavior and thoughts you have that do not conform to the truth.
This is one thing that you can do easily, and I believe that all intelligent people are able to do this. However, those who never know what is meant by transgression and truth are the exception, because on a fundamental level, they are not intelligent people. I am talking to people who have been approved by God, are honest, have not seriously violated any administrative decrees, and can easily discern their own transgressions. Though this is one thing that I require of you, and that is easy for you to accomplish, it is not the only thing that I require of you. No matter what, I hope that you will not laugh in private at this requirement, and especially that you will not look down on it or take it lightly. You should treat it seriously, and not dismiss it.
Secondly, for each of your transgressions and disobediences, you should look for a corresponding truth, and then use these truths to resolve those issues. After that, replace your transgressive acts and disobedient thoughts and acts with the practice of the truth.
Thirdly, you should be an honest person, not someone who is always being clever and constantly deceitful. (Here I am asking you again to be an honest person.)
If you can accomplish all three of these things, then you are one of the fortunate—a person whose dreams come true and who receives good fortune. Perhaps you will treat these three unappealing requirements seriously, or perhaps you will treat them irresponsibly. Whichever, My purpose is to fulfill your dreams and put your ideals into practice, not to make fun of you or to make a fool out of you.
Excerpted from “Transgressions Will Lead Man to Hell” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
The fact is that every person, to a greater or lesser extent, has transgressed. When you do not know something is a transgression, you regard it with a hazy state of mind, or perhaps you still cling to your own opinions, practices, and ways of understanding—but, one day, whether through fellowship with your brothers and sisters or by God’s revelation, you learn this thing is a transgression, an offense against God. What will your attitude be then? Will you still be holding on, reasoning, arguing, hewing to your own ideas, believing that what you are doing accords with the truth? This involves your attitude toward God. With what attitude did David regard his transgressions? (Remorse.) Remorse—he would no longer commit them. So, what did he do? He prayed asking God to punish him: “If I make this mistake again, may God punish me and cause me to die!” Such was his resolve; that was true remorse. Can ordinary people achieve this? For ordinary people, it is good if they do not try to argue or tacitly admit responsibility, and, in their hearts, they yet think: “I hope no one brings this up again. I’d be humiliated.” Is this true remorse? To be truly remorseful, you must discard your past evil, put it down, and not do such a thing again. Well, what should be done, then? Will it work just to discard the evil, not to do that thing and not to think of it? What is your attitude toward God? What approach will you take to God exposing you now? (We will accept God’s punishment.) Accepting God’s punishment, His judgment and chastisement—that is one part of it. The other part is accepting God’s scrutiny while you accept His punishment. When you have accepted both parts, how will your resolve be? When you encounter such circumstances and such matters in the future, what will you do? Without true remorse, one cannot discard an evil, and anywhere, at any time, they could go back to their same old way, doing the same bad thing, committing the same transgression, making the same mistake over and over and over again. Is this not the attitude one has toward the truth? This reveals man’s attitude toward the truth and toward God. What, then, can someone do to cast off a transgression completely? Practice the truth? One must have the correct attitude toward the truth. And what attitude should someone have and how should they practice to demonstrate their correct attitude toward the truth? What will you do if you fall into temptation when you come across this issue again? Two words: “Stay away!” At the same time, one must set one’s resolve to be punished by God if one makes the same sort of mistake again. To do so is to hate the thing from the bottom of one’s heart, to see it as the most abhorrent thing, an evil thing, a thing that offends God, an eternal stain. The Bible says: “A prudent man foresees the evil, and hides himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished” (Pro 22:3). That is not simplicity—it is stupidity, plain and simple. “Stay away”—how is that as a way to practice? (It is good.) Yet are there times when one cannot stay away? What will you do then? You must pray earnestly to God in your heart, and ask Him to orchestrate things. Some trials are also temptations. Why does God allow such things to befall you? They do not happen by chance; they are God trying and testing you. If you do not accept God’s test and try to ignore it, does this not reveal your attitude toward God? Does it not speak of man’s attitude toward God that you turn your back on the circumstances He arranges for you and the trials He gives you, and have an attitude of impertinence, and neither pray nor seek, nor search in those circumstances and trials for the path of practice? There are those who say: “I haven’t had such thoughts, and I don’t have that intention.” If you are without intention, then what is your attitude toward God? Some attitudes are deliberate and intended, while some are unintentional—what is yours? Is one who is impertinent and does not take God seriously someone who loves the truth? It is established that one who treats the truth and God as children’s games, as empty air, is not someone who loves the truth.
Excerpted from God’s Fellowship
Some people follow their own wills when they act. They violate the principles and admit only that they are arrogant, that they made a mistake only because they do not have the truth. In their hearts, they even complain, “No one else sticks their neck out, just me—and in the end, I get stuck with the responsibility. That’s dumb of me. I won’t do the same thing next time, sticking my neck out. Birds that stick their necks out get shot!” What do you think of this attitude? Is it an attitude of repentance? (No.) What attitude is it? Through the mistake they make, they become slippery and deceitful—a fall in the pit, a gain in your wit, so to speak. “I’m lucky that didn’t lead to a disaster. If I caused a disaster, I’d go to hell and be destroyed. I have to be more careful in the future.” They do not seek the truth, using their pettiness and cunning schemes to handle and treat the matter. Can they gain the truth in this way? They cannot—they do not know to repent. The first thing to be done when repenting is to know the thing you have done and to understand where you have erred, the essence of the problem, and the disposition you have revealed; reflect on these things and accept them, then practice according to the truth. This is the attitude of repentance. If, on the other hand, your way of considering the issue is more slippery than before, and your techniques are more clever and concealed, and you have more methods to deal with it, then the problem is not quite as simple as being deceitful. You are using underhanded means and you have secrets you will not divulge, and what you are doing is evil. God sees you as overly hard and evil, one who superficially admits that they have erred and accepts being dealt with and pruned, yet who is without even the least bit of a repentant attitude. This is because, in the aftermath of the event or while it is happening, you do not practice according to the truth at all, nor do you seek it. Your attitude is one of using Satan’s methods, techniques and philosophies to resolve or sidestep the problem, to wrap it up in a neat package so that others can see no trace of the problem, nor see the package’s seams—and, in the end, you feel you are quite smart. These are the things God sees, rather than your having truly reflected, repented, and confessed your sin in the face of the matter that has befallen you, then going on to seek the truth and practicing according to the truth. Your attitude is not one of seeking the truth or of practicing the truth, nor is it one of submission to God’s sovereignty and arrangements, but one of using Satan’s techniques and methods to resolve your problem. You give others a false impression and resist being exposed by God, and you are confrontational and defensive regarding the circumstances that God has orchestrated for you. This means your heart is more closed than before. If you are more closed to God, can you still live in the light, with peace and joy? No longer—you have shunned the truth and shunned God. Is such a state prevalent in people? “I was dealt with this time. Next time, I’ve got to be more careful, and smarter. Being smart is the foundation of life—and people who aren’t smart are dummies.” If you are always guiding and goading yourself so, will you ever get anywhere? Will you be able to gain the truth? If an issue befalls you and you can seek the truth, then you can understand an aspect of the truth and gain that aspect of the truth. What can be achieved by understanding the truth? When you understand an aspect of the truth, you understand an aspect of God’s will, and you understand why God visited this thing on you, why He would make such a demand of you, why He would orchestrate circumstances to chasten and discipline you so, why He would use this matter to discipline you, and why you have fallen down, failed, and been exposed in this matter. If you can understand these things, you will be able to pursue the truth and will achieve life entry. If you cannot understand these things and do not accept these facts, but insist on opposition and resistance, on using your own techniques to cover up after yourself, on facing all others and facing God with a false countenance, then you will be forever unable to gain the truth.
Excerpted from “Only by Pursuing the Truth Can One Resolve Their Notions and Misunderstandings of God” in Records of Christ’s Talks
Some people have, in the past, revealed certain dispositions of an antichrist: They were wanton and arbitrary, it was always their way or the highway. But through being dealt with and pruned, through brothers and sisters sharing fellowship with them, through being reallocated or replaced, by suffering some major setbacks, being negative for a time and then thinking, “No matter what, I still have to prioritize fulfilling my duty properly. I am walking the path of the antichrist, but I haven’t been classed as one, so I must be good in my belief, I must pursue in earnest. There’s nothing wrong with the path of pursuing the truth,”—bit-by-bit, they turn themselves around, and then they repent. There are good manifestations in them, they seek the truth principles when performing their duty, and seek the truth principles when engaging with others, too. In every regard, they are heading in a better direction. Have they not then changed? This is turning from walking the path of the antichrist to walking the path of practicing and pursuing the truth. There is hope for them, they have a chance, they can turn themselves around. Can you class such people as antichrists because they once exhibited some manifestations of an antichrist or walked the path of the antichrists? No. Antichrists do not repent, they have no shame and, furthermore, their dispositions are fierce and evil, and they detest the truth to an extreme degree. What does their extreme detestation determine? That they can never repent. If they detest the truth to such a degree, can they practice the truth, and are they able to repent? Impossible. If there is one thing for certain about people who are able to repent, it is that they have made mistakes but are able to accept the judgment and chastisement of God, are able to accept the truths spoken by God, and are able to try as hard as they can to cooperate, taking the words of God as their own personal maxims, and making God’s words into the reality of their lives. They accept the truth, and deep down, they do not detest it. Is this not the difference? Antichrists, on the other hand, do not listen to anyone, they do not trust that the truth is the truth, and they do not acknowledge that the words of God are the truth.
Excerpted from “For Leaders and Workers, Choosing a Path Is of Utmost Importance (8)” in Records of Christ’s Talks
Why do many people follow their fleshly preferences? Because they consider themselves to be pretty good, feeling that their actions are right and justified, that they have no faults, and even that they are entirely in the right, they are therefore capable of acting with the assumption that justice is on their side. When one recognizes what one’s true nature is—how ugly, how despicable, and how pitiful—then one is not overly proud of oneself, not so wildly arrogant, and not so pleased with oneself as before. Such a person feels, “I must be earnest and down to earth, and practice some of God’s word. If not, then I will not measure up to the standard of being human, and will be ashamed to live in God’s presence.” One then truly sees oneself as paltry, as truly insignificant. At this time, it becomes easy for one to carry out truth, and one will appear to be somewhat like a human should be. Only when people truly loathe themselves are they able to forsake the flesh. If they do not loathe themselves, they will be unable to forsake the flesh. Truly hating oneself comprises a few things: First, knowing one’s own nature; and second, seeing oneself as needy and pitiful, seeing oneself to be extremely small and insignificant, and seeing one’s own pitiful and dirty soul. When one fully sees what one truly is, and this outcome is achieved, one then truly gains knowledge of oneself, and it can be said that one has come to know oneself fully. Only then can one truly hate oneself, going so far as to curse oneself, and truly feel that one has been corrupted profoundly by Satan such that one does not even resemble a human being. Then, one day, when the threat of death appears, such a person will think, “This is God’s righteous punishment. God is indeed righteous; I really should die!” At this point, he will not lodge a complaint, much less blame God, simply feeling that he is so needy and pitiful, so filthy and corrupt that he should be wiped out by God, and a soul like his is not fit to live on earth. At this point, this person will not resist God, much less betray God.
Excerpted from “To Know Oneself Is Primarily About Knowing Human Nature” in Records of Christ’s Talks
Have you figured out a pattern of how the Holy Spirit works? The Holy Spirit usually works on those whose hearts are honest, and He works when people get into trouble and are seeking the truth. God will not pay heed to those who have no shred of human reason or conscience. If someone is very honest but, for a period of time, his heart is turned away from God, he has no desire to improve, he falls into a negative state and does not come out of it, when he does not pray or seek the truth to resolve his state, and he does not cooperate, then the Holy Spirit will not work in him during such occasional darkening of his state or his temporary degeneration. How, then, can someone without the consciousness of humanity be worked in by the Holy Spirit? That is even more impossible. What, then, should such people do? Is there a way for them to follow? They must genuinely repent and be honest people. How can one be an honest person? First, your heart must open up to God, and you must seek truth from God; once you understand the truth, you must then practice it. You must then submit to God’s arrangements and allow God to take charge of you. Only in this way will you be praised by God. You must first set aside your own prestige and vanity, and forgo your own interests. Try to set them aside first of all, and once you have set them aside, put your entire body and soul into your duty and into the work of testifying for God, and then see how God guides you, see whether peace and joy arise within you, whether you have this confirmation. You must first genuinely repent, surrender yourself, open your heart to God, and set aside the things that you treasure. If you continue to hold on to them while making requests of God, will you be able to gain the work of the Holy Spirit? The work of the Holy Spirit is conditional, and God is a God who hates evil and who is holy. If people always hold on to these things, constantly closing themselves off to God and rejecting God’s work and guidance, then God will stop working on them. It is not that God must work within every person, or that He will force you to do this or that. He does not coerce you. The work of evil spirits is to force humans to do this and that, and even to possess and control people. The Holy Spirit works especially gently; He moves you, and you do not feel it. You simply feel as though you have unconsciously come to understand or realize something. This is how the Holy Spirit moves people, and, if they submit, they will find themselves able to truly repent.
Excerpted from “Give Your True Heart to God, and You Can Obtain the Truth” in Records of Christ’s Talks
While following God, because of their foolishness and ignorance and due to their various corrupt dispositions, people often reveal themselves to be disobedient, and they misunderstand or even resent God. They go astray, and some even become negative and slacken in their work, resenting God and losing their faith. Disobedient behaviors often arise over various stages of people’s lives. They have God in their hearts and know He is at work, yet they sometimes cannot get their heads around that fact. Though they are able to submit superficially, they simply cannot accept it deep down. What makes it evident that deep down they cannot accept it? One way this manifests is that, despite knowing everything, they are simply unable to put aside what they have done and come before God to admit to their mistakes and say, “God, I was wrong. I won’t act like that anymore. I will seek Your will and do as You’d have me do. I didn’t use to heed You; I was immature, disobedient, and foolish. I know that now.” With what attitude do people admit to their mistakes? (They want to make a turnaround.) If people have conscience and rationality, and yearn for the truth, yet they never know to make a turnaround in their mistakes, believing instead that the past is past and feeling certain that they are never wrong, then what sort of disposition does this show? What sort of behavior? What is the essence of such behavior? Such people are hardened and, come what may, that is the path they will follow. God does not like such people. What did Jonah say when he first expressed God’s words to the Ninevites? (“Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown” (Jonah 3:4).) How did the Ninevites react to these words? As soon as they saw that God was going to destroy them, they took up sackcloth and ashes, and hastened to confess their sins to Him. This is what it means to repent. Such repentance presents man with an enormous opportunity. What opportunity is that? It is the opportunity to keep on living. Without such repentance, it would be hard for you to continue forward, whether in your performance of duty or in your search for salvation. At every stage—whether when God is disciplining or chastening you, or when He is reminding and exhorting you—as long as a conflict has occurred between you and God, yet you continue to cling to your own ideas, viewpoints, and attitudes, then even though your steps are headed forward, the conflict between you and God, your misunderstandings and resentment of Him, and your rebelliousness will not be rectified, and, if you do not make a turnaround, then God, for His part, will eliminate you. Though you have not let go of the duty at hand, and are able to uphold it, and though you have accepted God’s commission and are loyal to it, there will forever remain by you the knot of the dispute that has arisen between you and God. If you do not untie it, or let go of it, and instead continue to believe that God is mistaken and that you have been wronged, then this means you have not made a turnaround. Why does God place such importance on making a turnaround for people? With what attitude should a created being regard the Creator? An attitude that acknowledges that the Creator is right, no matter what He does. If you do not acknowledge this, that the Creator is the truth, the way, and the life will be but hollow words to you. If they are but hollow words to you, will God still be able to save you? He will not. You would be unqualified; God does not save people like you. There are some who say, “God asks that people be repentant, and that they know to make a turnaround. Well, in many things, I haven’t made a turnaround. Do I still have time to do it?” Yes, there is still time. Additionally, some say, “In what things do I have to make a turnaround? Things in the past are gone and forgotten.” If your disposition does not change even for a single day, and if even a single day goes by without your coming to know what in your actions does not accord with the truth and what cannot accord with God, then that knot that exists between you and God has not yet been untied; the matter has not been resolved, nor has it passed. This disposition is within you; this idea, viewpoint, and attitude is inside you. As soon as the right circumstances appear, this viewpoint of yours will once again emerge, and your conflict with God will flare up. Thus, though you may not rectify the past, you must rectify things that will happen in the future. How are they to be rectified? You must make a turnaround and put aside your ideas and intentions. Once you have this intent, yours will naturally also be an attitude of submission. However, to speak a bit more precisely, this actually refers to people making a turnaround in their attitude toward God, the Creator; it is a recognition and affirmation of the fact that the Creator is the truth, the way, and the life. If you can turn yourself around, this demonstrates that you can put aside those things you think are right, or those things that mankind—which is corrupt—thinks collectively to be right; and, instead, you are acknowledging that God’s words are the truth and positive things. If you can have this attitude, it proves your recognition of the identity of the Creator and of His essence. This is how God views the issue, and He therefore considers it especially important.
Excerpted from “Only by Resolving One’s Notions Can One Enter the Right Track of Believing in God (3)” in Records of Christ’s Talks
The Repentance of Nineveh’s King Wins Jehovah God’s Commendation
When the king of Nineveh heard this news, he arose from his throne, took off his robe, dressed himself in sackcloth and sat in ashes. He then proclaimed that no one in the city would be allowed to taste anything, and that no sheep, oxen or any other livestock would be allowed to graze or drink water. Man and livestock alike were to don sackcloth, and the people were to make earnest entreaties to God. The king also proclaimed that every one of them would turn away from their evil ways and forsake the violence in their hands. Judging from this series of actions, the king of Nineveh had true repentance in his heart. This series of actions he took—arising from his throne, casting off his king’s robe, wearing sackcloth and sitting in ashes—tells people that the king of Nineveh was laying aside his royal status and donning sackcloth alongside the common people. This is to say that the king of Nineveh did not occupy his royal post to continue his evil way or the violence in his hands after hearing the announcement from Jehovah God; rather, he laid aside the authority he held and repented before Jehovah God. At this moment the king of Nineveh was not repenting as a king; he had come before God to repent and confess his sins as an ordinary subject of God. Moreover, he also told the entire city to repent and confess their sins before Jehovah God in the same manner as he had; additionally, he had a specific plan for how to do so, as seen in the scriptures: “Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water: … and cry mightily to God: yes, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands.” As the city’s ruler, the king of Nineveh possessed supreme status and power, and could do anything he wished to. When faced with Jehovah God’s announcement, he could have ignored the matter or simply repented and confessed his sins alone; as for whether or not the people in the city chose to repent, he could have completely ignored the matter. However, the king of Nineveh did not do this at all. Not only did he arise from his throne, wear sackcloth and ashes and repent and confess his sins before Jehovah God, but he also ordered all people and livestock within the city to do the same. He even ordered the people to “cry mightily to God.” Through this series of actions, the king of Nineveh truly accomplished that which a ruler should. His series of actions is one that was difficult for any king in human history to achieve, and indeed, no other king achieved these things. These actions can be called unprecedented in human history, and they are worthy of being both commemorated and imitated by mankind. Since the dawn of man, every king had led his subjects to resist and oppose God. No one had ever led his subjects to entreat God to seek redemption for their wickedness, receive Jehovah God’s pardon and avoid imminent punishment. The king of Nineveh, however, was able to lead his subjects to turn to God, to leave their respective evil ways behind and abandon the violence in their hands. Furthermore, he was also able to put aside his throne, and in return, Jehovah God had a change of mind and felt regret, retracting His wrath and allowing the people of the city to survive, keeping them from destruction. The king’s actions can only be called a rare miracle in human history, and even a model example of corrupt humanity repenting and confessing their sins before God.
Excerpted from “God Himself, the Unique II” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
The True Repentance in the Ninevites’ Hearts Wins Them God’s Mercy and Changes Their Own Outcomes
Was there any contradiction between God’s change of heart and His wrath? Of course not! This is because God’s tolerance at that particular time had its reason. What reason might this be? It is the one given in the Bible: “Every person turned away from their evil way” and “abandoned the violence in their hands.”
This “evil way” does not refer to a handful of evil acts, but to the evil source from which people’s behavior springs. “Turning away from one’s evil way” means that those in question will never commit these actions again. In other words, they will never again behave in this evil way; the method, source, purpose, intent and principle of their actions have all changed; they will never again use those methods and principles to bring enjoyment and happiness to their hearts. The “abandon” in “abandon the violence in one’s hands” means to lay down or to cast aside, to fully break with the past and to never turn back. When the people of Nineveh abandoned the violence in their hands, this proved and represented their true repentance. God observes people’s outward appearances as well as their hearts. When God observed the true repentance in the hearts of the Ninevites without question and also observed that they had left their evil ways and abandoned the violence in their hands, He changed His heart. This is to say that these people’s conduct and behavior and various ways of doing things, as well as their true confession and repentance of sins in their hearts, caused God to change His heart, to change His intentions, to retract His decision and not to punish or destroy them. Thus, the people of Nineveh achieved a different outcome for themselves. They redeemed their own lives and at the same time won God’s mercy and tolerance, at which point God also retracted His wrath.
Excerpted from “God Himself, the Unique II” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
God’s Mercy and Tolerance Are Not Rare—Man’s True Repentance Is
Regardless of how angry God had been with the Ninevites, as soon as they declared a fast and donned sackcloth and ashes, His heart began to soften and He began to change His mind. When He proclaimed to them that He would destroy their city—the moment prior to their confession and repentance for their sins—God was still angry with them. Once they had carried out a series of repentant acts, God’s anger for the people of Nineveh gradually transformed into mercy and tolerance for them. There is nothing contradictory about the coinciding revelation of these two aspects of God’s disposition in the same event. So, how should one understand and know this lack of contradiction? God expressed and revealed each of these two polar-opposite essences in turn as the people of Nineveh repented, allowing people to see the realness and the unoffendableness of God’s essence. God used His attitude to tell people the following: It is not that God does not tolerate people, or that He does not want to show mercy to them; rather, it is that they rarely truly repent to God, and it is rare that people truly turn away from their evil ways and abandon the violence in their hands. In other words, when God is angry with man, He hopes that man will be able to truly repent, and indeed He hopes to see man’s true repentance, in which case He will then liberally continue to bestow His mercy and tolerance upon man. This is to say that man’s evil conduct incurs God’s wrath, whereas God’s mercy and tolerance are bestowed upon those who listen to God and truly repent before Him, upon those who can turn away from their evil ways and abandon the violence in their hands. God’s attitude was very clearly revealed in His treatment of the Ninevites: God’s mercy and tolerance are not at all difficult to obtain, and what He requires is one’s true repentance. As long as people turn away from their evil ways and abandon the violence in their hands, God will change His heart and His attitude toward them.
Excerpted from “God Himself, the Unique II” in The Word Appears in the Flesh