44. The Principles of Knowing Oneself Through Self-Reflection
(1) It is necessary to use every sentence of God’s words, in which He judges and exposes man, as the basis for frequent self-reflection. One should strive to measure themselves against each line of His words;
(2) In all matters, reflect on whether there are expressions of your corruption in your words, behavior, or manner, or in your thoughts or ideas; and on whether they accord with the truth or offend God’s disposition;
(3) It is necessary that one seize their transgressions and expressions of corruption when reflecting on themselves, that they may come to know their nature essence and see how pitiful they are;
(4) When faced with being pruned and dealt with, with trials and refinement, or with failures and setbacks, one should pray to God all the more and learn to submit to the truth and forsake the flesh. One must never rationalize;
(5) To use false leaders’ and antichrists’ experiences of failing and falling down in order to reflect on oneself is the best training; it redoubles the lessons one is taught.
Relevant Words of God:
Man’s corrupt disposition stems from his being poisoned and trampled upon by Satan, from the egregious harm that Satan has inflicted upon his thinking, morality, insight, and sense. It is precisely because the fundamental things of man have been corrupted by Satan, and are utterly unlike how God originally created them, that man opposes God and does not understand the truth. Thus, changes in man’s disposition should begin with changes in his thinking, insight, and sense that will change his knowledge of God and his knowledge of the truth. Those who were born in the most deeply corrupted of all lands are even more ignorant of what God is, or what it means to believe in God. The more corrupted people are, the less they know the existence of God, and the poorer their sense and insight. The source of man’s opposition and rebelliousness against God is his corruption by Satan. Because of Satan’s corruption, man’s conscience has grown numb; he is immoral, his thoughts are degenerate, and he has a backward mental outlook. Before he was corrupted by Satan, man naturally followed God and obeyed His words after hearing them. He was naturally of sound sense and conscience, and of normal humanity. After being corrupted by Satan, man’s original sense, conscience, and humanity grew dull and were impaired by Satan. Thus, he has lost his obedience and love toward God. Man’s sense has become aberrant, his disposition has become the same as that of an animal, and his rebelliousness toward God is ever more frequent and grievous. Yet man still neither knows nor recognizes this, and merely opposes and rebels blindly. Man’s disposition is revealed in expressions of his sense, insight, and conscience; because his sense and insight are unsound, and his conscience has grown supremely dull, thus his disposition is rebellious against God. If man’s sense and insight cannot change, then changes in his disposition are out of the question, as is conforming to God’s will. If man’s sense is unsound, then he cannot serve God and is unfit for use by God. “Normal sense” refers to obeying and being faithful to God, to yearning for God, to being absolute toward God, and to having a conscience toward God. It refers to being of one heart and mind toward God, and not deliberately opposing God. Having an aberrant sense is not like this. Since man was corrupted by Satan, he has come up with notions about God, and he has had no loyalty to God or yearning for Him, to say nothing of a conscience toward God. Man deliberately opposes God and passes judgments on Him, and, furthermore, hurls invective at Him behind His back. Man passes judgment on God behind His back, with clear knowledge that He is God; man has no intention of obeying God, and merely makes blind demands and requests of Him. Such people—people who have aberrant sense—are incapable of knowing their own despicable behavior or of regretting their rebelliousness. If people are capable of knowing themselves, then they have regained a little of their sense; the more rebellious against God people who cannot yet know themselves are, the less are they sound of sense.
Excerpted from “To Have an Unchanged Disposition Is to Be in Enmity to God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
The key to achieving a change in disposition is to know one’s own nature, and this must happen in accordance with revelations from God. Only in God’s word can one know one’s own hideous nature, recognize in one’s own nature Satan’s various poisons, realize that one is foolish and ignorant, and recognize the weak and negative elements in one’s nature. After these are fully known, and you are truly able to hate yourself and forsake the flesh, consistently carry out God’s word, and have the will to absolutely submit to the Holy Spirit and to the word of God, then you will have embarked on the path of Peter.
Excerpted from “To Know Oneself Is Primarily About Knowing Human Nature” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days
To know yourself, you must know your own expressions of corruption, your own vital weaknesses, your disposition, and your nature essence. You must also know, down to the very last detail, those things that are revealed in your daily life—your motives, your perspectives, and your attitude about every single thing—whether you are at home or out, when you are in gatherings, when you are eating and drinking of the words of God, or in every single issue you encounter. Through these things you must come to know yourself. To know yourself on a deeper level, you must integrate God’s words; only by knowing yourself based on His words can you achieve results. When receiving the judgment of God’s words, we must not fear suffering, nor should we be afraid of pain, and much less should we fear that God’s words will pierce our hearts. We should read more of His utterances about how He judges and chastises us and exposes our corrupt essences. We must read them and hold ourselves up to them more. Do not compare others to them—we must compare ourselves against them. We are not lacking in any single one of these things; we can all square with them. If you do not believe it, go experience it yourself. After reading God’s words, some people are incapable of applying them to themselves; they think that parts of these words are not about them, but are instead about other people. For example, when God exposes people as sluts and whores, some sisters feel that because they have been unerringly faithful to their husbands, such words must not be in reference to them; some sisters feel that since they are unmarried and have never had sex, such words must not be about them, either. Some brothers feel that these words are only aimed at women, and have nothing to do with them; some people believe that such words of God are too unpleasant-sounding, and refuse to accept them. There are even people who say that in some instances, God’s words are wrong. Is this the right attitude to have toward God’s words? People are incapable of reflecting upon themselves based on God’s words. Here, “sluts” and “whores” refer to people’s corruption of promiscuity. Whether man or woman, married or not married, everyone is possessed of the corruption of promiscuity—so how can it have nothing to do with you? God’s words expose people’s corrupt dispositions; whether male or female, one’s level of corruption is the same. Is this not fact? Prior to doing anything else, we have to realize that we must accept every one of the words spoken by God, whether these utterances are pleasant-sounding or not and whether they give us a bitter feeling or a sweet one. Such is the attitude we should have toward God’s words. What sort of attitude is this? Is it a devout attitude, a patient attitude, or an attitude of embracing suffering? I tell you that it is not any of these. In our faith, we must firmly maintain that God’s words are the truth. Since they are indeed the truth, we should accept them rationally. Whether or not we are able to recognize or admit it, our first attitude toward God’s words should be one of absolute acceptance. Every single line of God’s words pertains to a specific state. That is, none of the lines of His utterances are about external appearances, much less about external rules or a simple form of behavior in people. They are not like that. If you see every line uttered by God as being about a simple kind of human behavior or external appearance, then you have no spiritual understanding and you do not understand what the truth is. God’s words are profound. How are they profound? Everything that God says, everything that He reveals, is about people’s corrupt dispositions, and essential and deep-rooted things within their lives. They are essential things, not external appearances, and particularly not external behaviors.
Excerpted from “The Importance of Pursuing the Truth and the Path of Pursuing It” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days
If people are to understand themselves, they must understand their true states. The most important aspect of understanding one’s own state is to have a grasp on one’s own thoughts and ideas. In every time period, people’s thoughts have been controlled by one major thing. If you can grasp your thoughts, you can grasp the things that are behind them. People cannot control their thoughts and ideas. However, you do need to know where these thoughts and ideas come from, what the motives behind them are, how these thoughts and ideas are produced, what controls them, and what their nature is. After your disposition has transformed, your thoughts and ideas, the desires your heart seeks after, and your viewpoints about pursuit—which have been produced from the parts of you that have transformed—will be different. Those thoughts and ideas that originate from the parts of you that have not changed, the things that you do not understand clearly, and the things which you have not replaced with the experiences of truth are filthy, dirty, and ugly. People nowadays, who have experienced God’s work for several years, have some sense and awareness of these matters. Those who have experienced God’s work for a short period of time do not yet understand these matters; they are still unclear. They do not know where their Achilles’ heel is or in what areas it is easy that they will fall. You do not currently know what kind of a person you are, and though other people can see to some extent what kind of a person you are, you cannot sense it. You cannot clearly distinguish your ordinary thoughts or intents, and you do not have a clear understanding of what the essence of these matters is. The deeper you understand an aspect, the more you will transform in that aspect; as such, the things you do will be in accordance with the truth, you will be able to meet God’s requirements, and you will be closer to the will of God. Only by seeking in this way can you obtain results.
Excerpted from “People Who Make Constant Demands of God Are the Least Reasonable People” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days
What is there to knowing yourself? First, you must know what disposition you reveal in your words and deeds. Sometimes it is arrogance, sometimes it is craftiness, and sometimes it is evil. Also, when you encounter problems, you have to know whether your motives fail to be in line with God’s will or accord with the truth. You must also know whether your attitude toward your duty is one of shouldering a burden or of being devoted, and whether you are sincere in expending yourself for God or if your doing so is transactional. You must also know whether you have extravagant demands of God, whether you have a heart of submission, and whether you are able to seek the truth in the face of the environments, people, events, and things that God orchestrates. Know, too, whether you are someone who loves the truth, what sort of humanity you have, and whether you possess a conscience and reason, whether you exist within a state of rationalizing and bargaining when you encounter issues, or can seek the truth and let go of your own notions and imaginings, your ambitions, desires, and plans, and whether you are one who seeks the truth. Yet another aspect of knowing yourself is understanding your character, knowing whether you are an upright person and whether you have a conscience and a kind heart. In your approach to every type of environment, person, event, and thing, you can see your own character, and you can come to know whether you are someone who loves the truth and has genuine faith in God. Look also at what sort of attitude you have in issues directly related to God: how He is referred to, His names, His incarnation—are you reverent and do you submit? What else would you say there is? (Knowing the measure of our caliber.) (Understanding our outlook on life, our values, and what we live by. Knowing what our pursuit is, what path we are walking.) These are all things that people should understand. All in all, knowing yourself in every aspect is essentially this: knowing your caliber, knowing your personality, knowing whether you love the truth or not, knowing the path that you are walking, knowing your outlook on life and your values, and knowing every type of attitude you have toward God. All these things are included.
Excerpted from “Identifying False Leaders (2)” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days
To know ourselves is to know what things there are in our thoughts and viewpoints that oppose God, that are not at all compatible with the truth, and that do not contain the truth. Man’s arrogance, self-righteousness, lies, and deceit, for instance, are aspects within a corrupt disposition that are easy for people to know. You can come to some knowledge of them simply by fellowshiping the truth a few times, or by fellowshiping often, or by having your state pointed out by your brothers and sisters. In addition, everyone possesses arrogance and deceitfulness, though to varying degrees. However, people’s thoughts and viewpoints are not easy to know; they are not as easy as knowing people’s dispositions. These are deep-rooted things. Therefore, when you have achieved a little change in your behavior and outward conduct, there are still many aspects of your thinking, notions, viewpoints, and the education of traditional culture you have received which are against God and which you have not yet unearthed. These are the deep-seated things that lead to our enmity toward God. Therefore, when God does something that does not conform to your notions, or something that differs from what you imagine God to do, you will resist and oppose it. You will not understand why God has acted so, and, though you know there is truth in everything God does and you may wish to submit, you will find yourself unable to do so. Why can you not submit? Why such resistance and opposition? The reason is that there are some things within man’s thoughts and views that are hostile to God, and that are hostile to the principles by which He acts and to His essence. These thoughts and views are difficult for man to know.
Excerpted from “Only by Recognizing Your Misguided Views Can You Know Yourself” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days
Every single thing that exists in our hearts is in opposition to God. This includes the things we think are good, and even those we already believe to be positive. We have listed these things as truths, as part of normal humanity, and as positive things; however, from God’s perspective, they are things that He loathes. The gulf between what we think and the truth spoken by God is immeasurable. Hence, we must know ourselves. From our ideas, viewpoints, and actions to the cultural education we have received, each thing is worth delving deep into and thoroughly dissecting. Some of these things come from social environments, some come from families, some come from school education, and some come from books. Some also come from our imaginations and notions. These sorts of things are the most frightening, for they bind and control our words and actions, dominate our minds, and guide our motives, intentions, and goals in what we do. If we do not unearth these things, we will never fully accept God’s words within us, and we will never accept God’s requirements without reservation and put them into practice. As long as you harbor your own ideas and viewpoints, and convictions of things that you believe to be correct, you will never fully or unreservedly accept God’s words, nor will you practice them in their original form; you will surely only put them into practice after first processing them in your mind. This will be how you do things, and it will also be the way in which you help others: You may still fellowship on God’s words, but you will always have your own impurities mixed in, and you will think that this is what it means to practice the truth, that you have understood the truth, and that you have it all. Is man’s state not pitiful? Is it not scary? A word or two cannot suffice to tell these things in their entirety, or to make them plain. There are, of course, many other things in life, such as the more than one hundred poisons of Satan summarized earlier. You have understood the words, but how do you measure yourselves against them? Have you ever engaged in self-reflection? Do you not also have a share in these poisons? They reflect how you think, too, do they not? When you are doing things, do you not also rely on these poisons? You must dig deep into your personal experience, and measure it against those words. If we only casually read or glance over that list of Satan’s poisons and then put it down, just mindlessly reading over God’s words, unable to connect them to reality or see our real states and merely adhering to the letter and the rules of God’s words in our practice while assuming that we are practicing the truth—is it as simple as that? People are living things: They all have thoughts, and the artifacts within their thoughts take root in their hearts. When a person takes action, these artifacts are sure to emerge, for they have already become that person’s life. Therefore, in each thing you do, there is a point of view and a principle that govern how you do it, that steer your course. When you act, you will know whether or not such things exist inside you. Now, of course, as you examine your thoughts and views, you feel as if nothing there is hostile to God; you feel you are honest and loyal, more than willing to do your duty, capable of making sacrifices and expending yourself for God, and that you are quite strong in every area. Yet, were God to test your mettle, or have you undertake a task, or were God to do something that befell you, how would you handle that? At such a time, your thoughts and views would surge implacably outward, as if floodgates had been breached; they would be beyond your control—out of your hands—and, hate them as you will, they would surge outward all the same, a surge of things that are all resistant to God. When you say, “Why couldn’t I do anything about it? I don’t want to resist God, so why would I? I don’t want to pass judgment on God, and I don’t want to have notions about what He does, so how could I have such notions?”—that is when you should endeavor to know yourself, to examine what there is inside you that resists God, and what inside you is hostile and antagonistic to the work He is currently doing.
Excerpted from “Only by Recognizing Your Misguided Views Can You Know Yourself” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days
The key to self-reflection and knowing yourself is this: The more you feel that in certain areas you have done well or have done the right thing, and the more you think you can satisfy God’s will or are able to boast in certain areas, then the more it is worth it for you to know yourself in those areas and the more it is worth it for you to dig deep into them to see what impurities exist in you, as well as what things in you cannot satisfy God’s will. Let us take Paul as an example. Paul was especially knowledgeable, and he suffered a lot in his preaching work. He was especially adored by many. As a result, after completing much work, he assumed there would be a crown set aside for him. This caused him to go farther and farther down the wrong path, until finally he was punished by God. If, at the time, he had reflected upon himself and dissected himself, then he would not have thought that. In other words, Paul had not focused on seeking the truth in the words of the Lord Jesus; he had only believed in his own notions and imaginings. He had thought that as long as he did a few good things and exhibited good behavior, he would be praised and rewarded by God. In the end, his own notions and imagination blinded his spirit and covered his true face. However, people did not know this, and without God’s bringing this to light, they continued to set Paul as a standard to reach for, an example to live by, and regarded him as the one they longed to be like and as the object of their pursuit, and as someone to be emulated. This story about Paul serves as a warning for everyone who believes in God, which is that whenever we feel we have done especially well, or believe that we are especially gifted in some respect, or think that we do not need to change or need to be dealt with in some respect, we should strive to reflect on and know ourselves better in that respect; this is crucial. This is because you certainly have not unearthed, paid attention to, or dissected the aspects of yourself which you believe to be good, in order to see whether or not they actually contain anything that resists God.
Excerpted from “Only by Recognizing Your Misguided Views Can You Know Yourself” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days
Regardless of time or place, and whatever our environment, we are able to know ourselves, to dissect and delve into ourselves—and we are able to treat these matters as our first priority. If we do, we will certainly reap reward, and we will certainly make gradual progress in the matter of knowing ourselves, and, as we do, we will be able to practice the truth, have more and more truth, and the reality of God’s words will come ever more to be our life. However, if you have no entry at all into the matter of knowing yourself, then your practice of the truth will be false, for you will be hoodwinked by many external phenomena. Perhaps you feel your behavior has improved, that you are gentler than before, more considerate of others, more tolerant and patient of others, more forgiving of others; so you think you are already a great, flawless specimen, possessed of normal humanity. However, from God’s perspective, you remain very far from His standards and requirements. This demonstrates we do not know at which times we are truly practicing the truth, and at which times we are not practicing it at all, but have merely changed a bit in our external behaviors. There are now many people who think their church life is quite normal, that they are able to get along with their brothers and sisters with mutual tolerance and on the best of terms. They think they can get along with anyone, without quarreling, and that, whatever happens, they can exercise patience and take the correct approach. They think their spiritual life, too, is especially normal, and they are diligent in their reading of God’s words, and have a heart of reverence for Him—yet their views on many matters remain antithetical to the truth and hostile to God. This suffices to show that they have not yet obtained the truth. Therefore, in the matter of knowing every aspect of ourselves, we must seek the truth, and seek to deepen our self-knowledge.
No matter which aspect of the truth one pursues, whether it be aspiring to be honest, or training oneself to submit to God, or whether it be engaging amicably with one’s brothers and sisters, or living out normal humanity, one can embrace its practice each day of their life, with each truth touching on the issue of self-knowledge. Does aspiring to be honest not have something to do with knowing oneself? You will not aspire to be honest until you have come to know your own deceit and dishonesty. When you come to know you have failed to obey God, you will then practice obedience to Him, or seek out what one must do to obey Him. If you do not know yourself, any talk of your aspiring to be honest or submitting to God rings hollow, for man’s disposition is corrupt, and no aspect of the truth is easy to practice, and each aspect is practiced within man’s corrupt disposition. In your practice of any aspect of the truth, your corrupt disposition will certainly rear its head, thwarting your aspiration to be honest, obstructing your submission to God, and inhibiting your patience and tolerance for your brothers and sisters. If you do not recognize it, dissect it, and unearth it, but rely on your imaginings to practice the truth, then your practice will not be a true one. Therefore, no matter which aspect of the truth one is practicing, or what one is doing, they must first know themselves. To know yourself is to know your every word and deed, your every movement and action; it is to know your mind and thoughts, your motives, and your notions and imaginings; it is even to know your philosophies for living that are of the world, and the various toxins of Satan within you, as well as the knowledge and education you acquired in school. All these things must be dissected. Though a person may have done a great number of good works since coming to faith in God, many matters may yet be opaque to them, and less still may they have come to an understanding of the truth—yet, because of their many good works, they feel they have already come to live in God’s words, and have submitted to Him, and have quite satisfied His will. This is because when no adverse circumstances arise, you do whatever you are told; you have no qualms about performing any duty, and you do not resist. When you are told to spread the gospel, it is a hardship you can bear, and you offer no complaint, and when you are told to run here and there, or to do manual labor, you do so. Because of these displays, you feel you are one who submits to God and a true pursuer of the truth. Yet were one to question you more deeply and ask, “Are you an honest person? Are you a person who genuinely submits to God? A person with a changed disposition?” then, thus questioned, thus held up against the truth for scrutiny, you—and, it may be said, anyone at all—would be found wanting, and neither is any person able truly to practice according to the truth. Therefore, when the root of all man’s acts and deeds, as well as the essence and nature of his actions, are held up against the truth, all are condemned. What is the reason for this? It is that man does not know himself; he always believes in God in his own way, performs his duty in his own way, and serves God in his own way. What is more, he feels he is full of faith and reason, and, in the end, he feels he has gained much. Without his knowing it, he comes to feel he is already acting in line with God’s will and has satisfied it completely, and that he has already met God’s requirements and is following His will. If this is how you feel, or if, in your several years of belief in God, you feel you have reaped some gains, then all the more should you come back before God to reflect on yourself. You should look at the path you have walked over your years of faith and see whether all your actions and behavior before God have been entirely after His heart, what you do that resists God, what you do that is able to satisfy God, and whether what you do meets God’s requirements and can be entirely in accord with His will—you should be clear on all these things.
God can perfect man in both positive and negative aspects. It depends on whether you are able to experience, and on whether you pursue being perfected by God. If you truly seek being perfected by God, then the negative cannot make you suffer loss, but can bring you things that are more real, and can make you more able to know that which is lacking within you, more able to grasp your real state, and see that man has nothing, and is nothing; if you do not experience trials, you do not know, and will always feel that you are above others and better than everyone else. Through all this you will see that all that came before was done by God and protected by God. Entry into trials leaves you without love or faith, you lack prayer and are unable to sing hymns, and without realizing it, in the midst of this you come to know yourself. God has many means of perfecting man. He employs all manner of environments to deal with the corrupt disposition of man, and uses various things to lay man bare; in one regard, He deals with man, in another He lays man bare, and in another He reveals man, digging out and revealing the “mysteries” in the depths of man’s heart, and showing man his nature by revealing many of his states. God perfects man through many methods—through revelation, through dealing with man, through man’s refinement, and chastisement—so that man may know that God is practical.
Excerpted from “Only Those Who Focus on Practice Can Be Perfected” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
On one hand, during God’s trials man comes to know his deficiencies and to see that he is insignificant, contemptible, and lowly, that he has nothing and is nothing; on the other hand, during His trials God creates different environments for man that make man more able to experience the loveliness of God. Although the pain is great, and sometimes insurmountable—even reaching the level of crushing grief—having experienced it, man sees how lovely God’s work in him is, and only upon this foundation is there born in man true love for God. Today man sees that with the grace, love, and mercy of God alone, he is incapable of truly knowing himself, and much less is he able to know the substance of man. Only through both the refinement and judgment of God, and during the process of refinement itself, can man know his deficiencies, and know that he has nothing.
Excerpted from “Only by Experiencing Painful Trials Can You Know the Loveliness of God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Having failed and fallen down multiple times is not a bad thing; nor is being exposed. Whether you have been dealt with, pruned, or been exposed, you must remember this at all times: Being exposed does not mean that you are being condemned. Being exposed is a good thing; it is the best opportunity for you to get to know yourself. It can bring your life experience a change of gears. Without it, you will possess neither the opportunity, the condition, nor the context to be able to reach an understanding of the truth of your corruption. If you can come to know the things inside you, all those aspects hidden deep within you that are hard to recognize and difficult to unearth, then this is a good thing. Becoming able to truly know yourself is the best opportunity for you to mend your ways and become a new person; it is the best opportunity for you to obtain new life. Once you truly know yourself, you will be able to see that when the truth becomes one’s life, it is a precious thing indeed, and you will thirst for the truth and enter into the reality. This is such a great thing! If you can grab this opportunity and earnestly reflect upon yourself and gain a genuine knowledge of yourself whenever you fail or fall down, then in the midst of negativity and weakness, you will be able to stand back up. Once you have crossed this threshold, you will then be able to take a big step forward and enter truth reality.
Excerpted from “To Gain the Truth, You Must Learn From the People, Matters, and Things Around You” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days