36. The Principles of Practicing Spiritual Devotions at Regular Times
1. Without self-examination during spiritual devotions, you will easily deviate and go your own way. Through spiritual devotions you can equip yourself with the truth to make up for your shortcomings, and guard against repeating past transgressions;
2. You must accept God’s scrutiny in your self-examination during spiritual devotions. Only by being pure and open and giving your heart to God can you obtain the enlightenment and illumination of the Holy Spirit;
3. You must be quiet before God and eat and drink God’s words, and earnestly examine whether or not you are performing your duties up to standard and how much your duties have been contaminated by personal intentions and aims;
4. Through self-examination during spiritual devotions and recognize whether or not the path you walk is correct, whether or not you pursue the truth and whether or not you can be saved and perfected.
Relevant Words of God:
During the process of seeking to enter, every matter must be investigated and compared against God’s word and compared against the truth; they must be thoroughly mulled over to know how to do them in a way that is entirely in conformity with God’s will. Things that arise from your self-will can then be abandoned. You will know how to do things in conformity with God’s will and will then go and do them, as though everything is taking its natural course, and it will feel exceedingly easy. … After someone has really understood the truth, they can then discern their own states, understand thoroughly all complicated matters and know how they should do things the right way. If you don’t understand the truth, you will not be able to discern your own states. You will want to rebel against yourself but will not know how to do this or what you are rebelling against; you will want to abandon your self-will but if you think that your self-will conforms to the truth, then how can you abandon it? You perhaps may even think that it is enlightened by the Holy Spirit and so will not abandon it no matter what. Therefore, when someone has no truth, it is very easy for them to think that those things that arise from their own wills, as well as the impurity of man, the good intentions of man, the blind love of man and the conduct of man, are all correct, that they conform to the truth—how then can you rebel against them? If you don’t understand the truth, nor know what putting the truth into practice is, if your eyes are clouded and you don’t know which way to turn so can only do things based on what you think is right, then you will do some things that will be deviated or erroneous, some that will keep rules, some that will arise from enthusiasm and there will be some that have arisen from Satan and that will bring forth disturbances. People who do not have the truth do things in this way: A little to the left, then a little to the right, correct one minute then deviating the next, with no accuracy at all. Those who do not have the truth regard things all wrongly, so how can they then properly handle matters? How can they resolve any problem? Understanding God’s word is not an easy thing to do, and the truth that people are capable of understanding also has its limits. Moreover, people can believe in God for their entire lives, yet their understanding of His word will still be limited. Even those who are relatively experienced can at best avoid doing those things that obviously defy God, avoid those things that are obviously evil, and avoid those things that do not benefit anyone. It is not possible for them to reach a state that contains no mixture of their own self-will. This is because people think normal thoughts, some of people’s thinking conforms to God’s word and belongs to an aspect of understanding that cannot be classified as self-will. But the key is to discern the things of self-will that go against God’s word, against the truth and against the enlightenment by the Holy Spirit. You must therefore expend effort in understanding God’s word and only by understanding the truth can you have discernment.
from “Only by Seeking the Truth Can You Obtain Changes in Your Disposition” in Records of Christ’s Talks
All that you do, every action, every intent, and every reaction must be brought before God. Even your daily spiritual life—your prayers, your closeness with God, eating and drinking of God’s words, fellowship with your brothers and sisters, living the life of the church, and your service in partnership—must be brought before God and observed by Him. It is such practice that will help you mature in life. The process of accepting God’s observation is the process of purification. The more you accept God’s observation, the more you are purified, and the more you are in accord with God’s will, so that you will not hear the call of debauchery and dissipation, and your heart will live in His presence. The more you accept His observation, the more ashamed Satan is and the more you are able to forsake the flesh. So, the acceptance of God’s observation is a path people must practice.
from “God Perfects Those After His Own Heart” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
You are artless and open, willing to know yourself, and willing to put truth into practice. God sees that you are willing to know yourself and are willing to put truth into practice, so when you are weak and negative, He enlightens you doubly, helping you know yourself more, be more willing to repent for yourself, and be more able to practice the things that you should practice. Only in this way is your heart peaceful and at ease. A person who ordinarily pays attention to knowing God, who pays attention to knowing himself, who pays attention to his own practice will be able to frequently receive God’s work, to frequently receive guidance and enlightenment from God. Even though in a negative state, he is able to turn around immediately, whether due to the action of conscience or due to enlightenment from God’s word. The change of a person’s disposition is achieved always when he knows his own actual state and knows the disposition and work of God. A person who is willing to know himself and is willing to open himself up will be able to carry out truth. This kind of person is a person who is loyal to God, and a person who is loyal to God has understanding of God, whether it is deep or shallow, meager or plentiful. This is God’s righteousness, and it is something that people attain, it is their own gain.
from “Only Those Who Focus on Practice Can Be Perfected” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Only after they are able to be at peace before God can people be touched by the Holy Spirit, and enlightened and illuminated by the Holy Spirit, only then are they able to truly commune with God, and able to grasp God’s will and the guidance of the Holy Spirit—and in this, they will have entered onto the right track in their spiritual lives. Exercising yourself to live before God to reach a certain depth so that you are able to rebel against yourself, to despise yourself, and to live in God’s words, this truly is quieting your heart before God. Being able to despise oneself, curse oneself, and rebel against oneself is the result that God’s work achieves, and people can’t do this. Therefore the practice of quieting one’s heart before God is a lesson people should immediately enter.
In praying you must be quiet before God before you can be moved by the Holy Spirit. By being quiet before God when you eat and drink God’s words you can be enlightened and illuminated and be able to achieve truly understanding God’s words. In your usual meditation and fellowship, and when you are drawing close to God with your heart, only when you are quiet before God can you have genuine closeness to God, genuine understanding of God’s love and God’s work, and true thoughtfulness toward God’s intentions. The more you are usually able to be quiet before God the more you can be illuminated, and the more you are able to understand your own corrupt disposition, what you lack, what you should enter, what function you should serve, and where you have defects. All these are achieved by relying on being quiet before God.
from “On Quieting Your Heart Before God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
You must communicate more, be able to eat and drink independently during your own spiritual devotions, and be able to grasp the key truths to put into practice immediately. You must touch the reality of My word and grasp its very core; be strict and do not slack off. Always contemplate My word and always communicate with Me, and gradually it will be revealed. You cannot come close to God for one moment and then before your heart can be calm before God, be disturbed when some other thing befalls you. You are always confused and unclear about things and are unable to see My face, so you cannot clearly understand My heart. Even if you can understand a bit you are not certain and still doubt. Until I possess your heart in full and your mind is no longer disturbed by all the worldly things, and when you wait with a clear and quiet mind—it is at that time that I shall, bit by bit, reveal to you in accordance with My intentions.
from “The Ninth Utterance” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
When you eat and drink the words of God, you must measure them against your own real state. That is, after you discover the shortcomings in yourself during your real experiences, you must be capable of finding a path to practice, and turning your back on your motivations and conceptions which are wrong. If you always try hard in this, and your heart is always focused on these things, you will have a path to follow, you will not feel empty, and thus you will be able to maintain a normal state. Only then will you be someone who is emburdened by your own life, and only then will you be someone who has faith. Why, after reading God’s words, are people unable to put them into practice? Is it not because they can’t grasp what’s key? Is it not because they are toying with life? That they can’t grasp what’s key, and have no path to practice, is because they are unable to measure them against their own state, and are unable to master their own state. Some people say: I have measured them against my state, I know that I am corrupt and of poor caliber, but I am incapable of satisfying God’s will. In this, you have only seen the surface; how to put aside the enjoyments of the flesh, how to put aside self-righteousness, how to change yourself, how to enter these things, how to improve your caliber, from which aspect to start—these are all that is real.
from “Practice (7)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
To satisfy God and bear witness for Him, one should investigate one’s own work for elements of adulteration and intentions, and try to see how much is motivated by personal wishes, how much is born of enlightenment by the Holy Spirit, and how much is in keeping with the word of God. You must constantly and in all circumstances examine your words and deeds. To practice often in this way will put you on the right track of serving God. It is necessary to have in command many truths to achieve service to God which is after His heart. People have the ability to make distinctions only after they have understood the word of God, and are able to recognize what emerges from their own will and the things that indicate their motivation. They are able to recognize human impurity, and what it means to act according to truth. Only then will you know how to obey more purely. Without truth it is impossible for people to make distinctions. A muddleheaded person might believe in God his whole life without knowing the meaning of revealing corruptions, nor does he know what opposing God means, because he does not have truth, this thought does not exist in his mind.
from “The Main Principles of How Workers Work” in Records of Christ’s Talks
There is a principle which is quite critical, that is to think twice before acting; examine it before God. Moreover, every evening you must examine your own situations, and scrutinize your own behavior: which acts were done in conformity to the truth and which acts were in violation of principles. This is another principle. These two points are the most crucial. One is to examine yourself at the time of action and one is to examine yourself afterward.
from “Resolving Nature and Practicing Truth” in Records of Christ’s Talks
What road are you all taking now? If you have not reached a pursuit of life, of understanding of yourself, or of God like Peter’s, then that is still not Peter’s path. … People have a satanic nature, so in the world they will pursue knowledge, status, learning, and worldly success; in God’s house, they will seek to expend themselves for God, be faithful, and in the end receive the crown and great blessings. If people do not have truth after they become believers in God and they have not had a change in their disposition, then they will certainly be on this path—this is a reality that no one can contradict, and this is diametrically opposed to Peter’s path. Which path are you all taking now? Though you may not plan to take the path of Paul, your nature dominates you this way, and you are going in that direction in spite of yourself. Even though you want to go on the path of Peter, if you are not clear on how to do that, then you will still go along the path of Paul in spite of yourself—this is the reality of the situation. So exactly how can you take the path of Peter? If you are unable to distinguish between Peter’s path and Paul’s path, or you don’t know them at all, then even if you say you should go on Peter’s path those will be empty words. You need to first be clear in your mind what the road of Peter is and what the road of Paul is. If you really understand that Peter’s path is the path of life and the only path to being perfected, only then will you be able to know and grasp the truths and specific ways of taking his path. If you do not understand Peter’s path, then the path you are going on will definitely be that of Paul’s because there will be no other path for you—you will have no choice. If you have no truth and no aspirations then it is difficult to go on Peter’s path. It can be said that God has now revealed to you the path of being saved by Him and of being perfected. This is God’s grace and uplifting and it is Him guiding you onto the path of Peter. Without God’s guidance and enlightenment no one would be able to take Peter’s path; the only choice would be to go down Paul’s path, to follow in Paul’s footsteps to destruction. At the time, Paul did not feel it was wrong to walk down that path. He fully believed that it was correct, but he didn’t have the truth and he particularly didn’t have a change in disposition. He believed too much in himself and felt that there was not the slightest issue with going that way. He continued on full of confidence and with the utmost self-assurance. By the end, he never came to his senses, still thinking that for him to live was Christ. He continued going that way until the end, and when he was finally punished, it was all over.
from “How to Take the Path of Peter” in Records of Christ’s Talks
The Man’s Fellowship:
It’s nearly impossible for anyone to avoid making errors at work, so if you find transgressions or errors, always seize the opportunity to reflect on yourself. Go before God, check and analyze your actions against God’s word, and try to avoid repeating your transgressions in the future. If you become rash as you serve God, your own ideas will emerge. You will become careless, sloppy, and take reckless, overly ambitious steps. This is dangerous. When you discover this nature in yourself, inspect it and get it under control immediately, especially where ideas concerning money, status, and relations between opposite sexes appear. Control yourself to prevent problems from occurring. Sometimes a certain person doesn’t do a good job and ruins things, and as you deal with him, your temper becomes heated and you speak roughly or become angry. This should not be considered a major problem and does not constitute a transgression. This is simply being quick-tempered, and all you need to do is be careful of it and overcome it. At other times you might make an error and cause harm to God’s house. At times like this, simply absorb what lessons you can, but only so long as no major damage is done. All these things are impossible to avoid. Everyone has problems at work, and no one is immune to making minor transgressions, but don’t make major transgressions. Why do leaders have to meet periodically to receive pruning and dealing? Because this is most helpful and beneficial. But the most important thing is that we must seek more understanding of the truth in God’s word. We must strive to understand the truth, pursue a change in our life disposition. This is positively seeking entry. Doing so will gradually reduce the transgressions you make in your work and produce change within you as you work, making your state more and more normal. This is the most effective way to avoid transgressions. If you do not pursue the truth in your work, and if the more you do, the more you think, “I know how to do these things, I can do these things well relying purely on my own experience,” this is a bad sign. This is dangerous. When you feel this way, you should come before God and reflect on yourself, or you are certain to fall, because experience is not a substitute for truth or dispositional change. Shallow knowledge of the truth is not understanding of the truth, and if you lack knowledge of God, you will resist God.
from “One Must Have Principles in Serving God” in Collection of Sermons—Supply for Life
In serving God, people have countless failures, where they follow the flesh or follow emotions. Through God’s discipline, pruning, and dealing, they ultimately recognize that belief in God requires abandonment and forsaking of self. And afterward they will always show consideration for the will of God, asking themselves, “Will God be satisfied if I do it this way? Is this work that I am doing for the purpose of satisfying God? In the end, what outcome will this work have for the brothers and sisters? Ultimately what is the value in my doing it this way? If there is no significance to it, I won’t do it.” After completion of work, always do an examination, “If this work I do has no significance, I will not do it next time. If in doing this work I have not edified or provided for the brothers and sisters, I will not do it next time. If this work of mine cannot satisfy God, I will not do it next time.” Whenever I do a stage of work, I examine myself in this same way. I always do my utmost to fulfill God’s demands, and do my utmost in the direction of satisfying God. This has resulted in greater and greater outcomes.
from the fellowship from the above
If you truly are a person who pursues truth, then you ought to engage in introspection frequently: Am I now a person who follows Christ? Am I now a person who pursues truth? If I go on believing in the way I do now, will I ultimately be able to be truly saved? With my humanity and this way of living out now, have I really had any change of life disposition? Do I have any true human likeness? Believing in God as I do now, am I following God? Frequently ask yourselves these kinds of questions as you search your souls. I have believed in God for so many years, and I often engage in this kind of introspection. What do I examine? “Does my serving in this way really satisfy God’s will? Are there any areas where I violate the will of God? Are there any places in what I have said or in things I have done that go against truth? Could the things I have done entrap people somehow? Could my actions delay the life entry of people, or delay people from receiving salvation? What other work should I do now that can serve to fully satisfy God, and allow God’s chosen people to truly enter onto the correct track of belief in God?” This is the way in which I engage in introspection, and frequently search my soul. If I discover that I have done something wrong, or have deviated from the way, I will lose no time to make corrections. If you do not carry out introspection, and drift far off course, and make blunders, such bad practices die hard, and it is not easy to correct them. How many of God’s chosen people do you hold back, not to mention holding yourself back! How can this problem be solved? Can anyone provide recompense? Are these issues worthy of examination? They are, right?
from the fellowship from the above