148. The Principles of How to Treat Worldly Trends
(1) See clearly that the trends of the world spring from Satan’s evil forces. They are, in essence, negative things that deny God and are hostile to the truth;
(2) The trends of the world are a great dye vat of sin and licentiousness. One should see through to their evil and filth, lest they fall into them;
(3) Know that the trends of the world are tricks that Satan plays on man to make him shun and resist God. To follow evil trends is to court one’s own destruction;
(4) In believing in God, one should pursue the truth, come to fear God and shun evil, and live by God’s word the truth. Only thus can one be rid of the forces of Satan.
Relevant Words of God:
Satan corrupts man through social trends. “Social trends” include many things. Some people say: “Does it mean the latest fashions, cosmetics, hairstyles, and gourmet foods?” Are these things considered social trends? They make up one part of social trends, but we will not be talking about them here. We only wish to talk about the ideas that social trends bring about in people, the way they cause people to conduct themselves in the world, and the life goals and outlook that they bring about in people. These are very important; they can control and influence man’s state of mind. These trends arise one after another, and they all carry an evil influence that continually debases mankind, causing people to lose conscience, humanity and reason, weakening their morals and their quality of character ever more, to the extent that we can even say that the majority of people now have no integrity, no humanity, and neither do they have any conscience, much less any reason. So what are these trends? They are trends that you cannot see with the naked eye. When a new trend sweeps through the world, perhaps only a small number of people are on the cutting edge, acting as the trendsetters. They start off doing some new thing, then accepting some kind of idea or some kind of perspective. The majority of people, however, will be continually infected, assimilated, and attracted by this kind of trend in a state of unawareness, until they all unknowingly and involuntarily accept it and become submerged in it and controlled by it. One after another, such trends cause people, who are not of sound body and mind, do not know what the truth is, and cannot differentiate between positive and negative things, to happily accept them as well as the life views and values that come from Satan. They accept what Satan tells them about how to approach life and the way to live that Satan “bestows” on them, and they have neither the strength nor the ability, much less the awareness, to resist. So, what exactly are these trends? I have chosen a simple example that you may gradually come to understand. For example, people in the past ran their business so that nobody was cheated; they sold items at the same price regardless of who was buying. Is not some element of good conscience and humanity conveyed here? When people conducted their business like this, in good faith, it can be seen that they still had some conscience and some humanity at that time. But with man’s ever-increasing demand for money, people unknowingly came to love money, gain, and pleasure more and more. In short, people came to view money as more important than before. When people view money as more important, they unknowingly begin to attach less importance to their reputation, their renown, their good name and their integrity, do they not? When you engage in business, you see others using various means to swindle people and get rich. Although the money earned is ill-gotten, they become richer and richer. Though they may engage in the same business as you, their whole family enjoys life more than you do, and you feel bad, saying to yourself, “Why can’t I do that? Why can’t I earn as much as they do? I must think of a way to get more money, to make my business prosper.” You then do your utmost to ponder how to make lots of money. According to the usual method of making money—selling things at the same price to all customers—any profit you make is made in good conscience. However, this is not the way to get rich quick. Driven by the urge to make a profit, your thinking undergoes a gradual transformation. During this transformation, your principles of conduct also begin to change. When you first cheat someone, you have your reservations, saying, “This will be the only time I cheat someone. I will not do it again. I cannot cheat people. There are serious consequences to cheating. It will bring me lots of trouble!” When you first deceive someone, your heart has some scruples; this is the function of man’s conscience—to make you feel scruples and to reproach you, so that it feels unnatural when you cheat someone. But after you have successfully deceived someone, you see that you now have more money than you did before, and you think this method can be very beneficial for you. Despite the dull ache in your heart, you still feel like congratulating yourself on your success, and you feel somewhat pleased with yourself. For the first time, you approve of your own behavior, your own deceptive ways. Afterward, once man has been contaminated by this cheating, it is the same as someone who gets involved in gambling and then becomes a gambler. In your unawareness, you give approval to your own cheating behavior and accept it. In unawareness, you take cheating to be a legitimate commercial behavior and the most useful means for your survival and livelihood; you think that by doing this you can quickly make a fortune. This is a process: In the beginning, people cannot accept this type of behavior and they look down on this behavior and practice. Then they begin to experiment with this behavior themselves, trying it out in their own way, and their hearts begin to gradually transform. What kind of transformation is this? It is an approval and admission of this trend, of this idea instilled in you by the social trend. Without realizing it, if you do not cheat people when doing business with them, you feel you are worse off; if you do not cheat people, you feel as though you have lost something. Unknowingly, this cheating becomes your very soul, your backbone, and an indispensable type of behavior that is a principle in your life. After man has accepted this behavior and this thinking, has this not brought about a change in his heart? Your heart has changed, so has your integrity changed as well? Has your humanity changed? Has your conscience changed? (Yes.) Yes, every part of this person undergoes a qualitative change, from their heart to their thoughts, to such an extent that they are transformed from the inside out. This change pulls you further and further away from God, and you become more and more closely aligned with Satan; you become more and more alike to Satan.
Excerpted from “God Himself, the Unique VI” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
“Money makes the world go round” is a philosophy of Satan, and it prevails among the whole of mankind, in every human society. You could say that it is a trend because it has been instilled in the heart of every single person. From the very beginning, people did not accept this saying, but then they gave it tacit acceptance when they came into contact with real life, and began to feel that these words were in fact true. Is this not a process of Satan corrupting man? Perhaps people do not understand this saying to the same degree, but everyone has different degrees of interpretation and acknowledgment of this saying based on things that have happened around them and on their own personal experiences. Is that not the case? Regardless of how much experience someone has with this saying, what is the negative effect that it can have on someone’s heart? Something is revealed through the human disposition of the people in this world, including each and every one of you. How is this thing that is revealed to be interpreted? It is the worship of money. Is it hard to remove this from someone’s heart? It is very hard! It seems that Satan’s corruption of man is deep indeed! So after Satan uses this trend to corrupt people, how is it manifested in them? Do you feel that you could not survive in this world without any money, that even one day without money would be impossible? People’s status is based on how much money they have, as is the respect they command. The backs of the poor are bent in shame, while the rich enjoy their high status. They stand tall and proud, speaking loudly and living arrogantly. What does this saying and trend bring to people? Is it not true that many people make any sacrifice in the pursuit of money? Do many people not lose their dignity and integrity in the pursuit of more money? Moreover, do many people not lose the opportunity to perform their duty and follow God for the sake of money? Is this not a loss for people? (Yes.) Is Satan not sinister to use this method and this saying to corrupt man to such a degree? Is this not a malicious trick? As you progress from objecting to this popular saying to finally accepting it as truth, your heart falls completely into Satan’s grasp, and therefore you inadvertently come to live by the saying. To what degree has this saying affected you? You might know the true way, and you might know the truth, but you are powerless to pursue it. You may clearly know that God’s words are the truth, but you are unwilling to pay the price or to suffer in order to gain the truth. Instead, you would rather sacrifice your own future and destiny to resist God to the very end. No matter what God says, no matter what God does, no matter whether you understand how deep and how great God’s love for you is, you would stubbornly insist on having your own way and pay the price for this saying. That is to say, this saying already controls your behavior and your thoughts, and you would rather have your fate controlled by it than give it all up. Does not the fact that people act in this way, that they are controlled by this saying and manipulated by it, illustrate that Satan’s corrupting of man is effective? Is this not the philosophy and corrupt disposition of Satan taking root in your heart? If you do this, has Satan not achieved its goal? (Yes.) Do you see how Satan has corrupted man in this way? Can you feel it? (No.) You have neither seen it nor felt it. Do you see Satan’s evil here? Satan corrupts man at all times and in all places. Satan makes it impossible for man to defend against this corruption and makes man helpless against it. Satan makes you accept its thoughts, its viewpoints and the evil things that come from it in situations where you are unknowing and when you have no recognition of what is happening to you. People accept these things and take no exception to them. They cherish and hold on to these things like a treasure, they let these things manipulate them and toy with them; this is how Satan’s corruption of man grows ever deeper.
Excerpted from “God Himself, the Unique V” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Satan uses these social trends to lure people one step at a time into a nest of devils, so that people caught up in social trends unknowingly advocate money and material desires, wickedness and violence. Once these things have entered the heart of man, what then does man become? Man becomes the devil, Satan! Why? Because, what psychological inclination exists in the heart of man? What does man revere? Man begins to take pleasure in wickedness and violence, showing no love for beauty or goodness, much less peace. People are not willing to live the simple life of normal humanity, but instead wish to enjoy high status and great wealth, to revel in the pleasures of the flesh, sparing no effort to satisfy their own flesh, with no restrictions, no bonds to hold them back; in other words, doing whatever they desire. So when man has become immersed in these kinds of trends, can the knowledge that you have learned help you to free yourself? Can your understanding of traditional culture and superstitions help you escape from this dire predicament? Can the traditional morals and ceremonies known to man help people exercise restraint? Take the Three Character Classic, for example. Can it help people pull their feet out of the quagmire of these trends? (No, it cannot.) Thus, man becomes more and more evil, arrogant, condescending, selfish and malicious. There is no longer any affection between people, no longer any love between family members, no longer any understanding among relatives and friends; human relations have become characterized by violence. Each and every person seeks to use violent methods to live among their fellow man; they seize their daily bread using violence; they win their positions and obtain their profits using violence, and they use violent and evil ways to do anything they want. Is this humanity not horrifying? (Yes.)
Excerpted from “God Himself, the Unique VI” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Though many young people believe in God, they cannot rid themselves of the bad habits of playing computer games and going to Internet cafes. What kinds of things do computer games tend to involve? They contain a great deal of violence. Gaming—that is the realm of the devil. For most, after playing these games for a long time, they cannot do any real work anymore; they no longer want to go to school, or work, or think of their futures, much less do they give thought to their lives. What things now occupy the thoughts and souls of the majority of young people in the world? Eating, drinking, and playing games. Everything they say and think is inhuman. One cannot even use the words “dirty” or “evil” anymore to describe the things they think about; so many of them are non-human things. If you speak to them of matters to do with normal humanity, or discuss a topic concerning normal humanity, they cannot bear to hear about it; they are neither interested nor willing to listen, and as soon as they hear it, they roll their eyes and take unkindly to it. They do not share a common language or common topics with normal mankind, yet when they are with other people like themselves, they find things to talk about. Most of the topics they discuss center around playing games, eating, drinking, and having a good time. Those who always discuss these topics have their hearts filled with such things. What future prospects do they have? Do they have any future prospects? Can they engage in the activities in which normal humanity should engage? These people put no effort into their studies, and if one were to have them work hard at their jobs, would they be willing to? As soon as you had them work, what would they think? They would think, “What’s the point in working? This work is so tiring. How long do I have to do it? Playing games is so much more fun, relaxing, and enjoyable. What can I get out of working? If you work, you still only get to eat three meals a day, don’t you? I haven’t seen it take you anywhere good! Playing games is great; the minute I sit down in front of a computer, I have everything I need. I have a virtual world, and living inside it is enough for me!” Furthermore, if you made them work from nine to five, getting to work on time and working fixed hours, how would they feel about that? Would they be willing to stick to that schedule? When people are constantly playing games and wasting time on the computer, their will disappears and they become decadent; they then lack normal humanity. They become filled with the violence and killing in these games and with the things of the virtual world. The things of normal humanity are stripped away from them by these games, and they are filled and occupied by those games, and their thoughts are occupied by them; these people have become decadent. Unbelievers do not like these people, either, but in the current world of unbelievers, these young people have nowhere to turn; their parents are unable to manage them, their teachers can do nothing with them, and there is nothing any country’s education system can do about this trend other than succumb to it. The devil Satan does these things in order to tempt people and bring them to depravation. Those who live in the virtual world have no interest whatsoever in anything to do with the life of normal humanity; they are just not in the mood to work or study. Their only concern is going to the virtual world, as though they are being enticed by something. Whenever they get bored or are in the midst of doing some proper work, they want to play games instead, and gradually, gaming becomes their whole life. Playing games is like taking a kind of drug: Once someone becomes addicted to it, it becomes hard to get away from it and very difficult to quit. So, whether young or old, once people pick up this bad habit, they have a hard time giving it up. … If gaming were needed for normal humanity—if it were the right path—then why are people unable to quit doing it? How can they be captivated by it to such a degree? One thing this proves is that it is not a good path. Surfing online for this and that, looking at unhealthy things, and playing games—none of these are good paths to take. They are not right paths.
Excerpted from “Believers Must Begin by Seeing Through the World’s Evil Trends” in Records of Christ’s Talks
Are people often tempted in today’s society? They are tempted at every turn: Every manner of evil trend, all kinds of sayings, all manner of views and ideas, the myriad deceptions and seductions of various kinds of people, their many demonic faces—these all tempt you. If you do not equip yourself inside with certain truths, and lack real stature, then you will not be able to see through these things, and each will be a pitfall, a temptation, for you. On the one hand, you lack the truth and so you cannot see through the satanic faces of different kinds of people, and are unable to overcome them; on the other, without truth reality, you are unable to resist every manner of evil trend, wicked view, and absurd idea and saying. When these things befall you, they are like a cold snap, which at the very least gives you a cold, and at worst, a cold stroke.[a] When you are hit by a cold stroke, there is a possibility you could die, and you may perhaps give up your faith. When you do not possess the truth, a few words of satanic sayings in the world of the unbelievers will deceive you, and leave you confused; you will not know whether you should believe in God or not, or whether it is right to believe in God or not. It may be that, gathering today, you are in a good state, but tomorrow, you return home, watch two episodes of a romantic soap opera on TV, and are then hooked. In the evening, you go to sleep and forget to pray, and all you think about in your mind is when the next episode will show, and then you keep watching it. After two days of watching this soap opera, God has gone from your heart. You have become fully immersed in the TV show, and you wonder to yourself, “When am I going to have my own passionate love affair? That would make my life all worthwhile!” Do you have any stature if two episodes of a TV show can change your perspective? You are so quick to embrace the sayings of Satan. Do you believe that you have the stature to resist these evil trends? The grace of God has placed you in a greenhouse. Do not forget what your stature is: You are a flower in a greenhouse, unable to withstand the wind and rain. If people cannot withstand these temptations, if they cannot see them for what they really are, then they could be snatched away by Satan at any time or in any place—that is how small and pitiable people’s stature is. Because you lack truth reality, because you do not understand the truth, all of the sayings of Satan are like poison to you; once it enters your ears, you will not be able to get it out. You say you will not listen to it, but how could you not? Do you live in a vacuum? When you hear it, you are unable to resist, you are powerless to withstand it, and you sink down into it. These things can control your life, your thoughts, and your behavior; they can control your everything, they can direct your whole life, and can even stop you from coming before God—in which case it will all be over for you, and you will be tossed aside.
Excerpted from “The Path Comes From Often Pondering the Truth” in Records of Christ’s Talks
Why say that if you wish to avoid temptation, there are certain situations you should not get into and certain people with whom you should have no contact? Take Job, for example. He feared God and shunned evil; this was the sort of stature and reality he possessed, so he should have had no fear of falling into any temptation. Even had he been in attendance at a few feasts, he could not have easily said or done anything that is a sin against God. Why, then, did Job not attend them? He feared God and shunned evil, taking measures and adopting methods to bring himself under God’s protection, to refrain from sinning, and to not displease God; he had a few human ways of working. In some situations, man himself is unable to control his own corrupt nature, and it is in precisely those sorts of situations where temptation is too great for anyone to resist. People are capable of sinning and displeasing God at any time and in any place. That is, this scanty God-fearing heart of yours, your scanty faith in God, and your scanty resolution cannot remove you from temptation, nor can they stop you from sinning against God in the midst of temptation. Therefore, there are certain situations that you must not put yourself into and, in this way, you will be spared temptation.
Excerpted from “To Resolve One’s Corrupt Disposition, One Must Have a Specific Path of Practice” in Records of Christ’s Talks
You are now performing your duties in the church and, in this environment, all the people surrounding you are believers, and here you can be steadfast in your belief in God. If you alone were taken and placed in amongst the unbelievers, and were made to be with them, could you still have God in your heart? What would be in your heart? If you were with them, would you not then very easily become exactly the same as they? You might then say, “No need to worry; God looks after and protects me.” However, you would still be headstrong and follow trends, and without realizing it, you would make a tiny mistake and be quick to think to yourself, “Oh God, please forgive me; I did this wrong.” As time goes by, you would feel no blame—you would feel nothing at all—and you would wonder, “God? Where is God? Why haven’t I seen Him?” Little by little, you would change. Why would you change so easily? In actual fact, it is not that you would change only at that time; it is that you currently possess no truth reality and have not yet purged yourself of the thoughts, viewpoints, dispositions, and understanding that pertain to the world and to Satan. These things are still within you, and you still rely on them to live; it is simply that you are now in God’s house. From the outside, it looks as though you are believing in God and performing your duty, but actually, your corrupt dispositions have yet to be resolved and the satanic views and thoughts within you have not yet been purged. Thus, your stature is very small, and you are still in a dangerous phase; you are still in danger and unsafe. You have satanic dispositions, and are still capable of resisting and betraying God. To resolve this problem, you first need to recognize which things are evil, what their dangers are, why Satan does such things, what poisons people are susceptible to after they accept these things, what they can turn into, what kind of person God requires man to be, which things are of normal humanity, which are positive, and which are negative. On the negative side, you should recognize these things. On the positive side, you must actively and positively fulfill your duty, offer up your sincerity, offer up your loyalty, not engage in trickery, and not use the ways or the philosophies of the unbelievers in your approach to your duty and to the tasks entrusted to you. Then you must enter all aspects of the truth and, gradually, attain an understanding of God and of His disposition. As such, you will unconsciously undergo an internal transformation: There will be more positive things within you, fewer negative things, more proactive things, and fewer passive things; moreover, you will be better able to exercise discernment than you were before. Once your stature has grown to this degree, you will have the ability to discern when it comes to the various people, affairs, and things of the world, and then you can see through to a problem’s essence. Suppose you watch a cartoon made by unbelievers: You will be able to see what kind of poisons it will pass on to those who watch it, what things Satan wants to plant within people, and what of humanity Satan hopes to erode by way of this method and trend. You will gradually be able to see right through these things completely. When you are able to watch them without being poisoned, and have become capable of discerning them, only then will you genuinely have stature.
Excerpted from “Believers Must Begin by Seeing Through the World’s Evil Trends” in Records of Christ’s Talks
It is easy to follow the evil trends of the world, to follow one’s corrupt disposition into depravity. To seek to be someone with truth reality, someone with a sense of justice and conscience and reason, is not easy, and you will need to suffer much before you can achieve this. If, however, you are resolved to do so, and you love positive things; if you have both heart and spirit, and are a decent person, then you will feel that suffering this pain is worth it, and you will not fear it. If you do not love positive things, but evil trends and the things worldly people love, then gaining the truth will, perhaps, be somewhat difficult for you, and you may not be willing to suffer such pain, thinking it not worth the trouble. This is because you will not gain anything—no money, no rewards—and the benefit before your eyes will be invisible to you. Is this not the state of mind of nonbelievers? Always wanting to see material benefit before their eyes is the state of mind of nonbelievers. Are you ever in such states? If people are ever in such states, they must know to reflect on and understand these states, then accept being exposed and dissected by God, accepting His judgment and chastisement. In this wicked age, living among such evil trends, it is not easy to be a good person; to be someone with a sense of justice is not easy either, and to be someone with truth reality is even harder, and to be someone who fears God and shuns evil is more difficult still! It depends on people’s resolve to suffer pain, and to what extent they love positive things, justice, fairness, and righteousness. If the extent to which your heart loves these things is average, you will think, “It’s fine whether I have these things or not. Living in the world doesn’t mean I will die anyway. Furthermore, following evil trends doesn’t make my life difficult. Isn’t living life this way fine? However I live, I’ll still live my life!” If this is the sort of mentality you have, then you might not be able to progress. That is, your resolve to pursue the truth is not very strong, and your zeal to love positive things and be someone with a sense of justice is not very strong, either, so it is possible that you will not gain the truth. Yet it is not the case that no one will be able to gain it; it depends on how each individual pursues it, and on their enthusiasm. How great is your enthusiasm? How deep is your understanding of this wicked world and evil mankind? How deeply have you experienced the bondage, shackles and harm of your corrupt disposition? How great is your love and longing for positive things? You have such small desire—a mote of longing in your hearts. But longing is not the same as love, and such love is what you must be able to achieve. This is not easy, either. If you can truly love and long for these things from the bottom of your heart, accept judgment and chastisement as you pursue the truth, and be able to give up your personal interests, then, throughout the process, it will not concern you much to suffer such pain or pay such a price. If the extent to which you love positive things is average, then you will feel regretful when you come to relinquish these things. You will not have the heart to do it, and they will be very difficult to give up. Take stock of all this, and it requires you to make an appraisal. An appraisal of what? Of what you manifest and express in all respects; of how you act; of what you hold in your heart when faced with positive things; of how you approach them; of the sort of attitude you have; of whether your heart is focused; of how your heart reacts when faced with evil trends or evil people doing evil things; of how you approach them; of whether you like them, cater to them and long for them, or whether you throw yourself into them, or whether you cannot put them aside, or whether you detest them and are disgusted by them; of what kind of person you are—these are the things your appraisal will reveal. And what do you do after you have made this appraisal? You must remedy yourself and strive to be able to pursue positive things and the truth.
Excerpted from “Only Those Who Practice the Truth Are God-Fearing” in Records of Christ’s Talks
It is becoming more and more like a world of gaiety and splendor; people’s hearts are all drawn to it, and many people are entrapped and unable to extricate themselves from it; great numbers will be beguiled by those who engage in trickery and sorcery. If you do not strive for progress, are without ideals, and have not rooted yourself in the true way, you will be swept away by the swelling tides of sin. China is the most backward of all countries; it is the land where the great red dragon lies coiled, it has the most people who worship idols and engage in sorcery, the most temples, and it is a place in which filthy demons reside. You were born of it, you have been educated by it and steeped in its influence; you have been corrupted and tortured by it, but after being awoken you forsake it and are completely gained by God. This is the glory of God, and this is why this stage of work has great significance. God has done work of such great scale, has spoken so many words, and He will ultimately completely gain you—this is one part of the work of God’s management, and you are the “victory spoils” of God’s battle with Satan. The more you understand the truth and the better your life of the church is, the more the great red dragon is brought to its knees. These are all matters of the spiritual world—they are the battles of the spiritual world, and when God is victorious, Satan shall be shamed and fall down. This stage of God’s work has tremendous significance. God does work on such a grand scale and completely saves this group of people so you can escape from the influence of Satan, live in the holy land, live in God’s light, and have the light’s leadership and guidance. Then there is meaning to your life. What you eat and wear is different from unbelievers; you enjoy the words of God and lead a life of meaning—and what do they enjoy? They enjoy only their “ancestral heritage” and their “national spirit.” They have not the slightest vestige of humanity! Your clothes, words, and actions are all different from theirs. Ultimately, you will completely escape from the filth, no longer be ensnared in the temptation of Satan, and gain God’s daily provision. You should always be cautious. Though you live in a filthy place, you are untainted with filth and can live alongside God, receiving His great protection. God has chosen you from among all on this yellow land. Are you not the most blessed people? You are a created being—you should of course worship God and pursue a life of meaning. If you do not worship God but live within your filthy flesh, then are you not just a beast in human attire? Since you are a human being, you should expend yourself for God and endure all suffering! You should gladly and assuredly accept the little suffering you are subjected to today and live a meaningful life, like Job and Peter. In this world, man wears the devil’s clothing, eats food from the devil, and works and serves under the devil’s thumb, becoming completely trampled in its filth. If you do not grasp the meaning of life or obtain the true way, then what significance is there in living like this? You are people who pursue the right path, those who seek improvement. You are people who rise up in the nation of the great red dragon, those whom God calls righteous. Is that not the most meaningful life?
Excerpted from “Practice (2)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
a. Cold stroke, a term used in traditional Chinese medicine which refers to severe, potentially life-threatening, internal cold caused by external elements.