29. The Principles of Accepting Being Pruned and Dealt With
(1) To accept being pruned and dealt with is to submit to God’s judgment and chastisement, which means submitting to the truth. If one can accept pruning and dealing, they are capable of true repentance;
(2) One must pray to God when they are pruned and dealt with, and they should accept and submit to it, no matter to what degree it accords with the facts. This is the best opportunity to know oneself;
(3) All pruning and dealing is judgment and chastisement through the advent of facts; it is God’s special love. One must accept and submit to it, and they will surely benefit from it;
(4) To be pruned and dealt with is the greatest lesson in life entry. One must engage in self-reflection and come to forsake themselves, practicing the truth and submitting to God.
Relevant Words of God:
In the last days, Christ uses a variety of truths to teach man, to expose the substance of man, and to dissect the words and deeds of man. These words comprise various truths, such as man’s duty, how man should obey God, how man should be loyal to God, how man ought to live out normal humanity, as well as the wisdom and the disposition of God, and so on. These words are all directed at the substance of man and his corrupt disposition. In particular, the words that expose how man spurns God are spoken in regard to how man is an embodiment of Satan, and an enemy force against God. In undertaking His work of judgment, God does not simply make clear the nature of man with a few words; He exposes, deals with, and prunes over the long term. These methods of exposure, dealing, and pruning cannot be substituted with ordinary words, but with the truth of which man is utterly bereft. Only methods such as these can be called judgment; only through judgment of this kind can man be subdued and thoroughly convinced into submission to God, and moreover gain true knowledge of God. What the work of judgment brings about is man’s understanding of the true face of God and the truth about his own rebelliousness. The work of judgment allows man to gain much understanding of the will of God, of the purpose of God’s work, and of the mysteries that are incomprehensible to him. It also allows man to recognize and know his corrupt essence and the roots of his corruption, as well as to discover the ugliness of man. These effects are all brought about by the work of judgment, for the essence of this work is actually the work of opening up the truth, the way, and the life of God to all those who have faith in Him. This work is the work of judgment done by God. If you do not regard these truths as important, if you think of nothing but how to avoid them, or how to find a new way out that does not involve them, then I say you are a grievous sinner. If you have faith in God, yet seek not the truth or the will of God, nor love the way that brings you closer to God, then I say that you are one who is trying to evade judgment, and that you are a puppet and a traitor who flees from the great white throne. God will not spare any of the rebellious who escape from under His eyes. Such men shall receive even more severe punishment. Those who come before God to be judged, and have moreover been purified, shall forever live in the kingdom of God. Of course, this is something that belongs to the future.
Excerpted from “Christ Does the Work of Judgment With the Truth” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
If you believe in God, then you must obey God, put the truth into practice, and fulfill all of your duties. Additionally, you must understand the things you should experience. If you only experience being dealt with, being disciplined, and being judged, if you are only able to enjoy God but remain unable to feel when God is disciplining you or dealing with you—this is unacceptable. Perhaps in this instance of refinement, you are able to stand your ground, but this is still not enough; you must still keep marching forward. The lesson of loving God never stops and has no end. People see believing in God as something that is extremely simple, but once they gain some practical experience, they then realize that belief in God is not as simple as people imagine. When God works to refine man, man suffers. The greater a person’s refinement, the greater their love of God will be, and the more of God’s might will be revealed in them. Conversely, the less refinement a person receives, the less their love of God will grow, and the less God’s might will be revealed in them. The greater such a person’s refinement and pain and the more torment they experience, the deeper their love of God will grow, the more genuine their faith in God will become, and the more profound their knowledge of God will be. In your experiences, you will see people who suffer greatly as they are refined, who are dealt with and disciplined much, and you will see that it is those people who have a deep love for God and a more profound and penetrating knowledge of God. Those who have not experienced being dealt with have but a superficial knowledge, and they can only say: “God is so good, He bestows grace upon people so that they can enjoy Him.” If people have experienced being dealt with and disciplined, then they are able to speak about the true knowledge of God. So the more wondrous God’s work in man is, the more valuable and significant it is. The more impenetrable it is to you and the more incompatible it is with your notions, the more God’s work is able to conquer you, gain you, and make you perfect.
Excerpted from “Those Who Are to Be Made Perfect Must Undergo Refinement” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
People cannot change their own disposition; they must undergo the judgment and chastisement, and suffering and refinement, of God’s words, or being dealt with, disciplined, and pruned by His words. Only then can they achieve obedience and faithfulness to God, and no longer be perfunctory toward Him. It is under the refinement of God’s words that people’s dispositions change. Only through the exposure, judgment, discipline, and dealing of His words will they no longer dare to act rashly but instead will become steady and composed. The most important point is that they are able to submit to God’s current words, and to His work, even if it is not in line with human notions, they are able to put these notions aside and willingly submit.
Excerpted from “People Whose Dispositions Have Changed Are Those Who Have Entered Into the Reality of God’s Words” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
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
Sometimes God gives you a certain type of feeling, a feeling that causes you to lose your inner enjoyment and lose God’s presence, such that you are plunged into darkness. This is a type of refinement. Whenever you do anything, it always goes awry, or you hit a wall. This is God’s discipline. Sometimes, when you do something that is disobedient and rebellious toward God, nobody else may know of it—but God does. He will not let you off, and He will discipline you. The work of the Holy Spirit is very detailed. He very carefully observes people’s every word and action, their every act and move, and their every thought and idea so that people can gain internal awareness of these things. You do something once and it goes awry, you do something again and it still goes awry, and gradually you will come to understand the work of the Holy Spirit. Through many times of being disciplined, you will know what to do to be in line with God’s will and what is not in line with His will. In the end, you will have accurate responses to the Holy Spirit’s guidance from within you. Sometimes you will be rebellious and you will be rebuked by God from within. This all comes from God’s discipline. If you do not treasure God’s word, if you slight His work, then He will pay you no mind. The more seriously you take God’s words, the more He will enlighten you.
Excerpted from “Those Who Are to Be Made Perfect Must Undergo Refinement” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
God works in every single person, and no matter what His method is, what kind of people, matters, and things He makes use of in His service, or what kind of tone His words have, He only has one end goal: saving you. Before saving you, He needs to transform you, so how could you not suffer a bit? You are going to have to suffer. This suffering can involve many things. Sometimes God raises up the people, matters, and things around you so that you can come to know yourself, or else you might be directly dealt with, pruned, and exposed. Just like someone on an operating table—you have to undergo some pain for a good outcome. If every time you are pruned and dealt with, and every time He raises up people, matters, and things, it arouses your feelings and gives you a boost, then this is correct, and you will have stature and will enter truth reality. If, every time you are pruned and dealt with, and every time God raises up your environment, you feel no pain or discomfort whatsoever, and feel nothing at all, and if you do not come before God to seek His will, neither praying nor seeking the truth, then you really are so numb! If a person is too numb, and is never spiritually aware, then God will have no way to work on them. He will say, “This person is overly numb, and has been corrupted too deeply. Look at everything that I have done, and all the efforts I have made; I have done so many things on him—but I still cannot move his heart or awaken his spirit. This person will be in trouble; he is not easy to save.” If God arranges certain environments, people, matters, and things for you, if He prunes and deals with you and if you learn lessons from this, if you have learned to come before God, learned to seek the truth, and, unknowingly, are enlightened and illuminated and attain the truth, if you have experienced a change in these environments, reaped rewards, and made progress, if you begin to have a little comprehension of God’s will and you cease to complain, then all of this will mean that you have stood firm in the midst of the trials of these environments, and have withstood the test. As such, you will have gotten through this ordeal. How will God regard those who withstand the test? God will say that they have a true heart, that they can endure this kind of suffering and that, deep down, they love the truth and want the truth. If God has this kind of assessment of you, are you not then someone with stature? Do you not then have life? And how is this life attained? Is it bestowed by God? This is God, personally carrying a bowl of food over to you and holding it right up to your mouth to feed you, and once you have eaten, you feel satiated and can stand strong. This is how you must view and comprehend these things; this is how to submit to everything that comes from God. This is the sort of mindset and attitude you must possess, and you must learn to seek the truth. You should not be constantly looking for external causes or blaming others for your troubles or finding faults with people; you must have a clear understanding of God’s will. From the outside, some people might seem to have opinions about you or prejudices against you, but you should not see things that way. If you see things from an erroneous standpoint, the only thing you will do is make excuses, and you will not be able to attain anything. You should see things objectively and justly; in that way, you will seek the truth and understand God’s intention. Once your viewpoint and state of mind are rectified, you will be able to attain the truth. So, why do you not just do it? Why do you resist? If you stopped resisting, you would gain the truth. If you resist, you will not gain anything, and you will also hurt God’s feelings and disappoint Him. How will God be disappointed? It is tantamount to your pushing away the bowl of food that God Himself has brought to you to feed you from in person. You say that you are not hungry and that you do not need it; God tries again and again to encourage you to eat, but you still do not want it. You would rather go hungry. You think that you are satiated, when actually, you have absolutely nothing. People like this are very self-righteous, and are the most impoverished and pitiful of people.
Excerpted from “To Gain the Truth, You Must Learn From the People, Matters, and Things Around You” in Records of Christ’s Talks
Whether people are in a state whereby they make mistakes or in a state whereby they do not make mistakes, they usually harbor a kind of hardness and rebelliousness in the depths of their hearts. Moreover, a sort of human logical thinking exists within them that says, “As long as my actions and intentions are right, You should not deal with me, and it is okay for me not to submit.” They do not mention whether what they have done conforms to the truth or what consequences it leads to. They believe, “As long as I have a good heart and don’t have malicious intentions, You should accept me.” This is human reasoning, is it not? This is human reasoning, and there is no submission. You regard your own reasoning as the truth and treat the truth as superfluous. You think that only that which accords with your own reasoning is the truth, and that anything at odds with your own reasoning is not the truth. Anyone who thinks this way is most absurd, arrogant, and self-righteous. What kind of states can lessons in submission help people to resolve? To achieve submission, do they need a certain level of rationality? Regardless of whether we have done right or wrong in a matter, as long as God is dissatisfied, we should listen to God and use God’s words as the standard. This would be rational, right? This is the sense that human beings should possess; it is the first thing they should equip themselves with. We should not take into account how much we have suffered, what our intentions and purposes were, or what our reasons were at the time. Since God is not satisfied and we have not met God’s requirements, and given that God is the truth, we must listen to God and not try to reason with Him or argue. If you possess such rationality, you will be able to submit; that is, if, regardless of your circumstances, you neither rebel against God nor reject His requirements of you, and if you do not analyze whether His requirements are right or wrong, then your human state of hardness and rebelliousness and your propensity to reason your way out will be resolved. Do these states not exist within everyone? These states often emerge in people, and they think, “As long as my way accords with logical thinking, Your way should not be right, so it’s reasonable and fair for me to not obey You.” This is a common state for people, but if you are equipped with this sort of rationality, you will be able to effectively resolve this kind of state in part.
Excerpted from “The Five States Necessary to Be on the Right Track in One’s Faith” in Records of Christ’s Talks
On first coming to the church and taking up their duties, and before having been dealt with or pruned, everyone is as prickly as a pear, wanting to have the final say on things. They think to themselves: “Now that I believe in God, I have rights and freedom in the church, so I’ll act as I see fit.” Eventually, once they have undergone a round of being dealt with and pruned and have been disciplined, and once the truth has been fellowshiped to them and they have listened to sermons, they no longer dare to behave in this way. Actually, they have not been entirely grounded; they merely know a bit about how things work and have a smidgeon of sense. When others say things that are warranted, they can acknowledge their correctness, and though they may not understand those things well, they can accept them. Are they not then much more grounded than they were? That they are able to accept these things demonstrates that their behavior has undergone some changes. How have these changes come about? They have arisen due to the exhortation and prompting, as well as the comfort, of God’s words. Sometimes, such people need some discipline, to be dealt with and pruned, as well as some fellowship on principles, telling them that a thing must be done a certain way and cannot be done otherwise. “The truth must be accepted. It’s right there on display. Who would dare object to it?” they wonder. In God’s house, God is great, the truth is great, and the truth reigns; this theoretical foundation has shaken some people awake and allowed some people to understand what having faith in God is all about. Take someone who was originally barbaric and dissolute, completely unrestrained, and ignorant of rules, of belief in God, of God’s house, and of the principles of performing one’s duty in God’s house: When such a person—who knows nothing—comes to God’s house with good intentions and enthusiasm, brimming with great aspirations and hopes, and is there prompted and exhorted, watered and fed, and dealt with and pruned by God’s words, and is chastened, disciplined, tried, and refined, time and time again, then, gradually, some changes will occur in that person’s humanity. What changes are those? He comes to understand something of the principles of human conduct, and comes to know that, in the past, he rather lacked human likeness; he was barbaric, arrogant, and too big for his britches; he spoke and acted without principles, and did not know to seek the truth; he thought having faith in God was a simple matter of doing whatever God asks and going wherever He says, with a barbarous vigor; and, furthermore, such a person believed that this was loyalty and love for God. Now, this person denies all those things and knows that they are the behaviors of Satan, and that God’s believers should heed His words and honor the truth as great, yielding to its sovereignty in all things. In short, in theory and in the depths of their hearts, all people have understood, acknowledged, and accepted that these words are correct—that they are the truth, the reality of positive things—regardless of how deeply these words have taken root in their hearts and no matter how great a role these words have played. Afterward, after undergoing a degree of intangible chastening and discipline, a measure of true faith arises in their consciousness. From their initial vague imaginings of God to the feeling that they have now—that there is a God, and that He is quite real—once people have had these feelings in their faith in God, then their thoughts and viewpoints, ways of looking at things, and moral standards, as well as their ways of thinking, will gradually begin to change.
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
Can you just begin practicing straightaway after gaining some understanding of a matter? You cannot begin practicing immediately. While you are possessed of understanding, others prune you and deal with you, and then your environment compels you and forces you to act in accordance with the truth principles. Sometimes people are unwilling to go through this, saying, “Why can’t I do it that way? Do I have to do it this way?” Others say, “If you believe in God, then you should do it this way. Doing it this way is in accordance with truth.” When people reach a certain point at which they have experienced some trials and ended up understanding God’s will and some truths, then they will be somewhat happy and willing to act in accordance with the truth principles. At the outset, people are reluctant to practice the truth. Take devotedly fulfilling one’s duties as an example: You have some understanding of fulfilling your duties and being devoted to God, and you also understand the related truths, but when will you be able to completely devote yourself to God? When will you be able to fulfill your duties in both name and deed? This will require a process. During this process, you could suffer many hardships. Some people might deal with you, and others might criticize you. Everyone’s eyes will be fixed on you, and only then will you begin to realize that you are in the wrong and that you are actually the one who has done poorly, that lacking devotion in the fulfillment of your duty is unacceptable, and that you must not be careless or perfunctory. The Holy Spirit will enlighten you from within, and reproach you when you make a mistake. During this process, you will understand some things about yourself, and will know that you are too impure, you harbor too many personal motives, and have too many immoderate desires when fulfilling your duties. Once you have understood the essence of these things, you can come before God in prayer and truly repent; in this way, you can be cleansed of those impurities. If, in this manner, you frequently seek the truth to resolve your own practical problems, you will gradually set foot upon the right path of faith. The more someone’s corrupt disposition is purified, the more their life disposition will transform.
Excerpted from “What Should Be Known About Transforming One’s Disposition” in Records of Christ’s Talks
Some people become passive after being pruned and dealt with; they lose all energy to perform their duties, and end up losing their loyalty as well. Why is this? It is partly due to their lack of awareness of the essence of their actions, and this leads to their not being able to submit to being pruned and dealt with. This is determined by their nature that is arrogant and conceited, and that has no love for the truth. It is also partly due to their not understanding what the significance of being pruned and dealt with is. People all believe that being pruned and dealt with means that their outcomes have been determined. As a result, they mistakenly believe that if they possess some loyalty to God, then they should not be dealt with and pruned; and, if they are dealt with, then this is not indicative of God’s love and righteousness. Such misunderstanding causes many people to dare not be “loyal” to God. Actually, when all is said and done, it is because they are overly deceitful; they do not want to suffer hardship. They just want to obtain blessings the easy way. People are not aware of God’s righteousness. It is not that He has not done anything righteous or that He is not doing anything righteous; it is simply that people never believe that what God does is righteous. In human eyes, if God’s work does not conform to their human desires, or if it is not in line with what they expected, then He must not be righteous. However, people never know that their actions are inappropriate and do not conform to the truth, nor do they ever realize that their actions resist God. If God never dealt with or pruned people for their transgressions, or reproached them for their mistakes, but instead was calm and gentle with them, never offending them or exposing their scars, and if He allowed them to dine and enjoy their time with Him, then people would never complain about God or judge Him to be unrighteous; rather, they would hypocritically claim that He was very righteous. Do such people know God? Can their thoughts be completely attuned to His? How can such people cause Him to stop worrying? People have no inkling that when God judges, prunes, and deals with humans, He is trying to purify and transform their life dispositions so that they can succeed in submitting to Him and loving Him; they simply do not believe that God is righteous. As soon as He becomes slightly reproachful or deals with people a little bit, they grow negative and weak, and start to complain about Him. They refuse to believe that God looks at how people express themselves after they have transformed; they simply have no interest in changing. If you continue in this state, you will be deceived by your notions, and will be unable to be purified or perfected.
Excerpted from “The Implications of God’s Determination of People’s Outcomes Based on Performance” in Records of Christ’s Talks
Some people believe that after experiencing God’s judgment and chastisement and being dealt with and pruned by Him, or once their true colors have been revealed, it means their outcomes are set in stone. Most people cannot see past this; they get stuck on it and do not know how to move forward. Ordinarily, when they have yet to be dealt with and pruned and have not suffered any setbacks, they feel that they should pursue the truth and satisfy God’s will in their faith. However, as soon as they take a bit of a blow or any difficulties arise, out comes their betraying nature. This is disgusting to see. Afterward, they, too, feel it disgusting, and ultimately delimit their own end, saying, “It’s all over for me! If I’m capable of doing such things, doesn’t that mean I’m done for? God will never save me.” Many people are in this state. It could even be said that everyone is like this. Why do people delimit themselves thus? It proves that they still do not understand God’s intention to save mankind. Being dealt with just once leads to your taking a long hiatus from pursuing the truth; making just one minor mistake stops you from fulfilling your duty; even just a minor scenario can lead you to get stuck. It is as if people are only enthusiastic when they feel they are flawless and without blemish, yet when they discover they are overly corrupt, they do not have the heart to continue pursuing the truth. Many people have spoken words of frustration and negativity such as, “It’s definitely over for me; there’s no way I can be saved. Even if God forgives me, I can’t forgive myself; I can never change.” People do not understand God’s will, which shows they still do not know His work. In fact, during their normal entry, humans do sometimes reveal some corrupt dispositions, their actions are tainted, they take no responsibility, they have no loyalty, and they are careless and perfunctory—and this is all very natural; these are part of an inevitable pattern. Without such things being revealed, how could they be called corrupted humans? If humankind were not corrupt, then there would be no significance in God’s work of salvation. At present, the situation is that people lack the truth; they do not really know themselves and their states are not clear to them, so they need to be exposed and put in the spotlight. Enlightenment will only come when people are exposed, for they are all numb and dull-witted, and unless this sort of work is done, they will not change.
Excerpted from “One Must Understand That There Are Similarities and Differences Among People’s Natures” in Records of Christ’s Talks
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 Christ’s Talks