C. On How to Know Oneself and Achieve True Repentance
358. After several thousand years of corruption, man is numb and dull-witted; he has become a demon that opposes God, to the extent that man’s rebelliousness toward God has been documented in the books of history, and even man himself is incapable of giving a full account of his rebellious behavior—for man has been profoundly corrupted by Satan, and has been led astray by Satan such that he knows not where to turn. Even today, man still betrays God: When man sees God, he betrays Him, and when he cannot see God, so too does he betray Him. There are even those who, having witnessed God’s curses and God’s wrath, still betray Him. And so I say that man’s sense has lost its original function, and that man’s conscience, too, has lost its original function. The man that I look upon is a beast in human attire, he is a venomous snake, and no matter how pitiable he tries to appear before My eyes, I will never be merciful toward him, for man has no grasp of the difference between black and white, of the difference between truth and non-truth. Man’s sense is so benumbed, yet still he wishes to gain blessings; his humanity is so ignoble yet still he wishes to possess the sovereignty of a king. Who could he be the king of, with sense such as that? How could he with such a humanity sit atop a throne? Man truly has no shame! He is a conceited wretch! For those of you who wish to gain blessings, I suggest you first find a mirror and look at your own ugly reflection—do you have what it takes to be a king? Do you have the face of one who could gain blessings? There has not been the slightest change in your disposition and you have not put any of the truth into practice, yet still you wish for a wonderful tomorrow. You are deluding yourself! Born into such a filthy land, man has been severely blighted by society, he has been influenced by feudal ethics, and he has been taught at “institutes of higher learning.” The backward thinking, corrupt morality, mean view on life, despicable philosophy for living, utterly worthless existence, and depraved lifestyle and customs—all of these things have severely intruded upon man’s heart, and severely undermined and attacked his conscience. As a result, man is ever more distant from God, and ever more opposed to Him. Man’s disposition becomes more vicious by the day, and there is not a single person who will willingly give up anything for God, not a single person who will willingly obey God, nor, moreover, a single person who will willingly seek the appearance of God. Instead, under the domain of Satan, man does nothing but pursue pleasure, giving himself over to the corruption of the flesh in the land of mud. Even when they hear the truth, those who live in darkness give no thought to putting it into practice, nor are they inclined to seek out God even if they have beheld His appearance. How could a mankind so depraved have any chance of salvation? How could a mankind so decadent live in the light?
Changing man’s disposition starts with knowledge of his essence and through changes in his thinking, nature, and mental outlook—through fundamental changes. Only in this way will true changes be achieved in the disposition of man. 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.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. To Have an Unchanged Disposition Is to Be in Enmity to God
359. Until people have experienced God’s work and gained the truth, it is Satan’s nature that takes charge and dominates them from within. What, specifically, does that nature entail? For example, why are you selfish? Why do you protect your own position? Why do you have such strong emotions? Why do you enjoy those unrighteous things? Why do you like those evils? What is the basis for your fondness for such things? Where do these things come from? Why are you so happy to accept them? By now, you have all come to understand that the main reason behind all these things is that Satan’s poison is within you. As for what Satan’s poison is, it can be fully expressed with words. For example, if you ask some evildoers why they committed evil, they will answer, “Because it’s every man for himself, and the devil take the hindmost.” This single phrase expresses the very root of the problem. Satan’s logic has become people’s lives. They may do things for this purpose or that, but they are only doing it for themselves. Everyone thinks that since it is every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost, people should live for their own sakes, and do everything in their power to secure a good position for the sake of food and fine clothing. “Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost”—this is the life and the philosophy of man, and it also represents human nature. These words of Satan are precisely the poison of Satan, and when people internalize it, it becomes their nature. Satan’s nature is exposed through these words; they represent it completely. This poison becomes people’s lives as well as the foundation of their existence, and corrupted humanity has been consistently dominated by this poison for thousands of years. Everything Satan does is for itself. It wishes to surpass God, break free of Him, and wield power itself, and to possess all of God’s creations. Therefore, man’s nature is Satan’s nature. In fact, a lot of people’s mottos can represent and reflect their nature. No matter how people try to disguise themselves, in everything they do and in everything they say, they cannot hide who they are. There are some who never speak the truth and are good at pretending, but once others have interacted with them for a while, their deceitful nature and complete dishonesty are found out. In the end, others draw the following conclusion: That person never speaks a word of truth, and is deceitful. This statement represents such a person’s nature; it is the best illustration and proof of their nature essence. Their philosophy of life is to not tell anyone the truth, as well as to not trust anyone. Man’s satanic nature contains a great deal of this philosophy. Sometimes you yourself are not even aware of that, and do not understand it; nevertheless, every moment of your life is based on it. Moreover, you think that this philosophy is quite correct and reasonable, and not at all mistaken. This suffices to show that Satan’s philosophy has become people’s nature, and that they are living in complete accordance with it, without rebelling against it in the slightest. Therefore, they are constantly revealing their satanic nature, and in all aspects, they continue to live by Satan’s philosophy. Satan’s nature is humanity’s life.
—The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. How to Walk the Path of Peter
360. When it comes to knowing man’s nature, the most important thing is to see it from the perspective of man’s world view, life view, and values. Those who are of the devil all live for themselves. Their life view and maxims mainly come from Satan’s sayings, such as, “Everyone for himself and the devil take the hindmost.” The words spoken by those devil kings, great ones, and philosophers of the earth have become man’s very life. In particular, most of the words of Confucius, who is touted by Chinese people to be a “sage,” have become man’s life. There are also the famous proverbs of Buddhism and Taoism, and the oft-quoted classic sayings of various famous figures; these are all outlines of Satan’s philosophies and Satan’s nature. They are also the best illustrations and explanations of Satan’s nature. These poisons that have been infused into the heart of man all come from Satan; not the least bit of them comes from God. Such devilish words are also in direct opposition to God’s word. It is absolutely clear that the realities of all positive things come from God, and all those negative things that poison man come from Satan. Therefore, you can discern a person’s nature and to whom he belongs from his life view and values. Satan corrupts people through the education and influence of national governments and of the famous and great. Their devilish words have become man’s life nature. “Everyone for himself and the devil take the hindmost” is a well-known satanic saying that has been instilled into everyone, and that has become man’s life. There are other words of philosophies for living that are also like this. Satan uses each nation’s fine traditional culture to educate people, causing mankind to fall into and be engulfed by a boundless abyss of destruction, and in the end people are destroyed by God because they serve Satan and resist God. Imagine asking someone who has been active in society for decades the following question: “Given that you have lived in the world for so long and achieved so much, what are the main famous sayings that you live by?” He might say, “The most important one is, ‘Officials do not strike gift-givers, and those who do not flatter accomplish nothing.’” Are these words not representative of that person’s nature? Unscrupulously using any means to obtain position has become his nature, and being an official is what gives him life. There are still many satanic poisons in people’s lives, in their conduct and behavior; they possess almost no truth at all. For example, their philosophies for living, their ways of doing things, and their maxims are all filled with the poisons of the great red dragon, and they all come from Satan. Thus, all things that flow through people’s bones and blood are all things of Satan. All of those officials, those who hold power, and those who are accomplished have their own paths and secrets to success. Are such secrets not perfectly representative of their nature? They have done such big things in the world, and no one can see through the schemes and intrigues that lay behind them. This shows just how insidious and venomous their nature is. Mankind has been profoundly corrupted by Satan. Satan’s venom flows through the blood of every person, and it can be seen that man’s nature is corrupt, evil, and reactionary, filled by and immersed in the philosophies of Satan—it is, in its entirety, a nature that betrays God. This is why people resist God and stand in opposition to God. Man can easily come to know himself if his nature can be dissected in this way.
—The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. How to Know Man’s Nature
361. How do you understand human nature? Understanding your nature actually means dissecting the depths of your soul; it involves what is in your life. It is the logic of Satan and the viewpoints of Satan by which you have been living; that is, it is the life of Satan that you have been living by. Only by unearthing the deep-down parts of your soul can you understand your nature. How can these things be unearthed? They cannot be unearthed or dissected through a mere one or two events; many times, after you are finished doing something, you still have not come to an understanding. It could take three or five years before you are able to gain even a tiny bit of realization and understanding. In many situations, you must self-reflect and come to know yourself, and only when you practice digging deep will you see results. As your understanding of the truth grows more and more profound, you will gradually come to know your own nature essence through self-reflection and self-knowledge. In order to know your nature, you must accomplish a few things. First, you must have a clear understanding of what you like. This does not refer to what you like to eat or wear; rather, it means the kinds of things you enjoy, the things you envy, the things you worship, the things you seek, and the things you pay attention to in your heart, the types of people you enjoy coming into contact with, the type of things you like to do, and the types of people you idolize in your heart. For example, most people like people of great standing, people who are elegant in their speech and deportment, or like those who speak with eloquent flattery or those who put on an act. The aforementioned is about what people they like to interact with. As for the things people enjoy, these include being willing to do certain things that are easy to do, enjoying doing things that others think are good and that would cause people to sing praises and give compliments. In people’s natures, there is a common characteristic of the things they like. That is, they like people, events, and things that others are envious of due to outward appearances, they like people, events, and things that look beautiful and luxurious, and they like people, events and things that make others worship them due to appearances. These things that people are fond of are great, dazzling, gorgeous, and grand. People all worship these things. It can be seen that people do not possess any of the truth, nor do they have the likeness of genuine human beings. There is not the slightest degree of significance in worshiping these things, yet people still like them. … what you like, what you focus on, what you worship, what you envy, and what you think about in your heart every day are all representative of your nature. It is enough to prove that your nature is fond of unrighteousness, and in serious situations, your nature is evil and incurable. You should analyze your nature in this way; that is, examine what you are fond of and what you forsake in your life. You might be good to someone for a time, but this does not prove that you are fond of them. What you are truly fond of is precisely what is in your nature; even if your bones were broken, you would still enjoy it and could never forsake it. This is not easy to change.
—The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. What Should Be Known About Transforming One’s Disposition
362. 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. Without the grace of God, and without enlightenment and guidance from the Holy Spirit, it would be difficult to walk this path, because people do not possess truth and are unable to betray themselves. Walking Peter’s path of perfection primarily rests on being resolved, having faith, and relying on God. Furthermore, one must submit to the work of the Holy Spirit; in all things, one cannot do without God’s words. These are the key aspects, none of which can be violated. Getting to know oneself through experience is very difficult; without the work of the Holy Spirit, it is very hard to enter it. To walk the path of Peter, one must concentrate on knowing oneself and on transforming one’s disposition.
—The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. To Know Oneself Is Primarily About Knowing Human Nature
363. 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.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Only by Experiencing Painful Trials Can You Know the Loveliness of God
364. 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.
—The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Only by Recognizing Your Misguided Views Can You Know Yourself
365. If people’s knowledge of themselves is too shallow, they will find it impossible to solve problems, and their life dispositions simply will not change. It is necessary to know oneself on a profound level, which means knowing one’s own nature: what elements are included in that nature, how these things originated, and where they came from. Moreover, are you actually able to hate these things? Have you seen your own ugly soul and your evil nature? If you are truly able to see the truth about yourself, then you will start to loathe yourself. When you loathe yourself and then practice God’s word, you will be able to forsake the flesh and have the strength to carry out truth without difficulty. Why do many people follow their fleshly preferences? Because they consider themselves to be pretty good, feeling that their actions are right and justified, that they have no faults, and even that they are entirely in the right, they are therefore capable of acting with the assumption that justice is on their side. When one recognizes what one’s true nature is—how ugly, how despicable, and how pitiful—then one is not overly proud of oneself, not so wildly arrogant, and not so pleased with oneself as before. Such a person feels, “I must be earnest and down to earth, and practice some of God’s word. If not, then I will not measure up to the standard of being human, and will be ashamed to live in God’s presence.” One then truly sees oneself as paltry, as truly insignificant. At this time, it becomes easy for one to carry out truth, and one will appear to be somewhat like a human should be. Only when people truly loathe themselves are they able to forsake the flesh. If they do not loathe themselves, they will be unable to forsake the flesh. Truly hating oneself comprises a few things: First, knowing one’s own nature; and second, seeing oneself as needy and pitiful, seeing oneself to be extremely small and insignificant, and seeing one’s own pitiful and dirty soul. When one fully sees what one truly is, and this outcome is achieved, one then truly gains knowledge of oneself, and it can be said that one has come to know oneself fully. Only then can one truly hate oneself, going so far as to curse oneself, and truly feel that one has been corrupted profoundly by Satan such that one does not even resemble a human being. Then, one day, when the threat of death appears, such a person will think, “This is God’s righteous punishment. God is indeed righteous; I really should die!” At this point, he will not lodge a complaint, much less blame God, simply feeling that he is so needy and pitiful, so filthy and corrupt that he should be wiped out by God, and a soul like his is not fit to live on earth. At this point, this person will not resist God, much less betray God. If one does not know oneself, and still considers oneself to be pretty good, then when death comes knocking, this person will think, “I have done so well in my faith. How hard I have sought! I have given so much, I have suffered so much, yet ultimately, God is now asking me to die. I don’t know where God’s righteousness is. Why is He asking me to die? If even a person like me has to die, then who will be saved? Won’t the human race come to an end?” First of all, this person has notions about God. Secondly, this person is complaining, and not showing any submission whatsoever. This is just like Paul: When he was about to die, he did not know himself, and by the time God’s punishment was nigh, it was too late to repent.
—The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. To Know Oneself Is Primarily About Knowing Human Nature