Question (5) We are not able to clearly discern when fulfilling duties what are hindrances from the Holy Spirit.
The answer is as follows: Hindrances or guidance from the Holy Spirit are not supernatural, so when you are going about your business you won’t be able to see anything on the surface. You might feel that something is right, that it’s appropriate, and so that probably means that the Holy Spirit has sanctioned it. But that’s not always the case. For example, when spreading the gospel you usually set a date for when you are going to share the gospel with the person involved. Is that the wrong thing to do? It doesn’t seem wrong outwardly, and it’s not some trivial thing that you’re doing or something that doesn’t accord with truths. This is God’s commission, a duty that you should carry out, but sometimes the time just isn’t right and when you go there on the day you encounter hindrances. Sometimes it’s because you didn’t pray first, thinking that you could do it your own way. But whenever you do that you’ll feel unease, unenthusiastic, and your mind will be a mess. In general, making your own decisions and doing it your own way without praying to God leads to hindrances from the Holy Spirit, which can manifest themselves in the situation you are in. It’s not that whether it should be done, it’s not that there’s a problem with the matter, it’s because you didn’t pray, you didn’t seek truths, you didn’t communicate closely with God. Delimiting, planning, arranging, and doing anything as you want to often leads to hindrances from the Holy Spirit appearing. It’s like when you decide how to do something, and from the beginning you pray, seek truths from God, and seek guidance from the Holy Spirit. After praying a few times, you feel that you know how to proceed and you know when you should do it. And when you pray again you feel at peace and everything goes very smoothly. That’s because you prayed from the beginning, because you arranged and did things all the way through talking with God. So, it went smoothly. Why did it all go so smoothly in this way? Some people don’t understand this and ask: “It’s a good deed, it’s spreading the gospel and it’s organized exactly the same way as the situation demands, then why does it sometimes go smoothly but sometimes not?” Are there truths that we can seek here? Yes, there are. For the Holy Spirit to lead us there is a crucial lesson, and that is that you have to obey God, you have to grasp God’s intentions, and do things according to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This is a lesson that most people don’t learn easily. After people have been corrupted by Satan, what do they like? They like to do whatever they like, and they become reckless, willful, and unrestrained by nature. Isn’t this all typical of people’s corrupt disposition? Now if God wants to change this kind of disposition how will He go about it? He does it by letting you learn how to obey the Holy Spirit’s guidance, and do everything through the Holy Spirit’s guidance so that everything goes as smooth as silk. It’s like the farmers of old who put their faith in Heaven when they plant their crops every year. From planting to harvesting they rely on Heaven, and they discover that the more faith they have the better things go, but if they stop relying on Heaven then disasters will strike. In the end, they come to believe that the Old Man in the Sky is for real, and He has control over everything. They believe it is the Old Man in the Sky who can make them rich, who can give them a good harvest, or who, if angered, can arrange things so that no matter how much seed they plant in their fields they won’t get any harvest at all. Isn’t this the effect of God’s work? The Holy Spirit works like this on God’s chosen people. He is training you, He wants you to learn how to obey, how to rely on God and not yourself. Tell me, isn’t this a lesson of great significance? That’s how the training is, and if you do something or try to get someone without praying to God—but instead make your own decisions and do it your own way by relying on your own imaginings, arrangements, abilities, and strength—then it will be easy for your plans to go awry and for you to end up frustrated. And what does failure and frustration teach us? What inspiration can we gain from them? They teach us to learn how to pray, how to obey the Holy Spirit, to go forward when there is guidance and to wait when there isn’t, even if we think it’s a good thing that we’re doing. Now some people ask how to determine that the Holy Spirit is guiding us. You set the date for doing something after praying to God but then in your heart you tell yourself: “I’ve told God that I want to spread the gospel on that date, but if God prevents me then I should obey Him.” So, when you pray and make your plans you always preserve a heart that is obedient to God. You should never have the attitude of: “Not hell or high water is going to stop me from doing this. No one can stop me, not even God. I’m not going to listen to any truths. I’m going to get this done.” You should never do things with this kind of rebellious attitude. These are two different attitudes, aren’t they? In both cases there is praying and organizing, but the key is whether or not the person has a heart that obeys God. That’s the difference, and although it’s a small difference it determines everything. It’s like when you’re looking for someone to marry but you haven’t found anyone suitable, how do you set your ground rules? Will you be able to listen to your parents? You might say: “Before I find someone I’ll listen to my parents. I’ll do whatever they say.” But then you meet someone who’s a perfect match and it’s love at first sight. You want to marry him or her, but your parents disagree. Will you still listen to them and abandon your new-found love? Some people might say: “I’m all for it, but my parents don’t agree so I’ll have to give it up.” You see how different that is from someone who’d say: “I really like him or her. And I’m not going to listen to my parents if they oppose me.” Aren’t these two different situations? These are two different situations representing two different dispositions. On the surface it seems to be the same thing, but whether or not obedience is present in the heart makes all the difference. Some people are quite obedient after we make them leaders, but if we don’t then they become rebellious and start opposing God’s house. Somebody who really has truths would think: “If you make me a leader I’ll obey, and even if you don’t make me a leader I’ll obey. If you make me a leader again I’ll obey, and even if you don’t make me a leader again I’ll obey. If you make me a leader 3 times and dismiss me 3 times I’ll still obey.” This is where you can see if someone has obedience and reality. So to know if something is being done under the guidance of the Holy Spirit you must see whether the people involved are obedient or not. God mainly wants to purify us, and for that to happen you must be obedient. Don’t think that just because what you’re doing is right and because you’re expending yourself for God that you can do things your own way and not listen to anybody. It’s not alright when you want to decide everything yourself because it shows that you don’t obey. Sometimes different people are asked to do tasks that are pretty similar. Those who obey generally won’t be disciplined, but those who don’t obey always get disciplined. These people often ask why they are being disciplined when the others aren’t. But the others have obedience, and that’s why even though they aren’t working properly, and they can’t see through it, they aren’t intentionally resisting God. But the way the unsubmissive people work shows that there is resistance to God in their hearts despite doing properly and they can walk the path of the antichrists. Can you see the big difference here? So when you are fulfilling your duties under the guidance of the Holy Spirit how should you pray? Like this: “God, this work is a duty I should fulfill and I’m willing to do it, but if You prevent me, if You don’t want me to do it, then I’ll stop immediately.” And when you’ve finished praying then carry on with the work. What do you think of this prayer? It shows submission, right? But if you pray like this: “God, I’ve decided to do this task today as it is a duty I should fulfill. I’m going to do it now. It’s a right thing then no one has the right to prevent me,” what’s the problem here? The problem is that there’s no sense of submission. The Holy Spirit is training us in this way to know that we have to stop if He wants us to even if what we’re doing is right. You have to pray and set about doing something with a heart that is obedient to God. God doesn’t try to manage us but just observes instead to see how we do some things and with what kind of intent. When we pray He might not put obstacles in our way, but then we go out and get in a vehicle or start walking and it always goes awry. Maybe we start feeling ill or conditions just aren’t right. Maybe an accident or a disaster happens. What’s the problem here? Is it easy to determine? Yes, it is, because sometimes it’s a hindrance and sometimes it’s a trial. So how do we determine when it’s a hindrance and when it’s a trial? We have to pray to see whether we feel peace in our hearts before going out. Whenever you’re never sure pray like this: “God, we’ve come here today to fulfill our duties, but we’ve met some difficulties and we don’t know what Your intention is. Even though we don’t know what You want we’re going to try and proceed anyway.” That’s what the non-believers call crossing the river by feeling the rocks in the water. But if you had a heart that is submissive to God you would say this: “God, if You don’t agree then please arrange things to prevent us. Let us know Your intention so that we can obey You.” This is praying with the right attitude. When you go ahead and do things, God will shoulder the responsibility. This is how to grasp God’s intentions. For example, if you’re planning to spread the gospel you should pray to God like this: “God, does my plan to spread the gospel today accord with Your intention? Spreading the gospel is indeed a good thing but I don’t know if You have arranged for it to happen at this time and under this circumstance. I don’t know if it’s proper to do it. If it’s not Your intention then please prevent me.” After praying, if you feel at peace then go and do it. Do what you have to do and keep moving forward. But if you have the continuous feeling that something bad is going to happen and you feel spiritual unease, or you even start shaking from fear, then the problem must be that there are hindrances and you should pray as soon as possible. How should you pray? Like this: “God, I feel uneasy, and that might be Your intention. If it really is Your intention then I’ll go home. If I feel at peace when I get home then that proves that You’ve allowed this to happen. So I’m going home now. But I’ll obey You.” If you pray like this, give up what you were going to do, get home without any problems and feel peace when you get home, then do you think that there were hindrances? Yes, there were, because God didn’t want you to go out. And all this was found out through prayer. Some people ask if this is correct or not. We shouldn’t care whether it’s correct; we should just obey God and always seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We should always pray and have a heart that is submissive to God and go where the feeling takes us. Someone might try and get you to go because they don’t believe it can’t be done. But it probably won’t get done or something bad will happen, and then you can be sure that God has put obstacles in your way. It’s like if you’re planning to go out in your vehicle today but you didn’t have any nice dreams last night and when you are about to leave the house you start shaking from fear, your eyelids start twitching, and you feel very uneasy. Tell me, is that an omen? It seems to be a bad omen, so you pray to God: “God, why am I so uneasy? Is it that You don’t want me to go today? If I don’t go please let me be at ease.” And sure enough, you don’t go and you feel at peace, which proves that your not going was following the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This is how we learn how to obey: We don’t consider whether doing something is right or not, or how many times out of 10 we get it right. Instead, whenever we encounter setbacks we just maintain submission to God in our hearts. At the very least, this will train you to become somebody who obeys the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It has this effect at least, right? For some events you can’t argue, you can’t think in terms of right or wrong, because it’s God using that event to achieve a result on you, which is to make you submissive, to eliminate your own will so that you can give every care to God’s heart, so that you can have a heart that is one with God’s. Isn’t this the Holy Spirit perfecting people? Perfecting transformation in life disposition is something that has far more value than other things you do, it really is of tremendous significance. Even if you do many things, if they don’t train you properly then you won’t learn submission, you won’t follow God’s guidance, and you won’t have a heart that is one with God’s. You will be rebellious, you will be willful and reckless, and it will be great to your loss because you won’t be able to be used. You will be unperfected, and you will still have the natural, unaltered disposition of Satan. So that’s why many times the Holy Spirit acts like He does, guiding us, training us, organizing our lives. But some people are curious and want to explore what happens if they disobey. They say: “I’m determined to do this and see if I can do it well. I want to see how God stops me.” Well, they can go ahead and try, but the key is whether or not you learn submission. A lot of things aren’t about seeing whether or not good results can be achieved but are about using the matter in hand to train you in entering into life and understanding truths to achieve results. This is much more significant.