How to Know Man's Nature (Part One)

How to know one’s nature? What things make up a person’s nature? You only know of man’s shortcomings, defects, intents, notions, negativity, and rebelliousness, but you are unable to discover the things within man’s nature. You only know of the outer layer, without being able to discover its origin, and this does not constitute knowledge of man’s nature. Some people admit to their deficiencies and negativities, saying, “I understand my nature. See, I acknowledge my arrogance. Isn’t that knowing my nature?” Arrogance is a part of man’s nature, that much is true. However, it is not enough to acknowledge this in the doctrinal sense. What is it to know one’s own nature? How can it be known? From what aspects is it known? How specifically should one’s nature be perceived from the things one reveals? First of all, you can see a person’s nature through their interests. For example, some people have a particular adoration for famous and eminent people, some especially love singers or movie stars, and some have a particular fondness for playing games. From these preferences, we can see what the nature of these people is. Here’s a simple example: Some people might really idolize a certain singer. To what extent do they idolize them? To the extent that they are obsessed with this singer’s every move, smile, and word. They fixate on this singer, and even photograph everything they wear, and then they go on to imitate it. What issue does this level of idolization toward a person show? It shows that such a person has only those nonbeliever things in their heart, and that they do not have the truth, they do not have positive things, and much less do they have God in their heart. All of the things that this person thinks about, loves, and seeks are of Satan. These things occupy this person’s heart, which comes to be given over to those things. Can you say what their nature essence is? If something is loved to an extreme, then that thing can become someone’s life and occupy their heart, fully proving that the person is an idol worshiper who does not want God and instead loves the devil. Therefore, it can be concluded that such a person’s nature is one that loves and worships the devil, does not love the truth, and does not want God. Is this not the correct way to view someone’s nature? It is completely correct. This is how man’s nature should be dissected. For example, some people particularly idolize Paul. They like to go out and give speeches and do work, they like to attend gatherings and preach, and they like to have people listen to them, worship them, and revolve around them. They like to hold a place in the hearts of others, and they appreciate it when others value the image they present. Let us dissect their nature from these behaviors. What is their nature? If they really behave like this, then it is sufficient in showing that they are arrogant and conceited. They do not worship God at all; they seek higher status and wish to have authority over others, to possess them, and to hold a position in their hearts. This is the classic image of Satan. The aspects of their nature that stand out are arrogance and conceit, an unwillingness to worship God, and a desire to be worshiped by others. Such behaviors can give you a very clear view into their nature. For example, some people really love to take advantage of things unfairly at the expense of others, and these people seek to fulfill their own interests in all matters. Whatever they do must benefit them, or else they will not do it. They do not bother with anything unless it gives them some advantage, and there are always ulterior motives behind their actions. They speak well of anyone who benefits them, and they promote anyone who flatters them. Even when their favorite people have problems, they will say those people are correct and try hard to defend them and cover for them. What nature do such people have? You can completely see their nature clearly from these behaviors. They strive to take unfair advantages through their actions, constantly engaging in transactional behavior in every situation, and you can be certain that their nature is one of wholeheartedly coveting profit. They are out for themselves in everything they do. They will not rise early unless it benefits them to do so. They are the most selfish of people, and they are utterly insatiable. Their nature is demonstrated through their love of profit and lack of any love for the truth. Some men are captivated by women, always fooling around with them wherever they go. Beautiful women are the objects of such people’s affections and hold the highest esteem in their hearts. They are willing to give their lives, and sacrifice everything, for beautiful women; women are what fill their hearts. What is the nature of these men? Their nature is to love beautiful women, and to worship them, and to love wickedness. They are lechers with a wicked, greedy nature. Why do I say this is their nature? Their actions reveal a greedy nature. These behaviors are not merely occasional transgressions, nor are such people only a little worse than ordinary people, rather, they have grown to be completely occupied by these things, which have become their very nature and essence. Thus, these things have become revelations of their nature. The components of a person’s nature are constantly revealing themselves. Anything a person does, regardless of what it is, can reveal that person’s nature. People have their own motives and purposes for everything they do, and whether it be providing hospitality, preaching the gospel, or any other kind of work, they can reveal the parts of their nature without any consciousness of it, because a person’s nature is their life, and people are driven by their natures for as long as they live. A person’s nature is not revealed just on occasion or by happenstance; rather, it can completely represent the person’s essence. Everything that flows from within people’s bones and blood is representative of their nature and life. Some people love beautiful women. Others love money. Some have a particular love of status. Some especially value reputation and their personal image. Some particularly love or worship idols. And some people are especially arrogant and conceited, yielding to no one in their hearts and striving for status, they like to stand out from others and have authority over them. There are a variety of different natures. They can differ among people, but their common elements are resistance to and betrayal of God. In that way they are all identical.

As for how to know what someone’s nature is, let us look at a few more examples. Take selfishness for example. Selfishness can be said to be an element of a person’s nature. Everyone has this element within them. Some people are horribly selfish, selfish to the extreme, and in all things, they only consider themselves, seek nothing but personal gain, and they have not even the slightest consideration for others. That selfishness represents their nature. Everyone is somewhat selfish, but there is a difference. When associating with others, some people can watch out and care for others, they can be concerned about others, and consider others in everything they do. However, some other people are not like this. These people are especially selfish and always petty when hosting brothers and sisters. They give their own family the best food with the largest servings and they only give the brothers and sisters the smaller servings of the less appetizing food. When their own relatives come, they arrange for them to be very comfortable. However, when brothers and sisters come over, they are made to sleep on the floor. They think it is good enough that they allow brothers and sisters to stay over on visits. When brothers and sisters fall ill or have some other difficulty, such a person doesn’t even give them any thought, behaving as though they do not notice. Such people do not care about or feel concern for others in the least. They only care for themselves and their relatives. This selfish nature of theirs is what determines their unwillingness to care for others. They feel that caring for others involves suffering losses and is a lot of trouble. Some people might say, “A selfish person does not know how to be considerate of others.” That is incorrect. If they don’t know how to be considerate, why, then, are selfish people so good to their own relatives and show full consideration for their needs? Why do they know what they themselves lack and what is appropriate to wear or eat at a certain time? Why are they unable to be like that for others? In reality, they understand everything, but they are selfish and despicable. This is determined by their nature. Those who are selfish are incapable of treating others fairly. There is also the aspect of wickedness. God’s house has stipulated that all those who constantly commit fornication must be cleared out. But for some people, it was just a momentary transgression. Should they be handled just like those who constantly commit fornication? This is a matter of principle. Those who may have committed fornication occasionally cannot be considered people of a wicked nature. If someone consistently fools around with the opposite sex wherever they go, and they are shameless and have no morality regarding human relations, this is a wicked person, and their nature is that of wickedness. Such a person will reveal their nature no matter what actions they take or what work they do. Their nature is uncontrollable, and their heart is filled with these filthy things. They fool around with the opposite sex wherever they go, and even if they do stop for a time, they do so because the environment doesn’t permit it or because there are no suitable partners. Things from one’s nature can be revealed at any time and any place; nothing can limit them. Some people are especially taken in by clothes, beauty, and vanity; they are very vain. They change their clothes several times a day. They watch to see who wears nice clothes and who dresses well, and if they can’t obtain these things, they can’t sleep, and they will borrow money or pay any price to obtain these things. If they can’t obtain these things, they may lose all interest in belief in God, stop wanting to attend meetings, and lose the heart to read God’s word. These things are all that occupy their mind. They can think of nothing else. Such people are especially vain, much more so than the average person. This is something in their nature and in their bones. Their very nature is vain. The things in a person’s nature are not revealed by a moment of weakness, rather, they are consistent manifestations. No matter what people do, they carry the elements of their nature. Even when they are not obvious from the outside, there are still impurities within. If a deceitful person speaks honestly, there is actually still a hidden meaning behind their words. Their words are still contaminated with deceit. A deceitful person is deceitful with everyone, even with their relatives and with children. No matter how forthright you are with them, they will be deceitful with you. This is their true face, this is precisely their nature, it is not easy to change, and it will always be like this. An honest person sometimes speaks twisted and deceitful words, but they are usually honest, act with relative earnestness, do not take advantage of others when interacting with them, and do not intend to test others when speaking with them. They can open up and fellowship from the heart with others, and everyone else says they are guileless. When they sometimes speak deceitful words, this is merely their corrupt disposition revealing itself. This doesn’t represent their nature because they are not deceitful people. Therefore, when it comes to a person’s nature, you must understand what are elements of that nature and what is the corrupt disposition. You must be able to distinguish clearly between the two. Now, when people are asked to dissect their own nature, some will say, “Sometimes I speak harshly” or “I am uncultured and don’t know how to behave” or “Sometimes there are impurities when I perform my duties,” but they do not talk about what their nature is like or whether their humanity is good. They always avoid that sort of thing, and they cannot possibly truly know themselves. To always be covering up and afraid of losing face is not acceptable. What is in your nature must be excavated. If it cannot be excavated, it cannot be understood, and if it cannot be understood then it cannot be changed. You must be very strict when it comes to knowing yourself. You must not deceive yourself, and you cannot muddle through where this is concerned.

Understanding your own nature primarily involves understanding what kind of person you really are. The kind of person you are indicates what sort of nature you have. For example, saying that someone is such-and-such a person says most about their nature. The type of nature a person possesses determines the type of person they are. A person’s nature is their life. How can you see what a person’s nature is like? You must come into contact with them frequently, and spend time observing what sort of person they are. Whatever sticks out about them most, and is representative of their essence and characteristics, can be said to be their nature essence. Those elements of their essence form their nature. When it comes to seeing what kind of person someone really is, this way is more accurate. Whatever the essence of a person, such is their nature. A person’s nature determines what sort of person they are. For example, if someone particularly loves money, then their nature can be summarized in a few words: They are money-loving. If someone’s most prominent feature is having a love for women, and he is always womanizing, then this person loves wickedness and has a wicked nature. Some people most love to eat. If you give such a person some alcohol and some meat, then they will act in your favor. This therefore shows this person to have a gluttonous nature, just like a pig. Every person has a corrupt disposition and a fatal flaw, and the corrupt disposition controls them in their real lives. They live by this corrupt disposition, and it represents their nature. Their nature can be said to be the part of them that is their fatal flaw—their fatal flaw is their nature. Some people seem to have an acceptable humanity and do not exhibit any major flaws on the surface, but their greatest weakness is their fragility. They have no life goals or aspirations, they just muddle through life, falling down at the slightest setback and becoming negative when things get tough. If they end up with notions, to the point that they no longer want to have faith, then their greatest weakness is their fragility; their nature is fragile, they are worthless, and cannot be helped. Some people are extremely sentimental. Every day, in all that they say, and in all of the ways they behave toward others, they live by their feelings. They feel affection for this person and that person, and they spend their days engaged in the niceties of affection. In everything they encounter, they live in the realm of feelings. When such a person’s nonbelieving relative dies, they will cry for three days and not allow the body to be buried. They still have feelings for the deceased and their feelings are too acute. You could say that feelings are this person’s fatal flaw. They are constrained by their feelings in all matters, they are incapable of practicing the truth or acting according to principle, and they are often prone to rebel against God. Feelings are their greatest weakness, their fatal flaw, and their feelings are entirely able to bring them to ruin and destroy them. People who are overly sentimental are incapable of putting the truth into practice or submitting to God. They are preoccupied with the flesh and they are foolish and muddleheaded. It is that sort of person’s nature to be very sentimental, and they live by their feelings. Therefore, if you want to seek a change in your disposition, you must know your nature. “A leopard can’t change its spots.” Do not assume that nature can be changed. If a person’s nature is too bad, then they will never change, and God will not save them. What does a transformation in disposition mean? It happens when a person who loves the truth, while experiencing God’s work, accepts the judgment and chastisement of His words and undergoes all manner of suffering and refinement. Such a person is cleansed of the satanic poisons within them and completely casts off their corrupt dispositions so that they can submit to God’s words and all of His orchestrations and arrangements, never again to rebel against Him or resist Him. This is a transformation in disposition. If a person’s nature is very bad, and if they are an evil person, then God will not save them, and the Holy Spirit will not work within them. Put another way, it is like a doctor curing a patient: A person who has an inflammation can be treated, but a person who develops cancer cannot be saved. A transformation in disposition means that a person, because they love and can accept the truth, finally comes to know their nature, which is rebellious to God and in opposition to God. They understand that humans are corrupted too deeply, they understand humankind’s absurdness and deceitfulness, and humankind’s impoverished and pitiful state, and they finally come to understand humankind’s nature essence. Knowing all this, they become able to deny and rebel against themselves completely, live by God’s word, and practice the truth in all things. This is someone who knows God, and someone whose disposition has transformed.

All of mankind has been corrupted by Satan, and man’s nature is to betray God. However, among all the humans who have been corrupted by Satan, there are some who can submit to God’s work and accept the truth. These are people who can obtain the truth and achieve a transformation of disposition. Some people do not pursue the truth, and instead just go with the flow. They will obey and do whatever you tell them to do, they can forsake things and expend themselves, and they can endure any suffering. Such people have a little conscience and reason, and they have a hope of being saved and surviving, but their disposition cannot change because they do not pursue the truth, and they are only satisfied with understanding doctrine. They do not say or do things that violate conscience, they can sincerely perform their duties, and they can accept fellowship on the truth regarding any problem. However, they do not make a serious effort to seek the truth, their minds are confused, and they can never understand the essence of the truth. It is impossible for their dispositions to change. If you wish to be cleansed of corruption and undergo a change in your life disposition, then you must have a love for the truth and the ability to accept the truth. What does it mean to accept the truth? Accepting the truth means that no matter what sort of corrupt disposition you have, or which of the great red dragon’s poisons—Satan’s poisons—are in your nature, when God’s words expose these things, you should admit to them and submit, you can’t make a different choice, and you should know yourself according to God’s words. This means being able to accept God’s words and accept the truth. No matter what God says, no matter how severe His utterances are, and no matter what words He uses, you can accept them as long as what He says is the truth, and you can acknowledge them as long as they conform to reality. You can submit to God’s words regardless of how deeply you understand them, and you accept and submit to the light that is revealed by the Holy Spirit and fellowshipped by your brothers and sisters. When such a person has pursued the truth to a certain point, they can obtain the truth and achieve a transformation of their disposition. Even if people who don’t love the truth have a bit of humanity, can do some good deeds, and can forsake and expend for God, they are confused about the truth and don’t treat it seriously, so their life disposition never changes. You can see that Peter had similar humanity to the other disciples, but he stood out in his fervent pursuit of the truth. Regardless of what Jesus said, he pondered it in earnest. Jesus asked, “Simon Barjona, do you love Me?” Peter answered honestly, “I only love the Father who is in heaven, yet I have not loved the Lord on earth.” Later he understood, thinking, “This is not right, the God on earth is the God in heaven. Is it not the same God both in heaven and on earth? If I only love God in heaven, then my love is not practical. I must love God on earth, for only then will my love be practical.” Thus, Peter came to understand the true meaning of the word of God from what Jesus had asked. To love God, and for this love to be practical, one must love the incarnate God on earth. Loving a vague and invisible God is neither realistic nor practical, whereas loving the practical, visible God is truth. From Jesus’ words, Peter gained the truth and an understanding of God’s intention. Clearly, Peter’s belief in God had only been focused on pursuing the truth. Ultimately, he achieved a love of the practical God—the God on earth. Peter was especially earnest in his pursuit of the truth. Each time Jesus counseled him, he pondered Jesus’ words in earnest. Perhaps he pondered for months, a year, or even years before the Holy Spirit enlightened him and he understood the essence of God’s words. In this way, Peter entered the truth, and as he did so, his life disposition was transformed and renewed. If a person does not pursue the truth, they will never understand it. You can speak on the words and doctrines ten thousand times, but they will still just be words and doctrines. Some people just say, “Christ is the truth, the way, and the life.” Even if you repeat these words ten thousand times, it will still be useless; you have no understanding of their meaning. Why is it said that Christ is the truth, the way, and the life? Can you articulate the knowledge you have gained about this from experience? Have you entered the reality of the truth, the way, and the life? God has uttered His words so that you can experience them and gain knowledge. Merely speaking on words and doctrines is useless. You can only know yourself once you have understood and entered into God’s words. If you do not understand God’s words, then you cannot know yourself. You can only gain discernment when you understand the truth. Without understanding the truth, you are incapable of discernment. You can only see matters clearly when you understand the truth. Without understanding the truth, you cannot see matters clearly. You can only know yourself when you understand the truth. Without understanding the truth, you cannot know yourself. Your disposition can only change when you have gained the truth. Without the truth, your disposition cannot change. Only after you have gained the truth can you serve in accordance with God’s intentions. Without gaining the truth, you cannot serve in accordance with God’s intentions. Only after you have gained the truth can you worship God. Without understanding the truth, even if you worship Him, your worship will be nothing more than a performance of religious rites. Without the truth, nothing you do is reality. By gaining the truth, everything you do has reality. All of these things hinge on gaining the truth from God’s words. Some people will ask, “What exactly does it mean to gain the truth from God’s words?” Is there really any need to ask? The truth is all expressed by God, and it is all within God’s words. There is no truth outside of God’s words. There are many people who believe that being able to speak on words and doctrines is knowing the truth, and this is preposterous. You can’t gain the truth by simply speaking doctrine. What’s the use of merely fellowshipping on the literal meaning of God’s words? You need to grasp the meaning in God’s words, the source of God’s words and the effect they are intended to achieve. God’s word contains truth, life, light, principles, and paths. Every word of God contains many things; it’s not enough just to say what their literal wording means, and then be done with them. I’ll give you an example. God said, “Be honest people, not deceitful people.” What does this statement mean? Some people say, “This is about telling people to be honest and not deceitful, isn’t it?” If you ask them what else it means, they will say, “It means you should be an honest person and not be a deceitful person. It only says these two things.” You might then ask, “What exactly does it mean to be an honest person? What kind of person counts as an honest person? What are the behaviors of an honest person? What are the behaviors of a deceitful person?” They would answer, “An honest person is someone who speaks honestly, doesn’t mix in falsity with their words, and doesn’t lie. A deceitful person is someone who speaks in twists and turns, doesn’t tell the truth, is always impure in their words, and loves to tell lies.” This is all they can say. Human thinking is too simple. Can you ever enter into the truth reality by explaining honest people so simply? What does God’s word say about honest people? First, that honest people harbor no doubts about others, and second, that honest people can accept the truth. These are the two main features. What does God mean by this? Why does God say this? From God’s word, you can understand the deeper significance of what being an honest person means, what it refers to, and what the exact definition of an honest person is. Once you understand this definition accurately, then in God’s word, you can see what the manifestations of an honest person are, what deceitful people are, and what the manifestations of a deceitful person are. If you then evaluate these manifestations, you will understand exactly what an honest person is and what a deceitful person is, as well as how deceitful people treat God’s word, how they treat God, and how they treat other people. In this way you will truly come to understand God’s words, and you will know how different people’s conception of honest people and deceitful people is from what God’s word says. When God’s word tells you, “Be an honest person, don’t be a deceitful person,” there are many details here. When you truly understand the meaning of the words, you will know what an honest person is and what a deceitful person is. When you practice, you will know how to practice in a way that is certain to show the manifestations of an honest person, and you will clearly see the path of practice and the principles of practice to be an honest person, which guarantees you will pass muster with God. If you really understand these words and put them into practice, you will be able to gain God’s approval. However, if you do not understand these words, you will not be an honest person, and you will never gain God’s approval. Coming to a genuine understanding of God’s words is no simple matter. Do not think this way: “I can interpret the literal meaning of God’s words, and everyone says my interpretation is good, and gives me a thumbs-up, so this means I understand God’s words.” That is not the same as understanding God’s words. If you have gained some light from within God’s utterances, and you have gotten a sense of the true meaning of His words, and if you can express the intention behind His words and what effect they will ultimately achieve—if you have a clear understanding of all of these things—you can be considered to have some level of understanding of God’s words. Thus, understanding God’s words is not all that simple. Just because you can give a flowery explanation of the literal meaning of God’s words does not mean you understand them. No matter how much you can explain their literal meaning, your explanation is still based on human imagination and a human way of thinking. It is useless! How can you understand God’s words? The key is to seek the truth from within them. Only in this way can you truly understand God’s words. God never speaks words that are empty. Each sentence He utters contains details that are certain to be exposed further in His words, and they may be expressed differently. Man cannot fathom the ways in which God expresses the truth. God’s utterances are very profound and cannot be easily fathomed with human thinking. People can discover roughly the entire meaning of every aspect of the truth as long as they make an effort. The details that remain are to be filled in for them during their subsequent experience, by the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. One part is pondering and understanding God’s words and seeking their specific content by reading them. Another part is understanding the meaning of God’s words by experiencing them and obtaining enlightenment from the Holy Spirit. Through constant progress in these two aspects, you can come to understand God’s word. If you interpret it on a literal, textual level or from your own thinking and imaginings, then even if you explain it floridly and eloquently, you still don’t really understand the truth, and it is all still based on human thinking and imaginings. It is not gained from the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. People are liable to interpret God’s words based on their notions and imaginings, and they may even misinterpret God’s words out of context, making them liable to misunderstand and judge God, and this is troublesome. Therefore, the truth is mainly gained by understanding God’s words and being enlightened by the Holy Spirit. Being able to understand and explain the literal meaning of God’s word does not mean you have gained the truth. If understanding the literal meaning of God’s word meant you understood the truth, then you would only need to have a little education and knowledge, so why would you need the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit? Is God’s work something that the human mind can comprehend? Therefore, understanding the truth is not based on human notions or imaginings. You need the enlightenment, illumination, and guidance of the Holy Spirit to have real experience and knowledge. This is the process of understanding and gaining the truth, and it is also a necessary condition.

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