The Principles of the Practice of Submitting to God (Part Two)

Let us come to look at the attitude Job had when dealing with his children. Job feared Jehovah, but his children did not believe in God—would outsiders not think this was very embarrassing for Job? According to the notions of man, Job was of a great family, and he feared Jehovah God, but his children did not believe in God, so he had no respectability. Did this idea of respectability not come from human will, from human hot-headedness? People might think: “This is not respectable at all. I must think of a way to get them to believe in God, and reclaim my respectability.” Is this not born of human will? Is this what Job did? (No.) How is it recorded in the Bible? (Job sacrificed and prayed for them.) Job just sacrificed and prayed for them. What kind of attitude is this? Can you see the principles Job was practicing? We do not know whether or not Job obstructed or interfered with his children’s merrymaking, but he certainly did not participate—he just sacrificed for them. Did he ever pray, saying: “Jehovah God, move them, make them believe in You, and have them obtain Your grace, and make them fear You and shun evil the way I do”? Did he ever pray this way? The Bible contains no such record. Job’s course of action was to distance himself from them, sacrifice for them, and worry for them, lest they sin against Jehovah God. Job practiced these things. What were the principles of his practice? He did not impose upon them. So did Job want his children to believe in God or not? Of course he wanted them to. As a father who believed in God, seeing his children cling to the world in this way, without earnestly believing in God, would have made him very sad. He certainly wanted his children to come before God, to sacrifice the same as him, to fear God and shun evil, and to accept God’s sovereignty and arrangements. This is not an issue of respectability, it is a parent’s responsibility. But his children chose not to believe, and as a father, Job did not impose upon them. That was his attitude. So what did he do? Did he drag them kicking and screaming, or try to persuade them? (No.) Certainly not. At most, he occasionally said a few words of exhortation, and when his children did not listen, he gave up on it. He told them not to do anything too out of bounds, and then separated from them, drawing a clear line, each person living their own life. Job sacrificed for them for fear that they would offend Jehovah God; he did not sacrifice in their place, he did it because he had a God-fearing heart. Job did not impose upon them, nor did he drag them kicking and screaming, nor did he say: “These are my children, and I must get them to believe in God, so that God can obtain a few more people.” He did not say this, nor did he have any such plan or calculation, nor did he act this way. He knew that acting this way came from human will, which God does not like. Job just exhorted his children, and prayed for them, but he did not force them or drag them kicking and screaming, and he even drew a clear line. This was Job’s rationality, and also a principle of practice: Do not rely on human will or good intentions to do anything that would offend God. Additionally, they did not believe in God, and God did not move them. Job understood God’s will: “God has not worked upon them, so I will not pray for them. I will not ask anything of God, and I do not want to offend God in this matter.” He absolutely would not tearfully pray or fast that his children would be saved, that they would come before Jehovah God and be blessed. He absolutely would not act this way; he knew that acting in this way would offend God, and that God wouldn’t like it. What can you see from these details? Was Job’s submission sincere? (Yes.) Can the average person achieve this kind of submission? The average person cannot. Children are the dearest treasures of their parents, so when they make merry in this way, to see them follow evil trends, not come before God, and lose their opportunity to believe in God and be saved—and possibly even sink to perdition and be destroyed—this is too emotionally difficult an ordeal for the average person to overcome. But Job was able to accomplish it. He did only one thing, which was to make burnt offerings for them, and to worry in his heart. That was all. His children were his dearest relations, but he did not do anything extra for them that would offend God. What do you think of this principle of practice of Job’s? It shows that he had a God-fearing heart and that he truly submitted to Him. When it came to matters that touched on his children’s future, he did not pray at all, nor did he use any courses of action based on human will; he just sent his servants to do some things, not going himself. The reason he did not participate in this merrymaking was that he was unwilling to be contaminated by these things, and additionally, he did not want to be mixed up in them. By being mixed up in them, he would offend God, so he distanced himself from wicked places. Were there particular details to Job’s practices? First, let’s talk about how he treated his children. His aim was to submit to God’s arrangements and orchestrations in all things; he did not try to force the things God did not do, nor did he have calculations and plans based on human will. He hearkened and waited on God’s arrangements and orchestrations in all things. This was a general principle. What were the detailed methods of practice? (He did not participate when his children made merry. He distanced himself from them and made burnt offerings for them, but he did not insist that they believe in God, nor did he drag them kicking and screaming, and he drew a clear line with them.) This is the principle of practice. How does the average person practice when they encounter this matter? (They pray to God that their children will believe in Him.) What else? If God does not do that, they drag their children to church, so the children will be blessed. They see that they have obtained the great boon of entering the kingdom of heaven and their children have not, so they feel pained and regretful in their heart. They do not want their children to lose out on this boon, so they rack their brains trying to find a way to pull their children to church, thinking that this amounts to the fulfillment of their parental responsibilities. They do not actually care about whether or not their children are able to pursue the truth and attain salvation. Job did not do this thing, but the average person is not capable of it. Why not? (People have corrupt dispositions. They act based on their feelings.) Most people do not give any consideration to whether or not acting in this way is offensive to God. Their priority is to satisfy themselves, to see to their feelings, and to satisfy their own desires. They give no consideration to how God holds sovereignty over or arranges things, what God does or what His intentions are. They give consideration only to their own desires, their own feelings, their own intentions, and their own benefits. How did Job treat his children? He just fulfilled his responsibility as a father, sharing the gospel and fellowshipping on the truth with them. However, whether or not they listened to him, whether or not they obeyed, Job didn’t force them to believe in God—he didn’t drag them kicking and screaming, or interfere in their lives. Their ideas and opinions were different to his own, so he did not interfere with what they did, and did not interfere with what sort of path they were taking. Did Job seldom speak to his children about believing in God? He certainly would have had enough words with them about this, but they refused to listen, and did not accept them. What was Job’s attitude toward that? “I have fulfilled my responsibility; as for what kind of path they take, that is up to what they choose, and it is up to God’s orchestrations and arrangements. If God does not work on them, or move them, I will not try to force them.” Therefore, Job did not pray for them before God, or cry tears of anguish over them, or fast for them or suffer in any way at all. He did not do these things. Why did Job not do any of these things? Because none of these were ways of submitting to God’s sovereignty and arrangements; they all came out of human ideas and were ways of actively forcing matters. When Job’s children would not take the same path as he did, this was his attitude; so when his children died, what was his attitude? Did he cry or not? Did he vent his feelings? Did he feel hurt? The Bible contains no record of any of these things. When Job saw his children die, did he feel heartbroken or sad? (He did.) Speaking in terms of the affection he felt for his children, he certainly did feel that little bit of sadness, but he still submitted to God. How was his submission expressed? He said: “These children were given to me by God. Whether or not they believed in God, their lives are in God’s hands. If they had believed in God, and God wanted to take them away, He would still have done so; if they had not believed in God, they still would have been taken away if God had said they would be taken away. All of this is in God’s hands; otherwise, who could take people’s lives away?” In short, what is this to be taken to mean? “Jehovah gave, and Jehovah has taken away; blessed be the name of Jehovah” (Job 1:21). He maintained this attitude in the way he treated his children. Whether they were alive or dead, he continued to have this attitude. His method of practice was correct; in every way he practiced, in the viewpoint, attitude and state with which he treated everything, he was always in a position and state of submitting, waiting, seeking, and then achieving knowledge. This attitude is very important. If people never have this kind of attitude in anything they do, and have especially strong personal ideas and place personal intentions and benefit before all else, then are they really submitting? (No.) In such people genuine submission cannot be seen; they are unable to achieve genuine submission.

Some people do not focus on seeking the truth principles as they do their duty, instead relying on their own will to act. What is the most common manifestation seen in someone who has particularly strong personal ideas? No matter what happens to them, they first calculate things out in their mind, thinking out all the things that they can think of, creating a thorough plan. When they feel that it has no holes, they practice wholly in accordance with their own will, the result being that their plan cannot keep up with the changes, so things sometimes go wrong. What is the problem here? Things often go wrong when acting according to your own will. So, no matter what happens, everyone ought to sit down and seek the truth together, pray to God, ask for His guidance. With God’s enlightenment, the things that come out of their fellowship are full of light, and provide a way forward. Additionally, by entrusting matters to God, looking up to Him, relying on Him, having Him lead you, and having Him look after and protect you—by practicing this way—you will gain more secure purchase, and you will not encounter any big problems. Can the things that people think up in their heads be totally in line with the facts? Can they be in line with the truth principles? This is impossible. If you do not depend on and look to God when performing your duty, and merely do as you wish, then no matter how smart you are, there will always be times when you fail. People who are arrogant and self-righteous are apt to follow their own ideas, so do they have a God-fearing heart? People who have strong personal ideas forget God when the time comes to act, they forget submission to God; only when they have hit a wall and failed to accomplish anything, does it occur to them that they have not submitted to God, and have not prayed to God. What problem is this? This is them not having God in their hearts. Their actions indicate that God is absent from their hearts, and that they only rely on themselves. And so, whether you are doing church work, performing a duty, handling some external affairs, or dealing with matters in your personal life, there must be principles in your heart, there must be a state. What state? “No matter what it is, before something happens to me I must pray, I ought to submit to God, and I ought to submit to His sovereignty. Everything is arranged by God, and when that thing happens, I must seek God’s will, I must have this mindset, I must not make my own plans.” After experiencing thus for some time, people will find themselves seeing God’s sovereignty in many things. If you always have your own plans, considerations, wishes, selfish motives, and desires, then your heart will unwittingly stray from God, you will be blind to how God acts, and most of the time, God will be hidden from you. Do you not like doing things according to your own ideas? Do you not make your own plans? You think you have a mind, you are educated, knowledgeable, you have the means and methodology to do things, you can do them on your own, you’re good, you don’t need God, and so God says, “So go and do it by yourself, and take responsibility for whether it goes well or not, I do not care.” God pays you no heed. When people follow their own will in this way in their faith in God and believe however they want, what is the consequence? They are never able to experience God’s sovereignty, they can never see the hand of God, can never feel the enlightenment and illumination of the Holy Spirit, they cannot feel God’s guidance. And what will happen as time goes on? Their hearts will grow ever further from God, and there will be knock-on effects. What effects? (Doubting and denying God.) This is not just a case of doubting and denying God. When God has no place in people’s hearts, and they do as they wish over the long term, a habit will set in: When something happens to them, the first thing they will do is to think of their own solution and act according to their own intentions, aims and plans; they will first consider whether this is of benefit to them; if it is, they will do it, and if it isn’t, they won’t. It will become their habit to go straight to taking this path. And how will God treat such people if they keep acting thus, without repentance? God will pay them no heed, and place them to one side. What does it mean to be placed to one side? God will neither discipline nor reproach them; they will grow increasingly self-indulgent, without judgment, chastisement, discipline, or reprimand, much less enlightenment, illumination, or guidance. This is what it means to be placed to one side. How does someone feel when God places them to one side? Their spirit feels darkened, God is not with them, they feel unclear about the visions, they have no path of action, and they deal only with foolish matters. As time passes in this way, they think that life has no meaning, and their spirits are empty, so they are the same as the unbelievers, and they grow increasingly degenerate. This is a person spurned by God. Some people say: “Why do I feel ever more that doing my duty is meaningless, that I have less and less energy? How is it that I have no motivation? Where did my motivation go?” There are others who say: “How is it that the longer I believe, the more I think that I don’t have as much faith as I did when I first started? When I started believing, I particularly enjoyed being face to face with God, so how is it that I no longer have that feeling of enjoyment?” Where did that feeling go? God has hidden from you, so you cannot feel Him; you thus become pitiful and withered. To what degree do you wither? You become unclear about the visions of God’s work, you have nothing in your heart, and your poor, pitiful appearance comes out. Is this good or bad? (Bad.) When God leaves a person, they become this stupid and foolish, and they have nothing. This is the pitiful appearance of those who leave God! At this point, they no longer think it is good to believe in God. No matter how they think about it, they do not think that believing in God is the right way. According to them, this road goes nowhere, and they will not walk on it no matter who advises them to. They cannot go on believing, so they have to run to the world; to them, making money and gaining wealth is the only choice they have, the most realistic path. They pursue promotions and wealth, happiness and satisfaction, honoring their ancestors, and rapid career advancement; their hearts are filled with these things, so can they still do their duty? They cannot. If someone only has thoughts like this, but still has a little true belief, and they are willing to continue pursuing it, then what is the attitude of God’s house toward them? As long as they are able to labor, then the house of God will give them an opportunity; God’s requirements of each person are not high. Why is that? People do not live in a vacuum, and there is no one who is not corrupt. Who is there that does not have ideas of resisting God? Who is there who has not committed transgressions in resistance to God? Who is there that does not have states and behaviors of rebellion against God? To take it a step further, who is there that has not had some ideas, thoughts, or states of disbelief, doubt, misunderstanding, or conjecture about God? Everyone does. So how does God treat people? Does He fuss over these things? He never has. What does God do? Some people always have notions about God’s work. They think, “As long as someone believes in God, He will always expose, judge, chastise, and prune them. He does not let go of people, and He does not give them freedom of choice.” Is that how it is? (No.) People who believe in God and come to His house all do so freely; not one of them is forced. Some people have lost faith; they have gone to indulge in worldly things, and no one obstructs them or is reluctant to see them go. In both coming to have faith in God and leaving the faith, they are free. Additionally, God does not coerce anyone. No matter what His requirements of people are, He allows them to choose the road they wish to walk on, and He does not force anyone. No matter how the Holy Spirit works, or how He guides people and leads people to read God’s words, God has never coerced anyone. He always expresses the truth to provide for and shepherd man, always fellowshipping on the truth to resolve problems, and to allow people to understand the truth. What is the purpose behind allowing people to understand the truth? (So they can accept the truth.) If you accept the truth and accept God’s words, then you have the stature to withstand these rebellious and corrupt dispositions, the views of the nonbelievers, and all kinds of incorrect states; when you are able to discern these states, you will not be misled. Once someone understands all kinds of truth, they do not misunderstand God, and they understand His will. For one thing, they are able to do the duty of a created being well; additionally, they live with the likeness of a human, and are able to walk onto life’s correct path. When someone walks on life’s correct path, bears the testimony that a created being ought to, is eventually able to defeat Satan, experiences a change of disposition, has true submission to and fear of God, and becomes an acceptable created being, then such a person has attained salvation, which is the ultimate goal.

September 29, 2017

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