The Principles That Should Guide One’s Conduct (Part One)

Those who believe in God must walk the path of faith in accordance with God’s word and His requirements. Believers must conduct themselves according to the truth. If people do not have the truth and live by Satan’s philosophies, in the end they will not achieve a positive outcome or ending. Only God’s word is the eternal, unchanging truth. If a believer does not live by God’s word or conduct themselves according to the truth, then they are even blinder than the people of the world, hopelessly blind. Many people who achieve some success in a certain field in the secular world and become famous have their heads clouded by fame and fortune, and they start to think highly of themselves. In fact, the admiration, praise, affirmation, and recognition other people give you are only temporary honors. They do not represent life, nor do they in the slightest mean that one is walking the correct path. They are nothing more than temporary honors and glories. What are these glories? Are they real or empty? (Empty.) They are like shooting stars, they flash by and disappear. After people obtain such glories, honors, applause, laurels, and praise, they still have to return to real life and live as they ought to live. Some people are unable to see this and wish for these things to stay with them forever, which is unrealistic. People wish to live in this kind of environment and atmosphere on account of how it makes them feel; they want to enjoy this feeling forever. If they are unable to enjoy it, then they begin to take the wrong path. Some use various methods such as drinking and drug abuse to numb themselves: This is how humans living in Satan’s world approach fame and fortune. Once a person becomes famous and receives some glory, they are prone to losing their direction, and they do not know how they should act, nor what they should do. They have their head in the clouds and cannot come down—this is dangerous. Have you ever been in such a state or displayed such behavior? (Yes.) What causes this? It is because people have corrupt dispositions: They are too vain, too arrogant, they cannot withstand temptation or praise, and they do not pursue the truth or understand it. They think that they are unique simply because of a small achievement or glory that they receive; they think that they have become a great person or a superhero. They think it would be a crime not to think highly of themselves in the face of all this fame, fortune, and glory. People who do not understand the truth are liable to think highly of themselves at any time or place. When they start thinking too highly of themselves, is it easy for them to come back down again? (No.) People with a little sense don’t think highly of themselves for no reason. When they have yet to achieve anything, have nothing to offer, and no one in the group pays them any attention, they can’t think highly of themselves even if they wanted to. They may be a little arrogant and narcissistic, or they might feel they are somewhat talented, and better than others, but they are not liable to think highly of themselves. Under what circumstances do people think highly of themselves? When other people praise them for some achievement. They think that they are better than others, that other people are ordinary and unremarkable, that they alone are someone with status, and not in the same class or on the same level as other people, that they are higher than them. This is how they get above themselves. And they think themselves justified in their high opinion of themselves. How do they figure this? What they believe is, “I have unique strength, caliber, and brains, and I am willing to pursue the truth. I have accomplished something now—I have made a name for myself, and my reputation and worth are higher than other people’s. Therefore, I certainly stand out from the crowd, and am someone everyone looks up to, so it is right that I think highly of myself.” This is what they think in their minds, and it ultimately becomes a given and par for the course that they should think highly of themselves. They believe that this is unquestionably correct and logical. If they don’t think highly of themselves, they feel unbalanced, like they are selling themselves short, and not living up to other people’s approval; and so they think it is natural to think highly of themselves. What are the consequences of thinking so highly of themselves? (They will no longer work well with others, and want to do things their own way.) This is one aspect of their behavior. What else? (They are no longer grounded, they no longer seek advancement in their area of work, and they rely too heavily on what they already have to offer.) (They refuse to submit to situations they do not like.) Why do they refuse to submit? Could they before? (They did not have the wherewithal to be arrogant before, and were able to restrain and suppress themselves, so they could submit to some extent. But now they feel that they have the wherewithal and the qualifications, and that they are different from others, so they think they can dictate their own terms and refuse to submit.) They feel they are different from who they were before, that they have status, are well-known, and should not easily submit to others. If they did, it would not be fitting of their status, and they would not be living up to their name. They feel that they have the right to say “no” and the right to refuse to submit to others. What other behaviors do they exhibit? (If their case becomes severe, they may even become like Paul, saying, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: From now on there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness” (2 Timothy 4:7–8), and begin to negotiate terms with God, forgetting that they are a created being.) They forget who they are. Do you think it is good for a person to think highly of themselves? (No.) No, then why do people think highly of themselves? (Because of the satanic disposition within them.) Having a satanic disposition is inevitable, and this is certainly the root of the problem. What other reasons are there? Let’s talk about the practical reasons. (People place too much emphasis on their achievements, treating them as life itself. Thus, they are always delighting in their success, leading to a state of complacency from which they cannot escape.) This is the crux of the matter. It concerns what people pursue and aspire to in their hearts, as well as the path they choose to take. Many people believe they have stature as long as they can perform certain routine tasks and fulfill certain duties requiring technical know-how. The more skillful, exceptional, and accomplished their work is, the more it proves that they possess reality, that they love God, and that they are obedient to Him. They consider this their life. As such, they certainly cherish it and pursue it as their life’s goal, but their goal and direction are wrong, as is their path. Moreover, at the root of it, people’s understanding of life, the pursuit of truth, and what it means to have the truth reality is flawed. When people’s understanding is flawed, their knowledge and ultimate estimation of something must also be flawed. If your understanding is flawed, what you pursue must also be flawed. As a result, the path you choose is bound to be problematic, and your life direction and goals will also be flawed.

Everyone knows it is not a good thing for a person to think highly of themselves simply because they were able to achieve certain results in their duty. So why do people still tend to think highly of themselves? One part of it is due to people’s arrogance and superficiality. Are there other reasons? (It is because people do not realize that it is God who leads them to achieve these results. They think they deserve all the credit, and possess the wherewithal, so they think highly of themselves. In fact, without God’s work, people are unable to do anything, but they cannot see it.) This statement is correct, and it’s also central to the issue. If people do not know God and do not have the Holy Spirit to enlighten them, they will always think themselves capable of anything. So if they possess the wherewithal, they can become arrogant and think highly of themselves. Are you able to sense the guidance of God and the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit in the course of performing your duty? (Yes.) If you are able to sense the work of the Holy Spirit, yet still think highly of yourselves, and think you are possessed of reality, then what is going on here? (When our performance of our duty has borne some fruit, we think that half the credit belongs to God, and half belongs to us. We magnify our cooperation to an unlimited extent, thinking that nothing was more important than our cooperation, and that God’s enlightenment would not have been possible without it.) So why did God enlighten you? Can God enlighten other people as well? (Yes.) When God enlightens someone, it is by the grace of God. And what is that little bit of cooperation on your part? Is it something you are due credit for, or is it your duty and responsibility? (It is our duty and responsibility.) When you recognize that it is your duty and responsibility, then you have the right mindset, and will not think of trying to take credit for it. If you always think, “This is my contribution. Would God’s enlightenment have been possible without my cooperation? This task requires man’s cooperation; our cooperation accounts for the bulk of the accomplishment,” then you are wrong. How could you cooperate if the Holy Spirit had not enlightened you, and if no one had fellowshiped the truth principles to you? You would not know what God requires, nor would you know the path of practice. Even if you wanted to obey God and cooperate, you wouldn’t know how. Is this “cooperation” of yours not just empty words? Without true cooperation, you are only acting according to your own ideas—in which case, could the duty you perform be up to standard? Absolutely not, which indicates the issue at hand. What is the issue? No matter what duty a person performs, whether they achieve results, perform their duty up to standard, and gain God’s approval depends on God’s actions. Even if you fulfill your responsibilities and duty, if God does not work, if God does not enlighten and guide you, then you won’t know your path, your direction, or your goals. What ultimately comes of that? After toiling for all that time, you will not have performed your duty properly, nor will you have gained the truth and life—it will all have been in vain. Therefore, your duty being performed up to standard, edifying your brothers and sisters, and obtaining God’s approval all depends on God! People can only do those things that they are personally capable of, that they ought to do, and that are within their inherent capabilities—nothing more. Ultimately then, performing your duties in an effective manner depends on the guidance of God’s words and the enlightenment and leadership of the Holy Spirit; only then can you understand the truth, and complete God’s commission according to the path that God has given you and the principles He has set. This is God’s grace and blessing, and if people cannot see this, they are blind. Regardless of what manner of work the house of God does, what should be the result? One part of it should be to bear witness to God and spread God’s gospel, while another part of it should be to edify and bring benefit to brothers and sisters. The work of the house of God should achieve results in both areas. In the house of God, no matter what duty you perform, can you achieve results without God’s guidance? Absolutely not. It can be said that without God’s guidance, what you do is essentially useless. Over the years, as you go on fulfilling your duties, the more you fulfill these duties, the more you have drawn closer to God’s requirements, the more you have understood His intentions, and the more you have grasped the principles. How is all this achieved? (By God’s guidance.) Without God’s guidance and the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, what are people actually able to “contribute”? One part of their “contribution” is human imaginings. Sometimes, people fulfill duties according to their own imaginings, thinking that by doing so, they can bear witness to God. However, the result is the opposite. What they produce not only fails to achieve the desired effect of witnessing to God, but instead appears unreal and impractical, a mere product of human imaginings and fabrication, which ultimately dishonors God. Another part of it is human notions. People like to act based on their own notions and believe that their notions align with the truth. When they act according to their notions, they think that they receive approval from others and are glorifying God. As a result, they do many things based on their own notions, and not only do they fail to achieve the desired effect of bearing witness to God; but rather, they mislead others into accepting these notions as truth. Not only does this prevent them from obeying God, but it also leads to misunderstandings, suspicions, condemnations, and blasphemy against God. These are the consequences of acting based on one’s own notions and of spreading these notions. When people lack an understanding of the truth, they rely on imaginings and notions to guide their actions. Apart from imaginings and notions, another aspect of what people “contribute” is human knowledge. After acquiring a rich array of knowledge in different fields, they use this knowledge to appraise God’s requirements, imagine what the truth is, and judge for themselves how to fulfill their duty and satisfy God’s intentions. What is the result of such actions? They surely contradict God’s intentions, because human knowledge contradicts the truth and is in opposition to it. When people fulfill their duty based on human knowledge, what kind of situation does it create in the church? People will begin to idolize knowledge and compare one with another to see who knows more, who has read more books, or who possesses higher academic qualifications. These are the kinds of things they like to compare. When such a situation arises within the church, does this have anything to do with people using human knowledge to serve and bear witness to God? Certainly, it does. What are the consequences of using knowledge to perform one’s duty and bear witness to God? This leads to a preference for human knowledge over love of the truth, diverting people onto a path of pursuing human knowledge. It is incorrect and causes one to deviate completely from the true way. Whether it is by using imaginings, notions, or human knowledge to bear witness to God and serve Him, none of these approaches can achieve the desired result of helping people know and obey God. Instead, they can easily hinder people from turning to God. Therefore, using imaginings, notions, or human knowledge to bear witness to God is all a kind of resistance against God. This disrupts and disturbs the work of God and He does not approve of such actions.

Human imaginings, notions, and knowledge are all aspects of the realm of thought. One thing human actions are based on is one’s own thoughts and viewpoints, while another is one’s corrupt disposition, which plays a crucial role. If people do not understand the truth, do not know themselves, do not accept the truth, do not practice the truth, and are incapable of submitting to God and the truth, then on what do they base the performance of their duty? They are acting based on their arrogance, deceitfulness, wickedness, viciousness, and intransigence, which are all aspects of their corrupt disposition. What are the consequences of performing their duty based on these corrupt dispositions? (People cannot cooperate harmoniously with others and can also disturb and disrupt the work of the church.) These consequences ought to be known. Everyone does as they please, not practicing the truth. Each person does their own thing, acting in disharmony, and causing a disruption and a disturbance. A job that could have been well-executed becomes chaotic and disorderly. This is not any different from how things are done among the unbelievers. In the camp of Satan, whether in society or in official circles, what is the prevailing atmosphere? What practices are popular? You ought to have some understanding of these. What are the principles and guidelines for their actions? Each is a law unto themselves; each goes their own way. They act in their own interests and do as they choose. Whoever has authority gets the final say. They do not give even a fleeting thought to others. They just do as they will, striving for fame, profit, and status, and acting entirely according to their own preferences. As soon as they receive power, they quickly exert this power over others. If you offend them, they wish to put you through the wringer, and you are unable to do anything but offer them gifts. They are as vicious as scorpions, willing to violate laws, government regulations, and even commit crimes. These are all things they are capable of. This is how dark and evil it is in Satan’s camp. Now, God has come to save humanity, to allow people to accept the truth, understand the truth, and break free from Satan’s bondage and power. If you don’t accept the truth and don’t practice the truth, aren’t you still living under Satan’s power? In that case, what is the difference between your current state and that of the devil Satan? You would compete in the same way that unbelievers compete. You would fight in the same way that unbelievers fight. From morning to night, you would plot, scheme, envy, and engage in disputes. What is the root of this problem? It is because people have corrupt dispositions, and live according to these corrupt dispositions. The reign of corrupt dispositions is the reign of Satan; corrupted humanity dwells within a satanic disposition, and no one is an exception. So, you should not think that you are too good, too meek, or too honest to engage in struggles for power and profit. If you do not understand the truth and are not led by God, you are certainly not an exception, and in no way will you, on account of your guilelessness or kindness, or because of your youth, keep yourself from struggling for fame and profit. In fact, you will also seek fame, profit and status as long as you have the chance and circumstances permit. Grasping for fame and profit is the signature behavior of humans who have the evil nature of Satan. No one is an exception. All corrupt mankind lives for fame, profit and status, and they will pay any price in their struggle for these things. It is so with all who live under Satan’s power. Therefore, one who does not accept or understand the truth, who cannot act according to the principles, is one who is living amidst a satanic disposition. A satanic disposition has already come to dominate your thoughts and control your behavior; Satan has gotten you entirely under its control and bondage, and if you do not accept the truth and forsake Satan, you will not be able to escape. Now, as you fulfill your duty in God’s house, you are somewhat obedient, somewhat resilient of heart, somewhat serious, have something of a sense of responsibility, can set aside concern for your own status, are often able to resist competitiveness, are capable of yielding to others, are able to cooperate harmoniously with others, and can seek and wait when you meet with things you do not understand. How did you achieve this attitude and behavior? This is directly related to God’s provision, guidance, and watering. All of this is the result of the numerous words which God has spoken. Otherwise, even if a person has good qualities, they cannot discover the truth or understand the truth. If God had not come to express these truths, where would people go to find the truth? From childhood, people receive an education and go to school for many years, but have they learned the truth? Not at all. People admire celebrities and great figures, and extol cultural knowledge, but have they learned the truth? They have not. Even after reading many, many books, they have not learned the truth. In fact, there is no truth at all in the world. Only after God came and brought the truth and the way to eternal life, and after they have read God’s word for several years, do people finally discover the truth. Only then do they realize the value and preciousness of the truth. At this point, people come to recognize that in the past, their words, actions, and comportment were based on imaginings, notions, and human knowledge. Apart from these things, they were driven by their corrupt disposition. The notions, human knowledge, and imaginings that fill people’s hearts are not the truth. Therefore, people tend to live out various aspects of Satan’s corrupt disposition. They cannot live out human likeness or refrain from lying even if they wanted to, and it is hard for them to do even a few good things. Those who live according to Satan’s disposition naturally manifest the image of Satan. Their words, actions, and behavior are all influenced by Satan’s disposition, and none of them can escape from it. If you are able to recognize this point, then in the process of performing your duty, whether you achieve certain results, make certain contributions, exhibit good behavior, or experience certain changes, what mindset should you have? (One of thankfulness to God.) You should thank God. All the glory belongs to God. It is God who did this, and there is nothing for people to boast about. Each person possesses different degrees of aptitude. For example, some people are naturally sensitive to rhythm and melody of music, while others excel in dance. Regardless of the natural talents people possess, they are all given by God, and there is nothing for people to boast about. They definitely did not get these inherent talents from their parents because parents may not possess these talents themselves, and even if they do, they cannot give their talents to their children; parents cannot teach talents to their children if the children do not already have a natural ability. Therefore, the talents and gifts that people possess have nothing to do with their parents. Of course, these talents are not something that can be acquired through learning. The gifts and abilities that people are born with are bestowed by God. They were predetermined by God long ago. If God made you foolish, then there is meaning in your foolishness; if He made you bright, then there is meaning in your brightness. Whatever talents God gives you, whatever your strengths, however high your IQ, they all have a purpose for God. All these things were preordained by God. The role you play in your life and the duty you fulfill were ordained by God long ago. Some people see that others possess strengths they do not and are discontent. They want to change things by learning more, seeing more, and being more diligent. But there is a limit to what their diligence can achieve, and they cannot surpass those with gifts and expertise. No matter how much you fight, it is useless. God has ordained what you will be, and there is nothing anyone can do to change it. Whatever you are good at, that is where you should make an effort. Whatever duty you are suited to is the duty you should perform. Do not try to force yourself into areas outside your skillset and do not envy others. Everyone has their function. Do not think that you can do everything well, or that you are more perfect or better than others, always desiring to replace others and put yourself on display. This is a corrupt disposition. There are those who think that they cannot do anything well, and that they have no skills at all. If that is the case, you should just be a person who listens and obeys in a down-to-earth manner. Do what you can and do it well, with all your strength. That is enough. God will be satisfied. Do not always think about surpassing everyone, doing everything better than others, and standing out from the crowd in every way. What kind of disposition is that? (An arrogant disposition.) People always possess an arrogant disposition, and even if they want to strive for the truth and satisfy God, they fall short. Being controlled by an arrogant disposition makes people the most liable to go astray. For example, there are some people who always want to show off by expressing their good intentions in place of God’s requirements. Would God praise that kind of expression of good intentions? To be mindful of God’s will, you must follow God’s requirements, and to perform your duty, you must submit to God’s arrangements. People who express good intentions are not mindful of God’s will, but are instead always trying to play out new tricks and speaking lofty-sounding words. God does not ask that you be mindful in this way. Some people say that this is them being competitive. In and of itself, being competitive is something negative. It is a revelation—a manifestation—of the arrogant disposition of Satan. When you have a disposition like that, you are always trying to keep others down, always trying to get ahead of them, always jockeying, always trying to take from people. You are highly envious, you don’t yield to anyone, and you are always trying to distinguish yourself from the crowd. This spells trouble; this is how Satan acts. If you truly wish to be an acceptable creature of God, then do not pursue your own dreams. Trying to be superior and more capable than you are in order to achieve your aims is bad. You should learn to submit to God’s orchestrations and arrangements, and not get above your station; only this demonstrates sense.

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