Words on Seeking and Practicing the Truth (Excerpt 15)

If people have a heart which loves the truth, they will have the strength to pursue the truth, and can work hard at practicing the truth. They can abandon that which should be abandoned, and let go of that which should be let go of. In particular, things that pertain to your own fame, gain, and status should be let go of. If you do not let them go, it means you do not love the truth and do not have the strength to pursue the truth. When things happen to you, you must seek the truth, and practice the truth. If, at those times when you need to practice the truth, you always have a selfish heart and cannot let go of your own self-interest, you will be unable to put the truth into practice. If you never seek or practice the truth in any circumstance, you are not a person who loves the truth. No matter how many years you have believed in God, you will not obtain the truth. Some people are always pursuing fame, gain, and self-interest. Whatever work the church arranges for them, they always deliberate, thinking, “Will this benefit me? If it will, I’ll do it; if it won’t, then I won’t.” A person like this does not practice the truth—so can they perform their duty well? They most certainly cannot. Even if you have not done evil, you are still not a person who practices the truth. If you do not pursue the truth, do not love positive things, and whatever befalls you, you only care about your own reputation and status, your own self-interest, and what is good for you, then you are a person who is only driven by self-interest, and who is selfish and base. A person like this believes in God in order to gain something good or of benefit to them, not to obtain the truth or God’s salvation. Therefore, people of this sort are disbelievers. People who truly believe in God are those who can seek and practice the truth, as they recognize in their hearts that Christ is the truth, and that they should listen to God’s words and believe in God as He demands. If you wish to practice the truth when something happens to you, but consider your own reputation and status, and consider your own face, then doing so will be difficult. In a situation such as this, through prayer, seeking, and reflecting on themselves and becoming self-aware, those who love the truth will be able to let go of what is in their own self-interest or good for them, practice the truth, and submit to God. Such people are those who truly believe in God and love the truth. And what is the consequence when people always think of their own self-interest, when they are always trying to protect their own pride and vanity, when they reveal a corrupt disposition yet do not seek the truth to fix it? It is that they have no life entry, it is that they lack true experiential testimony. And this is dangerous, is it not? If you never practice the truth, if you have no experiential testimony, then in due course you will be revealed and eliminated. What use do people without experiential testimony have in the house of God? They are bound to do any duty poorly, and be unable to do anything properly. Are they not just garbage? If people never practice the truth after years of believing in God, they are disbelievers; they are evil people. If you never practice the truth, and if your transgressions grow ever more numerous, then your outcome is set. It is clear to see that all your transgressions, the mistaken path you walk, and your refusal to repent all add up to a multitude of evil deeds; and so your outcome is that you will go to hell—you will be punished. Do you think this is a trivial matter? If you have not been punished, you will have no sense of how terrifying this is. When the day comes where you really do face calamity, and you are faced with death, it will be too late for regrets. If, in your faith in God, you do not accept the truth, and if you have believed in God for years but there has been no change in you, the ultimate consequence is that you will be eliminated and abandoned. Everyone has transgressions. The key is to be able to seek the truth in order to fix those transgressions, and this will ensure that there are fewer and fewer of them. No matter when, if ever you reveal your corrupt disposition, and you are always able to pray to and rely on God, seek the truth in order to fix it, and purify your corrupt disposition, then you will not have done evil. This is how believers should fix the problem of a corrupt disposition, and this is how to experience God’s work. If you never pray to God and never seek the truth when events befall you, or if you understand the truth but do not put it into practice, what will the ultimate result be? It is self-evident. As cunning and as smooth a talker as you may be, can you escape the scrutiny of the eye of God? Can you evade the orchestrations of the hand of God? It is impossible. Wise people must come before God and repent, looking to Him, relying on Him, fixing their corrupt dispositions, and practicing the truth. Then you will have overcome the flesh, and overcome the temptations of Satan. Even if you fail several times, you must persevere. When you persevere against all odds, there will come a time when you succeed, and you will gain God’s grace, His mercy, and His blessing, and you will be able to walk the path of pursuing the truth, perform your duties well, and satisfy God.

When events befall you, how often do you choose to practice the truth and maintain God’s work? (Not often. Most of the time I choose to maintain my own image or self-interest, and I realize it afterward, but it is not easy to rebel against myself. If there is someone who fellowships with me on the truth, it gives me some strength, and I can rebel against myself somewhat. But when there is no one to fellowship with me on the truth, I become distant from God and always live in this state.) It is hard to rebel against the flesh, and even harder to practice the truth, because you have a satanic nature that hinders you, and a corrupt disposition that disturbs you, and these cannot be fixed without understanding the truth. How much time a day can you spend quietly in the presence of God? How many days can you go without reading God’s words before feeling spiritually parched? (I feel that I cannot go a day without reading God’s words. I have to read a passage of God’s words in the morning and then meditate on it. This makes me feel closer to God. If there’s one day where I’m just busily rushing around working, neither eating and drinking the words of God, nor praying very much, I feel very far from God.) If you can sense that it will not do for you to be distant from God, then there is still hope for you. If you are a believer and want to obtain the truth, you cannot be passive and always wait for someone to fellowship with you on the truth. You must learn to actively eat and drink the words of God, pray to God, and seek the truth. If you wait until your spirit is dark and you cannot feel God before eating and drinking His words and praying to Him, then you can only maintain the status quo. While it is good to maintain a nominal “faith,” there will be no growth in your life, and when your spirit has become parched and numb, and you have become too distant from God, you will be in danger. One temptation befalls you, and you topple over; you are all too easily captured by Satan. If you have no experience at all, understand no truths, focus neither on reading the words of God nor on listening to sermons, and lack a normal spiritual life, then it will be difficult for you to grow in stature, and your progress will certainly be too slow. What are the reasons for this slow progress? What are its consequences? You must get clear on these things. No matter the manner in which God exposes people’s corruption, they should submit to it and accept it. They should reflect on themselves and compare themselves with God’s words, so that they may achieve self-knowledge and gradually understand the truth. This is what is most pleasing to God, and the Holy Spirit will certainly work in them, and they will certainly understand God’s intentions. You must keep God’s words and the truth in your heart at all times, so that when you encounter a problem in real life, you can link and compare it to God’s words and the truth. Then, the problem will be easy to solve. For example, everyone wants a healthy body with no illness; that is something everyone aspires to, but how should you practice this in your daily life? First of all, you must have a regular routine, not eat things that are unhealthy or taboo, and get an appropriate amount of exercise. When these methods are combined, and everything you practice revolves around the goal of physical health, you will gradually see results. After a few years, you will be healthier than others, and have gotten good results. How did you get those results? It is because your actions and goals were in alignment, and your practice and theory were in alignment. It is the same with believing in God. If you seek to be a person who loves the truth and practices the truth, and to be a person of changed disposition, then when events befall you, you must link them to the goals you are pursuing and to the truths involved. Whatever the goals you pursue may be, as long as they are what God requires of man, they are the direction and goal that must be pursued as a believer. For example, following the way of God: fearing God and shunning evil. Once you have this direction, this goal, you must have a way to put it into practice immediately afterward. When I say “follow the way of God,” what does the “way of God” refer to? It means fearing God and shunning evil. And what is fearing God and shunning evil? When you give your appraisal of someone, for example—this relates to fearing God and shunning evil. How do you appraise them? (We must be honest, just, and fair, and our words must not be based on our feelings.) When you say exactly what you think, and exactly what you have seen, you are being honest. First of all, the practice of being honest aligns with following the way of God. This is what God teaches people; this is the way of God. What is the way of God? Fearing God and shunning evil. Is being honest not part of fearing God and shunning evil? And is it not following the way of God? (Yes, it is.) If you are not honest, then what you have seen and what you think is not the same as what comes out of your mouth. Someone asks you, “What is your opinion of that person? Is he responsible in the church’s work?” and you reply, “He’s great. He is more responsible than I am, his caliber is better than mine, and his humanity is good, too. He is mature and stable.” But is this what you are thinking in your heart? What you actually see is that although this person does have caliber, he is unreliable, rather deceitful, and very calculating. This is what you’re really thinking in your mind, but when the time comes to speak, it occurs to you that, “I can’t tell the truth. I mustn’t offend anyone,” so you quickly say something else, and choose nice things to say about him, but nothing you say is what you really think; it is all lies and all fake. Does this indicate that you follow the way of God? No. You have taken the way of Satan, the way of demons. What is the way of God? It is the truth, it is the basis according to which people should comport themselves, and it is the way of fearing God and shunning evil. Although you are speaking to another person, God is also listening; He is watching your heart, and scrutinizing it. People listen to what you say, but God scrutinizes your heart. Are people capable of scrutinizing the hearts of man? At best, people can see that you are not telling the truth; they can see what’s on the surface, but only God can see into the depths of your heart. Only God can see what you are thinking, what you are planning, and what little schemes, treacherous ways, and active thoughts you have within your heart. When God sees that you are not telling the truth, what is His opinion and evaluation of you? That you have not followed God’s way in this matter because you did not tell the truth. If you were practicing according to God’s requirements, you should have told the truth: “He’s a person of caliber, but he’s unreliable.” Regardless of whether your evaluation was accurate, it would have been honest and come from the heart, and it is the viewpoint and position you should have expressed. But you did not—so were you following the way of God? (No.) If you do not tell the truth, what use is it for you to stress that you are following God’s way and satisfying God? Does God heed the slogans you shout? Does God look at how you shout, how hard you shout, and how great your will is? Does He look at how many times you shout? These are not the things He looks at. God looks at whether you practice the truth, and at the choices you make and how you practice the truth when events befall you. If you choose to maintain relationships, maintain your own self-interest and image, everything is about self-preservation, and God sees that this is the viewpoint and attitude you take when an event befalls you, then He will make an appraisal of you: He will say you are not someone who follows His way. You say you want to pursue the truth and follow the way of God, so why do you not put it into practice when events befall you? The words you speak may be from the heart, and they may convey your will and wishes, or it could be that your heart is moved, and you are crying out sincere words as you weep bitterly, but does speaking sincerely mean you are practicing the truth? Does it mean you have true testimony? Not necessarily. If you are a pursuer of the truth, you will be able to practice the truth; if you are not a lover of the truth, then you will just say things that are pleasing to the ear, and that will be the end of it. The Pharisees were the best at preaching doctrine and chanting slogans. They often stood at street corners and cried out, “Oh, mighty God!” or “Worshipful God!” To others, they looked particularly pious, and did not do anything against the law, but did God approve of them? He did not. How did He condemn them? By giving them a title: the hypocritical Pharisees. In former times, the Pharisees were a respected class in Israel, so why has the name now become a label? This is because the Pharisees have become representative of a type of person. What are the characteristics of this type of person? They are skilled at being false, at ornament, at pretending; they affect great nobility, holiness, uprightness, and transparent decency, and the slogans they shout sound good, but as it turns out, they do not practice the truth in the least. What good behavior do they have? They read scripture and preach; they teach others to uphold the law and regulations, and not resist God. This is all good behavior. Everything they say sounds good, yet, when others’ backs are turned, they secretly steal offerings. The Lord Jesus said they “strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel” (Matthew 23:24). This means that all their behavior seems good on the surface—they chant slogans ostentatiously, they speak lofty theories, and their words sound pleasant, yet their deeds are a disordered mess, and are entirely resistant to God. Their outward behaviors are all pretense, all fraudulent; in their hearts, they have not the slightest love for the truth, nor for positive things. They are averse to the truth, positive things, and all that comes from God. What do they love? Do they love fairness and righteousness? (No.) How can you tell they do not love these things? (The Lord Jesus spread the gospel of the kingdom of heaven, which they not only refused to accept, but also condemned.) If they did not condemn it, would it be possible to tell? No. The Lord Jesus’ appearance and work revealed all the Pharisees, and it was only by their condemnation and resistance to the Lord Jesus that others could see their hypocrisy. Had it not been for the Lord Jesus’ appearance and work, no one would have been discerning toward the Pharisees, and if people just looked at the Pharisees’ outward conduct, it would even make them envious. Was it not insincere and deceitful of the Pharisees to use false good behavior to gain people’s trust? Can such deceitful people love the truth? They absolutely cannot. What was the purpose behind their displays of good conduct? For one thing, it was to dupe people. For another, it was to mislead and win people over, so that people thought highly of them and venerated them. And finally, they wanted to be rewarded. What a scam it was! Were these skillful tricks? Did such people love fairness and righteousness? They certainly did not. What they loved was status, fame and gain, and what they wanted was a reward and a crown. They never practiced the words that God taught people, and they never lived out the truth realities in the slightest. They were all about disguising themselves with good conduct, and duping and winning people over with their hypocritical ways to secure their own status and reputation, which they then used to fish for capital and make a living. Is that not despicable? From all this conduct of theirs, you can see that, in their essence, they did not love the truth, as they never practiced it. What is something that shows they did not practice the truth? The greatest thing of all: that the Lord Jesus came to do the work of redemption, and that all the words the Lord Jesus spoke are the truth and have authority. How did the Pharisees react to this? Although they acknowledged that the words of the Lord Jesus had authority and power, not only did they not accept them, but they also condemned and blasphemed them. What was that about? It was because they did not love the truth, and in their hearts, they were averse to and hated the truth. They acknowledged that the Lord Jesus was right in everything He said, that His words had authority and power, that He was not wrong in any way, and that they had no leverage against Him. But they wanted to condemn the Lord Jesus, so they discussed and conspired, and said, “Crucify Him. It is either Him or us,” and this is how the Pharisees defied the Lord Jesus. At that time no one understood the truth, and no one was able to recognize the Lord Jesus as God incarnate. From a human point of view, though, the Lord Jesus expressed many truths, cast out demons, and healed the sick. He performed many miracles, fed the 5,000 with five loaves of bread and two fish, did numerous good deeds, and bestowed so much grace on people. There are so few good and righteous people like this, so why did the Pharisees want to condemn the Lord Jesus? Why were they so intent on crucifying Him? That they preferred to release a criminal rather than the Lord Jesus shows how evil and malicious the Pharisees of the religious world were. They were so wicked! The difference between the evil countenances the Pharisees betrayed, and their feigned, outward benevolence was so great, that many people could not discern which was true and which was false, but the appearance and work of the Lord Jesus revealed them all. The Pharisees usually disguised themselves so well and outwardly appeared so godly, that no one would have imagined they could so cruelly resist and persecute the Lord Jesus. If the facts had not been revealed, no one would have been able to see through them. God incarnate’s expression of the truth is so revealing about man!

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