Only Self-Knowledge Is of Aid in Pursuing the Truth (Part One)

There are some people who, after having believed in God for many years and attended many sermons, have benefited a little from these things. At the very least they can recite some words and doctrines that sound like they all conform to the truth. And yet when something happens to them, they cannot practice the truth; they cannot do one thing that is in accord with the truth. It could also be said that in all these years of believing in God, they have not done a single thing to protect the church’s work, or a single just deed. How can this be explained? Although they can spout some words and doctrines, they definitely do not understand the truth, so they cannot put the truth into practice. When some people fellowship their self-knowledge, the first thing out of their mouths is, “I’m a devil, a living Satan, someone who resists God. I rebel against Him and betray Him; I’m a viper, an evil person who should be cursed.” Is this true self-knowledge? They only speak in generalities. Why do they not offer examples? Why do they not bring the shameful things they did out into the light of day for dissection? Some undiscerning people hear them and think, “Now, that is true self-knowledge! To know themselves as a devil, and even to curse themselves—what heights they’ve reached!” Many people, new believers in particular, are prone to be misled by this talk. They think that the speaker is pure and has spiritual understanding, that this is someone who loves the truth, and is qualified for leadership. However, once they interact with them for a while, they find that this is not so, that the person is not whom they imagined, but is exceptionally false and deceitful, skilled at disguise and pretension, which comes as a great disappointment. On what basis can people be deemed to truly know themselves? You cannot just consider what they say—the key is to determine whether they are able to practice and accept the truth. For those that truly understand the truth, they not only have true knowledge of themselves, most importantly, they are able to practice the truth. They not only speak about their true understanding, but are also able to truly do what they say. That is, their words and actions are completely aligned. If what they say sounds coherent and agreeable, but they don’t do it, don’t live it out, then in this they have become Pharisees, they are hypocrites, and absolutely not people who truly know themselves. Many people sound very coherent when they fellowship the truth, but don’t realize when they have revelations of a corrupt disposition. Are these people who know themselves? If people do not know themselves, are they people who understand the truth? All who do not know themselves are people who do not understand the truth, and all who speak empty words of self-knowledge have false spirituality, they are liars. Some people sound very coherent when they speak words and doctrines, but the state in their spirits is numb and dull-witted, they are unperceptive, and they are unresponsive to any issues. It may be said that they are numb, but sometimes, listening to them speak, their spirits seem quite sharp. For example, right after an incident, they are able to know themselves straight away: “Just now an idea was made apparent in me. I thought about it and realized that it was deceitful, that I was deceiving God.” Some undiscerning people are envious when they hear this, saying: “This person immediately realizes when they have a revelation of corruption, and is able to open up and fellowship about it, too. They are so quick to react, their spirit is sharp, they’re much better than us. This is truly someone who pursues the truth.” Is this an accurate way of measuring people? (No.) So what should be the basis for evaluating whether people really know themselves? It must not only be what comes out of their mouths. You must also look at what is really manifested in them. The simplest method is to look at whether they are able to practice the truth—this is what’s most crucial. Their ability to practice the truth proves that they truly know themselves, because those who truly know themselves manifest repentance, and only when people manifest repentance do they truly know themselves. For instance, a person may know that they are deceitful, that they are full of petty schemes and plots, and they may also be able to tell when others reveal deceitfulness. So you should look to whether they truly repent and cast off their deceitfulness after admitting they are deceitful. And if they again reveal deceitfulness, look to whether they feel reproach and a sense of shame for having done so, to whether they are sincerely remorseful. If they have no sense of shame, much less repentance, then their self-knowledge is a cursory, slapdash thing. They are just going through the motions; theirs is not true knowledge. They do not feel that deceit is such an evil thing or that it is demonic, and they certainly do not feel what a shameless, vile behavior deceit is. They think, “People are all deceitful. The only ones who aren’t are fools. A bit of deceit doesn’t make you a bad person. I haven’t done evil; I’m not the most deceitful person out there.” Can such a person truly know themselves? They most certainly cannot. This is because they have no knowledge of their deceitful disposition, they do not abhor deceit, and everything they say about self-knowledge is pretense and empty talk. Not recognizing one’s own corrupt dispositions is not true self-knowledge. The reason that deceitful people cannot truly know themselves is that for them, it is no easy thing to accept the truth. So, no matter how many words and doctrines they can spout, they will not truly change.

How can one distinguish whether a person loves the truth? In one regard, one must look at whether this person can come to know themselves based on God’s word, at whether they can reflect on themselves and feel true remorse; in another regard, one must look at whether they can accept and practice the truth. If they can accept and practice the truth, they are someone who loves the truth and who can submit to God’s work. If they only recognize the truth, but never accept or practice it, as some people say, “I understand all of the truth, but I can’t practice it,” this proves they are not someone who loves the truth. Some people admit that God’s word is the truth and that they have corrupt dispositions, and also say that they are willing to repent and remake themselves anew, but after that, there is no change at all. Their words and actions are still the same as before. When they talk about knowing themselves, it is as if they are telling a joke or shouting a slogan. They do not reflect or come to know themselves in the depths of their hearts at all; the key issue is that they have no attitude of remorse. Less still are they opening up about their corruption candidly in order to genuinely self-reflect. Rather, they are pretending to know themselves by going through the process and the motions of doing so. They are not people who genuinely know themselves or accept the truth. When such people talk about knowing themselves, they are going through the motions; they are engaging in disguise and fraud, and false spirituality. Some people are deceitful, and when they see others fellowshipping their self-knowledge, they think, “Everyone else opens up and dissects their own deceit. If I don’t say anything, everyone will think I don’t know myself. I’ll have to go through the motions, then!” After which, they describe their own deceit as gravely serious, illustrating it in dramatic fashion, and their self-knowledge seems especially profound. Everyone who hears feels they truly know themselves, and thereupon looks upon them with envy, which in turn makes them feel as if they are glorious, as if they’ve just adorned themselves with a halo. This manner of self-knowledge achieved by going through the motions, coupled with their disguise and fraud, misleads others. Can their conscience be at ease when they do this? Isn’t this just blatant deceit? If people only speak emptily about knowing themselves, no matter how lofty or good that knowledge might be, and afterward they still continue to reveal a corrupt disposition, just as they did before, without any change at all, then that is not genuine self-knowledge. If people can deliberately pretend and deceive in this way, it proves that they do not accept the truth at all, and are just like the unbelievers. By talking about their self-knowledge in this way, they are only following the trend and saying whatever suits everyone’s tastes. Isn’t their knowledge and dissection of themselves deceptive? Is this genuine self-knowledge? It absolutely is not. This is because they are not opening up and dissecting themselves from the heart, and they are only talking a bit about knowing themselves in a false, deceptive way for the sake of going through the motions. Even more serious is that to make others admire and envy them, they deliberately exaggerate to make their problems seem more serious when discussing self-knowledge, mixing in their personal intentions and goals. When they do this, they do not feel indebted, their conscience is not reproached after they disguise themselves and engage in fraud, they feel nothing after rebelling against and deceiving God, and they do not pray to God to admit their mistake. Aren’t people like this intransigent? If they don’t feel indebted, can they ever feel remorse? Can someone without true remorse rebel against the flesh and practice the truth? Can someone without true remorse truly repent? Certainly not. If they are not even remorseful, is it not absurd to talk about self-knowledge? Isn’t this just disguise and fraud? Some people, after lying and deceiving, can realize it and feel remorse. Because they possess a sense of shame, they feel embarrassed to openly admit their corruption to others, but they can pray and open themselves up to God. They are willing to repent, and afterward they truly change. This is also a person who knows themselves and is truly repentant. Anyone bold enough to admit to others that they have lied and deceived, and who can also pray to God and open themselves up, acknowledging the revelations of their corruption, is someone capable of knowing themselves and genuinely repenting. After a period of prayer and seeking the truth, they find the path of practice and undergo some change. Even though everyone all has the same nature essence, and all have a corrupt disposition, those who can accept the truth have hope of being saved. Some people, after believing in God, enjoy reading God’s words, and focus on self-reflection. When they see the revelations of their corruption, they feel they owe God and often adopt methods of restraint to resolve the problem of their lying and fraud. Yet, unable to control themselves, they still frequently lie and engage in fraud. It is then they realize that the problem of a satanic disposition is not one that can be solved with restraint. So they pray to God, explaining their difficulties to Him, beseeching Him to save them from the constraint of the sinful nature and Satan’s influence, so as to attain God’s salvation. After a while, there will be some results, but no fundamental resolution of the problem of their lying and deceiving. So they finally realize the satanic disposition has long since taken root in their heart, penetrating to their core. Human nature is a satanic one. Only by accepting the judgment and chastisement of God’s words and obtaining the work of the Holy Spirit can one break free from the shackling bondage and constraint of the satanic disposition. Only when God’s words enlighten and lead them do they see the depth of their corruption and recognize that corrupt humankind is indeed the progeny of Satan, and that, were it not for God’s work of salvation, everyone would suffer perdition and destruction. It is only then that they see how practical it is for God to save people through judgment and chastisement. After experiencing this, they are able to accept God’s judgment and chastisement from their hearts, and within them starts to grow genuine remorse. Now they truly have awareness and begin to know themselves. As for those who lack awareness in their hearts, they may also learn to speak some spiritual words, some words of reason. They are especially adept at reciting the catchphrases those so-called “pious folk” so frequently repeat, and they sound quite genuine too, deceiving their listeners to the points of tears. As a result, everyone likes and esteems them. Are there many people like this? What kind of person is this? Is this not a Pharisee? Such people are the most deceptive. People who don’t understand the truth, when they first come into contact with someone like this, may think that he is very spiritual, so they choose him as a leader. The result is that in less than a year, he has brought all these undiscerning people to his side. They flock around him, offering their approval and appreciation, ask him for guidance whenever something happens, and even imitate the tone of his speech. Those who follow him learn how to spout words and doctrines, they learn to deceive people and God, but as a result when trials do come they are all negative and weak. In their hearts, they complain about and doubt God, not showing the slightest bit of faith. This is the result of worshiping and following a person. Despite believing in God for many years and being able to speak much spiritual doctrine, they do not have any of the truth reality. They have all been misled and enthralled by a hypocritical Pharisee. Is it not easy for those who cannot discern to be deceived and take the wrong path? People who cannot discern are muddleheaded, and they are all too easily misled!

To learn discernment, one must first learn how to reflect on and discern their own problems. There is arrogance and self-righteousness in everyone, and having even a little power can lead to acting arbitrarily. This is something people see happen quite often, and it can be perceived in an instant, but what are those corrupt dispositions that are not so easy to notice, or to which people are less sensitive, and which are difficult to detect in oneself or in others? (I am not sensitive to deceitfulness.) An insensitivity to deceitfulness, and what else? (Selfishness and despicableness.) Selfishness and despicableness. For instance, there are some people who do something and claim they are doing it out of consideration for others, using this as an excuse to gain everyone’s approval. But in actuality they do it for the sake of saving themselves trouble, a motive others are unaware of, and which is difficult to detect. What other corrupt dispositions are the hardest to detect? (Being hypocritical.) That is, appearing to be a good person on the outside, doing some things that align with human notions to gain praise, but inwardly hiding a satanic philosophy and ulterior motives. This is a deceitful disposition. Is this easy to discern? People of a low caliber and people who do not understand the truth cannot see through things; they especially cannot discern this type of person. There are some leaders and workers who, when resolving a problem, speak clearly and logically, as if they have seen through the issue, but when they finish speaking the problem remains unresolved. They even make you mistakenly believe the problem has been settled; is this not misleading and deceiving people? Those who do not take real action when performing their duty, and who speak a deluge of empty and flowery words, are all hypocrites. They are far too cunning and devious. After associating with this type of person for a long time, could you discern them? Why do they not change after believing in God for many years? What is the root cause? Speaking precisely, they are all people who are averse to the truth, so they are unwilling to accept it. They prefer to live by Satan’s philosophy, thinking that this not only doesn’t put them at a disadvantage, but helps them appear dazzling and glamorous, and makes others look up to them. Are people like this not sly and deceitful? They’d sooner die than accept the truth; can someone like this be saved? Some people, when faced with being pruned, can verbally admit their wrongdoing, but in their hearts resist: “Even if what you’re saying is right, I won’t accept it. I’ll fight you to the end!” They disguise themselves quite well, saying they accept, but in their heart they do not. This is also a disposition that is averse to the truth. What other corrupt dispositions are difficult to detect and notice? Isn’t intransigence difficult to spot? Intransigence is a type of disposition that is also quite hidden. It often manifests as stubborn insistence in one’s own views and difficulty accepting the truth. No matter how others speak in line with the truth, the intransigent person still clings to their own ways. A person with an intransigent disposition is the least likely to accept the truth. People who do not accept the truth often hide this sort of intransigent disposition within them. When people stubbornly cling to something within them or have an attitude of persisting with their subjective wishes, it is difficult to detect. What else is there? Not loving the truth and being averse to the truth are difficult to detect. Viciousness is difficult to detect. The easiest to detect are arrogance and deceitfulness, but the others—intransigence, being averse to the truth, viciousness, wickedness—are all difficult to detect. The hardest to detect is wickedness, because it has become man’s nature and they start to glorify it, and even more wickedness will not seem wicked to them. So a wicked disposition is even harder to detect than an intransigent one. Some people say: “How can it not be easy to detect? People all have wicked lusts. Isn’t that wickedness?” That is superficial. What is true wickedness? Which states are wicked when they manifest? Is it a wicked disposition when people use high-sounding statements to hide the wicked and shameful intents that lie in the depths of their hearts, and then make others believe that these statements are very good, aboveboard, and legitimate, and ultimately achieve their ulterior motives? Why is this called being wicked and not being deceitful? In terms of disposition and essence, deceitfulness is not quite as bad. Being wicked is more serious than being deceitful, it is a behavior that is more insidious and vile than deceitfulness, and it is difficult for the average person to see through it. For example, what kind of words did the serpent use to entice Eve? Specious words, that sound correct and seem to be said for your own good. You are not aware that there is anything wrong with these words or any malicious intent behind them, and at the same time, you are unable to let go of these suggestions made by Satan. This is temptation. When you are tempted and you listen to these kinds of words, you cannot help but be enticed and it is likely that you will fall into a trap, thereby achieving Satan’s goal. This is called wickedness. The serpent used this method to entice Eve. Is this a type of disposition? (It is.) Where does this type of disposition come from? It comes from the serpent, from Satan. This type of wicked disposition exists within man’s nature. Isn’t this wickedness different from people’s wicked lusts? How do wicked lusts come about? It has to do with the flesh. True wickedness is a type of disposition, deeply hidden, that is wholly undiscernible to people without experience or understanding of the truth. That is why among man’s dispositions it is the most difficult to detect. In which type of person is a wicked disposition most severe? Those who love exploiting others. They excel so much at manipulation that the people they manipulate don’t even know what happened afterward. This type of person has a wicked disposition. Wicked people, based on deceitfulness, use other means to cover up their deceit, conceal their sins, and hide their secret intentions, goals, and selfish desires. This is wickedness. Furthermore, they will use various means to entice, tempt, and seduce, making you follow their wishes and satisfy their selfish desires to achieve their goals. This is all wicked. This is an authentic satanic disposition. Have you displayed any of these behaviors? Which of the aspects of a wicked disposition have you displayed more: temptation, enticement, or using lies to cover up other lies? (I feel like all of them a bit.) You feel like all of them a bit. That is, on an emotional level, you feel like you both have and haven’t displayed these behaviors. You can’t come up with any evidence. In your daily life, then, do you realize it if you reveal a wicked disposition when faced with something? Actually, these things exist inside everyone’s disposition. For instance, there’s something you don’t understand, but you don’t want to let others know you don’t understand it, so you use various means to mislead them into thinking you understand. This is fraud. This kind of fraud is a manifestation of wickedness. There’s also temptation and enticement, these are all manifestations of wickedness. Do you tempt others often? If you’re legitimately trying to understand someone, wanting to fellowship with them, and it’s required for your work and is a proper interaction, this doesn’t count as temptation. But if you have personal intent and purpose, and you don’t really want to understand this person’s disposition, pursuits, and knowledge, but rather want to extract their innermost thoughts and true feelings, then this is called wickedness, temptation, and enticement. If you do this, then you have a wicked disposition; is this not something that is hidden? Is this kind of disposition easy to change? If you can discern what manifestations each aspect of your disposition has, what states they often cause, and match these up with yourself, feeling how terrible and dangerous this kind of disposition is, then you will feel burdened to change in this regard, and you will be able to thirst for the words of God and accept the truth. That is when you can change and receive salvation. But if after matching them up you still don’t thirst for the truth, have no indebtedness or accusation—much less any repentance—and do not love the truth, then it will be difficult for you to change. And understanding won’t help, because all you’d understand is just doctrine. Regardless of what aspect of the truth it is, if your understanding stops at the level of doctrine and does not connect with your practice and entry, there won’t be any use for the doctrine you understand. If you do not understand the truth, you will not recognize your corrupt disposition and repent to God and confess, and you won’t feel indebted to God and hate yourself, so you will have zero chance of being saved. If you recognize how serious your problems are, but you don’t care and don’t hate yourself, still feeling quite numb and passive on the inside, not accepting God’s judgment and chastisement, and not praying to Him or relying on Him to resolve your corrupt disposition, then you are in great danger, and will not receive salvation.

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