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

What are the conditions for being saved? Firstly, one must understand the truth and willingly accept God’s judgment and chastisement. Then, they must possess the will to cooperate, and be capable of rebelling against themselves and willing to let go of their own selfish desires. What do selfish desires include? Face, status, vanity, various aspects of one’s own interests, as well as one’s own plans, desires, prospects, destination—whether it’s the immediate or the future—they are all included here. If you can seek the truth to resolve these corrupt dispositions, achieving breakthroughs in them one by one, abandoning them bit by bit, then practicing the truth will become easier and easier for you, and you will reach a state of submission to God. Your stature will gradually grow. Once you understand the truth and are able to see through and give up these selfish desires bit by bit, your disposition will change. What level of change have you reached now? Based on My observations, in terms of these truth realities of the changes in disposition, you basically have not entered into them yet. So, what is your current stature, and what state are you living in? Most of you are stalled at the level of performing duty, and stay lingering at this stage: “Should I perform my duty or not? How can I perform my duty well? Is performing my duty this way perfunctory?” Sometimes, when your performance of duty is particularly perfunctory, you will feel reproached in your heart. You’ll feel like you owe God, that you’ve let God down, even wailing and expressing to God your desire to properly perform your duties to repay His love. But two days later, you become negative again, no longer wanting to perform your duties. You can never get past this stage. Is this having stature? (No.) When you no longer need fellowship on how to loyally perform your duties, the need to perform your duties with all of your heart and mind, and the need to submit to God’s orchestrations and arrangements, and you can take on your duties as your own mission, doing them well without demands, without complaints, and without making your own choices, then you have achieved a certain stature. We’re always needing to fellowship on how to perform one’s duties well. Why must we continue fellowshipping this? Because people don’t know how to perform their duties, and they cannot grasp the principles; they have not thoroughly understood the various truths about performing duties, nor have they understood the truth and entered reality. Some people only understand some doctrines but are not willing to practice or enter them, not willing to endure suffering and exhaustion, always greedy for fleshly comfort, still having too many choices of their own, unable to let go, and not fully entrusting themselves into God’s hands. They still have their own plans and demands; their personal wishes, thoughts, and prospects still dominate and can control them: “If I perform this duty, will I have a good prospect ahead? Are there any skills I can learn from this? Will I achieve anything in the house of God in the future?” Always pondering these things, finding it unpleasant when performing duties is a bit hard, tiring, or lacking in enjoyments, feeling uncomfortable over time, becoming negative and still needing fellowship on the truth and ideological work. This is a lack of stature. Does this involve a change in disposition? It’s still too early for that. Once you grasp the truth principles that should be understood for performing your duties, overcoming this hurdle, you can achieve adequate performance of duty. Moving forward will then involve changes in disposition.

Now, whether it is performing duty or serving God, it all requires frequent self-reflection. No matter what wrong views or corrupt dispositions one reveals, they must seek the truth to resolve them. Only in this way can they fulfill their duty up to standard and receive God’s approval. One must be able to discern their corrupt dispositions, otherwise they cannot resolve them. Some people cannot see through what belongs to a corrupt disposition and what does not. For instance, what people like to eat or wear, what lifestyle habits they have, as well as the inheritance of ancestors and traditional concepts—some of these are caused by the influence of traditional culture and customs, some by upbringing and familial inheritance, and some by a lack of knowledge and insight. These are not major problems and have nothing to do with the goodness or badness of one’s humanity, and some can be resolved through learning and gaining more insight. However, notions or wrong views regarding God, or the problem of a corrupt disposition, must be resolved by seeking the truth, and cannot be changed through human education. In any case, no matter where your notions and ideas come from, if they do not align with the truth, you must relinquish them and seek the truth to resolve them. Pursuing the truth can solve all of one’s problems. Many issues that don’t appear to be related to the truth can be indirectly resolved by understanding the truth. It is not just problems pertaining to a corrupt disposition that can be resolved using the truth, but also those that do not pertain to a corrupt disposition, such as some human behaviors, methods, notions, and habits—these can only be thoroughly resolved using the truth. The truth can not only resolve people’s corrupt dispositions; it can also serve as a life goal, foundation of life, and principle for living, and it can resolve all of one’s difficulties and problems. This is absolute. What is the key now? It is to see that the origin of many problems is directly related to not understanding the truth. Many people do not know how to practice when something befalls them, and this is because they do not understand the truth. People cannot see through to the essence and root of so many things, and this too is because they do not understand the truth. But how can they still talk so articulately without understanding the truth? (It’s all just words and doctrines.) Then this problem of speaking doctrine must be resolved. Do less of speaking empty words, reciting doctrine, and shouting slogans; do more of speaking practically, practicing the truth, talking about self-knowledge and self-dissection, and letting others hear words which they find edifying and beneficial. Only one who does this possesses truth reality. Do not spout doctrine and speak empty words, do not speak hypocritical and deceitful words, and do not speak words that do not provide edification. How can you avoid this kind of speech? You must first recognize and see through the ugliness, stupidity, and absurdity of these things; then you will be able to rebel against the flesh. Furthermore, you must also have reason. The more reason a person has, the more accurately and appropriately they will speak, the more mature their humanity will be, the more practical their words will become, and the less nonsense they will say. And in their hearts they will detest those empty words, exaggerations, and falsehoods. Some people have too much vanity and always want to say nice things to disguise themselves, wanting to acquire status in the hearts of others and earn their esteem, making others think they believe in God very well, are a good person, and are especially worthy of admiration. They always have this intention to disguise themselves; they are controlled by a corrupt disposition. People have corrupt dispositions, which is the root of people’s doing evil to oppose God, the most difficult problem to solve. Unless the Holy Spirit works and God Himself makes someone perfect, their corrupt disposition cannot be purified, and a change in disposition cannot be attained. Otherwise, there is no way for a person to resolve it. If you are one who pursues the truth, then you must reflect upon and understand your corrupt disposition according to God’s words, measure yourself against every sentence of God’s words of exposure and judgment, and bit by bit excavate all of your corrupt dispositions and states. Start by digging into the intentions and purpose of your words and actions, dissect and discern every word you speak, and do not overlook anything that exists within your thoughts and mind. This way, through incremental dissection and discernment, you will discover that your corrupt disposition is not just a little but rather abundant, and that Satan’s poisons are not limited but rather numerous. This way, you will gradually see clearly your corrupt dispositions and nature essence, and realize how deeply Satan has corrupted you. At this time you will feel how extremely precious the truth expressed by God is. It can resolve the problems of corrupt humankind’s disposition and nature. This medicine which God prepared for corrupt humans in order to save humankind is incredibly effective, even more valuable than any elixir. Thus, in order to receive God’s salvation, you willingly pursue the truth, cherishing every aspect of the truth more and more, pursuing it with ever increasing vigor. When one has this feeling in their heart, it means they’ve already gained an understanding of some truth, and have already rooted themselves in the true way. If they can experience it more deeply and truly love God from their heart, their life disposition will start to transform.

It is easy to make some changes to behavior, but it is not easy to change one’s life disposition. Resolving the issue of a corrupt disposition must begin with knowing oneself. It requires attentiveness, focusing on examining one’s intentions and states bit by bit, constantly examining intentions and habitual ways of speech. And then one day, there will be a sudden realization: “I’m always saying nice things to disguise myself, hoping to gain status in the hearts of others. This is a wicked disposition. It is not the revelation of a normal humanity and does not conform to the truth. This wicked way of speaking and intention are wrong, and must be changed and disposed of.” After having this realization, you will feel the grave severity of your wicked disposition with increasing clarity. You had thought wickedness just meant the existence of a little wicked lust between a man and a woman, and felt that although you displayed wickedness in this regard, you were not a person with a wicked disposition. This indicates that you lacked understanding of a wicked disposition; you seemed to know the superficial meaning of the word “wicked” but could not truly recognize or discern a wicked disposition; and in fact, you still do not understand what the word “wicked” means. When you realize that you have revealed this type of disposition, you start to self-reflect and recognize it, and dig deep into its origins, and you will see that you really do have such a disposition. What should you do next then? You must continually examine your intentions within your own similar ways of speaking. Through this constant digging, you will identify with increasing authenticity and accuracy that you do indeed have this kind of disposition and essence. Only on the day that you truly admit you really do have a wicked disposition will you start to develop hatred and detestation toward it. One goes from thinking they are a good person, upright in conduct, equipped with a sense of justice, a person of moral integrity, a guileless person, to recognizing that they possess such nature essences as arrogance, intransigence, deceitfulness, wickedness, and aversion to the truth. At that point, they will have accurately assessed themselves and know what they truly are. Merely verbally acknowledging or cursorily recognizing that you have these manifestations and states will not produce genuine hatred. Only by recognizing that the essence of these corrupt dispositions is the repulsive manner of Satan can one truly hate oneself. What sort of humanity is required to truly know oneself to the point of self-hatred? One must love positive things, love the truth, love fairness and righteousness, have conscience and awareness, be kind-hearted, and be able to accept and practice the truth—all people like this can truly know and hate themselves. Those who do not love the truth and who find it difficult to accept the truth will never know themselves. Even if they may speak some words about knowing themselves, they cannot put the truth into practice, and will not undergo any genuine change. Knowing oneself is the most difficult task. For instance, there may be someone of a low caliber who thinks, “My caliber is poor. I’m naturally timid and afraid of getting involved. I might even be the most guileless, cowardly person in the world. So that makes me the worthiest recipient of God’s salvation.” Is this true self-knowledge? These are the words of one who does not understand the truth. Does having poor caliber automatically mean one has no corrupt disposition? Do cowards not have corrupt dispositions either? Haven’t they also been corrupted by Satan? In fact, there is just as much of a wicked and arrogant disposition in such people, and furthermore it is quite deeply hidden, and more entrenched than the average person’s. Why do I say it is deeply hidden? (Because they always think they’re good.) That’s right. They themselves are deluded and misled by this illusion, which makes it impossible for them to accept the truth. They think they’re quite fine already and don’t need God’s judgment and purification. All those words God says about judging people and exposing their corruption are directed at others, those competent people with an arrogant disposition, those evil people, and those who mislead—false leaders and antichrists; but they are not directed at people like them. They’re already good enough; their hands are clean, and they themselves are pure as the driven snow, free of all taint. When they define themselves this way, is it possible for them to truly know themselves? (No.) They cannot know themselves, and they certainly do not understand the truth. They cannot possibly understand such truths as the reason why God judges and chastises people, how He saves people, or how a corrupt disposition is purified. A person who does not know themselves one bit definitely doesn’t understand any truth. These wrong views they reveal are enough to show they are preposterous, absurd people. Their understanding is absurd, and they impose their own beliefs onto God; this too is a disposition of wickedness. Wickedness is a kind of disposition that doesn’t only manifest in the issue of conduct between a man and a woman; a little bit of wicked lust should not be labeled as dispositional wickedness. But if one’s wicked lusts are too strong, and they often engage in promiscuousness or persistent homosexuality, then that is wicked. Some people cannot distinguish between the two, always labeling wicked lusts as wickedness, and explaining wickedness in terms of wicked lusts; they lack discernment. A wicked disposition is the most difficult to recognize. The actions of anyone who is too deceitful and sinister are all wicked. For instance, some people, after lying, think to themselves, “If I don’t share my understanding, who knows what others will think of me? I must open up and fellowship a bit; once I’ve shared my understanding, that will be all there is to it. I can’t let others know my true intentions and think I’m deceitful.” What disposition is this? Opening oneself up in a deceptive way—this is called wickedness. And after lying, they will observe: “Did anyone find out I lied? Could anyone see my true colors?” They start to coax information from others and probe them; this too is wicked. It is not easy to detect a wicked disposition. Whoever does things in an especially sinister and deceitful way, making it difficult for others to see through them, is wicked. Whoever schemes and plots to achieve their goals is wicked. Whoever deceives people by doing bad things under the guise of doing good, making others render service for them, is the wickedest of all. The great red dragon is the wickedest; Satan is the wickedest; those demon kings are the wickedest; all devils are wicked.

To pursue dispositional change, one must first be able to recognize their own corrupt disposition. Truly knowing oneself involves seeing through and thoroughly dissecting the essence of their corruption, as well as recognizing the various states a corrupt disposition gives rise to. It is only when someone clearly understands their own corrupt states and corrupt disposition that they can hate their flesh and hate Satan, which only then brings about dispositional change. If they cannot recognize these states, and fail to make the connections and match them up to themselves, can their disposition change? It cannot. Dispositional change requires one to recognize the different states their corrupt disposition produces; they must reach a point of not being constrained by their corrupt disposition and putting the truth into practice—only then can their disposition begin to change. If they cannot recognize the origin of their corrupt states, and only constrain themselves according to the words and doctrines they understand, then even if they have some good behavior and change a bit on the outside, it cannot be considered as dispositional transformation. Since it cannot be considered as dispositional transformation, what, then, is the role that most people play during the course of performing their duty? It is the role of a laborer; they merely exert themselves and busy themselves with tasks. Although they are also performing their duty, most of the time they are only focused on getting things done, not seeking the truth but just exerting effort. Sometimes, when they’re in a good mood, they’ll put in extra effort, and sometimes when their mood is bad they’ll hold back a bit. But afterward they’ll examine themselves and feel remorse, so they’ll put in more effort again, believing this to be repentance. Actually, this is not true change, nor is it true repentance. True repentance begins with knowing oneself; it begins with a shift in behavior. Once someone’s behavior has shifted, and they can rebel against their flesh, put the truth into practice, and in terms of behavior, appear to be aligned with principles, this means there has been genuine repentance. Then, bit by bit, they reach the point of being able to speak and act according to principles, completely conforming to the truth. This is when a change in life disposition begins. What stage have you reached in your experience now? (I have some good behavior on the surface.) This still belongs to the period of exerting effort. Some people exert a little effort and then think they’ve made a contribution and deserve God’s blessings. Inwardly they always ponder: “What does God think of this? I’ve put in so much effort and endured so much hardship, can I enter the kingdom of heaven?” Always trying to get to the bottom of things—what disposition is this? It is deceitful, wicked, and arrogant. Furthermore, hoping to gain blessings from exerting some effort while believing in God without accepting a bit of the truth; isn’t there an intransigent disposition here? Never relinquishing the benefits of status; is this not intransigence too? They’re always worrying: “Will God remember that I suffered hardship performing this duty? Will He give me some blessings?” In their mind they’re always making these calculations. On the outside it looks like they’re making deals, but in fact there are several types of corrupt dispositions at work here. Always wanting to strike a deal with God, always wanting to receive blessings from believing in God, always wanting to take advantage and not suffer losses, always engaging in crooked and underhanded means—this is being dominated by a wicked disposition. Each time such a person puts in some effort in performing their duties, they want to know: “Will I receive blessings for all the effort I’m putting forth? Will I be able to enter the kingdom of heaven after suffering so much to believe in God? Will God commend me for forsaking everything to perform my duty? Does God approve of me or not?” They ponder these questions all day long. If they can’t figure them out for one day, they will become uneasy for that day, unwilling to perform their duties or pay a price, and even less willing to pursue the truth. Always constrained and bound by these matters, they lack any true faith whatsoever. They do not believe God’s promises are real. They do not believe that pursuing the truth will surely bring God’s blessings. In their heart they are averse to the truth. Even if they wanted to pursue the truth, they lack the energy for it, so they do not have the enlightenment and illumination of the Holy Spirit, and they cannot understand the truth. This person frequently encounters problems while performing their duty, and they are often negative and weak. They grumble complaints upon encountering difficulty, and when disaster befalls them or they are arrested, they determine that God isn’t protecting them and does not want them, and consign themselves to despair. What disposition is this? Is this not viciousness? What will this person do as soon as they feel resentment? They will definitely be negative and lazy; they will throw up their hands in hopelessness. And they will frequently accuse leaders and workers of being false leaders and antichrists. They might even directly complain about God and make judgments about Him. What is it that gives rise to these things? They are under the control of a vicious disposition. They believe, according to secular views and satanic logic, that there must be a return for every investment. Without such recompense, they won’t invest anymore. They have a retaliatory mindset and seek to give up their responsibilities, refuse their duty, and demand recompense. Isn’t this vicious? In what ways is this similar to Paul? (Paul believed that once he had finished his race and fought a good fight, a crown of righteousness would be reserved for him.) That is exactly how they match up with Paul. Do you exhibit any of these manifestations of Paul yourselves? Do you engage in self-comparisons like this? If you do not relate yourselves to God’s words, you won’t be able to know yourselves. Only by recognizing the essence of your corrupt disposition can you genuinely know yourself. If you only recognize the superficial rights and wrongs, or simply admit that you are a devil and Satan, this is too generic and vacuous. It is feigned profundity, it is a disguise, it is fraud. Talking about knowing oneself in this way is fake spirituality, it is misleading.

Have you ever seen how a deceitful person attempts self-knowledge? They try to make a mountain out of a molehill, talking about how they are a devil and Satan, and even cursing themselves; and yet they don’t say what fiendish and evil deeds they’ve done, nor do they dissect the filthiness and corruption in their heart. They just say that they are a devil and Satan, that they’ve rebelled against and resisted God, using many empty words and sweeping statements to condemn themselves, making others feel, “Now this is someone who really knows themselves; what profound understanding they have.” They let others see how spiritual they are, making it so others all envy them as a pursuer of the truth. But after knowing themselves in this way for several years, they still haven’t genuinely repented, and one does not see any situation in which they actually put the truth into practice or do things according to principles. There is no change in their life disposition whatsoever, thus exposing the problem: This is not true self-knowledge. It is disguise and fraud, and this person is a hypocrite. No matter how someone talks about self-knowledge, do not focus on how nice their words sound or how profound their knowledge is. What is the key to observe? Notice how much of the truth they can put into practice, and notice whether they can adhere to the truth principles to uphold the work of the church. These two indicators are enough to tell if someone has undergone true transformation. This is the principle for evaluating and discerning people. Do not listen to the nice things that come out of their mouth; observe what they actually do. There are some who, when discussing self-knowledge, appear on the outside to be taking it seriously. They talk about any mistaken ideas or wrong thoughts they have with others, opening up and laying themselves bare, but when they’re done talking they still haven’t truly repented. When something happens to them, they still don’t practice the truth, nor do they adhere to principles, uphold the church’s work, or display any transformation. This kind of self-knowledge, opening up, and fellowshipping have no meaning. Perhaps this kind of person thinks that knowing themselves in this way means they’ve truly repented and are practicing the truth, but, in the end, there aren’t any changes after years of this understanding. Isn’t this way of knowing oneself just going through the motions, following procedure? There’s no actual effect; aren’t they just toying with themselves? I once went somewhere and when I arrived, someone was cutting the grass with a weed wacker. The machine was roaring loudly and making a racket. Each of the two or three times I went there I encountered the same situation, so I asked the person, “You don’t have some fixed time for cutting the grass?” He replied, “Ah, I only cut the grass when I see that God has come. It’s unpleasant for me as well.” People who can’t discern might hear this and think he’s being honest, saying whatever’s on his mind. They might think he’s admitting his mistakes and gaining self-knowledge, and thus they get misled. But would someone who understands the truth see it that way? What’s the accurate perspective on this? Those who can see through this situation will think, “You’re not taking responsibility while doing your duty; aren’t you just doing this for show?” But the grass-cutter fears others would think this way, so he preemptively speaks that way to shut them up. This is quite skillful rhetoric, is it not? (Yes.) In fact, he had long since figured out how to deal with this situation, to preemptively mislead you and make you think that he’s quite straightforward, that he can speak openly and admit his mistakes. What he’s thinking is: “I understand the truth; I don’t need you to tell me. I’ll admit it first. Let’s see what you can say against my clever phrasing. This is just what I’ll do; what can you do to me?” Which dispositions are at work here? First of all, he understands everything. When he makes a mistake, he knows to repent. This is the impression he gives others, using disguises and lies to create an illusion and make others look up to him. He is exceptionally calculating, knowing to what extent his words will mislead others and what their reactions will be. He’s assessed all of this in advance. What disposition is this? It is a wicked disposition. Furthermore, that he can say these things proves he doesn’t just realize this now, but has long since known that acting this way is perfunctory, that he should not be doing this just now, that he should not be putting on such a facade, and should not be acting for the sake of his own pride. Why does he still do it then? Isn’t this intransigence? There’s posturing, intransigence, and also wickedness. Can you discern them? Some can only discern others and not themselves. Why is this? If one can truly discern oneself, then likewise they can discern others. If they can only discern others but not themselves, it means there is a problem with their disposition and character. Seeing how others match up to the truth but not how oneself matches up—this is certainly not someone who loves the truth, let alone one who accepts the truth.

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