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

Is it a good or a bad thing when someone is able to discover how serious a problem their corruption is? It is a good thing. The more you can discover your corruption and understand it accurately, and the more you can recognize your own essence, then the more you can be saved and the closer you will be to receiving salvation. The more you are unable to discover your problems, always believing you’re good and fine, then the farther away you are from the path of salvation—you are still in much danger. If you see someone who is always boasting about how well they do their duty, and their ability to fellowship the truth and practice the truth, this proves that person’s stature is minute. They are childish, and their life is immature. What kind of person has more hope for receiving salvation and can embark on the path of being saved? It is one who truly recognizes their own corrupt disposition. The more deeply they understand it, the closer they are to being saved. Understanding that one’s own corrupt dispositions all originate from the satanic nature, seeing that they have no conscience or reason, that they cannot put any truths into practice, that they live solely by their corrupt disposition and lack any humanity whatsoever, that they are a living devil and a living Satan—this is truly recognizing the essence of one’s own corruption. Understanding it this way makes the problem seem quite serious, but is this a good thing or a bad thing? (A good thing.) Although it is a good thing, some people become negative when they see their devilish and satanic side, thinking, “I’m done for, now. God doesn’t want me. I’ll surely be sent to hell. There’s no way I will be saved by God.” Is this something that happens? Tell Me, are there people who become more negative the more they understand themselves? They think, “I’m completely ruined. God’s judgment and chastisement are upon me. This is punishment, retribution. God does not want me. I have no hope of being saved.” Do people have these misconceptions? (Yes.) In actuality, the more one recognizes their hopelessness, the more hope there is for that person. Do not be negative, do not give up. Knowing oneself is a good thing, it is an essential path to receiving salvation. If one is completely unaware of their own corrupt disposition and the essence of their resistance to God in various aspects, and they don’t even plan on changing, then this is a problem. This type of person is numb, they are dead. Is it easy to bring a dead person back to life? Once they’re already dead, bringing them back to life is not easy.

To what type of person does God still extend opportunities for repentance? What type of person still has hope of being saved? What manifestations should these people exhibit? First of all, they must have a sense of conscience. No matter what befalls them, they can accept it from God, understanding in their hearts that it is God who is working to save them. They will say, “I do not understand God’s will, nor do I understand why this type of thing happens to me, but I trust God is doing it to save me. I cannot rebel against Him or wound His heart. I must submit and rebel against myself.” They have this conscience. Moreover, in terms of reason, they think, “God is the Creator. I am a created being. Whatever God does is right. God judges and chastises me to purify my corrupt disposition. However the Creator treats His created beings is entirely reasonable and appropriate.” Isn’t this the reason people ought to have? People should not make demands of God, saying, “I am a human. I have personality and dignity. I will not allow You to treat me like this.” Is this reasonable? This is a satanic disposition, it lacks the reason of a normal human, and God will not save people like this; He does not acknowledge them as created beings. Suppose you said, “I was created by God; however He wants to treat me is fine. He can treat me as a donkey or a horse or anything else. I have no choices or requirements of my own.” If you said that, would you still want to pick and choose if performing your duty was somewhat difficult and tiring? (No.) That’s right. You must submit. How do you submit? At first, submission is hard and difficult to bear. You always want to escape and refuse. So what should you do? You must come before God and pray, seek the truth, see the essence of the problem clearly, and then find the path of practice. You should just put your heart and effort into practicing the truth, submitting little by little. This is having reason. You must first possess this kind of reason. Once one has conscience and reason, what else do they need? A sense of shame. For what situations does one need to have a sense of shame? When they do something wrong, when they reveal their rebelliousness, crookedness, and deceitfulness, when they lie and engage in fraud—that is when they need awareness and a sense of shame. They must know doing things this way does not conform to the truth and is undignified, they must know to feel remorse. One who has no sense of shame is a brazen and barefaced person unworthy of being called human. It is completely over for one who does not accept the truth. No matter how the truth is fellowshipped to them, they do not take it in; and no matter what is said, they still do not gain awareness. This is called lacking a sense of shame. Can people without a sense of shame feel remorse? Without a sense of shame, one has no dignity, and someone like this knows no remorse. Can people who do not know remorse turn around? (No.) Those who cannot turn around will not relinquish the evil that is in their hands. “Turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands” (Jonah 3:8). What must one possess to be able to do this? They must possess a sense of shame, a sense of conscience. When they make a mistake, they will reproach themselves and feel remorse, and they will abandon their wrong ways. This type of person can turn around. This is what, at the bare minimum, one’s humanity should possess. Aside from conscience, reason, and a sense of shame, what else is needed? (A love of positive things.) That’s right. A love of positive things means loving the truth. Only those who love the truth are kindhearted people. Do evil people love positive things? Evil people love wicked, vicious, and venomous things; they love all that is associated with negative things. When you talk to them about positive things, or about how something benefits people and comes from God, they are not pleased and not interested to hear about them—they have no hope of being saved. No matter how well one fellowships the truth to them or how practically they are spoken to, they are simply not interested, and might even express hostility and antagonism. But their eyes light up when they hear somebody talking about fleshly pleasure, and they become full of energy. This is a vicious and wicked disposition, and they are not goodhearted. So, they cannot possibly love positive things. In their heart, how do they regard positive things? They despise and look down upon them, they deride these things. When it comes to being an honest person, they think, “Being honest only puts you at a disadvantage. I’ll pass on that! If you’re honest you’re a fool. Look at you, enduring hardship and working hard to perform your duty without ever considering your own future or your own health. Who’s going to care if you collapse from exhaustion? I can’t tire myself out.” Someone else might say, “Let’s leave an out for ourselves. We can’t be breaking our backs like dopes. We’ve got to prepare our backup plan and then just exert a bit more effort.” Those evil ones will be happy upon hearing this; it hits right home with them. But when it comes to absolute submission to God and loyally expending oneself for one’s duty, they feel repulsion and detestation, and will not take it in. Isn’t someone like this vicious? All people like this have a vicious disposition. All you have to do is fellowship the truth and talk about the principles of practice with them, and they become repulsed and unwilling to listen. They’ll think this injures their pride, wounds their dignity, and they can’t benefit from it. Inwardly they’ll say: “Going on and on about the truth, about the principles of practice. Always talking about being an honest person—can honesty feed you? Can speaking honestly make you money? Cheating is how I’ll profit!” What logic is this? It is the logic of a bandit. Isn’t this a vicious disposition? Is this person kindhearted? (No.) This kind of person cannot attain the truth. What little they do commit, expend, and forsake is all directed at a goal, one they’ve calculated well in advance. They only think it’s a good deal to offer something if they get more back in return. What disposition is this? It is a wicked, vicious disposition.

Most who believe in God don’t seek the truth. They always like to make their own schemes and arrangements. As a result, they won’t have gained much after several years of this—they won’t understand any truths and cannot share any experiential testimony. At this time they’ll feel regret, and think it would be best to submit to God’s sovereignty and arrangements and believe in God according to His requirements. They had felt quite clever at the time, making plans according to their own will, but, not having attained the truth, they were the ones who lost out in the end. People only come to understand the truth and awaken through these failures. Only after their life has suffered some degree of loss do they get on the right path, and begin taking shortcuts. If they believed in God according to His requirements, they would avoid so many detours along the path. Some people, after experiencing many things and facing some failures and setbacks, come to understand some truths. They see through these matters, and can entrust everything to God, willingly submitting to His orchestration and arrangements. At that point, they are on the right path. But people with wicked, vicious dispositions do not give themselves to God. They always want to rely on their own efforts, always questioning, “Is fate really controlled by God? Is God really sovereign over all things?” Some people, listening to the same sermons and fellowships in the house of God, feel more energized the more they listen. Their state improves and they undergo transformation the more they listen. But some others only think it sounds more and more complicated, more unattainable. These are people who lack spiritual understanding. And still others listen to sermons and fellowships and feel averse and wholly uninterested. This reveals the differences in people’s nature, separating sheep from goats, those who love the truth from those who do not love the truth. One group accepts God’s words, accepts the truth, and accepts God’s judgment and chastisement. The other group does not accept the truth no matter how they listen to sermons. They think it’s all just jargon, and even if they do understand it, they aren’t willing to practice it, because they cannot relinquish their own plans, selfish desires, and interests. So, they don’t change even after years of belief. Are the differences between these two groups within the church not quite evident? Those who truly want God are not influenced no matter what others say; they persist in expending themselves for God, believe God’s words are correct, and that practicing according to God’s words is the highest principle. Those who are wicked and do not love the truth always have active thoughts. If today they see a glimmer of hope for receiving blessings, they’ll give it their all and do good deeds for everyone to see, hoping to win them over. After a while, however, when God has not blessed them, they become regretful and complain, and this is the conclusion they arrive at: “God is sovereign over all; He shows no partiality—I’m not so sure these words are true.” They cannot see beyond their own immediate interests; if it doesn’t benefit them, they won’t lift a finger. Isn’t this vicious? No matter who they interact with, they try to make deals with them, and they even dare to try to make deals with God. They think: “I need to see some profit, and right now. I must profit right away!” Such forcefulness—would it be going too far to say they have a vicious disposition? (No.) How can their viciousness be proven, then? When they are faced with a little trial or disaster, they won’t be able to take it and won’t perform their duty. They’ll feel they’ve suffered a loss: “I’ve invested so much and God still hasn’t blessed me. Is there even a God? Is this the right way or not?” Their heart stirs with doubt. They want to see profit, and this proves that they do not willingly and earnestly make sacrifices; in this way they are revealed. What did Job’s wife say when Job was experiencing his trials? (“Do you still retain your integrity? curse God, and die” (Job 2:9).) She was a nonbeliever, denying God and forsaking Him when disaster struck. When God granted blessings, she said, “Jehovah God, You are the great Savior! You’ve given me so much property and blessed me. I will follow You. You are my God!” And when God took her property away, she said, “You are not my God.” She even told Job, “Do not believe. There is no God! If there were, how could He let our property be taken away by bandits? Why didn’t He protect us?” What disposition is this? It is a vicious disposition. As soon as their interests are compromised, and their own goals and desires are not met, they fly into a rage, rebel, and become a Judas, betraying and forsaking God. Are there many people like this? Such rather obvious evil people and nonbelievers may still exist within the church to some extent. But some people only have this kind of state; that is, they have this disposition, but they are not necessarily of this type. However, if you have this kind of disposition, does it need to change? (Yes.) If you have this kind of disposition, then it means your nature is also vicious. With this kind of vicious disposition, you are capable of opposing God, betraying God, and acting hostilely toward Him at any moment. Every day you do not change these corrupt dispositions is a day you are not compatible with God. When you are incompatible with God, you cannot come before Him and experience His work and you have no way of receiving salvation.

Job was a man of true faith. When God blessed him, he thanked God. When God disciplined and deprived him, he also thanked God. At the end of his experience, when he was old and God took all he had away, how did Job react? Not only did he not complain; he praised God and bore witness for Him. Is there a wicked disposition here? A vicious disposition? (No.) Did Job rebel after losing so much property? Did he complain? (No.) He did not complain, he praised God. What disposition is this? It includes several things that a normal humanity should possess: conscience, reason, and a love for positive things. First of all, Job had conscience. In his heart he knew everything he had was given by God, and he thanked God for this. Additionally, he had reason. Which of his statements proves he had reason? (He said: “Jehovah gave, and Jehovah has taken away; blessed be the name of Jehovah” (Job 1:21).) This statement bears witness to Job’s true experience and understanding of God’s trials; it conveys his true stature and humanity. What else did Job possess? (A love of the truth.) How is this measured? How can we see his love for the truth in the matter of God depriving him? (When something befell him, he was able to seek the truth.) Seeking the truth is a manifestation of loving the truth. When these things were happening around him, no matter how uncomfortable or painful Job felt, he did not complain—isn’t this a manifestation of loving the truth? And what is another important manifestation of loving the truth? (The ability to submit.) How do we know this is a practical, accurate manifestation of loving the truth? People often say, “Everything God does for people is beneficial and comes with His good intentions.” Is this the truth? (Yes.) But can you accept it? You can accept it when God blesses you, but can you accept it when He takes away? You cannot, but Job could. He took this statement as the truth—didn’t he love the truth? When God took everything he had away, causing him grievous loss, and when Job suffered such serious illness, because of this one statement—“Everything God does is right and comes with His good intentions”—and because Job understood in his heart that this was the truth, no matter how greatly he suffered, he could still insist that this statement was correct. That is why we say Job loved the truth. Furthermore, no matter what means God used to test Job, he accepted it. Whether it was taking things away or having bandits take them, or even afflicting Job with sores, all of these things go against human notions—but how did Job treat these? Did he complain about God? He did not speak a single word of blame toward God. This is loving the truth, loving fairness, and loving righteousness. In his heart, he said, “God is so fair to us people and so righteous! Whatever God does is right!” Thus, he could praise God, saying: “No matter what God does, I will not complain. In the eyes of God, created beings are but maggots. However God treats them is fine and justified.” He believed everything God did was right, was something positive. Despite his severe pain and discomfort he didn’t complain. This is genuine love of the truth that must be admired by all; and it was all demonstrated pragmatically. Regardless of how much he lost or how difficult his circumstances were, Job did not complain about God; he submitted. This is a manifestation of loving the truth. He was able to overcome his own difficulties; he did not complain about God for them or make any demands of God. This is loving the truth, it is genuine submission. Only those with genuine submission are people who love the truth. Some people excel at spouting doctrine and shouting slogans in ordinary times, but when something serious befalls them they always have demands for God, and persistently beseech Him: “Oh, God, please take away my illness! Please restore my wealth!” Is this submission? They are not people who love the truth. They like to lie and mislead others, and love wealth and gain in their hearts. Job regarded material benefits and all of his possessions lightly, having a pure understanding of all of them, so he was able to submit. In his heart, Job could see through these things. He said, “No matter how much one earns in this life, it all comes from God. If God doesn’t allow you to earn, you won’t earn a cent. If He allows it, then you’ll have however much He gives you.” He saw the fact of God’s sovereignty over all things clearly, this truth took root in his heart. “God is sovereign over all things”—this sentence came not with a question mark for Job, but with an exclamation mark. This sentence became his life and settled in his heart. What else was inherent in Job’s humanity? Why did he curse his own birthday? He would have rather died than have God see him in pain and grieve for him. What quality is this, what essence? (Kindness.) What are the primary manifestations of Job’s kindness? He was considerate and understanding of God, and he could love and satisfy God. If someone possesses these qualities, then they have character. How is character formed? Only one who understands the truth, who can stand firm in their witness during God’s trials and Satan’s temptations, who can live like a human, reaching the standard of being human, and who possesses a certain amount of the truth, has character. In terms of humanity essence, it was only because Job had a kind heart that he was able to curse his own birthday and would have rather died than let God see him in pain, causing God grief and worry. This was Job’s humanity. A person will only love and care for God if they have a kind humanity and essence. If they have neither, then they will be numb and callous. Contrast this with Paul, who was the complete opposite of Job. Paul was always looking out for himself, and even wanted to make deals with God. He wanted to obtain a crown, he wanted to be Christ and replace Christ. And when he couldn’t get his crown he tried to argue with God and litigate against Him. Such absence of reason! This shows Paul lacked a sense of shame. People with Satan’s corrupt disposition must change. If one understands the truth, and can accept and practice the truth, then they will be able to submit to God. They will not oppose God anymore and will become compatible with Him. Such a person is one who obtains the truth and life. This is the kind of created being that God desires.

July 13, 2018

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