What It Is to Practice the Truth (Part One)

Plenty of people listen to sermons for many years, but do not understand what the truth is, nor on which aspect of the truth they should concentrate their efforts. They just listen and that’s it, always careless like thoughtless people without a heart. No wonder they’ve believed in God for several years, yet remain devoid of experiential testimony. Someone who truly pursues the truth must reflect on themselves: Is what I say and do in line with the truth? What do I lack? What deficiencies should I make up for? How well am I performing my duty? Am I able to act in accordance with the principles? If you are not clear about these things, then you are not someone who pursues the truth. If you wish to pursue and gain the truth, you must frequently read and contemplate God’s words. No matter what duty you perform, you must contemplate and figure out the truths you need to comprehend, and you have to be able to practice and experience however many truths you understand. You must always consider, “Have I practiced and entered into this truth? Which aspects of life does this truth refer to? Which environments? Which circumstances?” These questions must be fixed in your heart, and you must try to figure them out in your spare time. If you think about it but don’t understand then you must pray-read, come before God and open your heart to Him. Most people do not have their hearts set on the truth in their belief in God. Where are their hearts? Their hearts are always set on external matters, always getting tied in knots about matters of vanity and pride, of what is right and what is wrong. They do not know which things relate to the truth and which do not, and they think, “So long as I’m doing things in God’s house, running about and enduring hardship to perform my duty, then I’m practicing the truth.” This is incorrect. Is one practicing the truth by doing things for God’s house, running about and enduring hardship? Is there any basis for saying so? Enduring hardship while doing things and practicing the truth are two different things. If you do not know what the truth is, how could you practice it? Is that not absurd? You are acting according to human notions and imaginings, you are in a confused state, doing things according to your own ideas. Your heart is confused, without any goals, direction, or principles. You are just doing things, and enduring hardship while you’re doing them—how is that related to practicing the truth? If people do not understand the truth, no matter what they do, and no matter what hardships they endure, they are far from practicing the truth. People always do things according to their own will, and just to get things done; they do not consider at all whether their actions are in accordance with the truth principles or not. If you do not know whether what you are doing is in accordance with the truth, then you are certainly not practicing the truth. Some may say, “I’m doing things for the church. Isn’t that practicing the truth?” That is simply wrong. Does doing things for the church mean that someone is practicing the truth? Not necessarily—that can only be determined by seeing if there are principles to that person’s actions or not. If there are no principles to what somebody is doing, then no matter who they are doing it for, they are not practicing the truth. Even if they do something good, it must be done in accordance with the truth principles in order to qualify as practicing the truth. If they violate the principles, then whatever good they do is merely good behavior and falls short of practicing the truth. There are many people now who never strive toward the truth principles in performing their duties, this means that they are just laboring. If a person never strives toward the truth, they cannot perform their duty adequately; that kind of person is certainly not one of God’s people, they could only be called a laborer. If they can persist in laboring to the end, they may be considered a loyal laborer and be allowed to remain. But if they have done some bad things in the course of laboring, they will be eliminated along the way, like a seasonal worker who is no longer needed. Most laborers are eliminated in this way. Their laboring is not up to standard, so they are certainly not able to stand firm.

What is the practice of the truth? How does one practice the truth when completing a task or performing a duty, or not practice it? Not practicing the truth means what one is doing is unrelated to the truth. That person may be performing a duty, but their doing so has little relationship to the truth. It is just a sort of good behavior, and it can be considered a good deed, but it is still far from practicing the truth—there is a distinction between these things. What is the distinction? You are just adhering to a scope or to regulations when you do something. You do not allow the interests of God’s house to suffer any losses, you run around a bit more and undergo a bit more hardship, you have achieved these things, and if the requirements made of you are not particularly high, you may be performing your duty adequately. But there is something else to consider: Have you excavated and uncovered what corrupt dispositions, thoughts, and things that displease God are within you when you are doing that thing? Have you come to true self-knowledge through doing it and through performing your duty? Have you found the truth that you need to practice and enter? (Rarely—sometimes I just hold myself up against God’s words simply, get to know myself a little and that’s all.) Then most of the time you only have theoretical, formulaic knowledge of yourself, not practical knowledge. If you do not pursue the truth, then even if you have made no great errors and violated no major principles, and you have not actively done evil and appear to be a good person with a bit of humanity, you still have not practiced or gained the truth, and your lack of errors and your appearance of humanity are still not the same as being in accordance with the truth or practicing it. These things are distant and distinct from practicing the truth. After believing in God for several years, many people discover that they are typical laborers. They wonder how it is they became laborers, but the answer does not come to them, ruminate as they might. When people have just begun believing in God, they do not intend to be laborers. They plan to be good believers, to achieve an understanding of the truth, and to ultimately be saved and enter the kingdom of heaven—or to at least be able to survive. They also think that as believers they must fear God and shun evil, and submit to Him. How is it that they become laborers without realizing it? That is because you are never able to practice the truth or enter into the truth reality in your duty, and in the environments that God has arranged for you—you are always exerting effort instead of performing your duty. That is the reason. So, after you’ve performed your duty for a period of time, when you quiet yourself down and think, “What have I gained during this time? When I went out once I nearly met with danger, but God protected me,” does seeing that God protected you count as knowing Him? These things cannot inspire you to increase your faith in God, nor enable you to have a true understanding of your own corrupt disposition and nature essence. Thinking back on how you performed your duty during this time, have you made any progress in your life entry? If you put the truth into practice when performing your duty, and act according to principles, then you will definitely make progress. If you say, “So far as the positive side of things goes, the truth of knowing God is profound; I haven’t really got it or learned much from it yet. But so far as the negative side of things goes, I know that the corrupt dispositions most difficult to identify are people’s corrupt disposition as exposed by God: their essence which is hostile toward God and resists Him, their wicked nature and deceitfulness, as well as the corrupt disposition hidden deepest in people’s hearts which God has exposed. I couldn’t link this to myself before, but now I’ve come to realize it and made that connection, and my heart has some sense of it.” This is progress. You have these feelings, and when you quiet yourself down and try to think it through carefully, you’ll find that your experience of believing in God for several years is too shallow, and see that you are lacking in too many things. You have some understanding of the truth of your own corruption, but you’ve only just begun to repent. You sin less, and show some small changes in behavior, but this is still a far cry from a change in life disposition. When you have a few more years’ experience, and you have a deeper understanding of your corrupt disposition, and some changes in your life disposition, then you will finally feel that you’ve received great salvation from God, and will say, “God’s words that expose man are true, and I say Amen to God’s words. His words are the truth, and how true they are!” When people do not know themselves, they all say, “Others might betray God, but I never will. Others might forsake God, but I never will.” Aren’t these empty words? Revealed by the facts, people can sense that they themselves are too unreliable, that they need God to look after and protect them, that they truly cannot leave God’s care, that it is only through God’s grace and mercy that people have made it to this day, and that they have nothing to boast about. If you have this feeling, it comes from your experience, and not because it was instilled in you by others. It comes from what you’ve personally gone through and experienced. These things are so practical and profound, far more practical than the big empty words so often spoken by people. When you have this sort of experience, and your heart has this feeling, then it will thirst for God, for His words, and for the truth. You’ll be inspired to treasure God’s words, inspired to practice and experience His words, and you will be brought one step closer to God in your relationship with Him. This is proof that you are already on the right track of faith in God, and have begun to enter into the truth reality. Those people who only ever preach words and doctrines and empty theories are cast ever farther away, becoming more and more isolated and shamed in God’s house. They must reflect on themselves, and it is time for them to wake up.

What are the criteria for measuring whether someone has the truth reality? Or to see if someone is practicing the truth? When something happens to them, you must look at what attitude they have toward God, whether they can seek the truth, whether they have true knowledge of themselves, and whether they can fear God and shun evil. By getting a clear view on these things, you can determine whether they are practicing the truth or have the truth reality. If someone always preaches words and doctrines and spouts high-sounding words when things befall them, it is clear that they do not have the truth reality. When things befall someone who does not have the truth reality, can they put the truth into practice? They cannot possibly do so. They may say, “This thing has happened, I submit to God!” Why do you want to submit to God? The principle is correct, but you might be acting based upon your feelings, with a method that you have weighed out and decided upon yourself. You speak of submitting to God, but at heart, you are always doubting all that God does. You do not understand why God acts in the way He does, yet you keep telling yourself you must submit to Him, when in fact, you have no intent to. You only appear from the outside to be unresistant, to be uncomplaining and to do what you are told. It seems like you have submitted, but this kind of submission is merely lip service, a mere adherence to regulations. You are not practicing submission. You must draw out and dissect the corrupt disposition that stops you from submitting, and hold it up to God’s words for comparison. If you gain true knowledge of your corrupt disposition, if you can truly understand God, and know why He acts in the way He does, if you can understand this completely, then you can submit to God. You will say, “However great the hardship, however weak or sad I feel, I will not be negative, and I will submit to God, because I know that what God does is good, that all He does is right. He wouldn’t do anything wrong.” When you achieve this, your problem will have been completely resolved. Some people do not seek the truth and resolve problems in this way. They merely preach words and doctrines, and it seems as if they understand everything, but when a real difficulty befalls them, they cannot put the truth into practice, though they would like to. Complaints and misunderstandings persist in their hearts—yet they do not seek the truth to resolve the problem. These complaints and misunderstandings are hidden inside people. They are, in fact, a cancer, and will burst forth in the right environment. Before that happens, people cannot feel them, and they think that they understand all of the truth and have no difficulties. But when something later befalls them, they are unable to put the truth into practice. This proves that you do not have true faith in God and that you do not really understand the truth. What does that mean? It means that you can preach a few words and doctrines and just adhere to a few regulations. Though you may be able to submit at times, it is a submission of adhering to regulations, and it is a very limited submission. If something befalls you that does not fit with your notions, you will be unable to submit. This shows that you are not a person who can truly submit to God and that your corrupt disposition is unresolved and unchanged. You must know your corrupt disposition in light of the things that befall you, and you must know, understand, and be considerate of all God does. After that, you must attain true and willing submission, and no matter what befalls you, or how much it does not fit with your notions, you must be able to submit. This is the level that must be reached in order to be someone who truly submits to God and someone who has truly changed.

Most people who have believed in God for years do not know what it is to submit to Him. They know only how to speak words and doctrines, not what it is to practice the truth, or how to practice the truth in order to submit to God. Why is this? Some people always submit to God according to their own notions and imaginings, and when what God says does not accord with their notions, they cannot bring themselves to submit. Notions and misunderstandings of God then arise in them, and they will not seek the truth. If they really were people who submit to God, they would be able to do so regardless of whether God’s words accord with human notions or not, because man’s submission to God is perfectly natural and justified. If one practices in this way, they are submitting to God, and if one comes to understand the truth through this practice, they then have the reality of submission to God. When most people try to practice the truth, they only practice the literal doctrine of God’s words, and think that they are practicing the truth. The fact is that doing so falls short of practicing the truth. There must be principles to the practice of the truth. If one cannot find the principles of practice, then they are just following regulations, and this practice lacks the necessary detail of acting according to the principles. Many people only uphold the regulations of the words and doctrines, and have no principles to their practice. This falls short of the standards for practicing the truth. Everyone in religion acts according to their own notions and imaginings and thinks that this is practicing the truth. They may preach about love, for instance, or about humility, but all they are doing is parroting nice-sounding words. Their practice has no principles, and they cannot grasp the most fundamental things. How can one enter the truth reality if they practice in this way? The truth is God’s word; reality is lived out by man. It is not until someone can practice the truth and live out God’s words that they possess the truth reality. Through practice and experience of God’s words, people gain the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit and true knowledge of God’s words. Only then do they understand the truth. People who really understand the truth are able to determine the principles of practice. When you have gotten a grasp on the principles of practice, your speech and actions will have principles, and your performance of your duty will be in line with the truth principles. This is what it is to practice the truth; this is what it is to have the truth reality. It is not until you live out the truth reality that you are practicing the truth, and if you do not live out the truth reality, then you are not practicing the truth. Practicing the truth is not a matter of just adhering to regulations, as people imagine it to be, and one must not practice however they would like to practice. God looks at whether you really understand the truth in the course of practicing and experiencing His words, and at whether your speech and actions have the truth principles. If you understand the truth and can put it into practice, you will have life entry. Whatever experiences and knowledge you have of God’s words, whatever appreciation you have, these things are all directly related to your life entry. If you have experienced many things, failed many times, learned genuine lessons, and had practical experiences, then you may feel that you have the truth reality. Is this accurate? It is not. Is such a feeling reliable? It is not reliable, either. People who have the truth reality can submit to God and bear witness for Him, and it is very edifying for others to hear their testimony. Only those people can be said to have the truth reality. Only a person who can elicit the acknowledgment and approval of those who understand the truth has the truth reality. Whether you have the truth reality depends crucially on whether you can understand the truth and come to know God in your practice and experience of His words. If your practice and experience are unrelated to God’s words and the truth, then you have no true life experience. This also proves that your relationship with God is abnormal. Why do I say your relationship with God is abnormal? Because you have no practice or experience of His words, and you have not attained an understanding of the truth. That shows that you are not a person who experiences God’s work, much less someone who submits to God. It is only if you have believed in God for many years, if you have undergone many trials and tribulations, and your faith and love for God have grown, and you have stood firm in your testimony, that you will be shown to have true faith in God. Such true faith must be proved by standing firm in your testimony; whether you are able to do so or not is crucial. It is the test of whether you are practicing the truth, and it reveals whether you have true faith or not. For example, what would your attitude be if God arranges a situation, and you see He intends to take away the person you love and care about the most, or the things you hold most dear? It’s not like simply saying, “Oh God, everything You do is good. I thank and praise You,” means you can pass the test. When you see the person you love the most breathing their last breath, your heart will be in agony and turmoil, and you say, “I cannot live if they die. I’ll die with them, as I cannot be without them! If they die, I won’t believe in God anymore.” In this case, you do not have the truth reality, and have been completely revealed. Do you have genuine faith? Your loved one died and you cannot live; you don’t even want God. Your loved one died and you don’t even submit to God. This proves that what you love and submit to is man. Haven’t you been revealed by this? You are fundamentally not someone who submits to God, let alone loves Him. Your normal fellowshipping with others must be full of empty talk and doctrine, not practical, heartfelt words. Whether the doctrines you speak and the slogans you shout stem from your faith and are your true understanding will be revealed when you are tested. It turns out that you are a false believer, an imposter, and a disbeliever. You only pay lip service to your belief in God; His words have not taken root in your heart. The most frightful form of belief in God is when a person understands all the doctrines, but doesn’t have the slightest bit of genuine faith in God. How can genuine faith be verified? Principally, by seeing if someone can accept the truth and put it into practice when things happen to them. If they have never accepted the truth, nor put it into practice, then actually they’ve already been revealed, and there’s no need to wait for a test to reveal them. When things happen to someone in day-to-day life, you can see clearly whether they have the truth reality. There are many people who do not usually pursue the truth, and do not put the truth into practice when things happen to them. Do people like this need to wait for a trial to reveal them? Not at all. After a while, if they remain unchanged, it means they’ve already been revealed. If they are pruned, but still don’t accept the truth and remain steadfastly unrepentant, then they have been revealed all the more, and should be cleared out and eliminated. Those who do not usually focus on accepting the truth or putting it into practice are all disbelievers, and must not be entrusted with any work, or assume any responsibility. Can someone without the truth stand firm? Is it important to put the truth into practice? Just look at those people who have never practiced the truth—it won’t take many years for them all to be revealed. They have no experiential testimony at all. How impoverished and pitiful they are, and how embarrassed they must feel!

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