Chapter 74. Only Being Truly Obedient Is a Real Belief
Have a think about the most basic issue of what is meant by “belief in God.” Can this issue be considered an issue to you? In theory, it should not be an issue. But practically, is it an issue? Can you explain it? (No.) Why not? (We don’t normally think about it.) So if you don’t normally think about it, what do you do every day? What have you been doing these past few years? Is belief in God at the end of the day a faith, or is it a kind of direction for people’s lives, a kind of objective in people’s lives? In your heart, what exactly are the criteria for belief in God? Why do you believe in God? That is, what are your convictions? What is the basis, the foundation of your belief in God? What do you use for motivation? Said simply, do you have any aim in believing in God? Any intention? This is a fundamental issue and is the most basic issue. (To receive blessings.) Everyone has the intention to receive blessings from the very beginning. This is something that is sought for and yearned for in thought and in spirit when people first start believing in God. But when they come into contact with God’s word, the truth, and these realities after believing in God, that viewpoint changes, doesn’t it? So in what areas is that change in viewpoint implemented? Why do you believe in God? Everyone discuss this, fellowship about it. Then you will be clear about exactly how much of a part you feel the matter of believing in God plays in your hearts and exactly how much understanding you have of it. Don’t you think this matter is easy to talk about? How do you normally think of this matter? The first issues you should think about when you get up every day are: Why do I believe in God? What is my aim in believing in God? Is it pure? Or: What is my motivation for believing in God? What were the aims, desires and aspirations I wanted to achieve when I first believed in God? (When I first believed in God, I had an intention to receive blessings. Afterward, I experienced some of God’s judgment and chastisement and some of my nature was revealed, and I came to see the viewpoint of seeking within myself. At that time I really felt how deeply I had been corrupted by Satan. Then I had a thirst to seek to be someone with conscience and reason, who could genuinely stand before God as a created being and follow Him. I underwent this small transformation.) How did this transformation come about? (I experienced some judgment and chastisement through God’s word and some facts were revealed to me. Afterward, I had some insight into my own nature and my heart gave rise to this thirst.) What does this thirst bring to you? Can it bring to you some positive things? (It made me want to seek the truth, and made me feel that the truth is very valuable and important to us living our lives and conducting ourselves.)
Right from the start, people’s belief in God can be simply the wish to obtain grace, to ask for bread to eat their fill, and the wish to receive blessings and benefits—such simple thinking, selfish motives, and desires. They wish to satisfy all these various requirements and desires of the spirit and the flesh. From this foundation up until now people understand that the significance of belief in God does not stop here but goes further, and a great change has happened in them. The significance of belief in God for them, and their viewpoint, their intention and their motivation in their belief in God have all undergone a great change. And how is this change attained? This change does not come from spending a lot of time on it, or from meeting each day as it comes, much less does it come from someone imposing it upon you. Neither does it come from the edification or influence of any creed of religion or Christianity, much less from you wholeheartedly doing good deeds all day long so that Heaven is moved, then stirs you to change into someone comparatively better, into someone with a relatively more human likeness. These things are all empty. The thing that is most real is that, under the guidance of God’s word, and being watered and shepherded by the truth, people come to understand the truth, understand God’s will, and this makes them unknowingly undergo a great change within themselves. How is this change attained? It is attained one drop at a time from God’s work and from His word. So what do all these changes relate to? They relate to the greatest matter, which is the significance of man’s belief in God, the final significance of belief in God. Actually, everyone’s requirements are not high: They are to obtain grace, pray for peace. And then they transform into wishing to be good people, not bad people. So exactly what issue do all these things touch upon? They touch upon the greatest issue, which is the work God wants to do—God wants to save people. But by what means does He want to save people? People will be saved through them understanding the truth and understanding God’s words. So, in the final analysis now, what exactly is the significance of belief in God? (It is to be saved.) The significance of belief in God is to be saved, so what does being saved mean? “Being saved,” “breaking away from the dark influence of Satan”—people talk about these topics often, but they don’t know what being saved means. What does being saved mean? This relates to God’s will. To be saved, speaking in the vernacular, means you can keep on living, and that you are brought back to life. So before that, are you dead? You can speak, and you can breathe, so how can you be said to be dead? (The spirit is dead.) Why is it said that people are dead if their spirit is dead? What is the basis for this saying? Before being saved, where are they? (Under the domain of Satan.) People live under Satan’s influence. What do they rely on to live? (Satan’s philosophies and poisons.) They rely on their satanic nature and corrupt nature to live. When a person lives by these things, their whole being—their flesh, and all other aspects such as their soul and their thought—are they alive or dead? From God’s point of view, they are dead. On the surface, you appear to be breathing and thinking, but everything you are constantly thinking about is evil; you think about things that are in defiance of God and in rebellion against God, things that God detests, hates, and condemns. In God’s eyes, all these things not only belong to the flesh, but also entirely belong to Satan and to devils. So what are people in God’s eyes? Are they humans? No, they aren’t. God sees them as devils, as animals, and as Satans, living Satans! People live by the things and the essence of Satan, and in God’s eyes, they are living Satans wearing human flesh. God defines such people as walking corpses; as dead people. God does His current work of salvation to take such people—these walking corpses who live by their corrupt satanic disposition and by their corrupt satanic essence—He takes these so-called dead people and turns them into the living. This is what it means to be saved.
The point of believing in God is to attain salvation. Being saved means that you turn from a dead person into a living person. The implication of this is that your breath is revived, and you are alive; you are able to know God, and you are able to bow down to worship Him. In your heart you have no further resistance against God; you no longer defy Him, attack Him, or rebel against Him. Only people like these are genuinely alive in God’s eyes. If someone just says they acknowledge God and believes in their hearts that there is a God, are they then one of the living or not? (No, they aren’t.) So what kind of people are the living? What sort of reality do the living possess? At the very least, the living can speak human language. What is that? It means the words they utter involve ideas, thoughts, and discernment. What things do the living frequently think about and do? They are able to engage in human activities, and fulfill their duties. What is the nature of what they do and say? It is that everything they reveal, everything they think, and everything they do is done with the nature of fearing God and shunning evil. To put it more aptly, your every deed and every thought are not condemned by God or detested and rejected by God; rather, they are approved and commended by God. This is what the living do, and is also what the living should do. So what kind of belief do people have that can mean they are truly saved? How can people have this kind of true belief? Write this question down and think about it.
We’re still talking about “belief.” Is there any difference between conviction, faith and the true belief? (Yes.) There is definitely a difference between them, but if you can’t tell what the details of the difference are, and you have a kind of conviction, a kind of vague conviction, then you will think that it is the true belief in God. All you have is some kind of faith, yet you think it is the true belief in God. Then you will have no true belief in God, but instead you use your faith, your conviction as a substitute. If your belief in God is only some kind of conviction, a kind of faith, then you will never be able to come before God and God will not commend you on this kind of belief. Let’s first talk about the difference between conviction, faith and the true belief. What is conviction? What thoughts can be summed up as conviction? You only talk conceptually about conviction, and most of you don’t know the details, yet you still always talk about it this way. Though you talk about it this way all the time, you don’t know the particulars. If you don’t know what they are about, then you cannot move on from being that way and you cannot avoid this issue. Conviction and faith are a little hard to explain. We don’t often talk about this issue. Let’s first talk about the true belief; this should be easy to explain. What is meant by “the true belief in God”? (Believing that all things and all events are dominated by God.) What is this? Is this the true belief or a conviction? (It’s a conviction.) (The true belief in God is experiencing God’s work on the foundation of one’s belief in His words; it is not denying God when one is tested. No matter how God tests you or refines you, you don’t walk away from God.) This is one aspect of practice. (The true belief in God is to be established on the foundation of knowing God. Only when people have knowledge of God can they have this belief, and this belief contains inner qualities.) This is verging slightly on the main point. How can one have the true belief? What expressions show that one has the true belief? With the true belief, can you have any misunderstandings about God? Any complaints? Any opposition? With the true belief, can man rebel against God? With the true belief, can man rely on their own will to do things, rely on their own will and good intentions to be considerate toward God’s will, rely on their own will to do good deeds? Let’s place these three concepts to one side for now.
Do you all know Peter? What did Peter do that is rather well-known? Before he was saved and perfected, what did he do that everyone knows about? (He thrice denied the Lord.) Before he thrice denied the Lord, what else did he do? (He tried to be an obstruction when the Lord Jesus was about to be crucified.) When the Lord Jesus was about to be crucified, what did Peter say? (“Be it far from you, Lord: this shall not be to you” (Mat 16: 22).) Did Peter have the true belief when he said these things? (No.) What is this called? This is man’s good intention, and this is called interrupting. Where did his good intention come from? (His own will.) Why was he able to manifest this kind of self-will? He had a point of view. What point of view? He didn’t understand God’s will, didn’t understand what ministry the Lord Jesus had come to do. His understanding of the Lord Jesus was limited to a kind of good intention and protection. It was “a little bit of affection” and “a little bit of protection” that people would say, which was, “This absolutely cannot befall You! You must not go to suffer that pain! If someone has to suffer it then let me suffer it. I will suffer it in Your place.” He didn’t know God’s will, and he came up with some good intention from his own will, wishing to prevent this event from happening. So how can we describe his way of doing things? What brought it about? Firstly, it was brought about by his hot blood, his will and his not understanding. Secondly, did he have a true belief in God? (No.) If he didn’t have the true belief in God, how could he have this good intention? Did his good intention come from the truth? Was it a kind of good deed? (No.) Then at the very least he was good-willed, and he was well-intentioned and he showed his sincerity, right? (Yes.) So what was the nature of his way of doing things? Was it a kind of behavior, a way of doing things that arose from the true belief? (No.) You see it clearly now; it absolutely wasn’t. Was it a kind of conviction? What is a conviction? Discuss about it using this matter—what is meant by “conviction”? (It means ideas that come from man himself.) (Conceptual things.) It is one’s own concepts, imagination and will. It is having a kind of good yearning, good desires; it is the things that people think of as good, positive and active, it is something that is to people’s taste, that conforms to people’s concepts and to people’s sentiments; it is a kind of good will, a kind of good thinking, a good way of doing things, a kind of good motivation—this is what is meant by “conviction.” It is not the true belief; this is 100 percent certain.
Moses was in the wilderness for 40 years. During that time, God did not speak to him, nor supply him with truth, and Moses possessed no book of God’s words, and no one went to him to give fellowship—he just dwelt in the wilderness alone until, finally, he attained true faith. So why did God do this to Moses? God did this because He had a commission for Moses to fulfill, because He wanted to use him for a great purpose, because God had work to do on Moses, and that is why God tempered Moses in such a way. Before he departed from Egypt, Moses was hot-blooded, so much so that he struck a man with a stone, and so God made it so that Moses went out into the wilderness, so that his will and hot-bloodedness, as well as his good intentions, enthusiasm, high-spiritedness, and his heroic mettle to protect the interests of his people might be tempered. This all pertained to the will, the hot-bloodedness and the naturalness of man, and God wished to temper these things in Moses. If you are hot-blooded, if you always want to act on your naturalness and on your high-spiritedness, if you always wish to resolve issues using the ways of man, then you do not have true faith in God, and you do not rely on God and believe in His sovereignty with true faith, and so it is difficult for God to use you, and God can achieve nothing with you. When God wishes to use someone, He will perfect their faith, make them understand the truth and understand His will, make them able to obey Him truly and completely, devoid of any adulteration, and without any of the so-called heroism, high-spiritedness, great aspirations and lofty sentiments of man, nor any of the good intentions and enthusiasm of man, all of which passes for conviction. When someone is without these things, they are then able to truly obey God, and they no longer speak and act based on their imaginings or what they take to be good. And when they come again before God, has their true faith in God not grown? What constitutes true faith in God? Can a person with true faith in God still give God counsel and make suggestions to Him, saying, “God, by doing this, Your deeds are at odds with the notions of man; God, by doing that, it is hard for people to accept and You must do it this way; God, what You have said here is wrong, Your tone is wrong, Your method is wrong, this word is wrong…”? All these things are worn away. They can truly obey God, they develop a sense of reason and they have reverence for God.
God enjoined Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt—this was the commission He gave to Moses. And how did Moses respond? He prostrated himself flat on the ground before God, he chose nothing for himself and he said nothing about any difficulty he might encounter; whatever God asked him to do, he would do it with all haste. To act with all haste is not to act carelessly, and there was something in his heart that took over. What was it that made him accept the commission God entrusted him with though feeling incapable of doing anything? He had so much experience of how God rules over all occurrences and all things, and his 40 years of experience in the wilderness enabled him to understand that God’s sovereignty is omnipotent. And so, without saying another word, he went off to fulfill God’s commission. What did this demonstrate? This demonstrated that Moses possessed true faith and was able to truly rely on God and obey God. Moses did not become fainthearted, he chose nothing for himself, and he did not refuse God. Instead, he trusted in God and he went forth filled with faith, bearing the task that God had entrusted to him. This is what Moses believed: “If God has entrusted me with a task, then it will all be accomplished as He said. If He asks me to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, then I shall lead them, and since it is God who has entrusted me with this task, it shall be God who leads them, not man. Man merely cooperates with God.” This was the insight Moses had. If he had been fainthearted, he would have said, “I won’t do it. You’ve entrusted me with this task but I’m just not up to it! The Pharaoh of Egypt is so powerful, and I have no army, so how could I possibly lead the Israelites out of Egypt? Would they even listen to me?” These words constitute refusal, resistance and rebellion; they demonstrate no belief in God, and this is not true faith. The situation at that time was unfavorable for the Israelites and for Moses, and no one thought it possible that the Israelites could be led out of Egypt, for there was a sea to cross, which would have been a nigh impossible task. Could Moses have been unaware of just how difficult it was going to be to accomplish this task? He knew exactly, but all he said was that he was not an eloquent speaker and that no one would listen to him. God told him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, however, and so he prostrated himself on the ground and accepted the task. What store of experience did he have to enable him to carry out this commission so filled with faith, without the slightest doubt, and which enabled him to obey to such a degree? Tell Me, during his experience of dwelling 40 years in the wilderness, was Moses able to understand that nothing is impossible with God, and that mankind is held within God’s hands? Of course he was! This was the truest understanding. Therefore, after he had listened to the task God had entrusted to him, his first impression would surely have been: With God, nothing is impossible, and if God says it can be done then it shall surely be done; since God has entrusted me with such a task then God will do it, and it is God who shall do it, not any man. When people want to do something, they must first analyze the situation and make preparations: They must consider the amount of provisions and fodder to prepare, how many weapons to prepare, how many men to prepare, and then decide whether to proceed with some strategy or rely on sheer strength of numbers. People have to make such plans, but does God need any of these things? Every single creation—no matter how powerful, no matter how capable, no matter how fierce—is in God’s hands. Such was the kind of faith, understanding and experience that Moses possessed, and so his heart was free from fear and worry. In this way, Moses’ faith in God became much more true, and his true faith in God became much more direct, simple and pure.
Man’s corrupt disposition hides within their every thought and idea, within the motives behind their every action; it hides in every viewpoint man has about anything and within every opinion, understanding, viewpoint and desire they have in their approach to all God does. It is concealed within. And what does God do? How does God approach these things of man? He arranges environments to expose you. He will not only expose you, but He will also judge you. When you reveal your corrupt disposition, when you have thoughts and ideas that defy God, when you have states and viewpoints that contend with God, when you have states whereby you misunderstand God, or resist and oppose Him, God will rebuke you, judge you and chastise you, and He will sometimes even punish you and discipline you. What is the purpose of disciplining you? It is to let you understand what you have done is wrong. “What I considered were the notions of man, and they were wrong. My intention came from Satan, from man’s will, and it did not represent God. It was incompatible with God and could not meet God’s will. God detests it, hates it, and it makes Him angry, so much so that He curses it. I must change my intention.” How can you change it? First of all, you must be obedient to the way God treats you, and to the environments, people, events and things He arranges for you. You must be obedient and not find fault in everything, don’t look for objective reasons and don’t shirk your responsibilities. Besides this, you need to seek within the thing God is doing what truths you should practice and enter into. This is what God wants you to understand. He wants you to recognize your corrupt dispositions and satanic essence, for you to be able to be obedient toward the environments God arranges for you and, ultimately, for you to be able to practice what He requires of you in accordance with His will, and to be able to meet His will. Then you will have passed the ordeal.