Daily Words of God: Entry Into Life | Excerpt 388
What Peter sought was to come to know himself and see what had been revealed in him through the refinement ofand within the various trials that God provided for him. When he truly came to understand himself, Peter realized just how deeply corrupt humans are, how worthless and unworthy of serving God they are, and that they do not deserve to live before Him. Peter then fell prostrate before God. Ultimately, he thought, “Knowing God is the most precious thing! If I died before knowing Him, it would be such a pity; I feel that knowing God is the most important, most meaningful thing there is. If man does not know God, then he does not deserve to live and has no life.” By the time Peter’s experience had reached this point, he had grown fairly knowledgeable with regard to his own nature and gained a relatively good understanding of it. Although he perhaps would not have been able to thoroughly explain it in terms that would accord with what people nowadays imagine, Peter had indeed reached this state. Therefore, the path of pursuing life and attaining perfection by God involves gaining a deeper understanding of one’s own nature from within God’s utterances, as well as comprehending the aspects of one’s nature and accurately describing it in words. To thoroughly understand one’s old life—the life of that old satanic nature—means to have achieved the results that God requires. If your knowledge has not yet reached this point, but you claim to know yourself and say that you have gained life, then are you not simply bragging? You do not know yourself, nor do you know what you are in front of God, whether you have truly met the standards of being human, or how many satanic elements you still have within you. You are still unclear about who you belong to, and you do not even have any self-knowledge—so how can you possess reason in front of God? When Peter was pursuing life, he focused on understanding himself and transforming his disposition over the course of his trials, and he strove to know God, and in the end, he thought, “People must seek an understanding of God in life; knowing Him is the most critical thing. If I do not know God, then I cannot rest in peace when I die. Once I know Him, if God then has me die, then I will still feel most gratified to do so; I will not complain in the slightest, and my entire life will have been fulfilled.” Peter was not able to gain this level of understanding or reach this point immediately after he had begun to believe in God; he first had to undergo a great many trials. His experience had to reach a certain milestone, and he had to completely understand himself, before he could sense the value of knowing God. Therefore, the path Peter took was one of gaining life and of being perfected; this was the aspect upon which his specific practice was primarily focused.
What path are you all walking now? If it is not on the same level as Peter’s in terms of seeking life, understanding yourself, and knowing God, then you are not walking the path of Peter. These days, most people are in this sort of state: “In order to gain blessings, I must expend myself for God and pay a price for Him. In order to gain blessings, I must abandon everything for God; I must complete what He has entrusted me with, and perform my duty well.” This is dominated by the intention to gain blessings, which is an example of expending oneself entirely for the purpose of obtaining rewards from God and gaining a crown. Such people do not have the truth in their hearts, and surely their understanding merely consists of a few words of doctrine which they show off everywhere they go. Theirs is the path of Paul. The faith of such people is an act of constant toil, and deep down they feel that the more they do, the more it will prove their loyalty to God; that the more they do, the more He will certainly be satisfied; and that the more they do, the more they will deserve to be granted a crown before God, and will certainly receive the greatest blessings in His house. They think that if they can endure suffering, preach, and die for Christ, if they can sacrifice their own lives, and if they can complete all of the duties with which God has entrusted them, then they will be among God’s most blessed—those who gain the greatest blessings—and will then be certain to be granted crowns. This is precisely what Paul imagined and what he sought; it is the exact path that he walked, and it was under the guidance of such thoughts that he worked to serve God. Do those thoughts and intentions not originate from a satanic nature? It is just like worldly humans, who believe that while on earth they must pursue knowledge, and that only after obtaining it can they stand out from the crowd, become officials, and have status; they think that once they have status, they can realize their ambitions and bring their homes and businesses up to certain levels. Do not all unbelievers walk this path? Those who are dominated by this satanic nature can only be like Paul in their faith: “I must cast off everything to expend myself for God; I must be faithful before Him, and eventually, I will receive the most magnificent crown and the greatest blessings.” This is the same attitude as that of worldly people who pursue worldly things; they are no different at all, and are subject to the same nature. When people have this sort of satanic nature, out in the world, they will seek to obtain knowledge, status, learning, and to stand out from the crowd; in God’s house, they will seek to expend themselves for God, be faithful, and eventually to obtain crowns and great blessings. If, after becoming believers in God, people do not possess the truth and have not undergone a change in their dispositions, then this is certainly the path they will be on. This is a reality that no one can deny, and it is a path that is diametrically opposed to that of Peter. Which path are you all currently on? Though you may not have planned to take the path of Paul, your nature has ruled that you walk this way, and you are going in that direction in spite of yourself. Though you want to set foot upon the path of Peter, if you are not clear on how to do that, then you will take the path of Paul involuntarily: This is the reality of the situation.
How exactly should one walk the path of Peter these days? If you are unable to distinguish between the paths of Peter and Paul, or if you are not at all familiar with them, then no matter how much you claim to be walking Peter’s path, those are just empty words. You need to first have a clear idea of what the path of Peter is and what the path of Paul is. If you truly understand that Peter’s path is the path of life, and the only path to perfection, only then will you be capable of knowing and grasping the truths and specific ways of taking his path. If you do not understand Peter’s path, then the path you take will definitely be that of Paul, for there will be no other path for you; you will have no choice. People who do not possess the truth and have no resolve will find it difficult to walk the path of Peter. It can be said that God has now revealed to you the path to salvation and perfection. This is God’s grace and elevation, and it is He who guides you onto the path of Peter. Without God’s guidance and enlightenment, no one would be able to take Peter’s path; the only choice would be to go down the path of Paul, following in Paul’s footsteps to destruction. Back then, Paul did not feel it was wrong to walk down that path; he fully believed that it was correct. He did not possess the truth, and he especially did not undergo a change in disposition. He believed too much in himself, and felt that there was not the slightest issue with going that way. He continued onward, full of confidence and with the utmost self-assurance. By the end, he never came to his senses; he still thought that to him to live was Christ. As such, Paul continued down that path to the very end, and by the time he was ultimately punished, it was all over for him. Paul’s path did not involve coming to know himself, much less seeking a change in disposition. He never analyzed his own nature, nor did he gain any knowledge of what he was; he simply knew that he was the chief culprit in the persecution of Jesus. He had not had the slightest understanding of his own nature, and after finishing his work, Paul actually felt that he was Christ and should be rewarded. The work that Paul did was merely service rendered for God. For Paul personally, though he received some revelations from the Holy Spirit, he had no truth or life at all. He was not saved by God; he was punished by God. Why is it said that Peter’s path is the path to perfection? It is because, in Peter’s practice, he placed particular emphasis on life, on seeking to know God, and on knowing himself. Through his experience of God’s work, he came to know himself, gained an understanding of man’s corrupt states, learned of his own shortcomings, and discovered the most valuable thing that people should pursue. He was able to sincerely love God, he learned how to repay God, he gained some truth, and he possessed the reality that God requires. From all the things that Peter said during his trials, it can be seen that he was indeed the one with the most understanding of God. Because he came to understand so much truth from God’s words, his path grew brighter and brighter, and more and more in alignment with God’s will. If Peter had not possessed this truth, then the path he took could not have been so correct.
—The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. How to Walk the Path of Peter