God Himself, the Unique V
God’s Holiness (II) Part Four
5. How Satan Uses Social Trends to Corrupt Man
When did social trends come into existence? Did they only come into being in the present day? One could say that social trends came to be when Satan started corrupting people. What do social trends include? (Styles of clothing and makeup.) These are things that people often come into contact with. Styles of clothing, fashion, and trends—these things make up one small aspect. Is there anything else? Do the popular phrases that people often come out with count too? Do the lifestyles that people desire count? Do the music stars, celebrities, magazines, and novels that people like count? (Yes.) In your minds, which aspect of social trends is able to corrupt man? Which of these trends is most alluring to you? Some people say: “We’ve all reached a certain age, we are in our fifties or sixties, our seventies or eighties, and we can’t fit in with these trends anymore and they don’t really hold our attention.” Is this correct? Others say: “We don’t follow celebrities, that’s something youngsters in their twenties do; we also don’t wear fashionable clothes, that’s something image-conscious people do.” So which of these is able to corrupt you? (Popular sayings.) Can these sayings corrupt people? I will give an example, and you can see whether or not it corrupts people: “Money makes the world go round”; is this a trend? Compared to the fashion and gourmet trends you mentioned, is this not much worse? “Money makes the world go round” is a philosophy of Satan, and it prevails among the whole of mankind, in every human society. You could say that it is a trend because it has been instilled in the heart of every single person. From the very beginning, people did not accept this saying, but then they gave it tacit acceptance when they came into contact with real life, and began to feel that these words were in fact true. Is this not a process of Satan corrupting man? Perhaps people do not understand this saying to the same degree, but everyone has different degrees of interpretation and acknowledgment of this saying based on things that have happened around them and on their own personal experiences. Is that not the case? Regardless of how much experience someone has with this saying, what is the negative effect that it can have on someone’s heart? Something is revealed through the human disposition of the people in this world, including each and every one of you. How is this thing that is revealed to be interpreted? It is the worship of money. Is it hard to remove this from someone’s heart? It is very hard! It seems that Satan’s corruption of man is deep indeed! So after Satan uses this trend to corrupt people, how is it manifested in them? Do you feel that you could not survive in this world without any money, that even one day without money would be impossible? People’s status is based on how much money they have, as is the respect they command. The backs of the poor are bent in shame, while the rich enjoy their high status. They stand tall and proud, speaking loudly and living arrogantly. What does this saying and trend bring to people? Is it not true that many people make any sacrifice in the pursuit of money? Do many people not lose their dignity and integrity in the pursuit of more money? Moreover, do many people not lose the opportunity to perform their duty and follow God for the sake of money? Is this not a loss for people? (Yes.) Is Satan not sinister to use this method and this saying to corrupt man to such a degree? Is this not a malicious trick? As you progress from objecting to this popular saying to finally accepting it as truth, your heart falls completely into Satan’s grasp, and therefore you inadvertently come to live by the saying. To what degree has this saying affected you? You might know the true way, and you might know the truth, but you are powerless to pursue it. You may clearly know that God’s words are the truth, but you are unwilling to pay the price or to suffer in order to gain the truth. Instead, you would rather sacrifice your own future and destiny to resist God to the very end. No matter what God says, no matter what God does, no matter whether you understand how deep and how great God’s love for you is, you would stubbornly insist on having your own way and pay the price for this saying. That is to say, this saying already controls your behavior and your thoughts, and you would rather have your fate controlled by it than give it all up. Does not the fact that people act in this way, that they are controlled by this saying and manipulated by it, illustrate that Satan’s corrupting of man is effective? Is this not the philosophy and corrupt disposition of Satan taking root in your heart? If you do this, has Satan not achieved its goal? (Yes.) Do you see how Satan has corrupted man in this way? Can you feel it? (No.) You have neither seen it nor felt it. Do you see Satan’s evil here? Satan corrupts man at all times and in all places. Satan makes it impossible for man to defend against this corruption and makes man helpless against it. Satan makes you accept its thoughts, its viewpoints and the evil things that come from it in situations where you are unknowing and when you have no recognition of what is happening to you. People accept these things and take no exception to them. They cherish and hold on to these things like a treasure, they let these things manipulate them and toy with them; this is how Satan’s corruption of man grows ever deeper.
Satan uses these several methods to corrupt man. Man has knowledge and an understanding of some scientific principles, man lives under the influence of traditional culture, and every human is an inheritor and transmitter of traditional culture. Man is bound to carry on the traditional culture given to him by Satan, and man also conforms with the social trends Satan provides to mankind. Man is inseparable from Satan, conforming with all that Satan does at all times, accepting its evil, deceit, malice and arrogance. Once man came to possess these dispositions of Satan, has he been happy or sorrowful living among this corrupt mankind? (Sorrowful.) Why do you say that? (Because man is tied down and controlled by these corrupt things, he lives in sin and is engulfed in an arduous struggle.) Some people wear spectacles, appearing to be very intellectual; they might speak very respectably, with eloquence and reason, and because they have gone through many things, they might be very experienced and sophisticated. They might be able to speak in detail about matters great and small; they might also be able to assess the authenticity and reason of things. Some might look at the behavior and appearance of these people, as well as their character, humanity, conduct, and so on, and find no fault with them. Such people are particularly able to adapt to current social trends. Even though these people might be older, they never fall behind the trends of the times and are never too old to learn. On the surface, no one can find fault with such a person, yet inside they are utterly and completely corrupted by Satan. Though no external fault can be found with these people, though on the surface they are gentle, refined, and possess knowledge and a certain morality, and they have integrity, and though in terms of knowledge they are in no way inferior to young people, yet in regard to their nature and substance, such people are a full and living model of Satan; they are the spitting image of Satan. This is the “fruit” of Satan’s corruption of man. What I have said may be hurtful to you, but it is all true. The knowledge man studies, the science he understands, and the means he chooses by which he fits in with social trends are without exception tools of Satan’s corruption of man. This is absolutely true. Therefore, man lives within a disposition that is completely corrupted by Satan, and man has no way of knowing what God’s holiness is or what God’s substance is. This is because on the surface one cannot find fault with the ways Satan corrupts man; one cannot tell from someone’s behavior that anything is amiss. Everyone goes about their work normally and lives normal lives; they read books and newspapers normally, they study and speak normally. Some people have learned a few ethics and are good at talking, are understanding and friendly, are helpful and charitable, and do not pick petty quarrels or take advantage of people. However, their corrupt satanic disposition is rooted deep within them and this substance cannot be changed by relying on external effort. Because of this substance, man is not able to know God’s holiness, and despite the substance of God’s holiness being disclosed to man, man does not take it seriously. This is because Satan has, through various means, already come to completely possess man’s feelings, ideas, viewpoints and thoughts. This possession and corruption is not temporary or occasional, but is present everywhere and at all times. Thus, a great many people who have believed in God for three or four years, or even five or six, still take these evil thoughts, views, logic, and philosophies that Satan has instilled in them as treasures, and are unable to let go of them. Because man has accepted the evil, arrogant and malicious things that come from the nature of Satan, inevitably in man’s interpersonal relationships there are often conflicts, arguments and incompatibility, which come about as a result of Satan’s arrogant nature. If Satan had given mankind positive things—for example, if the Confucianism and Taoism of traditional culture that man has accepted were good things—similar types of people should be able to get along with one another after accepting those things. So why is there such a great divide between people who have accepted the same things? Why is that? It is because these things come from Satan and Satan creates division among people. The things from Satan, no matter how dignified or great they appear on the surface, bring to man and bring out in man’s life only arrogance, and nothing more than the deceit of Satan’s evil nature. Is that not so? Someone who is able to disguise themselves, who possesses a wealth of knowledge or who has a good upbringing would still have a hard time concealing their corrupt satanic disposition. That is to say, no matter how many ways this person cloaked themselves, whether you thought of them as a saint, or if you thought they were perfect, or if you thought they were an angel, no matter how pure you thought they were, what is their real life like behind the scenes? What substance would you see in the revelation of their disposition? Without a doubt you would see the evil nature of Satan. Is it admissible to say that? (Yes.) For example, suppose you know someone close to you who you thought of as a good person, perhaps someone you idolized. With your current stature, what do you think of them? First, you evaluate whether or not this type of person has humanity, whether they are honest, whether they have true love for people, whether their words and actions benefit and help others. (They do not.) What is the so-called kindness, love or goodness that these people reveal? It is all false, it is all a facade. Behind this facade there is an ulterior evil purpose: to make that person adored and idolized. Do you see this clearly? (Yes.)
What do the methods Satan uses to corrupt people bring to mankind? Do they bring anything positive? Firstly, can man differentiate between good and evil? Would you say that in this world, whether it be some famous or great person, or some magazine or other publication, are the standards they use to judge whether something is good or evil, and right or wrong, accurate? Are their assessments of events and people fair? Do they contain truth? Does this world, this humanity, assess positive and negative things based on the standard of truth? (No.) Why do people not have that ability? People have studied so much knowledge and know so much about science, so they are possessed of great abilities, are they not? So why are they incapable of differentiating between positive and negative things? Why is this? (Because people do not have truth; science and knowledge are not truth.) Everything that Satan brings to humanity is evil, corrupt and lacking in truth, life and the way. With the evil and corruption that Satan brings to man, can you say that Satan has love? Can you say that man has love? Some people might say: “You’re wrong; there are many people around the world who help the poor or homeless. Aren’t those good people? There are also charitable organizations that do good work; isn’t the work they do good work?” What would you say to that? Satan uses many different methods and theories to corrupt man; is this corruption of man a vague concept? No, it is not vague. Satan also does some practical things, and it also promotes a viewpoint or a theory in this world and in society. In every dynasty and in every epoch, it promotes a theory and instills thoughts into the minds of man. These thoughts and theories gradually take root in people’s hearts, and then they begin to live by them. Once they start to live by these things, do they not unwittingly become Satan? Do people not then become one with Satan? When people have become one with Satan, what is their attitude toward God in the end? Is it not the same attitude that Satan has toward God? No one dares to admit this, do they? How horrifying! Why do I say that Satan’s nature is evil? I do not say this groundlessly; rather, Satan’s nature is determined and analyzed based on what it has done and the things it has revealed. If I just said Satan was evil, what would you think? You would think: “Obviously Satan is evil.” So I ask you: “Which aspects of Satan are evil?” If you say: “Satan’s resistance toward God is evil,” you still would not be speaking with clarity. Now that I have spoken about the specifics in this way, do you have an understanding about the specific content of the substance of Satan’s evil? (Yes.) If you are able to see clearly Satan’s evil nature, then you will see your own conditions. Is there any relationship between these two things? Is this helpful to you or not? (It is.) When I fellowship about the substance of God’s holiness, is it necessary that I fellowship about the evil substance of Satan? What is your opinion about this? (Yes, it is necessary.) Why? (Satan’s evil sets God’s holiness in relief.) Is that how it is? This is partially correct, in the sense that without Satan’s evil, people would not know that God is holy; it is right to say this. However, if you say that God’s holiness only exists due to its contrast with Satan’s evil, is this right? This dialectical way of thinking is wrong. God’s holiness is the inherent substance of God; even when God reveals it through His deeds, this is still a natural expression of God’s substance and it is still God’s inherent substance; it has always existed and is intrinsic and innate to God Himself, though man cannot see it. This is because man lives amidst the corrupt disposition of Satan and under Satan’s influence, and they do not know about holiness, much less about the specific content of God’s holiness. So, is it essential that we fellowship first about Satan’s evil substance? (Yes, it is.) Some people may express some doubt: “You are fellowshiping about God Himself, so why are You always talking about how Satan corrupts people and how Satan’s nature is evil?” Now you have put these doubts to rest, haven’t you? When people have discernment of Satan’s evil and when they have an accurate definition of it, when people can clearly see the specific content and manifestation of evil, the source and substance of evil, only then, through discussion of God’s holiness, can people clearly realize or recognize what God’s holiness is, what holiness is. If I do not discuss the evil of Satan, some people will mistakenly believe that some things that people do in society and among people—or certain things that exist in this world—may bear some relation to holiness. Is this not a wrong viewpoint? (Yes, it is.)
Now that I have fellowshiped on Satan’s substance in this way, what sort of understanding of God’s holiness have you gained through your experiences in the past few years, from your reading the word of God and from experiencing His work? Go ahead and speak about it. You do not have to use words that are pleasing to the ear, but just speak from your own experiences. Does God’s holiness consist solely of His love? Is it merely God’s love that we describe as holiness? That would be too one-sided, would it not? Besides God’s love, are there other aspects of God’s substance? Have you seen them? (Yes. God detests festivals and holidays, customs and superstitions; this is also God’s holiness.) God is holy, so therefore He detests things, is that what you mean? When it comes down to it, what is God’s holiness? Is it that God’s holiness has no substantial content, only hate? In your minds are you thinking, “Because God hates these evil things, therefore one can say that God is holy”? Is this not speculation here? Is this not a form of extrapolation and judgment? What is the greatest misstep that absolutely must be avoided when it comes to our understanding God’s substance? (It is when we leave reality behind and instead speak of doctrines.) This is a very great misstep. Is there anything else? (Speculation and imagination.) These are also very serious missteps. Why are speculation and imagination not useful? Are things that you speculate about and imagine things you can truly see? Are they the true substance of God? (No.) What else must be avoided? Is it a misstep to just recite a string of pleasant words to describe God’s substance? (Yes.) Is this not grandiose and nonsensical? Judgment and speculation are nonsensical, as is the act of picking out pleasant words. Empty praise is also nonsensical, is it not? Does God enjoy listening to people talk this kind of nonsense? (No, He does not.) He feels uncomfortable when He hears it! When God guides and saves a group of people, after this group of people have heard His words, they nonetheless never understand what He means. Someone may ask: “Is God good?” and they would respond, “Yes!” “How good?” “So very good!” “Does God love man?” “Yes!” “How much? Can you describe it?” “So very much! God’s love is deeper than the sea, higher than the sky!” Are these words not nonsense? And is this nonsense not similar to what you just said: “God hates Satan’s corrupt disposition, and therefore God is holy”? (Yes.) Is what you just said not nonsense? And where do the majority of nonsensical things that are said come from? (Satan.) Nonsensical things that are said primarily come from people’s irresponsibility and irreverence to God. Could we say that? You did not have any understanding, and yet still you talked nonsense. Is that not irresponsible? Is that not disrespectful to God? You have learned some knowledge, understood some reasoning and logic, you have used these things and, furthermore, done so as a way to understand God. Do you think God feels upset when He hears you speak in that way? How can you try to know God using these methods? When you speak like that, does it not sound awkward? Therefore, when it comes to knowledge of God, one must be very cautious; speak only to the extent that you know God. Speak honestly and practically and do not adorn your words with bland compliments, and do not use flattery; God does not need it; this sort of thing comes from Satan. Satan’s disposition is arrogant; Satan likes to be flattered and to hear nice words. Satan will be pleased and happy if people recite all the pleasant words they have learned and use them for Satan. But God does not need this; God does not need adulation or flattery and He does not require that people speak nonsense and praise Him blindly. God abhors and will not even listen to praise and flattery that does not align with reality. So, when some people praise God insincerely, and blindly make vows and pray to Him, God does not listen at all. You must take responsibility for what you say. If you do not know something, just say so; if you do know something, express it in a practical way. So, as to what God’s holiness specifically and actually entails, do you have a true understanding of it? (When I expressed rebelliousness, when I committed transgressions, I received God’s judgment and chastisement, and therein I saw God’s holiness. And when I encountered environments that didn’t conform to my expectations, I prayed about these things and I sought God’s intentions, and as God enlightened and guided me with His words, I saw God’s holiness.) This is from your own experience. (From what God has said about it, I have seen what man has become after being corrupted and harmed by Satan. Nonetheless, God has given everything to save us and from this I see God’s holiness.) This is a realistic manner of speaking; it is true knowledge. Are there any different ways of understanding this? (I see Satan’s evil from the words it spoke to entice Eve into sinning and its temptation of the Lord Jesus. From the words with which God told Adam and Eve what they could and could not eat, I see that God speaks straightforwardly, cleanly, and trustworthily; from this I see God’s holiness.) Having heard the above remarks, whose words most inspire you to say “amen” to? Whose fellowship was closest to our fellowship topic today? Whose words were most realistic? How was the fellowship of the last sister? (Good.) You say “amen” to what she said. What did she say that was right on target? (In the words the sister just spoke, I heard that God’s word is straightforward and very clear, and that it is not at all like Satan’s beating around the bush. I saw God’s holiness in this.) This is part of it. Was it right? (Yes.) Very good. I see that you have gained something in these past two fellowships, but you must continue to work hard. The reason you must work hard is because understanding the substance of God is a very profound lesson; it is not something that one comes to understand overnight, or that one can express clearly with just a few words.
Every aspect of people’s corrupt satanic disposition, knowledge, philosophy, people’s thoughts and viewpoints, and certain personal aspects of individual people hinder them greatly from knowing God’s substance; so when you hear these topics, some of them may be beyond your reach; some you may not understand, while some you may fundamentally not be able to match up with reality. Regardless, I have heard about your understanding of God’s holiness and I know that in your hearts you are beginning to acknowledge what I have said and fellowshiped about God’s holiness. I know that in your hearts your desire to understand the substance of God’s holiness is starting to sprout. But what makes Me even happier is that some of you are already able to use the simplest words to describe your knowledge of God’s holiness. Even though this is a simple thing to say and I have said this before, yet in the hearts of the majority of you, you have yet to accept these words, and indeed they have made no impression in your minds. Nonetheless, some of you have committed these words to memory. This is very good and is a very promising start. I hope that you will continue to ponder and fellowship more and more on the topics that you think of as profound—or the topics that are beyond your reach. For those issues that are beyond your reach there will be someone to give you more guidance. If you engage in more fellowship regarding the areas that are within your reach now, the Holy Spirit will do His work and you will come to greater understanding. Understanding the substance of God and knowing the substance of God is of the utmost importance to people’s entry into life. I hope that you do not ignore this or see it as a game, because knowing God is the foundation of man’s faith and the key for man to pursue truth and attain salvation. If people believe in God yet do not know Him, if they only live in words and doctrines, it will never be possible for them to attain salvation, even if they act and live in accordance with the superficial meaning of the truth. That is to say, if you believe in God but do not know Him, then your faith is all for naught and contains nothing of reality. You understand, don’t you? (Yes, we understand.) Our fellowship will end here for today. (Thanks be to God!)