The peace and joy I speak of today are not the same as that which you believe in and understand. You used to think that peace and joy meant being happy all day long, the absence of disease or misfortune in your family, always being pleased in your heart without the slightest feeling of sorrow, and having an indescribable sense of joy regardless of the extent to which your life has developed. That was in addition to getting a raise and your son just getting into university. With these things in mind, you prayed to God and, seeing that God’s grace was so great, you became overjoyed, grinning from ear to ear, and could not stop thanking God. Such peace and joy is not the true peace and joy that comes with having the presence of the Holy Spirit. Rather, it is the peace and joy that results from satisfaction of the flesh. You should understand what age it is today; it is not the Age of Grace, and it is no longer the time when you seek to fill your belly with bread. You might be overjoyed because all goes well with your family, but your life is gasping its last breath—and thus, regardless of how great your joy, the Holy Spirit is not with you. Gaining the presence of the Holy Spirit is simple: do what you ought to properly, perform the duty and function of a human being well, and be able to equip yourself with the things you need to make up for your shortcomings. If you always have a burden for your own life and are happy because you have perceived a truth or understood God’s current work, this is truly having the presence of the Holy Spirit. Or, if you are at times seized by anxiety because you encounter an issue that you do not know how to undergo, or because you do not understand a truth that is fellowshiped, this proves that the Holy Spirit is with you. These are common states of life experience. You must understand the difference between having and lacking the presence of the Holy Spirit, and must not be overly simplistic in your view of this.
Previously, it was said that having the presence of the Holy Spirit and having the work of the Holy Spirit are different. The normal state of having the presence of the Holy Spirit is manifested in having normal thoughts, normal reason, and normal humanity. A person’s character will remain as it used to be, but within them there will be peace, and externally they will have the decorum of a saint. This is how they will be when the Holy Spirit is with them. When someone has the presence of the Holy Spirit, their thinking is normal. When they are hungry they want to eat, when they are thirsty they want to drink water. … Such manifestations of normal humanity are not the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit; they are people’s normal thinking and the normal state of having the presence of the Holy Spirit. Some people wrongly believe that those who have the presence of the Holy Spirit know no hunger, that they feel no tiredness, and they seem to give no thought to family, having almost completely divorced themselves from the flesh. In fact, the more the Holy Spirit is with people, the more normal they are. They know to suffer and give things up for God, expend themselves for God, and be loyal to God; moreover, they give thought to food and clothing. In other words, they have lost nothing of the normal humanity that people ought to have and are, instead, especially possessed of reason. Sometimes, they read the words of God and ponder the work of God; there is faith in their hearts and they are willing to pursue the truth. Naturally, the work of the Holy Spirit is based upon this foundation. If people are without normal thinking, then they have no reason—this is not a normal state. When people have normal thinking and the Holy Spirit is with them, they surely possess the reason of a normal person and, thus, they have a normal state. In experiencing God’s work, having the work of the Holy Spirit happens occasionally, whereas having the presence of the Holy Spirit is nearly constant. As long as people’s reason and thinking are normal, and as long as their states are normal, then the Holy Spirit is surely with them. When people’s reason and thinking are not normal, then their humanity is not normal. If, at this moment, the work of the Holy Spirit is in you, then the Holy Spirit will surely also be with you. But if the Holy Spirit is with you, it does not follow that the Holy Spirit is definitely working within you, for the Holy Spirit works at special times. Having the presence of the Holy Spirit can only maintain people’s normal existence, but the Holy Spirit only works at certain times. For example, if you are a leader or worker, when you water and provide sustenance for the church, the Holy Spirit will enlighten you to certain words that are edifying for others and can resolve some of your brothers’ and sisters’ practical problems—at such times, the Holy Spirit is working. Sometimes, when you are eating and drinking the words of God, the Holy Spirit enlightens you with certain words that are particularly relevant to your own experiences, allowing you to gain a greater knowledge of your own states; this is also the work of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes, as I speak, you listen and are able to measure your own states against My words, and sometimes you are touched or inspired; all of this is the work of the Holy Spirit. Some people say that the Holy Spirit is working in them at all times. This is impossible. If they were to say that the Holy Spirit is always with them, that would be realistic. If they were to say that their thinking and sense are normal at all times, that would also be realistic, and would show that the Holy Spirit is with them. If they say the Holy Spirit is always working within them, that they are enlightened by God and touched by the Holy Spirit at every moment, and gain new knowledge all the time, then this is by no means normal! It is entirely supernatural! Without a shadow of a doubt, such people are evil spirits! Even when the Spirit of God comes into the flesh, there are times when He must eat and must rest—to say nothing of humans. Those who have been possessed by evil spirits seem to be without the weakness of the flesh. They are able to forsake and give up everything, they are free of the emotion, capable of enduring torment and do not feel the slightest fatigue, as if they have transcended the flesh. Is this not extremely supernatural? The work of evil spirits is supernatural—no human could achieve such things! Those who lack discernment are envious when they see such people: They say they have such vigor in their belief in God, have great faith, and never show the slightest sign of weakness! In fact, these are all manifestations of the work of an evil spirit. For, normal people inevitably have human weaknesses; this is the normal state of those who have the presence of the Holy Spirit.
What does it mean to stand firm in one’s testimony? Some people say they just follow as they do now and do not concern themselves with whether they are capable of gaining life; they do not pursue life, but they do not withdraw, either. They acknowledge only that this stage of work is carried out by God. Is this not failing in their testimony? Such people do not even bear testimony of being conquered. Those who have been conquered follow regardless of all else and are able to pursue life. They not only believe in the practical God, but also know to follow all of God’s arrangements. Such are those who bear testimony. Those who do not bear testimony have never pursued life and are still following by muddling along. You may follow, but this does not mean you have been conquered, for you have no understanding of God’s work today. Certain conditions must be met in order to be conquered. Not all who follow have been conquered, for in your heart you understand nothing of why you must follow the God of today, nor do you know how you have made it to today, who has supported you up until today. Some people’s practice of faith in God is always muddle-headed and confused; thus, following does not necessarily mean you have testimony. What is exactly true testimony? The testimony spoken of here has two parts: One is testimony of having been conquered, and the other is testimony of having been made perfect (which, naturally, will be the testimony following the greater trials and the tribulations of the future). In other words, if you are able to stand firm during tribulations and trials, then you will have borne the second step of testimony. What is crucial today is the first step of testimony: being able to stand firm during every instance of the trials of chastisement and judgment. This is testimony of being conquered. That is because now is the time of conquest. (You should know that now is the time of God’s work on earth; the incarnate God’s main work on earth is conquering this group of people on earth who follow Him through judgment and chastisement.) Whether or not you are capable of bearing testimony of being conquered not only depends on whether you are able to follow to the very end, but, more importantly, on whether, as you experience each step of God’s work, you are capable of the true understanding of God’s chastisement and judgment, and on whether you truly perceive all of this work. You will not be able to slip through by merely following to the very end. You must be able to willingly surrender during every instance of chastisement and judgment, must be capable of truly understanding each step of work you experience, and must be able to attain knowledge of, and obedience to God’s disposition. This is the ultimate testimony of being conquered, which you are required to bear. Testimony of being conquered primarily refers to your knowledge of the incarnation of God. Crucially, this step of testimony is to the incarnation of God. It matters not what you do or say before the people of the world or those who wield power; what matters above all is whether you are able to obey all of the words from God’s mouth and all of His work. Therefore, this step of testimony is directed at Satan and all enemies of God—the demons and hostiles who do not believe that God will become flesh a second time and come to do even greater work, and furthermore, do not believe in the fact of God’s return to the flesh. In other words, it is directed at all the antichrists—all the enemies who do not believe in the incarnation of God.
Thinking of God and yearning for God do not prove that you have been conquered by God; this depends on whether you believe that He is the Word become flesh, whether you believe that the Word has become flesh, and whether you believe that the Spirit has become the Word, and the Word has appeared in the flesh. This is the key testimony. It matters not how you follow, nor how you expend yourself; what is crucial is whether you are able to discover from this normal humanity that the Word has become flesh and the Spirit of truth has been realized in the flesh—that all the truth, the way, and the life has come in the flesh, God’s Spirit has really arrived on earth and the Spirit has come in the flesh. Although, superficially, this appears different from the conception by the Holy Spirit, in this work you are able to see more clearly that the Spirit has already been realized in the flesh, and, moreover, that the Word has become flesh and the Word has appeared in the flesh. You are able to understand the true meaning of the words: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Moreover, you must understand that the Word of today is God, and behold the Word becomes flesh. This is the best testimony you can bear. This proves that you possess true knowledge of God become flesh—you are not only able to know Him, but are also aware that the way you walk today is the way of life, and the way of truth. The stage of work which Jesus performed only fulfilled the substance of “the Word was with God”: The truth of God was with God, and the Spirit of God was with the flesh and was inseparable from that flesh. That is, the flesh of God incarnate was with the Spirit of God, which is greater proof that Jesus incarnate was the first incarnation of God. This stage of work precisely fulfills the inner meaning of “the Word becomes flesh,” lent deeper meaning to “the Word was with God, and the Word was God,” and allows you to firmly believe the words “In the beginning was the Word.” Which is to say, at the time of creation God was possessed of words, His words were with Him and inseparable from Him, and in the final age, He makes even clearer the power and authority of His words, and allows man to see all of His ways—to hear all of His words. Such is the work of the final age. You must come to understand these things through and through. It is not a question of knowing the flesh, but of how you understand the flesh and the Word. This is the testimony that you must bear, that which everyone must know. Because this is the work of the second incarnation—and the last time that God becomes flesh—it fully completes the significance of the incarnation, thoroughly carries out and issues forth all of God’s work in the flesh, and brings to an end the era of God’s being in the flesh. Thus, you must know the meaning of the incarnation. It matters not how much you run around, or how well you carry out other external matters; what matters is whether you are able to truly submit before God incarnate and devote your entire being to God, and obey all of the words that come from His mouth. This is what you should do, and what you should abide by.
The last step of testimony is testimony of whether or not you are able to be made perfect—which is to say, having understood all of the words spoken from the mouth of God incarnate, you come to possess knowledge of God and become certain about Him, you live out all the words from God’s mouth, and achieve the conditions God asks of you—the style of Peter and faith of Job—such that you can obey unto death, give yourself over entirely to Him, and ultimately achieve an image of a person that is up to standard, which means the image of someone who has been conquered and made perfect after experiencing God’s judgment and chastisement. This is the ultimate testimony—it is the testimony that ought to be borne by one who is ultimately made perfect. These are the two steps of testimony you should bear, and they are interrelated, each indispensable. But there is one thing you must know: The testimony I require of you today is not directed at the people of the world, nor any single individual, but at that which I ask of you. It is measured by whether you are able to satisfy Me, and whether you are able to completely meet the standards of My requirements of each one of you. This is what you should understand.