Only by Recognizing One’s Own Misguided Views Can One Truly Transform
Do you now have a way to know yourselves, to enter into life, and to enter the right path of believing in God? Do you have a goal or direction? You should have some ideas, because we’ve fellowshiped quite a bit on matters such as being an honest person, about knowing yourself, how to eat and drink God’s word, how you should fellowship on the truth to solve problems, how you should cooperate harmoniously in the performance of your duty, how brothers and sisters should go about establishing normal interpersonal relations between one another, and so on. Now that you’re clearer on all aspects of the truth relating to faith in God, have some practical knowledge, and you aren’t like you were before—when you were all vague no matter which aspect you were asked about—don’t you feel much better? (Now I feel clearer and clearer.) “Clearer and clearer” is right. In reality, no matter which aspect of the truth one practices, whether it’s being an honest person, or training oneself to submit to God, or whether it’s how to engage amicably with one’s brothers and sisters, how to live out normal humanity, or something similar, no matter what aspect of the truth you seek to enter, you must start by touching on the issue of self-knowledge. Does being honest not involve knowing yourself? You will not be able to practice honesty until you have come to know your own deceit and dishonesty. When you come to know you have failed to obey God, only then will you be able to practice obedience to Him, or seek out what you must do to obey Him. If you do not know yourself, then your wishes to be an honest person, obey God, or attain salvation, are all empty. This is because people have corrupt dispositions, and it is not easy for them to practice any aspect of the truth, as their practice is always tainted and obstructed by their corrupt dispositions. When you practice any aspect of the truth, your corrupt dispositions will certainly rear their heads, hindering your efforts to be honest, obstructing your submission to God, and inhibiting your patience and tolerance for your brothers and sisters. If you do not reflect on, unearth, dissect, or come to recognize these corrupt dispositions, and instead rely on your notions and imaginings to practice the truth, then you will just be obeying rules, because you do not understand the truth and you do not know what truth principles to abide by. Therefore, no matter which aspect of the truth a person is practicing, or what they are doing, they must first reflect on and know themselves. To know yourself is to know your every word and deed, and each and every action; it is to know your thoughts and ideas, your intentions, and your notions and imaginings. You must also know Satan’s philosophies for living, and all Satan’s various poisons, as well as traditional cultural knowledge. You must seek the truth and discern these things clearly. That way, you will understand the truth and truly know yourself. Though a person may have done a great number of good deeds since they began believing in God, they still cannot see many things clearly, let alone achieve understanding of the truth. Yet, because of their many good deeds, they feel that they’re already practicing the truth, have already submitted to God, and have already quite satisfied His will. When nothing befalls you, you are able to do whatever you are told, you have no qualms about performing any duty, and you do not resist. When you are told to spread the gospel, you don’t complain and can stand this hardship, and when you are told to run about and work, or to do a task, you do so. Because of this, you feel you are one who submits to God and genuinely pursues the truth. Yet if you are asked seriously, “Are you an honest person? Are you a person who truly submits to God? A person whose disposition has changed?”—if every person is held up for scrutiny against the truth of God’s words—it may be said that none is up to standard, and that none would be capable of acting according to the truth principles. So, all of corrupt mankind must reflect on themselves. They must reflect on the dispositions that they live by, and on the satanic philosophies, logic, heresies and fallacies from which all of their acts and deeds derive. They must reflect on the root cause of why they reveal their corrupt disposition, what the essence of their acting willfully is, on what and for whom they live. If this is held up to the truth for comparison, then all people will be condemned. What is the reason for this? The reason is that mankind is so deeply corrupted. People do not understand the truth, and all of them live by their corrupt dispositions. They do not have the least bit of self-knowledge, they always believe in God according to their own notions and imaginings, perform their duties based on their own preferences and methods, and follow religious theories in how they serve God. What is more, they still think that they are full of faith, that their actions are very reasonable, and in the end they feel that they have gained a lot. Without realizing it, they come to think that they are already acting in line with God’s will and have satisfied it completely, and that they have already met God’s requirements and are following His will. If this is how you feel, or if you think that you have reaped some gains in your several years of belief in God, then all the more must you come back before God to examine yourself. You should look at the path you have walked over your years of faith to see whether all your acts and deeds before God have been entirely in accordance with His will. Examine which of your behaviors were in opposition to God, which achieved submission to Him, whether your actions have met and satisfied God’s requirements. You should clarify all these things, for only then will you know yourself.
The key to self-reflection and knowing yourself is this: The more you feel that in certain areas you have done well or done the right thing, and the more you think you can satisfy God’s will or are able to boast in certain areas, then the more it is worth knowing yourself in those areas and the deeper it is worth digging into them to see what impurities exist in you, as well as what things in you cannot satisfy God’s will. Let us take Paul as an example. Paul was especially knowledgeable, he suffered a lot in his preaching work, and many people particularly adored him. As a result, after completing much work, he assumed there would be a crown set aside for him. This caused him to go farther and farther down the wrong path, until finally he was punished by God. If he had reflected upon and dissected himself at the time, then he would not have thought in the way that he did. In other words, Paul had not focused on seeking the truth in the words of the Lord Jesus; he had only believed in his own notions and imaginings. He had thought that merely by doing some good things and exhibiting some good behaviors, he would be praised and rewarded by God. In the end, his own notions and imaginings blinded his heart and covered the truth of his corruption. But people were not able to discern this, and had no knowledge of these matters, and so before God had brought this to light, they had always set Paul as a standard to aim for, an example to live by, and regarded him as an idol they sought and longed to be. Paul’s case is a warning to every one of God’s chosen people. Especially when we who follow God can suffer and pay the price in our duties and as we serve God, we feel that we are faithful and love God, and at times like this, we should reflect on and understand ourselves even more concerning the path we are taking, which is very necessary. This is because what you think is good is what you will determine to be correct, and you will not doubt it, reflect on it, or analyze whether there is anything in it that resists God. For example, there are people who believe themselves to be extremely kind-hearted. They never hate or harm others, and they always lend a hand to a brother or sister whose family is in need, lest their problem go unsolved; they have great goodwill, and do everything in their power to help everyone they can. Yet they never focus on practicing the truth, and they have no life entry. What is the result of such helpfulness? They put their own lives on hold, yet are quite pleased with themselves, and extremely satisfied with all they have done. What is more, they take great pride in it, believing that in all they have done, there is nothing that goes against the truth, that it will definitely satisfy God’s will, and that they are true believers in God. They see their natural kindness as something to be capitalized on and, as soon as they do so, they take it for granted as the truth. In reality, all they do is human good. They do not practice the truth at all, for what they do is before man, and not before God, and less still do they practice according to God’s requirements and the truth. Therefore, all their deeds are in vain. Nothing they do is practicing the truth or God’s words, let alone following His will; rather, they use human kindness and good behavior to help others. In summary, they do not seek God’s will in everything they do, nor do they act in accordance with His requirements. God does not praise this kind of good behavior of man; to God, it is to be condemned, and does not merit His remembrance.
To know oneself is crucial for each and every person, because it directly impacts the important matter of whether or not one can cast off their corrupt disposition and achieve salvation. Do not think this is a simple matter. To know yourself is not to understand your actions or practices, but to know the essence of your problem; to know the root of your disobedience and its essence, to know why you cannot practice the truth, and understand the things which arise and disturb you when you practice the truth. These are some of the most important aspects of knowing yourself. For example, due to the conditioning of Chinese traditional culture, in Chinese people’s traditional notions they believe that one must observe filial piety toward their parents. Whoever does not observe filial piety is an unfilial child. These ideas have been instilled in people since childhood, and they are taught in practically every household, as well as in every school and in society at large. When a person’s head has been filled with such stuff, they think, “Filial piety is more important than anything. If I weren’t to observe it, I wouldn’t be a good person—I’d be an unfilial child and I’d be denounced by society. I’d be a person who lacks conscience.” Is this view correct? People have seen so many truths expressed by God—has God demanded that one show filial piety toward their parents? Is this one of the truths that believers in God must understand? No, it is not. God has only fellowshiped on some principles. By what principle do God’s words ask that people treat others? Love what God loves, and hate what God hates: This is the principle that should be adhered to. God loves those who pursue the truth and are able to follow His will; these are also the people that we should love. Those who are not able to follow God’s will, who hate and rebel against God—these people are despised by God, and we should despise them, too. This is what God asks of man. If your parents do not believe in God, if they know full well that faith in God is the right path, and that it can lead to salvation, yet remain unreceptive, then there is no doubt that they are people who are sick of and hate the truth, and that they are people who resist and hate God—and God naturally abhors and despises them. Could you despise such parents? They oppose and revile God—in which case they are surely demons and Satans. Could you abhor and curse them? These are all real questions. If your parents prevent you from believing in God, how should you treat them? As is asked by God, you should love what God loves, and hate what God hates. During the Age of Grace, the Lord Jesus said, “Who is My mother? And who are My brothers?” “For whoever shall do the will of My Father which is in heaven, the same is My brother, and sister, and mother.” These words already existed back in the Age of Grace, and now God’s words are even more clear: “Love what God loves, and hate what God hates.” These words cut straight to the point, yet people are often unable to grasp their true meaning. If a person is someone who denies and opposes God, who is cursed by God, but they are a parent or relative of yours, and not an evildoer as far as you can tell, and they treat you well, then you might find yourself unable to hate that person, and might even remain in close contact with them, your relationship unchanged. Hearing that God despises such people will trouble you, and you are unable to stand on the side of God and ruthlessly reject them. You’re always bound by emotion, and you cannot fully let go of them. What is the reason for this? This happens because your emotions are too strong, and they hinder you from practicing the truth. That person is good to you, so you can’t bring yourself to hate them. You could only hate them if they did hurt you. Would that hatred be in line with the truth principles? Also, you’re bound by traditional notions, thinking that they are a parent or relative, so if you hate them, you would be scorned by society and reviled by public opinion, condemned as unfilial, without a conscience, and not even human. You think you would suffer divine condemnation and punishment. Even if you want to hate them, your conscience won’t let you. Why does your conscience function this way? It’s because a way of thinking has been sown within you since you were a child, through the inheritance of your family, the education given to you by your parents, and the indoctrination of traditional culture. This way of thinking is rooted very deeply in your heart, and it makes you mistakenly believe that filial piety is perfectly natural and justified, and that anything inherited from your ancestors is always good. You learned it first and it remains dominant, creating a great stumbling block and disruption in your faith and acceptance of the truth, leaving you unable to put God’s words into practice, and to love what God loves, hate what God hates. You know in your heart that your life came from God, not from your parents, and you also know that your parents not only don’t believe in God, but resist God, that God hates them and you should submit to God, stand on His side, but you just can’t bring yourself to hate them, even if you want to. You can’t turn that corner, you can’t steel your heart, and you cannot practice the truth. What’s the root of this? Satan uses this kind of traditional culture and notions of morality to bind your thoughts, your mind, and your heart, leaving you unable to accept God’s words; you have been possessed by these things of Satan, and rendered incapable of accepting God’s words. When you want to practice God’s words, these things cause turmoil within you, cause you to oppose the truth and God’s requirements, and make you powerless to rid yourself of the yoke of traditional culture. After struggling for a while, you compromise: You prefer to believe traditional notions of morality are correct and in line with the truth, and so you reject or forsake God’s words. You do not accept God’s words as the truth and you think nothing of being saved, feeling that you still live in this world, and can only survive by relying on these people. Unable to endure society’s recrimination, you would rather choose to give up the truth and God’s words, abandoning yourself to traditional notions of morality and the influence of Satan, preferring to offend God and not practice the truth. Is man not pitiful? Do they not have need of God’s salvation? Some people have believed in God for many years, but still have no insight into the matter of filial piety. They really do not understand the truth. They can never break through this barrier of worldly relationships; they do not have the courage, nor the confidence, let alone the determination, so they cannot love and obey God. Some people are able to see beyond this, and it is no easy thing indeed for them to say, “My parents don’t believe in God, and they stop me from believing. They are devils.” No unbelievers have faith that there is a God, or that He created the heavens and earth and all things, or that man is created by God. There are even some who say, “Life is given to man by their parents, and they should honor them.” Where does such a thought or view come from? Does it come from Satan? It is millennia of traditional culture that have educated and deluded man in this way, causing them to deny God’s creation and sovereignty. Without Satan’s deception and control, mankind would investigate God’s work and read His words, and they would know that they are created by God, that their life is given by God; they would know that everything they have is given by God, and that it is God whom they should thank. Should anyone do us a good turn, we should accept it from God—in particular our parents, who gave birth to and raised us; this is all arranged by God. God rules over all; man is just a tool for service. If someone can set their parents aside, or their husband (or wife) and children, in order to expend themselves for God, then that person will be stronger and have a greater sense of righteousness before Him. However, it is not easy for people to break through the bondage of national education and traditional cultural ideas, notions, and moral statements, because these satanic poisons and philosophies have long taken root in people’s hearts, producing all sorts of corrupt dispositions that prevent them from hearing God’s word and obeying Him. In the depths of corrupt man’s heart, there lacks a fundamental willingness to put the truth into practice and to follow God’s will. So, people rebel against and resist God; they may betray Him and forsake Him at any time. Can one receive the truth if the corrupt dispositions and satanic poisons and philosophies exist within them? Can one achieve submission to God? It is very hard indeed. If it were not for the work of judgment by God Himself, then deeply corrupt mankind could not achieve salvation, and could not be cleansed from all its satanic disposition. Even if people believe in God and are willing to follow Him, they cannot listen to God and obey Him, as it takes too much effort for people to accept the truth. Therefore, the pursuit of truth must first be preceded by the pursuit of knowing oneself and resolving one’s own corrupt disposition. Only then will it be easier to accept the truth. Knowing oneself is by no means a simple matter; only those who accept the truth can know themselves. That is why knowing yourself is so vital, and a matter you must not overlook.
People have corrupt dispositions, so it is very difficult for them to accept the truth, and it is even harder for them to know themselves. If they want to achieve salvation, they must come to know their own corrupt dispositions and their nature essence. Only then can they truly accept the truth and put it into practice. Most people who believe in God are satisfied with only being able to speak the words and phrases of doctrine, thinking that they understand the truth. This is a big mistake, as those who do not know themselves do not understand the truth. Therefore, in order to understand and obtain the truth in their belief in God, people must focus on knowing themselves. Regardless of when or where we are, and no matter what environment we are in, if we can come to know ourselves, unearth and dissect our own corrupt dispositions, and treat knowing ourselves as our top priority, then we will surely gain something, and gradually deepen our knowledge of ourselves. At the same time, we will practice the truth, practice loving and obeying God, and understand more and more of the truth. The truth will then naturally become our lives. However, if you do not enter into knowing yourself at all, it is false for you to say that you practice the truth, because you are blinded by all sorts of superficial phenomena. You feel as if your behavior has improved, that you have more conscience and reason than before, that you are gentler, more considerate and tolerant of others, and more patient and forgiving with people, and consequently, you think that you are already living out normal humanity, and that you are a great and perfect person. But in God’s eyes, you still fall short of His requirements and standards, and you are very far from truly obeying and worshiping Him. This shows that you have not gained the truth, that you lack the slightest bit of reality, and are still far from meeting the standards of salvation. People must understand which truths they need to equip themselves with in order to meet God’s requirements. People still cannot distinguish between external good behaviors and the practice of the truth. All that people possess now is just slight changes in their external behavior. Nowadays, most people frequently gather to listen to sermons, and can get along and interact with their brothers and sisters in a normal manner. They do not quarrel, they are able to be tolerant and patient with each other, and they are more conscientious in performing their duties than they were before. However, their understanding of the truth is too shallow, their thoughts and views on many matters are still distant from the truth, or go against the truth, and some of their views are even hostile toward God. This is enough to illustrate that people have not yet obtained the truth. That is why we need to seek the truth in every aspect of self-knowledge and endeavor to know ourselves more profoundly. Through this fellowship, do you not feel that it is very important to know yourselves? Just now, I gave an example of showing filial piety toward one’s parents. This is a significant matter that every person needs to face. If you cannot understand the truth and emerge from traditional thoughts and notions, it will be difficult for you to renounce everything and truly expend yourselves for God. There are many people who have believed in God for years and years but have not fulfilled a duty. They’ve been struggling in their hearts for an unknown amount of time, it is uncertain when they will be able to really understand the truth and emerge from the restraints and shackles of their fleshly affections and traditional thoughts and notions, and reach the point of “loving what God loves and hating what God hates.” This is not an easy thing to achieve. Seeing through to the essence of family and casting off the constraints of one’s fleshly relations is a difficult hurdle for those who follow God. There is a process to breaking through the shackles of one’s family and fleshly affections, and breaking free from the restraints of the thoughts of traditional culture—it requires God to arrange environments in which we may practice entering into the truth. Especially when it comes to our loved ones, it is even more necessary for us to see their true faces and each of their nature essences clearly. At the same time, we also need to reflect, based on the truth, on the corrupt dispositions that we have revealed, and the satanic heresies and fallacies that still exist in our hearts. This requires God to orchestrate various environments to expose us, so that we may know what things still exist in our hearts that resist or are incompatible with Him, and then seek the truth to resolve them. We need God to arrange suitable environments to reveal our corruption and our stature. However, we must also actively and positively work together with God, and place demands on ourselves according to His word, only then can we be made complete by Him. But before God acts, we need to prepare ourselves mentally. First, we need to recognize the satanic poisons that are within man, and understand that the thoughts and notions of traditional culture deceive and corrupt people. We must understand how severely these satanic things—which we inherit, and which come from education and society—resist God, and how much they go against the truth. Only when you see through to these things can you be said to really understand the truth.
I just talked about how to treat one’s parents. It can be said that this is a major matter in life, and it is also a significant matter that every person must face. This is undeniable. Next, we will fellowship on another topic, namely, how to treat one’s children. When it comes to how you treat your children and your parents, the way that you treat them doesn’t matter, rather, what matters is your perspective, it’s about the perspective and attitude you approach them with. This is something we need to understand in our hearts. Each person starts to plan from the moment they have children about the kind of education they want their children to receive, the kind of college that their children should go to, and how they can then find good jobs after that, so that they can get a foothold and have a certain level of status in society. People all believe that in this life, one must first possess knowledge and an advanced degree—in their eyes, this is the only way to find employment and secure a livelihood in society, so that one does not have to worry about basic necessities such as food, clothing, and shelter in the future. Therefore, when it comes to how people treat their children, every parent hopes that their child will receive a higher education. They hope that their child will be able to get ahead in the world one day, that they will have a place in society, a high and stable income, and prestige and status. They think that only this will bring honor to their ancestors. All people harbor this view. “May my children become the cream of the crop”—is this view right? Everyone wants their son or daughter to go to a prestigious university and then pursue further studies, in the belief that their child will be able to get ahead in the world once they have obtained an advanced degree. People all worship knowledge in their hearts and believe that “Other pursuits are small, books excel them all”; moreover, they think that competition in society nowadays is particularly fierce, and that if someone doesn’t have an academic qualification, just trying to keep themselves fed will be difficult. This is a thought and view that every person harbors—it is as if, so long as somebody holds an advanced degree, their future livelihood and prospects will be secure. So, when it comes to their demands for their sons and daughters, people make entering into an institute of higher education and receiving a higher education the top priority. In reality, all of that education, all of that knowledge, and all of the ideas that people receive go against God and the truth, and are loathed and condemned by God. This proves that the views of man are wrong and absurd. People should understand that if they receive this kind of education, apart from acquiring a bit of useful intellectual knowledge, they will also be indoctrinated with many of Satan’s poisons, thoughts, theories, and its various heresies and fallacies, and they should understand what the consequences of this will be. People have never thought about this before, and they cannot see through to this matter. All they believe is that their children will have brighter futures and bring honor to their ancestors if they enter institutes of higher education. As a result, when your child comes home one day, and you talk to them about believing in God, they will feel averse toward it, and when you fellowship on the truth with them, they will call you foolish, mock you, and treat your words with contempt. At that time, you will realize that you chose the wrong path when you sent your child to an institute of higher education to receive an advanced education. However, it will be too late for regrets. As soon as a person accepts Satan’s philosophies and views, and these things take root, blossom, and begin to bear fruit within them, it is the same as growing cancerous tumors—these things cannot be removed or changed overnight. At that point, it becomes difficult for that person to accept the truth, and there is no way for them to be saved. It is equivalent to them being poisoned to death by Satan. I haven’t seen anyone say: “When my child goes to school, let them simply learn to read, so that they can understand what the word of God means. After that, I’ll guide them to believe in God wholeheartedly, and learn a bit about a useful profession so that they can secure a good job and make a stable life for themselves in the future. Then, I can rest assured. It would be better if they are of high caliber, possess good humanity, and can perform a duty in God’s house. If they cannot fulfill a duty, it would be enough for them to have a job outside of the church so that they can support their family. Most of all, I want them to receive God’s truths in His house and to not be polluted or conditioned by society.” People do not have the faith to bring their children before God; they always worry that their children won’t have good prospects if they don’t enter into higher education. In other words, when it comes to their children, not a single person is willing to bring them before God so that they can accept God’s word and conduct themselves according to the truth and God’s requirements. People are unwilling to do this, and they do not dare to do this. They fear that if they act in this way, their children will not have a means of livelihood or prospects in this society. What does this view confirm? It confirms that people, who have been corrupted deeply by Satan, have no interest in the truth or in believing in God. Even if they do believe in God, it is only to be blessed. They do not pursue the truth, because in their hearts what people worship are material things, money, and Satan’s influence. You do not have the faith to say: “If one abandons the trends of the world and relies on God, He will give them a way out so that they can survive.” You lack this faith. Your misguided view of worshiping knowledge has taken root in your heart. It controls your every word and deed, so you cannot accept and submit to God’s work, much less accept the truths that God expresses. Why do I say this? Because this thought and view is hostile toward God, it betrays God, denies God, and it is not compatible with the truth. When a person understands the truth, they can see through to this problem, and they realize that there are many things within themselves that are in opposition to God—things that are fundamentally loathed by God. These are all results achieved by experiencing God’s work. Without the revelation of God’s word, and without its judgment and chastisement, people would think that they had become holy, that they were full of love for God, and that their faith in Him was strong after believing in God for a few years, and making some changes to their behavior. Now that they understand the truth, they suddenly realize: “How can these corrupt things still exist in people? Why couldn’t I recognize them before? People are just too ignorant!” At this time, they learn that God’s revelation of man’s corruption is so great and so necessary, and they know that if God did not reveal and judge their corruption, they would never be able to recognize it. People are all skilled at pretending and disguising themselves. They can disguise themselves quite well or conceal and package themselves up well, but the corrupt dispositions that they reveal and the thoughts that are deeply rooted in their minds resist God, and these things are loathed and hated by God. These are the things that God wants to reveal, and they are the things that people should come to know. However, people often think, “In terms of our speech, we haven’t spoken any words that resist God, and we possess reason. In terms of our behavior, we have not done anything out of line, we have already reached the point where we are performing our duties very appropriately. We have no glaring problems, so what more should we know about ourselves? Do we even need to know ourselves?” Does this view align with the facts? If it does, why do people still always confess their sins to God? Why do people still reveal their corrupt dispositions frequently and even commit transgressions? So, the more you consider yourself to be good in one respect, the more it is worth your while to seek the truth, reflect, and come to know yourself in that respect. Only through this can you truly come to know your corrupt dispositions, be purified, and be perfected by God. This is the outcome of experiencing God’s work.
There are many people who believe that filial piety is pleasing to God and blessed by God. They think that being filial to one’s parents is something that God surely likes, because they believe that filial piety is perfectly natural and justified, and that it proves that a person has conscience, and that they haven’t forgotten where they come from. According to traditional notions, such individuals are considered good people and filial children. When it comes to filial children, everyone gives them a thumbs up. People love them, as do their parents. So, you naturally assume that God must also like them, and wishfully think that: “God must like those who show filial piety to their parents—He definitely likes them!” So, you give up performing your duty and return home to show filial piety to your parents. As you do so, you become more and more motivated, and you are increasingly convinced that this is justified and proper, and that you are practicing the truth. Unconsciously, you start to believe that you have already satisfied God, and that you have the capital needed to obtain God’s approval, His delight, and His recognition. When God says that you are defying and betraying Him, or when He says that you haven’t changed at all, you resist and pass judgment on Him. You deny His words by claiming that He is wrong. What kind of problem is this? When God says that you are good and approves of you, you accept it. But when God exposes that you are disobeying and defying Him, you deny and reject this, and even resist and judge God. What sort of disposition is this? It is evident that people are arrogant, conceited, and self-righteous. Usually, it seems like people can acknowledge that God’s word is the truth, and people all consider themselves to be obedient to God, but when God judges them and reveals their corrupt dispositions, none of them pay any attention to His words, and none of them compare their actions against His word each time that they do something. Rather, they merely speak and talk a bit, and that’s the end of it, or they recite a few lines of God’s word during gatherings, fellowshiping on them a little, and then they are done. In reality, when you do things, you do not practice according to God’s word at all. So, what is the point of you reading and fellowshiping about God’s word? You do not put God’s word into practice when something happens to you, and you do not live by God’s word, so why do you read God’s word? Isn’t this merely a formality? Can you understand the truth in this way? Can you obtain the truth? It is meaningless believing in God in this way. Many people simply read God’s word a bit, gain an understanding of its literal meaning, and think that by uttering a few words and phrases of doctrine, they have understood the truth, and that they possess the truth reality. Some say, “I’m fellowshiping on God’s word, so how can it just be the words and phrases of doctrine?” You do not know the essence of God’s word, you do not put His word into practice, and you certainly do not have experiential knowledge of it, so you are speaking the words and phrases of doctrine when you fellowship on it. God’s word is, of course, the truth, but you do not truly understand it or put it into practice, so what you understand is just doctrine. Can you understand this? Do you feel that hearing these words has touched on a sore spot? Will you say, “If I don’t honor my parents is that not a terrible offense? Aren’t God’s requirements for people inconsiderate of their feelings?” Tell Me, are the standards that God requires of man high? In fact, they are not high—based on man’s conscience and reason, they are all standards that people can meet. It is due to the influence of human affections and because traditional culture has already taken firm, unshakeable root in their hearts, that people feel that God’s demands are too high, and really beyond their reach. This is caused by a lack of understanding of the truth. If you really understand the truth and see through to the true nature of this matter, you will be able to approach and handle this problem in the right way. For thousands of years, people have been influenced by traditional culture. Satan’s philosophies and laws for self-conduct have already taken root in people’s hearts. You live by such ideas, so what exactly have you lived out? Have you lived out normal humanity? Have you lived out a real life? It is worthwhile for you to come to know and dissect this matter. You need to reflect on what you have gained from traditional culture and Satan’s philosophies and views, on whether these things are really the truth, and on what they bring to you. Then you should fellowship on these matters and analyze them based on God’s word. If you do this, it will be easy for you to discover the truth. Once you understand the truth and grasp God’s intentions, you will see that God’s requirements for people are all things that man’s conscience and reason can accomplish. Naturally, you will no longer complain that God demands too much of man. Instead, you will say, “We understand the principles; we have a path of practice, and we understand how to handle these things.” In this way, little by little, you will enter into the reality of God’s word. This is the process of understanding the truth.
In entering the truth reality, self-knowledge is extraordinarily important. Self-knowledge means knowing which things in our thoughts and views are fundamentally incompatible with the truth, and belong to a corrupt disposition, and are hostile to God. It is easy to gain an understanding of the corrupt dispositions of man, like arrogance, self-righteousness, lying, and deceit. You can come to know them a little by simply fellowshiping on the truth a few times or through frequent fellowship, or by having your state pointed out to you by your brothers and sisters. Furthermore, arrogance and deceit are present in every person, differing only in degree, so they are relatively easy to know. But discerning whether one’s thoughts and views are in line with the truth is difficult, and not as easy as knowing one’s corrupt dispositions. When a person’s behavior or outward practices change a little, that person feels as though they have changed, but actually this is a mere behavioral change, and it does not mean that their outlook on things has truly changed. In the depths of people’s hearts, there are still many notions and imaginings, various thoughts, views, and poisons of traditional culture, and many things that are hostile to God. These things are hidden inside of them, yet to be unearthed. They are the origin of corrupt dispositions, and they come from within man’s nature essence. That is why, when God does something that does not line up with your notions, you will resist Him and oppose Him. You will not understand why God has acted so, and though you know there is truth in everything God does and you wish to submit, you will find yourself unable to do so. Why are you unable to submit? What is the reason for your opposition and resistance? It is because there are many things within man’s thoughts and views that are hostile to God, hostile to the principles by which God acts and hostile to His essence. These things are difficult for people to gain knowledge of. Since I’ve fellowshiped on these words, you should be able to gain insight and some understanding. Suppose you have notions about God when something happens and think, “This can’t be God’s doing, for if it were God then He wouldn’t have done it like this, or spoken thus. Everything God does is love, and easy for people to accept,” but then suppose you think, “This way of thinking is wrong. God has said before that there is truth to be sought wherever people cannot understand. I should reflect on myself, as it’s the notions and imaginings in my heart which are playing up, leading me to define God’s work. I shouldn’t misunderstand Him”—this is the correct way to reflect on yourself. Whenever you see that God’s work or words don’t conform to your notions, that’s when you should reflect on yourself, hurry to seek the truth in God’s words, measure yourself against and then act in accordance with them. Is this not a way forward?
We’ve just fellowshiped on how to treat one’s parents. Many of you feel you owe your parents a lot, as they’ve suffered much on your behalf throughout their lives, and shown you great love and care. If they one day fall ill, your conscience is disturbed, and you feel blamed. You suddenly think that you should stay with your parents to fulfill your filial duty to them, comfort them and ensure they’re happy in their old age. You think this is your responsibility and obligation as their child. If, as you fulfill this obligation, God asks something of you or gives you an unexpected trial, His intention is that you should not do so, but should take belief in God, performing your duty well, and pursuing the truth as the principle. How would you feel if God asked you directly not to be filial to your parents or treat them in that way? You’d consider this matter through the lens of traditional notions, and complain about God in your heart, thinking that He did it without considering your feelings, and that it doesn’t satisfy your filial piety. You believe that you’re acting full of filial piety, humanity, and conscience, but God doesn’t let you act according to your conscience or filial piety. Then you will resist, rebel against and oppose God, and not accept the truth. I’m saying all this to make people realize that the root and essence of man’s rebellious nature comes primarily from people’s thoughts and views, which are formed by the education they receive from family and society, as well as from traditional culture. After these things are deeply planted in people’s hearts bit by bit, through family convention, or the influence of society and academic education, then people start to live by them. They’ll unconsciously start to believe that this traditional culture is correct, irreproachable, and cannot be criticized, and that only by acting according to the demands of traditional culture can they be real people. If they don’t, they’ll feel they’re devoid of conscience, contrary to and without any humanity, and they won’t be able to come to terms with it. Are these human thoughts and views not far removed from the truth? The things in human thoughts and views, and the goals people pursue, are all directed toward the world, toward Satan. God’s requirement for man to pursue the truth is directed toward God, toward the light. These are two different directions, two different goals. Act according to God’s goals and requirements of man and your humanity will become more normal, you will have more of a human likeness, and you will get closer to God. If you act according to the thoughts and views of traditional culture, you will lose more and more of your conscience and reason, become even more false and fake, follow the trends of the world even more, and become part of the forces of evil. Then you will be living completely in darkness, under the dominion of Satan. You will have entirely violated the truth and betrayed God.
People who live in this real society have been deeply corrupted by Satan. Regardless of whether they’re educated or not, a lot of traditional culture is ingrained in people’s thoughts and views. In particular, women are required to assist their husbands and educate their children, to be a good wife and loving mother, devoting their whole lives to their husbands and children and living for them, making sure the family has three square meals a day, and doing the washing, cleaning, and all other housework well. This is the accepted standard of being a good wife and loving mother. Every woman also thinks this is the way things should be done, and that if she doesn’t then she’s not a good woman, and has violated conscience and the standards of morality. Violating these moral standards will weigh heavily on some people’s conscience; they’ll feel they’ve let their husbands and children down, and that they’re not a good woman. But after you believe in God, have read a lot of His words, understood some truths, and seen through some matters, you’ll think, “I am a created being and should perform my duty as such, and expend myself for God.” At this time, is there a conflict between being a good wife and loving mother, and fulfilling your duty as a created being? If you want to be a good wife and loving mother, then you cannot perform your duty full time, but if you want to perform your duty full time then you cannot be a good wife and loving mother. What do you do now? If you choose to perform your duty well and be responsible for the work of the church, devoted to God, then you must give up being a good wife and loving mother. What would you think now? What sort of discord would arise in your mind? Would you feel like you’ve let down your children, your husband? Where does this feeling of guilt and unease come from? When you don’t fulfill the duty of a created being, do you feel like you’ve let God down? You have no sense of guilt or blame because, in your heart and mind, there isn’t the slightest hint of the truth. So, what do you understand? Traditional culture and being a good wife and loving mother. Thus the notion of “If I’m not a good wife and loving mother, then I’m not a good or decent woman” will arise in your mind. You’ll be bound and fettered by this notion from then on, and will remain so by these kinds of notions even after you believe in God and fulfill your duty. When there is a conflict between fulfilling your duty and being a good wife and loving mother, while you may reluctantly choose to fulfill your duty, possessing perhaps a little loyalty to God, there’ll still be a feeling of unease and blame in your heart. Therefore, when you have some spare time while fulfilling your duty, you’ll look for chances to take care of your children and husband, wanting to make it up to them even more, and think it’s fine even if you have to suffer more, as long as you have peace of mind. Is this not brought about by the influence of traditional culture’s ideas and theories about being a good wife and loving mother? You now have a foot in both camps, wanting to fulfill your duty well but also wanting to be a good wife and loving mother. But before God, we only have one responsibility and obligation, one mission: to properly fulfill the duty of a created being. Have you fulfilled this duty well? Why did you stray off track again? Is there really no sense of blame or reproach in your heart? Because the truth has still not laid foundations in your heart, and does not yet reign over it, you can stray off track when fulfilling your duty. Although now you’re able to fulfill your duty, you’re actually still falling far short of the standards of truth and God’s requirements. Can you see this fact clearly now? What does God mean when He says that “God is the source of man’s life”? It is to make everyone realize this: Our lives and souls all come from God and were created by Him—not from our parents, and certainly not from nature, but given us by God. Only our flesh was born of our parents, as our children are born of us, but their fate is entirely in God’s hands. That we can believe in God is an opportunity given by Him; it is ordained by Him and is His grace. There is therefore no need for you to fulfill your obligation or responsibility to anyone else; you should only fulfill your duty to God as a created being. This is what people must do above anything else, the main thing that should be done as the primary affair of one’s life. If you do not fulfill your duty well, you are not a qualified created being. In the eyes of others, you may be a good wife and loving mother, an excellent housewife, a filial child, and an upstanding member of society, but before God you are one who rebels against Him, one who has not fulfilled their obligation or duty at all, one who accepted yet did not complete God’s commission, one who gave up halfway. Can someone like this gain God’s approval? People like this are worthless. No matter how perfect a wife and mother you are, or how high your standards of social morality, or how much praise you earn from others, it does not mean that you are putting the truth into practice, much less obeying God. If you are sick of the truth and refuse to accept it, this only proves that you have no conscience or reason, no normal humanity, and are someone without God in your heart at all. Is this sort of person not too far removed from God’s requirements? Those who do not pursue the truth are like this, always living according to the ideas and theories of traditional culture, always following society’s trends, but not accepting the truth and unable to obey God. Are these people not impoverished and pitiful? Are they not foolish and ignorant? Is being a good wife and loving mother, being a good, well-liked woman, worth boasting about and being proud of?
All the things that people hold in their hearts are actually at odds with the truth and hostile to God. That includes things we believe to be positive, good, and things generally regarded to be right. We even see these things as the truth, as human needs and things into which people should enter. To God, however, they are loathsome things. How far from the truths spoken by God are the views that man sees as correct, or the things that man believes to be positive? Far, indeed—the distance is immeasurable. So, we must know ourselves, and everything from the academic education we have received down to our pursuits and preferences, from our thoughts and views down to the paths we choose and walk, are all worthy of deep excavation and analysis. Some of them are inherited from one’s family; some come from one’s schooling; some come from the influence and conditioning of social environments; some are learned from books; and some come from our imaginings and notions. These are the most frightening things, for they dominate our minds, and govern the motives, intents, and goals of our actions. They also bind and control our words and actions. If we do not unearth these things and reject them, we will never fully accept God’s words, and we will never unreservedly accept His requirements and put them into practice. As long as you harbor your own ideas and viewpoints, and things that you believe to be correct, you will never accept God’s words unreservedly, nor will you practice them in their original form; you are certain to process God’s words within your heart, and practice them only after having brought them into conformity with your notions. This is how you will act, and this is how you will “help” others, by leading them to do things according to your methods. You will seem to be putting God’s words into practice, but what you practice will be human adulterations. You will not know this, and you will think that you are practicing the truth, that you have already entered the truth reality, that you have already gained the truth. Is that not arrogant and self-righteous? Is such a state not a fearsome thing? If people are not meticulous in practicing the truth, deviations will occur. If one always relies on their imaginings to put God’s words into practice, then not only are they not practicing the truth, they also cannot achieve submission to God. If one means to enter the truth reality, they must reflect on which notions and imaginings exist in them, as well as which of their views are not in line with the truth. When analyzing these things, a word or two will not suffice to thoroughly explain them or to make them clear. Naturally, in life there are many other matters like these. Like the more than one hundred poisons of Satan that were collected in the past—you may have understood the words and phrases, but how have you measured yourself against them? Have you reflected on them? Do you not also have a share in these poisons? Do they not reflect how you think, too? When you are doing things, do you not also act based on these poisons? You must dig deep into your personal experience, and measure it against those words. If you merely read over the words of God that reveal Satan’s poisons, just giving them a glance, or if you think simply about them, admitting that these things are indeed poisons, that they do indeed corrupt and harm people, and then put God’s words aside, you will have no way to resolve your corrupt disposition. Many people read God’s words and cannot link them to reality. They simply read the words and glance over the text, and so long as they understand its literal meaning, they believe that they have understood God’s words, or even that they have understood the truth. Yet they never reflect on their corrupt dispositions, and when they know that they are revealing corruption, they do not seek the truth to resolve it. They are content merely to admit that all states revealed by the words of God are real and that they are outpourings of corrupt dispositions, and stop there. Can one who reads God’s words like this truly know themselves? Can they cast off their corrupt disposition? Absolutely not. Most people who believe in God do so in this way, and as a result, they see no change in their disposition after ten or twenty years of belief. The root cause of this is that they do not put effort into God’s words, and they cannot accept the truth and submit to it in their hearts. They merely observe rules in their practice and avoid committing great evil, and with that they think that they are practicing the truth. Is there not a deviation in their practice? Is practicing the truth as simple as that? People are living beings and they all have thoughts; in particular, people all have corrupt dispositions rooted deep in their hearts, and possess various thoughts and views that arose from the domination of their satanic nature. All these thoughts and views are outpourings of a satanic disposition. If people cannot analyze and know these things based on the truth of God’s words, they have no way to know their corrupt essence, and their corrupt dispositions cannot be cleansed. Why are those who do not accept the truth so arrogant, self-righteous and recalcitrant? It is because they all have different thoughts and views on various things, and they all have some ideas and theories to guide them, so they feel themselves to be correct, look down on others, and are arrogant, self-righteous, and recalcitrant. No matter how others may fellowship about the truth to them, they are unwilling to accept it—they continue living according to the thoughts and views within them, because those have already become their life. The fact is that in everything you do, there is a thought or view inside you that dictates how you do it, and the direction in which you do it. If you are not aware of this, you should reflect on yourself often, then you will know what thoughts and views within you are controlling your acts and deeds. Of course, if you were to inspect your thoughts and views now, you would feel that there is nothing within them that is hostile to God, that you are honest and loyal, that you perform your duty willingly, that you can forsake things and expend yourself for God. You would feel that you are doing fine in all of these regards. But when God really gets serious with you, when He has you do something that does not accord with your notions, something you are unwilling to do, how will you approach it? That is when your thoughts, views, and corrupt dispositions will be exposed, just like the water that flows from an opened sluice—you cannot control it, as much as you would like to. This will keep you from practicing the truth and submitting to God. You will say, “Why can’t I control myself? I don’t want to resist God, so why am I? I don’t want to pass judgment on God, and I don’t want to have notions about His actions—so why am I judging Him? Why do I still have these notions?” At this time, you should reflect on and know yourself, and examine what is inside of you that resists God, or is hostile and contrary to the work He is currently doing. If you can examine these things and resolve them according to the truth in God’s words, you will have life progress, and you will be someone who understands the truth.
China is governed by an atheist political party and Chinese people are educated in atheism and evolution, with popular sayings like “all things come from nature” and “humans are descended from apes.” After believing in God and reading His words, you know that the heavens and earth and all things were created by God, including humans, and everyone is able to feel in their hearts that God’s word is true. All of nature is God’s creation, and nothing would ever have come into being if God had not created them. Humans descending from apes is particularly untenable, as throughout all of human history no one has ever seen an ape become a man. There is no evidence, and thus all this is Satan’s lies and deception. Those who understand the truth reject Satan’s lies, heresies, and fallacies, and believe the Bible and God’s words without the shadow of a doubt. But it is impossible for those who do not love the truth to fully accept that God’s words are the truth. Some might wonder, “Man was created by God, but how? Why haven’t I seen it? I don’t believe what I haven’t seen.” Their belief in God is based on what they can see with their own eyes. This is not having faith. Man came from God, and God has led man step by step until now, always with dominion over man’s fate. This is a fact. In the last days, God has made known all these mysteries, saying that man has reincarnation and transmigration, and that human life and soul are given by God and come from Him. This is the truth. But whenever you see this aspect of truth, because you don’t accept these words of God to be the truth, you measure them against your own thoughts and views: “Since man didn’t come from apes, but from God, then how did man come from God? How did He give man life?” If you do not understand God then you’ll think it impossible that God has the power, wisdom or authority to create man with but a single breath or word. You don’t believe that this is a fact, or that it’s the truth. When you have doubts, you resist these words of God, saying you don’t believe them, but in fact your heart is in a state of resistance and an attitude of opposition. You are unwilling to listen when God speaks these words, feel hostility in your heart, and cannot Amen God’s words. In reality, looking at the facts, we don’t need to investigate how or when God made man, who saw it, or if anyone can testify to it. There is no need for people to study this. When people genuinely understand the truth and know God’s deeds, they’ll be able to bear witness themselves. What is the key issue they should focus on now? It is to know God’s work. God has, from beginning to end, been performing His work of managing man and saving man among mankind. From beginning to end, there is only one God working, speaking, teaching and guiding mankind. This God exists. God has spoken so many words now, we have already seen Him face to face, heard Him speak, experienced His work, and eaten and drunk His words, accepting His words into us to become our life. And these words are constantly guiding us and changing us. This God indeed exists. Therefore, we should believe, as God said, the fact that God created mankind, and the fact that God created Adam and Eve in the beginning. Since you believe this God exists and you have now come before Him, then do you still need to confirm that the work performed by Jehovah is the work of this God? If no one can confirm it and no one witnesses it, will you not believe it? Or regarding the work from the Age of Grace, do you not believe Jesus was God incarnate because you never saw Him? If you did not personally see the present God speak, work or incarnated in the flesh, then would you not believe it? If you did not see these things or there were no witnesses to confirm these things, would you not believe them all? This is because of the absurdly false viewpoint people have inside them. It is a mistake made by so many people. They have to personally see everything, and if they do not, they do not believe it. This is wrong. If a person truly knows God, is able to believe in His word even without seeing the facts, and is able to corroborate His word, only then are they the type of person who understands the truth and has true faith. Now that we have seen these words of God and heard His voice, it is enough to grant us true faith and to therefore make us follow Him and to make us believe every word and all the work that comes from God. There is no need for us to keep analyzing or researching things. Is that not the kind of sense that people should have? There was no one to witness it when God created mankind, but now God has become flesh to express truths and save mankind, to perform His work practically, and to walk among the churches and work among mankind. Have a lot of people not seen this? Not everyone is able to see it, but you believe it. Why do you believe it? Do you not only believe because you feel the words of God are the truth and that this is the true way and the work of God? Can you still say, “In this stage of God’s work, I heard Him speak, and I also saw God’s words. It’s true that these words came from God. But regarding the Lord Jesus’ work of the crucifixion, I didn’t touch His nail marks, so I don’t believe the fact that He was crucified. I did not witness the work Jehovah God did during the Age of Law, and I did not hear the laws when He proclaimed them. Only Moses heard them and wrote the Five Books of Moses, but I don’t know how he wrote them”? Are people that say these things in a normal state of mind? They are nonbelievers and not people who truly believe in God. This is just like when the Israelites said, “Has Jehovah God indeed spoken only by Moses? Has He not spoken also by us?” (Numbers 12:2). What they meant was, “We won’t listen to Moses, we must hear it personally from Jehovah God.” Just like when people said during the Age of Grace that, because they did not personally see it with their own eyes, they did not believe that Jesus was crucified or that He rose from the dead. There was a disciple by the name of Thomas who insisted on touching Jesus’ nail marks. And what did the Lord Jesus say to him? (“Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” (John 20:29).) “Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” What does this really mean? Did they really see nothing? Actually, all the things Jesus had said and all of the work He did already proved that Jesus was God, and so people should have believed it. Jesus did not need to perform more signs and wonders or speak more words, and people did not need to feel His nail marks to believe. True faith does not rely only on seeing, but rather, with spiritual confirmation, belief is held until the very end and there is never any doubt. Thomas was a nonbeliever who only relied on seeing. Do not be like Thomas.
A portion of people like Thomas do indeed exist in the church. They are constantly doubting God’s incarnation, and they wait for God to leave the earth, return to the third heaven, and to see the real person of God to finally believe. They do not believe in Him because of the words He has spoken during His incarnation. By the time this kind of person believes, everything will be too late, and that’s the time they will be condemned by God. The Lord Jesus said, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” These words mean that he had already been condemned by the Lord Jesus and that he is a nonbeliever. If you truly believe in the Lord and in all He has said, you will be blessed. If you have followed the Lord for a long time but do not believe in His capacity for resurrection, or that He is the almighty God, then you do not have true faith and you will not be able to attain blessings. Only through faith can blessings be attained, and if you don’t believe, you will not attain them. Are you only capable of believing in anything if God appears to you, allows you to see Him, and convinces you in person? As a human being, how are you qualified to ask God to personally appear to you? How are you qualified to make Him personally speak to a corrupt human such as yourself? Moreover, what makes you qualified to need Him to explain everything clearly to you before you will believe? If you are sensible, then you will believe after just reading these words God has uttered. If you truly believe, then it does not matter what He does or what He says. Rather, upon seeing that these words are the truth, you will be one hundred percent convinced that they were said by God and that He did these things, and you will already be prepared to follow Him to the end. You need not doubt this. People who are full of doubts are so deceitful. They simply cannot believe in God. They are always trying to understand those mysteries, and will only believe after they thoroughly comprehend them. Their precondition for believing in God is to have clear answers to these questions: How did God become flesh? When did He arrive? How long will He stay before He has to leave? Where will He go after He leaves? What is the process of His leaving? How does God incarnate work, and how does He leave? … They want to understand some mysteries; they are here to investigate them, not to seek the truth. They think that they will not be able to believe in God unless they can fathom these mysteries; it is as though their belief has been obstructed. This viewpoint such people have is problematic. Once they have a desire to research mysteries, they do not bother paying attention to the truth or heeding God’s words. Could such people know themselves? Self-knowledge does not come easily for them. This isn’t to condemn a certain kind of person. If someone doesn’t accept the truth and doesn’t believe in God’s words, then they don’t have true faith. They’ll just focus on splitting hairs over some words, mysteries, trivial things, or problems people hadn’t noticed. But it’s also possible that one day God will enlighten them, or their brothers and sisters will help them by regularly fellowshiping on the truth, and they will turn around. The day this happens, they’ll feel that their former views were too absurd, that they were too arrogant and thought far too highly of themselves, and they’ll be ashamed. Those with genuine faith will trust whatever God says without any doubts and, when they have some experience and see that God’s words are all fulfilled and accomplished, their faith will grow even stronger. This type of person is one who understands spiritual matters, who believes in and can accept the truth, and who truly has faith.