37. What it is to fear God and shun evil
Words of Almighty God of the Last Days
A genuine created being must know who the Creator is, what man’s creation is for, how to carry out the responsibilities of a created being, and how to worship the Lord of all creation, must understand, grasp, know, and care for the Creator’s intentions, wishes, and demands, and must act in accordance with the way of the Creator—fear God and shun evil.
What is to fear God? And how can one shun evil?
“To fear God” does not mean nameless fright and horror, nor to evade, nor to put at a distance, nor is it idolization or superstition. Rather, it is admiration, esteem, trust, understanding, caring, obedience, consecration, love, as well as unconditional and uncomplaining worship, requital, and submission. Without genuine knowledge of God, humanity will not have genuine admiration, genuine trust, genuine understanding, genuine caring or obedience, but only dread and unease, only doubt, misunderstanding, evasion, and avoidance; without genuine knowledge of God, humanity will not have genuine consecration and requital; without genuine knowledge of God, humanity will not have genuine worship and submission, only blind idolization and superstition; without genuine knowledge of God, humanity cannot possibly act in accordance with the way of God, or fear God, or shun evil. Conversely, every activity and behavior in which man engages will be filled with rebellion and defiance, with slanderous imputations and maligning judgments about Him, and with evil conduct running contrary to the truth and to the true meaning of God’s words.
Once humanity has genuine trust in God, they will be genuine in following Him and depending on Him; only with real trust in and dependence on God can humanity have genuine understanding and comprehension; along with real comprehension of God comes real caring for Him; only with genuine caring for God can humanity have genuine obedience; only with genuine obedience to God can humanity have genuine consecration; only with genuine consecration to God can humanity have requital that is unconditional and without complaint; only with genuine trust and dependence, genuine understanding and caring, genuine obedience, genuine consecration and requital, can humanity truly come to know God’s disposition and essence, and to know the identity of the Creator; only when they have truly come to know the Creator can humanity awaken in themselves genuine worship and submission; only when they have real worship for and submission to the Creator will humanity be able truly to put aside their evil ways, that is to say, to shun evil.
—The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. Preface
Now, everyone wants to become a person that fears God and shuns evil. So what does the way of fearing God and shunning evil mean? It can be said that it involves seeking to submit to God, and submitting to Him completely and absolutely. It involves being genuinely afraid and fearful of God, without any elements of deception, resistance, or rebellion. It is being completely pure of heart and absolutely loyal and obedient toward God. This loyalty and obedience must be absolute, not relative; it is not dependent upon time or place, or how old one is. This is the way of fearing God and shunning evil. In the process of such a pursuit, you will gradually come to know God and experience His deeds; you will feel His care and protection, sense the truth of His existence, and feel His sovereignty. Finally, you will really feel that God is in all things, and that He is right beside you. You will have this kind of realization. If you do not follow the way of fearing God and shunning evil, then you will never gain knowledge of these things.
—The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Man Is the Greatest Beneficiary of God’s Management Plan
Job was perfect, he feared God and shunned evil, and he was possessed of great wealth and venerable status. For a normal person living in such an environment and under such conditions, Job’s diet, quality of life, and the various aspects of his personal life would be the focus of most people’s attention; thus we must continue reading the scriptures: “And his sons went and feasted in their houses, every one his day; and sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them. And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually” (Job 1:4–5). … Where the Bible describes the feasting of Job’s sons and daughters, there is no mention of Job; it is said only that his sons and daughters often ate and drank together. In other words, he did not hold feasts, nor did he join his sons and daughters in eating extravagantly. Though affluent and possessed of many assets and servants, Job’s life was not a luxurious one. He was not beguiled by his superlative living environment, and he did not, because of his wealth, gorge himself on the enjoyments of the flesh or forget to offer burnt offerings, and much less did it cause him to gradually shun God in his heart. Evidently, then, Job was disciplined in his lifestyle, was not greedy or hedonistic as a result of God’s blessings to him, and he did not fixate upon quality of life. Instead, he was humble and modest, he was not given to ostentation, and he was cautious and careful before God. He often gave thought to God’s graces and blessings, and continually harbored a God-fearing heart. In his daily life, Job often rose early to offer burnt offerings for his sons and daughters. In other words, not only did Job himself fear God, but he also hoped that his children would likewise fear God and not sin against God. Job’s material wealth held no place within his heart, nor did it replace the position held by God; whether for his own sake or his children’s, Job’s daily actions were all connected to fearing God and shunning evil. His fear of Jehovah God did not stop at his mouth, but was something he put into action and reflected in each and every part of his daily life. This actual conduct by Job shows us that he was honest, and was possessed of an essence that loved justice and things that were positive. That Job often sent and sanctified his sons and daughters means he did not sanction or approve of his children’s behavior; instead, in his heart he was frustrated with their behavior, and condemned them. He had concluded that the behavior of his sons and daughters was not pleasing to Jehovah God, and thus he often called on them to go before Jehovah God and confess their sins. Job’s actions show us another side of his humanity, one in which he never walked with those who often sinned and offended God, but instead shunned and avoided them. Even though these people were his sons and daughters, he did not forsake his own principles of conduct because they were his own kin, nor did he indulge their sins because of his own sentiments. Rather, he urged them to confess and gain Jehovah God’s forbearance, and he warned them not to forsake God for the sake of their own greedy enjoyment. The principles of how Job treated others are inseparable from the principles of his fear of God and shunning of evil. He loved that which was accepted by God, and loathed that which repulsed God; he loved those who feared God in their hearts, and loathed those who committed evil or sinned against God. Such love and loathing was demonstrated in his everyday life, and was the very uprightness of Job seen by God’s eyes. Naturally, this is also the expression and living out of Job’s true humanity in his relations with others in his daily life, about which we must learn.
—The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself II
After God said to Satan, “All that he has is in your power; only on himself put not forth your hand,” Satan departed, soon after which Job came under sudden and fierce attacks: First, his oxen and donkeys were plundered and some of his servants killed; next, his sheep and some more servants were consumed in fire; after that, his camels were taken and even more of his servants were murdered; finally, his sons’ and daughters’ lives were taken away. This string of attacks was the torment suffered by Job during the first temptation. As commanded by God, during these attacks Satan only targeted Job’s property and his children, and did not harm Job himself. Nevertheless, Job was instantly transformed from a rich man possessed of great wealth to someone who had nothing. No one could have withstood this astonishing surprise blow or properly reacted to it, yet Job demonstrated his extraordinary side. The Scriptures provide the following account: “Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down on the ground, and worshipped.” This was Job’s first reaction after hearing that he had lost his children and all of his property. Above all, he did not appear surprised, or panic-stricken, much less did he express anger or hate. You see, then, that in his heart he had already recognized that these disasters were not an accident, or born from the hand of man, much less were they the arrival of retribution or punishment. Instead, the trials of Jehovah had come upon him; it was Jehovah who wished to take his property and children. Job was very calm and clear-headed then. His perfect and upright humanity enabled him to rationally and naturally make accurate judgments and decisions about the disasters that had befallen him, and in consequence, he behaved with unusual calm: “Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down on the ground, and worshipped.” “Rent his mantle” means that he was unclothed, and possessed of nothing; “shaved his head” means he had returned before God as a newborn infant; “fell down on the ground, and worshipped” means he had come into the world naked, and still without anything today, he was returned to God as if a newborn baby. Job’s attitude toward all that befell him could not have been achieved by any creature of God. His faith in Jehovah went beyond the realm of belief; this was his fear of God, his obedience to God; he was not only able to give thanks to God for giving to him, but also for taking from him. Furthermore, he was able to take it upon himself to return to God all that he owned, including his life.
Job’s fear and obedience toward God is an example to mankind, and his perfection and uprightness were the peak of the humanity that ought to be possessed by man. Though he did not see God, he realized that God truly existed, and because of this realization he feared God, and due to his fear of God, he was able to obey God. He gave God free rein to take whatever he had, yet he was without complaint, and fell down before God and told Him that, at this very moment, even if God took his flesh, he would gladly allow Him to do so, without complaint. His entire conduct was due to his perfect and upright humanity. This is to say, as a result of his innocence, honesty, and kindness, Job was unwavering in his realization and experience of God’s existence. Upon this foundation he made demands of himself and standardized his thinking, behavior, conduct and principles of actions before God in accordance with God’s guidance of him and the deeds of God that he had seen among all things. Over time, his experiences caused in him a real and actual fear of God and made him shun evil. This was the source of the integrity to which Job held firm. Job was possessed of an honest, innocent, and kind humanity, and he had actual experience of fearing God, obeying God, and shunning evil, as well as the knowledge that “Jehovah gave, and Jehovah has taken away.” Only because of these things was he able to stand firm in his testimony amid such vicious attacks by Satan, and only because of them was he able to not disappoint God and to provide a satisfactory answer to God when God’s trials came upon him.
—The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself II
Job had suffered the ravages of Satan, yet still he did not forsake the name of Jehovah God. His wife was the first to step out and, playing the role of Satan in a form that is visible to the eyes of man, attacked Job. The original text describes it thus: “Then said his wife to him, Do you still retain your integrity? curse God, and die” (Job 2:9). These were the words spoken by Satan in the guise of man. They were an attack, and an accusation, as well as enticement, a temptation, and slander. Having failed in attacking Job’s flesh, Satan then directly attacked Job’s integrity, wishing to use this to make Job give up his integrity, renounce God, and no longer go on living. So, too, did Satan wish to use such words to tempt Job: If Job forsook the name of Jehovah, then he need not endure such torment; he could free himself from the torment of the flesh. Faced with the advice of his wife, Job reprimanded her by saying, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:10). Job had long known these words, but at this time the truth of Job’s knowledge of them was proven.
When his wife advised him to curse God and die, her meaning was: “Your God treats you thus, so why not curse Him? What are you doing still living? Your God is so unfair to you, yet still you say ‘blessed be the name of Jehovah.’ How could He bring disaster upon you when you bless His name? Hurry up and forsake the name of God, and follow Him no more. Then, your troubles will be over.” At this moment, there was produced the testimony that God wished to see in Job. No ordinary person could bear such testimony, nor do we read of it in any of the stories of the Bible—but God had seen it long before Job spoke these words. God merely wished to use this opportunity to allow Job to prove to all that God was right. Faced with the advice of his wife, Job not only did not give up his integrity or renounce God, but he also said to his wife: “Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” Do these words carry great weight? Here, there is only one fact capable of proving the weight of these words. The weight of these words is that they are approved of by God in His heart, they are what was desired by God, they are what God wanted to hear, and they are the outcome that God yearned to see; these words are also the marrow of Job’s testimony. In this, Job’s perfection, uprightness, fear of God, and shunning of evil were proven. The preciousness of Job lay in how, when he was tempted, and even when his whole body was covered with sore boils, when he endured the utmost torment, and when his wife and kinfolk advised him, he still uttered such words. To put it in another way, in his heart he believed that, no matter what temptations, or however grievous the tribulations or torment, even if death was to come upon him, he would not renounce God or spurn the way of fearing God and shunning evil. You see, then, that God held the most important place in his heart, and that there was only God in his heart. It is because of this that we read such descriptions of him in the Scriptures as: In all this did not Job sin with his lips. Not only did he not sin with his lips, but in his heart he did not complain about God. He did not say hurtful words about God, nor did he sin against God. Not only did his mouth bless the name of God, but in his heart he also blessed the name of God; his mouth and heart were as one. This was the true Job seen by God, and this was the very reason why God treasured Job.
—The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself II
Why was Job able to fear God and shun evil? What was he thinking in his heart? How was he able to not do these evil things? He had a God-fearing heart. What does it mean to have a God-fearing heart? It means that his heart was afraid of God, could respect God as being great, and that there was a place for God in his heart. He was not afraid that God would see it, nor that God would get angry. Rather, in his heart he respected God as being great, was willing to satisfy God, and was willing to hold fast to God’s words. That is why he was able to fear God and shun evil. Everybody now can say the phrase “fearing God and shunning evil,” yet they do not know how Job accomplished it. In fact, Job treated “fearing God and shunning evil” as the most basic and important thing in believing in God. Therefore, he was able to hold fast to these words, as though he was holding fast to a commandment. He listened to God’s words because his heart respected God as being great. No matter how unremarkable the words of God may have seemed in the eyes of man, even if they were just ordinary words, in Job’s heart, these words were from the supreme God; they were the greatest, most important words. Even if they are words people look down on, so long as they are God’s words, people should observe them—even if they are mocked or slandered because of it. Even if they encounter hardship or are persecuted, they must hold fast to His words until the end; they cannot give up on them. This is what it means to fear God. You must hold fast to every word God demands of man. As for those things God prohibits, or those things God hates, it’s okay if you do not know about them, but if you know of them, then you should be able to absolutely not do those things. You should be able to hold fast, even if your family abandons you, unbelievers mock you, or those close to you ridicule and make fun of you. Why do you need to hold fast? What is your starting point? What are your principles? It is, “I must hold fast to God’s words and act according to His will. I will be firm in doing the things God likes, and be resolute in abandoning the things God hates. If I do not know God’s will, that’s fine, but if I do know and understand His will, then I will be resolute in listening to and obeying His words. No one will be able to hinder me, and I will not waver even if the world comes to an end.” This is what it means to fear God and shun evil.
—The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Part Three
In which matters in your daily lives do you have a God-fearing heart? And in which matters do you not? Are you able to hate someone when they offend you or impinge on your interests? And when you hate someone, are you capable of punishing them and getting revenge? (Yes.) Then you are quite scary! If you do not have a God-fearing heart, and are able to do evil things, then this vicious disposition of yours is far too severe! Love and hatred are things which normal humanity should possess, but you must differentiate clearly between what you love and what you hate. In your heart, you should love God, love the truth, love positive things, and love your brothers and sisters, whereas you should hate the devil Satan, hate negative things, hate antichrists, and hate wicked people. If you are capable of suppressing and taking revenge on your brothers and sisters out of hatred, this would be very frightening, and this is the disposition of an evil person. Some people simply have hateful thoughts and ideas—evil ideas, but they would never do anything evil. These are not evil people because when something happens, they are able to seek the truth, and they pay attention to the principles in how they conduct themselves and deal with things. When interacting with others, they do not ask more of them than they should; if they get along with the person well, they will keep interacting with them; if they do not get along, then they won’t. It barely affects the performance of their duty or their life entry. God is in their heart and they have a God-fearing heart. They are unwilling to offend God, and are afraid to do so. Though these people might harbor certain incorrect thoughts and ideas, they are able to reject or abandon them. They exercise restraint in their actions, and do not utter a single word that is out of line, or which offends God. Someone who speaks and acts this way is someone who has principles and who practices the truth. Your personality might be incompatible with another person’s, and you may not like them, but when you work together with them, you remain impartial and will not vent your frustrations in doing your duty, or take out your frustrations on the interests of God’s family; you can handle affairs according to principles. What is this a manifestation of? It is a manifestation of having a basic God-fearing heart. If you have a bit more than that, when you see that someone else has some inadequacies or weaknesses, then even if they have offended you or have a bias against you, you still have it in you to treat them correctly and lovingly help them. This means there is love in you, that you are a person who possesses humanity, that you are someone who is kind and who can practice the truth, that you are an honest person who possesses truth realities, and that you are someone with a God-fearing heart. If you are still of small stature but you have a will, and are willing to strive for the truth, and to strive to do things according to principle, and you are able to deal with things and act toward others with principle, then this also counts as having somewhat of a God-fearing heart; this is most fundamental.
—The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. The Five Conditions That Must Be Met to Embark on the Right Track of Belief in God
Once the truth has become life in you, when you observe someone who is blasphemous toward God, unfearful of God, and careless and perfunctory while performing their duty, or who interrupts and interferes with church work, you will respond according to the truth principles, and will be able to identify and expose them as necessary. If the truth has not become your life, and you still live within your satanic disposition, then when you discover wicked people and devils who cause disruptions and disturbances to the work of the church, you will turn a blind eye and a deaf ear; you will brush them aside, without reproach from your conscience. You will even think that anyone causing disruptions and disturbances to the work of the church has nothing to do with you. No matter how much the work of the church and the interests of the house of God suffer, you don’t care, intervene, or feel guilty—which makes you someone who has no conscience or sense, a nonbeliever, a service-doer. You eat what is of God’s, drink what is of God’s, and enjoy all that comes from God, yet feel that any harm to the interests of the house of God is not related to you—which makes you a traitor who bites the hand that feeds you. If you do not protect the interests of the house of God, are you even human? This is a demon that has insinuated itself into the church. You feign belief in God, pretend to be a chosen one, and you want to freeload in God’s house. You are not living the life of a human being, are more like a fiend than a person, and are clearly one of the nonbelievers. If you are someone who truly believes in God, then even if you have yet to gain the truth and life, at the very least you will speak and act from the side of God; at the very least, you will not stand idly by when you see the interests of the house of God being compromised. When you have the urge to turn a blind eye, you will feel guilty, and ill at ease, and will say to yourself, “I can’t sit here and do nothing, I must stand up and say something, I must take responsibility, I must reveal this evil behavior, I must stop it, so that the interests of the house of God are not harmed, and the church life is not disturbed.” If the truth has become your life, then not only will you have this courage and resolve, and will you be capable of understanding the matter completely, but you will also fulfill the responsibility you should bear for God’s work and for the interests of His house, and your duty will thereby be fulfilled. If you could consider your duty as your responsibility and obligation and as God’s commission, and you feel that this is necessary in order to face God and your conscience, would you not then be living out the integrity and dignity of normal humanity? Your deeds and behavior would be the “fearing God and shunning evil” of which He speaks. You would be performing the essence of these words and living out their reality.
—The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Part Three
Those Who Revere God Extol God in All Things
Job’s Testimony Defeated Satan
The Necessary Path to Fearing God and Shunning Evil