4. What true knowledge of oneself is
Words of Almighty God of the Last Days
After several thousand years of corruption, man is numb and dull-witted; he has become a demon that opposes God, to the extent that man’s rebelliousness toward God has been documented in the books of history, and even man himself is incapable of giving a full account of his rebellious behavior—for man has been profoundly corrupted by Satan, and has been led astray by Satan such that he knows not where to turn. Even today, man still betrays God: When man sees God, he betrays Him, and when he cannot see God, so too does he betray Him. There are even those who, having witnessed God’s curses and God’s wrath, still betray Him. And so I say that man’s sense has lost its original function, and that man’s conscience, too, has lost its original function. The man that I look upon is a beast in human attire, he is a venomous snake, and no matter how pitiable he tries to appear before My eyes, I will never be merciful toward him, for man has no grasp of the difference between black and white, of the difference between truth and non-truth. Man’s sense is so benumbed, yet still he wishes to gain blessings; his humanity is so ignoble yet still he wishes to possess the sovereignty of a king. Who could he be the king of, with sense such as that? How could he with such a humanity sit atop a throne? Man truly has no shame! He is a conceited wretch! For those of you who wish to gain blessings, I suggest you first find a mirror and look at your own ugly reflection—do you have what it takes to be a king? Do you have the face of one who could gain blessings? There has not been the slightest change in your disposition and you have not put any of the truth into practice, yet still you wish for a wonderful tomorrow. You are deluding yourself! Born into such a filthy land, man has been severely blighted by society, he has been influenced by feudal ethics, and he has been taught at “institutes of higher learning.” The backward thinking, corrupt morality, mean view on life, despicable philosophy for living, utterly worthless existence, and depraved lifestyle and customs—all of these things have severely intruded upon man’s heart, and severely undermined and attacked his conscience. As a result, man is ever more distant from God, and ever more opposed to Him. Man’s disposition becomes more vicious by the day, and there is not a single person who will willingly give up anything for God, not a single person who will willingly obey God, nor, moreover, a single person who will willingly seek the appearance of God. Instead, under the power of Satan, man does nothing but pursue pleasure, giving himself over to the corruption of the flesh in the land of mud. Even when they hear the truth, those who live in darkness give no thought to putting it into practice, nor are they inclined to seek out God even if they have beheld His appearance. How could a mankind so depraved have any chance of salvation? How could a mankind so decadent live in the light?
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. To Have an Unchanged Disposition Is to Be in Enmity to God
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 Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Only by Recognizing One’s Own Misguided Views Can One Truly Transform
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.
—The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Only by Recognizing One’s Own Misguided Views Can One Truly Transform
What aspects are there to self-knowledge? The first is knowing what corrupt dispositions are revealed in one’s speech and actions. Sometimes, it is arrogance, other times it is deceitfulness, or perhaps evil, intransigence, or betrayal, and so on. Beyond that, when something befalls a person, they should examine themselves to see if they have any intentions or motives that are not in accordance with the truth. They should also examine whether there is anything in their speech or actions that resists or rebels against God, especially in terms of their duty—if they take on a burden and are devoted, if they are truly expending themselves for God, and if they are being transactional or perfunctory. Self-knowledge also means knowing whether one has notions and imaginings, extravagant demands, or misunderstandings and grievances regarding God, and if one has a heart of obedience. It means knowing whether one can seek the truth, receive from God and submit to Him when approaching the situations, people, matters, and things that He orchestrates. It means knowing if one has conscience and reason and whether one is a lover of the truth. It means knowing whether one submits or tries to make excuses when things befall them, and if one relies on notions and imaginings or on seeking the truth in their approach to these matters. This is the scope of self-knowledge. One should reflect on whether they love the truth and have true faith in God in light of their attitude toward various situations and people, matters, and things. If one can come to know their corrupt disposition and see how great their rebellion is against God, then they will have grown. Furthermore, when it comes to affairs that involve their treatment of God, one should reflect on whether they have notions, are reverent and obedient in their treatment of God’s name and incarnation, and especially what their attitude is in regard to the truth. A person should also know their deficiencies, their stature, and whether they have the reality of the truth, as well as whether their pursuit and the road they walk are correct and in accordance with God’s will. These are all things that people should know. In summary, the various aspects of self-knowledge essentially consist of the following: knowledge of one’s caliber, knowledge of the dispositions that one reveals, knowledge of the intents and motives one has in their actions, knowledge of the quality of one’s humanity, knowledge of one’s preferences and pursuit, knowledge of the road one walks, knowledge of one’s views on things, knowledge of one’s outlook on life and values, and knowledge of one’s attitude toward God and the truth. Self-knowledge is mainly comprised of these aspects.
—The Word, Vol. 5. The Responsibilities of Leaders and Workers. The Responsibilities of Leaders and Workers (2)
To know yourself, you must know your own expressions of corruption, your corrupt disposition, your own vital weaknesses, and your nature essence. You must also know, down to the very last detail, those things that are revealed in your daily life—your motives, your perspectives, and your attitude about every single thing—whether you are at home or out, when you are in gatherings, when you are eating and drinking of the words of God, or in every single issue you encounter. Through these aspects you must come to know yourself. Of course, to know yourself on a deeper level, you must integrate God’s words; only by knowing yourself based on His words can you achieve results.
—The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. The Importance of Pursuing the Truth and the Path of Its Pursuit
Peter sought to know himself and see what had been revealed in him through the refinement of God’s words and within the various trials that God had provided for him. When he truly came to understand himself, Peter realized just how deeply corrupt humans are, how worthless and unworthy of serving God they are, and that they do not deserve to live before God. Peter then fell prostrate before God. Having experienced so much, Peter ultimately came to feel, “Knowing God is the most precious thing! If I died before knowing Him, it would be such a pity. Knowing God is the most important, most meaningful thing there is. If man does not know God, then they do not deserve to live, are the same as animals, and have no life.” By the time Peter’s experience had reached this point, he had come to know his own nature and he had gained a relatively good understanding of it. Although he perhaps would not have been able to explain it as clearly as people would nowadays, Peter had indeed reached this state. Therefore, walking the path of pursuing the truth and attaining perfection by God requires knowing one’s own nature from within God’s utterances, as well as comprehending the various aspects of one’s nature and accurately describing it in words, speaking clearly and plainly. Only this is truly knowing yourself, and only in this way will you have attained the result God requires. If your knowledge has not yet reached this point, but you claim to know yourself and say that you have gained life, then are you not simply bragging? You do not know yourself, nor do you know what you are in front of God, whether you have truly met the standards of being human, or how many satanic elements you still have within you. You are still unclear about who you belong to, and you do not even have any self-knowledge—so how can you possess reason in front of God? When Peter was pursuing life, he focused on understanding himself and transforming his disposition over the course of his trials, and he strove to know God. In the end, he thought, “People must seek an understanding of God in life; knowing Him is the most critical thing. If I do not know God, then I cannot rest in peace when I die. Once I know Him, if God then has me die, then I would have felt most gratified. I will not complain in the slightest, and my entire life will have been fulfilled.” Peter was not able to gain this level of understanding or reach this point immediately after he had begun to believe in God; he underwent a great many trials instead. His experience had to reach a certain milestone, and he had to completely understand himself, before he could sense the value of knowing God. Therefore, the path Peter took was the path of pursuing the truth, and was one of gaining life and of being perfected. This was the aspect upon which his specific practice was primarily focused.
—The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. How to Walk the Path of Peter
If your self-knowledge only involves the cursory recognition of superficial things—if you merely say that you are arrogant and self-righteous, that you rebel against and resist God—then this is not true knowledge, but doctrine. You must integrate the facts into this: You must bring to light whichever matters you hold fallacious intents and views or absurd opinions on for fellowship and dissection. Only this is truly knowing oneself. You should not gain an understanding of yourself based on your actions alone; you must grasp what is key and resolve the root of the problem. Once a period of time has gone by, you must reflect on yourself and summarize which problems you have resolved, and which still remain. So, too, must you seek the truth to solve these problems. You must not be passive, you must not always need others to coax you or push you to do things, or to even lead you by the nose; you must have your own path for life entry. You must frequently examine yourself to see what things you have said and done that are at odds with the truth, which of your intents are wrong, and what corrupt dispositions you have revealed. If you always practice and enter in this way—if you make strict demands of yourself—then you will gradually be able to understand the truth, and have life entry. When you genuinely understand the truth, you will see that you really are nothing. For one thing, you have a seriously corrupt disposition; for another, you lack too much, and you do not understand any truths. If a day comes when you truly possess such self-knowledge, you will no longer be capable of arrogance, and in many matters you will possess sense, and be capable of obedience. What is the key issue right now? Through fellowship and dissection on the essence of notions, people have come to understand the reason that they form notions; they are able to resolve some notions, but this does not mean that they can see clearly the essence of every notion, it just means that they have some self-knowledge, but their knowledge is not yet deep enough or clear enough. In other words, they still cannot see their own nature essence clearly, nor can they see what corrupt dispositions have taken root in their hearts. There is a limit to how much a person can gain knowledge of themselves in this way. Some people say, “I’m aware that my disposition is extremely arrogant—does this not mean I know myself?” Such knowledge is too superficial; it cannot solve the problem. If you truly know yourself, then why are you still seeking personal advancement, why do you still crave status and distinction? This means that your arrogant nature has not been eradicated. Therefore, change must start from your thoughts and views and the intents behind your words and actions. Do you acknowledge that much of what people say is barbed and venomous, and that there is an element of arrogance in the tone that they use? Their words carry their intents and personal opinions. Those who have insight will be able to discern this when they hear it. Some people talk in a certain way and have certain expressions most of the time when their arrogance is not pouring forth from them, but their behavior is very different when their arrogance is revealed. Sometimes they will drone on and on about their own high-sounding ideas, sometimes they will bear their fangs and claws and hold their heads high. They think that they are the king of the mountain, and Satan’s ugly face is exposed in this. There are all sorts of intents and corrupt dispositions inside every person. Just like how crafty people wink when they talk, and look at people out of the corner of their eye—there is a corrupt disposition concealed within these actions. Some people speak in evasive words, and others never know quite what they mean. There are always hidden meanings and tricks within their words, but on the outside they are very calm and collected. People such as this are even more crafty, and it is even harder for them to accept the truth. They are very hard to save.
—The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. How Man Crosses Into the New Age
When some people fellowship their self-knowledge, the first thing out of their mouths is, “I’m a devil, a living Satan, someone who resists God. I disobey Him and betray Him; I’m a viper, an evil person who should be cursed.” Is this true self-knowledge? They only speak in generalities. Why do they not offer examples? Why do they not bring the shameful things they did out into the light of day for analysis? Some undiscerning people hear them and think, “Now, that is true self-knowledge! To know themselves as the devil, Satan, and even to curse themselves—what heights they’ve reached!” Many people, new believers in particular, are prone to be deluded by this talk. They think that the speaker is pure and understands spiritual matters, that this is someone who loves the truth, and is qualified for leadership. However, once they interact with them for a while, they find that this is not so, that the person is not whom they imagined, but is exceptionally false and deceptive, skilled at disguise and pretension, which comes as a great disappointment. On what basis can people be deemed to truly know themselves? You cannot just consider what they say—the key is to determine whether they are able to practice and accept the truth. For those that truly understand the truth, they not only have true knowledge of themselves, most importantly, they are able to practice the truth. They not only speak about their true understanding, but are also able to truly do what they say. That is, their words and actions are completely aligned. If what they say sounds coherent and agreeable, but they don’t do it, don’t live it out, then in this they have become Pharisees, they are hypocrites, and absolutely not people who truly know themselves. Many people sound very coherent when they fellowship the truth, but don’t realize when they have outpourings of a corrupt disposition. Are these people who know themselves? If people do not know themselves, are they people who understand the truth? All who do not know themselves are people who do not understand the truth, and all who speak empty words of self-knowledge have false spirituality, they are liars. Some people sound very coherent when they speak words and doctrines, but the state in their spirits is numb and dull-witted, they are unperceptive, and they are unresponsive to any issues. It may be said that they are numb, but sometimes, listening to them speak, their spirits seem quite sharp. For example, right after an incident, they are able to know themselves straight away: “Just now an idea was made apparent in me. I thought about it and realized that it was crafty, that I was deceiving God.” Some undiscerning people are envious when they hear this, saying: “This person immediately realizes when they have an outpouring of corruption, and is able to open up and fellowship about it, too. They are so quick to react, their spirit is sharp, they’re much better than us. This is truly someone who pursues the truth.” Is this an accurate way of measuring people? (No.) So what should be the basis for evaluating whether people really know themselves? It must not only be what comes out of their mouths. You must also look at what is really manifested in them. The simplest method is to look at whether they are able to practice the truth—this is what’s most crucial. Their ability to practice the truth proves that they truly know themselves, because those who truly know themselves manifest repentance, and only when people manifest repentance do they truly know themselves. For instance, a person may know that they are deceitful, that they are full of petty schemes and plots, and they may also be able to tell when others reveal deceitfulness. So you should look to whether they truly repent and cast off their deceitfulness after admitting they are deceitful. And if they again reveal deceitfulness, look to whether they feel reproach and a sense of shame for having done so, to whether they are sincerely remorseful. If they have no sense of shame, much less repentance, then their self-knowledge is a cursory, slapdash thing. They are just going through the motions; theirs is not true knowledge. They do not feel that deceit is such an evil thing or that it is demonic, and they certainly do not feel what a shameless, vile behavior deceit is. They think, “People are all deceitful. The only ones who aren’t are fools. A bit of deceit doesn’t make you a bad person. I haven’t done evil; I’m not the most deceitful person out there.” Can such a person truly know themselves? They most certainly cannot. This is because they have no knowledge of their deceitful disposition, they do not abhor deceit, and everything they say about self-knowledge is pretense and empty talk. Not recognizing one’s own corrupt dispositions is not true self-knowledge. The reason that deceitful people cannot truly know themselves is that for them, it is no easy thing to accept the truth. So, no matter how many words and doctrines they can spout, they will not truly change.
—The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Only Self-Knowledge Is of Aid in Pursuing the Truth
Knowing the essence of your corrupt disposition is no simple task. Knowing yourself is not saying, broadly, “I’m a corrupted person; I’m a devil; I’m the offspring of Satan, the descendant of the great red dragon; I’m resistant and hostile toward God; I’m His enemy.” Such talk does not necessarily mean that you have true knowledge of your own corruption. You may have learned those words from someone else and not know much about yourself. True self-knowledge is not based in man’s learning or judgments, it is based in God’s words—it is seeing the consequences of corrupt dispositions and the suffering that you have experienced as a result of them, feeling how a corrupt disposition harms not only you, but also other people. It is seeing through to the fact that corrupt dispositions originate in Satan, that they are Satan’s poisons and philosophies, and that they are entirely inimical to the truth and to God. When you have seen through this problem, you will have come to know your corrupt disposition. After some people acknowledge that they are the devil Satan, they still do not accept being pruned and dealt with. They do not admit that they have done anything wrong or violated the truth. What is the matter with them? They still do not know themselves. Some people say they are the devil Satan, yet if you were to ask them, “Why do you say that you are the devil Satan?” they would be unable to respond. This goes to show that they do not know their corrupt disposition, or their nature essence. If they could see that their nature is the devil’s nature, that their corrupt disposition is Satan’s disposition, and admit that they are therefore the devil, Satan, they would then have come to know their own nature essence. True self-knowledge is achieved through the exposure, judgment, practice, and experience of God’s words. It is achieved through understanding the truth. If a person does not understand the truth, then no matter what they say about their self-knowledge, it is hollow and impractical, because they cannot find or grasp those things that are at root and essential. To know oneself, one must acknowledge which corrupt dispositions they have revealed in specific instances, what their intent was, how they behaved, with what they were adulterated, and why they could not accept the truth. They must be able to state these things clearly, only then can they know themselves. When some people are faced with being pruned and dealt with, they admit that they are sick of the truth, that they have suspicions and misunderstandings about God, and that they are guarded against Him. They also acknowledge that all of God’s words that judge and expose man are factual. This shows that they have a bit of self-knowledge. But because they do not have knowledge of God or His work, because they do not understand His will, their self-knowledge is quite shallow. If someone only acknowledges their own corruption but has not found the root of the problem, can their suspicions, misunderstandings, and guardedness surrounding God be resolved? No, they cannot. This is why self-knowledge is more than just a mere acknowledgment of one’s corruption and problems—one must also understand the truth and resolve the problem of their corrupt disposition at its root. That is the only way to see through to the truth of one’s corruption and achieve true repentance. When those who love the truth come to know themselves, they are also able to seek and understand the truth to resolve their problems. Only this sort of self-knowledge yields results. Whenever a person who loves the truth reads a phrase of God’s words that reveals and judges man, before anything else, they have faith that God’s words that reveal man are real and factual, and that God’s words that judge man are the truth, and that they represent God’s righteousness. Lovers of the truth must, at least, be able to recognize this. If someone does not even believe God’s words, and does not believe that God’s words exposing and judging man are facts and the truth, can they know themselves through His words? Certainly not—even if they wished to, they could not. If you can be firm in your belief that all of God’s words are the truth, and believe them all, no matter what God says or His manner of speaking, if you are able to believe and accept God’s words even if you do not understand them, it will be easy for you to reflect on and know yourself through them. Self-reflection must be based in the truth. That is beyond doubt. Only God’s words are the truth—none of man’s words and none of Satan’s words are the truth. Satan has been corrupting mankind with all kinds of learning, teachings, and theories for thousands of years, and people have become so numb and dull-witted that they not only lack the slightest knowledge of themselves, but they even uphold heresies and fallacies and refuse to accept the truth. Humans like these are irredeemable. Those who have true faith in God believe that only His words are the truth, they are able to know themselves on the basis of God’s words and the truth, and thereby achieve true repentance. Some people do not pursue the truth; they base their self-reflection only on man’s learning, and they admit to nothing more than sinful behavior, and all the while, they are unable to see through to their own corrupt essence. Such self-knowledge is a futile endeavor and it yields no results. One must base their self-reflection on God’s words, and after reflecting, gradually come to know the corrupt dispositions that they reveal. One must be able to measure and know their deficiencies, their humanity essence, their views on things, their life outlook and values, based on the truth, and then come to an accurate assessment and verdict on all these things. In this way, they can gradually attain knowledge of themselves. But self-knowledge grows ever deeper as one experiences more in life, and before one has gained the truth, it will be impossible for them to see entirely through to their nature essence. If a person truly knows themselves, they can see that corrupted human beings are indeed the offspring and embodiments of Satan. They will feel that they do not deserve to live before God, that they are unworthy of His love and salvation, and they will be able to completely prostrate themselves before Him. Only those who are capable of such a degree of knowledge truly know themselves.
—The Word, Vol. 6. On the Pursuit of the Truth I. What It Means to Pursue the Truth (1)
You now have some discernment of the corrupt disposition that you reveal. Once you can clearly see which corrupt things you are still liable to reveal on a regular basis, and what things you are still likely to do that are at odds with the truth, cleansing your corrupt disposition will be easy. Why, in many matters, can people not get a hold of themselves? Because at all times, and in every regard, they are being controlled by their corrupt dispositions, which constrain and disturb them in all things. When everything is going well, and they have not stumbled or become negative, some people invariably feel themselves to have stature, and think nothing of it when they see an evil person, a false leader, or an antichrist being exposed and cast out. They will even boast in front of everyone that, “Anyone else could stumble, but not me. Anyone else might not love God, but I do.” They think that they can stand firm in their testimony in any situation or circumstance. And the result? A day comes when they are tested and they complain and grumble about God. Is this not failing, is this not stumbling? Nothing exposes people more than when they are tested. God observes man’s innermost heart, and people must not brag at any time. Whatever they brag about, that is where they will stumble one day, sooner or later. When they see others stumbling and failing in certain circumstances, they think nothing of it, and even think that they themselves can do no wrong, that they will be able to stand firm—but they, too, end up stumbling and failing in the same circumstances. How can this be? It is because people do not thoroughly understand their own nature essence; their knowledge of the problems with their own nature essence is still insufficiently deep, so putting the truth into practice is very strenuous for them. For example, some people are very deceitful, and dishonest in their words and deeds, yet if you ask them in what regard their corrupt disposition is most severe, they say, “I am a little deceitful.” They merely say they are a little deceitful, but they do not say that their nature itself is deceitful, and they do not say that they are a deceitful person. Their knowledge of their own corrupt state is not that deep, and they do not look at it as seriously, nor as thoroughly, as others do. From the perspective of other people, this person is so deceitful and so crooked, and there is trickery in everything they say, and their words and actions are never honest—but that person is unable to know themselves that deeply. Any knowledge they happen to have is merely superficial. Whenever they speak and act, they reveal some part of their nature, yet they are unaware of this. They believe that their acting thus is not a revelation of corruption, they think that they have already put the truth into practice—but to observers, this person is quite crooked and deceitful, and their words and actions are very dishonest. That is to say, people have a very superficial understanding of their own nature, and there is a huge discrepancy between this and God’s words that judge and expose them. This is not a mistake in what God reveals, but rather that humans lack an adequately profound understanding of their own nature. People do not have a fundamental or essential understanding of themselves; instead, they focus and devote their energy on coming to know their actions and outward revelations. Even if some people are occasionally able to say a bit about their self-knowledge, it will not be very profound. No person has ever thought that they are a certain type of person or that they have a certain type of nature because they did a certain type of thing or revealed a certain thing. God has exposed the nature and essence of man, but what people understand is that their ways of doing things and their ways of speaking are flawed and defective; as a result, it is a relatively strenuous task for them to put the truth into practice. People think that their mistakes are merely momentary manifestations that are revealed carelessly, rather than outpourings of their nature. When people think in this way, it is very difficult for them to truly know themselves, and very difficult for them to understand and practice the truth. Because they do not know the truth and do not thirst after it, when putting the truth into practice, they merely follow rules in a perfunctory way. People do not view their own nature as being very bad, and believe that they are not bad to the extent that they should be destroyed or punished. Yet according to God’s standards, people are too deeply corrupted, they are still far from the standards for salvation, because they merely possess some approaches that do not outwardly appear to violate the truth, and in fact, they do not practice the truth and are not obedient to God.
—The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Part Three
If people’s knowledge of themselves is too shallow, they will find it impossible to solve problems, and their life dispositions simply will not change. It is necessary to know oneself on a profound level, which means knowing one’s own nature: what elements are included in that nature, how these things originated, and where they came from. Moreover, are you actually able to hate these things? Have you seen your own ugly soul and your evil nature? If you are truly able to see the truth about yourself, then you will loathe yourself. When you loathe yourself and then practice God’s word, you will be able to forsake the flesh and have the strength to carry out truth without believing it to be strenuous. Why do many people follow their fleshly preferences? Because they consider themselves to be pretty good, feeling that their actions are right and justified, that they have no faults, and even that they are entirely in the right, they are therefore capable of acting with the assumption that justice is on their side. When one recognizes what one’s true nature is—how ugly, how despicable, and how pitiful—then one is not overly proud of oneself, not so wildly arrogant, and not so pleased with oneself as before. Such a person feels, “I must be earnest and down to earth in practicing some of God’s word. If not, then I will not measure up to the standard of being human, and will be ashamed to live in God’s presence.” One then truly sees oneself as paltry, as truly insignificant. At this time, it becomes easy for one to carry out truth, and one will appear to be somewhat like a human should be. Only when people truly loathe themselves are they able to forsake the flesh. If they do not loathe themselves, they will be unable to forsake the flesh. Truly loathing oneself is not a simple matter. There are several things that must be found in them: First, knowing one’s own nature; and second, seeing oneself as needy and pitiful, seeing oneself to be extremely small and insignificant, and seeing one’s own pitiful and dirty soul. When one fully sees what one truly is, and this outcome is achieved, one then truly gains knowledge of oneself, and it can be said that one has come to know oneself fully. Only then can one truly hate oneself, going so far as to curse oneself, and truly feel that one has been corrupted profoundly by Satan such that one does not even resemble a human being. Then, one day, when the threat of death appears, such a person will think, “This is God’s righteous punishment. God is indeed righteous; I really should die!” At this point, he will not lodge a complaint, much less blame God, simply feeling that he is so needy and pitiful, so filthy and corrupt that he should be cast out and destroyed by God, and a soul like his is not fit to live on earth. Therefore, this person will not complain against or resist God, much less betray God.
—The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Part Three
Understand Yourself According to God’s Words