5. How to know oneself and cast off one’s corrupt dispositions
Words of Almighty God of the Last Days
Changing man’s disposition starts with knowledge of his essence and through changes in his thinking, nature, and mental outlook—through fundamental changes. Only in this way will true changes be achieved in the disposition of man. The root cause of corrupt dispositions arising in man is Satan’s deception, corruption, and poison. Man has been bound and controlled by Satan, and he suffers the egregious harm that Satan has inflicted upon his thinking, morality, insight, and sense. It is precisely because the fundamental things of man have been corrupted by Satan, and are utterly unlike how God originally created them, that man opposes God and cannot accept the truth. Thus, changes in man’s disposition should begin with changes in his thinking, insight, and sense that will change his knowledge of God and his knowledge of the truth. Those who were born in the most deeply corrupted of all lands are even more ignorant of what God is, or what it means to believe in God. The more corrupted people are, the less they know the existence of God, and the poorer their sense and insight. The source of man’s opposition and rebelliousness against God is his corruption by Satan. Because of Satan’s corruption, man’s conscience has grown numb; he is immoral, his thoughts are degenerate, and he has a backward mental outlook. Before he was corrupted by Satan, man naturally submitted to God and obeyed His words after hearing them. He was naturally of sound sense and conscience, and of normal humanity. After being corrupted by Satan, man’s original sense, conscience, and humanity grew dull and were impaired by Satan. Thus, he has lost his obedience and love toward God. Man’s sense has become aberrant, his disposition has become the same as that of an animal, and his rebelliousness toward God is ever more frequent and grievous. Yet man still neither knows nor recognizes this, and merely opposes and rebels blindly. Man’s disposition is revealed in expressions of his sense, insight, and conscience; because his sense and insight are unsound, and his conscience has grown supremely dull, thus his disposition is rebellious against God. If man’s sense and insight cannot change, then changes in his disposition are out of the question, as is conforming to God’s will. If man’s sense is unsound, then he cannot serve God and is unfit for use by God. “Normal sense” refers to obeying and being faithful to God, to yearning for God, to being absolute toward God, and to having a conscience toward God. It refers to being of one heart and mind toward God, and not deliberately opposing God. Having an aberrant sense is not like this. Since man was corrupted by Satan, he has come up with notions about God, and he has had no loyalty to God or yearning for Him, to say nothing of a conscience toward God. Man deliberately opposes God and passes judgments on Him, and, furthermore, hurls invective at Him behind His back. Man passes judgment on God behind His back, with clear knowledge that He is God; man has no intention of obeying God, and merely makes blind demands and requests of Him. Such people—people who have aberrant sense—are incapable of knowing their own despicable behavior or of regretting their rebelliousness. If people are capable of knowing themselves, then they have regained a little of their sense; the more rebellious against God people who cannot yet know themselves are, the less are they sound of sense.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. To Have an Unchanged Disposition Is to Be in Enmity to God
God uses various means to get people to know themselves. He has prepared all manner of environments for people to expose their corruption, and to get them to know themselves progressively through experience. Whether it’s the revelation of God’s words or His judgment and chastisement, do you understand what the ultimate purpose of God doing this work is? God’s ultimate purpose in doing His work this way is to allow every person who experiences His work to know what man is. And what does this entail, this “knowing what man is”? It entails letting man know his identity and his status, his duty and his responsibility. It means letting you know what it means to be human, letting you understand who you are. This is God’s ultimate goal in getting people to know themselves.
—The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Part Three
To pursue dispositional change, one must first be able to recognize their own corrupt disposition. Truly knowing oneself involves seeing through and thoroughly dissecting the essence of their corruption, as well as recognizing the various states a corrupt disposition gives rise to. It is only when someone clearly understands their own corrupt states and corrupt disposition that they can hate their flesh and hate Satan, which only then brings about dispositional change. If they cannot recognize these states, and fail to make the connections and match them up to themselves, can their disposition change? It cannot. Dispositional change requires one to recognize the different states their corrupt disposition produces; they must reach a point of not being controlled by their corrupt disposition and putting the truth into practice—only then can their disposition begin to change. If they cannot recognize the origin of their corrupt states, and only constrain themselves according to the words and doctrines they understand, then even if they have some good behavior and change a bit on the outside, it cannot be considered as dispositional transformation. Since it cannot be considered as dispositional transformation, what, then, is the role that most people play during the course of performing their duty? It is the role of a service-doer; they merely exert themselves and busy themselves with tasks. Although they are also performing their duty, most of the time they are only focused on getting things done, not seeking the truth but just exerting effort. Sometimes, when they’re in a good mood, they’ll put in extra effort, and sometimes when their mood is bad they’ll hold back a bit. But afterward they’ll examine themselves and feel remorse, so they’ll put in more effort again, believing this to be repentance. Actually, this is not true change, nor is it true repentance. True repentance begins with knowing oneself; it begins with a shift in behavior. Once someone’s behavior has shifted, and they can forsake their flesh, put the truth into practice, and in terms of behavior, appear to be aligned with principles, this means there has been genuine repentance. Then, bit by bit, they reach the point of being able to speak and act according to principles, completely conforming to the truth. This is when a change in life disposition begins.
—The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Only Self-Knowledge Is of Aid in Pursuing the Truth
The key to achieving a change in disposition is to know one’s own nature, and this must happen in accordance with revelations from God. Only in God’s word can one know one’s own hideous nature, recognize in one’s own nature Satan’s various poisons, realize that one is foolish and ignorant, and recognize the weak and negative elements in one’s nature. After these are fully known, and you are truly able to hate yourself and forsake the flesh, consistently carry out God’s word, consistently pursue the truth while performing your duties, achieve a change in your disposition, and become a person who truly loves God, then you will have embarked on the path of Peter. Without the grace of God, and without enlightenment and guidance from the Holy Spirit, it would be difficult to walk this path, because people do not possess truth and are unable to betray themselves. Walking Peter’s path of perfection primarily rests on being resolved, having faith, and relying on God. Furthermore, one must submit to the work of the Holy Spirit; in all things, one cannot do without God’s words. These are the key aspects, none of which can be violated. Getting to know oneself through experience is very difficult; without the work of the Holy Spirit, it is futile.
—The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Part Three
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. When accepting the judgment of God’s words, don’t be afraid of suffering or pain, and moreover, don’t be afraid that God’s words will pierce your hearts and expose your ugly states. It is so beneficial to suffer these things. If you believe in God, you should read more of God’s words judging and chastising people, especially those that reveal the essence of humankind’s corruption. You should compare them to your practical state more, and you should connect them to yourself more and others less. The types of states God reveals exist in every person, and they can all be found in you. If you don’t believe this, try experiencing it. The more you experience, the more you will know yourself, and the more you will feel that God’s words are very accurate. After reading God’s words, some people are incapable of connecting them to themselves; they think that parts of these words are not about them, but are instead about other people. For example, when God exposes people as jezebels and whores, some sisters feel that because they have been unerringly faithful to their husbands, such words must not be in reference to them; some sisters feel that since they are unmarried and have never had sex, such words must not be about them, either. Some brothers feel that these words are only aimed at women, and have nothing to do with them; some people believe that God’s words of revelation are too severe, that they do not conform to reality, so they refuse to accept them. There are even people who say that in some instances, God’s words are inaccurate. Is this the right attitude to have toward God’s words? It is obviously wrong. People all view themselves based on their external behaviors. They are incapable of reflecting upon themselves, and coming to know their corrupt essence, amid the words of God. Here, “jezebels” and “whores” refer to the essence of the corruption, filthiness, and promiscuity of mankind. Whether man or woman, married or not married, everyone has corrupt thoughts of promiscuity—so how can it have nothing to do with you? God’s words expose people’s corrupt dispositions; whether male or female, one’s level of corruption is the same. Is this not a fact? We have to first realize that everything God says is the truth, and in line with the facts, and that no matter how severe His words that judge and expose people are, or how gentle His words of fellowshiping the truth or exhorting people are, whether His words are judgment or blessings, whether they are condemnations or curses, whether they give people a bitter feeling or a sweet one, people must accept them all. Such is the attitude people should have toward God’s words. What sort of attitude is this? Is it a devout attitude, a pious attitude, a patient attitude, or an attitude of embracing suffering? You are somewhat confused. I tell you that it is not any of these. In their faith, people must firmly maintain that God’s words are the truth. Since they are indeed the truth, people should accept them rationally. Whether or not they are able to recognize or admit it, their first attitude toward God’s words should be one of absolute acceptance. If God’s word doesn’t expose you, who does it expose? And if it is not in order to expose you, why are you asked to accept it? Isn’t this a contradiction? God speaks to the whole of mankind, every sentence uttered by God exposes corrupt mankind, and no one is exempt—which naturally includes you, too. Not a single one of the lines of God’s utterances is about external appearances, or a kind of state, much less about an external rule or a simple form of behavior in people. They are not like that. If you think every line uttered by God is just revealing a simple kind of human behavior or external appearance, then you have no spiritual understanding and you do not understand what the truth is. God’s words are the truth. People can sense the profundity of God’s words. How are they profound? God’s every word exposes people’s corrupt dispositions, and essential and deep-rooted things within their lives. They are essential things, not external appearances, and particularly not external behaviors. Viewing people from their external appearances, they might all seem to be good people. But why, then, does God say that some people are evil spirits and some are unclean spirits? This is a matter that is not visible to you. So, one must not treat God’s words in light of human notions or imaginings, or in light of human hearsay, and certainly not in light of the ruling party’s statements. God’s words alone are the truth; man’s words are all fallacy. After being fellowshiped to thusly, have you experienced a change in your attitude toward God’s words? No matter how great or small the change, the next time you read God’s words judging and revealing people, you at least should not try to reason with God. You should stop complaining about God, saying, “God’s words of revelation and judgment are really severe; I’m not going to read this page. I’ll just skip over it. Let me search for something to read about blessings and promises, so as to find some comfort.” You should no longer read the word of God by picking and choosing according to your own inclinations. You must accept the truth and the judgment and chastisement of God’s words; only then can your corrupt disposition be cleansed, and only then can you attain salvation.
—The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. The Importance of Pursuing the Truth and the Path of Its Pursuit
If you are one who pursues the truth, then you must reflect upon and understand your corrupt disposition according to God’s words, measure yourself against every sentence of God’s words of revelation and judgment, and bit by bit excavate all of your corrupt dispositions and states. Start by digging into the intentions and purpose of your words and actions, dissect and discern every word you speak, and do not overlook anything that exists within your thoughts and mind. This way, through incremental dissection and discernment, you will discover that your corrupt disposition is not just a little but rather abundant, and that Satan’s poisons are not limited but rather numerous. This way, you will gradually see clearly your corrupt dispositions and nature essence, and realize how deeply Satan has corrupted you. At this time you will feel how extremely precious the truth expressed by God is. It can resolve the problems of corrupt humankind’s disposition and nature. This medicine which God prepared for corrupt humans in order to save humankind is incredibly effective, even more valuable than any elixir. Thus, in order to receive God’s salvation, you willingly pursue the truth, cherishing every aspect of the truth more and more, pursuing it with ever increasing vigor. When one has this feeling in their heart, it means they’ve already gained an understanding of some truth, and have already rooted themselves in the true way. If they can experience it more deeply and truly love God from their heart, their life disposition will start to transform.
It is easy to make some changes to behavior, but it is not easy to change one’s life disposition. Resolving the issue of a corrupt disposition must begin with knowing oneself. It requires attentiveness, focusing on examining one’s intentions and states bit by bit, constantly scrutinizing intentions and habitual ways of speech. And then one day, there will be a sudden realization: “I’m always saying nice things to disguise myself, hoping to gain status in the hearts of others. This is a wicked disposition. It is not the revelation of a normal humanity and does not conform to the truth. This wicked way of speaking and intention are wrong, and must be changed and disposed of.” After having this realization, you will feel the grave severity of your wicked disposition with increasing clarity. You had thought wickedness just meant the existence of a little wicked lust between a man and a woman, and felt that although you displayed wickedness in this regard, you were not a person with a wicked disposition. This indicates that you lacked understanding of a wicked disposition; you seemed to know the superficial meaning of the word “wicked” but could not truly recognize or discern a wicked disposition; and in fact, you still do not understand what the word “wicked” means. When you realize that you have revealed this type of disposition, you start to self-reflect and recognize it, and dig deep into its origins, and you will see that you really do have such a disposition. What should you do next then? You must continually examine your intentions within your own similar ways of speaking. Through this constant digging, you will identify with increasing authenticity and accuracy that you do indeed have this kind of disposition and essence. Only on the day that you truly admit you really do have a wicked disposition will you start to develop hatred and aversion toward it. One goes from thinking they are a good person, upright in conduct, equipped with a sense of justice, a person of moral integrity, a guileless person, to recognizing that they possess such nature essences as arrogance, intransigence, deceitfulness, wickedness, and weariness of the truth. At that point, they will have accurately assessed themselves and know what they truly are. Merely verbally acknowledging or cursorily recognizing that you have these manifestations and states will not produce genuine hatred. Only by recognizing that the essence of these corrupt dispositions is the repulsive manner of Satan can one truly hate oneself. What sort of humanity is required to truly know oneself to the point of self-hatred? One must love positive things, love the truth, love fairness and righteousness, have conscience and awareness, be kind-hearted, and be able to accept and practice the truth—all people like this can truly know and hate themselves. Those who do not love the truth and who find it difficult to accept the truth will never know themselves. Even if they may speak some words about knowing themselves, they cannot put the truth into practice, and will not undergo any genuine change. Knowing oneself is the most difficult task.
—The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Only Self-Knowledge Is of Aid in Pursuing the Truth
When reading God’s words, Peter was not focused on understanding doctrines, much less was he focused on obtaining theological knowledge. Instead, he concentrated on comprehending the truth and grasping God’s will, as well as achieving an understanding of God’s disposition and loveliness. Peter also attempted to understand the various corrupt states of man from God’s words, as well as man’s nature essence, and actual shortcomings, thereby easily meeting God’s requirements in order to satisfy Him. Peter had so many correct practices that abided by the words of God. This was most in line with God’s will, and it was the best way a person could cooperate while experiencing God’s work. When experiencing the hundreds of trials sent by God, Peter examined himself strictly against every word of God’s judgment and revelation of man, and every word of His demands of man, and strived to accurately fathom the meaning of those words. He tried in earnest to ponder and memorize every word that Jesus said to him, and he achieved very good results. By practicing in this way, he was able to achieve an understanding of himself from God’s words, and he not only came to understand the various corrupt states and shortcomings of man, but he also came to understand man’s essence and nature. This is what it means to truly understand oneself.
—The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. How to Walk the Path of Peter
If people are to understand themselves, they must understand their corrupt disposition, and have a grasp of their true states. The most important aspect of understanding one’s own state is to have a grasp on one’s own thoughts and ideas. In every time period, people’s thoughts and ideas have been controlled by one major thing. If you can grasp your thoughts and ideas, you can grasp the things that are behind them. People cannot control their thoughts and ideas. However, you do need to know where these thoughts and ideas come from, what the motives behind them are, how these thoughts and ideas are produced, what controls them, and what their nature is. After a person’s disposition changes, the thoughts, ideas, views and the goals the person strives toward which are created by the part which changed, will be very different than before—essentially, they will approach the truth and be in accordance with the truth. The things within people that have not changed, that is to say, their old thoughts, ideas, and views, including the things that people like and pursue, are all utterly dirty, filthy, and hideous things. After a person understands the truth, they are able to discern these things, and see them clearly; therefore, they are able to give up and turn their back on these things. People like this have definitely changed in some way. They are able to accept the truth, practice the truth, and enter into some truth realities. The people who do not understand the truth cannot see these corrupted or negative things clearly, nor discern them; therefore, they are unable to give them up, not to mention turn their back on these things. What causes this difference? Why is it that they are all believers, but some of them can discern negative and unclean things, and give them up, while others cannot see these things clearly, nor free themselves from them? It is directly connected to whether the person loves and pursues the truth.
—The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Part Three
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.
—The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Only by Recognizing One’s Own Misguided Views Can One Truly Transform
In the course of experiencing the work of God, no matter how many times you have failed, fallen down, been pruned, dealt with, or exposed, these are not bad things. Regardless of how you have been pruned or dealt with, or whether it is by leaders, workers, or your brothers or sisters, these are all good things. You must remember this: No matter how much you suffer, you are actually benefiting. Anyone with experience can attest to this. No matter what, being pruned, dealt with, or exposed is always a good thing. It is not a condemnation. It is God’s salvation and the best opportunity for you to get to know yourself. It can bring your life experience a change of gears. Without it, you will possess neither the opportunity, the condition, nor the context to be able to reach an understanding of the truth of your corruption. If you truly understand the truth, and are able to unearth the corrupt things hidden in the depths of your heart, if you can clearly distinguish them, then this is good, this has solved a major problem of life entry, and is of great benefit to changes in disposition. Becoming able to truly know yourself is the best opportunity for you to mend your ways and become a new person; it is the best opportunity for you to obtain new life. Once you truly know yourself, you will be able to see that when the truth becomes one’s life, it is a precious thing indeed, and you will thirst for the truth, practice the truth, and enter into reality. This is such a great thing! If you can grab this opportunity and earnestly reflect upon yourself and gain a genuine knowledge of yourself whenever you fail or fall down, then in the midst of negativity and weakness, you will be able to stand back up. Once you have crossed this threshold, you will then be able to take a big step forward and enter the truth reality.
—The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. To Gain the Truth, One Must Learn From the People, Matters, and Things Nearby
All those who truly know themselves have failed and stumbled a few times in the past, after which, they read God’s words, prayed to Him, and reflected on themselves, and thereby came to see the truth of their own corruption clearly, and to feel that they were indeed profoundly corrupted, and absolutely bereft of the truth reality. If you experience God’s work like this, and you pray to Him and seek the truth when things befall you, you will gradually come to know yourself. Then one day, your heart will finally be clear: “I may have slightly better caliber than others, but this was given to me by God. I’m always boastful, attempting to outdo others when I speak, and trying to get people to do things my way. I truly lack sense—this is arrogance and self-righteousness! Through reflection, I’ve learned of my own arrogant disposition. This is God’s enlightenment and grace, and I thank Him for it!” Is it a good thing or a bad thing to learn of your own corrupt disposition? (A good thing.) From there, you should seek how to speak and act with sense and obedience, how to stand on equal footing with others, how to treat others fairly without constraining them, how to correctly regard your caliber, gifts, strengths, and so on. In this way, like a mountain being hammered into dust, one strike at a time, your arrogant disposition will be resolved. After that, when you interact with others or work with them to perform a duty, you will be able to treat their views correctly and pay careful, close attention while you listen to them. And when you hear them voice a view that is correct, you will discover, “It seems my caliber isn’t the best. The fact is that everybody has their own strengths; they’re not inferior to me at all. Before, I always thought that I had better caliber than others. That was self-admiration and narrow-minded ignorance. I had a very limited outlook, like a frog at the bottom of a well. Thinking like that really lacked sense—it was shameless! I was blinded and deafened by my arrogant disposition. Other people’s words didn’t get through to me, and I thought that I was better than them, that I was right, when in fact, I’m no better than any of them!” From then on, you will have true insight into and knowledge of your deficiencies and your small stature. And after that, when you fellowship with others, you will listen closely to their views, and you will realize, “There are so many people who are better than me. My caliber and comprehension ability are both middling, at best.” With this realization, will you not have gained a bit of self-awareness? By experiencing this, and frequently reflecting on yourself according to God’s words, you will be able to gain true self-knowledge that grows ever deeper. You will be able to see through to the truth of your corruption, to your poverty and wretchedness, to your deplorable ugliness, and at that time, you will be sickened by yourself and hate your corrupt disposition. Then it will be easy for you to forsake yourself. That is how you experience God’s work. You must reflect on your outpourings of corruption according to God’s words. In particular, after revealing a corrupt disposition in any kind of situation, you must frequently reflect on and know yourself. It will then be easy for you to see your corrupt essence clearly, and you will be able to hate your corruption, your flesh, and Satan from the heart. And from the heart, you will be able to love and strive for the truth. In this way, your arrogant disposition will keep diminishing, and you will gradually cast it off. You will gain more and more sense, and it will be easier for you to submit to God. In the eyes of others, you will appear steadier and more grounded, and you will seem to speak more objectively. You will be capable of listening to others, and you will give them time to talk. When others are right, it will be easy for you to accept their words, and your interactions with people will not be so taxing. You will be able to cooperate harmoniously with anyone. If this is how you perform your duty, will you not then have sense and humanity?
—The Word, Vol. 6. On the Pursuit of the Truth I. What It Means to Pursue the Truth (1)
To completely resolve the problem of your corrupt disposition, you must seek the truth to resolve it when it first arises. You must solve the corrupt disposition in its budding state, thereby ensuring that you will not do anything wrong and preventing future troubles. If a corrupt disposition takes root and becomes a person’s thoughts or viewpoint, it will be able to direct a person to do evil. Therefore, self-reflection and self-knowledge is mainly about discovering one’s corrupt dispositions, and quickly seeking the truth to resolve them. You must know what things are in your nature, what you like, what you pursue, and what you want to obtain. You must analyze these things according to God’s words to see if they are in line with God’s will, and in what way they are erroneous. Once you understand these things, you must resolve the problem of your abnormal reason, which is to say, the problem of your unreasonable and relentless vexatiousness. This is not only the problem of your corrupt disposition, it also touches on your lack of reason. Especially in matters where their interests are concerned, people who get carried away by self-interest do not possess normal reason. This is a psychological problem, and this is also people’s Achilles’ heel. …
The things in man’s nature are not like some outward behaviors, practices, or thoughts and ideas that can just be dealt with and that’s it; they must be unearthed bit by bit. Moreover, they are not easy for people to identify, and even if identified, they are not easy to change—doing so requires an adequately profound understanding. Why do we always analyze man’s nature? Don’t you understand what that means? Where do the revelations of people’s corrupt dispositions come from? They all come from within their nature, and they are all governed by their nature. Every one of man’s corrupt dispositions, every thought and idea, every intention, are all related to man’s nature. Therefore, by directly unearthing man’s nature, their corrupt dispositions can be easily resolved. Though it is not easy to change people’s nature, if they can discern and see through to the corrupt dispositions they reveal, and if they can seek the truth to resolve them, then they can gradually change their dispositions. Once a person has achieved a change in their life disposition, then there will be fewer and fewer things in them that resist God. The purpose of analyzing man’s nature is to change their dispositions. You haven’t grasped this aim, and think that just by analyzing and understanding your nature you can obey God and restore your reason. All you do is just blindly apply rules! Why is it that I do not simply expose people’s arrogance and self-righteousness? Why must I also analyze their corrupt nature? It won’t solve the problem if I only expose their self-righteousness and arrogance. But if I analyze their nature, the aspects that this covers are very broad, and it includes all corrupt dispositions. It is more than just the narrow range of self-righteousness, self-importance, and arrogance. Nature includes much more than this. So, it would be good if people could recognize just how many corrupt dispositions they are revealing in all their various demands of God, that is, in their extravagant desires. Once people understand their own nature essence, they can then despise and deny themselves; it will be easy for them to resolve their corrupt dispositions, and they will have a path. Otherwise, you will never dig out the root cause, and will only say that this is self-righteousness, arrogance, or pride, or having no loyalty at all. Can only talking about such superficial things solve your problem? Is there any need to discuss man’s nature?
—The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. People Make Too Many Demands of God
Nowadays, most people have a very superficial understanding of themselves. They have not come to clearly know the things that are part of their nature at all. They only have knowledge of a few of the corrupt states they expose, the things they are likely to do, or a few of their shortcomings, and this makes them believe that they know themselves. If, furthermore, they abide by a few rules, ensure that they do not make mistakes in certain areas, and manage to avoid committing certain transgressions, they then consider themselves to possess reality in their belief in God and assume that they will be saved. This is completely human imagination. If you abide by those things, will you really become able to refrain from committing any transgressions? Will you have attained a true change in disposition? Will you really be living out the likeness of a human being? Can you genuinely satisfy God that way? Absolutely not, this is for sure. Belief in God works only when one has high standards and has attained the truth and some transformation in one’s life disposition. This first requires dedication to knowing oneself. 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. If one does not know oneself, and still considers oneself to be pretty good, then when death comes knocking, this person will think, “I have done so well in my faith. How hard I have sought! I have given so much, I have suffered so much, yet ultimately, God is now asking me to die. I don’t know where God’s righteousness is. Why is He asking me to die? If I have to die, then who will be saved? Won’t the human race come to an end?” First of all, this person has notions about God. Secondly, this person is complaining, and not showing any submission whatsoever. This is just like Paul: When he was about to die, he did not know himself, and by the time God’s punishment was nigh, it was all too late.
—The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Part Three
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 disturbance 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 disturbance 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 doctrines, 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.
—The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Only by Recognizing One’s Own Misguided Views Can One Truly Transform
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