21. The Notion of the Religious World That: “Believers in God Already Engage in Good Behaviors and Have Changed, So They Don’t Need to Accept the Judgment and Purification in the Last Days”
People in the religious world think that: “Since we came to believe in the Lord, we have been humble and patient, we have loved our enemies, borne the cross, abandoned worldly things, and worked and preached for the Lord. We have already undergone a bit of transformation. When the Lord comes, we will be taken up into the kingdom of heaven—why do you say that we have to accept God’s work of judgment in the last days in order to be purified?”
Words From the Bible
“Not every one that said to Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of My Father which is in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, and in Your name have cast out devils, and in Your name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess to them, I never knew you: depart from Me, you that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:21–23).
“Truly, truly, I say to you, Whoever commits sin is the servant of sin. And the servant stays not in the house for ever: but the son stays ever” (John 8:34–35).
“For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries” (Hebrews 10:26–27).
“Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).
Words of Almighty God of the Last Days
Is it so easy to be perfected before God as a saint or a righteous person? It is a true statement that “there are no righteous upon this earth, the righteous are not in this world.” When you come before God, consider what you are wearing, consider your every word and action, your every thought and idea, and even the dreams that you dream every day—they are all for your own sake. Is this not the true state of affairs? “Righteousness” does not mean giving alms to others, it does not mean loving your neighbor as yourself, and it does not mean refraining from quarrels and disputes or robbing and stealing. Righteousness means taking God’s commission as your duty and obeying God’s orchestrations and arrangements as your heaven-sent vocation, regardless of time or place, just like all that was done by the Lord Jesus. This is the righteousness of which God has spoken. That Lot could be called righteous is because he saved the two angels sent by God without considering his own gain and loss; it can only be said that what he did at that time may be called righteous, but he cannot be called a righteous man. It was only because Lot had seen God that he gave his two daughters in exchange for the angels, but not all of his behavior in the past stood for righteousness. And so I say “there are no righteous upon this earth.” Even among those who are in the stream of recovery, no one can be called righteous. No matter how good your actions, no matter how you appear to glorify the name of God, neither hitting and cursing others, nor robbing and plundering from others, you still cannot be called righteous, for this is what a normal person is capable of having. What is key right now is that you do not know God. It can only be said that at present you have a little bit of normal humanity, but no elements of the righteousness spoken of by God, and so nothing that you do is capable of proving that you know God.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. The Wicked Will Surely Be Punished
In religion, many people suffer a great deal throughout their lives: They subdue their bodies and bear their cross, and they even continue to suffer and endure when on the very verge of death! Some are still fasting on the morning of their death. All their lives they deny themselves nice food and clothing, focusing only on suffering. They are able to subdue their body and forsake their flesh. Their spirit for enduring suffering is commendable. But their thinking, their notions, their mental attitude, and indeed their old nature, have not been dealt with in the slightest. They lack any true knowledge of themselves. Their mental image of God is that traditional one of a vague God. Their resolve to suffer for God comes from their zeal and the good character of their humanity. Even though they believe in God, they neither understand Him nor know His will. They merely work and suffer blindly for God. They place no value whatsoever on discernment, care little about how to ensure that their service actually fulfills God’s will, and much less are they aware of how to achieve the knowledge of God. The God they serve is not God in His inherent image, but a God they have imagined, a God of whom they have only heard, or of whom they have only read legends in writing. They then use their fertile imaginations and piousness to suffer for God and undertake God’s work that God wants to do. Their service is too inexact, such that practically none of them are truly able to serve in accordance with God’s will. Regardless of how gladly they suffer, their original perspective on service and their mental image of God remain unchanged, because they have not undergone God’s judgment, chastisement, refinement and perfection, and nor has anyone guided them using the truth. Even if they believe in Jesus the Savior, none of them has ever seen the Savior. They only know of Him through legend and hearsay. As a result, their service amounts to no more than serving randomly with eyes closed, like a blind man serving his own father. What, ultimately, can be achieved by such service? And who would approve of it? From beginning to end, their service remains the same throughout; they receive only man-made lessons and base their service only on their naturalness and their own preferences. What reward could this bring? Not even Peter, who saw Jesus, knew how to serve in accordance with God’s will; he only came to know this in the end, in his old age. What does this say about those blind people who have not experienced the slightest bit of being dealt with or of being pruned, and who have had no one guiding them? Is not the service of many among you today like that of these blind people? All those who have not received judgment, not received pruning and dealing, and who have not changed—are they not all incompletely conquered? Of what use are such people? If your thinking, your knowledge of life, and your knowledge of God show no new change and you do not truly gain anything, then you will never achieve anything remarkable in your service! Without a vision and a new knowledge of God’s work, you are not conquered. Your way of following God will then be like those who suffer and fast: of little value! It is precisely because there is little testimony in what they do that I say their service is futile! Throughout their lives, those people suffer and spend time in prison; they are ever forbearing, loving, and they ever bear the cross, they are ridiculed and rejected by the world, they experience every hardship, and although they are obedient to the very end, they are still not conquered, and can offer no testimony to being conquered. They have suffered a great deal, but inside they do not know God at all. None of their old thinking, old notions, religious practices, man-made knowledge, and human ideas have been dealt with. There is not the slightest hint of new knowledge in them. Not one bit of their knowledge of God is true or accurate. They have misunderstood God’s will. Does this serve God? Whatever your knowledge of God in the past, if it stays the same today and you continue to base your knowledge of God on your own notions and ideas no matter what God does, which is to say that if you possess no new, true knowledge of God and if you fail to know God’s true image and disposition, if your knowledge of God is still guided by feudal, superstitious thinking and is still born of human imagination and notions, then you have not been conquered. All the many words I now speak to you are meant to let you know, to have this knowledge lead you to a newer, accurate knowledge; they are also meant to eradicate the old notions and the old knowledge in you, so that you may possess new knowledge. If you truly eat and drink My words, then your knowledge will change considerably. As long as you eat and drink God’s words with a heart of obedience, then your perspective will be reversed. As long as you are able to accept the repeated chastisements, your old mentality will gradually change. As long as your old mentality is thoroughly replaced with the new, your practice will also change accordingly. In this way, your service will become increasingly on-target, increasingly able to fulfill God’s will. If you can change your life, your knowledge of human life, and your many notions about God, then your naturalness will gradually diminish. This, and nothing short of this, is the effect when God conquers people, it is the change that occurs in people. If, in your faith in God, all you know about is subduing your body and enduring and suffering, and you do not know whether that is right or wrong, much less for whose sake it is done, then how can such practice lead to change?
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. The Inside Truth of the Work of Conquest (3)
Transformation in one’s disposition is not a change in behavior, nor is it a feigned outward change or a temporary alteration made out of zeal. No matter how good these changes are, they cannot take the place of changes in life disposition, because these outward changes can be achieved through human efforts, but changes in life disposition cannot be achieved through one’s own effort alone. Experiencing God’s judgment, chastisement, trials, and refinement is required to achieve this, as well as the perfection of the Holy Spirit. Although people who believe in God exhibit some good behavior, not a single one of them truly obeys God, truly loves God, or can do God’s will. Why is this? It is because this requires a change in life disposition, and a mere change in behavior is far from sufficient. A change in disposition means that you have knowledge and experience of the truth, and that the truth has become your life, that it can direct and dominate your life and everything about you. This is a change in your life disposition. Only people who possess the truth as life are those whose dispositions have changed. In the past, there may have been some truths that you could not put into practice when you understood them, but now you can practice any aspect of the truth you understand without obstacles or difficulty. When you practice the truth, you find yourself filled with peace and happiness, but if you can’t practice the truth, you feel pain and your conscience is disturbed. You can practice the truth in everything, live by God’s words, and have a foundation for living. This means that your disposition has changed. You can now easily let go of your notions and imaginings, your fleshly preferences and pursuits, and those things that you couldn’t let go of before. You feel that God’s words are genuinely good, and that practicing the truth is the best thing to do. This means your disposition has changed. A change in disposition sounds very simple, but it is actually a process that involves a lot of experience. During this period, people need to suffer many hardships, they need to subdue their own bodies and forsake their flesh, they also need to suffer judgment, chastisement, pruning, being dealt with, trials, and refinement, and they also need to experience many failures, falls, internal struggles, and torments within their hearts. Only after these experiences can people have some understanding of their own nature, but some understanding does not produce a complete change right away; they have to go through a long period of experience before they are finally able to rid themselves of their corrupt dispositions little by little.
—The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. What Should Be Known About Transforming One’s Disposition
Most people place special emphasis on behavior in their belief in God, as a result of which certain changes occur in their behavior. After they have begun to believe in God, they stop smoking and drinking, and they no longer contend with others, preferring to exercise patience when they suffer a loss. They undergo some behavioral changes. Some people feel that once they believe in God they understand the truth by reading God’s word; they’ve experienced the work of the Holy Spirit, and they have true enjoyment in their hearts, making them particularly fervent, and there is nothing that they cannot forsake or suffer. Nevertheless, after having believed for eight, ten, or even twenty or thirty years, because there has been no change in their life dispositions, they end up sliding back into old ways; their arrogance and haughtiness grow more pronounced, they begin to compete for power and profit, they covet the church’s money, they envy those who have taken advantage of God’s house. They become parasites and vermin within God’s house, and some are even exposed and cast out as false leaders and antichrists. And what do these facts prove? Mere behavioral changes are unsustainable; if there is no alteration in people’s life dispositions, then sooner or later, they will show their true colors. This is because behavioral changes have their source in fervor, and coupled with some work by the Holy Spirit at the time, it becomes extremely easy for them to be fervent or to have good intentions for a short time. As the unbelievers say, “Doing one good deed is easy; what’s hard is doing a lifetime of good deeds.” Why are people incapable of doing good deeds throughout their entire lives? Because by nature, people are wicked, selfish, and corrupt. One’s behavior is directed by their nature; whatever one’s nature is, so is the behavior that one reveals, and only that which is revealed naturally represents one’s nature. Things that are fake cannot last. When God works to save man, it is not to adorn man with good behavior—the purpose of God’s work is to transform people’s dispositions, to make them reborn into new people. God’s judgment, chastisement, trials, and refinement of man all serve to change their disposition so that they may achieve absolute submission and devotion to God, and come to worship Him normally. This is the aim of God’s work. Behaving well is not the same as submitting to God, much less does it equal being compatible with Christ. Changes in behavior are based on doctrine and born of fervor; they are not based upon true knowledge of God or upon the truth, much less do they rest upon guidance from the Holy Spirit. Even though there are times when some of what people do is enlightened or guided by the Holy Spirit, this is not an expression of their life. They have not yet entered into the truth realities, and their life disposition has not changed at all. No matter how good a person’s behavior is, it does not prove that they obey God or that they put the truth into practice. Behavioral changes do not represent changes in life disposition and they cannot be counted as expressions of life.
—The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Part Three
Some people will end up saying, “I’ve done so much work for You, and though I may not have made any celebrated achievements, still I have been diligent in my efforts. Can’t You just let me into heaven to eat the fruit of life?” You must know what kind of people I desire; those who are impure are not permitted to enter into the kingdom, those who are impure are not permitted to besmirch the holy ground. Though you may have done much work, and worked for many years, in the end if you are still deplorably filthy, then it will be intolerable to the law of Heaven that you wish to enter My kingdom! From the foundation of the world until today, never have I offered easy access to My kingdom to those who curry favor with Me. This is a heavenly rule, and no one can break it! You must seek life. Today, those who will be made perfect are the same kind as Peter: They are those who seek changes in their own disposition, and who are willing to bear testimony to God and perform their duty as a creature of God. Only people such as this will be made perfect. If you only look to rewards, and do not seek to change your own life disposition, then all your efforts will be in vain—this is an unalterable truth!
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Success or Failure Depends on the Path That Man Walks
Before man was redeemed, many of Satan’s poisons had already been planted within him and, after thousands of years of being corrupted by Satan, he has within him an established nature that resists God. Therefore, when man has been redeemed, it is nothing more than a case of redemption in which man is bought at a high price, but the poisonous nature within him has not been eliminated. Man that is so defiled must undergo a change before becoming worthy to serve God. By means of this work of judgment and chastisement, man will fully come to know the filthy and corrupt essence within his own self, and he will be able to change completely and become clean. Only in this way can man become worthy to return before the throne of God. All the work done this day is so that man can be made clean and be changed; through judgment and chastisement by the word, as well as through refinement, man can purge away his corruption and be made pure. Rather than deeming this stage of work to be that of salvation, it would be more apt to say it is the work of purification. In truth, this stage is that of conquest as well as the second stage in the work of salvation.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. The Mystery of the Incarnation (4)
People cannot change their own disposition; they must undergo the judgment and chastisement, and suffering and refinement, of God’s words, or being dealt with, disciplined, and pruned by His words. Only then can they achieve obedience and faithfulness to God, and no longer be perfunctory toward Him. It is under the refinement of God’s words that people’s dispositions change. Only through the exposure, judgment, discipline, and dealing of His words will they no longer dare to act rashly but instead will become steady and composed. The most important point is that they are able to submit to God’s current words, and to His work, even if it is not in line with human notions, they are able to put these notions aside and willingly submit. In the past, talk of changes in disposition mainly referred to being able to forsake oneself, to allowing the flesh to suffer, disciplining one’s body, and ridding oneself of fleshly preferences—which is one kind of change in disposition. Today, everyone knows that the real expression of change in disposition is obeying the current words of God and truly knowing His new work. In this way, people’s prior understanding of God, which was colored by their own notions, can be expunged, and they can attain true knowledge of and obedience to God—only this is a genuine expression of a change in disposition.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. People Whose Dispositions Have Changed Are Those Who Have Entered Into the Reality of God’s Words
Christ of the last days uses a variety of truths to teach man, to expose the substance of man, and to dissect the words and deeds of man. These words comprise various truths, such as man’s duty, how man should obey God, how man should be loyal to God, how man ought to live out normal humanity, as well as the wisdom and the disposition of God, and so on. These words are all directed at the substance of man and his corrupt disposition. In particular, the words that expose how man spurns God are spoken in regard to how man is an embodiment of Satan, and an enemy force against God. In undertaking His work of judgment, God does not simply make clear the nature of man with a few words; He exposes, deals with, and prunes over the long term. All these different methods of exposure, dealing, and pruning cannot be substituted with ordinary words, but with the truth of which man is utterly bereft. Only methods such as these can be called judgment; only through judgment of this kind can man be subdued and thoroughly convinced about God, and moreover gain true knowledge of God. What the work of judgment brings about is man’s understanding of the true face of God and the truth about his own rebelliousness. The work of judgment allows man to gain much understanding of the will of God, of the purpose of God’s work, and of the mysteries that are incomprehensible to him. It also allows man to recognize and know his corrupt essence and the roots of his corruption, as well as to discover the ugliness of man. These effects are all brought about by the work of judgment, for the essence of this work is actually the work of opening up the truth, the way, and the life of God to all those who have faith in Him. This work is the work of judgment done by God. If you do not regard these truths as important, if you think of nothing but how to avoid them, or how to find a new way out that does not involve them, then I say you are a grievous sinner. If you have faith in God, yet seek not the truth or the will of God, nor love the way that brings you closer to God, then I say that you are one who is trying to evade judgment, and that you are a puppet and a traitor who flees from the great white throne. God will not spare any of the rebellious who escape from under His eyes. Such men shall receive even more severe punishment. Those who come before God to be judged, and have moreover been purified, shall forever live in the kingdom of God. Of course, this is something that belongs to the future.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Christ Does the Work of Judgment With the Truth
Accept the Judgment of Christ of the Last Days to Be Purified
God Decides Man’s End Based on Whether They Possess the Truth