2. Why it is said that religious pastors and elders are all walking the path of the Pharisees, and what their essence is
Relevant Words of God:
Man has been corrupted and lives in Satan’s trap. All people live in the flesh, live in selfish desires, and there is not a single one among them who is compatible with Me. There are those who say that they are compatible with Me, but such people all worship vague idols. Although they acknowledge My name as holy, they tread a path that runs contrary to Me, and their words are full of arrogance and self-confidence. This is because, at root, they are all against Me and incompatible with Me. Every day, they seek traces of Me in the Bible and find “suitable” passages at random which they read endlessly and recite as scriptures. They do not know how to be compatible with Me nor what it means to be against Me. They merely read scriptures blindly. Within the Bible, they constrain a vague God that they have never seen, and are incapable of seeing, and take it out to look at at their leisure. They believe in My existence only within the scope of the Bible, and they equate Me with the Bible; without the Bible there is no Me, and without Me there is no Bible. They pay no heed to My existence or actions, but instead devote extreme and special attention to each and every word of Scripture. Many more even believe that I should not do anything I wish to do unless it is foretold by Scripture. They attach too much importance to Scripture. It can be said that they see words and expressions as too important, to the extent that they use verses from the Bible to measure every word I say and to condemn Me. What they seek is not the way of compatibility with Me or the way of compatibility with the truth, but the way of compatibility with the words of the Bible, and they believe that anything that does not conform to the Bible is, without exception, not My work. Are such people not the dutiful descendants of the Pharisees? The Jewish Pharisees used the law of Moses to condemn Jesus. They did not seek compatibility with the Jesus of that time, but diligently followed the law to the letter, to the extent that—after having charged Him with not following the law of the Old Testament and not being the Messiah—they ultimately nailed the innocent Jesus to the cross. What was their substance? Was it not that they didn’t seek the way of compatibility with the truth? They obsessed over each and every word of Scripture while paying heed neither to My will nor to the steps and methods of My work. They were not people who sought the truth, but people who rigidly clung to words; they were not people who believed in God, but people who believed in the Bible. Essentially, they were watchdogs of the Bible. In order to safeguard the interests of the Bible, to uphold the dignity of the Bible, and to protect the reputation of the Bible, they went so far as to nail the merciful Jesus to the cross. This they did merely for the sake of defending the Bible, and for the sake of maintaining the status of each and every word of the Bible in people’s hearts. So they preferred to forsake their future and the sin offering to condemn Jesus, who did not conform to the doctrine of Scripture, to death. Were they not all lackeys to each and every word of Scripture?
And what of people today? Christ has come to release the truth, yet they would rather expel Him from this world so that they may gain entry into heaven and receive grace. They would rather completely deny the coming of the truth in order to safeguard the interests of the Bible, and they would rather nail the Christ returned to flesh to the cross again in order to ensure the everlasting existence of the Bible. How can man receive My salvation when his heart is so malicious and his nature so antagonistic toward Me? I live among man, yet man does not know of My existence. When I shine My light upon man, he still remains ignorant of My existence. When I unleash My wrath upon man, he denies My existence with even greater vigor. Man searches for compatibility with words and compatibility with the Bible, yet not a single person comes before Me to seek the way of compatibility with the truth. Man looks up to Me in heaven and devotes particular concern to My existence in heaven, yet no one cares about Me in the flesh, for I who live among man am simply too insignificant. Those who only seek compatibility with the words of the Bible and who only seek compatibility with a vague God are a wretched sight to Me. That is because what they worship are dead words, and a God that is capable of giving them untold treasures; what they worship is a God that would lay Himself at the mercy of man—a God who does not exist. What, then, can such people gain from Me? Man is simply too lowly for words. Those who are against Me, who make limitless demands of Me, who have no love of the truth, who are rebellious toward Me—how could they be compatible with Me?
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. You Should Seek the Way of Compatibility With Christ
There are those who read the Bible in grand churches and recite it all day long, yet not one among them understands the purpose of God’s work. Not one among them is able to know God; still less can any one among them accord with God’s will. They are all worthless, vile people, each standing on high to lecture God. They willfully oppose God even as they carry His banner. Claiming faith in God, still they eat the flesh and drink the blood of man. All such people are devils that devour the soul of man, head demons that deliberately get in the way of those trying to step onto the right path, and stumbling blocks impeding those who seek God. They may appear of “sound constitution,” but how are their followers to know that they are none other than antichrists who lead people to stand against God? How are their followers to know that they are living devils dedicated to the devouring of human souls? Those who hold themselves in high esteem in God’s presence are the most abject of men, while those who humble themselves are the most honored. And those who think they know the work of God and who are, moreover, capable of proclaiming the work of God to others with great fanfare even as they look directly at Him—these are the most ignorant of men. Such people are without the testimony of God, arrogant and full of conceit. Those who believe that they have too little knowledge of God, despite having actual experience and practical knowledge of Him, are those most beloved by Him. Only such people truly have testimony and are truly capable of being perfected by God. Those who do not understand the will of God are opponents of God; those who understand the will of God and yet do not practice the truth are opponents of God; those who eat and drink the words of God, and yet go against the essence of God’s words, are opponents of God; those who have notions about the incarnate God, and moreover have a mind to engage in rebellion, are opponents of God; those who pass judgment on God are opponents of God; and whoever is unable to know God or to bear witness to Him is an opponent of God.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. All People Who Do Not Know God Are People Who Oppose God
We have preached the gospel over and over to many leaders within religious circles, but no matter how we fellowship on the truth with them, they do not accept it. Why is this? It is because their arrogance has become second nature, and God no longer has a place in their hearts! Some people might say, “People under the leadership of certain pastors in the religious world really have a lot of drive; it is as though they have God in their midst!” Do you take having enthusiasm for having drive? No matter how lofty those pastors’ sermons might sound, do they know God? If they truly revered God deep down, would they make people follow them and exalt them? Would they monopolize others? Would they dare to prevent others from seeking the truth and investigating the true way? If they believe that God’s sheep are actually theirs, and that they should all listen to them, then is it not the case that they regard themselves as God? Such people are even worse than the Pharisees. Are they not antichrists? Thus, this arrogant nature of theirs can control them into doing things that betray God.
—“An Arrogant Nature Is the Root of Man’s Resistance to God” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days
Do many people not oppose God and obstruct the work of the Holy Spirit because they do not know the varied and diverse work of God, and, furthermore, because they possess but a smidgeon of knowledge and doctrine with which to measure the work of the Holy Spirit? Though the experiences of such people are superficial, they are arrogant and indulgent in nature and they regard the work of the Holy Spirit with contempt, ignore the disciplines of the Holy Spirit and, moreover, use their trivial old arguments to “confirm” the work of the Holy Spirit. They also put on an act, and are wholly convinced of their own learning and erudition, and convinced that they are able to travel across the world. Are such people not those who are despised and rejected by the Holy Spirit, and will they not be eliminated by the new age? Are not those who come before God and openly oppose Him ignorant and under-informed villains, who are merely trying to show how brilliant they are? With but a meager knowledge of the Bible, they try to run riot in the world’s “academia”; with but a superficial doctrine to teach people, they try to reverse the work of the Holy Spirit and attempt to make it revolve around their own thought process. Short-sighted as they are, they try to behold in one glance 6,000 years of God’s work. These people do not have any sense worth mentioning! In fact, the greater people’s knowledge of God, the slower they are to judge His work. Furthermore, they only talk a little of their knowledge of God’s work today, but they are not rash in their judgments. The less people know of God, the more arrogant and overconfident they are and the more wantonly they proclaim God’s being—yet they only talk of theory, and offer no real evidence. Such people are of no value whatsoever. Those who see the work of the Holy Spirit as a game are frivolous! Those who are not cautious when they encounter the new work of the Holy Spirit, who run their mouths off, are quick to judge, who give free rein to their temperament to deny the rightness of the Holy Spirit’s work, and who also insult and blaspheme it—are such disrespectful people not ignorant of the Holy Spirit’s work? Are they not, furthermore, people of great arrogance, people who are inherently proud and ungovernable? Even if a day comes when such people accept the new work of the Holy Spirit, still God will not tolerate them. Not only do they look down upon those who work for God, but they also blaspheme against God Himself. Such desperate people will not be forgiven, either in this age or the age to come, and they shall forever perish in hell! Such disrespectful, indulgent people are pretending to believe in God, and the more people are like this, the more liable they are to offend God’s administrative decrees. Do not all those arrogant ones who are innately unbridled, and who have never obeyed anyone, all walk upon this path? Do they not oppose God day after day, God who is always new and never old?
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Knowing the Three Stages of God’s Work Is the Path to Knowing God
Do you wish to know the root of why the Pharisees opposed Jesus? Do you wish to know the essence of the Pharisees? They were full of fantasies about the Messiah. What is more, they believed only that the Messiah would come, yet did not pursue the life truth. And so, even today they still await the Messiah, for they have no knowledge of the way of life, and do not know what the way of truth is. How, say you, could such foolish, stubborn and ignorant people gain God’s blessing? How could they behold the Messiah? They opposed Jesus because they did not know the direction of the Holy Spirit’s work, because they did not know the way of truth spoken by Jesus, and, furthermore, because they did not understand the Messiah. And since they had never seen the Messiah and had never been in the company of the Messiah, they made the mistake of clinging to the mere name of the Messiah while opposing the essence of the Messiah by any means possible. These Pharisees in essence were stubborn, arrogant, and did not obey the truth. The principle of their belief in God was: No matter how profound Your preaching, no matter how high Your authority, You are not Christ unless You are called the Messiah. Is this belief not preposterous and ridiculous? I ask you further: Is it not extremely easy for you to commit the mistakes of the earliest Pharisees, given that you have not the slightest understanding of Jesus? Are you able to discern the way of truth? Can you truly guarantee that you will not oppose Christ? Are you able to follow the work of the Holy Spirit? If you do not know whether you will oppose Christ, then I say that you are already living on the brink of death. Those who did not know the Messiah were all capable of opposing Jesus, of rejecting Jesus, of slandering Him. People who do not understand Jesus are all capable of rejecting Him and reviling Him. Moreover, they are capable of seeing the return of Jesus as the deceit of Satan, and more people shall condemn Jesus returned to flesh. Does not all of this make you afraid? What you face shall be blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, the ruination of the words of the Holy Spirit to the churches, and the spurning of all that is expressed by Jesus. What can you gain from Jesus if you are so befuddled? How can you understand the work of Jesus when He returns to flesh on a white cloud, if you obstinately refuse to realize your errors? I tell you this: People who do not receive the truth, yet blindly await the arrival of Jesus upon white clouds, will surely blaspheme against the Holy Spirit, and they are the category that shall be destroyed. You merely wish for the grace of Jesus, and merely want to enjoy the blissful realm of heaven, yet you have never obeyed the words spoken by Jesus, and have never received the truth expressed by Jesus when He returns to flesh. What will you hold up in exchange for the fact of Jesus’ return upon a white cloud? Is it the sincerity in which you repeatedly commit sins, and then speak your confession, over and over? What will you offer in sacrifice to Jesus who returns upon a white cloud? Is it the years of work with which you exalt yourselves? What will you hold up to make the returned Jesus trust you? Is it that arrogant nature of yours, which does not obey any truth?
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. By the Time You Behold the Spiritual Body of Jesus, God Will Have Made Heaven and Earth Anew
Demons and evil spirits have been running amok on earth for a time, and have sealed off both the will and the painstaking effort of God so tightly that they are impenetrable. Truly, this is a mortal sin! How can God not feel anxious? How can God not feel wrathful? They have gravely hindered and opposed the work of God: How rebellious! Even those demons, big and small, behave like jackals at the heels of the lion, and follow the evil current, contriving disturbances as they go. Knowing the truth, they deliberately oppose it, these sons of rebellion! It is as if, now that their king of hell has ascended to the kingly throne, they have become smug and complacent, treating all others with contempt. How many among them seek the truth and follow righteousness? They are all beasts, no better than pigs and dogs, at the head of a gang of stinking flies, wagging their heads in smug self-congratulation and stirring up all kinds of trouble, in the middle of a dung heap. They believe that their king of hell is the greatest king of all, little knowing that they themselves are no more than stinking flies. And yet, they take advantage of the power of the pigs and dogs they have for parents to malign the existence of God. As diminutive flies, they believe their parents to be as large as toothed whales. Little do they know that, while they themselves are tiny, their parents are unclean pigs and dogs hundreds of millions of times larger than they. Unaware of their own lowliness, they rely on the stench of putrefaction exuded by those pigs and dogs to run amok, vainly thinking to procreate future generations, oblivious to shame! With green wings upon their backs (this refers to their claiming to believe in God), they are full of themselves and boast everywhere of their own beauty and allure, while they secretly fling the impurities on their own bodies onto man. Furthermore, they are exceedingly pleased with themselves, as if they can use a pair of rainbow-colored wings to conceal their own impurities, and by these means they bring their oppression to bear on the existence of the true God (this refers to what goes on behind the scenes in the religious world). How would man know that, as enchantingly beautiful as the wings of a fly may be, the fly itself is after all no more than a tiny creature, with a belly full of filth and a body covered with germs? On the strength of the pigs and dogs they have for parents, they run amok across the land (this refers to the way in which the religious officials who persecute God rely on the strong backing of the government of the nation to rebel against the true God and the truth), unrestrained in their savagery. It is as if the ghosts of the Jewish Pharisees have returned along with God to the nation of the great red dragon, back to their old nest. They have begun yet another round of persecution, picking up their work of several thousand years ago. This group of degenerates is sure to perish on earth in the end! It would appear that, after several millennia, the unclean spirits have become even more crafty and sly. They are constantly thinking of ways to undermine the work of God in secret. With tricks and wiles galore, they wish to reenact in their homeland the tragedy of several thousand years ago, goading God nearly to the point of crying out. He can hardly keep Himself from returning to the third heaven to annihilate them.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Work and Entry (7)
1. “Stirring up all kinds of trouble” refers to how people who are demonic run riot, obstructing and opposing the work of God.
2. “Toothed whales” is used mockingly. It is a metaphor for how flies are so small that pigs and dogs appear as big as whales to them.