XV. One Must Fellowship Clearly How to Discern the Essence of the Pharisees and of the Religious World That Defies God
2. Why is it said that religious pastors and elders are all walking the path of the Pharisees? What is their essence?
Bible Verses for Reference:
“And he began to speak to them by parables. A certain man planted a vineyard, and set an hedge about it, and dig a place for the winefat, and built a tower, and let it out to farmers, and went into a far country. And at the season he sent to the farmers a servant, that he might receive from the farmers of the fruit of the vineyard. And they caught him, and beat him, and sent him away empty. And again he sent to them another servant; and at him they cast stones, and wounded him in the head, and sent him away shamefully handled. And again he sent another; and him they killed, and many others; beating some, and killing some. Having yet therefore one son, his well beloved, he sent him also last to them, saying, They will reverence my son. But those farmers said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be our’s. And they took him, and killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard. What shall therefore the lord of the vineyard do? he will come and destroy the farmers, and will give the vineyard to others” (Mak 12:1-9).
“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves” (Mat 7:15).
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! … You serpents, you generation of vipers, how can you escape the damnation of hell?” (Mat 23:29, 33).
Relevant Words of God:
Some men have a penchant for drawing attention to themselves. In the presence of his brothers and sisters, he says he is indebted to God, but behind their backs, he does not practice the truth and does entirely otherwise. Is this not as those religious Pharisees? A man who truly loves God and has the truth is one who is loyal to God, but does not outwardly reveal so. He is willing to practice the truth when matters arise and does not speak or act in a manner going against his conscience. He demonstrates wisdom when matters arise and is principled in his deeds, no matter the circumstances. A man such as this is one who truly serves. There are some who often pay lip service to their indebtedness to God. They spend their days with brows locked in worry, put on an affected air, and feign a wretched countenance. How despicable! And if you were to ask him, “In what ways are you indebted to God? Please tell me!” he would be rendered speechless. If you are loyal to God, then speak not of it in public, but use your actual practice to show your love for God, and pray to Him with a true heart. Those who use only words to deal with God are all hypocrites! Some speak of indebtedness to God with each prayer, and begin to weep whenever they pray, even without the moving of the Holy Spirit. Men such as this are possessed by religious rituals and notions; they live by such rituals and notions, always believing that such actions please God, and that superficial godliness or sorrowful tears are that which God favors. What good can come of such absurd ones? In order to demonstrate their humility, some feign graciousness when speaking in the presence of others. Some are deliberately servile in the presence of others, like a lamb without any strength at all. …
Whenever such religious people congregate, they ask, “Sister, how have you been these days?” She replies, “I feel indebted to God and that I am unable to fulfill His heart’s desire.” Another says, “I, too, am indebted to God and unable to satisfy Him.” These few sentences and words alone express the vile things deep within their hearts. Such words are the most loathsome and exceedingly repugnant. The nature of such men opposes God.
from “Believing in God Should Focus on Reality, Not Religious Rituals” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
You serve God with your natural character, and according to your personal preferences; what’s more, you keep thinking that God delights in whatever you wish to do, and hates whatever you do not wish to do, and you are guided entirely by your own preferences in your work. Can this be called serving God? Ultimately, your life disposition will not be changed by one iota; rather, you will become even more stubborn because you have been serving God, and this will make your corrupt disposition deeply ingrained. This way, you will inwardly develop rules about service to God that are primarily based on your own character, and the experience derived from your serving according to your own disposition. This is lesson from human experience. It is man’s philosophy of life. People like this belong to the Pharisees and the religious officials. If they never wake up and repent, then they will ultimately turn into the false Christs who will appear in the last days, and will be deceivers of men. The false Christs and deceivers that were spoken of will arise from among this kind of person. If those who serve God follow their own character and act according to their own will, then they are in danger of being cast out at any time. Those who apply their many years of experience to serving God in order to win the hearts of others, to lecture them and lord it over them, and to stand on high—and who never repent, never confess their sins, never renounce the benefits of position—these people will fall down before God. They are people of the same type as Paul, presuming upon their seniority and flaunting their qualifications. God will not bring people like this to perfection. This kind of service interferes with the work of God.
from “Religious Way of Service Must Be Banned” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Look at the leaders of every denomination and sect. They are all arrogant and self-right, and they interpret the Bible out of context and according to their own imagination. They all rely on gifts and erudition to do their work. If they were incapable of preaching anything, would those people follow them? They do, after all, possess some learning, and can speak a little of doctrine, or know how to win over others and how to use some artifices, through which they have brought people before themselves and have deceived them. Nominally, those people believe in God—but in reality they follow their leaders. If they encounter those who preach the true way, some of them would say, “We have to consult him about our belief in God.” See how they require someone’s consent to believe in God; is that not a problem? What have those leaders become, then? Have they not become Pharisees, false shepherds, antichrists, and stumbling blocks to people’s acceptance of the true way? This kind of people belong to the same kind as Paul. Why say this? The epistles written by Paul are almost two thousand years old and they pervaded the entire Age of Grace. People all ate and drank these words of his and took his words as the norm, such as suffering, disciplining one’s own body, and receiving the final crown of righteousness. People believed in God in accordance with his words and his doctrines.
from “Only the Pursuit of the Truth Is the True Belief in God” in Records of Christ’s Talks
Those who only believe in Jesus Christ but do not believe in the incarnate God of today are all condemned. They are all contemporary Pharisees because they do not recognize the God of today, and they all resist God. No matter how devoted their belief in Jesus is, it will all be in vain; they will not receive God’s praise. All those who say that they believe in God yet have no true knowledge of God in their hearts are hypocrites!
from “Be Mindful of God’s Will to Attain Perfection” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
The objective of God’s appearance free from the constraints of any form or country is for Him to be able to complete the work of His plan. For example, when God became flesh in Judea, His aim was to complete the work of crucifixion to redeem all mankind. Yet the Jews believed that it was impossible for God to do this, and they thought it impossible that God could become flesh and assume the form of the Lord Jesus. Their “impossible” became the basis by which they condemned and opposed God, and ultimately led to the destruction of Israel. Today, many people have committed a similar error. They wantonly proclaim the imminent appearance of God, yet also condemn His appearance; their “impossible” once more confines the appearance of God within the limits of their imagination. And so I have seen many people fall about laughing after coming upon the words of God. Isn’t this laughter no different from the condemnation and blasphemy of the Jews? You are not devout in facing the truth, much less do you yearn for the truth. You merely study blindly and wait nonchalantly. What can you gain from studying and waiting like this? Can you receive the personal guidance of God?
from “The Appearance of God Has Brought a New Age” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
It is easy for mankind to make the mistake of delineating God; people are apt to stick to the past, and demarcate God. They clearly do not know God, and still wantonly delineate the work of God. Their nature is so arrogant! People always wish to hold on to the old conceptions of the past, they keep the things of days gone by stored in their hearts, and use them as their principal, being arrogant and pompous, and thinking that they understand everything, and having the gall to delineate the work of God. In this, do they not pass judgment on God? In addition, people give no consideration to the new work of God, which shows that it is difficult for them to accept new things, and yet they still blindly delineate God; people are so conceited that they are devoid of reason, they listen to no one, and don’t even accept the words of God. Such is the nature of man: totally arrogant and self-righteous, and without the slightest obedience. When they condemned Jesus, the Pharisees were like this: Even if You were right, I still wouldn’t follow You—only Jehovah is the true God. Today, are there not also people who say: “He’s Christ? I wouldn’t follow Him even if He were really Christ!” Do people like this exist? Yes, there are many religious people such as this. This shows that man’s disposition is too corrupt, that he is beyond salvation.
from “Do Not Delineate God’s Work” in Records of Christ’s Talks
Such a person constantly bears a hostile attitude toward the new work of God, has never shown the smallest intention of submitting, and has never gladly shown submission or humbled himself. He exalts himself before others and never shows submission to anyone. Before God, he considers himself the most proficient in preaching the word and the most skillful in working on others. He never discards the treasures already in his possession, but treats them as family heirlooms for worship, for preaching about to others, and uses them to lecture those fools who idolize him. … They take preaching the word (doctrine) to be their highest duty. Year after year and generation by generation, they go about vigorously enforcing their “sacred and inviolable” duty. None dare touch them and not a single person dares openly reproach them. They become “kings” in the house of God, running rampant as they tyrannize over others from age to age. This pack of demons seeks to join hands and demolish My work; how can I allow these living devils to exist before My eyes?
from “Those Who Obey God With a True Heart Shall Surely Be Gained by God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Many of the religious old guard nail God to the cross alive…. 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 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 myopic little people, who are merely trying to show how clever they are? With but a meager knowledge of the Bible, they try to straddle 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, and short-sighted as they are, they try to behold in one glance 6,000 years of God’s work. Do these people have any reason to speak of? … 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 natural instinct to deny the rightness of the Holy Spirit’s work, and also insult and blaspheme it—are such disrespectful people not ignorant of the Holy Spirit’s work? Are they not, furthermore, the ones of arrogance, 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 of them. Not only do they look down upon those who work for God, but also blaspheme against God Himself. Such foolhardy 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 they do so, the more likely they are to offend God’s administrative decrees. Do not all those arrogant ones who are innately unbridled, and have never obeyed anyone, all walk upon this path? Do they not oppose God day after day, He who is always new and never old?
from “Knowing the Three Stages of God’s Work Is the Path to Knowing God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
One expression of arrogance is rebelliousness to God. And after rebelling against God, you are liable to create your own kingdom, to do things your own way, to hold others in your own hands, and pull them into your own embrace. People are capable of doing such things; with their arrogant substance, they have become archangels, and their substance has determined that they are archangels and will likely put God to one side. With this disposition, you are without God.
Why is it that many leaders of various denominations never accept anything we say, no matter how many times we have preached to them, and no matter how we have tried? Their arrogance has already become their nature, and they are without God. Some people say: “God is among the people that person leads, and that person really longs for God!” As he is capable of making people believe in him, is God within his heart? He is not, yes? He is capable of making people follow him and hold him up high, he is able to monopolize people, he doesn’t allow people to go elsewhere to seek God and the truth, and he believes that what he says contains the truth. What does he see himself as? As God. And so because of this arrogance of his, purely because of this arrogance, he has done things that rebel against God.
from “Man’s Arrogant Nature Is the Root of His Opposition to God” in Records of Christ’s Talks
After working for some time, the people who God used on earth assumed God’s position and said, “I want to surpass the universe! I want to stand in the third heaven! We want the reigns of sovereign power!” They would become arrogant after several days of work; they wanted sovereign power on earth, they wanted to establish another nation, they wanted all things under their feet and wanted to stand in the third heaven. Do you not know that you are merely a man used by God? How can you ascend to the third heaven? … Those religious pastors who heal the sick and cast out demons, lecture others from the pulpit, give long and pompous speeches and discuss unrealistic matters, are arrogant to the core! They are descendants of the archangel!
from “You Should Know How the Whole of Humanity Has Developed to the Present Day” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Those who read the Bible in grand churches recite the Bible every day, yet not one understands the purpose of God’s work. Not one is able to know God; moreover, not one is in accord with the heart of God. They are all worthless, vile men, each standing on high to teach God. Though they brandish the name of God, they willfully oppose Him. Though they label themselves believers of God, they are ones who eat the flesh and drink the blood of man. All such men are devils who devour the soul of man, demons who purposefully disturb those who try to step onto the right path, and stumbling blocks that impede the path of those who seek God. Though they are of “robust flesh,” how are their followers to know that they are antichrists who lead man in opposition to God? How are they to know that they are living devils who specially seek souls to devour?
from “All Who Do Not Know God Are Those Who Oppose God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Do you wish to know the root of why the Pharisees opposed Jesus? Do you wish to know the substance of the Pharisees? They were full of fantasies about the Messiah. What’s more, they believed only that the Messiah would come, yet did not seek the truth of life. 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 paying empty tribute to the name of the Messiah while opposing the substance of the Messiah by any means. These Pharisees in substance were stubborn, arrogant, and did not obey the truth. The principle of their belief in God is: No matter how profound Your preaching, no matter how high Your authority, You are not Christ unless You are called the Messiah. Are these views not preposterous and ridiculous? I ask you again: 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 denying 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 accept the truth, yet blindly await the arrival of Jesus upon white clouds, will surely blaspheme against the Holy Spirit, and they are the race 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 confess them, 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?
from “When You Behold the Spiritual Body of Jesus Will Be When God Has Made Anew Heaven and Earth” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
How many seek the truth and follow righteousness? They are all beasts like pigs and dogs, leading a gang of stink flies in a dung heap to wag their heads and incite disorder. They believe that their king of hell is the most superior of kings, without realizing that they are nothing more than flies on rot. Not only that, they make slanderous remarks against the existence of God by relying on their pigs and dogs of parents. The minuscule flies think their parents to be as large as a toothed whale. Do they not realize that they are diminutive, yet their parents are unclean pigs and dogs a billion times larger than themselves? Unaware of their own lowliness, they run amok on the basis of the putrid odor of those pigs and dogs and have the delusional idea to procreate future generations. That is absolutely shameless! With green wings upon their backs (this refers to their claiming to believe in God), they begin to become conceited and boast everywhere of their own beauty and attractiveness, secretly casting away their impurities onto man. And they are even smug, as if a pair of rainbow-colored wings could conceal their own impurities, and thus they persecute the existence of the true God (this refers to the inside story of the religious world). Little does man know that, though the wings of the fly are beautiful and enchanting, it is after all no more than a minuscule fly that is full of filth and covered with germs. On the strength of their pigs and dogs of parents, they run amok across the land (this refers to the religious officials who persecute God on the basis of strong support from the country betraying the true God and the truth) with overwhelming ferocity. 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 again begun their work of persecution, continuing their work spanning several thousand years. This group of degenerates is sure to perish on earth in the end! It appears that, after several millennia, the unclean spirits have become even more crafty and sly. They constantly think of ways to secretly undermine the work of God. They are wily and cunning and wish to replay in their homeland the tragedy of several thousand years ago. This almost goads God into giving out a loud cry, and He can hardly keep Himself from returning to the third heaven to annihilate them.
from “Work and Entry (7)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
1. “Incite disorder” refers to how people who are demonic run riot, obstructing and opposing the work of God.
2. “A toothed whale” is used mockingly. It is a metaphor for how flies are so small that pigs and dogs appear as big as whales to them.