Words on Seeking and Practicing the Truth
It is very important to seek the truth when encountering matters. If you seek the truth, you will not only be able to solve the problem, but you will also be able to practice and gain the truth. If you do not seek the truth, but insist on your own reasoning and always act according to your own opinion, then not only will you fail to solve the problem of your own corruption, but you will also knowingly sin, and this is the path to resisting God. For example, suppose you are pruned and dealt with in the performance of your duties, and you do not seek the truth but stubbornly emphasize your own reason. You might think, “I’ve done my work, and I haven’t done anything obviously bad, but not only am I dealt with for just a few mistakes, I’m also exposed and disrespected, which shows a dislike of me. Where is God’s love? Why can’t I see it? It’s said that God loves people, so how is it that God loves others but doesn’t love me?” All the grievances come pouring out. Can people in such a state gain the truth? They cannot. When problems arise in your relationship with God, and instead of resolving them, turning yourself around, and setting aside your mistaken views and bigoted ideas, you stubbornly resist God, then this can only result in God abandoning you, and in you also turning your back on Him. You will be full of grievances against God, doubting and denying His sovereignty and unwilling to submit to His arrangements. Worse still, you will deny that God is truth and righteousness, and this is the most serious form of resisting God. But if you seek the truth in all things, you will have understood God’s will, and you will have gained a path you can tread. In so doing, you will not only confirm that the God in whom you believe is the truth, the way, the life, and love; you will also confirm that everything God does is right, that His testing and refinement of man is right and is for the purpose of man’s salvation and purification. You will attain knowledge of God’s righteousness and holiness, and at the same time you will know God’s work and see the greatness of His love. What a great reward that is! Can you reap such a reward without seeking the truth, always approaching God and His work based on your own notions and imaginings? Certainly not. Because man is so deeply corrupted by Satan, all his acts and deeds and all that he reveals are of the disposition of Satan, and they are all contrary to the truth and hostile to God. Man is not fit to enjoy God’s great love. Yet God is still so concerned with man, conferring grace unto him each day, and arranging for him all manner of people, events, and things to test and refine him, so that he can have a change. God reveals man by means of every sort of environment, having him reflect and know himself and understand the truth and gain life. God loves man so much, and His love is so real that man can see it and touch it. If you have experienced all this, you can feel that all God does is for the sake of man’s salvation, and that this is the truest love. Were it not for God doing such practical work, none could say how far man would have fallen! Yet there are many people who do not see God’s true love, who still pursue fame, profit and status, who strive to be head and shoulders above the rest, who wish always to ensnare and control others. Are they not setting themselves up in rivalry to God? If they continue down that path, the consequences will be unthinkable! God, with His work of judgment, exposes man’s corruption so that he may know it. He puts a stop to man’s erroneous pursuits. God does an excellent job! Though what God does exposes man and judges him, it also saves him. This is true love. When you have realized this for yourself, will you not then have gained this aspect of the truth? When a person has realized this for themselves and reached this understanding, and when they have understood these truths, do they still have complaints toward God? No—they are all gone. They can then willingly and unswervingly submit to God’s orchestrations and arrangements. The next time a trial or a refinement occurs, or they are pruned and dealt with, they will quickly realize that what God is doing is right, and that God is revealing them and saving them. They will soon be able to accept and submit, obeying God without stressing their own reason, free of notions and complaints. If people can submit to this extent, it is through having experienced many refinements, perfected by the work of the Holy Spirit.
There are now many people who focus on pursuing the truth and are able to seek the truth when things befall them. If you wish to resolve the wrong motives and abnormal states inside you, you must seek the truth to do so. To begin with, you must learn to open yourself up in fellowship based on God’s words. Of course, you should choose the right recipient for open fellowship—at the least, you should choose someone who loves and accepts the truth, someone whose humanity is better than most, who is relatively honest and upright. It would of course be better if you could choose someone who understands the truth, from whose fellowship you may come away having been helped. Finding this sort of person with whom to open yourself up in fellowship and resolve your difficulties can be effective. If you choose the wrong person, someone who does not love the truth, but merely has a gift or talent, they will mock and despise you, and they will degrade you. This would not be to your benefit. In one regard, opening up and unveiling oneself is the approach one should take in coming before God and praying to Him; it is also how one should fellowship about the truth to others. Do not keep things bottled up, thinking, “I have motives and difficulties. My inner state is no good—it’s negative. I won’t tell anyone. I’ll just hold it in.” If you are always holding things in without resolving them, you will grow ever more negative, and your state will sink ever further. You will be unwilling to pray to God. This is a hard thing to reverse. And so, no matter what your state is, regardless of whether you are negative, or in difficulty, regardless of your own personal motivations or plans, no matter what you have come to know or realize through examination, you must learn to open up and fellowship, and as you fellowship, the Holy Spirit works. And how does the Holy Spirit work? He enlightens and illuminates you and allows you to see the severity of the problem, He makes you aware of the root and essence of the problem, then makes you understand the truth and His will, little by little, and lets you see the path of practice and enter the truth reality. When a person can fellowship openly, this means that they have an honest attitude toward the truth. Whether a person is honest is measured by their attitude toward the truth. When an honest person encounters difficulties, no matter how negative or weak they are, they will always pray to God and seek out others with whom to fellowship, trying to find a solution, and seeking how to fix their problem or difficulty, so as to satisfy God’s will. They are not looking for someone to complain to because of any inner discomfort: They are looking for a solution to the difficulty of entering into the truth reality and coming out of it. Hiding unresolved negative and bad things in one’s heart will directly affect the performance of one’s duty and one’s entry into life. Not being pure and open toward God but instead always harboring deceitfulness in one’s heart is very dangerous. Deceitful people are good at putting on a false face, whatever befalls them, and they will not fellowship no matter what notions or dissatisfactions they may feel. They look normal on the outside, but in reality their hearts are so overloaded with negativity that they can barely get up, and you would not be able to tell. Even if you fellowship with them, they will not tell you the truth. They will not tell anyone just how full of complaints, misunderstandings, and notions they are; they always keep a very tight lid on things, fearing that others will think less of them and reject them once they work them out. Although they perform their duties, they do not enter into life and do not seek the truth principle in anything that they do; outwardly, they appear lukewarm, with neither the vigor to move forward nor yet falling behind, and this presages a crisis. In the hearts of those who do not pursue the truth, there is a sickness; the sickness is in their hearts, and they fear being exposed to the light. They keep everything tightly wrapped, never daring to open up to others; there is no circulation of life, leading to the sickness in their hearts becoming a malignant tumor, and in this way, they become endangered. If people cannot be pure and open in accepting the truth, and if they cannot solve their problems through fellowship on the truth, then such people cannot perform their duties properly, and sooner or later they must be revealed and cast out.
You must seek the truth to resolve any problem that arises, no matter what it is, and by no means disguise yourself or put on a false face for others. Your shortcomings, your deficiencies, your faults, your corrupt dispositions—be completely open about them all, and fellowship about them all. Do not keep them inside. Learning how to open yourself up is the first step toward entering into life, and it is the first hurdle, which is the most difficult to overcome. Once you have overcome it, entering the truth is easy. What does taking this step signify? It means that you are opening your heart and showing everything you have, good or bad, positive or negative; baring yourself for others and for God to see; hiding nothing from God, concealing nothing, disguising nothing, free of deceit and trickery, and being likewise open and honest with other people. In this way, you live in the light, and not only will God scrutinize you, but other people will also be able to see that you act with principle and a degree of transparency. You do not need to use any methods to protect your reputation, image, and status, nor do you need to cover up or disguise your mistakes. You do not need to engage in these useless efforts. If you can let these things go, you will be very relaxed, you will live without shackles or pain, and you will live entirely in the light. Learning how to be open when you fellowship is the first step to entering into life. Next, you need to learn to analyze your thoughts and actions to see which are wrong and which God does not like, and you need to reverse them immediately and rectify them. What is the purpose of rectifying them? It is to accept and take on board the truth, while getting rid of the things within you that belong to Satan and replacing them with the truth. Before, you did everything according to your crafty disposition which is lying and deceitful; you felt that you could get nothing done without lying. Now that you understand the truth, and despise Satan’s ways of doing things, you no longer act that way, you act with a mentality of honesty, purity, and obedience. If you hold nothing back, if you do not put on a front, a pretense, or cover things up, if you lay yourself bare to the brothers and sisters, do not hide your innermost ideas and thoughts, but instead allow others to see your honest attitude, then the truth will gradually take root in you, it will blossom and bear fruit, it will yield results, little-by-little. If your heart is increasingly honest, and increasingly oriented toward God, and if you know to protect the interests of God’s house when you perform your duty, and your conscience is troubled when you fail to protect these interests, then this is proof that the truth has had an effect in you, and has become your life. Once the truth has become life in you, when you observe someone who is blasphemous toward God, unfearful of God, and careless and perfunctory while performing their duty, or who interrupts and interferes with church work, you will respond according to the truth principles, and will be able to identify and expose them as necessary. If the truth has not become your life, and you still live within your satanic disposition, then when you discover wicked people and devils who cause interruptions and disturbances to the work of the church, you will turn a blind eye and a deaf ear; you will brush them aside, without reproach from your conscience. You will even think that anyone causing disturbances to the work of the church has nothing to do with you. No matter how much the work of the church and the interests of the house of God suffer, you don’t care, intervene, or feel guilty—which makes you someone who has no conscience or sense, a nonbeliever, a service-doer. You eat what is of God’s, drink what is of God’s, and enjoy all that comes from God, yet feel that any harm to the interests of the house of God is not related to you—which makes you a traitor who bites the hand that feeds you. If you do not protect the interests of the house of God, are you even human? This is a demon that has insinuated itself into the church. You feign belief in God, pretend to be a chosen one, and you want to freeload in God’s house. You are not living the life of a human being, are more like a fiend than a person, and are clearly one of the nonbelievers. If you are someone who truly believes in God, then even if you have yet to gain the truth and life, at the very least you will speak and act from the side of God; at the very least, you will not stand idly by when you see the interests of the house of God being compromised. When you have the urge to turn a blind eye, you will feel guilty, and ill at ease, and will say to yourself, “I can’t sit here and do nothing, I must stand up and say something, I must take responsibility, I must reveal this evil behavior, I must stop it, so that the interests of the house of God are not harmed, and the church life is not disturbed.” If the truth has become your life, then not only will you have this courage and resolve, and will you be capable of understanding the matter completely, but you will also fulfill the responsibility you should bear for God’s work and for the interests of His house, and your duty will thereby be fulfilled. If you could consider your duty as your responsibility and obligation and as God’s commission, and you feel that this is necessary in order to face God and your conscience, would you not then be living out the integrity and dignity of normal humanity? Your deeds and behavior would be the “fearing God and shunning evil” of which He speaks. You would be performing the essence of these words and living out their reality. When the truth becomes a person’s life, they are then able to live out this reality. But if you have not yet entered into this reality, then, when you reveal deceit, deception, or disguise, or when you see the evil forces of antichrists disturbing and disrupting the work of God’s house, you do not feel a thing, and perceive nothing. Even when these things happen under your very nose, you are still able to laugh, and can still eat and sleep with an easy conscience, and you feel not the slightest bit of self-reproach. Out of these two lives you can live out, which do you choose? Is it not self-evident which is the true human likeness, the reality of positive things, and which is the evil demonic nature, of negative things? When the truth has not become people’s lives, then what they live out is quite pitiful and sad. To be unable to practice the truth, though they want to; to be unable to love God, though they wish to; and to lack the strength to expend themselves for God, though they yearn to do so—they are unable to be in charge—this is the pity and the sorrow of corrupted human beings. To resolve this problem, one must accept and pursue the truth; they must welcome the truth into their heart in order to have a new life. No matter what they do or think, those who are unable to accept the truth are also unable to practice the truth, and even if outwardly they do well, it is still pretense and deception—it is still hypocrisy. Therefore, if you do not pursue the truth, then you will not obtain life, and that is the root of the problem.
Most people wish to pursue and practice the truth, but much of the time they merely have a resolution and the desire to do so; the truth has not become their life. As a result, when they come across evil forces or encounter wicked and bad people committing evil deeds, or false leaders and antichrists doing things in a way that violates principles—thus disturbing the work of the church and harming God’s chosen ones—they lose the courage to stand up and speak out. What does it mean when you have no courage? Does it mean that you are timid or inarticulate? Or is it that you do not understand thoroughly, and therefore do not have the confidence to speak up? Neither; this is primarily the consequence of being restrained by corrupt dispositions. One of the corrupt dispositions you reveal is a crafty disposition; when something happens to you, the first thing you think of is your own interests, the first thing you consider is the consequences, whether this will be beneficial to you. This is a crafty disposition, is it not? Another is a selfish and mean disposition. You think, “What does a loss to the interests of God’s house have to do with me? I’m not a leader, so why should I care? It’s got nothing to do with me. It’s not my responsibility.” Such thoughts and words are not something that you consciously think, but are produced by your subconscious—which is the corrupt disposition revealed when people encounter an issue. Corrupt dispositions such as this govern the way you think, they bind your hands and feet, and control what you say. In your heart, you want to stand up and speak, but you have misgivings, and even when you do speak out, you beat around the bush, and leave yourself wiggle room, or else you prevaricate and don’t tell the truth. People who are clear-eyed can see this; in truth, you know in your heart that you have not said all you should, that what you have said has had no effect, that you were merely going through the motions, and that the problem has not been solved. You have not fulfilled your responsibility, yet you say overtly that you have fulfilled your responsibility, or that what was happening was unclear to you. Is this true? And is it what you really think? Are you not then completely under the control of your satanic disposition? Even though some of what you say is in line with the facts, in key places and on crucial issues, you lie and deceive people, which proves that you are someone who lies, and who lives by their satanic disposition. Everything you say and think has been processed by your brain, leading to your every utterance being fake, empty, a lie; actually, everything you say is contrary to the facts, for the sake of justifying yourself, for your own benefit, and you feel you have achieved your aims when you have deluded people and made them believe. Such is the way you speak; it also represents your disposition. You are wholly controlled by your own satanic disposition. You have no power over what you say and do. Even if you wanted to, you could not tell the truth or say what you really think; even if you wanted to, you could not practice the truth; even if you wanted to, you could not fulfill your responsibilities. Everything you say, do, and practice is a lie, and you’re just sloppy and perfunctory. You are wholly shackled and controlled by your satanic disposition. You may want to accept and practice the truth, but it’s not up to you. When your satanic dispositions control you, you say and do whatever your satanic disposition tells you to do. You are nothing but a puppet of corrupt flesh, you have become a tool of Satan. Afterward, you feel regret at having once again followed the corrupt flesh and how you could have failed to practice the truth. You think to yourself, “I can’t overcome the flesh on my own and must pray to God. I didn’t stand up to stop those who were disturbing the work of the church, and my conscience is weighing on me. I’ve made up my mind that, when this happens again, I must stand up to and deal with those who are committing misdeeds in the performance of their duties and disturbing the work of the church, so that they behave themselves and stop acting recklessly.” After finally mustering the courage to speak up, you get scared and back down as soon as the other person gets angry and bangs on the table. Are you able to be in charge? What use are determination and will? They’re both useless. You must have encountered many incidents such as these: You run into difficulties and go easy on yourself, you feel that you can’t do anything and give yourself up as hopeless, you abandon yourself to despair and decide that there is no hope for you, and that this time, you have been completely cast out. You admit that you do not pursue the truth, so why do you not repent? Have you practiced the truth? Surely you cannot have understood nothing, after attending sermons for several years. Why don’t you practice the truth at all? You never seek the truth, let alone practice it. You are merely constantly praying, making resolutions, setting aspirations, and pledging in your heart. And what is the outcome? You remain a people-pleaser, you are not forthcoming about the problems you encounter, you do not care about evildoers when you see them, you do not respond when someone does evil or creates a disturbance, and you remain aloof when you are not affected personally. You think, “I don’t talk about anything that doesn’t concern me. As long as it doesn’t hurt my interests, my vanity, or my image, I disregard everything without exception. I have to be very careful, as the shot hits the bird that pokes its head out. I’m not going to do anything stupid!” You are totally and unwaveringly controlled by your corrupt dispositions of wickedness, cunning, hardness, and sickness of the truth. They have grown harder for you to bear than the tightening golden headband[a] worn by the Monkey King. Living under the control of corrupt dispositions is so exhausting and excruciating! What do you say to this: If you do not pursue the truth, is it easy to cast off your corruption? Can this problem be resolved? I tell you: If you do not pursue the truth and are muddled in your belief, if you listen to the sermons for so many years without practicing the truth, and if you believe until the end that you can utter a few words and phrases of doctrine and deceive others, then you are a religious charlatan through and through, a hypocritical Pharisee, and in this way you will come to an end. This will be your outcome. If you are even worse than this, then there may come an event wherein you fall into temptation, abandon your duty, and become someone who betrays God—in which case you will have fallen behind, and will be cast out. This is to always be on the edge of a precipice! So right now, nothing is more important than pursuing the truth. Nothing is better than practicing the truth.
a. The Monkey King’s golden headband is a significant item that appears in the classic Chinese novel “Journey to the West.” In the story, the golden headband was used to control the Monkey King’s thoughts and actions by painfully tightening around his skull in response to unruly behavior.
If people have a heart which loves the truth, they will have the strength to pursue the truth, and can work hard at practicing the truth. They can abandon that which should be abandoned, and let go of that which should be let go of. In particular, things that pertain to your own fame, gain, and status should be let go of. If you do not let them go, it means you do not love the truth and do not have the strength to pursue the truth. When things happen to you, you must seek the truth, and practice the truth. If, at those times when you need to practice the truth, you always have a selfish heart and cannot let go of your own self-interest, you will be unable to put the truth into practice. If you never seek or practice the truth in any circumstance, you are not a person who loves the truth. No matter how many years you have believed in God, you will not obtain the truth. Some people are always pursuing fame, gain, and self-interest. Whatever work the church arranges for them, they always deliberate, thinking, “Will this benefit me? If it will, I’ll do it; if it won’t, then I won’t.” A person like this does not practice the truth—so can they perform their duty well? They most certainly cannot. Even if you have not done evil, you are still not a person who practices the truth. If you do not pursue the truth, do not love positive things, and whatever befalls you, you only care about your own reputation and status, your own self-interest, and what is good for you, then you are a person who is only driven by self-interest, and who is selfish and base. A person like this believes in God in order to gain something good or of benefit to them, not to obtain the truth or God’s salvation. Therefore, people of this sort are nonbelievers. People who truly believe in God are those who can seek and practice the truth, as they recognize in their hearts that Christ is the truth, and that they should listen to God’s words and believe in God as He demands. If you wish to practice the truth when something happens to you, but consider your own reputation and status, and consider your own face, then doing so will be difficult. In a situation such as this, through prayer, seeking, and reflecting on themselves and becoming self-aware, those who love the truth will be able to let go of what is in their own self-interest or good for them, practice the truth, and obey God. Such people are those who truly believe in God and love the truth. And what is the consequence when people always think of their own self-interest, when they are always trying to protect their own pride and vanity, when they reveal a corrupt disposition yet do not seek the truth to fix it? It is that they have no entry into life, it is that they lack true experiences and testimony. And this is dangerous, is it not? If you never practice the truth, if you have no experiences or testimony, then in due course you will be exposed and cast out. What use do people without experiences or testimony have in the house of God? They are bound to do any duty poorly, and be unable to do anything properly. Are they not just garbage? If people never practice the truth after years of believing in God, they are nonbelievers; they are evil. If you never practice the truth, and if your transgressions grow ever more numerous, then your end is set. It is clear to see that all your transgressions, the mistaken path you walk, and your refusal to repent all add up to a multitude of evil deeds; and so your end is that you will go to hell—you will be punished. Do you think this is a trivial matter? If you have not been punished, you will have no sense of how terrifying this is. When the day comes where you really do face calamity, and you are faced with death, it will be too late for regrets. If, in your faith in God, you do not accept the truth, and if you have believed in God for years but there has been no change in you, the ultimate consequence is that you will be cast out and abandoned. Everyone has transgressions. The key is to be able to seek the truth in order to fix those transgressions, and this will ensure that there are fewer and fewer of them. No matter when, if ever you reveal your corrupt disposition, and you are always able to pray to and rely on God, seek the truth in order to fix it, and purify your corrupt disposition, then you will not have done evil. This is how believers should fix the problem of a corrupt disposition, and this is how to experience God’s work. If you never pray to God and never seek the truth when events befall you, or if you understand the truth but do not put it into practice, what will the ultimate result be? It is self-evident. As cunning and as smooth a talker as you may be, can you escape the scrutiny of the eye of God? Can you evade the orchestrations of the hand of God? It is impossible. Wise people must come before God and repent, looking to Him, relying on Him, fixing their corrupt dispositions, and practicing the truth. Then you will have overcome the flesh, and overcome the temptations of Satan. Even if you fail several times, you must persevere. When you persevere against all odds, there will come a time when you succeed, and you will gain God’s grace, His compassion, and His blessing, and you will be able to walk the path of pursuing the truth, perform your duties well, and satisfy God.
When events befall you, how often do you choose to practice the truth and maintain God’s work? (Not often. Most of the time I choose to maintain my own image or self-interest, and I realize it afterward, but it is not easy to turn against myself. If there is someone who fellowships with me on the truth, it gives me some strength, and I can turn against myself somewhat. But when there is no one to fellowship with me on the truth, I become distant from God and always live in this state.) It is hard to turn against the flesh, and even harder to practice the truth, because you have a satanic nature that hinders you, and a corrupt disposition that disturbs you, and these cannot be fixed without understanding the truth. How much time a day can you spend quietly in the presence of God? How many days can you go without reading God’s words before feeling spiritually parched? (I feel that I cannot go a day without reading God’s words. I have to read a passage of God’s words in the morning and then meditate on it. This makes me feel closer to God. If there’s one day where I’m just busily rushing around working, neither eating and drinking the words of God, nor praying very much, I feel very far from God.) If you can sense that it will not do for you to be distant from God, then there is still hope for you. If you are a believer and want to obtain the truth, you cannot be passive and always wait for someone to fellowship with you on the truth. You must learn to actively eat and drink the words of God, pray to God, and seek the truth. If you wait until your spirit is dark and you cannot feel God before eating and drinking His words and praying to Him, then you can only maintain the status quo. While it is good to maintain a nominal “faith,” there will be no growth in your life, and when your spirit has become parched and numb, and you have become too distant from God, you will be in danger. One temptation befalls you, and you topple over; you are all too easily captured by Satan. If you have no experience at all, understand no truths, focus neither on reading the words of God nor on listening to sermons, and lack a normal spiritual life, then it will be difficult for you to grow in stature, and your progress will certainly be too slow. What are the reasons for this slow progress? What are its consequences? You must get clear on these things. No matter the manner in which God reveals people’s corruption, they should submit to it and accept it. They should reflect on themselves and compare themselves with God’s words, so that they may achieve self-knowledge and gradually understand the truth. This is what is most pleasing to God, and the Holy Spirit will certainly work in them, and they will certainly understand God’s will. You must keep God’s words and the truth in your hearts at all times, so that when you encounter a problem in real life, you can link and compare it to God’s words and the truth. Then, the problem will be easy to solve. For example, everyone wants a healthy body with no illness; that is something everyone aspires to, but how should you practice this in your daily life? First of all, you must have a regular routine, not eat things that are unhealthy or taboo, and get an appropriate amount of exercise. When these methods are combined, and everything you practice revolves around the goal of physical health, you will gradually see results. After a few years, you will be healthier than others, and have gotten good results. How did you get those results? It is because your actions and goals were in alignment, and your practice and theory were in alignment. It is the same with believing in God. If you seek to be a person who loves the truth and practices the truth, and to be a person of changed disposition, then when events befall you, you must link them to the goals you are pursuing and to the truths involved. Whatever the goals you pursue may be, as long as they are what God requires of man, they are the direction and goal that must be pursued as a believer. For example, following the way of God: fearing God and shunning evil. Once you have this direction, this goal, you must have a way to put it into practice immediately afterward. When I say “follow the way of God,” what does the “way of God” refer to? It means fearing God and shunning evil. And what is fearing God and shunning evil? When you give your appraisal of someone, for example—this relates to fearing God and shunning evil. How do you appraise them? (We must be honest, just, and fair, and our words must not be based on emotion.) When you say exactly what you think, and exactly what you have seen, you are being honest. First of all, the practice of being honest aligns with following the way of God. This is what God teaches people; this is the way of God. What is the way of God? Fearing God and shunning evil. Is being honest not part of fearing God and shunning evil? And is it not following the way of God? (Yes, it is.) If you are not honest, then what you have seen and what you think is not the same as what comes out of your mouth. Someone asks you, “What is your opinion of that person? Is he responsible in the church’s work?” and you reply, “He’s great. He is more responsible than I am, his caliber is better than mine, and his humanity is good, too. He is mature and stable.” But is this what you are thinking in your heart? What you actually see is that although this person does have caliber, he is unreliable, rather crafty, and very calculating. This is what you’re really thinking in your mind, but when the time comes to speak, it occurs to you that, “I can’t tell the truth. I mustn’t offend anyone,” so you quickly say something else, and choose nice things to say about him, but nothing you say is what you really think; it is all lies and all fake. Does this indicate that you follow the way of God? No. You have taken the way of Satan, the way of demons. What is the way of God? It is the truth, it is the basis according to which people should comport themselves, and it is the way of fearing God and shunning evil. Although you are speaking to another person, God is also listening; He is watching your heart, and scrutinizing it. People listen to what you say, but God scrutinizes your heart. Are people capable of scrutinizing the hearts of man? At best, people can see that you are not telling the truth; they can see what’s on the surface, but only God can see into the depths of your heart. Only God can see what you are thinking, what you are planning, and what little schemes, treacherous ways, and active thoughts you have within your heart. When God sees that you are not telling the truth, what is His opinion and evaluation of you? That you have not followed God’s way in this matter because you did not tell the truth. If you were practicing according to God’s requirements, you should have told the truth: “He’s a person of caliber, but he’s unreliable.” Regardless of whether your evaluation was accurate, it would have been honest and come from the heart, and it is the viewpoint and position you should have expressed. But you did not—so were you following the way of God? (No.) If you do not tell the truth, what use is it for you to stress that you are following God’s way and satisfying God? Does God heed the slogans you shout? Does God look at how you shout, how hard you shout, and how great your will is? Does He look at how many times you shout? These are not the things He looks at. God looks at whether you practice the truth, and at the choices you make and how you practice the truth when events befall you. If you choose to maintain relationships, maintain your own self-interest and image, everything is about self-preservation, and God sees that this is the viewpoint and attitude you take when an event befalls you, then He will make an appraisal of you: He will say you are not someone who follows His way. You say you want to pursue the truth and follow the way of God, so why do you not put it into practice when events befall you? The words you speak may be from the heart, and they may convey your will and wishes, or it could be that your heart is moved, and you are crying out sincere words as you weep bitterly, but does speaking sincerely mean you are practicing the truth? Does it mean you have true testimony? Not necessarily. If you are a pursuer of the truth, you will be able to practice the truth; if you are not a lover of the truth, then you will just say things that are pleasing to the ear, and that will be the end of it. The Pharisees were the best at preaching doctrine and chanting slogans. They often stood at street corners and cried out, “Oh, mighty God!” or “Worshipful God!” To others, they looked particularly pious, and did not do anything against the law, but did God commend them? He did not. How did He condemn them? By giving them a title: the hypocritical Pharisees. In former times, the Pharisees were a respected class in Israel, so why has the name now become a label? This is because the Pharisees have become representative of a type of person. What are the characteristics of this type of person? They are skilled at being false, at ornament, at pretending; they affect great nobility, holiness, uprightness, and transparent decency, and the slogans they shout sound good, but as it turns out, they do not practice the truth in the least. What good behavior do they have? They read scripture and preach; they teach others to uphold the law and rules, and not resist God. This is all good behavior. Everything they say sounds good, yet, when others’ backs are turned, they secretly steal offerings. The Lord Jesus said they “strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel” (Matthew 23:24). This means that all their behavior seems good on the surface—they chant slogans ostentatiously, they speak lofty theories, and their words sound pleasant, yet their deeds are a disordered mess, and are entirely resistant to God. Their outward behaviors are all pretense, all fraudulent; in their hearts, they have not the slightest love for the truth, nor for positive things. They detest the truth, detest positive things, and detest all that comes from God. What do they love? Do they love fairness and righteousness? (No.) How can you tell they do not love these things? (The Lord Jesus spread the gospel of the kingdom of heaven, which they not only refused to accept, but also condemned.) If they did not condemn it, would it be possible to tell? No. The Lord Jesus’ appearance and work exposed all the Pharisees, and it was only by their condemnation and resistance to the Lord Jesus that others could see their hypocrisy. Had it not been for the Lord Jesus’ appearance and work, no one would have been discerning toward the Pharisees, and if people just looked at the Pharisees’ outward conduct, it would even make them envious. Was it not insincere and deceitful of the Pharisees to use false good behavior to gain people’s trust? Can such deceitful people love the truth? They absolutely cannot. What was the purpose behind their displays of good conduct? For one thing, it was to dupe people. For another, it was to deceive and win people over, so that people thought highly of them and venerated them. And finally, they wanted to be rewarded. What a scam it was! Were these skillful tricks? Did such people love fairness and righteousness? They certainly did not. What they loved was status, fame and gain, and what they wanted was a reward and a crown. They never practiced the words that God taught people, and they never lived out the truth realities in the slightest. They were all about disguising themselves with good conduct, and duping and winning people over with their hypocritical ways to secure their own status and reputation, which they then used to fish for capital and make a living. Is that not despicable? From all this conduct of theirs, you can see that, in their essence, they did not love the truth, as they never practiced it. What is something that shows they did not practice the truth? The greatest thing of all: that the Lord Jesus came to do the work of redemption, and that all the words the Lord Jesus spoke are the truth and have authority. How did the Pharisees react to this? Although they acknowledged that the words of the Lord Jesus had authority and power, not only did they not accept them, but they also condemned and blasphemed them. What was that about? It was because they did not love the truth, and in their hearts, they were sick of and hated the truth. They acknowledged that the Lord Jesus was right in everything He said, that His words had authority and power, that He was not wrong in any way, and that they had no leverage against Him. But they wanted to condemn the Lord Jesus, so they discussed and conspired, and said, “Crucify Him. It is either Him or us,” and this is how the Pharisees defied the Lord Jesus. At that time no one understood the truth, and no one was able to recognize the Lord Jesus as God incarnate. From a human point of view, though, the Lord Jesus expressed many truths, cast out demons, and healed the sick. He performed many miracles, fed the 5,000 with five loaves of bread and two fish, did numerous good deeds, and bestowed so much grace on people. There are so few good and righteous people like this, so why did the Pharisees want to condemn the Lord Jesus? Why were they so intent on crucifying Him? That they preferred to release a criminal rather than the Lord Jesus shows how evil and malicious the Pharisees of the religious world were. They were so wicked! The difference between the evil countenances the Pharisees betrayed, and their feigned, outward benevolence was so great, that many people could not discern which was true and which was false, but the appearance and work of the Lord Jesus exposed them all. The Pharisees usually disguised themselves so well and outwardly appeared so godly, that no one would have imagined they could so cruelly resist and persecute the Lord Jesus. If the facts had not been exposed, no one would have been able to see through them. God incarnate’s expression of the truth is so revealing about man!
People think practicing the truth is difficult, but then why are some people able to practice it? It all depends on whether the person loves the truth. Some people say that those who practice the truth are people with good humanity. This statement is correct. Some people have good humanity and are able to practice some truth. However, some people’s humanity is lacking, and it is difficult for them to practice the truth, which means they have to suffer somewhat in order to do so. Tell Me, does a person who does not practice the truth seek the truth in his actions? He does not seek it at all. He comes up with his own intentions and thinks that carrying them out will be good and in his own interest, so he acts according to these intentions of his. The reason he does not seek the truth is because there is something wrong with his heart, his heart is not right. He does not seek, does not examine, nor does he pray before God; he just stubbornly acts according to his own wishes. This type of person simply holds no love for the truth. Though he harbors no love for the truth, he may do certain things in keeping with principles and things that do not violate principles. However, such a lack of violation does not mean that he has sought God’s will. It may only be said to be purely coincidental. Some people do certain things in a confused and haphazard fashion without seeking, but they are able to examine themselves after the fact. If they discover that doing such things is incompatible with the truth, they will refrain from doing so the next time. This may be considered having some measure of love for the truth. This kind of individual is capable of undergoing a degree of change. Those without love for the truth will neither seek it in the moment, nor will they examine themselves afterward. They never scrutinize whether the things they do are right or wrong in the end, thus they always violate principles and the truth. Even if they do something that does not violate principles, it is not aligned with the truth, and this so-called non-violation of principles is simply a matter of approach. So what state is this type of person in when they act according to their own wishes? They are not acting in a dazed and muddleheaded state, and it wasn’t as if they were unclear as to whether acting in this way was really in line with the truth or not. This is not the circumstance under which they find themselves, rather they stubbornly persist in acting according to their own wishes; they have set their mind to acting in that way, with absolutely no intention of seeking the truth. If they truly seek God’s will, before they fully come to understand God’s will, they will consider the following course of action: “I will first go ahead and do it this way. If it aligns with the truth, then I will carry on this way; if it does not conform to the truth, I will hurry and fix it and stop acting in such a manner.” If they are able to seek the truth in this manner, they will be able to change in the future. Without this intention, they will be unable to change. A person who has a heart is only able to make a mistake once when undertaking a course of action, twice at the very most—once or twice, not three or four times, this is normal sense. If they are able to commit the same mistake three or four times, this proves that they have no love for the truth, nor do they seek the truth. This kind of person is definitely not an individual with humanity. If after making a mistake once or twice, they have no reaction in their heart, no stirring of their conscience, then they will commit the same mistake three or four times, and this kind of person is simply unable to change; this is just who they are—completely irredeemable. If after making a mistake once, they feel there is something wrong with what they have done, and they very much despise themselves for it and feel guilt in their heart; if they have this kind of state, they will act better when engaged in similar matters again, and gradually they will no longer commit the same kind of mistake. Even should they wish to in their heart, they will not act on it. This is one aspect of change. Perhaps you will say: “My corrupt disposition cannot change.” Is it true that it cannot change? It’s just that you do not wish to change. If you are willing to practice the truth, would you still be unable to change? People who say this lack willpower. They are all contemptible wretches. They are unwilling to endure suffering. They do not wish to practice the truth; instead they say that the truth cannot change them. Is not such a person highly deceitful? It is that they are unable to practice the truth, their humanity is flawed, and yet they never know their own nature. They often doubt whether or not the work of God can make man complete. Such a person never intends to give their heart to God, never plans to endure hardship. The only reason why they stay here is merely on the off-chance that they may gain good fortune in the future. This sort of person is bereft of humanity. If they were a person with humanity, even when the Holy Spirit is not obviously working upon them, and they have little understanding of the truth, could they engage in wrongful deeds? A person with humanity, regardless of whether or not the Holy Spirit is working upon them, will be unable to undertake wrongful deeds. Some people without humanity can only perform certain good deeds under the condition that the Holy Spirit is working upon them. Without the Holy Spirit working upon them, their nature is exposed. Who can always have the Holy Spirit working on them? Some among the unbelievers have good humanity, they also do not have the Holy Spirit working upon them, yet they do not engage in any particularly wicked acts. If you believe in God, how can you engage in wicked acts? This demonstrates the problem of human nature. Without the Holy Spirit working upon them, people’s nature is exposed. With the Holy Spirit working on them, the Holy Spirit will move them, granting people enlightenment and illumination, furnishing them with a burst of strength, so they are able to perform some good deeds. In this case, this is not a matter of their nature being good, but rather a matter of the results achieved by the work of the Holy Spirit. But without the Holy Spirit working on them, people like to follow their own wishes, which leads to them unknowingly doing some bad things. Only then is their true nature exposed.
How can people’s nature be resolved? It starts with understanding the essence of human nature, which one must dissect according to God’s words to see if it is positive or negative and if it is resisting God or submitting to God. One must do this until they realize their nature essence, and then they can truly despise themselves and forsake their flesh. At the same time, one must understand the will and demands of God. What is your goal in the pursuit of the truth? You must achieve changes in your life disposition. Once your disposition changes, you will gain the truth. With your current stature, how can you stop yourself from doing evil, resisting God, or doing things that violate the truth? You have to consider these matters if you want to change. To counter the problem of having a bad nature, you must grasp which corrupt dispositions you have and what you are capable of doing. You have to grasp which measures to take and how to put them into practice to control your bad nature. This is the key issue. When there is confusion in your mind or darkness in your soul, you must know how to seek the truth to resolve it, how to fulfill your duties properly, and how to take the right path. You must establish a principle for yourself. This depends on the will of an individual and whether or not they are a person that wants God. There is a person who often loses his temper. He made a plaque, and on it, wrote the words, “Bridle Your Temper.” Then, he hung it on the wall of his study as a means of restraining himself and as a warning to himself. Maybe this is of some use, but can it fully resolve the problem? Absolutely not. Despite this, people should restrain themselves. At the forefront is the need to resolve the problem of their corrupt disposition. In order to resolve problems with their nature, they must begin by getting to know themselves. Only by seeing the essence of their corrupt disposition clearly can they despise themselves and forsake the flesh. Forsaking the flesh also requires having principles. Can one forsake the flesh if they are muddleheaded? As soon as they encounter a problem, they give in to the flesh. Some people may stop in their tracks at the sight of a beautiful woman; in which case you must establish a motto for yourself. When a beautiful woman comes up to you, should you leave or what are you to do? What should you do if she reaches out to hold your hand? If you have no principles, facing such a situation will cause you to stumble. What should you do if you find yourself blinded by greed at the sight of money and wealth? You should specifically put your mind to this problem, and focus on training yourself to resolve it, and in time, you will gradually be able to forsake the flesh. In the matter of resolving a corrupt nature, there is a principle which is quite crucial, and that is that you should bring all your issues before God and scrutinize yourself. In addition, every evening, you must examine your conditions from that day and scrutinize your own behavior: Which of your acts were done in accordance with the truth, and which were in violation of principles? This is yet another principle. These two points are most vital: The first is that you must reflect on yourself when your corruption is revealed. The second is that you must reflect on yourself after the fact to seek the truth. The third point is that you have to be clear about what it means to practice the truth and act with principle. If you can truly understand these matters, then you can do things correctly. If you adhere to these three principles, you can restrain yourself, preventing you from revealing or manifesting your corrupt nature. These are the basic principles for resolving your nature. With these principles in place, if you try to work toward the truth and stay within a normal state even when the Holy Spirit does not work on you or if you go a long stretch of time without anybody providing you with fellowship, then you are a person who loves the truth and forsakes the flesh. Those who always depend on others to fellowship the truth and prune and deal with themselves are slaves. Such people have a handicap and are unable to live independently. Those who act without principles will act recklessly and lose control of themselves if they are not pruned and dealt with or fellowshiped with for some time. How can such a person reassure God? So, you must abide by these three principles to solve the problem of nature. This will keep you from committing major transgressions and ensure that you do not resist or betray God.