47. The Principles of Real Self-Knowledge
(1) If you self-reflect and understand yourself and measure yourself according to the judgments and revelations of God’s words, then you will be able to see your own ugliness and evil;
(2) Self-knowledge that comes from the exposure of one’s corrupt disposition amid trials and refinement, as well as while one is being pruned and dealt with, is truest, and, through it, one can be utterly convinced;
(3) When suffering setbacks, examine clearly what is causing you to fail and fall, as well as what constraint of yours has yielded such a consequence. Be able to see your nature and essence;
(4) The easiest way to see clearly your nature essence, and the parts of your corrupt disposition that are revealed, is to reflect on the path you walk and on what motivates you to perform your duty.
Relevant Words of God:
After several thousand years of corruption, man is numb and dull-witted; he has become a demon that opposes God, to the extent that man’s rebelliousness toward God has been documented in the books of history, and even man himself is incapable of giving a full account of his rebellious behavior—for man has been profoundly corrupted by Satan, and has been led astray by Satan such that he knows not where to turn. Even today, man still betrays God: When man sees God, he betrays Him, and when he cannot see God, so too does he betray Him. There are even those who, having witnessed God’s curses and God’s wrath, still betray Him. And so I say that man’s sense has lost its original function, and that man’s conscience, too, has lost its original function. The man that I look upon is a beast in human attire, he is a venomous snake, and no matter how pitiable he tries to appear before My eyes, I will never be merciful toward him, for man has no grasp of the difference between black and white, of the difference between truth and non-truth. Man’s sense is so benumbed, yet still he wishes to gain blessings; his humanity is so ignoble yet still he wishes to possess the sovereignty of a king. Who could he be the king of, with sense such as that? How could he with such a humanity sit atop a throne? Man truly has no shame! He is a conceited wretch! For those of you who wish to gain blessings, I suggest you first find a mirror and look at your own ugly reflection—do you have what it takes to be a king? Do you have the face of one who could gain blessings? There has not been the slightest change in your disposition and you have not put any of the truth into practice, yet still you wish for a wonderful tomorrow. You are deluding yourself! Born into such a filthy land, man has been severely blighted by society, he has been influenced by feudal ethics, and he has been taught at “institutes of higher learning.” The backward thinking, corrupt morality, mean view on life, despicable philosophy for living, utterly worthless existence, and depraved lifestyle and customs—all of these things have severely intruded upon man’s heart, and severely undermined and attacked his conscience. As a result, man is ever more distant from God, and ever more opposed to Him. Man’s disposition becomes more vicious by the day, and there is not a single person who will willingly give up anything for God, not a single person who will willingly obey God, nor, moreover, a single person who will willingly seek the appearance of God. Instead, under the domain of Satan, man does nothing but pursue pleasure, giving himself over to the corruption of the flesh in the land of mud. Even when they hear the truth, those who live in darkness give no thought to putting it into practice, nor are they inclined to seek out God even if they have beheld His appearance. How could a mankind so depraved have any chance of salvation? How could a mankind so decadent live in the light?
Excerpted from “To Have an Unchanged Disposition Is to Be in Enmity to God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
If your self-knowledge only involves the cursory recognition of superficial things—if you merely say that you are arrogant and self-righteous, that you rebel against and resist God—then this is not true knowledge, but doctrine. You must integrate the facts into this: You must bring to light the motivations within you for fellowship and dissection in whichever aspects you hold fallacious views or misguided opinions. Only this is truly possessing knowledge. You must focus on knowing your motivations and the source of your essence. You should not gain understanding from your actions alone; you must grasp the crux of it and resolve the root of the problem. Once a period of time has gone by, you must reflect on yourself, and summarize which problems you have resolved, which still remain, and how they should be addressed. So, too, must you seek the truth. You must not always let others lead you; you must have your own path for entry into life. You must frequently examine yourself: what are the things you are doing wrong and are at odds with the truth, which of your words and motivations are wrong, what dispositions you are revealing. If this is how you consistently enter in, and you make strict demands of yourself, then slowly but surely, you will gain more understanding in this regard; ultimately, you will tie it all together and see that you are simply no good. When the day comes that you truly possess such knowledge, you will no longer be capable of arrogance. What is crucial right now? After fellowship and dissection, people are aware of and know about these things, but they still don’t know themselves. Some say: “How could I not know myself? I’m aware of the matters I reveal arrogance in.” If you are aware, then how are you not aware that your disposition is arrogant? Why are there times when you seek personal advancement, when you crave status and distinction? This means your arrogant nature has not been eradicated! Thus, change must start from the motivations, views, and opinions behind your actions. Do you acknowledge that much of what people say is barbed and venomous, that there is an element of arrogance in their tone? Their words carry their motivations and personal opinions; this can be seen from what they say. There are those who have a certain manner of speaking and expression when they don’t betray arrogance, but their presentation shifts when their arrogance shows itself—the ugly face of Satan has shown itself. Everyone harbors motivations. Take those who are crafty: They always whisper and squint their eyes while speaking; there are motivations contained in this. Some people speak in a low voice, furtively; their words contain schemes, but they give nothing away in tone or countenance. Such people are even more treacherous, and are very difficult to save.
Excerpted from “How to Cross Into the New Age” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days
You are now somewhat able to recognize the corrupt disposition you reveal—which corrupt things you are still liable to reveal, which things you are still liable to do. All this, you know. Yet the most difficult thing is being able to control yourselves. You do not know when you will do something or what grave things you are capable of doing. Perhaps there are things that you thought you would never do or words you thought you would never say, but in a given time or environment, you indeed did or said them. People are not able to control these unexpected things. How can this be? It is because people do not thoroughly understand their nature and essence; their knowledge of it is insufficiently deep, so putting the truth into practice is very strenuous for them. For example, some people are quite deceitful, dishonest in word and deed, yet if you ask them in what regard their corruption is most severe, they will say, “I am a little deceitful.” They will merely say they are a little deceitful, but they do not say that their nature itself is deceit, and they do not say that they are a deceitful person. They do not see their own nature all that deeply, and do not look at it as something as serious, nor as thoroughly, as others. Others see that this person is so deceitful and so crooked, that there is fraud in their every word, that their words and actions are never honest—but they cannot see so deeply into themselves. Any knowledge they happen to have is merely superficial. Whenever they speak and act, they reveal something in their nature, yet they are unaware of this. They think they are being honest in what they are doing and that he is doing things in accordance with truth. That is to say, people have an overly superficial understanding of their own nature, and there is a huge discrepancy between this and God’s words of judgment and revelation. This is not a mistake in what God reveals, but rather is humans’ lack of profound understanding of their own nature. People do not have a fundamental or essential understanding of themselves; instead, they focus on and devote their energy to their actions and outward expressions. Even if someone occasionally said something about understanding themselves, it would not be very profound. No one has ever thought that they are this type of person or have this type of nature due to having done this type of thing or having revealed something. God has revealed the nature and essence of humanity, but humans understand that their way of doing things and their way of speaking are flawed and defective; therefore, it is a strenuous task for people to put truth into practice. People think that their mistakes are merely momentary manifestations that are revealed carelessly rather than being revelations of their nature. People who think this way cannot put the truth into practice, because they are not able to accept truth as truth and do not thirst after truth; therefore, when putting truth into practice, they only perfunctorily follow the rules. People do not view their own nature as being too corrupt, and believe that they are not so bad that they should be destroyed or punished. They think that it is not a big deal to lie occasionally, and consider themselves to be much better than they were in the past; in fact, however, they are nowhere close to being up to standard, because people only have some actions that do not outwardly violate truth, when they are not actually putting truth into practice.
Excerpted from “Understanding One’s Nature and Putting the Truth Into Practice” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days
To allow people to know themselves, God uses many different methods. He allows people to gradually come to know themselves through experience. Whether He uses trials, judgment or chastisement, in words or in facts, God allows people to constantly experience, to experience the judgment, chastisement and discipline of God’s words, and to experience the enlightenment and illumination of God’s words. At the same time, He allows people to recognize their own corruption, rebelliousness, and nature. So what is God’s ultimate goal in doing this? It is to allow every person experiencing God’s work to know what man is. What does “what man is” include? It includes allowing people to recognize their own identity, position, duty, and responsibility. It is to let you know who man is and who you are yourself. This is the ultimate goal of God’s allowing people to know themselves.
Excerpted from God’s Fellowship
The key to achieving a change in disposition is to know one’s own nature, and this must happen in accordance with revelations from God. Only in God’s word can one know one’s own hideous nature, recognize in one’s own nature Satan’s various poisons, realize that one is foolish and ignorant, and recognize the weak and negative elements in one’s nature. After these are fully known, and you are truly able to hate yourself and forsake the flesh, consistently carry out God’s word, and have the will to absolutely submit to the Holy Spirit and to the word of God, then you will have embarked on the path of Peter.
Excerpted from “To Know Oneself Is Primarily About Knowing Human Nature” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days
To know yourself, you must know your own expressions of corruption, your own vital weaknesses, your disposition, and your nature essence. You must also know, down to the very last detail, those things that are revealed in your daily life—your motives, your perspectives, and your attitude about every single thing—whether you are at home or out, when you are in gatherings, when you are eating and drinking of the words of God, or in every single issue you encounter. Through these things you must come to know yourself. To know yourself on a deeper level, you must integrate God’s words; only by knowing yourself based on His words can you achieve results.
Excerpted from “The Importance of Pursuing the Truth and the Path of Pursuing It” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days
When reading God’s words, Peter was not focused on understanding doctrines, much less was he focused on obtaining theological knowledge; instead, he concentrated on comprehending the truth and grasping God’s will, as well as achieving an understanding of His disposition and His loveliness. Peter also attempted to understand the various corrupt states of man from God’s words, as well as man’s corrupt nature and actual shortcoming, thus meeting all aspects of God’s requirements of man in order to satisfy Him. Peter had so many correct practices that abided by the words of God; this was most in line with God’s will, and it was the best way a person could cooperate while experiencing God’s work. When experiencing the hundreds of trials from God, Peter examined himself strictly against every word of God’s judgment of man, every word of God’s revelation of man, and every word of His demands of man, and strived to fathom the meaning of those words. He tried in earnest to ponder and memorize every word that Jesus said to him, and achieved very good results. Through this manner of practicing, he was able to achieve an understanding of himself from God’s words, and he not only came to understand the various corrupt states of man, but also came to understand man’s essence, nature, and various shortcomings. This is what it means to truly understand oneself.
Excerpted from “How to Walk the Path of Peter” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days
What Peter sought was to come to know himself and see what had been revealed in him through the refinement of God’s words and within the various trials that God provided for him. When he truly came to understand himself, Peter realized just how deeply corrupt humans are, how worthless and unworthy of serving God they are, and that they do not deserve to live before Him. Peter then fell prostrate before God. Ultimately, he thought, “Knowing God is the most precious thing! If I died before knowing Him, it would be such a pity; I feel that knowing God is the most important, most meaningful thing there is. If man does not know God, then he does not deserve to live and has no life.” By the time Peter’s experience had reached this point, he had come to know his own nature and gained a relatively good understanding of it. Although he perhaps would not have been able to explain it as clearly as people would nowadays, Peter had indeed reached this state. Therefore, pursuing life and attaining perfection by God requires knowing one’s own nature from within God’s utterances, as well as comprehending the aspects of one’s nature and accurately describing it in words, speaking clearly and plainly. Only this is truly knowing yourself, and you will have attained the result God requires. If your knowledge has not yet reached this point, but you claim to know yourself and say that you have gained life, then are you not simply bragging? You do not know yourself, nor do you know what you are in front of God, whether you have truly met the standards of being human, or how many satanic elements you still have within you. You are still unclear about who you belong to, and you do not even have any self-knowledge—so how can you possess reason in front of God? When Peter was pursuing life, he focused on understanding himself and transforming his disposition over the course of his trials, and he strove to know God, and in the end, he thought, “People must seek an understanding of God in life; knowing Him is the most critical thing. If I do not know God, then I cannot rest in peace when I die. Once I know Him, if God then has me die, then I will still feel most gratified to do so; I will not complain in the slightest, and my entire life will have been fulfilled.” Peter was not able to gain this level of understanding or reach this point immediately after he had begun to believe in God; he first had to undergo a great many trials. His experience had to reach a certain milestone, and he had to completely understand himself, before he could sense the value of knowing God. Therefore, the path Peter took was one of gaining life and of being perfected; this was the aspect upon which his specific practice was primarily focused.
Excerpted from “How to Walk the Path of Peter” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days
How do you understand human nature? Understanding your nature actually means dissecting the depths of your soul; it involves what is in your life. It is the logic of Satan and the viewpoints of Satan by which you have been living; that is, it is the life of Satan that you have been living by. Only by unearthing the deep-down parts of your soul can you understand your nature. How can these things be unearthed? They cannot be unearthed or dissected through a mere one or two events; many times, after you are finished doing something, you still have not come to an understanding. It could take three or five years before you are able to gain even a tiny bit of realization and understanding. In many situations, you must self-reflect and come to know yourself, and only when you practice digging deep will you see results. As your understanding of the truth grows more and more profound, you will gradually come to know your own nature essence through self-reflection and self-knowledge. In order to know your nature, you must accomplish a few things. First, you must have a clear understanding of what you like. This does not refer to what you like to eat or wear; rather, it means the kinds of things you enjoy, the things you envy, the things you worship, the things you seek, and the things you pay attention to in your heart, the types of people you enjoy coming into contact with, the type of things you like to do, and the types of people you idolize in your heart. For example, most people like people of great standing, people who are elegant in their speech and deportment, or like those who speak with eloquent flattery or those who put on an act. The aforementioned is about what people they like to interact with. As for the things people enjoy, these include being willing to do certain things that are easy to do, enjoying doing things that others think are good and that would cause people to sing praises and give compliments. In people’s natures, there is a common characteristic of the things they like. That is, they like people, events, and things that others are envious of due to outward appearances, they like people, events, and things that look beautiful and luxurious, and they like people, events and things that make others worship them due to appearances. These things that people are fond of are great, dazzling, gorgeous, and grand. People all worship these things. It can be seen that people do not possess any of the truth, nor do they have the likeness of genuine human beings. There is not the slightest degree of significance in worshiping these things, yet people still like them. These things that people like seem especially good to those who do not believe in God, and they are especially willing to pursue these things. … To aspire to these things is to wallow in the mire with the worldly people. This is detested by God. It lacks truth, it lacks humanity, and it is satanic. This is what it is to unearth a person’s nature from within their preferences. People’s preferences can be seen in the way they dress: Some people are willing to wear attention-grabbing, colorful clothing, or bizarre outfits. They will carry accessories no one else has carried before, and they love things that can attract the opposite sex. That they wear these clothes and accessories shows the preference they have for these things in their lives and deep within their hearts. The things they like are not dignified or decent. They are not the things of a truly genuine person. In their like of them, there is unrighteousness. Their outlook is precisely the same as that of worldly people. One cannot see the least truth in them. Therefore, what you like, what you focus on, what you worship, what you envy, and what you think about in your heart every day are all representative of your nature. It is enough to prove that your nature is fond of unrighteousness, and in serious situations, your nature is evil and incurable. You should analyze your nature in this way; that is, examine what you are fond of and what you forsake in your life. You might be good to someone for a time, but this does not prove that you are fond of them. What you are truly fond of is precisely what is in your nature; even if your bones were broken, you would still enjoy it and could never forsake it. This is not easy to change. Take finding a partner, for example. If a woman really fell in love with someone, then no one would be able to stop her. Even if her legs were broken, she would still want to be with him; she would want to marry him even if it meant she had to die. How can this be? It is because no one can change what people have deep inside of themselves. Even if a person died, his soul would still like the same things; these are the things of human nature, and they represent a person’s essence. The things people are fond of contain some unrighteousness. Some are obvious in their fondness for those things, while some are not; some have a strong liking for them, while others do not; some people have self-control, while others cannot control themselves. Some people are liable to sink into the dark things, which proves that they do not possess even a shred of life. If people are able to not be occupied and constrained by those things, it proves that their dispositions have been transformed a little and that they have a little stature. Some people understand some truths and feel that they have life and that they love God. In fact, it is still too early, and undergoing transformation in one’s disposition is not a simple matter. Is one’s nature easy to understand? Even if you understood it a little, it would not be easy to change. This is an area of difficulty for people. Regardless of how people, matters, or things around you may change and regardless of how the world may be turned upside down, if the truth is guiding you from within, if it has taken root within you and God’s words guide your life, your preferences, your experiences and your existence, at that point you will have truly transformed. Now this so-called transformation is just people cooperating a little and having a little bit of enthusiasm and faith, but this cannot be considered transformation and it does not prove that people have life; it is just people’s preferences—nothing more.
In addition to unearthing the things people are fond of in their natures, other aspects pertaining to their natures also need to be unearthed. For example, people’s viewpoints on things, people’s methods and goals in life, people’s life values and views on life, as well as views on all things relating to truth. These are all things deep within people’s souls and they have a direct relationship with the transformation of disposition. What, then, is the life view of corrupt humankind? It can be said to be this: “Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost.” People all live for themselves; to put it more distinctly, they are living for the flesh. They are living just to put food in their mouths. How does this existence differ from that of the animals? There is no value whatsoever in living like this, let alone any meaning. One’s life view is about what you rely on to live in the world, what you live for, and how you live—and these are all things to do with the essence of human nature. Through dissecting people’s natures, you will see that people are all resisting God. They are all devils and there is no genuinely good person. Only by dissecting people’s natures can you truly know the essence and corruption of man and understand what people actually belong to, what people truly lack, what they should be equipped with, and how they should live out a human likeness. Truly dissecting a person’s nature is not easy, and cannot be done without experiencing God’s words or having true experiences.
Excerpted from “What Should Be Known About Transforming One’s Disposition” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days
When it comes to knowing man’s nature, the most important thing is to see it from the perspective of man’s world view, life view, and values. Those who are of the devil all live for themselves. Their life view and maxims mainly come from Satan’s sayings, such as, “Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost.” The words spoken by those devil kings, great ones, and philosophers of the earth have become man’s very life. In particular, most of the words of Confucius, who is touted by Chinese people to be a “sage,” have become man’s life. There are also the famous proverbs of Buddhism and Taoism, and the oft-quoted classic sayings of various famous figures; these are all outlines of Satan’s philosophies and Satan’s nature. They are also the best illustrations and explanations of Satan’s nature. These poisons that have been infused into the heart of man all come from Satan; not the least bit of them comes from God. Such devilish words are also in direct opposition to God’s word. It is absolutely clear that the realities of all positive things come from God, and all those negative things that poison man come from Satan. Therefore, you can discern a person’s nature and to whom he belongs from his life view and values. Satan corrupts people through the education and influence of national governments and of the famous and great. Their devilish words have become man’s life nature. “Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost” is a well-known satanic saying that has been instilled into everyone, and that has become man’s life. There are other words of philosophies for living that are also like this. Satan uses each nation’s fine traditional culture to educate people, causing mankind to fall into and be engulfed by a boundless abyss of destruction, and in the end people are destroyed by God because they serve Satan and resist God. Imagine asking someone who has been active in society for decades the following question: “Given that you have lived in the world for so long and achieved so much, what are the main famous sayings that you live by?” He might say, “The most important one is, ‘Officials do not make things difficult for those who bear gifts, and those who do not flatter accomplish nothing.’” Are these words not representative of that person’s nature? Unscrupulously using any means to obtain position has become his nature, and being an official is what gives him life. There are still many satanic poisons in people’s lives, in their conduct and behavior; they possess almost no truth at all. For example, their philosophies for living, their ways of doing things, and their maxims are all filled with the poisons of the great red dragon, and they all come from Satan. Thus, all things that flow through people’s bones and blood are all things of Satan. All of those officials, those who hold power, and those who are accomplished have their own paths and secrets to success. Are such secrets not perfectly representative of their nature? They have done such big things in the world, and no one can see through the schemes and intrigues that lay behind them. This shows just how insidious and venomous their nature is. Mankind has been profoundly corrupted by Satan. Satan’s venom flows through the blood of every person, and it can be seen that man’s nature is corrupt, evil, and reactionary, filled by and immersed in the philosophies of Satan—it is, in its entirety, a nature that betrays God. This is why people resist God and stand in opposition to God. Man can easily come to know himself if his nature can be dissected in this way.
Excerpted from “How to Know Man’s Nature” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days
How can you tell what a person’s essence is? You cannot tell what a person’s nature essence is when they do either nothing or when they do something trivial. These are shown in what they regularly reveal, in the motives behind their actions, in the intents behind what they do, in the desires they harbor, and in the path they walk. Even more importantly, these things are shown in how they react when they encounter an environment arranged by God, when they encounter something personally done to them by God, when they are tried and refined, or are dealt with and pruned, or else when God personally illuminates and guides them. What does all of this relate to? It relates to a person’s actions, the way they live, and the principles by which they conduct themselves. It also relates to the direction and goals of their pursuit, and the means by which they pursue. In other words, it relates to the path this person takes, how they live, what they live by, and what the basis of their existence is.
Excerpted from “How to Discern the Nature Essence of Paul” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days
Nowadays, most people have a very superficial understanding of themselves. They have not come to clearly know the things that are part of their nature at all. They only have knowledge of a few of their corrupt states, the things they are likely to do, or a few of their shortcomings, and this makes them believe that they know themselves. If, furthermore, they abide by a few rules, ensure that they do not make mistakes in certain areas, and manage to avoid committing certain transgressions, they then consider themselves to possess reality in their belief in God and assume that they will be saved. This is completely human imagination. If you abide by those things, will you really become able to refrain from committing any transgressions? Will you have attained a true change in disposition? Will you really be living out the likeness of a human being? Can you genuinely satisfy God that way? Absolutely not, this is for sure. Belief in God works only when one has high standards and has attained the truth and some transformation in one’s life disposition. So, if people’s knowledge of themselves is too shallow, they will find it impossible to solve problems, and their life dispositions simply will not change. It is necessary to know oneself on a profound level, which means knowing one’s own nature: what elements are included in that nature, how these things originated, and where they came from. Moreover, are you actually able to hate these things? Have you seen your own ugly soul and your evil nature? If you are truly able to see the truth about yourself, then you will start to loathe yourself. When you loathe yourself and then practice God’s word, you will be able to forsake the flesh and have the strength to carry out truth without difficulty. Why do many people follow their fleshly preferences? Because they consider themselves to be pretty good, feeling that their actions are right and justified, that they have no faults, and even that they are entirely in the right, they are therefore capable of acting with the assumption that justice is on their side. When one recognizes what one’s true nature is—how ugly, how despicable, and how pitiful—then one is not overly proud of oneself, not so wildly arrogant, and not so pleased with oneself as before. Such a person feels, “I must be earnest and down to earth, and practice some of God’s word. If not, then I will not measure up to the standard of being human, and will be ashamed to live in God’s presence.” One then truly sees oneself as paltry, as truly insignificant. At this time, it becomes easy for one to carry out truth, and one will appear to be somewhat like a human should be. Only when people truly loathe themselves are they able to forsake the flesh. If they do not loathe themselves, they will be unable to forsake the flesh. Truly hating oneself comprises a few things: First, knowing one’s own nature; and second, seeing oneself as needy and pitiful, seeing oneself to be extremely small and insignificant, and seeing one’s own pitiful and dirty soul. When one fully sees what one truly is, and this outcome is achieved, one then truly gains knowledge of oneself, and it can be said that one has come to know oneself fully. Only then can one truly hate oneself, going so far as to curse oneself, and truly feel that one has been corrupted profoundly by Satan such that one does not even resemble a human being. Then, one day, when the threat of death appears, such a person will think, “This is God’s righteous punishment. God is indeed righteous; I really should die!” At this point, he will not lodge a complaint, much less blame God, simply feeling that he is so needy and pitiful, so filthy and corrupt that he should be wiped out by God, and a soul like his is not fit to live on earth. At this point, this person will not resist God, much less betray God. If one does not know oneself, and still considers oneself to be pretty good, then when death comes knocking, this person will think, “I have done so well in my faith. How hard I have sought! I have given so much, I have suffered so much, yet ultimately, God is now asking me to die. I don’t know where God’s righteousness is. Why is He asking me to die? If even a person like me has to die, then who will be saved? Won’t the human race come to an end?” First of all, this person has notions about God. Secondly, this person is complaining, and not showing any submission whatsoever. This is just like Paul: When he was about to die, he did not know himself, and by the time God’s punishment was nigh, it was too late to repent.
Excerpted from “To Know Oneself Is Primarily About Knowing Human Nature” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days
The more capable you are of discovering your own corruption, the more accurate this discovery, and the more you can know your own essence, then the more likely it is you will be saved and the closer you will come to salvation; the more incapable you are of discovering your problems, the more you think you are a good person, a pretty great person, then the further you are away from the path to salvation, and you are still in great danger. Anyone who spends all day parading themselves—flaunting their accomplishments, saying they are silver-tongued, reasonable, that they understand the truth, can practice the truth, and are capable of making sacrifices—is of especially small stature. What kind of person has greater hope of salvation, and is capable of walking the path of salvation? Those who truly know their corrupt disposition. The more profound their knowledge, the closer they come to salvation. Knowing your corrupt disposition, knowing that you are nothing, useless, that you are a living Satan—when you truly know your essence, this is not a serious problem. This is a good thing, not a bad thing. Is there anyone who becomes more negative the more they know themselves, thinking to themselves: “It’s all over, the judgment and chastisement of God has befallen me, it is punishment and retribution, God doesn’t want me and I have no hope of salvation”? Will these people have such illusions? In fact, the more people recognize how hopeless they are, the greater the hope for them; they should not be negative and they should not give up. Knowing yourself is a good thing—it is the path that must be taken to salvation. If you are utterly insensible of your own corrupt disposition and of your essence, which is multifarious in its opposition to God, and if you have not yet any plans to change, then you are in trouble; such people have already grown numb, they are dead. Can the dead be brought back to life? They are already dead—they cannot.
Excerpted from “Only When You Know Yourself Can You Pursue the Truth” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days
Among those who seek life, Paul was someone who did not know his own substance. He was by no means humble or obedient, nor did he know his essence, which was in opposition to God. And so, he was someone who had not undergone detailed experiences, and was someone who did not put the truth into practice. Peter was different. He knew his imperfections, weaknesses, and his corrupt disposition as a creature of God, and so he had a path of practice through which to change his disposition; he was not one of those who only had doctrine but possessed no reality. Those who change are new people who have been saved, they are those who are qualified in pursuing the truth. People who do not change belong to those who are naturally obsolete; they are those who have not been saved, that is, those who are detested and rejected by God. They will not be remembered by God no matter how great their work. When you compare this with your own pursuit, whether you are ultimately the same kind of person as Peter or Paul should be self-evident. If there is still no truth in what you seek, and if even today you are still as arrogant and insolent as Paul, and are still as glib and boastful as him, then you are without doubt a degenerate who fails. If you seek the same as Peter, if you seek practices and true changes, and are not arrogant or willful, but seek to perform your duty, then you will be a creature of God who can achieve victory. Paul did not know his own essence or corruption, much less did he know his own disobedience. He never mentioned his despicable defiance of Christ, nor was he overly regretful. He only offered a brief explanation and, deep down in his heart, he did not completely submit to God. Though he fell on the road to Damascus, he did not look deep within himself. He was content merely to keep working, and he did not consider knowing himself and changing his old disposition to be the most crucial of issues. He was satisfied with merely speaking the truth, with providing to others as a salve for his own conscience, and with no longer persecuting Jesus’ disciples to console himself and forgive himself for his past sins. The goal that he pursued was nothing more than a future crown and transitory work, the goal he pursued was abundant grace. He did not seek sufficient truth, nor did he seek to progress deeper into the truth which he had previously not understood. His knowledge of himself can therefore be said to be false, and he did not accept chastisement or judgment. That he was able to work does not mean he possessed a knowledge of his own nature or essence; his focus was on outward practices only. What he strived for, moreover, was not change, but knowledge. His work was completely the result of the appearance of Jesus on the road to Damascus. It was not something he had resolved to do originally, nor was it work that occurred after he had accepted the pruning of his old disposition. No matter how he worked, his old disposition did not change, and so his work did not atone for his past sins but merely played a certain role among the churches of the time. For someone such as this, whose old disposition did not change—that is to say, who did not gain salvation, and was even more without the truth—he was absolutely incapable of becoming one of those accepted by the Lord Jesus.
Excerpted from “Success or Failure Depends on the Path That Man Walks” in The Word Appears in the Flesh