By Yichen, China
Almighty God says, “Every step of God’s work—whether it be harsh words, or judgment, or chastisement—makes man perfect, and is absolutely appropriate. Never throughout the ages has God done work such as this; today, He works within you so that you appreciate His wisdom. Although you have suffered some pain within you, your hearts feel steadfast and at peace; it is your blessing to be able to enjoy this stage of the work of God. Regardless of what you are able to gain in the future, all that you see of God’s work in you today is love. If man does not experience God’s judgment and refinement, his actions and fervor will always remain at surface level, and his disposition will always remain unchanged. Does this count as having been gained by God? Today, although there is still much within man that is arrogant and conceited, man’s disposition is much more stable than before. God’s dealing with you is done in order to save you, and although you may feel some pain at the time, the day will come when there occurs a change in your disposition. At that time, you will look back and see how wise the work of God is, and at that time you will be able to truly understand God’s will” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Only by Experiencing Painful Trials Can You Know the Loveliness of God). Reading this passage, I can’t help but think of how arrogant I used to be. I used to have such unrestrained desires, always seeking fame and status, vying with and comparing myself to others. I lived without any human likeness. After experiencing God’s words’ judgment, chastisement, and discipline, I began to understand my satanic nature a bit. I became capable of regret and self-disgust, and became a little more honest and humble. I really felt that the judgment and chastisement of God’s words are salvation for mankind.
In 2005, more than a year after accepting Almighty God, I was chosen as a church leader. Having been elevated by God and trusted by my brothers and sisters, I prayed to God, resolving to do my duty well to repay His love. I immediately became immersed in church work. When others fell into certain states or had difficulties, I’d find some of God’s words to help them out, and though what I fellowshiped was shallow, I still saw some results. Brothers and sisters said my fellowship helped them a bit. Since I had some success in my duty, a leader later had me take on work for several churches. I was thrilled. Especially when I saw I grasped God’s words faster than the sister I worked with, and the leader thought highly of me, I was quite pleased with myself. I thought the leader saw me as someone with real potential, an indispensable talent in the church. With time I became more and more arrogant and thought I now had a little reality of the truth. I stopped focusing on eating and drinking God’s words or reflecting on myself, and I didn’t seek the truth when I encountered an issue. I was always full of myself, haughty, and looked down on my brothers and sisters. When I saw some of them were constrained by their corrupt dispositions and couldn’t perform their duties properly, I stopped fellowshiping on the truth to help them out of love, but impatiently scolded them: “God’s work has gotten to this point, but you’re still greedily enjoying the flesh. Aren’t you afraid you’ll fall into the disasters and be punished? If you don’t start doing your duty well, you’ll be eliminated.” I saw they were being constrained and didn’t want to see me, but I didn’t reflect on myself, instead grumbling they weren’t pursuing the truth.
Before long, a leader came to our gathering. I thought it was to promote me. To my surprise, she said my entry into life was shallow, that my fellowship couldn’t resolve problems, and that I wasn’t fit to stay in charge of the work of several churches. Hearing this, I was stunned—my mind went utterly blank. I don’t even know how I got home after the gathering. I just remember crying the whole way, thinking: “I’ve worked so hard in my duty, but instead of getting ahead I’ve sunk down. What will the brothers and sisters think of me? It seems I can’t take on such a large scope of work, but how can I resign myself to such minor duties?” For some days I couldn’t eat or sleep, but was steeped in misery. I just prayed to God, asking Him to enlighten and guide me so I could understand His will. I felt much calmer after praying, and I read these words of God: “In your seeking, you have too many individual notions, hopes, and futures. The current work is in order to deal with your desire for status and your extravagant desires. Hopes, status, and notions are all classic representations of satanic disposition. … You are now followers, and you have gained some understanding of this stage of work. However, you have still not put aside your desire for status. When your status is high you seek well, but when your status is low you no longer seek. The blessings of status are always on your mind. Why is it that the majority of people cannot remove themselves from negativity? Is the answer not invariably because of bleak prospects? … The more you seek in this way, the less you will reap. The greater a person’s desire for status, the more seriously they will have to be dealt with and the more they will have to undergo great refinement. Such people are worthless! They must be dealt with and judged adequately in order for them to thoroughly let go of these things. If you pursue this way until the end, you will reap nothing. Those who do not pursue life cannot be transformed, and those who do not thirst for the truth cannot gain the truth. You do not focus on pursuing personal transformation and entry, but focus instead on extravagant desires and things that constrain your love for God and prevent you from drawing close to Him. Can those things transform you? Can they bring you into the kingdom?” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Why Are You Unwilling to Be a Foil?). I understood God’s will after reading this. He set up that situation to deal with my desire for status, to get me to reflect on myself and take the right path in pursuing the truth. I thought about whether my eager pursuit and sacrifices in my faith had really been to pursue the truth and do the duty of a created being. The reality was that it was just to satisfy my ambition to get ahead of others, and not at all to pursue the truth! So once I had a position I was quite pleased with myself and didn’t try to progress. When I was dismissed, not only did I not reflect on myself, but I was negative and weak, and blamed God. I even thought about throwing in the towel and betraying God. I was so devoid of conscience and reason, so selfish and despicable. Being dismissed was God protecting me. I shouldn’t have become negative or misunderstood God, but should have sought the truth to resolve my corruption. Once I realized that, I came before God in prayer: “Oh God, I don’t want to pursue status anymore. I wish to submit to Your rule and arrangements, really pursue the truth, and fulfill my duty to satisfy You.” In the following days, I focused on eating and drinking God’s words and reflecting on myself, and when I revealed my arrogant disposition again, I consciously prayed to God and forsook myself. I felt much better after practicing this way for a while, and I could interact properly with brothers and sisters.
After a few years of this, I was once again elected as a church leader. Not long after that, my church merged with another one, so we needed to hold elections for leaders again. My desire for status reared its head again because of this, and I was really afraid of losing my position. In gatherings with the other church’s leaders, I found their understanding of God’s words and fellowship on the truth to be nothing extraordinary, so I thought being elected as leader was a sure thing for me. To secure my position and have more people see how capable I was, I offered to go deal with some issues in a weaker church, promising to resolve them quickly. Then I busied myself in gatherings every day, fellowshiping and resolving problems, and in my fellowship I purposely talked about how I did my work in the past, what great achievements I had made, and how leaders at the time valued me. I also intentionally talked about mistakes and deviations in the work of the other church’s leaders to covertly raise myself up and put them down. But God sees into my hearts and minds, and since my motives in my duty were wrong, God hid Himself from me. During that time, though I was constantly busy, I achieved nothing in my work. I developed sores in my mouth, and even drinking water was painful. I was really suffering and I thought about how since I’d been there I hadn’t resolved a thing and my work hadn’t achieved any results. I wondered how the leaders would see me, if they would think I wasn’t capable. What if I was dismissed even before the election? What a humiliation! At this thought I was itching to resolve all the problems right away, but no matter how I fellowshiped, things just dragged on as before. I felt so tormented, so I came before God and called out to Him in prayer: “Oh God! I’ve fallen into darkness and I don’t understand any problem at all. Oh God, I must have defied You, so I beg You to guide me. I’m willing to reflect on myself and repent to You.”
I later read a passage of God’s words: “You have the tongue and the teeth of the unrighteous in your mouths. Your words and deeds are like those of the serpent that enticed Eve to sin. You demand from each other an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, and you struggle in My presence to wrest position, fame, and profit for yourselves, yet you do not know that I am secretly watching your words and deeds. Before you even come into My presence, I have sounded the very bottom of your hearts. Man always wishes to escape the grasp of My hand and elude the observation of My eyes, but I have never dodged away from his words or deeds. Instead, I purposefully allow those words and deeds to enter My eyes, that I may chastise man’s unrighteousness and execute judgment on his rebellion. Thus, man’s words and deeds in secret remain always before My judgment seat, and My judgment has never left man, for his rebellion is too much” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. The Work of Spreading the Gospel Is Also the Work of Saving Man). God’s words of judgment and revelation left me trembling with fear! I thought back on how I’d been thinking and acting. To ensure my position as a leader and have more people look up to me, I made a show of resolving problems through fellowship to prove myself and capture hearts, elevating myself and belittling others at every turn. I treated brothers and sisters like competitors, employing tricks and tactics. I had no likeness of a person of faith, no humanity. How was I any different from an animal fighting over a bite of food? I was so selfish and despicable! I was doing evil and resisting God with my deeds and had long before offended His disposition. Suffering with those sores and achieving nothing in my work were God chastening and disciplining me. His will was for me to reflect on myself, to repent and change. Then, I gave thought to why I was always pursuing fame and status, placing them above all else. It was entirely down to being deceived and corrupted by Satan. It used education and social influences to steep my heart in these toxins and philosophies, just like “Those who toil with their minds govern others, and those who toil with their hands are governed by others” and “Stand out above the rest, and bring honor to your ancestors.” These satanic philosophies were deeply rooted in my heart and had become my nature. I was living by these poisons, becoming more and more arrogant and conceited, worshiping fame and status, always trying to get ahead and be better than others. Since I wasn’t on the right path, but was living within this corrupt, satanic disposition, I was blinded and couldn’t see the root of any issues, nor could I resolve others’ problems, and I delayed the church’s work. I wasn’t doing my duty, but was doing evil. I prostrated myself before God and repented to Him: “God, I’ve neglected my duties for name and gain, trying to fool and cheat You. I should be cursed! Oh God, I don’t want to be like this anymore. I want to repent to You.” I then read these words from God: “Since you are God’s creatures, you must perform the duty of a creature. There are no other requirements of you. This is how you should pray: ‘Oh God! Whether I have status or not, I now understand myself. If my status is high it is because of Your elevation, and if it is low it is because of Your ordination. Everything is in Your hands. I have neither any choices, nor any complaints. … I do not give thought to status; after all, I am but a creature. If You place me in the bottomless pit, in the lake of fire and brimstone, I am nothing but a creature. If You use me, I am a creature. If You perfect me, I am yet a creature. If You do not perfect me, I will still love You because I am no more than a creature’” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Why Are You Unwilling to Be a Foil?). God’s words gave me a path of practice. Whether I was replaced or whether I had any status, I still had to pursue the truth and do my duty well, and focus on practicing the truth in my duty and casting off my satanic disposition. After that I corrected my motives in my duty and focused on quieting myself before God to read His words and pray. I put the church’s problems in God’s hands and looked to Him, and I sought the truth with brothers and sisters. Those issues in the church were resolved very quickly. I was filled with gratitude to God. God is so real, so lovable, and He was by my side, setting things up to purify and transform me. I also realized how critical it is to pursue the truth and dispositional change in my faith.
Six months later, I was given responsibility for a few more churches’ work. Knowing how strong my desire for status was, and how arrogant my disposition was, I prayed earnestly to God so I could correct my motives and do my duty well. I was paired with Sister Wang at the time, who had a clear perspective on issues and was mature in handling problems. I asked for her advice frequently and learned from her strengths. After a few months like this, I’d progressed quite a lot in fellowshiping on the truth to resolve problems and doing a variety of church work. Brothers and sisters looked up to me, too. Before I knew it, I started feeling really pleased with myself again, thinking that, though I was relatively new to the faith, my fellowship was as good as Sister Wang’s and I had grown in my ability to handle issues. I thought my stature had grown. I didn’t realize my arrogance was showing at every turn and my desire for name and status had come back stronger than ever. I wanted Sister Wang to listen to me in everything. I couldn’t stand seeing others approve of her fellowship or that she took the lead in church matters. I felt I’d had some practice and had accumulated a lot of experience, that I wasn’t a clueless newbie, and that my caliber was on par with hers. We were both leaders, so why did she always take the lead? Why should I listen to her? If that went on, wouldn’t I be a leader in name only? Since then, I started working harder and equipping myself with God’s words so I could outdo her, and during our discussions of church work at co-workers’ meetings, when she expressed her opinions, I intentionally nitpicked and found fault with them. I would then share my “brilliant idea” to put her down and raise myself up. A little while later, while discussing church work, a few co-workers liked my ideas and they started coming to me when they had problems and listening to my suggestions. I just loved seeing them all crowd around me. Later, Sister Wang became unable to go out to perform her duty because the CCP was tracking her, so I became solely responsible for the church’s work for the meantime. I didn’t feel overwhelmed by the work, but was really relaxed, and thought finally I could have final say on everything. At the time I realized that my way of thinking wasn’t right, but I didn’t reflect on myself or take it to heart at all.
One day a leader told me I needed to attend a gathering in another area. I learned that only 10 or so were selected from the region where I performed my duty. I also overheard that I was to be promoted. I really felt like I was something, that I was the cream of the crop in our region. I got on a train with four other sisters in high spirits, but something unexpected happened on the way. We were tracked and arrested by the Chinese Communist police. Their interrogations were fruitless, so they sentenced me to two years of hard labor for “organizing and using a xie jiao organization to undermine the enforcement of the law.” I was plunged into refinement after my sentencing. Misunderstandings and doubts about God arose in my heart: “Why was I arrested and thrown in prison when I was about to be promoted? Is it God stopping me, using this to expose and eliminate me? Have I lost my chance at doing my duty and being saved?” I was in such pain, and I was so lost. So many times, I wept and prayed to God: “Oh God, I don’t understand Your will now. It feels like You’re rejecting me, that You don’t want me. God, I beg You to enlighten and guide me to understand Your will, so I may know how to enter into the truth in this situation.” Thank God for hearing my prayer. One day, a sister in the same prison ward stealthily slipped me a note with some of God’s words she had copied out. They said: “For all people, refinement is excruciating, and very difficult to accept—yet it is during refinement that God makes plain His righteous disposition to man, and makes public His requirements for man, and provides more enlightenment, and more actual pruning and dealing; through the comparison between the facts and the truth, He gives man a greater knowledge of himself and the truth, and gives man a greater understanding of God’s will, thus allowing man to have a truer and purer love of God. Such are God’s aims in carrying out refinement. All the work that God does in man has its own aims and significance; God does not do meaningless work, and nor does He do work that is without benefit to man. Refinement does not mean removing people from before God, and nor does it mean destroying them in hell. Rather, it means changing man’s disposition during refinement, changing his intentions, his old views, changing his love for God, and changing his whole life. Refinement is a real test of man, and a form of real training, and only during refinement can his love serve its inherent function” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Only by Experiencing Refinement Can Man Possess True Love). My heart brightened immediately. This situation was God’s trial for me. It wasn’t His will to eliminate me, but to make me better able to reflect on and know myself, and enter into the truth. I knew I couldn’t be negative and weak anymore, and I really couldn’t go by my own notions and speculate about God’s will. Instead, I should quiet myself and seek the truth, and reflect on and know myself in earnest.
One night, I just couldn’t get to sleep, and in spite of myself, I wondered why God had allowed this to happen to me. Then God’s words came to mind: “Do you truly hate the great red dragon? Do you truly, sincerely hate it? Why have I asked you so many times? Why do I keep asking you this question, again and again?” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. God’s Words to the Entire Universe, Chapter 28). I asked myself over and over: “Do I truly hate the great red dragon? Do I really, truly hate it?” Then I thought of this passage from Sermons and Fellowship on Entry Into Life: “Some people say something like, ‘I despise the great red dragon more than anything. It has oppressed me and hounded me, and I saw its evil face long ago. I’ve turned my back on it.’ You say you’ve turned your back on it, so does that mean you fully submit to God? Do you have true love for God? There needs to be some concrete indication of having forsaken the great red dragon. If you’re still filled with poisons of the great red dragon, and you still judge things according to its perspectives, this shows that you have not truly forsaken it. No matter how much you may hate it, if you still lack discernment over its thinking and perspectives, over its heresies and fallacies, if your perspectives and your actions are still ruled by its poisons, then how can you say you have turned your back on the great red dragon? Your thoughts, your outlook on life, your perspectives are entirely the same as those of the great red dragon—they all belong to it, and this is why you are still living under the thumb of Satan. … In order to truly escape the influence of Satan, we must undergo the judgment and chastisement of God; we must utterly expunge and cleanse all of the satanic poisons within us. We have to be able to love and submit to God from the depths of our hearts. Only this is truly forsaking the great red dragon. When it is the truth, when it is God’s words that rule within our hearts, when we exalt God as great and have undying submission and worship for God, and we are no longer subject to the great red dragon’s deceptions, constraints, and corruption—it is then and only then that we can be said to have truly escaped the influence of Satan.” In light of these words, I realized I only hated the great red dragon for arresting and persecuting brothers and sisters, and disrupting and sabotaging God’s work, but that wasn’t truly hating and forsaking it. Truly hating and forsaking can only come from fully seeing its evil, reactionary essence, so we can genuinely hate it from the marrow of our bones, and renounce its toxins within us. By personally experiencing arrest, persecution, and torture by the great red dragon, and being forcibly indoctrinated, I really saw it’s a demon that hates the truth and hates God. I saw that it is the deceiver and corruptor of man. It bangs the drum for atheism and materialism, hell-bent on denying God’s existence, and doing everything it can to exalt and flaunt itself as being “great, glorious, and right.” It extols itself as the savior of the people and wants everyone to worship it and believe in it as if it were God, vainly hoping to replace God in people’s hearts. The great red dragon is so despicable, evil, and shameless. And I realized my essence was pretty much on par with its essence. God elevated me, letting me practice in the duty of a leader, and learn how to resolve issues through fellowship on the truth so others could know and submit to God, but I used that opportunity to show off as much as possible, just wanting others to look up to me and do what I said. Wasn’t I opposing God by doing that? I was jealous of Sister Wang and I excluded her, always pouncing on her faults and belittling her. I was even dying to have her dismissed so I could have final say in the church. Wasn’t I acting like a dictator? Wasn’t I being controlled by the great red dragon’s poisons, such as, “There can only be one alpha male” and “In all the universe, only I reign supreme”? God’s administrative decrees say, “Man should not magnify himself, nor exalt himself. He should worship and exalt God” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. The Ten Administrative Decrees That Must Be Obeyed by God’s Chosen People in the Age of Kingdom). Looking back on everything I had displayed, how could that be called doing my duty? I was doing evil and resisting God! My actions had long ago violated God’s administrative decrees, and if God hadn’t disciplined me, if He hadn’t used that situation to stop me in my evil tracks, if I had continued on according to my own nature and ambitions, I’m sure I would have stopped at nothing for fame and status until finally I did a great evil and ended up punished by God. Realizing this was a serious wake-up call for me. I had reached such a dangerous point, but had been totally oblivious. Without this devil, the great red dragon, as a foil, I probably never would have seen how much of its poison was within me, that I actually am of its ilk. I really wouldn’t have been able to truly forsake it and seek to free myself of its poison. I saw that everything God had done was to cleanse me and I thanked Him for saving me from the bottom of my heart.
I reflected on myself a lot in prison and I particularly regretted that I hadn’t treasured my opportunities to do my duty, but instead insisted on seeking fame and status and lived by Satan’s poisons. I did so many things that were against the truth, and which hurt brothers and sisters, and I hindered and disrupted the church’s work. I had hurt God so much; I owed such a great debt and was filled with regret. Only then did I have a deep desire to pursue the truth and experience God’s judgment and chastisement so I could soon be rid of those poisons and live out a human likeness. I resumed my duty after getting out, and when I was elected as a church leader again, I didn’t feel as complacent and self-congratulatory as before. Instead, I felt it was a great responsibility, that it was God’s commission for me that I should treasure, and that I should do my utmost to pursue the truth and carry out my duty. Being chastened and disciplined time after time finally awoke my soul that had been hoodwinked by Satan. I recognized that only pursuing the truth, pursuing change in my disposition, and doing the duty of a created being well are the right pursuits! My desire for fame and status isn’t as strong as it once was and I’m becoming less and less arrogant. I can work well with others and do my duty properly, and I now live out some human likeness. I feel deeply that the little bit of change has not come easily. This has all been achieved by the judgment and chastisement of God’s words. I give thanks for Almighty God’s salvation for me!
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