A Hypocrite’s Repentance
By Xinrui, South Korea
Almighty God says, “Serving God is no simple task. Those whose corrupt disposition remains unchanged can never serve God. If your disposition has not been judged and chastised by God’s words, then your disposition still represents Satan, which proves that you serve God out of your own good intentions, that your service is based on your satanic nature. You serve God with your natural character, and according to your personal preferences. What’s more, you always think that the things you are willing to do are what are delightful to God, and that the things you do not wish to do are what are hateful to God; you work entirely according to your own preferences. Can this be called serving God? Ultimately, there will not be the slightest change in your life disposition; instead, your service will make you even more stubborn, thus deeply ingraining your corrupt disposition, and as such, there will be formed within you rules about service to God that are primarily based on your own character, and experiences derived from your service according to your own disposition. These are the experiences and lessons of man. It is man’s philosophy of living in the world. People like this can be classed as Pharisees and religious officials. If they never wake up and repent, then they will surely turn into the false Christs and the antichrists who deceive people in the last days. The false Christs and the antichrists that were spoken of will arise from among such people” (“Religious Service Must Be Purged” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). This passage of God’s words used to make me think of the hypocritical Pharisees and clergy and all those evil antichrists who are obsessed with status. I thought they were the ones God was talking about. I knew in principle God was revealing something that’s in all of us, and that I had that kind of corrupt disposition, too. But I didn’t have a genuine understanding of myself, so sometimes the Pharisees, antichrists, and deceivers seemed like something really removed from me. I wasn’t like that, and I’d never get to that point. I’d been a believer for years, I did good things, and I’d paid a price in my duty. No matter what duty the church assigned to me, I obeyed and carried it out. Plus I wasn’t striving to become a leader, and I did my duty whether I had any status or not. How could I turn into an antichrist, a deceiver? But in fact, I was entirely living within my notions and imaginings, and later in the face of the facts, these notions of mine were turned on their head.
I left to take on responsibility for an out-of-town church’s gospel work. That part of their work started to pick up before long and the leaders really valued me. Sometimes they’d seek me out to discuss other aspects of their work, to consult with me. On top of that, I was a long-time believer and could suffer hardship for my duty, so the brothers and sisters kind of looked up to me. I also saw myself as being on a pedestal. I’d had faith for all those years and I was in charge, so I thought I couldn’t be like the others, that I had to appear better than them. I thought I couldn’t reveal corruption any worse than what they revealed, that I couldn’t show weakness or negativity like they did. Otherwise, what would they think of me? Wouldn’t they say how small my stature still was after all my years of faith, and look down on me? Later on I was dealt with by a leader for violating principles in my duty. She said that I still lacked insight into things after so many years as a believer and I lacked the reality of the truth. I felt incredibly ashamed and disgraced, but I didn’t reflect on my own corruption and shortcomings or pursue the truth to make up for my deficiencies. Instead I spouted a bunch of empty words and doctrine, pretending to know myself, acting like a spiritual person to cover up that I lacked the reality of the truth.
I remember once, a co-worker who believed in the Lord said he wanted to investigate the true way. The leader told me to go right away to bear witness to God’s work of the last days. I said I would, but I discovered that he had a lot of notions that were hard to resolve. I happened to be really busy at the time, so I shelved that task for the time. The leader asked me a couple weeks later, “Why haven’t you shared testimony with him after all this time? He wants to look into the true way and he leads so many believers, who are all longing for the Lord’s return. Why haven’t you given him testimony on God’s work of the last days yet?” Feeling a bit guilty, I rushed to explain myself, saying, “I couldn’t make it because other things came up.” The leader was furious when she heard this, saying I was irresponsible and cavalier in my duty, that I dragged my feet, and I’d seriously hindered our gospel work. She rebuked me really harshly. Lots of brothers and sisters were there at the time and I could feel my face burning. I thought, “Couldn’t you leave me a little dignity and not be so hard on me? I know I was wrong, can’t I just go share the gospel with him now? There’s no need to deal with me so severely.” I was justifying it to myself, too, thinking that I wasn’t idle, that my days were packed with preaching the gospel, from dawn till dusk. But she still said I was going through the motions and being irresponsible. What more could anyone ask of me? I felt like my duty was just too difficult. After that gathering I hid in my room and had a good cry. I felt wronged and negative, and I was full of misconceptions of God. A traitorous feeling came up within me. I figured that since the leader had been so hard on me, God must detest me, so how could I even keep doing that duty? Maybe I should just take the blame, suck it up, and quit so the work of God’s house wouldn’t be held up and I wouldn’t be doing a thankless task. Bawling my eyes out, I had the feeling that I wasn’t in the right state. I’d been a believer for so many years, and the moment I was dealt with a bit harshly, I just couldn’t take it. I reasoned and vied with God, and even wanted to throw in the towel. I didn’t have any true stature. I was reminded of God’s words, to stay true to our duties even if the sky comes crashing down. Thinking of this really spurred me on. No matter what God or the leader thought of me, I couldn’t fall apart, and I had to rise to the challenge, no matter how hard my duty was. I didn’t feel as miserable when I thought about it like that. I immediately wiped away my tears and went to discuss with brothers and sisters. Within just a few days, I’d brought that co-worker into the fold. But after that, I didn’t earnestly seek the truth and reflect on my problems. Instead, I was insisting on continuing to do my duty based on my own conscience and will. I thought I had some stature and some practicality.
In fact, the leader dealt with me for being irresponsible, taking the easy way out, and not doing practical work. These were really serious problems. I was heading up our gospel work, and when I saw someone with a lot of notions, I wasn’t willing to throw myself into my fellowship and witness. I just casually set it aside and let half a month pass. That was delaying so many people looking into the true way and welcoming the Lord’s return! Being so cavalier in my duty was resisting God and offending His disposition. I never seemed to be idle and I could pay a price in my duty, but whenever I faced a challenge, I wouldn’t focus on seeking the truth to resolve the problem and do my duty well. Instead I’d pull back and do whatever suited me, just nonchalantly setting God’s commission to the side. How was that any kind of devotion? The leader spoke out about my casual, irresponsible attitude in my duty, about my deceitful satanic disposition, and it wasn’t the first time I’d done something like that. The leader dissected it for me so I could know myself, repent, and change, but I didn’t genuinely reflect on myself or see where the root of my problems was. I acted like I accepted being pruned and dealt with, but I didn’t have any true understanding of myself. That’s why I said some empty things and doctrines in the gathering and then pretended I had gained self-awareness. I said I was irresponsible in my duty and was holding up the work of God’s house, seriously damaging it. The leader was very justified in her reprimand of me. The leader was bringing up things in my nature, my satanic disposition, so I couldn’t analyze the right and wrong of what I’d done. But I never fellowshiped on where I went wrong, the nature and consequences of my actions as well as what kind of corrupt disposition I revealed in my casual attitude toward my duty, and what kind of absurd thinking and notions I hold. I paid no mind to these more detailed aspects of it. What did I talk about instead? How I leaned on God and entered in from the positive. I went on and on about these kinds of positive understandings. I said I felt negative and complained when I was dealt with and I wanted to throw the towel in, but thinking of God’s words really inspired me and I felt I couldn’t crumble. God had done so much work in me and He’d given me so much, so I had to have a conscience and I couldn’t let God down. So I thought that no matter how I was pruned and dealt with, no matter how hard my duty was, I had to do it well, and the leader dealing with me was to have me reflect on and know myself, to repent and change. When the others heard this, they didn’t have any discernment over my issues and corruption and they didn’t feel like I’d done major harm to the work of God’s house. Instead, they felt like the leader was really hard on me, that I was pruned and dealt with just for a little slip-up in my work. They were really sympathetic and understanding. And seeing I hadn’t become negative after being dealt with so harshly, but could keep on shouldering my duty, they felt I really understood the truth and had stature. They really looked up to me and adulated me. A few said at the time that my staying strong and continuing to do my duty when dealt with so severely was really admirable. And some said my duty wasn’t easy at all, that I’d not only put all that energy in, but I was reprimanded when something slipped through the cracks. They saw me wipe away my tears to go right back to my duty, and said they’d have crumbled long before and didn’t have that stature. They listened to my fellowship and didn’t understand the path of practice for accepting dealing and pruning, or that being pruned and dealt with was God’s love and salvation. Instead, they misunderstood God, got their guard up, and distanced themselves from God, drawing closer to me. I was dealt with a few times after that, and it went the same way every time. I was always talking about literal doctrines, feigning spirituality and self-knowledge, pretending to have stature and practicality, and I fooled all the brothers and sisters. I was totally unaware, totally numb, and I was really proud of myself for keeping myself standing through it. I was incredibly self-congratulatory and felt I had stature and the reality of the truth. I became more and more arrogant and self-assured.
One time, a brother pointed out some issues in my duty. I refused to accept it, complaining that he was looking for problems, that he was nitpicking. I was really annoyed with him. But I was afraid someone would see how arrogant I was even after being a believer for all those years and would think poorly of me. I was also afraid the leader would find out and say I couldn’t accept the truth, so I faked it and forced myself not to complain about it. Acting calm, I said to him, “Brother, tell me all about the issues you see here and we’ll talk through them one by one. If we can’t resolve them, we can talk with a leader.” So he listed out the problems one by one, and I explained my rebuttal for each one. By the end, I’d explained away the majority of the issues he’d raised. I saw the problem as resolved and I felt very pleased. But he felt uneasy about it, so he went to discuss it with a leader. Some of the issues he’d raised really were problems, and once the leader found out, she dealt with and pruned me right in front of everyone. She said I was arrogant and wouldn’t accept anyone else’s suggestions, that I wasn’t principled in my duty, and I totally lacked the reality of the truth even after all those years of faith. She said I couldn’t resolve any practical problems, that I was blindly arrogant and totally unreasonable. This was hard for me to hear, but I wasn’t totally convinced. I thought, “I am arrogant and sometimes kind of self-assured, but I can take some suggestions. I’m not all that arrogant.”
Once again, I was exposed in a work meeting shortly after that. The leader discovered I was procrastinating in the work I was in charge of and asked me, “Why are you working so inefficiently on this? What’s the problem? Can you do better?” My response was, “No, I can’t.” I felt like the leader didn’t understand our actual situation, that she expected too much. After that she read some of God’s words for us and fellowshiped on the significance of spreading the gospel. She also said time was really tight and we had to improve our efficiency. I didn’t really take in anything she had to say. I just stuck with my own notions and my own experience, thinking, “I really can’t increase our efficiency.” I quietly asked the brothers and sisters next to me, “Do you think we can?” My motive behind asking them this was to get them over to my side, to have them say the same thing as me, to push back against the leader and keep the pace slow. It was so obvious, but I was totally unaware. They didn’t have any discernment over me. You could say they didn’t apply any discernment. They all took my side and went along with me.
Later on, since I was arrogant and ineffective in my duty, and not only didn’t manage the team’s work well, but stood in its way, I was removed from my duty. But to my surprise, when it came time to select team leaders again, brothers and sisters not only still voted for me, but it was unanimous. I heard some of them saying that by dismissing me, the whole team would just fall apart, and who else could run that team? It was then that I felt like I had a serious issue, that everyone listened to me and supported me in spite of the way I worked. Everyone voted for me although the leader had dismissed me, and even fought for me to be treated fairly. I had really led the brothers and sisters astray.
I thought of a passage of God’s words: “As far as all of you are concerned, if the churches in an area were handed over to you and there was no one overseeing you for six months, you would start to go astray. If no one oversaw you for a year, you would lead them away and astray. If two years passed and still no one was overseeing you, you would bring them before you. Why is this? Have you ever considered this question before? Could you be like this? Your knowledge can only provide for people for a certain period of time. As time goes on, if you keep saying the same things, some people will discern that; they’ll say you’re too superficial, too lacking in depth. You’ll have no option but to try and deceive people by preaching on doctrines. If you always carry on like this, those below you will follow your methods, steps, and model of faith and of experiencing and putting into practice those words and doctrines. Ultimately, as you keep on preaching and preaching, they’ll all come to use you as an exemplar. In your leadership of others you speak of doctrines, so those below you will learn doctrines from you, and as things progress you will have taken the wrong path. Those below you will take whatever path you do; they will all learn from you and follow you, so you will feel: ‘I am powerful now; so many people listen to me, and the church is at my beck and call.’ This nature of betrayal within man unconsciously makes you turn God into a mere figurehead, and you yourself then form some sort of denomination. How do various denominations arise? They arise in this way. Look at the leaders of each denomination—they are all arrogant and self-righteous, and their interpretations of the Bible lack context and are guided by their own imaginings. They all rely on gifts and erudition to do their work. If they could not preach at all, would people follow them? They do, after all, possess some knowledge and can preach on some doctrine, or they know how to win others over and make use of some artifice. They use these to bring people before themselves and deceive them. Nominally, those people believe in God, but in reality, they follow their leaders. When they encounter someone preaching the true way, some of them say, ‘We have to consult our leader about our faith.’ A human is the medium of their faith in God; is that not a problem? What have those leaders become, then? Have they not become Pharisees, false shepherds, antichrists, and stumbling blocks to people’s acceptance of the true way? Such people are of the same ilk as Paul” (“Only to Pursue the Truth Is Truly to Believe in God” in Records of Christ’s Talks). I could see from God’s words that I was exactly the kind of Pharisee He exposes, and I not only had this deceitful, evil satanic disposition, but my behavior had reached a point that I was misleading and controlling others, and putting God to the side. I thought about those hypocritical Pharisees and clergy members who just talk about doctrine and act like they work hard to mislead people. They say that they’re indebted to God and they seem really humble and self-aware, but they’re always displaying how much they give up for the Lord, how much they suffer and how much work they’ve done. As a result, believers worship them and think everything they say is in line with the Lord’s will. They don’t have any discernment over them. They even think that obeying them is obeying the Lord. That’s believing in the Lord in name, but in reality it’s following the clergy. How was the path I was taking any different from the Pharisees’ and clergy’s path? I also focused on doctrine and superficial sacrifices so that brothers and sisters would think I was devoted to my duty. When I was dealt with, I didn’t seek the truth or truly reflect on myself. I’d just say what seemed right to mislead everyone so they’d think I was submitting to it, that I had stature, and then they’d adore me and listen to me. I even got them to go up against God’s requirements with me. I was the one actually in power. How was I any different from an antichrist? I wasn’t a leader and didn’t have any kind of lofty position. I just shared responsibility for some work with two other sisters under the leader’s supervision, but even so, my problem had gotten that bad. If I did get into a higher position where I was solely responsible for something, I hate to think of what kind of great evil I might have done. I thought that since I was a long-time believer and I kept doing my duty no matter what kind of hardship or trials I faced, I was of pretty good humanity, and I never struggled to become a leader, so I’d never become a Pharisee or an antichrist. But when faced with the facts, I was dumbfounded and had nothing to say. I finally saw how absurd and harmful my notions were, and how evil, how frightening my disposition was. I saw that as a believer, I didn’t pursue the truth, and I wouldn’t accept or submit to being judged, chastised, dealt with, or pruned by God. I wouldn’t reflect on and know my satanic nature in light of God’s words. I was content to obey superficially and acknowledge vocally. But no matter how good or rule-abiding I appeared to be, the moment an opportunity arose, my satanic nature of betraying God fully came to the fore, and I unwittingly committed evil that I wasn’t even aware of. It truly was just as God says: “the chance that you will betray Me remains one hundred percent.”
God knew how deeply corrupted by Satan, how numb and stubborn I was. I couldn’t achieve change just by knowing a little bit about myself. So, I was later exposed and dealt with by brothers and sisters. I remember one time a sister said to me, without mincing words, “I have some discernment over you now. You hardly ever fellowship on your innermost thoughts or reveal your own corruption. You just talk about some of your positive entry and understanding, as if your corruption were entirely resolved, as if you were free of it.” She also said that she used to adore me, that she thought I was a longstanding believer who understood the truth, that I knew how to experience in many things and I could suffer and pay a price in my duty, and particularly that I could accept being dealt with and pruned severely. That’s why she had looked up to me. She thought everything I said was right and she always listened to me, practically giving me the place of God in her heart. Hearing her say she’d practically come to see me like God was like being struck by a bolt of lightning. I was really scared and was really resistant to it. I thought, “If that’s true, haven’t I become an antichrist? How could you be so stupid, so undiscerning? I’m also corrupted by Satan. How could you have seen me that way?” I was devastated for days. I felt gutted every time I thought of what she’d said, and I had this strange feeling of terror, that something awful was closing in on me. I knew this was God’s wrath toward me, that His righteous disposition was coming upon me and I had to accept the consequences of doing that kind of evil. I knew that God’s disposition brooked no offense and I felt that I’d already been condemned by God, so I thought my path of faith was at its end. I couldn’t keep my tears back at this thought. I never imagined that I, someone who didn’t seem to do great evil or really bad things, could get to a point that was so grave. I not only misled people with doctrines, but I led them to worship me as if I were God. That was turning God into a figurehead, and it seriously offended God’s disposition. I was feeling really negative, and my transgressions and evil deeds felt burned into my heart. I felt like I was just like a Pharisee, an antichrist, that I was of Satan, a service-doer who would be eliminated. I just didn’t understand how I had let myself get to that point. In my regret, I came before God and repented, saying, “God, I’ve done great evil. I’ve offended Your disposition and I should be cursed and punished! I’m not asking for Your forgiveness, I just ask that You enlighten me so I can understand my satanic nature and see the truth of my corruption by Satan. God, I wish to repent, to be honest and upright.”
In the days that followed, I started reflecting on why I had gotten to such a terrible place, and where the root of the problem was. I read this in my devotionals one time: “So what persona do antichrists invest themselves with? Who are they pretending to be? Their impersonation, of course, is for the sake of status and reputation. It cannot be divorced from those things, or else they would not possibly put on such a pretense—there is no way they could do something so foolish. Given that such behavior is considered reproachful, loathsome and repulsive, why do they still do it? They undoubtedly have their own aims and motivations—there are intentions and motivations involved. If antichrists are to gain status in people’s minds, they must make these people think highly of them. And what makes people do that? In addition to impersonating some behaviors and expressions that, in people’s notions, are believed good, one other aspect is that antichrists also impersonate certain behaviors and images that people believe great and grand, in order to make others think highly of them” (“For Leaders and Workers, Choosing a Path Is of Utmost Importance (18)” in Records of Christ’s Talks). “No matter what the setting is, or where they are performing their duty, the antichrists give the appearance of not being weak, of having the utmost love for God, of being full of faith in God, of never having been negative, hiding from others the real attitude and the real view they hold in the depths of their heart on the truth and on God. In fact, in the depths of their heart, do they really believe themselves all-powerful? Do they really believe themselves to have no weakness? No. So, knowing that they are possessed of weakness, rebelliousness, and corrupt dispositions, why do they speak and behave in such a way in front of others? Their aim is obvious: It is simply to protect their status among and before others. They believe that if, in front of others, someone is openly negative, openly says things that are weak, reveals rebelliousness, and talks of knowing themselves, then this is something that harms their status and reputation, it is a loss. They would therefore rather die than say that they are weak and negative, and that they are not perfect, but are just an ordinary person. They think that if they admit that they have a corrupt disposition, that they are an ordinary person, a small and insignificant being, then they will have no status in people’s minds, that they will not gain such status, and that they will lose their status in people’s minds. And so, no matter what, they cannot let go of this status, but instead do their utmost to secure it. Every time they encounter a problem, they step forward—but upon seeing that they could be exposed, that people could see through them, they quickly hide. If there is any room to maneuver, if they still have the chance of parading themselves, of pretending that they are an expert, that they know about this matter, and understand it, and can solve this problem, then they rush forward to grab the opportunity to earn others’ appreciation, to let them know they are skilled in this area” (“For Leaders and Workers, Choosing a Path Is of Utmost Importance (18)” in Records of Christ’s Talks). “These antichrists want to play the role of spiritual people, they want to be the preeminent ones among the brothers and sisters, to be people who possess the truth, and understand the truth, and can help those who are weak and immature. And what is their aim in playing this role? First, they believe themselves to have already transcended the flesh, to have superseded worldly concerns, to have shed the weaknesses of normal humanity, and overcome the fleshly needs of normal humanity; they believe themselves those who can undertake important tasks in the house of God, who can be considerate to God’s will, whose minds are full of the words of God. They style themselves as people who have already attained the requirements of God and pleased God, and who can be considerate to God’s will, and can gain the beautiful destination promised by God’s own mouth. And so they are often smug, and they think themselves different from others. Using the words and phrases they can remember and are capable of understanding in their minds, they admonish, condemn, and form conclusions about others; so, too, do they often use the practices and sayings born of the imagination of their own notions to form conclusions about others and coach them, to make others follow along with these practices and sayings, thus achieving the status they desire among the brothers and sisters. They think that as long as they can say the right words and phrases, and the right doctrines, can shout a few slogans, can assume a little responsibility in the house of God, can undertake some important task, are willing to take the lead, and are able to maintain the normal order in a group of people, then that means they are spiritual, and that their position is secure. And so, whilst pretending to be spiritual, and boasting of their spirituality, they also pretend to be all-powerful and capable of anything, a perfect person, and think they can do everything, and are good at everything” (“For Leaders and Workers, Choosing a Path Is of Utmost Importance (18)” in Records of Christ’s Talks).
God’s words showed me why I was always so hypocritical and only showed my good side in fellowship, while going to great lengths to hide my ugly, evil side so that no one could see it. It was to protect the place I held in people’s hearts, to maintain the image people had of me as a long-time believer. Then they’d think that I was special with my years of faith, different from other brothers and sisters, that I understood the truth and had stature, so they’d look up to me, adore me. I realized I was so arrogant, evil, and deceitful! I thought I was a long-time believer and understood some doctrines, so I put myself on a pedestal and started pretending to be a spiritual person. I lacked the reality of the truth and didn’t focus on seeking and pursuing the truth. I just used doctrine, good behavior, and some superficial sacrifices to cover the ugly reality that I lacked the reality of the truth. I didn’t reflect on and know myself when I was pruned and dealt with, I didn’t dissect my problems and corruption. I concealed my ugly motives and corrupt disposition so no one would find out about them, to protect my position and image. How were these hypocritical displays any different from those of the Pharisees who opposed the Lord Jesus? The Lord Jesus rebuked the Pharisees: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are like to white washed sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but within you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity” (Matthew 23:27–28). “You blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel” (Matthew 23:24). Wasn’t I exactly the same? It looked like I fellowshiped on my experience, but I just talked about things that everyone could see, just empty doctrines, while hiding, never once mentioning my true thoughts, and those corrupt, evil things within me. That way people would think that even though I had corruption and rebelliousness, I was still much better than other people. I was straining out gnats while swallowing a camel. I looked humble from the outside, but inside, I was just guarding my own name and status, guarding the image others had of me. I was so hypocritical, so slippery and deceitful. I’d fooled all of the brothers and sisters. I wasn’t being a good, upright person or staying in my place as a created being, and I wasn’t experiencing God’s work from the perspective of someone deeply corrupted by Satan, accepting being judged, chastised, pruned and dealt with by God to get rid of my corruption. Instead, I was using my duty to show off, to establish myself and mislead others, vying with God for His chosen people. Wasn’t that the path of opposing God, of being an antichrist? It was a path condemned by God. As for me, aside from my long time in the faith, I was no match for the others in caliber or pursuit of the truth. I didn’t have the reality of the truth after all that time, and my life disposition hadn’t changed. I was the same arrogant, self-important image of Satan and I wasn’t principled in my duty. Not only did I fail to care for God’s will and exalt God, but I hindered our gospel work. Considering all my years as a believer, that was really shameful. But I thought that was the capital I could use to exalt myself and get people to look up to me. I was so unreasonable, so shameless!
I read this passage of God’s words in one of my devotionals: “If a person does not pursue the truth, he will never understand it. You can say the letters and doctrines ten thousand times, but they will still just be letters and doctrines. Some people just say, ‘Christ is the truth, the way, and the life.’ Even if you repeat these words ten thousand times, it will still be useless; you have no understanding of its meaning. Why is it said that Christ is the truth, the way, and the life? Can you articulate the knowledge you have gained about this from experience? Have you entered the reality of the truth, the way, and the life? God has uttered His words so that you can experience them and gain knowledge; merely voicing letters and doctrines is useless. You can only know yourself once you have understood and entered God’s words. If you do not understand God’s words, then you cannot know yourself. You can only discern when you have the truth; without the truth, you cannot discern. You can only fully understand a matter when you have the truth; without the truth, you cannot understand a matter. You can only know yourself when you have the truth; without the truth, you cannot know yourself. Your disposition can only change when you have the truth; without the truth, your disposition cannot change. Only after you have the truth can you serve in accordance with God’s will; without the truth, you cannot serve in accordance with God’s will. Only after you have the truth can you worship God; without the truth, your worship will be nothing more than a performance of religious rites. All of these things hinge on gaining the truth from God’s words” (“How to Know Man’s Nature” in Records of Christ’s Talks). Reading this helped me understand even more clearly why I’d taken the wrong path of opposing God like a Pharisee. It was because I hadn’t ever pursued the truth or put it into practice over the years, and when reading God’s words, I just focused on the literal meaning. I wasn’t entering into or practicing His words, and I didn’t have any real understanding of the truth. So naturally, I could only expound literal doctrine. In my faith, I didn’t love the truth or thirst for God’s words, and I hardly ever quieted myself before God to ponder His words, like what aspect of the truth a passage revealed, how much I understood, practiced, and entered into, what God’s will was, or how much it had achieved in me. When something happened, I didn’t try to think about my own state in light of God’s words, to reflect on my own personal problems and examine what type of corruption I was revealing, and what kind of mistaken notions I had. I was just constantly keeping myself busy, just like Paul, thinking about suffering for my work and satisfying my own ambitions. God incarnate of the last days has expressed so many truths and He’s fellowshiped in so much detail on all sorts of aspects of the truth. That’s so that we can understand the truth, understand the truth of our corruption by Satan, and repent and change. But I took God’s words really lightly. I didn’t ponder or seek them, and I gave no thought to practicing or entering into them. Wasn’t this entirely counter to God’s will in saving mankind? Wasn’t this entirely the same as the path taken by the Pharisees and pastors in religion? The Pharisees only cared about preaching, suffering in their work, and protecting their positions. They never practiced God’s words and they didn’t share their own experience and understanding of God’s words. They couldn’t lead people into the reality of the truth, but could just mislead people with literal Scripture, knowledge, and doctrines. That made them people who opposed God. I didn’t try to practice the truth in my faith, either, but just followed some rules. I wasn’t doing great evil or great wrongs, I appeared to behave well, and shared what seemed right in gatherings, so I thought I was doing alright in my faith. But I realized, wasn’t I just being a hypocrite? How was that true faith in God? If I kept on with that kind of faith, without any reality of the truth, without any changes to my corrupt disposition, wouldn’t I end up being eliminated? I was filled with regret and I prayed to God, “I don’t want to be a hypocrite anymore. I want to pursue the truth, accept and submit to Your judgment and chastisement, and change myself.”
After that, I read this passage of God’s words in my devotionals: “For example, you think that once you have a status, you need to hold yourself a certain way and speak in a certain tone. After you realize that this is an erroneous way of thinking, you should forsake it; do not walk that path. When you have thoughts like these, you must get out of that state, and not allow yourself to get stuck in it. Once you become stuck in it, and those thoughts and views take shape within you, you will disguise yourself and wrap yourself up, doing it more and more tightly, until finally people will not be able to see you anymore, and you will be speaking with others as though from behind a mask. They will not be able to see your heart. You must learn to let others see your heart; learn to open it up to them, and to draw close to them—you just take the opposite approach. Is this not the principle? Is this not the path to practice? Begin from within your thoughts and awareness: The moment you feel like wrapping yourself up, you must pray thusly: ‘Oh God! I want to disguise myself again, and am about to engage in schemes and deceptions once more. I’m such a devil! I make You detest me so! I am currently so disgusted with myself. Please discipline me, reproach me, and punish me.’ You must pray, and bring your attitude out into the light. This involves how you practice. What aspect of humanity is this practice aimed at? It is aimed at the thoughts and ideas, and the intentions, that people have revealed with regard to an issue, as well as the path they walk and the direction they take. That is, as soon as an idea occurs to you and you want to act on it, you should curtail it, and then dissect it. As soon as you curtail and dissect your thought, will you not express and act on that thought a lot less? Moreover, would your inner corrupt dispositions not then suffer a setback?” (“To Resolve One’s Corrupt Disposition, One Must Have a Specific Path of Practice” in Records of Christ’s Talks). God’s words pointed me onto a path of practice. To resolve my hypocrisy and my deceitful, evil satanic disposition, I had to practice the truth and be an honest person, learn to open up to God and share heartfelt fellowship with others, and in the face of problems, share my true perspective and thoughts. When I wanted to be disingenuous again, I had to pray to God, forsake myself, and do just the opposite. I had to open up, reveal and dissect my corruption, and not let my satanic disposition prevail. I was reminded of God’s words: “If you have many confidences that you are reluctant to share, if you are highly averse to laying bare your secrets—your difficulties—before others to seek the way of the light, then I say that you are someone who will not attain salvation easily, and who will not easily emerge from the darkness” (“Three Admonitions” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). I then felt how important being an honest person is. Over all my years of faith, I hadn’t practiced or entered into that, as basic a truth as it is. It was pathetic! So I prayed to God, willing to repent, practice the truth, and be an honest person.
From then on, whenever I heard someone say I understood the truth and had stature, I felt really uncomfortable and embarrassed. I didn’t revel in it like I had before. There was one time I met a sister who heard I’d been a believer for a long time and could suffer for my duty, and she really admired me. She said right to my face, “Sister, I know you’ve been in the faith for a long time, you’ve heard lots of sermons and understand a lot of truths. I really admire you.” Hearing her say this scared me and I felt my skin crawl. I explained the truth of the matter right away, saying, “Sister, that’s not really the case. Don’t just look at appearances. I’ve believed in God for a long time, but I’m lacking in caliber, and I don’t love or pursue the truth. I’ve just made some superficial sacrifices through all my years of faith. I do some good things and can pay a price, but I haven’t been principled in my duty and I haven’t changed my life disposition much. I haven’t been able to take on the duties God has commissioned me with. I don’t consider God’s will or exalt Him, instead I oppose God and bring shame upon Him.” I shared this fellowship with her later on: “Your perspective isn’t in line with the truth. Don’t just blindly adulate people, but look at people and things based on the truths in God’s words. How does God look at people? He doesn’t care how many years they’ve believed, how much they’ve suffered and pounded the pavement, or how much they can preach. He cares whether they pursue the truth, whether their disposition has changed, whether they can bear witness in their duty. Some who are new to the faith can pursue the truth and they focus on their practice and entry. They progress quickly. They’re much better than me. You should admire them for their earnestness and effort in pursuing the truth, not me for being a long-time believer or having suffered. Someone’s time in the faith is ordained by God. There’s nothing to admire about it. If a long-time believer doesn’t pursue the truth and their life disposition hasn’t changed, but they just do some superficial good things, they are still a Pharisee who misleads others. That’s why pursuing the truth and having dispositional change are the most important things.” I felt much more at ease after sharing that fellowship. I stopped talking up doctrines and boasting in gatherings after that, but just shared my understanding of myself in light of God’s words. I also announced: “I’ve just barely gained some self-knowledge. I still haven’t changed, and I haven’t practiced or entered into this yet.” My fellowship was skin-deep, but I felt more at ease.
Through my experience, I’ve seen one thing for sure and I’ve deeply experienced it. No matter how long someone’s been a believer, how good they appear to be, how well they behave, how much they suffer and work, if they don’t pursue the truth, if they don’t accept it and submit when God judges, chastises, prunes, and deals with them, if they don’t try to know themselves and enter into the reality of God’s words when problems arise, if their satanic disposition hasn’t changed, they’re on the path of the Pharisees and antichrists. The moment the right circumstances appear, they’ll turn into an antichrist, a deceiver. This is without a doubt. It’s the inevitable outcome. I’ve seen just how crucial it is for people to pursue the truth, accept and submit to being judged, chastised, and dealt with by God in order to be saved and change their dispositions! Thank God!