Deceit and Suspicion Just Bring Suffering
By Zhang Han, Greece
I was in video production training in the church consistently, then one day in June 2020, a leader told me the church needed people to handle general affairs, and she wanted to transfer me over. When I heard the news, I was thinking that work was just toil, and didn’t look as good as my current duty that required skills. Knowing that it was because they were short on people comforted me a bit, though. But later on, I found out quite a few others had been transferred to that duty only because they’d been dismissed, and some were pretty old. At that point all the misunderstandings and resistance in my heart came to the fore. If it was just about unskilled work, anyone could do it. I also thought about brothers and sisters around me who were always being promoted, getting more important jobs all the time. But just as God’s work was about to be finished, I got such an unremarkable position. Did I have a chance at salvation? But at the time, I couldn’t accept it. I just sank into negativity. I was filled with doubts: Why did they really change my duty? Was it necessary for the work? I’d never handled general affairs and didn’t possess those skills. Maybe the leader thought I was lacking caliber and wasn’t worth training for video production, so she found an excuse to transfer me. I just kept on second-guessing it and really wanted to know what the leader’s real assessment of me was. I wanted to know if this was a “promotion” or a “demotion.” I was pretty down for a few days. Especially when I thought the leader probably put me on that work because I lacked caliber, I felt like my future prospects were dark, and I was really miserable. I came before God and called out in prayer, “God, I can’t accept this situation I’m in and I’m full of misunderstandings of You. I don’t know how to get through this. Please guide me to know myself and come out from this negative state.”
I read this passage ofafter praying: “If you always approach God according to the notions and imaginings of man, and use them to measure all that God does, to measure the words and work of God, is this not pigeonholing God, is it not resisting God? Could all that God does fit with the notions and imaginings of man? And if it does not, do you thus not accept or obey it? At such times, how should you seek the truth? How should you follow God? This involves the truth; an answer should be sought from the words of God. When they believe in God, people should stick to the place of a created being. No matter what the time, regardless of whether God is hidden from you or has appeared to you, irrespective of whether you can feel God’s love or not, you must know what your responsibilities, obligations, and duties are—you must understand these truths about practice. If you still cling to your notions, saying, ‘If I can clearly see that this matter is in line with the truth and in line with my imaginings, then I will obey; if it is not clear to me and I cannot confirm that these are the actions of God, then I will first wait a while, and will obey once I’m sure this was done by God,’ then is this someone who obeys God? It is not. … What is the duty of a created being? (To stand in the place of a created being, accept God’s commission, and obey God’s arrangements.) That’s right. And now that you have found the root, is this problem not easy to solve? Standing in the position of a created being and obeying the Creator, your God, is the most important thing that every created being should abide by” (“Submission to God Is a Basic Lesson in Gaining the Truth” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). I learned from God’s words that as a created being, the most basic reason I should possess is to submit to God’s arrangements in all situations. Even if I don’t understand it for a bit, I should pray and seek with a heart of acceptance and submission. Comparing that to my behavior, I saw I had too many conditions for submission. Usually in a situation that fit with my notions and didn’t impinge on my interests, I could submit and accept it. But this change to my duty had to do with my future and fate, so I just couldn’t submit to it and I was dying to ask about it, to find out what really went on. After years of faith, I still didn’t have the slightest submission to God. Just a little change to my duty put me in such turmoil, and I was so resistant, to say nothing of a major issue coming up. Did I have any stature? I was ashamed and embarrassed to realize this, and felt ready to submit and do my duty well.
When I really threw myself into it, I found that handling general affairs isn’t as simple as toiling away, like I’d thought. There are principles to enter into in every step of the way, and I truly felt that no matter what the job in God’s house is, there are lessons to learn, and truths to enter into. But after a while I found I wasn’t as adept at handling things as the other brothers and sisters, and I was slower than them, too. As far as skills and efficiency went, I was far behind them. A leader came to talk to me one evening and said they didn’t need as many people in that work, and there was a video project they needed me to handle. My mind went totally blank when I heard that. I wanted to ask the leader about the specific reasons for changing my duty, but I felt that asking so bluntly wouldn’t be reasonable. I swallowed what I was about to say. I kept thinking back on our conversation after the fact, wanting to figure out the reason behind my transfer from what she’d said. Was I inefficient in my duty, and was this their reason to get rid of me? But she did say they needed me for the video work, so maybe it was a normal transfer. But if it was just about work needs, I could come back after a little while, and there’d be no need to remove me. She must think I lacked caliber and couldn’t do that duty. “Not needing many people to handle general affairs” must have been the excuse to let me go. This sister probably didn’t tell me I lacked caliber because she didn’t want to upset me. In the moment, my heart just dropped. I’d never imagined that after all my years of faith, I couldn’t even handle general affairs well. What good was I? Was I just refuse? Did I still have hope of salvation in my faith? Was I going to be exposed and cast out? But I had so many complicated thoughts, and I felt more and more down. I wasn’t listening attentively when that sister told me about the video work, and when she took me to a meeting summarizing their work, I wasn’t entirely focused. I even nodded off toward the end. During that time, I was lax and lazy in my duty without any burden at all. When someone asked about my transfer, I pretended I hadn’t heard and didn’t want to answer. I really didn’t want to face the fact that I hadn’t performed any duty well. I wanted to hide out on my own, and not see anyone. For a while, I was totally lost in darkness and couldn’t see God’s will. I felt like my path of faith had come to an end, and I was in so much pain.
At one point, I read some of God’s words about how antichrists see a change in their duty, then I gained some understanding of my own state. God says, “Under normal circumstances, a person should accept and submit to changes in their duty. They should also reflect on themselves, recognize the essence of the problem, and recognize their own shortcomings. This is something very beneficial, and it is very easy for people to achieve—it is not so difficult. Changes to one’s duty are not an insurmountable obstacle; they are simple enough that anyone can think them through clearly and treat them correctly. When something like this happens to a normal person, at the very least, they can submit, as well as benefit from reflecting on themselves, gaining a more accurate assessment of whether their performance of their duties is qualified. But this is not so for antichrists. They are different from normal people, no matter what happens to them. Where does this difference lie? They do not obey, they do not proactively cooperate, nor do they search for truth in the slightest. Instead, they feel revulsion toward it, and they resist it, analyze it, contemplate it, and rack their brains in speculation: ‘Why am I not allowed to do this duty? Why am I transferred to an unimportant duty? Is this a means to reveal me and cast me out?’ They keep turning over what has happened in their minds, endlessly analyzing it and ruminating over it. When nothing has happened they are perfectly fine, but when something does happen, it begins churning within their hearts as if in stormy waters, and their heads are filled with questions. It may look from the outside like they are better than others at pondering issues, but in fact, antichrists are just eviler than normal people. How is this evil manifested? Their considerations are extreme, complex and secretive. Things that would not occur to a normal person, a person with a conscience and reason, are common fare for an antichrist. When a simple adjustment is made to their duty, people should answer with an attitude of obedience, do as God’s house tells them to, and do what they are able, and, no matter what they do, do it as well as is within their power, with all their heart and all their strength. What God has done is not in error. Such a simple truth can be practiced by people with a little conscience and rationality, but this is beyond the abilities of antichrists. When it comes to the adjustment of duties, antichrists will immediately offer reasoning, sophistry, and resistance, and deep down they refuse to accept it. Just what is in their heart? Suspicion and doubt, they then probe others using all kinds of methods. They test the waters with their words and their actions, and even coerce and entice people to tell the truth and speak honestly through unscrupulous means. They try to work it out: Just why were they transferred? Why were they not allowed to perform their duty? Who, exactly, was pulling the strings? Who was trying to mess things up for them? In their hearts, they keep asking why, they keep trying to work out what’s really going on, so they can find who to argue or settle scores with. They do not know to come before God to reflect on themselves, to look at what the problem is within them, they do not look for a reason in themselves, and they do not pray to God and reflect on themselves and say, ‘What is the problem with how I perform my duty? Is it that I am being careless and perfunctory, and am devoid of principle? Has there been any effect at all?’ Instead of ever asking themselves these questions, they constantly doubt God in their hearts: ‘Why was my duty reallocated? Why am I being treated like this? Why are they being so unreasonable? Why are they being unfair to me? Why don’t they think of my pride? Why do they attack and alienate me in this way?’ All these ‘whys’ are a vivid revelation of the antichrists’ corrupt disposition and character” (“Item Twelve: They Want to Retreat When There Is No Position and No Hope of Gaining Blessings” in Exposing Antichrists). Reading God’s words, I saw my behavior was just as evil as antichrists’. When my duty was changed, I didn’t appear to blink an eye, but I was actually in a state of turmoil. I was second-guessing and looking into the reason for the changes, and the real meaning behind every word from the leaders both times. I even suspected I was transferred because my caliber wasn’t up to handling general affairs, and misunderstood God having me undergo multiple transfers to expose me as a good-for-nothing, and using that to cast me out. I had such an evil, crafty nature! I was just overthinking the matter of a change to my duty, researching and analyzing it, trying to ascertain from the leaders’ words what they really thought of me, and using that to determine how high or low my position in God’s house was, if I really had a place in God’s heart, and how much of a chance I had at salvation and blessings. I was suspicious, full of doubts, resistant, and testing, which are antichrist dispositions. I remembered something God says: “I take pleasure in those who are not suspicious of others, and I like those who readily accept the truth; toward these two kinds of people I show great care, for in My eyes they are honest people” (“How to Know the God on Earth” in). Honest people think simply. They’re frank and sincere with God and people, without doubts or guardedness. They can accept the truth, and they seek and ponder God’s will in the situations He sets up. God lets them learn more and more, and gain the truth. At that point, I realized that my craftiness and doubts made me so down and miserable, and pushed me farther from God. I prayed to God, “God, I don’t want to live by my crafty disposition anymore. These changes to my duty didn’t fit with my notions, but I want to submit and accept them, and seek to know Your will.”
Later on I was wondering why I had such a strong reaction to every change in my duty. Then I read some of God’s words that helped me understand the adulterations in my faith. “Judging from an antichrist’s attitude and perspective regarding a change in their duty, where does their problem lie? Is the problem here a big one? (It is.) Their greatest mistake is that they should not link a change in duty with receiving blessings; this is something they should definitely not do. In fact, there is no connection between the two, but because the antichrist’s heart is full of desires to be blessed, no matter what duty they perform, they connect and relate it to whether or not they will be blessed. As such, they are incapable of performing their duty properly, and can only be exposed and cast out; this is their own fault, they embarked upon this desperate path by themselves” (“Item Twelve: They Want to Retreat When There Is No Position and No Hope of Gaining Blessings” in Exposing Antichrists). “It was a perfectly appropriate change in duty, but antichrists say it’s being done to torment them, that they are not being treated like a human being, that the family of God lacks love, that they are being treated like a machine, called upon when they’re needed, then kicked aside when they’re not. Isn’t that twisting logic? Does someone who says that sort of thing have a conscience or reason? They have no humanity! They distort a perfectly reasonable matter; they twist a totally appropriate practice into something negative—is this not the evil of an antichrist? Can someone who is this evil understand the truth? Absolutely not. This is an antichrist’s problem; they will twist the logic of whatever happens to them. Why do they think in a twisted way? Because they are extremely evil by nature, evil in essence. An antichrist’s nature and essence are primarily evil, followed by their viciousness, and these are their main characteristics. Antichrists’ evil nature prevents them from correctly comprehending anything, and instead they distort and misinterpret everything, they go to extremes, they split hairs, and they cannot handle things properly or seek the truth” (“Item Twelve: They Want to Retreat When There Is No Position and No Hope of Gaining Blessings” in Exposing Antichrists). I could see from God’s words that I was behaving just like an antichrist, thinking my duty and whether I’d be blessed were inextricably linked. I thought being promoted and doing a duty that I saw as more important meant a better chance at salvation. But being dismissed or doing a duty I saw as trivial made me think I had less of a chance at salvation. Because of this mistaken perspective, when the church changed my duty, I was really sensitive and overthinking things. I couldn’t approach it properly, afraid that I’d lose all hope of salvation and blessings if I wasn’t careful. I placed blessings above all else in my faith, and facing these transfers, my first thought was whether it was a promotion or a demotion. If it looked like a lower position, I felt like I was being demoted, that I’d be exposed and cast out. I was miserable and wrote myself off for one little thing. I desired blessings too much! It’s perfectly normal for God’s house to change people’s duties. Sometimes it’s based on a person’s stature, caliber, or skills, which will benefit the work of God’s house and their own life entry. Sometimes there is a problem in their attitude toward their duty, and they are living in corruption, so by changing their duty, they can come before God to reflect and know themselves, and repent to God, and no longer walk the wrong path. This is God’s great salvation. Sometimes it’s what the work requires, and appropriate changes need to be made at the right time. The leader was going by work needs, and seeing handling general affairs was really taxing for me, she gave me a duty that fit my skills, so I could be of use. It was a good thing. But I was so evil and cunning by nature, I was just thinking about being blessed, linking things that happen to being blessed, and seeing things in a twisted way. I thought my duty was changed to expose me and cast me out. How ridiculous! I had misconceptions and defenses against God. How could I learn and enter into the truth that way? And how could I do my duty well? This thought made me feel some regret, and I hated myself for being blind and not pursuing the truth. I didn’t want to be that way anymore. I was ready to let go of my drive for blessings, to seek the truth in whatever situation God set up, and do my duty.
Later, I read another passage of God’s words. “The bottom line in whether or not people can be saved is chiefly whether they have conscience and sense. If people can hold to this line, then they are possessed of conscience and sense. Such people have hope of salvation. If they cross this line, they will be cast out. What is your red line? You say, ‘Even if God beats and scolds me, and rejects me, and won’t save me, I still won’t have any complaints. I will be like an ox or a horse: I will keep serving to the very end, repaying God’s love.’ All that sounds nice, but are you truly capable of achieving this? If you really are possessed of such character and resolve, then I tell you plainly: You have hope of salvation. If you do not have this character, if you are without this conscience and sense, then your service will not last until the very end. Do you know how God will act toward you? You do not. Do you know how God will test you? You don’t know this, either. If you lack a foundation, a red line, a correct means of pursuing, and your morals and values are not in line with the truth, then when you encounter a setback, failure, or trials and refinement, you will not be able to stand firm—in which case you will be in danger. What role do conscience and sense play? If you say, ‘I’ve heard all these sermons, and I do actually understand some truth. But I haven’t put it into practice, I have not satisfied God, God does not endorse me—and if, ultimately, God abandons me, and no longer wants me, this will be the righteousness of God. Even if God punishes and damns me, I will not leave God. Wherever I go, I am a creature of God, I will forever believe in God, and even if I have to work like an ox or a horse, I will never stop following, and I don’t care what my end is’—if this is truly your resolve, then good: You will be able to stand firm. If you lack this resolve, and have never thought about these things, then there is undoubtedly a problem with your character, with your conscience and sense. That is because, in your heart, you have never wanted to do anything for God. All you ever do is demand blessings from God. You are always calculating, in your mind, what blessings you will receive for making an effort or suffering hardship in God’s house. If all you do is calculate these things, it will be very difficult for you to stand firm. Whether or not you can be saved depends on just whether or not you have conscience and sense. If you are not possessed of conscience and sense, you are not fit to be saved, for God does not save demons and beasts. If you choose to walk the path of pursuing the truth, if you walk the path of Peter, the Holy Spirit will enlighten you and guide you in understanding the truth, and will create situations for you that cause you to experience many trials and refinement and be made perfect. If you do not choose the path of pursuing the truth, but walk the path of Paul the antichrist, then sorry—God will still test and examine you. But there is no denying that you will not stand up to God’s examination; when something happens to you, you will complain about God, and when you are tested, you will forsake God. At that moment your conscience and sense will be of no use, and you will be cast out. God does not save people who have no conscience or sense; this is the minimum standard” (The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days, Part Three). Reading God’s words really got me thinking. After my duty was changed, I felt like I had hardly any hope of salvation. I resisted God and complained. I was negligent and negative in my duty and used that to vent my own dissatisfaction. I really lacked humanity and reason, and didn’t possess even the most basic conscience. I was just like those who stop doing their duty after their hopes of being blessed are dashed. If it hadn’t been for God’s timely guidance, allowing me to understand my motives and desires for blessings and see my ugly, satanic face after I’d lost my hopes for my future, I hate to think of how far I would have fallen. I certainly would have been stripped of my qualification to do a duty and been cast out by God. Thinking about that possibility was scary. I also realized how critical people’s subjective pursuit in their faith is. Those who truly seek God are genuine in their duty and don’t ask for blessings in their faith or duty. They’re happy to serve, even without a good outcome and destination. That kind of character is necessary to withstand the tests of all sorts of environments. I also found a path of practice from God’s words. I need to submit, no matter what duty I’m doing, and focus on pursuing the truth, and cleansing and changing the adulterations in my faith.
I read a passage of God’s words in my devotionals one time that gave me some practical understanding of God’s standards for salvation. “Some people don’t know clearly what it means to be saved. Some people believe that the more years they have believed in God, the more likely they are to be saved. Some people think that the more spiritual doctrines they understand, the more likely they are to be saved, or some think that leaders and workers will certainly be saved. These are all human notions and imagination. The key to this is that people must understand what salvation means. To be saved primarily means to be freed from Satan’s influence, freed from sin, and genuinely turn to God and obey God. What must you possess to be free from sin and from Satan’s influence? The truth. If people hope to obtain the truth, they must be equipped with many of God’s words, they must be able to experience and practice them, so that they may understand the truth and enter the reality of the truth. Only then can they be saved. Whether or not one can be saved has nothing to do with how long a person has believed in God, how much knowledge they have, how much they suffer, or whether they possess gifts or strong points. The only thing that has a direct relationship to salvation is whether or not a person can obtain the truth. So today, how many truths do you genuinely understand? And how many of God’s words have become your life? Of all of God’s requirements, into which have you achieved entry? During your years of belief in God, how much entry into the reality of God’s word have you achieved? If you don’t know, or if you have not achieved entry into any reality of God’s word, then frankly, you have no hope of salvation. You cannot possibly be saved” (“Treasuring God’s Words Is the Foundation of Belief in God” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). I saw from God’s words that whether someone can be saved has nothing to do with their duty. Salvation is about whether they’ve gained the truth, cast off sin and their satanic disposition, and if they truly submit to God. Gaining the truth depends on a person’s pursuit and the path they take. God is righteous, never biased. No matter a person’s caliber or duty, as long as they pursue the truth and focus on their own dispositional change, they can gradually learn the truth, cast off corruption, and be saved. I thought of a couple leaders I’d known before. They seemed intent on pursuit, and their fellowship in gatherings was really clear, so I figured they were definitely going to be saved. I adulated and looked up to them. To my surprise, later they were exposed for taking an antichrist’s path. They seemed ardent in their faith and their fellowship was great, but it was all doctrine, a false image to mislead others. In reality, they were going after name and status, setting up their own enterprise without doing any real work. As a result, the work of God’s house was seriously disrupted and they were cast out. I also thought of many brothers and sisters doing regular duties that weren’t impressive, but they were focused on pursuing the truth. They showed some corruption when things cropped up, but they could reflect and know themselves, and practice the truth to resolve their corruption. They were changing their life dispositions. But as for me, I’d been a believer for years without really pursuing the truth, so I still hadn’t entered into the reality of the truth. Facing nothing but a little change to my duty, I had such huge misunderstanding and grievances without any submission. I couldn’t escape my negativity. Without focusing on pursuing and practicing the truth, when God’s work concludes, I definitely would have been left empty-handed, and cast out.
Going through these changes to my duty gave me some understanding of my crafty, evil disposition. I also saw that my perspective on faith and motives for blessings hadn’t changed, and I realized that a person’s salvation is unrelated to their duty. What’s key is whether they can pursue the truth, if their life disposition changes, if they submit to God.