Discerning People Based on God’s Words

March 10, 2024

By Xiang Wang, China

Recently, I heard from Meng Jie, my supervisor, that Li Ping didn’t accept the truth, always over-analyzing people and things and disturbing church life, and that brothers and sisters fellowshipped with her and helped her, yet she still didn’t reverse course. Meng Jie asked me to write an evaluation of her. I was somewhat surprised. I hadn’t expected that Li Ping would reach this point. At first, it was hard for me to accept. Li Ping’s family had been believing in the Lord for generations. She served the Lord in the church in her teens and she had accepted this stage of God’s work for more than 20 years. Now, she was a little over 50, and she was still unmarried. Her forsaking and expending of herself, exercising restraint, and enduring suffering seemed like true faith in God. Now, she was being defined as a nonbeliever based on her over-analyzing people and things. Was this not a bit too harsh? Thinking back to when I had interacted with Li Ping in the past, her humanity didn’t seem poor; it was just that she argued over right and wrong when issues cropped up. Shouldn’t people like this be given a chance to stay in the church and render service? Later, I heard Meng Jie say that based on Li Ping’s persistent behavior, it had already been determined that she was a nonbeliever. She also reminded me to examine myself to see what made me unable to see through her, and told me to seek the truth to resolve it.

Later on, I consciously worked on this problem in my seeking, and thought back to all the times that Li Ping and I had interacted. In 2019, Li Ping and I were partnered together to do our duty. At that time, a sister in our group, Yingxin, was not working well together with Li Ping. Yingxin wanted to talk about it with Li Ping, but Li Ping refused. Yingxin became somewhat negative, and when the leader inquired about her and Li Ping’s states, Yingxin truthfully stated that the two of them were not working well together. Li Ping thought that Yingxin saying this had harmed her reputation, and she became strongly prejudiced against Yingxin. Afterward, she twisted the facts and said that Yingxin had deliberately lodged a complaint against her in an effort to exclude her from the group. Before a gathering, Yingxin suggested that we first talk about our states and then do a focused reading of God’s words based on our states. Li Ping thought that Yingxin was targeting her and saying she didn’t pay enough attention to life entry, and so she angrily said that they didn’t have enough time for that. There was also a review meeting at which Yingxin said that the results of church work had recently been on the downslide and reminded us all to search for the reasons behind this. Again, Li Ping thought that this was about her, and she said impetuously, “If you think I’m no good, then report me to the supervisor and have me transferred.” We spent time fellowshipping with her and couldn’t discuss the work normally. At the time, Sister Luo Wen had only just joined the group, and when difficulties and problems came up in her work, she would often consult Yingxin. Li Ping saw that Luo Wen thought highly of Yingxin, and so she told Luo Wen face-to-face that Yingxin was using some underhanded means to win her over, and told her to exclude Yingxin. When Luo Wen heard this, she was so angry that she started crying. She felt that Li Ping wasn’t easy to work with and didn’t want to do her duty here anymore. Li Ping not only didn’t reflect on herself, she even said that if Luo Wen wanted to leave, it was up to her. Sometimes, we would discuss work in the room together, and Li Ping would get suspicious and think that we were speaking badly about her behind her back. Because of this, she was often at odds with the sisters in the group. In fact, these states of hers had been going on for quite a long time. Our supervisor fellowshipped with her and helped her multiple times, but she never reversed course. Back then, I had just joined the group, and I fellowshipped with her and said that she should focus on seeking the truth and learning lessons, but she argued over right and wrong and made excuses for herself. I was very confused. She had believed in God for years, so why didn’t she accept anything from God when things happened to her and instead always looked for external reasons, over-analyzing people and things? Then I thought, “Maybe she’s just in a bad state right now. If we fellowship and help her more, she might reverse her state and not over-analyze people and things so much.” Later on, because Li Ping and Yingxin didn’t work well together, our supervisor put me and Li Ping in the same group. At first, I didn’t think that after being separated from Yingxin, Li Ping would still focus on her so much, but each time I mentioned Yingxin, Li Ping would once again bring up matters related to her and recount them. Her words were full of implied judgments about Yingxin. However, I couldn’t see her essence clearly, and thought that she was just temporarily unable to get past this, that perhaps she would get over it as time went by. Later on, Li Ping was transferred to another group to do her duty. The brothers and sisters reported that she was still acting like this, that whenever something touched upon her pride, she would cause endless fuss and could not work well together with others. She also influenced the states of others and delayed the group’s work. Our supervisor fellowshipped with her multiple times and told her to focus on seeking the truth and learning lessons, but she never accepted this and persisted in defending herself, causing disruptions and disturbances to the work. Up until she was dismissed, she was debating the rights and wrongs and not self-reflecting or trying to know herself.

Later, I heard brothers and sisters talk about some of her behaviors. Her behavior of over-analyzing people and things was really quite prominent. Not only did she make people feel constrained, she also disturbed the church’s work. I thought, “How does God classify such behaviors?” Concerning this problem, I read some relevant words of God: “Is it not vile that some people like to split hairs and go down blind alleys whenever something happens to them? This is a big problem. Clear-minded people will not make this mistake, but this is what absurd people are like. They always imagine that others are making things difficult for them, that others are deliberately giving them a hard time, so they always antagonize other people. Is this not a deviation? They do not put in effort when it comes to the truth, they prefer to quibble about unimportant things when something happens to them, demanding explanations, trying to save face, and they always use human solutions to approach these matters. This is the greatest obstacle to life entry. If you believe in God this way, or practice this way, you will never attain the truth because you never come before God. You never come before God to receive all that God has set out for you, nor do you use the truth to approach all this, instead you use human solutions to approach things. Therefore, in the eyes of God, you have strayed too far from Him. Not only has your heart strayed from Him, your entire being does not live in His presence. This is how God views those who always over-analyze things and split hairs. … I tell you that no matter what duty a believer in God performs—whether they handle external matters, or a duty that relates to the various work or fields of expertise of the house of God—if they do not frequently come before God, and live in His presence, and they do not dare to accept His scrutiny, and they do not seek the truth from God, then they are a nonbeliever, and they are no different from an unbeliever(The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Only by Often Living Before God Can One Have a Normal Relationship With Him). “For a matter involving fame, gain, or face, they insist on clarifying who is right or wrong, who is superior or inferior, and must argue to prove a point. Others don’t want to hear it. People say, ‘Can you simplify what you’re saying? Can you be straightforward? Why do you have to be so trivial?’ Their thoughts are so complicated and convoluted, and they live such an exhausting life without realizing the underlying problems. Why can’t they seek the truth and be honest? Because they are sick of the truth and don’t want to be honest. So, what do they rely on in life? (Philosophies for living and human methods.) Depending on human methods to act tends to lead to results in which one ends up either being laughed at or revealing an ugly side of oneself. And so, on closer examination, their actions, the things they spend all day doing—they all relate to their own face, reputation, gain, and vanity. It’s as if they’re living in a web, they have to rationalize or make excuses for everything, and they are always speaking for their own sake. Their thinking is complicated, they talk so much nonsense, their words are so tangled. They’re always arguing over what’s right and wrong, there’s no end to it. If they’re not trying to gain face, they’re competing for reputation and status, and there is never a time when they are not living for these things. And what is the ultimate consequence? They may have gained face, but everyone is sick and tired of them. People have seen through them and realized that they are devoid of the truth reality, that they are not someone who sincerely believes in God. When the leaders and workers or other brothers and sisters use a few words to deal with them, they stubbornly refuse to accept, they insist on trying to rationalize or make excuses, and they try to pass the buck. During assemblies they defend themselves, start arguments, and stir up trouble among God’s chosen ones. In their hearts, they’re thinking, ‘Is there really nowhere for me to argue my case?’ What kind of person is this? Is this someone who loves the truth? Is this someone who believes in God? When they hear anyone say something that doesn’t align with their intentions, they always want to argue and demand an explanation; they get tangled up in who’s right and who’s wrong, they do not seek the truth and treat it according to the truth principles. No matter how simple a matter is, they have to make it so complicated—they’re just asking for trouble, they deserve to be so exhausted!(The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Part Three). From God’s words, I saw that those who over-analyze people and things acknowledge doctrinally that God holds sovereignty over everything, and that their daily circumstances are arranged by Him. But, when faced with these actual circumstances, they do not accept them from God, nor do they seek the truth or learn lessons. Instead, they believe that someone is making things difficult for them, and in order to redeem their pride and reputation, they always debate the rights and wrongs, causing endless fuss. All they bring to others and to the church work are disturbances. The essence of such people is that of nonbelievers. For instance, look at Li Ping. When she was partnered with Yingxin, it was evident that the two of them weren’t working well together and that it had already affected their duty. Yingxin reported the true situation to the leader, hoping to seek help, but Li Ping didn’t accept this from God, instead thinking that Yingxin was lodging a complaint against her. Afterward, she always kept a close watch on Yingxin. When gathering or discussing work, if Yingxin pointed out some problems or made a reasonable suggestion, Li Ping couldn’t approach it correctly, instead believing that Yingxin was targeting her and thus deliberately opposing Yingxin. She even purposely caused trouble, saying that if we thought she was no good, we should tell the leader to transfer her to another duty. All this made us feel constrained, and it affected church life and the church’s work. Sister Luo Wen had just joined the group, and she wasn’t familiar with the principles and the professional skills, so she went to talk to Yingxin. Li Ping suspected that Luo Wen looked down on her and was taking Yingxin’s side and excluding her. When sisters were normally discussing the work together, Li Ping also suspected that everyone was judging her behind her back, and she even intentionally held grudges against people and was difficult with them. This led to people being unable to normally do their duties. Actually, all these things were quite ordinary and simple, things that normal people could understand if they gave it a bit of thought. But she over-analyzed people and things and got all tangled up; her thoughts were extremely complicated. Afterward, everyone fellowshipped on God’s words and helped her, but she never showed any intention to seek. Instead, she made excuses and defended herself, and argued over right and wrong, trying to prove her point.

In the past, I always thought that her over-analyzing people and things was a temporary bad state. Now I saw that having a momentary corrupt revelation and having the essence of a nonbeliever are two different things. It’s like how some people have manifestations of over-analyzing people and things, but they are only temporarily unable to understand God’s intention on a few specific matters. Or, they make excuses and defend themselves in order to save face, but by praying and seeking or using the fellowship and help of brothers and sisters, they come to understand God’s intention and no longer analyze so much. People like this accept the truth and do not have the essence of nonbelievers. On the other hand, people who are nonbelievers do not accept anything from God no matter what happens to them. Even if it is a very small matter that others are able to understand easily, they always analyze people and things and are unable to accept fellowship and help from brothers and sisters. This reveals that they are averse to the truth by nature and comprehend things preposterously. Thinking back over Li Ping’s behavior, this is exactly how she was when she partnered with Yingxin two or three years ago. Later, she and Yingxin were separated, and although on the surface, she didn’t appear to be so obviously arguing over right and wrong, every time Yingxin was mentioned, she would start debating right and wrong yet again. It was evident that she had not let this go at all. No matter who she was partnered with, whenever something involved her pride and status, she would dispute it to no end, bringing people nothing but disturbances. Then, several years passed and this was still how she was; there was no repentance and change whatsoever. Her essence was that of a nonbeliever who over-analyzed people and things.

Before, I believed that since Li Ping appeared to be enthusiastic, giving to charity and helping people, and was able to forsake and expend of herself, that meant she had good humanity and that she should get another chance. Later on, I realized that I did not know how to discern between good and bad humanity. Then, I read some of God’s words on this topic. God says: “When different things happen to people, there are all sorts of manifestations in them that show the difference between good humanity and bad humanity. So what are the criteria for measuring humanity? How should what kind of a person someone is, and whether or not they can be saved, be measured? This depends on whether they love the truth and whether they are able to accept and practice the truth. People all have notions and rebelliousness inside them, they all have corrupt dispositions, and so will encounter times when what God asks is at odds with their own interests, and they have to make a choice—these are things that they will all often experience, nobody can avoid them. Everyone will also have times when they misinterpret God and have notions about God, or when they are resentful, resistant, or rebellious toward God—but because people have different attitudes toward the truth, the way they approach it is different. Some people never speak of their notions, but seek the truth and resolve them on their own. Why do they not speak of them? (They have a God-fearing heart.) That’s right: They have a God-fearing heart. They are afraid that speaking them up will have a negative effect, and they merely try to resolve this in their heart, without affecting anyone else. When they encounter others in a similar state, they use their own experiences to help them. This is being kindhearted. People who are kindhearted are loving toward others, they are willing to help others solve their difficulties. There are principles when they do things and help others, they help others fix problems in order to benefit them, and they say nothing that is not of benefit to them. This is love. Such people have a God-fearing heart, and their actions are principled and wise. These are the criteria for measuring whether people’s humanity is good or bad(The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. The Attitude Man Should Have Toward God). From God’s words, I understood that people with good humanity love the truth, are willing to accept the truth, and have kind hearts. Such people, when associating with others, can put themselves in others’ shoes and consider how to speak and act to edify others. If they have notions about God or develop prejudices against people, they do not recklessly give vent to them. Rather, they are able to seek the truth to resolve them. They don’t say things that aren’t beneficial to people. These kinds of people have God-fearing hearts and have principles in their speech and actions. These are people with good humanity. Comparing this to Li Ping’s behavior based on God’s words, every time something involved her reputation and status, she vented her discontent. She didn’t consider whether her words would hurt her brothers and sisters or what consequences they might bring. When others pointed out her problems, she didn’t accept it at all, and afterward she would cling to it and not let it go. Li Ping had believed in God for more than 20 years; did she really not understand any of this? In the past, I only looked at her exteriors. I thought that since she had believed in God for a long time, was warm-hearted toward people, was able to forsake and expend of herself, and often gave to charity and helped people, she must have good humanity. But when people actually pointed out her problems and fellowshipped with her, she didn’t accept it at all, and what’s more, she turned things around and attacked and judged others. This was not true good humanity.

Through the exposing of God’s words, I gained some discernment of Li Ping’s humanity and her nonbelieving behavior. However, when I thought of how she had believed in God for decades and was able to forsake, expend of herself, and endure suffering, and how now she was going to be cleared out, I felt some sympathy for her. Later, I read a passage of God’s words: “Some people say, ‘If one eats and drinks of God’s words and fellowships about the truth every day, if they are able to do their duty normally, if they do whatever the church arranges, and never cause disturbances or disruptions—and though there may be times they violate the truth principles, they don’t do so consciously or with intent—doesn’t this demonstrate that they are pursuing the truth?’ This is a good question. Many people have this idea. First of all, you must understand whether someone could attain an understanding of the truth and gain the truth by practicing consistently in this way. Share your thoughts. (Although practicing in this way is correct, it seems more along the lines of religious ritual—it’s rule-following. It can’t lead to an understanding of the truth or gaining the truth.) So, what sort of behaviors are these, really? (They’re superficially good behaviors.) I like that answer. They are merely good behaviors that arise after a person comes to believe in God, upon the foundation of that person’s conscience and reason, once they have been influenced by various good and positive teachings. But they are no more than good behaviors, and they are far from being the pursuit of the truth. What, then, is the root of these good behaviors? What gives rise to them? They arise from a person’s conscience and reason, their morality, the favorable feelings they have toward believing in God, and their self-restraint. Since they are good behaviors, they have no relation to the truth, and they are certainly not the same thing. Possessing good behaviors is not the same as practicing the truth, and if a person behaves well it does not mean that they have God’s approval. Good behaviors and practicing the truth are two different things—they have no bearing on each other. Practicing the truth is God’s requirement and it is entirely in line with His will; good behavior comes from man’s will and carries with it man’s intents and motives—it is something that man regards as good. Although good behaviors are not evil deeds, they contravene the truth principles and have nothing to do with the truth. No matter how good these behaviors are, or how much they accord with man’s notions and imaginings, they have no relation to the truth. So no amount of good behavior can attain God’s approval. Since good behavior is defined in this way, clearly good behaviors do not relate to the practice of the truth. If people were to be sorted into types according to their behavior, then these good behaviors would, at the most, be the actions of loyal service-doers and nothing more. They have no relation at all to the practice of the truth or to true submission to God. They are merely a sort of behavior, and are completely irrelevant to people’s dispositional change, to their submission to and acceptance of the truth, to the fear of God and shunning of evil, or any other practical elements that truly involve the truth. So, why are they called good behaviors, then? Here is an explanation, and naturally it is also an explanation of the essence of this question. It is that these behaviors stem only from people’s notions, their preferences, their volition, and their own self-motivated efforts. They are not manifestations of the repentance that come with gaining true self-knowledge by accepting the truth and the judgment and chastisement of God’s words, nor are they the behaviors or actions of practicing the truth that arise when people try to submit to God. Do you understand this? It means that these good behaviors do not in any way involve a change in a person’s disposition, or what comes of undergoing the judgment and chastisement of God’s words, or the true repentance that arises from coming to know one’s corrupt disposition. They certainly do not relate to man’s true submission to God and the truth; still less do they relate to having a heart of fear and love for God. Good behaviors have nothing at all to do with these things; they are merely something that comes from man and something that man regards as good. Yet there are many people who see these good behaviors as a sign that someone is practicing the truth. This is a grave mistake, an absurd and fallacious view and understanding. These good behaviors are just a performance of religious ceremony, and going through the motions. They are not at all related to practicing the truth. God may not condemn them outright, but He absolutely does not approve of them; that is certain(The Word, Vol. 6. On the Pursuit of the Truth I. What It Means to Pursue the Truth (1)). Pondering God’s words, I understood that Li Ping believing in the Lord for more than 10 years, accepting God’s work of the last days for more than 20 years, and always enthusiastically expending of herself, forsaking her family, and giving up her career during this time were all examples of her superficial enthusiasm and good behavior. They did not measure up to the standard of practicing the truth. After believing in God, many people display some good behavior, but because their nature is not one of loving the truth, and because they cannot accept the judgment and chastisement of God’s words, their life disposition does not change at all even after years of believing in God. Such people will still be abandoned and cast out by God in the end. Displaying good behavior does not mean one is practicing the truth. If one merely displays some good behavior but never accepts or practices the truth, then such a person is capable of resisting God whenever or wherever. It’s like how in religion, there were many people who believed in the Lord for a lifetime, working hard, forsaking and expending of themselves. However, when Almighty God, Christ of the last days, came to work, express the truth, and save mankind, they condemned, resisted, and rejected Him. They turned up their noses at the truths He expressed. No matter how much good behavior they displayed, God did not approve of them. He condemned them as people who resisted God. I thought of the Pharisees, who served Jehovah God for generations and properly abided by laws and commandments. In the eyes of others, their behavior was very good, and no fault could even be found, but when the Lord Jesus appeared to do work, they resisted, condemned, and even crucified Him. Their nature essence was one of hating the truth and God. The Lord Jesus condemned them as the ilk of the serpent, and in the end, they were all punished and cursed by God. From this, I saw that when only looking at people’s superficial good behavior and not discerning their attitude toward the truth, it was so easy to be misled!

Later on, I thought, “So, how exactly should people revealed as nonbelievers like Li Ping be regarded? Which people can stay at the church to render service, and which should be cleared out? What principles does this involve?” I read this passage of God’s word: “If they are nonbelievers, unbelievers, yet they are willing to render service and can be obedient and submit, then even if they don’t pursue the truth, don’t bother them and don’t clear them out. Instead, permit them to continue rendering service, and if you can help them, then help them. If they have no desire even to render service, and they begin to be slipshod and commit evil acts, then we’ve done everything that is called for. If they want to leave, then let them leave, and don’t miss them when they’re gone. They are at the point when they should leave, and such people are not worth your pity, for they are nonbelievers. What is most pitiful is that there are some people who are incredibly foolish, who always hold personal feelings toward those who are sent away, who always miss them, who speak on their behalf, who fight their corner, and who even weep and pray and beseech for them. What do you think about what these people do? (It’s so foolish.) How is it foolish? (Those who leave are nonbelievers, they don’t accept the truth, and they are simply not worth praying for and not worth missing. Only those to whom God gives opportunities and who have hope of being saved are worth the tears and prayers of others. If someone prays for a nonbeliever or a devil, then they’re very foolish and ignorant.) One aspect is that they do not truly believe that there is a God—they are nonbelievers; another aspect is that the nature essence of these people is that of an unbeliever. What is the implied meaning here? It is that they are not people at all, but that their nature essence is that of a devil, of Satan, and that these people are opposed to God. This is how things are regarding their nature essence. Yet there is another aspect, and that is that God selects people, not devils. So, tell Me, are these devils God’s chosen people, and are they selected by God? (No.) They are not God’s chosen people, so if you always have emotional entanglements with these people and are sad to see them go, then doesn’t that make you a fool? Doesn’t that make you opposed to God? If you have no deep feelings toward true brothers and sisters and yet harbor deep feelings for these devils, then what are you? At the very least, you are muddle-headed, you don’t view people according to God’s words, you don’t yet comport yourself with the correct standpoint, and you don’t handle matters with principle. You are a muddle-headed person(The Word, Vol. 6. On the Pursuit of the Truth I. How to Pursue the Truth (4)). Concerning how people revealed as nonbelievers should be regarded, God speaks very clearly. If they are obedient, submissive, and willing to render service, then even if they do not pursue the truth, they can remain to render service as long as they don’t cause disruptions or disturbances. If they do not properly render service, becoming perfunctory or doing evil and disrupting or disturbing the church’s work, not accepting or repenting when brothers and sisters expose and deal with them, and causing more losses than gains when doing their duty, then they should be cleansed away. God saves man, and man’s conscience should have a bottom line. Even if one doesn’t pursue the truth, at the very least, they shouldn’t cause disruptions or disturbances. The essence of everyone who is capable of doing evil and disrupting and disturbing the work of God’s house is that of devils and Satan. Even if such people stay in the church, they won’t serve a purpose. They need to be cleansed away. I compared this to Li Ping’s behavior: She had believed in God for many years, and after things happened to her, she didn’t seek the truth and persistently over-analyzed people and things, disturbing the brothers and sisters and the church’s work. Brothers and sisters fellowshipped with her and helped her many times, but she did not awaken or repent in the slightest. Her nature essence was one of being averse to and hating the truth, and she was an exposed nonbeliever. Li Ping being cleansed away by the church would completely reveal God’s righteousness. In the past, when it came to judging Li Ping, I didn’t judge her based on God’s words, but on my own notions and imaginings. I thought that since she was able to forsake, expend of herself, endure suffering, restrain herself, and display some good behavior, she was someone who had true faith in God. Therefore, with my good intentions, I wanted to get her to stay in the church. I was truly so blind! God never said that everyone who displayed some good behavior had true faith in God. God measures people based on their nature essence and their attitude toward the truth, as well as the path that they’ve walked all along. God’s work has already arrived at the final stage of sorting people according to their kinds. People who love and can accept the truth, people who are averse to it and hate it, people who are wheat, and people who are weeds—God is going to reveal them all. Those nonbelievers, evil people, and antichrists who are averse to and hate the truth will all be cast out by God. Now, I was still able to feel sympathy for Li Ping who was revealed to be a nonbeliever; was I not standing in opposition to God and resisting Him? I was truly so foolish! I ought to discern and reject her in my heart and promptly provide her behaviors of being a nonbeliever to the church to safeguard the work of God’s house. I could not be muddle-headed any longer!

Soon afterward, I provided Li Ping’s behaviors of being a nonbeliever to the church, and before long, she was cleared out. Experiencing this process of clearing out Li Ping, I gained some discernment toward nonbelievers, as well as some understanding of the fallacious views within me. I understood that someone does not have true faith in God just because they display some good behavior. If someone does not love or accept the truth, they will sooner or later be revealed and cast out. I saw that it was only accurate to discern people based on God’s words.

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