Discernment With God’s Words Never Fails
By Xidan, USA
In April 2021, I was living in a house with Chen Yue and a few other sisters. In the beginning, I saw that she was often talking with people about her state, and sometimes chatted about it over meals. I thought about how she was even able to make use of mealtime, so she really focused on life entry and was someone who seeks the truth. Then when we were chatting once, Chen Yue told me she really cared about others’ facial expressions and opinions, and if someone had a bad tone with her, she’d figure that they were looking down on her, and that she was cunning. She also said she always vied with others over name and gain, and was too concerned with status. I was thinking, we hadn’t known each other long, so her being able to tell me about her fatal flaws and her weaknesses meant she was simple and open. I noticed in our later interactions that she really did have complex states of mind. She really cared about people’s expressions and opinions, and second-guessed others. Sometimes when brothers and sisters pointed out her problems, she would wonder if they looked down on her, then afterward she’d open up about what she’d revealed, saying that second-guessing was cunning, and so on. At first, I thought she was just kind of sensitive and fragile. I felt that everyone has faults and problems, And as brothers and sisters, we should have more tolerance and forgiveness for each other. Also, she was able to open up and understand herself after showing corruption, so she should be able to accept the truth. I didn’t think much of it. Generally, when she told me about her state, I’d patiently listen to her pour her heart out, and in conversation I was cautiously attentive to her mood, afraid I’d be careless and say something that hurt her. For that reason, she liked talking with me. It showed from her direct words and what they implied that she felt I had a good temperament and personality and was generous, and that she liked people like me. Also, every time we chatted, it was about her state of second-guessing and caring about face. Sometimes a little chat would stretch on for an hour, and this really held up my duties. Seeing how she trusted me, I was afraid that she’d be hurt if I didn’t listen to her. I was embarrassed to interrupt her. Some things happened later that gradually changed how I saw her.
One time, Sister Li didn’t take it too seriously when Chen Yue criticized her for not folding a bedspread well. Chen Yue got mad and wouldn’t let it go, and insisted that Sister Li do what she wanted. Also, she generally wanted people to cajole and go along with her and make her happy, so Sister Li said she was too focused on status and always wanted people around her, which was actually to control others. Afterward, Chen Yue went to open up to Sister Li, crying and saying she wasn’t like Sister Li had said, and that she’d misunderstood her. Sister Li apologized, but Chen Yue still couldn’t let it go, and gave her the silent treatment. After that, she often isolated herself and didn’t talk with us much.
Once when she was talking with me about her state, she said she saw the other sisters were talking with Sister Li a lot, so she suspected everyone liked Sister Li, and that they looked down on and excluded her. Then she avoided everyone, and she thought Sister Li was being insincere when she spoke with her. Afterward she said she had poor humanity and that second-guessing Sister Li in that way was really cunning. But she didn’t change after that. She was sulky with us for two weeks because of that, and everyone felt really constrained. I was pretty taken aback and couldn’t make heads or tails of it. Why didn’t she seek the truth and learn a lesson when faced with issues? After that I was thinking about how she just tended to get into a huff and sulk, and that we would just need to help her out of love. One time, a video she was producing had to be redone because problems cropped up. In a gathering, the team leader said producers had to take main responsibility for issues in videos. Chen Yue assumed it was targeted at her, that the team leader thought she had poor caliber and didn’t like her. She looked gloomy for days. A leader fellowshiped with her after that, and said she didn’t accept the truth and was overreactive, and that never changing was really dangerous. Chen Yue started crying when she heard that. She said she was too cunning and wouldn’t be saved by God. Seeing her so upset, the leader fellowshiped with her on God’s will so that she didn’t misunderstand God and could reflect upon her problem. She didn’t say anything at the time, and the leader thought she should have some change, but surprisingly, in a gathering, she said she couldn’t accept what the leader said about her and had been depressed for days. Later, she told some brothers and sisters that the team leader had looked down on her for low caliber and that she didn’t know how to get through it, crying as she spoke. They were sympathetic. Things like this were always happening, and after someone fellowshiped with her, she’d always “know” herself and acknowledge her problem. But then she’d throw another fit a few days later when something else happened.
I was kind of confused to see her acting that way. Since she always seemed to know herself, why didn’t she ever change? If the others said anything that impacted her pride, she’d assume they were looking down on her and then take everything wrong. Wasn’t there a problem with her humanity and her understanding? I couldn’t fully understand this, so I prayed to God in seeking, and I fellowshiped with others who understood the truth. A sister told me that Chen Yue understood everything after years of faith, but she didn’t practice the truth and was negative a lot. That meant she didn’t truly know herself. That sister sent me a passage of. “When some people fellowship their self-knowledge, the first thing out of their mouths is, ‘I’m a devil, a living Satan, someone who resists God. I disobey Him and betray Him; I’m a viper, an evil person who should be cursed.’ Is this true self-knowledge? They only speak in generalities. Why do they not offer examples? Why can they not bring the facts out into the light of day for analysis? Some undiscerning people hear them and think, ‘Now, that is true self-knowledge! To know themselves as the devil, Satan, and even to curse themselves—what heights they’ve reached!’ Many people, new believers in particular, are prone to be deluded by this talk. They think that the speaker is a good person, pure and understanding of spiritual matters, that this is someone who loves the truth, and is qualified for leadership. However, once they interact with them, they find that this is not so, that the person is not whom they imagined, but is exceptionally false and deceptive, skilled at disguise and impersonation, which comes as a great disappointment. So how should whether someone loves the truth be measured? This depends on whether they ordinarily manifest living out the reality of the truth, whether they do what they say, whether what they say and do are the same. If what they say sounds coherent and agreeable, but they don’t do it, don’t live it out, then in this they have become one of the Pharisees, they are a hypocrite. Many people sound very coherent when they fellowship the truth, but don’t realize when they have outpourings of a corrupt disposition. Are these people who know themselves? If people do not know themselves, are they people who understand the truth? All who do not know themselves are people who do not understand the truth, people with false spirituality. Some people sound very coherent when they speak words of doctrine, but the state in their spirit is numb and dull-witted, they are unperceptive. It may be said that they are numb, but sometimes, listening to them speak, their spirits seem quite sharp. For example, right after an incident, they are able to know themselves straight away: ‘Just now an idea was made apparent in me. I thought about it and realized that it was crafty, that I was deceiving God.’ Some people are envious when they hear this, saying: ‘This person immediately realizes when they have an outpouring of corruption, and is able to open up and fellowship about it, too. They are so quick to react, their spirits are really sharp, they’re much better than us. This is truly someone who pursues the truth.’ Is this an accurate way of measuring people? (No.) So what should be the basis for evaluating whether people really know themselves? It must not only be what comes out of their mouths. You must also look at what is really manifested in them, the simplest method for which is to look at whether they are able to practice the truth—this is what’s most crucial. Their ability to practice the truth proves that they truly know themselves, because those who truly know themselves manifest repentance, and only when people manifest repentance do they truly know themselves” (“Only Self-Knowledge Is of Aid in Pursuing the Truth” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). I learned from God’s words that when considering if someone loves and accepts the truth, if they truly know themselves, it’s not about seeing what they verbally acknowledge, how well they spout theories, but rather, it’s about what they actually live out in the face of issues, if they can practice the truth, if they really repent and change, and if the understanding they talk about and their actual entry match up. Some people spout all the right doctrine, but they can’t practice the truth when they face things, and act based on their satanic disposition. That’s someone who doesn’t accept the truth. Some people can open up no matter what kind of thoughts they show, and know their corruption, so people think they’re simple, but they say nothing about the motives behind that, and they don’t dissect the essence of their corrupt disposition at all. They seem simple and open, but they’re actually misleading and deceiving people, and it’s really cunning. Some people’s self-knowledge is just an illusion, and though they verbally acknowledge they’re wrong, say they’re Satan, the devil, and they curse and condemn themselves, and that they are nothing and useless, as for the specific wicked things they’ve done, their hidden motives and goals behind that, or what that has led to, they don’t say a word. Looking at Chen Yue, she liked to talk to people about her state, and seemed to really pursue and seek the truth. She was always saying things like, “I have poor humanity, I’m cunning, I’m malicious.” From the outside it looked like she could really know herself, but she didn’t practice the truth when faced with issues. She didn’t resolve her own corruption at all. Two years before, others said she second-guessed people and was focused on status, but she still hadn’t changed whatsoever. Clearly, she just talked about theory, it was fake, and she was hoodwinking people. The knowledge she talked about and what she lived out didn’t match up.
Later I read fellowship from God on which people truly are brothers and sisters, and which people aren’t, and so I gained some discernment over Chen Yue. God’s words say, “Only those who love the truth belong to God’s family; only they are real brothers and sisters. Do you think that all those who often go to assembly are brothers and sisters? Not necessarily. What people are not brothers and sisters? (Those who are sick of the truth, who do not accept the truth, who do not pursue the truth.) They are those who do not accept and are sick of the truth, those who are wicked, and some people with bad humanity. There are even some who appear to have good humanity on the surface, but who excel at playing with philosophies for living; these people will employ crafty maneuvers and use, wheedle, and cheat others. As soon as the truth is fellowshiped, they lose interest, they are sick of it, they cannot stand to hear about it, they feel it is boring and cannot stay seated. What kind of people are these? These sorts of people are unbelievers, and whatever you do, you must not regard them as brothers and sisters. … So what do they live by? Without question, they live by the philosophies of Satan, they are always being wily and cunning, they do not have a life of normal humanity. They never pray to God or seek the truth, but handle everything using human tricks, tactics, and philosophies for living—which makes for an exhausting existence. Even in simple mattes, they obfuscate, and if they’re not rationalizing, they’re making excuses. Living like this is exhausting, is it not? Why, when something could be explained in a few words, do they come out with so much nonsense? Their thinking is convoluted, and they are not able to accept the truth. For the sake of their own face or because of a few words, they will argue until they are blue in the face. It’s as if they have some sort of nervous condition. These people’s lives are so painful. … On closer examination, their actions, the things they spend all day doing—they all relate to their own face, reputation, 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 convoluted, 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, they have realized that they are devoid of the reality of the truth, that they are not someone who sincerely believes in God. When the leaders and workers or other brothers and sisters subject them to a few words of criticism, they stubbornly refuse to accept, they insist on trying to rationalize or make excuses, they try to pass the buck, and during assemblies they defend, and twist right and wrong, stirring up trouble among God’s chosen ones. In their hearts, they’re thinking, ‘Is there really no sense to what I say?’ 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 offends them, they always want to talk it through, they get tangled up in who’s right and who’s wrong, they do not seek the truth and treat it according to the principles of the truth. 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!” (“Part Three” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). Reading God’s words, it's easy for us to discern who are brothers and sisters, and who are nonbelievers. Some people like bickering over right and wrong. They don’t accept the truth but rather, are sick of it. They don’t seek the truth in the face of things, or reflect on, or know themselves. They’re always defending and justifying themselves. That kind of person thinks too much and is naturally deceptive. It’s not only tiring for them, but they also bring others pain and annoyance. That kind of person isn’t a true brother or sister. Then, thinking of Chen Yue, because of someone’s inadvertent remark that touched on her reputation and hurt her, she’d second-guess them, become suspicious, and become biased against them. Then she’d falsely open up to explain herself or talk about herself as a way to bring up others’ problems. She was always bickering about right and wrong. For example, when the team leader gave her some suggestions, she thought the team leader was looking down on her, so she got unhappy. Then afterward in a gathering, she opened up and said the team leader thought little of her so that everyone would empathize with her and develop a certain opinion about the team leader. People usually had to tiptoe around her in their interactions with her, watching for her expressions and her face, fearing something they said wrong would impact her state. Interacting with her was really oppressive, and no one could feel free. Since she was always overthinking things and depressed, it seriously impacted work progress. I used to think that she was just sensitive and fragile, that she tended to get into a huff and sulk when things didn’t go her way, that it was a normal human fault, and didn’t constitute any real disturbance for brothers and sisters or for the church’s work. But lining it up with the facts, I saw that it actually had disturbed brothers’ and sisters’ states as well as the life of the church. It had also impacted the normal progression of the church’s work. Combined with her general presentation, she didn’t accept the truth at all, and was really cunning. She wasn’t edifying or helpful to others, but rather, she was a nonbeliever. The leader got an understanding of her general behavior, took her duty away, and had her separate herself for reflection.
After that, I read a passage of God’s words exposing people’s corrupt dispositions, and so I saw what was hidden behind Chen Yue’s words, and I gained discernment. God’s words say, “Deceit is often outwardly evident. When someone beats around the bush or speaks in ways that are too shrewd and cunning, that is deceit. And what is the chief characteristic of evil? Evil is when what people say is especially pleasing to the ear, when it all seems right, and irreproachable, and good no matter which way you look at it, it is when they do things and achieve their aims without using any obvious techniques. They are extremely secretive when they do things, they achieve them without any visible tells or giveaways; this is how the antichrists delude people, and such things and such people are very difficult to identify. Some people often say the right words, employ nice-sounding phrases, and use certain doctrines, arguments, and techniques that are in line with people’s feelings to pull the wool over their eyes; they pretend to go one way but actually go another to achieve their secret aims. This is evil. People usually believe these behaviors to be deceit. They have less knowledge of evil, and dissect it less, too; evil is actually more difficult to identify than deceit, for it is more hidden, and the methods and techniques involved are more sophisticated” (“They Deceive, Draw In, Threaten, and Control People” in Exposing Antichrists). God’s words expose people with evil dispositions. These people say some things that sound nice and right, that sound agreeable, but hidden behind that are ulterior motives that regular people can’t discern. I couldn’t help but think of Chen Yue’s behavior. She told me that I was generous and didn’t bicker with her, and that she liked interacting with me. Once, when she saw Sister Li wasn’t home, she sent a text message saying she was afraid to be alone at home, as if she were a kid when their mom wasn’t by their side. Hearing that, anyone would feel she had a lot of trust in them, and that she saw them as a trusted friend, or even as family member. Then they wanted to take care of her and went along with her in everything. Even when she was arguing over right and wrong, thinking others were looking down on her, no one would discern what she said, and would just sympathize with her and pity her. Clearly, she said things that sounded nice, flattered others, and were what they wanted to hear, but behind that, she wanted to draw them in. She usually liked to talk with people about her state so that they saw she was focused on life entry, and that she sought and pursued the truth. But in reality, she was intentionally creating this pseudo-spiritual appearance to get others to think well of her. She acted like she was talking about her state, but she was actually fussing to be comforted, venting, and playing on people’s feelings. She even took up the time of people doing their duty. But I couldn’t see her motives or discern what sort of person she really was. I just always fellowshiped with her kindly, helping and supporting her. I helped her enthusiastically whenever I saw her struggling in life, and I considered her first for anything beneficial. Now I finally saw from God’s words that she had an evil nature, that she was deceptive in both word and deed, that she was hoodwinking, and deceiving everyone.
I reflected on myself after that. Why hadn’t I had any discernment over Chen Yue? In my reflection, I saw a mistaken perspective I’d had. I took her being able to talk about her state as being simple and open, as practicing the truth, and didn’t pay attention to her words. Only through God’s words did I see what being simple and open truly is. God’s words say, “Honesty means giving your heart to God, being genuine with God in all things, being open with Him in all things, never hiding the facts, not trying to deceive those above and below you, and not doing things only to curry favor with God. In short, to be honest is to be pure in your actions and words, and to deceive neither God nor man. … If your words are riddled with excuses and valueless justifications, then I say that you are someone who is loath to put the truth into practice. 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). I saw from God’s words that being simple and open is mainly opening up in fellowship when you face problems or reveal corruption, not disguising anything or concealing facts. Opening up is mainly to seek the truth, and to quickly resolve your problems. Then through that you can see the essence of your corruption, and with your brothers and sisters you can have a heart-to-heart talk. This is edifying and beneficial for people. Seeing if someone is being simple and open is mainly done by looking at their motives and the outcome. If they talk about prejudices, small household matters, and gossip without any real self-reflection or understanding, then opening up in that way isn’t being genuinely simple and open. That’s venting about what they don’t like and covertly blaming others for their problems. There’s no edification or help for people in that kind of openness. Some people even act like they’re open to pretend they’re honest people who accept the truth so that others look up to them. Opening up in that way is exalting themselves and showing off in a covert way, it’s misleading. Considering Chen Yue’s self-knowledge, she mostly opened up about her suspicions of others and about the thoughts and ideas she revealed, but never talked about her corrupt dispositions, or her hidden intentions, or her motives. She didn’t open up to seek the truth or resolve her corruption, but rather to pour out her grievances, so people would feel sorry for her and comfort her. She even used it to justify herself, so that she wouldn’t be misunderstood. That way she could protect her image in others’ eyes. Her openness didn’t resolve her corrupt disposition, and it didn’t bring brothers and sisters any benefits or edification. That wasn’t being simple and open. It was playing games and being tricky. I gained some internal clarity once I realized that. I saw clearly that Chen Yue wasn’t someone who pursued the truth, and that she wasn’t simple and honest, but that she was really cunning and evil.
I reflected on myself after that. I’d interacted with Chen Yue for nearly a year and gained some awareness of her general issues, So why hadn’t I gained any discernment over her until now? I realized the root of this was that I wasn’t looking at things through the lens of God’s words, and rather, I was looking at appearances through my own notions and imaginings. I viewed her opening up and her wanting to share her state with others as her loving and seeking the truth. I didn’t look at her motives or the starting point in things, or what was actually achieved. I didn’t look at how she spoke or acted, or at her approaches, and I didn’t look at things through God’s words. That’s why I didn’t see her essence or gain discernment over her. I even treated her like a sister, always forgiving her, helping her, and supporting her with love. I was so foolish! Now I understand that discerning whether a person loves and pursues the truth isn’t about how much they like to seek out people in fellowship or talk about self-knowledge, but rather, whether they can seek the truth and practice God’s words when facing problems, and then if they have real entry and change. I also realized how important it is to discern a person’s essence based on God’s words. You’ll be misled if you can’t discern people. You’ll love people blindly, support, and help the wrong people as brothers and sisters. This will ultimately disrupt the church’s work. Only seeing people and things through God’s words is accurate, and this is the only way to discern others. This is the only way to know how to properly interact with others. Thank God!