Only by Being Cleansed of Corruption Can We Enter Into the Heavenly Kingdom
I trust that every brother and sister in the Lord will have experienced this kind of situation: When we associate with other people and their words and actions do not accord with our own ideas, we can easily lose our temper and begin to chide them, and we are unable to practice tolerance and patience. Another example is when our own interests are affected, and we are then capable of lying and cheating, and are unable even to say one honest word. Sin is like an invisible chain that tightly binds us, and it makes us feel deeply indebted to the Lord yet powerless to free ourselves from it! Are you also distressed about the question of how to be free from sin? Sister Zhenyi will use her experiences to tell us how we can be free from sin, so let’s read on together.
In 2002, I married and moved from Vietnam to Taiwan. Because of the differences in language and culture between us, plus the fact that my husband and I had very different characters, we often got into arguments during which neither one of us would be willing to back down, and we both felt very pained.
In 2011, I began to believe in the Lord Jesus, and from His words I saw that the Lord requires us to be tolerant, patient and loving with other people. I therefore began to conduct myself toward other people in accordance with the Lord’s teachings. At first, I was able to be tolerant and patient with my husband, and we very seldom argued. It didn’t last, however, and we once again recommenced our life of constant arguing. When I’d been at work all day and had dragged my exhausted self back home only to see my husband just sitting there watching TV, completely unaware that the housework needed doing, I couldn’t stand it anymore and would lose my temper with him; whenever I bought some things for the home and was blamed by my husband for wasting money, I would feel defiant and would feel that I’d done nothing wrong and that he shouldn’t be criticizing me. The arguing between me and my husband also took a toll on our two children. In the end, when our children saw me coming home, they hid in their room and would not come out; my husband and I didn’t speak to each other at all week after week. We were drifting further and further apart, and I felt very distressed.
I later went to a preacher and told him of my pain in the hope that he would be able to help me. After listening to my woes, the preacher read to me a passage of scripture: “Then came Peter to Him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus said to him, I say not to you, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:21–22). He then told me that believers in the Lord had to keep the Lord’s teachings, that we must be loving, tolerant and patient toward others, and that we must have a forgiving spirit. So as not to commit sin, he said, we also had to fast and pray, and confess our sins and repent to the Lord.
And so, I began to fast and pray, and to confess and repent to the Lord, and I became determined to change myself. A while later, however, not only had my temper not changed for the better, but it was instead getting worse and worse. My husband also reprimanded me and said that, despite reading the Bible and praying every day, I still hadn’t changed at all. Faced with this censure from my husband, I felt a great sense of self-reproach, and I couldn’t help but wonder: “I’ve been fasting and praying, I’ve made donations, I perform my spiritual devotions at set times and attend regular church gatherings. So why can’t I stop myself from sinning?” I was a Christian, but in reality, I was simply incapable of glorifying the Lord in my life. On the contrary, I only shamed the Lord, and this pained me a great deal. Every day, I couldn’t eat or sleep, and I wasn’t able to concentrate at work. In particular, when I read in the Bible, “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14), I would feel even more anxious. The Lord is holy, and He requires that we attain purification, and yet I was constantly committing sins and couldn’t even be tolerant or patient with my own family—how then could I deserve to meet the Lord and get into the heavenly kingdom? And how could I possibly stop sinning? I often knelt on the floor and prayed to the Lord, tears streaming down my face: “O Lord! I can never stop myself from losing my temper and I’ve said many hurtful things. I live in a state of sinning and confessing, and I am powerless to free myself from it. O Lord! Please help me to be free of this predicament.”
In 2017, I met Sister Zhang online, and we would often read the Bible together and fellowship about our own experiences. Sister Zhang’s fellowships were always so enlightening, and they helped me a lot. I therefore told her all about my pain of living in sin. After listening to me, Sister Zhang said, “Sister, there are in fact many brothers and sisters who truly believe in the Lord who are just like you, who are confused about why, after they’ve accepted the Lord Jesus’ redemption, they are still capable of frequently committing sins. They also wonder, if they can never free themselves from the bonds of sin, whether or not they will be able to get into the heavenly kingdom in the end, and they ask how exactly they can free themselves from the bonds of sin. I have seen some passages in a book that explain these issues very clearly. We’ll understand once we’ve listened to these passages.”
Hearing her say this, I badly wanted to hear those passages she had mentioned. She then sent me the passages online and she began to read: “For all that man may have been redeemed and forgiven of his sins, it can only be considered as God not remembering the transgressions of man and not treating man in accordance with his transgressions. However, when man, who lives in a body of flesh, has not been set free from sin, he can only continue to sin, endlessly revealing his corrupt satanic disposition. This is the life that man leads, an endless cycle of sinning and being forgiven. The majority of mankind sin in the day only to confess in the evening. This way, even though the sin offering is forever effective for man, it will not be able to save man from sin. Only half the work of salvation has been completed, for man still has a corrupt disposition” (“The Mystery of the Incarnation (4)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “A sinner such as you, who has just been redeemed, and has not been changed, or been perfected by God, can you be after God’s heart? For you, you who are still of your old self, it is true that you were saved by Jesus, and that you are not counted as a sinner because of the salvation of God, but this does not prove that you are not sinful, and are not impure. How can you be saintly if you have not been changed? Within, you are beset by impurity, selfish and mean, yet you still wish to descend with Jesus—you should be so lucky! You have missed a step in your belief in God: You have merely been redeemed, but you have not been changed. For you to be after God’s heart, God must personally do the work of changing and cleansing you; if you are only redeemed, you will be incapable of attaining sanctity. In this way you will be unqualified to share in the good blessings of God, for you have missed out a step in God’s work of managing man, which is the key step of changing and perfecting. You, a sinner who has just been redeemed, are therefore incapable of directly inheriting God’s inheritance” (“Concerning Appellations and Identity” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “Though Jesus did much work among man, He only completed the redemption of all mankind and became man’s sin offering; He did not rid man of all his corrupt disposition. Fully saving man from the influence of Satan not only required Jesus to become the sin offering and bear the sins of man, but it also required God to do even greater work to rid man completely of his satanically corrupted disposition” (Preface to The Word Appears in the Flesh).
Sister Zhang then gave fellowship, saying, “We can see from these passages that the work of redemption performed by the Lord Jesus absolved us of our sins but did not absolve us of our sinful nature. We have been so deeply corrupted by Satan that, even though our sins have been forgiven and we are no longer subject to being condemned by the law, such satanic dispositions as being arrogant and self-important, selfish and contemptible, crooked and deceitful and so on, are still deeply rooted within us and have become our very lives. Under the dominion of these satanic dispositions, we can never help but commit sin and resist God, and I trust that we both have a profound appreciation for this point. For example, the Lord requires of us that we are tolerant and patient with others and that we love our neighbors as ourselves. In life, however, when we see others acting in a way that is at odds with our own ideas, we lose our temper and begin to chide them. When the speech or actions of others infringe upon our own interests, we can dispute and wrangle with them, and can even become resentful of them and become simply incapable of getting along peaceably with them. The Lord requires that we be honest people, but in order to protect our own prestige and position, we often tell lies and engage in deception. The Lord requires that we love Him with all our heart and mind, but when something unfortunate happens to our family or we encounter a problem at work, we always blame the Lord, and even go so far as to shun and betray the Lord. These are just a few examples of our behavior under the dominion of our satanic dispositions. Although we may often come before the Lord to confess and repent our sins, or we exercise self-restraint or fast and pray, it is all to no avail. This shows us that our satanic nature has not been uprooted and that, even though our sins may have been forgiven, we have no way to ensure that we will not continue to commit sin and resist the Lord!
“The Lord Jesus said, ‘Not every one that said to Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of My Father which is in heaven’ (Matthew 7:21). ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, Whoever commits sin is the servant of sin. And the servant stays not in the house for ever: but the son stays ever’ (John 8:34–35). The Lord Jesus tells us clearly that people who commit sin and resist God cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven. Only by doing the will of the Father who is in heaven, that is, to cast off our satanic dispositions and be purified, and to achieve true obedience to God and love for God, can we be qualified to enter into the kingdom of heaven. If we wish to free ourselves from the bonds and constraints of sin, we need the Lord to return to perform the work of eradicating sin to enable us to rid ourselves of our corrupt dispositions once and for all and be purified. Only in this way can we attain God’s complete salvation and be led by God into the kingdom of heaven.”
After listening to these passages and the sister’s fellowship, I understood that the reason why I had believed in the Lord for years and yet was still capable of frequently losing my temper and chiding people, why I couldn’t love others and show tolerance to others in accordance with the Lord’s teachings, and why I often lived in a state of rebellion toward the Lord, always displeasing the Lord, was because my sinful nature still existed within me. If I wanted to be free of the bonds and constraints of sin once and for all, then I had to accept the work of purification performed by the second coming of the Lord, as only then would I become qualified to enter into the kingdom of heaven. As I contemplated the words Sister Zhang had read to me which had explained so clearly our real situation and the work of the Lord Jesus, I began to feel very curious, and so I asked Sister Zhang, “Who wrote what you just read to me? Why have I never heard it before?”
Sister Zhang said happily, “Sister, the words I have just read are the words expressed by the second coming of the Lord Jesus. The Lord Jesus has returned!” I was amazed to hear this news, and I excitedly asked, “Is it true? Has the Lord Jesus truly returned?” With certainty, Sister Zhang said to me, “Yes, Christ of the last days, Almighty God, is the second coming of Jesus. Almighty God expresses all truths to purify and save humankind and He performs the work of judgment beginning in God’s house so as to eradicate our sinful nature and to save us utterly from the domain of Satan and, ultimately, He will lead those whose corrupt dispositions have been purified into the kingdom of God!” I was overjoyed to hear that the Lord had returned, and I said a silent prayer to the Lord in my heart: “O Lord! If Almighty God truly is Your second coming, then I ask You to guide me and enable me to hear and understand Your words.” Sister Zhang then gave me fellowship on many truths related to the Lord Jesus’ work of redemption. As I listened, my heart filled with light, and I decided that I would investigate Almighty God’s work of the last days in earnest.
Later on, Sister Zhang showed me many movies, videos and music videos about the Lord’s return, and they were a great help to me. In the movies, some prophecies from the Bible were mentioned: “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come” (John 16:12–13). “He that rejects Me, and receives not My words, has one that judges him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:48). “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God” (1 Peter 4:17). Sister Zhang then brought these verses of scripture into her fellowship, saying, “We can see from these verses that, because when the Lord Jesus was performing His work the people of that time had only just been redeemed from being subject to the law and were of small stature, all they could do was to be aware of their sins and so confess and repent, and any deeper truth concerning changing their corrupt dispositions was simply beyond them. The Lord Jesus therefore expressed truths concerning the redemption of humankind according to our needs, and He promised us that He would return in the last days and guide us into all truths. The Lord Jesus has now long since returned, He has expressed all the truths needed for us corrupt human beings to attain true salvation, and He has shown us the way to be free from sin. Only by accepting Almighty God’s work of the last days and experiencing God’s judgment and chastisement will we have the chance to attain God’s true salvation and enter into the kingdom of heaven!”
Sister Zhang then showed me a scene in the movie The True Light Appears, and the person preaching the gospel in the movie gave fellowship, saying: “In doing His judgment work of the last days, God expresses many aspects of truth to judge and expose man’s satanic nature of resisting and betraying God. It makes clear to man God’s disposition of righteousness, holiness, and not tolerating offense, leading man to see clearly in the judgment and chastisement of God’s words the truth of his own profound corruption by Satan, to truly know God’s disposition of righteousness that does not tolerate man’s offense, to produce a heart that reveres God, and as result of this to change and purify man’s satanic disposition, and to save man from Satan’s influence. In God’s majestic, wrathful judgment and chastisement we see God as if face-to-face, we see the great light coming from heaven. Like a double-edged sword, God’s word pierces our hearts, and reveals our satanic nature of resisting and betraying God and even the corrupt disposition in the deepest recesses of our hearts which we have no way of discovering, making us see that within the essence of our nature it is filled with such satanic dispositions as arrogance, conceit, selfishness, maliciousness, evasiveness, and craftiness, simply without the slightest likeness of a man, and completely the embodiment of Satan. It is only then that we prostrate ourselves before God, and begin to hate ourselves, and to curse ourselves. At the same time, we also sense profoundly that God’s word is the truth, it is all the revelation of God’s disposition and what the life of God is. We see that God’s righteous disposition does not tolerate offense, and that the essence of God’s holiness does not tolerate blemishes. The result is that a heart that reveres God is born, and we begin to seek the truth with all our might, and to behave according to the word of God. Following our gradual understanding of the truth, we know more and more the satanic nature and satanic disposition of ourselves, and become more and more discerning about them. We also know God more and more. The corrupt disposition within us gradually obtains cleansing, and we rid ourselves of the bonds of sin, and live before God in genuine release and freedom. This is precisely the outcome that is arrived at through God’s last-days work of judgment on men. And so, it is only by accepting God’s last-days work of judgment that we can thoroughly resolve the sinful nature, break away from Satan’s influence, and be saved by God. We will be led into God’s kingdom, and obtain God’s promises and blessings.”
I then saw in the movie these words spoken by Almighty God: “In the last days, Christ uses a variety of truths to teach man, to expose the essence of man, and to dissect the words and deeds of man. These words comprise various truths, such as man’s duty, how man should obey God, how man should be loyal to God, how man ought to live out normal humanity, as well as the wisdom and the disposition of God, and so on. These words are all directed at the essence of man and his corrupt disposition. In particular, the words that expose how man spurns God are spoken in regard to how man is an embodiment of Satan, and an enemy force against God. In undertaking His work of judgment, God does not simply make clear the nature of man with a few words; He exposes, deals with, and prunes over the long term. These methods of exposure, dealing, and pruning cannot be substituted with ordinary words, but with the truth of which man is utterly bereft. Only methods such as these can be called judgment; only through judgment of this kind can man be subdued and thoroughly convinced into submission to God, and moreover gain true knowledge of God. What the work of judgment brings about is man’s understanding of the true face of God and the truth about his own rebelliousness. The work of judgment allows man to gain much understanding of the will of God, of the purpose of God’s work, and of the mysteries that are incomprehensible to him. It also allows man to recognize and know his corrupt substance and the roots of his corruption, as well as to discover the ugliness of man. These effects are all brought about by the work of judgment, for the substance of this work is actually the work of opening up the truth, the way, and the life of God to all those who have faith in Him. This work is the work of judgment done by God” (“Christ Does the Work of Judgment With the Truth” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
I felt these words speak directly to my heart—God’s work of judgment in the last days truly is what is needed by us corrupt human beings! Before, I was mired in sin, incapable of freeing myself, always losing my temper and chiding my husband, and unable to get along peaceably with him. Now, I was at last aware that this was all caused by my own corrupt dispositions, and that these corrupt dispositions could not possibly be resolved by relying on my own self-restraint. Only by accepting Almighty God’s work of judgment in the last days and experiencing the judgment and chastisement of God’s words can one be free of one’s corrupt dispositions once and for all. I was so incredibly fortunate to have had the chance on this day to hear God’s voice and to accept the work of judgment performed by the second coming of Jesus!
Afterward, I downloaded the app of The Church of Almighty God and saw that it contained many books, hymns, movies, music videos and choral videos. The content of this app was so rich and abundant that I couldn’t take it all in. I obtained the watering and provision of God’s words and I felt as though I had entered the beautiful land of Canaan, and my parched spirit was satiated. As I read more and more of Almighty God’s words, I came to gradually understand such truths as the mystery of God’s three stages of work, the mystery of God’s incarnation, the significance of God’s name, and the inner truth about the Bible. From the bottom of my heart, I became certain that Almighty God is the second coming of the Lord Jesus, and I gladly accepted Almighty God’s work of the last days.
One day, I returned home from work to find my husband once again watching TV, our children yet to finish their homework, and the place in a total mess. Fury erupted spontaneously in my mind, but just as I was about to lose my temper and rebuke my husband, I suddenly realized that this was not in keeping with God’s will, and so I hurriedly prayed and asked God to becalm my heart. I then went online and told Sister Zhang about the state I was in, and she read to me a passage of God’s words: “Once a man has status, he will often find it difficult to control his mood, and so he will enjoy seizing upon opportunities to express his dissatisfaction and vent his emotions; he will often flare up in rage for no apparent reason, so as to reveal his ability and let others know that his status and identity are different from those of ordinary people. Of course, corrupt people without any status also often lose control. Their anger is frequently caused by damage to their private interests. In order to protect their own status and dignity, corrupt mankind will frequently vent their emotions and reveal their arrogant nature” (“God Himself, the Unique II” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
Sister Zhang then gave fellowship, saying, “God’s words speak very clearly. What impels us to lose our temper is primarily our arrogant and self-important satanic nature. After we human beings were corrupted by Satan, our nature became exceedingly arrogant, self-important and self-righteous. We always want others to do what we say, and when other people say or do things which do not accord with our own ideas, we can’t help but get angry and chide them. This makes other people feel constrained by us, while we also live in pain, with no idea how to get along with others. God is the Creator and He rules the entire universe world. When God comes upon the earth to work and save humankind, however, He never conducts Himself like God, forcibly demanding that we do as He says. On the contrary, He expresses His words to water and provide for us in silence and obscurity, thus enabling our lives to grow. We corrupt human beings, however, no matter what our identity or status might be, and no matter what special skills we may have, are all just tiny created beings. And yet we always see ourselves as cleverer or better than others, and we always want others to do what we say—is this behavior not so completely arrogant and senseless? This is not how someone who believes in God acts! When we live by our arrogant disposition, people don’t want to associate with us, and God hates us! Therefore, we should seek the truth, pray and rely on God to resolve our arrogant disposition. When something happens and we want to get angry again, we must first quieten our hearts before God, pray to God, learn how to let go of ourselves and deny ourselves, and not deal with people by relying on our arrogant disposition. Only by doing this will we be able to get along peaceably with others.”
After listening to God’s words and to Sister Zhang’s fellowship, I felt ashamed. So, it turned out that the reason I was always getting angry was because I was too arrogant and self-important, because I always wanted to be condescending and make others do what I said. The moment someone did something that didn’t accord with my own ideas, then I would lose my temper and chide them—I had truly possessed no semblance of a Christian. Thanks be to God! God’s words enabled me to see the root cause of my pain, and I told myself that I had to pray more to God in the future, seek the truth to resolve my corruption, and not chide people any longer by relying on my arrogant disposition.
Over the days that followed, whenever I saw my husband do something that was at odds with my own ideas and I wanted to get angry, I would consciously pray to God, practice God’s words, let go of myself, and communicate with my husband calmly and gently. Over time, my angry outbursts became less and less frequent. One time, my husband said to me, “You’ve really changed a lot since you started believing in Almighty God.” My kids also said, “Mommy, you’re not the same as you used to be. You don’t lose your temper so much and you’re so gentle nowadays.” Due to this slight change in myself, my relationship with my husband saw a vast improvement. My husband was also no longer so enamored with the TV, and he began to work hard. This allowed me to feel the joy that practicing God’s words can bring.
In order to repay God’s love, I now perform my duty in the church and, together with my brothers and sisters, I spread God’s kingdom gospel so that even more people can hear the utterances of the returned Lord and come back before the throne of God! Thanks be to Almighty God!