How to Avoid Sin: I Finally Find the Way
By Maru, Philippines
My name is Maru and I come from the Philippines, and my whole family is Christian. I began to believe in the Lord when I was little, and every week I would go to church to hear sermons and attend worship. I remember at church gatherings the pastor often expounding to us the Book of James, chapter 4 verse 4: “You adulterers and adulteresses, know you not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” Although I knew this verse well, and I knew that the Lord hated it when we pursued worldly trends, I still lived just like an unbeliever. All I ever thought about every day was my schoolwork and various other activities at school, and when I was with my classmates, I would skip class and go to the shopping mall with them, pursuing fads and following trends. I never had enough time to read the Bible or pray to God, and I simply had no place for God in my heart. Every time I went to church to listen to the pastor give a sermon, I always felt like I wanted to change myself. Afterward, however, I would just carry on living as I had before. Because I was often incapable of putting the Lord’s teachings into practice and I couldn’t help but sin whenever anything happened, I felt pained.
I was a very self-righteous person, and most of the time I simply looked down on my parents and the other elders in my family. I had no respect for them, much less did I do what they said, but instead would often point out their faults and shortcomings, and I disliked being around them. Sometimes, I would think of the Lord Jesus’ words: “And why behold you the mote that is in your brother’s eye, but consider not the beam that is in your own eye? Or how will you say to your brother, Let me pull out the mote out of your eye; and, behold, a beam is in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3–4). The Lord warned us not to always be looking at the shortcomings and deficiencies of others, but to examine our own problems first, and yet I always fixated on the faults of others, I could show them no tolerance or patience, and nothing I did or said ever accorded with the Lord’s teachings. Whenever I thought of this, I would feel remorse, and I confessed and repented to the Lord many times, asking Him to forgive me. But when anything happened again, I would still be unable to practice tolerance or patience, and would always fixate on other people’s faults and shortcomings. This distressed me a great deal, and I just didn’t know what to do to be able to put the Lord’s teachings into practice.
Moreover, each time I went to church to help with the cleaning or prepare materials for Sunday school, I always wished that my brothers and sisters would take notice of me and praise me. The Lord Jesus’ words came to mind: “Take heed that you do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise you have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when you do your alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Truly I say to you, They have their reward. But when you do alms, let not your left hand know what your right hand does: That your alms may be in secret: and your Father which sees in secret himself shall reward you openly” (Matthew 6:1–4). The Lord delights in those who work in silence and obscurity, and He takes no delight in people who show themselves off to others or who do a little bit of work and then want to take all the credit. And yet everything I did was just to win the praise and high regard of others—I was not doing it to satisfy the Lord. At that time, I often thought of chapter 11 verse 9 in the Book of Ecclesiastes: “Rejoice, O young man, in your youth; and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth, and walk in the ways of your heart, and in the sight of your eyes: but know you, that for all these things God will bring you into judgment.” Whenever this teaching came to mind, I would always feel a sense of guilt, and I would feel upset that I was never able to free myself from the bonds of sin.
Later, I often prayed to the Lord, saying: “O Lord! I’m so sorry. I know Your words are powerful and that they can change me, but I’m always satisfying my own flesh, I live in sin and am unable to put Your teachings into practice. O Lord! Please save me.” At the same time, I also felt a little anxious and was afraid that, when the Lord Jesus returned, He would abandon me, for God has said: “You shall be holy; for I am holy” (Leviticus 11:44). Although the Lord Jesus was crucified upon the cross and thereby absolved us of our sins, I was still unable to put His teachings into practice and I lived in a state of sin from which I could not escape. “God is holy,” I thought. “If I live in sin, will the Lord abandon me?” I was often disturbed by this thought and I didn’t understand why I always lived in sin. More than this, I couldn’t find the path to rid myself of corruption and be cleansed. I knew that I couldn’t leave the Lord Jesus, however, so all I could do was follow Him as I was.
One evening in July 2016, my Aunt Wassi who had returned home from Manila told us excitedly, “The Lord Jesus we have longed for has returned as Almighty God, Christ of the last days! God long ago returned in the flesh to perform His work of judgment beginning in God’s house, and He performs this work to judge and purify mankind and to thoroughly expel our sinful nature. Almighty God’s work of the last days entirely fulfills the Lord Jesus’ prophecy: ‘And if any man hear My words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. 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 12:47–48).” When we heard Aunt Massi say that the Lord Jesus had returned, our entire family was overjoyed and thrilled, and we all began to discuss it. I, however, thought about how I was living in sin every day, and I asked a little nervously, “Aunt Massi, I still can’t help but commit sin and I can’t put the Lord’s words into practice. Will the Lord want me, now that He has returned?” When she heard me ask this, she gave fellowship in earnest: “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). The Lord tells us that only by following His way and keeping His commandments, and by becoming people who truly obey God, love God and satisfy God, can we enter into the heavenly kingdom. If we always sin and then confess and are unable to practice the Lord’s teachings, then we will definitely not get into the kingdom of heaven. But we mustn’t lose hope or become dispirited. Because the work performed by the Lord during the Age of Grace was the work of redemption and it only absolved us of our sins, but did not absolve us of our sinful nature, we still cannot help but commit sin and we are unable to practice the Lord’s teachings. Almighty God has come in the last days, and upon the foundation of the Lord Jesus’ work of redemption, He performs the work of judging and purifying man with words in order to purify and change the corrupt dispositions within us, to save us once and for all from Satan’s domain and bring us into the salvation of God. Let’s first read a couple of passages of Almighty God’s words: Almighty God says, ‘The sins of man could be forgiven through the sin offering, but as for just how man can be made to sin no more, and how his sinful nature may be extirpated completely and transformed, he has no way of solving this problem. The sins of man were forgiven, and this is because of the work of God’s crucifixion, but man continued to live within the corrupt satanic disposition of old. This being so, man must be completely saved from his corrupt satanic disposition, so that his sinful nature may be completely extirpated, never to develop again, thus enabling the disposition of man to be transformed. This would require man to grasp the path of growth in life, to grasp the way of life, and to grasp the way to change his disposition. Furthermore, it would require man to act in accordance with this path, so that his disposition may gradually be changed and he may live under the shining of the light, so that all that he does may be in accord with the will of God, so that he may cast away his corrupt satanic disposition, and so that he may break free from Satan’s influence of darkness, thereby emerging fully from sin. Only then will man receive complete salvation’ (‘The Mystery of the Incarnation (4)’ in The Word Appears in the Flesh). ‘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).”
Aunt Massi went on: “In the Age of Grace, the Lord Jesus performed the work of redemption and absolved us of our sins. But because we human beings have been so deeply corrupted by Satan, our nature is resistant and disobedient toward God; even though our sins have been forgiven, we are still capable of sinning frequently under the domination of our sinful nature, we are unable to put the Lord’s words into practice, and we live in a state of torment and pain under the bondage and control of our satanic nature. When we interact with other people, for example, we always speak and act for the sake of our own self-regard and our position, we scheme for the sake of our own interests, and we can’t be honest people as the Lord requires us to be. When we see another person with some deficiency or shortcoming, we dislike them and avoid them, and we look down on them, thinking that we are better than them. These are just a couple of examples of what we do when we interact with others. In our hearts, therefore, we are often confused about whether or not we can accord with the Lord’s will and get into the heavenly kingdom when we are so prone to committing sins. This is an issue that the majority of true believers worry about. God knows our current situations, and in the last days He expresses His words and performs the work of judging and purifying man in accordance with our needs. Almighty God judges and reveals the truth of how deeply corrupted we human beings are by Satan, as well as the root cause of our sins and our resistance to God, and Almighty God also shows us the path to attain true salvation. Through being judged and chastised by Almighty God’s words and from His revealing of the facts, we see that our dispositions are so arrogant, deceitful, selfish, wicked and truth-hating. Under the domination of these satanic dispositions, we cannot help but commit sins and resist God; though we know God’s requirements perfectly well, we still cannot put them into practice. We see that we have been so deeply corrupted by Satan, that we are indeed the progeny of Satan, that we live without any semblance of a human being, and that we are simply unworthy to accept God’s salvation, and thus, we cannot help but fall to the ground before God, reflect on and come to know ourselves, and feel remorse. Through the judgment and revelations of God’s words, we come to have some understanding of God’s righteous disposition that brooks no offense, true repentance arises from the bottom of our hearts, we become willing to forsake our flesh and practice the truth, and we long to never again live under our satanic corrupt dispositions which God hates. When we practice in accordance with God’s words, our life dispositions begin to change, our conscience and sense of reason grow stronger, when we encounter issues we can show some true obedience and reverence toward God, and we can begin to live out a genuine human likeness—these are all things which we come to truly comprehend through experiencing God’s work. The work of judgment Almighty God performs in the last days resolves our problem of sin and resistance to God from the root up, it brings man’s life of sinning and confessing to an end, and it enables us to be rid of the dark influence of Satan once and for all, so that we can then attain God’s salvation. Only through experiencing God’s judgment and chastisement and being purified can we be led by God into His kingdom. Therefore, it is absolutely imperative that we accept Almighty God’s work of judgment in the last days!” From Almighty God’s words and my aunt’s fellowship, I fully understood that, by believing in the Lord Jesus, we have only been redeemed, but our sinful nature remains, which means that we are still capable of committing sins and resisting God—no wonder I could never put the Lord’s teachings into practice. In the last days, Almighty God expresses His words to judge and cleanse man, and so long as I accept and experience God’s work of judgment, then I will be able to be rid of my sinful nature, and by doing that, I will then have a chance to enter the kingdom of heaven. I saw that the work of Almighty God was what I needed in my life and in my spirit, and I was moved to tears. I made a resolution then that I would make sure to pursue the truth in earnest, to cast off my corrupt dispositions and live out the likeness of a Christian.
Later I saw that the words of Almighty God said, “Though many people believe in God, few understand what faith in God means, and what they must do to be after God’s heart. This is because, though people are familiar with the word ‘God’ and phrases such as ‘the work of God,’ they do not know God, much less do they know His work. No wonder, then, that all those who do not know God are possessed of a muddled belief. … ‘Belief in God’ means believing that there is a God; this is the simplest concept of faith in God. What’s more, believing that there is a God is not the same as truly believing in God; rather, it is a kind of simple faith with strong religious overtones. True faith in God means experiencing the words and work of God based on a belief that God holds sovereignty over all things. So you shall be freed of your corrupt disposition, shall fulfill the desire of God, and shall come to know God. Only through such a journey can you be said to believe in God” (Preface to The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words encouraged me to put my heart into my faith in God. Before, I’d said I believed in God and I’d acknowledged verbally that the Lord Jesus was my Savior, but my life had still been filled with the influence of nonbelievers; I had followed worldly trends, very seldom had I ever prayed or read the Bible, I was unable to practice the Lord’s teachings, and I’d had no true faith in the Lord. Thanks to the enlightenment and guidance of God’s words, I realized that I shouldn’t just allow my faith in God to rest on verbal acknowledgements, but that I should instead act on and practice my faith. I became resolved to believe that God is the Sovereign of all things, to experience and practice God’s words in the things I encountered in order to change myself, to rid myself of my satanic dispositions and obey God, and to have true faith in and knowledge of God.
Over the time that followed and as I experienced God’s work, I began to seek the truth, and I asked God to purify and change me. Once, while I was busy doing something, one of the elders in my family asked me to go out and get them something. I didn’t want to as I felt like I hadn’t finished what I was doing, and I began to get angry with them. Just as I was about to explode into a fit of hot-blooded rage, a little voice of self-reproach said in my heart: “Is it good to be this way? Is it really right to act this way before God? Don’t I want to be purified?” These questions kept reminding me not to lose my temper and to think about how to practice the truth instead. Afterward, I read these words of Almighty God: “Of course, corrupt people without any status will also frequently lose control. Their anger is frequently caused by damage to their individual benefits. In order to protect their own status and dignity, corrupt mankind will frequently vent their emotions and reveal their arrogant nature. Man will flare up in anger and vent his emotions in order to defend the existence of sin, and these actions are the ways with which man expresses his dissatisfaction. These actions brim with defilement; they brim with schemes and intrigues; they brim with man’s corruption and evil; more than that, they brim with man’s wild ambitions and desires” (“God Himself, the Unique II” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “Be it big or small, when something happens to you, you must first put yourself to one side and regard the flesh as the most lowly of all things. The more you satisfy the flesh, the more liberties it takes; if you satisfy it this time, next time it will ask for more, and as this carries on, you come to love the flesh even more. The flesh always has extravagant desires, it always asks that you satisfy it, and that you gratify it within, whether it be in the things you eat, what you wear, or in flying off the handle, or pandering to your own weaknesses and laziness…. The more you satisfy the flesh, the greater its desires become, and the more debauched the flesh becomes, until it gets to the point when people’s flesh harbors even deeper conceptions, and disobeys God…” (“Only Loving God Is Truly Believing in God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words made me realize that I always wanted people to do what I wanted and that I didn’t want anyone asking me to do anything. The moment someone wanted to get me to do something or they didn’t do what I wanted, I would get angry. It turned out that this was because they had damaged my interests, and this behavior was also an expression of my arrogant nature. Acting like this was to act as my flesh dictated, and if I carried on that way, I would only become more and more prone to losing my temper, and my arrogant disposition would become too ingrained to change. Now, I wanted to practice the truth and pursue change, so I knew I should let go of my own interests, calm down, seek God’s will and learn how to be obedient. When I reflected on all these things, I managed to bring my emotions under control, and I didn’t lose my temper. I then read in a chapter of a sermon entitled “The Proper Form of a Believer of God” that we had to “follow etiquette, know the rules, and respect the old and care for the young.” This enabled me to realize that I had to respect my elders and learn how to get along with them. At that moment, the fire of anger in my heart went out. From this tiny event, I began to have a little appreciation for God’s judgment and chastisement. I perceived that God was using these actual instances of people, events and things to make me know myself and seek the truth, and so that I could, little by little, free myself from the bonds of my satanic corrupt dispositions.
Later, I read in the chapter of God’s words entitled “Beholding the Appearance of God in His Judgment and Chastisement” that “The love of God extends forth like the water of a spring, and is given to you, and to me, and to him, and to all those who truly seek the truth and await the appearance of God” (The Word Appears in the Flesh). God does indeed love mankind, and it was God’s love that gave me the opportunity to accept His salvation of the last days. It turned out that God had never once left me, but had always been by my side, guiding me along. My life is changed now. On weekends, I take an active part in attending gatherings and normally I do all I can to perform my duty in the church; I’m no longer like I was before, chasing after worldly trends. Moreover, whenever I come across something that doesn’t fit with my own desires, I learn to come before God and obey first of all, and then I seek how to accord with God’s will. I believe that, as long as I seek the truth and seek to know God in all things, God will change me little by little and enable me to cast off my corrupt dispositions once and for all and be gained by God.