Resolving My Deceitfulness

March 8, 2022

By Li Xiang, Philippine

I always thought of myself as an honest person. I thought I was trustworthy in word and deed, and the people who knew me said that about me, too. I felt like I was an honest, dependable man. After gaining my faith, I hardly ever lied to brothers and sisters or deceived other people. So I always believed that even though I wasn’t a perfectly honest person, at least I wasn’t a cunning, tricky person. Then through the judgment and chastisement of God’s words, I saw I had a cunning nature and really saw my true face.

I remember once, my partner, Sister Li, sent me a message asking about the progress of a certain project. I realized I hadn’t been keeping track of it, so I didn’t know the details. I initially thought I’d just tell her that, but then hesitated. I was thinking that I’d always given the impression of being reliable, so if I stated directly that I’d forgotten to follow up on things, would she think I was irresponsible in my duty? I’d leave her with a negative impression and then I’d lose credibility in her eyes. I decided not to answer her directly, but to ask the sister managing that project about it, and then respond to Sister Li. Then no matter how things were progressing, at least it would show I was on top of things. So I acted like I hadn’t seen the message and then responded after I’d followed up. Sister Li didn’t say anything to me at the time, but I kept feeling uneasy and anxious. Then I read this in Almighty God’s words: “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” (“Three Admonitions” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words put me to shame. It didn’t seem like I’d lied, but what I’d shown through my thinking and my personal objectives in my actions were to cover for, to hide my negligence in my duty, afraid that Sister Li would see through me. I acted like I hadn’t seen her message, then rushed to get information before responding, to give her the idea I was on top of things. I was creating a false impression, being deceptive, which showed I was cunning. I saw how convoluted my thinking was on such a small issue, that I harbored motives and employed tactics to hide the truth. How was that honest? I wasn’t dependable. Realizing this, I saw I wasn’t as forthright as I’d thought I was, that I tricked and deceived. I told myself that I absolutely had to tell the absolute truth next time, that I couldn’t keep hiding things.

But just a couple days later, Sister Li let me know that our leader was going to check in on our work two days later. Hearing this set my heart pounding. I was thinking that the leader didn’t usually suddenly seek us out, so I was wondering if there was something going on, if there was a problem in our work. I was thinking that I’d been busy with watering work and hadn’t been following up or achieving much in the video production I was managing. What should I say if the leader asked me about that? I started making guesses at what sorts of questions she might ask, what I wasn’t aware of so I could quickly figure it out. If she had a question I couldn’t answer, it might look like I wasn’t doing real work. I was kind of worried and anxious. After some thought I realized it was normal for a leader to check up on work—why was I overthinking things? I was speculating on what the leader wanted and racking my brains on how to cover up my issues, afraid she would see my problems and tell me I wasn’t doing real work and was a false leader. I was trying to disguise myself. In fact, it’s normal for a leader to ask about work. I should be up front about it and make changes in areas with deficiencies. Why was I overthinking things so much? I was being cunning. I remembered something Almighty God said: “I take pleasure in those who are not suspicious of others, and I like those who readily accept the truth; toward these two kinds of people I show great care, for in My eyes they are honest people” (“How to Know the God on Earth” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). And the Lord Jesus said: “Let your communication be, Yes, yes; No, no: for whatever is more than these comes of evil” (Matthew 5:37). God’s words are clear. Honest people should call a spade a spade, but my thinking was convoluted. I wanted to cover up my issues, so I was coming up with devious thoughts. So, I prayed to God, asking Him to guide me to practice the truth and be honest, and to be perfectly forthright no matter what the leader asked.

In our meeting, the leader asked first about video production work, which I was directly responsible for, but I’d been spending most of my time and energy on watering work. I wasn’t keeping up with the video work much. After I explained this, she criticized me for not doing practical work, and then asked me how many new believers weren’t properly attending gatherings. I kind of panicked at that question. I hadn’t been keeping up with the details of that, and I asked about it sometimes, but didn’t take it seriously. I was thinking that I’d just said most of my energy was devoted to watering work, so if I couldn’t even tell the leader how many newcomers weren’t attending gatherings, what would she think of me? She might ask what I was doing all day that I didn’t even know that, and if I’d done any real work. She’d already seen so many issues in the video work, so if she found problems in the watering work too, would she just dismiss me right away? I just gave her an approximate figure. I was thinking it wasn’t a big deal if it was a little off. Anyway, it wasn’t an exact number, so it wasn’t really a lie. After our meeting I looked into the details of it and it turned out that my estimate was pretty far off. I was really concerned when I saw that. That time I really hadn’t been truthful, but had told a bold-faced lie. Why couldn’t I keep myself from lying? In prayer, I clearly had the faith to be truthful. Why couldn’t I help myself when faced with a situation? I felt terrible about it. For a while, the word “deceit” kept popping up in my mind. I felt like I’d really done something disgraceful.

I prayed to God about it and read some passages of God’s words in my reflections. “Isn’t life exhausting for crafty people? Spending the whole time telling lies, telling more lies to cover up their lies, and being deceitful is so exhausting for crafty people—so why would anyone still want to be crafty, and not wish to be honest? Have you ever thought about this question? This is the consequence when people are manipulated by their satanic nature; it stops them from being able to leave this kind of life behind, from being able to escape this kind of disposition. They are happy to accept this kind of manipulation and are happy to live in this; they do not want to practice the truth and walk the path of light. You think that living like this is exhausting and unnecessary—but they think it highly necessary, they think that not doing so would harm their interests, and their image and reputation, too. They would lose too much, the harm would be too great. They treasure these things, they treasure their own image, reputation and status—which is the true face of people’s absence of love for the truth. In sum, when people do not wish to be honest or fail to practice the truth, it is because they do not love the truth; in their hearts, never do they not cherish reputation and status, never are they not chasing the trends of the outside world, or living under the influence of Satan—which is a problem of their nature. Today, there are people who have believed in God for years, who have heard many sermons, and know what the belief in God is all about, so why do they still not practice the truth, why has there been no change in them? Because they do not love the truth. Even when they do understand a little of the truth, they are still not able to put it into practice, and thus there is no use in them having believed in God for all these years” (“The Most Fundamental Practice of Being an Honest Person” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days).

Some people never tell anyone the truth. Everything is deliberated and pre-edited in their mind before they say it to people; you can’t tell which of the things they say are true, and which are false. They say one thing today and another tomorrow, they say one thing to one person, and something else to another; everything they say contradicts itself. How can such people be believed? It’s very difficult to get an accurate grasp of the facts; you can’t get anything exact out of them. What disposition is this? (Craftiness.) Is the crafty disposition easy to change? (No.) Anything associated with dispositions involves people’s natures—and nothing is harder to change than things to do with people’s natures. No matter what they’re talking about or doing, people who are crafty always harbor their own aims and motives. When they have no aims or motives, they say nothing. If you try to work out what their aims and motives are, they clam up; and if they do accidentally let something genuine slip, they’ll go to any length to think of a way to twist it around, to confound you and stop you knowing the truth. In other words, in everything they do, they do not let anyone know the real lay of the land; no matter how long people have known them, no one can know what’s really going on in their mind. Such is the nature of crafty people. No matter how much crafty people say, you will never know what their motives are, nor what aim they are trying to achieve, or what they’re really thinking. Even their parents have a hard time knowing this; trying to understand someone crafty is extremely difficult. This is how crafty people are: Even before doing anything, they have revealed their craftiness. This is a type of disposition, is it not? It does not matter if you have said anything or not, or if you have done anything or not—this disposition is within you, in all times and places it controls you, makes you play games and engage in trickery, toy with people, cover up the truth, and put up a good front. This is craftiness” (“Six Aspects of a Corrupt Disposition Must Be Understood for a Change in Disposition” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). God’s words showed me that I couldn’t help but lie and deceive, and cover up the truth because I was cunning and treasured my own face and status. Those were the things I was always protecting. I would think about and pre-edit what I said, and no matter how tiring that was, I didn’t want to be direct. I thought of how I prayed to God for help being an honest person, but when the leader inquired about the very work I didn’t have a grasp on, I was thinking that if I directly said I didn’t know, she’d think I didn’t do practical work and wasn’t reliable, and at worst, might dismiss me. To protect my status, I didn’t want the leader to see the problems in my duty, so I was thinking of ways to cover up the truth. I really didn’t know the details, but I cunningly made up an approximate figure so she’d think I understood every aspect of my work well and could do some real work. I saw that I was willing to lie about something so simple just to protect my name and status. That was so evil! Messing some things up in a duty is really normal, so there’s no need to hide things or be dishonest. But in my effort to protect the leader’s image of me, I lied and covered up my problems, just sacrificing my dignity. How foolish of me! This made me realize that even though I seemed really guileless, I wasn’t honest in my words or simple in my thoughts. What I revealed was a satanic disposition. I was cunning and disgraceful. That was when I realized how sly, filthy and corrupt I was. I disgusted myself, so how could God not be nauseated by me? I’d always thought of myself as a truthful person who was hardly ever deceitful. Plus I’d never overtly done anything to work against God, so I felt like He would see me as a good, honest man. I even thought I didn’t need to work on practicing truths to become honest, but I could keep doing my duty and following God that way, and ultimately I’d be saved. I was so pathetic and blind. If it hadn’t been for reality showing me the facts and the judgment of God’s words, I wouldn’t have understood myself at all. I finally saw that I was a far cry from an honest person, that I wasn’t even approaching that.

I read a passage of Almighty God’s words after that. “When antichrists are exposed, and dealt with and pruned, the first thing they do is to look for various reasons in their defense, to look for all kinds of excuses to try and get themselves off the hook, thus accomplishing their goal of shirking their responsibilities, and achieving their aim of being forgiven. What the antichrists fear most is that God’s chosen ones will see through to their personality, to their weaknesses and flaws, to their true caliber and work ability—and so they try their utmost to put on an act and cover up their shortcomings, issues, and corrupt dispositions. When the game is up on their evildoing, the first thing they do is not admit or accept this fact, or do their utmost to make up for such mistakes, but try to think of a way to cover them up, to hoodwink and confound those who are privy to their actions, to not let God’s chosen ones see the true face of the matter, to not let them know how harmful their actions have been to God’s house, how much they have disrupted and disturbed the work of the church. Of course, what they fear most is the Above finding out, because as soon as someone reports them to the Above, it’s all over for them. And so, when something happens, the first thing the antichrists do is not to reflect on where they’ve gone wrong, where they violated principle, why they did what they did, what disposition they were governed by, what their motives were, what their state was at the time, whether it was because of waywardness or because of tainted motives; instead of dissecting or contemplating these things, much less reflecting on them, they rack their brains for any way to cover up the true facts, while also doing their utmost to rationalize and make excuses in front of the chosen ones, in order to hoodwink them, trying to minimize, to bluff their way out of it—all in order to achieve their wild ambitions and aims of continuing to perpetrate their evildoing in God’s house, to maintain the place they hold in people’s hearts, to still be able to manipulate people, and make them look up to them, and make them do as they say” (“They Do Not Accept Dealing and Pruning, nor Do They Have an Attitude of Repentance When They Commit Any Wrong, but Instead Spread Notions and Publicly Pass Judgment on God” in Exposing Antichrists). God’s words were really alarming for me. Especially reading the words “antichrists,” “cover up the true facts,” “hoodwink,” and “confound,” I felt like God was judging and exposing me to my face. I thought about when Sister Li asked if I’d followed up on that project and I didn’t immediately acknowledge I hadn’t or even reflect on myself and think about what kinds of changes I should make. I pretended not to see her message, then rushed to find answers and respond. That way Sister Li wouldn’t know I hadn’t been keeping up with the project or that I hadn’t been responsible enough in my duty. She’d think I was reliable, that there was no need to worry. Then when the upper leader came to check on my work, she found some problems in my duty, and pruned and dealt with me. Not only did I not accept the truth or self-reflect, acknowledging I wasn’t doing real work and was being careless in my duty, but I lied and covered up my problems. I even told myself I had to work harder to make sure I could quickly answer any of the leader’s questions in the future, so she wouldn’t find the errors or oversights in my work, but would think I was detail-oriented and responsible. I was racking my brains to protect myself, afraid people would see through me and I’d lose their image of me as a responsible, reliable person. My goal was to have a special place in others’ hearts. I saw I really was revealing an antichrist’s disposition. When an antichrist is criticized or exposed, they don’t submit and self-reflect, but they do their best to justify themselves, fob off responsibility and hide their own issues, totally shameless. Antichrists don’t show the slightest desire to accept the truth, but only their machinations to speak and act in a way that protects their status. Wasn’t I acting just like that? I wasn’t doing real work or devoting myself to my duty, so I should have felt guilty. But I was insensate, trying to think of everything to cover for myself. I saw I was slippery, cunning, and evil by nature. I felt like I’d been totally laid bare, exposed to the light of day, that my actions were judged and condemned by God. I could also sense God’s righteousness tolerates no offense, and I felt really afraid. I knew I had to repent and make a change right away.

Later I read a passage of Almighty God’s words. “Only if people seek to be honest can they know how deeply corrupted they are and whether or not they have any human likeness; only when they are practicing honesty can they become aware of how many lies they tell and how deeply hidden their deceit and dishonesty are. Only while having the experience of practicing being honest can people gradually come to know the truth of their own corruption and recognize their own nature and essence, and only then can their corrupt dispositions be constantly purified. Only in the course of their corrupt dispositions being constantly purified will people be able to gain the truth. Take your time experiencing these words. God does not perfect those who are deceitful. If your heart is not honest—if you are not an honest person—then you will not be gained by God. Likewise, you will not gain the truth, and will also be incapable of gaining God. What does it mean if you do not gain God? If you do not gain God and you have not understood the truth, then you will not know God, and so there will be no way you can be compatible with God, in which case you are the enemy of God. If you are incompatible with God, God is not your God; and if God is not your God, you cannot be saved. If you do not seek to attain salvation, why do you believe in God? If you cannot attain salvation, you will forever be a bitter enemy of God, and your outcome will be set. Thus, if people wish to be saved, then they must start by being honest. There is a sign that marks those who shall ultimately be gained by God. Do you know what it is? It is written in Revelation, in the Bible: ‘And in their mouth was found no lie; they are without blemish’ (Rev 14:5). Who are ‘they’? They are those who are saved, perfected and gained by God. How does God describe these people? What are the characteristics and the expressions of their actions? (They are without blemish. They speak no lies.) You should all understand and grasp what speaking no lies means: It means being honest. What does it mean to be without blemish? How does God define someone who is without blemish? In God’s eyes, who is someone perfect? (Someone who fears God and shuns evil.) That’s right. In God’s eyes, it is quite simply someone who fears God and shuns evil. So, is being perfect connected to being without blemish, are they the same thing? Absolutely. What does ‘without blemish’ mean? (People who are perfect, who fear God and shun evil.) Correct. They are people who fear God and shun evil, people who are able to follow the way of God. Only people such as this are without blemish” (“Six Indicators of Life Growth” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). God’s words are so true. Without practicing honesty, I’d never see just how much I was lying and deceiving, or how serious my crafty disposition was. God says, “God does not perfect those who are deceitful. If your heart is not honest—if you are not an honest person—then you will not be gained by God. Likewise, you will not gain the truth, and will also be incapable of gaining God” (“Six Indicators of Life Growth” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). Crafty people are full of lies. They live out an entirely satanic disposition and are enemies of God. They belong to Satan and can’t be saved by God. I saw how dangerous and shameful all my deceitfulness was. I knew I couldn’t carry on that way, but I had to admit my mistakes and practice the truth to be honest.

I got ready to send a message to the leader to tell her what really happened, but I felt kind of hesitant. I was worried about what the leader would think of me if I opened up about my dishonesty. Would she think I was much too crafty, that I was overthinking such a simple matter and even lied about it, that I wasn’t trustworthy? I didn’t want to open up about that instance, but thought next time I’d be straightforward, that I’d be honest, and that would count as being repentant. I kept comforting myself that I wouldn’t ever lie again, but my conscience was accused, and I felt guilty. Then I saw a passage of God’s words. “Many practical problems will arise as people experience being honest. Sometimes they will open their mouths without thinking and, directed by a wrong thought, a certain motive or aim, or vanity, they will tell a lie, with the consequence that they will then have to keep telling more and more lies to cover it up, ultimately resulting in mental turmoil—but they can’t take it back, they lack the courage to correct their mistake, to admit that they told a lie, and in this way, their mistakes go on and on. After this, it is always like there is a great rock pressing on their heart; they want to find an opportunity to come clean, to admit their mistake and repent, but they never put this into practice; ultimately, they think it over and say to themselves, ‘I’ll make up for it when I perform my duty in the future.’ They always say they’ll make up for it, but they never do. It is not as simple as apologizing after telling a lie. Can you make up for the harm and consequences of telling lies and being deceitful? If, amidst great self-hatred, you are able to practice repentance, and never do that kind of thing again, then what you did can be excused, and you may receive God’s tolerance and mercy. If you paint a pretty picture and say that you’ll make up for this in the future, but do not truly repent, and later continue to lie and be deceitful—if you stubbornly refuse to repent—then you are sure to be eliminated. This should be recognized by people who are possessed of conscience and sense. After telling lies and being deceitful, it is not enough to only think about making amends; what matters most is that you must truly repent. If you wish to be honest, then you must tell the truth and do real things. You must address the problem of lying and being deceitful; sometimes you may lose face, be dealt with, and even reproached, but your heart will be steadfast and at peace, and you will say to yourself: ‘Regardless of whether I am dealt with or replaced, I feel steadfast in my heart; I am honest and nothing I say is false; since I haven’t done my duty properly, I should be dealt with, and I should take the responsibility for it.’ This is a positive mental state. And yet, what is the consequence once you are deceitful? After being deceitful, how do you feel in your heart? (Uneasy.) Uneasy; you always feel guilt and corruption in your heart, you always feel accused: ‘How could I be deceitful? How could I have been deceitful yet again? Why am I like this?’ You feel like you cannot lift your head high, like you cannot face God. In particular, when people are blessed by God, when they receive God’s kindness, compassion and tolerance, they feel that it is shameful to deceive God; inside, they have a stronger sense of reproach—and, moreover, can find no peace or joy. What problem does this prove? To be deceitful is to rebel, to oppose God, it is the outpouring of a corrupt disposition, and so it will bring you pain” (“Only by Being Honest Can One Live Out a True Human Likeness” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). This totally described my state. I felt like God was saying all that directly to me, and I saw that being deceitful and being an honest person are diametrically opposed paths. Being deceitful isn’t the right path, and it’s not within proper humanity. Someone may achieve their aim with their tricks, but they’ll lose their integrity and dignity, it’ll bring nothing but guilt and uneasiness, and they’ll live in darkness as Satan’s laughing stock. My lying and deceit was like being a little goblin, totally shameful, and I was being painfully toyed with by Satan. My dishonesty satisfied my vainglory for the moment, but invited God’s disapproval. Wasn’t I an idiot? At every crucial point when I needed to tell the truth, I was accommodating myself, saying “Next time, next time.” I was really forgiving of myself, not practicing the truth that I understood, so I never lived out the reality of being an honest person. I told myself I couldn’t keep doing that and it didn’t matter how people saw me, that I needed to live before God, accept His scrutiny, and satisfy Him. That’s what’s key. Even if someone saw me clearly and I lost some face, practicing the truth and being honest would mean gaining God’s approval, and that’s what matters most and is so valuable and meaningful! Also, I was always covering up for my personal issues, and though others might not find out about them or criticize me, I remained ignorant of my own corruption and faults, so I couldn’t change my corrupt disposition or do better in my duty. Those things stayed buried deep in my heart like a tumor that just wouldn’t stop growing, and would ultimately be the end of me. But the brothers and sisters who were open and simple would just put all of their mistakes or questions in their duty on the table openly, and sometimes they were taken to task or even dismissed, but that really touched them in their hearts. They were able to see their problems sooner and seek the truth to resolve them, and that brought them great progress in life. It was embarrassing, but they gained God’s approval from practicing the truth. That’s being intelligent. I used to think I was full of ideas, that I was clever, and it was smart to pull the wool over others’ eyes, but I was a complete and utter fool, a total idiot! I was being penny wise but pound foolish. I was totally ridiculous. Then I stopped caring what people might think of me and just wanted to practice the truth and shame Satan, instead of disappointing God again. So I mustered up my courage to tell the leader the truth, including the reason I’d lied. I felt peace and a sense of release after sending that message. The leader shortly sent a message back to me, saying, “Working to be honest this way is great. I also have a cunning disposition and I need to go through God’s judgment.” I was so moved to see that, and also really ashamed. This one attempt at being an honest person really showed me that it’s the only proper way to be a human being.

After that, I started intentionally trying to practice honesty in daily life in my words and actions, which showed me I wasn’t accurate or objective in lots of ways. Sometimes I spoke based on my notions and didn’t follow the facts, and sometimes I’d exaggerate. Sometimes I’d intentionally misrepresent myself and be deceitful. It became more and more obvious that I really was a liar. I remember once a leader asked me how a project was coming along, and I was thinking I hadn’t had time to see how it was going. So if I just said I didn’t know but had to go ask, would he think I wasn’t pragmatic and didn’t do real work? I was thinking about evading the question and getting back to him after I’d looked into it, then even if it wasn’t done, the leader wouldn’t have anything bad to say about me, and that would show I was at least following up on things. When I was about to do that, I realized that I was being deceptive to protect my own reputation again. So I prayed to God, saying, “God, I want to forsake my cunning motives and practice the truth as an honest person. Please guide and help me.” Then these words of Almighty God came to mind: “When you lie, you are betraying your own integrity and dignity. These lies cost people their dignity, they cost them their integrity, and this is not pleasing to God, it is despised by God” (“Only by Being Honest Can One Live Out a True Human Likeness” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). The words “integrity” and “dignity” really spurred me to speak the truth, to stop living like a demon. So I just sent a straight answer back, saying, “I’m not sure of the details, I need to look into it first.” I felt such a sense of peace in my heart after sending that. I felt more and more that being honest is the most fundamental aspect of humanity, of taking the right path.

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