Set Free by Practicing Truth

January 17, 2022

By Liu Jing, China

One month after accepting God’s work in the last days, our church leader, Zhang Lin, assigned me to work as a group leader after noticing my enthusiasm. At the time, I was so flattered that my leader would give me a leadership position after only a month in the church. After that, I worked even harder at fulfilling my duty.

Because our church membership kept increasing, the church was split into two, and I was elected to be a leader of one of the two churches. Zhang Lin was in charge of these two churches. One time, Zhang Lin attended one of our gatherings and Brother Luo asked: “What passages of God’s words should we read today?” Zhang Lin just smiled and said: “We won’t be reading any of God’s words today—let’s talk about our experiences.” Brother Luo replied: “It’s against church life principles to not read God’s words during gatherings—” Before Brother Luo even finished speaking, Zhang Lin shot him a resentful glare and said: “You’re small in stature and don’t understand the truth, so I’m here to assist you guys. I think this will also be beneficial for your life entry. We can always read God’s words at home, but in gatherings we should discuss our experiences, and learn from the experiences of others. This will help speed our life entry. You don’t listen to me and even try to lecture me, you’re just interrupting! If you do that again, you won’t be invited to any more gatherings.” Brother Luo bowed his head and kept quiet. At the time, I thought to myself: “In gatherings, we should be reading God’s words and fellowshiping about the truth. Even when we discuss our experiences, we should still base what we say on God’s words. This is one of our church life principles. So isn’t Zhang Lin going against our principles by not reading God’s words during the gathering? He even made the grandiose claim that he was doing it for the sake of our life entry—that’s just a bald-faced lie!” I got a bit angry as I reflected on this, so I decided to try and fellowship with him, but when I saw that frown on his face, I decided to keep my mouth shut. I thought to myself: “He’s always held me in high regard—if I point out his problem and it offends him, won’t he say I’m ungrateful and don’t know what’s good for me?” I thought, “Forget it, it’s best not to say anything while he’s still angry. I might end up like Brother Luo and get harshly told off. If I was marked down for interrupting, not only would I be removed from my leadership position, I might even be banned from gatherings.”

Two months later, I ran into Sister Zheng who attended the other church. Exasperated, she told me that Zhang Lin had arbitrarily dismissed and replaced two deacons, and had assigned a relative to water brothers and sisters, but that relative didn’t pursue the truth and didn’t fellowship her experience and understanding of God’s word, so no one was getting anything out of the gatherings. Sister Zheng also told me that during one gathering, she had tried to make a suggestion to Zhang Lin’s relative, but she wouldn’t accept it and even made out like Sister Zheng was trying to suppress her. When Zhang Lin found out, he said the brothers and sisters in Sister Zheng’s group were disturbing church life and should reflect on their actions. Just like that he isolated them from the church, didn’t let them gather, and wouldn’t even give them the latest sermons of God. The brothers and sisters couldn’t get the provisions they needed. Wasn’t this violating church principles? With tears in her eyes, Sister Zheng asked me if there was anything I could do to help them resolve this issue. Seeing Sister Zheng like that left me both surprised and sad. How had things devolved so quickly after splitting up the church for just two months? I didn’t know what to do either. As for intervening—I wasn’t in charge of that church’s work and wasn’t familiar with the specifics of their situation. If I didn’t resolve the situation, I might take on criticism. If Zhang Lin found out, who knows what he would do to me. I thought to myself, “Why don’t I just wait until the leader higher up arrives and discuss with her.” I decided to take the least offensive course of action for everyone. I told Sister Zheng, “When the leader higher up comes, I will discuss with her. That leader understands the truth and can see to the heart of issues; she’ll be able to resolve the situation more effectively with her fellowship.” But Sister Zheng hastily replied saying, “This can’t wait another day. Maybe you could write a letter to the upper leadership to inform them of the problem?” Sister Zheng’s request left me feeling indecisive. On the one hand, if I didn’t inform the upper leadership, my brothers’ and sisters’ lives would be damaged. but if I did inform them, given how Zhang Lin wasn’t open to suggestions and suppressed anyone who tried to suggest anything, as soon as he found out I’d informed the upper leadership, I’d be in for much harsher treatment than what Brother Luo received. He might mark me down for an even more serious offense. When Sister Zheng saw how hesitant and uncertain I was, she just softly shook her head and walked away. That disappointed, aggrieved and helpless look on Sister Zheng’s face made me feel like a knife had been driven through my chest. I can’t even put that feeling in words. I went home dejected and couldn’t even bring myself to eat dinner. That night, I lay in bed tossing and turning and unable to sleep. All I could think of was that pained, disappointed expression on Sister Zheng’s face, so I came before God in prayer. I prayed, “Dear God, please guide me. What course of action accords with Your will?”

Later, I saw the following passage of God’s words: “Conscience and reason should both be components of a person’s humanity. These are both most fundamental and most important. What kind of person is one who lacks conscience and does not have the reason of normal humanity? Generally speaking, he is a person who lacks humanity, a person of extremely poor humanity. Going into more detail, what manifestations of lost humanity does this person exhibit such that people say he has no humanity? Have a go at analyzing what characteristics are found in such people and what specific manifestations do they present. (They are selfish and mean.) Selfishness is one, and so is meanness. What is manifested, furthermore, in what they do? Such people are perfunctory in their actions and stand aloof from anything that does not concern them personally. They do not consider the interests of God’s house, nor do they show consideration for God’s will. They take on no burden of testifying for God or performing their duties, and they have no sense of responsibility. … There are even people who, upon seeing a problem in the performance of their duty, remain silent. They see that others are causing interruptions and disturbances, yet say nothing, and do nothing to stop them. They do not consider the interests of God’s house in the least, nor do they at all think about their own duties or responsibilities. They speak, act, stand out, put forth effort, and expend energy only for their own vanity, prestige, position, interests, and honor” (“Give Your True Heart to God, and You Can Obtain the Truth” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). God’s words led me to a sudden realization: Those who don’t take responsibility and only think of their own reputation and status, without the least thought to the interests of God’s house or the life entry of other brothers and sisters, who stand aloof from any matter in which they have no vested interest, they have no conscience or reason and are truly selfish and lowly. Wasn’t I just such a person? When Zhang Lin wouldn’t let us read God’s words in the gathering and Brother Luo tried to make a suggestion, he scolded and condemned him. I could clearly see that he was violating church principles and not accepting the truth; I should have taken a stand and exposed him, but I didn’t want to offend him, so I couldn’t even bring myself to say what is right. When I heard that Zhang Lin had dismissed people of his own accord and chosen his own relative to fulfill an important duty, that he had suppressed anyone who tried to give his relative suggestions and wouldn’t send them God’s words, I should have looked into what was going on and reported it to the upper leadership. But I didn’t want to be suppressed by Zhang Lin myself, so I just made up an excuse to dodge my duty. I didn’t take the slightest bit of responsibility, figuring the leader higher up would take care of it when she arrived. I clearly saw that my brothers and sisters were being held down, that they had lost their church life, couldn’t access the newest words of God and lived in agony, but I only considered my own interests and future prospects, without the slightest thought to their life entry or the safeguarding of the interests of God’s house. Realizing how selfish and despicable I had been, how lacking in conscience and reason, I felt too ashamed to see my brothers and sisters again.

Later I came across the sixth decree in “The Ten Administrative Decrees That Must Be Obeyed by God’s Chosen People in the Age of Kingdom”: “Do that which ought to be done by man, and carry out your obligations, and fulfill your responsibilities, and hold to your duty. Since you believe in God, you should make your contribution to God’s work; if you do not, then you are unfit to eat and drink the words of God, and unfit to live in God’s household” (The Word Appears in the Flesh). After reading this passage, I felt so guilty. I am a creature of God and I’ve enjoyed so much of the supply of His words. I should stand with God, safeguard the work of God’s house and protect my brothers and sisters. But I was afraid of offending Zhang Lin and being suppressed by him, and feared that I’d lose my leadership status, so I shirked my duty. I only worried about offending people, not God. God had no place in my heart. I saw how I wasn’t worthy of being called a believer. Having realized all this, I knew I couldn’t be so selfish and despicable and only consider myself anymore. Sister Zheng and the others had lost access to God’s latest words and so their spiritual lives were deprived of His provision. I should take responsibility and help them resolve their problem. The following day, I went to Sister Zheng’s gathering spot to learn more about the Zhang Lin situation and confirm that everything Sister Zheng had told me was true. Then I wrote a letter reporting what I had found to the upper leadership. I also sent God’s newest words to Sister Zheng and the others and we held a gathering together.

Later on, when Zhang Lin found out that I had gathered with Sister Zheng and her brothers and sisters, he got really angry. One day at around 6 p.m., he sent an elder sister to my home to tell me that because I had secretly consorted with members of another church, and had been so arrogant and self-aggrandizing, I was being marked down for eight offenses. He barred me from fulfilling duties, and was also going to report me and convene deacons and leaders from both churches to expose me. The message the elder sister relayed came as a real shock to me—Did Zhang Lin find out that I’d reported him? He will even convene leaders and deacons from both churches to expose me. Are they going to kick me out of the church? If they really kick me out, then do I still stand a chance of being saved? This thought left me feeling despaired and weak and I didn’t know what I should do. The next day it was once again time for Sister Zheng’s gathering and my mind was racing: “Zhang Lin already publicly barred me from fulfilling my duty, so if I really were to attend the gathering with my brothers and sisters, who knows what offense Zhang Lin would mark me down for if he found out. I decided I had better sit tight for the time being. So I stayed at home and lost out on church life. My heart felt empty, and my appetite and sleep suffered. I muddled along aimlessly and felt agonized and tormented.” After about another ten days, the church released God’s newest fellowship. I thought to myself, Zhang Lin is suppressing the brothers and sisters at Sister Zheng’s gathering spot—they can’t gather or read God’s newest words. I should deliver God’s words to them as soon as possible. But I also thought that if Zhang Lin found out that I went, and marked me down for another offense, then I might be kicked out of the church and would lose my connection to God’s house. I couldn’t make up my mind and kept going back and forth, but in the end, I still decided I’d better not deliver God’s words to Sister Zheng. For the next couple of days, I went around like a zombie and didn’t feel like doing anything. Whenever I thought about how Sister Zheng and the others couldn’t gather and read God’s latest words, and must be really suffering just like me, I felt terribly guilty.

Later, I saw a passage of God’s words that said: “Most people wish to pursue and practice the truth, but much of the time they merely have a resolution and the desire to do so; the truth has not become their life. As a result, when they come across evil forces or encounter wicked and bad people committing evil deeds, or false leaders and antichrists doing things in a way that violates principles—thus causing the work of God’s house to suffer losses, and harming God’s chosen ones—they lose the courage to stand up and speak out. What does it mean when you have no courage? Does it mean that you are timid or inarticulate? Or is it that you do not understand thoroughly, and therefore do not have the confidence to speak up? It is none of these; it is that you are being controlled by several kinds of corrupt dispositions. One of these dispositions is cunning. You think of yourself first, thinking, ‘If I speak up, how will it benefit me? If I speak up and displease someone, how will we get along in the future?’ This is a cunning mentality, right? Is this not the result of a cunning disposition? Another is a selfish and mean disposition. You think, ‘What does a loss to the interests of God’s house have to do with me? Why should I care? It’s got nothing to do with me. Even if I see it and hear it happen, I don’t need to do anything. It’s not my responsibility—I’m not a leader.’ Such things are inside you, as if they had sprung from your unconscious mind, and as if they occupy permanent positions in your heart—they are the corrupt, satanic dispositions of man. … You never say what you really think. It all has to be pre-edited by your brain, in your mind. Everything you say is a lie, at odds with the facts, it is all in your own spurious defense, to your own advantage. Some people are taken in, and it’s good enough for you: Your words and actions have achieved your objectives. This is what is in your heart, these are your dispositions. You are wholly controlled by your own satanic dispositions. You have no power over what you say and do. Even if you wanted to, you could not tell the truth or say what you really think; even if you wanted to, you could not practice the truth; even if you wanted to, you could not fulfill your responsibilities. Everything you say, do, and practice is a lie, and you’re just sloppy and perfunctory. Evidently, you are wholly shackled and controlled by your satanic disposition. You may want to accept and strive for the truth, but it’s not up to you: You are nothing but a puppet of corrupt flesh, you have become a tool of Satan, you say and do whatever your satanic disposition tells you to. … You never seek the truth, much less do you practice the truth. You just keep on praying, building up your determination, making resolutions, and swearing oaths. And what has come from all of this? You are still a yes-man; you don’t provoke anyone, nor do you offend anyone. If a matter is none of your concern, then you will stay away from it, and think: ‘I won’t say anything about things that have nothing to do with me, and this goes without exception. If anything can harm my own interests, my pride, or my self-regard, I will pay none of it any heed, and will approach all of it cautiously; I mustn’t act rashly. The nail that sticks up gets hit first, and I’m not that stupid!’ You are totally under the control of your corrupt dispositions of wickedness, cunning, hardness, and detesting the truth. They are running you into the ground, and have grown harder for you to bear even than the Golden Hoop the Monkey King wore. Living under the control of a corrupt disposition is so exhausting and excruciating!” (“Only Those Who Practice the Truth Are God-Fearing” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). God’s words exposed my corrupt disposition. When Zhang Lin marked me down for some offenses and barred me from fulfilling my duty, I was afraid of being suppressed even more or kicked out of the church, and because I wanted to protect my future prospects, I was afraid to gather with and deliver God’s newest words to Sister Zheng and the others, even more afraid to expose Zhang Lin’s wicked conduct, and I didn’t care if the lives of my brothers and sisters were damaged, just casting God’s commission to the side. I saw that I had absolutely no loyalty to God, that I had betrayed God. In that crucial moment, there was a need for me to practice the truth, but I was thoroughly under the sway of my corrupt disposition of wickedness and cunning, and couldn’t practice the truth at all. As a result, my brothers and sisters didn’t receive their supply of life and lived in negativity and weakness. Wasn’t I harming my brothers and sisters? When I realized that I’d been so cowardly, selfish and despicable, I felt a bit regretful and guilty.

I came across another passage of God’s words: “All of you say you are considerate of God’s burden and will defend the testimony of the church, but who among you has really been considerate of God’s burden? Ask yourself: Are you someone who has shown consideration for His burden? Can you practice righteousness for Him? Can you stand up and speak for Me? Can you steadfastly put the truth into practice? Are you bold enough to fight against all of Satan’s deeds? Would you be able to set your emotions aside and expose Satan for the sake of My truth? Can you allow My intentions to be fulfilled in you? Have you offered up your heart in the most crucial of moments? Are you someone who does My will? Ask yourself these questions, and think about them often” (“Chapter 13” of Utterances of Christ in the Beginning in The Word Appears in the Flesh). I also saw this passage from “It Is Very Important to Understand God’s Disposition”: “His sorrow is due to mankind, for whom He has hopes but who has fallen into darkness, because the work He does on man does not come up to His expectations, and because the mankind He loves cannot all live in the light. He feels sorrow for the innocent mankind, for the honest but ignorant man, and for the man who is good but lacking in his own views. His sorrow is a symbol of His goodness and of His mercy, a symbol of beauty and of kindness” (The Word Appears in the Flesh). As I pondered God’s words, I felt even more guilty. Sister Zheng came to me with their problems because she trusted me, I should have taken responsibility and safeguarded the interests of God’s house, but I went against my conscience and didn’t practice the truth. I stood on Satan’s side and became its guardian. Now my brothers and sisters are living in darkness and suffering, and they can’t get the life supply they need. God is sad and distraught—He hopes that I can take a stand, consider His intentions and protect His chosen people. Zhang Lin might have barred me from fulfilling my duty as a church leader, but I’m a member of God’s house, and so I have a responsibility to protect the work of God’s house and God’s chosen people. I can’t shirk from my duties and protect myself anymore. I came before God in prayer saying, “God! You’ve exalted me with leadership duties, but I’ve been selfish, despicable, and only considered myself, so I don’t deserve the commission You’ve given me. God, I’m not going to consider my future prospects anymore, and I’m willing to truly repent, stand back up and fulfill my duty. I ask that You guide me, God.” After praying, I felt much calmer and so I sent the newest sermons of God to the brothers and sisters at Sister Zheng’s meeting spot and gathered with them. Later, the upper leadership received my report, and after confirming Zhang Lin’s evil deeds, they dismissed him and his cohort from their positions.

My leaders temporarily assigned me to take over responsibility for the work in the two churches. After being removed from his position, Zhang Lin still didn’t repent and continued to harbor resentment for me. He deceived our brothers and sisters in the church, saying I hadn’t been a believer for long, didn’t understand anything and that I just happened to have a little more book knowledge than them, but couldn’t resolve any issues during gatherings. He also said that since the CCP was currently arresting believers, and there were security cameras on every corner throughout the countryside, I might even be putting them in danger by attending gatherings. During that time, he actually managed to convince some of them and, together, they made up some bogus charges against me. Before, Zhang Lin had already marked me down for eight offenses, now the number had risen to thirteen. They even submitted all their charges to the upper leadership, so our leaders assigned some sisters to investigate the situation. When I heard about this, I slumped in dejection. I felt like a thousand-pound weight was bearing down on my chest and I could barely breathe. Zhang Lin had teamed up with a few people to falsely accuse me—if our leaders believed their side of the story and really expelled me, would my life as a believer be over? When I thought of this, tears started streaming from my eyes. It also occurred to me that a lot of brothers and sisters had been in the same church as Zhang Lin before accepting God’s new work, and Zhang Lin had spread the work of God in the last days to them. Some brothers and sisters didn’t have any discernment toward him and even admired and looked up to him. Could these people really speak the truth? If the sisters look into the matter, will they be able to understand what’s really happening? My mind was in chaos, so I prayed to God. After prayer, I saw this passage of God’s words: “I am righteous, I am trustworthy, and I am the God who examines the innermost heart of man! I will reveal at once who is true and who is false. Do not be alarmed; all things work according to My time. Who wants Me sincerely, and who does not—I will tell you, one by one. You just take care to eat up, drink up, and draw up close to Me when you come into My presence, and I will do My work Myself. Do not be too anxious for quick results; My work is not something that can be accomplished all at once. Within it there are My steps and My wisdom, and that is why My wisdom can be revealed. I will let you see what is done by My hands—the punishing of evil and the rewarding of good. I most certainly do not favor anyone. You who sincerely love Me, I will sincerely love you, and as for those who do not sincerely love Me, My wrath will ever be with them, so that they may remember through eternity that I am the true God, the God who examines the innermost heart of man” (“Chapter 44” of Utterances of Christ in the Beginning in The Word Appears in the Flesh). The power and authority of God’s words quickly quieted my heart. God is righteous and trustworthy. God’s house is ruled by Christ, by the truth and by righteousness. Because I didn’t know God’s righteousness and didn’t believe that He examines everything, I became worried that the sisters would believe one side of the story when they investigated my situation and would expel me. Wasn’t I just equating God’s house with the country of the great red dragon? The CCP governs in a tyrannical and arbitrary fashion. They bend the truth and turn the facts on their heads to suppress any non-conformists. They’ll trump up charges on them and destroy their whole life. Average people just have to deal with the bullying—there is no recourse to justice. But God’s house is ruled by the truth; if antichrists or wicked people come into power, it’s only a matter of time until they’re exposed and eliminated. This is God’s righteous disposition. And God’s house expels people based on the truth principles—people are judged based on the facts of their misdeeds. No one is expelled just because someone marked them down for a few offenses. I didn’t do any of the misdeeds they said I did; they bent the truth and stood facts on their heads. The truth and the facts will eventually be revealed. I know God is examining all of this. When I thought of this, I didn’t feel quite as sad, and I had renewed faith in God. I prayed to God, saying: “Dear God! No matter whether or not I’m expelled, I’m willing to submit and experience Your work.” A few days later, our leaders came to understand the truth of the matter, and found that the accusations Zhang Lin’d made distorted the facts, and were all made up. They found that Zhang Lin was always acting arbitrarily, and had isolated and removed people from their duties of his own accord while favoring and cultivating his own relative. He’d suppressed and excluded any brother and sister that tried to give him suggestions, and even after being dismissed he didn’t repent. He kept deceiving and entrapping people in a vain attempt to control God’s chosen people and start his own kingdom—in truth he was an evil, conniving antichrist. Our leaders were preparing the necessary documents to expel him from the church. When I heard this, I was really moved. I saw that God was truly righteous, and no matter how cunning and fiendish the antichrists may be, their influence would be short-lived because they ultimately had no place in God’s house, and would eventually be exposed, eliminated, and abandoned forever by God’s chosen people. I also felt ashamed and guilty because I didn’t know God and misunderstood and blamed Him, thinking the church was like the secular world; I was blaspheming God. But God didn’t treat me based on my transgressions and continued guiding me to experience this environment. I was deeply thankful to God. Later, all my brothers and sisters gained discernment of Zhang Lin and agreed to expel him from the church. It’s always gratifying when an antichrist is expelled! My brothers and sisters stopped being deceived and controlled by the antichrist and could freely fulfill their duties, fellowship on the truth, and live a normal church life.

Having experienced the antichrist’s suppression and false accusation, I gained discernment of antichrists, saw how they deceive and devastate people and have a truth-hating nature and substance. I also witnessed God’s righteousness, almightiness, and wisdom. God uses Satan’s cunning plots to help us understand the truth and gain discernment so that we can break free of Satan’s dark influence, thoroughly abandon all antichrists and wicked people and truly return before and submit to Him. Through God’s revelation, I also learned a little bit about my corrupt disposition, and how I was too selfish and despicable. I experienced the serenity and freedom that comes with betraying the flesh and practicing according to God’s words. Through this experience, I also learned that we always have God’s permission in good times and in bad. This is how God perfects and saves us.

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