Speaking of Doctrine Exposed My Ugliness
By Aubin, Côte d’Ivoire
In July 2019, I accepted’s work of the last days. The leader fellowshiped really well on in gatherings, and the brothers and sisters would say “Amen” and nod their heads in agreement. I was envious, and thought that fellowshiping well on God’s words meant you had the reality of the truth. So, I read God’s words often, and I’d copy whoever I saw fellowship well. Later on, some others praised my fellowship. I was really happy, and thought I was good at understanding God’s words and the truth. But I gradually became more arrogant and conceited. It was only later, with guidance from God’s words, that I gained some self-awareness.
Sister Deryles and I attended the same group. I noticed sometimes she would only share a little fellowship on God’s words. I thought she had a low caliber and poor understanding of God’s words. It didn’t compare to my fellowship. However, when we were doing our duty together, she was very effective, and at every work meeting, the leader would mention her name. At those times I would think: She doesn’t fellowship much at gatherings, so why is she so effective, but I don’t match up? I couldn’t understand it. In gatherings, the leader asked her to fellowship, and I’d think: She has low caliber, what can she fellowship about? I didn’t want to hear it. I thought I understood the truth better than her, that my caliber was good, and I could fellowship more on God’s words. So I put on a good show at each gathering. But what I didn’t expect was that before long, she was chosen as the group leader. It was hard for me to accept. Why was she chosen instead of me? I felt I was more suited to be group leader.
Then in May 2020, I was elected to be a gospel deacon. At the time, I told myself I had what it took for this duty. When some brothers and sisters had problems, I sent them some of God’s words. After they read it, they’d say, “The words you chose were great, they really addressed my state.” I felt I understood the truth and could use it to solve problems, and I was right for this role. Other times after I fellowshiped, some would say, “Your fellowship was really helpful for us.” I felt really happy, and that my fellowship had the Holy Spirit’s illumination and could help my brothers and sisters. After a while, I stopped focusing on ruminating over God’s words that I’d fellowshiped on because I felt I’d already read it and I understood it, but when I encountered complex problems, I didn’t know how to handle them. Like when some brothers and sisters couldn’t keep up with their regular duties because of work or school, no matter how I fellowshiped, I couldn’t solve their problems. Some people would be really enthusiastic at gatherings, but their enthusiasm would wane after one or two days, and I didn’t know how I should fellowship to help them. During that time, I often thought: I can fellowship on God’s words, so why can’t I solve my brothers’ and sisters’ problems?
I frequently sought God through prayer, and one day, I read a couple passages of His words. Almighty God says, “Holding up God’s words and being able to explain them unabashedly does not mean you are in possession of reality; things are not as simple as you imagine. Whether you are in possession of reality is not based on what you say; rather, it is based on what you live out. Only when God’s words become your life and your natural expression can you be said to have reality, and only then can you be counted as having gained true understanding and actual stature” (“Only Putting the Truth Into Practice Is Possessing Reality” in). “God does not require of people the mere ability to talk about reality; that would be too easy, would it not? Why, then, does God speak of entry into life? Why does He talk about transformation? If people are capable only of empty talk about reality, then can they achieve a transformation in their disposition? The good soldiers of the kingdom are not trained to be a group of people who can only talk about reality or boast; rather, they are trained to live out God’s words at all times, to remain unyielding no matter what setbacks they face, and to live constantly in accordance with God’s words and not to return to the world. This is the reality of which God speaks; this is God’s requirement of man. Thus, do not regard the reality spoken of by God as being overly simple. Mere enlightenment from the Holy Spirit does not equal the possession of reality. Such is not the stature of man—it is the grace of God, to which man contributes nothing. Each person must endure Peter’s sufferings, and, even more, possess Peter’s glory, which they live out after they have gained the work of God. Only this can be called reality” (“Only Putting the Truth Into Practice Is Possessing Reality” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “Do you think that possessing knowledge amounts to possessing the truth? Is that not a confused point of view? You are able to speak as many pieces of knowledge as there are grains of sand on a beach, yet none of it contains any real path. Are you not trying to fool people by doing this? Are you not making an empty show, with no substance to back it up? All such behavior is harmful to people! The higher the theory and the more it is devoid of reality, the more it is incapable of taking people into reality. The higher the theory, the more it makes you defy and oppose God. Do not cosset spiritual theory—it has no use! Some people have been talking about spiritual theory for decades, and they have become giants of spiritualism, but ultimately, they still fail to enter the reality of the truth. Because they have not practiced or experienced the words of God, they have no principles or path for practice. People like this are themselves without the reality of the truth, so how can they bring other people onto the right track of faith in God? They can only lead people astray. Is this not harming others and themselves? At the very least, you must be able to solve real problems that are right in front of you. That is to say, you must be able to practice and experience the words of God, and to put the truth into practice. Only this is obedience to God. Only when you have entered into life are you qualified to work for God, and only when you expend for God sincerely can you be approved of by God. Don’t always make grand statements and talk of bombastic theory; this is not real. Pontificating on spiritual theory to make people admire you is not testifying to God, but rather flaunting yourself. It is of absolutely no benefit to people and does not edify them, and can easily lead to them worshiping spiritual theory and not focusing on practicing the truth—and is this not leading people astray?” (“Focus More on Reality” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words described my state exactly. I used to think that if I fellowshiped on lots of understandings of God’s words and my reasoning was clear, that meant I understood the truth and had realities. But now I finally realized that having realities isn’t about how well you fellowship, but the key is whether you can practice God’s words in any given situation, and if God’s words have become the benchmark by which you see and do things. What I shared in gatherings were only some realizations I’d received from God’s words, only a literal understanding of His words. It didn’t mean I had already practiced this aspect of the truth, or that I truly understood the meaning of God’s words. But because I wasn’t aware of my true stature, I overestimated myself. So, when I saw that Sister Deryles didn’t fellowship much at gatherings, less than I did, I started to look down on her, thinking she didn’t understand God’s words, had low caliber, and shouldn’t be cultivated as a group leader. Actually, although Sister Deryles didn’t say much, what she did say about God’s words wasn’t the literal meaning, and her fellowship drew from practical experience. In her duties, she focused on practicing God’s words, and she got real results. But me? I just used my head to interpret words on a page, but when I encountered others’ real-life problems and difficulties, I wasn’t able to solve them with the truth. I thought of how some people’s states were impacted and they couldn’t do their duty well because of work, school, or other life problems. In gatherings, I could just share some encouraging words, telling them to take their duty seriously, but when I myself encountered similar problems, I didn’t know how to get through it, and lived in negativity, without putting any heart into my duty. In these situations, I didn’t seek the truth or look for a path to resolution, and I didn’t have practical experiences and knowledge. So how could I solve others’ problems and difficulties? Also, I realized that although I could quickly fellowship on God’s words, I didn’t practice what I fellowshiped afterward. I was satisfied with just talking to others, and gaining their admiration and esteem. When faced with real circumstances, I realized I didn’t understand truth. I just understood doctrine, the literal meaning of God’s words.
Later, I read a passage of God’s words. “As one who is used by God, every man is worthy of working for God, that is, everyone has the opportunity to be used by the Holy Spirit. However, there is one point that you must realize: When man does the work commissioned by God, man has been given the opportunity to be used by God, but what is said and known by man are not entirely the stature of man. All you can do is to better know your own deficiencies during the course of your work, and come into possession of greater enlightenment from the Holy Spirit. In this way, you will be enabled to gain better entry in the course of your work. If man regards the guidance that comes from God as their own entry and as something that is inherent within themselves, then there is no potential for man’s stature to grow. The enlightenment that the Holy Spirit works in man takes place when they are in a normal state; at such times, people often mistake the enlightenment they receive as their own actual stature, because the way in which the Holy Spirit enlightens is exceptionally normal, and He makes use of what is inherent within man. When people work and speak, or when they are praying and making their spiritual devotions, a truth will suddenly become clear to them. In reality, however, what man sees is only enlightenment by the Holy Spirit (naturally, this enlightenment is connected to man’s cooperation) and does not represent man’s true stature. After a period of experience in which man encounters some difficulties and trials, the true stature of man becomes apparent under such circumstances. Only then will man discover that his stature is not so great, and the selfishness, personal considerations, and greed of man all emerge. Only after several cycles of experiences like this will many of those who are awakened within their spirits realize that what they had experienced in the past was not their own individual reality, but a momentary illumination from the Holy Spirit, and that man had but received this light. When the Holy Spirit enlightens man to understand the truth, it is often in a clear and distinct manner, without explaining how things came about or where they are going. That is, rather than incorporating the difficulties of man into this revelation, He directly reveals the truth. When man encounters difficulties in the process of entering, and then incorporates the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, this becomes the actual experience of man” (“Work and Entry (2)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). After pondering these words, I understood that being able to find suitable words of God for others, or having enlightenment in fellowship didn’t mean I had caliber or stature, but rather, it was the Holy Spirit’s enlightenment and guidance. But since I wasn’t properly aware of my own caliber and stature, I mistook the Holy Spirit’s work as my actual stature, thinking I had obtained the truth, so I wasn’t trying to make progress and didn’t focus on putting effort into seeking the truth. I was so arrogant and lacking in self-awareness. I also thought of how once I became the gospel deacon I often fellowshiped on God’s words, but rarely gave serious thought to them afterward because I thought since I’d already read these words of God, I knew what they meant and didn’t need to meditate on them. And when I saw others not fellowshiping much, I looked down on them and didn’t listen to what they said carefully. But in fact, without the Holy Spirit’s work and enlightenment, I’d be unable to understand God’s words or fellowship on my understanding of them. I didn’t recognize the Holy Spirit’s work at all! Just like Paul. He gained many by sharing the gospel, and was very effective, but this was all the work and guidance of the Holy Spirit. Paul didn’t recognize the Holy Spirit’s work, thinking it was due to his own caliber and gifts. He attributed his success to himself. As a result, he became more arrogant and conceited, saying he wasn’t beneath any of the apostles, and even eventually testifying that to him, to live is Christ. Ultimately, he was punished by God for offending God’s disposition. It’s so dangerous to not recognize the Holy Spirit’s work! Once I understood this, I came before God and prayed, “God, I mistook Your enlightenment as my own actual stature, using it to flatter myself and gain status in others’ hearts. Today I finally realized this is something You hate. Oh God, I want to repent. I seek Your help.” After praying, I burst into tears. I saw my arrogance and lack of reason, and how it made God despise me. I hated myself. I didn’t have practical experience and awareness, and couldn’t solve practical problems. How could I believe I had the reality of truth? I was ashamed at how arrogant and ignorant I was.
Later on, I was dismissed because I was ineffective in my duty. I felt a bit negative and upset, but I knew God’s will was behind me being reassigned, and that I should obey Him. After that, I started preaching the gospel. I found out that Sister Deryls had become a supervisor, and was responsible for the church’s gospel work. I was shocked—how could she become a supervisor just like that? Wasn’t that too fast? Her caliber wasn’t particularly outstanding. A supervisor should be an eloquent speaker and good at organizing. But she didn’t fellowship much at gatherings, so why was she leading us? I couldn’t quite accept it. Later on, she sent me a message following up on my work, but I ignored it. I also waited for opportunities to find holes in her fellowship, so I could question her and make her lose face.
Once during a gathering, she opened up about her state, saying some people weren’t responding to her messages, including me. She felt a bit hurt and pretty down. I felt terrible when I heard that. I realized this wasn’t the right way to treat her. Later, I read a couple passages of God’s words. God says, “Do not be self-righteous; take the strengths of others to offset your own deficiencies, watch how others live by God’s words; and see whether their lives, actions, and speech are worth emulating. If you regard others as less than you, you are self-righteous, conceited, and of benefit to no one” (“Chapter 22” of Utterances of Christ in the Beginning in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “Arrogance is the root of man’s corrupt disposition. The more arrogant people are, the more irrational they are, and the more irrational they are, the more liable they are to resist God. How serious is this problem? Not only do people with arrogant dispositions consider everyone else beneath them, but, worst of all, they are even condescending toward God, and they have no fear of God within their hearts. Even though people might appear to believe in God and follow Him, they do not treat Him as God at all. They always feel that they possess the truth and think the world of themselves. This is the essence and root of the arrogant disposition, and it comes from Satan. Therefore, the problem of arrogance must be resolved. Feeling that one is better than others—that is a trivial matter. The critical issue is that one’s arrogant disposition prevents one from submitting to God, His rule, and His arrangements; such a person always feels inclined to compete with God for power over others. This sort of person does not revere God in the slightest, to say nothing of loving God or submitting to Him. People who are arrogant and conceited, especially those who are so arrogant as to have lost their sense, cannot submit to God in their belief in Him, and even exalt and bear testimony for themselves. Such people resist God the most and have absolutely no fear of God. If people wish to get to where they revere God, then they must first resolve their arrogant dispositions. The more thoroughly you resolve your arrogant disposition, the more reverence you will have for God, and only then can you submit to Him and be able to obtain the truth and know Him. Only those who gain the truth are genuinely human” (The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days, Part Three). Through God’s words, I realized the reason I was opposed to Sister Deryls being a supervisor was because I had an arrogant nature, and always believed I was a notch better or more capable than her. When I saw how Sister Deryls fellowshiped less than others, I looked down on her. I thought she was below me, with a lower stature, and didn’t fellowship as well as me, so I wasn’t pleased about her leadership. When she sent me a message following up on work, I paid her no heed and ignored her. I even tried to find holes in her fellowship to pick at, to show she didn’t compare to me and shouldn’t be a supervisor. This caused her to become negative and feel held back. My disposition was far too arrogant—I didn’t think much of anyone else. I didn’t have any normal humanity. Actually, in God’s house, selecting or promoting someone isn’t dependent on how well they outwardly fellowship, but rather, whether they practice the truth, seek the truth, and have good humanity. But me? I just looked at how little this sister fellowshiped, then looked down on her. Looking at myself, although outwardly I was a good speaker, I rarely practiced God’s words. I was content just to understand words on a page, and thought I had a mind, caliber, and I was more capable than others. How could I be so contemptuous and over-confident? I had zero self-awareness! At this point, I realized that God’s will must be behind Sister Deryls becoming a supervisor, and that I should try to see her good points, learn from her, and improve my weaknesses. Later, through interacting with her, I realized she took her duty seriously and was responsible. When she encountered difficulties in her duty, she sought the truth, prayed, and relied on God to overcome them, unlike me, who fell into negativity in difficult situations, didn’t seek the truth, and was sloppy in my duty. The thing that hit me most was that she had a job as an electrician that really got in the way of her duty, so in order for her duty not to suffer, she chose to give up her job and put everything into God’s hands. This is something I couldn’t do. I also realized she was very detail-oriented in her duty. She understood her potential gospel recipients’ circumstances in detail, and laid out the work she needed to do each day. That’s why she was effective in her duty. But as for me, I only focused on outward fellowship abilities, and rarely practiced the truth. And I rarely sought principles of the truth in my duty, which made me ineffective in my duty. When faced with reality, I wasn’t better than her at all. I didn’t even have awareness of my actual stature or what I was made of, yet I always thought I was great. I was so lacking reason! From then on, whatever problems I encountered in my duty, I would ask for help from Sister Deryls, and share my actual state with her. She would always fellowship with me patiently, and give me advice. Her suggestions were really helpful for me. I could feel that this was God’s love for me!
One day, I read a passage of God’s words. “The hardest problem for corrupt mankind to fix is that of making the same old mistakes. To prevent this, people must first be aware that they have yet to obtain the truth, that there has not been a change in their life disposition, and that although they believe in God, they still live under the dominion of Satan, and have not been saved; they are liable to betray God and stray from God at any time. If they have this sense of crisis in their hearts—if, as people often say, they are prepared for war in times of peace—then they will be able to hold themselves in check somewhat, and when something does happen to them, they will pray to God and depend on God, and will be able to avoid making the same old mistakes. You must see clearly that your disposition has not changed, that the nature of betrayal to God is still deeply rooted in you and has not been expelled, that you are still at risk of betraying God, and that you face the constant possibility of suffering perdition and being destroyed. This is real, so you must be careful. There are three most important points to keep in mind: Number one, you still don’t know God; number two, there have not been any changes in your disposition; and number three, you have yet to live out the true image of man. These three things are in line with the facts, they are real, and you must be clear about them, you must be self-aware. If you have the will to fix this problem, then you should choose your own motto: for example, ‘I am the dung upon the ground,’ or ‘I am the devil,’ or ‘I often fall into my old ways,’ or ‘I’m always in danger.’ Any one of these is fit to serve as your personal motto, and it will help if you remind yourself of it at all times. Keep repeating it to yourself, reflect on it, and you may well be able to make fewer mistakes, or stop making mistakes—but what’s most important is to spend more time reading God’s words and understanding the truth, knowing your own nature and escaping your corrupt disposition; only then will you be safe” (“Only by Pursuing the Truth Can One Achieve a Change in Disposition” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). God’s words made me understand that I was corrupted by Satan, had an arrogant nature, and was filled with filth and corruption. I had no true human likeness. From this experience, I became aware of my actual stature. I stopped overestimating myself and putting too much trust in myself. At the same time, I realized that no matter my caliber or skill, that doesn’t mean I understand the truth and have entry into it. Although I could fellowship on some of God’s words, most of it was doctrine. I lacked practical experience and had many shortcomings. I should always keep in mind how many flaws I still have, and have an attitude of humble seeking when faced with the truth. I should reflect and learn more about myself. That’s the only way to avoid arrogance, conceit, and self-appreciation. Thanks be to God!