I Witness God’s Love in the Midst of My Spiritual Battle
Satan is the evil one, the enemy of God, that has ever wished to corrupt and devour mankind whom God created. When God performs His work to save mankind, Satan dogs His steps and causes constant interruptions and disturbances to God’s work, and that is why each and every brother and sister who has accepted God’s new work encounters the disturbances and temptations of Satan to varying degrees. As Christians, how are we to approach the temptations of Satan? Should we flee and recoil, or should we rely on God to overcome Satan? Let’s now read the experiences of Sister Zhiyuan, and within them, we will find the path we should practice.
How Fortunate I Am to Welcome the Lord’s Return!
I used to believe in Catholicism, and I would kneel each morning and night before a picture of Jesus upon the cross and recite verses of Scripture, yearning for the Lord to come soon to receive us into heaven. One day, my elder brother invited a man named Brother Liu to give us a sermon. Brother Liu preached from the Old Testament and the New Testament, all the way through to the Book of Revelation and, at the end, he testified that the Lord Jesus had returned as Almighty God, Christ of the last days. Almighty God has expressed many millions of words, he told us, and has revealed mysteries that have been hidden for many thousands of years, such as how the whole of mankind has progressed through to today, how Satan corrupts man, how God performs His work to save man, what mankind’s ends and destinations are like, and so on. Brother Liu also told us that God’s work to save mankind is divided into three stages, namely the Age of Law and the Age of Grace, with the last stage being the Age of Kingdom. In the Age of Law, Jehovah God proclaimed His laws to guide mankind’s life on earth and so that people knew what sin was; in the Age of Grace, the Lord Jesus sacrificed Himself for mankind and was crucified, thus absolving us of our sins; and in the final Age of Kingdom, the Lord returns to perform His last work—the work of judgment—and to express His words to eliminate our sinful nature, to enable us to be free of the bonds of sin once and for all and be purified, and ultimately to lead us into our beautiful destination. The three stages of God’s work to save mankind are closely connected one to another, with each stage of work built upon the foundation of the previous stage, and with each stage being a higher work than the last and absolutely indispensable. Through reading Almighty God’s words and by listening to Brother Liu’s fellowship, I understood some truths which I had never understood in all my years spent believing in the Lord, and my heart was filled with light and enjoyment. I became certain that Almighty God is the Lord Jesus returned, and I gladly accepted God’s new work.
Afterward, I often attended gatherings with my new brothers and sisters to read God’s words and learn hymns, and my heart felt a sweetness beyond compare. I felt like I had accepted God’s work of the last days too late and that there were many truths I didn’t understand, and so I read God’s words avidly every single day. I never could have imagined what would happen to me next …
I Doze While Reading God’s Words and This Causes Me Great Distress
After a week had gone by, I discovered that there was something wrong with me. I would take up my book of God’s words and open it to a page, but before I’d even read a few lines, my eyes would find it so tough going that I wouldn’t be able to keep them open. I would try hard to keep them open, but as soon as I started reading God’s words, I would start to yawn, and my eyes would water. I really wanted to read God’s words, but I would always feel so tired that I just couldn’t read on. I didn’t know what was wrong with me, so I said a prayer to God: “O God, I get tired as soon as I start reading Your words. I want to read them but I’ve got no energy. Please lead me to overcome my flesh.” After praying, I would feel a little energized, but when I took up my book of God’s words to read again, I would get sleepy again. I thought to myself: “I think this might be happening because I’ve been looking after my children all day long. I’ll read God’s words tomorrow.” But sure enough, the next day I would feel just the same. I wondered at this, and thought: “What’s wrong with me? I’m reading words of life expressed by the second coming of Jesus, so how can I be dozing off? When I believed in the Lord as a Catholic, I could close my eyes and recite passages from the Bible and not doze off, but now as soon as I start to read God’s new utterances, I get so sleepy! Could it be … I have gone astray in my faith?” But then I thought, “No, through reading Almighty God’s words and listening to Brother Liu’s fellowships over the past few days, I’ve become certain that Almighty God is the second coming of Jesus. I cannot doubt God’s work just because I doze off when I read God’s words. But how come I get so sleepy when I read God’s words?” As I pondered this, I suddenly recalled to mind a passage of God’s words a sister had read out at a gathering a few days before: “God uses His management of humans to defeat Satan. By corrupting people, Satan brings their fate to a close and disrupts God’s work. On the other hand, God’s work is the salvation of humanity. … As God works, Satan disrupts. In the last days, its disruptions will be finished; likewise, God’s work will also be finished, and the kind of humans God wishes to complete will be completed. God directs people positively; His life is living water, immeasurable and boundless. Satan has corrupted man to a certain degree; in the end, the living water of life will complete man, and it will be impossible for Satan to interfere and carry out its work. Thus, God will be able to gain these people completely. Even now, Satan still refuses to accept this; it continuously pits itself against God, but He pays it no attention. God has said, ‘I will be victorious over all of Satan’s dark forces and over all dark influences’” (“You Should Know How the Whole of Humanity Has Developed to the Present Day” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
The sister had given fellowship, saying, “God works to save man, but Satan dogs His steps and causes interruptions and disturbances to God’s work. Especially in this final stage of God’s work, we have been so deeply corrupted by Satan and, fettered by our sinful nature, we frequently commit sins and resist God. God expresses His words and judges us according to our needs in order to eliminate our sinful nature and to thoroughly purify and change us, and finally He leads us into our beautiful destination. Satan, however, is unwilling to admit defeat and it doesn’t want to let us turn to God and attain God’s salvation. It therefore does everything it can and employs all manner of deceitful schemes to disturb us, and it uses the weaknesses of our flesh to attack us and tempt us, like making us feel vexed or sleepy when we read God’s words, making us get sick, or causing disruptions in our families, and so on. Satan wants to make us doubt God to the point where we complain to God and betray Him, and ultimately return under the domain of Satan so that we can continue to be harmed and devoured by it—this is Satan’s sinister motive. If we encounter anything like this, we should know that it is the temptation of Satan, and we have to pray more to God and ask God to guide us and lead us. We also have to seek God’s will more and rely on God to overcome Satan’s temptations—we must not doubt God’s work. For example, when we doze off reading God’s words, we have to pray more to God and look to God and commit to Him our practical difficulties, but we also have to practically forsake our flesh, stand and sing hymns and dance in praise of God. God is almighty, and I believe that as long as we rely sincerely on God and are resolved to forsake Satan, then God will lead us to overcome Satan’s disturbances and temptations, and we will stand witness for God.”
As I recalled God’s words and the sister’s fellowship, I finally realized that my dozing off whilst reading God’s words was actually Satan trying to disturb me. It wanted to make me doubt God’s work and thereby leave God. That was a close call; I’d almost been duped by Satan! And so, at once I announced to Satan in my heart: “Satan, the more you try to disturb me, the more this proves that what I believe in is the true way, and the more I need to read God’s words. No matter how you try to disturb me, I will never fall foul of your deceitful schemes again!” Afterward, I did as the sister had said and, when I began to feel sleepy when reading God’s words, I stood up and sang some hymns, and pretty soon I didn’t feel so tired anymore. When I began to doze off again, I hurriedly knelt and prayed to God, asking God to give me strength and faith, and asking that He lead me to overcome Satan’s disturbances. This went on for many days. During this time, I prayed to God over and over, asking Him to guide me. To my surprise, God actually heard my prayers and, after a few more days, I no longer felt sleepy when reading God’s words. Moreover, the more I read them, the more I wanted to read them, and the more I read, the more I understood God’s will.
I was overjoyed, and I felt incredibly honored and fortunate to have accepted God’s work of the last days, and to have obtained the shepherding and watering of God’s words. I began to thirst even more for God’s words, hoping to arm myself with more truths, and I hoped to be able to preach the gospel and bear witness to God with my brothers and sisters in the future, so that I could bring before God all those brothers and sisters who truly believed in God and who desperately longed for the Lord’s return.
An Old Illness Returns and Complaints Arise in My Heart
Just as my resolve was overflowing, however, Satan’s temptations and disturbances came upon me once again …
One evening, puerperal fever (an illness I had suffered from when giving birth to my children) suddenly flared up again. My whole body hurt, and I could neither sit nor lie down. Sweat ran from my head and my body, until finally I wasn’t able to move at all, and I had to ask my husband to help me if I wanted to turn over. That night, it hurt so much that I couldn’t even close my eyes, and I thought to myself: “This illness has come too suddenly. Normally, I only get this fever when the weather is cloudy, and even then it’s only my lower back that gets a little tender and I feel a bit sick, and then I’m all better when the sun shines again. But it’s been sunny the past few days, so how come I’ve gotten sick? What’s more, this attack of fever is much worse than normal. It’s really unusual. Could it be that Satan is trying to tempt me and attack me once more? No way! I must not fall foul of Satan’s deceitful schemes!” I then said a prayer to God in my heart: “O God, I’ve suddenly gotten sick, and I don’t know whether this is Satan attacking me and harming me or not. O God, You know that I am of small stature, so I ask that You give me faith and lead me to overcome Satan’s disturbances, and may I not complain against You.” The next day, my husband saw that I was in so much pain that I couldn’t bear it, so he went to buy me some medicine. I thought: “Whenever I took medicine before, my condition would get better. Now that I believe in Almighty God, I should get better even quicker.” Contrary to my expectations, however, I took medicine for two days and still felt no better. During the day, I could force my body out of bed by leaning on the wall. At nighttime, however, it would hurt so bad that I couldn’t get out of bed or walk at all. The medicine was totally ineffectual and I couldn’t do anything. I constantly prayed to God, but I still didn’t get any better. I couldn’t help but think: “I have two young children to look after, so what am I going to do if I never get better? I’ve prayed to God as well, so why doesn’t God watch over me and protect me?”
God’s Words Guide Me in My Weakness
Just as I was feeling weak and negative, a sister from the church heard about my situation and came to look in on me. The sister fellowshiped patiently with me about God’s will, and then read two passages of God’s words to me: “Everything, from the surrounding environment to people, affairs, and things, all exist by permission of His throne. Do not on any account let grievances arise in your heart, or God will not bestow His grace upon you. When sickness befalls, this is God’s love, and surely His kind intentions are harbored within. Though your body may undergo a bit of suffering, entertain no ideas from Satan” (“Chapter 6” of Utterances of Christ in the Beginning in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “Behind every step of work that God does in you is Satan’s wager with God—behind it all is a battle. … When God and Satan do battle in the spiritual realm, how should you satisfy God, and how should you stand firm in your testimony to Him? You should know that everything that happens to you is a great trial and the time when God needs you to bear testimony” (“Only Loving God Is Truly Believing in God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
The sister gave fellowship, saying, “God’s words reveal to us the true situation in the spirit world, where God battles with Satan. This illness that has now come upon you so suddenly is Satan trying to harm you. But this is happening with God’s permission, and behind it all there rages a spiritual battle. Satan knows that we greatly cherish our flesh, and so it uses sicknesses of the flesh to attack us, attempting to destroy our faith in God and make us misunderstand and blame God to the point where we deny and betray God. God’s wisdom, however, is built upon the deceitful schemes of Satan, and God uses Satan’s temptations to test whether or not we are true believers in God. A true believer in God will stay loyal to God, will stand witness for God and satisfy God, and will not complain about God, much less deny Him and leave Him no matter what situation they may encounter that is at odds with their own notions, and no matter how Satan may try to disturb and tempt them. Take when Job was tempted by Satan, for example. He lost all his property as well as his children, and he was even afflicted with painful boils from his head to his toes, and he suffered great pain and torment. And yet Job uttered not a word of complaint, much less did he deny or betray God because of the pain in his flesh and in his spirit. Job’s reverence and faith for God, as well as his obedience to God, caused Satan to be utterly shamed and defeated. Amidst temptation, Job stood witness for God and was doubly blessed. We should emulate Job, too. No matter what illness or hardship we encounter, we should keep faith in God, stay loyal to God and stand witness for God, and we should fight back against Satan and shame it by means of our actual behavior.”
After listening to God’s words and the sister’s fellowship, I finally understood that this suffering that had now befallen me was actually God’s love: God was giving me an opportunity to discern Satan’s deceitful schemes and stand witness for Him. I thought about how such a tiny, insignificant creation as I was could be worthy of being tested by God, and I knew that God was exalting me! And yet I didn’t understand God’s will; my flesh had suffered for days, and when I hadn’t witnessed God protecting me, I’d lost faith and had begun to complain about God. I had become mired in Satan’s temptations and had kept asking God to hurry and take my illness away. This was no kind of testimony to bear before God! Coming to this realization, I felt terribly ashamed.
I Reflect on Myself and Find That the Motive of My Faith Is to Gain Blessings
The sister then gave fellowship based on my situation, and said, “When we get sick, on the one hand we have to be able to understand the battle raging in the spirit world and see through Satan’s deceitful schemes, while on the other, we have to reflect on our own wrong views on faith in God and find the root cause of our complaints to God, for only by doing that will we be able to thoroughly resolve our problems. It’ll all become much clearer when we read another passage of Almighty God’s words. God says, ‘So many believe in Me only that I might heal them. So many believe in Me only that I might use My powers to drive unclean spirits out from their bodies, and so many believe in Me simply that they might receive peace and joy from Me. So many believe in Me only to demand from Me greater material wealth. So many believe in Me just to spend this life in peace and to be safe and sound in the world to come. So many believe in Me to avoid the suffering of hell and to receive the blessings of heaven. So many believe in Me only for temporary comfort, yet do not seek to gain anything in the world to come. When I brought down My fury upon man and seized all the joy and peace he once possessed, man became doubtful. When I gave unto man the suffering of hell and reclaimed the blessings of heaven, man’s shame turned into anger. When man asked Me to heal him, I paid him no heed and felt abhorrence toward him; man departed from Me to instead seek the way of evil medicine and sorcery. When I took away all that man had demanded from Me, everyone disappeared without a trace. Thus, I say that man has faith in Me because I give too much grace, and there is far too much to gain’ (‘What Do You Know of Faith?’ in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
“God’s words expose the states and behaviors in our faith in God, such as making deals with God and asking God for grace and blessings in return for believing in Him. After we were corrupted by Satan, our nature became incredibly selfish; we do nothing unless there’s something in it for us, everything we do is for our own personal profit, and we even believe in God just to obtain grace and blessings. Our conceptions make us think that, because we believe in God, then He should protect us and watch over us, keep us in good health, keep our families living in harmony, make our businesses go well and give us bright futures. We believe that, no matter what we want from God in return for our faith, He must always grant it. When we get sick or something bad happens within our family, therefore, we self-righteously blame God for not protecting us, so much so that we can even betray God and leave Him. This shows that we do not believe in God in order to pursue the truth and achieve obedience to and reverence for God, but that we instead make deals with God, and we use God and try to cheat Him in order to achieve our goal of obtaining blessings—our faith in God is truly so defiled! God is the Creator and we human beings are His creations. Without the breath God gives to us and all the things we need to live that He bestows on us, we would simply be unable to survive. And yet we persist in demanding grace and blessings in return from God, and what conscience or reason do such people as us then possess? Consequently, we must take our proper place before God, and whether God grants us grace and blessings or not, we should always obey and worship God unconditionally, for this is what someone with conscience and humanity should do.
“Sister, is the root cause of why we complain to God when we get sick now clear? It is actually because our views on faith in God are wrong. If, when Satan harms us and uses the sicknesses of our bodies to disturb us, we are unable to discern Satan’s deceitful schemes but instead keep making senseless demands of God, then the end result will be that we become negative and weak when we see no improvement in our condition, and we will begin to complain to God. God permits Satan’s disturbances to come upon us, and thereby He exposes our motive to obtain blessings, He allows us to remedy our wrong views on faith in God before it’s too late, and He allows us to be able to believe in God and worship God in our proper positions as created beings. Only in this way can our faith obtain God’s praise.”
After I’d listened to God’s words and the sister’s fellowship, my heart was even more filled with light. When my puerperal fever first hit, although I’d realized that it was a temptation of Satan and that I mustn’t complain about God, I’d thought in my heart that as long as I prayed to God and took my medicine, then God would make me better very quickly. But when I took my medicine and saw no improvement in my condition, I lost my faith in God, and I began to complain to Him. Reflecting on myself thus, I saw that my views on faith in God really were wrong, and that I was believing in God just so I could ask for grace and blessings. And it was precisely this desire for blessings that Satan used to disturb me, to make me complain to God and, before I knew it, I’d fallen foul of Satan’s deceitful scheme. I knew then that I had to remedy my wrong views on faith in God and correct my state of mind—whether my illness got better or not, I would worship God and obey God. And so, I said a prayer to God: “O God, I wish to repent to You. Whether my illness gets better or not, I will not complain to You again, but will stand witness and cause Satan to be utterly shamed, and I will follow You to the very end!”
I Desire to Obey God and so Witness God’s Deeds
Once I’d understood God’s will, I no longer lived in a state of sickness and I no longer complained to God. Although I still needed my husband to turn me over at nighttime, I endured the pain and continued to attend church gatherings, to pray and to read God’s words. A few days later and without me being aware of it, I found that the pain in my body had grown less. I was then able to turn myself over at night, and I was also able to slowly get out of bed and walk again. I had witnessed God’s wondrous deeds and my faith in God was strengthened.
Later, I went out with my sisters from the church to spread the gospel. Although I was still in some pain when I rode my bicycle, I was no longer constrained by my illness. When I saw some brothers and sisters from my old Catholic church accepting the work of the second coming of the Lord, I felt very peaceful and at ease. In this way, I kept busy preaching the gospel and my mind no longer paid any heed to the sickness of my flesh. Over time, I became completely well again without even being aware of it! Thanks be to God!
What I Came to Know From My Experiences
Now, when I look back over my experiences of that time, I truly appreciate the fact that my getting sick was not a bad thing, but a good thing, for it really helped me to be sure of God’s way. If God hadn’t used Satan’s temptations, then I simply would not have known about the battle in the spirit world, and I would have had no discernment of Satan’s despicable motive behind its great efforts to fight with God over man, and its great efforts to control and possess man. I would also have had no comprehension of the painstaking efforts God goes to to save us from the influence of Satan. Though my flesh suffered some pain during these experiences, I came to understand God’s will and I corrected my wrong views on faith in God. All the pain I’d suffered had been worth it, and I give thanks to Almighty God!