Only Viewing People Through God’s Word Is Accurate
By Shan Xin, South Korea
One day, in March of this year, I suddenly heard that the church put my older sister in isolation for reflection. My heart skipped a beat. I couldn’t believe my ears. Ever since I believed in God, my older sister had been my role model, and I admired and looked up to her. I felt she truly believed in God and pursued the truth, and she would definitely be saved. Her isolation for reflection was like a bolt from the blue for me. How was this possible? She was good at preaching the gospel. Since believing, she had converted many people, and was able to suffer and pay a price. If something was needed for the work of the church, she did it proactively and never refused. She did her duty from morning to night, and she was very active. She also often told me to pray more and get close to God, and I saw this was how she practiced. The first thing she did in the morning was praying to God, she listened to hymns whenever she had time, and even before bed, she listened to recitations of God’s word. She really pursued the truth, so how could she be isolated for reflection? Did the leader make a mistake? I kept thinking, “If someone who pursues so enthusiastically is unqualified in God’s eyes, then I have no hope of being saved by God. God requires people to do their duty with all their heart, mind, and strength, which is something I haven’t done. Will I be sent to isolation for reflection too? If that happens, how should I treat the matter? Will I be able to continue believing in God?” The more I thought about it, the more uneasy I felt, as if I was gripped by a sense of crisis. I always felt that one day, I would be cast out. At this time, I was also very sad. I began to be on guard against God, weary of my duty, and unwilling to fellowship at gatherings. She preached the gospel without principles and acted arbitrarily. Some of the people she preached to had bad humanity, and some didn’t sincerely believe in God, but were merely freeloaders. What she did wasn’t in line with principles at all. The brothers and sisters reminded and helped her many times, but she just refused to accept it. She also argued, saying, “The people came, so why wouldn’t I preach to them?” Sometimes she appeared to accept things, but still didn’t follow principles and continued to do things her own way, resulting in disruption to gospel work. When things happened, she didn’t learn lessons, always argued, and spread negativity and notions. Once, at a newcomer gathering, she said, “In order to fulfill my duty, I left my family and my business, and I suffered and paid a price, but there are still many difficulties in my life. Why doesn’t God show me grace and bless me?” Some newcomers also had notions after hearing that and followed her in complaining about God. Because she was always unprincipled and reckless in her preaching, spread negativity and notions to deceive people, which disrupted church work, and because she refused to repent, she was isolated for self-reflection.
I was surprised when I heard about her behavior. I couldn’t believe it was true. Were all the good behaviors I had seen from her in the past just an illusion? Later, I read a passage of God’s word. “Some people say, ‘Does it demonstrate a pursuit of the truth if one eats and drinks of God’s words and fellowships about the truth daily, and is able to do their duty normally? If one does whatever God’s house arranges and never causes a disturbance or disruption, and though there may be times they violate the principles of the truth, they don’t do so consciously or on purpose?’ This is a good question. Such a thought is on most people’s minds. First of all, you must understand whether someone would be able to attain an understanding of the truth and gain the truth by adhering consistently to such a practice. Would they? What do you say? (Such a practice is all correct, but it seems more along the lines of religious ritual. It’s rule-following. It can’t lead to an understanding of the truth or to gaining the truth.) So, what sort of behaviors are these, really? (They’re a sort of superficially good behaviors.) I like that answer. They are merely good behaviors that arise from a foundation of one’s conscience and reason, as a result of their having had a positive education. But they are no more than good behaviors, and are far from being a pursuit of the truth. What, then, is the root cause that underlies these behaviors? What gives rise to them? They arise from man’s conscience and reason, their moral outlook, their favorable feelings toward belief in God, and their self-restraint. Being good behaviors, as they are, they have no relation to the truth; they are by no means the same thing. Good behavior is not the same as practicing the truth, and someone who behaves well is not necessarily approved of by God. Good behavior and practicing the truth are two different things, and they have no bearing on each other. Practicing the truth is God’s requirement and is entirely in line with His will; good behavior comes from man’s will and bears man’s intents and motives. It is something man sees as good. Although good behavior is not an evil deed, it is a counter to the principles of the truth and has nothing to do with the truth. Good behavior has no relation to the truth, no matter in what way it is good, nor how it accords with man’s notions and imaginings, so any amount of good behavior will not meet with God’s approval. Since good behavior is defined as such, then obviously, it does not involve practicing the truth. … These behaviors stem from man’s subjective efforts, their notions, their preferences, and their volition; they are not manifestations of the repentance that follows man’s true self-knowledge from having accepted the truth and the judgment and chastisement of God’s words, nor are they behaviors or actions of the practice of the truth that arise in attempting to submit to God. Do you understand that? It is to say that these behaviors do not in any way involve a change in one’s disposition, or what comes of undergoing the judgment and chastisement of God’s words, or the true repentance that arises from someone having come to know their own corrupt disposition. It certainly does not involve man’s true submission to God and the truth, nor less a heart of reverence and love for God. Good behavior has nothing at all to do with these things; it is merely something that comes from man, and which man sees as good. Yet there are many people who see these good behaviors as a sign of a practice of the truth. This is a grave mistake, an absurd and fallacious view and understanding. These good behaviors are just a performance of religious ceremony, a way of going through the motions. They have not the least relationship to practicing the truth. God may not condemn them outright, but He does not approve of them—of this, you can be sure” (The Word Appears in the Flesh, Vol. 2, What It Is to Pursue the Truth (1)). I learned from God’s word that just because someone can forsake, expend, suffer, pay a price, and do some good deeds, it doesn’t mean they are pursuing and practicing the truth. These manifestations do not involve changes in disposition. These are merely practices based on people’s personal effort, notions and preferences. I only saw my sister reading God’s words every day, frequently praying, and suffering and paying a price in her duty, but I didn’t look at her motives for suffering and expending, or whether she had changed, or whether she achieved good results through her duty. Based on my own imaginings, I thought she sincerely believed in God and pursued the truth. I was so foolish! On the surface, she seemed to be busy with her duty every day, and she did whatever the church arranged, but she did her duty without principles, was arrogant, and acted arbitrarily. The brothers and sisters reminded and helped her many times, but she didn’t accept these things at all, nor did she reflect on herself, and she spread notions in the church and disrupted church life. How was this doing her duty? This was clearly doing evil. Before, because I didn’t understand the truth and didn’t have discernment, I considered her to be a role model. Now, by applying God’s word, I saw that her outward hard work, forsaking, and expending was good behavior at most. It had nothing to do with practicing the truth. She believed in God for many years, but she didn’t practice the truth at all, and she could spread negative ideas and disturb church work. She wasn’t someone who sought or accepted the truth in the slightest.
Later, I read another passage of God’s words and gained some discernment of her disposition and essence of being weary of the truth. God’s words say, “The main ways in which being fed up with the truth manifests are not just feelings of aversion to the truth when one hears it; they also include an unwillingness to practice the truth. When it is time to put the truth into practice, such a person withdraws, and the truth has nothing to do with them. When some people fellowship during gatherings, they seem very animated, they like repeating words of doctrines and making lofty statements to deceive others and win them over; it makes them look good, and feel good, and they go on and on endlessly. And then there are those who are busy all day with matters of faith: reading God’s words, praying, listening to hymns, taking notes, as if they cannot be apart from God even for a moment. From daybreak until the dark of night, they are busy performing their duties. Do these people really love the truth, then? Do they have no disposition that is sick of it? When is it that one can see their true state? (When the time comes to practice the truth, they shrink from it, and when they are met with being dealt with and pruned, they are unwilling to accept it.) Could this be because they don’t understand what they hear or is it because they don’t understand the truth that they are unwilling to accept it? Neither—they are governed by their nature, and the problem is dispositional. In their hearts, they know quite well that God’s words are the truth and positive things, that practicing the truth can bring about a change in one’s disposition and bring a person to satisfy God’s will, but they simply do not accept them or practice them. That is what it is to be fed up with the truth” (The Word Appears in the Flesh, Vol. 2, Only Knowledge of the Six Kinds of Corrupt Disposition Is True Self-Knowledge). I always felt, if someone could forsake, expend, and do a duty, then they were pursuing the truth. Now I saw that this view didn’t accord with the truth. No matter how much a person appears to suffer and expend, if they never accept or practice the truth when things happen, stubbornly rely on their own will, and don’t do their duty according to principles, then they are people who are weary of the truth, and they will not change, no matter how long they believe in God. Comparing this to my sister’s behavior, although she looked pious on the outside, and she often read God’s word, listened to hymns, prayed, suffered and paid a price in her duty, and seemed to be someone who genuinely believed in God and pursued the truth, in fact, she didn’t accept the truth at all. She consistently muddled through and acted arbitrarily in her duty. When brothers and sisters pointed out her problems, she always argued and reasoned, she never reflected on herself, her disposition hadn’t changed after believing in God for years. She was one of the nonbelievers who are weary of the truth described by God. She could forsake, expend, suffer, and pay a price, but she did these things in exchange for God’s grace and blessings. When the environments God arranged weren’t as she desired, she grumbled and complained, and she spread negativity and disturbed the brothers and sisters. It was clear that she didn’t have the slightest reverence for God. When she expended for God, she was transacting with and deceiving God. People look at the appearance of others. When we see that others can suffer and do good deeds, we assume they are good people. But God looks at people’s hearts and essence, as well as their attitude toward the truth. If someone can accept the truth, and when they face pruning and dealing, if they can seek the truth, reflect on themselves, gain genuine knowledge and hatred of themselves, and produce genuine repentance, then this is someone who pursues and loves the truth, and this is someone who God will save. If someone’s nature is stubborn and weary of the truth, and their disposition hasn’t changed in the slightest after believing in God for years, then even if they outwardly do many good deeds, these things are hypocrisy and a disguise. The Pharisees appeared to be pious and did many good deeds, but their nature was to be weary of and despise the truth. When the Lord Jesus expressed the truth and worked to save people, they frantically resisted and condemned Him, and in the end, they nailed Him to the cross, for which they were cursed and punished by God. Only then did I understand that without the truth, we are ignorant, we can’t see people’s essence clearly, and we don’t understand what kind of people God likes or what kind of people He saves. When I first learned my sister was isolated for reflection, I didn’t understand. I thought it was because the leader hadn’t investigated and that it was a mistake. Only by applying God’s word could I see clearly that my sister’s isolation for her actions was in line with principles, and the leader hadn’t made a mistake. At this moment, I felt a great sense of relief.
Later, I started to wonder: When I learned my sister was isolated for reflection, although I knew I should receive from God, and that God is righteous, I still involuntarily had many concerns and worries. I was worried I had believed in God a short time, and I hadn’t done my duty well, so would I be cleared out and cast out one day? So I began to misunderstand and guard against God. But I also knew there were lessons here I needed to learn, so I prayed to God, asking Him to guide me in understanding His will. Once, at a gathering, I read two passages of God’s word. “If you wish to be perfected by God, you must learn how to experience in all matters, and be able to gain enlightenment in everything that happens to you. Whether it be good or bad, it should bring you benefit, and should not make you negative. Regardless, you should be able to consider things while standing on the side of God, and not analyze or study them from the perspective of man (this would be a deviation in your experience). If you experience thus, then your heart will be filled with the burdens of your life; you will live constantly in the light of God’s countenance, not readily deviating in your practice. Such people have a bright future ahead of them” (The Word Appears in the Flesh, Vol. 1, Promises to Those Who Have Been Perfected). “I decide the destination of each person not on the basis of age, seniority, amount of suffering, and least of all, the degree to which they invite pity, but according to whether they possess the truth. There is no other choice but this. You must realize that all those who do not follow the will of God shall also be punished. This is an immutable fact. Therefore, all those who are punished are so punished for the righteousness of God and as retribution for their numerous evil acts” (The Word Appears in the Flesh, Vol. 1, Prepare Sufficient Good Deeds for Your Destination). From God’s word, I understood, faced with my sister’s isolation, God’s will was that I should learn lessons and discernment, learn to view people and matters according to God’s word, and understand who God likes and who He hates. But when I learned my sister was isolated for reflection, I had misunderstandings and doubts, and I lived in negativity and weakness. I worried since I believed in God for a short time and that I hadn’t suffered or paid a price as much as her, I might be cast out too. Now I understood God doesn’t determine people’s ending based on how long they believe or how much they suffer. He does so based on whether, through their belief in God, people can ultimately gain the truth and learn to genuinely obey and worship God. The fact is, no matter how many years someone works or how much they forsake, expend, and pay a price, if they don’t gain the truth and their corrupt dispositions never change, in the end, they won’t be saved. If they do many evil deeds and never repent, they will be punished by God. This is God’s righteousness. Paul worked for many years and suffered greatly, gained many people by preaching the gospel, and established many churches, but his life disposition didn’t change in the slightest. Instead, he became increasingly arrogant, ultimately declared openly that he lived as Christ, and was condemned and punished by God. Paul is the classic example that shows us mere enthusiasm, forsaking, and expending are not enough in our belief in God. What matters is pursuing the truth and achieving dispositional change. This is the standard which determines whether people can be saved. God’s house does the work of cleansing and sends certain people for isolation and reflection to prevent them from continuing to do evil and disturbing the church life. It is protection for them, and it also benefits the work of the church. But their final outcome is entirely determined by their nature and essence, whether they pursue the truth, and the path they take. When people fail and fall, if they can reflect on themselves and genuinely repent, they’ll still have a chance to be saved by God. If they remain unrepentant, continue to live by corrupt dispositions, cause disturbances, and do evil, or if they give up on themselves, or become negative and resist, then they are authentic nonbelievers and evildoers, they are revealed and cast out, and they are not saved by God. I was defensive and had misunderstandings about God because I didn’t know God’s principles for evaluating people, I didn’t know God’s righteous disposition, and I was too focused on my future and fate. Through my sister’s isolation, I gained some understanding of God’s righteous disposition, and I saw that while people may appear to suffer and expend in their belief, if they never accept the truth, don’t practice it, and don’t do their duty according to principles, in the end, they will not be saved, and will be revealed and cast out by God. The cleansing of the church was also a warning signal that allowed me to reflect on myself and repent in time, avoid taking the path of failure, focus on seeking the truth, and do my duty well according to principles.
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