You Must Become Honest to Be Saved
By Aiguang, France
In August 2021, I came to the French newcomer church to water new believers. After a while, I found that a newcomer had a rather arrogant disposition, often insisted on her own ideas, and couldn’t work well with her brothers and sisters. When others pointed out her problems, she refused to accept it, argued over right and wrong, and judged and condemned people behind their backs, causing others to feel constrained by her and disturbing the work of God’s house. According to principles, she was unfit for duty, and I should fellowship with her and dismiss her from her duty. But at the time, I was having some trouble. It was my first time being a leader, I had never fellowshiped with anyone on this topic, and I didn’t know how to do it, but I also didn’t want to ask the supervisor because I feared she would think I was incapable for not knowing this, see my shortcomings clearly, and wouldn’t value or cultivate me anymore. I also thought that my spoken French wasn’t very good, so if I didn’t understand that newcomer’s words, or I couldn’t explain what I meant to say, the newcomer would have notions and withdraw, and I would have to take responsibility. I debated with myself, and finally left it to Brother Claude, the leader of the newcomer church, to handle it. I even found a justification, that this was training for Brother Claude, to teach him how to solve problems on his own. But later, because Brother Claude didn’t speak clearly during the fellowship, that newcomer withdrew and stopped believing. Because of this, Brother Claude was very depressed. He said he was too stupid to fellowship. At that time, I didn’t open up to him to analyze my problem. I fellowshiped with him as if nothing had happened and went over his deviations. I didn’t reveal my true situation and let him mistakenly think I could solve problems.
A few days later, at a meeting, our leader said some watering workers performed their duties irresponsibly. They didn’t solve problems themselves, but instead asked the newcomer leader to do so, leaving problems unresolved and causing newcomers to leave the group. When I heard the leader point out my problem so bluntly, I felt immediately ashamed. I was very embarrassed. I thought, “The supervisors and watering workers from every church are all here. What will everyone think of me now? They must all think I am completely unreliable.” When the leader finished, she asked everyone to speak. I thought, “The leader spoke so directly here, and I was the perpetrator. If I don’t actively fellowship now, won’t that make it seem like I don’t have an attitude of accepting pruning and dealing? That would definitely leave a bad impression on my leader.” To restore my image, I fellowshiped first, and I said with a slight whimper, “I feel very remorseful that I let something like this happen. I see now that I am a very irresponsible person.” After showing “knowledge” of myself, I started to explain myself, saying, “Early on, I paid a high price to get to know the newcomer’s difficulties, and I lovingly fellowshiped with her on God’s word, but because I have no work experience, and because of the language barrier, I asked the newcomer leader to deal with it. I didn’t take into account the consequences of doing so, which made the newcomer withdraw.” After the talk, a sister sent me a message and said bluntly, “The tone of your speech was too soft. It sounded deliberate. It felt uncomfortable. It was like you already knew you were wrong, and you wanted us to stop telling you off.” When I read the message, my face instantly burned with humiliation. It felt like getting caught in the act of playing a trick. It was very embarrassing. After that, the sister’s words were always in my heart. She pointed out my problems bluntly, and there must be God’s will behind it. I should properly reflect and understand. On reflecting, I realized that whenever I did something wrong and was dealt with, I always proactively admitted my problems and then expressed my actual difficulties in a sad and aggrieved tone to win everyone’s sympathy and understanding, so that everyone would forgive me and no longer hold me accountable. It also made others feel I can accept pruning and dealing, which left a good impression of me. After reflecting on this, I realized that there were many tricks in my words. After that, I looked for parts of God’s word on this issue to eat and drink.
One day, I remembered the dialogue between God and Satan in the Bible. “And Jehovah said to Satan, From where come you? Then Satan answered Jehovah, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it” (Job 1:7). Then I read God’s analysis of the way Satan speaks, which says, “Satan’s words have a certain characteristic: What Satan says leaves you scratching your head, unable to perceive the source of its words. Sometimes Satan has motives and speaks deliberately, and sometimes governed by its nature, such words emerge spontaneously, and come straight out of Satan’s mouth. Satan does not spend a long time weighing such words; rather, they are expressed without thinking. When God asked where it came from, Satan answered with a few ambiguous words. You feel very puzzled, never knowing exactly where Satan is from. Are there any among you who speak like this? What kind of way is this to speak? (It is ambiguous and does not give a certain answer.) What kind of words should we use to describe this way of speaking? It is diversionary and misleading, is it not? Suppose someone does not want to let others know what they did yesterday. You ask them: ‘I saw you yesterday. Where were you going?’ They do not tell you directly where they went. Rather, they say: ‘What a day it was yesterday. It was so tiring!’ Did they answer your question? They did, but they did not give the answer you wanted. This is the ‘genius’ within the artifice of man’s speech. You can never discover what they mean, nor perceive the source or intention of their words. You do not know what they are trying to avoid because in their heart they have their own story—this is insidious. Are there any among you who also often speak in this way? (Yes.) What then is your purpose? Is it sometimes to protect your own interests, sometimes to maintain your own pride, position, and image, to protect the secrets of your private life? Whatever the purpose, it is inseparable from your interests, linked to your interests. Is this not the nature of man? All who have such a nature are closely related to Satan, if not its family. We can put it like this, can we not? Generally speaking, this manifestation is detestable and abhorrent” (The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. God Himself, the Unique IV). In the past, when I read God’s analysis that Satan speaks in a diversionary and misleading manner, I always felt that someone who could use these methods was definitely a scheming and shrewd person. But when I read it again, I realized I also expose and manifest these things. When the leader exposed me in front of my brothers and sisters, I outwardly accepted it and admitted that I was irresponsible, but I didn’t really accept it, and I even felt wronged. I hadn’t been doing this duty for long, so I thought my problems were excusable. Why did she expose me so directly at the meeting, without leaving me even a little dignity? After that, everyone definitely thought I was untrustworthy and irresponsible. While I was aggrieved, I also felt that if I didn’t make a statement in that environment, everyone would think I didn’t accept pruning and dealing at all and that I didn’t understand my own problems, so their impression of me would be even worse. To restore my image, I proactively admitted my mistake, and spoke in a soft tone with a deliberate whimper to tell everyone that I already knew I was wrong, that I felt guilt and sadness, and that I hoped they wouldn’t blame me anymore. I wanted to express that I could correct my mistakes and accept the truth. On the surface, I appeared to know myself, but I actually used this method to gag other people’s mouths. I didn’t want the leader to keep talking about my problems or hold me accountable. This was my real intention. As I reflected on this, I saw that my own nature was as sinister and cunning as Satan. All of my words were filled with schemes to deceive people. I did my duty irresponsibly and was named by the leader when I had a problem. I not only didn’t repent, but to preserve my face and status, I pretended to know myself in front of others, so that they would think I was someone who could accept the truth. I really was cunning and deceitful. Speaking openly and knowing oneself is meant to be a manifestation of practicing the truth, but my confession and admission contained tricks and schemes. On the surface, I was talking about my self-knowledge, but actually, I was defending myself and dodging responsibility. I was so insidious!
One day, I saw another passage of God’s word that reveals people’s evil disposition. God says, “Deceit is often outwardly evident. When someone beats around the bush or speaks in ways that are too shrewd and cunning, that is deceit. And what is the chief characteristic of evil? Evil is when what people say is especially pleasing to the ear, when it all seems right, and irreproachable, and good no matter which way you look at it, it is when they do things and achieve their aims without using any obvious techniques. They are extremely secretive when they do things, they achieve them without any visible tells or giveaways; this is how the antichrists delude people, and such things and such people are very difficult to identify. Some people often say the right words, employ nice-sounding phrases, and use certain doctrines, arguments, and techniques that are in line with people’s feelings to pull the wool over their eyes; they pretend to go one way but actually go another to achieve their secret aims. This is evil. People usually believe these behaviors to be deceit. They have less knowledge of evil, and dissect it less, too; evil is actually more difficult to identify than deceit, for it is more hidden, and the methods and techniques involved are more sophisticated. When a person has a deceitful disposition within them, it usually only takes two or three days before others can see that they are deceitful, or that their actions and words reveal a deceitful disposition. But when someone is said to be evil, this is not something that can be discerned in a few days. For if nothing significant or special happens over the short-term, and if you listen to their words alone, you would have a hard time telling them for what they really are. They say the right words and do the right things, and can spout doctrine after doctrine. After a couple of days with such a person, you think them a good person, someone who is able to give things up and expend themselves, who understands spiritual matters, who has a heart that loves God, who acts with conscience and sense. But once they begin doing things, you will discover that there are too many impurities in their words and actions or that they have too many devious thoughts, you will realize that they are not honest, that they are deceitful people, and that they are something evil. They often choose the right words, words that fit with the truth, that are in line with people’s feelings, and that sound pleasing to converse with people. In one regard, they do this to establish themselves, and in another, to deceive others so that they can have status and prestige among people. Such people are extremely deceptive, and once they have power and status, they will dupe and harm many people. People with an evil disposition are incredibly dangerous” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. They Deceive, Draw In, Threaten, and Control People). God’s word revealed that the main trait of people with evil dispositions is that they are secretive. To hide their intentions from others, they always use the right words, and methods that outwardly seem principled to achieve their ulterior motive. I thought about the things I did and realized it was the same trick: I couldn’t handle the newcomer’s problems, so to hide my true stature from my supervisor, I passed the matter off on the newcomer leader. I even found a lofty-sounding excuse: This is training for Brother Claude, to teach him how to solve problems on his own. In the end, he didn’t handle it well, and I helped him sum up his deviations. I not only failed to expose my real state, I tried to establish a good image in front of him to make him think I was good at dealing with these issues. When my leader exposed me, to restore my image in everyone’s heart, I proactively admitted my mistakes to stop up other people’s mouths, and even used a whimpering tone to win everyone’s sympathy and understanding and make them think I was someone who can accept the truth, knows myself, and has a repentant attitude. That way, they wouldn’t hold me accountable anymore. After reflecting on my words and deeds using God’s words, I saw that I was truly terrible. I used words that seemed in line with people’s feelings and the truth to cover up my own despicable intentions, and thereby deceive, confuse, and utterly befuddle everyone, and finally establish myself. Only when I realized this did I see that I was a sinister, deceitful, and inscrutable person. When I saw God’s word reveal that people are evil, I never applied God’s word to myself, thinking that I wasn’t such a person, but when my environment revealed me, and after reflecting based on God’s word, I finally gained a little knowledge of my evil disposition.
Later, I continued to reflect. I realized that I exposed my evil disposition in many things. I remembered, not long before, the supervisor asked me to hand over a job to Sister Wang and let her take over from me. When I heard this arrangement, I was disappointed. I had been in charge of this work alone for over two years, and I thought that no one could replace me in this duty. I didn’t think it would be given to someone else. I wanted to ask the supervisor if I could continue to be in charge of it, but I feared the supervisor would think I was too ambitious and unreasonable, so I didn’t say anything. Outwardly, I obeyed, but when I handed over the work, I used the presence of the supervisor and Sister Wang to deliberately mention some key details in this work. I wanted them to see the experience and principles I had learned in doing this duty that couldn’t be learned in just a few weeks, so that the supervisor might let me continue performing this duty. Sure enough, after the handover, the supervisor asked me if I could mentor Sister Wang in her practice a little longer. I was very happy to hear this. Although I wasn’t able to continue being in charge of the work, what I said had served its purpose. Afterwards, when Sister Wang had problems and difficulties in her duty, she came to me, to let me evaluate and judge things, and also asked me to review every task. In this way, I quietly took the power back into my own hands. Looking back at my behavior at the time, I obviously didn’t want her to take my place, but to keep the supervisor from thinking I was arrogant and unreasonable, I used the opportunity of handing over the job to show off my capital. Without being aware, I gained the supervisor’s approval. I legitimately gained and held power and “cleverly” concealed my own intentions. I was very skilled at devious means and schemes! The more I reflected on my behavior, the more afraid I felt. I almost couldn’t believe I was such a person.
Later, I read two passages of God’s words revealing the evil dispositions of antichrists that gave me some knowledge of myself. Almighty God says, “The evil of antichrists has one major characteristic—I will share with you the secret of how to discern it. The secret is this—firstly, whether in their speech or their actions, they are unfathomable to you; you cannot read them. When they are speaking to you, their eyes are always swiveling to and fro, and you cannot tell what sort of scheme they are hatching. Sometimes they make you feel that they are ‘loyal’ or especially ‘sincere,’ but this is not the case, you can never see through them. You have a particular feeling in your heart, a sense that there is a deep subtlety within their thoughts, an unfathomable depth. They seem strange and mysterious” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. They Are Evil, Insidious, and Deceitful (Part Two)). “‘Strange and mysterious’—here, the word ‘strange’ means abnormal, and the word ‘mysterious’ means insidious and cunning. As a phrase, they mean insidious, cunning, and particularly abnormal in behavior. ‘Abnormal’ refers to something deeply concealed, such that ordinary people cannot figure out or see what the concealer is thinking or doing. It means that the manner and impetus of such people’s actions, or the motives behind them, are unfathomable to others. At times, such people even act like thieves in the night. There is a phrase that can summarize the practical manifestation and state of being strange and mysterious in behavior, and that is ‘lacking transparency,’ being beyond the belief and ken of others. There is this characteristic in the actions of antichrists—you are quite afraid when you become aware or sense that their intent in doing something is not at all simple, but when you cannot see through to their motive or intent in a short time, or due to some other factor, you unconsciously sense that their behavior is quite strange and mysterious. Why does it make you feel this way? Because no one can get to the bottom of their actions or speech—that is part of the reason. Beyond that, whatever they are doing, it is very hard for you to determine from their speech, or from the manner and methods of their actions, what it is, exactly, that they mean to do. In their speech, they often ‘feint east and strike west’ and seldom speak a true word, eventually causing you to think that the true things they say are false and the false things true. You do not know which parts of their speech are false and which true, and you often have a feeling that you are being duped and toyed with. What gives rise to this feeling? It comes from a constant lack of transparency in the actions of this sort of person. You are unable to see clearly what they are doing or what they are busy with, so you can’t help but doubt them, until you finally see that their disposition is deceitful, sinister, and evil” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. They Behave in Strange and Mysterious Ways, They Are Arbitrary and Dictatorial, They Never Fellowship With Others, and They Force Others to Obey Them). God’s words revealed that antichrists’ dispositions are extremely evil. There is always an ulterior motive in what they say and do, which makes them impenetrable. To achieve their purpose, they often use illusions and sly methods to deceive and confuse people. They utterly befuddle everyone, so that no one knows if their words are true or false. I saw that my behavior was as sly as an antichrist. I always had hidden intentions in my words and actions. When I had a difficulty in my duty, I racked my brain to find ways to avoid it, and also tried to prevent my true stature from being exposed to my supervisor. When my leader exposed the problems in my duty, all I considered was how to make people feel that I was someone who accepts the truth, and at the same time, I tried to shirk my responsibility. When I wanted to seize power and keep my position, all I considered was how to not reveal my ambitions, and how to make the supervisor allow me to keep the work and have the final say. Whenever something threatened my reputation and status, all I thought about was how to conceal myself and confuse others. Especially in front of leaders and supervisors, I thought carefully before every word I said, about which words would both achieve my purpose and hide my real thoughts. God says people who do such sly things are doing precisely what an antichrist does! As I reflected on this, I was a little afraid. God requires us to be honest people and say what we actually think, including the corruption we reveal, what we don’t understand and what we can’t do. But all I thought about was how to disguise myself, how to make people look up to me, and how to maintain my image. Everything I did was calculated, insidious, and sly, and all I exposed was the deceitful and evil disposition of Satan. Once I realized this, the scene after scene appeared in my mind. I thought back to my childhood. My mother taught me “Fast horses don’t need whips, loud drums don’t need heavy mallets,” so I always strove to be a “fast horse” and “loud drum,” and an “obedient” well-behaved child. If I did something wrong, I admitted it right away without needing reminders. My parents hardly ever scolded or disciplined me as a child, so I felt I could avoid a lot of suffering by being clever and admitting my mistakes. For example, if I failed an exam, to keep my parents from blaming or punishing me, before they could speak, I would start to cry, and I tried to portray myself as pitiful and helpless, because I knew my parents couldn’t bear it when I cried. They feared I couldn’t take any more pressure, so they no longer blamed me. Instead, they comforted me. Every time I cried and pretended to be pitiful, I escaped my parents’ reproach. My self-respect remained intact, and I avoided responsibility I should have borne. After believing in God, I was still this way. When I failed to do my duty well and needed to take responsibilities, I played tricks, pretended to be pitiful, and argued my case to cover up my careless and irresponsible behavior in my duty so that no one would prune or deal with me. I saw living by these satanic philosophies would make me increasingly cunning and deceitful. I would always be watching which way the wind blew, learn many insidious tricks, and make myself a living Satan. The most terrifying thing was that tricks and cheating felt almost normal to me. If the brothers and sisters hadn’t reminded me and exposed me, I wouldn’t have the slightest awareness or feel any shame. I remembered God’s word, “What God wants are people who are honest. If you are capable of lies and deception, you are a deceitful, crooked, and sinister person, and not an honest person. If you are not an honest person, then there is no chance that God will save you, nor can you possibly be saved” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. The Most Fundamental Practice of Being an Honest Person). “If your words are riddled with excuses and valueless justifications, then I say that you are someone who is loath to put the truth into practice. If you have many confidences that you are reluctant to share, if you are highly averse to laying bare your secrets—your difficulties—before others to seek the way of the light, then I say that you are someone who will not attain salvation easily, and who will not easily emerge from the darkness” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Three Admonitions). From God’s word, we can see that God hates and despises deceitful people, Deceitful people have too many dark aspects in their hearts. Their words and actions always deceive and confuse, and they never practice God’s word. No matter how many years they believe in God, their corrupt dispositions will never change, and they can never achieve salvation. Once I recognized this, I saw that I was in real danger! I prayed to God to say I wished to repent, and asked God to guide me and help me to genuinely change.
One day, I read in God’s word, “Be an honest person; pray to God to rid you of the deception in your heart. Purify yourself through prayer at all times, be moved by the Spirit of God through prayer, and your disposition will gradually change” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Concerning the Practice of Prayer). “You must seek the truth to resolve any problem that arises, no matter what it is, and by no means disguise yourself or put on a false face for others. Your shortcomings, your deficiencies, your faults, your corrupt dispositions—be completely open about them all, and fellowship about them all. Do not keep them inside. Learning how to open yourself up is the first step toward entering into life, and it is the first hurdle, which is the most difficult to overcome. Once you have overcome it, entering the truth is easy. What does taking this step signify? It means that you are opening your heart and showing everything you have, good or bad, positive or negative; baring yourself for others and for God to see; hiding nothing from God, concealing nothing, disguising nothing, free of deceit and trickery, and being likewise open and honest with other people. In this way, you live in the light, and not only will God scrutinize you, but other people, too, will also be able to see that you act with principle and a degree of transparency. You do not need to use any methods to protect your reputation, image, and status, nor do you need to cover up or disguise your mistakes. You do not need to engage in these useless efforts. If you can let these things go, you will be very relaxed, you will live without shackles or pain, and you will live entirely in the light. Learning how to be open when you fellowship is the first step to entering into life. Next, you need to learn to analyze your thoughts and actions to see which are wrong and which God does not like, and you need to reverse them immediately and rectify them. What is the purpose of rectifying them? It is to accept and take on board the truth, while rejecting the things within you that belong to Satan and replacing them with the truth. Before, you did everything according to your crafty disposition which is mendacious and deceitful; you felt that you could get nothing done without lying. Now that you understand the truth, and despise Satan’s ways of doing things, you no longer act that way, you act with a mentality of honesty, purity, and obedience. If you hold nothing back, if you do not put on a front, a pretense, a facade, if you lay yourself bare to the brothers and sisters, do not hide your innermost ideas and thoughts, but instead allow others to see your honest attitude, then the truth will gradually take root in you, it will blossom and bear fruit, it will yield results, little-by-little. If your heart is increasingly honest, and increasingly oriented toward God, and if you know to protect the interests of God’s house when you perform your duty, and your conscience is troubled when you fail to protect these interests, then this is proof that the truth has had an effect in you, and has become your life” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Only Those Who Practice the Truth Are God-Fearing). God’s words touched my heart. God’s requirement is actually very simple. It is that we speak and act purely and honestly, that in our hearts, we have no deceit, and no disguise or fraud, that we have an honest heart toward God, and that we are honest with others. If we have done something wrong and lied, we need to admit it and reflect on ourselves, and accept the truth with a sincere attitude. Only in this way can our satanic dispositions gradually be resolved. When some brothers and sisters are pruned and dealt with, although they feel ashamed at the time, they can accept and obey. Afterwards, they can seek the truth, reflect on themselves, and find the cause of their failure. As time passes, they make ever more progress, become ever better in their duties. and they have God’s guidance and blessings. But as for me, to maintain my own image and status, I always used certain means to shirk my responsibilities and to avoid pruning, dealing, and judgment, and I felt I was doing things the smart way. What did I get for it in the end? After years of believing in God, my life disposition hadn’t changed. I was still so cunning, deceitful, evil, and selfish. I did my duty without grasping principles and didn’t know how to solve problems. I finally realized that by using tricks to dodge responsibility and avoid pruning and dealing, I was actually rejecting God’s salvation and ruining my chances to gain the truth. And every time I used tricks to escape responsibility, I had to rack my brains to think of what to say and what excuse to use. I might get away with it once, but the next time a threat to my reputation and image came along, I had to think of another method to deceive people. Living in this deceitful and dishonest state every day was very tiring, God hates and detests it, and in the end, I would ruin my chances to gain the truth and be saved. This wasn’t clever at all. This was ignorant and foolish. When I realized this, I eagerly wanted to resolve my deceitful and evil dispositions and become an honest person.
Later, it occurred to me that Brother Claude still didn’t know my despicable motives for asking him to fellowship with the newcomer. If I didn’t open up to him, he would have no discernment of me, still look up to me, and still be in a negative state and feel he couldn’t do the work. So, I went to Brother Claude, opened up to him about my motives for sending him to fellowship with the newcomer, and told him what I learned from the matter. I also said I bore most of the blame and that I was selfish and despicable. To protect my own face and interests, I deceived him and made him take responsibility. Then, he opened up to me about his self-reflection, knowledge, and gains in this matter. After hearing his fellowship, I felt a great sense of release. I truly experienced that only by practicing the truth and being an honest person can we feel peace and security.
After that, my supervisor organized a meeting to go over the deviations in our work. My effectiveness had greatly declined that month. I knew clearly that at this work meeting God would be examining my every word and deed to see how I behaved, if I would go back to my old tricks and deceit to defend my image and status and cover up and conceal my shortcomings and problems, or I would face up to my problems, speak openly, and be an honest person. I told myself to practice the truth, even if it damaged my image. So, I opened up about how I muddled through and played tricks in my work during this period, and said I would sum up my deviations and problems, change my attitude toward my duty, and try to be more effective. After this fellowship, I felt a great sense of release, and I had the will and motivation to perform my duty well. After I finished, my brothers and sisters didn’t look down on me. Instead, they discussed some paths of practice to perform our duties well. I benefitted a great deal from their fellowship, and also learned more ways to change my deviations. After that, I practiced according to these paths, and I slowly became more effective in my work. When I saw this, I was very grateful to God.
Through this experience, I genuinely felt that no matter what mistakes we make or corruption we reveal in our duties, as long as we can face things calmly, open our hearts, and seek the truth, not only will no one look down on us, we can also reflect on ourselves and perform our duties better. I also truly felt that only those who practice the truth and are honest people have character and dignity, and only they truly feel ease and release.
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