8. Almighty God Led Me Onto the Path of Obtaining Cleansing
By Gangqiang, United States
I came to Singapore on my own in 2007 to try to make a living. Singapore is really hot year-round, so I was sweating buckets every day at work. It was utterly miserable, and on top of that I was in a completely unfamiliar place without any family or friends—life felt so dull and tedious. One day in August, I received a gospel leaflet on my way home from work which read: “But the God of all grace, who has called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that you have suffered a while, make you perfect, establish, strengthen, settle you” (1 Peter 5:10). I felt warmth in my heart upon reading these words. After that, I went to church with a brother, where the enthusiastic reception from the brothers and sisters, who asked after my well-being, made me feel the warmth of family which I hadn’t had in a long time. My eyes suddenly welled up with tears—I felt just like I had come home. From then on, every Sunday going to church was a must for me.
I was baptized that December, officially stepping onto the path of faith. In one church service, I heard the preacher reading from chapter 18, verses 21–22 of Matthew: “Then came Peter to Him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus said to him, I say not to you, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.” Hearing this, I thought to myself: “How can the forgiveness and patience of the Lord Jesus be so great? He forgives people seventy times seven times. If men could really do this, then there would be no fighting, but just love and warmth!” I was very moved by the Lord’s words, and I resolved to act in accordance with His teachings.
Two or three years later, my boss put me in charge of managing a construction site, so I put all my energy into work and stopped attending gatherings as regularly. I was later introduced by a friend to a Mr. Li, a business financier, and we set up a construction company together. I was very happy, and was determined to really throw myself into it. I then got totally into the vortex of money and stopped going to church for gatherings altogether. I wanted projects to be done well to win others’ praise for my competence, so I became more and more demanding of workers. I would reprimand them whenever I saw that they had done something that wasn’t right or wasn’t up to my requirements. The team leader was often brought to tears by my abuse. The workers were afraid whenever they saw me and would even hide from me. Even people who used to be good friends became cold toward me and no longer wanted to confide in me. Seeing this was very distressing. The Lord Jesus instructs us to forgive others seventy times seven times, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. However, I had not put this into practice in the slightest, not even once. How was that being a Christian? I knew that I was sinning and I often prayed to the Lord, confessing and repenting. I resolved to change. But whenever something came up, in spite of myself I would still sin. I was really vexed.
In August of 2015, we suspended business operations because the company was not doing well, and I went back home. Depressed and miserable, I just drank and gambled all day. When my wife told me I should stop drinking, I would just yell at her: “It’s my money, I earned it, and I’ll spend it however I want….” There was nothing she could do, so she would just sit there and cry. Each time that I gave vent to my anger, I felt remorseful and I hated myself, but I just couldn’t rein myself in. By that time I had completely lost all Christian propriety; my behavior and conduct were entirely the same as a nonbeliever’s.
In my pain and helplessness, I went back to church to attend gatherings again. Over that period, I was constantly praying to the Lord Jesus: “Oh, Lord! I’ve done so many things I didn’t want to do, I’ve said so many things that hurt others. I’ve been living in sin and rebelling against You. Each time that I sin, I’m remorseful and really hate myself, but I can’t ever control myself! I confess my sins by night, but then by day I fall back into my old ways and sin again. Oh, Lord! I beseech You to save me, what can I do to break free from sin?”
On New Year’s Day of 2016, I set foot on American soil—I had come to New York to make some money. I kept going to church in my free time and also joined a prayer group, reading the Bible and praying with other brothers and sisters. There, I became acquainted with a sister called Qinglian. One day, Sister Qinglian gave me a call to say there was some good news she wanted to share with me. I said, “What’s the good news?” She said, “There’s a missionary visiting. Do you want to go hear her speak?” I said, “Great! Where is it?” She then arranged a time for me to go to her house.
I went to Sister Qinglian’s house on that day. Several other brothers and sisters were there, and after meeting and exchanging greetings, we all began to discuss the Bible. Sister Zhao’s fellowship was very enlightening and it was really edifying for me. I then told her about my constant sinning and confessing, and the pain of being unable to rid myself of sin, and I sought her help. In fellowship, she said that even after we have begun to believe in the Lord, we still sin all the time, and that living life in the never-ending cycle of sinning by day and confessing by night, never able to rid ourselves of it, was not a problem that afflicted me alone. Rather it was a problem shared by all believers. Sister Zhao then had us watch a video of some recitations of God’s words. These were the words: “Changing man’s disposition starts with knowledge of his essence and through changes in his thinking, nature, and mental outlook—through fundamental changes. Only in this way will true changes be achieved in the disposition of man. Man’s corrupt disposition stems from his being poisoned and trampled upon by Satan, from the egregious harm that Satan has inflicted upon his thinking, morality, insight, and sense. It is precisely because the fundamental things of man have been corrupted by Satan, and are utterly unlike how God originally created them, that man opposes God and does not understand the truth. Thus, changes in man’s disposition should begin with changes in his thinking, insight, and sense that will change his knowledge of God and his knowledge of the truth” (“To Have an Unchanged Disposition Is to Be in Enmity to God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
I was really moved, thinking, “Isn’t it me they are talking about? I always look down on others, scolding them for this or yelling at them for that. I lack morality and reason, and have lost any vestige of saintly decorum.” These words all pierced me to the core of my being. I had never read anything like it before, nor had I heard any preacher deliver that kind of sermon. I had been distressed by my constant sinning, but still hadn’t been able to break free from the constraints of sin. These words showed me the path to leaving sin behind, and I marveled: This is so well put. Who could have written them?
Sister Zhao told me that this was the word of God, that the Lord Jesus had already returned in the flesh, and He was currently doing the work of judging and cleansing people through His word in the last days. I simply didn’t dare believe my own ears. What believer is not longing for His return? Suddenly hearing this news of the Lord’s return, I was so excited that I was somewhat at a loss: Had the Lord truly returned? I eagerly asked her to continue with her fellowship. Sister Zhao said, “The Lord Jesus has truly returned, and He is Almighty God—the incarnated Christ in the last days. He has expressed all truths to purify and save mankind, and has started to do the work of judgment beginning with the house of God. He will thoroughly save us from the domain of Satan, who have been bound up by our satanic nature and living in sin from which we cannot extricate ourselves. Ultimately we’ll attain full salvation and be obtained by God. In the Age of Grace, the Lord Jesus only performed the work of redemption; He redeemed us from sin and absolved our sins so that we would no longer be condemned under the law. Although the Lord absolved our sins, He did not pardon our satanic nature or our satanic dispositions. The arrogance, craftiness, selfishness, greed, maliciousness, and other corrupt dispositions still exist within man. These are things which go deeper and are more stubborn than sin. It is precisely because these satanic dispositions and satanic nature have not been resolved that we continue to sin in spite of ourselves, and we even commit sins that are more serious than violating the law. As for the Pharisees back then, wasn’t the reason why they resisted and condemned the Lord, to the point where they even crucified Him, that man’s sinful nature had not been resolved? In fact, we all have a deep appreciation of this because we are ourselves controlled by these corrupt dispositions. So, we often tell lies, act deceitfully, are arrogant and conceited, and reprimand others condescendingly. We know clearly that the Lord demands that we pardon others and love our neighbor as ourselves, and yet we do not put this into practice. People scheme against each other, scramble for fame and gain, and are unable to get along harmoniously. During times of illness, natural or man-made disasters, we still blame God, and we even deny or betray God. These facts show that if we do not resolve our satanic nature and satanic dispositions, then we will never be able to escape this circular life of sinning and confessing, then confessing and sinning. Therefore, to thoroughly save man from sin, it is necessary for God to perform a stage of His judgment and cleansing work to resolve our sinful nature. This is the only way we can be purified and fully saved by God, and be obtained by Him. Let’s read a few more selections from Almighty God’s words and you’ll understand.”
Sister Zhao opened up the book of the word of God and began to read: “For all that man may have been redeemed and forgiven of his sins, it can only be considered as God not remembering the transgressions of man and not treating man in accordance with his transgressions. However, when man, who lives in a body of flesh, has not been set free from sin, he can only continue to sin, endlessly revealing his corrupt satanic disposition. This is the life that man leads, an endless cycle of sinning and being forgiven. The majority of mankind sin in the day only to confess in the evening. This way, even though the sin offering is forever effective for man, it will not be able to save man from sin. Only half the work of salvation has been completed, for man still has a corrupt disposition” (“The Mystery of the Incarnation (4)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “Though Jesus did much work among man, He only completed the redemption of all mankind and became man’s sin offering; He did not rid man of all his corrupt disposition. Fully saving man from the influence of Satan not only required Jesus to become the sin offering and bear the sins of man, but it also required God to do even greater work to rid man completely of his satanically corrupted disposition” (Preface to The Word Appears in the Flesh). “The sins of man were forgiven, and this is because of the work of God’s crucifixion, but man continued to live within his corrupt satanic disposition of old. This being so, man must be completely saved from his corrupt satanic disposition, so that his sinful nature may be completely extirpated, never to develop again, thus enabling the disposition of man to be transformed. This would require man to grasp the path of growth in life, to grasp the way of life, and to grasp the way to change his disposition. Furthermore, it would require man to act in accordance with this path, so that his disposition may gradually be changed and he may live under the shining of the light, so that all that he does may be in accord with the will of God, so that he may cast away his corrupt satanic disposition, and so that he may break free from Satan’s influence of darkness, thereby emerging fully from sin. Only then will man receive complete salvation” (“The Mystery of the Incarnation (4)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Sister Zhao said in fellowship: “Now that we’ve read these words of God, we understand why we are always bound by our satanic nature and unable to rid ourselves of sin, right? During the Age of Grace, God only performed the work of redemption, not the end-time work of judging, cleansing, and thoroughly saving people. So no matter how we confess our sins and repent, how we try to conquer ourselves, how we fast and pray, we will not be able to achieve freedom from sin. That means that if we want to break free of the bondage and control of our sinful nature, just undergoing the Lord Jesus’ work of redemption is still not enough. We must accept the work of judgment done by the returned Lord Jesus. This is because in doing His judgment work of the last days, God expresses many aspects of truth to judge and expose man’s satanic nature of resisting and betraying God. He reveals God’s righteous, holy, unoffendable disposition, allowing mankind to clearly see the truth of his own profound corruption by Satan through the judgment and chastisement of God’s words, to truly know God’s righteous disposition that does not tolerate man’s offense, to develop a God-fearing heart, thus transforming and purifying man’s satanic disposition and saving man from Satan’s influence. In God’s majestic, wrathful judgment and chastisement we see God face-to-face. Like a double-edged sword, God’s word pierces our hearts, it reveals our satanic nature of resisting and betraying God as well as even our corrupt dispositions in the deepest recesses of our hearts which we ourselves have no way of discovering. It makes us see that the essence of our nature is filled with such satanic dispositions as arrogance, conceit, selfishness, baseness, evasiveness, and craftiness, that we are simply without a shred of human likeness, and are completely the embodiment of Satan. It is only then that we prostrate ourselves before God, beginning to hate and curse ourselves. At the same time, we also sense profoundly that all of God’s word is the truth, it is all the revelation of God’s disposition as well as what the life of God is. We see that God’s righteous disposition does not tolerate offense, and that God’s holy essence will not be sullied. The result is developing a heart of reverence for God; we begin to pursue the truth with all our might and to behave according to the word of God. As we gradually come to understand the truth, we will have more and more of an understanding of our own satanic nature and disposition, and gain more and more discernment. Our knowledge of God will also increase. Our internal corrupt dispositions will slowly be cleansed and we will be freed from the bonds of sin. We will gain true release and live freely before God. This is precisely the outcome achieved in mankind through God’s work of judgment in the last days. It can therefore be seen that the work of ‘redemption’ in the Age of Grace and the work of ‘ridding man of sin’ in the last days are two different stages of work. ‘Redemption’ was just the Lord Jesus taking on man’s sins in their stead and allowing man to escape the punishment they should have suffered for their sins. But that didn’t mean that people were without sin, much less that they would never again sin or that they were totally purified. Whereas ‘ridding man of sin’ is completely exposing mankind’s sinful nature so that we can live without relying on our corrupt nature anymore, so we can achieve a change in our life disposition and become totally purified. Therefore, only by accepting God’s work of judgment in the last days can our corrupt dispositions be thoroughly resolved, can we rid ourselves of Satan’s influence and be saved, be led into the kingdom of God and attain God’s promises and blessings.”
Hearing the word of God and the sisters’ fellowship, I felt that it was completely in line with reality and was very practical. I thought back on my many years as a man of faith: I not only often lied and cheated, but I was also arrogant and unrestrained, rude and unreasonable, and willful. People who worked for me were afraid of me and kept their distance from me, and even in my own home my wife and daughter were a little scared of me as well. No one wanted to open up to me and I couldn’t even find a close friend to confide in. It was painful and I felt helpless. Even though I often read the Bible and prayed, confessed my sins to the Lord, and even despised myself, I would keep doing the same terrible things. I could not change myself at all. Someone like me who’s constantly sinning and resisting the Lord is in great need of God’s work of judgment in the last days! The Lord Jesus has now returned—He is Almighty God incarnate. Today, having the chance to hear the voice of God and to learn that the Lord Jesus has come again to deliver the truth and undertake the work of judging, cleansing, and saving man, I really am extremely fortunate! That sister saw that I was filled with longing, so she gave me a copy of a book of God’s word: God’s Sheep Hear the Voice of God. I accepted it happily and resolved to really practice my faith in Almighty God!
I read many of God’s words after accepting Almighty God’s work in the last days. I read about the three stages of God’s work, the mystery of the incarnation, the meaning of God’s name and the inside story of the Holy Bible, as well as how the overcomers are made, how the kingdom of Christ is realized, how the final outcome and destination of each type of person will be determined, and other aspects of the truth, gradually gaining some understanding of them. I also gained more faith in God.
At first, when I read God’s words that judge and expose man so harshly, I felt distressed and uncomfortable and had some notions about them; I felt that God’s words were too severe. Could He not be a little gentler? If God judges man in this way, is man not then condemned? How can he then be truly saved? Later, I read in the word of God: “In the last days, Christ uses a variety of truths to teach man, to expose the substance of man, and to dissect the words and deeds of man. These words comprise various truths, such as man’s duty, how man should obey God, how man should be loyal to God, how man ought to live out normal humanity, as well as the wisdom and the disposition of God, and so on. These words are all directed at the substance of man and his corrupt disposition. In particular, the words that expose how man spurns God are spoken in regard to how man is an embodiment of Satan, and an enemy force against God. In undertaking His work of judgment, God does not simply make clear the nature of man with a few words; He exposes, deals with, and prunes over the long term. These methods of exposure, dealing, and pruning cannot be substituted with ordinary words, but with the truth of which man is utterly bereft. Only methods such as these can be called judgment; only through judgment of this kind can man be subdued and thoroughly convinced into submission to God, and moreover gain true knowledge of God” (“Christ Does the Work of Judgment With the Truth” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “By what means is God’s perfection of man accomplished? It is accomplished by means of His righteous disposition. God’s disposition primarily consists of righteousness, wrath, majesty, judgment, and curse, and He perfects man primarily by means of His judgment. Some people do not understand, and ask why it is that God is only able to make man perfect through judgment and curse. They say, ‘If God were to curse man, wouldn’t man die? If God were to judge man, wouldn’t man be condemned? Then how can he still be made perfect?’ Such are the words of people who do not know the work of God. What God curses is the disobedience of man, and what He judges are the sins of man. Although He speaks harshly and relentlessly, He reveals all that is within man, revealing through these stern words that which is substantive within man, yet through such judgment, He gives man a profound knowledge of the substance of the flesh, and thus man submits before God. The flesh of man is of sin and of Satan, it is disobedient, and it is the object of God’s chastisement. Thus, in order to allow man to know himself, the words of God’s judgment must befall him and there must be employed every kind of refinement; only then can God’s work be effective” (“Only by Experiencing Painful Trials Can You Know the Loveliness of God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). From God’s words I realized that God performs His work of judgment in the last days through expressing the truth, and that He severely judges, exposes and condemns man’s corrupt dispositions, satanic nature, and wicked deeds that oppose God. He does this so that we see clearly the truth of our own corruption, understand thoroughly the essence of our corrupt dispositions, and know our own satanic nature and the source of our corruption. This is the only way we can despise ourselves and forsake the flesh. In addition, it is only because God shows His righteous, majestic and wrathful disposition through His judgment and chastisement that we are able to see His righteousness and holiness, as well as see clearly our own filthiness, ugliness and wickedness. God also does this so that we may know our own satanic nature and the truth of our corruption. If God did not judge man so severely, if God did not expose man’s corruption by striking right at the heart of the matter, and if He did not reveal His righteous and majestic disposition, then we humans, who have been corrupted so deeply by Satan, would be unable to reflect on ourselves or know ourselves. We would be incapable of knowing the truth of our own corruption or our satanic nature. If that were the case, then how would we rid ourselves of our sinful nature and be purified? From the results achieved by God’s stern words we can see that hidden within them are God’s true love for man and the painstaking efforts He goes to to save man. The more I read God’s words, the more I feel how wonderful God’s work of judgment is. God’s work is so practical! Only God’s severe judgment can purify, transform, and save man. God’s work of judgment in the last days is truly what we need!
Due to my arrogant and extremely self-righteous nature, when speaking to others I often lectured them in a condescending way, and in my actions I was a law unto myself. I always loved getting others to listen to me and was prone to showing off. Several times at gatherings, I gave fellowship about how I had handled problems in my work unit, how I had rebuked staff who hadn’t followed instructions and subdued them, as well as how my wife and daughter did what I told them to. Particularly when I shared fellowship on God’s words, I would say things like, “I believe this passage of God’s words means this,” and “this is what I think.” A brother saw that I was always revealing an arrogant and self-righteous disposition without being aware of it myself. He pointed this out to me at a gathering, saying that speaking and acting in this way was an expression of arrogance, self-righteousness, and unreasonableness. If anyone had exposed me that way in the past, and in front of so many people to boot, I would certainly have argued my own case and refuted them right away. But at the time, I chose to be silent without arguing or justifying myself, because these words from a sermon came to mind: “If you always say ‘I think’ with every subject you encounter, well, you had best let go of your opinions. I urge you to let go of your opinions and seek the truth. See what the words of God say. Your ‘opinion’ is not the truth! … You are too arrogant and self-righteous! When faced with the truth, you cannot even let go of or deny your own notions and imaginings. You do not want to obey God in the slightest! Of those who truly pursue the truth and truly have a heart that reveres God, who still says ‘I think’? This saying has already been eliminated, for by saying it one reveals one’s satanic disposition” (Sermons and Fellowship on Entry Into Life). This fellowship reminded me that, whenever I encountered an issue, words such as “I think,” “I maintain,” and “I believe” were generally on my lips, always starting with the word “I,” and myself always had the final say on everything. I believed that I could see through things myself, and could deal with problems. I always made others do as I said and obey me. By always regarding myself so highly, was that not precisely revealing an arrogant disposition? What that brother said to me when he pointed out my disposition was all true, and I should accept it. The things I believed emanated from my notions and imaginings, they came from Satan, and they were certainly not the truth. I thought about how, whether at home, at work, or amongst colleagues, I was always behaving as if I were number one. If anyone didn’t listen to me or did something out of line with my views, I would get angry and tell them off. The fact that I was capable of revealing these things meant that there was no place for God in my heart, that I did not honor God as great, but rather honored myself as great. That was generally how I spoke and behaved, proving what an incredibly arrogant disposition I have!
I later read those words of God: “If you really possess the truth within you, the path you walk will naturally be the correct path. Without the truth, it is easy to do evil, and you will do it despite yourself. For example, if arrogance and conceit existed within you, you would find it impossible to keep from defying God; you would feel compelled to defy Him. You would not do it on purpose; you would do it under the domination of your arrogant and conceited nature. Your arrogance and conceit would make you look down on God and see Him as being of no account; they would cause you to exalt yourself, constantly put yourself on display, and, finally, sit in God’s place and bear testimony for yourself. In the end, you would turn your own ideas, your own thinking, and your own notions into truths to be worshiped. See how much evil is done by people under the dominance of their arrogant and conceited nature! To resolve their evil acts, they must first resolve the problem of their nature. Without a change in disposition, it would not be possible to bring a fundamental resolution to this problem” (“Only by Pursuing the Truth Can One Achieve a Change in Disposition” in Records of Christ’s Talks). Every word spoken by God is the truth—I was utterly convinced. I thought of how I used to lecture others condescendingly at construction sites, around my colleagues, and when I was at home. All of this was me being dominated by my satanic, arrogant nature; it was not brought about because I’m an angry person, or because I have a bad temper or lack self-restraint. I believed myself to have caliber and talent and good earning power, which fed my arrogance and became the currency of my life, so I thought of myself as better than others. I looked down on everyone else, I thought I was better than everyone else and always lorded over other people. I had found the source of my sin and had seen the perilous consequences of leaving my satanic and corrupt disposition unresolved. And so I made an effort to look up and read many of God’s words judging and exposing man’s arrogant nature, and reflected on myself in comparison. Through God’s words of judgment and revealing as well as the fellowship of brothers and sisters in gatherings, I began to gain a shallow understanding of my own arrogant nature. I saw that I was not in fact better than anyone else, and that my ability and wealth had all been bestowed by God, so I had nothing to boast about. If God hadn’t bestowed wisdom and intelligence on me, if God hadn’t blessed me, what could I have done just relying on myself? There are so many talented people in the world; why do they toil and rush about all their lives just to end up empty-handed? I also found the path to resolve my arrogant nature within God’s words, which was to accept more of being pruned and dealt with by brothers and sisters, to accept more of the judgment, chastisement, trials and refinement of God, reflect on myself in light of God’s words, achieve true self-knowledge and self-hatred, and to no longer act according to my satanic disposition but to act in accordance with God’s words. I later experienced many instances of being judged and chastised, pruned and dealt with, and I experienced many setbacks and failures. My knowledge of my satanic nature and corrupt essence was gradually deepened, and I also gained a shallow understanding of God’s greatness, righteousness and holiness. The more I came to know God’s righteousness and holiness, the more I saw my own filthiness, lowliness, insignificance and pitifulness. The things which I thought important before or had boasted about, I then felt weren’t even worth mentioning. Before I knew it, my arrogant disposition began to change. Whoever said something that was correct—brothers and sisters, my colleagues, or my family—I would accept it. I no longer spoke to others condescendingly, but acted with humility and I was no longer a law unto myself. Whenever an issue arose I would discuss it with others, and I would act according to whoever’s suggestion was correct. Slowly, my relationships with those around me began to normalize. I had peace and joy in my heart, and I felt that I was finally living out a bit of a human likeness.
By constantly reading God’s word and living the life of the church, I felt more and more how truly great it was that I was able to accept God’s work of judgment in the last days. I genuinely experienced that I would have no way to resolve my corrupt disposition myself. Only through the judgment and chastisement of God’s words have I been gradually changed and cleansed. In The Church of Almighty God, I see many brothers and sisters working hard at pursuing the truth, and accepting the judgment and chastisement of Almighty God’s words. Whenever someone reveals corruption, others point it out and everyone helps each other. We all reflect on ourselves and know ourselves in the light of God’s words, and we seek the truth to resolve our corruption. Everyone practices being honest people and being pure and open; we accept and submit to whatever fellowship is in conformity with the truth and our corrupt dispositions change more and more. The words of Almighty God can indeed purify and change people. God incarnate has come amongst us, He personally expresses His words to judge and purify us, and He leads us to cast off sin and be fully saved—we are so fortunate! Thinking of all those true believers who are waiting impatiently for His return, who yearn to cast off the bonds of sin and be cleansed, yet who live in pain without a path to follow, I said a prayer to God and made a resolution: “I wish to preach Your kingdom gospel to other people so that they can be like me, following Your footsteps and embarking upon the path to purification and complete salvation!”