2. How one can achieve true repentance
Relevant Words of God:
Nowadays, most people have a very superficial understanding of themselves. They have not come to clearly know the things that are part of their nature at all. They only have knowledge of a few of their corrupt states, the things they are likely to do, or a few of their shortcomings, and this makes them believe that they know themselves. If, furthermore, they abide by a few rules, ensure that they do not make mistakes in certain areas, and manage to avoid committing certain transgressions, they then consider themselves to possess reality in their belief in God and assume that they will be saved. This is completely human imagination. If you abide by those things, will you really become able to refrain from committing any transgressions? Will you have attained a true change in disposition? Will you really be living out the likeness of a human being? Can you genuinely satisfy God that way? Absolutely not, this is for sure. Belief in God works only when one has high standards and has attained the truth and some transformation in one’s life disposition. So, if people’s knowledge of themselves is too shallow, they will find it impossible to solve problems, and their life dispositions simply will not change. It is necessary to know oneself on a profound level, which means knowing one’s own nature: what elements are included in that nature, how these things originated, and where they came from. Moreover, are you actually able to hate these things? Have you seen your own ugly soul and your evil nature? If you are truly able to see the truth about yourself, then you will start to loathe yourself. When you loathe yourself and then practice God’s word, you will be able to forsake the flesh and have the strength to carry out truth without difficulty. Why do many people follow their fleshly preferences? Because they consider themselves to be pretty good, feeling that their actions are right and justified, that they have no faults, and even that they are entirely in the right, they are therefore capable of acting with the assumption that justice is on their side. When one recognizes what one’s true nature is—how ugly, how despicable, and how pitiful—then one is not overly proud of oneself, not so wildly arrogant, and not so pleased with oneself as before. Such a person feels, “I must be earnest and down to earth, and practice some of God’s word. If not, then I will not measure up to the standard of being human, and will be ashamed to live in God’s presence.” One then truly sees oneself as paltry, as truly insignificant. At this time, it becomes easy for one to carry out truth, and one will appear to be somewhat like a human should be. Only when people truly loathe themselves are they able to forsake the flesh. If they do not loathe themselves, they will be unable to forsake the flesh. Truly hating oneself comprises a few things: First, knowing one’s own nature; and second, seeing oneself as needy and pitiful, seeing oneself to be extremely small and insignificant, and seeing one’s own pitiful and dirty soul. When one fully sees what one truly is, and this outcome is achieved, one then truly gains knowledge of oneself, and it can be said that one has come to know oneself fully. Only then can one truly hate oneself, going so far as to curse oneself, and truly feel that one has been corrupted profoundly by Satan such that one does not even resemble a human being. Then, one day, when the threat of death appears, such a person will think, “This is God’s righteous punishment. God is indeed righteous; I really should die!” At this point, he will not lodge a complaint, much less blame God, simply feeling that he is so needy and pitiful, so filthy and corrupt that he should be wiped out by God, and a soul like his is not fit to live on earth. At this point, this person will not resist God, much less betray God. If one does not know oneself, and still considers oneself to be pretty good, then when death comes knocking, this person will think, “I have done so well in my faith. How hard I have sought! I have given so much, I have suffered so much, yet ultimately, God is now asking me to die. I don’t know where God’s righteousness is. Why is He asking me to die? If even a person like me has to die, then who will be saved? Won’t the human race come to an end?” First of all, this person has notions about God. Secondly, this person is complaining, and not showing any submission whatsoever. This is just like Paul: When he was about to die, he did not know himself, and by the time God’s punishment was nigh, it was too late to repent.
—“To Know Oneself Is Primarily About Knowing Human Nature” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days
For a long time, people who believe in God have all been earnestly hoping for a beautiful destination, and all of God’s believers hope that good fortune will suddenly come to them. They all hope that before they know it, they will find themselves peacefully seated at one place or another in heaven. But I say that these people, with their lovely thoughts, have never known whether they are qualified to receive such good fortune that falls down from heaven or even to sit on a seat there. You, at present, have a good knowledge of yourselves, yet you still hope to escape the disasters of the last days and the hand of the Almighty when He punishes the evil ones. It seems as though having sweet dreams and wanting things just how they like is a common feature of all people whom Satan has corrupted, and not some stroke of genius by any lone individual. Even so, I still wish to put an end to these extravagant desires of yours, as well as your eagerness to gain blessings. Given that your transgressions are numerous, and that the fact of your rebelliousness is ever-growing, how can these things fit with your lovely blueprints for the future? If you want to make mistakes as you please, with nothing holding you back, yet at the same time you still want your dreams to come true, then I urge you to continue in your stupor and never wake up—for yours is an empty dream and in the presence of the righteous God, He will not make an exception for you. If you simply want your dreams to come true, then never dream; rather, forever face the truth and the facts. This is the only way that you can be saved. What, in concrete terms, are the steps of this method?
First, take a look at all your transgressions, and examine any behavior and thoughts you have that do not conform to the truth.
This is one thing that you can do easily, and I believe that all intelligent people are able to do this. However, those who never know what is meant by transgression and truth are the exception, because on a fundamental level, they are not intelligent people. I am talking to people who have been approved by God, are honest, have not seriously violated any administrative decrees, and can easily discern their own transgressions. Though this one thing I require of you is easy to accomplish, it is not the only thing that I require of you. No matter what, I hope that you will not laugh in private at this requirement, and especially that you will not look down on it or take it lightly. You should treat it seriously, and not dismiss it.
Secondly, for each of your transgressions and disobediences, you should look for a corresponding truth, and then use these truths to resolve those issues. After that, replace your transgressive acts and disobedient thoughts and acts with the practice of the truth.
Thirdly, you should be an honest person, not someone who is always being clever and constantly deceitful. (Here I am asking you again to be an honest person.)
If you can accomplish all three of these things, then you are one of the fortunate—a person whose dreams come true and who receives good fortune. Perhaps you will treat these three unappealing requirements seriously, or perhaps you will treat them irresponsibly. Whichever, My purpose is to fulfill your dreams and put your ideals into practice, not to make fun of you or to make a fool out of you.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Transgressions Will Lead Man to Hell
Every person, to a greater or lesser extent, has transgressed. When you do not know something is a transgression, you regard it with a hazy state of mind, or perhaps you still cling to your own opinions, practices, and ways of understanding—but, one day, whether through fellowship with your brothers and sisters or by God’s revelation, you learn this thing is a transgression, an offense against God. What will your attitude be then? Will you still be holding on, reasoning, arguing, hewing to your own ideas, believing that what you are doing accords with the truth? This involves your attitude toward God. With what attitude did David regard his transgressions? Remorse—he would no longer commit them. So, what did he do? He prayed asking God to punish him: “If I make this mistake again, may God punish me and cause me to die!” Such was his resolve; that was true remorse. Can ordinary people achieve this? For ordinary people, it is good if they do not try to argue or tacitly admit responsibility, and, in their hearts, they yet think: “I hope no one brings this up again. I’d be humiliated.” Is this true remorse? To be truly remorseful, you must discard your past evil, put it down, and not do such a thing again. Well, what should be done, then? Will it work just to discard the evil, not to do that thing and not to think of it? What is your attitude toward God? What approach will you take to God exposing you now? (We will accept God’s punishment.) Accepting God’s punishment, His judgment and chastisement—that is one part of it. The other part is accepting God’s scrutiny while you accept His punishment. When you have accepted both parts, how will your resolve be? When you encounter such circumstances and such matters in the future, what will you do? Without true remorse, one cannot discard an evil, and anywhere, at any time, they could go back to their same old way, doing the same bad thing, committing the same transgression, making the same mistake over and over and over again. This reveals man’s attitude toward the truth and toward God. What, then, can someone do to cast off a transgression completely? Practice the truth? One must have the correct attitude toward the truth. And what attitude should someone have and how should they practice to demonstrate their correct attitude toward the truth? What will you do if you fall into temptation when you come across this issue again? Two words: “Stay away!” At the same time, one must set one’s resolve to be punished by God if one makes the same sort of mistake again. To do so is to hate the thing from the bottom of one’s heart, to see it as the most abhorrent thing, an evil thing, a thing that offends God, an eternal stain. The Bible says: “A prudent man foresees the evil, and hides himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished” (Pro 22:3). That is not simplicity—it is stupidity, plain and simple. “Stay away”—how is that as a way to practice? (It is good.) Yet are there times when one cannot stay away? What will you do then? You must pray earnestly to God in your heart, and ask Him to orchestrate things. Some trials are also temptations. Why does God allow such things to befall you? They do not happen by chance; they are God trying and testing you. Does it not speak of man’s attitude toward God that you turn your back on the circumstances He arranges for you and the trials He gives you, and have an attitude of impertinence, and neither pray nor seek, nor search in those circumstances and trials for the path of practice? There are those who say: “I haven’t had such thoughts, and I don’t have that intention.” If you are without intention, then what is your attitude toward God? Some attitudes are deliberate and intended, while some are unintentional—what is yours? Is one who is impertinent and does not take God seriously someone who loves the truth? It is established that one who treats the truth and God as children’s games, as empty air, is not someone who loves the truth.
Some people follow their own wills when they act. They violate the principles and admit only that they are arrogant, that they made a mistake only because they do not have the truth. In their hearts, they even complain, “No one else sticks their neck out, just me—and in the end, I get stuck with the responsibility. That’s dumb of me. I won’t do the same thing next time, sticking my neck out. Birds that stick their necks out get shot!” What do you think of this attitude? Is it an attitude of repentance? (No.) What attitude is it? Through the mistake they make, they become slippery and deceitful—a fall in the pit, a gain in your wit, so to speak. “I’m lucky that didn’t lead to a disaster. If I caused a disaster, I’d go to hell and be destroyed. I have to be more careful in the future.” They do not seek the truth, using their pettiness and cunning schemes to handle and treat the matter. Can they gain the truth in this way? They cannot—they do not know to repent. The first thing to be done when repenting is to know the thing you have done and to understand where you have erred, the essence of the problem, and the disposition you have revealed; reflect on these things and accept them, then practice according to the truth. This is the attitude of repentance. If, on the other hand, your way of considering the issue is more slippery than before, and your techniques are more clever and concealed, and you have more methods to deal with it, then the problem is not quite as simple as being deceitful. You are using underhanded means and you have secrets you will not divulge, and what you are doing is evil. God sees you as overly hard and evil, one who superficially admits that they have erred and accepts being dealt with and pruned, yet who is without even the least bit of a repentant attitude. This is because, in the aftermath of the event or while it is happening, you do not practice according to the truth at all, nor do you seek it. Your attitude is one of using Satan’s methods, techniques and philosophies to resolve or sidestep the problem, to wrap it up in a neat package so that others can see no trace of the problem, nor see the package’s seams—and, in the end, you feel you are quite smart. These are the things God sees, rather than your having truly reflected, repented, and confessed your sin in the face of the matter that has befallen you, then going on to seek the truth and practicing according to the truth. Your attitude is not one of seeking the truth or of practicing the truth, nor is it one of submission to God’s sovereignty and arrangements, but one of using Satan’s techniques and methods to resolve your problem. You give others a false impression and resist being exposed by God, and you are confrontational and defensive regarding the circumstances that God has orchestrated for you. This means your heart is more closed than before. If you are more closed to God, can you still live in the light, with peace and joy? No longer—you have shunned the truth and shunned God. Is such a state prevalent in people? “I was dealt with this time. Next time, I’ve got to be more careful, and smarter. Being smart is the foundation of life—and people who aren’t smart are dummies.” If you are always guiding and goading yourself so, will you ever get anywhere? Will you be able to gain the truth? If an issue befalls you and you can seek the truth, then you can understand an aspect of the truth and gain that aspect of the truth. What can be achieved by understanding the truth? When you understand an aspect of the truth, you understand an aspect of God’s will, and you understand why God visited this thing on you, why He would make such a demand of you, why He would orchestrate circumstances to chasten and discipline you so, why He would use this matter to discipline you, and why you have fallen down, failed, and been exposed in this matter. If you can understand these things, you will be able to pursue the truth and will achieve life entry. If you cannot understand these things and do not accept these facts, but insist on opposition and resistance, on using your own techniques to cover up after yourself, on facing all others and facing God with a false countenance, then you will be forever unable to gain the truth.
—“Only by Pursuing the Truth Can One Resolve Their Notions and Misunderstandings of God” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days
The Holy Spirit usually works on those whose hearts are honest, and He works when people get into trouble and are seeking the truth. God will not pay heed to those who have no shred of human reason or conscience. If someone is very honest but, for a period of time, his heart is turned away from God, he has no desire to improve, he falls into a negative state and does not come out of it, when he does not pray or seek the truth to resolve his state, and he does not cooperate, then the Holy Spirit will not work in him during such occasional darkening of his state or his temporary degeneration. How, then, can someone without the consciousness of humanity be worked in by the Holy Spirit? That is even more impossible. What, then, should such people do? Is there a way for them to follow? They must genuinely repent and be honest people. How can one be an honest person? First, your heart must open up to God, and you must seek truth from God; once you understand the truth, you must then practice it. You must then submit to God’s arrangements and allow God to take charge of you. Only in this way will you be praised by God. You must first set aside your own prestige and vanity, and forgo your own interests. Try to set them aside first of all, and once you have set them aside, put your entire body and soul into your duty and into the work of testifying for God, and then see how God guides you, see whether peace and joy arise within you, whether you have this confirmation. You must first genuinely repent, surrender yourself, open your heart to God, and set aside the things that you treasure. If you continue to hold on to them while making requests of God, will you be able to gain the work of the Holy Spirit? The work of the Holy Spirit is conditional, and God is a God who hates evil and who is holy. If people always hold on to these things, constantly closing themselves off to God and rejecting God’s work and guidance, then God will stop working on them. It is not that God must work within every person, or that He will force you to do this or that. He does not coerce you. The work of evil spirits is to force humans to do this and that, and even to possess and control people. The Holy Spirit works especially gently; He moves you, and you do not feel it. You simply feel as though you have unconsciously come to understand or realize something. This is how the Holy Spirit moves people, and, if they submit, they will find themselves able to truly repent.
—“Give Your True Heart to God, and You Can Obtain the Truth” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days
While following God, because of their foolishness and ignorance and due to their various corrupt dispositions, people often reveal themselves to be disobedient, and they misunderstand or even resent God. They go astray, and some even become negative and slacken in their work, resenting God and losing their faith. Disobedient behaviors often arise over various stages of people’s lives. They have God in their hearts and know He is at work, yet they sometimes cannot get their heads around that fact. Though they are able to submit superficially, they simply cannot accept it deep down. What makes it evident that deep down they cannot accept it? One way this manifests is that, despite knowing everything, they are simply unable to put aside what they have done and come before God to admit to their mistakes and say, “God, I was wrong. I won’t act like that anymore. I will seek Your will and do as You’d have me do. I didn’t use to heed You; I was immature, disobedient, and foolish. I know that now.” With what attitude do people admit to their mistakes? (They want to make a turnaround.) If people have conscience and sense, and yearn for the truth, yet they never know to make a turnaround in their mistakes, believing instead that the past is past and feeling certain that they are never wrong, then what sort of disposition does this show? What sort of behavior? What is the essence of such behavior? Such people are hardened and, come what may, that is the path they will follow. God does not like such people. What did Jonah say when he first expressed God’s words to the Ninevites? (“Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown” (Jon 3:4).) How did the Ninevites react to these words? As soon as they saw that God was going to destroy them, they took up sackcloth and ashes, and hastened to confess their sins to Him. This is what it means to repent. Such repentance presents man with an enormous opportunity. What opportunity is that? It is the opportunity to keep on living. Without such repentance, it would be hard for you to continue forward, whether in your performance of duty or in your search for salvation. At every stage—whether when God is disciplining or chastening you, or when He is reminding and exhorting you—as long as a conflict has occurred between you and God, yet you continue to cling to your own ideas, viewpoints, and attitudes, then even though your steps are headed forward, the conflict between you and God, your misunderstandings and resentment of Him, and your rebelliousness will not be rectified, and, if you do not make a turnaround, then God, for His part, will eliminate you. Though you have not let go of the duty at hand, and are able to uphold it, and though you have accepted God’s commission and are loyal to it, there will forever remain by you the knot of the dispute that has arisen between you and God. If you do not untie it, or let go of it, and instead continue to believe that God is mistaken and that you have been wronged, then this means you have not made a turnaround. Why does God place such importance on making a turnaround for people? With what attitude should a created being regard the Creator? An attitude that acknowledges that the Creator is right, no matter what He does. If you do not acknowledge this, that the Creator is the truth, the way, and the life will be but hollow words to you. If they are but hollow words to you, will God still be able to save you? He will not. You would be unqualified; God does not save people like you. There are some who say, “God asks that people be repentant, and that they know to make a turnaround. Well, in many things, I haven’t made a turnaround. Do I still have time to do it?” Yes, there is still time. Additionally, some say, “In what things do I have to make a turnaround? Things in the past are gone and forgotten.” If your disposition does not change even for a single day, and if even a single day goes by without your coming to know what in your actions does not accord with the truth and what cannot accord with God, then that knot that exists between you and God has not yet been untied; the matter has not been resolved, nor has it passed. This disposition is within you; this idea, viewpoint, and attitude is inside you. As soon as the right circumstances appear, this viewpoint of yours will once again emerge, and your conflict with God will flare up. Thus, though you may not rectify the past, you must rectify things that will happen in the future. How are they to be rectified? You must make a turnaround and put aside your ideas and intentions. Once you have this intent, yours will naturally also be an attitude of submission. However, to speak a bit more precisely, this actually refers to people making a turnaround in their attitude toward God, the Creator; it is a recognition and affirmation of the fact that the Creator is the truth, the way, and the life. If you can turn yourself around, this demonstrates that you can put aside those things you think are right, or those things that mankind—which is corrupt—thinks collectively to be right; and, instead, you are acknowledging that God’s words are the truth and positive things. If you can have this attitude, it proves your recognition of the identity of the Creator and of His essence. This is how God views the issue, and He therefore considers it especially important. …
In those matters in which people have failed to stay in their proper places, and have failed to accomplish what they ought to—that is to say, when they fail in their duty—it will become a constant preoccupation with them. This is an exceedingly practical problem, and one that has to be resolved. So how to resolve it? What kind of attitude should people have? Before all else, they must be willing to reform themselves. And how should this willingness to reform be put into practice? Say there’s someone who, having been a leader for twenty years, is replaced because they are of poor caliber, not fit for the job, and incapable of doing real work. After being replaced, they become extremely negative. Of what does this negativity consist? If, after being replaced, they are still able to perform their duty to an acceptable standard, and are loyal and obedient, and willing to reform, what should they do? How should they behave? First of all, they should say, “God was right to do as He did. My caliber is so very poor, and all these years, I’ve done no real work and instead only held up the work of the house of God and the brothers’ and sisters’ entry into life. I’m lucky that God did not expel me outright. I’ve really been pretty shameless, hanging onto my position all this time and even believing myself to have done such marvelous work.” To be able to feel self-loathing and a sense of remorse: Is it or is it not an expression of the willingness to reform? Firstly, if they are able to put this into practice, it means they are willing. Secondly, if they say, “I am of poor caliber, and did not do a good job before. So what can I do now? In one’s faith, their duty doesn’t consist only of being a leader. Whatever I can do, I should do it. If I can write articles, I should write articles, and if I can water newcomers, then I should water newcomers. God asks that humanity perform their duty to an acceptable standard, so I should reach for this, too,” then this is another expression of that willingness. Here’s another thing: They may say, “All these years that I’ve been a leader, I have always striven for the benefits of status, and to preach doctrine, and to equip myself with doctrine; I did not strive for entry into life, and I did not understand what it is to obey. Only now that I’ve been replaced do I see just how inadequate and lacking I am. God did the right thing, and I must obey. In the past, I had status, and people treated me well; they would surround me wherever I went. Now no one takes any notice of me, and I am hated, loathed, and forsaken; this too is my due, it is the retribution I deserve. Moreover, how could a created being have any status before God? Status is neither the end nor the destination; what God has commissioned me with is for me to fulfill my duty, and I should do whatever I can. In another regard, I should have an attitude of obedience toward the arrangements of God and the work arrangements of the house of God. Although obedience may be hard, I needs must obey; God is right to do as He does, and even supposing I had thousands, tens of thousands, of excuses, none of them would be the truth. I’m better off obeying!” Without exception, these are all expressions of the willingness to reform. And if one were to possess all of these, how might God appraise such a person? God would say that this is a person of conscience and reason. Is this assessment high? (Yes.) It is not overly high; having conscience and reason alone falls short of the standard for being made perfect by God—but as far as this kind of person is concerned, it’s already no small accomplishment. After that, how you go about your pursuit and make God change His opinion of you will depend on what path you take.
—“Only by Resolving One’s Notions Can One Enter the Right Track of Believing in God (3)” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days