3. What is the relationship between true repentance and knowledge of oneself?
Relevant Words of God:
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.
Excerpted from “To Know Oneself Is Primarily About Knowing Human Nature” in Records of Christ’s Talks
Paul did not know his own essence or corruption, much less did he know his own disobedience. He never mentioned his despicable defiance of Christ, nor was he overly regretful. He only offered a brief explanation and, deep down in his heart, he did not completely submit to God. Though he fell on the road to Damascus, he did not look deep within himself. He was content merely to keep working, and he did not consider knowing himself and changing his old disposition to be the most crucial of issues. He was satisfied with merely speaking the truth, with providing to others as a salve for his own conscience, and with no longer persecuting Jesus’ disciples to console himself and forgive himself for his past sins. The goal that he pursued was nothing more than a future crown and transitory work, the goal he pursued was abundant grace. He did not seek sufficient truth, nor did he seek to progress deeper into the truth which he had previously not understood. His knowledge of himself can therefore be said to be false, and he did not accept chastisement or judgment. That he was able to work does not mean he possessed a knowledge of his own nature or essence; his focus was on outward practices only. What he strived for, moreover, was not change, but knowledge. His work was completely the result of the appearance of Jesus on the road to Damascus. It was not something he had resolved to do originally, nor was it work that occurred after he had accepted the pruning of his old disposition. No matter how he worked, his old disposition did not change, and so his work did not atone for his past sins but merely played a certain role among the churches of the time. For someone such as this, whose old disposition did not change—that is to say, who did not gain salvation, and was even more without the truth—he was absolutely incapable of becoming one of those accepted by the Lord Jesus.
Excerpted from “Success or Failure Depends on the Path That Man Walks” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Sermon and Fellowship Excerpts for Reference:
Knowing yourself is the most critical and fundamental issue of entry into life. It is also the first issue that should be solved when people believe in God. Those who do not know themselves do not truly believe in God; their faith is merely for the sake of being blessed. Why do I say this? Two thousand years ago, the Lord Jesus said, “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Mat 4:17). Today, the Lord Jesus has returned, and now is the time for those who truly believe in God to be accepted into the kingdom of heaven. So what is the first problem people should address today? True repentance. If people are incapable of true repentance, they cannot enter the kingdom of heaven, period. To truly repent, you must first truly know yourself. The more people know themselves, the more capable they become of true repentance and real change. If they do not know themselves, they can never truly repent, nor is it possible for them to really change. Thus, knowing oneself is the first issue to be solved in order to truly repent and enter the kingdom of heaven. Everyone wants to enter the kingdom of heaven, but is this possible if their faith in God is like that of religious people? The religious people spend their whole lives expending for God, spreading the gospel, and testifying to the Lord, and they often pray to the Lord, confessing their sins and asking for forgiveness. But ultimately, do they truly repent? No. Though much of their behavior is good, they do not know their own corrupt essence, and continue to lie and sin frequently—which shows that they have not really repented at all. Mankind’s profound corruption is chiefly manifested in his lies, his attempts to trick God, and his opposition to God. True repentance is only achieved when he has genuinely become like a child, when he does not lie or try to trick God, and worships God with heart and honesty. So why do religious people often repent and confess their sins to the Lord, yet fail to truly repent and change? Because they do not know their own nature essence. This is where the root of the problem lies. When, seeing that they lie, rebel against God, and do not practice the truth, people persist in confessing to God, this does not count as knowing themselves. This is nothing more than beholding the fact of their sin and admitting that they are sinful; the essence and root of their ability to commit these sins, the essential questions of why people lie and try to trick God, meanwhile, remain invisible to them, leaving them incapable of attaining the true knowledge of themselves and true repentance. And so, regardless of how religious people pray to the Lord and confess their sins, they never truly know themselves. True knowledge of yourself is not just identifying what sins you have committed; of chief importance is being clear about the root and essence of your sins, just where these corrupt dispositions of man come from, and how they should be addressed in order to be cleansed. If such issues are not clear to people, and they only admit that they have sinned, then nothing can be solved, much less can they enter the kingdom of heaven. Some people say, “We believe in Almighty God. We eat and drink the words of God and hold assembly normally. So, too, do we perform our duty. Does this count as true repentance, or not? Can we enter the kingdom of heaven?” What do the words of God say? That only when people know themselves, and attain changes in their life disposition, does this count as true repentance, and only then can they enter the kingdom of heaven. God’s words are clear about what the satanic nature of man is, what is contained within this satanic nature, what people’s attitude toward God is when they have a satanic nature, whether they are obedient, and fear God, and are compatible with God. If people do not pursue the truth, and do not focus on knowing themselves, they cannot truly repent.
Excerpted from Sermons and Fellowship on Entry Into Life
Today, you have basically seen some of the importance of knowing yourself. You see that if people do not know themselves, they are bound to think themselves wonderful. They will continue to be arrogant and conceited, crooked and deceitful, selfish and ignoble; they will still pursue the things they like, and will continue to take the wrong path. True repentance only occurs when people really know themselves. There are many manifestations of true repentance. They chiefly include: 1) divesting oneself of one’s corrupt disposition; 2) correcting the mistaken practices, views, notions, and ways of doing things of the past. These are the manifestations of true repentance. True repentance is an indicator of entry into the truth reality, as well as the starting point for entry into the truth reality. Only those who truly repent can set foot upon the correct path of human life and enter onto the right track of faith in God, and only then can they receive God’s praise and be after God’s heart. Without true repentance, people’s corrupt dispositions will continue to exist, their erroneous methods of faith in God will remain, they will still cling to old things, their way of seeing things will still be the perspective of Satan, and the path they take will bound to be that of the Pharisees—they will be hypocrites. Such people cannot be saved. The Lord Jesus said, “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Mat 4:17). Only those who truly repent can enter the kingdom of heaven; those who do not truly repent cannot, they are the ones who shall be eliminated. Thus is true repentance of the utmost importance! What are the chief conditions for attaining true repentance? What is the foundation? Knowing yourself. Only by knowing yourself can you achieve true repentance, and only by knowing yourself can your corruption be cleansed. To attain true repentance, you must focus on knowing yourself. If people do not know themselves—if theirs is a muddled faith in God—then can their corruption be cleansed by going to assembly, reading the words of God, spreading the gospel, and performing their duty every day? Will they be able to understand the truth, and gain the truth? Impossible. And so, if people believe in God but do not know themselves—if they are ever muddle-headed—there can be no true repentance.
Excerpted from Sermons and Fellowship on Entry Into Life