3. How one can achieve true love for God
Relevant Words of God:
Today, as you seek to love and know God, in one respect you must endure hardship and refinement, and in another, you must pay a price. No lesson is more profound than the lesson of loving God, and it can be said that the lesson people learn from a lifetime of belief is how to love God. Which is to say, if you believe in God you must love God. If you only believe in God but do not love Him and have not attained the knowledge of God, and have never loved God with a true love that comes from within your heart, then your belief in God is futile; if, in your belief in God, you do not love God, then you live in vain, and your entire life is the most lowly of all lives. If, throughout your whole life, you have never loved or satisfied God, then what is the point of you living? And what is the point of your belief in God? Is that not a waste of effort? This is to say, if people are to believe in and love God, then they must pay a price. Rather than trying to act in a certain way externally, they should seek true insight in the depths of their hearts. If you are enthusiastic about singing and dancing, but incapable of putting the truth into practice, can you be said to love God? Loving God requires seeking God’s will in all things, and that you probe deep within when anything happens to you, trying to grasp God’s will, and trying to see what God’s will is in the matter, what He asks you to achieve, and how you should be mindful of His will. For example: Something happens that requires you to endure hardship, at which time you should understand what God’s will is and how you should be mindful of His will. You must not satisfy yourself: First put yourself to one side. Nothing is more abject than the flesh. You must seek to satisfy God, and you must fulfill your duty. With such thoughts, God will bring especial enlightenment to you in this matter, and your heart will also find comfort. Be it big or small, when something happens to you, you must first put yourself to one side and regard the flesh as the most lowly of all things. The more you satisfy the flesh, the more liberties it takes; if you satisfy it this time, next time it will ask for more. As this carries on, people come to love the flesh even more. The flesh always has extravagant desires; it always asks that you satisfy it and that you gratify it within, whether it be in the things you eat, what you wear, or in losing your temper, or pandering to your own weaknesses and laziness…. The more you satisfy the flesh, the greater its desires become and the more debauched the flesh becomes, until it gets to the point when people’s flesh harbors even deeper notions, and disobeys God, and exalts itself, and becomes doubtful about the work of God. The more you satisfy the flesh, the greater the weaknesses of the flesh; you will always feel that no one sympathizes with your weaknesses, you will always believe that God has gone too far, and you will say: “How could God be so harsh? Why won’t He give people a break?” When people satisfy the flesh and cherish it too much, then they ruin themselves. If you truly love God and do not satisfy the flesh, then you will see that everything God does is so right and so good, and that His curse of your rebelliousness and judgment of your unrighteousness is justified. There will be times when God chastens and disciplines you and raises up an environment to temper you, forcing you to come before Him—and you will always feel that what God is doing is wonderful. Thus you will feel as if there is not much pain, and that God is so lovely. If you pander to the weaknesses of the flesh and say that God goes too far, then you will always feel in pain, and will always be depressed, and you will be unclear about all of the work of God, and it will seem as if God is not sympathetic to man’s weakness at all and unaware of man’s difficulties. And thus you will always feel miserable and alone, as if you have suffered great injustice, and at this time you will begin to complain. The more you pander to the weaknesses of the flesh in this way, the more you will feel that God goes too far, until it gets so bad that you deny the work of God, and begin to oppose God, and become full of disobedience. Thus, you must rebel against the flesh, and not pander to it: “My husband (wife), children, prospects, marriage, family—none of them matter! In my heart there is only God, and I must try my best to satisfy God and not satisfy the flesh.” You must have this resolve. If you are always possessed of such resolve, then when you put the truth into practice and put yourself aside, you will be able to do so with but a little effort. It is said that there was once a farmer who saw a snake that was frozen stiff on the road. The farmer picked it up and held it to his breast, and after the snake was revived it bit the farmer to death. Man’s flesh is like the snake: Its substance is to harm their lives—and when it completely gets its own way, your life becomes forfeit. The flesh belongs to Satan. Within it are extravagant desires, it thinks only for itself, it wants to enjoy comfort and revel in leisure, wallowing in sloth and idleness, and having satisfied it to a certain point you will ultimately be eaten up by it. Which is to say, if you satisfy it this time, next time it will come asking for more. It always has extravagant desires and new demands, and takes advantage of your pandering to the flesh to make you cherish it even more and live among its comforts—and if you do not overcome it, you will ultimately ruin yourself. Whether you can gain life before God and what your ultimate end will be, depend on how you carry out your rebellion against the flesh. God has saved you and chosen you and predestined you, yet if today you are unwilling to satisfy Him, you are unwilling to put the truth into practice, you are unwilling to rebel against your own flesh with a heart that truly loves God, ultimately you will ruin yourself, and will thus endure extreme pain. If you always pander to the flesh, Satan will gradually swallow you up, and leave you without life, or the touch of the Spirit, until the day comes when you are completely dark inside. When you live in darkness, you will have been taken captive by Satan, you will no longer have God in your heart, and at that time you will deny God’s existence and leave Him. Thus, if people wish to love God, they must pay the price of pain and endure hardship. There is no need for external fervency and hardship, reading more and running about more; instead, they should put aside the things within them: the extravagant thoughts, personal interests, and their own considerations, notions, and intentions. Such is God’s will.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Only Loving God Is Truly Believing in God
Man has ever lived beneath the shroud of the influence of darkness, held in bondage to the influence of Satan, unable to escape, and his disposition, having been processed by Satan, becomes increasingly corrupt. It can be said that man has always lived amid his corrupt satanic disposition and is incapable of truly loving God. This being so, if man wishes to love God, he must be stripped of his self-righteousness, self-importance, arrogance, conceit, and the like—everything that is of Satan’s disposition. If not, his love is an impure love, a satanic love, and one which absolutely cannot receive the approval of God. Without being directly perfected, dealt with, broken, pruned, disciplined, chastened, and refined by the Holy Spirit, no one is able truly to love God.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Corrupt Man Is Incapable of Representing God
When people contact God with their hearts, when their hearts are able to turn to Him entirely, this is the first step in man’s love for God. If you want to love God, you must first be able to turn your heart to Him. What is turning your heart to God? It is when everything that you pursue in your heart is for the sake of loving and gaining God. This shows that you have completely turned your heart to God. Aside from God and His words, there is almost nothing else in your heart (family, wealth, husband, wife, children, etc.). Even if there is, such things cannot occupy your heart, and you do not think of your future prospects but only pursue loving God. At such time you will have completely turned your heart to God. Suppose you are still making plans for yourself in your heart and are always pursuing personal profit, always thinking: “When can I make a small request of God? When will my family become wealthy? How can I get some nice clothing? …” If you are living in that state it shows that your heart has not fully turned to God. If you only have God’s words in your heart and you are able to pray to God and become close to Him at all times—as if He is very close to you, as if God is within you and you are within Him—if you are in that kind of state, it means that your heart is in the presence of God. If you pray to God and eat and drink of His words every day, are always thinking of the work of the church, and if you show consideration for God’s will, use your heart to love Him genuinely and satisfy His heart, then your heart will belong to God. If your heart is occupied by a number of other things, then it is still occupied by Satan and it has not truly turned to God. When someone’s heart has truly turned toward God, they will have genuine, spontaneous love for Him and will be able to consider God’s work. Although they may still have moments of foolishness and unreasonableness, they show concern for the interests of the house of God, His work, and their own change in disposition, and their heart is in the right place.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Genuine Love for God Is Spontaneous
If you wish to love God truly and to be gained by Him, the first step is to turn your heart toward God entirely. In every single thing that you do, search yourself and ask: “Am I doing this based on a heart of love for God? Are there any personal intentions behind this? What is my actual goal in doing this?” If you want to hand your heart over to God, you must first subdue your own heart, give up on all of your own intentions, and achieve a state of being wholly for God. This is the path to practicing giving your heart to God. What does subduing one’s own heart refer to? It is letting go of the extravagant desires of one’s flesh, not coveting comfort or the benefits of status. It is doing everything to satisfy God, and making one’s heart fully for Him, not for one’s self. This is sufficient.
Genuine love for God comes from deep within the heart; it is a love that only exists on the basis of man’s knowledge of God. When someone’s heart completely turns toward God, then they have love for God, but that love is not necessarily pure and not necessarily complete. This is because there is still some distance between a person’s heart completely turning toward God and that person having a genuine understanding of God and a genuine adoration for Him. The way by which man achieves true love of God and comes to know God’s disposition is to turn his heart toward God. When man gives his true heart over to God, then he begins to enter into the experience of life. In this way, his disposition starts to change, his love for God gradually grows, and his knowledge of God also gradually increases. So, turning one’s heart to God is only the precondition for getting on the right track of life experience. When people place their hearts before God, they only have a heart of longing for Him but not of love for Him, because they do not have an understanding of Him. Even though in this circumstance they do have some love for Him, it is not spontaneous and it is not genuine. This is because anything that derives from man’s flesh is the product of emotion and does not come from genuine understanding. It is just a momentary impulse and it cannot result in long-lasting adoration. When people do not have an understanding of God, they can only love Him based on their own preferences and their individual notions; this type of love cannot be called spontaneous love, nor can it be called genuine love. A man’s heart may genuinely turn toward God, and be capable of thinking of God’s interests in everything, but if he has no understanding of God, he will not be capable of having genuinely spontaneous love. All that he will be able to do is fulfill some functions for the church or perform a bit of his duty, but he will do so without basis. The disposition of this kind of person is hard to change; such people either do not pursue the truth, or do not understand it. Even if a person entirely turns their heart toward God, it does not mean that their God-loving heart is completely pure, because those who have God in their hearts do not necessarily have love for God in their hearts. This concerns the distinction between someone who does or does not pursue understanding of God. Once a person has an understanding of Him, it shows that their heart has fully turned toward God, it shows that their genuine love for God in their heart is spontaneous. Only people of this kind have God in their hearts. Turning one’s heart toward God is a precondition for one’s getting onto the right track, for understanding God, and for achieving love of God. It is not a marker of completing one’s duty to love God, nor is it a marker of having genuine love for Him. The only way for someone to achieve genuine love of God is to turn their heart toward Him, which is also the first thing one ought to do as one of His creations. Those who love God are all people who pursue life, that is, people who pursue the truth and truly want God; they all have the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit and have been moved by Him. They are all able to obtain God’s guidance.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Genuine Love for God Is Spontaneous
Just how much do you love God today? And just how much do you know of all that God has done in you? These are the things you should learn. When God arrives on earth, all that He has done in man and allowed man to see is so that man will love Him and truly know Him. That man is able to suffer for God and has been able to come this far is, in one regard, because of God’s love, and in another regard, because of God’s salvation; moreover, it is because of the judgment and the work of chastisement that God has carried out in man. If you are without the judgment, chastisement, and trials of God, and if God has not made you suffer, then, in all honesty you do not truly love God. The greater God’s work in man, and the greater man’s suffering, the more apparent it is just how meaningful God’s work is, and the more that man’s heart is able to truly love God. How do you learn how to love God? Without torment and refinement, without painful trials—and if, furthermore, all that God gave man were grace, love, and mercy—would you be able to reach a point of truly loving God? On one hand, during God’s trials man comes to know his deficiencies and to see that he is insignificant, contemptible, and lowly, that he has nothing and is nothing; on the other hand, during His trials God creates different environments for man that make man more able to experience the loveliness of God. Although the pain is great, and sometimes insurmountable—even reaching the level of crushing grief—having experienced it, man sees how lovely God’s work in him is, and only upon this foundation is there born in man true love for God. Today man sees that with the grace, love, and mercy of God alone, he is incapable of truly knowing himself, and much less is he able to know the substance of man. Only through both the refinement and judgment of God, and during the process of refinement itself, can man know his deficiencies, and know that he has nothing. Thus, man’s love of God is built upon the foundation of the refinement and judgment of God.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Only by Experiencing Painful Trials Can You Know the Loveliness of God
When God works to refine man, man suffers. The greater a person’s refinement, the greater their love of God will be, and the more of God’s might will be revealed in them. Conversely, the less refinement a person receives, the less their love of God will grow, and the less God’s might will be revealed in them. The greater such a person’s refinement and pain and the more torment they experience, the deeper their love of God will grow, the more genuine their faith in God will become, and the more profound their knowledge of God will be. In your experiences, you will see people who suffer greatly as they are refined, who are dealt with and disciplined much, and you will see that it is those people who have a deep love for God and a more profound and penetrating knowledge of God. Those who have not experienced being dealt with have but a superficial knowledge, and they can only say: “God is so good, He bestows grace upon people so that they can enjoy Him.” If people have experienced being dealt with and disciplined, then they are able to speak about the true knowledge of God. So the more wondrous God’s work in man is, the more valuable and significant it is. The more impenetrable it is to you and the more incompatible it is with your notions, the more God’s work is able to conquer you, gain you, and make you perfect. How great is the significance of God’s work! If God did not refine man in this way, if He did not work according to this method, then His work would be ineffectual and without significance. It was said in the past that God would select and gain this group, and make them complete in the last days; in this, there is extraordinary significance. The greater the work He carries out within you, the deeper and purer your love for God. The greater the work of God, the more man is able to grasp something of His wisdom and the deeper is man’s knowledge of Him.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Those Who Are to Be Made Perfect Must Undergo Refinement
The greater God’s refinement, the more people’s hearts are able to love God. The torment in their hearts is of benefit to their lives, they are more able to be at peace before God, their relationship with God is closer, and they are better able to see God’s supreme love and His supreme salvation. Peter experienced refinement hundreds of times, and Job underwent several trials. If you wish to be made perfect by God, you too must undergo refinement hundreds of times; only if you go through this process and rely upon this step will you be able to satisfy God’s will and be made perfect by God. Refinement is the best means by which God makes people perfect; only refinement and bitter trials can bring out the true love for God in people’s hearts. Without hardship, people lack true love for God; if they are not tested within, if they are not truly subjected to refinement, then their hearts will always be floating around outside. Having been refined to a certain point, you will see your own weaknesses and difficulties, you will see how much you are lacking and that you are unable to overcome the many problems you encounter, and you will see how great is your disobedience. Only during trials are people able to truly know their real states; trials make people better able to be perfected.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Only by Experiencing Refinement Can Man Possess True Love
If you wish to see God’s love, if you wish to truly experience God’s love, then you must go deep into reality, you must go deep into real life and see that everything God does is love and salvation, that all He does is to enable people to leave behind that which is unclean, and to refine the things within man that are unable to satisfy God’s will. God uses words to provide to man; He arranges the circumstances of real life for people to experience, and if people eat and drink many of God’s words, then when they actually put them into practice, they can resolve all the difficulties in their lives using many words of God. Which is to say, you must have the words of God in order to go deep into reality; if you do not eat and drink the words of God and are without the work of God, then you will have no path in real life. If you never eat or drink the words of God, then you will be confounded when something happens to you. You only know that you should love God, but you are incapable of any differentiation and have no path of practice; you are muddled and confused, and sometimes you even believe that by satisfying the flesh you are satisfying God—all of this is the consequence of not eating and drinking God’s words. Which is to say, if you are without the aid of God’s words and only grope about within reality, then you are fundamentally incapable of finding the path of practice. People such as this simply do not understand what it means to believe in God, much less do they understand what it means to love God. If, using the enlightenment and guidance of God’s words, you often pray, and explore, and seek, and through this you discover that which you ought to put into practice, find opportunities for the work of the Holy Spirit, truly cooperate with God, and are not muddled and confused, then you will have a path in real life, and will truly satisfy God. When you have satisfied God, inside you there will be the guidance of God, and you will be especially blessed by God, which will give you a sense of enjoyment: You will feel especially honored that you have satisfied God, you will feel especially bright inside, and in your heart you will be clear and peaceful. Your conscience will be comforted and free from accusations, and you will feel pleasant inside when you see your brothers and sisters. This is what it means to enjoy God’s love, and only this is truly enjoying God. People’s enjoyment of God’s love is attained through experience: By experiencing hardship, and experiencing putting the truth into practice, they gain God’s blessings. If you only say that God really loves you, that God has truly paid a heavy price for people’s sake, that He has patiently and kindly spoken so many words and always saves people, your utterance of these words is only one side of the enjoyment of God. Yet, greater enjoyment—real enjoyment—is when people put the truth into practice in their real life, after which they are peaceful and clear in their hearts. They feel greatly moved inside and feel that God is most lovable. You will feel that the price you have paid is more than fair. Having paid a great price in your efforts, you will be especially bright inside: You will feel that you are truly enjoying God’s love and you will understand that God has done the work of salvation in people, that His refinement of people is meant to purify them, and that God tries people in order to test whether they truly love Him. If you always put the truth into practice in this way, then you will gradually develop a clear knowledge of much of God’s work, and at that time you will feel that God’s words before you are as clear as crystal. If you can clearly understand many truths, you will feel that all matters are easy to put into practice, that you can overcome any issue and overcome any temptation, and you will see that nothing is a problem for you, which will greatly free you and liberate you. At this moment, you will be enjoying God’s love, and God’s true love will have come upon you. God blesses those who have visions, who have the truth, who have knowledge, and who truly love Him. If people wish to behold God’s love, they must put the truth into practice in real life, they must be willing to endure pain and forsake that which they love to satisfy God, and despite the tears in their eyes, they must still be able to satisfy God’s heart. In this way, God will surely bless you, and if you endure hardship such as this, it will be followed by the work of the Holy Spirit. Through the real life, and through experiencing God’s words, people are able to see God’s loveliness, and only if they have tasted God’s love can they truly love Him.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Those Who Love God Will Forever Live Within His Light
The more you put the truth into practice, the more you are possessed of the truth; the more you put the truth into practice, the more you possess God’s love; and the more you put the truth into practice, the more you are blessed by God. If you always practice in this way, God’s love for you will gradually enable you to see, just as Peter came to know God: Peter said that God not only has the wisdom to create the heavens and earth and all things, but, moreover, that He also has the wisdom to do real work in people. Peter said that He is not only worthy of people’s love because of His creation of the heavens and earth and all things, but, moreover, because of His ability to create man, to save man, to make man perfect, and to bequeath His love to man. So, too, did Peter say that there is much in Him that is worthy of man’s love. Peter said to Jesus: “Is creating the heavens and earth and all things the only reason You deserve people’s love? There is more in You that is lovable. You act and move in real life, Your Spirit touches me inside, You discipline me, You reproach me—these things are even more worthy of people’s love.” If you wish to see and experience God’s love, then you must explore and seek in real life and must be willing to put aside your own flesh. You must make this resolution. You must be someone with resolve who is able to satisfy God in all things, without being lazy or coveting the enjoyments of the flesh, not living for the flesh but living for God. There may be times when you do not satisfy God. That is because you do not understand God’s will; the next time, even though it will take more effort, you must satisfy Him and must not satisfy the flesh. When you experience in this way, you will have come to know God. You will see that God can create the heavens and earth and all things, that He has become flesh so that people can actually see Him and actually engage with Him; you will see that He is able to walk among man, and that His Spirit can make people perfect in real life, allowing them to see His loveliness and experience His discipline, His chastening, and His blessings. If you always experience in this way, in real life you will be inseparable from God, and if one day your relationship with God ceases to be normal, you will be able to suffer reproach and to feel remorse. When you have a normal relationship with God, you will never wish to leave God, and if one day God says He will leave you, you will be afraid, and will say that you would rather die than be left by God. As soon as you have these emotions, you will feel that you are incapable of leaving God, and in this way, you will have a foundation, and will truly enjoy God’s love.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Those Who Love God Will Forever Live Within His Light
Anything in Peter’s life that did not satisfy God’s desire made him feel uneasy. If it did not satisfy God’s desire, then he would feel remorseful, and would look for a suitable way by which he could strive to satisfy God’s heart. In even the smallest and most inconsequential aspects of his life, still he required himself to satisfy God’s desire. He was no less exacting when it came to his old disposition, ever rigorous in his requirements of himself to progress deeper into the truth. … In his belief in God, Peter sought to satisfy God in everything, and sought to obey all that came from God. Without the slightest complaint, he was able to accept chastisement and judgment, as well as refinement, tribulation and going without in his life, none of which could alter his love for God. Was this not the ultimate love for God? Was this not the fulfillment of the duty of a creature of God? Whether in chastisement, judgment, or tribulation, you are always capable of achieving obedience unto death, and this is what should be achieved by a creature of God, this is the purity of the love for God. If man can achieve this much, then he is a qualified creature of God, and there is nothing which better satisfies the desire of the Creator. Imagine that you are able to work for God, yet you do not obey God, and are incapable of truly loving God. In this way, not only will you not have fulfilled the duty of a creature of God, but you will also be condemned by God, for you are someone who does not possess the truth, who is incapable of obeying God, and who is disobedient to God. You only care about working for God, and do not care about putting the truth into practice or knowing yourself. You do not understand or know the Creator, and do not obey or love the Creator. You are someone who is innately disobedient to God, and so such people are not beloved by the Creator.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Success or Failure Depends on the Path That Man Walks
During his lifetime, Peter experienced refinement hundreds of times and underwent many painful ordeals. This refinement became the foundation of his supreme love of God, and the most significant experience of his entire life. That he was able to possess a supreme love of God was, in one sense, because of his resolve to love God; more importantly, however, it was because of the refinement and suffering that he underwent. This suffering became his guide on the path of loving God, and the thing that was most memorable to him. If people do not undergo the pain of refinement when loving God, then their love is full of impurities and their own preferences; love such as this is full of the ideas of Satan, and fundamentally incapable of satisfying God’s will. Having the resolve to love God is not the same as truly loving God. Even though all that they think of in their hearts is for the sake of loving and satisfying God, and even though their thoughts seem to be entirely devoted to God and devoid of any human ideas, yet when their thoughts are brought before God, He does not commend or bless such thoughts. Even when people have fully understood all truths—when they have come to know them all—this cannot be said to be a sign of loving God, it cannot be said that these people actually love God. Despite having understood many truths without undergoing refinement, people are incapable of putting these truths into practice; only during refinement can people understand the real meaning of these truths, only then can people genuinely appreciate their inner meaning. At that time, when they try again, they are able to put the truths into practice properly, and in accordance with God’s will; at that time, their human ideas are lessened, their human corruption is reduced, and their human emotions are diminished; only at that time is their practice a true manifestation of the love of God. The effect of the truth of the love of God is not achieved through spoken knowledge or mental willingness, and nor can it be achieved simply by understanding that truth. It requires that people pay a price, that they undergo much bitterness during refinement, and only then will their love become pure and after God’s own heart. In His requirement that man love Him, God does not demand that man love Him using passion or his own will; only through loyalty and the use of the truth to serve Him can man truly love Him.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Only by Experiencing Refinement Can Man Possess True Love
Man must pursue to live out a life of meaning, and should not be satisfied with his current circumstances. To live out the image of Peter, he must possess the knowledge and experiences of Peter. Man must pursue things that are higher and more profound. He must pursue a deeper, purer love of God, and a life that has value and meaning. Only this is life; only then will man be the same as Peter. You must focus on being proactive toward your entry on the positive side, and must not submissively allow yourself to backslide for the sake of momentary ease while ignoring more profound, more specific, and more practical truths. Your love must be practical, and you must find ways to free yourself from this depraved, carefree life that is no different from an animal’s. You must live out a life of meaning, a life of value, and you must not fool yourself or treat your life like a toy to be played with. For everyone who aspires to love God, there are no unobtainable truths and no justice for which they cannot stand firm. How should you live your life? How should you love God, and use this love to satisfy His desire? There is no greater matter in your life. Above all, you must have such aspirations and perseverance, and should not be like those who are spineless, those who are weaklings. You must learn how to experience a meaningful life and experience meaningful truths, and should not treat yourself perfunctorily in that way. Without you realizing it, your life will pass you by; after that, will you have another opportunity to love God? Can man love God after he is dead? You must have the same aspirations and conscience as Peter; your life must be meaningful, and you must not play games with yourself. As a human being, and as a person who pursues God, you must be able to carefully consider how you treat your life, how you should offer yourself to God, how you should have a more meaningful faith in God, and how, since you love God, you should love Him in a way that is more pure, more beautiful, and more good.
—The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. The Experiences of Peter: His Knowledge of Chastisement and Judgment