22. What is following man?
Relevant Words of God:
8. People who believe in God should obey God and worship Him. You should not exalt or look up to any person; you ought not to give first place to God, second place to the people you look up to, and third place to yourself. No person should hold a place in your heart, and you should not consider people—particularly those you venerate—to be on a par with God, to be His equal. This is intolerable to God.
from “The Ten Administrative Decrees That Must Be Obeyed by God’s Chosen People in the Age of Kingdom” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Some people do not rejoice in the truth, much less judgment. Rather, they rejoice in power and riches; such people are deemed to be snobs. They exclusively seek out those sects in the world with influence and those pastors and teachers coming from seminaries. Despite having accepted the way of truth, they remain skeptical and are unable to devote themselves fully. They speak of sacrificing for God, but their eyes are focused on the great pastors and teachers, and Christ is brushed aside. Their hearts are filled with fame, fortune, and glory. They do not believe at all that such a meager man is capable of conquering so many, that one so unremarkable is capable of perfecting people. They do not believe at all that these nobodies among the dust and dunghills are the people chosen by God. They believe that if such people were the objects of God’s salvation, then heaven and earth would be turned upside down and all men would laugh their heads off. They believe that if God chose such nobodies to be perfected, then those great men would become God Himself. Their perspectives are tainted with unbelief; indeed, far from unbelief, they are preposterous beasts. For they only value position, prestige, and power; what they hold in high regard are large groups and sects. They have no regard at all for those led by Christ; they are simply traitors who have turned their backs on Christ, on truth, and on life.
What you admire is not the humility of Christ, but those false shepherds of prominent standing. You do not love the loveliness or wisdom of Christ, but those wantons who associate with the vile world. You laugh at the pain of Christ who has no place to lay His head, but admire those corpses that seize offerings and live in debauchery. You are not willing to suffer alongside Christ, but gladly go into the arms of those reckless antichrists though they supply to you only flesh, only letters, and only control. Even now your heart still turns toward them, toward their reputation, toward their standing in the hearts of all the Satans, and toward their influence and authority. And yet you continue to hold an attitude of resisting and refusing to accept the work of Christ. This is why I say that you do not have the faith of acknowledging Christ. The reason you have followed Him to this day is entirely because you were forced. In your heart forever tower many lofty images; you cannot forget their every word and deed, nor their influential words and hands. They are, in your heart, forever supreme and forever heroes. But this is not so for the Christ of today. He is forever insignificant in your heart and forever undeserving of reverence. For He is far too ordinary, has far too little influence, and is far from lofty.
from “Are You a True Believer of God?” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
There are some people who are often deceived by those who outwardly seem spiritual, seem noble, seem to have lofty images. As for those people who can speak of letters and doctrines, and whose speech and actions appear worthy of admiration, their admirers have never looked at the essence of their actions, the principles behind their deeds, what their goals are. And they have never looked at whether these people truly obey God, and whether or not they are someone who truly fears God and shuns evil. They have never discerned the substance of the humanity of these people. Rather, from the first step of getting acquainted, bit by bit, they come to admire these people, venerate these people, and in the end these people become their idols. Moreover, in some people’s minds, the idols who they worship, who they believe can abandon their families and jobs, and pay the price on the surface—these idols are the ones who are really satisfying God, the ones who can really receive a good outcome and a good destination. In their minds, these idols are the people who God praises. What causes people to have this kind of belief? What’s the essence of this issue? What are the consequences it can lead to? Let’s first discuss the matter of its essence.
… There is only one root cause which makes people have these ignorant actions, ignorant viewpoints, or one-sided viewpoints and practices, and today I’ll tell you about it. The reason is that although people may follow God, pray to Him every day, and read the word of God every day, they don’t actually understand God’s will. This is the root of the problem. If someone understands God’s heart, understands what God likes, what God loathes, what God wants, what God rejects, what kind of person God loves, what kind of person God dislikes, what kind of standard God applies to His demands on man, what kind of approach He takes for perfecting man, can that person still have their own personal ideas? Can they just go and worship another person? Could an ordinary person become their idol? If one understands God’s will, their viewpoint is a bit more rational than that. They aren’t going to arbitrarily idolize a corrupted person, nor will they, while walking the path of putting truth into practice, believe that arbitrarily adhering to a few simple rules or principles is tantamount to putting truth into practice.
from “How to Know God’s Disposition and the Result of His Work” in Continuation of The Word Appears in the Flesh
It would be best for those people who say they follow God to open their eyes and take a good look to see exactly who they believe in: Is it really God that you believe in, or Satan? If you know that what you believe in is not God but your own idols, then you had best not say you are a believer. If you really do not know who you believe in then, again, you had best not say you are a believer. To say that would be blasphemy! No one is forcing you to believe in God. Do not say you believe in Me, as I heard enough of those words long ago and I do not wish to hear them again, because what you believe in are the idols in your hearts and the local villainous snakes among you. Those who shake their heads when they hear the truth, who smile widely when they hear talk of death are the offspring of Satan, and they are all objects to be eliminated. There exist in the church many people who have no discernment, and when something deceptive happens they just stand by Satan’s side. When they are called Satan’s lackeys they feel so wronged. And someone might say they have no discernment, but they always stand on the side without truth. There has not been a single critical time when they have stood on the side of truth, not a single time when they have stood up and argued for the truth, so are they really without discernment? Why do they always stand by Satan’s side? Why do they never say one word that is fair or reasonable for the truth? Is this situation really created by their momentary confusion? The less discernment someone has, the less able they are to stand on the side of truth. What does this show? Does it not show that those without discernment love evil? Does it not show that those without discernment are the loyal offspring of Satan? Why is it that they are always able to stand on the side of Satan and speak the same language as it? Their every word and deed, and their expressions prove amply that they are not any kind of lover of the truth, but rather that they are people who detest the truth. That they can stand on the side of Satan proves amply that Satan really loves these petty devils who fight for Satan’s sake all their lives. Are all these facts not abundantly clear? If you truly are someone who loves the truth, then why can’t you have any regard for those who practice the truth, and why do you immediately follow those who do not practice the truth the minute they have a slight change of countenance? What kind of problem is this?
from “A Warning to Those Who Do Not Practice the Truth” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
The Man’s Fellowship:
And what does it mean to follow people? It means that a person follows the worker or leader whom he worships. In his heart, God does not have much status; he simply wears the sign of being a believer in God. All that he does is imitate people and follow their example. Especially on major affairs, he lets people make the decisions, and lets people dictate his fate. He himself does not seek God’s wishes, and he does not apply discernment to what people say. As long as what they say seems reasonable, regardless of whether what they say conforms to truth, he accepts it all and obeys it. This is the behavior of a follower of men. His faith in God is unprincipled, and there is no truth in his handling of affairs. He complies with whomever speaks reasonably. Were his idol to take a wrong path, he would follow to the end. If God condemned his idol, he would have a notion about God, holding tightly to his idol. His reason is that he should obey whomever is in charge of him. A high official is no match for a hands-on manager. This is simply the logic of a fool. Those who follow man really are this bewildered. People who follow men have no truth, and only the people who follow God are the true believers in God. People who follow man are idolatrous, and they have been misled by other people. There is no God and there is no truth in their hearts. There are some absurd people who practice extremism in relation to this issue. They believe that because they follow God they should pay no heed to people. “Regardless of how much what the leader says conforms to truth, we will not obey and accept it.” This is the kind of extremism that absurd people practice. They don’t understand what it means to seek God’s intentions, and they cannot distinguish whether or not something comes from God and conforms to truth. We must practice strict discernment about following God and not following people, and we should not practice extremism. Any person who has the ability to receive will manage it appropriately. As long as they step up their efforts to discern, they will not go wrong. Remember the lesson that most believers in various denominations and sects are controlled by people and fail to walk the true way because of obeying people, submitting to people, and following people. The main reason for their failure is that they believe in God but follow people. At present there are many people who still face this kind of danger.
from The Fellowship From the Above
Whomever you worship in your heart is your idol. Whoever worships the leaders is an idolatrous person. When you worship someone, you will have his status in your heart, and will necessarily be taken over by him and will become his lackey. In our work of spreading the gospel, we have discovered that people of various denominations and sects all worship idols, and are all controlled by their leaders. They dare not even accept truth, and they give an appearance of pitiful servility. People who worship their leaders are idolatrous people, and certainly there is no truth in their hearts. They do not know God in the slightest, so God has no status in their hearts. They are people who are loathed and cursed by God. God is a righteous God, and God is a jealous God. God most hates people’s idolatry. It is most grave blasphemy to God if a person compares their leader on an equal setting with God. In fact, people who return before God should have only God in their hearts; they should not have a place for any human in their hearts. Even if they have this thing in their thoughts and ideas, it is filthy and corrupt, and makes God loathe and detest it. Most people are mixed up on this issue, and their hearts more or less have some place for the person whom they worship. According to God’s disposition, if a person has even a little human’s status in his heart, it is not acceptable. If from beginning to end his heart cannot be purified, the result is that he will be condemned.
When people worship their leader in their hearts, there are some concrete outward signs. You may discern this matter like this: If in your heart your obedience to the leader is greater than your obedience to God, then you are an idolatrous person. If you spend more time thinking of and longing for the person you worship than you do for God, then you are an idolatrous person. If your enthusiasm for the leader is greater than your enthusiasm for God, you are an idolatrous person. If your heart is very close to the heart of the person whom you worship, yet very far away from God, you are an idolatrous person. If you place the person whom you worship on an equal footing with God, that proves even more that you revere like God the person whom you worship. If you want to obey the leader in every matter you encounter, and yet do not want to come before God and seek truth, this is proof enough that you believe in people rather than in God. Perhaps some people will defend themselves and say: “I really admire a person, and truly there is a place for him in my heart, and unknowingly my relationship with God has become a little more distant.” This sentence has spoken the truth of the matter. When human status is in the heart of a person, his relationship with God becomes more distant. This is a very dangerous matter. Some people think nothing of it and don’t pay attention, which illustrates that they do not know the disposition of God. … How ignorant and blind it is to worship people! How corrupt and evil it is to worship people! Worshiping people is none other than worshiping Satan and the devil. To worship people is to worship the antichrist. A person who worships people does not have an ounce of truth. This kind of person definitely does not know God, and is exactly the scum that meets with the curses of God. Isn’t this the way it really is?
from The Fellowship From the Above
Some people have not enough faith in God, always imagining that God is not almighty, so when they face certain issues they easily lose faith. Besides this, they easily worship people, and look up to people, as though God had some deficiency and they could make it up by doing this. Because such a person always looks up to others and worships others, he doesn’t realize that God’s place in his heart is less and less, and the place of those people he worships is more and more. In the end, he unwittingly becomes faithful to God in name only, in reality he believes in people, follows people, worships people, looks up to people. It is the same as people in religion, they believe in God in name, when in reality they all believe in the pastor, follow the pastor; the pastor is their Lord, the pastor is their God. Sliding from the path of belief in God to the point of following and obeying people, have they not fallen? Does this kind of person still have true faith in God? He does not have true faith. Thus, for all matters he does not rely on God, instead he looks up to people, worships people, always looks at people’s eyes, finds his path from people’s eyes, always wants to hear how people speak, always wants to see how people act, and with every act and move is inseparable from others. This kind of person unwittingly becomes someone who believes in people and follows people. All those who look up to people too much, who worship people too much, in fact are believing in people and following people, and this is absolutely true.
from “The Ten Realities of God’s Words That Must Be Entered in Order to Be Saved and Made Perfect” in Sermons and Fellowship on Entry Into Life (IV)