What It Means to Pursue the Truth (1)
Today’s fellowship is on a topic that everyone is familiar with. It is closely linked to man’s belief in God and their pursuit, and it is a topic that people encounter and hear about every day. Well then, what is it? The topic is what it means to pursue the truth. What do you think of this topic? Is it novel enough for you? Is it compelling? No matter how compelling this topic is, I know that it is relevant to each and every one of you; it is relevant to people’s salvation, to their entry into the reality of God’s words and their dispositional change, and to their future outcome and destination. Most of you are now willing to pursue the truth and have begun to awaken, but you are not so sure about what it means to pursue the truth or how the truth should be pursued. That is why it is necessary for us to fellowship on this topic today. The pursuit of the truth is a topic that people often encounter in their daily lives; it is a practical problem that people face when things befall them during their daily lives, while performing their duties, and so on. When something befalls most people, they simply make self-motivated efforts to read God’s words, and they keep their thoughts from becoming negative, hoping to thereby stop themselves from plunging into negativity or misunderstandings of God, and to enable themselves to submit to His work. People of better caliber are capable of positively and proactively seeking all aspects of the truth within God’s words; they look for the principles, God’s requirements, and paths of practice. Or they are able to examine themselves, contemplate, and gain knowledge through the things that befall them, and thereby come to understand the truth principles and enter into the truth reality. However, this remains a great hurdle for most people, and whether they can achieve these things is uncertain. Most people have not yet entered into this aspect of reality. So, it will not be easy for you to arrive at a practical, objective, and true understanding of this ordinary, commonplace, and specific topic, even if you are given time to contemplate on it. So, to return to our main topic, let us fellowship on what it means to pursue the truth. You are not skilled at contemplating, but I hope that you are good at listening—not just with your ears, but with your heart. I hope that you will put your heart into understanding and comprehending this, and that you will take to heart, as something of import, everything that you are able to comprehend, and everything that corresponds to your state, your disposition, and each aspect of your situation. After that, I hope that you will set out to resolve your corrupt dispositions, and strive to take all the principles of practice to heart, so that when related issues arise, you will have a path to follow, and you will be able to treat God’s words as a path of practice, and carry out and obey them as such. That would be best.
What does it mean to pursue the truth? This may be a conceptual question, but it is also the most practical question about believing in God. Whether people can pursue the truth or not is directly related to their preferences, their caliber, and their pursuit. The pursuit of the truth encompasses many practical elements. We should fellowship on them one by one, so that you can understand the truth as quickly as possible, and know exactly what it means to pursue it and what issues relate to that pursuit. That way, you will ultimately be able to understand what it means to pursue the truth. First, let us discuss this: Are you pursuing the truth by listening to this sermon? (Not really.) Listening to sermons is merely a prerequisite and action of preparing to pursue the truth. What elements are involved in pursuing the truth? There are many topics that touch on the pursuit of the truth, and naturally there are also many problems that exist in people that we need to discuss here. For instance, some people say, “If one eats and drinks of God’s words and fellowships about the truth every day, if they are able to do their duty normally, if they do whatever the church arranges, and never cause disturbances or disruptions—and though there may be times they violate the truth principles, they don’t do so consciously or with intent—doesn’t this demonstrate that they are pursuing the truth?” This is a good question. Many people have this idea. First of all, you must understand whether someone could attain an understanding of the truth and gain the truth by practicing consistently in this way. Share your thoughts. (Although practicing in this way is correct, it seems more along the lines of religious ritual—it’s rule-following. It can’t lead to an understanding of the truth or gaining the truth.) So, what sort of behaviors are these, really? (They’re superficially good behaviors.) I like that answer. They are merely good behaviors that arise after a person comes to believe in God, upon the foundation of that person’s conscience and reason, once they have been influenced by various good and positive teachings. But they are no more than good behaviors, and they are far from being the pursuit of the truth. What, then, is the root of these good behaviors? What gives rise to them? They arise from a person’s conscience and reason, their morality, the favorable feelings they have toward believing in God, and their self-restraint. Since they are good behaviors, they have no relation to the truth, and they are certainly not the same thing. Possessing good behaviors is not the same as practicing the truth, and if a person behaves well it does not mean that they have God’s approval. Good behaviors and practicing the truth are two different things—they have no bearing on each other. Practicing the truth is God’s requirement and it is entirely in line with His will; good behavior comes from man’s will and carries with it man’s intents and motives—it is something that man regards as good. Although good behaviors are not evil deeds, they contravene the truth principles and have nothing to do with the truth. No matter how good these behaviors are, or how much they accord with man’s notions and imaginings, they have no relation to the truth. So no amount of good behavior can attain God’s approval. Since good behavior is defined in this way, clearly good behaviors do not relate to the practice of the truth. If people were to be sorted into types according to their behavior, then these good behaviors would, at the most, be the actions of loyal service-doers and nothing more. They have no relation at all to the practice of the truth or to true submission to God. They are merely a sort of behavior, and are completely irrelevant to people’s dispositional change, to their submission to and acceptance of the truth, to the fear of God and shunning of evil, or any other practical elements that truly involve the truth. So, why are they called good behaviors, then? Here is an explanation, and naturally it is also an explanation of the essence of this question. It is that these behaviors stem only from people’s notions, their preferences, their volition, and their own self-motivated efforts. They are not manifestations of the repentance that come with gaining true self-knowledge by accepting the truth and the judgment and chastisement of God’s words, nor are they the behaviors or actions of practicing the truth that arise when people try to submit to God. Do you understand this? It means that these good behaviors do not in any way involve a change in a person’s disposition, or what comes of undergoing the judgment and chastisement of God’s words, or the true repentance that arises from coming to know one’s corrupt disposition. They certainly do not relate to man’s true submission to God and the truth; still less do they relate to having a heart of reverence and love for God. Good behaviors have nothing at all to do with these things; they are merely something that comes from man and something that man regards as good. Yet there are many people who see these good behaviors as a sign that someone is practicing the truth. This is a grave mistake, an absurd and fallacious view and understanding. These good behaviors are just a performance of religious ceremony, and going through the motions. They are not at all related to practicing the truth. God may not condemn them outright, but He absolutely does not approve of them; that is certain. You ought to know that these outward actions that accord with man’s notions and these good behaviors are not the practice of the truth, nor are they a manifestation of the pursuit of the truth. Having heard this fellowship, you have merely a little conceptual knowledge about what it means to pursue the truth, an initial understanding of a simple concept of pursuing the truth. If you wish to truly understand what it means to pursue the truth, there is more that we must fellowship on.
To pursue the truth, one must understand it; only by understanding the truth can one practice it. Are people’s good behaviors related to the practice of the truth? Are good behaviors born of the pursuit of the truth? What manifestations and actions belong to the practice of the truth? What manifestations are possessed by people who pursue the truth? You need to understand these questions. In order to fellowship on the pursuit of the truth, we must first speak about the difficulties and mistaken views people have toward it. It is essential to resolve these first. There are some people of pure understanding, who have a relatively clear perspective on what the truth is. They have a path upon which to pursue the truth. There are others who do not understand what the truth is, and though they have an interest in it, they do not know how to practice it. They believe that doing good things and behaving well are the same as practicing the truth—that to practice the truth is to do good things. It is not until they have read many of God’s words that they realize that doing good things and behaving well are completely different to practicing the truth. You can see how absurd people’s notions and imaginings are—those who do not understand the truth cannot see anything clearly! Many people have performed their duty for years, they busy themselves every day, and have undergone more than a few hardships, so they think of themselves as people who practice the truth, and who possess the truth reality. However, they cannot offer any experiential testimony. What is the problem at play here? If they understand the truth, why can they not speak about their actual experiences? Is this not something of a contradiction? Some people say, “When I was performing my duty before, I didn’t pursue the truth, and I didn’t pray-read God’s words thoroughly. I wasted a great deal of time. I was so engrossed in my work, thinking that keeping busy with my duty was the same as practicing the truth and submitting to God’s work—but I was just squandering my time.” What is implied here? That they put off pursuing the truth because they were so busy performing their duty. Is that really the case? Some absurd people believe that as long as they keep busy with their duty, there will be no time for their corrupt disposition to reveal itself, that they will no longer reveal a corrupt disposition or live in a corrupt state, and therefore, they do not need to eat and drink of God’s words in order to resolve their corrupt disposition. Is this idea correct? Do people really not reveal corrupt dispositions when they are busy with their duties? It is an absurd idea—it is a bald-faced lie. They say that they have no time to pursue the truth because they are busy with their duty. This is pure fallacy; they are using being busy as an excuse. We have fellowshiped many times on the truths about life entry and performing a duty: It is only by seeking the truth to resolve problems while performing a duty that people can grow in life. Therefore, if all one does while performing their duty is busy themselves with tasks, if they fail to seek the truth to resolve problems, then they will never understand the truth. Some people who do not love the truth are content merely to render service, and hope to trade it for the blessings of the kingdom of heaven. They wind up giving the excuse that they are so busy performing their duty that they have no time to pursue the truth; they even say that they are so busy performing their duty that they do not reveal a corrupt disposition. This implies that because they are busy with their duty, their corrupt disposition has disappeared, that it no longer exists. This is a lie, is it not? Does their claim accord with the facts? Not at all—it may be called the biggest lie of all. How could a corrupt disposition no longer reveal itself because a person is busy with their duty? Do such people exist? Does such experiential testimony exist? Certainly not. People have been deeply corrupted by Satan; they all have a satanic nature, and they all live in satanic dispositions. Is there anything positive inside man, anything besides corruption? Is there anyone who was born without a corrupt disposition? Is there anyone who was born able to perform a duty with loyalty? Is there anyone who was born able to submit to God and love Him? Absolutely not. Because all people have satanic natures and are filled with corrupt dispositions, if they are not able to understand and practice the truth, they can only live by their corrupt dispositions. So, it is an absurdity and a fallacy to say that a person will not reveal a corrupt disposition if they keep busy with their duty. It is a bald-faced lie meant to mislead people. No matter if they are busy performing their duty or not, no matter if they have time to read God’s words or not, people who do not love the truth will find reasons and excuses not to pursue it. These people are service-doers, plain and simple. If a service-doer does not eat and drink of God’s words and does not accept the truth, will they be able to render good service? Certainly not. All those who do not accept the truth are devoid of conscience and reason, they are people who would live by their corrupt dispositions and commit a multitude of evils. They are by no means loyal service-doers, and even though they render service, there’s nothing great about them. Of this, you can be sure.
Some people are too tangled up with their families and often wallow in anxiety. When they see younger brothers and sisters who have given up their families and careers to follow God and perform their duties, they envy them and say, “God has been kind to these young people. They began believing in Him at a young age, before getting married and having kids; they have no family ties and they don’t have to worry about how they’ll get by. They have no concerns that keep them from following God and performing their duties. They came just in time for God’s work and His expansion of the gospel in the last days—God has provided them with such favorable conditions. They can devote themselves, body and soul, to performing their duties. They can pursue the truth, but it’s not the same for me. God has not arranged a suitable environment for me—I have too many family entanglements, and I have to make money to support them. That’s where my real problems lie. That’s why I don’t have time to pursue the truth. Pursuing the truth is for people who perform their duties full time and don’t have any of these ties. I’m saddled with family entanglements, and my heart is full of the trivialities of getting by, so I have no time or energy to spare to eat and drink God’s words or perform my duty. No matter what aspect of my circumstances you look at, there’s no way for me to pursue the truth. You can’t blame me for that. It just isn’t my destiny to pursue the truth, and my circumstances don’t allow me to perform a duty. All I can do is wait for my family entanglements to abate, for my children to become independent, and for me to retire and be free of my material worries—then I’ll pursue the truth.” People like this experience hardship in their daily lives, and they can occasionally feel their corrupt disposition pouring forth in the trivial matters of their day-to-day lives. They can detect these things, but because they are caught in the snares of the secular world, they believe that they are doing well by living, believing in God, listening to sermons, and getting by comfortably in this way. They believe that pursuing the truth can wait, and that it will not be too late to resolve whatever corrupt dispositions they have a few years down the line. That is how they defer the great matter of pursuing the truth, and put it off time and again. What do they always say? “It’s never too late to pursue the truth. I’ll give it a few years. So long as God’s work hasn’t finished, I still have time—I still have a chance.” What do you think of this view? (It’s wrong.) Have they taken on the burden of pursuing the truth? (No.) Well, what burden have they taken on, then? Is it not the burden of getting by, of providing for their families, of raising their children? They devote all their energy to their children, to their families, to their own days and lives, and only after these things are taken care of will they make plans to begin pursuing the truth. So, are these excuses of theirs valid? Are they not stumbling blocks to their pursuit of the truth? (They are.) While these people believe in God’s sovereignty and arrangements, they also complain about the environment that God has arranged for them. They disregard God’s requirements and they do not proactively cooperate with them at all. Instead, they only care about satisfying their flesh, family, and relatives. What reason do they give for not pursuing the truth? “We’re too busy and exhausted just trying to exist. We don’t have time to pursue the truth; we don’t have the right environment to pursue the truth.” What view do they hold? (It’s never too late to pursue the truth.) “It’s never too late to pursue the truth. I’ll do it in a few years.” Is this not foolish? (It is.) It is foolish—they are fooling themselves with their excuses. Will God’s work wait for you? (No.) “I’ll do it in a few years”—what do those “few years” mean? They mean that you have less hope of being saved and that you will have fewer years to experience God’s work. A few years will pass like this, then another few years, and before you know it, ten years will have gone by, and you will not have understood the truth or entered into the truth reality at all, and not a single shred of your corrupt disposition will have been resolved. Just speaking one honest word is such a struggle for you. Is this not dangerous? Is this not a pity? (It is.) When people offer all these excuses and reasons to justify not pursuing the truth, who is it they harm, in the end? (Themselves.) That’s right—in the end, it is themselves who they harm. And when they are on their deathbed, they will hate themselves for not having gained the truth in their years of belief in God, and they will regret their entire lives!
Some people are somewhat well-educated, but their caliber is poor and they do not understand spiritual matters. No matter how many sermons they listen to, they are unable to understand the truth. They always have their own ambitions and desires, and they are always contending for status. If they do not possess status, they will not pursue the truth. They say, “God’s house never arranges for me to perform a duty that reflects my value, like text-based work, AV work, being a church leader, or being the supervisor of a group. They don’t give me any of that important work to do. God’s house doesn’t promote me or cultivate me, and every time the church holds an election, no one votes for me, and nobody likes me. Do I really have no desirable qualities? I’m an intellectual, I’m well-educated, but God’s house never promotes me or cultivates me, so I have no motivation to pursue the truth. All of the brothers and sisters who began believing in God around the same time as me are performing important duties, and serving as leaders and workers—why is it that I’m left to idle around? I only get to play a supporting role by spreading the gospel every now and then, and they don’t let me testify, either. Whenever God’s house promotes people to important duties, there’s nothing there for me; I’m not even allowed to lead gatherings, and they don’t give me any responsibilities. I feel so wronged. This is the environment that God has arranged for me. Why can’t I feel the value of my existence? Why does God love others but not me? Why does He cultivate others but not me? God’s house should give me more of a burden, and make me a supervisor or something. That way, I’d have a bit of motivation to pursue the truth. How can I pursue the truth without motivation? People always need a bit of motivation to pursue the truth; we need to be able to see the benefits of pursuing it. I know that people have corrupt dispositions that need to be changed, and I know that pursuing the truth is a good thing, that it allows us to be saved and perfected—but I’m never used for anything important, and I feel no incentive to pursue the truth! I’ll start pursuing the truth when the brothers and sisters hold me in esteem and support me—it won’t be too late then.” Are there not people of this sort? (There are.) What is the problem with them? The problem is that they want status and standing. Clearly, they are no lovers of the truth, yet they would like standing and a seat at the table in God’s house. Is this not shameless? It is a fine enough thing for you to be a service-doer; whether you can rise to be a loyal service-doer remains to be seen. Why is that not clear to you? Do you think that if you have status and standing, you will be saved? That you will be someone who pursues the truth? Are these sentiments of yours valid? (No.) These people want to stand out, to make their presence felt, and when their desires go unmet, they complain that God is unjust, that He is biased in how He treats people, that His house does not promote them, that the brothers and sisters do not elect them—surely these things are not the foundation one needs in order to pursue the truth? Does it say anywhere in God’s words that a pursuer of the truth must be embraced by all and held in esteem by their brothers and sisters? Or that they must be able to take on an important duty and do important work, and also make a great contribution to God’s house? Do God’s words say that only people like that can pursue the truth, that only they are fit to pursue the truth? Do His words say that only those people meet the criteria for pursuing the truth, that only they can enter the truth reality, or that in the end, it is only they who can be saved? Is this written anywhere in God’s words? (No.) It is obvious that the claims made by this sort of person are invalid. So, why do they say these things? Are they not making excuses for not pursuing the truth? (They are.) They love status and prestige. They only care about chasing reputation and personal gain and pursuing status in their belief in God. They feel that it would be shameful to say this out loud, so they come up with a host of justifications, defending themselves for not pursuing the truth and foisting the blame onto the church, onto the brothers and sisters, and onto God. Is this not sinister? Are they not evil people pointing fingers at the innocent party? (They are.) They are making unreasonable trouble and harassing others with illogical demands; they are entirely without conscience or reason! Not pursuing the truth is a serious enough problem on its own, and yet they also try to debate and be difficult—that is truly unreasonable, is it not? Pursuing the truth is voluntary. If you love the truth, then the Holy Spirit will work in you. When you love the truth; when you pray to and depend on God, reflect on yourself and try to know yourself no matter what persecution or tribulation befalls you; when you actively seek the truth to resolve problems that you discover in yourself, you will be able to perform your duty adequately. In this way, you will be capable of standing firm in your testimony. When people love the truth, all of these manifestations come naturally to them. They occur voluntarily, gladly, and without coercion, without any extra conditions attached. If people can follow God in this way, they will ultimately gain the truth and the life, they will enter into the truth reality, and they will live out the image of man. Do you need any additional conditions to be met in order to pursue the truth? No. Belief in God is voluntary, it is something that one chooses for themselves, and pursuing the truth is perfectly natural and justified; it is approved of by God. Those who do not pursue the truth are unwilling to renounce the pleasures of the flesh and still wish to gain God’s blessings, but when they are faced with some tribulations and persecution, or a bit of ridicule and defamation, they grow negative and weak, and no longer wish to believe in God or follow Him. They may even blame and deny Him. Is this not unreasonable? They wish to be blessed and yet they still pursue the pleasures of the flesh, and when met with any tribulations or persecution, they blame God. That is how unreasonable these people who do not love the truth are. It will be difficult for them to follow God until the end; as soon as they are met with some tribulations or persecution, they will be exposed and cast out. There are too many people like this. Whatever your reason for believing in God, God will ultimately determine your outcome based on whether you have gained the truth. If you have not gained the truth, then none of the justifications or excuses you make will hold water. Try to reason as you like, tie yourself in knots as you please—will God care? Will God converse with you? Will He debate and confer with you? Will He consult you? What is the answer? No. He absolutely will not. No matter how strong your reasoning is, it won’t stand up. You must not misunderstand God’s intentions, and think that if you offer all sorts of reasons and excuses then you do not need to pursue the truth. God wants you to be able to seek the truth in all environments and in every matter that befalls you, and finally achieve entry into the truth reality and gain the truth. Regardless of what circumstances God has arranged for you, what people and events you encounter, and what environment you find yourself in, you should pray to God and seek the truth in order to face them. These are precisely the lessons you should learn in pursuing the truth. If you always look for excuses to get out of, to evade, to refuse, or to resist these circumstances, then God will give up on you. There is no point in reasoning, or being intractable or difficult—if God does not concern Himself with you, you will lose your chance at salvation. For God, there is no problem that cannot be solved; He has made arrangements for each and every person, and has a way of handling them. God will not discuss with you whether your reasons and excuses are justified. God will not listen to whether the arguments you make in your defense are rational. He will only ask you, “Are God’s words the truth? Do you have a corrupt disposition? Ought you pursue the truth?” You just need to be clear about one fact: God is the truth, you are a corrupt human, so you should take it upon yourself to seek the truth. No problem or difficulty, no reason or excuse will stand—if you do not accept the truth, you shall perish. Any price a person pays to pursue the truth and enter the truth reality is worthwhile. People should let go of all their excuses, their justifications, and their troubles to accept the truth and gain the life, because God’s words and the truth are the life that they should attain, and it is a life for which nothing can be exchanged. If you miss this opportunity, you will not just regret it for the rest of your life—it is not a mere matter of regret—you will have ruined yourself quite completely. There will no longer be an outcome or a destination for you, and you, created being that you are, will have come to the end of the line. You will never again have the chance to be saved. Do you understand? (We do.) Do not look for excuses or reasons for not pursuing the truth. They are of no use; you are only fooling yourself.
Some leaders never work according to the principles, they are a law unto themselves, arbitrary and rash. The brothers and sisters may point this out, and say, “You rarely consult anyone before you take action. We don’t know what your judgments and decisions are until after you’ve made them. Why don’t you discuss them with anyone? Why don’t you let us know ahead of time when you make a decision? Even if what you’re doing is right and your caliber is greater than ours, you should still inform us about it first. At the least, we have a right to know what’s going on. By always acting as a law unto yourself you’re walking the path of an antichrist!” And what would you hear the leader say to that? “In my house, I’m the boss. All matters, great and small, are decided by me. That’s what I’m used to. When anyone in my extended family has an issue, they come to me and have me decide what to do. They know that I’m good at solving problems. That’s why I’m in charge of my family’s affairs. When I joined the church, I thought I wouldn’t have to bother with things anymore, but then I was chosen to be a leader. I can’t help it—I was born to this fate. God gave me this skill. I was born to make decisions and to call the shots for other people.” The implication here is that they were destined to be an official, and other people were born to be foot soldiers and slaves. They think that they should get the final say, and that other people should listen to them. Even when the brothers and sisters see this leader’s problem and point it out to them, they will not accept it, nor will they accept being dealt with and pruned. They will fight and resist until the brothers and sisters clamor for their removal. All the while, the leader will be thinking, “With a caliber like mine, I’m fated to be in charge wherever I go. With calibers like yours, you’ll always be slaves and servants. It’s your fate to be ordered around by other people.” What kind of disposition are they revealing by often saying such things? Clearly, it is a corrupt disposition, it is arrogance, self-conceit, and extreme egotism, yet they shamelessly show it off and flaunt it as though it were a strength and an asset. When a person reveals a corrupt disposition, they should reflect on themselves, know their corrupt disposition, repent, and forsake it, and they should pursue the truth until they can act according to the principles. But that is not how this leader practices. Instead, they remain incorrigible, sticking to their own views and methods. From these behaviors, you can see that they do not accept the truth at all and that they are absolutely not someone who pursues it. They do not listen to anyone who exposes and deals with them, and instead they remain full of self-justifications: “Hmph—this is just how I am! It’s called competence and talent—do any of you have those? I’m fated to be in charge. Wherever I go, I’m a leader. I’m used to having the final say and making decisions about everything without consulting other people. That’s just who I am, it’s my personal charm.” Is this not wanton shamelessness? They do not admit that they have a corrupt disposition, and they clearly do not acknowledge the words of God that judge and expose man. On the contrary, they take their own heresies and fallacies to be the truth, and try to make everyone else accept and revere them. Deep down, they believe that they should rule in God’s house, not the truth, that they should call the shots there. Is this not brazen shamelessness? They say that they want to pursue the truth, but their behavior is quite the opposite. They say that they obey God and the truth, but always want to wield power, to have the final say, and for all the brothers and sisters to submit to and obey them. They will not permit others to supervise or advise them, regardless of whether what they are doing is appropriate or in accordance with the principles. Instead, they believe that it is everyone else who must heed and obey their words and decisions. They do not reflect at all on their actions. No matter how the brothers and sisters counsel and help them, and no matter how God’s house prunes and deals with them, or even if they are dismissed several times, they do not reflect on their problems. In every instance, they hold to that line of theirs: “In my house, I’m the boss. I make all the decisions. In all matters, I alone have the final say. That is what I’m used to, and there’s no way around it.” They are truly outrageous and irredeemable! They propagate these negative practices as if they were positive things, all the while thinking very highly of themselves. They are so shameless! These people do not accept the truth at all and they are incorrigible—so you can be certain that they do not love or pursue it. In their hearts, they are sick of the truth and hostile to it. The prices they pay and the hardships they undergo to satisfy their desires and gain status are all in vain. God does not approve of any of it, He loathes it. It is a manifestation of their opposition to the truth and resistance toward God. One can be perfectly sure of this, and all who understand the truth can discern it.
There are also some people who have believed in God for years, but do not possess any truth reality; they have listened to sermons for years, but do not understand the truth. Though they have poor caliber, they do have “talents” in which they are unrivaled: telling lies and covering them up, and duping and tricking others with florid words. If they say a dozen sentences, there will be a dozen adulterations within them—each will contain impurities to some extent. To put it precisely, nothing they say is true. But because they have poor caliber and appear quite well-behaved, they think, “I’m a timid, guileless person by nature, and my caliber is poor. I’m bullied wherever I go, and when people bully me, I just have to endure it and suffer. I don’t dare talk back or fight them—all I can do is hide, yield, and take it. I’m the ‘honest but ignorant man’ that God’s words talk about, I am one of His people.” If someone asks them, “How is it that you lie, then?” They will say, “When did I lie? Whom did I trick? I haven’t lied! How could I tell a lie, being the guileless person that I am? My mind is slow to react to things, and I’m not very well-educated—I don’t know how to lie! Those deceitful people out there, they can produce a couple of wicked ideas and plots in the blink of an eye. I’m not wily like that, and I’m always getting bullied. So I’m the honest person God speaks of, and there’s no basis for you to call me a liar or a trickster. There’s simply nothing to it—you’re just trying to smear me. I know you all look down on me: You think that I’m stupid and that my caliber is poor, so you all want to bully me. God’s the only One who doesn’t bully me, He treats me with grace.” This sort of person will not even admit to lying, and they have the audacity to say that they are the honest people God speaks of, and with that statement, they hoist themselves directly onto a throne. They believe that they are honest but ignorant people by nature and loved by God. They think that they do not need to pursue the truth or reflect on themselves. They think that from the moment they were born no lies could be found in their mouths. They do not admit to lying, no matter what anyone says, and instead they trot out the same old excuses to argue and defend themselves. Have they reflected on themselves? They have, in a sense. What came to them in that “self-reflection”? “I’m the honest but ignorant man who God speaks of. I may be a bit ignorant, but I’m an honest person.” Are they not putting feathers in their own cap? They are not clear on which they are, an ignorant person or an honest person, but they deem themselves to be an honest person. Do they have self-awareness? If someone is a fool who gets bullied and lives a cowardly life, does that mean they are necessarily a good person? And if someone is seen as a good person by others, does that mean they do not need to pursue the truth? Are such people somehow just naturally possessed of the truth? Some people say, “I’m a pretty guileless person, I always try to speak the truth, I’m just a bit ignorant. I don’t need to pursue the truth, I’m already a good and honest person.” By saying this, are they not implying that they are possessed of the truth and do not have a corrupt disposition? All of mankind has been corrupted deeply by Satan. All people have corrupt dispositions, and when one possesses a corrupt disposition, they can lie, cheat, and deceive whenever they please. They may even flaunt some trifling achievement or contribution of theirs, pouring forth an arrogant disposition. All the while they are full of notions about God and extravagant demands of Him, and trying to reason with Him. Are these not problems? Is this not a corrupt disposition? Does this not require examination? It does. Yet these people have already anointed themselves as honest people who never lie or trick others; they proclaim that they do not have deceitful dispositions, so they do not need to pursue the truth. Therefore, no one who behaves in this way is pursuing the truth, and none of them have entered the truth reality. When they pray to God, they often cry bitterly about their stupidity, about how they are always being bullied, about their particularly poor caliber: “God, only You love me; only You take pity on me and treat me graciously. People all bully me, and say that I’m a liar—but I’m not!” Then, they wipe away their tears and stand up, and when they see other people, they think, “None of you are loved by God. Only I am.” These people think highly of themselves, and do not accept that they display any of the various behaviors and outpourings of corrupt dispositions spoken of by God. Even when a specific problem befalls them and produces a corrupt state or outpouring within them, they just admit to it verbally after a moment’s thought, and then they are done with the matter. They do not seek the truth at all, and they do not accept the fact that they have corruption and are a corrupt human. Less still, of course, would they admit to having poured forth a corrupt disposition in any particular instance. No matter how many problems they give rise to, and no matter how many corrupt dispositions they pour forth, they always wind up saying the same thing: “I’m the honest but ignorant man that God speaks about. I’m the object of His pity, and He will bless me greatly.” And so, with these words, they feel that they do not have to pursue the truth; these words are the excuse such people offer for not pursuing the truth. Are such people not absurd? (They are.) They are absurd and ignorant. How absurd are they? So much so that they seize on one phrase of God’s words that benefits them and use it as a sigil with which to coerce God and exonerate themselves for not pursuing the truth, while treating the words of God that expose and judge man as having nothing to do with them. They feel that they do not need to listen to them because they are already an honest person. To put it precisely, such people are pathetic wretches. They have poor caliber, no sense, and very little shame, yet they still wish to gain blessings. And though they have poor caliber, and neither sense nor shame, they are very proud, and they look down upon ordinary people. They have no respect for people of good caliber who are able to pursue the truth, and who can fellowship on the truth reality. They think, “What good are these strengths of yours, anyway? With all your pursuing the truth and knowing yourselves—I don’t need to do that stuff. I’m an honest person; I may be a bit ignorant, but that’s not really an issue. And the corrupt dispositions I pour forth are nothing to worry about, either. As long as I equip myself with some good behaviors, I’ll be fine.” What do they require of themselves? “God knows my heart, at any rate, and my faith in Him is genuine. That’s enough. Talking day in and day out about experiential testimony and knowledge of God’s words—what’s the use of all this talk? When all is said and done, sincerely believing in God is enough.” Is that not as foolish as it gets? Firstly, such people are not at all interested in the truth; secondly, it is fair to say that they have no ability to comprehend the truth or God’s words. And yet, they still think much of themselves and act so high and mighty. They look for a justification for why they do not pursue the truth, or a method of pursuit or something they perceive as a strength to replace the pursuit of the truth. Is this not foolish? (It is.)
Some people who do not pursue the truth have no major problems in terms of their humanity. They stick to the rules and behave themselves. Such women are gentle and virtuous, dignified and decent, and do not fool around. They are good girls in front of their parents, they are good wives and mothers in their family lives, and they dutifully spend their days taking care of their homes. Such men are guileless and dutiful, and they behave themselves; they are filial sons, they do not drink or smoke, and they do not steal or rob, they do not gamble or go whoring—they are model husbands, and outside of the home, they seldom quarrel or dispute with others about who’s right or wrong. Some people think that it is enough to achieve these things as a believer in God, and that those who do so are standard, acceptably good people. They believe that if they are charitable and helpful, humble and patient, and tolerant after coming to believe in God, and if they do whatever work the church arranges for them diligently and well, without being careless or perfunctory, then they have attained the truth reality and are close to fulfilling God’s requirements. They think that if they buckle down and put in a bit more effort, if they read more of God’s word, if they remember more of its phrases, and preach them more to others, then they will be pursuing the truth. But they do not recognize their outpourings of corruption, they do not know what corrupt dispositions they have, and less still do they know how a corrupt disposition arises, or how it should be known and resolved. They know none of these things. Are there people like this? (Yes.) They regard their natural “goodness” as a standard to be achieved by those who pursue the truth. If someone were to call them arrogant, deceitful, and evil, they would not dispute it openly, and they would display an attitude of humility, patience, and acceptance. But deep down, instead of taking it seriously, they would resist it: “I’m arrogant? If I’m arrogant, there’s not a single good person on earth! If I’m deceitful, then no one in the world is honest! If I’m evil, then no one in the world is decent! Is it easy to find someone as good as me nowadays? No—it’s impossible!” It will not do to call them deceitful or arrogant, or to say that they do not love the truth, and it certainly will not do to call them a nonbeliever. They will just slam their hands on the table and argue: “So, I’m a nonbeliever, you say? If I can’t be saved, not one of you can!” Someone may expose them by saying, “You don’t accept the truth. When people call out your problems, you appear quite humble and patient, but deep down you’re really resistant. What you preach when you’re fellowshiping on the truth is correct, but the fact remains that you do not accept a single one of God’s words that expose and judge the essence of man’s corrupt disposition. You resist those and you are averse to them. You have a vicious disposition.” If you call them “vicious,” they simply cannot accept it. “Vicious, am I? If I were vicious, I’d have trampled you all underfoot long ago! If I were vicious, I’d have already destroyed you all!” They cannot comprehend anything you expose about them or fellowship with them correctly. What does it mean to comprehend things correctly? It means that no matter what problems someone reveals in you, you hold them up against God’s words for comparison to examine whether there really were any mistakes in your intents and thoughts, and no matter how many problems are revealed in you, you approach them all with an attitude of acceptance and submission. That is how a person can truly gain knowledge of their problems. One cannot gain knowledge of their corrupt disposition according to their notions and imaginings, this must be done on the basis of God’s words. So, what is the prerequisite for self-knowledge? You must acknowledge the fact that Satan has deceived and corrupted mankind, and that all people have corrupt dispositions. It is only by accepting this fact that you can reflect on yourself according to the revelation of God’s words, and in the process of this self-reflection, gradually uncover your problems. Unbeknownst to you, your problems will rise to the surface, little by little, and then you will understand with clarity what your corrupt disposition is. And on this foundation, you can gain knowledge of what sort of person you are and what your essence is. You will thereby achieve acceptance of all that God says and that which He reveals, and then go on to find in God’s words the path of practice He has laid out for man, and practice and live according to His words. That is what it means to pursue the truth. But is that how this sort of person receives God’s words? No—they may profess to acknowledge that God’s words are the truth and that His words exposing corrupt mankind are all facts, but if you ask them to know their own corrupt disposition, they will neither accept nor acknowledge it. They believe that it has nothing to do with them. This is because they think themselves to be dignified and decent people—upright people, people of honor. Does being an upright person mean that they possess the truth? Being an upright person is merely a positive manifestation of one’s humanity; it does not represent the truth. So, just because you have one characteristic of normal humanity, it does not mean that you do not need to pursue the truth, nor does it mean that you have already gained the truth—and less still does it mean that you are a person who God loves. Is that not the case? (It is.) These so-called “people of honor” believe that they do not have arrogant, deceitful dispositions, or a disposition of being sick of the truth, and that they certainly do not have evil, vicious dispositions. They think that none of these corrupt dispositions exist within them, because they are people of honor, they are by nature upright and kind, they are always bullied by others, and although they are poor of caliber and ignorant, they are honest. This “honesty” is not true honesty, it is guilelessness, timidity, and ignorance. Are such people not great fools? Everyone sees them as good people. Is this view correct? Do those who people perceive to be good have corrupt dispositions? The answer is “yes”—this is a certainty. Do guileless people not tell lies? Do they not cheat others or disguise themselves? Are they not selfish? Are they not greedy? Do they not wish for high office? Are they free of all extravagant desires? Certainly not. The only reason they have done no evil is that they lacked the right opportunity. And they take pride in this—they anoint themselves as people of honor and believe that they do not have a corrupt disposition. So, if anyone were to point out some sort of corrupt disposition, outpouring, or state in them, they would refute it by saying, “I do not! That’s not who I am, and that’s not how I act, or how I think. You’ve misunderstood me. You all see that I’m guileless, that I’m dumb, that I’m timid, so you bully me.” What is to be made of such people, who would bite back like this? If anyone dared to rile such a person, they would be hounded by them forever. They would never hear the end of it; they would be unable to shake that person off, try as they might. These unreasonable, relentlessly vexatious people still think that they are pursuers of the truth, that they are guileless, ignorant people who have no corrupt dispositions. Often, they even say, “I may be ignorant, but I’m guileless—I’m an honest person, and God loves me!” To them, these are things to capitalize on. Is this not just a bit shameless? You say that God loves you. Is that right? Do you have a basis for saying so? Do you have the work of the Holy Spirit? Has God said that He will perfect you? Does God plan to make use of you? If God has not said these things to you, then you cannot say that He loves you—you can only say that He takes pity on you, which is already a great thing. If you say that God loves you, that is just your personal understanding; it does not prove that God truly loves you. Would God love a person who does not pursue the truth? Would God love an ignorant, timid person? God has pity for the ignorant and the timid—that much is true. God loves those who are truly honest, who pursue the truth, who can practice the truth and submit to Him, who can exalt Him and testify for Him, who can be considerate of His will and love Him sincerely. Only those who can truly expend of themselves for God and loyally perform their duties have God’s love; only those who can accept the truth, as well as being pruned and dealt with, have God’s love. Those who do not accept the truth, who do not accept being pruned and dealt with, are those whom God detests and rejects. If you are sick of the truth and resist all of the words spoken by God, then God will be sick of you and spurn you. If you always think of yourself as a good person, as a pathetic, simple and guileless person, but do not pursue the truth, will God love you? It is impossible; there is no basis for that in His words. God does not look at whether you are guileless, nor does He care what sort of humanity or caliber you were born with—He looks at whether, having heard His words, you accept them or ignore them, whether you submit to them or resist them. He looks at whether His words have an effect on you and bear fruit in you, at whether you can bear true testimony to the many words He has spoken. If what your experience comes down to in the end is, “I’m guileless, I’m timid, I get bullied by every person I meet. Everyone looks down on me,” then God will say that this is not testimony. If you add, “I’m the honest but ignorant man whom God speaks of,” God will say that you are full of lies and that a single word of truth cannot be found in your mouth. If, when God has requirements of you, you not only fail to obey them at all, but also try to reason with God and make excuses for yourself, saying, “I’ve suffered and paid a price, and I love God,” that will not stand. Do you pursue the truth? Where is your true experiential testimony? How does the love you have for God manifest? No one will be convinced if you cannot provide evidence. You say, “I’m a person of honor and I act with decency. I don’t engage in fornication, and I follow all the rules in my actions. I’m a well-behaved person. I don’t go around drinking, whoring, and gambling. I don’t cause disruptions or disturbances in God’s house or sow dissension, I endure suffering and work hard. Are these not signs that I pursue the truth? I’m already pursuing the truth.” And God will say: Have you resolved your corrupt disposition? Where is your testimony to your pursuit of the truth? Can you obtain the approval and admiration of God’s chosen people? If you cannot offer any experiential testimony, yet you say that you are an honest person who loves God, then you are someone who beguiles others with false words—you are an unreasonable devil Satan, and you deserve to be cursed. All that is left for you is to be condemned and cast out by God.
Some people, in the course of performing their duties, often act arbitrarily and recklessly. They are extremely capricious: When they are happy, they do a bit of their duty, and when they are not, they sulk and say, “I’m in a bad mood today. I won’t eat anything and I won’t perform my duty.” Others then have to negotiate with them, and say: “That won’t do. You can’t be so capricious.” And what will those people say to that? “I know it won’t do, but I grew up in a rich, privileged family. My grandparents and aunts all spoiled me, and my parents were even worse. I was their sweetheart, the apple of their eye, and they acquiesced to me in everything and spoiled me. That upbringing left me with this capricious temperament, so when I perform a duty in God’s house, I won’t discuss things with others, or seek the truth, or submit to God. Am I to blame for that?” Is their understanding correct? Is their attitude one of pursuing the truth? (No.) Whenever anyone brings up a slight fault of theirs, like how they take the best pieces of food at meals, how they only care for themselves, and give no thought to others, they will say, “I’ve been like this since I was a child. I’m accustomed to it. I’ve never thought about other people. I’ve always lived a privileged life, with parents who adore me and grandparents who dote on me. I’m the apple of my whole family’s eye.” This is a pile of drivel and fallacy. Is this not a bit shameless and impudent? Your parents dote on you—does that mean everyone else must, too? Your relatives adore you and dote on you—does that give you reason to act recklessly and arbitrarily in God’s house? Is that a valid reason? Is this the correct attitude to have toward your corrupt disposition? Is it an attitude of pursuing the truth? (No.) When anything befalls these people, when they have any problem to do with their corrupt disposition or their lives, they seek objective justifications to answer for it, to explain it, to justify it. They never seek the truth or pray to God, and they do not come before God to reflect on themselves. Without self-reflection, can one know their problems and their corruption? (No.) And can they repent without knowing their corruption? (No.) If someone cannot repent, what condition is it that they will invariably be living in? Will it not be one of self-forgiveness? Of feeling that though they have poured forth corruption, they have not done evil or violated the administrative decrees—that though doing so was not in accordance with the truth principles, this was not intentional, and it is pardonable? (Yes.) Well, is that the sort of condition that someone who pursues the truth ought to have? (No.) If someone never truly repents and always lives in this sort of condition, will they be able to turn themselves around? No, they will never be able to. And if a person does not turn themselves around, they will be unable to truly let go of their evil. What does it mean to be unable to truly let go of one’s evil? It means that one cannot truly practice the truth and enter the truth reality. That is the obvious outcome. If you cannot let go of your evil or practice the truth and enter reality, then if you wish to make God change His mind about you, attain the work of the Holy Spirit, gain God’s enlightenment and illumination, and have God pardon your transgressions and resolve your corruption, will that be possible? (No.) If that is not possible, then can your belief in God result in your salvation? (No.) If a person lives in a condition of forgiving and admiring themselves, they fall miles short of pursuing the truth. The things they busy themselves with, look at, listen to, and run about doing may be somewhat related to believing in God, but they will have nothing to do with pursuing the truth or practicing it. This outcome is obvious. And since they are not related to pursuing or practicing the truth, that person will not have reflected on themselves, nor will they have knowledge of themselves. They will not know the extent to which they have been corrupted, and they will not know how to practice repentance, so it is even less likely that they will achieve true repentance or make God change His mind about them. If you live in such a condition and want God to reconsider, pardon, or approve of you, that will be difficult indeed. What does “approve” mean here? It means that God acknowledges what you do, approves of it, and remembers it. If you cannot gain any of these things, it proves that you are not pursuing the truth in the things that you do, in your exertions, in your outpourings and behavior. It does not matter what you think, even if you are able to perform some good behaviors, these behaviors only represent that there is a bit of conscience and reason within your humanity. But these good behaviors are not a manifestation of the pursuit of the truth, because your starting point, intents, and motives are not those of pursuing the truth. What grounds are there for saying so? The grounds are that none of your thoughts, actions, or deeds are in pursuit of the truth, and they have nothing to do with the truth. If everything that one does is not to gain God’s approval and recognition, then nothing they do will be able to attain God’s approval or recognition, and it is obvious that these behaviors and practices can only be called good human behaviors. They are not signs that they are practicing the truth, and they are certainly not signs that they are pursuing it. People who are particularly capricious and often behave recklessly and arbitrarily do not accept the judgment and chastisement of God’s words, nor do they accept being pruned and dealt with. They also often make excuses for their failure to pursue the truth and their inability to accept being pruned and dealt with. What disposition is that? Obviously, it is a disposition that is sick of the truth—the disposition of Satan. Man is possessed of Satan’s nature and its disposition, so without a doubt, people are of Satan. They are devils, the progeny of Satan, and the offspring of the great red dragon. Some people are able to admit that they are devils, Satans, and the offspring of the great red dragon, and they speak very prettily about their self-knowledge. But when they reveal a corrupt disposition and someone exposes them, deals with them, and prunes them, they will try with all their might to justify themselves and they will not accept the truth at all. What is the issue here? In this, these people are exposed utterly. They speak so prettily when they talk about knowing themselves, so why is it that when faced with being pruned and dealt with, they cannot accept the truth? There is a problem here. Is this sort of thing not quite common? Is it easy to discern? It is, in fact. There are quite a few people who admit that they are devils and Satans when they speak of their self-knowledge, but do not repent or change afterward. So, is the self-knowledge they speak of true or false? Do they have sincere knowledge of themselves, or is it just a ruse meant to trick others? The answer is self-evident. Therefore, to see whether a person has true self-knowledge, you should not merely listen to them talk about it—you should look at the attitude they have toward being pruned and dealt with, and whether they can accept the truth. That is the most crucial thing. Whoever does not accept being pruned and dealt with has an essence of not accepting the truth, of refusing to accept it, and their disposition is sick of the truth. That is beyond doubt. Some people do not permit others to deal with them, no matter how much corruption they have revealed—no one may prune or deal with them. They are allowed to talk about their own self-knowledge, in any way that they please, but if someone else exposes them, criticizes them, or deals with them, no matter how objective or in accordance with the facts it is, they will not accept it. No matter what kind of outpouring of a corrupt disposition another person exposes in them, they will be extremely antagonistic and keep giving specious justifications for themselves, without even the slightest bit of true submission. If such people do not pursue the truth, there will be trouble. In the church, they are untouchable and irreproachable. When people say something good about them, it will make them happy; when people point out something bad about them, they will grow angry. Should someone expose them and say: “You’re a good person, but you’re very capricious. You’re always acting arbitrarily and recklessly. You need to accept being pruned and dealt with. Wouldn’t it be better for you to be rid of these deficiencies and corrupt dispositions?” in response, they will say, “I haven’t done anything evil. I haven’t sinned. Why are you dealing with me? I’ve been doted on at home since I was a child, by both my parents and grandparents. I’m their sweetheart, the apple of their eye. Now, here in God’s house, no one dotes on me at all—it’s no fun living here! You’re always picking at some fault of mine or another and trying to deal with me. How am I supposed to live like that?” What is the problem here? The clear-sighted can tell at once that these people have been spoiled by their parents and family, and that even now, they do not know how to comport themselves or live independently. Your family has doted on you like an idol, and you do not know your place in the universe. You have developed the vices of arrogance, self-righteousness, and extreme capriciousness, which you are not aware of and do not know to reflect on. You believe in God but do not listen to His words or practice the truth. Can you gain the truth with such a belief in God? Can you enter into the truth reality? Can you live out the true likeness of a human being? Certainly not. As a believer in God, you must at least accept the truth and know yourself. Only thus will you be able to change. If you always rely on your notions and imaginings in your faith, if you only seek peace and happiness instead of pursuing the truth, if you are incapable of true repentance, and have no change in your life disposition, then your belief in God is meaningless. As a believer in God, you must understand the truth. You must put effort into knowing yourself. You must seek the truth no matter what befalls you, and you must resolve whatever corrupt disposition pours forth from you by fellowshiping on the truth according to God’s words. If someone points out your corrupt disposition, or you take the initiative to examine it yourself, if you can consciously hold it against God’s words for comparison, and introspect, examine, and know yourself, and then go on to fix your problem and practice repentance, you will be capable of living as a human being. Those who believe in God must accept the truth. If you are always relishing the feeling of being doted on by your family, always pleased to be the apple of their eye, their sweetheart, what will you be able to gain? No matter how much you are the apple of your family’s eye and their sweetheart, if you do not have the truth reality, you are trash. Believing in God only has value if you pursue the truth. When you understand the truth, you will know how to comport yourself, and you will know how to live in order to experience true happiness and be a person that pleases God. No family environment, and no personal strengths, merits or gifts, can stand in for the truth reality, nor should any such thing serve as an excuse for you to not pursue the truth. Gaining the truth is the only thing that can bring people true happiness, allow them to live a life of significance, and grant them a beautiful destination. These are the facts of the matter.
Some people, after becoming leaders and workers in the church, believe themselves to be golden and think that they finally have the chance to shine. They feel good about themselves and begin to put their strengths to use; they give free rein to their ambitions and demonstrate their full capabilities. These people have class and education, organizational skills, and the manner and bearing of a leader. They were at the top of their class and the head of the student union at school, they were the manager or president of the company they worked at, and when they began believing in God and came to His house, they were elected as a leader, so they think to themselves, “Heaven never lets me down. It would be tough for someone as capable as I to keep a low profile. As soon as I stepped down from the position of company president, I came to God’s house and took on the role of a leader. I couldn’t be an ordinary person even if I tried. This is God’s exaltation of me, it is what He has arranged for me to do, so I’ll submit to it.” After becoming a leader, they put their experience, knowledge, organizational skills, and leadership style to use. They think that they are capable and bold, and a truly adept and talented individual. It is a pity, then, that there is a problem here. These adept, talented leaders, who were born with an ability to lead—what are they best at doing in the church? Establishing an independent kingdom, arrogating all power to themselves, and dominating discussions. After becoming a leader, they do nothing except work, run about, undergo hardships, and pay a price for the sake of their own prestige and status. They care about nothing else. They believe that their busyness and work is in line with God’s will, that they have no corrupt disposition, that the church always needs them, and that the brothers and sisters need them too. They believe that no work could get done without them, that they can take it all on themselves and monopolize power. And they have quite a way of establishing their independent kingdom. They are capable of all manner of inventive, novel things, they are particularly skilled at acting like officials and putting on airs, and practiced at lecturing others from on high. There is just one important thing they cannot do: After becoming a leader, they are no longer able to speak to others from the heart, to know themselves, to notice their own corruption, or to listen to suggestions from the brothers and sisters. Should someone raise some different ideas during work discussions, these leaders will not only reject them—they will justify doing so by saying, “You haven’t thought that proposal through. I’m the church leader—if I do as you say and nothing goes wrong, that’s fine, but if something bad does happen, the responsibility will fall on me alone. So, most of the time, you can voice your opinions—we can observe that formality—but in the end, it must be I alone who makes the choice and decides how things are done.” Over time, most of the brothers and sisters stop taking part in discussions or fellowshiping about work, and these leaders will not bother fellowshiping with them about any problems in the work. They will keep making decisions and passing judgments without speaking a word to anyone, and they will still be full of their justifications. They believe, “The church is the leader’s church, the leader plots the course. It’s the leader who has the final say over the direction the brothers and sisters go and the path they walk.” Naturally, these leaders then take control of the brothers’ and sisters’ life entry, the path they walk, and the direction of their pursuit. Once they have been made “captain,” they monopolize power and establish an independent kingdom. There is no transparency to their actions, and without realizing it, they suppress a few people and exclude some brothers and sisters who pursue the truth and are capable of understanding. All the while, they still think that in doing so, they are protecting the church’s work and the interests of God’s chosen people. They do everything with such precise reasoning, with such a plethora of justifications and excuses—and what of it, in the end? Everything they do is to protect their status and their monopoly on power. They bring the principles, ways, and means of behavior from secular society and family life into God’s house, and think that in doing so, they are protecting its interests. Yet they never know themselves or reflect on themselves. Even if someone were to point out that they are violating the truth principles, even if they were to meet with God’s enlightenment, discipline, and chastening, they would have no awareness of it. Where does the problem lie? From the day they took on the position of leader, they treated their duty like a career, and it is this that dooms them to walk the path of the antichrists and ensures that they are unable to pursue the truth. And yet, in the course of this “career,” they believe that everything they do is pursuing the truth. How do they view the pursuit of the truth? They safeguard their own status and authority under the guise of protecting the interests of the brothers and sisters and God’s house, and they believe that this is a manifestation of their pursuit of the truth. They know nothing at all of the corrupt disposition that manifests and pours forth from them while they are in this post. Even if they sometimes have a faint sense that it is a corrupt disposition, that it is loathed by God, that it is a vicious, intransigent disposition, they quickly change their mind, thinking: “That won’t do. I’m the leader, and I need to have the dignity of one. I can’t let the brothers and sisters see me pour forth a corrupt disposition.” And so, though they realize that they have poured forth a great deal of corruption, and that they have done many things that contravene the principles in order to safeguard their status and authority, when someone exposes them, they resort to sophistry or try to block it, so that no one else will learn of it. As soon as they gained authority and status, they put themselves in a sacrosanct and inviolable position, thinking themselves to be great, correct, irreproachable, and undoubtable. And having occupied such a position, they uniformly resist and reject any dissenting voices, any suggestions or advice that could be of benefit to the brothers’ and sisters’ life entry and to the church’s work. What excuse do they give for not pursuing the truth? They say, “I have status, I’m a person of standing—that means that I have dignity and that I am sacrosanct and inviolable.” Can they pursue the truth, having come up with such reasons and excuses? (No.) They cannot. They always speak and act from their high station while enjoying the trappings of their status. By doing this, they hold themselves over a fire, and make it necessary to expose them. Are such people not pitiful? They are pitiful and detestable, and also abhorrent—they are revolting! As a leader, they dress themselves up in the image of a saint. A saint, a great, glorious, and correct person—what are these titles? They are shackles, and whoever puts them can no longer pursue the truth. If someone dons these shackles, it means that they no longer have any relation to pursuing the truth. What is the principal reason that these people do not pursue the truth? In fact, the reason is that they have been constrained by status. They are always thinking to themselves: “I’m the leader. I’m in charge here. I’m a person of standing and status. I’m a dignified person. I can’t have an arrogant or evil disposition. I can’t open up and fellowship about my corrupt disposition—I have to protect my dignity and prestige. I have to make people look up to me and venerate me.” They are always constrained by these things, so they are unable to open up or reflect and know themselves. They are ruined by these things. Do their views and mindset accord with the truth? It is quite obvious that they do not. Are the behaviors that they usually display in their duties—arrogance and self-righteousness, acting as a law unto themselves, pretense, trickery, and so on—are these practices the pursuit of the truth? (No.) Quite clearly, none of them are the pursuit of the truth. And what is the justification or reason they give for not pursuing the truth? (They believe that leaders are people with status and dignity, and that even if they have a corrupt disposition, it can’t be exposed.) Is this not an absurd point of view? If a person admits to having a corrupt disposition but does not permit it to be exposed, are they someone who accepts the truth? If, as a leader, you cannot accept the truth, how will you experience God’s work? How will your corruption be cleansed? And if your corruption cannot be cleansed and you go on living by your corrupt disposition, then you are a leader who cannot do practical work—you are a false leader. As a leader, you do have status, but that is a mere matter of having a different job, a different duty—it does not mean that you have become a person of standing. You do not become more dignified than others or a person of distinguished standing because you have gained this status and performed a different duty. If there really are people who think this way, are they not shameless? (They are.) What is a more colloquial way to put it? They are brazenly cheeky, are they not? When they are not leaders, they treat people with sincerity; they are able to open up about their outpourings of corruption and analyze their corrupt dispositions. Once they take on a post as a leader, they become another person entirely. Why do I say they become another person? Because they put on a mask, and the real person stays behind it. The mask betrays no expressions at all, no crying, no laughter, no pleasure or anger, no sorrow or joy, no emotions and desires—and certainly no corrupt disposition. At all times, its expression and condition remain the same, while all of the leader’s true states, personal thoughts and ideas stay hidden behind the mask, where no one can see them. There are some leaders and workers who always think of themselves as having standing and status. They are terrified that they would lose their dignity if someone were to prune and deal with them, so they do not accept the truth. They draw from their status and authority to speak honeyed, false words and cover up their corrupt disposition. At the same time, they mistakenly believe that they are more distinguished and holier than others on account of their status, and that they therefore do not need to pursue the truth—that pursuing the truth is for others to do. This way of thinking is mistaken, and it is somewhat shameless and senseless. That is how this sort of person behaves. From the essence of such people’s behavior, it is clear to see that they are not pursuing the truth. Instead they are pursuing status and prestige. As they work, they are protecting their status and authority, and deluding themselves into thinking that they are pursuing the truth. They are just like Paul, making frequent summaries of the work they have done and the duties they have performed, the tasks they have handled in doing church work, and the achievements they have attained while doing the work of God’s house. They frequently make tallies of these things, like when Paul said, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: From now on there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness” (2 Timothy 4:7–8). By this, he meant that after finishing his course and fighting a good fight, it was time to calculate how great a chance he had at salvation, how great his contributions had been, how great his reward would be, and to ask God to reward his contributions. He meant that he would not think God to be a righteous God if He did not reward him with a crown, that he would refuse to submit and even complain about God’s unrighteousness. Is such a person, with this kind of mindset and disposition, pursuing the truth? Are they someone who truly submits to God? Can they put themselves at the mercy of God’s orchestrations? Is this not clear at a glance? They think that their running of courses and fighting of battles is the pursuit of the truth, they do not seek the truth at all and they do not possess the manifestations of truly pursuing it—so they are not someone who pursues the truth.
Which of man’s problems did our fellowship just now primarily expose? Specifically, which of man’s corrupt dispositions did it primarily expose? A basic one is man being fed up with the truth and refusing to accept it; this is one very specific sort of behavior. Another main one is something that exists in the essence of every person’s disposition: intransigence. This also manifests quite concretely and obviously, does it not? (It does.) These are two of the main ways in which man’s corrupt disposition manifests and pours forth. These specific behaviors, these specific views, attitudes, and so forth, truly and accurately illustrate that there is an element of being fed up with the truth within the corrupt disposition of man. Of course, what is more prominent in man’s disposition are manifestations of intransigence: Whatever God says, and whatever corrupt dispositions of man are exposed in the course of God’s work, people stubbornly refuse to acknowledge it and resist it. Beyond obvious resistance or contemptuous rejection, there is, of course, another sort of behavior, which is when people do not concern themselves with God’s work, as if God’s work has nothing to do with them. What does it mean to not concern oneself with God? It is when a person says, “Say what You will—it has nothing to do with me. None of Your judgment or exposure has anything to do with me. I don’t accept it or acknowledge it.” Might we call such an attitude “intransigent”? (Yes.) It is a manifestation of intransigence. These people say, “I live however I like, in whatever way makes me comfortable, and in whatever way makes me happy. The behaviors You talk about like arrogance, deceit, being fed up with the truth, evil, viciousness, and so on—even if I do have them, so what? I won’t examine them, or know them, or accept them. This is how I believe in God, what are You going to do about it?” This is an attitude of intransigence. When people do not concern themselves with God’s words or pay heed to them, which means that they uniformly ignore God, regardless of what He says, whether He speaks in the form of reminders or warnings or exhortations—no matter which manner of speaking He employs, or what the source and goals of His speech are—then their attitude is an intransigent one. It means that they pay no heed to God’s urgent will, much less to His sincere, well-intentioned desire to save man. No matter what God does, people do not have hearts of cooperation and they are unwilling to strive toward the truth. Even if they acknowledge that God’s judgment and revelation are entirely factual, there is no remorse in their hearts, and they go on believing as they did before. In the end, when they have heard many sermons, they say the same thing: “I’m a true believer, at any rate, my humanity’s not poor, I wouldn’t deliberately do evil, I’m able to forsake things, I can take on hardship, and I’m willing to pay a price for my faith. God won’t forsake me.” Is this not just like how Paul said: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: From now on there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness”? That is the sort of attitude people have. What is the disposition behind such an attitude? Intransigence. Is an intransigent disposition difficult to change? Is there a path for doing so? The simplest and most direct method is to transform your attitude toward God’s words and toward God Himself. How can you transform these things? By analyzing and coming to know the states and mindsets that arise from your intransigent attitude, and by looking to see which of your actions and words, which of the viewpoints and intents that you cling to, and even specifically which of the thoughts and ideas that you pour forth, are under the sway of your intransigent disposition. Examine and resolve these behaviors, outpourings, and states, one by one, and then, turn them around—as soon as you have examined and detected something, hurry to turn it around. For instance, we were just speaking about acting based on one’s preferences and moods, which is capriciousness. The disposition of capriciousness carries with it a quality of being sick of the truth. If you realize that you are that sort of person, with that sort of corrupt disposition, and you do not reflect on yourself or seek the truth to resolve it, stubbornly thinking that you are just fine, that is intransigence. After this sermon, you may suddenly realize, “I’ve said things like that, and I have views like that. This disposition of mine is one that’s sick of the truth. As that’s the case, I’ll set about resolving that disposition.” How are you to set about resolving it, then? Begin by letting go of your sense of superiority, your capriciousness, and your arbitrariness; no matter if you are in a good or bad mood, look to what God’s requirements are. If you can forsake the flesh and practice in line with God’s requirements, how will He view you? If you can truly begin to resolve these corrupt behaviors, it is a sign that you are positively and proactively cooperating with God’s work. You will be consciously forsaking and resolving that disposition which is sick of the truth, and at the same time, you will be resolving your intransigent disposition. When you have resolved both of these corrupt dispositions, you will be able to obey and satisfy God, and this will please Him. If you have understood the content of this fellowship and practice forsaking the flesh in this way, I will be very happy. Then I will not have spoken these words in vain.
Intransigence is a problem of a corrupt disposition; it is something in one’s nature, and it is not easy to resolve. When someone has an intransigent disposition, it manifests mainly as a propensity for offering justifications and specious arguments, sticking to their own ideas, and not easily accepting new things. There are times when people know that their ideas are wrong, yet they stick to them for the sake of their vanity and pride, obstinate to the end. Such an intransigent disposition is difficult to transform, even if one is aware of it. To resolve the problem of intransigence, one must know man’s arrogance, deceit, viciousness, being sick of the truth, and other such dispositions. When one knows their own arrogance, deceit, viciousness, that they are sick of the truth, that they are unwilling to forsake the flesh though they wish to practice the truth, that they are always offering excuses and explaining their difficulties though they wish to obey God, it will be easy for them to recognize that they have a problem with intransigence. To resolve this problem, one must first be possessed of normal human sense and begin by learning to listen to God’s words. If you wish to be God’s sheep, you must learn to listen to His words. And how should you listen to them? By listening for any problems that God exposes in His words that are relevant to you. If you find one, you should accept it; you must not believe that it is a problem that other people have, that it is everyone’s problem, or humanity’s problem, and that it has nothing to do with you. It would be wrong for you to have such a belief. You should reflect, through the revelation of God’s words, on whether you have the corrupt states or erroneous views that God is exposing. For instance, when you hear God’s words revealing manifestations of an arrogant disposition pouring forth from someone, you should think to yourself: “Do I show manifestations of arrogance? I am a corrupt human, so I must show some of those manifestations; I should reflect on where I do that. People say I’m arrogant, that I’m always acting high and mighty, that I constrain people when I speak. Is that truly my disposition?” Through reflection, you will finally realize that the revelation of God’s words is entirely accurate—that you are an arrogant person. And as the revelation of God’s words is entirely accurate, as it matches up perfectly with your situation without the least discrepancy, and appears even more accurate upon further reflection, you should accept the judgment and chastisement of His words, and discern and come to know the essence of your corrupt disposition according to them. Then you will be able to feel true remorse. In believing in God, it is only by eating and drinking of His words in this way that you can come to know yourself. In order to resolve your corrupt dispositions, you must accept the judgment and exposure of God’s words. If you cannot do that, there will be no way for you to cast off your corrupt dispositions. If you are a smart person who sees that the revelation of God’s words is generally accurate, or if you can admit that half of it is correct, then you should accept it at once and submit before God. You must also pray to Him and reflect on yourself. Only then will you understand that all of God’s words of revelation are accurate, that they are all facts, and nothing short of that. It is only by submitting before God with a heart of reverence for Him that people can truly reflect on themselves. Only then will they be able to see the variety of corrupt dispositions that exist within them, and that they are indeed arrogant and self-righteous, without the least bit of sense. If someone is a lover of the truth, they will be able to prostrate themselves before God, admit to Him that they have been deeply corrupted, and have the will to accept His judgment and chastisement. In this way, they can develop a heart of remorse, begin to deny and hate themselves, and regret not having pursued the truth before, thinking, “Why was I unable to accept the judgment and chastisement of God’s words when I began reading them? This attitude I held toward His words was one of arrogance, wasn’t it? How could I be so arrogant?” After frequently self-reflecting in this way for some time, they will recognize that they are indeed arrogant, that they are not entirely capable of admitting that God’s words are the truth and facts, and that they truly do not have a shred of sense. But it is a difficult thing to know oneself. Each time a person reflects, they can only gain a bit more and a bit deeper knowledge of themselves. To gain clear knowledge of a corrupt disposition is not something that can be accomplished in a short span of time; one must read more of God’s words, pray more, and reflect more on themselves. Only thus can they gradually come to know themselves. All those who truly know themselves have failed and stumbled a few times in the past, after which, they read God’s words, prayed to Him, and reflected on themselves, and thereby came to see the truth of their own corruption clearly, and to feel that they were indeed profoundly corrupted, and absolutely bereft of the truth reality. If you experience God’s work like this, and you pray to Him and seek the truth when things befall you, you will gradually come to know yourself. Then one day, your heart will finally be clear: “I may have slightly better caliber than others, but this was given to me by God. I’m always boastful, attempting to outdo others when I speak, and trying to get people to do things my way. I truly lack sense—this is arrogance and self-righteousness! Through reflection, I’ve learned of my own arrogant disposition. This is God’s enlightenment and grace, and I thank Him for it!” Is it a good thing or a bad thing to learn of your own corrupt disposition? (A good thing.) From there, you should seek how to speak and act with sense and obedience, how to stand on equal footing with others, how to treat others fairly without constraining them, how to correctly regard your caliber, gifts, strengths, and so on. In this way, like a mountain being hammered into dust, one strike at a time, your arrogant disposition will be resolved. After that, when you interact with others or work with them to perform a duty, you will be able to treat their views correctly and pay careful, close attention while you listen to them. And when you hear them voice a view that is correct, you will discover, “It seems my caliber isn’t the best. The fact is that everybody has their own strengths; they’re not inferior to me at all. Before, I always thought that I had better caliber than others. That was self-admiration and narrow-minded ignorance. I had a very limited outlook, like a frog at the bottom of a well. Thinking like that really lacked sense—it was shameless! I was blinded and deafened by my arrogant disposition. Other people’s words didn’t get through to me, and I thought that I was better than them, that I was right, when in fact, I’m no better than any of them!” From then on, you will have true insight into and knowledge of your deficiencies and your small stature. And after that, when you fellowship with others, you will listen closely to their views, and you will realize, “There are so many people who are better than me. My caliber and capacity for understanding are both middling, at best.” With this realization, will you not have gained a bit of self-awareness? By experiencing this, and frequently reflecting on yourself according to God’s words, you will be able to gain true self-knowledge that grows ever deeper. You will be able to see through to the truth of your corruption, to your poverty and wretchedness, to your deplorable ugliness, and at that time, you will be sickened by yourself and hate your corrupt disposition. Then it will be easy for you to forsake yourself. That is how you experience God’s work. You must reflect on your outpourings of corruption according to God’s words. In particular, after revealing a corrupt disposition in any kind of situation, you must frequently reflect on and know yourself. It will then be easy for you to see your corrupt essence clearly, and you will be able to hate your corruption, your flesh, and Satan from the heart. And from the heart, you will be able to love and strive for the truth. In this way, your arrogant disposition will keep diminishing, and you will gradually cast it off. You will gain more and more sense, and it will be easier for you to submit to God. In the eyes of others, you will appear steadier and more grounded, and you will seem to speak more objectively. You will be capable of listening to others, and you will give them time to talk. When others are right, it will be easy for you to accept their words, and your interactions with people will not be so taxing. You will be able to cooperate harmoniously with anyone. If this is how you perform your duty, will you not then have sense and humanity? That is the way to resolve this kind of corrupt disposition.
Let us now fellowship a little on the way to resolve corrupt dispositions through the issue of intransigent disposition that I just mentioned. To resolve a corrupt disposition, one must first be able to accept the truth. To accept the truth is to accept God’s judgment and chastisement; it is to accept His words that expose the essence of man’s corruption. If you come to know and analyze your outpourings of corruption, your corrupt states, and your corrupt intentions and behaviors on the basis of God’s words, and you are able to uncover the essence of your problems, then you will have gained knowledge of your corrupt disposition, and you will have set in motion the process of resolving it. On the other hand, if you do not practice in this way, not only will you be unable to resolve your intransigent disposition, you will also have no way to eradicate your corrupt dispositions. Every person is possessed of multiple corrupt dispositions. Where should one begin resolving them? Firstly, one must resolve their intransigence, as intransigent disposition hinders people from drawing close to God, seeking the truth, and submitting to God. Intransigence is the greatest stumbling block to man’s prayer and fellowship with God; it is what interferes most with man’s normal relationship with God. After you have resolved your intransigent disposition, the others will be easy to resolve. Resolving a corrupt disposition begins with self-reflection and self-knowledge. Resolve whichever corrupt dispositions you are aware of—the more of them you gain knowledge of, the more you can resolve; the deeper your knowledge of them, the more thoroughly you can resolve them. This is the process of resolving corrupt dispositions; it is done by praying to God, and by reflecting on and knowing oneself and analyzing the essence of one’s corrupt disposition through God’s words, until one is able to forsake the flesh and practice the truth. Knowing the essence of your corrupt disposition is no simple task. Knowing yourself is not saying, broadly, “I’m a corrupted person; I’m a devil; I’m the offspring of Satan, the descendant of the great red dragon; I’m resistant and hostile toward God; I’m His enemy.” Such talk does not necessarily mean that you have true knowledge of your own corruption. You may have learned those words from someone else and not know much about yourself. True self-knowledge is not based in man’s learning or judgments, it is based in God’s words—it is seeing the consequences of corrupt dispositions and the suffering that you have experienced as a result of them, feeling how a corrupt disposition harms not only you, but also other people. It is seeing through to the fact that corrupt dispositions originate in Satan, that they are Satan’s poisons and philosophies, and that they are entirely inimical to the truth and to God. When you have seen through this problem, you will have come to know your corrupt disposition. After some people acknowledge that they are the devil Satan, they still do not accept being pruned and dealt with. They do not admit that they have done anything wrong or violated the truth. What is the matter with them? They still do not know themselves. Some people say they are the devil Satan, yet if you were to ask them, “Why do you say that you are the devil Satan?” they would be unable to respond. This goes to show that they do not know their corrupt disposition, or their nature essence. If they could see that their nature is the devil’s nature, that their corrupt disposition is Satan’s disposition, and admit that they are therefore the devil, Satan, they would then have come to know their own nature essence. True self-knowledge is achieved through the exposure, judgment, practice, and experience of God’s words. It is achieved through understanding the truth. If a person does not understand the truth, then no matter what they say about their self-knowledge, it is hollow and impractical, because they cannot find or grasp those things that are at root and essential. To know oneself, one must acknowledge which corrupt dispositions they have revealed in specific instances, what their intent was, how they behaved, with what they were adulterated, and why they could not accept the truth. They must be able to state these things clearly, only then can they know themselves. When some people are faced with being pruned and dealt with, they admit that they are sick of the truth, that they have suspicions and misunderstandings about God, and that they are guarded against Him. They also acknowledge that all of God’s words that judge and expose man are factual. This shows that they have a bit of self-knowledge. But because they do not have knowledge of God or His work, because they do not understand His will, their self-knowledge is quite shallow. If someone only acknowledges their own corruption but has not found the root of the problem, can their suspicions, misunderstandings, and guardedness surrounding God be resolved? No, they cannot. This is why self-knowledge is more than just a mere acknowledgment of one’s corruption and problems—one must also understand the truth and resolve the problem of their corrupt disposition at its root. That is the only way to see through to the truth of one’s corruption and achieve true repentance. When those who love the truth come to know themselves, they are also able to seek and understand the truth to resolve their problems. Only this sort of self-knowledge yields results. Whenever a person who loves the truth reads a phrase of God’s words that reveals and judges man, before anything else, they have faith that God’s words that reveal man are real and factual, and that God’s words that judge man are the truth, and that they represent God’s righteousness. Lovers of the truth must, at least, be able to recognize this. If someone does not even believe God’s words, and does not believe that God’s words exposing and judging man are facts and the truth, can they know themselves through His words? Certainly not—even if they wished to, they could not. If you can be firm in your belief that all of God’s words are the truth, and believe them all, no matter what God says or His manner of speaking, if you are able to believe and accept God’s words even if you do not understand them, it will be easy for you to reflect on and know yourself through them. Self-reflection must be based in the truth. That is beyond doubt. Only God’s words are the truth—none of man’s words and none of Satan’s words are the truth. Satan has been corrupting mankind with all kinds of learning, teachings, and theories for thousands of years, and people have become so numb and dull-witted that they not only lack the slightest knowledge of themselves, but they even uphold heresies and fallacies and refuse to accept the truth. Humans like these are irredeemable. Those who have true faith in God believe that only His words are the truth, they are able to know themselves on the basis of God’s words and the truth, and thereby achieve true repentance. Some people do not pursue the truth; they base their self-reflection only on man’s learning, and they admit to nothing more than sinful behavior, and all the while, they are unable to see through to their own corrupt essence. Such self-knowledge is a futile endeavor and it yields no results. One must base their self-reflection on God’s words, and after reflecting, gradually come to know the corrupt dispositions that they reveal. One must be able to measure and know their deficiencies, their humanity essence, their views on things, their life outlook and values, based on the truth, and then come to an accurate assessment and verdict on all these things. In this way, they can gradually attain knowledge of themselves. But self-knowledge grows ever deeper as one experiences more in life, and before one has gained the truth, it will be impossible for them to see entirely through to their nature essence. If a person truly knows themselves, they can see that corrupted human beings are indeed the offspring and embodiments of Satan. They will feel that they do not deserve to live before God, that they are unworthy of His love and salvation, and they will be able to completely prostrate themselves before Him. Only those who are capable of such a degree of knowledge truly know themselves. Self-knowledge is a precondition for entering the truth reality. If someone wants to practice the truth and enter reality, they must know themselves. All people have corrupt dispositions and, despite themselves, they are always fettered and controlled by these corrupt dispositions. They are unable to practice the truth or obey God. So if they wish to do these things, they must first know themselves and resolve their corrupt dispositions. It is only through the process of resolving a corrupt disposition that one can understand the truth and gain knowledge of God; only then can one submit to God and bear witness for Him. That is how one gains the truth. The process of entering the truth reality is that of resolving one’s corrupt disposition. So, what must one do to resolve their corrupt disposition? Firstly, one must know their corrupt essence. Specifically, this means knowing how one’s corrupt disposition arose, and which of Satan’s lies and fallacies they accepted gave rise to it. Once one fully comes to understand these root causes on the basis of God’s words and has discernment of them, they will no longer be willing to live by their corrupt disposition, they will want only to submit to God and live by His words. Whenever they reveal a corrupt disposition, they will be able to recognize it, reject it, and forsake their flesh. By practicing and experiencing in this way, they will slowly cast off all of their corrupt dispositions.
Some people say, “When I read God’s words of exposure and judgment, I reflected on myself and realized that I’m arrogant, deceitful, selfish, evil, intransigent, and devoid of humanity.” There are some who even say that they are extremely arrogant, that they are beasts, that they are the devil Satan. Is this true self-knowledge? If they are speaking from the heart, and not just copying something, then it shows that they, at least, have some self-knowledge, the only question being whether it is shallow or deep. If they are copying something, repeating someone else’s words, then that is not true self-knowledge. Knowledge of one’s corrupt disposition must be concrete, down to every matter and state—this means details such as states, outpourings, behaviors, thoughts and ideas that relate to the corrupt disposition. Only then can one truly come to know themselves. And when a person truly knows themselves, their heart will fill with remorse, and they will become capable of true repentance. What is the first thing that one must practice in order to repent? (One must admit to their mistakes.) “Admitting to their mistakes” is not the right way to express this; rather, it is a matter of acknowledging and knowing that one has a certain corrupt disposition. If one says that their corrupt disposition is a kind of mistake, they are wrong. A corrupt disposition is something that belongs to one’s nature, something that controls a person. It is not the same thing as a one-off mistake. Some people, after revealing corruption, pray to God: “Oh God, I made a mistake. I am sorry.” This is inaccurate. “Admitting to a sin” would be more appropriate. The specific way that people practice repentance is by knowing themselves and resolving their problems. When a person reveals a corrupt disposition or commits a transgression, and realizes that they are resisting God and invoking His hatred, they should then self-reflect and know themselves within the relevant words of God. Consequently, they will gain some knowledge of their corrupt disposition and acknowledge that it comes from Satan’s poisons and corruption. After that, when they have found the principles for practicing the truth and been able to put the truth into practice, that is true repentance. No matter what corruption a person reveals, if they are able to first know their corrupt disposition, seek the truth to resolve it, and come to practice the truth, that is true repentance. Some people know a bit about themselves, but there are no signs of repentance within them, nor any testimony to their practice of the truth. If they remain unchanged after gaining self-knowledge, that is far from true repentance. To achieve true repentance, one must resolve their corrupt dispositions. So, how, specifically, should one practice and enter in order to resolve their corrupt dispositions? Here is an example. People have deceitful dispositions, they are always lying and cheating. If you realize that, then the simplest and most direct principle of practice to resolve your deceitfulness is to be an honest person, to tell the truth and do honest things. The Lord Jesus said, “But let your communication be, Yes, yes; No, no.” To be an honest person, one should follow the principles of God’s words. This simple practice is the most effective, it is easy to understand and to put into practice. However, because people are so deeply corrupted, because they all have satanic natures and are living by satanic dispositions, it is quite difficult for them to practice the truth. They would like to be honest, but they cannot. They cannot help but tell lies and engage in trickery, and though they may feel remorse after recognizing this, they will still be unable to cast off the constraints of their corrupt disposition, and they will go on lying and cheating as they did before. How should this problem be resolved? Part of it is knowing that the essence of one’s corrupt disposition is ugly and despicable, and being able to hate it from one’s heart; another part is training oneself to practice according to the truth principle, “But let your communication be, Yes, yes; No, no.” When you are practicing this principle, you are in the process of resolving your deceitful disposition. Naturally, if you are able to practice according to the truth principles while resolving your deceitful disposition, that is a manifestation of you turning yourself around and the beginning of your true repentance, and God approves of it. This means that when you turn yourself around, God will change His mind about you. In fact, God doing this is a sort of pardon for man’s corrupt dispositions and rebelliousness. He forgives people and does not remember their sins or their transgressions. Is that specific enough? Have you understood this? Here is another example. Say you have an arrogant disposition, and no matter what happens to you, you are very willful—you always want to call the shots, have others obey you, and do what you want them to do. The day then comes when you realize that this is caused by an arrogant disposition. Your admission that it is an arrogant disposition is the first step toward self-knowledge. From there, you should seek out a few passages of God’s words that expose arrogant disposition against which to compare yourself, and reflect on and know yourself. If you find that the comparison is completely apt, and you admit that the arrogant disposition that God exposes exists in you, and then you discern and uncover where your arrogant disposition comes from, and why it arises, and which of Satan’s poisons, heresies, and fallacies govern it, then, having seen to the heart of all these questions, you will have dug down to the root of your arrogance. This is true self-knowledge. When you have a more precise definition of how you reveal this corrupt disposition, it will facilitate deeper and more practical knowledge of yourself. What should you do next? You should look for the truth principles in God’s words, and understand what sort of human comportment and speech are manifestations of normal humanity. After you find the path of practice, you must practice according to God’s words, and when your heart has turned around, you will have truly repented. Not only will there be principles to your speech and actions, you will also be living out human likeness and gradually shedding your corrupt disposition. Others will see you as a new person: You will no longer be the old, corrupt person you once were, but one reborn in God’s words. Such a person is one whose life disposition has been changed.
Knowing oneself is no simple task. It is achieved by accepting the truth, as well as practicing and experiencing God’s words, and true self-knowledge can only be attained by accepting God’s judgment and chastisement. Those who have not experienced judgment and chastisement can, at the very most, admit to the mistakes they have made and the things they have done wrong. It will be very hard for them to see their nature essence clearly. Why was it that even though believers in the Age of Grace stopped committing certain sins and changed their behavior for the better, they never achieved a transformation of their life dispositions? Why, though they believed in God, did they resist Him, and even betray Him? It is difficult for corrupt humanity to recognize the source of this issue. Why do all people have satanic dispositions? It is because Satan has corrupted mankind, and people have accepted its lies and philosophies. That is what gave rise to corrupt dispositions, and that is how Satan’s disposition became the source of man’s resistance against God. This is the most difficult thing for people to recognize. God is doing His work of judgment in the last days to save mankind from Satan’s influence, and to resolve the source of mankind’s sin and resistance against God. Satan has corrupted mankind for thousands of years, and its nature has taken root in the hearts of man. Therefore, no sort of corrupt disposition can be resolved and cast off with just one or two attempts at self-reflection and self-knowledge. Corrupt dispositions pour forth constantly and repeatedly, so people need to accept the truth and wage a long battle with their satanic dispositions until they overcome Satan. Only then can they thoroughly cast off their corrupt dispositions. So, people must ceaselessly pray to God, seek the truth, self-reflect, know themselves, and practice the truth, until corruption no longer pours forth from them, their life dispositions change, and they achieve submission to God. Only then will they gain God’s approval. The results of each battle may not be immediately apparent, and you may still reveal corrupt dispositions afterward. You may feel a bit negative and discouraged, but unwilling to give up, and you can still keep trying hard, looking up to God and relying on Him. If you persevere in that way for two or three years, you will truly be able to put the truth into practice, and there will be peace and joy in your heart. Then you will see clearly that every failure, every effort, and every gain you made was a good sign that you were moving toward a transformation of your disposition and getting God to change His mind about you. Though each change is imperceptible to human consciousness, the dispositional transformation that comes with each turn cannot be achieved by any other action or thing. This is the path that one must take to change their disposition and enter into life. This is how the pursuit of dispositional change must be practiced. Of course, people should have an accurate understanding of how dispositional change happens: It is not a sudden, earthshaking change that surprises and delights, as they imagine. That is not how it happens. It is a matter of changing unconsciously, slowly, bit by bit. When one is able to put the truth into practice, they will see the fruits of their labor. When you look back after walking this path for three, five, ten years, you will be surprised to find that your disposition has changed vastly in those ten years, that you are entirely different. It may be that your personality and temper have not changed, or that your lifestyle and so forth have not changed, but the dispositions, states, and behaviors you pour forth will be worlds apart, as if you have truly become a different person. Why will such a change occur? Because in those ten years, you will have been judged and chastised, pruned and dealt with, tested and refined by God’s words many times, and you will have understood many truths. It will begin with a change in your views on things, a change in your outlook on life and your values, which will be followed by a change in your life disposition, a change in the foundation which you rely on to survive—and as these changes occur, you will gradually become another person, a new person. Though your personality, temper, lifestyle, and even your speech and deportment may be unchanged, you will have transformed your life disposition, and that alone is a fundamental, essential change. What are the signs of dispositional change? How does it manifest specifically? It begins with a change in a person’s views on things—it is when the numerous views on things of unbelievers that a person harbors change as they gain an understanding of the truth, and those views grow closer to the truth of God’s words. This is the first stage of dispositional change. Beyond that, through self-reflection and self-knowledge, people can focus on practicing the truth. By reflecting on the various intents, motives, thoughts and ideas, notions, viewpoints, and attitudes that arise within them, they can locate their problems, and begin to feel remorse for them. Then, they can forsake the flesh and put the truth into practice. And as they do, they will come to cherish God’s words and the truth even more, and acknowledge that Christ is the truth, the way, and the life. They will be more willing to follow Christ and submit to Him, and they will feel that God expresses truths to expose, judge, and chastise man, and to change people’s corrupt dispositions, and that by doing so God saves and perfects man in a truly practical way. They will feel that without God’s judgment and chastisement or the provision and guidance of His words, people would have no way to achieve salvation, nor could they reap such rewards. They will begin to love God’s words, and they will feel that they depend upon them in their real life, that they need His words to provide for them, to guide them, and to clear the way for them. Their hearts will be filled with peace, and when something befalls them, they will unconsciously seek out God’s words to serve as their basis, and look for the principles and the path of practice within them. This is one result achieved through knowing oneself. There is another: People will no longer treat their outpourings of corrupt dispositions as they once did, with an attitude of intransigence. Instead, they will be able to quiet their hearts and listen to God’s words with an attitude of honesty, and they will be able to accept the truth and positive things. This means that when they pour forth a corrupt disposition, they will no longer be as they were before—intransigent, difficult to tame, wildly aggressive, arrogant, insolent, and vicious—instead, they will proactively reflect on themselves and gain knowledge of their real problems. They may not know what the essence of their corrupt disposition is, but they will be able to quiet themselves, pray to God, and seek the truth, after which they will admit to their problems and to their corrupt disposition, and repent to God, and resolve to comport themselves differently in the future. That is wholly an attitude of submission. In this way, they will gain hearts of submission to God. Whatever God says, whatever He requires of them, whatever work He does or environments He arranges for them, it will be easy for people to submit to it. Their corrupt dispositions will not present such a great obstacle for them, they will be easy to resolve and overcome. At that point, putting the truth into practice will be effortless for them, and they will be able to achieve submission to God. These are the signs of dispositional change. When someone can put the truth into practice and truly submit to God, it is fair to say that their life disposition has already undergone a change—a true change, one that is entirely achieved through the pursuit of the truth. And all of the behaviors that arise in people during this process, whether they be positive behaviors or normal negativity and weakness, are indispensable and inexorable. Since there are positive behaviors, there must also be behaviors of negativity and weakness—but negativity and weakness are temporary. Once a person possesses a certain stature, they will have ever fewer negative, weak states, and ever more positive behaviors and entry, and their actions will grow increasingly principled. Such a person is one who obeys God, and one whose life disposition changed after their corrupt dispositions were cleansed. It can be said that these are the results that pursuers of the truth attain by experiencing the judgment and chastisement of God’s words, and by being repeatedly pruned and dealt with, tested, and refined.
Since people have all now heard and understood the specific, normal processes of pursuing the truth, they should no longer fabricate different justifications or excuses for why they are sick of the truth, or resist it, or do not pursue it. Having understood these truths and seen this issue clearly, do you now have discernment of the justifications and excuses people give for not pursuing the truth? If an older person says, “I’m old. I’m not driven or enthusiastic like a young person. With age, I lose the aggressiveness and ambition of youth, and I don’t get arrogant anymore. So, you saying that I’m arrogant is nonsense—I’m not!” Are they correct? (No.) Obviously not. All of you have discernment of such words now. You would be able to reveal that person and say, “Even though you’re old, you still have an arrogant disposition. You’ve been arrogant your whole life without ever resolving it. Do you want to go on being arrogant?” Some younger people say, “I’m so young, I haven’t experienced the chaotic parts of society or struggled and drifted along within different groups. I don’t have the experiences that people who’ve been around in the world do—and more importantly, of course, I’m not as slippery or treacherous as those old foxes. As a young person, it’s normal for me to have a bit of an arrogant disposition; at least I’m not as calculating, deceptive, and evil as an old person.” Is it appropriate to say this? (No.) Every person has a corrupt disposition. It has nothing to do with age or gender. You have what others have, and they have what you have. There is no need for anyone to point fingers. Of course, it is not enough to merely acknowledge that everyone has a corrupt disposition. Since you have acknowledged that you have a corrupt disposition, you must seek the truth to resolve it—you will not have reached your goal until you have gained the truth and your disposition has changed. Resolving a corrupt disposition ultimately depends on you accepting the truth, letting go of your justifications and excuses, and being able to face your corrupt disposition properly. You must not avoid it or shirk it with excuses, and you certainly must not reject it. These are easy things to achieve. What is the hardest thing to do? I can think of something. There are people who say, “Say that I pursue the truth or that I don’t, say that I don’t love the truth or that I’m sick of it, reveal me to have any corrupt disposition—I’ll just ignore you. I do whatever God’s house asks me to or whatever work needs doing. I listen during sermons and gatherings, I read along when everyone is eating and drinking of God’s words, I sit and watch videos of experiential testimony alongside you, and I eat when you eat. I’m in lock-step with you. Who among you could say that I don’t pursue the truth? This is how I believe, so you can do or say whatever you like, I don’t care!” This sort of person puts up a front of not making excuses or justifications, but also has no intention of pursuing the truth. It is as if God’s work of salvation has nothing to do with them, as if they have no need of it. People of this sort do not explicitly say, “My humanity is good, I truly believe in God, I’m willing to forsake things, I’m able to suffer and pay a price. Do I need to accept God’s judgment and chastisement, on top of that?” They do not explicitly say this, they do not have a clear attitude toward the truth, and they do not outwardly condemn God’s work. However, how does God treat such people? If they do not pursue the truth, if they are very indifferent about God’s words and disregard them, then God’s attitude toward them is very clear. It is just like that line in the Bible, which goes, “So then because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of My mouth” (Revelation 3:16). God does not want them, and that means trouble. Are there such people in the church? (Yes.) So, how are they to be sorted? Where should they be sorted to? There is no need to sort them. In brief, such people do not pursue the truth. They do not accept the truth or reflect and know themselves, and they do not have hearts of repentance—instead they have a muddled and confused faith in God. They do whatever God’s house asks them to, without causing any disturbances or disruptions. Ask them, “Do you have any notions?” “No.” “Do you have any corrupt dispositions?” “No.” “Do you wish to attain salvation?” “I don’t know.” “Do you acknowledge that God’s words are the truth?” “I don’t know.” Ask them anything, and they say they do not know. Is there a problem with such people? (Yes.) There is, yet they feel that it is not a problem, and that it needs no resolving. The Bible says, “So then because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of My mouth.” That phrase—“I will spew you out of My mouth”—is the principle for handling such people; it is the result that comes to them. To be neither cold nor hot means that these people do not have any views; it means that no matter how you fellowship on matters of dispositional change or salvation with them, they remain indifferent. What does “indifferent” mean here? It means they are uninterested in such matters and unwilling to hear about them. Some may say, “What’s so wrong with having no views or outpourings of corruption?” What absolute drivel! These are soulless, dead people, neither cold nor hot, and there is no way for God to work upon them. When it comes to people who cannot be saved, God just spews them out and is done with them. He does not work upon them, and we will make no sort of appraisal of such people, we will just ignore them. If there are such people in the church, they may remain so long as they do not cause any disturbances—if they do, they are to be cleansed away. This is an easy thing to resolve. My words are directed at those who can accept the truth, who wish to pursue it and have a clear attitude about it, who acknowledge that they have corrupt dispositions and can be saved; they are aimed at those who can understand God’s words and hear His voice, they are aimed at God’s sheep—those are the people who God’s words are directed at. God’s words are not directed at those who are neither cold nor hot toward Him. Such people are uninterested in the truth, and neither cold nor hot about God’s words and work. The way to handle such people is to say, “Leave. How you are has nothing to do with Me”—to ignore them and not waste any effort on them.
We have just fellowshiped on some negative examples relating to the topic of pursuing the truth. People often unconsciously think up various justifications, excuses, and pretexts with which to deny their outpourings of corrupt dispositions—of course, they also often hide the existence of their corrupt dispositions, deluding themselves and others. These are man’s foolish and stupid ways. On the one hand, people acknowledge that all God’s words that judge man are the truth; on the other, they deny the existence of their own corrupt dispositions, as well as their erroneous behaviors that violate the truth. This is a clear sign that they do not accept the truth. Regardless of whether you deny or acknowledge that you have a corrupt disposition, or whether you offer excuses, justifications, or specious arguments for your outpourings of corrupt behavior—in brief, if you do not accept the truth, you cannot gain God’s salvation. This is indisputable. Anyone who does not pursue the truth at all will ultimately be exposed and cast out, no matter how many years they have been a believer. This outcome is a terrifying one. It will not be long until the disasters descend and you are revealed, and when the disasters come, you will feel afraid. You may have many justifications and ample excuses, or it may be that you are well disguised and wrapped up tightly, but there is one fact that cannot be denied: Your corrupt disposition is intact, it has not changed at all. You are unable to know yourself truly, you are incapable of true repentance, and in the end, you will not be able to truly turn yourself around or submit to God, and God will not change His mind about you. Will you not be in big trouble then? You will be in danger of being cast out. That is why a smart person would drop these unwise excuses and foolish justifications and cast off their disguises and wrappings. They would face the corrupt dispositions they pour forth properly and use the correct methods to handle and resolve them, striving to make everything that they do and act out good deeds, so that God will change His mind about them. If God changes His mind about you, it proves that He has truly absolved you of your past rebelliousness and resistance. You will feel peace and joy, and you will no longer feel repressed, as though a weight has been lifted. This feeling is your spirit’s confirmation; you now have a hope at salvation. This hope is what you traded the prices you paid in your pursuit of the truth and your good deeds for. It is the result you achieved by pursuing the truth and preparing good deeds. Conversely, you may think yourself smart enough already, and you may be able to find ample justifications with which to defend and exculpate yourself every time you pour forth corruption. You may disguise and package your corrupt disposition, and thus cleverly avoid having to reflect on it and know it, as though you did not pour forth any corruption. You may think yourself quite smart, evading, time and again, being exposed by the various environments that God has arranged. You will not have reflected or known yourself, you will not have gained the truth, and you will have missed many chances to be made perfect by God. What will the consequences of this be? Let us put aside whether you are capable of repentance or attaining salvation for now, and just say that if God gives you chances to repent over and over, and none of them ever compel you to change your mind, then you will be in great trouble. What will it matter how well you defend yourself, how well you present yourself, how well you disguise yourself, how well you excuse and justify yourself? If God has given you opportunities time and time again, and this has not even compelled you to change your mind, then you are in danger. Do you know what danger that is? You go on stubbornly making excuses for your corrupt disposition, offering excuses and justifications for not pursuing the truth, and resisting and rejecting God’s judgment and His work, and yet, you think yourself to be quite fine and believe your conscience to be clear. You refuse to accept being supervised, pruned, and dealt with by God’s house, evading once and again God’s judgment, chastisement, and salvation, with a heart full of rebelliousness against Him—God already loathes you and He has already abandoned you, and yet, you think that you may yet be saved. Do you not know that you have already walked farther and farther down the wrong path and that you are already beyond redemption? God reigns in God’s house. Do you think that you are beyond God’s reach when you resist Him and do your assortment of evils? You do not accept God’s judgment and chastisement, you have not gained the truth and life, and you have no experiential testimony at all. For this, God condemns you. You are bringing catastrophe upon yourself. There is nothing smart about that—it is foolishness, extreme foolishness! It is catastrophic! We have laid this out here—if you do not believe it, just wait and see. You had better not think that if you have your pack of justifications for not pursuing the truth, and you have your eloquence and your scheming, that if no one can out-argue you and the brothers and sisters cannot expose you, and that if the church has no justification for clearing you out, then God’s house can do nothing at all to you. You are wrong about that. You keep contending with God; I will see how long you can compete with Him! Will you be able to compete with Him until the day that God rewards the good and punishes the evil after His work is done? Can you ensure that you will not die in the disasters—that you will survive them? Do you truly have sovereignty over your own fate? Your justifications and excuses may allow you to escape the investigation of God’s house for a while; they may enable you to drag out your ignoble existence for a time. You may be able to temporarily blind people, and keep disguising and cheating others in the church and filling a seat there—but you cannot escape God’s inspection or scrutiny. God decides a person’s outcome based on whether or not they have the truth; He does His own work and threshing. No matter what sort of person or what devil you are, you cannot escape God’s judgment and condemnation. As soon as God’s chosen people understand the truth and gain discernment, no one will be able to escape, that is when you will be cleared out of the church. Some people may be unconvinced and grumble, “I’ve run about so much for God, done so much work for Him, and paid such a price. I abandoned my family and my marriage; I gave my youth for God and His work. I abandoned my career and spent half my life’s energy, thinking I was sure to gain the blessings that He bestows. I never imagined that I’d be cast out for not pursuing the truth and never practicing it!” Do you not know that the truth reigns in God’s house? Is it not clear to you whom God rewards and whom He blesses? If your renunciation and expenditure have led to true experiential testimony, and they also testify to God’s work, then God will reward and bless you. If your renunciation and expenditure are not true experiential testimony, and much less testimony to God’s work, if they are instead testimony to yourself, a request to God to recognize your achievements, then you are walking the same path as Paul. What you are doing is evil and it is resisting God, and God will say to you, “Get away from Me, you evildoer!” And what will this mean? It will be proof that you are blighted, doomed to fall into the disasters and be punished. You will meet with catastrophe. Paul was superior to the average person of his time in terms of status, the work that he did, his competence, and his gifts—but what came of it? From start to finish in his belief in God, Paul was trying to strike a deal with God, to set conditions; he sought a reward and a crown from God. In the end, he did not truly repent or prepare many good deeds—and naturally, he was far from possessing much true experiential testimony. Could he have gained God’s pardon without even having truly repented? Could he have gotten God to change His mind about him? That would be impossible. Paul spent his whole life for the Lord, but because he walked the path of an antichrist and absolutely refused to repent, not only was he not rewarded—he was punished by God. It goes without saying that the consequences he suffered were catastrophic. So, I am now telling you clearly that if you are not someone who pursues the truth, then you should, at least, have a bit of sense and not argue with God or stake your outcome and destination as a wager, as if you were gambling. That is attempting to strike a deal with God, which is a way of resisting Him. What good ending can come to those who believe in God yet resist Him? People become well-behaved in the face of death; those who are impervious to reason will not give up their ways until they are at death’s door. In order to be saved, the best, simplest, and wisest method is to set down all your excuses, justifications, and conditions, and to accept and pursue the truth with your feet firmly on the ground, thereby getting God to change His mind about you. When God changes His mind about you, you have hope of being saved. Man’s hope of salvation is given by God, and the precondition for God giving you this hope is that you let go of everything you cherish and forsake all to follow Him and pursue the truth, without trying to strike a deal with Him. It does not matter whether you are old or young, male or female, educated or uneducated, nor does it matter where you were born. God looks at none of these things. You may say, “I have a good temper. I’m patient, tolerant, and compassionate. If I keep being patient to the end, that will get God to change His mind about me.” Those things are useless. God does not look at your temper, or your personality, or your education, or your age, nor does it matter how much you have suffered or how much work you have done. God will ask you, “In all your years of faith, has your disposition changed? What is it that you live by? Have you pursued the truth? Have you accepted God’s words?” You may say, “I have listened to them and accepted them.” God will then ask you, “Since you have listened to them, and you have accepted them, has your corrupt disposition been resolved? Have you truly repented? Have you truly submitted to God’s words and accepted them?” You say, “I have suffered and paid a price; I have expended of myself and forsaken things, and I have made offerings—I have offered my children up to God too.” All your offerings are useless. Such things cannot be traded for the blessings of the kingdom of heaven or used to make God change His mind about you. The only way to get God to change His mind about you is to embark on the path of pursuing the truth. There is no other option. Man must not be opportunistic or crafty when it comes to salvation, and there is no back door. Do you understand? You must be clear on this. Do not get muddled about this—even if you do, God will not. So, what should you do from now on? Reverse your attitude and change your point of view, and let God’s words be your foundation, no matter what you are doing. No man-made “goodness,” no human excuse, no human philosophy, knowledge, morals, ethics, or even conscience, nor man’s so-called integrity and dignity, can stand in for the truth. Set these things aside, silence your heart, and find the foundation for all your comportment and action within God’s words. And as you do, find God’s revelation of the various aspects of man’s corrupt disposition within His words. Hold yourself up against them for comparison, and resolve your corrupt dispositions. Strive to know yourself as soon as possible, cast off corruption, and hasten to repent and turn yourself around. Let go of your evil and seek the truth principles in your comportment and actions, basing them all on God’s words—you absolutely must not base these things upon human notions and imaginings. You absolutely must not try to strike a deal with God; you must not attempt to trade your insignificant suffering and sacrifices for God’s rewards and blessings. Stop doing such foolish things, lest God grow angry with you, and curse you, and eradicate you. Is that clear? Have you understood this? (Yes.) Well then, ponder on it carefully going forward.
Everything that we just fellowshiped on was related to the pursuit of the truth, and though we did not provide a specific answer to the conceptual question of what it means to pursue the truth, we did engage in some fellowship that targeted man’s various misapprehensions and fallacious knowledge of the pursuit of the truth, as well as the various difficulties and problems that exist when one pursues the truth. To finish, I would like to summarize what it means to pursue the truth, the ways that the pursuit of the truth manifests, and what exactly the path of practice for pursuing the truth is. So, what does it mean to pursue the truth? To pursue the truth is to begin practicing and experiencing God’s words, and to then achieve an understanding of the truth and to enter into the truth reality through the process of experiencing God’s words, and to become someone who truly knows and obeys God. That is the final result that is achieved by pursuing the truth. Of course, the pursuit of the truth is a process with steps, and it is divided into several stages. When you have read God’s words and found that they are the truth and reality, you will begin to reflect on yourself within God’s words and gain knowledge of yourself. You will see that you are so rebellious and that you pour forth so much corruption. You will yearn to be able to put the truth into practice and achieve submission to God, and you will begin to strive toward the truth. That is precisely the result that comes of self-reflection and self-knowledge. From that moment on, your life experience begins. When you start to investigate and examine the states and problems that arise from your corrupt disposition, this proves that you have begun to pursue the truth. You will be able to proactively reflect on and examine any problems that occur or any corruption that you pour forth. And when you realize that they are indeed outpourings of corruption and a corrupt disposition, you will naturally seek the truth and begin to resolve those problems. Life entry begins with self-reflection; it is the first step of pursuing the truth. Right after that, through self-reflection and self-knowledge you will see that all of God’s words of exposure accord with the facts. You will then be able to submit to them from your heart, and accept the judgment and chastisement of God’s words. That is the second step of pursuing the truth. Most people are able to accept God’s words that reveal man’s corrupt behaviors, but they cannot easily accept the words of God that expose man’s corrupt essence. After reading God’s words, they do not acknowledge the great depth of their own corruption; they only acknowledge the words of God that reveal man’s corrupt behaviors. Because of this, they cannot accept God’s judgment and chastisement from their hearts. Instead, they brush it aside. Some say, “I just have a few corrupt behaviors, but I can do some good things. I’m a good person, I’m not of Satan. I believe in God, so I should be of God.” Is this not drivel? You were born into the human world, you have lived under Satan’s power, and you have received the education of traditional culture. Your innate inheritance and the knowledge you have learned come from Satan. All of the great and famous people you venerate are of Satan. Will saying that you are not of Satan allow you to escape its corruption? It’s just like how little children are able to lie and insult others from the moment they open their mouths. Who teaches them to do that? No one. What could that be, other than a consequence of Satan’s corruption? These are the facts. People cannot see Satan and the evil spirits of the spiritual world, but living demons and the kings of devils are everywhere in the human world. All of them are incarnations of Satan. This is a fact that all people must acknowledge. Those who understand the truth can see through to these things, and they can acknowledge that all of God’s words of exposure are facts. Some people may talk of knowing themselves, but they never acknowledge that the corruptions revealed by God’s words are factual, or that His words are the truth. This is equivalent to being unable to accept the truth. If one does not acknowledge the fact that they have a corrupt disposition, they will not be able to truly repent. Of course, one must experience God’s work for a while in order to acknowledge and accept the fact that all people have corrupt dispositions. After pouring forth many corrupt dispositions, they will naturally bow their head in submission before that fact. They will have no choice but to acknowledge that all of God’s words that reveal, judge, and condemn man are facts and the truth, and to completely accept them. That is what it means to be conquered by God’s words. When people are able to know their corrupt dispositions and corrupt essence on the basis of God’s words, and admit that they have a satanic disposition and that their corruption runs deep, they can then fully accept and submit to God’s judgment and chastisement. They will be willing to submit to God’s words that reveal and judge mankind, no matter how harsh or piercing they are. When you have understood and know a bit about how God’s words define, classify, and condemn corrupt mankind, as well as how they judge and reveal corrupt mankind, when you have truly accepted the judgment and chastisement of God’s words and have begun to know your own corrupt disposition and corrupt essence, when you have begun to hate your corrupt disposition, Satan, and your own flesh—and when you long to gain the truth, to live as a human is meant to, and to become someone who truly submits to God—that is when you will begin focusing on pursuing a change in your disposition. This is the third step of pursuing the truth.
To truly know oneself is to reflect on and know one’s corrupt disposition based on God’s words, thereby achieving knowledge of one’s corrupt essence and the fact of one’s corruption. When a person does this, they will see the great depth of mankind’s corruption with complete clarity—they will see that mankind does not live as people are meant to, that humanity only lives out corrupt dispositions, and that mankind is bereft of even the slightest bit of conscience or reason. They will see that people’s views on things are all of Satan, and that none of them are correct or in accordance with the truth, and that people’s preferences, pursuits, and the paths that they choose are all adulterated with Satan’s poisons, and that these all contain man’s extravagant desires and intent to gain blessings. They will see that the dispositions man pours forth are precisely the disposition and nature essence of Satan. Knowing oneself to such an extent is no simple matter; it can only be achieved upon the basis of God’s words. If it is done on the basis of the moral theories, statements, and thoughts of traditional culture, will one be able to achieve true self-knowledge? Absolutely not. Your corrupt disposition came from within these satanic philosophies and theories. Would it not be absurd, to base your self-knowledge in these things that belong to Satan? Would it not be blind nonsense? Therefore, self-knowledge must be based in God’s words. Only God’s words are the truth, and only God’s words are the criterion by which all people, matters, and things are measured. If you truly see that God’s words are the truth, and that they are the only correct basis upon which to measure all people, matters, and things, then you have a way forward. You can then live in the light, which is to live before God. When people gain true knowledge of their own corrupt essence within God’s words, how will they subsequently behave and practice? (They will repent.) That is right. When a person has gained knowledge of their nature essence, remorse will arise naturally in their heart, and they will begin to repent. This means that they will seek to rid themselves of their corrupt dispositions, and no longer live by satanic dispositions. Instead, they will live and comport themselves according to God’s words, and be capable of submitting to God’s orchestrations and arrangements. This is true repentance. This is the fourth step of the pursuit of the truth. You are all clear on what true repentance is now, so how should you practice it? Practice turning yourself around. This means giving up the things you cling to and think to be right, not living by a satanic disposition, and being willing to practice the truth according to God’s words. That is what it means to turn yourself around. Specifically, you must first deny yourself and characterize, based on God’s words, whether your thoughts, ideas, acts, and deeds are aligned with the truth, and how they arose. If you determine that these things are of a corrupt disposition and born of satanic philosophies, then you should adopt an attitude of condemnation and cursing toward them. Doing so is conducive to forsaking the flesh and Satan. What kind of behavior is this? Is it not the denial, abandonment, renunciation, and forsaking of your corrupt disposition? Denying the things you believe to be right, letting go of your interests, forsaking your incorrect intents, and thus achieving a reversal of your course is not so simple, and there are many specific details to it. If you are willing to repent, but you just say this, and do not deny, abandon, renounce, or forsake your corrupt disposition, then this is not a manifestation of repentance, and you have not yet practically entered into repentance. How does true repentance manifest? First, you deny those things you believe to be right, for instance: your notions and demands of God, as well as things like your views on things, your methods and ways of handling problems, your human experience, and so on. Denying all these things is a concrete practice of being repentant at heart and turning toward God. You can only let go of erroneous things when you have seen through to them and denied them. If you do not deny these things, and still believe them to be good and right, then you will not be able to let go of them, even if others tell you to do so. You will say, “I’m very well-educated, and I’ve got a wealth of experience. I believe that these things are correct, why should I let go of them?” If you cling to your ways and persist in doing so, will you be able to accept the truth? It would not be easy at all. If you want to gain the truth, you must first deny those things that you think are right and positive, then see clearly that they are negative in essence, that they originate in Satan, that they are all specious fallacies—and that holding onto satanic things will only lead you to do evil, resist God, and ultimately, be punished and destroyed. If you can see clearly that the thoughts and poisons with which Satan corrupts man are capable of leading to man’s destruction, you will be able to abandon them completely. Of course, denial, abandonment, renunciation, forsaking, and so on are all approaches and methods one adopts against Satan’s forces and nature, as well as against the philosophies, logic, thoughts, and views which Satan uses to mislead people. For example, letting go of the interests of one’s flesh; abandoning the preferences and pursuits of one’s flesh; renouncing Satan’s philosophies, thoughts, heresies, and fallacies; forsaking Satan’s influence and its evil forces. This whole series of practices are all methods and paths by which people can practice repentance. To enter into true repentance, one must understand a great many truths, only then can they completely deny themselves and forsake their flesh. For instance, say that you believe yourself to be knowledgeable and rich in experience, and that you ought to be an asset to God’s house and of great use. And yet, having heard several years of sermons about the truth and understood some truths, you feel that your knowledge and learning are worthless and not of the slightest use to God’s house. You realize that it is the truth and God’s words that can save people, and that it is the truth that can be a person’s life. You come to feel that no matter how much knowledge or experience a person has, this does not mean that they possess the truth, and that no matter how much human things conform with human notions, they are not the truth. You realize that all of them come from Satan, and that they are all negative things with no relation to the truth. Regardless of how educated, knowledgeable, or experienced you are, it is of little use if you do not understand spiritual matters and cannot understand the truth. If you were to serve as a leader, you would not have the truth reality, and you would be incapable of resolving problems. If you were to write an experiential testimony essay, you would not be able to get the words out. If you were to testify to God, you would not have knowledge of Him. If you were to spread the gospel, you would not be able to fellowship on the truth to resolve people’s notions. If you were to water newcomers, you would not be clear on the truth of visions, and you would only be able to preach the words and phrases of doctrine. If you cannot resolve your own notions, how can you resolve the notions of newcomers? You cannot do any of this work—so what can you do? If you were asked to labor, you would think it a waste of your talent. You say that you are talented, yet you cannot handle any task nor perform any duty well—so what is it, exactly, that you can do? It is not that God’s house does not wish to put you to use, it is that you have not fulfilled the duty you were supposed to. You cannot blame the church for that. Yet still, you may think to yourself, “Doesn’t God expect too much of man? These requirements are beyond me. Why is so much demanded of me?” If someone harbors such a great misunderstanding of God, it proves that they have no knowledge of Him and that they do not understand the least bit of the truth. If you feel that your views are right and do not need to be reversed, and if you acknowledge that God’s words are the truth in theory, but you cannot let go of the rubbish you are clinging on to, this demonstrates that you do not yet understand the truth. You should come before God and seek more on the truth, and you should read more of His words and listen to more sermons and fellowship, then you will gradually come to understand that God’s words are the truth. As a person, the first way in which you should treat the truth and God is with obedience. This is man’s bounden duty. If you are able to understand these things, it means that you are reversing your course. Reversing your course is the path of practice for repentance; it is to abandon entirely those things you once thought right, which come from Satan, and to choose anew the road you will take. It is to put God’s words into practice according to His requirements and the truth principles, and to walk the road of pursuing the truth. This is the meaning of reversing one’s course. It is to have truly come before God, and to have entered the reality of repentance. When one can put the truth into practice, it goes without saying that they have begun entering the truth reality and truly repented. It is only when man has truly repented that they may be said to have set off on the road toward salvation. Doing so is to have engaged in the fourth step of pursuing the truth.
When a person has truly repented, they will have embarked on the road of pursuing the truth, they will basically harbor no notions or misunderstandings about God’s work, they will be willing to submit to God’s judgment and chastisement, and they will formally begin to experience God’s work. There is a long period of transition between a person first coming to believe in God to them formally experiencing God’s judgment and chastisement. This period of transition is the phase that goes from a person beginning to believe in God until they truly repent. If someone does not love the truth, they will not accept the least bit of God’s judgment and chastisement, nor the least bit of the truth, and they will never be capable of knowing themselves. Such people will be cast out. If someone does love the truth, then, in reading God’s words and listening to sermons alike, they will be able to truly gain something, and know that God’s work is that of saving man, and reflect on themselves and know themselves in the truths that they understand; they will come to hate their own corrupt dispositions more and more and to be ever more interested in the truth, they will unwittingly gain true self-knowledge, and they will be truly remorseful and repentant. When people who love the truth read God’s words or listen to sermons, they naturally achieve such results. They gradually come to know themselves and achieve true repentance. Once one is truly repentant, how should they practice? They should seek the truth in all things; no matter what befalls them, they should be able to find the principles and paths of practice based in God’s words, and then go on to begin practicing the truth. This is the fifth step of pursuing the truth. What is the purpose of seeking the truth? To practice the truth and achieve submission to God. But in order to practice the truth, one must do so according to the truth principles. That alone is the accurate practice of the truth; that alone allows one to gain God’s approval. So, being able to act according to the truth principles is what pursuing the truth is meant to achieve. Reaching this step means that one has entered into the reality of practicing the truth. Seeking the truth is done in order to resolve man’s corrupt dispositions. When a person is able to put the truth into practice, their corrupt dispositions will naturally fall away, and their practice of the truth achieves the result that God demands. Such is the process that leads from true repentance to practicing the truth. To once have lived amid corrupt dispositions was to live under Satan’s power, to have all one’s actions and behaviors condemned and loathed by God; now, being able to accept the truth, having truly repented, being able to practice the truth and submit to God, and living by His words—this, of course, meets with God’s approval. Those who pursue the truth should reflect on themselves often. They should acknowledge their corrupt dispositions and accept God’s judgment and chastisement, they should gain true knowledge of their corrupt essence and develop a heart of remorse; they should begin to seek the truth in all things after repenting, practice according to the truth principles, and achieve submission to God. This is what pursuing the truth and the gradual deepening of one’s life entry can accomplish. If one does not truly know themselves, it is impossible for them to submit to God’s judgment and chastisement or to truly repent. And if one does not truly repent, that person will continue to live by a satanic disposition. True change will not come about in them, no matter how many years they believe in God. Their behavior will change a bit; that is all. It is impossible for those who do not pursue the truth to accept the truth as their life, so it is certain that their acts and behaviors will still be outpourings of a corrupt disposition, that these things will be incompatible with the truth, and resistant to God. Those who pursue the truth can accept the truth as their life, they can cast off their corrupt dispositions, put the truth into practice, and achieve true submission to God. Those who pursue the truth will seek it when things happen that are unclear to them. They will no longer plot for their own sake and they will shun all evil, with a heart that is compatible with God. Those who pursue the truth submit ever more to God, and they can fear God and shun evil, living ever more as man is meant to. Such changes are impossible for those who do not pursue the truth. What do those who do not pursue the truth pursue? They pursue prestige, gain and status; they pursue blessings and rewards. Their ambitions and desires grow ever greater, and they do not have the correct goal in life. No matter what it is they like to pursue, they will not give up if they cannot achieve their goal, and less still will they change their minds. As soon as circumstances allow and the setting is right, they will be capable of doing evil and resisting God, and they may try to establish an independent kingdom. This is because they do not have hearts that revere God or submit to Him, and in the end, they can only be obliterated by God for committing multifarious evils and betraying Him. All those who do not pursue the truth are people who are sick of the truth, and all those who are sick of the truth are lovers of evil. In their spirits and blood and bones, all they revere is prestige, gain, status, and influence; they are happy to live by satanic dispositions, and to fight against Heaven, earth, and man in order to achieve their goals. They think that such a life is joyful; they wish to live as an outstanding individual and die a hero. Obviously, they are walking the satanic road of destruction. The more that those who pursue the truth understand it, the more they love God and feel how precious the truth is. They are willing to accept God’s judgment and chastisement, and no matter how many hardships they endure, they are resolved to pursue the truth and gain it. This means that they have embarked on the path of salvation and perfection, and that they are capable of achieving compatibility with God. Most importantly, they are able to submit to God, they have returned to their original stations as created beings, and they have hearts of reverence for God. They can rightfully gain God’s leadership, guidance, and blessings, and God no longer detests or rejects them. What a wonderful thing! Those who do not pursue the truth cannot cast off their corrupt dispositions, so their hearts grow ever further from God, and they are sick of the truth and reject it. As a result, they grow increasingly resistant toward God and set off on a road in opposition to Him. They are just like Paul, openly asking God for their reward. If they do not receive it, they will try to argue with God and oppose Him, and in the end, they will become antichrists, wholly exposing the hideous countenance of Satan, after which God will curse and destroy them. Those who walk the road of pursuing the truth, on the other hand, can accept the truth and submit to it. They can cast off Satan’s corrupt disposition, they are willing to forsake everything to perform their duties well and repay God’s love, and they are able to become people who obey and worship God. A person who is willing to submit to God, and who does so absolutely, has completely returned to the original station of a created being, and they are capable of submitting to God’s orchestrations and arrangements in everything. This means that they are possessed of fundamental human likeness. What does true human likeness refer to? It is when a person obeys and reveres the Creator, like Job and Peter did. Such are they who God truly blesses.
The major steps of pursuing the truth that we have fellowshiped about today are as simple as that. Repeat the steps back to Me. (First, reflect on yourself according to God’s words; second, acknowledge and accept the facts that God’s words reveal; third, know your own corrupt disposition and essence, and begin hating your corrupt disposition and Satan; fourth, practice repentance, and cast aside all of your evil deeds; fifth, seek the truth principles, and practice the truth.) Those are the five steps. Practicing each of those steps is very difficult for people who live amid corrupt dispositions, there are many impediments and difficulties involved in each one, and they all require the expenditure of painstaking effort to practice and achieve, and of course, one cannot avoid experiencing some failures and setbacks along the way—but what I would tell you is this: Do not lose heart. Though others may condemn you, saying, “You’re done for,” “You’re no good,” “This is just how you are—you can’t change it”—however unpleasant their words may be, you must be clear in your discernment. Do not lose heart, and do not give up, because only the path of pursuing the truth, only the entry and practice of these steps, will truly enable you to elude your catastrophe. Smart people will choose to set all their difficulties aside; they will not avoid failures and setbacks, and they will press on, no matter how hard it is. Even if you remain at the step of examining and knowing yourself for three or five years, or if after eight or ten years you merely know which corrupt dispositions you have, but you remain unable to understand the truth or throw off your corrupt disposition, I would still tell you the same thing: Do not lose heart. Though you are not yet capable of achieving a true reversal, you have already entered into the first three steps, so why worry about not being able to enter into the remaining two? Do not worry; work harder, push harder, and you will get there. There may also be some who come to the fourth step of repentance, but they fall short of seeking the truth principles and cannot enter into this step. What is to be done then? You, too, must not lose heart. So long as you have the will to do so, you should persist in your pursuit of seeking the truth in all things, and pray more to God—doing so is often fruitful. Pursue as well as you can, based on your caliber and your circumstances, and work hard to achieve what you can. So long as you are doing all that you can, your conscience is clear, and you will definitely be able to make greater gains. Even understanding one more truth is a good thing—your life will become a little happier and a little more joyful for it. In summary, the pursuit of the truth is no hollow thing; there is a specific path of practice for each of its steps, and it requires people to suffer some pain and pay a certain price. The truth is not a field of academic study, or a theory, or a slogan, or an argument; it is not hollow. Each truth requires people to experience and practice it for several years before they can understand and know it. But no matter what price you pay or what efforts you make, as long as your approach, method, path, and direction are correct, then sooner or later, the day will come when you will reap a great bounty, gain the truth, and be able to know God and submit to Him—and with that, you will be perfectly contented.
January 8, 2022