What It Means to Pursue the Truth (11)
In every period and at every stage, some particular things happen in the church that are at odds with people’s notions. For example, some people get sick, leaders and workers get replaced, some people are exposed and cast out, some face the test of life and death, some churches even have wicked people and antichrists who cause disturbances, and so on. These things happen from time to time, but they are by no means accidental. All of these things are the result of God’s sovereignty and arrangements. A very peaceful period may suddenly be interrupted by several incidents or unusual events, which happen either around you, or to you personally, and the occurrence of these things breaks the normal order and normality of people’s lives. From the outside, these things don’t conform to people’s notions and imaginings, they are things that people don’t want to happen to them or to witness. So does the occurrence of these things benefit people? How should people deal with them, experience them, and understand them? Is this something any of you have thought about? (We should understand that this is the result of God’s sovereignty.) Is it just a matter of understanding that this is the result of God’s sovereignty? Have you learned any lessons from it? Can you understand further how God holds sovereignty over all these things? What does God’s sovereignty involve, specifically? What specific things manifest themselves in people that they should know and understand? Have you learned any lessons from the things that have happened around you? Can you accept them as coming from God, and then gain something from this? Or do you muddle along thinking to yourself, “It’s all the result of God’s sovereignty, just submit to God, there’s nothing in this that requires thinking about,” letting it slip by while you think such simple thoughts? Which of those situations apply to you? Sometimes major events occur in the church, for example, in spreading the work of the gospel, unexpectedly good results are achieved, or there are some unexpected difficulties, ups and downs, obstacles, or even disruption and destruction from external forces. Sometimes something unusual happens in a certain church or among some people performing their duties. Whether in ordinary times or unusual times, have you ever contemplated these extraordinary things that happen? What final conclusion did you draw? Or is it that most of the time, you have no understanding at all? Some people just think about it inwardly, and then simply say a brief prayer, without even seeking the truth to gain some understanding of these things. They just admit that these things are from God, and that is the end of it. Isn’t this going through the motions? Most people just muddle through. And when people of exceedingly poor caliber encounter these things, such people develop a great deal of incomprehension and confusion, and can easily develop notions and misunderstandings about God, and doubts about God’s sovereignty and orchestration. People had no understanding of God to start with, and when they encounter some things that are at odds with their notions, they don’t seek the truth or find people to fellowship with, but only treat them based on their notions and imaginings, before finally coming to the conclusion that “whether these things are from God or not is still uncertain,” and they start to have misgivings about God, and even doubt His words. As a result, their doubts, speculations, and wariness of God become more and more serious, and they lose the motivation to perform their duties. They are unwilling to suffer and make sacrifices, and they slack off, muddling through each day as it comes. Having experienced a few particular incidents, what little enthusiasm, resolve, and desire they had beforehand has deserted them and vanished, and all that remains are thoughts of how to make their own plans for the future and seek their way out. Such people are not in the minority. Because people don’t love the truth and don’t seek it, whenever anything befalls them they view it with their own eyes, without ever learning to accept it as coming from God. They don’t seek the truth in God’s words in order to find the answers, and they don’t seek out people who understand the truth to fellowship with and resolve these things. Instead, they always use their own knowledge and experience of dealing with the world to analyze and judge the things that befall them. And what is the end result? They trap themselves in an awkward state with nowhere to go—this is the consequence of not seeking the truth. Nothing happens by chance, everything is ruled over by God. Although people can understand and accept this in theory, how should people treat God’s sovereignty? This is the truth that people should pursue and understand, and they should specifically practice it. If people only acknowledge the sovereignty of God in theory, but do not have a real understanding of it, and their own notions and imaginings have not been resolved, then no matter for how many years they believe in God and how many things they experience, they will still not be able to gain the truth in the end. If people do not pursue the truth, they cannot know God’s work. The more things they experience, the more notions they will have about God, the more they will question Him and, of course, their speculations, misunderstanding, and wariness of God will become all the more serious. The fact is, everything that happens is the result of God’s sovereignty and arrangement. The purpose and significance of God’s doing all these things is not to increase your misunderstanding and doubts about Him, but to clear up and resolve your inner notions and imaginings as well as your doubts, misunderstanding, and wariness of God, as well as other such negative things. If you don’t resolve problems in a timely manner when they occur, once these problems within you accumulate and become increasingly serious, and your enthusiasm or resolve is already no longer sufficient to support you in the performance of your duties, you will collapse into negativity, even to the point that there is a danger of you leaving God, and you certainly cannot stand firm. Now, some people reluctantly make a token effort in performing their duties, but only in order to gain blessings, without pursuing the truth whatsoever, and they become negative whenever some difficulty befalls them. This is what people who don’t pursue the truth are like. Because they are not entirely clear about the truth of visions, and they don’t have a true understanding of God’s work, even if they do their duties and expend themselves for God, they don’t have strength in their heart, and the little doctrine they understand cannot sustain them for long before they fall down. If people do not regularly gather, listen to sermons, or seek the truth to resolve their problems, they are unable to stand firm. Therefore, those who perform duties need to regularly fellowship on the truth, and whenever some matters befall them and they develop notions, they must fix this by seeking the truth in a timely manner. Only in this way can they be sure of staying loyal in the performance of their duty and being able to follow God to the very end.
The road of belief in God is rocky and uneven. This is ordained by God. No matter what happens, regardless of whether it is as people wish, or accords with their notions and imaginings, or is foreseeable to them, its happening cannot be dissevered from God’s sovereignty and His orchestration. God’s doing all that He does is significant in that it allows people to take a lesson from it and know God’s sovereignty. The goal of knowing God’s sovereignty is not that people should resist God, nor is it that people, having understood God, should have more power and capital with which to compete with Him. Rather, it is that when things befall them, people should learn to accept them as coming from God, seek the truth to understand it, and then practice the truth to achieve true submission, and develop true faith in Him. Do you understand this? (Yes.) Well then, how do you put it into practice? Is your path of practice regarding such things correct? Do you treat each thing that befalls you with a heart of submission and an attitude of seeking the truth? If you are someone who pursues the truth, you will be possessed of such a mindset. Whatever befalls you, you will accept it as coming from God, and you will go on to seek the truth, and grasp His will, and view people and things on the basis of His words. In all the things that befall you, you will be able to experience and know God’s work, and capable of submission to Him. If you are not someone who pursues the truth, then no matter what befalls you, you will not deal with it according to God’s words, nor will you seek the truth. You will just muddle through, without gaining any truths whatsoever as a result. God makes people perfect by arranging many things that do not conform to their notions, in order to train them to seek the truth, gain an understanding of His deeds, and see His almightiness and wisdom, so that their life gradually grows. Why is it that those who pursue the truth experience God’s work, gain the truth and are perfected by God, whereas those who don’t are cast out? It is because those who pursue the truth can seek it no matter what befalls them, so they have the work and enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, and can therefore practice the truth, enter into the reality of God’s words, and be perfected by Him; whereas, those who do not love the truth see that God’s work does not conform to their notions, and yet do not fix this by seeking the truth, and can even become negative and complain. Over time, their notions of God increase, and they start to doubt and deny Him. As a result, they are thrown off and cast out by God’s work. That is why people’s attitude toward the truth should be to seek it, practice it, and strive to meet God’s requirements, rather than being negative and passive. To experience God’s work, they must face many things, and view them all according to God’s words, as well as spending more time contemplating, seeking the truth and fellowshiping on it, so that they can know God’s work and keep pace with it. Only this way can they understand the truth, and go deeper into it day by day, and only this way can God’s words and every aspect of the truth take root in people. Experiencing God’s work cannot be separated from real life, let alone from the environments of various people, matters, and things that God sets out, otherwise people will not be able to understand and gain the truth. Most people don’t know how to experience God’s work whenever a problem befalls them. They don’t know how to seek the truth in order to resolve their notions and imaginings, or fix their mistaken understandings and preposterous views. As a result, despite experiencing many things, they cannot understand the truth and instead gain nothing—this is a waste of time. Whatever matter befalls them, ultimately what people should practice is to submit to God’s orchestration and arrangements. This submission does not mean that people should submit negatively, passively, or as a last resort, but rather that they have a positive, proactive intention, and a path of practicing the truth. What does it mean to submit to God’s orchestration and arrangements? It means that no matter what God arranges, no matter what matter befalls you, let God do it and learn to submit to Him. Don’t have any desires or personal plans, and don’t try to do things your own way. Everything that people like, pursue, and long for is preposterous and absurd. People disobey God too much. He asks people to go east, but they don’t want to go east. Even if they reluctantly submit, they still inwardly think about going west. This is not true submission. True submission means that when God tells you to go east, you should go east, and abandon and dismiss all thoughts of going south, north or west, and be able to forsake the will of the flesh, and then go practice by following the path and direction that God has shown you. This is what submission means. What are the principles for practicing submission? They are to listen to God’s words and submit, and to practice according to what God says. Don’t harbor your own intentions, and you also cannot be capricious. Whether you understand God’s words clearly or not, you should meekly go about putting them into practice, and doing things according to His requirements. From the process of practicing and experiencing, you will unconsciously come to understand the truth. If your mouth says that you submit to God, but you never let go and forsake your inner plans and desires, isn’t this saying one thing and thinking another? (Yes.) This is not true submission. If you do not truly submit, you will have many requirements of God whenever things befall you, and inwardly you will be impatient for God to meet your requirements. If God doesn’t do as you wish, you will feel very anguished and upset, you will suffer a great deal, and you will not be able to submit to God’s sovereignty and arrangements and the environments that God has set out for you. Why is this? Because you always have your own requirements and wishes, and you cannot let go of your own personal ideas, and you want to be the one calling the shots. Therefore, whenever you encounter things that are at odds with your notions, you cannot submit, and it’s hard for you to submit to God. Although people know in theory that they should submit to God and let go of their own ideas, they just cannot let go of them, constantly fearing that they will be disadvantaged and incur losses. Tell Me, does this not put them in great difficulty? Does their anguish not then increase? (Yes.) If you can give up everything, and let go of the things that you like and demand but which are contrary to God’s intentions, if you can proactively and willingly let go of them, and not set terms with God, but be willing to do what God requires, then the difficulty within you will be much smaller and the obstacles will be much smaller. If the obstacles to a person’s submission to God are lessened, won’t their anguish be lessened? As their anguish lessens, the suffering they are needlessly subjected to drastically lessens. Will you go and experience this way? Probably not yet. When some people see someone encountering difficulties, they immediately look out for themselves by putting themselves in that person’s shoes. Whenever they see someone encountering some kind of anguish, sickness, tribulation, or calamity, they immediately think of themselves and wonder, “If this happened to me, what would I do? It turns out that believers can still encounter these things and suffer these torments. So exactly what kind of God is He? If God is so inconsiderate of that guy’s feelings, will He treat me the same way? This shows that God is unreliable. At any place and any time, He sets up an unexpected environment for people, and can put them in embarrassing situations constantly, and in any circumstances.” They are afraid that if they do not believe, they will not gain blessings, but that if they continue to believe, they will meet with disaster. In this way, when people pray before God, they merely say, “God, I beg You to bless me,” and dare not say, “God, I ask that You test me, discipline me, and do as You will, I am willing to accept it”—they do not dare to pray like this. After experiencing a few setbacks and failures, people’s resolve and courage lessen, and they have a different “understanding” of God’s righteous disposition, His chastisement and judgment, and His sovereignty, and also develop a sense of wariness toward God. In this way, there is a wall, an estrangement, between people and God. Is it okay for people to have these states? (No.) So do these states tend to develop within you? Does it happen that you live in these states? (Yes.) How should such problems be resolved? Is it okay not to seek the truth? If you don’t understand the truth and don’t have faith, it will be difficult for you to follow God to the end, and you will fall down whenever you encounter disasters and calamities, whether natural or man-made.
After Job underwent a trial, he uttered the words: “Jehovah gave, and Jehovah has taken away; blessed be the name of Jehovah” (Job 1:21). Nowadays many people learn to recite this sentence, and they do so articulately. But whenever they recite it, all they think about is that it is Jehovah who gives, yet they never think about what it will be like when Jehovah takes away, and what kind of anguish, difficulty and awkward predicament people will experience then, or how people’s hearts will change with the environment. They have never given it a second thought, they just keep on reciting “Jehovah gave, and Jehovah has taken away; blessed be the name of Jehovah,” even to the point of using this sentence as a slogan and a doctrine that they trot out at every opportunity. In everyone’s mind, the only thing they can think about is all the graces, blessings, and promises that Jehovah bestows on people, but they never think—or cannot envision—what kind of scene will come to pass when Jehovah takes all these things away from them. Everyone who comes to believe in God is only ready to accept God’s grace, blessings, and promises, and only willing to accept His kindness and compassion. Yet no one is waiting or preparing to accept God’s chastisement and judgment, His trials and refinement, or His deprivation, and not a single person makes preparations to accept God’s judgment and chastisement, His deprivation, or His curses. Is this relationship between people and God normal or abnormal? (Abnormal.) Why do you say that it’s abnormal? Where does it fall short? It falls short in that people do not have the truth. It is because people have too many notions and imaginings, constantly misunderstand God, and do not fix these things by seeking the truth—this makes it most likely for problems to occur. In particular, people only believe in God for the sake of being blessed. They only want to strike a deal with God, and demand things from Him, but do not pursue the truth. This is very dangerous. As soon as they encounter something that is at odds with their notions, they immediately develop notions, grievances, and misunderstandings with respect to God, and can even go so far as to betray Him. Are the consequences of this serious? What path do most people walk in their faith in God? Though you may have listened to so many sermons and feel that you have come to understand quite a few truths, the fact is that you are still walking the path of believing in God only to eat your fill of bread. If your mind is already prepared to accept judgment and chastisement, trials and refinement, and you have also mentally prepared yourself to suffer disaster, and if, no matter how much you expend for God and how much of a sacrifice you make in performing your duty, you really did face the trials of Job, and God deprived you of all your property, even to the point that your life were about to end, what would you do then? How should you deal with God’s sovereignty and arrangements? How should you deal with your duty? How should you deal with what God has entrusted to you? Do you have the correct understanding and the right attitude? Are these questions easy to answer or not? This is a great hurdle placed before you. Since it is a hurdle and a problem, should it not be resolved? (Yes.) How to resolve it? Is it not easy to resolve? Supposing that, having believed in God for so many years, read so many of God’s words, listened to so many sermons, and understood so many truths, you are already prepared to let God orchestrate everything, whether that be blessings or disaster. And supposing that, despite your forsaking and expending yourself, and the sacrifices you have made, and a lifetime of energy, all you get in return is God uttering curses at you, or depriving you. If, even then, you have no words of complaint, no desires or requirements of your own, but only seek to submit to God and to put yourself at the mercy of His orchestrations, and you feel that being able to have even a little understanding of and a little submission to God’s sovereignty still makes your life worthwhile—if you have such a correct attitude, is it not then easy to resolve some of the difficulties? Do you now have true knowledge of God’s sovereignty and arrangements? Do you still have plans for your personal future and destiny deep within your heart? Can you leave everything behind and sincerely expend yourself for God? Have you spent time and energy carefully contemplating and thinking about these issues? Or have you experienced some things to achieve understanding of truths and know God’s sovereignty? If you have never even thought about such a practical problem as how people who follow God should deal with His sovereignty and the Creator’s orchestration and arrangements, which is also the biggest problem before you, and you don’t realize that this is the biggest truth of visions, then if one day a major event or disaster were to happen, would you be able to stand firm in your testimony? It’s hard to say, and it’s still an unknown factor, is it not? (Yes.) Shouldn’t this issue be thoroughly reflected on? (Yes.) So how can you have sufficient stature to face a future that you cannot foresee? How can you stand firm in your testimony within the environments that God sets out? Is this not an issue that should be seriously considered and pondered over? If you constantly think, “I am a good person by nature, and I have enjoyed a great deal of God’s grace, blessings, and protection. When others encounter difficulty, they are in a helpless position, but whenever I encounter difficulty, I have God’s provision, guidance, and help. Now, I am able to endure hardship and make sacrifices in performing my duty, my faith in God has grown stronger, and I am also fulfilling an important duty. I see that God is especially gracious to me, and I have His protection and blessing. If I keep this up, even if in the future I suffer some chastisement, judgment, trials, and refinement, I should be able to overcome them. In the end, I will definitely be one of those who are blessed, I will definitely be brought into the kingdom by God, and I will definitely see the day when God will be glorified!” How about thinking this way? You believe that you are different, that God shows you special favor, and that if God casts out or forsakes anyone, it won’t be you. Are these thoughts right? (No.) Why are they not right? (It is not objective to think this way.) Do these words amount to true knowledge of God? Or is this being too subjective and speculative? Are people who have these thoughts people who pursue the truth? (No.) So can they truly submit to God? (No.) Are they ready to accept God’s chastisement, judgment, trials and refinement, and even His curses? (No.) What will they do when God’s chastisement and judgment, trials and refinement really happen to them? Will they develop notions or complain about God? Can they accept these things as coming from God and truly submit? (No.) It would be hard to achieve, to say the very least. This is because they believe in God only to seek grace or to eat their fill of bread. They do not know that God also has wrath and majesty, and that God’s disposition cannot be offended. God treats everyone fairly, and when it comes to any created being, God’s disposition is compassion and love, but also majesty and wrath. In God’s dealings with each person, the compassion, love, majesty, and wrath in His righteous disposition are unchanging. God will never show compassion and love only to some people, and majesty and wrath only to others. God will never do this, because He is a righteous God, and He is fair to everyone. God’s compassion, love, majesty, and wrath exist for any person. He can bestow grace and blessings on people, and can give them protection. At the same time, God can also judge and chastise people, curse them, and take away all that He has given them. God can give to people, but He can also take everything away from them. This is God’s disposition, and this is what He must do with every person. Therefore, if you think, “I am precious in God’s eyes, like the apple of His eye. He absolutely cannot bear to chastise and judge me, and He absolutely will not have the heart to take away everything that He has given to me, lest I be upset and distressed,” is this thinking not mistaken? Is this not a notion about God? (Yes.) So, before you come to understand these truths, do you not think only about enjoying God’s grace, compassion, and love? As a result, you keep forgetting that God also has majesty and wrath. Though your lips say that God is righteous, and you are able to thank and praise God when He shows you compassion and love, whenever God shows majesty and wrath in chastising and judging you, you feel very upset. “If only such a God didn’t exist,” you think. “If only it wasn’t God who did this, if only God wasn’t targeting me, if only this wasn’t God’s intention, if only these things were done to others. Because I am a kind-hearted person, and I have done nothing bad, and I have paid a heavy price for believing in God for many years, God should not be so merciless. I should be entitled and qualified to enjoy God’s compassion and love, as well as God’s abundant grace and blessings. God will not judge or chastise me, and neither does He have the heart to do it.” Is this just wishful and wrong thinking? (Yes.) In what way is it wrong? What’s wrong here is that you don’t regard yourself as a created being, as a member of created humanity. You mistakenly detach yourself from created humanity and regard yourself as belonging to a special group or type of created being, bestowing special status on yourself. Is this not arrogant and self-righteous? Is this not unreasonable? Is this a person who truly submits to God? (No.) Absolutely not.
In God’s family, among brothers and sisters, no matter how high your status or standing, or how important your duty, and no matter how great your talent and contributions, or how long you have believed in God, in the eyes of God you are a created being, an ordinary created being, and the noble titles and appellations you have bestowed on yourself do not exist. If you always regard them as crowns, or as capital that enables you to belong to a special group or be a special personage, then by doing this you resist and conflict with God’s views, and are incompatible with God. What will be the consequences of this? Will it cause you to resist the duties that a created being should perform? In the eyes of God, you are but a created being, but do not regard yourself as one. Can you truly submit to God with such a mindset? You always think wishfully, “God shouldn’t treat me like this, He could never treat me like this.” Does this not create a conflict with God? When God acts at odds with your notions, your mentality, and your needs, what will you think in your heart? How will you deal with the environments God has arranged for you? Will you submit? (No.) You will not submit, and you will certainly resist, oppose, grumble, and complain, puzzling over it again and again in your heart, thinking “But God used to protect me and treat me graciously. Why has He changed now? I can’t live anymore!” So you start being petulant and acting up. If, at home, you behaved like this toward your parents, it would be excusable and they wouldn’t do anything to you. But it’s not acceptable in God’s house. Because you are an adult and a believer, even other people won’t stand for your nonsense—do you think God would tolerate such behavior? Will He condone you doing this to Him? No, He won’t. Why won’t He? God is not your parent, He is God, He is the Creator, and the Creator would never allow a created being to be petulant and unreasonable or to throw tantrums in front of Him. When God chastises and judges you, tests you, or takes away from you, when He places you in adversity, He wants to see a created being’s attitude in how they treat the Creator, He wants to see what kind of path a created being chooses, and He will never allow you to be petulant and unreasonable, or to spout preposterous justifications. After understanding these things, shouldn’t people think about how they should deal with everything that the Creator does? First of all, people should assume their proper places as created beings and acknowledge their identity as created beings. Can you acknowledge that you are a created being? If you can acknowledge it, then you should assume your proper place as a created being and submit to the Creator’s arrangements, and even if you suffer a little, you do so without complaint. This is what it means to be someone with sense. If you do not think you are a created being, but reckon that you have titles and a halo over your head, and that you are a person of status, a great leader, conductor, editor, or director in God’s family, and that you are someone who has made worthy contributions to the work of God’s family—if that is what you think, then you are a most unreasonable and brazenly shameless person. Are you people with status, standing, and worth? (We are not.) Then what are you? (I am a created being.) That’s right, you are just an ordinary created being. Among people, you can flaunt your qualifications, play the seniority card, brag about your contributions, or talk about your heroic exploits. But before God, these things do not exist, and you must never talk about them, or show them off, or assume the airs of an old hand. Things will go awry if you flaunt your qualifications. God will regard you as utterly unreasonable and arrogant to the extreme. He will be repulsed and disgusted by you, and sideline you, and you will be in trouble then. You must first acknowledge your identity and standing as a created being. No matter your status among others, or how distinguished your standing, or what advantages you have, or whether God has given you some kind of special talent, so that you can enjoy an ample sense of superiority among people—when you come before God, these things have no value or significance. Therefore, you must not show off, but instead be a created being meekly before God. Before God, you are just a member of created humanity. No matter how renowned you are, how gifted or talented you are, and no matter how great your endeavors among people, before God these things are not worth mentioning, let alone showing off, and you should just assume your proper place as a created being. This is the first thing. The second thing is not to seek only to enjoy God’s grace and blessings while inwardly resisting and rejecting God’s chastisement and judgment, or fearing God’s trials and refinement for you. These fears and resistance are all to no avail. Some people say: “If I am willing to accept God’s judgment, chastisement, trials and refinement, can I then be spared these sufferings?” God does not do all these things according to whether you like them or not, or according to your subjective wish or your choice, but according to His will, His thoughts, and His plans. Therefore, as a created being, in addition to accepting God’s grace and blessings, you must also be able to truly accept and experience in your heart the chastisement, judgment, trials and refinement of God’s words. There are some people who will say: “Do You mean that God’s grace can be bestowed on people anywhere and at any time, but that God’s chastisement, judgment, trials, refinement, and calamities can also fall on people anywhere and at any time?” Do you think that God’s chastisement, judgment, trials and refinement would befall people arbitrarily, making it impossible for them to guard against? (They would not.) Absolutely not, that is not the case at all. Corrupt human beings are not worthy of God’s judgment and chastisement—this is something you should be aware of. But you must understand that God’s revealing and exposing you, disciplining, chastening and chastising you, and His judgment, trials and refinement, and even cursing of you are based on your stature, your circumstances, and of course your personal pursuits. If God approves of you, then His judgment, chastisement, trials and refinement will befall you at the appropriate time. Over the course of your belief in God, His blessings and grace accompany you at all times and in all places, as will His revelations, chastening, discipline, chastisement and judgment, trials and refinement, and so on. Of course, at all times and in all places means in just measure, at the right time, and based on God’s plan. It doesn’t happen to people arbitrarily, and it doesn’t mean that a major calamity will suddenly befall people as soon as they stop being careful. It’s not like that at all. If you do not have a certain stature and God hasn’t yet planned to do anything with you, do not worry, you might only be accompanied by God’s grace, blessing, and presence in your life. If you do not have sufficient stature, or you are particularly resistant and afraid of God’s chastisement, judgment, trials, and refinement, then God will not force things on you against your will, so you need not worry about this. Regardless of whether these things happen or not, people should know God’s work and understand His will. Only with an accurate knowledge of God’s words can people have a correct attitude, a normal state, and be able to properly face whatever befalls them. Are you now ready to accept God’s chastisement, judgment, trials and refinement? Are you willing to accept? (We are.) Your mouths say yes, but you are still very scared in your hearts. If, right after saying yes, a calamity suddenly descended on you out of the blue, how would you deal with it? Would you burst into tears? Would you be afraid of death? Would you worry that you won’t be blessed? Would you worry that you won’t be able to see the day when God will be glorified? These are all problems that people face when things befall them. In short, if one wishes to stand firm amid trials and tribulations, one must be possessed of two things. Firstly, assume your proper place as a created being. You should be clear in your heart that you are an ordinary created being, an ordinary person among corrupt humanity, nothing extraordinary or special, and you should assume your proper place as a created being. Secondly, have a sincere heart that submits to God, and be ready at all times to accept blessings and grace from God, as well as accepting chastisement, judgment, and trials and refinement from Him. As Job said, “Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:10), and “Jehovah gave, and Jehovah has taken away; blessed be the name of Jehovah” (Job 1:21). This is a fact, and it is a fact that will never change. You understand, don’t you? (Yes.) If you are possessed of these two things, you will basically be able to stand firm and get through general calamities and tribulations. Although you may not be able to bear strong and resounding testimony, at the very least you will be unlikely to go astray, stumble, or do something treacherous. Are you not then secure? (Yes.) Then you should practice according to these two things, and see whether it is easy to achieve, and whether you can accept them deep within your heart. Once you know these things, then when you encounter some trials, how differently you will view and understand them is your own business. Here ends our fellowship on this topic.
With regard to sayings about moral conduct in traditional culture, which sayings did we fellowship on last time? (We fellowshiped on three sayings, “The kindness of a drop of water should be repaid with a gushing spring,” “Do not impose on others that which you yourself do not desire,” and “I’d take a bullet for a friend.”) Last time, we fellowshiped on these three requirements and sayings about moral conduct, and also about the essence of sayings on moral conduct. What did we fellowship on regarding the essence of sayings on moral conduct? (God talked about the differences between sayings on moral conduct and the truth. Sayings on moral conduct only restrict people’s behavior and make them abide by rules alone, whereas the truth of God’s words tells people the truth principles that they should understand, and points out some paths of practice for them, so that they have principles and a direction to their practice whenever things befall them. These are the aspects in which sayings on moral conduct differ from the truth.) Last time, we fellowshiped that sayings about moral conduct mainly require people to abide by certain practices and rules, and place more emphasis on using rules to restrict people’s behavior. Whereas, God’s requirements on people mainly point out paths of practice for them based on what normal humanity can achieve, and these wide-ranging paths of practice are called principles. This means that, whenever a problem befalls you, God will tell you the precise and positive path of practice, and tell you the principles, goals, and direction for your practice. He does not want you to abide by rules, but to adhere to these principles. This way, people live out the truth reality, and the path they walk will be correct. Today let us look further at what other problems of an essential nature there are with sayings about moral conduct. Many sayings about moral conduct not only confine people’s thoughts, but also confuse and benumb their thinking. At the same time, there are some more radical sayings that claim people’s lives. For example, the lurid saying in our last fellowship, “I’d take a bullet for a friend,” not only controls and confines people’s thoughts, but also claims their lives, by making them not only unable to cherish their own lives, but also prone to impetuously giving up their lives for arbitrary reasons, in an impulsive and careless way. Is this not claiming people’s lives? (Yes.) Before people have even understood what life is all about, and found the right path in life, they arbitrarily give it up for a so-called friend in return for the slightest modicum of kindness, and regard their own life as being so very base and worthless. This is the consequence of a kind of thinking that traditional culture teaches people. Looking at how the sayings about moral conduct can confine people’s thoughts, there is not one positive thing about them, and looking at how they arbitrarily claim people’s lives, they certainly do not have positive effects or benefits on people. In addition, people are deceived and benumbed by these ideas. For the sake of their own vanity and pride, and in order not to be condemned by public opinion, they are forced to act according to requirements for moral conduct. People have already become completely bound, constrained, and fettered by these various sayings and ideas about moral conduct, leaving them no other choice. Humankind is willing to live under the fetters of sayings on moral conduct and has no free choice solely for the purposes of living a more respectable life, looking good in front of others, being highly regarded and getting favorable comments from people, as well as to avoid being the target of backbiting, and to bring honor to their family. Looking at these ideas and views of people, as well as these phenomena whereby they are controlled by sayings about moral conduct, although to a certain extent such sayings restrict and constrain human behavior, to a significant extent they conceal the fact that Satan corrupts people, and the fact that people have corrupt dispositions and satanic natures. They use outward behavior to cover people up so that they outwardly live respectable, cultured, elegant, kindhearted, distinguished, and honorable lives. Therefore, others can only determine what kind of person they are—whether they are honorable or lowly, good or evil—through their outward behavior. Under such circumstances, everyone gages and judges whether someone is good or bad based on the various requirements about moral conduct, yet no one can see through people’s superficial moral conduct to their corrupt essence, nor are they able to see clearly all the various insidiousness and viciousness hidden behind the veneer of moral conduct. In this way, people use moral conduct as a cloak to conceal their corrupt essence to a greater extent. For example, a woman is outwardly virtuous, kind, gentle, and moral, receiving praise and admiration from the people around her. She is properly behaved, well-mannered, especially forbearing in her interactions with others, does not bear grudges, is dutiful to her parents, plays the role of a good wife and mother, can endure hardships, and is considered a role model for other women. No problems can be detected from her outward appearance, but no one knows what or how she thinks deep down. She never says what her desires and ambitions are, nor does she dare to say. Why doesn’t she dare to say? Because she wants to comport herself as a woman who is virtuous, kind, gentle, and moral. If she truly opens up and exposes her heart and her ugliness, then she will not be able to be a virtuous, kind, gentle, and moral woman, and will even be criticized and scorned by others, so she can only conceal and window-dress herself. Being under the concealment of this outward behavior of being virtuous, kind, gentle, and moral means that people only see her good deeds and praise her, and thereby she has achieved her aim. But no matter how she disguises herself and deceives others, is she really as good as people make her out to be? Absolutely not. Does she actually have a corrupt disposition? Does she have the essence of corruption? Is she deceitful? Arrogant? Intransigent? Wicked? (Yes.) She certainly is these things, but they are all concealed—this is a fact. Some Chinese historical figures are revered as ancient saints and sages. What is the basis for making this assertion? They are praised as saints and sages solely on the basis of some limited, unsubstantiated records and legends. The fact is, no one knows what exactly their underlying actions and conduct were. Do you have a thorough understanding of these problems now? Some of you should have a somewhat thorough understanding, because you have listened to so many sermons, and seen quite clearly the essence and truth of human corruption. As long as people comprehend some truths, they are able to gain a thorough understanding of some people, matters, and things. Will a virtuous, kind, gentle, and moral woman—no matter how exemplary her outward behavior and moral conduct, and no matter how well she disguises and window-dresses herself—reveal her arrogant disposition? (Yes.) Absolutely she will. So does she have an intransigent disposition? (Yes.) She thinks she is in the right and feels that she is virtuous, kind, gentle, and moral, and that she is a good person, which proves that she is very self-righteous and also very intransigent. The fact is that deep down, she recognizes her true self and what shortcomings she has, but she can still trumpet her own virtues. Is this not intransigence? Is this not arrogance? In addition, her proclaiming herself to be a virtuous, kind, gentle, and moral person is entirely for the sake of leaving behind a good reputation and bringing honor to her family. Aren’t such thoughts and pursuits preposterous and wicked? She is complimented by people and earns a good name, but deep down she constantly hides her intentions, thoughts, and the shameful things she has done, and says nothing of them to anyone. She is afraid that once people see through her, they will pass comment on her, judge her, and reject her. What disposition is this? Is it not deceitful? (Yes.) So, no matter how proper and respectable her outward behavior, or how honorable her moral conduct, her corrupt disposition does indeed exist, it’s just that unbelievers who have never heard God’s words and do not understand the truth cannot perceive or know this. She may be able to deceive unbelievers, but she cannot deceive those who believe in God and who understand the truth. Is this not so? (Yes.) This is because she has been subjected to Satan’s corruption, and she has a corrupt disposition and a corrupt essence. This is a fact. No matter how exemplary her moral conduct, or how high a standard she attains, the fact that she has a corrupt disposition is undeniable and immutable. Once people understand the truth, they will be able to discern her for what she is. However, Satan exploits these sayings about moral conduct to deceive human beings, and of course also to benumb and confine their thoughts, making them mistakenly think that if they meet these requirements and standards of moral conduct, they are good people and are walking the right path. In fact the opposite is true. Even if some people exhibit some good behaviors that are in accordance with sayings on moral conduct, they have not embarked on the right path in life. Instead, they have embarked on the wrong path and are living in sin. They have embarked down the path of hypocrisy, and fallen into Satan’s net. This is because the corrupt dispositions and corrupt essence of human beings will not be changed in the slightest solely on account of their having some good moral conduct. Outward moral conduct is just decoration, it’s just for show, and their true nature and true disposition will still be revealed. Satan sets out to restrict and control people through their behavior and outward appearance, making people disguise themselves and window-dress themselves by means of good behavior, while at the same time using people’s good behavior to conceal the fact that Satan has corrupted humankind, and of course, to also conceal the fact that people have corrupt dispositions. Satan’s aim is, in one sense, to subject people to the control of these sayings on moral conduct, in order to make them do more good deeds and fewer bad deeds, and certainly not do things that are opposed to the ruling class. This further benefits the ruling class’s dominion and control over humankind. In another sense, after human beings accept these sayings on moral conduct as a theoretical basis for their comportment and actions, they tend to distance themselves from and resist the truth and positive things. Of course, when it comes to the words spoken by God, and the positive things or truths that God teaches people, it then becomes a struggle for them to understand and comprehend, or they may develop all sorts of resistances and notions. Once people are possessed of these ideas on moral conduct, it tends to become more difficult for them to accept God’s words and the truth, and of course it also becomes more difficult for them to understand corrupt dispositions and to change them. Therefore, all the various sayings and ideas about moral conduct have obstructed people’s acceptance and understanding of God’s words to a significant extent, and of course they have also impacted on the extent to which people accept the truth. Satan uses the method of indoctrinating people with sayings on moral conduct to make them come up with all sorts of improper and negative ideas and viewpoints, so that they view people and things, and comport themselves and act based on these ideas and viewpoints. When people adopt the ideas behind these sayings on moral conduct as a theoretical basis and standard for their views on people and things, and their comportment and actions, their corrupt dispositions not only cannot be alleviated or changed, but on the contrary, will to some extent become even more severe, and their disobedience and resistance to God will become even worse. Therefore, when God saves people, when God’s words are provided to them, the biggest obstacle is not people’s corrupt dispositions, but the various satanic philosophies, sayings on moral conduct, and the various satanic ideas and views that come from Satan. This is a consequence of Satan’s corruption of humankind, and it is also the negative impact that the various sayings on moral conduct have on corrupt humans. This is the real aim that Satan wants to achieve by preaching and advocating sayings on moral conduct.
In our last gathering we mainly fellowshiped on three sayings on moral conduct, namely “The kindness of a drop of water should be repaid with a gushing spring,” “Do not impose on others that which you yourself do not desire,” and “I’d take a bullet for a friend.” Today we will fellowship on “One should never be corrupted by wealth, changed by poverty, or bent by force.” This saying on moral conduct has also appeared among humankind, having come from the ideas and views of corrupted human beings. Of course, it more precisely originates from Satan’s corruption and deception of humankind. It has the same effect and nature as the sayings about moral conduct that we fellowshiped on previously, albeit with a different approach. They are similarly bold and grandiose statements, so fervent, impassioned, and heroic. If people had never heard God’s words and did not understand the truth, they would feel that these statements are so very soul-stirring and set the blood pumping. After hearing these words, they would instantly be empowered and clench their fists. They wouldn’t be able to sit still any longer or contain their mood of inner excitement, and would feel that this is what Chinese culture and the spirit of dragons is about. Do you still feel this way now? (No.) How do you feel on hearing these words now? (Now I feel that these words are not good or positive.) Why do you feel differently now compared with before? Is it because once people get older and have been through so much suffering, they lose their youthful and brash vigor? Or is it because once people have come to understand some truths, they can discern that these sayings on moral conduct are too hollow, unrealistic, and useless? (It’s mainly that these sayings do not accord with the truth and are impractical.) Indeed, these saying on moral conduct are too hollow and unrealistic. So, as for the saying on moral conduct “One should never be corrupted by wealth, changed by poverty, or bent by force,” let us analyze and dissect what is wrong with it, considering the principles we previously fellowshiped on, in order to specifically expose the absurdity of this saying and the cunning schemes of Satan that are hidden therein. Do you know how to dissect it? Tell Me about what the meaning of this sentence is exactly. (These are the three criteria proposed by Mencius for becoming a manly, virile man. The modern interpretation is: Glory and riches cannot disturb one’s resolve, poverty and lowly circumstances cannot change one’s strong will, and the threat of power and violence cannot make one submit.) The saying on moral conduct that we mentioned before—“A woman must be virtuous, kind, gentle, and moral”—is aimed at women, but this one is obviously aimed at men. Whether it is a life of glory and riches, or impoverished circumstances, or being confronted with power and violence, requirements are placed on men in all sorts of environments. How many requirements are placed on men, in total? Men are required to have a strong will, inexorable resolve, and be unyielding in the face of power and violence. Think about whether these requirements that are put forward have regard to normal humanity, and whether they regard the real-life environments in which people live. In other words, think about whether these requirements placed on men are hollow and unrealistic. The requirements of traditional culture for women’s moral conduct are that a woman must be virtuous, kind, gentle, and moral; “virtuous” means possessing feminine virtues, “kind” means being kind-hearted, “gentle” means being a gentlewoman, and “moral” means being a moral person and having good moral conduct. Each of these requirements is so moderate. Men don’t need to be virtuous, kind, gentle, or moral, whereas women don’t need to have a strong will and inexorable resolve, and can yield whenever they are confronted with power and violence. That is to say, this requirement about moral conduct, “One should never be corrupted by wealth, changed by poverty, or bent by force,” gives sufficient leeway to women, insofar as it is especially tolerant and considerate toward them. What is the meaning of this tolerance and consideration? Can they be understood differently? (They are a form of discrimination.) I think so too. The fact is that this is discrimination against women, the belief that women don’t have strong willpower, that they are cowardly, shrinking violets, and that it’s enough to expect them to bear children, play the role of a good wife and mother, take care of housework, and not quarrel with others or gossip. It would be impossible to require them to carve out a career and have a strong will—they’re incapable of that. So, looking from another perspective, these requirements for women are downright discriminatory and demeaning. This saying about moral conduct, “One should never be corrupted by wealth, changed by poverty, or bent by force,” is aimed at men. It requires men to have a strong will and an unstoppable resolve, as well as a manly, virile spirit that does not yield to power and violence. Is this requirement correct? Is it reasonable? These requirements toward men show that the person who proposed this saying on moral conduct thinks highly of men, because their requirements toward men are higher than those toward women. This can be understood to mean that, in light of both the essence of their gender, and their social status and male instincts, men should be above women. Was this saying on moral conduct formulated from this perspective? (Yes.) Clearly, this is the product of a society in which men and women are unequal. In this society, men continue to discriminate against and demean women, narrow the ambit of women’s lives, ignore the value of women’s existence, constantly exaggerate their own value, enhance their own social status, and let their own rights override those of women. What are the effects and consequences of this in society? This society is ruled over and dominated by men. It is a patriarchal society, in which women should be under the leadership, suppression, and control of men. At the same time, men can engage in any line of work, whereas the range of occupations that women can undertake should be reduced and restricted. Men should fully enjoy all rights in society, whereas the scope of rights enjoyed by women is decidedly limited. Jobs that men don’t want or choose to do, or which they would be discriminated against for doing, can be left for women to do. For example, doing the laundry, cooking, service industries, and some occupations with fairly low incomes and lowly social status or which people discriminate against, are reserved for women. In other words, men can enjoy their rights as men to the full, in terms of choice of occupation and social status, and enjoy the special rights that society bestows on men. In such a society, men come first whereas women are second-class, even to the point that they have no leeway to make choices at all, nor even the right to choose. They can only passively wait to be chosen, and in the end are cast out and discarded by this society. Therefore, this society’s requirements on women are relatively moderate, whereas the requirements on men are relatively strict and harsh. However, whether they are targeted at men or women, the motive and aim in proposing these requirements for moral conduct is to make people better serve society, the nation, the country, and of course ultimately serve the ruling class and the rulers. It is easy to see from this saying “One should never be corrupted by wealth, changed by poverty, or bent by force” that the person who proposed this requirement for moral conduct is biased against men. In that person’s eyes, men must have a strong will, an inexorable resolve, and a spirit that does not yield to power and violence. From these requirements, can you see what the aim of the person who proposed this saying was? It was to make the useful men and strong-willed men in this society better able to serve society, the nation, and the country, and ultimately able to better serve those in power, and to bring the value and function of men in this society to bear. Only men like this can be called manly and virile. If men fail to meet these requirements, then in the eyes of these moralists and rulers, they are not called manly and virile, but can only be called mediocre people and pariahs and are discriminated against. That is to say, if a man does not have a strong will, inexorable resolve, and a spirit that does not yield to power and violence as they require, but is just an ordinary, mediocre person with no accomplishments, and can only live his own life, and cannot contribute his value to society, to the nation, and to the country, and cannot be assigned to some important position by the rulers, country or nation, then such a person will not be accepted and valued by society, nor will he be valued by those in power, and he will be regarded by the rulers or these moralists as a mediocre person, a pariah, and a degenerate among men. Is this not the case? (Yes.) Do you agree with this saying? Is this saying appropriate? Is it fair to men? (No, unfair.) Must men set their sights on the whole world, the country, and great undertakings for the nation? Can they not just be ordinary, dutiful men? Can they not cry, be lovesick, harbor selfish motives in small ways, or lead a simple life in the company of their loved ones? Must they have the world in their sights to be described as manly and virile? Must they be called manly and virile to be considered men at all? Is the definition of a man that you must be manly and virile? (No.) These ideas are an insult to men, they are tantamount to a personal attack on men. Do any of you feel the same way? (Yes.) Is it okay for men to not have a strong will? Is it okay for men to not have an inexorable resolve? When men come up against power and violence, is it okay for them to yield and seek compromise in order to survive? (Yes, it is.) Is it also okay for men to not have whatever women do not have? Is it okay for men to give themselves a break by not being manly and virile, but just being ordinary men? (Yes, it is.) That way, people will be liberated, the path to being a man will be broadened, and men will not be so tired in life, but can live normally.
There are still quite a few countries where ideas of traditional culture such as “One should never be corrupted by wealth, changed by poverty, or bent by force” confine men. These countries are still patriarchal societies in which men call the shots, and reign supreme from the family to society and the country at large, and take priority across the board, and win out in every situation, and have an all-round sense of superiority. At the same time, such societies, nations, and countries have high requirements for men, which puts great pressure on them and gives rise to many adverse consequences. Some men who lose their job daren’t even tell their families. Day after day they shoulder their bag and pretend to go to work, but they actually go out and traipse the streets. Sometimes they come home late at night and even lie to their family members that they’ve been doing overtime at the office. Then the next day, they keep up the pretense by going back out to pace the streets. These ideas of traditional culture, as well as men’s social responsibilities and positioning in society, are a source of pressure and even humiliation, and also distort men’s humanity, causing many men to feel fretful, depressed, and often on the verge of a breakdown whenever they are beset by difficulties. Why is this the case? Because they think that they are men, that men should earn money to support their family, that they should fulfill their responsibilities as men, and that men should not cry or be sad, and that men should not be unemployed, but should be pillars of society, and the backbone of the family. Just as unbelievers say, “Men do not shed tears easily,” a man should not have weaknesses, nor any shortcomings. These ideas and views are caused by men being wrongly pigeonholed by moralists, as well as by them continually elevating men’s status. These ideas and views not only subject men to all sorts of trouble, vexation, and anguish, but also become shackles within their minds, making their position, situation and encounters in society increasingly awkward. As the pressure on men increases, so too do the negative effects of these ideas and views on men. Some men even pigeonhole themselves as great men due to the misinterpretation of the male sex’s positioning in society, thinking that males are great men and females are little women, and that men must therefore take the lead in everything and be the masters of the house, and that when things don’t work out, they can commit domestic violence against women. These problems all relate to the way that the male sex is wrongly pigeonholed by humankind, is this not so? (Yes.) You can see that in most countries of the world, the social status of men is higher than that of women, especially in the family. Men don’t have to do anything but go to work and earn money, while women do all the household chores, and can’t argue or complain, or dare tell others about it, no matter how tiring or arduous it is. To what degree is women’s status low? For example, men get first pick of the tastiest food on the dining table, whereas women come second, and in household registration booklets the man is marked as the head of the household, and the woman as a family member. Just from these trivial matters, we can see the disparity in status between men and women. The division of labor between men and women is different because of gender differences, but is it not unfair that the disparity of men’s and women’s status in the family is so huge? Is this not caused by education in traditional culture? In society, not only do women think that men are more distinguished and noble, but even men think that they are noble and high-ranking compared with women, because men can create more value and put their capabilities to greater effect in society, the nation, and the country, whereas women cannot. Is this not distorting the facts? How did such a distortion of the facts come about? Is it directly related to the inculcation and influence of societal education and traditional culture? (Yes.) It is directly related to the education of traditional culture. Among humankind, whether in real society, or in a nation or country, no matter what aberrant problems appear, they are all caused by a few incorrect ideas advocated by a handful of sociologists or rulers, and are directly related to the incorrect ideas advocated by the leaders of a society, nation, or country. If the ideas and views they advocate are more positive, and close to the truth, then there will be relatively fewer problems among humankind; if the ideas they advocate are biased, errant and distort humanity, then many aberrant things will happen within society, within an ethnic group, or within a country. If sociologists advocate men’s rights, elevate the value of men, and play down the value and dignity of women, then in this society, there will obviously be a huge disparity in social status between men and women, accompanied by various inequalities such as inequality of occupation, social status, and social welfare, as well as a huge disparity in the status of the sexes in the family and a completely different division of labor—all of which is aberrant. The emergence of these aberrant problems is related to the people who advocate these ideas and views, and caused by these politicians and sociologists. If humankind had correct viewpoints and correct sayings on these matters from the outset, then there would be a relative reduction of these aberrant problems in the various countries or nations.
In the light of what we fellowshiped on just now, what should be the correct viewpoint for treating men? What kind of behaviors, humanity, pursuits, and social status should men have in order to be normal? How should men approach their social responsibilities? Besides gender differences, should there be differences between men and women in terms of their social responsibility and social status? (No there shouldn’t.) So how should men be treated in a way that is correct, objective, humane, and in line with the truth principles? This is precisely what we should understand right now. Let’s talk, then, about how exactly men should be treated. Should the social responsibilities of men and women be differentiated? Should men and women have equal social status? Is it fair to unduly elevate the status of men and play down women? (No, it is unfair.) So, how exactly should the social status of men and women be handled in a way that is fair and rational? What is the principle for this? (That men and women are equal and should be treated fairly.) Fair treatment is the theoretical basis, but how should it be put into practice in a way that reflects fairness and rationality? Does this not have something to do with practical problems? First of all, we must determine that the status of men and women is equal—this is indisputable. Therefore, the social division of labor between men and women should also be equal, and should be considered and arranged according to their caliber and ability to do the job. There should be equality particularly when it comes to human rights, insofar as women should also enjoy that which men can enjoy, in order to ensure equal status between men and women in society. Whoever can do the job, or whoever is competent to be the leader should be allowed to do it, regardless of whether they are a man or woman. What do you think of this principle? (Good.) This reflects equality between men and women. For example, if there are two men and two women applying for a job as a firefighter, who should be hired? Fair treatment is the theoretical basis and the principle. How, then, should one actually go about it? As I said just now, let whoever is up to the job do it, according to their ability and caliber. Just make a selection according to this principle, by seeing who among these candidates is physically fit and not clumsy. Firefighting is all about acting quickly in an emergency. If you are too clumsy, dull-witted, and sluggish, like a tortoise or an old cow, you will delay things. After ascertaining each candidate’s characteristics, in terms of their caliber, abilities, experience, degree of competence in firefighting work, and so on, the conclusion arrived at is that one man and one woman are quite suitable: The man is tall, physically strong, has firefighting experience, and has participated in several firefighting and rescue operations; the woman is agile, has undergone rigorous training, is knowledgeable about firefighting and related work procedures, has caliber, and has distinguished herself in other jobs and received awards. So, in the end, both of them are chosen. Is that right? (Yes.) This is called choosing the best of the best, without showing favor to anyone. This means, when selecting this type of person, not having a rule in mind that they must be male or female—men and women are all the same, and whoever is up to the job will do. Therefore, when deciding whether to select a man or a woman to do anything, besides the overriding principle of fair treatment, the specific principle to put into practice is to let whoever is capable and up to the job do it, regardless of whether they are male or female. By doing this, you are no longer constrained or bound by the idea that “Men are superior to women,” and no outdated ideas will affect your judgment or choice on this matter. From your point of view, whoever is up to the job should be allowed to do it, regardless of whether they are male or female—is that not being fair? First and foremost, when handling a matter, you have no prejudice against men or women. You believe that there are many outstanding and talented women, and you know quite a few such individuals. Therefore, your insight convinces you that women’s ability to work is not inferior to that of men, and that the value women bring to bear in society is no less than that of men. Once you have this insight and understanding, you will make accurate judgments and choices based on this fact whenever you act in future. In other words, if you don’t show favor to anyone, and don’t have any gender bias, then your humanity will be relatively normal in this respect, and you can act fairly. The prohibitions of traditional culture, in the sense that men are regarded as superior to women, will be lifted, your thoughts will no longer be confined, and you will no longer be influenced by this aspect of traditional culture. No matter the prevailing trends of thought or conventions in society, in short you will have already transcended these conventions, and will no longer be confined and influenced by them, and can face the facts and the truth. Even better than that, of course, is that you can view people and things, comport yourself, and act according to God’s words and the truth principles, with the result that ideas and views such as “men must be manly and virile, whereas women are shrinking violets” do not exist as far as you are concerned. So, are your thoughts and views relatively progressive among human beings? (Yes.) This is progress, relatively speaking. Whether male or female, old or young, everyone can receive fair treatment when they come to you. This is, in effect, edifying people rather than harming them. If you still cling to the views of traditional culture, by claiming that “Since ancient times, men have had higher status than women, and in all walks of life there are more outstanding and talented men than women. Therefore, it can be asserted that men are stronger than women, and that men’s value to society is greater than that of women. If their value to society is greater, shouldn’t their social status be higher? Therefore, in this society, men should have the final say and assume the position of dominance, whereas women should listen to men, and be regulated and ruled by them”—then this kind of thinking is too backward and decadent, and does not conform to the truth principles in the slightest. If you do have ideas and views such as this, you can only discriminate against and suppress women, and will be condemned and cast out by social trends. Equality between men and women is a correct viewpoint that is already universally recognized, and it is completely in line with God’s will. People should be treated fairly, men should not be looked up to, women should not be looked down upon, and women’s value should not be ignored, nor should their work ability and caliber be ignored. This is already the basic consensus among the informed populace of every country. If your dominant ideas are still influenced by traditional culture, and you still feel that men are distinguished whereas women are lowly, then whenever you act, your vision and your choices will be predisposed toward the male sex, and you will give men relatively more opportunities. You will think that even if some men are a little less competent, they are still stronger than women, and that women cannot match up to or achieve what men can do. If you think this way, your point of view will be biased, and your judgment and final decisions will be consequently skewed due to your way of thinking. For example, regarding the selection of firefighters we just mentioned, you puzzle over it, wondering “Can women climb ladders? How much can women do? What use is agility in a woman? Even if she’s been through rigorous training, it’s of no use at all.” But then you think about treating people fairly, so you finally select two men and one woman. The fact is that by choosing one woman in this case, you are going through the motions and making a token gesture to appease the woman and salvage her pride. How about this way of doing things? Not only do you select people in this way, but when assigning work, you adopt a viewpoint that underestimates the woman, even assigning her menial and light tasks. You still think that you have the human touch and that you are taking care of the woman by giving her preferential treatment, and protecting her. The fact is that from the woman’s point of view, you have greatly hurt her self-esteem. How have you hurt it? Because you think that women are weak and vulnerable, that women are shrinking violets and men are manly, so women should be protected. How did these ideas come about? Is it due to the influence of traditional culture? (Yes.) Herein lies the root cause. No matter what you say about treating people fairly, looking at it from your actions, you are undeniably still fettered and confined by this idea in traditional culture that “Men are superior to women.” It is clear to see from your actions that you have not rid yourself of this idea. Is that so? (Yes.) If you want to rid yourself of these fetters, you must seek the truth, understand completely the essence of these ideas, and not act under the influence or control of these ideas of traditional culture. You should abandon and forsake them once and for all, and no longer view people and things, and comport yourself and act according to the ideas and views of traditional culture, nor make any judgments and choices based on traditional culture; but rather, view people and things, comport yourself and act according to the words of God and the truth principles. In this way, you will be walking on the right path, and will be a true created being approved of by God. Otherwise, you will still be controlled by Satan, and you will keep living under Satan’s dominion, and you will not be able to live in God’s words: These are the facts of the matter.
Now do you understand the essence of this saying on moral conduct, “One should never be corrupted by wealth, changed by poverty, or bent by force”? And do you also understand the social context in which this saying was put forward? (Yes.) In order to improve the social status of men and afford them greater rights, it is necessary to place higher requirements on men, establish the image of men in people’s minds, and shape that image into one of manliness and virility. This is the image conveyed by the saying “One should never be corrupted by wealth, changed by poverty, or bent by force” that people speak of. One aspect of what the moralists who put forward this saying on moral conduct are telling people, is that those who live up to this saying are real manly men, meaning that they are telling people the definition of a man; the other aspect is that they are advocating that men should stand up and be counted in society, make a show of being unconventional, gain a firm foothold on their social status, and wield power over the social mainstream. This thinking that “Men are superior to women” has persisted until now. Even though some countries or ethnicities have made improvements in this regard, such thinking still occupies a dominant place in many other countries and nations, where it still controls and dominates national and societal trends, and dominates the division of labor between men and women in society, as well as their social status and social value, and even to this day not much has changed. That is to say, in many countries and nations, women are still discriminated against and excluded. This is a very lamentable thing, and the greatest inequality in the world. The fact of whether or not women are discriminated against and excluded, or are instead equal to men, is a clear marker for gauging whether a country or nation is progressive or backward.
Just now we fellowshiped about how the men and women that God created should be regarded, and what correct views one should have toward them. Both men and women have normal humanity and are possessed of normal human conscience and reason—these things are shared by both men and women. Except for gender differences, men and women are essentially equivalent in terms of their thinking, instincts, their response to various matters, their caliber and ability, and other sorts of aspects. They cannot be said to be exactly the same, but essentially they are more or less similar. Their life habits and rules for living, as well as their ideas, views and attitudes toward society, world trends, people, events, things, and all of God’s creations, as well as their responses to some particular matters, including their physical and mental responses, are identical. Why are these things identical? Because both men and women were created by the one and only Creator, and their life’s breath, their free will, as well as all the various activities they can undertake, their life routines and so on, all come from the Creator. In light of these phenomena, there is nothing dissimilar between men and women except for gender differences, and also some different things or professional skills that they excel at. For example, many jobs that men can do can also be done by women. There are female scientists, pilots, and astronauts, and also female presidents and government officials, which proves that the jobs that men and women can do are more or less the same, despite their gender differences. When it comes to physical endurance and expressing emotions, men and women are more or less the same. When a woman’s relative dies, she cries herself half to death from heartrending grief; when a man’s parents or lover dies, he also wails so loudly as to shake the earth; when women are faced with divorce, they become dejected, depressed, and sad, and may even commit suicide, while men will also become depressed if their wife leaves them, and some will even cry in secret under the bed covers. Because they are men, they dare not complain about this suffering in front of others, and must outwardly pretend to be strong, but when no one is around, they will cry like a normal person. Whenever some particular things happen, both men and women get emotional as one would expect, whether that means crying or laughing. In addition, among the personnel who perform various duties and jobs in God’s house, women have opportunities to be promoted, trained up, and assigned to important positions, while men also have the same opportunities to be promoted, trained up, and given important jobs—the opportunities are the same and equal. The various corruptions revealed by women in their daily lives and in performing their duties are no different from those revealed by men. Even among women there are evildoers and antichrists who disturb and disrupt the church’s work—is it not the same for men? That is because people’s corrupt dispositions are the same. If they are wicked people who do evil, disrupt and disturb the church’s work, and try to establish their own independent kingdom, then when they are cleared out, will any distinction be made between men and women? No, they will all be cleared out in the same way. Do you think that, among those who are cleared out, there are more men than women? There are about the same of each. All those who do evil, disrupt and disturb, and count as antichrists and wicked people, regardless of whether they are male or female, must be cleared out. Some people say: “Women can’t do things that disrupt and disturb, how shameful it would be for women to do such things, women must be more concerned about preserving their dignity! How could little women commit such big evils? They cannot, they should be given a chance to repent. Men are audacious, they are born to do bad things, they are born to be antichrists and to do evil. Even if they do just a little evil, and even if we don’t have a clear understanding of the circumstances, they should still be expelled.” Does God’s house do this? (No.) God’s house does not do this. God’s house removes people based on principles. It does not distinguish between men and women, and is not concerned with preserving the dignity of women or men, but treats them fairly. If you are a man who has committed evil and you meet the principles for being cleared out and expelled, then God’s house will remove you according to the principles; if you are a woman who has caused disruption and disturbance, and you are a wicked person or an antichrist, you will likewise be cleared out or expelled, and will not be spared just because you are female and you cry or shed a tear. God’s house must handle things according to principles. Female believers chase after blessings, and have the desire and intention to be blessed. And do men also have that? Yes they do, in the same way, men have no less ambition and desire to be blessed than women. Whose resistance to God is more serious, that of men or that of women? It’s all the same. There are some who will say: “Now I finally understand the truth, it turns out that men and women are equally corrupt! I used to think that men are manly and virile, and must comport themselves as gentlemen, and do everything justly and honorably, and aboveboard, unlike women, many of whom are narrow-minded, endlessly fuss over trivial matters, constantly gossip behind people’s backs, and don’t act aboveboard. But I hadn’t considered that more than a few bad people are men, and that the bad things they get up to are even bigger and more numerous.” Now you understand these matters. In short, whether male or female, everyone’s corrupt dispositions are the same, it’s just people’s humanities that are different—this is the only fair way to view men and women. Is there any bias in this viewpoint? (No.) Is it influenced by the idea that men are superior to women? (No.) It is not influenced by these things at all. In gauging whether a person is good or bad, one should first look not at whether they are a man or a woman, but at their humanity, and then judge their essence based on the manifestations of their corrupt disposition in all its various aspects—this is how to view people accurately.
Looking at it from the phenomena we fellowshiped about earlier, besides gender differences, there is no difference whatsoever between males and females, whether in the manifestation of their instincts, or in the revelation of their various corrupt dispositions, or in their nature essence. In terms of people’s bodily essence and their dispositions, as well as the instinct, willpower, and free will that God endowed people with when He created them, there is no difference between people. Therefore, when people view men and women, they should view them not based on their appearance, let alone based on the ideas of traditional culture that this world teaches people, but rather based on God’s words. Why should one view them based on God’s words? Why not view them based on the ideas and views of traditional culture? There are some who say: “Throughout the millennia of human history, so many claims have been made and written about in books. Are none of humankind’s views and sayings correct? Is there no truth in them at all?” In what way are these words absurd? Human beings count as created beings, they have been corrupted by Satan for millennia, and they are full of satanic dispositions, which is what causes such darkness and evil in human society. No one can clearly see the root causes, or discern Satan, or truly know God. Therefore, the views of corrupted humankind do not accord with the truth, and only the Creator knows everything about this. This is a veritable fact. The truth can only be obtained from God’s words, whereas the culture of the human world is produced by Satan’s corruption. People have never experienced God’s work, and no one can know God, so it is impossible to produce truth in the traditional culture of humankind, because all truth comes from God and is expressed by Christ. Having been corrupted by Satan, human beings all have satanic nature and dispositions. They all worship celebrities and great figures, and all follow Satan. Human beings have their own ulterior motives and aims when viewing or defining some things. No matter whom these motives and aims serve, or what the intended purpose is, they are all governed by corrupt dispositions. Therefore, the things defined by corrupted humans and the thoughts they advocate must be influenced by the cunning schemes of Satan. That is one aspect of it. Another aspect, from an objective point of view, is that no matter how capable humans are, no one understands the functions, instincts, and essence of created human beings. Because human beings are not created by any person, not by some so-called great personages, devil kings, Satan, or evil spirits, humans do not understand the instincts, functions, and essence of people at all. So, who does know people’s instincts, functions, and essence best? Only the Creator knows best. Whoever created human beings knows their functions, instincts, and essence best and, of course, is most qualified to define human beings and to determine the worth, identity, and essence of men or women. Is this not an objective fact? (Yes.) That which God uses to create human beings, the instincts He gives people when He creates them, the functions and laws of their bodies, what they are suited or not suited to doing, and even how long their lifespan should be—all of this is preordained by God. God alone has the best understanding of the human beings He creates, and no one else understands more about created humankind. Is this not a fact? (Yes.) Therefore, God is most qualified to define human beings, and to determine the identity, status, value, and function of men or women, as well as the correct path that people should walk. God knows best what the human beings He created need, what they can achieve, and what is within their capabilities. From another perspective, what created human beings need most are the words spoken by the Creator. Only God can personally lead, provide for, and shepherd human beings. All those sayings of corrupted humankind that do not come from God are deceptive, especially those of traditional culture, which all mislead, benumb, and confine people, and of course act as a kind of restraint and control. There is one other aspect, which is that God created humans, and God’s greatest concern for human beings is whether they can walk the right path in life. Whereas, societies, nations, and countries only consider the interests of the ruling class and the stability of the political regime, without concern for the lives of the lower classes. As a result, this causes some extreme and chaotic things to occur. They do not guide people onto the right path, so that people can live a life of value and clarity, and submit to God’s sovereignty and arrangements, but rather, they want to exploit people to serve their own rule, their own careers, and their own ambitions and desires. No matter what claims, or what ideas and views they put forward, the aim of all this is to delude people, to confine their thoughts, and control humankind, so that people will serve them and be loyal to them. They do not consider the future or prospects of humankind, nor how human beings can survive better. But what God does is completely different, insofar as what God does is according to His plan. After creating human beings, He guides them toward understanding more truths and principles for comporting themselves, and makes them see clearly the truth of Satan’s corruption of humankind. Upon this foundation, according to these truth principles that God teaches people and uses to admonish them, they are then able to embark on the right path in life.
These regulations and conventions on moral conduct in traditional culture are very wide-ranging and influence people’s thinking from all sorts of aspects, confusing and confining their thinking. What we have fellowshiped on today are some absurd and fallacious sayings and views of traditional culture regarding gender, which have influenced people’s correct views on gender to a significant degree, and have also subjected men and women to so many fetters, bonds, constraints, discrimination, and the like. These are all facts that people can see, and they are also the effects and consequences that traditional culture has on people.
May 14, 2022