What It Means to Pursue the Truth (2)
In our last gathering, we fellowshiped about what it means to pursue the truth. Let us begin with a review: What does it mean to pursue the truth? Do you have an answer to this question? Did you ponder on it after our previous fellowship? After we finish fellowshiping on certain topics, you will need to ponder on them, and then experience and go through them practically in your real lives. Only then will you be able to gain true knowledge; only then will you be able to truly understand and appreciate those topics you have been pondering on; only then will you be able to offer true experience and knowledge. Is that not so? (It is.) So, did you ponder on the question? What does it mean to pursue the truth? What elements are involved in the pursuit of the truth? What are the main things that it entails? Have you summarized these things? (Last time, God began by fellowshiping about the various mistaken ideas, views, and attitudes that man has regarding the pursuit of the truth, then God fellowshiped in detail on the five steps of pursuing the truth.) There were essentially two major parts to our last fellowship: some negative states or mistaken views that many people have in relation to the pursuit of the truth, man’s misunderstandings about pursuing the truth, as well as the excuses and justifications that people give for not pursuing the truth—that was the first major part. The second was fellowship about how to pursue the truth, which consisted of five steps. Although there were only two parts, we touched on lots of details and specifics within each of them. I revealed some of man’s fallacious knowledge and comprehension about the pursuit of the truth, and I also exposed several difficulties that man has in pursuing the truth, as well as some excuses, justifications, and pretexts that those who are sick of the truth give for not pursuing it. The negative, passive attitudes and cognitions that people display when it comes to the pursuit of the truth correspond with the lifestyles and pursuits that they hold to in their real lives, as well as the attitudes that they harbor toward the truth—they all relate to people’s specific behaviors and specific outpourings. Then, based on man’s various behaviors, I offered a few specific methods and steps of practice regarding the path of pursuing the truth. Is all that clear to you? (Yes.) Is it, really? Why do you not say something, then? It seems that it is still not so clear to you; there is more that we need to fellowship on.
The greatest matter in believing in God is the pursuit of the truth. What does it mean to pursue the truth? When it comes to the matter of pursuing the truth, all of people’s manifestations reveal many of their troubles and difficulties, and people possess all kinds of justifications and excuses for not pursuing the truth—the barriers are just so large. Because of people’s various difficulties, they seem extremely hard-pressed and discomfited when it comes to pursuing the truth, and they think that it is very difficult. In fact, the question itself—“What does it mean to pursue the truth?”—is an easy one to answer, so why is it that people cannot pursue the truth? What is the reason? Everyone boasts that they have a conscience and sense, that they truly believe in God, that they can fulfill their duty, that they are willing to suffer and ready to pay a price. How is it that, with these good behaviors as their foundation, they are unable to embark on the path of pursuing the truth? They have such good humanity, integrity, and a great reputation; they have their will, aspirations, and wishes about their pursuit; they have their subjective exertions, their will to endure hardships, and an attitude of paying a price; they have their active, positive, upward-looking attitude of yearning to accept the truth. With these things as their foundation, how is it that they do not qualify as pursuing the truth? Why is it that they cannot achieve the pursuit of the truth? Where is the root of the problem? (Man doesn’t love the truth and is sick of it by nature.) That is an accurate answer. The most fundamental reason is that people have corrupt dispositions. Man’s corrupt disposition is of Satan, and anything that is of Satan is antagonistic toward God and the truth. Therefore, asking people to pursue the truth is equivalent to requiring them to forsake their inherent life and attributes, and their inherent mode of pursuit and outlook on life. Letting go of these mistaken things, forsaking their fleshly preferences, and instead pursuing and practicing the words of God and the truth, which their flesh does not like, which they do not possess, and which they disdain, detest, and reject—this is what they find difficult. Asking you to pursue the truth is equivalent to asking you to let go of your inherent life. Is that not the same as having you lay down your life? (It is.) It is you laying down your own life. Do people willingly lay down their lives for things? (No.) In the depths of their hearts, they say, “I will not”—a hundred times, a thousand times, ten thousand times: “I will not.” No matter what, it is hard for people to let go of the inherent, satanic things that they possess. This is a fact, one that you have deeply and truly experienced. From the depths of their hearts, people are unwilling to forsake the flesh; or to forsake their lives, whose nature essence is of Satan; or to forsake their inherent, satanic attributes or their satanic nature, in order to pursue the truth. So, for those with satanic natures, who live by satanic dispositions, loving and pursuing the truth runs contrary to their will, and they are reluctant to do it. What is the root of this? It is that the attributes within man are of Satan, and they are intrinsically antagonistic toward God. So, after people have heard and understood the truth, only those who love the truth, who are willing to strive up toward it and pay a price, who have this will, aspiration, and wish, are able to put the truth into practice as soon as they understand it. Only they are capable of living by the truth and living out its reality. There are many people who are willing to practice the truth, but they are obstructed by their satanic natures and dispositions; they are unable to practice the truth, even though they may wish to. The fact is that in real life, practicing the truth is a very difficult thing to do. It is one thing to ask you to let go of your favorite clothes and jewelry, or the things you enjoy, or the job and career that you like, or your strengths and hobbies, or any such thing. You could forsake any of these; they are easy to let go of. But to have you forsake your flesh and your satanic disposition, to come to practice the truth and submit to God—that is much more difficult. To describe it using an inexact phrase, it would be like forcing a duck onto a perch, or having a bull climb a tree—these things are far too taxing for them. Now, it would be easy to get a feline up a tree; that is natural for them. But it would be quite impossible to get one to eat hay instead of meat. If you asked a person to suffer a bit, to pay a bit of a price, and to live humbly for the rest of their life, that is something that anyone who has the will to do so can achieve. In fact, no physical difficulty poses a big problem for someone who truly believes in God and yearns for the truth. Not indulging in fleshly comforts, for instance; or reducing the amount they sleep each day; or living rough for ten years straight; or making do with very poor food, clothes, housing, and transportation—such hardships and prices can be taken on by anyone, so long as they have the will to do so, and are willing to pursue the truth, and have a bit of self-restraint. But if you ask someone to forsake the flesh and Satan, to act entirely in accordance with God’s requirements and based in His words, to practice according to the truth and thus achieve submission to God, any person would find that hard. That is where man’s difficulties lie. So, in pursuing the truth, it is not as if people can just make a resolution and give it a go, or practice restraint and follow the rules, and then be able to put the truth into practice and possess the truth. Pursuing the truth is the hardest and most difficult thing for corrupt mankind to do. Where does the root of this problem originate? (It originates from Satan’s disposition.) That is right. Satan’s disposition is man’s greatest challenge. One may have poor caliber, or a bad temper and personality, they may not have any strengths, talents, or gifts to speak of—none of these things will pose a big challenge to them. Ultimately, the problem originates in man’s corrupt disposition. A corrupt disposition keeps people’s hands and feet, their minds and ideas, their thoughts, their way of thinking, and the depths of their souls in the death grip of its control, such that every inch on the road of pursuing the truth is hard for them to walk. One might believe in God for three or five years without gaining anything; there are even some people who have believed for ten, twenty, or thirty years, and have only gained a smattering of things from it. And some of them have gained nothing at all—how impoverished and pitiful those empty-handed people are! They have believed in God for thirty years but remain impoverished and blind, with nothing to show for it. When they fall into negativity, they do not know how to emerge from it; when they fall into misunderstandings about God, they do not know how to dispel them; when adversity befalls them, they do not know how to face it, nor do they know how to resolve that kind of difficulty. Can problems be solved by using mere subjective willpower to restrain oneself or by relying on one’s patience to persevere endlessly? People may plod through situations step by step until they have passed, but their corrupt dispositions still remain. They have not been resolved. No matter how many times they have experienced negativity, or misunderstandings about God, or had notions about God, or failed, and fallen, and been weak, to this very day they are still unable to offer the least bit of experiential testimony, nor do they have a single thing to say about their knowledge, experience, or exposure to God’s words. Their hearts are empty; the depths of their souls are empty. They have no experiential understanding of the truth, and they have no true knowledge of God’s words, and they are even further from having knowledge of His work and His disposition. Are they not impoverished, blind, and pitiful? (They are.) If someone does not pursue the truth, then no matter how many years they believe in God, it is pointless. Why, then, would a person let themselves get to this point? Wherein lies the cause? Here too, the problem originates in man’s corrupt disposition. This is the objective cause.
We have already made it clear what the objective cause for people not pursuing the truth is. We will now speak a bit about the subjective cause. The subjective cause is that though people may have learned that they have a corrupt disposition from God’s work and all of His words, or from their real lives, they never hold themselves against God’s words and the truth for comparison, they never gain knowledge of and forsake their corrupt dispositions, and they never practice according to God’s words. It is that though people may exert and expend a great deal upon the road of belief in God, though they may work very hard, suffer greatly, and pay many prices upon it, these are all just external behaviors. They do not prove that one has embarked on the path of pursuing the truth. The people who have suffered the most are those who began to follow God in the early days, who took on their duties when they were around twenty years old. These people are now about fifty years old, and still unmarried. You could say that they have devoted their youths to their faith in God, and let go of family and marriage. Is that a great price? (Yes.) They gave up their youths and offered up their whole lives, and what comes of it? The price that they paid was great, but what they gain in the end is not equal to or in line with their expenditure. What is the problem here? Based on the attitude and resolve with which they pay a price, and the duration, amount, and degree of their expenditure, it would seem as though they should understand the truth and be able to practice it. You would think that they should have testimony and hearts of reverence for God; that they should have knowledge of God; that they should already have set off on the path of fearing God and shunning evil; that they should have already entered into the truth reality. But in fact, that is just an inference—these two things have only a logical relationship, it does not line up with the facts or with what these people live out. What is the problem here? Should we not subject it to investigation and discussion? Is this not a problem that merits deep thought? (It is.) Among those who have accepted this stage of God’s work for two or three years, there is no shortage of people with experience and testimony. They testify to how God’s words have changed them and made them become honest people; they testify to how God’s words have allowed them to understand the truth on the road of pursuing it; they testify to how God’s words have resolved their corrupt dispositions, their arrogance and deceitfulness, their rebelliousness, their longing for status, their ambitions and desires, and so on. These people are capable of having experience and testimony after just two or three years of believing in God; they have a deep experiential understanding of God’s words, and they can feel the trueness of His words. Why, then, have some people believed in God for twenty or thirty years and paid so many prices, suffered so much, and run about so much, but the depths of their hearts and their spiritual worlds remain empty and hollow? Lots of people who are in this kind of condition often feel lost. They always say, “I’m so lost.” I say, “You have believed in God for twenty or thirty years now. How are you still lost? It is plain to see that you have gained nothing.” To this day, some people are still negative and weak. They say, “I’ve believed in God for so many years, and what have I gained?” Often, when they are negative and weak, or when they are deprived of their status and benefits, or when their vanity goes unsatisfied, they blame God and regret having believed in Him for so many years. They regret having believed His words in the first place, they regret having resolutely let go of their job, of marriage and family, of their chance to go to college, in order to follow God. Some of them even think of leaving the church. They are so filled with regrets about their faith now—why did they even bother with it in the first place? They have believed in God for twenty or thirty years, they have heard so many truths and they have experienced so much of God’s work, yet the depths of their hearts are still empty, and they often sink into conditions of chaos, confusion, regret, reluctance, and even uncertainty about their futures—what causes this? Are such people deserving of pity? (No.) Whenever I see these people, whenever I hear news of them and learn of their recent goings-on, I get a premonition about them. A thought comes to Me about them. How is it that their condition and their inner worlds seem so familiar to Me? They remain even now in God’s house, performing duties—what is it that they are relying on? Is it a mindset of salvation by grace? Is it a mindset that if one follows God to the end, this will inevitably lead to salvation? Or is it a mentality based on luck and chance? It is none of these. What is it, then? It is just like what 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). To analyze this passage and to put it simply, these words have a transactional quality to them, there is an attitude, idea, and plan to make a deal within them, and they come from a place of desire and ambition. What fact do you see in these words? What do people pursue in their belief in God? (A crown and blessings.) Yes. They pursue blessings and a good destination. And what would they trade for that good destination and blessings? What would they exchange for those? (Their toil and labor, their sacrifices and expenditures, their suffering and price-paying.) To use Paul’s words, they have fought their fights, they have run their courses. They believe that they have done everything they were supposed to, and that they should therefore gain the good destination and blessings that God has prepared for mankind. They think that it goes without saying that this is what God should do—what He must do—and if He did not, He would not be God. Obviously, there is no obedience toward God in this, no attitude of pursuing the truth, no attitude or plan to fulfill the duty of a created being. It is just a wish to trade a few things that they are able to do for the blessings that God has promised mankind. So, the people we were just talking about often feel that there is a void in their inner worlds and that they have nothing to rely on in the depths of their hearts, yet they go on as they always have, paying such prices and suffering so, persisting in fighting their fights and running their courses. What do they rely on? It is those quotes of Paul’s that they cling to and blindly believe in that prop up their “faith.” They rely on their ambitions and desire to be rewarded and crowned. They rely on their dreams of using a transactional exchange to receive great blessings. They do not rely on the understanding of God’s work or the experience and knowledge gained by pursuing the truth while expending themselves for God. That is not what they rely on.
Looking at what we have just fellowshiped on, one can see that though there are many practical challenges on the path of pursuing the truth, as well as the fetters and constraints of corrupt dispositions, and a great many difficulties and obstacles, one should believe that as long as one has true faith, then by relying on the guidance of God’s words and the work of the Holy Spirit, they will be wholly able to embark on the path of pursuing the truth. Peter is a precedent for this. In their faith in God, many people focus solely on working for God, they are satisfied with merely suffering and paying a price, but they do not pursue the truth at all. As a result, they lack true knowledge of God’s work after believing in Him for ten years, twenty years, thirty years, and they cannot speak about any experience or knowledge of the truth or God’s words. During gatherings, when they try to talk a little about their experiential testimony, they have nothing to say; whether they will be saved or not is a complete unknown to them. What is the problem here? This is how people who do not pursue the truth are. No matter how many years they have been believers, they are incapable of understanding the truth, much less practicing it. How could someone who does not accept the truth at all enter into the truth reality? There are some who cannot see through to this problem. They believe that if people who parrot the words and phrases of doctrines practice the truth, they can enter into the truth reality too. Is this correct? People who parrot the words and phrases of doctrines are inherently incapable of understanding the truth—so how could they practice it? What they practice appears to not violate the truth, and to be good deeds and good behaviors, but how could those good deeds and good behaviors be called the truth reality? People who do not understand the truth do not know what the truth reality is; they consider people’s good deeds and good behaviors to be the practice of the truth. This is absurd, is it not? How is this any different from the thoughts and views of religious people? And how can such problems of fallacious comprehension be resolved? People must first understand the will of God from His words, they should know what understanding the truth is, and what practicing the truth is, in order to be able to look at others and discern them for what they really are, and to be able to tell whether or not they possess the truth reality. God’s work and salvation of man is meant to make people understand and practice the truth; only then will people be able to shed their corrupt dispositions, act according to the principles, and enter into the truth reality. If you do not pursue the truth, and are merely satisfied with expending, suffering, and paying a price for God as per your own notions and imaginings, will everything you do represent your practice of the truth and submission to God? Will it prove that you have changed your life disposition? Will it represent that you possess true knowledge of God? No. And so what will everything you do represent? It can only represent your own personal preferences, comprehension, and wishful thinking. It will purely be things that you like to do, that you are willing to do; everything you do merely satisfies your own desires, will, and ideals. Clearly, that is not pursuing the truth. None of your actions or behaviors have anything to do with the truth, or with God’s requirements. All of your actions and behaviors are for yourself; you are only working, fighting, and running about for the sake of your own ideals, reputation, and status—this makes you no different from Paul, who toiled and worked all his life solely in order to be rewarded, crowned, and to enter the kingdom of heaven—this shows that you are clearly walking the path of Paul. Some say, “I toil and work willingly. I haven’t tried to strike a deal with God.” It does not matter one way or the other whether or not you have tried to strike a deal with God, whether or not you have in your mind or attitude an explicit intent to strike a deal with God—whether or not you have such a plan and goal—you are trying to exchange your toil and work, your hardships, and the prices you have paid for the rewards and crown of the kingdom of heaven. The essence of this problem is that you are trying to make a bargain with God—it is just that you are not aware that you are doing so. Regardless, as long as someone undergoes hardships and pays prices in order to gain blessings, the essence of their pursuit is the same as Paul’s. In what way are they the same? They are both attempts to trade one’s good behaviors—their labor, the hardships they go through, the prices they pay, and so on—for God’s blessings, for the blessings He promises mankind. Are these things not in essence the same? (They are.) They are the same in essence; there is no real difference. If you do not wish to walk the path of Paul, but that of Peter, and you wish to gain God’s approval, how should you practice? There is no doubt: You must learn to pursue the truth. You must be able to accept the truth, as well as God’s judgment and chastisement, and being pruned and dealt with; you must focus on knowing yourself, and bringing about a change in your disposition, and seek to practice loving God. That is what it means to walk the path of pursuing the truth and to set off on the path of Peter. To walk the path of Peter, you must first understand what God requires of man and what path it is that God has pointed out to man. You must be able to discern the path of belief in God that leads to salvation from the path that leads to perdition and destruction. You need to truly reflect on why it is that you were able to walk the path of Paul, and ascertain just what disposition it is that commands you to walk that path. You should discern the most prominent and obvious things that are in your corrupt dispositions, such as arrogance, or deceitfulness, or evil. Beginning with these corrupt dispositions, reflect, analyze, and gain knowledge of yourself. If you can achieve true self-knowledge and hatred of yourself, it will be easy for you to shed your corrupt dispositions, and it will be easy for you to put the truth into practice. So, how is this to be practiced, specifically? Let us fellowship simply about this, using the example of an arrogant disposition. In your daily life, when speaking, conducting yourself and handling matters, performing your duty, fellowshiping with others, and so on, whatever the matter at hand is, or where you are, or what the circumstances are, you must focus at all times on examining what kind of arrogant disposition you have poured forth. You must excavate all the outpourings, thoughts, and ideas that come from your arrogant disposition that you are aware of and can perceive, as well as your intents and goals—in particular, always wanting to lecture others from on high; not obeying anyone; seeing yourself as better than others; not accepting what others say, no matter how right they may be; making others accept and submit to what you say, even when you are wrong; having a constant tendency toward leading others; being uncompliant and offering justifications when leaders and workers prune and deal with you, condemning them as false; always condemning others and elevating yourself; always thinking that you are better than everyone else; always wishing to be a renowned, eminent person; always loving to show off, so that others regard you highly and worship you…. Through the practice of reflecting on and analyzing these outpourings of corruption, you can come to know how ugly your arrogant disposition is, and you can loathe and abhor yourself, and hate your arrogant disposition even more. You will thus be willing to reflect on whether or not you have poured forth an arrogant disposition in all matters. One part of this is reflecting on what arrogant and self-righteous dispositions pour forth in your speech—what boastful, arrogant, senseless things you say. The other part is reflecting on what absurd, senseless things you do while acting according to your notions, imaginings, ambitions, and desires. Only this kind of self-reflection can yield self-knowledge. Once you have gained true knowledge of yourself, you should seek the paths and principles of practice for being an honest person in God’s words, and then practice, perform your duty, and approach and interact with others according to the paths and principles indicated in God’s words. When you have practiced in this way for a while, perhaps a month or two, you will feel a brightness of heart about it, and you will have gained something from it and gotten a taste of success. You will feel that you have a path for becoming an honest, sensible person, and you will feel much more grounded. Though you will not yet be able to speak of a particularly deep knowledge of the truth, you will have gained some perceptual knowledge of it, as well as a path of practice. Though you will not be able to express it clearly in words, you will have some discernment of the harm that an arrogant disposition does to people and how it distorts their humanity. For instance, arrogant, conceited people often say boastful, wild things, and tell lies to trick others; they speak high-sounding words, shout slogans, and spout lofty harangues. Are these not various manifestations of an arrogant disposition? Is it not quite senseless to pour forth these arrogant dispositions? If you are able to truly understand that you must have lost your normal human reason to pour forth such arrogant dispositions, and that living within an arrogant disposition means that you are living out devilishness rather than humanity, then you will have truly recognized that a corrupt disposition is a satanic disposition, and you will be able to hate Satan and corrupt dispositions from your heart. With six months or a year of such experience, you will be capable of true self-knowledge, and if you pour forth an arrogant disposition again, you will immediately be aware of it, and you will be able to forsake and renounce it. You will have begun to change, and you will be able to gradually cast off your arrogant disposition, and get along normally with others. You will be able to speak honestly and from the heart; you will no longer tell lies or say arrogant things. Will you not then possess a little reason and some likeness of an honest person? Will you not have gained that entry? This is when you will begin to gain something. When you practice being honest in this way, you will be able to seek the truth and reflect on yourself no matter what sort of arrogant disposition you pour forth, and after experiencing being an honest person in this way for some time, you will unconsciously and gradually come to understand the truths and relevant words of God about being an honest person. And when you use those truths to dissect your arrogant disposition, in the depths of your heart there will be the enlightenment and illumination of God’s words, and your heart will begin to feel brighter. You will see clearly the corruption that an arrogant disposition brings to people and the ugliness that it makes them live out, and you will be able to discern each of the corrupt states that people find themselves in when they pour forth an arrogant disposition. With more analysis, you will see Satan’s ugliness all the more clearly, and you will hate Satan even more. It will thus be easy for you to cast off your arrogant disposition. When your knowledge reaches this extent, the relevant truth in God’s words will be transparently comprehensible to you, and you will know that all God requires of man is that which people of normal humanity ought to possess and live out. With that, practicing the truth will no longer feel hard to you. Instead, you will believe that practicing the truth is perfectly natural and justified, that it is how man should live. At that point, your practice of God’s words and the truth will be entirely spontaneous, positive, and proactive, and at the same time you will love the truth even more. The number of positive things in your heart will increase, and true knowledge of God will gradually arise there. That is what it means to genuinely understand the truth. You will have a correct view and perspective on all matters, and this true knowledge and these correct views will gradually take root in your heart. That is what it means to have entered the truth reality—it is something that no one can deprive you of or rob you of. After you have accumulated these positive things bit by bit, you will feel greatly enriched in the depths of your heart. You will no longer feel that there is no point in believing in God, and the hollow feeling in your heart will be gone. When you have felt how wonderful it is to understand the truth and seen the light of human life, true faith will arise in you. And when you have the faith to experience God’s work, and see how real and practical pursuing the truth and achieving salvation are, you will positively and proactively practice and experience God’s words. You will fellowship about your true experience and knowledge, thus bearing witness to God and helping more people to know the power of God’s words and the benefits that the truth brings to man. You will then have more faith to practice the truth and perform your duty well—and with that, you will have truly submitted to God. When you speak about your true experiential testimony, your heart will grow ever brighter. You will feel that you have more of a path to practice the truth, and at the same time, you will see that you have so many deficiencies, that there are so many truths you should practice. Such experiential testimony is not only beneficial and edifying for others—you, too, will feel that you have gained something in your pursuit of the truth, and that you have truly received God’s blessings. When someone experiences God’s work in this way until they are capable of testifying for Him, not only can it lead more people to know their corrupt dispositions, to cast off the fetters, constraints, and affliction of those dispositions, and enable them to emerge from Satan’s power—it can also give that person more and more faith to walk the path of pursuing the truth and being made perfect. Does such experience not become true testimony? That is what true testimony is. Would a person capable of giving such testimony for God feel that believing in Him is boring, or pointless, or hollow? Absolutely not. When a person can testify for God and when they have true knowledge of Him, the depths of their heart are filled with peace and joy, and they feel enriched and incredibly grounded. When one lives in such a condition and realm, it is natural that they would not compel themselves to suffer, to pay a price, to be restrained. They would not just compel themselves to discipline their body and forsake the flesh. What they would do more of is positively gain knowledge of their corrupt dispositions. They would also pursue knowledge of God’s disposition, of what God has and is, and understand what one should do in order to submit to God and satisfy Him. They would thereby grasp God’s will amid His words, and find the principles of practicing the truth, rather than dwelling on the fleeting feelings within them. For instance, not being able to restrain themselves when things occur, being bad-tempered, being in a bad mood, having gotten angry again that day, having done something poorly or less than ideally again that day, or any such trivial matter. So long as these things do not impede your practice of the truth, there is no need to worry about them. You should stay focused on resolving your corrupt dispositions and seeking how to practice in a way that satisfies God and accords with His will. Practice the truth like this, and you will make fast life progress, and you will have set off on the path of pursuing the truth and being made perfect. Your heart will no longer be hollow; you will have true faith in God, and you will be ever more interested in God’s words and the truth, and cherish them ever more. You will come to understand more and more of God’s will and His requirements. When one arrives at this level, they have wholly entered into God’s words and the truth reality.
What many people are practicing and entering into now is not the truth reality, but they enter into a kind of condition, in which they display external good behaviors, and they are willing to pay a price, and ready to suffer, and ready to expend everything. The depths of their hearts, however, remain empty, and they have nothing to support them in their inner worlds. Why do they have no support? Because they lack a path when anything befalls them; they rely on wishful thinking, and they do not have the principles for practicing the truth. When a corrupt disposition pours forth from them, they can only practice self-restraint, they are not able to seek the truth to resolve it. Lucky for people, that old flesh of theirs has an instinctive ability: It can suffer. There is a saying among the unbelievers that goes, “There’s no suffering that can’t be endured, just blessings that can’t be enjoyed.” Man’s flesh has an inborn, instinctive ability: It cannot enjoy too many blessings, but it is able to suffer anything, and endure it, and restrain itself. Is this a good thing? Is it a strength or a flaw, a deficiency? Is that saying of theirs the truth? (No.) It is not, and if something is not the truth, it is nonsense. That saying is just empty words, it cannot resolve any of your problems, nor can it resolve your practical difficulties. To put it accurately, it cannot resolve your corrupt dispositions. So, there is no use in saying it. Though you may have some knowledge of it, be aware of it, and have experienced it deeply, still it has no use. The unbelievers have other sayings, too, like, “I’m not afraid of dying, so why be afraid of living?” and “When winter’s already here, how far off can spring be?” These are pretty grand statements, no? Quite inspirational and philosophical, are they not? The unbelievers call these sayings “chicken soup for the soul.” Do you like these kinds of sayings? (No.) Why not? Some may say, “We just don’t like them. They’re what unbelievers say; we like the words of God.” Which part of God’s words do you like, then? Which phrase do you take to be the truth? Which phrase have you experienced, practiced and entered, and gained? It is useless, just disliking these unbelievers’ sayings; you may not like them, but you cannot clearly discern their essence. Are these sayings right? (No.) Right or not, the words of unbelievers have nothing to do with the truth. Even if people regard them as good and right, they are not in accordance with the truth, and they cannot rise to the level of the truth. All of them are in violation of the truth and in enmity to it. Unbelievers do not accept the truth, so there is no need to argue with them about what is right and wrong. All we can do is treat their words as muddled nonsense, and be done with them. What does “nonsense” mean? It means words that are not at all edifying or valuable to people, to their lives, to the paths that they walk, or to their salvation. All such talk is nonsense; it can also be called empty words. It has nothing to do with man’s life and death or the paths that they walk, and is nonsense that can serve no positive function at all. People hear such a phrase and live their lives as they would, as they always have; such a phrase will not change any facts, because it is not the truth. The truth alone is edifying to man; it is of immeasurable value. Why do I say this? Because the truth can change people’s fates, and their thoughts and views, and their inner worlds. Most importantly, the truth can dispel man’s corrupt dispositions; it can change a person’s attributes, turning their satanic attributes into the attributes of the truth—it can take a person who lives by their corrupt dispositions and turn them into one who lives by the truth and God’s words. When a person lives out the truth reality, with God’s words as their basis, is their life not thus changed? When one’s life changes it means that their thoughts and views have changed; it means that their outlook, attitudes, and views on people and things have changed; it means that their stance and views regarding events and things are different from before. Those sayings from the unbelievers are all empty words and nonsense. They cannot resolve any problems. The one that I just said—“There’s no suffering that can’t be endured, just blessings that can’t be enjoyed”—is that not nonsense and empty words? (It is.) You can suffer—so what? You do not suffer in order to gain the truth; you suffer in order to enjoy prestige and status. Your suffering has no value or significance at all. Look at the facts: You have suffered so much and paid so great a price, yet you still do not know yourself, and you cannot even get a grasp on the thoughts and ideas that arise from your corrupt disposition, nor can you resolve them. Do you think that you can enter into life, then? Does your suffering have value? It has no value at all. Some people’s suffering has value. The suffering that people undergo in order to gain the truth, for instance, has value: When one has gained the truth, they can edify and supply others. Many people suffer and pay a price in order to spread the gospel, helping to expand the work of the church and God’s house, and spread the gospel of the kingdom of heaven. From this, we can see that whoever suffers and pays a price in order to gain the truth and satisfy God will gain something from it. These people will meet with God’s approval. But there are some who do not pursue the truth, and though they may expend of themselves and suffer for God, and receive His kindness, that kindness is no more than God’s pity and tolerance and a reflection of the favor He shows man, as well as the grace that He extends to man. What sort of grace? A few material blessings—no more than that. Is that what you want? Is that your ultimate goal in believing in God? I think not. Since the day you came to believe in God, have you only wished for His kindness, His protection, and a few of the material blessings that He bestows? Are those the things that you want? Are they what you pursue in your belief? (No.) Can these things resolve the issue of your salvation? (No.) It seems that you are thinking quite clearly. You understand what is crucial and what is important. You are not confused. You know what carries weight and what does not. Whether you can set off on the path of pursuing the truth, however, remains to be seen.
Believing in God is not about gaining grace or God’s tolerance and pity. What is it about, then? It is about being saved. So, what is the mark of salvation? What are the standards required by God? What does it take to be saved? The resolution of one’s corrupt disposition. This is the crux of the matter. So, at the end of the day, when all is said and done, no matter how much you have suffered or how great a price you have paid, or however much of a true believer you proclaim yourself to be—if, in the end, your corrupt disposition has not been resolved at all, it means that you are not someone who pursues the truth. Or it can be said that because you do not pursue the truth, your corrupt disposition has not been resolved. This means that you have not embarked at all on the path of salvation; it means that all that God says and all the work that He does to save man has achieved nothing in you, it has led to no testimony from you, and it has borne no fruit within you. God will say, “Because you have suffered and paid a price, I have given you the grace, blessings, care, and protection that you deserve in this life and this world. But you have no part in that which man deserves after being saved. Why is that? It is because I have already bestowed upon you that which you deserve in this life and this world; as for what man deserves after salvation, there is nothing for you, because you did not set off on the path of pursuing the truth.” You are not among those who will be saved, you have not become a true created being, and God does not want you. God does not want those who merely work, run about, suffer, and pay a price for Him, who somewhat truly believe and have a bit of faith, and nothing more. Such people can be found everywhere within groups of His believers. In other words, there are just so many of them, those who work and render service for God, in numbers beyond reckoning. If they are a person who God has predestined and chosen, who has been led back to God’s house by God, then none of them would be unwilling to work and render service for Him. Why is that? Because it is just so easy to do. This is why there are so many people who render service and labor for God. There are even antichrists and evil people who are able to do this too, like Paul. Are there not too many people like Paul? (There are.) If you went into a church and preached in this way—“So long as you are willing to run about, suffer, and pay a price for God, then a crown of righteousness will be waiting for you”—do you think a lot of people would respond to your call? So many would. But unfortunately, in the end, these are not the people whom God will save or who can be saved. Such people just linger at the stage of rendering service; they are only willing to render service to God. In other words, these people are merely willing to trade their labor for God’s good fortune, for His grace and blessings. They do not wish to change their methods of survival, or their ways of living, or the foundation that they rely on to survive; they do not want to accept God’s judgment and chastisement in order to change their corrupt dispositions or pursue the truth to achieve salvation. Naturally, you could also say that these people are only willing to suffer and pay a price, that they are only willing to abandon and offer up everything they have, that they expend all that they can, no matter what the cost, and that they are willing to labor in any way possible—yet if you ask them to know themselves, to accept the truth, to resolve their corrupt dispositions, to forsake the flesh, to practice the truth, and to set down their evil and turn back toward God, as the Ninevites did, and heed His words, and live by His words, it would be extremely difficult for them. Is that not so? (It is.) Is this not quite troublesome? God has done so much work and spoken so many words, so why do people feel that pursuing the truth is so hard? Why are they always apathetic toward it? Even after hearing years of sermons, they still have no intention of changing. They have never sincerely repented to God in the depths of their hearts, nor have they ever truly acknowledged or accepted the fact that they have corrupt dispositions. In both their views on things and actions, they have never let go of their own outlooks and sought the truth; they do not approach every matter with an attitude of reversing their outlooks and repenting to God. So, there are many people who have experienced a lot and done much work, who have been at their duties for quite a while, but still cannot produce any testimony. They still have no knowledge or experience of God’s words, and when they talk of their experience and knowledge of God’s words, they are very embarrassed and helpless, and they appear extremely inept. The reason for this is that they have no knowledge of the truth or they are uninterested in it. Laboring, on the other hand, is so simple, so easy. So, everyone is willing to render service for God, but they do not choose to pursue the truth.
Now, with that said, what does it mean, exactly, to pursue the truth? We have said so much; should we not define what it means to pursue the truth? Can you define it? It should be a pretty simple definition, no? Will it come to you if you just ponder, ruminate, and deliberate on the words? There may be some who would say, “Pursuing the truth is a big topic. It can’t be expressed clearly in just a few sentences. I don’t know what to say about it. What words can describe it? Pursuing the truth is a great matter, and nothing short of the grandest words could describe and define it appropriately—that’s the only way to really impress everyone!” Do you think that is how it has to be? (No.) Well then, define pursuing the truth, in everyday language. (Pursuing the truth means using the truth to resolve our corrupt disposition.) Does that qualify as a definition? Are you drawing a conclusion with this? Is pursuing the truth easy to define? Defining it is no easy task; you need to put some effort into contemplating it. What does it mean to pursue the truth? Let us try defining it, shall we? The best of all human language is that which is simple, colloquial, and true-to-life. We will not speak in an alien language or with some grand words. We will speak the everyday language of ordinary people, in a way that is fluent, colloquial, and easy to comprehend, so that people can understand what we have said immediately. Apart from minors, or those too simple or mentally unwell to understand it, any adult who thinks normally will be able to understand the language we have used as soon as they hear it. That is what it means for language to be colloquial; that is what is called everyday language. So, what does it mean to pursue the truth? To view people and things, and to comport oneself and act, wholly based on God’s words, according to God’s words, with the truth as one’s criterion—that is what it means to pursue the truth. That is what an accurate definition of pursuing the truth sounds like. Question: What does it mean to pursue the truth? Answer: To view people and things, and to comport oneself and act, wholly according to God’s words, with the truth as one’s criterion. That is the definition of pursuing the truth. Simple, no? Some of you may say, “You’ve been fellowshiping all this time on what it means to pursue the truth, when its definition is just that one sentence. It’s as simple as that?” Yes, it is as simple as that. It is such a simple definition, yet it touches on so many related topics—and those related topics all touch on the topic of pursuing the truth. These topics include man’s difficulties, and man’s thoughts and outlooks, as well as all the myriad excuses, justifications, methods, and attitudes man has toward pursuing the truth. There is also the topic of man’s resistance to pursuing the truth and refusal to do so, which are brought about by man’s corrupt dispositions. Of course, the things that I have told you about—the several paths and steps for pursuing the truth, the way in which one pursues the truth, the results that are achieved by pursuing the truth, and the truth reality that can be seen in people who are living it out—these also touch on the topic of pursuing the truth. The final result of this is the experiential testimony to God’s words and God’s work of saving man that arises when people pursue the truth and practice and experience His words. This is the greatest result. One feature of such testimony is that it bears witness to the results of God’s work; another is that it bears witness to the positive effects that can be seen in people who have pursued the truth, which is that their corrupt dispositions have been resolved, to a greater or lesser extent. For instance, someone who used to be very arrogant, who was arbitrary, reckless, and a law unto themselves in their actions, learns that this is a corrupt disposition through reading God’s words, and then goes on to accept this and acknowledge it. Gradually, they come to know the harm that this corrupt disposition brings upon others and themselves: From a smaller perspective, it is harmful to people, and from a larger perspective, it disturbs, disrupts, and damages the work of the church. This is one part of the results; it is something that a person learns when they understand God’s words. Furthermore, on the basis of the revelation of God’s words, they acknowledge their corrupt disposition, and then, in situations arranged by God, they gradually come to repent, and they let go of the lifestyles and the outlooks of their comportment and actions that they once held to. They find principles and paths of practice among God’s words and they handle matters according to the principles of practice that God has given them. This is true repentance and truly turning oneself around. They are able to comport themselves and act based on God’s words, and ultimately, they come to seek the truth principles whenever they act, and they live out part of the reality of taking God’s words as their basis. This is an example of resolving an arrogant disposition. The final result achieved by this is that this person no longer lives out arrogance; instead they have a conscience and reason, they are able to seek the truth principles, and they truly submit to the truth; what they practice and live out is no longer dominated by their corrupt disposition, instead they take the truth as their criterion, and they live out the reality of God’s words—that is the result. Is this result not achieved by pursuing the truth? (It is.) This is the kind of result that pursuing the truth brings about in a person. And to God, living in this way is true testimony to Him and His work; it is a result that is achieved when a created being undergoes the judgment, chastisement, and exposure of God’s words. It is true testimony, and that is a glorious thing to God. To man, of course, it is not a glorious thing; it could only be called an honorable and proud thing, and it is the testimony that a created being ought to have and live out after experiencing God’s work. It is a positive effect that is achieved in a person who pursues the truth. God also regards such experience and knowledge, and what these people live out as results achieved by His work. To Him, it is testimony that strikes back at Satan with great force. This is what God loves and what He treasures.
We have just defined what it means to pursue the truth. Through this definition, has your view of what it means to pursue the truth come closer to reality? (Yes.) Now that we have defined pursuing the truth in a way that you understand, how should you regard your former pursuits? It is possible that the vast majority of you are not people who pursue the truth. This may be a bit upsetting for you to hear, no? Read the definition once more. (What does it mean to pursue the truth? Answer: To view people and things, and to comport oneself and act, wholly according to God’s words, with the truth as one’s criterion.) You can now say it accurately. On further consideration, is it correct? (It is.) If you measure your former pursuits and practices based on this definition, what will the result be? You will be able to learn whether or not you currently possess the truth reality, and you will be able to verify whether your current conduct is the pursuit of the truth. This is not an abstract way to put it, is it? It is quite colloquial language, is it not? (It is.) It is ordinary language that any ordinary person can understand. Though it may seem quite easy to understand, people have a problem. What problem is that? That once they have understood the definition, they feel uncomfortable and upset. Why are they upset? Because they feel that their past sufferings and the prices they have paid have been condemned, that they have given them forth in vain, and this makes them feel out of sorts. Some people, having heard this, will say, “Oh—so that’s the definition of pursuing the truth. If we go by that definition, then weren’t all the prices we paid and all of our past expenditures wasted? If You hadn’t defined what it means to pursue the truth, we’d have gone on thinking that we were doing well in our pursuits; now that You’ve given it this definition, haven’t our pursuits and the prices we paid all gone down the drain? Haven’t all of our dreams of being crowned and rewarded been ruined? When we understand the truth, we should be blessed and our dreams should come true, so why are we being judged now that we understand the truth? Why are we living hopelessly in darkness? Our pasts and presents have been condemned, and there’s no telling what the future will be like. It seems like we have no hope of being blessed.” Is that how it is? Is it correct for people to think about it in this way? (No.) So, should people think about it in this way? (No.) They should not. But there is one good thing about this: You can repeatedly pray-read this definition of pursuing the truth, then look back at your past, look at your present, and look forward at your future. You may feel upset, but that feeling means that you are not numb. You know to consider your past, present, and future, and you know to make plans for your prospects, and to think about them, to worry about them, and to get agitated about them. That is a good thing. It proves that you are still alive, that you are a living person, and that your heart has not died. What is worrying is when someone remains apathetic no matter what is said to them or how clearly the path of pursuing the truth is fellowshiped to them. They think, “This is just who I am; who cares whether I get blessed or disaster befalls me? Judge me, condemn me—do whatever You like!” No matter what is said to them, they are numb to it. That spells trouble. What do I mean by trouble? It means that however you fellowship about the truth to them, they will not understand it; they are a dead person that has no spirit. They do not have a clue about things like believing in God, pursuing the truth, being saved, or God’s work of saving man, and they do not understand such things. It is like trying to teach a tone-deaf person to sing, or teaching a color-blind person to blend colors: It is just not feasible. Fellowshiping on these things is devoid of any significance or value for them, because no matter what you say, be it deep or shallow, be it specific or broad, it will make no difference—they will feel nothing in any case. They are like a blind person wearing glasses, whether they wear those glasses or not has no effect on their vision. Some people often say, “When winter’s already here, how far off can spring be?” and “I’m not afraid of dying, so why be afraid of living?” and “I flick my hands, not even a wisp of cloud will I bring away.” These are all words of spiritless, dead people who think themselves to be very clever. To put it in spiritual terms, they lack spiritual understanding. Those who lack spiritual understanding are dead people, even when they are alive. Can dead people understand the words of the living? They think, “All this talk about pursuing the truth, and one’s views on people and things, and one’s comportment and actions—what does it have to do with me? I’m not afraid of dying, so why be afraid of living?” Whoever thinks like this is done for. They are one of the dead. That is how it is with the definition of pursuing the truth. No matter what intentions or plans you have for your future path after reading this definition, or how you will change, it all comes down to your personal pursuit. These are the words that I need to say and the work that I need to do. I have said everything that I needed to, and I have said all that I have to say. If you really love the truth and have the will to pursue it, you would do well to adopt the definition of pursuing the truth that I have given as the goal and direction for your pursuit when it comes to how you usually view people and things, and comport yourselves and act, or adopt it as a reference, so that you may thereby gradually enter into the reality of God’s words and the truth reality. If you do, then in the near future, you will certainly gain something on the path of pursuing the truth. Some may say, “It’s never too late to pursue the truth.” This is inaccurate—if you do not pursue the truth until after God’s work has ended, that will be too late, indeed. How is that idea to be explained? The pursuit of the truth must take place before God’s work has ended. In other words, this statement holds true before God has rung the bell to show that His work has come to a close. But when God’s work has finished, and He says, “I will do no more of the work of saving man, and I will speak no more words to help people achieve salvation or that involve man’s salvation. I will speak no more of such things,” then His work will truly have ended. If you wait until then to pursue the truth, it will truly be too late. No matter what, if you begin to pursue the truth now, you will still have time—you still have a chance of attaining salvation. From now on, do your absolute utmost to gradually view people and things, and to comport yourself and act according to God’s words, with the truth as your criterion. Strive to read and understand all of God’s words that expose man’s corrupt dispositions in a short period of time, and practice reflecting on yourself and knowing yourself. Doing so is of enormous benefit to your life entry. Take, for instance, among God’s words that expose mankind’s corrupt dispositions, those that touch on the disposition of antichrists. Are those not the most fundamental words? (They are.) And what should you do with those words as your basis? Condemn yourself? Curse yourself? Dispossess yourself of your future and destiny? No—you are to use them to know your corrupt disposition. Do not try to escape this. This is a juncture that every person must pass through. What does it mean that every person must pass through it? It is just like how every person is born to a mother and father, then grows up, then grows old, then dies. These are junctures that every person must pass through one by one. How important is pursuing the truth? It is as important as man’s daily food and drink. If you stopped eating and drinking each day, your flesh could not survive; your life could not continue. “According to God’s words” means that you must view people and things, and comport yourself and act, wholly according to the words of God, which in turn gives rise to your outlooks, methods, and practices. Of course, “according to God’s words” is equivalent to “with the truth as one’s criterion.” So, in the definition of pursuing the truth, “according to God’s words” is sufficient on its own. Why must “with the truth as one’s criterion” be added? Because there are some specific problems that are not addressed in God’s words. In such cases, you should seek the truth principles, and view people and things, and comport yourself and act, within those principles. By doing so you will definitively achieve absolute accuracy. Before achieving absolute accuracy, one must know their corrupt disposition and acknowledge their corrupt outpourings and corrupt essence. After that, they must sincerely repent, and thus genuinely turn themselves around. Each of the processes in this series is indispensable, just like when a person eats: The food must be put in their mouth, and then it must pass through their esophagus into their stomach, after which it is digested and absorbed. Only then can it gradually enter their blood and become the nutrition their body requires. People pursue the truth and come to take it as their criterion, they can then put the truth into practice, and live it out, and enter into the truth reality. Each of the normal processes in this sequence is indispensable; they are mandatory steps that every person who pursues the truth must take in pursuit of any element of the truth. Some may say, “I don’t need those steps and processes to pursue the truth. I’ll just seek the truth directly and then put it into practice and make it my reality.” That is a simplistic understanding, but if it can yield results, then of course it is a better way. It shows that you have already amassed a certain amount of knowledge and success while regularly coming to know your corrupt disposition, so you can dispense with the processes of examining, knowing, accepting, repenting, and so on, and go straight to seeking the truth principles. For a person to go straight to seeking the truth principles, they must be possessed of a certain stature. What does having such stature mean? It means that they have true knowledge of their corrupt disposition, and that when they do not understand the truths about something that befalls them, they no longer need to know themselves, or repent, or reverse their course. All they need to do is directly attain an understanding of the truth principles, and then go on to practice according to them. That is enough. This is not the stature of an ordinary person. A person with such stature has at the very least experienced the process of being harshly judged, chastised, disciplined, and tested by God. They have submitted to Him and are already on the road toward being made perfect. Such people do not need processes such as knowing their corruption, then acknowledging it, repenting, and turning themselves around. So, what about you, then? Do most of you need to begin with knowing yourselves? If you do not know yourselves, you will be unconvinced, and it will not be easy for you to accept the truth, nor will you be capable of true repentance. If you do not truly repent, can you submit to the truth? Can you submit to God? Certainly not, and in that case, you are not a person who will be saved.
After this fellowship, do you now have a bit of a path for pursuing the truth? Do you have the confidence to pursue it? (Yes.) That is good; it would be worrying if you had none. There may be some of you who feel negative after the sermon. “Oh, no—I have poor caliber. I listened to the sermon, but I can’t understand any of it; I just understand a bit of doctrine. It seems I don’t have much spiritual understanding. I feel listless about pursuing the truth. In performing my duty, all I can do is labor a bit. I have too many shortcomings and I’m full of corrupt dispositions. I guess this can’t be changed. That’s just how it’ll be. Just being a service-doer is enough for me.” Can someone with negative thoughts such as these set out on the path of pursuing the truth? It seems a bit dangerous, as it is these negative thoughts that form a great barrier to one’s pursuit of the truth. If one does not resolve them, then they will not be able to embark on this path, however good it is. Some people have failed and fallen many times on the road of pursuing the truth, and they end up discouraged: “That’s it—I don’t need to pursue the truth anymore. It’s not my fate to be blessed. Did God not say it Himself: ‘Do you have the face of one who could gain blessings?’ A look in the mirror shows me that I’m of average appearance, with spiritless eyes and poorly proportioned features, without the least bit of refinement. However you slice it, I just don’t look like someone who’s blessed. If God didn’t preordain it to be so, people can pursue as much as they like, it won’t be of any use!” Look at these people’s mentality: With so many hideous things in their hearts yet to be resolved, how can they embark on the road of pursuing the truth? Pursuing the truth is the greatest matter in life, and the worst thing you can do is always link it to gaining blessings. One must first resolve their intent to gain blessings. After that, pursuing the truth will go a bit more smoothly. When it comes to the pursuit of the truth, the most critical thing is not to look at whether there are many people on this path, and not to follow what the majority chooses, but to focus only on striving to meet God’s requirements, emulating Peter. The most important thing is to see the present clearly and to live in it, to know what corrupt disposition it is that currently pours forth from you, and to immediately and at once seek the truth to resolve it, first analyzing it and knowing it thoroughly, and then repenting to God. When you repent, putting the truth into practice is of the utmost importance—it is the only way to achieve real results. If you just say to God, “God, I am willing to repent. I am sorry. I was wrong. Please, forgive me!” and think that this is all you need to do in order to gain God’s approval, will that work? (No.) If you are always willing to say to God, “God, I’m sorry. I was wrong,” hoping, as you do, that God will say, “It’s okay. Carry on”—if you always live in this kind of condition, you will be unable to enter into the truth. So, how should you pray and repent to God? Is there a path? Whoever has experience of this may speak a bit about it. No one? It appears that normally, you never make prayers of repentance, nor do you confess your sins and repent to God. So, how should you let go of your own wishes and intents? How should you resolve your corruption? Do you have a path of practice? To give an example, if you have no path for resolving an arrogant disposition, you should pray to God like this: “God, I have an arrogant disposition. I think that I’m stronger than others, better than others, smarter than others, and I want to make others do as I say. This is so devoid of sense. Why can’t I let go of it, even though I know it is arrogance? I beg that You discipline and reproach me. I am willing to let go of my arrogance and my own will to seek Your will instead. I am willing to listen to Your words, and to accept them as my life and the principles by which I act. I am willing to live out Your words. I beg that You guide me, I beg that You help me and lead me.” Is there an attitude of submission in these words? Is there a wish to submit? (Yes.) Some may say, “Just praying once doesn’t work. When something befalls me, I still live by my corrupt disposition, and I still want to be in charge.” In that case, continue praying: “God, I am so arrogant, so rebellious! I beg You to discipline me, to stop my evildoing in its tracks, and to restrain my arrogant disposition. I beg You to guide me and lead me, so that I may live out Your words, and act and practice according to Your words and Your requirements.” Come before God more in prayer and supplication, and let Him work. The more sincere your words are, and the more sincere your heart is, the greater your wish to forsake your flesh and yourself will become. When this overwhelms your wish to act according to your own will, your heart will gradually turn itself around—and when that happens, there will be hope for you to practice the truth and act according to the truth principles. When you pray, God will not say anything to you, or indicate anything to you, or promise you anything, but He will examine your heart and the intent behind your words; He will observe whether what you say is sincere and true, and whether you are supplicating and praying to Him with an honest heart. When God sees that your heart is honest, He will lead and guide you, as you asked and prayed for Him to do, and, of course, He will also rebuke and discipline you. When God fulfills that which you have supplicated for, your heart will be enlightened and somewhat changed. Conversely, if your prayers and supplications to God are insincere, and you have no true wish to repent, but are merely trying to perfunctorily appease God and fool Him with your words, then when God has examined your heart, He will do nothing for you, and He will detest and reject you. Under these circumstances, you will also not feel that God says anything to you, or does anything, or takes any action at all, but God will not do any work in you, because you are dishonest at heart. And when God does no work, what will happen? Just like you intended, your heart will lack the desire to repent, and it will not have turned around at all. And so, in that environment and in the event that has befallen you, what you do will still be dictated by human will and corrupt dispositions, rather than being based in the truth principles. You will still be acting and practicing according to what you want and desire. The outcome of your prayers to God will be the same as before you prayed; there will be no change. You will still do whatever you like, without turning yourself around at all. This means that, in the process of pursuing the truth, people’s subjective efforts are important, as is whether they understand the truth. At the same time, when people understand the truth and wish to practice it, but find it difficult to do so, they must rely on God, and offer up their hearts and their sincere prayers. That is also very important; these things are all indispensable. If all you do is pray to God in a cursory, superficial way, saying: “God, I was wrong. I’m sorry,” and if you are as perfunctory with God in your heart as you are in the words of your prayer, then God will do no work, nor will He pay attention to you. If you say, “God, I’m sorry. I was wrong,” God certainly will not say: “It’s okay.” Because of the cursory, superficial words you have spoken to Him, God will ask you: “In what way were you wrong? What do you intend to do? Will you repent? Will you abandon your evil and turn yourself around? Will you let go of your own will, intentions, and interests, and rush to turn yourself around? Can you make a resolution to turn yourself around?” You may not hear God asking you anything as this is happening, but if you say to God, “God, I’m sorry. I was wrong,” from God’s perspective, His attitude will be as I just said: He will question you with these words. How will He question you? He will go on to watch what you do and the choices you make after saying: “God, I’m sorry. I was wrong.” He will look to see if you have genuine repentance that is born from truly acknowledging and hating your own corruption. God will look to see what your attitude toward Him is, what your attitude toward the truth is, how you regard your own corrupt disposition and what views you have on it, and whether you intend to let go of your mistaken views and mistaken ways; He will look at your choices, at whether you choose to walk the road of pursuing the truth, at how you should act and the principles you ought to uphold going forward, at whether you can practice the truth and submit to Him. God will survey your every move, your every intention and choice, and as He does, He will look to see whether the things that you do after making those choices really are actions of repentance and you turning yourself around. That is the crucial issue.
Once people have chosen to repent, how are they to go about turning themselves around? By letting go of your wishes, your thoughts and views, and your old ways of doing things to practice the truth, and to truly change. That is what it means to truly turn yourself around. If you just claim to be willing to turn yourself around, but at heart, you are still clinging to your own wishes, abandoning the truth, and continuing with your old ways, then you are not truly turning yourself around. If all you say to God when you pray is “God, I’m sorry. I was wrong,” yet in all your behavior that follows, you still make choices, act, practice, and live according to your own will, running counter to the truth in all of these things, then from God’s perspective, how should you be defined? You have not turned yourself around. At the very least, He will say that you do not mean to turn yourself around. You may say to God, “God, I’m sorry. I was wrong,” but these are just cursory words, they are not repentance and confession that comes from the depths of your heart. They do not reflect an attitude of admitting fault and repenting; they are just empty words. God does not listen to what you say—He looks at what you are thinking, planning, and plotting. And when God sees that the basis and principles for your actions are still contrary to the truth, He will pass a true, real, and accurate verdict on you. He will say, “You have not turned yourself around, and you are not turning yourself around.” And when God says this, when God passes this verdict on you, He will no longer concern Himself with you. And when God does not concern Himself with you, your heart will be dark in the ensuing days, and you will lack enlightenment and illumination in all that you do, and you will not be at all aware when you pour forth a corrupt disposition, nor will you be disciplined for it. You will go on, numb and dull, and you will feel hollow, and that you have nothing to rely on. Worst of all, you will continue to indulge in your arbitrary, reckless behavior, and you will continue to let your corrupt disposition swell and grow unchecked. That is what will happen. What will be the ultimate consequence of a person acting in this way? When a person forsakes the truth, the consequence they bring upon themselves is that God will not concern Himself with them. Though God may not say anything or clearly indicate anything to you, you will be able to feel it. Based on your thoughts and ideas, your real states, and your attitude toward the truth, it will be clear that your overall condition is one of numbness, dullness, intransigence, and other such manifestations. These things are reflected in people. So, after comparing your real lives and the things that you practice to this, you may want to study or investigate the following: When you have not turned back toward God at all, you may say a great deal of nice-sounding, sweetened words to Him, but what sort of state and condition are you in when you do so? And when you have truly turned yourself around, though you may not pray to God with sweetened or nice-sounding words, and just speak a little from your heart, what sort of state and condition are you in then? The two states are entirely different. God may not clearly indicate anything to people in their daily lives or speak to them in obvious words, but people should be able to feel the work of the Holy Spirit, and everything that He does, and every will that He wishes to express, in their daily lives. Naturally, observers can detect these things, too. A person who was numb and dim-witted may suddenly become smart, or a person who is usually smart may suddenly become numb, dim-witted, and useless. These two conditions or states can occur at the same time in one person, or in different people—this is something that happens quite often. From this, one can see that in many cases, a person being smart or foolish is not about their brain, thoughts, or caliber; it is determined by God. Is that clear? (Yes.) You will never understand these things until you have experienced them. Once you have experienced them, you will know—the deeper your experience of them, the more thorough your understanding will be, and the deeper your appreciation of them will be. God’s will is in His actions; He will not give you an obvious indication of it, nor will He explicitly tell you about it or speak of it to you, but this does not mean that He has no stance on you. It does not mean that God has no views on any of the thoughts, ideas, states, or attitudes that you have. When somebody harbors their own personal intentions and plans when something befalls them, when they clearly pour forth a corrupt disposition—these are exactly the moments when they need to reflect on themselves and seek the truth, and these are also critical moments when God examines that person. Therefore, whether you are able to seek the truth, accept the truth, and truly repent—these are the moments that most reveal a person. At such times, you should admit that you have a corrupt disposition and be willing to truly repent. You should make a sincere declaration to God, rather than being offhanded with Him by saying, “God, I’m sorry. I was wrong.” What God needs from you is not your offhandedness, but an attitude of sincere repentance. If you have difficulties, God will help you, guide you, and lead you step-by-step in turning yourself around, toward the path of accepting and pursuing the truth. Of course, if your repentance merely exists in words, or if you intend to repent and wish to let go of your intents and desires, but you are not sincere about it and do not have the will to do so, God will not force you. When it comes to God, there is no “must” in His attitude toward man; God gives you freedom and God gives you a choice, and He is waiting. What is He waiting for? He is waiting to see what choice you end up making and whether you intend to repent. If you intend to repent, when are you going to do it? How will your repentance manifest? If you intend to repent and are willing to do so, yet you still try to protect your own interests when you act, and you still do not wish to lose your status, then it is clear to see that you are not genuinely repentant, that you are not sincere about it. You just slightly wish to repent, but you are not truly repentant. Will God work in you if you merely intend to repent but are not genuinely repentant? He will not. He will say, “Well, when do you intend to repent?” You will not know. Will God ask you again? No—He will say, “So, you are not genuinely repentant, then. I’ll just wait, then.” You may not intend to repent, you may be unwilling to repent, or to let go of your status and your interests. Fine, then. God gives you freedom, and you can make any choice you like. God will not force you. But there is one fact for you to consider, like the Ninevites, if you do not turn yourself around and repent, what will come of it? You will be destroyed. If, at present, you merely intend to repent, but have taken no real action toward repenting, then God will not concern Himself with you. Why will He not concern Himself with you? God says, “You are not genuine, you do not declare where you stand, and your heart is still wavering.” After a moment’s thought, you may say that you are willing to repent, but that is just a thought of yours, a hollow statement, without any action or any concrete plan. That is why God says, “I will just brush people like you to the side. You are of no concern to Me. Do as you will!” When one day, you realize, “Oh no, I need to repent,” how should you go about it? God will not be fooled by those words of yours and go blindly to work, saying, “He intends to repent, so now I have to bless him, don’t I?” God will not do that. What will He do? He will examine you. You intend to repent, you wish to repent, and your demand for it is a bit stronger than before, but who knows how long it will be before you actually do it. If you haven’t made concrete steps or have no concrete plan to practice repentance, that is not true repentance. You must take real action. Once you have taken real action, God’s work will follow. Are there not principles to God’s work and to His treatment of people? When God goes to work, a person gains enlightenment, their eyes shine, they are able to understand the truth and enter into reality, and their gains multiply by a hundredfold, a thousandfold. Once this happens, you are truly blessed. So, what foundation must people build upon in order to achieve these things? (The ability to truly repent.) That is right. When people truly let go of their own interests and desires, when they genuinely repent to God—meaning that they stop their evildoing in its tracks; and let go of their evil, and their desires and intentions; and confess to God; and accept God’s requirements and His words—they will then begin to enter into the reality of turning themselves around. Only this is true repentance.
We just fellowshiped on problems that are frequently found in the course of man’s pursuit of the truth, and problems that those who pursue the truth can recognize and come to know. They are the very problems that ought to be resolved. We may not have explained or dissected these problems too much in the past, we may not even have come to any clear conclusions about them, but regarding each of the steps that man experiences in the process of pursuing the truth, and the different behaviors and states that they have during this process, God has corresponding words and work, and He has relevant ways and methods of approaching and resolving them. People can experience and understand a bit of all these things; they should not misunderstand God, or harbor any notions or imaginings about God that do not fit with reality. Moreover, God gives people sufficient freedom and sufficient agency to make choices regarding every step, every way of acting, and every way of practicing that is involved in the pursuit of the truth—He does not compel people. And though these words and requirements are printed in text and spoken of in clear, precise language, still, it is up to every person to make their own free choice as to how they will approach these truths. God does not force people. If you are willing to pursue the truth, then you have hope of being saved. If you are unwilling to pursue the truth, if you do not care about these truths and dismiss them, if you are not interested at all in these ways of practicing the pursuit of the truth—that is fine, too. God will not force you. It is fine, too, if you are merely willing to labor for God. So long as you do not violate the principles, God’s house will let you make your own choice. Although the pursuit of the truth is inextricably linked to attaining salvation and closely connected to it, there is still no shortage of people who are uninterested in pursuing the truth, who have no thoughts about it or intention to do it, nor any plans to. Are these people condemned, then? Not exactly. If these people meet with the requirements of God’s house in the performance of their duties, they can continue performing their duties there. God’s house will not strip you of your right to perform a duty because you do not pursue the truth. But performing one’s duty in this way has, to this day, been classified as “laboring.” “Laboring” is a nice way of putting it, it is the term that God’s house uses, but in fact, it could also simply be called “performing a job.” Some of you may be saying, “When you do a job, you get paid wages.” Yes, you can get wages for doing a job. So, what are your wages? All of the graces that God has given you—those are your wages. And as for the pursuit of the truth, whatever you intend to do, or plan to do, or wish to do, I can tell you clearly now that you are free. You can pursue the truth, that is fine; if you do not, that is fine, too. But the last thing I will tell you is that one can only be saved through pursuing the truth. If you do not pursue the truth, your hope of being saved is nil. That is the fact I would tell you. You must be told this fact, so that it is clearly, expressly, precisely, and distinctly seared into your hearts—so that you may know clearly in your hearts what foundation it is that hope of salvation is built upon. If you are content just to labor, thinking, “Things are fine if I can just perform my duty and not get expelled from God’s house; I don’t have to bother myself with something as hard as pursuing the truth,” will this view of yours stand? Although you still believe in God now, or perform a duty, are you confident that you can follow God unto the end? No matter what, pursuing the truth is a great matter in life, it is more important than marrying and having children, than raising your sons and daughters, than living your life and making your fortune. It is even more important than performing a duty and pursuing a future in God’s house. When all is said and done, pursuing the truth is the most significant thing on a person’s life path. If you have not as yet developed an interest in the pursuit of the truth, no one will pass a verdict on you and say that you will not pursue the truth in the future. I, too, will not pass a verdict on you and say that if you do not pursue the truth now, you will never do it in the future. That is not what is happening. There is no such logical relationship; this is not the fact. No matter what, I do hope that in the near future, or even in this very moment, you can embark on the path of pursuing the truth, and become people who pursue the truth, and number among those who have hope of salvation.
Pursuing the truth is directly related to attaining salvation, so the subject of pursuing the truth is not a small one. Though it may be a common topic, it touches on very many truths. In fact, this subject is closely bound up with man’s prospects and destiny, and though we fellowship about it often, people are still not very clear on the various truths and problems that they need to understand regarding the pursuit of the truth. Instead, in a muddled way, they just take various behaviors and approaches that people regard as good, as well as some thoughts and views that people see as relatively active, upward-looking, and positive, and pursue them as the truth. This is a terrible mistake. There are many things which people see as good, right, and correct that, to put it accurately, are not the truth. Some of them may, at the very most, accord with the truth, but one cannot say that they are the truth. Most people have profound misunderstandings about the pursuit of the truth, and they harbor quite a few erroneous understandings and biases toward it. That is why it is necessary for us to fellowship on this clearly, and to make people understand the truths within it that they ought to understand and the problems that they ought to resolve. Do you have any thoughts about the specific content relating to the pursuit of the truth that we just fellowshiped on? Do you have any plans or intentions? Now that we have given a more specific definition of what it means to pursue the truth through our fellowship, many people are a bit puzzled about the things they used to do and pour forth, as well as what they intend to do in the future. They are upset, and some even feel that they have no hope, and that they are in danger of being cast out. If the truth has been fellowshiped on clearly, and yet people feel listless, is their state correct? Is it normal? (No, it’s not normal.) If you had pursued the truth before and received confirmation of that by listening to this fellowship, would you not feel more energized? (Yes.) So why would people feel listless? What is the root of that listlessness? The more transparently and clearly the truth is fellowshiped on, the more of a path people ought to have—so why, if people possess more of a path, would they feel more listless? Is there not a problem here? (There is.) What problem? (If someone knows that it’s good to pursue the truth but is unwilling to pursue it, it’s because they do not love the truth.) People do not love the truth or intend to pursue it—that is why they feel listless. And what of their previous actions? (They are condemned.) “Condemned” is not quite the right word—to put it precisely, their previous actions have not been recognized. What sort of outcome is that, to not have one’s actions recognized? What is happening, when one’s actions go unrecognized? What does it mean? That is simple—if a person’s actions are not recognized, it shows that they are not pursuing the truth, and that they are instead pursuing things that man regards as right and good, and that they are still living by their notions and imaginings. Is this not what is happening? (It is.) That is what is happening. When people’s actions are not recognized by God, they feel upset. At such times do they not have something of a positive and correct path of practice? Would it be right for someone to become negative, to abandon their duty, and to give up themselves as hopeless just because their actions were not recognized? Is that the right path of practice? (No.) It is not the right path of practice. When something like this befalls a person, and they discover their own problems, they should promptly reverse their course. If you discover, through our fellowship about what it means to pursue the truth, that your previous actions and behaviors had nothing to do with the pursuit of the truth, then regardless of whether it upsets you or not, the first thing you should do is reverse your old, mistaken ways and methods of practice, as well as the incorrect path of your pursuit. You should reverse those things right away. When their previous actions are dismissed and not recognized by God, when God says that these actions were just labor, and that they have nothing to do with pursuing the truth, some people will think, “Oh, we humans are indeed foolish and blind. We don’t understand the truth and cannot see things for what they are—and this whole time, we believed that we were practicing the truth, and pursuing the truth, and satisfying God. Only now do we learn that the things we did in our so-called ‘pursuit of the truth’ were just good human behaviors—they were just things that people do based on the various instinctive abilities, calibers, and talents of their flesh. They are far removed from the essence, definition, and requirements of the pursuit of the truth; they simply have nothing to do with it. What should we do about this?” This is a major problem, and it should be resolved. What is the way to resolve this? The question has been raised: Given that the behaviors and approaches that people previously held to be good have uniformly been dismissed, and God does not remember them, nor has He defined them as the pursuit of the truth—what, then, is the pursuit of the truth? To answer this, one must carefully pray-read the definition of the pursuit of the truth, and find a way to practice from that definition, and turn it into the reality of their life. People did not practice the pursuit of the truth in the past, so from now on they must take the definition of the pursuit of the truth as their basis, and as the foundation of their comportment. So, what is the definition of the pursuit of the truth? It is this: To view people and things, and to comport oneself and act, wholly according to God’s words, with the truth as one’s criterion. This could not be put more clearly or explicitly. What were all of man’s previous actions and behaviors? Were they in accordance with God’s words, with the truth as their criterion? Think back—were they? (No.) It may be said that such actions and behaviors are found once in a blue moon, they are virtually nowhere to be found. So, has man truly achieved nothing at all in so many years of believing in God, and reading and fellowshiping of His words? Have people not practiced a single thing according to God’s words? What is the definition, “To view people and things, and to comport oneself and act, wholly according to God’s words, with the truth as one’s criterion,” that we spoke of here directed at? What problem is it meant to resolve? Which of man’s problems and which aspects of the essence of man’s disposition is it directed at? People may now understand the definition of pursuing the truth, but when it comes to why their previous actions were not recognized, and why they were defined as not being the pursuit of the truth, these things remain unclear, incomprehensible, and obscure to them. Some will say, “We have given up so much since we accepted the name of God: We gave up our families and our work, and we abandoned our prospects. Some of us resigned from good jobs; some of us abandoned happy families; some of us had great careers that were well-paid with boundless prospects, and let go of it all. These are the things that we’ve renounced. Since coming to believe in God, we have learned to be humble, patient, and tolerant. We do not get into arguments with others when we interact with them, we do our best to handle any matters that come up in the church, and we do our utmost to lovingly assist our brothers and sisters whenever they have any difficulties. We avoid inflicting harm upon others and we avoid damaging the interests of other people as much as possible. Do these approaches really have nothing to do with pursuing the truth?” Think carefully, now: What are man’s renunciations, expenditure, exertions, tolerance, patience, and even suffering related to? How are these things achieved? What are they based upon? What motivating force drives people to do these things? Reflect on this. Are these things not worthy of deep thought? (They are.) Well, since they are worthy of deep thought, let us explore and investigate them today; let us see whether or not these things that man has always held to be good, right, and noble have anything to do with the pursuit of the truth.
We will begin by looking at man’s renunciations, exertions, and the prices that man pays. Regardless of the context or environment of these renunciations, exertions, and prices, where does the prime motivating force for these things come from? In My summation, there are two sources. The first is when people, in their ideas and notions, think, “If you believe in God, you should renounce, and expend yourself, and pay a price for Him. God likes it when people do that. He doesn’t like it when people indulge in comfort and pursue worldly things, or when they remain indifferent and continue living their own lives after they have claimed to accept His name, and become His followers. God doesn’t like it when people do that.” In terms of people’s subjective will, this thought is a certainty. Whatever someone’s reason for accepting God and His new work, their subjective will agrees to act in this way, believing that God only likes it when people act like that, and that they will only receive God’s happiness and satisfaction by acting in this way. They think that so long as people assiduously struggle and make an effort, and exert without asking for anything in return, and that so long as people disregard their own weal or woe to pay a price, and keep exerting, and paying a price, and expending and offering themselves up to God, then God will surely be happy. And so, once someone believes this, they bow their head without a second thought, and regardless of all else, they renounce everything they can renounce, and offer up everything they can offer up, and endure any suffering that they can endure. People carry out these approaches, but have any of them raised their heads to ask God, “God, are the things that I’m doing what You need? God, do You recognize my expenditures, my exertions, my suffering, and the prices I’ve paid?” People never ask this of God, and without knowing what God’s reaction or His attitude is, they go on optimistically exerting, and offering up, and expending themselves, believing that God will only be happy and satisfied if they suffer in this way. Some people go so far as to give up eating dumplings, fearing that God would be unhappy if they did. Instead, they eat steamed cornbread, believing that eating dumplings is indulging in comfort. They only feel at ease when they are eating steamed cornbread, stale flatbreads, and pickled vegetables, and when they feel at ease, they think that God must surely be satisfied. They mistake their own feelings, their own joy, sorrow, anger, and happiness for God’s feelings, for His joy, sorrow, anger, and happiness. Is that not absurd? Many people treat things that man holds to be correct as the truth, and they impose them upon God, describing them as God’s requirements of man, because that is what all people believe. And so long as people hold such a belief, it is very likely and natural that they will unconsciously characterize those statements and behaviors and approaches as the truth. And as people have determined that those things are the truth, they will think that they must be the principles of practice that man is required to abide by, and that if someone practices and abides by them in this way, they are practicing God’s words, pursuing the truth, and, of course, doing His will. And since people are “doing God’s will,” are their hardships not worthwhile? Are they not paying this price correctly? Is this not something that God is satisfied by and remembers? People would think that it certainly is. This is the distance and distinction between what man believes to be the “truth” and God’s words. People uniformly categorize everything that, in their notions and imaginings, accords with human moral character and is good, noble, correct as the truth, and then they go on to act and endeavor to practice in that direction, while making strict demands of themselves. They believe that they are thus pursuing the truth, that they are nothing short of a person who pursues the truth, and that, of course, they are also absolutely someone who can be saved. The fact is that God’s words and the truth have nothing to do with those things that people hold in their notions to be good, right, and positive. Yet even as people read and hold God’s words in their hands, they take everything that—in their notions—is good, right, beautiful, kind, positive, and advocated for by man to be the truth, to be positive things, and they tirelessly pursue them, not only requiring themselves to pursue and achieve them, but also that others pursue and achieve them. People tirelessly mistake things that man sees as good for the truth, and then they pursue according to the standards and direction demanded by those things, and thus believe that they are already pursuing the truth and living out the truth reality. This is one facet of the mistaken understandings that people have about the pursuit of the truth. This mistaken understanding is people taking what they believe—in their notions—to be good, right, and positive as their standards, superseding God’s requirements of man, and the demands and standards of His words. People mistake these things that they believe to be right and good in their notions for the truth, and not just that—they abide by these things and pursue them, too. Is this not a problem? (It is.) It is a problem with man’s thoughts and views. What are people motivated by, when they do these things? What is the root cause that leads them to have these ideas and mistaken understandings? The root cause is that people believe God likes these things, so they impose them upon Him. For instance, traditional culture tells people to be diligent and thrifty; diligence and thriftiness are human merits. “You have to endure great suffering in order to come out on top,” is another such merit, as is, “Do as your master commands, or you won’t gain anything from even your most painstaking efforts,” and other such ideas. In every race and group, people believe that everything they regard as good, right, positive, active, and upward-facing is the truth, and they treat these things as the truth, supplanting all of the truths that God has expressed. They mistake things that man firmly believes, which are of Satan, for the truth and the standards of God’s requirements. They point their pursuit toward the ideals, directions, and goals that they imagine and believe to be right. This is a terrible mistake. These things that come from man’s notions and imaginings are not at all in line with God’s words, and they are entirely contrary to the truth.
I will give a few examples of people mistaking things that, in their notions, they hold to be good and right for the truth, so that this idea will not be so abstract, and you will be able to understand it. For instance: Some women stop wearing makeup and jewelry after coming to believe in God. They set their makeup and jewelry aside, thinking that believers in God ought to behave themselves, and that they cannot wear makeup or dress up. Some people own cars but do not drive them, they ride bicycles instead. They think that driving is indulging in comfort. Some people have the means to eat meat, but do not do so, thinking that if they always ate meat, and a time came when circumstances did not allow them to eat it anymore, they would become negative and weak, and betray God. So, they learn to suffer without it preemptively. Others think that, as a believer in God, they must appear well-behaved, so they take stock of their flaws and bad habits, and they work hard to alter their tone of speaking, they restrain their temper, and they do their best to make themselves refined, and not vulgar. They think that once a person has come to believe in God, they must restrict and restrain themselves, that they must be a good person in the eyes of others and well-behaved. They think that in doing so, they are paying a price, satisfying God, and practicing the truth. Some people get dressed up and go out shopping from time to time, and feel guilty when they do so. They think that now they believe in God, they cannot wear makeup and get dressed up, and that they cannot wear nice clothes. They believe that if they do their makeup, dress up, and wear nice clothes, God will loathe and dislike it. They believe that God likes primitive humankind, that God does not like industry, or modern science, or any trends. They think that they are only pursuing the truth if they let go of the pursuit of these things. Is this not a warped comprehension? (It is.) Have these people read God’s words carefully? Have they taken His words as the truth? (No.) And since they have not taken God’s words as the truth, are they pursuing the truth? (No.) That is why these approaches and manifestations are simply people mistaking things that they hold in their notions to be right and good for the truth, and using those things to supplant the truth. They optimistically practice these things, after which they think that they are pursuing the truth, and that they are people who possess the truth reality. For example, there are people who have not watched a television show, or watched the news, or even gone out shopping since they came to believe in God. They have slept many nights in haystacks and spent many days staying beside kennels because they have been spreading the gospel and performing their duties. They have gotten many stomachaches from eating cold food, they have lost many pounds and suffered a lot from lack of sleep and a meager diet. They know all of these things very well, they tally them up, one by one. Why do they keep such clear records of these things? The reason is that they believe these behaviors and approaches are practicing the truth and satisfying God, and that if they achieve all of these good behaviors, God will approve of them. And so, people do not complain, and they practice these things without hesitation. They never tire of harking on about them, and replaying them, and recalling them, and their hearts feel very full. And yet, when they meet with God’s trials, when the environment that He arranges is not as they wish it to be, when what He requires of them and His actions do not conform to their notions, then the things that these people hold to be right, as well as the prices that they pay and their practices, will be of no use at all. These things will not help them, in even the slightest way, to submit to God or to know Him within the environments they are faced with. On the contrary, they will become stumbling blocks and obstacles to them entering into the reality of God’s words and submitting to God. The reason for this is that people have never learned that the things they believe to be right are fundamentally not the truth, and that what they practice is not the pursuit of the truth. What, then, do people stand to gain from these things? Merely a kind of good behavior. People will not gain the truth and the life from them. And yet they mistakenly believe that these good behaviors are the truth reality, and they feel even more resolved in their determination that these things that they hold to be right in their notions are the truth and positive things, and consequently, that determination takes root in their hearts. The more that people worship and blindly believe in these things which they hold to be right in their notions, the more they reject the truth, and the further they grow from God’s requirements and His words. And at the same time, the more prices that people pay, the more they think that they are gaining capital, and the more they believe that they are qualified to be saved and to receive God’s promise. Is this not a vicious cycle? (It is.) What is the root of this problem? What is the main culprit? (People mistaking their notions for positive things and supplanting God’s words with them.) People replace God’s words with their own notions, they put God’s words aside, and they essentially ignore them. In other words, they do not take God’s words to be the truth at all. It is safe to say that people, after coming to believe in God, may read God’s words, yet what they pursue, choose, and practice is still based on man’s notions and imaginings, and they have not embarked on the path of belief in God according to His words and requirements. Where, exactly, does the problem of people believing in God based on their own notions and imaginings stem from? From where do man’s notions and imaginings arise? Where do they come from? It can be said that they primarily come from traditional culture, and from man’s inheritance, as well as from the conditioning and influence of the religious world. Man’s notions and imaginings are directly related to these things.
What other things do people, in their thoughts and views, believe to be good, right, and positive? You can go ahead and name a few, as examples. People often say, “The good have peaceful lives,” and “Guileless people ever prevail”—these are a few, no? (They are.) And there are also: “Good is repaid with good, and evil with evil; if not today, it’s on its way,” “Persisting in evil brings about self-destruction,” “Whom God would destroy, He first drives mad,” “You have to endure great suffering in order to come out on top,” “Other pursuits are small, books excel them all,” and so on. All this nonsense is sickening. I become seized with fury when I hear such words, yet people say them so easily. Why can they say these words so easily? Why is it that I cannot seem to say them? I do not like these words, these sayings. The fact that you have them at the ready, that they flow right off your tongues, and the way that you recite them so smoothly prove that you especially adore and worship these things. You worship these empty, illusory, unreal things, and at the same time, you take them as your mottos, and as the principles, criteria, and basis for your actions. And then, you even think that God also believes these things, and that His words are just a different approach to these same ideas, and that these things are the general meaning of His words: a call for people to be good. Is this view correct? Are these things the meaning of God’s words and the truths that He expresses? Not at all; what God means has nothing to do with these things. Therefore, people’s attitude toward the truth must be reversed, and their recognition of the truth needs to be corrected—which means that the standard by which they position the truth needs to be corrected and reversed. Otherwise, it will be hard for them to accept the truth, and they will have no way to embark on the path of pursuing it. What is the truth? Broadly speaking, all of God’s words are the truth. More specifically, then—what is the truth? I have told you before. What did I say? (“The truth is the criterion for people’s comportment, actions, and worship of God” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Eight (Part Three)).) That is right. The truth is the criterion for people’s comportment, actions, and worship of God. So, does the truth have anything to do with the things that people, in their notions, believe to be right and good? (It does not.) Where do those human things come from? (From Satan’s philosophy for living, and from some thoughts that are instilled in man by traditional culture.) That is right. To be precise, these things stem from Satan. And who are the eminent, famous people who instilled these things in man? Are they not Satan? (They are.) All those patriarchs of yours are Satan—they are Satan, living and breathing. Just look at those sayings that Chinese people espouse: “What a joy it is, when a friend comes from afar,” “Once you have arrived, you might as well stay,” “Do not travel far while your parents yet live,” “Filial piety is a virtue to be held above all else,” “Of the three filial impieties, having no heir is the worst,” “Respect the dead,” “When a person draws close to death, their words are true and kind.” Analyze these words carefully—are any of them the truth? (No.) They are all nonsense and fallacies. Tell Me, how foolish must people be to mistake these fallacies and nonsense for the truth after they have accepted God’s work? Do these people have the ability to comprehend the truth? (No.) Such people are absurd types and they are entirely incapable of comprehending the truth. And you—having now read so many of God’s words, do you not possess a bit of knowledge of the truth? (We do.) Where does the truth come from? (It comes from God.) The truth comes from God. Do not believe any words that are not spoken by God. Those satanic philosophies for living and those ideas from traditional culture are not the truth, and one must not view people and things, or comport themselves and act according to them, or with such things as their criteria, because they do not come from God. So long as something comes from man, it does not matter whether it is from traditional culture or some famous person, or whether it is a product of learning or society, or what dynasty or race of people it hails from—it is not the truth. Yet these are precisely the things that people take to be the truth, that they pursue and practice in lieu of the truth. And all the while, they think that they are practicing the truth and that they are close to satisfying God’s will, when in fact, exactly the opposite is true: When you pursue and practice based on these things, you grow ever further from God’s requirements and ever further from the truth.
It is inherently absurd for people to mistake things that man sees as good and positive for the truth, and to pursue them as though they were the truth. How is it that people who have accepted God’s work and read many of His words can still persist in mistaking those things that man sees as good for the truth, and pursuing them as though they were the truth? What is the problem here? This suffices to show that people do not understand what the truth is, and that they have no real knowledge of the truth. This is one factor in the question that I just asked: “Given that these things are not the truth, how can people go on practicing them and think that they are practicing the truth?” I will speak about another factor, one that touches on man’s corrupt disposition. People believe that the things they hold to be good, right, and positive in their notions are the truth, and upon this foundation, they form a plot, believing that when they have satisfied God and God is happy, He will bestow upon them the blessings that He has promised man. Is this plot not an attempt to strike a deal with God? (It is.) In one respect, people uphold and pursue these things while harboring an incorrect, absurd understanding, and at the same time, they try to strike a deal with God with their own desires and ambitions. Is that not another factor? (It is.) We have frequently fellowshiped about this factor in the past, so we will not speak on it in detail now. So, I ask you: When someone who believes in God renounces, suffers, expends themselves, and pays prices for God, do they not have an intent and goal in doing so? (They do.) Is there anyone who says, “I desire nothing and ask for nothing. I will renounce, and expend myself, and pay a price, no matter what the circumstances are. That is all there is to it. I do not have any personal desires and ambitions. However God treats me is fine. He may reward me, He may not—in any case, I’ve acted in accordance with His requirements, I’ve offered myself up, I’ve renounced everything, I’ve paid a price and suffered”? Are there such people? (No.) To date, a person like this has not been born. Some may say, “A person like that would have to live in a vacuum.” Even if a person lived in a vacuum, they would not be like this: They would still have a corrupt disposition and ambitions and desires, and they would still attempt to strike a deal with God. So, the second factor in this question is that once people treat things that they, in their notions, believe to be right as the truth, they form a plot. And what is that plot? To practice these things in order to exchange them for the blessings that God has promised man, and for a beautiful destination. They believe that so long as something is regarded by man as positive, it must be right, so they do and pursue whatever they believe to be right, and they think that by practicing in this way, they are bound to be blessed by God. That is man’s plot. This second factor purely concerns people trying to satisfy their own ambitions and desires and attempting to strike a deal with God. If you do not believe this, try forbidding people from making deals, and strip them of their desires and ambitions—have them let go of their desires and ambitions. They will immediately lose the energy to suffer and pay prices. Why will they lose the energy to do these things? Because they will feel that they have lost their prospects and their destiny, that there is no longer any hope of them being blessed, and that they have nothing to gain. What they practice is not the truth, and what they pursue is not the truth, but things that they imagine to be positive, and yet, when their desires and ambitions are dashed, they are no longer willing to even pay forth these things. Tell Me, what do people have? Do they have true faith? (They do not.) To take this a step further, are people loyal? Some may say, “Whatever God says now, we follow Him. No matter what He says, we do not become negative or discouraged, and we do not back down, much less do we give up. Even if God doesn’t want us, and He says that we are service-doers and laborers, that we are not people who pursue the truth, and that we have no hope of being saved, we will still follow Him without hesitation and persist in performing our duties. Is that not loyalty? Is that not having faith? Is being loyal and having faith not the same as pursuing the truth? Does it not mean that we are pursuing the truth, to some extent?” Tell Me, is that pursuing the truth? (No.) What does it mean, to say that it is not pursuing the truth? It means that all of man’s “lifelines” have been sealed off, that they do not even have any straws to clutch at. What is to be done then? Is there anything that can be done? Regardless of whether there is anything they can do about it or not, how do people feel after hearing this? They feel extremely disappointed: “Does this really mean that I have no hope of being blessed? What on earth is happening?” People completely lose their bearings in these circumstances. Now that My words have stripped you of all your “lifelines,” I will see where you go from here. Some say, “It’s not right to labor, or to try to strike deals, or to have warped understandings, or to suffer and pay a price—so what on earth is the right thing to do? Whatever God says, we will not leave Him. We will keep on performing our duties. Does that not amount to practicing the truth?” This question must be understood clearly. Because people do not understand the truth and always harbor warped understandings of what it means to practice the truth, they believe that renouncing, expending, suffering, and paying prices is practicing the truth and submitting to God. This is a terrible error. To practice the truth is to practice God’s words, but people must practice them with principles—they absolutely must not do so based on man’s notions and imaginings. What God wants is a sincere heart, a God-loving heart, and a heart that satisfies Him. Only practicing God’s words in this way is practicing the truth. If one always wishes to strike a deal with God when they expend themselves for Him, and to satisfy their own ambitions and desires, they are not practicing the truth, they are playing games with it and trampling on it, and they are a hypocrite. So, if someone is able to accept God’s words of judgment, and does not leave God and persists in performing their duty despite having their intents and desires to gain blessings dashed, and despite having nothing to look forward to and nothing to motivate them, does this amount to pursuing and practicing the truth? As I see it, if we measure this based on the definition of what it means to pursue the truth, then this is still not pursuing the truth, and it falls entirely short of the standard of pursuing the truth. Now that we have an accurate definition of the pursuit of the truth, we should strictly adhere to it when evaluating people’s actions, conduct, and manifestations. What evaluation can be made based on someone’s ability to remain with God and persist in performing their duty, though they have no blessings to look forward to? That people, as created beings, are born with two commendable things in their humanity, and that if you can make use of them, it will ensure that you—to the most minimal degree—follow God. Do you know what those two things are? (Conscience and reason.) Correct. There are two things that are most valuable within man’s humanity—when people do not understand the truth, when they have very poor caliber, and they are devoid of any knowledge or entry regarding God’s requirements and the truth, and they can still stand fast in their station, what is the basic precondition that allows them to achieve this? They must have the conscience and reason of normal humanity. The answer, then, is clear. Since people do not pursue the truth, and have no desire or ambition to be blessed, since they have been stripped of their desire to be blessed, if they can still follow God and fulfill their duties, on what basis do they do so? What is motivating them? There is no basis or motivation for their actions—so long as people possess the conscience and reason of normal humanity, they can do these things. This is how things stand now: You do not understand the truth, that is a fact—and your understanding of doctrines is useless, it does not mean that you have entered into the truth reality. You know that attempting to strike a deal with God in order to pursue prospects and destiny for yourself is wrong, but what would be really remarkable is if you were still happy to follow God and perform your duty after the pursuit of prospects and destiny, and the desire to be blessed have been condemned and stripped from you. If you were able to follow God without having gained the truth, what would that depend on? It would depend on your conscience and reason. A person’s conscience and reason can sustain their normal existence, life, and treatment of people and things. So, what is the gap between performing your duty based on your conscience and reason and practicing the truth? The manifestation of a person who pursues the truth is that they view people and things, and comport themselves and act, wholly according to God’s words, with the truth as their criterion, whereas those who just act based on their conscience and reason may not pursue the truth, but they can still labor, perform their duties, and remain in God’s house, without any bad marks on their record. What does that depend on? They view people and things, and they comport themselves and act, based on the criteria of their conscience and reason, rather than doing so according to God’s words, with the truth as their criterion. So, with that in mind, if you merely perform your duty based on your conscience and reason, is there not a gap between that and pursuing the truth? (There is.) To perform a duty based on one’s conscience and reason is to be content with just laboring; it is to take as one’s standards things such as laboring well, not causing disruptions or disturbances, obeying and submitting, possessing good behaviors and good relationships with other people, and having no bad marks on one’s record. Does that rise to the level of pursuing the truth? It does not. No matter how many good behaviors a person possesses, if they do not have any knowledge at all of their corrupt dispositions, nor any knowledge of their rebelliousness, notions, misconceptions about God, and their various negative states; and if it is impossible for them to resolve these things; if it is impossible for them to understand the principles of practicing the truth; and if not one of their outpourings of corrupt dispositions has been resolved; and if they are still arrogant and self-righteous, arbitrary and reckless, crooked and deceitful, and there are times when they even grow negative and weak and doubt God, and so on—if these things still exist within them, can they achieve true submission to God? If there are still these corrupt dispositions inside them, will they be able to truly experience God’s work? If a person merely possesses good behaviors, is that a manifestation of the pursuit of the truth? (It is not.) What are the best things in man? Merely man’s conscience and reason; these are the only two positive things, and they are what is commendable in man. However, neither of them is related to the truth; they are no more than the most basic preconditions for man’s pursuit of the truth, meaning that if you possess the normal conscience and reason of humanity, and you are able to understand the truth, you will be able to make the correct choices when things befall you. The conscience and reason that man possesses is this: God is the Lord of creation, and you are a created being; God has chosen you, so it is only right that you devote yourself and expend yourself for God, and it is only right that you listen to His words. This “only right” is determined by your conscience and reason—but have you listened to God’s words? What are the principles and methods behind your actions? You have a corrupt disposition—have you forsaken it? Have you resolved it? Such things have nothing to do with what is “only right.” If you do not go any further than this foundation of what is only right to do and how it is only right to act, and you live amid the parameters of what is “only right,” is that not an effect of your conscience and reason? (It is.) Your conscience tells you, “God has saved me, so I should expend myself for Him. God has saved my life and given me a second one, so it is only right that I repay His love. God is the Lord of creation, and I am a created being, so I ought to submit to His arrangements.” Is this not an effect of your conscience and reason? (It is.) The various behaviors, modes of practice, attitudes, and views that arise in people due to the effect of their conscience and reason go no further than the parameters of what their conscience and reason are naturally capable of, and they fall short of practicing the truth. Is that not so? (It is.) Some people may say, for instance, “God’s house has exalted me by allowing me to perform a duty, and God’s house feeds me, clothes me, and sees to my housing. God’s house takes care of every aspect of my life. I’ve enjoyed so much of God’s grace, so I should repay His love; I shouldn’t deceive God by being perfunctory in my duty, much less should I do anything disruptive or disturbing. I am willing to submit to whatever God’s house arranges for me. Whatever God’s house has me do, I won’t complain.” This kind of declaration is fine; is it not quite easy for someone with conscience and reason to do this? (It is.) Can it rise to the level of practicing the truth? (It cannot.) It falls short of practicing the truth. Therefore, no matter how noble of conscience or normal of reason someone is, or whether they are able to do everything under the governance of their conscience and reason, and regardless of how proper and decent their actions are, or how much others admire these actions, they go no further than being good human behaviors. They can only be classified within the realm of good human behaviors; they fundamentally fall short of being the practice of the truth. When you base your interactions with others on your reason, you will be a little more gentle in speech, and you will not attack others, or get angry, you will not suppress, or control, or bully, or seek leverage over other people, and so on—these are all things that can be achieved by the reason of normal humanity—but are they related to practicing the truth? No, they are not. They are things that can be achieved by man’s reason, and there is a certain distance between them and the truth.
Why do I say that acting based on one’s conscience and reason is unrelated to practicing the truth? I will give an example. Say that a person has been kind to you, and you are on good terms with them, and they accept God’s work of the last days, and then spread the gospel to you—which is the same as God using them to spread the gospel to you. After you have accepted God’s new work, you feel even more grateful toward them, and always wish to repay them. So, you give them a bit of leeway in whatever you do, and in whatever you say to them, you are always particularly polite. You are especially respectful, deferential, and tolerant toward them, and no matter what bad things they do, or whatever their character is like, you are patient and accommodating toward them, so much so that whenever they reach out to you for assistance when they are facing a challenge, you help them unconditionally. Why would you do this? What is affecting your actions? (My conscience.) This is done as an effect of your conscience. This effect of your conscience cannot be called positive or negative; all one can say is that you have a conscience and a bit of humanity, and that when someone is kind to you, you are grateful and repay them. From that perspective, you are an alright person. But if we were to measure this using the truth, we might come to a different conclusion. Suppose that one day, that person does evil and they are going to be cleared out by the church, and you still measure them using your conscience, and say, “They were the one who spread the gospel to me. I won’t forget their kindness as long as I live; if it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be where I am now. Even though they did evil today, I can’t expose them. Even though I saw that what they did was wrong, I can’t say so, because they have helped me so much. I may not be able to repay them, but I can’t attack them. If someone else wants to report them, they can go ahead, but I won’t. I can’t rub salt into their wounds—if I did, what sort of person would that make me? Wouldn’t it make me a person without a conscience? Isn’t a person without a conscience simply a beast?” What do you think? What is the effect that conscience has in circumstances like that? Is the effect that conscience has there not in violation of the truth? (It is.) We can see from this that sometimes, the effects of one’s conscience are constrained and influenced by their feelings, and as a result, their decisions conflict with the truth principles. As such, we can see one fact clearly: The effect of one’s conscience is inferior to the standard of the truth, and sometimes people violate the truth while acting based on their consciences. If you believe in God, but do not live by the truth, and instead act based on your conscience, can you do evil and resist God? You will truly be able to do some evil things—it absolutely cannot be said that it is never wrong to act based on one’s conscience. This shows that if one wishes to satisfy God and conform with His will, merely acting based on one’s conscience is greatly insufficient. One must act based on the truth in order to fulfill God’s demands. When you treat your conscience as the truth and regard it as superior to all else, where have you placed the truth, then? You have replaced it with your conscience; is that not resisting the truth? Is that not opposing the truth? If you live by your conscience, you can violate the truth, and to violate the truth is to resist God. There are many people who take their consciences as the standards for their speech and actions after coming to believe in God, and comport themselves based on their consciences, too. Is acting based on one’s conscience practicing the truth, or is it not? Can one’s conscience stand in for the truth? In what way, exactly, is acting based on one’s conscience different from acting based on the truth? Some people always insist on acting based on their consciences, and think that they are a person who pursues the truth. Is that view right? (It is not.) Can the feelings of a person’s conscience stand in for the truth? (They cannot.) What mistake are these people making? (Contravening the truth, which is resisting God.) That is right. They equate the feelings of their consciences with the truth, which makes them liable to violate the truth. This kind of person always views people and things, and comports themselves and acts based on the standard of their conscience, with their conscience as their criterion. They are entangled and controlled by their conscience, and at the same time, their reason is controlled by it too. If someone is controlled by their conscience, can they still seek the truth and practice according to it? They cannot. Can conscience stand in for the truth, then? It cannot. Some may ask, “Since we can’t use our consciences to measure how we treat other people, and we can’t treat our consciences as the truth, is it right to use the standards of our consciences to measure how we treat God?” This question is worthy of consideration. In any case, a person’s conscience cannot stand in for the truth. If you do not possess the truth and you approach God based on your conscience, that would be considered fine according to human standard, but you will not be able to achieve love or submission toward God by relying on this standard—at the very most, you will be able to avoid violating the truth or resisting God, which is quite good in itself. Some may say, “You don’t need to use your conscience with other people, and you don’t need to use your conscience with God, either.” Is that right, or not? From the perspective of doctrines and theory, it seems wrong, does it not? Then, use the truth to measure it—does it look right to you? Does God tell people to approach Him using their consciences? What does God require of man? How does He require man to approach Him? You may have a conscience, but are you sincere? If you have a conscience but are not sincere, that just will not do. What God requires is that man approaches Him with sincerity. It is written in the Bible, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30). What does God require? (That people love God with all their hearts, and with all their minds, and with all their souls.) What does God want from people? (Their sincerity.) Correct. Has God said, “You must love Me with your consciences and reason, and your instincts”? Did God say that? (No, He didn’t.) Why does God not say that? (Because conscience is not the truth.) What is conscience? (The lowest standard of humanity.) That is right, conscience and reason are the lowest and most basic standards of humanity. How can you tell whether a person is good, and whether they have humanity? How can you measure this? With what do you measure this? The lowest and most basic standard is whether that person has a conscience and reason. That is the standard by which you can measure whether a person possesses humanity. What, then, is the standard for measuring whether a person pursues the truth? You can tell if a person pursues the truth or not based on whether they have a conscience and reason—are these words the truth? Are they right? (No.) Then what is it God wants from man? (Sincerity.) God wants man’s sincerity. What is that sincerity made up of? What should one do to demonstrate sincerity? If one merely says when they pray that they offer their sincerity up to God, but afterward, they do not sincerely expend themselves for God or perform their duty loyally, is that sincerity? That is not sincerity—that is deception. So, what behavior is a manifestation of sincerity? What is the specific practice? Do you know? Is it not an attitude of submission toward God? (It is.) A person is only sincere if they have an attitude of submission. Is this not far superior to conscience? Man’s conscience and reason are not even close to sincerity, there is a distance between them. People’s consciences and reason are no more than the most basic conditions for maintaining their existence, their normal lives, and their relationships with other people. If people were to lose their consciences and reason, they would not be capable of existing, or having normal lives, or relationships with other people at even the most basic level. Just look at those people who have no conscience or reason, those evil people—would anyone in a group willingly interact with them? (No.) No one would willingly interact with them. What do people feel while interacting with them? Disgust, loathing—they may even feel afraid, constrained, and bound by them. Such people do not even possess the conscience and reason of normal humanity, and no one would willingly interact with them. Tell Me, would God save these people? (No.) If an evil person responds to anyone who offends them by saying: “Should the circumstances ever permit it, I’ll kill you—I’ll destroy you!” then regardless of whether they are actually capable of doing those things, does the fact that they could say such things not make them an evil person? (It does.) So, what sort of person are they, whose words invoke fear in others? Are they someone with conscience and reason? (No.) And do those without conscience and reason have humanity? (No.) Who would dare to interact with the sort of evil person that has no humanity? Do those evil people have normal relationships with other people? (They do not.) What is the condition of their relationships with other people? Everyone fears them, everyone is restricted and constrained by them—they wish to bully every person that they meet, and to punish everyone. Do such people have normal humanity? No one dares to interact with this sort of person, who does not possess conscience and reason. They cannot even live a normal human life, so they are no different from devils and beasts. In groups, they are always lashing out at others, punishing one person and then another. In the end, everyone keeps their distance from them, everyone avoids them. How frightening they must be! They are even incapable of normal human relationships and they cannot gain a foothold within a group—what sort of thing are they? Such people do not even possess humanity—can they pursue the truth? (No.) What sort of person has no humanity? Beasts, devils. God bestows the truths that He expresses upon humankind, not on beasts and devils. Only those with conscience and reason are fit to be called human. Tell Me again: Is being possessed of conscience and reason all that it takes for a person to completely live out normal humanity? One may say that there remains a gap, because people have corrupt dispositions. They must pursue the truth before they can get rid of their corrupt dispositions and live out normal humanity. Some may say, “I have conscience and reason. So long as I make sure to do no evil, I’ll possess the truth reality.” Is that right? If someone has conscience and reason, that does not mean that they are already pursuing the truth—and neither does the fact that they are living by their conscience and reason. So, what are conscience and reason, exactly? Man’s conscience and reason are merely the most basic markers and qualities of humanity that people must possess to pursue the truth. Living by these two things does not mean that a person is pursuing the truth, and less still does it prove that they possess the truth reality. From the example that I just spoke about, it can be seen that when one views people and things, and comports themselves and acts based on their conscience and reason, they are liable to violate the truth and the principles. They fall far short of the standard of doing those things according to God’s words, with the truth as one’s criterion. Therefore, no matter how much conscience you possess, and no matter how normal your reason is, if you cannot view people and things, and comport yourself and act according to God’s words, with the truth as your criterion, you are not pursuing the truth. Likewise, no matter how much you suffer and labor within the scope of the instincts of your conscience and reason, it cannot be said that you are pursuing the truth.
We just analyzed three things, all of which were biases and misunderstandings that people have about the pursuit of the truth. Tell Me, what were those three things? (The first was that people mistake things that they hold in their notions to be good, right, and positive for the truth, and use them as their standards—supplanting God’s requirements of man, and the requirements and standards of His words—after which, they pursue and practice those things. The second was that, upon the foundation of people clinging to fallacious understandings, they try to strike deals with God while harboring desires and ambitions. People believe that once they have satisfied God and God is happy, God will bestow His promise upon them. The third was that people believe that by comporting themselves and acting based on their consciences and reason, they are already practicing the truth.) Putting those three things aside, what exactly does it mean to pursue the truth? Let us return to our definition of the pursuit of the truth: “To view people and things, and to comport oneself and act, wholly according to God’s words, with the truth as one’s criterion.” These words are enough to make people understand what it means to pursue the truth and how to do so. We have already spoken a lot about what it means to pursue the truth. How, then, does one pursue it? We have fellowshiped a great deal about that, both right now and previously: Whether you are viewing people and things, or comporting yourself and acting, it must be according to God’s words, with the truth as your criterion. That is the pursuit of the truth. Anything else that is unrelated to these words is not the pursuit of the truth. Of course, if, “to view people and things, and to comport oneself and act, wholly according to God’s words, with the truth as one’s criterion,” is not directed at man’s corrupt dispositions, it does address some of man’s thoughts, views, and notions. And if it addresses these things, and it is meant to achieve the goal of enabling man to practice according to the truth principles, and to submit to God’s words and the truth, then naturally, that will be its ultimate effect. “To view people and things, and to comport oneself and act, wholly according to God’s words, with the truth as one’s criterion,” is quite clear and explicit. The path that it ultimately gives people enables them to cast off their biases in their practices, and to let go of their desires and ambitions. At the same time, people must not live in hiding behind a belief that they are superior, that they possess humanity, and conscience and reason, and use this to supplant the principle of practice of taking God’s words as one’s basis, and the truth as one’s criterion. Whatever justifications you have, whatever strengths and advantages you possess, they are not sufficient to supplant viewing people and things, and comporting yourself and acting according to God’s words, with the truth as your criterion. That is an absolute certainty. By contrast, if the starting point for your views on people and things, and your comportment and actions is completely according to God’s words, with the truth as your principles of practice, then you are practicing the truth. Otherwise, you are not. In sum, people living amid human notions and imaginings, acting with the intent to strike deals, or constantly supplanting the pursuit of the truth and its practice with the belief that they possess a great deal of good moral conduct—such approaches are all foolish. None of them are manifestations of the pursuit of the truth, and ultimately, the outcome of these foolish approaches will be that people do not understand the truth, that they are unable to comprehend God’s will, and that they are incapable of embarking on the road of salvation. Do you understand? (Yes.) Of course, among those who do not pursue the truth—apart from those who cannot be saved—there are some who are willing to be service-doers that will survive. This is quite fine, it can be regarded as a good alternative to not pursuing the truth. Which path you choose in particular is up to you. Perhaps some people will say, “After all that fellowship, You still haven’t told us how to view people and things, or how to comport oneself and act.” Did I not? (You did.) What should one view people and things, and comport themselves and act according to? (According to God’s words.) And with what as one’s criterion? (With the truth as one’s criterion.) What are God’s words, then? Where is the truth? (God’s words are the truth.) There are so many words of God, they tell people about every aspect of how to view people and things, and how to comport themselves and act, so we will not go into detail about these things now. Read once again what it means to pursue the truth. (What does it mean to pursue the truth? To view people and things, and to comport oneself and act, wholly according to God’s words, with the truth as one’s criterion.) You must inscribe these words in your hearts, and use them as your life motto. Take them out often so that you may think about them and consider them; hold your behavior, your attitude in life, your views on things, and your intents and goals up against them for comparison. You will then be able to clearly feel what your true state is, and what the essence of the dispositions you pour forth is. Compare them to these words, and take these words as your principles of practice, and as the path and direction for your practice. When you pursue in this way, when you are able to completely enter into and live out these words, you will understand what it means to pursue the truth. Naturally, when you enter into the reality of these words, you will have already embarked on the path of pursuing the truth. When you embark on the path of pursuing the truth, what would come of it? The distress caused by the disturbance, control, and constraints of your corrupt disposition will become increasingly lighter. Why is that? Because you will feel that you have a path for resolving your corrupt disposition, and that there is hope for you to be saved. Only then will you feel that a life of truly believing in God and eating and drinking of His words is fulfilling, peaceful, and joyful. After many years of believing in God, those who do not love the truth still feel that life is very hollow, and that there is nothing for them to rely on. Often, they even feel that it is truly painful to live within a corrupt disposition, and though they wish to cast it off, they cannot. They remain forever constrained, fettered, and bound by their corrupt disposition, which causes them great distress, yet they have no path at all to follow. These bitter days of theirs are endless. If they could accept the truth and attain salvation, then these bitter days would pass. However, the results of all this depend on your future pursuit and entry.
January 29, 2022