14 It Is Important to Know Ourselves but More Indispensable to Know God
Li Jing Huaibei City, Anhui Province
In our experience, we often fall into such a state as this: In the things we encounter, we only focus on knowing ourselves and dealing with our corruptions, with the result that even though we come to know that we are nothing and not worthy a penny, we still have no motivation to love God, and sometimes we even give ourselves up as hopeless and completely lose confidence in ourselves. The following are some examples. When our leader finds out many holes and deviations in our work, although we realize that in performing our duty, we have been full of perfunctoriness, carelessness, cheat, and resistance and have brought losses to the work of God’s family, and we feel indebted to God and to the brothers and sisters in our heart, yet we do not have many positive elements within and live in the shadow that “I am too corrupt to be worthy to perform this duty.” Sometimes when we are exposed in certain things and see that we are too arrogant by nature and too poor in humanity, we consider that God loathes such people as us, so we become discouraged and disappointed and do not want to pursue the truth or pursue to be transformed anymore. Sometimes when we see our corruptions in a certain respect, we are willing to pursue to have them transformed, so we consciously eat and drink the relevant words of God in light of our state and practice rebelling against the flesh. But after a period of time, when we find that we have not made much progress and our corrupt disposition remains untransformed, we draw a conclusion about ourselves, thinking that we can never be transformed, and we even write ourselves off as hopeless and act recklessly.
The fact that we can pay attention to knowing ourselves in our experience shows that God’s work and word have achieved some results in us. But if we fall into a passive state and even lose our desire to make progress after knowing some corruptions and lack in us, this is contrary to God’s will. God’s word says: “Man experiences God, knows himself, casts off his corrupt disposition, and pursues to grow in life, all for the purpose of knowing God. If you only pursue to know yourself and deal with your corrupt disposition but do not have any knowledge of what work God does on man, how great the salvation is, how you experience God, and how you see God’s deeds, then you are experiencing foolishly. If you only know that being able to practice the truth and be patient means growing up in life, you still do not understand the real meaning of life or understand God’s purpose in working man.” “God has spent so much painstaking effort to work personally through being incarnated the second time, just for the purpose that man can know him and see him. The work of ‘knowing God’ is the ultimate result God will achieve in man when he ends the work and is God’s ultimate requirement for mankind. God does such a work for the sake of his ultimate testimony and for the purpose that mankind can completely return to him in the end.” From these words of God, we can see this: When God is incarnated among people today, he speaks many words and does many works, setting an example for us in every respect and arranging all kinds of environments for us to experience, not only for the purpose that we can know our corruption and disobedience but even more for the purpose that while we know ourselves, we can have knowledge of God, that is, through eating and drinking God’s word and experiencing God’s work, we can see God’s salvation, God’s love for man, and God’s wonderful deeds from them, and can know God’s work and understand the purpose and the significance of God’s work, so that we can testify God and love God. This is also the goal we should pursue. Peter was a person who not only had known himself but also had known God in God’s word and God’s work. God says: “In God’s word, on the one hand, he got to truly know himself, and on the other hand, as God in his words expressed God’s righteous disposition, expressed what God has and is, expressed God’s intention in working, and expressed God’s requirements for mankind, from these words he completely knew God, knowing God’s disposition and God’s substance and also having some knowledge and understanding of what God has and is, God’s loveliness, and God’s requirements for man. Although at that time there were not as many God’s words as today, these several aspects of results were produced in Peter. That was rare and commendable. Peter experienced hundreds of trials, but he did not suffer in vain. In God’s word and God’s work, Peter not only knew himself but also knew God.” From this passage of God’s word, we can see Peter’s successful experience: In God’s word and God’s work and in the trials he encountered, Peter not only had known his disobedience and the things in him that were not after God’s heart, but more importantly, he had known God. Because his way of experience was correct, God’s work and word achieved unparalleled results in him, and he became one perfected by God.
According to the requirements of God’s word and Peter’s experience, let us look at ourselves: In our experience, we neglect to pursue to know God and only focus on dealing with ourselves, knowing our corruption and disobedience, knowing our foolishness and ignorance and our not having a single good point, and besides, we ourselves have nothing positive and have no ability to break free from the influence of darkness. As a result, we fall into a passive state and lose the vision, unable to understand God’s will or see God’s love and God’s salvation, and then we draw a conclusion about ourselves, thinking that we can never be transformed and that even if we pursue to the end, we will not be perfected by God. I have had such an experience. I remember that for a time, I did a thing that I should not have done in performing my duty because I acted according to my own will. After my leader pointed it out, I focused on knowing myself in this matter. Although I came to know that I was so arrogant by nature that I did the work of God’s family in whatever way I wanted and I did not have a heart of fearing God at all and lacked sense, nevertheless, because I only concentrated on knowing myself but neglected to seek God’s will and understand God’s kind intention in this matter, I completely lived in self-reproach in those few days. I thought that I had believed in God for several years but had not gained any transformation of my disposition and was still in such a dangerous state. As a result, the more I thought about it, the more I became passive, and in the end I almost lost the confidence to pursue the truth. Later, it was through eating and drinking God’s word and being inspired by God that I realized, “It is exactly God’s salvation to me that God exposes me like this. In fact, God has long since seen through me and known how deeply and miserably I have been corrupted by satan. Even if I did not express these corruptions, God still knows the substance of my nature. God exposes me not in order to condemn me but to let me know my true self and see my corruptions and lack so that I can pursue to be transformed. Otherwise, I would never know my satanic nature or see that I am in such a dangerous state; rather I would still live in self-satisfaction and self-contentment, thinking that I am almost there. In that case, I would be eliminated by God in the end for gaining no transformation of my disposition. Only now do I see God’s salvation for man is too great, and God really loves man too much. He knows everyone like the back of his hand and knows how seriously man resists him, but he can bear and sympathize with man’s weaknesses, and he has been waiting with tolerance and patience for man to know himself and for man to turn back. How much painstaking effort and price God has expended and how great humiliation and suffering God has endured before we can have some knowledge of ourselves today!” When I realized this, my passive state turned positive unknowingly, and besides, deep in my heart, I felt too indebted to God, and I resolved that I would never again misunderstand and grieve God and that from then on I would try my best to pursue to be transformed to requite God for his salvation. It was through this experience that I came to understand that it is important to know ourselves but even more indispensable to know God. To pursue to know God can enable us to understand God’s will and thus come out of our passive state and misunderstandings and enter into the normal experience of life; to pursue to know God can enable us to be clear about the vision and have the motivation to strive to satisfy God. Just as God’s word says: “As for all who pursue to have true knowledge of God, previously they were not in a very good condition, and they easily became passive, easily became weak, easily weep, easily became discouraged, and easily became disappointed, but now the more they experience, the better their condition becomes. If they experience dealing and breaking once or experience refining once, they will have made a great step of progress after coming out of it. Then the same state will never be seen in them again; they will have gained some transformation of their disposition and lived out the love of God. … Those who pay attention to knowing God, pay attention to knowing themselves, and pay attention to their practice at ordinary times can often receive God’s working and often receive God’s guidance and revelation. Even though they may have some passive state, they can turn it around immediately either because of the function of their conscience or because of the revelation of God’s word. It is when people know their actual states and know God’s disposition and work that they attain the transformation of their disposition.” From these words, we see that to pursue to know God in our experience has a direct bearing on our life entering in and has to do directly with the transformation of our disposition. Whoever pursues to know God can often receive God’s guidance and revelation and live in a right state. As he gains deeper and deeper knowledge of God, his viewpoints on things and his old thoughts will be gradually changed. Moreover, the more he pursues, the more strength he will have; the more he experiences, the more ways he will have; and eventually, he will attain the transformation of his disposition. It is thus clear that having true knowledge of God is the foundation for our believing in God, the vision for our pursuit, and much more the motivation for us to pursue to love God and satisfy God. So, to pursue to know God is really too crucial!
May all brothers and sisters be able to pay attention to knowing God in our future experience and also be able to put this into practice in a down-to-earth manner: Imitate Peter’s experience: Exert an effort to eat and drink God’s word and pursue to know God from God’s word, knowing God’s substance, knowing God’s righteous and holy disposition, knowing God’s work of saving man, knowing God’s love and will for man, and knowing what God has and is and God’s lovely aspects. Besides, when we are exposed in certain things or encounter certain circumstances, on the one hand we should try to know our corrupt nature and our lack from them, and on the other hand we should pray more to God and eat and drink the relevant words of God, seeking God’s will from them and pondering why God arranges such an environment, what aspects of God’s disposition are revealed through this, what are God’s requirements for us, and what results God actually wants to achieve in us. If we can practice this, we will be able to gradually have true knowledge of God in God’s word, and in all kinds of environments God arranges, we will be able to understand God’s kind intentions and know more of what God has and is which we have never perceived. Of course, the lesson of knowing God is endless and ceaseless, and it will not be easy for us to achieve results in it. So, we need to have a heart of thirsting for God, a heart of obeying God, and a will to suffer; and we need even more to come to God more often to ask for his mercy and to receive more of the working of the Holy Spirit, for without God’s mercy and grace and without the Holy Spirit’s revelation and enlightenment, it will be impossible for us to have any true knowledge of God. May God bless us so that we will have more and deeper knowledge of him and so that the further we walk along the path of believing in God, the more strength we will have and the brighter we will find it becomes.