Zirun Jinzhou City, Liaoning Province
In most of us there exists such a state: Although we have gained some knowledge of what aspects of the corrupt nature we have and also have a general idea of what nature the corruptions we express are out of, nevertheless, when encountering things, we still relapse into our old nature and can never practice the truth, nor can any transformation be seen in us. For example, we know that we are arrogant and conceited, and we also often fellowship about the corruption of this aspect, yet when encountering things, we still hold on to our own ideas, not submissive to anyone. When performing our duties, we still exalt ourselves and testify ourselves, unable to do the work according to the work arrangements. We have realized that we seek ease and comfort and are too lazy, yet when performing our duties, we are still unwilling to endure hardships and unable to forsake our flesh, and we still have too much perfunctoriness and deceit. We acknowledge that we are too crafty, yet when giving a report on our work, we still employ trickery and practice deception. And so on. There are too many such states existing in us. Then, exactly what has caused us to have knowledge only but gain no transformation?
With regard to this question, let us first look at what God’s word says. God says: “Now you have known some difficulties of yours. As to what corrupt things are easy to come out at ordinary times and what things you will easily do, you have known all these. But the greatest difficulty is that you cannot control yourselves, not knowing when you will do things, do what serious things. Perhaps what you previously thought you could not do comes out again at a certain time or in a particular circumstance; you really did that thing or said that kind of word. These unexpected things man cannot control by himself. What is this all about? Just because people now have not seen clearly the substance of their nature and do not know much about the several aspects of their substance, not having a deep enough knowledge of them, they find it rather difficult to put the truth into practice. … Even though some people can occasionally say some words of knowing themselves, the words are not very profound. And no one has ever thought that since he can do this kind of thing or have certain expressions, then he is this kind of person and is of this kind of nature. What God exposes is man’s nature and man’s substance, while what man has known are the mistakes or shortcomings in his practices or statements. Therefore, man finds it rather difficult to practice the truth. Man thinks that his mistake is only a temporary manifestation and a careless expression, but not the expression of his nature. If man has such knowledge, he will not practice the truth….” “In the normal situation, if you can see clearly and hate your nature, then you can control yourself and practice the truth.” From God’s words, we see that the main reason why we have some knowledge of ourselves but gain no transformation is that we only have a shallow and not deep enough knowledge of ourselves. Our knowledge of ourselves is only a verbal acknowledgment and a doctrinal understanding but not a substantial knowledge, and even less have we come to the point of seeing clearly and hating our nature. Therefore, we can never control ourselves and always relapse into our old nature, unable to put the truth into practice. Thus, if we know ourselves too superficially, we can achieve nothing, and our life disposition can never be transformed. If we want to gain transformation, we must know ourselves to a certain depth, can see clearly the substance of our nature, and can hate ourselves. Only thus can we control ourselves, forsake the flesh, and put the truth into practice. As it is said in the man’s fellowship attached to Christ’s Talks with Church Leaders and Workers: “To pursue the life and gain the transformation of his disposition, one should at least have a deep enough knowledge of himself. If he cannot know himself, he will never be transformed. Normally, in which aspect one has a deep enough knowledge of himself, he will be transformed in that aspect. Knowing himself is what one must possess. It is directly related to the transformation of his disposition.”
Then, to what extent do we know ourselves to be deep enough? God says: “…know yourself to a deep degree, that is, you know your own nature, what elements your nature contains, what these things are out of, and where they are from. In addition, do you hate these things? Have you seen your ugly soul and evil nature? If you have really seen your true self, you will start to hate yourself. When you hate yourself, you will be able to forsake the flesh in practicing God’s word, and will have the strength to practice the truth and no longer feel it difficult. … If he really knows what his nature is and how ugly, how contemptible, and how pitiful it is, he will not be so self-important and so arrogant, and he will not be so proud of himself as before. … He really regards himself as insignificant and sees himself as nothing. At this point, he will practice the truth with ease and look like having some human likeness. When man really hates himself, he can forsake the flesh. If he does not hate himself, he cannot forsake the flesh. Really hating oneself contains some things: First, he has known his nature. Second, he has seen that he is poor and pitiful, seen that he is too insignificant to be anything, and seen his pitiful and sordid soul. When he truly sees clearly his true self and achieves this result, he has truly known himself and it can be said that he has known himself to a certain depth. Only at this point can he hate himself, even curse himself, and really feel that man has been corrupted by satan so deeply that he has completely lost human likeness….” From God’s words, we see that knowing himself to a certain depth means that man can know the substance of his nature, see clearly his true self, see that he is too ugly, contemptible, insignificant, and pitiful to be anything, and can come to the point of hating and cursing himself. If man knows himself to a certain depth, he will know his nature and know in what situations and under what circumstances his nature will break out and what expressions he will have, and he will see clearly how evil this nature is, what things of resisting God it will cause him to do, what evil it will cause him to do, what harm it will bring to him, and to what extent it will harm him. At the same time, he will realize what attitude God has toward this nature of his and to what extent God hates it, and what outcome it will lead him into if this nature does not change forever. If we know ourselves to this depth, we will hate these satanic things from our hearts and feel disgusted and nauseating. If this result is achieved, we will have the driving force to practice the truth and transform ourselves and will have the will to forsake the flesh and live by God’s word. Only thus can we be transformed gradually.
For example, if we want to gain transformation in our arrogant and conceited nature, we have to know ourselves to a certain depth, that is, know our arrogant and conceited nature and its various manifestations and what dangerous consequences the arrogant nature will bring to us, and so on. Let us first look at what states and manifestations of arrogance and self-conceit exist on us. For example, because of arrogance, we have no regard for God; no matter what work God’s family arranges, as long as it does not match our notions, we either refuse to carry it out or change it at will or execute it selectively, without any sense or submission. Because of arrogance, when God’s work does not match our imaginations, we will have many notions and casually pass judgments and even spread them around. Because of arrogance, in doing the work, we always exalt ourselves and testify ourselves, build up our prestige, and lead all people to our presence. Because of arrogance, we cannot stand in an equal position with others when working, and we do not solve the discovered problems patiently with the truth but easily lose temper and stand in a high position, dealing with and lecturing others. Because of arrogance, we always stand high above others, look down our noses at everybody, and have no regard for anyone. Even if we see others’ strong points, we are not convinced; even if we feel that what others say is in conformity with the truth, we do not accept it. And we cannot coordinate with anyone, unable to live in peace with anyone. Because of arrogance, we want to be masters wherever we go. We want others to center around us and to listen to us and look up to us in everything, treating us as God. These various ugly manifestations are enough to show that, if we have the arrogant and conceited nature, we will have no slightest humanity and sense and will be the embodiment of satan through and through. If we have the arrogant and conceited nature, we will easily become antichrists and will sit in the position of God, testifying ourselves for others to worship. If we have the arrogant and conceited nature, maybe one day our devilish disposition will break out and we will be punished by God for offending the administrative decrees and offending God’s disposition. From these we see that if our arrogant nature is not resolved, the consequence will be dreadful to contemplate, we will die of it sooner or later. When we know our arrogant nature to this depth and see the dangerous consequence caused by our arrogant nature, we will naturally have a sense of danger, will hate and loathe it, and will have the strength to forsake the flesh and practice the truth. In this case, our arrogant and conceited disposition will be transformed gradually. As God’s word says: “In which aspect you have a deeper knowledge, in that aspect you will be transformed, and the things you do will be in conformity with the truth, will meet God’s requirements, and will become closer to God’s intention. Only by pursuing this way can the results be achieved.” Therefore, no matter what corrupt nature exists in us, we cannot rest content with acknowledging it verbally or having a shallow doctrinal knowledge of it; but rather, we should have a deep enough knowledge of it. Only thus can we hate ourselves, forsake the flesh, and pursue the truth to gain the transformation of our disposition.
Let us consider our state at the present period. It can be said that our knowledge of ourselves is not the true knowledge or the substantial knowledge but the doctrinal knowledge and the outward knowledge and is still far from the substantial knowledge. When we know ourselves, most of the time we only know or acknowledge what aspects of the corrupt nature we have, and we also know by what nature our obvious expressions of corruptions are directed, but we cannot realize how evil, reactionary, contemptible, and ugly the corrupt nature in us is and how seriously it resists God. Thus, we cannot truly hate ourselves, much less forsake the flesh or practice the truth. As a result, our disposition has never been transformed. In the case of myself, I doctrinally acknowledged that I was arrogant and knew that arrogance was my nature and was my fatal corruption. But because I knew my nature too superficially, when the brothers and sisters pointed out that I was too arrogant, I could in no way acknowledge it; instead, I justified myself by saying, “It’s true that I am arrogant, but it is not as serious as you have said.” Because I had no true knowledge of my arrogant and conceited nature and did not see the baseness and ugliness of arrogance and self-conceit and what dangerous consequences this nature would bring to me if it was not resolved, I paid no attention to resolving it and did not have any sense of guarding against it. Rather, I often lived by this nature and lost my temper and lectured others whenever I wanted to. Although God arranged many circumstances to discipline me, I did not realize it, nor did I repent, with the result that I eventually fell down because of my arrogant and conceited nature. After that, through God’s revelation and my self-examination, I have truly realized that it is so important to have a deep and thorough knowledge of myself. If I do not have a deep knowledge of myself, not only will my disposition not be transformed, but I will also fall down because of my nature at any time and in any place.
How can we have a deep enough knowledge of ourselves, then? We all know that Peter was after God’s heart because he had a deep enough knowledge of himself and gained the transformation of his disposition. Peter’s practice is very much worthy of our imitation and adoption. Let us look at how Peter came to know himself. God says: “In reading God’s word, Peter did not put his focus on understanding doctrines, much less on gaining theological knowledge. Rather, he focused on understanding the truth and touching God’s will, so as to know God’s disposition and God’s loveliness. Meanwhile, he tried to know in God’s word man’s various corrupt states, man’s corrupt nature, and man’s real lacks…. In his experiencing hundreds of trials from God, every word God judged man with, every word God exposed man with, and every word of God’s requirement for man, he strictly checked himself against them to examine himself and touch their meaning. All the words Jesus said to him, he pondered them over seriously and bore them in mind, and he got very good results. By practicing so, he got to know himself in God’s word, not only knowing man’s various corrupt states, but also knowing man’s substance and nature and man’s various deficiencies. This meant that he had truly known himself….” From God’s words, we see that if we want to gain a deep enough knowledge of ourselves, we have to first pay attention to knowing ourselves in God’s word. Because God has a thorough knowledge of man, what God’s word exposes is the substance of man’s nature and is the real situation. Only if we pay attention to knowing our various corrupt states and corrupt substance in God’s word can we gain a true knowledge of ourselves. For example, in knowing our crafty nature, without the exposing of God’s word, we can only know that our speaking lies or doing things dishonestly sometimes is crafty but cannot have more knowledge. We will not know our crafty nature at all, nor know various manifestations of craftiness, much less see the baseness and ugliness of the crafty nature and the serious consequences it will bring to us if it is not transformed. However, through the exposing of God’s word and checking ourselves against the facts, we realize that craftiness has become our nature and we are often directed by it. The crafty nature not only can cause us to cheat man, but it can even more cause us to suspect and doubt God, cheat God, and blaspheme God. The crafty nature can cause us to think that God is the same as the archfiends in the world and that God’s family is the same as society. The crafty nature can drive us to always harbor the intent of gaining blessings and barter with God while believing in God. The crafty nature can cause us to be insincere toward others and not love others when getting along with them. The crafty nature can cause us to perform our duties wilily and perfunctorily and deceivingly. And so on. Because of the exposing of God’s words and the exposing by God with the fact, we have known various states of craftiness and how evil, ugly, reactionary the crafty nature is, and have seen that the living out of a crafty person is completely the image of satan and is full of deception, disobedience, and resistance, and at the same time, we have tasted why God hates crafty people so much and understood why crafty people will be eventually eliminated. Without the exposing of God’s word, we cannot gain such a deep knowledge, nor see clearly and hate craftiness, much less pursue transformation. In the man’s fellowship attached to Christ’s Talks with Church Leaders and Workers, it says: “The extent to which man knows himself is determined by the depth of his experiencing God’s word and knowing God’s word. Those who do not take the truth seriously will never truly know themselves. Especially concerning the words by which God judges man and exposes man’s nature, man should have a deep enough experience and knowledge of them before he becomes sincerely convinced.” It can be seen that whether we can have a deep enough knowledge of ourselves is directly connected with our knowledge of God’s word. The more deeply and thoroughly we know God’s word, the more deeply and thoroughly we will know ourselves.
In addition, to gain a deep enough knowledge of ourselves, we have to receive various sufferings and trials and go through many frustrations and failures. In the man’s fellowship attached to Christ’s Talks with Church Leaders and Workers, it says: “It is not easy for man to truly know himself, and it is even less easy for him to be thoroughly transformed. It cannot be attained only by eating and drinking God’s word. He should at least have the working of the Holy Spirit and the refining and exposing of various trials and sufferings and also has to go through many failures and frustrations before he can truly know himself.” “To truly know himself, man must practically experience God’s judgment and chastisement, go through God’s pruning and dealing, and undergo various sufferings and trials, and must have the revelation and enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. It can never be attained only by reading God’s word and having the church life….” From the above fellowships, we see that if we want to have a deep enough knowledge of ourselves, we not only should accept the judgment and chastisement of God’s word, but also have to go through the exposing of various sufferings and refining and many frustrations and failures. Only then will we truly see the baseness and ugliness of our corrupt nature and see how seriously it will harm us and will we examine ourselves deeply and gain a deep enough knowledge of ourselves. For example, as we are evil by nature, we always want to pursue the love between man and woman. Although we know we have this nature, we do not have a deep knowledge of it. When we met a desirable opposite sex, we fell into evil passions and lusts, unable to free ourselves from them, and thus lost the working of the Holy Spirit. Later, God’s family transferred the other away, and we were refined half dead. Only then did we see that we had been corrupted by satan too deeply and were really the descendants of Moab, filthy and licentious, sordid and debased. At the same time, we saw that the evil nature was extremely harmful to our life. Directed and controlled by this nature, we lived in it and suffered tremendous torments. Not only did we hold up the work of God’s family, but our life had suffered a great loss. Because of this nature, we had offended God’s disposition, disgraced God’s name, and been loathed by God. If we do not repent or seek transformation, the consequences will be dreadful to contemplate. Through such refining and exposing, we have gained some true knowledge of our evil nature and have felt disgusted with and hated it. Then, we have had an urgent desire to pursue the transformation.
To sum up, if we want to gain the transformation of our disposition, we must have a deep enough knowledge of ourselves. This then requires us to spend more effort on the words by which God exposes the substance of man’s corrupt nature and to know the baseness and ugliness of our nature and our true self in the exposing of various sufferings and refining. When we truly know ourselves, we will hate ourselves, will forsake the flesh and practice the truth, and will gradually gain the transformation of our nature.