Huochu Nanyang City, Henan Province
Through eating and drinking God’s words that expose the substance of man’s corruption concerning selfishness and baseness, most of us acknowledge that what we think and do is all for ourselves and not for satisfying God. However, we do not actually have much true knowledge of ourselves. We often just rest content with matching our states with the corrupt ones that God exposes concerning man’s selfishness and baseness, but we do not seek God’s intention in his exposing so as to understand why God exposes man’s selfishness and baseness and what results he wants to achieve in man. Hence, our selfishness and baseness has never been removed. Therefore, it is necessary for us to know and dissect the substance of selfishness and baseness, and know such key matters as how base and ugly it is for us to live for ourselves, what dangerous consequences living for ourselves will lead to, how to live is meaningful, and so on, so that we can get rid of our selfish and base corrupt disposition earlier and live for satisfying God.
Before we know and dissect the substance of our selfish nature, first we need to know the states and manifestations of being selfish. This is advantageous to our knowing the substance of our corruption. It needs only a little observation for us to find that many of our states and manifestations in the real life reflect the substance of our selfish nature. For example, some people believe in God not to pursue the truth and satisfy God but to receive blessings and peace. When they receive no blessings and suffer punishment, they complain that God is unrighteous, regret having taken the path of believing in God, or even say that God deceives people and fools people. Some people hasten to expend themselves when seeing outward disasters occur in rapid succession. But when seeing that the outward world is peaceful and safe, they become less zealous and begin to bustle and rush about again for the sake of their families and fleshes. Some people are full of drive and are willing to experience any hardship or difficulty when they have a position, but once they lose their position, they resist in their hearts, slack off and even have the thought of throwing up their duties and forsaking God. Some people want to receive double blessings from God after making some consecration and expending some efforts; when they receive no blessings and suffer punishment, they complain bitterly, regret their former efforts and spending, or even, more seriously, swear at God. Some people have worked for several years and suffered much, so they feel that they have capital and thus want to keep some articles and clothes offered by brothers and sisters for themselves; when their desires are not satisfied, they are disgruntled and have no heart to perform duty. Some people always care for their flesh and are choosy about their duties to perform; they always expect to find a relatively easy and cushy job and vainly hope to pay a little price in exchange for the pleasant destination. Some people have no burden for the church work and are unwilling to endure hardships or pay a price; they always feel it so hard to put their whole heart and strength into work every day, and thus always work perfunctorily and go through the motions; even if they make some efforts and do some work under others’ supervision, they will find a chance to take a rest later to make up for them. Some people are transferred to places where the conditions are poor to perform their duties; when they find that the conditions there are not after their hearts in every way, they complain about them and even want to escape and reject their commissions. Some people always look for various excuses and pretexts to vindicate themselves when they are dealt with for achieving no results in their work; they are unwilling to assume the responsibility or shift the blame onto others. Some people, when seeing that the new believers they water are lukewarm toward them, feel that the new believers have no regard for them, and thus want to give them up under the pretext that they do not pursue. Some people always think about their personal gains and losses when performing their duties: if they do not perform their duties, they are afraid that their families might have misfortunes; if they perform their duties, they do not want the interests of their flesh to suffer losses; so, they are compelled to perform some duties. Some people are preoccupied with the interests of their flesh and always work according to their own will and their personal preferences; they always take the easy course and only pursue to satisfy the interests of their flesh, without considering the interests of God’s family at all. Some people try never to offend anybody; when seeing the leaders have defects, they dare not point them out to them; when seeing the brothers and sisters have done something harmful to the interests of God’s family, they dare not point out to them in their presence; when seeing some people cause frustrations and disturbances in the church, they dare not stand out to stop them, lest they be offended and do harm to themselves, unable to uphold righteousness and safeguard the interests of God’s family. Some people are extremely selfish when getting along with others; they consider only themselves and not others, having no love for others, and others feel no warmth at all. And so on.
From the above states and manifestations, we can see that we have been too deeply corrupted by satan and are deeply influenced and poisoned by the satanic philosophy of “everyone for himself and the devil take the hindmost.” In either speaking or doing things, we follow the principle of “gaining advantages only and suffering no losses” and seek personal gains anytime and anywhere. What we think and do is all for ourselves, and we even do not mind stooping to compromise in order to receive blessings and advantages. In a word, all the efforts we make are for ourselves, and there is not any made for God. As God says: “Everyone lives for himself. Everyone for himself and the devil take the hindmost; this is the summary of man’s nature. It is for himself that he believes in God; it is much more for himself that he receives blessings; it is for himself that he gives up things for God’s sake; it is still for himself that he spends himself for God; and it is also for himself that he is faithful to God. In a word, everything is for himself to receive blessings. In the world, man does everything for receiving advantages; while believing in God, man does everything for receiving blessings. It is for receiving blessings that man gives up everything; it is for receiving blessings that man undergoes a lot of sufferings. All these are demonstrations of man’s corrupt nature.” All that God exposes is our real situation. We are all living for ourselves and are all seeking those debased and ugly things of the flesh. Such outlook on life as “everyone for himself and the devil take the hindmost” has caused us to be greedy, crafty, malicious, base, and completely devoid of humanity and sense. At the same time as we enjoy God, we scheme against God, cheat God, make endless demands of God, and make endless bargains with God. We are simply extremely greedy, sinister, subtle, and base people. From the exposing of God’s words and our expressions, we can see that a selfish and base person believes in God completely for receiving blessings and advantages, and when he cannot achieve his purpose, he falls out with God, becomes God’s enemy, and departs from God. A selfish and base person is profit-driven and has his own intents whatever he does; he does not perform his duty willingly, but is compelled to make some efforts due to his fear of God’s hand of punishing man. A selfish and base person has no sense and has the most demands on God; he makes demands of God when he performs some duty, wants a reward when he spends himself a little, constantly complains when he pays a little price, and uses his work to barter with God in everything. A selfish and base person has no sense of justice, always safeguards his own interests and considers his personal gains and losses, and he would rather offend God than offend man. A selfish and base person does not lay stress on the interests of God’s family but always considers his personal interests and safety; he treats lightly that which God’s family has committed to him, not taking it seriously and unable to worry what God worries and think what God thinks. A selfish and base person is blinkered, narrow-minded, malicious-hearted, low in character, and devoid of normal humanity. A selfish and base person is unwilling to suffer for the truth; when he encounters things that do not match his notions or when his flesh suffers, he will complain against God and even forsake God. A selfish and base person has no conscience or sense; he does not know to repay God’s love but only knows to care for the enjoyment of his flesh and his personal gains and losses. A selfish and base person is self-seeking, insatiably greedy, sinister and diabolic; he stoops to anything to achieve his purpose and is an inhuman, ignoble, and base person. A selfish and base person is deceitful, crafty, and hypocritical, has ulterior motives, thinks in one way and behaves in another, makes mischief, and is good at disguising himself to cheat God and hoodwink man. A selfish and base person does not love the truth, and much less practice the truth. Therefore, a selfish and base person completely lives for himself and lives by satanic philosophies. Such a person is devoid of humanity and sense and is loathed and bitterly hated by God.
Paul’s failure is a most typical example. Though he preached for the Lord for many years and did much work, he spent all his efforts to receive a glorious crown but not to perform his duty as a created being so as to repay God’s love. In the end, he had himself forfeited because of his self-seeking nature, and is now still in God’s punishment. Among us there are also many cases similar to Paul’s failure in belief in God. For example, some people believe in God for receiving blessings; when seeing that God’s day has not come after so long a time and that they have no hope of receiving blessings, they have no heart to pursue and return to the world to work for a living or get married. Some people in God’s family only pursue to gain fame and position and rise head and shoulders above others; when they are removed or sent home and lose their position, they become too passive to rise up, have no heart to pursue the truth, and thus forsake God and leave God. Some people believe in God so that God can keep their children from illnesses and adversity; when their children have misfortunes or die due to accidents, they leave God. Some people believe in God for enjoying grace and blessings; when they see that nothing God does in this stage of the work is in conformity with their notions and all that comes upon them is chastisement and judgment, dealing and pruning, they feel it is so painful and hard to believe in God and so return to the world. And so on. Of those who leave God and return to the world because their fleshly desires are not satisfied, some gain temporary material enjoyment, having good food to eat and good clothes to wear, but their temporary enjoyment cannot dispel the emptiness and fear in their hearts; some earn some money but lose their lives before they have time to enjoy it; and some are trampled by satan and suffer from illnesses after leaving God. These people come to such ends because they are too selfish and self-seeking by nature. They always seek for the future of their flesh, and do not regard believing in God and worshipping God as something perfectly justified, or regard spending themselves for God and obeying God as a created being’s bounden duty. They take a path leading to darkness, and so come to such ends. From these we see that the selfish and base satanic nature is too harmful to us and is enough to forfeit us. At the same time, we also see that the satanic logic of “everyone for himself and the devil take the hindmost” has really become our life. We have been driven out of our wits by it, and we consider and plan for the interests of our flesh in everything and have no desire to pay attention to God’s work at all. If we cannot forsake it and live for satisfying God, then we will fall into God’s punishment in the end as Paul did.
How should we pursue to get rid of the selfish and base corrupt disposition and live for satisfying God? God says: “If one wants to be purified, be transformed in his disposition, live out a meaningful life, and fulfill his duty as a created being in his life, he has to accept God’s chastisement and judgment and let God’s discipline and smiting not leave him, so that he can break away from satan’s manipulation and satan’s influence and live in God’s light.” God tells us that, if we want to get purified, get rid of the selfish and base corrupt disposition, and live out a meaningful life, we have to pursue the truth and accept God’s chastisement and judgment as well as his smiting and discipline. And we also have to know, in sufferings and trials, our satanic nature, malicious intents, ignoble purposes, and extravagant desires, see our filthy and ugly souls, realize that by living for ourselves we are afflicted by satan, and see that without God’s chastisement and judgment, smiting and discipline, and without God’s salvation, we can never free ourselves from being tormented and trampled by satan. Only then will we hate ourselves and curse ourselves, be willing to be delivered from satan’s influence, live for ourselves no more, and pursue the truth and live for satisfying God. When we understand more truths through experiencing God’s chastisement and judgment and have knowledge of our corrupt nature, our outlook on life will begin to change, the original foundation of our existence begin to shatter, and we can gradually give up the worldly things of fame, gain, position, money, enjoyment, wealth and honor. For example, many brothers and sisters had been tightly bound by money, family, fleshly emotion, worldliness, and so on, and some even could not perform their duties but lived under the influence of satan serving the devil all day long. They toiled and rushed about to earn the family’s living, tasted the desolation and miseries of human life, and yet felt that this was the way man should live. Later, through the judgment and chastisement of God’s word and through experiencing God’s smiting and discipline, suffering and refining, they came to realize that it was really empty and meaningless to live for the family and the flesh, and understood the meaning and value of living for the truth. Gradually they no longer paid that much attention to the family, the flesh, or money and felt that only if they lived before God and performed their duties properly could they feel secure and have enjoyment in their hearts. There are also many brothers and sisters who left their families and gave up their careers, rushing about all the year round for the sake of position and a pleasant future and destination. When they achieved no results for a long time in the duties they performed and thus were removed or sent home to examine themselves, they were doubly tormented within themselves and had many misunderstandings about God. But after they became obedient and deeply searched and dissected their inner mentality through eating and drinking God’s word, they found that they had been pursuing for the sake of position and future over the years and were really low, ugly, selfish, and base. Only then did they realize that their pursuit was contrary to God and see that without God’s timely exposing and salvation, regardless of how much they might suffer, they would make a fruitless effort and would eventually end up falling into God’s punishment. At the same time, they understood the necessity of God’s chastising and judging man, and were willing to accept God’s judgment and chastisement from their hearts and more deeply know the substance of their selfishness and baseness, so that they could hate themselves, forsake the flesh, change their viewpoint of believing in God, and were willing to pursue to satisfy God and live out a meaningful life.
Besides, we also need to know God’s genuine love for mankind. When we see from God’s love God’s greatness, nobleness, selflessness, and kindness, we will know and hate our selfishness and baseness, and will be willing to pursue transformation and live for satisfying God. As we all know, in order to save us this group of people who have become fallen to the utmost, God has been incarnated and humbly hides himself among us. He has been speaking and working for more than ten years, enduring man’s rejection, slander, defamation, condemnation, misunderstanding, deceit, hostility, judgment, and blasphemy. No matter how cruelly we treat God, his intention to save man remains unchanged. Everywhere in God’s work is God’s genuine and passionate love for man. From the many aspects of each step of God’s work, such as, the duration of the work, the quantity of the words spoken, the truths that are watered, and so on, we can see God’s love and salvation for us. We can also taste God’s love and salvation in our practical experience. Many times when we desperately hoped for God’s day and it did not come, we complained against and misunderstood God, lost faith in him, and even swore at him in our hearts, but God did not treat us according to what we did and still saved us in obscurity with his great love. Many times when we put God’s requirements aside and disregarded God’s intention, being busily occupied with our small families, fame, position, and other things we loved, God silently endured the suffering of our rejection and aroused our numb hearts with words of judgment and severe chastenings and disciplines. Many times when God perfected us through trials and refining, we did not understand God’s kind intention, saying that what God did was too inhuman; and when God arranged circumstances that harmed the interests of our flesh, we developed hatred against God in the depths of our hearts and detested God’s coming. Many times we wanted to forsake God and leave God, but God did not give up saving us for that and still moved us with his love. … Apart from God who loves man to the utmost, who in the world can help man at any cost while abhorring man? When we truly feel God’s measureless love and truly see God’s greatness, nobleness, selflessness, and kindness, we will see that our intents and purposes of believing in God for our destination, family, fame, gain, position and other things are so selfish and base. At the same time, we will feel ashamed of our ugly souls and feel too ashamed to face God. Only then will we truly hate ourselves and forsake the flesh, no longer want to live for ourselves but want to live for satisfying God and repaying God’s love.
May we all exert ourselves to pursue the truth, know the substance of selfishness and baseness and the consequence of living for ourselves, establish a positive outlook on life, and live for loving God and satisfying God, thereby living out the likeness of a real man to testify God and glorify God.