Gan’en Luoyang City, Henan Province
In the course of our believing in God, many of us brothers and sisters pay attention only to working and performing duties, and very few of us pay attention to knowing ourselves. Many times when we fellowship in a meeting about the topic concerning knowing ourselves, some brothers and sisters have questions and resistance in their heart: Since we believe in God, we just believe in God. If I am assigned to do hosting, I will do hosting; if I am assigned to preach the gospel, I will preach the gospel. I will do whatever I am assigned to do and practice in whatever way I am required to practice. I submit to the arrangements of God’s family and also perform my duty. Isn’t it good enough if I do not make mistakes in performing my duty? Why always fellowship about knowing ourselves? What is knowing myself to do with my believing in God? Can I do well in believing in God if I know myself? Even some leaders also think: The work arrangements have stated the principles of all aspects of the work very clearly. Isn’t it good enough if we do not work against the work arrangements but carry out the work according to the requirements in them without changing them? Why must we know ourselves?
In light of these states within the brothers and sisters, it is necessary that we have a fellowship on this special subject: why we must pay attention to knowing ourselves while believing in God.
First, let us read two passages of the man’s fellowship: “Knowing oneself is the start of the life entering in of one who believes in God, and is an important part of his gaining the transformation of his life disposition. Without knowing himself, his life disposition will never be transformed.” “Knowing oneself is very important to the transformation of one’s disposition. He who pursues life must take knowing himself as an important item of his life entering in. No matter what you are or how great achievements and popularity you have, if you do not know yourself, you are certainly one to be eliminated or punished. … If one does not know himself and does not know how deeply and miserably he has been corrupted by satan and how greatly and seriously he disobeys and resists God, how can he have the desire to enter into life and to have his disposition transformed? If one does not know himself, he will not know that he has satanic disposition, is so arrogant, self-conceited, self-important, and self-right, and is precisely the embodiment of satan and one resisting Christ. How then can he accept the judgment and chastisement of Christ, exalt and magnify God, and submit to God’s every arrangement?”
From the fellowship, we can see that knowing the self is very important; it is the start of the life entering in of a believer in God, and is an important part of gaining the transformation of his life disposition. If a believer in God does not know himself, his life disposition will never be transformed; if he does not know himself, he is certainly one to be eliminated or punished; if he does not know himself, he will not know how deeply and miserably he has been corrupted by satan and how greatly and seriously he disobeys and resists God; if he does not know himself, he will not know that he has satanic disposition, is so arrogant, self-conceited, self-important, and self-right, and is precisely the embodiment of satan and one resisting Christ; if he does not know himself, he will not be able to accept the judgment and chastisement of Christ, exalt and magnify God, or submit to God’s every arrangement; if he does not know himself, he will still do things and perform his duty according to his own ideas; if he does not know himself, he can never do things completely according to the work arrangements; and so forth. However, many brothers and sisters did not realize the importance of knowing themselves, so they always unconsciously performed their duties according to their own ideas and worked according to their own preferences, and when they had violated the work arrangements of God’s family, they were unaware of that; worse still, even when they had acted against God’s word, they thought that what they did was right. Eventually, they offended God’s disposition and were loathed by God; some of them were sent home to examine themselves, others were thoroughly eliminated by God’s family.
Here, I will give you some examples. Take myself first. In the past, I was a person who did not pay attention to knowing herself. I did not know how deeply I had been corrupted, did not know my nature, and did not know whether my humanity was good or bad, and even less was I clear about what consequences my working by my nature would bring to the work of God’s family. So, in performing my duty, I often worked according to my own ideas and could not do things absolutely according to the arrangements of God’s family. If the arrangements fitted my notions, I would carry them out conscientiously; if they did not fit my notions, I would make some changes of them. What’s more, I could not get along properly with the brothers and sisters and often stood in my position lecturing them. I expressed corrupt disposition and yet thought nothing of it, and I even thought that I had a burden for the work. Finally, these unscrupulous manifestations and expressions of mine were loathed by God, and I lost the working of the Holy Spirit and was sent home. Through a period of examining myself, I gained some knowledge of the deviation in my experience. Later, God’s family gave me another chance to perform duty, but my life had suffered much loss. This was the consequence brought by my not knowing myself. For another example, take a co-worker of mine. In the past when we performed our duties together, she was especially self-right. When encountering things, she seldom came before God to seek, but always relied on her quality and apprehended the arrangements from the above according to her thinking and imagination, and took her apprehension as the principle of doing the things. Sometimes other people fellowshipped with her “It is not proper to do so. It goes against the principles by which God’s family does things,” but she never listened to their dissuasion, stubbornly sticking to her own viewpoint, and said, “I don’t think so. I feel that practicing so is not rigid.” Although God’s family had fellowshipped with her many times, she never paid attention to knowing her nature of considering herself right or to her transformation. Because she persisted in her own way all along and could not absolutely submit to the arrangements of God’s family, eventually she caused great losses to the work of God’s family, and she lost the working of the Holy Spirit and was sent home. However, after she went home, she still did not examine herself seriously, but always lived in her reason and in the realm of right and wrong, thinking that God’s family had wronged her. Consequently, her state has not turned around by now, and her life has suffered a great loss. This is caused by her not knowing herself. In fact, as for the many brothers and sisters who have now failed in their works, their failures are mostly caused because they do not know themselves. Some of them, because of not knowing their arrogant and self-important disposition, could not help testifying themselves, exalting themselves, and exhibiting themselves during their working, and eventually caused the brothers and sisters to adore them and look up to them, bringing the brothers and sisters before themselves, and they themselves became false shepherds or false workers and were eliminated by God’s family. Some thought that they were not very corrupt and that they were the ones who cared for God’s will the most and who were most after God’s heart. So, during their working, they often lectured and dominated the brothers and sisters, causing them to become passive and weak and not dare to approach them. Eventually, they could not carry on with the work and were eliminated by God’s family. Some did not know that they were evil by nature, so when coming into contact with the opposite sex, they did not pay attention to the principles or the boundary, and were very willing to care for the opposite sex. And when they contacted certain individuals of the opposite sex, they went far beyond the normal brother-sister relationship. Although God’s family had fellowshipped with them and pointed out their states many times, they took it lightly and always emphasized that they did no evil things. Because they paid no attention to guarding themselves in their contact with the opposite sex, they eventually fell into temptations in sexual relations, unable to extricate themselves, and thus lost the working of the Holy Spirit. Still some did not know that emotion was their fatal spot; during their working, they showed special concern for those who were to their liking and promoted them to important positions, without considering whether they met the requirements of God’s family in using people. Thus, most of those they promoted were their favorites, who were after their heart but could not do the practical work, and those who were worth training yet were not after their heart were assigned to the unimportant duties. As a result, they delayed the work of God’s family training people and were loathed by God. All these were the consequences caused by their not knowing themselves. There are many more such examples, which I won’t cite here.
Since knowing ourselves is so important to us, then how should we enter into it? Where should we start? Let’s read a passage of God’s word: “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…. Meanwhile, he tried to know in God’s word man’s various corrupt states, man’s corrupt nature, and man’s real lacks …every word by which God judged man, every word by which God exposed man, and every word by which God made requirements of man, he strictly checked himself with to examine himself and touch the meaning of them. All the words Jesus said to him, he pondered 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 can see that Peter knew himself in God’s words, in the words by which God judged man, the words by which God exposed man, and the words by which God made requirements of man. This means that the true knowing oneself is to know oneself in God’s word, because God’s word is the truth and God knows man best. We do not know our lacks, our various corrupt states, or how deeply we have been corrupted, but God does. Therefore, only in God’s word, in the words by which God judges and exposes man, can we know our true self. Apart from God’s word, we cannot know ourselves. To pursue to be transformed in his disposition and be saved and perfected by God, one must know himself in God’s word. This is the way through which Peter knew himself and is also the way we should follow. However, in real life, many brothers and sisters have deviations in their practices of knowing themselves. They do not know themselves in God’s word; rather, they try to know themselves only when they do things wrong or express corruptions, and in most cases, they know the matter as it stands, in a formalistic way. For example, when some brothers and sisters have made a mistake, done something wrong, or expressed a certain corruption in performing their duties, and through others’ fellowship and reminding they have known it and admitted it, they think that if they will not make that mistake again or will not express that corruption from then on, it means that they have known themselves and gained transformation of their disposition. When some brothers and sisters learn that they have worked according to their own ideas and caused losses to God’s family, they come before God and examine themselves. After knowing they have done wrong, they weep bitter tears, and then think that they have known themselves. But they have no substantive knowledge and do not at all know whether their working according to their own ideas was an accidental mistake or was directed by some kind of nature. Therefore, they cannot possibly have transformation of their disposition. As God’s word says, “People’s knowledge about their nature is always far from God’s disclosure about it. This is not because God’s disclosure is wrong but because people do not know their nature deep enough. In knowing themselves, people do not know from the root or the substance, but they make an issue of and put effort into their practices or their outward expressions. Even though some people can sometimes speak some words of knowing themselves, they are not very deep. No one has ever thought that since he can do a certain kind of thing or has a certain kind of expression, he is that kind of person and is of that kind of nature. What God discloses about is people’s nature and their substance, but what people know about are the mistakes or flaws in their deeds or words. So, it is very difficult for them to put the truth into practice. People think that their mistake is merely an accidental behavior, and is a careless expression, rather than an expression of their nature. As people have such knowledge, they cannot practice the truth. People do not take the truth as the truth and do not thirst for the truth, so when they practice the truth, they merely observe a regulation superficially. In people’s own eyes, their nature is not too wicked, and it has not reached the degree that they should perish or punished. They think that their occasionally telling a lie is nothing and they are much better than before. Actually, they still fall far short of the standard, because they have only had some practices that are not against the truth outwardly, but they have not practiced the truth.” The disclosure of God’s words makes us see that, if we do not know ourselves in God’s word, our corrupt disposition can never be transformed. Even though by now we have not done anything serious and contrary to the truth and principles, we, who have the nature of disobeying God and rebelling against God, will sooner or later do things loathed by God and will be punished by God in the end. The consequences will be unimaginable.
Now, can we still say that knowing ourselves has nothing to do with our believing in God?
To truly know ourselves sounds easy, but it is not easy to really carry it out. It is by no means a matter of a single day, which can be accomplished at one stroke. To truly know ourselves, we need to have willpower and to cooperate actively: we should eat and drink more of the words by which God discloses man’s corrupt nature, and examine ourselves against the various God-disclosed expressions and states of man’s disobeying God and rebelling against God; in our daily life, we should pay more attention to our reactions, intents, motives, and expressions in doing things, and know and dissect them one by one against the word of God; besides, we need to come before God more often to beseech God’s mercy, for without God’s mercy and without the revelation and enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, all our efforts will be futile. Only by constantly practicing so can we receive God’s blessing. May God show mercy to us, so that we can soon know ourselves and gain the transformation of our disposition and be perfected by God.