Chen Mowen Fuxin City, Liaoning Province
Now, we have all known that knowing ourselves is very important and is a prerequisite to the transformation of our disposition, and we have started to put effort into it. However, most of the time our knowledge of ourselves is only shallow and superficial, and no desired results have been achieved at all. So, up until now, we have not gained much transformation in our disposition. In fact, the crux of the problem is that we do not have the true knowledge of our corrupt nature and are unclear about how to know the substance of our nature. In the following paragraphs, let us look at the effective ways to know our nature according to God’s words and the man’s fellowship attached to Christ’s Talks with Church Leaders and Workers.
First, we must spend more effort on the words by which God exposes the substance of man’s nature, and strictly relate them to ourselves and examine ourselves according to them. Only by doing so can we achieve the result of truly knowing ourselves. God says: “The key to the transformation of your disposition is to know your nature, and you have to do it according to God’s exposing. Only in God’s word can you know your ugly nature, know the various satanic poisons in your nature, know your foolishness and ignorance, and know the frailty and passivity in your nature.” The man’s fellowship says: “…to know their nature, people have to do it according to the word of God. God has spoken many words directed at the substance of mankind’s corruption. If people do not spend more effort on pondering them, it will be very difficult for them to understand God’s words thoroughly.” From these words we see that to truly know our corrupt nature, we have to do it according to the exposing of God’s word. Because God has a thorough knowledge of us, he has long seen clearly the substance of our nature. To deal with it, God has expressed many words, in which the various disobedience, resistance, and filthy, evil, and ugly satanic doings in us have been exposed thoroughly. So only through knowing ourselves in God’s word and strictly examining ourselves according to God’s word can we know the substance of our nature and gain some knowledge of our true selves who disobey and resist God. And only in the words by which God exposes man’s nature can we see our ugly self and see our contemptible, ugly and sordid soul. As we all know, Peter gained the true knowledge of himself mainly according to the exposing of God’s word. He measured and examined himself strictly according to every word by which God judged and exposed man. Eventually, he came to know not only his various corrupt states but also the substance of his nature. If we do not know ourselves according to the exposing of God’s word but solely ponder and examine ourselves in our thinking, we can only guess and measure ourselves blindly. Even if we can gain a little knowledge of ourselves, it will be very superficial. We will only pay attention to outward practices and expressions and are unable to truly know ourselves. It can be said that such practices as examining, dissecting, and knowing ourselves in our daily life or during the exposure by sufferings and refining are all based on the understanding of God’s word. If we do not spend effort on the words by which God exposes man’s nature, have no knowledge of the words by which God exposes man’s corrupt substance, and do not relate to ourselves the words by which God exposes the substance of man’s nature and examine ourselves according to them, we will not know ourselves from the root or the substance even though we practice examining and dissecting ourselves, and we will never achieve the result of truly knowing ourselves. Sometimes, when eating and drinking God’s words of exposing man, we feel it difficult to relate them to ourselves. We consider that we are not so deeply corrupted as God has exposed and that we are not that kind of people as we have not done that kind of things. In fact, what God’s words expose are the things in the substance of man’s nature. We have not done that kind of things, because there is no suitable environment for us, or because we are afraid of suffering punishment, not because we have no such nature in us. So when eating and drinking God’s words, we should not measure or know ourselves only according to our outward practices and expressions, but should pay attention to pondering over what nature leads to the state exposed by God’s words. Then we examine and know ourselves: Though I have not done that kind of things or spoken that kind of words, don’t I also have those things and that kind of nature in me? Only by practicing in this way can we know the substance of our nature more deeply and thoroughly. Therefore, only if we spend more effort on the words by which God exposes the substance of man’s nature and strictly relate them to ourselves and examine ourselves according to them, can we come to truly know ourselves. This is the most basic and crucial way for us to practice knowing ourselves.
Second, we can know our nature through the exposure by all kinds of trials, tribulations, and refining. The man’s fellowship says: “It is not easy for man to truly know himself, let alone gain a complete transformation. He cannot achieve it only by eating and drinking God’s word. He at least has to obtain the working of the Holy Spirit, be exposed and refined through all kinds of trials and tribulations, and experience many failures and setbacks before he can truly know himself.” From these words, we can see that it is not easy for us to truly know ourselves. We cannot achieve it only by reading God’s word. We have to be exposed through trials and tribulations, because we will not become convinced unless the facts speak for themselves. Without the facts serving as evidence, we will not become obedient, and it is even less easy for us to know our corrupt nature. For example, after reading God’s words of exposing that everyone pursues for the sake of fame, gain, and position while believing in him, we did not think we valued those things that much. Later when we were dismissed from our position, we could not help showing our weak side, being unable to stand firm. We were refined half dead for losing our position and no longer had the faith to pursue. Only then did we see that we indeed had a very strong desire to seek after position. For another example, after reading the words by which God exposes man’s evil nature, we thought our nature was far less evil than that exposed by God’s words. However, when we were entrapped into evil ideas and thoughts and suffered great refining in a circumstance, we saw that we were indeed so evil by nature. As a hymn on life experience goes: “It is really not easy for one to know himself. Only in sufferings and trials can he be exposed.” In painful refining, our corrupt nature will be exposed most completely and thoroughly, which is more conducive to our knowing ourselves. If we, during the exposure by facts, can relate our reactions or expressions to the relevant words of God to know the substance of our nature, we will gain a more profound and thorough knowledge of ourselves. Therefore, we need to experience all kinds of trials and refining and examine and dissect ourselves during the exposure by tribulations and trials. This is a necessary way to truly know ourselves.
Third, we can know our nature through our ideas and thoughts and reactions. God says: “To know yourself, you must know your true state. To know your state, you should, above all, know your ideas and thoughts. In each period, there is one thing mainly directing your ideas and thoughts. If you can grasp your ideas and thoughts, you can grasp the things behind them. No one can control his ideas and thoughts. Where does this idea or thought come from? What is its starting point? How does it come into being? What directs it? What is its nature?” We all know that our nature is the substance of our life, is something in our marrow and blood, and is the foundation of our existence. All the time we are living by it. Our ideas and thoughts, words and actions, are all directed by it. Even our most subtle reactions and behavior are the expressions of our nature. There is no doubt about it. Therefore we can dissect our nature out simply through our ideas and thoughts, words and actions. For example, at a meeting, when we found that our leader had not cast a look at us during his fellowship, we thought, “Why does he look at others but not me? Is it because I have done something improper that displeased him or because he has no regard for me at all?” We felt very bad about it and read his face every now and then. If we can grasp these ideas and thoughts, examine ourselves by asking these questions: “Why do I read the leader’s face to see whether he values me or not? Why do I suspect that he has no regard for me or has a prejudice against me? Why do I always expect to be valued and highly regarded by others?”, and then dissect ourselves according to God’s word, we will find that we are arrogant and conceited by nature and are devoid of sense, as we always want to have a place in others’ hearts, and always hope that they will regard us as the apple of their eye. At the same time, we can also see that we are so crafty by nature, as we always like to read others’ faces and have a suspicion of others. In our experiences, we should carefully dissect our ideas and thoughts and dig out the things behind them like this. If we persist in this way, we will gain some true knowledge of our corrupt nature.
Fourth, we can know our nature from our preferences. God says: “Now to know your nature, you have to do it from these several aspects: First, you must be clear about what you like in your heart. This does not refer to what food you like to eat or what clothes you like to wear, but what kinds of things you like, what kinds of things you admire, what kinds of things you adore, what kinds of things you pursue, and what kinds of things you pay attention to in your heart. Are you clear? As to the things you like, do you know how many kinds of them there are? What do you pay attention to at usual times? What do you adore? What type of people do you like to contact? What kind of things do you like to do? What type of people are your idols in mind?” “For example, someone adores Paul very much. He likes giving speeches and doing works outside, likes meetings, likes talking, likes others listening to him, adoring him, and surrounding him, likes to have a place in their hearts, and likes them all paying attention to his image. From these manifestations of his, what things in his nature have we found? … If he really has such manifestations, this is enough to show that this person is arrogant and conceited and does not worship God at all, that what he seeks is to stand in a high position, and that he wants to lord it over others, occupy others, and have a place in others hearts. This is the typical image of satan. What particularly characterizes his nature is his being arrogant and conceited, having no worship of God, and making others worship him. Isn’t this his nature? From these manifestations we will be able to see his nature clearly.” From these words of God, we can see that our nature determines our expressions, that the things we prefer are what exist in our nature, and that our preferences entirely come from our nature. So as long as we grasp ours preferences, examine ourselves, and dig out the things behind them, it will not be difficult for us to know our nature. Take Paul for example. He always liked preaching to others and liked others listening to him, highly regarding him and adoring him. God says that he was arrogant and conceited by nature and did not worship God at all, which was the typical image of satan. After making a comparison, we can see that we have the same preferences as Paul. We also want to occupy others and lord it over them, want others to adore us, and even vainly attempt to take over God’s position in others’ hearts. This shows that we have the same nature as Paul, being arrogant and conceited and not worshipping God. For another example, we always like to enjoy good food and lodgings and fleshly enjoyment, always like to go to nice host homes, like to perform easy duties so that our flesh will be free from hardship and tiredness, like to perform duties in cities, and so on. From these preferences, it can be seen that we have the nature of caring for our flesh, seeking ease and comfort, giving no care for God’s burden or consideration for the work of God’s family. Still for another example, we like to show off and exhibit ourselves before the opposite sex. Before meeting them, we always look in the mirror and put on our best clothes, and we always like talking and staying with them and feel bored without them being around. From these expressions, we can see that our nature is too evil. The facts show that our preferences originate from our nature. What we pay attention to, what we like, what we yearn for, and what we thirst for fully represent our nature. Therefore, to know our nature from our preferences is also a very important way to practice.
Fifth, we can know our nature by dissecting our viewpoints on things. The man’s fellowship says: “Man’s viewpoints on things are closely related with man’s nature. Corrupt mankind’s nature of resisting and rebelling against God is completely composed of various satanic poisons, and these various satanic poisons are the source of all evil fallacies. All of corrupt mankind’s hostile viewpoints and doctrines against God result from satan’s corruption. … What is true of mankind’s nature is true of their viewpoints on things. If mankind rebel against God by nature, their viewpoints on things are also rebellious against God. In a word, mankind’s viewpoints on things are from their nature. Whoever he is, as long as you know his viewpoints on things, you will know what kind of nature he is of.” From this passage of fellowship we see that our viewpoints on things are directly related with our nature, that our viewpoints on things come from our nature, and that what is true of our nature is true of our viewpoints on things. From our viewpoints on things, we can see what nature we are of. For example, when we performed our duties outside yet the disaster befell our families, we complained everywhere, “I’m expending myself so hard outside for God. Why did God not keep my family?” Our such complaints show that our viewpoint on this matter is that God should keep our families as long as we are performing our duties outside. We can see from it that we are self-seeking by nature. No matter what we do, we seek profit; and if we find it unprofitable, we won’t do it. So it is with our belief in God. We believe in God not to pursue the truth or fulfill our duties as created beings to repay God’s love, but to obtain grace and blessings from God, barter with God, and achieve our own ends by utilizing God. For another example, when God’s family asks some people who perform their duties in other places to go back to their hometowns, some of them form a notion immediately: “You asked me to leave home when you wanted to use me, but once you do not need me, you dismiss me back home. Isn’t God’s family just killing the donkey the moment it leaves the millstone?” By analyzing their viewpoint on this matter, we can see how evil and crafty man’s nature is. Like a knave who uses his own yardstick to measure the motive of an upright man, they measure all that God’s family does by their evil satanic views. Thus, man’s viewpoints on things fully represent his nature. Therefore, to know our nature, we must learn to dissect our viewpoints on things. Through our dissection we can know our nature.
In addition, we can also listen and refer to the evaluations and opinions of us by the brothers and sisters we are familiar with. The man’s fellowship says: “It is most difficult to evaluate yourself accurately. If you have a bosom friend, ask him to tell you his opinions of you honestly. His opinions of you will be relatively valuable for your reference.” In our real life, we often stay with brothers and sisters, and we express corruptions all the time while being with them. But it is usually not easy for us to find the corruptions we expressed naturally. Even if we find some, we are unable to see them as clearly, accurately, and thoroughly as others. As the saying goes, “An outsider sees things clearer than the one involved.” Therefore, we should listen to others’ opinions of us with an open mind. This will be advantageous for us to know our nature and deficiencies and to pursue the transformation of our disposition.
I hope that the above fellowshipped ways to know our nature will bring some help to brothers and sisters. And I also hope that we can all soon gain a true, accurate, and thorough knowledge of the substance of our nature, and eventually gain the transformation of our disposition and be made perfect by God through equipping ourselves with the truth and practicing the truth.