21. A Battle of Life and Death
Chang Moyang Zhengzhou City, Henan Province
“When you forsake the flesh, inevitably there will be a battle inside. Satan wants you to follow the notions of the flesh, to protect the interests of the flesh. However, God’s word still enlightens and illuminates you within, moves you from within and works from the inside. At this point, it is up to you whether you follow God, or Satan. Every time truth is practiced and every time people practice loving God, there is an enormous battle. When you practice the truth, deep inside there is a battle of life and death. Victory will only be determined after fierce fighting. How many tears of sadness have been shed” (“Every Time You Forsake the Flesh There Is a Battle of Life and Death” in Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs). Every time I used to hear God’s words in this song, I would ponder the following: Is practicing the truth really that difficult? When people don’t understand the truth, they cannot practice it. Once they have understood it, wouldn’t acting according to God’s will be enough? Could it really be as serious as “deep inside there is a battle of life and death”? It wasn’t until later, through my actual experience, that I had a taste that practicing the truth truly is not easy. What God said is entirely in line with the truth; it is not even a little exaggerated.
Some time ago, I felt that a sister who worked with me was arrogant and looked down on me; I couldn’t help but sink into an incorrect condition. I began to subject myself to constraints because of her. I could not let go of it in my work; I was submissive in my words and cautious in my actions to the point that, after a while, I would watch her expression when I was speaking or doing something, and I was not shouldering the burden of my work. I was living entirely in the darkness. I couldn’t extricate myself even though I knew that my condition was dangerous. In the midst of suffering, there was God’s guidance: Have a heart-to-heart talk with your sister, find a path of light. But when I got to my sister’s door, I had a different thought: What will my sister think when I talk about it? Will she say that there are too many little things on my mind, I’m too much of a hassle, too difficult to deal with? As soon as I had this thought, it was as if I had seen that funny look in her eyes, that contemptuous attitude. Suddenly, my courage just disappeared and I went limp, as if my whole body were cramping. Once again, God’s words brought me internal enlightenment: If you had a lot of private issues that you found difficult to talk about, it would be difficult to struggle out of the darkness. Would you be willing to continue on like that? I silently encouraged myself: Be brave, be simple and open. Practicing the truth is nothing to be ashamed of! But at the same time, a contrary feeling tugged at me: Don’t say anything—other people probably think you’re okay. If you talk about it they’ll think you have too many little things on your mind and they won’t like you anymore. Ugh! It’s better not to say anything, then! As I once again wavered, God guided me again: Being an honest person means you can’t be shy and fearful! God’s enlightenment excited me, but to my surprise, as soon as I gained a little bit of strength, Satan’s ideas once again welled up: If you talk about it other people will know your true colors, and you’ll be miserable! My heart suddenly clenched. It was in this way that my heart was pulled to and fro in a battle between positive and negative, black and white. I knew clearly: My not wanting to speak was a desire to protect my own face out of vanity. But this way, my condition would not be resolved and it had no benefit to my work. Only seeking fellowship to resolve this issue would be beneficial for my work and be in line with God’s will. But the moment the thought occurred to me that as soon as she knew, she might think even less of me, I lost my courage to practice the truth. I felt that if I spoke out about my own ugliness, I wouldn’t be able to go on living! For a moment I became terribly upset, and my heart was in great pain as if being burned by a fire. This was as difficult as if I were facing a life-or-death choice, and I unwittingly burst into tears, and all there was to do was helplessly cry out to God in my heart. At the critical moment, God’s words once again flickered in my mind: “… they should not be without the truth, nor should they harbor hypocrisy and unrighteousness.… Young people should have the bravery to not succumb to the oppression of the forces of darkness and to transform the significance of their existence” (“Words to the Young and Old” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words allowed me to finally calm my restless heart: No matter what, I can no longer be subject to Satan’s mocking! I can no longer rebel against God; I must forsake myself and practice the truth. Once I summoned up the resolve to find my sister and had a heart-to-heart fellowship with her, not only was the issue resolved, but my heart lightened. When I thought back to the intense battle in my heart at that time and had a taste of the suffering in a seeming life-or-death battle, only then did I realize how serious my vain concern for saving face was. It was a part of my life to the point that I was living in darkness, facing call after call from God but I was unable to break free. I understood the truth but could not practice it; I truly was too deeply corrupted by Satan! I also really experienced that practicing the truth and being an honest person is not easy.
It was only after this experience that I understood God’s words: “Every time truth is practiced and every time people practice loving God … deep inside there is a battle of life and death.” These words were said about mankind’s corrupt nature because people’s satanic nature is too deeply rooted in the flesh. Man is caged and bound by it, and it has become our lives. When we practice the truth, when we forsake our own fleshly lives, this process is the same as being reborn, as dying and being resurrected. It really is a contest and a fight for life and death, and it is a quite painful process. When we do not truly know our own nature and we don’t have the will to suffer or pay a price, we absolutely cannot practice the truth. In the past I thought that practicing the truth was easy—this was because I had no understanding of my own corrupt nature and I didn’t know how deep my corruption was. In the future, I am willing to more deeply know myself through experience, to seek to practice the truth in all things, and to forsake myself!