Zhang Yitao Henan Province
“God, Your work is so practical, so full of righteousness and holiness. You have been patiently working for so long, all for us. In the past, I believed in God but I didn’t have a human manner. I disobeyed You and hurt Your heart without knowing. I am full of shame and regret and am indebted to You. Only now do I realize this. … Without Your harsh judgment, I wouldn’t have today, and facing Your genuine love I am grateful and indebted to You. It was Your work that saved me and caused my disposition to change. Without sorrow and pain, my heart is full of happiness” (“Oh God, the Love You Have Given Me Is Too Great” in Follow the Lamb and Sing New Songs). Every time I sing this song, I think of God’s salvation for me through all these years, and I am full of gratitude for Him. It was God’s judgment and chastisement that changed me. It made me—an arrogant, ambitious, rebellious son—appear a bit more like a human being. I sincerely give thanks for God’s salvation of me!
I was born in the countryside. Because my family was poor and my parents were honest, they were often cheated. From the time I was little people looked down on me, and being beaten and bullied became a common occurrence. This frequently made me sad to the point of tears. I put everything I had into my studies so that I would no longer have to lead that type of life, so that in the future I could have a position as a government official, be someone in charge, and everyone would look up to me. But as soon as I finished middle school and I was preparing for the high school entrance examination, the Cultural Revolution started. The Red Guards revolted, workers went on strike, students walked out. Every day was caught up in the revolution. It was pandemonium, the people were in a panic, and the college entrance examination system was banned. So, I lost the opportunity to test into a school. I was devastated—I felt as terrible as if I had become seriously ill. Later, I thought: Even though I can’t test into school or become a government official, I’ll work hard to earn money. As long as I have money people will think highly of me. From then on, I was looking everywhere for ways to make money. Since my family was poor, I didn’t have any funding to start doing business. Through relatives and friends, I managed to borrow 500 yuan to start a shop selling braised pork. At that time meat was only seventy cents a pound, but after buying the equipment I needed, what was left from that 500 yuan just wasn’t enough. Every time I had some income it went straight into funding the business. As soon as I earned any money I would repay my debt. I endured many hardships so that I would be able to lead a better life than others. From morning till late, I had no free time. After several years of hard work, my skills became more and more refined, and my business was booming more and more. My family quickly became more well-off, and many people looked at me with envy.
In the spring of 1990, there was someone in our village who talked to me about believing in Jesus. I listened to a few sermons out of curiosity, and I saw that when the brother who was preaching was speaking, many people looked up to him. I was incredibly envious of that sight of him being surrounded and admired by the crowd. I thought to myself: If I could become someone like that, not only would everyone adore me, but I’d be able to gain the Lord’s grace and be rewarded by Him. That would be so wonderful! Driven by these thoughts, I started to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and I joined a house church. After that, I worked hard to study the Bible, particularly seeking knowledge of the Bible, focusing on memorizing some passages, and very quickly I knew many famous chapters and verses by heart. I read chapter 16, verse 26 of the Gospel of Matthew where the Lord Jesus said: “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” Then I also read about the Lord Jesus calling out to Peter, and he immediately forsook his fishing nets and followed Christ. I thought to myself: Having enough money to get by is fine; if I earn more, what use is it when I die? If I want to gain the praise of the Lord, I have to follow the example of Peter. So I gave up my business, and began busying myself in the church full time. I was very passionate at the time, and through my relatives and friends I had evangelized to 19 people before long, and then that was expanded to 230 people through those 19. Then, I read the words of the Lord Jesus: “Not every one that said to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). I felt even more self-satisfied. Based on what I understood from the literal meaning of His words, I believed that I was already following the Lord’s path, that I was on the road of following the will of the heavenly Father, and in the next age when the kingdom of God is realized, I would reign as a king on the earth. Under the domination of this type of ambition, my enthusiasm became even greater. I set my determination that I absolutely had to follow Jesus’ words to “love your neighbor as yourself” and “be tolerant and patient,” as well as to lead by example, and to be unafraid of enduring hardship. Sometimes when I went to the homes of my brothers and sisters, I would help them carry water, light fires, and do farm work. When they were sick I’d go visit them. When they didn’t have enough money I’d help them from my own savings; I would go help whoever was experiencing difficulties. I quickly gained the praise of all of my brothers and sisters as well as the trust of the upper leaders in the church. A year later I was promoted to be a church leader, to shepherd 30 churches. I was managing about 400 believers. Once I had obtained this position, I felt great. I felt that all my hard work and effort had finally paid off, but at the same time I formed an even loftier ideal in my heart: to pursue a higher position, to gain the praise and adoration of even more people. Through another year of hard work, I became a high-level church leader, leading co-workers in five counties, shepherding 420 churches. After that I was more afraid to slack off, so I paid particular attention to my good behavior on the surface, and to establishing my image among my co-workers and brothers and sisters. For the approval of my co-workers and so my brothers and sisters would look up to me, I opposed extravagant meals in the church, and I prohibited all contact between members of the opposite sex and unhealthy practices. My “uprightness and sense of justice” gained support and approval from my co-workers and other brothers and sisters. My arrogant nature also swelled and became more out of control. On top of that, I knew some of the more common passages of the Bible backward and forward, and when meeting with and preaching to some of the lower-level church leaders and co-workers, I could recite passages without looking at my Bible just based on the chapter and verse numbers. My brothers and sisters really admired me, so I always had the final say in the church. Everyone listened to me. I always thought that what I said was correct, that I had an elevated understanding. Whether it was church governance, sectioning out churches, or promoting church leaders and co-workers, I never discussed things with others. What I said always counted; I truly did have the reign of a king. At that time I particularly enjoyed standing at the pulpit, speaking eloquently and endlessly, and when everyone was gazing at me with admiration, that feeling of being on top of the world was enchanting to me and made me forget about everything. I particularly felt this when I read chapter 12, verses 44-45 of the Gospel of John: “Jesus cried and said, He that believes on me, believes not on me, but on him that sent me. And he that sees me sees him that sent me.” I also felt this when I read chapter 3, verse 34: “For he whom God has sent speaks the words of God: for God gives not the Spirit by measure to him.” I really basked in this, and I shamelessly believed that I had been sent by God, that God had imparted me with the Holy Spirit, and God’s will was expressed through me. I believed that because I could interpret the scriptures, I could understand “mysteries” that others couldn’t, that I could see connotations that others couldn’t. I only cared about immersing myself in the pleasure brought about by my position, and I had entirely forgotten that I was just a creation, that I was merely a vessel of the grace of the Lord.
As the church continued to grow, my reputation also grew, and everywhere I went I was pursued by the police for participating in unsanctioned religious activities. Due to this persecution from the government, I didn’t dare return home. I could hide for a time, but not forever, and I was caught by the police one time when I went back to get some clothing. I was sentenced to three years of reeducation through labor. During those three years I underwent every kind of cruel persecution and torture. The days truly did feel like years, and it felt like a layer of skin had been peeled off from head to toe. But after I got out, I still continued to preach the gospel with the utmost confidence, just the same as ever, and I was also reinstated to my original position. After another six months, I was once again detained by the local government and sentenced to another three years of reeducation through labor. After torturing me in every possible way, they put me in a detention center for another 70 days. After that, I was put into a labor camp where I was carrying bricks. At the time it was the seventh lunar month and the weather was sweltering. The temperature in the kiln was around 70 degrees centigrade and I had to make more than 10,000 bricks every day. My hunger combined with the previous cruel torture had made my body extremely weak. I could not physically tolerate that type of labor in the heat, but the vicious guards didn’t care about any of that. When I couldn’t complete my tasks they handcuffed my hands behind my back, made me kneel down, and placed bottles in my armpits and behind my knees. Then they beat me with electric prods until the handcuffs dug deep into my flesh. It was unimaginably painful. Subjected to this type of cruel torture, I had only completed seven days of labor when I passed out inside of the kiln. I wasn’t rescued until 52 hours later, but I had nearly become a vegetable. Aside from being conscious and being able to see and hear, I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t eat, talk, walk, or even use the bathroom. After being ravaged this way by the Communist Party, my arrogant nature had been largely defeated. That energy of power and arrogance that I had in the church had just vanished. I had become dark and pessimistic; I was living in the midst of boundless suffering and helplessness. Later the people in the detention center came up with a warped idea and found a doctor to create falsified records saying that I had a “genetic disorder.” They called my wife and had her pick me up and bring me home. In order to treat my condition, everything in our home was sold, and when my relatives came to see me they were sarcastic, rude and ridiculing. Faced with this situation, I was disheartened and felt that the world was too dark, that there was no familial affection or love between people, that there was only cruel persecution and slander…. Facing the torture of this painful illness, there was no hope in my life and I didn’t know how I could continue on.
Just as I was sinking into desperation, Almighty God extended a hand of salvation to me. After I had been back at home for over a month, two brothers came to preach God’s gospel of the last days to me and that He was working on a new stage of work, His second incarnation to save mankind. At the time I didn’t believe it at all, but because I couldn’t speak, I found some passages in the Bible to show them. This was how I refuted them. They gently replied to me: “Brother, when you believe in God you should hold a heart of humble seeking. God’s work is always new; it is always moving forward, and His wisdom cannot be comprehended by mankind, so we cannot be too caught up in the past. If you hold on to God’s work in the Age of Grace will you be able to enter into the Age of Kingdom? Not to mention, what the Lord Jesus said in the Bible all has its own meaning and context.” Then, they opened up the words of Almighty God for me to read, and after that found many prophecies in the Bible for me to read regarding God’s work in the last days. Through God’s words and the fellowship with my brothers, I came to understand the meaning of the name of God, the inner truth in His three stages of work, His purpose in His management of mankind, the mysteries of His incarnations, the inner truth in the Bible, and more. These were things I had never heard of in my life, and they were also mysteries and truths that I had not been receptive to when I had been working so hard on studying the Bible for all those years. I listened to it with relish; I was utterly convinced. After that, my brothers gave me a book of the words of God, saying: “After you’re better, you can preach the gospel to your co-workers and brothers and sisters.” I very happily accepted the book of God’s words. At that time, I was only able to lie in bed all day and read God’s words. I felt a longing and enjoyment that was like a fish returning to water. I read it every day, and I prayed every day. Before long, my health was gradually improving. I could get out of bed and walk around a bit, and I was able to be more independent in my life. After that I was living the life of the church in my home, and I had meetings twice every week.
I hadn’t imagined that in my future church life my arrogant disposition would be so thoroughly exposed. Through His words and various people, matters and things, through His judgment and chastisement, His dealing with me and pruning aspects of me, God caused my arrogant, unruly heart to be taken down bit by bit. One time the church arranged for a young girl of 17 or 18 to come meet with me. She was the daughter of a brother from my original denomination, and before when I was the church leader I had gone to her home frequently. I thought to myself: What’s wrong with the church leader’s arrangements? Having a child come guide me—do they look down on me? Under the rule of my arrogant nature, I said with disdain: “I’ve believed in God for more years than you’ve been alive. When I used to go to your house you were just a few years old. I would play with you then, but now you’re coming to guide me….” My little sister turned red from what I had said, and she didn’t dare to come again. The next week a different little sister came. She was also quite young and was from the neighboring village. I didn’t say anything, but I thought: Whether it’s number of years or qualifications of believing in God, knowledge of the Bible, or experience in church governance, I am so much better than you in every regard! From your age, I can see that you’ve been a believer for three or four years at the most. I’ve believed for 21 years. How can you possibly be qualified to come guide me? … But who could know that this little sister was actually very articulate—she spoke frankly and sharply. When meeting, right away she opened God’s utterances and read out loud: “… some people … like to give speeches and work outside. They like to meet together and speak; they like when people listen to them, worship them, surround them. They like to have stature in the minds of others and appreciate when others value their image. … If he really behaves in this way, then that is enough to show that he is arrogant and conceited. He does not worship God at all; he seeks high status, and he wants to have authority over others, to possess them, to have stature in their minds. This is a classic image of Satan. What stands out about his nature is arrogance and conceit, unwillingness to worship God, and a desire for the worship of others” (“How to Know Man’s Nature” in Records of Christ’s Talks). God’s words pierced my heart like a sword, making a direct hit on me. It was an incisive revelation of my despicable intentions and ugly performance in my actions of believing in God, as well as the true essence of my nature. I was full of shame and wanted nothing more than to just disappear. As for what was exposed in God’s words, when I thought of what I revealed, only then did I realize that my nature was too arrogant and that in essence I was being hostile to God. In the past, in order for people to look up to me and admire me, to be someone in charge of others, to be on a higher level, I worked hard at reading the Bible and put everything into equipping myself with knowledge of the Bible. Because of this, I attained a status and title that I had only dreamed of as well as the support of everyone. I gained enjoyment from others’ admiration, and I preached in order to satisfy my own vanity. Through my monopoly on power, I revealed myself and showed off. I was always happy to enjoy the feeling of being on top of the world when standing at the pulpit, and I even shamelessly used passages from the Bible to bear witness to and elevate myself. I believed that I had been sent by God. I was overbearingly arrogant. That day, I looked down on that little sister, using my many years of preaching as capital. I believed that because I had believed in God for more years and I had greater knowledge of the Bible, greater experience in church governance, I was better than everyone. I didn’t think much of anyone, and I underestimated and scorned those two sisters. When I spoke I wounded others, and I arrogantly forfeited my sense of reasonable humanity. Only then did I realize that my pursuits were in resistance to God and opposed Him. I was struggling with God for status. The essence of my nature was the classic image of Satan. Facing the words of God, I couldn’t not be convinced. I prayed to God, saying: “Oh God, I am too arrogant. When I had status I was high and mighty, and when I didn’t have status I still didn’t listen to anyone. I used my old credentials and authority to rule over people, to look down on them. I am so shameless! Today I received Your salvation. I am willing to accept the revelation and judgment in Your words.”
After that, the sister once again opened to a passage of God’s words for me to read. They were: “… man’s sense has lost its original function, and that man’s conscience, too, has lost its original function. The man that I look upon is a beast in human attire, he is a venomous snake, and no matter how pitiable he tries to appear before My eyes, I will never be merciful toward him, for man has no grasp of the difference between black and white, of the difference between truth and non-truth. Man’s sense is so benumbed, yet he still wishes to gain blessings; his humanity is so ignoble yet he still wishes to possess the sovereignty of a king. Who could he be the king of, with sense such as that? How could he with such a humanity sit atop a throne? Man truly has no shame! He is a conceited wretch! For those of you who wish to gain blessings, I suggest you first find a mirror and look at your own ugly reflection—do you have what it takes to be a king? Do you have the face of one who could gain blessings? There has not been the slightest change in your disposition and you have not put any of the truth into practice, yet you still wish for a wonderful tomorrow. You’re deluding yourself!” (“To Have an Unchanged Disposition Is to Be in Enmity to God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). After hearing God’s words, I couldn’t stop the tears flowing down my face. I felt that every sentence of God’s words grabbed hold of my heart, I keenly felt His judgment, and I felt particularly ashamed. Scene after scene of my disgraceful pursuit of reigning like a king in my former church appeared in front of me: Among my brothers and sisters I was high and mighty, I ordered people around, I wanted control of everything, and not only did I not bring my brothers and sisters in front of God and help them know Him, but I led them to treat me as if I were so high up, so great…. The more I thought about it, the more I felt that my actions disgusted God, that I was sickening, undeserving, and that I had let my brothers and sisters down. At that time I felt ashamed beyond measure. I saw that the price I had paid for my own ambitious desires was worth nothing. My desperate pursuit of status and being looked up to by others was absurd. I was rushing around day and night; I endured hardships, worked hard, and went to prison. I was persecuted and tortured, and was half dead. It did not make me have an understanding of God; on the contrary, my arrogant nature swelled up more and more, I kept God in my sight less and less to the point that I delusionally thought that I could reign as a king when the kingdom of God is realized. At the same time, I also realized that when I had been persecuted by the Communist Party in my former church, God was using that to make me better able to accept His work in the last days. Otherwise, based on my prestige and status in my former church, based on the fact that I didn’t keep God within my sight and my overbearingly arrogant disposition, I absolutely would not have been able to easily let go of my position and accept Almighty God. I definitely would have become an evil servant who hindered others’ return to God, who opposed God and in the end would suffer His punishment! I couldn’t help but thank God from the bottom of my heart for His salvation, and His great forgiveness of me. So I became much more low-key because of what was revealed through God’s words, and I no longer dared to be so impudent and unreasonable with my brothers and sisters.
Under God’s care and protection, my illness gradually improved. Even though I wasn’t able to speak clearly, I could ride a bicycle and do a little bit of work in general affairs. However, because my arrogant nature was too deeply entrenched, God once again arranged for new people and things to judge me and change me. One day, the church leader arranged for me to take on hosting duties. After hearing this I felt very unwilling to do it. I believed that acting as a host was a waste of my abilities, but I also couldn’t refuse, so I grudgingly agreed. While I was hosting, some brothers and sisters were meeting at my house and had me watch the door to safeguard our surroundings. Once again my inner thoughts arose: Just acting as a host, keeping an eye on the door—what will I get out of this? I thought back to the past. When I stood behind the pulpit I was so haughty, but in my duty today I didn’t have any face or any status. My rank was so low! So after a period of time, my internal resistance became greater and greater, I felt more and more wronged, and I was no longer willing to fulfill that duty. When the church leader came by at a later time, I could no longer hold it in. I said: “You need to give me another duty to perform. All of you are preaching the gospel and caring for the church, but I’m at home acting as a host and guarding the door—what will I get in the future?” That sister smiled and said: “You’re mistaken. In front of God, there is no major or minor duty, there is no greater or lesser status. No matter what duty we’re performing, we each have a function. The church is a whole unit with different functions, but it is one body. Let’s look at a passage of God’s words.” Then she read this passage to me: “In the current stream, every person that truly loves God has the opportunity to be perfected by Him. Regardless of whether they are young or old, so long as they keep in their hearts an obedience to God and reverence for Him, they will be able to be perfected by Him. God perfects people according to their different functions. So long as you have done all in your strength and submit yourself to the work of God you will be able to be perfected by Him. At present none of you are perfect. Sometimes you are able to perform one type of function and sometimes you are able to perform two; so long as you give all your strength to God and expend yourselves for Him, ultimately you will be perfected by God” (“On Everyone Performing Their Function” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). After listening to these words of God and the sister’s fellowship, my heart settled and brightened. I thought: It turns out that God perfects people based on each individual’s different function. He doesn’t look at whether people have status or not or what duty they perform; what God makes perfect is people’s hearts and their obedience. What He looks at is whether they end up having a change in disposition. No matter what duty they perform, as long as they give it their all and are utterly devout, and if they throw off their own corrupt disposition while fulfilling their duty, they can be perfected by God. Even though people perform different functions in the church, the goal is always to satisfy God. They are all fulfilling the duty of a creation. If people can face God and fulfill their duty without personal intentions or impurities, even if others look down on the duty they are performing and think it’s not worth much, in God’s eyes it is cherished and treasured. If people perform their duty to satisfy their own intentions and desires, no matter how great their work and what duty they perform, it will not please God. After that, I saw these words from God: “As a created being, man ought to fulfill his duty, do what he ought to do, and do what he is able to do, regardless of whether he will be blessed or cursed. This is the very basic condition for man, as one who seeks after God. You should not do your duty only to be blessed, and you should not refuse to act for fear of being cursed” (“The Difference Between the Ministry of the Incarnate God and the Duty of Man” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). I understood from these words of God that as a creation, worship of God is right and proper. I should not have my own choice, and I definitely should not discuss conditions or conduct transactions with God. If my belief in God and fulfillment of my duty is to gain the blessings or crown, this type of belief is not in good conscience and reasonable. It is from an improper perspective. I was reluctant to do “small work” and to fulfill “small duties”—isn’t that still being subject to the domination of the arrogant ambitions to pursue blessings and be looked up to by others? In my mind, I believed that with status and authority I could work as a leader, and that the more I worked the happier God would be, and the more I would receive God’s praise and be rewarded by Him. So I still would not let go of status, and I was always seeking to do great work and perform great duties so that in the end I would receive a great crown. I also misunderstood the will of God and I was dissatisfied with the duty arranged by the church. I complained about it and even believed that fulfilling the duty of a host was wasting my skills, that it was a way of looking down on me. I was so arrogant and ignorant! Under the judgment of God’s words, I once again felt ashamed. And also because of the enlightenment from God’s words, I understood His will. I knew what type of person God likes, what type of person He perfects, and what type of person disgusts Him. I gained a heart of obedience for God. After that I set my will in front of God and was willing to be the smallest, most unassuming person in the church, to complete my duty as a host, to safeguard our surroundings, to allow my brothers and sisters to meet at my house in peace without being disturbed. I would comfort God’s heart this way.
Through this experience, I realized how great God’s words are, that He has expressed the truth and all of His will to save mankind. We only need to diligently read His words to understand the truth in all things, to understand His will, to resolve our own notions and beliefs. From then on, I developed more of a thirst for His words, and I started getting up at four or five every morning to read His words. After some time, I was able to remember a portion of His words, I gained a grasp of His will, and I truly enjoyed it in my heart. Later on, there was a brother responsible for the work of the gospel who frequently stayed at my home. Several times when he was preaching the gospel and encountered difficulties, he asked me to look for God’s words to resolve them. He saw that I could find them very quickly, and after that as soon as he ran into problems he would ask me to help find some words from God. He really admired me. Unintentionally, my arrogant nature once again started acting up. I thought to myself: Despite the fact that you’re responsible for preaching the gospel, I still have to help you resolve issues. You haven’t read the word of God as much as I have, and you don’t understand as much of it as I do. I have already gained the truth. If I were in charge of preaching the gospel, I would definitely be better at it than you are. So in my heart I began to look down on my brother, and after a while I even started to give him the cold shoulder. Later, the church leader came to my house and asked me: “How have you been doing recently?” Full of confidence, I replied: “I’ve been fine. I read God’s words and pray every day. That brother has seen that I understand quite a bit of God’s word, so he’s always having me help him find words from God to resolve issues….” The church leader heard the arrogance in what I said, and picked up a book of God’s words and said: “Let’s read a few passages of His words.” God says: “Because the greater their status, the greater their ambition; the more they understand of the doctrines, the more arrogant their dispositions become. If, in your belief in God, you do not pursue the truth, and instead pursue status, then you’re in danger” (“People Make Too Many Demands of God” in Records of Christ’s Talks). “Regardless of which truths and reality you have heard, as long as you hold them up against yourself you will surely grow. If you carry out these words in your own life, and incorporate them into your own practice, you will definitely gain something, and will definitely change; if you stuff these words into your belly, and memorize them in your brain, then you will never change. … you must lay a good foundation; if, at the very beginning, you lay a foundation of letters and doctrines, then you’ll be in trouble. It’s like when people build a house on a beach: The house will be in danger no matter how high you build it, and won’t last for long” (“To Be Honest, You Should Lay Yourself Open to Others” in Records of Christ’s Talks). After hearing these words of God, I was utterly ashamed. I realized that my own arrogant nature was coming out again. In my belief in Jesus in the past, I had focused on gaining deep knowledge and understanding theories in the Bible, and I used that as a basis for being high and mighty, for becoming more and more arrogant. Now I was fortunate that I could read so much truth in God’s words, but I had gone back onto my old path and was relying on my own intellect. I had memorized some sentences from His words and believed that I had gained the truth; I once again became arrogant and wouldn’t listen to anyone. I vied for status with others and competed with them. It really was so shameful! Understanding the theories in the words can only make people arrogant, but only those who know the truth of God’s words will be able to change their disposition and live as a human being. That brother had believed in God longer than I had and he understood more than I did, but he was able to humbly seek my help. This really was a strength of his, and it was a fruit born of his experience of God’s work and word. Not only did I not learn from him and focus on putting the word of God into practice in my life, and live out proper humanity, but I looked down on him and gave him the cold shoulder. I truly was arrogant, blind, and ignorant! My heart at that time was in so much pain. I felt that this arrogant nature of mine was truly shameful and ugly. It was too disgusting! And this type of arrogance to the point that lacked all reason very easily offends God’s disposition and incites His wrath. Without changing myself, without genuinely pursuing the truth I only could have ruined myself. When I realized all of this, I truly felt that the judgment and chastisement in God’s words really were His love and salvation for me. This caused me to feel hatred for my own arrogant nature, and I understood that in my belief in God, I should walk the correct path of pursuing the truth and pursuing a change in disposition.
After that had passed, I began to look into myself for the root of my arrogance and lack of reason, for what was guiding my thinking, what made me frequently expose my satanic nature of arrogance. One day, I saw these words from God: “Everything Satan does is for itself. It wants to surpass God, break free from God and wield power itself, and possess all of the things that God has created; therefore, man’s nature is Satan’s nature. … Man’s satanic nature has a great deal of philosophy contained within it! Sometimes you yourself are not clear, but you are living based on that every moment. You think that it’s very correct, very reasonable, and not mistaken. Satan’s philosophy becomes man’s truth, and people live in complete accordance with its philosophy without the slightest contradiction. Therefore, man is always and everywhere revealing Satan’s nature in life, and is always living by a satanic philosophy. Satan’s nature is man’s life” (“How to Take the Path of Peter” in Records of Christ’s Talks). Pondering these words of God, my heart brightened more and more. I thought: It turns out that after mankind was corrupted by Satan, our nature also became as arrogant, as unruly, and without worship of God as Satan itself, and we pursue others thinking highly of us and worshiping ourselves as if we were God. Through societal influence and well-known words from famous people, Satan has injected its thinking, its philosophy of life and its laws of survival into the human heart, becoming something that people rely on in their lives; these have taken root inside of mankind and are difficult to shake off. These philosophies and laws are all the poisons of Satan that are guiding mankind’s thinking, dominating their actions, and causing them to become more and more arrogant and unreasonable. I reflected on the fact that since I was a child I was bullied and discriminated against and I began to envy those who had power and status. In addition, the satanic laws of survival of “People struggle to go upward, but water flows downward,” “I am my own Lord throughout heaven and earth,” “rising above others,” and “One should bring honor to his ancestors” had been firmly implanted in my heart from an early age, dominating my life. Whether it was out in the world or in the church, I was doing my utmost to pursue status and reputation; I was seeking to rank higher than others, to be in charge of others. Poisoned by these things, I became more and more arrogant to the point that I became pompous and I always had to have the final say. I was arrogant to the point that I believed I had been sent by God, and I thought that I would reign as a king along with God. Because of these poisons, I saw myself very highly; I saw myself as really great. I would always put my qualifications of being a longtime believer in the faces of my brothers and sisters and compare my strengths to other people’s weaknesses. I would belittle and look down upon others. I couldn’t treat them fairly, and I had no understanding of the essence and the truth of Satan’s corruption of me. Satan’s poison had made me so arrogant that I had lost my human reason. Just like Satan, I wanted to seize power in everything. I wanted an elevated position to rule over mankind. These poisons of Satan harmed me so terribly, so deeply, that what I was living out was entirely the likeness of Satan, the devil! I prayed to God, saying: “Oh God, I am no longer willing to live based on these things. I have suffered terribly for them, I have been living in unbearable ugliness and have disgusted You. I have become Your bitter enemy for these things, and I have become a demon who resists You. I am living out the manner of an enemy. Oh God, I am willing to do my utmost to pursue the truth, to become a proper person who truly has a conscience and reason, to live out the manner of a true person, to comfort Your heart. Oh God, I beg You not to take Your judgment and chastisement away from me, I beg for Your work to purify me. As long as it is possible to change me, to make me grow up and be Yours soon, I am willing to accept even more severe judgment and damnation from You and the chastening of Your discipline.”
One day, I read God’s words saying: “God has no elements of self-rightness and self-importance, or those of conceit and arrogance; He has no elements of crookedness. All that disobeys God comes from Satan; Satan is the source of all ugliness and wickedness. The reason that man has qualities alike those of Satan is because man has been corrupted and worked on by Satan. Christ has not been corrupted by Satan, hence He has only the characteristics of God and none of those of Satan” (“The Substance of Christ Is Obedience to the Will of the Heavenly Father” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). My heart was once again moved. God is so lofty and great, yet so humble and hidden. He never flaunts Himself, and He never assumes a high and mighty position in His work among mankind. He is always quietly doing all the work that is needed by man, tolerating enormous humiliation and pain without seeing it as hardship. On the contrary, He suffers and is saddened from humanity living under the domain of Satan and bound to its philosophy. He expends all possible effort just to save mankind from Satan’s influence so that people can gain life, live freely and without restraints, and can accept His blessings. God is so great, so holy, and in His life there are no elements of self-rightness and self-importance, because Christ Himself is the truth, the way, and the life. He is supreme as well as humble and lovely. Seeing what Christ has and is, I felt even more that I was arrogant and shameless, and longed to follow the example of Christ, to pursue living out the manner of a proper person to satisfy God. After that, following Christ’s example and living out the manner of a true person became the goal that I pursued.
Later, there was a time when I read a passage of God’s words and I could not understand it. I didn’t know what it meant, but for the sake of saving face, I was unwilling to put myself aside and seek fellowship with my brothers and sisters. I was afraid they would look down on me because I had been accustomed to resolving other people’s issues and had never brought up any of my own problems to seek help from others. Afterward, I realized that my unwillingness to open up to fellowship was still the domination of my arrogant nature and not wanting to be looked down on by others. I rebelled against the flesh to seek fellowship with my brothers and sisters. I had never imagined that not only did they not look down on me, but they patiently communicated God’s will with me, and my difficulty was very quickly resolved. There was another time that a brother had me deliver a letter related to the work of the church. Because of my arrogance and that I completed the task based on my own ideas, it wasn’t delivered on time. When he saw that it was going to hold up the work, this brother became very anxious. He dealt with me and exposed me. At the time I was very uncomfortable and felt embarrassed, but I also knew that this was God dealing with me and pruning aspects of me. It was God testing whether or not I had obedience, and whether or not I could put the truth into practice. I prayed to God: “Oh God, today I was dealt with by my brother, I felt uncomfortable. I also wanted to resist it because in the past, I was always in the higher position and scolding others, and I had never submitted to the truth. I was always living out the likeness of Satan. Now, I have experienced so much of God’s work and I understand that a person who is able to accept being dealt with and pruned is the most reasonable. This is a person who is obedient to God and fearful of God. Only this type of person has the most integrity and a human manner. Now I am willing to forsake my own flesh with a heart of loving God. I am willing for You to move my heart, to perfect my resolution.” After this prayer, I felt very much at peace and serene in my heart. I saw that what God did was great, and that through people, events, and things, He helped me recognize myself so that I could change as soon as possible. From now on, I am willing to seek God more, to rely on God to fulfill my duty as well as possible. After that, my brother was concerned that I would be unwilling to accept all this, so he communicated with me on God’s will. I talked about my realization about my own experiences. We laughed about it together, and from my heart I gave thanks for God’s salvation, for Him changing me. All glory be to God!
So, through time after time of Almighty God’s judgment and chastisement, my arrogant disposition was gradually changed. I could become a low-key person, I could patiently listen to others speak, and I could take heed of others’ suggestions. I could solicit the opinions of my brothers and sisters on some issues, and I could collaborate harmoniously with them. Whatever came up, I no longer had to have the final say, and I was no longer so arrogant and unwilling to listen to others. I had finally gained a little bit of humanity. Since then, I feel that I have become a much simpler person. I live so easily, so happily. I give thanks to Almighty God’s salvation of me. Without His salvation, I would still be struggling bitterly in the midst of darkness and sin without ever being able to escape from corruption. Without God’s salvation, my nature would only have become more and more arrogant, even having people worship me like God, to the point of offending God’s disposition and suffering His punishment yet being oblivious to it. Through time after time of God’s judgment and chastisement, I saw that His love is so real, and that He has always used His love to influence me, waiting for me to turn myself around. No matter how rebellious I was, no matter how hard I was to deal with, how many complaints and misunderstandings I had of God, He had never made an issue of it. He had still painstakingly set up every type of environment to call to my heart, to awaken my soul, to rescue me from the affliction of Satan, to let me live in the light of God, to walk the true path of human life. God patiently waited more than 20 years and paid an immeasurable price for me—only then did He awaken my hardened, numbed soul. I saw that God’s love truly is vast and without end! Now, God’s judgment and chastisement have become my treasure; they are also a precious source of wealth from my experiences and something I will never be able to forget. This suffering had value and meaning, and it is something that earthly power, status and wealth could never be exchanged for. Although I still fall far short of God’s requirements, I am confidently pursuing a change in disposition, and I’m willing to more deeply experience God’s judgments and chastisements. I believe that He can surely turn me into a true person who can conform to His will.