How to Pursue the Truth to Attain Dispositional Change
In Pursuit of Dispositional Change One Must Primarily Resolve Three Issues
So which issues must be resolved before one’s disposition is changed? Firstly, the issue of obedience to God must be resolved. When one can be obedient, when one can obey God’s work, obey God’s words and obey the truth, then this issue is resolved, and one’s disposition will have begun to change. Secondly, the issue of being an honest person must be resolved. Because being an honest person is slow work, you must first learn how to obey the truth and obey God’s work. Resolve this first, and then the issue of being an honest person will gradually be resolved. After the issue of being an honest person is resolved, we then come to issue number three, which is to resolve the issue of being devoted to God in our duty. It is not that only when people are departing from God are they betraying God. When they are not devoted in their duties, they are irresponsible in their duties, they frequently become negative and weak in their duties, or they throw their hands up and walk away, this is a betrayal of God that is even more real. Where does the greatest difficulty lie for the majority of people whose dispositions have not changed? It is that they are irresponsible and not devoted to God in their duties. This is the best proof that their life dispositions have not changed. Therefore, as far as God is concerned, people like this are not to be trusted, not to be counted on and they are faithless people. “A man cannot stand without faith” means that if you are faithless, other people cannot trust you. If other people do not believe you, then are you an honest person? If other people do not believe you, then are you successful in conducting yourself as a person? Other people not believing you is enough to show that you have failed at being a person, and when other people don’t trust you any more, then you have failed utterly, and it proves that you have no humanity whatsoever, that you are not a person and that you are not worthy to be called human. The greatest failure in being a person is that other people do not believe you. Any duty you are given, you do badly. What are you anyway? You are really not worth trusting. It is appropriate to use the phrase “a man cannot stand without faith” here. It means that you cannot stand firm, that you are not worthy to be called human. This is what this phrase means. The way you do your duty makes no one trust you and no one believe you. So where is your humanity? Where is your integrity and where is your dignity? Some people have believed in God for over 10 years, and how do they perform their duties? There is nothing good about the way they perform their duties. Someone has to watch them and supervise them at all times, and they have to be pruned and dealt with. Do people like this possess humanity? When they need to do their duties, they always take care of their own business and they put aside and ignore the work of God’s family and the commissions of God. After a few days, when they’ve been finished with their own business, they then carry on with their duties in a slipshod manner. Do people like this have any conscience? Do they have any devotion toward God? Sometimes, after I’ve given someone an important job to do, a long time then passes without any news, and I wonder: Where have they got to? How come they’ve disappeared? Why haven’t they reported back to me? What stage are they at with this job? The problems pile up there, and I get letters asking about it. Where have they gotten to? Have they just evaporated into thin air? Can someone like this be trusted? Since you are irresponsible then you should resign your position. Why do you keep your title when you don’t deserve it? Are you not causing delays? If you think you can’t do this job, because you’re just messing around and you enjoy taking care of your own business, and if you are afraid that you will delay the work of God’s family by taking on such an important job, then say this to God’s family as soon as possible. Why take the job on and then cause delays? Are you kidding? If you’re doing this job badly then give it up so that someone else may do it. Don’t cause delays. Just have some sense, OK? Have people who do not take responsibility for their duties changed in their life dispositions? When someone is not devoted to God in their duties, then this means they have no testimony.
How can we measure whether someone has humanity or not? Firstly, it depends on their expressions as they perform their duty. If they are no good at their duties, if their performance is not worth mentioning and they do nothing right, then that person is absolutely no good, they are faithless, deceitful, a con-artist—any of these appellations will do. If someone like this has been performing their duties for a year or two without changing at all, how should they be handled? If they cannot even render service till the end, then should they be weeded out? They should be weeded out. They should resign and be replaced by a good person. They should leave now to go home. People who are irresponsible in their duties are not pursuers of the truth, but are service-doers. Yet they cannot even be relied on to render service and it has no effect on them no matter how they are pruned and dealt with. They have come to the end of their service, and so what happens to them then? They are asked to leave. Is this not a suitable way to handle them? Tell me, why aren’t these people devoted in their service? They think: “Here, I get food and board. I only get given a little bit of pocket money, so is it really worth expending much effort? Is it worth working up a sweat for every day? If I worked really hard and suffered somewhat in the outside world, I could make a lot of money. After a few years I could buy myself a car. I only get this little bit of money in God’s family, so I’ll only do this little bit of work, and that’ll do. The amount of money I get determines how hard I work.” Tell me, is there anyone who thinks like this? Is this view right or wrong? (Wrong.) Why is it wrong? Do they not understand that this is God exalting them? Do they not understand that this is God’s blessing? No, they don’t. If they really did understand these things, then they would not treat their duties in this way. They are blind, they try to bargain with God, they adopt Satan’s cunning schemes and have a satanic heart in their treatment of God. They are base and shameless—people like this really have no conscience. They don’t know God’s work and they don’t recognize God’s blessings. They are blind. With the eyes and the intentions of the unbelievers, they measure God’s work, and they are unaware that this is God exalting them, that God is favoring them. Are people like this worthy to perform their duty? Remember this: If someone really does think this way and does not repent, but perseveres with this satanic view, measures God’s love, God’s blessings, God’s grace and God’s exaltation with a satanic heart, then they are a contemptible flunky, and their heart is wicked. People like this should be sent back home; God’s family does not need people like this to perform duties. Off you go to earn your money back in the world—the world is your home. See how much money you can make, and what enjoyment you will have as someone at your level and with your capabilities. Go try living back in the world again. Go back to the world and put your skills to good use; God’s family doesn’t need you. All those who use a satanic heart to take God’s measure are contemptible flunkies and they have wicked hearts. You are now inheriting the great blessings and the high grace of God, and yet you are unaware of it and you cannot see it. God is saving you, perfecting you, but you don’t think to work hard to repay this love. Instead you measure God with a base heart—you are so contemptible. You really do not have the work of the Holy Spirit, and within you there is a state of blindness and darkness. Do people like this really understand the truth? Not understanding the truth at all and being without the work of the Holy Spirit means that they are in a state of total blindness. Are people like this truly blind or pretending to be blind? They are truly blind. Their real eyes are open, but within their hearts the eyes of their spirit are blind, totally blind, and their hearts are dark within. People like this are worthless. Is there any point for people like this to keep believing in God for a few more years? No, there isn’t. You have no knowledge of God’s work, so what’s the point in believing? And you even want to take on important duties? You possess no human conscience or sense, so you are unworthy to do this kind of duty. If you’re asked to do such a duty, won’t you just cause delays? Can a person stand firm if they do not pursue the truth? Now some have come to the end of their service now, they’ve collapsed, and they have gone belly up. “If the cart isn’t overturned, just push it,” but what is their situation? These people cannot push it to the end. Without the truth or light within, they cannot get to the end.
Someone says: “Everything God says is right, so I can obey God.” What problem do these words expose? They are able to obey everything that conforms to their conceptions and their imaginings. Are they aware that there are some of God’s words which do not conform to their conceptions and imaginings? They are definitely unaware of this. They say, “I guarantee I can obey God,” and someone else says to them, “Why are you able to obey God?” And they say, “Because all of God’s words are right and they are the truth.” By saying this, they show that they are very naive and that they have no experience. So is that which is most at odds with your conceptions and imaginings the truth? That truth which is most at odds with your conceptions and imaginings is the most profound, the most important truth. And the truth which does conform to your conceptions is the most plain and the simplest truth. If you can say, “To obey God I must obey the truths which are at odds with my conceptions and at odds with my imaginings, and only that is true obedience to God,” then this testimony you give proves that you possess sufficient experience. Tell me, is obedience to God a difficult thing or an easy thing? Those who do not understand the truth say it is easy, that it is not a difficult thing to do. Those who do understand the truth say that the difficulties are very great and that it is a big challenge—these people have experience, and they know about this. When they have experienced to the most profound degree where their fatal weakness is involved, the greatest difficulty in their obedience is revealed. When someone’s experience is very shallow, they think, “It’s easy to practice most of God’s words; it is just that I don’t pay much attention and I don’t pursue the truth. Actually, the moment I see the words I know that they will be easy to practice.” And you know when you hear them say this that they do not practice anything. Is this an easy thing to discern? For example, God said: “You must be honest people” (“How to Know Man’s Nature” in Records of Christ’s Talks). Tell me, how many years do you have to experience this truth to become honest people? Are three years enough? Can you succeed after seven years, ten years, or twenty years? How about thirty years? Can you then achieve it completely? How about if you experienced this truth for a lifetime? You cannot say. Can you really practice this truth and possess the reality of this truth after a few years of effort? If you experience in a careless way then you will never achieve this. Even if you experience normally for a whole lifetime, you won’t think you have achieved this entirely, but God will say that you have met the criteria to be an honest person, and people also will say you are very honest. This lesson must be experienced and learned constantly. How can one achieve obedience to God? You understand this now, right? It is achieved through practicing the truth. The more you practice the truth, the more you will obey God; the more profoundly you practice the truth, the more profoundly you will obey God; the more absolutely you practice the truth, the more absolutely you will obey God. And with this there is no mistake. At such time as you relinquish the truth and abandon the truth, your life progression then comes to a halt. And when your life progression comes to a halt, then that is the time when you shun God and betray God. Man cannot live apart from God. If you truly have some experience in your belief in God, then when you become distanced from God—not necessarily because you’ve committed some transgression, but because you no longer eat and drink the words of God or you don’t focus on practicing the truth—you cannot feel God in your heart. Do you ever get this feeling? What kind of feeling is this? It’s a feeling in your spirit and it is a feeling in your life. At such time as you feel enriched within your spirit, that is the time when your spiritual life is at its most normal, and it is also the time when you are able to practice the truth and handle matters with principle; at such time as you come to have true knowledge of God through His words and through the truth, your heart immediately presses close to God, you immediately have a feeling of love for God and a feeling of being of one mind with God, and that is the time when your spirit is most enriched and most comforted, and is also the time when you feel the most enjoyment. Have you ever experienced this feeling in life? If you’ve had this feeling of life experience—the feeling of your spirit at its most enriched, most comforted and most delightful—then this proves that your stature has increased, that God smiles at you, and this is the time when God praises you. If you haven’t had this feeling, then that means that your stature has never conformed to God’s wishes and that it has not met His requirements. When you practice the truth and obtain God’s praise, though not a word is said, God approves of you, and at that time you feel different than you do when God is with you, and you feel enjoyment even in your dream. Do you believe me when I say this? I have had these experiences. When I achieved great results in my work and had the work of the Holy Spirit, my heart was comforted. That was a fantastic feeling of enjoyment, and the dreams I had then were wonderful. When the results from my work weren’t so great, when I didn’t grasp the crucial points or the fundamentals, I didn’t feel great in my spirit and felt a little unclear. I would then know that I had a problem and would straight away pray to God and seek the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. I would seek to find out what I should focus on, what problems I had to resolve, and how to not diverge from God’s will. I had to constantly pray and seek in this way, and after a period of time, my spiritual state would return to normal. You cannot depart from God. When you do, when you diverge from Him, you achieve nothing in your duties; it won’t do to just handle daily routine business and not to do any crucial or fundamental work. In a certain period, those who truly serve God must do some crucial and fundamental work or do the work through grasping the crucial points and the fundamentals. In this way, as the work of the Holy Spirit proceeds onward step by step and advances deeper step by step, one is gradually able to carry out God’s will. Therefore, those who serve as leaders and workers, if you do not examine yourselves frequently, if you do not pray to God in earnest, then you cannot truly serve God; if so, then you are without the work of the Holy Spirit.
You are now performing your duty to gain the truth and you believe that performing your duty is a type of training. If you hope some day to serve God and live to abide by and do God’s will, then you must now pursue the truth and seek to know God. Practice to be devoted to God, be of one mind with God and be considerate toward God’s will in your duties. Then in this way the Holy Spirit will, little by little, lead you into the reality of the truth. As you enter into more of the reality of the truth, you will come to know God, your heart will become closely linked with God’s heart, you will take the heart of God as your own at every turn and in all things you will ponder: “What does God think about this matter, what are His requirements, and what would He do? I must cooperate with God’s work and I must be of one heart with God. I mustn’t always try to satisfy my own heart and follow it when I do things. I have given my heart to God and it no longer belongs to me. My heart belongs to God.” When you place limits on yourself in this way and are of one heart with God, then gradually you will become someone who is of one mind with God. This is the path of life progression. It is not the case that your life can develop by performing your duties blindly. You must always pray and strive to progress toward God’s requirements. What do you think of these three words “strive to progress”? These words are great. If you are always satisfied with the status quo and have no desire to make progress, then you will easily come to a standstill. And when you are at a standstill, you have fallen very far behind those who have the work of the Holy Spirit. If you compare yourself to people in religion, you come off much better than them and they are unable to grasp the things you say. But when compared with those who now have the work of the Holy Spirit, you are much worse off. What does this show? It shows that you have insufficient stature and that you have not kept pace with God’s work; you have come to a stop, and have stopped for several years. If you always strive to progress, do you know what kind of result you will achieve in the end? Most importantly, you will be of one mind with God and will possess a God-loving heart, and then your heart will be unable to be apart from God. When you see God’s requirement of you and His words, when you see your own filth and corruption, you then hate yourself and you want to satisfy God and strive constantly to progress. You may think that there is no limit to the amount of progress you can make. In fact, the more you progress, the higher the realm you will be able to reach. When you understand the truth and your knowledge of God is very great, you may feel you are nothing special but God’s chosen people think you extraordinary. Since the human likeness you’re living out is evident and you have experienced such a true change in your disposition, they will then see that you really are someone who loves God. And when someone who loves God does their duty, what do God’s chosen people think of them? “Oh wow, how come they can be so considerate to God in all things? How come they can stand on the side of God in all things? They speak for the sake of God in all things. Their heart really does love God.” When God’s chosen people can see that they are someone who loves God, tell me, is a person like that someone who loves God? They don’t need to bear testimony to how they love God, the people around them can see in their words, their actions and their duties: This person loves God. When you see them do or say a certain thing, you then know that they love God. Tell me, can God’s chosen people tell when someone loves God? Someone says: “I really cannot tell what kind of person loves God.” I’ll give you an example then. If someone falls in love with someone else, can other people tell that this has happened? (Yes.) So, if someone loves God, can other people tell that this is the case? (Yes.) It’s the same, isn’t it? How is it expressed when one person falls in love with another? (Thinking about the other person.) What else? (Being considerate and taking care of the other person.) They are always caring in their hearts and their hearts are always with the other person. Moreover, they cannot be apart from the other person. If they are apart for one day, they think of them all the time; if they are apart for two days, they start to get anxious; if they are apart for three days they cannot sleep. That shows that they love the other person most deeply. Since we can tell when one person loves another, aren’t we also totally able to tell when someone loves God? Love is not vague or empty, is it? Love is real.
To continue then, how is it expressed when someone loves God? When someone is considerate toward God’s will, what things do they do? How do they perform their duty? Whoever can tell of these expressions has a way forward, and they know what loving God is. The most important expressions of those who love God are that they can repay God’s love through their duties and they can satisfy God in their duties—these are the most fundamental expressions. Besides these, what expressions are made in terms of their relationship with God? They frequently pray to God and open their hearts to Him, and their hearts are unwilling to shun God. These are the most basic expressions, right? Their hearts cannot be apart from God and they always pray to Him: “Oh God, have I done anything over these past few days that has made me indebted to You? In which aspects am I not up to standard? Is there anything in which I’m not living out a human likeness, or in which I’m shaming You? I must examine myself. Moreover, have I satisfied You and met Your requirements in my duties?” Their hearts do not depart from God and they always commune truly with God—this is one expression. Furthermore, people who love God focus on eating and drinking the words of God and on their life progression, so that they can undertake commissions for God in the future. They are considerate to His will and mindful of real work. So why do you now pursue the truth? “My stature is too immature. I cannot do anything for God and I cannot do God’s will—this is not my life. I must gain the truth, I must know God and I must live to do God’s will. That is my purpose in life.” This is an expression of being considerate to God’s will, isn’t it? Some people have now been believing in God for one, two or three years, saying: “Oh, my stature is too immature. However, I want to bear a burden for God, and later I want to lead before God all those who seek God’s appearance and who seek the truth; then I will lead these people who have entered God’s family and experienced God’s work into the reality of the truth, and thus complete God’s commission.” These are the people God most needs; He most needs those who undertake His commissions and who do His will, and people like this are the ones who can most comfort God’s heart. “Then I shall be one of those whom God most hopes to find and whom God most needs.” This is an expression of being considerate to God’s will. For example, a child in a family who sees their parents exhausted says, “My mom and dad are so exhausted. They look after us kids, they support this family and they work from dawn till dark. Oh, when will I grow up? When will I be able to bear some of their burden? When will I be able to do some things for my parents and make them have fewer worries?” Kids like this are most thoughtful, and grown-ups are most fond of them. What kind of person does God like the most in His family? He most likes those who are considerate toward His will. Just like the child who knows to be considerate toward his parents’ will, they are likewise considerate toward God’s will. They want to bear some burden for God, share some of God’s concerns and do some practical work for God when their stature matures. And therefore, people like this, who have this kind of heart, are most after God’s heart. Who was most after God’s heart in the Age of Law? It was David. Why was that? (Because all his life he wanted to build a temple so that everyone could come worship God.) This aspiration most conformed with God’s will, and God wanted to find someone like that who could do great deeds for God. Therefore, David was most after God’s heart. Job’s attitude of fearing God and shunning evil earned God’s praise, but did Job have the kind of resolution that David had? No, he didn’t. Did Abraham? No, neither did Abraham. Only David had it, and so God established David as the king of Israel. God established the one with this kind of resolution as the king. God only bestowed blessings on Job, and only bestowed blessings on Abraham too, but He did not establish them as kings of God’s chosen people. What is God’s principle behind establishing a king for His chosen people? It is that this person must be considerate toward God’s will, must be able to bear a burden for God and must be able to do God’s will, and only then will God establish them as king. Some people merely obtain God’s praise; they’re great, for they can revere God and worship God. They are very good with this aspect, and yet they cannot be established as kings—they are merely representatives of people who attain salvation. Those who can be established as kings or leaders of God’s chosen people by God and can do God’s will must be people who are capable of being considerate toward God’s will. Now, take those words that Jesus spoke to Peter: “Simon, son of Jonas, love you me?” (Jhn 21:17). What did they mean? Was He merely concerned with whether Peter loved Him and then nothing more? There is more profound meaning to those mysterious words. What kind of person is capable of being considerate toward God’s will? They must be someone who loves God. If you really love God then you will know what His will is, what things grieve Him, what He most hopes man will achieve and what kind of person is most capable of comforting His heart…. Only those who love God can thoroughly understand these things and only those who love God can comprehend God’s will; those who do not love God are unable to comprehend His will. Therefore, Jesus asked Peter, “Love you me?” These words are profoundly meaningful. How could it not be meaningful when God requires people to love Him? Is it the case that, when no one loves Him He feels sad, but when you love Him, He feels much better? If this is how you think then you really do not understand spiritual matters. You have only understood the literal meaning of the words and you do not understand the truth—you have misinterpreted God’s words. This love is spoken in relation to you being considerate toward His will, and you comprehending His will and being able to bear a burden for Him. You understand, don’t you?
What is the final aim of practicing the truth? It is to understand the truth and know God, isn’t it? And what is the significance of understanding the truth and knowing God? It is that you can serve Him, be of one mind with Him and do His will. Tell me, what kind of person is able to live out the most meaningful and valued life? It is the person who can do God’s will that lives the most meaningful and most valued life. That is the highest life for man. You see this clearly, don’t you? Are you willing to work hard toward this goal? Tell me, does God wish to gain one person to do His will, or does He wish to gain even more people to do His will? (Even more people.) You have understood God’s will; in the last days, God wants to gain even more people to do His will. What is the path of pursuing the truth? It is to constantly practice the truth. Only by constantly practicing the truth can you truly understand the truth, and when you truly understand the truth, you then know God; when you know God, then loving and obeying God becomes very easy to do, and you no longer have any difficulties in doing this. Do you now have a path to pursue the truth? In just a short while, I have fellowshiped about this path clearly, and you now see that it is so easy and so simple. In principle, understanding the truth is achieved through practicing the truth, and what practicing the truth involves is truly a crucial point. Actually, practicing the truth can be said to be simple, and it can also be said to be hard. When it is said to be simple, it means that you need to practice only as much as you understand; if you understand a little then you practice a little. Take being an honest person, for example. If you say, “I understand that, to be an honest person, I must not tell lies,” then practice not telling lies; if you progress, and you don’t merely stop telling lies, but most importantly you harbor no lies and no deceit in your heart, then your practice has deepened; if you continue to gain experience and you not only tell no lies to God but also tell no lies to other people as you practice the truth, then you have progressed further; if you harbor no deceit or deception toward others, and also do not cheat God, then again you have progressed further; if you have no deception, no deceit and you tell no lies before both the practical God and the Spirit, then you have progressed further once again. In this way, you gradually progress, and the more you practice, the better you will grasp key and important points. Unknowingly, you have put into practice the essence of the truth. Is this not the path of practicing the truth? You move from the shallow levels to deep levels. Is shallow practice easy to do? You know how to do that, right? For deep practice, we have to pray, for if we don’t pray then we are unable to do it. Sometimes when someone is in the middle of telling a lie, their heart does not wish to tell a lie and so it says: “Isn’t this a lie? Don’t tell lies. This is a lie.” But they still tell the lie involuntarily. Is this not the situation? After failing several times, they reprimand themselves by slapping their face, and say “Don’t tell lies! Don’t tell lies!” Then, they decide, “I will not tell lies this time,” and with a burst of hard effort they practice this truth once. But when they don’t tell lies, their heart says: “You can’t not tell lies. If you don’t tell lies then you’ll suffer loss and be exposed. It will cause trouble for you.” You see? If they don’t tell lies, their heart is unwilling. Is this not the case? Through prayer and introspection, they think: “If I say that, I will suffer loss and what I did will be exposed. And what will become of me then? Nothing bad will happen to me. And if what I did is not exposed, what will become of me? Won’t I then feel empty?” Everything that happens today will become the past, and tomorrow or the next day others will think: “This is an honest person.” By exposing what they did they do not suffer any great loss. Also, other people say that they are an honest, well-behaved person, and they have a good opinion of them. What seemed like a misfortune actually turns out to be a blessing, and they are praised for being a fool. After gaining more experience, they think: “This is indeed how things are. If I lie I can deceive others and handle matters very satisfactorily. But if I don’t lie, nothing bad may happen, and the outcome may be even better.” And as time passes, they realize that telling lies is meaningless, that they are fooling themselves by doing so and that it makes them feel empty. It is valued and meaningful to be an honest person. This knowledge is gained through experience, right? So what result can you achieve at this time? “I will simply be an honest person and I will no longer tell lies. If I lied, I could handle that matter satisfactorily at the time, but it would be pointless and it would make me feel empty. God is scrutinizing me and my conscience would be ill at ease. I could do without an uneasy conscience.” And after practicing this way, your conscience finally becomes peaceful and the outcome is good. Someone says: “Hearing you speak, I see that you are very honest. I used to think you were foolish, but now I see that you are not foolish, and that you are a good person.” This is the reward of being a good person, isn’t it? So you won’t suffer loss to be an honest person. In this way, you gain your confidence in being an honest person. Is this not how you experience the truth? You experience a few failures and endure a few setbacks and ultimately, when you reflect on yourself, you then gain knowledge. You know what the result will be if you become an honest person, what the consequence will be if you are a deceitful person, you know how God praises and blesses honest people, and you know that, if you are a deceitful person, then God will abandon, hate and reject you, and you will ultimately live in the darkness and perish just like the unbelievers. As an honest person, you will be rewarded, even the unbelievers will not belittle you, and you will be praised by God. In the end, you can live out a true human likeness, you will make more and more friends and more and more people will open their hearts to you. Everything good will happen to you—not just for your spirit, but for your flesh as well. You will not suffer loss. It is great to be an honest person. This is contrary to your past conceptions of being an honest person, right? At first, you believed being an honest person meant that you would suffer loss. Was that not your imagination? In fact, it turns out that that is not how things are, and so can your imaginings be relied upon? No, they cannot. You will know when you have experienced it. And when God blesses you as an honest person, what happens to you in the end? Everything goes smoothly for you.
The Key to Dispositional Change Is Practicing the Truth and Gaining the Truth
Tell me, what is the most crucial key to experiencing God’s work? If you just work hard in your duty, is that OK? (No.) So what is the key to experiencing God’s work? That is, what is the key to achieving change in your life disposition? Entry into which aspect can bring about a change in your life disposition? Can you understand this matter thoroughly? To say it another way, gaining the truth is most important, but what foundation is gaining the truth built upon? Most importantly, you can only gain the truth by accepting the judgment and chastisement of God within His words—this is key. Most people can’t understand this, can they? The more you experience the judgment and chastisement of God’s words, the more you contemplate them, the more you reflect on yourself through them, and the more you will then gain; if you are inattentive with the judgment and chastisement of God’s words, if you have no experience of them, you do not reflect on yourself through them and you do not know them, then you will reap no results. Many people do not understand this point, and so their belief in God for many years is a muddleheaded one and they haven’t grasped the basic crucial points. The key to achieving change in your life disposition is found in accepting the judgment and chastisement of God’s words. When you accept more, reflect more, know more and repent more—if you can practice thus—then you will yield great results; otherwise, if you accept too little, then this won’t do. If you accept too little, can you then reflect on yourself more? You will not be able to reflect on yourself much, you will certainly not know much, and your repentance will definitely have no effect, therefore, you will not reap many results. Accepting more is most crucial. What is the situation when you accept too little? When you read the words of judgment and chastisement, the words which reveal man’s corrupt essence, you don’t try to relate them to yourself, you don’t check yourself against them and you don’t examine yourself; that is, you don’t believe that God’s words are talking about you. Do people like this accept the judgment and chastisement of God’s words? They do not accept it, they think these words are talking about other people, and that they have nothing to do with themselves. When you think God’s words have nothing to do with you, you renounce the judgment and chastisement of God’s words, and when you renounce these things, you neglect the judgment and chastisement of God’s words and you do not take them seriously. So then, no matter how much you eat and drink the words of God or how much you fellowship about the truth, it all becomes doctrine or empty theory to you. Therefore, whether it is fellowshiping about the truth, obeying God’s work or eating and drinking the words of God, all these things should be linked and connected up with accepting the judgment and chastisement of God’s words; without this link or connection, it all becomes empty words. Can you accept what I’m saying? How is it that some people do not reap any results after believing in God for 10 or for 20 years? Why have they failed? The reason is that, although they have accepted the work of Almighty God on the surface, yet they have never accepted the judgment and chastisement or the pruning and dealing of Almighty God’s words for corrupt mankind. They think those words are about other people, and that they have nothing to do with themselves. The understanding of people like this is most certainly all letters and doctrines and is all empty words, without any reality. This therefore results in them believing in God for many years without having the slightest bit of knowledge about God and without having the slightest change in their life disposition. What is wrong with this way of believing in God? It is that they merely acknowledge God without accepting His work. They merely acknowledge that God has come, that He has incarnated, that all the words He expresses are God’s words and that they are all indeed the truth. They do not, however, accept God’s judgment and chastisement, and so they do not gain the truth. Is this not the worst kind of neglect? It is also the greatest fault in people’s belief in God. For example, when some people are pruned and dealt with, they say in a hypercritical manner: “The tone you’re using to deal with me is wrong, the attitude you’re using to deal with me is wrong, and you do not have a loving heart. Your dealing with me possibly comes from a desire for revenge or to exclude me, so I do not accept it.” If you don’t accept it, then what problem is exposed here? It is that you do not acknowledge that you have a problem, and you think yourself great and that you’ve done things correctly. Is this not your state of mind? When someone has this kind of state of mind, not acknowledging their own corruption and being unable to accept being pruned and dealt with by other people, are they then able to accept the judgment and chastisement of God? They certainly aren’t. This is because the judgment and chastisement of God’s words is more profound and more stern than the pruning and dealing of man, and it is more so the judgment of the truth. The pruning and dealing of man falls short of the profundity of the judgment of God’s words, but they can’t even accept it. And so as they ordinarily eat and drink the words of God, they certainly do not practice accepting the judgment and chastisement of God’s words, and the faith of people like this is then lacking. They often fellowship the letters and doctrines of God’s words or the doctrine of the truth, but they don’t accept the judgment of the truth and they don’t accept being pruned and dealt with. Can people like this attain salvation? (No.) Why can’t they? It is because people like this can never attain change in their life disposition, and so they will be dead forever.
How is it expressed when someone is not pursuing the truth? It is that they don’t accept being pruned and dealt with—this is the most evident expression. If you cannot see clearly whether or not someone is pursuing the truth, first look at whether or not they are someone who accepts being pruned and dealt with. By looking to see whether or not someone accepts being pruned and dealt with, you then know whether or not they accept the judgment and chastisement of God’s words when they read His words, and you then have your confirmation. If they never accept being pruned or dealt with by other people, then we may conclude something about them, and that is that they have never accepted the judgment and chastisement of God’s words and that, regardless of how many years they have believed in God, they are definitely not someone who experiences God’s work. This is how you see through this matter, isn’t it? Submission to being pruned and dealt with is the start of life entry. In particular, when faced with all manner of stern pruning and dealing, some people can not only submit to it but also deeply examine themselves, know themselves, check themselves and fall prostrate before God in confession and repentance. People like this are the ones who truly experience God’s work. The primary expressions of those who truly experience God’s work are that they can submit in the face of pruning and dealing, failure and setbacks and their own transgressions, that they can submit before other people and in the church life, and that they can then fall prostrate before God and have a remorseful heart and a resolution to repent. Only with these expressions can they be someone who truly experiences God’s work. After experiencing this kind of thing several times, they then begin to know themselves, and some of them will be able to know the essence of their own natures. Some of you must certainly have experience of what I’m talking about. Those without experience are unable to understand this thoroughly, whereas those with experience will acknowledge it. When people are pruned and dealt with several times, they can then really come to know what it is to accept God’s judgment and chastisement, and what it is to experience God’s work, otherwise they would never understand this issue and would not know what it is to experience God’s work. To them, it would seem as though experiencing God’s work was just living the church life, eating and drinking the words of God, fellowshiping about the truth and doing their duty, when actually these things are all external. The internal essence is primarily accepting being pruned and dealt with and accepting the judgment and chastisement of God’s words. With these two internal realities, when you carry on eating and drinking God’s words, fellowshiping about the truth and doing your duty, then you are truly experiencing God’s work. So what then is the key to experiencing God’s work? You’ve grasped it now, right?
So tell me, what is a true human likeness? Is it a human likeness when you commit no transgressions in a comfortable environment? That is unverifiable and unconvincing. Someone who has a true human likeness is someone who obeys; they can obey the truth and obey God’s authority. This obedience is fundamental and it is key to having a true human likeness. Without obedience, you are not human; only by being obedient can you be human. What does true obedience refer to? It doesn’t mean merely obeying other people. Most importantly, at the same time as accepting and obeying being pruned and dealt with by other people, someone sees God’s authority and they obey God’s authority, obey God’s sovereignty and arrangements, and they obey the authority of the truth, and so their obedience is a true obedience. When someone is able to obey, other people think: “OK, this person has a human likeness, they really do.” What does their obedience represent? Does it merely represent their sense of reason? Does it merely represent their conscience? Does it merely represent that they are understanding? Within them they have a God-fearing heart! They are able to submit to the truth, and this represents that their life disposition has begun to change; this is a testimony and a beginning for dispositional change, and it is a manifestation of their entry into the reality of life experience. For example, young girls are ordinarily all very fragile. But tell me, is it a simple thing for them to be able to obey being pruned and dealt with? It is not simple. It is a testimony to them changing in their disposition. This person now has knowledge of God’s work; she knows to obey God’s authority and knows to obey the truth. She no longer makes excuses for herself, she no longer lives by vanity and self-regard, and she knows how to live before God to gain His acceptance. Those who do not obey God are rebellious and arrogant, and they are the people who are without any human likeness. When someone obeys God’s authority, God’s words and the truth, they are then able to live before God, they become someone who lives before God, they are someone who has arisen, and they are someone who truly has humanity and dignity. Therefore, it doesn’t matter how many years you have believed for in God’s family, it depends on whether or not you obey God’s authority, obey God’s words and obey the truth. Only those who obey are genuinely God’s chosen people, and are those who experience God’s work; only when you possess the reality of experiencing God’s work can you be confirmed as someone who follows God. Tell me, is obedience crucial or not? If you saw someone being disobedient to the truth, how then would you feel? Your first feeling would be: “This is the living, undiminished Satan! This is someone who hasn’t experienced God’s work. This is an unbelieving beast.” And when you see someone submit, feel remorseful and pray to God in tears after they’ve been pruned and dealt with, when you see these expressions, you say: “It goes without saying that this is one of God’s chosen people. They are someone who experiences God’s work, they have piety, and they have begun to have reverence for God.” Only this is one of God’s chosen people. Are unbelievers obedient? No, they are not. What is their first expression as they enter the office? They behave boisterously and then sit on their desks, whilst some sit cross-legged on chairs. Not one of them is obedient. What is this all about? They defy all conventions and brook no restrictions. Are they not the living devil Satan? Wherever believers go, they understand the rules, they learn to be obedient, they know to respect other people and they speak rationally. If they do something wrong and someone points it out to them, they accept the blame immediately and straight away they say: “I apologize. I’m sorry.” And when others hear them say this, they think, “This is a sensible person.” Therefore, for those who experience God’s work, the more they experience God’s judgment and chastisement and the more they experience pruning and dealing, the more they change, and the more they change the more they possess a human likeness. No matter where they go, their priority is to live by God’s words and handle matters with principle. Secondly, they are exceptionally sensible before other people, they are obedient, and they respect other people. No matter where they go they get along peacefully with others. They treat others with wisdom and get along peacefully with them no matter who they are; they don’t argue, they don’t kick up a fuss and they don’t antagonize other people. They are then living out a true human likeness, and ultimately they are welcomed wherever they go. Tell me, why is it that unbelievers do not change? Why is it that every one of them is the living devil Satan, and in the end they all just turn into beasts? Why is this? It’s because the world of the unbelievers only has laws—it does not have the truth. Can beasts and devils be governed well using only laws? Beasts and devils have no sense and no obedience, and their nature is such that they obey no one. They think: “I’ll do whatever I want to do. I’m number one.” And what does this result in? The moment they feel dissatisfied with something, do they care about laws? They stop at nothing, and they defy every law in heaven or on earth. Therefore, is the world of the unbelievers governed well with such strict laws? Is there any place with good public order? In China now there are more and more murder cases, and people are perverted and desperate, crimes through stabbings occurring frequently. Can the law change people? (No.) And what about God’s family? Are there laws in God’s family? There are no laws. Only God’s words are used to judge and chastise people, and the truth is used to purify and perfect people. Ultimately, everything happens in God’s family in a civilized way, and everyone lives peacefully together. You see, the people in God’s family and the people in the world are completely different; they exist in two different realms. Why is it so good in God’s family? Why is it so peaceful and harmonious? It’s because God came to earth and God’s words take up power on earth. Because the church life is an environment of the truth, people living in this environment are capable of change, capable of understanding the truth and accepting the truth, which in the end gives rise to a God-fearing heart. They then shun evil and live out a normal human likeness. In God’s family, therefore, it is a life where God’s people live together with God, where they live by His words, and where they live before Him—this is a foretaste of the life in the kingdom. The kingdom has come on earth, and God has arrived. When God has come to earth, God’s kingdom has also appeared on earth and the life of God’s chosen people is changed utterly, as though they are living in the third heaven. Is it good to experience God’s work? (Yes!) The more you experience God’s work the more you understand the truth, and the more you understand the truth the more human likeness you have. And what does that human likeness involve? Firstly, people have absolute obedience toward God and toward the truth; this is the first characteristic of a human likeness—obedience. Secondly, people have normal relationships with others. Jealousy and disputes become fewer and fewer, people scheme against each other less and less, and they have less and less crookedness and deceit. People treat others in a principled way, in accordance with the truth and with a loving heart, their relationships with others become harmonious and they are able to live peacefully together with others, and this gives rise to peace and harmony. And thirdly, when people love God, they are then able to dedicate themselves to God and expend for Him, faithfully fulfill their duty and strive to carry out God’s will. In this way, people can come to be of one mind with each other, work together peacefully, become like a strong bundle of sticks, and all come together with one purpose. Ultimately, this is all-conquering. There is no power that can abolish the kingdom of God.
No matter when, so long as God’s chosen people understand the truth then they become strong, and this kind of strength no one can destroy, no one can topple, and no difficulty can wear it down. When people have the truth, the truth then gives rise to power. The more they understand the truth, the stronger they become. Why do some people easily become weak and negative? It’s because they haven’t gained the truth and they live by life philosophies that they become weak and powerless. The life philosophies are not the truth. They are just rules and they have no power whatsoever. When one gains the truth, then one has a power so that no one can overthrow or topple them and no hardship can daunt them. Therefore, the more someone understands the truth, the stronger they become and the more able they are to stand firm; those who are without the truth and who neither like nor pursue the truth will sooner or later fall down, and will sooner or later be exposed and weeded out. Take the great trials over the past few years as an example. The arrests carried out by the great red dragon have broken some people who are without the truth. When they first start believing in God, they have some enthusiasm, but in the end the great red dragon’s persecution wears them down. They are arrested, brainwashed, watched, monitored and followed, and without their home life. As time goes on, they are unable to endure it any longer and they get worn down. Finally, they sign a letter of confession, they say they won’t believe in God anymore and they beg the great red dragon to let them off and pardon them. The great red dragon has taken them captive, right? Do these people have the truth? No, they do not. How long can someone without the truth last by just relying on the little bit of enthusiasm they can muster? They can’t last even a few years before they fall down. If in adversity they persistently pray to God, give their heart to God and always receive the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, then they will stand firm. If, at that time, they live in weakness, then they won’t want to lean on God and they will shun God, with the result that they will have no true prayer; without true prayer, how long could they last by just relying on that little bit of enthusiasm and an even smaller amount of willpower? Before even one or two years are up, some would plead for mercy. What do you think of this? The moment someone turns back, then they are defeated by Satan, and they are exposed as not being a pursuer of the truth. And when someone doesn’t pursue the truth then they cannot stand firm. So when there are people who have believed in God for an equally short time, for one or two years, how come some of them can stand firm? Why is this? It’s because they love the truth. Those who love the truth hate the great red dragon. The more they see how contemptible, how wicked and shameless the methods of the great red dragon are, there then arises in their hearts a deep hatred and loathing, and the more they feel that believing in God is good and that it is the right path in life. In this way, they can then lean on God and pray to God constantly, asking Him to give them strength, asking Him to illuminate them, lead them and protect them. The result of this is that, when the Holy Spirit works on them, they are able to stand firm and, furthermore, they become stronger and stronger and more and more resolute. And in the end, they say: “I won’t care even if I have to give up my family and career. I would rather forsake my family. Even without a family I will still follow God.” How come they are able to do this? Does it have anything to do with age? The most important thing is that their heart loves the truth, and this is very formidable. They love the truth and cannot be apart from God. If they are apart from God then they feel pain, they feel distressed and they cannot live on; the moment they think of being apart from God, they start crying. Ultimately, they would lay down their lives before they would be apart from God. “I would live like a vagrant all my life and not leave God. Even if I have to leave my family behind all my life, I still won’t leave God.” And in the end they stand firm. Therefore, all who love the truth and all who can pursue the truth stand firm. Those who do not love the truth yet wish to gain blessings, what happens to them in the end? When they are tormented by Satan for some time, they are unable to stand it and they can last no longer, and so they fall down. At the beginning, they have some faith and some enthusiasm, but as time goes on their faith is worn down and collapses. Tell me, is following God not a battle from start to finish? If someone really loves the truth, if they see that the truth is so meaningful, that it won’t do to be without the truth, that gaining the truth is so significant, and if their faith in God gets greater and greater, then no matter what they suffer they will not be beaten. Even if they have no family anymore, they still follow God; even if they lose touch with their relatives, they still follow God; even if they have no job anymore, they still follow God; and even if they have no place to live out their life, they still follow God—they will believe in God until their very last breath. God gives people like this a way out. He enlightens them, leads them and guides them, and ultimately He leads them into the beautiful land of Canaan. How wonderful! The way out that God gives to people and living before Him under His direct leadership are better than a life in any physical family might be. No matter how soft and warm life is living in a family, does it have any meaning? Can you gain the truth in such an environment? Can you enjoy God’s words? When you live in a physical family, you live a life in the flesh every day. You and your family members are all connected, you are concerned about them, and everything is about the flesh. And in the end, you sink into a darkness from which you cannot get out. Is this not the case? Enjoying every day the enlightenment and illumination of the Holy Spirit and the guidance and the supply of the Holy Spirit is the life in the third heaven, and it is the life of God’s people in the Age of Kingdom. Tell me, is life without the work of the Holy Spirit not painful and unendurable? It is so frightening to lose the work of the Holy Spirit; that would be like living in hell. Do you know what living in hell is like? Firstly, your spirit is in utter darkness and you cannot feel God; secondly, a great pain arises from the deepest recesses of your heart and you are greatly tormented; thirdly, you feel utterly without hope and that you have definitely been weeded out by God. That kind of feeling, of being better off dead, is how it feels to live in hell.