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7. The Difference Between External Good Deeds and Changes in Disposition

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Chapter 6 Several Forms of Differentiation That You Should Possess in Your Belief in God

7. The Difference Between External Good Deeds and Changes in Disposition

Relevant Words of God:

A transformation in disposition mainly refers to a transformation in your nature. Nature is not something that can be seen from outside behaviors; nature is directly related to the worth and significance of people’s existence. It directly involves values in life, the things deep within the soul, and the people’s essence. Someone who is unable to accept the truth will have no transformation in these aspects. Only by experiencing God’s work, fully entering into the truth, changing their values and outlooks on existence and life, viewing things in the same way as God, and becoming capable of completely submitting and being devoted to God can their dispositions be said to have changed. You may appear to put forth some effort, you may be resilient in the face of hardships, you may be able to carry out work arrangements from the above, or you may be able to go wherever you are told to go, but these are only small changes in your actions and are not enough to be a transformation in your disposition. You may be able to run down many paths and suffer many hardships and endure great humiliation; you may feel very close to God, and that the Holy Spirit is doing some work within you. However, when God asks you to do something that doesn’t conform to your notions, you still don’t submit, you look for excuses, and you rebel against and resist God, even to the point that you blame God and protest against Him. This is a serious problem! This proves that you still have a nature that is resistant to God and that you have not had any transformation whatsoever.

from “What You Should Know About Transforming Your Disposition” in Records of Christ’s Talks

The essences of changes in disposition and changes in behavior are different, and changes in practice are also different—they are all different in essence. Most people place special emphasis on behavior in their belief in God, as a result of which there are some changes occurring in their behavior. After believing in God, they stop contending with others, they stop fighting with people and insulting them, they stop smoking and drinking, they do not steal any public property—whether it be but a nail or a plank of wood—and they even go so far as to not take it to the courts when they suffer losses or are wronged. Without doubt, some changes do occur in their behavior. Because, after believing in God, accepting the true way makes them feel especially good, and because they have also tasted the grace of the work of the Holy Spirit, they are particularly fervent, and there is even nothing that they cannot forsake or suffer. Yet after having believed for three, five, ten, or thirty years—because there has been no change in their life disposition, in the end they slide back into old ways, their arrogance and haughtiness grows, and they begin to fight for power and profit, they covet the money of the church, they do anything that serves their interests, they crave status and pleasures, and they become parasites of the house of God. Most of the leaders, in particular, are abandoned. And what do these facts prove? Changes in nothing more than behavior are unsustainable. If there is no alteration in people’s life disposition, then sooner or later their wicked side will show itself. Because the source of the changes in their behavior is fervor, coupled with some work by the Holy Spirit at the time, it is extremely easy for them to become fervent, or to show kindness for a time. As the unbelievers say, “Doing one good deed is easy, what’s hard is doing a lifetime of good deeds.” People are incapable of doing good deeds their whole life. Their behavior is directed by the life; whatever their life is, so is their behavior, and only that which is revealed naturally represents the life, and one’s nature. Things that are fake cannot last. When God works to save man, it is not to adorn man with good behavior—God’s work is in order to change people’s dispositions, to make them reborn into new people. Thus, God’s judgment, chastisement, trials, and refinement of man are all in order to change his disposition, so that he may achieve absolute obedience and faithfulness to God, and the normal worship of God. This is the aim of God’s work. Behaving well is not the same as obeying God, much less does it equal being compatible with Christ. Changes in behavior are based on doctrine, and born of fervor—they are not based on the true knowledge of God, or upon the truth, much less do they rest on the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Even though there are times when some of what people do is directed by the Holy Spirit, this is not the expression of the life, much less is it the same as knowing God; no matter how good a person’s behavior, it does not prove that they obey God, or that they put the truth into practice. Behavioral changes are a momentary illusion, they are the manifestation of zealousness, and they are not the expression of the life. …

People can behave well, but that does not necessarily mean they are possessed of the truth. People’s fervor can only make them abide by doctrine and follow regulation; people who are without the truth have no way of resolving substantive problems, and doctrine cannot stand in for the truth. Those who have changed their dispositions are different. They have truth within, they are discerning on all issues, they know how to act in accordance with God’s will, how to act in accordance with the principles of the truth, how to act to satisfy God, and they understand the nature of the corruption they reveal. When their own ideas and conceptions are revealed, they are able to be discerning and forsake the flesh. This is how a change in disposition is expressed. The main thing about a change in disposition is that they have the truth within them and completely understand it, and when carrying things out, they put the truth into practice with relative accuracy and their corruption is not revealed as often. Generally, someone whose disposition has changed appears to be quite reasonable and discerning, and as a result of their understanding of truth, self-righteousness and arrogance are not revealed as much. They are able to see everything clearly, so they do not become arrogant after gaining this clarity. They are able to have a measured grasp on what man’s place is, how to behave reasonably, how to be dutiful, what to say and what not to say, and what to say and what to do to which people. This is why it is said that these kinds of people are relatively reasonable. Those who change their dispositions truly live out the likeness of a human, and they have truth; they are not subject to the influence of others. Those who have had a change in disposition are steadier, they do not blow hot and cold, and no matter what situation they are in, they know how to do their duty properly and how to do things to satisfy God. Those whose dispositions have changed are not focused on what to do to make themselves look good on a superficial level—they have internal clarity on what to do to satisfy God. Therefore, from the outside they may not seem so enthusiastic or like they have done anything very great, but everything they do is meaningful, is valuable, and has practical results. Those whose dispositions have changed are certain to possess a lot of truth—this can be confirmed by their perspectives on things and their principles in their actions. Those who do not possess truth absolutely have not had a change in disposition. That is not to say that someone who is mature in their humanity will necessarily have a change in disposition; it primarily refers to when some of the satanic poisons within a person’s nature change due to their knowledge of God and their understanding of the truth. That is to say, those poisons are cleansed and the truth expressed by God takes root within the person, becomes his life, and becomes the foundation of his existence. Only then does he become a new person, and his disposition therefore changes. A change in disposition does not mean that people’s outer disposition is meeker than before, that they used to be arrogant but now their words are reasonable, that they used to listen to no one but now they can listen to others—these external changes cannot be said to be changes in disposition. Of course changes in disposition do include these situations, but the most key thing is that their inner life has changed. The truth expressed by God becomes their very life, the satanic poisons within have been eliminated, their perspective has completely changed, and none of it is in line with that of the world. They see the schemes and poisons of the great red dragon clearly; they have grasped the true essence of life. So their life values have changed—this is the most fundamental change and the essence of a change in disposition.

from “The Difference Between External Changes and Changes in Disposition” in Records of Christ’s Talks

In the realm of religion, many people suffer not insignificantly their whole lives, subduing their body or bearing their cross, even suffering and enduring until their last breath! Some are still fasting the morning of their death. All their lives they deny themselves nice food and nice clothing, stressing only suffering. They are able to subdue their body and forsake their flesh. Their spirit for enduring suffering is commendable. But their thinking, their notions, their mental attitude, and indeed their old nature—none of these have been dealt with at all. They have no true understanding of themselves. Their mental image of God is the traditional one of an abstract, vague God. Their resolve to suffer for God comes from their zeal and their positive natures. Even though they believe in God, they neither understand God nor know His will. They are only blindly working for and blindly suffering for God. They place no value whatsoever on being discerning and care little about how to ensure that their service actually fulfills God’s will. Even less do they know how to achieve an understanding of God. The God they serve is not God in His original image, but a God that they themselves conjured up, a God they heard of, or a legendary God found in writings. They then use their vivid imaginations and their godly hearts to suffer for God and to take on for God the work that God wants to do. Their service is too inexact, such that there is practically no one truly serving God in a way that fulfills His will. Regardless of how willing they are to suffer, their original perspective on service and their mental image of God remain unchanged because they have not gone through God’s judgment and chastisement and His refinement and perfection, and because no one has led them with the truth. Even if they believe in Jesus the Savior, none of them has ever seen the Savior. They only know of Him through legend and hearsay. Thus their service amounts to no more than serving randomly with eyes closed, like a blind man serving his own father. What ultimately can be achieved through this kind of service? And who would approve of it? From beginning to end, their service never changes at all. They receive only man-made lessons and base their service only on their naturalness and what they themselves are fond of. What reward could this reap? … All those who have not received judgment, not received pruning and dealing, and not changed—are they not the incompletely conquered? Of what use are such people? If your thinking, your understanding of life, and your understanding of God show no new change and result in not even a little real gain, you will never achieve anything remarkable in your service! Without a vision and without a new understanding of God’s work, you cannot be a conquered person. Your way of following God will then be like that of those who suffer and fast—it will be of little value! It is precisely because there is little testimony in what they do that I say their service is futile! Throughout their lives, those people suffer, spend time in prison, and at every moment, they endure, stress love and kindness, and bear their cross. They are slandered and rejected by the world and have experienced every hardship. They obey to the end, but still, they are not conquered and they can offer no testimony of being conquered. They have suffered in no small measure, but inside they do not know God at all. None of their old thinking, old notions, religious practices, man-made understandings, and human ideas have been dealt with. There is no new understanding in them at all. Not even a bit of their understanding of God is true or accurate. They have misunderstood God’s will. Can this be to serve God? … If in believing in God, all you know about is subduing your body and enduring and suffering, and you are unclear on whether what you are doing is right or wrong, much less whom it is for, then how can this kind of practice lead to change?

from “The Inside Truth of the Conquering Work (3)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

Whenever such religious people congregate, they ask, “Sister, how have you been these days?” She replies, “I feel indebted to God and that I am unable to fulfill His heart’s desire.” Another says, “I, too, am indebted to God and unable to satisfy Him.” These few sentences and words alone express the vile things deep within their hearts. Such words are the most loathsome and exceedingly repugnant. The nature of such men opposes God. Those who focus on reality communicate whatever is in their hearts and open their hearts in communication. There is not a single false exercise, no civilities or empty pleasantries. They are always straightforward and observe no earthly rules. There are those who have a penchant for outward display, even without any sense. When another sings, he begins to dance, not even realizing that the rice in his pot has already burned. Such manner of men are not godly or honorable, and are far too frivolous. These are all manifestations of the lack of reality. When some people commune about the matters of life in the spirit, though they speak not of indebtedness to God, they retain a true love for Him within their hearts. Your indebtedness to God has nothing to do with others; you are indebted to God, not man. So what use is it for you to constantly speak of this to others? You must place importance on entering into reality, not outward zeal or display.

What do the superficial good deeds of man represent? They represent the flesh, and even the best of outward practices do not represent life, only your own individual temperament. The outward practices of man cannot fulfill the desire of God. You constantly speak of your indebtedness to God, yet you cannot supply the life of others or provoke others to love God. Do you believe that such actions will satisfy God? You believe that this is God’s heart’s desire, that this is of the spirit, but in truth this is absurd! You believe that what pleases you and what you wish is that which God delights in. Can what pleases you represent that of God? Can the character of man represent God? What pleases you is precisely that which God abhors, and your habits are that which God loathes and rejects. If you feel indebted, then go and pray before God. There is no need to speak of it to others. If you do not pray before God and instead constantly draw attention to yourself in the presence of others, can this fulfill the desire of God’s heart? If your actions are always in appearance only, this means that you are the most vain of men. What manner of man is he who only has superficial good deeds but is devoid of reality? Such men are hypocritical Pharisees and religious people! If you do not put off your outward practices and cannot make changes, then the elements of hypocrisy in you will grow even more. The greater the elements of hypocrisy, the more resistance there is to God, and in the end, such manner of men will surely be cast away!

from “Believing in God Should Focus on Reality, Not Religious Rituals” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

It may be that in all your years of faith in God, you have never cursed anyone or committed a bad deed, yet in your association with Christ, you cannot speak the truth, act honestly, or obey the word of Christ; in that case, I say that you are the most sinister and malicious person in the world. You may be exceptionally cordial and devoted to your relatives, friends, wife (or husband), sons and daughters, and parents, and never take advantage of others, but if you cannot be compatible and in harmony with Christ, then even if you expend your all in relief to your neighbors or take meticulous care of your father, mother, and household members, I would say that you are still wicked, and moreover one full of cunning tricks. Do not think, just because you get along with others and do a few good deeds, that you are compatible with Christ. Do you think that your charitable intent can finagle a blessing from Heaven? Do you think that doing a few good deeds can substitute for your obedience? Not one of you is able to accept being dealt with and pruned, and all find it difficult to embrace the normal humanity of Christ, notwithstanding which you are constantly trumpeting your obedience to God. Such faith as yours will bring down a fitting retribution.

from “Those Who Are Incompatible With Christ Are Surely Opponents of God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

Sermon and Fellowship Excerpts for Reference:

In the religious world, there are many devout people saying, “We have changed due to our faith in the Lord Jesus. We are able to expend for the Lord, do work for the Lord, endure prison for the Lord and do not deny His name. We are able to do many virtuous things, give to charity, donate and help the poor. These are big changes! So we are qualified to be brought into the kingdom of heaven.” What do you think about these words? Do you have any discernment when it comes to these words? What does it mean to be cleansed? Do you think that if your behavior has changed and you do good deeds then you have been cleansed? Someone says, “I have cast aside everything. I have cast aside my job, my family and the desires of the flesh in order to expend for God. Is this the equivalent of getting cleansed?” Even if you have done all this, this is not solid evidence that you have been cleansed. So, what is the key point? In which aspect can you obtain cleansing that can be considered real cleansing? The cleansing of the satanic disposition that resists God means a true cleansing. What are the manifestations of satanic disposition that resists God? The most obvious manifestations are a person’s arrogance, conceit, self-righteousness and self-pride, as well as his crookedness, treachery, telling lies, deception and hypocrisy. When these satanic dispositions are no longer part of someone, then they have been truly cleansed. It has been said that there are 12 key manifestations in man’s satanic disposition, such as considering oneself to be the most honorable; letting those who comply with me thrive and those who resist me perish; thinking only God is superior to you, submitting to no one else, having no regard for others; creating an independent kingdom once you have power; wanting to be the sole wielder of power and the master of all things and to decide things all by yourself. All of these manifestations are satanic dispositions. These satanic dispositions must be cleansed before someone experiences a change in his life disposition. A change in one’s life disposition is a rebirth because his essence has changed. Before, when he was given power, he was able to create his own independent kingdom. Now, when he is given power, he serves God, bears witness for God and becomes a servant for the chosen people of God. Isn’t this a genuine change? Before, he showed off himself in all situations and wanted other people to think highly of him and worship him. Now, he bears witness for God everywhere and does not show off himself. No matter how people treat him, he feels it is fine. No matter how people comment about him, he feels it is fine. He does not care. He only focuses on exalting God, bearing witness for God, helps others gain an understanding of God, and helps others obey in the presence of God. Isn’t this a change in life disposition? “I will treat the brothers and sisters with love. I will be compassionate of others in all situations. I will not think about myself, and I will provide benefit for others. I will help others advance their lives and fulfill my own responsibilities. I will help others understand the truth and obtain the truth.” This is what it means to love others as yourself! When it comes to Satan, you can discern it, have principles, draw a demarcation line with it and thoroughly reveal the evils of Satan so that God’s chosen people will be spared from its harm. This is protecting God’s chosen people, and this is even more loving others as yourself. Additionally, you should love what God loves and hate what God hates. What God hates are antichrists, evil spirits and wicked people. That means we also have to hate antichrists, evil spirits and wicked people. We must stand on God’s side. We cannot compromise with them. God loves those who He wants to save and bless. For these people, we must be responsible, treat them with love, help, lead, provide and support them. Isn’t this a change in one’s life disposition? Additionally, when you have committed some transgressions or mistakes, or neglected the principles in doing something, you can accept the brothers and sisters’ criticism, reproach, dealing and pruning; you can treat all of these things correctly and receive them from God, harbor no hatred, and seek the truth to resolve your own corruption. Isn’t this a change in your life disposition? Yes, it is. …

Can the change in one’s behavior that is talked about in the religious world represent a change in life disposition? Everyone says it cannot. Why? The main reason is because he still resists God. It is just like the Pharisees who were very devout externally. They often prayed, they explained the scripture and they followed the regulations of the law very well. It could be said that externally, they were beyond reproach. People were unable to pick out any faults. However, why were they still able to resist and condemn Christ? What does this indicate? No matter how good people appear to be, if they do not have the truth and thus do not know God, they will still resist God. Externally, they were so good, but why does this not count as a change in life disposition? It is because their corrupt disposition did not change in the slightest, and they were still arrogant, conceited and especially self-righteous. They believed in their own knowledge, theories and they believed they had the best understanding of the scriptures. They believed that they understood everything and that they were better than other people. This is why they resisted and condemned the Lord Jesus when He was preaching and doing His work. That is why when the religious world hears that Christ of the last days has expressed all of the truth, they condemn Him even though they know it is the truth.

from Sermons and Fellowship on Entry Into Life, Volume 138

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