Breaking Through Satan’s Tight Encirclement (Audio Essay, Part 2)
Zhao Gang, China
My wife told the sisters what Brother Guan had said to us when he came to our house, and Sister Zhang asked me how I felt about this whole thing. So I told the sisters about the weakness that I was feeling and about the knowledge that I had just come across. Sister Zhang smiled, saying: “Thanks be to God! This is such a pure understanding, this is God’s guidance!” My wife asked, confused, “Since we haven’t made any missteps, why is Brother Guan saying those things? He is a major leader who has believed in the Lord for many years!” I looked at my wife and said: “Hey, he just wants us to come back to our former church!” Sister Zhang smiled, saying: “Right now all that we are looking at is their outward appearance, but we haven’t looked into the substance of their nature! The Lord Jesus once said: “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for you neither go in yourselves, neither suffer you them that are entering to go in” (Matthew 23:13). “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are like to white washed sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness” (Matthew 23:27). If you look at someone from their outward appearance, then the Pharisees were very loyal in their service to God. In people’s minds the Pharisees were devout servants to God, and they were the most trustworthy of religious leaders. However, when the Lord Jesus came to carry out His work, the God-resisting nature of the Pharisees was revealed. It was these Pharisees who frantically resisted and condemned the work of the Lord Jesus. They fabricated all kinds of rumors and bore false witness to deceive the common people: They said that the Lord Jesus was deceiving all under heaven, that He cast out demons through Beelzebub, the prince of the demons. And once the Lord Jesus was resurrected three days after being nailed to the cross, they bribed soldiers to spread rumors about the Lord Jesus’ body being stolen away by His disciples. The Pharisees fabricated all kinds of lies and used all the tricks at their disposal to block people from seeking out and inspecting the true way. Their goal was to suppress the work of God so that they could forever hold dominion over God’s chosen people. Although they appeared devout on the outside, in essence they hated the truth and were antichrists who stood as enemies to God. It’s just like what the Lord Jesus said when He exposed and condemned them: “You serpents, you generation of vipers, how can you escape the damnation of hell?” (Matthew 23:33). So now think about it. Are these religious leaders of today any different from the Pharisees?” As I took this in, the sisters found a passage of Almighty God’s word for me to read: “Those who read the Bible in grand churches recite the Bible every day, yet not one understands the purpose of God’s work. Not one is able to know God; moreover, not one is in accord with the heart of God. They are all worthless, vile men, each standing on high to teach God. Though they brandish the name of God, they willfully oppose Him. Though they label themselves believers of God, they are ones who eat the flesh and drink the blood of man. All such men are devils who devour the soul of man, demons who purposefully disturb those who try to step onto the right path, and stumbling blocks that impede the path of those who seek God. Though they are of ‘robust flesh,’ how are their followers to know that they are antichrists who lead man in opposition to God? How are they to know that they are living devils who specially seek souls to devour?” (“All Who Do Not Know God Are Those Who Oppose God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). The sisters gave me a detailed fellowship according to these words of God, dissecting all the actions of religious leaders along with the substance of their nature, until finally I came to realize that by persistently disturbing and obstructing us from believing in Almighty God and even threatening and menacing us, the leaders were not in order to protect us, rather, they did this so that they could hold dominion over God’s chosen people, so that we could treat them as if they were God, worshiping and enshrining them. So actually, they are just like the Pharisees. They all are antichrists who hate the truth and resist God. God has come to save us, but they think up every possible method to stop us from accepting God’s work and to stop us from reading God’s words. Isn’t this the same as them pulling us down into hell? They truly are so malicious! If it weren’t for Almighty God’s words revealing the substance of how these people resist God and fight with God over man, then I would have nearly fallen for their tricks, ruining my own chance of receiving salvation. At this time my wife said in astonishment: “As it turns out they were here to do harm to us! Humph! These people really won’t finish until they drag us down into hell! I will no longer believe what they say.”
As we took this in Sister Mu read us another passage of God’s word: “In every step of work that God does within people, externally it appears to be interactions between people, as if born of human arrangements, or from human interference. But behind the scenes, every step of work, and everything that happens, is a wager made by Satan before God, and requires people to stand firm in their testimony to God. Take when Job was tried, for example: Behind the scenes, Satan was making a bet with God, and what happened to Job was the deeds of men, and the interference of men. Behind every step that God does in you is Satan’s wager with God—behind it all is a battle” (“Only Loving God Is Truly Believing in God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Then Sister Zhang started fellowshiping: “Through God’s words we can see that whatever happens to us, although from the outside it may appear to be done by man, in reality it is Satan behind the scenes making a wager with God. It’s just like when Job was tempted by Satan. His wife asked him to abandon Jehovah, but he could see through Satan’s trickery. He relied on his faith in God to stand testimony for Him, and Job reprimanded his wife for being an ignorant and stubborn woman. Job’s experiences inform us that for everyone that God wants to save, Satan will always frantically tempt and disturb them and pull out all the tricks at its disposal to attack them so that they will forsake God and betray God, ultimately losing their opportunity to attain salvation. Since Satan wants to forever control us, and devour man, it is unwilling to allow man to attain God’s salvation!” Sister Mu also fellowshiped: “It’s true. Satan has time and again used leaders to attack us and threaten us, with the goal of making us deny God and betray God, and abandon the true way. This is the trickery of Satan. We must be able to clearly see this fight that is going on in the spiritual world!” After listening to the fellowship of these two sisters, I mulled things over for a while, and then said: “So Satan is making a wager with God, and it is through the things that leaders say that Satan attacks our weak points, and it wants us to abandon the true way and leave God because of our cowardliness! This Satan truly is treacherous!” Then my wife also said: “This Satan is so repulsive! If we didn’t listen to God’s words and your fellowship, then how could we have known about Satan’s schemes?” I said with delight: “Now that I understand these things, we need to rely on God to break through Satan’s tight encirclement, stand witness for God, and shame Satan by our practical actions!” Sister Zhang then happily said: “Brother, sister, from now on let’s come together and fellowship about the word of God. Only in this way can we equip ourselves with more of the truth so that we can someday soon be certain about God’s work in the last days. When we lay down a foundation in the true way, Satan will not dare to disturb us!” I said: “Okay! If you are able to come fellowship with us often that would be even better.” Sister Mu smiled, saying: “Then that’s what we’ll do.”
Early in the morning a few days later I got out of bed and looked out the window to see that there had been a big snowfall, and I started subconsciously rubbing my hands. Then, I put on a wool cap and cotton gloves and went into the courtyard to sweep the snow. When I finished I went back inside. I opened the top of the stove and stoke up the fire while my wife was tidying up the house. At this time my wife’s older brother and his wife came in, and as soon as my sister-in-law came in she said in an anxious voice: “Leader Wang and Mr. Guan came here and told you so many things. How could you not listen to them? They specifically asked us to come here today to try to persuade you once again. Do not believe Eastern Lightning. It is our leaders who take responsibility for our lives!” After hearing her say this, I firmly stated: “If they truly take responsibility for our lives, then they ought to lead us in an investigation of Almighty God’s work in the last days, and welcome the Lord’s return!” My wife then said bluntly: “What have they done for us that’s good? They fear that if we all believe in Almighty God then there will be no one left to listen to them.” My sister-in-law became somewhat irritated upon hearing this and said: “How can you both say such things? They haven’t asked you to do anything else. Don’t they just want you to return to the church? Listen to me. Based on the relationship between our two families how can I ruin you?” My wife’s brother continued: “Think about how I’ve treated you over the years. Do you know how much we’ve paid for you? Do you really have the heart to separate yourselves from us? Do you not feel guilty?” After hearing the two of them say these things I felt very upset, and I thought to myself: They really have helped us a lot, and now they see that we are insisting on following Almighty God. Surely they feel deeply hurt, but what can be done? It’s impossible to ask me to abandon the true way and to betray God, for I know that Almighty God is the return of the Lord Jesus. But if I insist on believing in God, then what will they think of me? Will they say that I am an ungrateful person? At this moment I felt upset and swayed in my heart. I prayed to God in silence, asking Him to give me a way out. Suddenly, I thought about these words of God: “You should know that everything that happens to you is a great trial and the time when God needs you to bear testimony” (“Only Loving God Is Truly Believing in God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Then I thought back on the words of fellowship that Sister Zhang and Sister Mu gave me a few days before: Everything that happens to you touches upon the fight that is being waged in the spiritual world, that Satan is making a wager with God. Today my wife’s brother and my sister-in-law tried to use our kinship to urge us to betray God and return to their religion, but this is one of Satan’s tricks. If I were to betray God in order to protect my interpersonal feelings then that would truly be ungrateful and unconscientious. If I don’t want to let my brother-in-law down then I should share with him God’s gospel of the last days so that he too will have an opportunity to receive salvation. This is the only way to show the compassion that I ought to possess. As I thought about this my mind felt clear, and I said: “Brother, sister-in-law, I know that you two have been good to me, and it’s because of this that I need to tell you that Almighty God really is the return of the Lord Jesus. Only by following Almighty God’s work in the last days will we be able to attain God’s salvation! Otherwise, our faith in the Lord all these years will have been in vain, and we will obtain nothing! Here, let me read to you a passage of God’s word, and after hearing it you will know whether or not these words were expressed by the returned Lord Jesus.” I picked up the book of the word of God and was just about to start reading from it when my sister-in-law stood up and said unhappily: “We came here today to try to persuade you, but instead of changing your minds, you even try to spread this gospel to us, but we will not listen to you.” After saying this she grabbed her husband and walked out in anger.
I followed them out into the courtyard until I got to the entryway, but I saw that they had already walked far off. Feeling helpless, I stood there shaking my head. It was at this time that I saw that the weather had cleared up, and that a warm light was shining upon a pine tree outside of the courtyard. The snow that had accumulated on the pine tree started to melt, as if at that very moment the tree had just gone through a baptism. In contrast to the snow-covered ground, the straight and tall tree appeared especially verdant. I felt very happy, as if I were the same as the pine tree and had also experienced the baptism of wind and snow, growing from the nourishment of the sunshine. I knew that it was God’s words that had led me to break through the tight encirclement and stand witness for Him. Thanks be to God! All glory be to Almighty God!