Chapter 2. How to Know Oneself
The Fruits That Come of Knowing Oneself
Salvation is what we are after today, the salvation by God. And those who seek it must know themselves. It is necessary to know what fruits one must ultimately attain in order to live up to God’s standards. This is an absolute must. So what are the spiritual fruits one must achieve to finally measure up to God’s expectations? Only when man realizes that he is the son of hell will God finally be satisfied—His word is very clear about this fact. Much of it reveals to us that man is the descendant of Satan, and when God judges and chastises us He says that we are indeed children of the great red dragon, and that we are the offspring of Satan. From this we can see the benchmark we need to meet in order to know ourselves. Beyond that, we see from the word of God the deep corruption of mankind on account of Satan. And though many people are believers, God has no place in their heart, and very few people have a genuine fear of God. Corrupt mankind is just like Satan; man is a worshipper of Satan, a follower of Satan, and even the servant of Satan with a similar disposition. However Satan resists God, so corrupt mankind also resists; however Satan judges God, so does corrupt mankind judges; however Satan betrays God, corrupt mankind also betrays God. Human beings have become the descendants of Satan, and those born of Satan are most certainly identical to it in their nature. Now we see that all the philosophies, points of view, and knowledge within man are filled with Satan’s poison, that humans have become dominated by Satan’s poison, meaning that corrupt mankind’s nature is the same as that of Satan, Satan’s nature is mankind’s nature, the essence of Satan has become corrupt mankind’s nature. Mankind has a satanic disposition, and so he is born to be at odds with God. Evil is in his deeds, words and thoughts, and all the day it is wicked thoughts that come into his mind. In other words, mankind has been deeply corrupted by Satan. This is a necessary fruit you must gain in knowing yourself. There will come a day when you realize that you absolutely do not have any conscience or reason, and as a created being, you simply cannot worship God in a normal way. Besides, no matter how much of God’s grace and love you have enjoyed in your life, you do not know how to repay that love. In the service of God you show no consideration for His will. You only know how to satisfy yourself, to make sure your needs are met, and to achieve your own desires. At that very moment you will see that you yourself have been deeply and utterly corrupted by Satan, without the least bit of normal humanity, and with a nature that is resistant and hostile to God. Why does God wish to perfect man? Because only the perfected can serve Him, and only the saved can truly worship Him. Without the salvation of God incarnate, not one of corrupt mankind could be a true worshiper of God; they would just be using God, praying to Him like beggars daily, and doing so only for the sake of this or that personal gain; begging for help for our own selfish purposes, and treating God as nothing but the object of exploitation. So is this true worship? No, it is not. Thus, man’s prayers are highly exploitative, man is just looking to God for help, and is not truly worshiping Him. When God has answered his prayer, he isn’t even thankful, and doesn’t even think to return God’s love, which is just how senseless man’s behavior toward God is—he is absolutely conscienceless. He’s simply an animal in human attire. So, in knowing yourself it is imperative to realize just how lacking you are in humanity, and how before God you have no conscience and no reason, how you are ungrateful and even requite kindness with enmity. God indulges you ninety-nine times, and you’re all amens and hallelujahs, and He doesn’t satisfy you just that one time and suddenly you’re all grumbles and groans; you actually complain about Him. Isn’t this what’s called being an ingrate? When God does not meet man’s demands just once, they become indignant and consider God as an enemy; this is just how man is toward God. You must realize just how corrupt you are—you must be absolutely clear about this. The first precept is, understanding that man’s nature is Satan’s nature, which betrays God. This is the first part of knowing yourself, the first fruit to be achieved. The second precept is, knowing the life you live is a mirror image of Satan, with no resemblance to true humanity. The third precept is, realizing that you are most definitely Satan’s offspring, you are a child of the great red dragon, that you have sold out to the enemy by regarding Satan as a father. You treat the great red dragon as your father and you rebel against God. You see how the great red dragon persecutes God, you see its nature and its deeds, then look again to see if the substantial things of the great red dragon exist in mankind. We can see how maliciously and brutally the great red dragon and Satan exercise power to persecute and murder people. If corrupt men seize power and impose dictatorship, would they act like the great red dragon? Would they slaughter countless scores of people? Just look at the emperors of ancient China, which one took fewer lives? They were all the same. Therefore, if corrupt men seize power, they would be much like the emperors of old and the great red dragon; the only difference would be how many people they would slaughter. No single emperor could ever lead his subjects to worship God. They were all just like Satan the betrayer of God, only desiring to dominate their own people, disallowing them from worshiping God and finding the true way of God’s salvation; their nature was no different than that of the great red dragon. And part four of knowing yourself is, that you must realize the fact that corrupt mankind belongs to Satan, is dominated by Satan, follows Satan, and worships Satan. The whole human race follows the trend of the world. But what is the trend of the world? It is following Satan, which is definitely not what God desires. The trend of the world is the diametric opposite of the mind of God, it runs us faster on the road toward evil, it moves us further away from God and drags us deeper into the trap. If all human beings follow Satan, and if man has a satanic nature and lives in the image of Satan, then who is it that corrupt humankind belongs to? Some people believe in God, but their nature, essence and heart are completely given over to Satan. Although some people believe in God and are willing to pursue the truth and receive salvation, their nature always takes over, they often go against God, rebelling against Him, drifting away from Him, and frequently bemoaning and making complaints to Him in spite of themselves. If mankind’s heart has not been corrupted by Satan, if he is not controlled by Satan, then why can’t he act according to his own will? Why does he do what he would not? This just goes to show that man has a satanic nature, and that his very nature is one that will surely betray God. So God has said that there is always a chance that man will betray Him—a one hundred percent chance. Today we see some brothers and sisters in fervent search of the true way, and you see them in high spirits. Then you ask them if they are truly ready to accept Almighty God, and their answer is “yes.” And then you ask about a guarantee that they can follow God to the end. They answer back that they can absolutely guarantee it! Yet you never know when there will come a day that they are tempted or tried but cannot overcome it, and then they fall away from God. They can’t help it. For the moment there is no adversity, there are no tribulations, so people always think positive and feel willing to follow God to the very end, so that they can be saved and perfected and become eventual survivors. But willingness is meaningless; mankind doesn’t have his nature in his own hands, he just cannot control himself, so when encountering some unexpected adversity, or simply being tested like Job, people are likely to blame God, then rebel against Him and go to follow Satan, which they do in spite of themselves. But how come man does these things in spite of himself? It is because he has no control over his nature, he is not in charge of himself. Therefore, God has said that man will betray Him at any time, and the chances of that betrayal are one hundred percent. This is absolutely true, for God is the Creator and the Creator knows perfectly the extent of man’s corruption. These are the four results that you must achieve in knowing yourself and are the requirements and standards of God that you should live up to. If you can meet His standards, then that just goes to show that you truly know yourself, and that you are truly clear about your own nature, and your own corrupt essence, as well as who you truly belong to and the final destination and ending that you deserve.
Now we will communicate about the direct results that we can achieve by knowing ourselves. We all know of the aphorism, “It is important to have self-knowledge.” So what does “self-knowledge” mean really? It means to really know oneself. When you truly know yourself, you will have a clear estimation of yourself. If people do not know themselves, they will not know their own limitations. They will have no idea about their own nature or essence. They can’t possibly know whom they belong to, or when they will fall, they are unaware of when they will betray God, and they do not have the slightest inkling what they will do next or when they will do it, or what the ramifications might be. So, not knowing yourself is like a blind man walking through a busy intersection, it’s extremely dangerous! We have all experienced this personally. When people lack understanding of the self, they are arrogant, puffed up and self-satisfied, thinking themselves “above the law,” and they are absolutely unwilling to obey anyone. Wouldn’t you say so? Everyone has experienced this, there is not a single exception, including myself, it is true for all. New believers always overestimate themselves, they gain some superficial understanding of the truth—just some letters and doctrines—and before you know it their noses are high in the air. They become conceited and self-important and self-righteous, submitting to no one, always feeling themselves to be better than others. People who do not know themselves are really so pitiable. Would you say they will easily stumble? It’s way too easy. If people do not have the foggiest notion who they really are, they don’t know their own limitations. They have the audacity to do anything, and they never think about the consequences of their actions, which can only lead to big trouble. You’re putting yourself in grave danger with every passing day that you don’t know yourself! So what are the fruits that can be achieved through knowing yourself? For one thing, it’s true and complete self-awareness—knowing your own strengths and weaknesses—knowing who and what you are, knowing your own nature, knowing to whom you are subordinate, and understanding your own ending. What results come of people knowing that they belong to Satan, and that people of Satan will eventually perish and they are the children of hell? This is an immediate incentive to begin seeking truth. If you see that you are the object of perdition and destruction, then would you not rush to seek the truth? You will not lose even one minute in submitting to the work of God. So, the first result achieved by truly comprehending one’s own corrupt essence is that one begins to really focus on the pursuit of truth, and to pay attention to the issue of salvation. He wants to settle the issue, and he has a sense of urgency. This is the first result of truly knowing one’s essence. … Another direct result of knowing oneself is that one will know his place and his duty. He will perform his duty properly before God as one of His creatures and live like a real human being to satisfy God. This is the second fruit that can be attained by knowing yourself. When people do not know themselves, they always act as if they owe God nothing, so they do not have the intention to satisfy God, nor do they even care about God’s will. If people really come to know their own corruption and their corrupt essence, then they will begin to feel indebted to God, and truly appreciate the extent of His grace, and realize how they should also repay God for His love. So, before God, they understand how to be rational, they know their place, they understand how to do their duty, and they regard repaying God’s love and making God happy as the most important things in the world. The third direct result attained is that one who truly knows his corrupt essence will feel, “I must accept God’s judgment and chastisement! If I do not submit to being judged and chastised by God then how can I be saved? I am too corrupt and I must be born again and make a fresh start! I must please God by living like a human, I must put my all into the pursuit of truth, to strive to submit to God’s judgment and chastisement, and do whatever it takes to attain salvation.” So you see the fruits that come of really knowing yourself. A man who really understands himself becomes rational, is free of extravagant desires before God, and is not demanding. He is not likely to have conceptions about God’s word or His work, nor is he insolent, but rather he is simply honest before God and conduct business in a lower profile. He feels himself to be a sinner who would be destroyed and perish without submitting to God’s work. So, there is no reason to make any demands. He is able to submit to the judgment and judgment of God, and seek salvation in earnest. He no longer holds any extravagant desires or requests anything of God. He becomes a rational person. This is the picture of a man of true understanding of himself, which brings these kinds of fruits.
The Ways to Know Oneself
Just now we spoke about the necessary fruits to be gotten from knowing oneself. From here on out, we will communicate about how to know ourselves. The word of God has fully disclosed humankind’s corrupt essence. It has also revealed and detailed man’s various corrupt states, and that so penetratingly. So we know that we must understand ourselves through the word, the revelation and the judgment of God, which form the basis for our understanding. Because God created mankind and gave them to Satan, allowing Satan to corrupt them, so God knows the extent of mankind’s corruption. He understands most clearly man’s corrupt nature and his corrupt essence. Man never truly understands himself. Though he knows all too well his own corruption, he is powerless to see exactly its source, and he has no insight into his own corrupt essence. For thousands of years, no human has been able see it clearly, not the celebrities, not the politicians, not the religious leaders and not the literati; not a single one of them can make heads or tails of the true essence of man’s corruption. Only God is the truth, the way, and the life; His incarnation delivers the truth and reveals, plainly and completely, corrupt mankind’s essence, nature, ending, as well as whom they belong to. Therefore, we must understand ourselves through God’s revelation, His judgment and His word. This is the first way to know ourselves. The second way is also built upon the foundation of the understanding of the truth, and the comprehension of the word of God. When people first begin to read God’s word, they do not understand its truths, they only understand the language, the literal meaning, their knowledge just skims the surface. But the profound meaning of God’s word, and its essence are not so easily grasped. It is necessary for us to go in search of the truth and the enlightenment and illumination of the Holy Spirit; and beyond that, a period of experience and search is necessary to fully grasp God’s word, and to comprehend its truths. Without that time of search, prayer and experience, and without fellowship, no one can fully understand the truth in God’s word. This is an absolute certainty. So, at this stage of God’s work, the Holy Spirit must first perfect a person and use him to lead God’s chosen ones to enter God’s word, and to enter the truth. Knowing oneself is built upon the foundation of the understanding of the truth and the comprehension of God’s word. This way is very important. … Concerning certain passages in God’s word which are not easy to comprehend or those which people cannot accept right away, we must seek the enlightenment and illumination of the Holy Spirit, and not blindly formulate conceptions or judge the words of God. Besides, we just have to wait patiently for God, to slowly gain experience, to often go searching, to often fellowship with each other, and perhaps after a period of time the Holy Spirit will enlighten you to understand the true meaning of God’s words. If you pass judgment on God’s word prematurely, or deny and give up on it, then you will suffer loss. This is the behavior of an ignoramus. The third way is that we must know ourselves by relating to our life, our actual situations, and the corruption we reveal. There are many times when we read from the word of God but we are not able to integrate what we read into our real life and actual situations; but without that integration, it will be hard to know ourselves. People always relate God’s word to other people rather than to themselves; they don’t compare it with their own life and their real situations and natural revelations, and as a result these people are blinded to their own corruption. So, you must come to grips with your own corruption, which reveals itself in your daily life. Sometimes when you formulate conceptions, seize it. Sometimes when you pass judgment on God, seize it. Sometimes when you mess up things, grab it. Sometimes you lie and deceive others, grab it at once. Sometimes you just don’t put the truth into practice. You know the truth in your heart but you don’t try to live it. You only do what you want, just to satisfy yourself. This is revelation of corruption, and you must seize it. Sometimes you know what God likes, and how God wants you to act, but you just can’t follow it. You begin to rebel and resist and find your own way out. We must seize these corrupt situations. We must examine ourselves and reflect when we come before God, and during our reflection we should consult the word of God. We should consider in which passage God spoke of this, and in which passage God revealed our situation. So hurry and discover how this applies to you so that you can gain the result of knowing yourself. This is the third way. You must know yourself by relating to your life, circumstances and the manifestation of your corruption. The fourth way is that we should know ourselves by fellowship and exchange with others, and by accepting the enlightenment and illumination of the Holy Spirit as well as the understanding of others. Sometimes we know our own corruption in some respects, but not in others; when we commune with our brothers and sisters about our life experiences, our brothers and sisters can see in which areas they are corrupt, and as soon as we compare ourselves to others we see that we also have such corruption. You see, we can gain a new understanding of ourselves by fellowship with others; this is what is called complementing each other, and this kind of fellowship is so good. Therefore, to understand ourselves we also need to communicate and fellowship with our brothers and sisters, as well as seek the enlightenment and illumination of the Holy Spirit so that we can receive good fruits. If you never go to fellowship and never commune with others, if you only shut yourself in and read God’s word all alone, if your only experiences come from behind closed doors—though this will net some fruits—the gains will certainly not be as plentiful as otherwise. The fruits will not be as abundant. If we can often commune with our brothers and sisters, then we can receive a lot from them, so that your gains will be all the more bountiful. The fifth way is that we should know ourselves especially from the times when we fall, from our transgressions, and from the times we have betrayed God. From knowing ourselves in this way we can acquire positive fruits. You may say you have not betrayed God; if you feel you haven’t, then take a look at your brothers and sisters. Some of them have been through all this before, they have betrayed God. So you can commune with them about where they have fallen. They will tell you about how they betrayed God, what the situation at the time was that led to betrayal, and how they later came to understand themselves, to reflect and finally repent. You and your brothers and sisters will certainly receive much benefit and edification from communing in this manner. So, from others and their experiences you can also understand yourself more deeply and more penetratingly. These are the five ways to know oneself. It is chiefly these—what we should call the five ways—that we must have crystal clear understanding of.