Chapter 39. The Difference Between External Changes and Changes in Disposition
What do you know about changes in disposition? 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 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 do. 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 be good 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. So when you see some people who, when they are in the midst of zealousness, can do things for the house of God and even give things up, never praise them. All you can do is guide these people in the direction of truth, toward the path of life—you cannot dampen their enthusiasm. Zealous people are often highly motivated and have aspirations; most of them are longing for the true way, and are people that God has predestined and chosen. Most zealous people are sincere believers in God; if someone is a new believer and is not zealous, this is troublesome. It is those who are zealous who are more easily led to the right track.
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 both truth and clarity, 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 most probably happens when some of 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. This is not to say that their 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, some of satanic poisons within have been eliminated, the perspective of the person has completely changed, and none of it is in line with that of the world. He sees the schemes and poisons of the great red dragon clearly; he has grasped the true essence of life. So his life values have changed—this is the most fundamental change and the essence of a change in disposition.
On what basis did people live before that? All people live for themselves. Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost—this is the summation of man’s nature. Believing in God is done for oneself, and obtaining blessings is even more so. Casting things away for God, expending oneself for God, and being faithful to God—all of these are done for oneself. In sum, it is all for the purpose of gaining blessings for oneself. In the world, everything is for personal benefit. Believing in God is to gain blessings, and it is to obtain blessings that one casts off everything, and one can withstand much suffering in order to obtain blessings. This is all empirical evidence of man’s corrupt nature. However, those who have a change in disposition are different. How they should live meaningfully, how they should fulfill the duties of a person to be worthy of being called human, how they should worship God, and how they should obey and satisfy God—they believe that this is the foundation of being a person and is their obligation in accord with the unalterable principles of heaven and earth. Otherwise, they will not be worthy of being called human, there will be no point, and they will be full of emptiness. People should live in order to satisfy God, to perform their duty well, and to live a meaningful life, so that even when they die, they will feel satisfied without the slightest regret, and they will not have lived in vain. From comparing these two kinds of situations, we see that the latter is a person whose disposition has changed, and since his life disposition changed, outlook on life has certainly changed. With different values, he will never again live for himself, and his belief in God will never again be for the purpose of gaining blessings for himself. He will be able to say, “After knowing God, what is death to me? Knowing God has allowed me to live a meaningful life. I have not lived in vain and I will not die with regrets—I have no complaints.” Isn’t this a changed outlook on life? Therefore, the main cause of a change in one’s life disposition is having truth within, and having knowledge of God; one’s outlook on life is changed, and values are different from before. The change starts from within, and from the life; it is surely not just an external change. Some new believers, after believing in God, have left the secular world behind; when they meet unbelievers they have nothing to say, and they rarely meet with their relatives and friends, and the unbelievers say, “This person has really changed.” So they think, “My disposition really has changed—the unbelievers say I’ve changed.” In fact, has their disposition really changed? It has not. These are merely external changes. There has been no change in their life, and their old nature remains rooted within them, completely untouched. Sometimes, people are gripped by fervor because of the work of the Holy Spirit; some external changes occur, and they do a few good deeds. But this is not the same as changes in disposition. You are without the truth, your view of things has not changed, even no different from that of unbelievers, and your values and outlook on life have not altered. You don’t even have a heart that reveres God, which is the very least that you should possess. Nothing could be further from changes in your disposition. To achieve a change in disposition, the most key thing is to pursue understanding of God and to have a true understanding of Him. Look at Peter—when God wanted to hand him over to Satan, he said, “You can give me to Satan. You are God, You are almighty. Everything is in Your hands; how can I not praise You for the things You do? But if I could know You before I die that would be better.” He felt that in people’s lives, knowing God was most important; after knowing God any kind of death would be fine, and any way God handled it would be fine. He felt that knowing God was the most critical thing; if he didn’t obtain truth, he could never be satisfied, but neither would he complain to God. With this spirit of Peter’s, with such a longing to pursue knowledge of God, his outlook on life indeed changed. From this statement we can see that his disposition changed, that he was a person whose disposition changed. At the end of this experience, God said that he was the person with the most understanding of God, and he was the one who truly loved God.
If one has no truth, their disposition can never be changed. Even if they are a leader in the church, they will not be able to do the actual work of a leader; they will be acting in name only, and they will only be doing administrative work. Only those who can really carry out the watering of the church to supply truth and life are the ones who have the truth. Right now you are in a training period, at the time of your entry. When the time comes when you have truly entered into the reality of truth, only then will you be able to lead other people. It is only those who possess the truth and those whose life disposition has changed are leaders that are worthy of the name.