39. What are the differences between dispositional change and good behavior?
Relevant Words of God:
A transformation in disposition mainly refers to a transformation in people’s nature. The things of a person’s nature cannot be seen from outside behaviors; they are directly related to the worth and significance of their existence. Which is to say, they directly involve a person’s outlooks on life and their values, the things deep within their soul, and their 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 their outlooks on existence and life, aligning their views with God’s, 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 behavior and are not enough to constitute a transformation in your disposition. You may be able to run down many paths, suffer many hardships and endure great humiliation; you may feel very close to God, and the Holy Spirit may do some work on you. However, when God asks you to do something that doesn’t conform to your notions, you still may not submit, but look for excuses, and rebel against and resist God, even to the point that you criticize God and protest against Him. This is a serious problem! This shows that you still have a nature of opposition against God and that you have not undergone any transformation whatsoever.
from “What You Should Know About Transforming Your Disposition” in Records of Christ’s Talks
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 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 experienced a change in 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.
from “The Difference Between External Changes and Changes in Disposition” in Records of Christ’s Talks
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.
On what basis did people live before? All people live for themselves. Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost—this is the summation of man’s nature. People believe in God for their own sakes; they abandon things, expend themselves for God, and are faithful to God, but still they do all these things for their own sakes. In sum, it is all done for the purpose of gaining blessings for themselves. 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. They feel that people should live in order to satisfy God, to perform their duty well, and to live a life of meaning so that even when they die, they will feel content and won’t have the slightest regret—they will not have lived in vain. That people are able to worship, obey and satisfy God is the foundation of being a person and this is their bounden duty in accord with the unalterable principles of heaven and earth. Otherwise, they would not be worthy of being called human; their lives would be empty and meaningless. 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 one’s life; it is surely not just an external change. Some new believers, after believing in God, have left the secular world behind; when they encounter unbelievers they have little to say, and they rarely contact their unbelieving relatives and friends. The unbelievers say, “This person has changed.” So they think, “My disposition really has changed—the unbelievers say I’ve changed.” In fact, has their disposition really changed? These are merely external changes. There has been no change in their life, and their satanic 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.
from “The Difference Between External Changes and Changes in Disposition” in Records of Christ’s Talks
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