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124. The Principles of Discerning the Essence of One’s Nature

Practice and Exercises for Principled Behavior

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124. The Principles of Discerning the Essence of One’s Nature

1. Determine the essence of someone’s nature by looking, based on their preferences, at exactly what they focus on pursuing and what path they enjoy walking;

2. Determine the essence of someone’s nature on the basis of their weaknesses, their Achilles’ heels and what limits them most severely;

3. Determine the essence of someone’s nature on the basis of their consistent performance, the dispositions they frequently express, and what kind of people they choose and like to associate with;

4. The essence of a person’s nature may be confirmed from the world view, outlook on life and values they hold to, as well as the path they walk.

Relevant Words of God:

Now, in order to understand your nature, you must incorporate several aspects: First, you must be clear on what you like in your heart. That doesn’t mean the things you like to eat or wear, but rather it means the kinds of things you like, the things you envy, the things you worship, the things you seek, and the things you pay attention to. Are you clear on this? Do you know what types of things are included in the things you like? It is the things you usually pay attention to, the things you worship, the type of people you like to come into contact with, the type of things you like to do, and the type of people you idolize in your mind. For example: Most people like people of greatness, people who are elegant in their speech and appearance, or people who speak with tongue in cheek; some people like people who put on an act. This is the aspect concerning the people with whom they like to connect. As for the aspect of things people like, it includes being willing to do things that are easy to do, liking to do things that others think to be good, and things that people would praise, applaud, and compliment after they see them. … Therefore, what you like, what you focus on, what you worship, what you envy, and what you think about in your heart every day all represent your nature. It is enough to prove that your nature is fond of unrighteousness, and in serious situations, your nature is evil and incurable. You should analyze your nature this way, that is, look at what you are fond of and what you forsake in your life. Perhaps you are temporarily good to someone, but this doesn’t prove that you are fond of him. What you are truly fond of is precisely what is in your nature; even if your bones were broken, you would still like it and could never forsake it. This is not easy to change. Take finding a partner for example. Birds of a feather flock together. If a woman really liked a person, then other people would not be able to stop it. Even if her parents broke her leg, she would still run away with him; she would rather die and be married to him. How can this be? It is because no one can change what someone has deep inside of themselves. Even if you pulled her heart out and she died, her soul would still like the same thing. These are the things of human nature, and they represent a person’s substance.

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

See one’s nature through his or her interests. How? For example, some people particularly love to dance. Some especially love singers or movie stars. Some people particularly worship a certain personality. From looking at these interests, what is the nature of these people? I’ll give another simple example: Some people really idolize a certain singer, and to what extent? To the point where they are very interested in the singer’s every move, every smile, every word, and every act. They fixate on the singer, even photographing everything the singer wears and imitating it. What does this level of idolization show about a person’s nature? It shows that such a person has only those things in his heart, and not God. The things his heart thinks, loves, and seeks are all things revealed by Satan; they occupy his heart, and his heart is given over to them. What is the problem here? So, if something is loved to an extreme, then that thing can become someone’s life and occupy his heart, fully proving that the person is an idol worshiper who does not want God in his heart but loves the devil. So, we conclude that his nature is one that loves and worships the devil, does not love truth, and does not want God. Is this a correct way to view his nature? It is completely correct! This is how a man’s nature is dissected. For example, some people particularly idolize Paul: They like to give speeches and work outside. They like to meet together and speak; they like when people listen to them, worship them, surround them. They like to have stature in the minds of others and appreciate when others value their image. What do we discover about a man’s nature from this kind of behavior? Let us analyze his nature: What kind of nature does this type of person with this sort of behavior have? How could it be verbally summarized? Ordinary people cannot see through this but can only view the behavior. What is the relationship between the behavior and the person’s nature? What is his nature? You cannot identify it, can you? If he really behaves in this way, then that is enough to show that he is arrogant and conceited. He does not worship God at all; he seeks high status, and he wants to have authority over others, to possess them, to have stature in their minds. This is a classic image of Satan. What stands out about his nature is arrogance and conceit, unwillingness to worship God, and a desire for the worship of others. Is this not his nature? You can see clearly into his nature from these behaviors. For example, some people especially love to take advantage at others’ expense and seek after their own interest in everything. Whatever they do must benefit them or they won’t do it. They don’t bother with anything unless it provides advantage, and they have their own ulterior motives for everything. They speak well of whoever benefits them and exalt whoever flatters them. Even when their favorites have problems, they will say their favorites are right and try hard to cover for and defend them. What nature does this sort of person have? Can you see their nature clearly according to these behaviors? They strive to take unfair advantage through their actions and engage in transactional behavior all the time and everywhere, so you can be certain that their nature is one of wholehearted covetousness for profits. They are for themselves in everything. They will not rise early unless there is an associated benefit. They are the most selfish people, insatiable, so their nature is to love money and not love truth. Does that not represent their nature? Some people are captivated by women, always thinking about women in everything they do, chasing women wherever they go. Beautiful women are the object of such a person’s affection and hold a high esteem in his heart. He is willing to give his life for beautiful women. He could give up anything—women are what fill his heart. What is his nature? His nature is to love women and to worship them, so he is a lecher with an evil, greedy nature. Isn’t this his nature? His behaviors reveal a greedy nature—he does not just occasionally transgress or behave just a little worse than ordinary people—and his heart is already completely occupied by these things, which have become his nature, his essence. Thus, these things have become manifestations of his nature.

from “How to Know Man’s Nature” in Records of Christ’s Talks

Every person has his fatal flaw, which exerts its influence over every moment of a person’s life and is insinuated into everything about that person and becomes the object of everything he does. That thing represents the person’s nature. And you can say that his nature is his area of greatest weakness. His fatal flaw is his nature. Some people seem to have a good humanity and don’t exhibit any major flaws on the surface, but their outstanding trait is fragility. They have no life goals or aspirations and just muddle through life. They fall away if you say just a few hurtful things, and they become negative at any time because of one thing or another, to the point that they no longer want to believe. Such people’s unique trait is fragility, and their nature is that of a helpless coward. Some people have the nature of being extremely sentimental. What they say and do every day and their conduct is lived in a world of emotion. They feel affection for this person and that person and every day they must pay back favors and return good feelings; everything they do is lived in the emotional realm. How heavy such a person’s sentiment is! When her non-believing husband dies some woman still will cry for three days. Others want to bury him, but she still says, “No, he’s my husband.” She even has feelings for a dead person—her emotions are too acute. You could say that emotions are her fatal flaw, her greatest weakness that can completely bring her to her doom and ruin her. Overly intense emotions mean that she is without truth and acts without principle. She only shows consideration for the flesh and is a foolish and muddled person. Her nature is one of attaching particular weight to feelings. So, if you seek to change your disposition then you must recognize your nature. “Rivers and mountains may be changed but it’s hard to alter a man’s nature.” If one’s nature is too bad and will never change, God will not save him. Don’t think that nature can be changed.

from “How to Know Man’s Nature” in Records of Christ’s Talks

There are common characteristics in people’s natures that must be understood. It is a common characteristic that all people can betray God, but everyone has their own Achilles’ heel. Some people like this, some people like that, some people hold this in esteem and some people hold that in esteem. These are the differences in people’s natures. Some people are able to withstand a little suffering, some people have difficulty withstanding a little suffering. This is due to the yearnings in their natures being different. Why is it that they face the same event, yet some are able to withstand it and some are not? It is because the things in their natures are different. Some people’s corrupt dispositions are manifested severely, and some people’s corrupt dispositions are manifested mildly; however, the substances of their natures are the same. This is a common characteristic. Whatever people’s natures are decides what kind of people they are. Even though they have common characteristics with other people, others may not be the same kind of person. Why are they not the same kind of person? Because the things of their natures are not obvious and they are not that strong. For example, is not lust a common characteristic people have? Everyone has it. Moreover, this area is very difficult to overcome. However, it is especially intense for some people. When they face this matter, they can’t overcome it and they can run off with other people or lead others to run off. It can be said that these people’s natures are evil. Some people are a little weak in facing this matter, or they are a little passionate and lustful, but they don’t do shameful things, they are able to control themselves and shun these things. Then you can’t say that these people have evil natures. There are always passions and lusts with the flesh. Some people act rashly and indulge in their lusts and do whatever they want. But some people are not like this at all. They are able to pursue the truth and rely on truth to act, and are able to forsake the flesh. Even though they have lusts of the flesh, they manifest themselves differently. This is where people differ from each other. Some people covet money; when they see money and nice things, they desire to have it for themselves, and their desire to have it is exceptionally strong. The nature of these people is greedy and covetous of money. When they see something, they become greedy; they even dare spend and steal the church’s money, even 20,000 or 30,000 yuan; the more money it is, the more they dare to do it; they simply don’t fear God. This is a greedy nature. Some people spend 10 or 20 yuan and feel uneasy in their conscience. They hurry and kneel in God’s presence to pray, and with tears of remorse, they ask God to forgive them. People all have weaknesses; you can’t say that this is a person who covets money, it is merely a corrupt disposition being exposed. Some people love to judge others. They say: “This guy spent 3 or 5 yuan, and didn’t pray in God’s presence. Next time, he will spend 20 or 30 yuan; this guy is greedy.” Speaking this way is not right. People have corrupt dispositions and they certainly have normal weaknesses. Some weaknesses are also people’s corrupt dispositions, but there is a difference between a corrupt disposition and that kind of nature. You can’t lump it all together or arbitrarily judge people.

from “Understanding Commonalities and Differences in Human Nature” in Records of Christ’s Talks

The inner parts of a person’s nature constantly reveal themselves, every moment. Anything a person does, regardless of what it is, can reveal that person’s nature. People have their own purposes for everything they do, and whether it be providing hospitality, preaching the gospel, or any other kind of work, they can reveal the parts of their nature without any consciousness of it, because one’s nature is his life, and people are driven by their natures for as long as they live. The nature of a person is not revealed just on occasion or by happenstance; rather, it can completely represent the person’s essence, and everything that flows from within the person’s bones and blood is representative of his nature and life. Some people love beautiful women. Others love money. Some particularly love status. Some especially value reputation and their personal image. Some particularly love or worship idols. And some people are especially arrogant and conceited, yielding to no one in their hearts and striving for stature, they like to stand out from others and have authority over them. There is a variety of different natures, and they can differ among people, but their common elements are resistance to and betrayal of God. In that way they are all identical.

… Understanding your own nature is basically understanding what kind of person you really are. The kind of person you are is what kind of nature you have. For example, saying that someone is such-and-such a person is most descriptive of his nature. The type of nature he has determines the type of person he is. A person’s life is only his nature. How do you see what a person’s nature is like? You must come into contact with him more and observe more what kind of person he is. Whatever is most prominent about him and representative of his essence and characteristics can be said to be his nature and essence. The character of a man’s essence is the character of his nature. When we want to see what kind of person someone really is, looking at them this way is more accurate. Whatever the essence of a man, that is his nature. A man is the type of person determined by his nature.

from “How to Know Man’s Nature” in Records of Christ’s Talks

Anyone can use their own words and actions to represent their true face. This true face is of course their nature. If you are someone who speaks in a very roundabout manner, then you have a crooked nature. If your nature is very cunning, then the way you do things is very slick and sly, and you make it very easy for people to be tricked by you. If your nature is very sinister, your words might be pleasant to listen to, but your actions cannot cover up your sinister means. If your nature is very lazy, then everything you say is all aimed at shirking blame and responsibility for your perfunctoriness and laziness, and your actions will be very slow and perfunctory, and very good at covering up the truth. If your nature is very empathetic, then your words will be reasonable and your actions will also very much conform with the truth. If your nature is very loyal, then your words must be sincere and the way you do things must be down to earth, without much to make your master distrust you. If your nature is very lustful or greedy for money, then your heart will often be filled by these things and you will unwittingly do some deviant, immoral things that will make it hard for people to forget and moreover will disgust them.

from “A Very Serious Problem: Betrayal (1)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

Other aspects pertaining to their natures also need to be uncovered; for example, people’s viewpoints on things, people’s methods and goals in life, people’s life values and views on life, as well as views on all things relating to truth. These are all the things deep within people’s souls and they have a direct relationship with the transformation of disposition. Let’s take a look at what the life views are of a person with a corrupt nature. You can say they believe “Everyone for himself and the devil take the hindmost.” People live for themselves, and simply put, they are just like pigs and dogs; all they care about is food, clothes, and eating. Their life has no other purpose and doesn’t have the slightest degree of significance or value. Life views are what you rely on to survive and live; they are what you live for, and how you live. These are all the substance of human nature. Through analyzing people’s natures, you will see that people are all resisting God. They are all devils and there is no genuinely good person. Only by analyzing people’s natures can you truly know the substance and corruption of man and understand what people actually belong to, what people truly lack, what they should be equipped with, and how they should live out human likeness. Truly being able to analyze people’s natures is not easy. It won’t do without truth and experience.

from “How to Know Man’s Nature” in Records of Christ’s Talks

When it comes to recognizing man’s nature, the most important thing is to look at a person’s nature from the perspective of his world view, view of life, and values. Those who are of the devil all live for themselves. Their life maxims are mainly those words that come from Satan like, “Everyone for himself and the devil take the hindmost.” The words of those fiends, great ones, and philosophers of the earth have become their life. Most of the words of Confucius, who is held up by Chinese people as a “sage,” especially have become man’s life. There are also the famous sayings of Buddhism and Taoism and the classic sayings frequently spoken by famous figures; these are all outlines of Satan’s philosophy and Satan’s nature. They are also the best illustration and explanation of Satan’s nature. These poisons that have been infused into the heart of humankind all come from Satan; not the least bit of them comes from God. These lies and nonsense are also precisely in opposition to God’s word. It is completely clear that the realities of all positive things come from God, and all those negative things that poison man come from Satan. So, you can discern a man’s nature and to whom he belongs from his view of life and values. Satan corrupts people through the education and influence of the national governments and the famous and great. Their lies and nonsense have become man’s life and nature. “Everyone for himself and the devil take the hindmost” is a well-known satanic saying that has been instilled into everyone and become the human life. There are some other words of life philosophy that are also like this. … Imagine asking someone who has been active in society for decades the following question, “You have lived in the world for so long and achieved so much; what famous sayings do you live by?” They will say, “The most important one is ‘Those who give gifts to officials are not struck by them, and those who do not flatter accomplish nothing.’” Isn’t such speech representative of his nature? His nature is not to spare any means for obtaining position; being an official is what gives him life. There are still many satanic poisons in people’s lives and in their conduct and dealings with others—they are almost without a shred of truth—for example, their life philosophies, their maxims for success, or their ways of doing things. Every person is filled with the poisons of the great red dragon, and they all come from Satan. So, what flows through people’s bones and blood are all things of Satan. Every person who achieves worldly success has his path and secret to success, so isn’t that secret better representative of his nature? You can see that these guys’ nature is too cunning; they are such high officials and have done such great things in the world—they are so cunning. Their nature is so insidious and venomous—they are capable of anything. Man has been corrupted too deeply by Satan. Satan’s venom flows through the blood of every person, and man’s nature is visibly corrupt, evil, and reactionary, filled by and immersed in the philosophies of Satan—it is completely a nature rebellious against God. Man’s nature can be known to all if dissected in this way.

from “How to Know Man’s Nature” in Records of Christ’s Talks

Some people say: “How can I resolve this difficulty? Maybe it will help if I find someone who understands to talk to me.” After someone else finishes talking to them, they agree that the situation is like that, and they understand on a doctrinal level, but they say they are unable to put it into practice. If you cannot practice it then what’s the point in telling you about it? You should step aside! You do not deserve to hear the truth! You do not deserve to believe in God! You should just wait to perish! Since what you have chosen is the ugly, despicable, devilish path, no matter how much truth is spoken to you, you will not love it, so you should just step aside! There’s no need to say anything to this type of person. These days it is often heard: “I understand everything, I just can’t put it into practice.” These words are proof that that person is a devil, and is entirely of the ilk of Satan. A person who does not love the truth is surely an evil person; what a person loves, hopes for, yearns for and thirsts for is a complete representation of that person’s nature. If you do not love the truth then you belong to the devil, you are an object for destruction; if you love the truth then you are one of those predestined and chosen by God; is this not clear? The path that a person chooses is key….

from “Those Who Have Lost the Work of the Holy Spirit Are Most at Risk” in Records of Christ’s Talks

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