3. How should one pursue the truth in order to achieve change in their disposition and perfection?
Relevant Words of God:
In the pursuit of change in one’s life disposition, the path of practice is simple. If, in your practical experience, you are able to follow the current words of the Holy Spirit and experience God’s work, then your disposition is capable of change. If you follow whatever the Holy Spirit says, and seek whatever the Holy Spirit says, then you are someone who obeys Him, and there will be a change in your disposition. People’s dispositions change with the current words of the Holy Spirit; if you always cling to your old experiences and rules of the past, then your disposition cannot change. If the Holy Spirit’s words of today ask that all people enter into a life of normal humanity but you remain fixated on external things, and are confused about reality and do not take it seriously, then you are someone who has failed to keep up with the work of the Holy Spirit, someone who has not entered upon the path of the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Whether or not your disposition can change depends upon whether or not you keep up with the Holy Spirit’s current words and whether or not you have true knowledge. This is unlike what you understood before. The change in your disposition that you understood before was that you, who are quick to judge, have ceased to speak thoughtlessly through God’s discipline; but that is just one aspect of the change. Right now, the most critical point is following the guidance of the Holy Spirit: Follow whatever God says, and obey whatever He says. People cannot change their own disposition; they must undergo the judgment and chastisement, and suffering and refinement, of God’s words, or being dealt with, disciplined, and pruned by His words. Only then can they achieve obedience and faithfulness to God, and no longer be perfunctory toward Him. It is under the refinement of God’s words that people’s dispositions change. Only through the exposure, judgment, discipline, and dealing of His words will they no longer dare to act rashly but instead will become steady and composed. The most important point is that they are able to submit to God’s current words, and to His work, even if it is not in line with human notions, they are able to put these notions aside and willingly submit. In the past, talk of changes in disposition mainly referred to being able to forsake oneself, to allowing the flesh to suffer, disciplining one’s body, and ridding oneself of fleshly preferences—which is one kind of change in disposition. Today, everyone knows that the real expression of change in disposition is obeying the current words of God and truly knowing His new work. In this way, people’s prior understanding of God, which was colored by their own notions, can be expunged, and they can attain true knowledge of and obedience to God—only this is a genuine expression of a change in disposition.
Excerpted from “People Whose Dispositions Have Changed Are Those Who Have Entered Into the Reality of God’s Words” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
If you wish to be purified of corruption and undergo a change in your life disposition, then you must have a love for the truth and the ability to accept the truth. What does it mean to accept the truth? Accepting the truth indicates that no matter what sort of corrupt disposition you have, or which of the great red dragon’s poisons are in your nature, you acknowledge it when it is revealed by God’s words, and submit to these words; you accept them unconditionally, without making any excuses or trying to pick and choose, and you come to know yourself based on what He says. This is what it means to accept God’s words. No matter what He says, no matter how much His utterances might pierce your heart, and no matter what words He uses, you can accept them as long as what He says is the truth, and you can acknowledge them as long as they conform to reality. You can submit to God’s words regardless of how deeply you understand them, and you accept and submit to the light that is revealed by the Holy Spirit and fellowshiped by your brothers and sisters. When such a person has pursued the truth to a certain point, he can obtain the truth and achieve a transformation of his disposition.
Excerpted from “How to Know Man’s Nature” in Records of Christ’s Talks
In believing in God, if people desire transformation of their disposition, then they must not detach themselves from real life. In real life, you must know yourself, forsake yourself, practice the truth, as well as learn the principles, common sense, and rules of self-conduct in all things before you are able to achieve gradual transformation. If you only focus on the theoretical knowledge and only live among religious ceremonies without going deep into reality, without entering into real life, then you will never enter into reality, you will never know yourself, the truth, or God, and you will forever be blind and ignorant. God’s work of saving people is not to allow them to live normal human lives after a short period of time, nor is it to transform their erroneous notions and doctrines. Rather, His purpose is to change people’s old dispositions, to change the entirety of their old way of life, and to change all of their outdated ways of thinking and mental outlook. Focusing only on church life will not change people’s old life habits or change the old ways in which they have lived for a long time. No matter what, people must not become detached from real life. God asks that people live out normal humanity in real life, not just in church life; that they live out the truth in real life, not just in church life; and that they fulfill their functions in real life, not just in church life. To enter into reality, one must turn everything toward real life. If, in believing in God, people cannot come to know themselves through entry into real life, and if they cannot live out normal humanity in real life, then they will become failures. Those who disobey God are all people who cannot enter into real life. They are all people who speak of humanity, but live out the nature of demons. They are all people who speak of the truth, but live out doctrines instead. Those who cannot live out the truth in real life are those who believe in God, but are detested and rejected by Him. You have to practice your entry in real life, know your own deficiencies, disobedience, and ignorance, and know your abnormal humanity and weaknesses. That way, your knowledge will be integrated into your actual condition and difficulties. Only this kind of knowledge is real and can allow you to truly grasp your own condition and achieve dispositional transformation.
Excerpted from “Discussing Church Life and Real Life” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Transformation of disposition means that you have understood and experienced the truth, and that the truth has become your life. In the past, you understood the truth of this matter, but you were unable to put it into practice; truth was merely a doctrine to you that did not stick. Now that your disposition has transformed, you not only understand truth, but you also practice in accordance with it. You are now able to let go of the things you were fond of in the past, the things you used to be willing to do, your imaginings, and your notions. You are now able to let go of the things you were not able to let go of in the past. This is transformation of disposition, and it is also the process of transforming your disposition. It might sound quite simple, but in fact, someone who is in the midst of this process must suffer many hardships, overcome his body, and forsake aspects of the flesh that are part of his nature. Such a person must also undergo dealing and pruning, chastisement and judgment, and trials and refinement. Only after experiencing all of this can a person somewhat understand his own nature. Having some understanding of it, though, does not mean that one is able to change immediately; one must endure hardships in the process. Likewise, can you just begin practicing straightaway after gaining some understanding of a matter? You cannot begin practicing immediately. While you are possessed of understanding, others prune you and deal with you, and then your environment compels you and forces you to act in accordance with the truth principles. Sometimes people are unwilling to go through this, saying, “Why can’t I do it that way? Do I have to do it this way?” Others say, “If you believe in God, then you should do it this way. Doing it this way is in accordance with truth.” When people reach a certain point at which they have experienced some trials and ended up understanding God’s will and some truths, then they will be somewhat happy and willing to act in accordance with the truth principles. At the outset, people are reluctant to practice the truth. Take devotedly fulfilling one’s duties as an example: You have some understanding of fulfilling your duties and being devoted to God, and you also understand the related truths, but when will you be able to completely devote yourself to God? When will you be able to fulfill your duties in both name and deed? This will require a process. During this process, you could suffer many hardships. Some people might deal with you, and others might criticize you. Everyone’s eyes will be fixed on you, and only then will you begin to realize that you are in the wrong and that you are actually the one who has done poorly, that lacking devotion in the fulfillment of your duty is unacceptable, and that you must not be careless or perfunctory. The Holy Spirit will enlighten you from within, and reproach you when you make a mistake. During this process, you will understand some things about yourself, and will know that you are too impure, you harbor too many personal motives, and have too many immoderate desires when fulfilling your duties. Once you have understood the essence of these things, you can come before God in prayer and truly repent; in this way, you can be cleansed of those impurities. If, in this manner, you frequently seek the truth to resolve your own practical problems, you will gradually set foot upon the right path of faith. The more someone’s corrupt disposition is purified, the more their life disposition will transform.
Excerpted from “What Should Be Known About Transforming One’s Disposition” in Records of Christ’s Talks
The greater God’s refinement, the more people’s hearts are able to love God. The torment in their hearts is of benefit to their lives, they are more able to be at peace before God, their relationship with God is closer, and they are better able to see God’s supreme love and His supreme salvation. Peter experienced refinement hundreds of times, and Job underwent several trials. If you wish to be made perfect by God, you too must undergo refinement hundreds of times; only if you go through this process and rely upon this step will you be able to satisfy God’s will and be made perfect by God. Refinement is the best means by which God makes people perfect; only refinement and bitter trials can bring out the true love for God in people’s hearts. Without hardship, people lack true love for God; if they are not tested within, if they are not truly subjected to refinement, then their hearts will always be floating around outside. Having been refined to a certain point, you will see your own weaknesses and difficulties, you will see how much you are lacking and that you are unable to overcome the many problems you encounter, and you will see how great is your disobedience. Only during trials are people able to truly know their real states; trials make people better able to be perfected.
Excerpted from “Only by Experiencing Refinement Can Man Possess True Love” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
In summary, taking Peter’s path in one’s faith means to walk the path of pursuing the truth, which is also the path of truly getting to know oneself and changing one’s disposition. Only by walking the path of Peter will one be on the path of being perfected by God. One must be clear on how, exactly, to walk Peter’s path, as well as how to put it into practice. First, one must put aside one’s own intentions, improper pursuits, and even family and all things of one’s own flesh. One must be wholeheartedly devoted; that is, one must completely devote oneself to the word of God, focus on eating and drinking of God’s words, concentrate on the search for the truth and the search for God’s intentions in His words, and try to grasp God’s will in everything. This is the most fundamental and vital method of practice. This was what Peter did after seeing Jesus, and it is only by practicing in this way that one can achieve the best results. Wholehearted devotion to the words of God primarily involves seeking the truth, seeking God’s intentions within His words, focusing on grasping the will of God, and understanding and obtaining more truth from God’s words. When reading His words, Peter was not focused on understanding doctrines, much less was he focused on obtaining theological knowledge; instead, he concentrated on comprehending the truth and grasping God’s will, as well as achieving an understanding of His disposition and His loveliness. Peter also attempted to understand the various corrupt states of man from God’s words, as well as man’s corrupt nature and actual shortcoming, thus meeting all aspects of God’s requirements of man in order to satisfy Him. Peter had so many correct practices that abided by the words of God; this was most in line with God’s will, and it was the best way a person could cooperate while experiencing God’s work. When experiencing the hundreds of trials from God, Peter examined himself strictly against every word of God’s judgment of man, every word of God’s revelation of man, and every word of His demands of man, and strived to fathom the meaning of those words. He tried in earnest to ponder and memorize every word that Jesus said to him, and achieved very good results. Through this manner of practicing, he was able to achieve an understanding of himself from God’s words, and he not only came to understand the various corrupt states of man, but also came to understand man’s essence, nature, and various shortcomings. This is what it means to truly understand oneself. From God’s words, Peter not only achieved a true understanding of himself, but from the things expressed in God’s words—God’s righteous disposition, what He has and is, God’s will for His work, His demands of mankind—from these words he came to know God completely. He came to know God’s disposition, and His essence; he came to know and understand what God has and is, as well as God’s loveliness and God’s demands for man. Although God did not speak back then as much as He does today, results in these aspects were nevertheless achieved in Peter. This was a rare and precious thing. Peter went through hundreds of trials, but did not suffer in vain. He not only came to understand himself from the words and the work of God, but he also came to know God. In addition, he particularly focused on God’s requirements of mankind within His words. In whichever aspects man should satisfy God to be in line with God’s will, Peter was able to put forth great effort in these aspects and achieve full clarity; this was extremely beneficial with regard to his own entry. No matter what God spoke of, as long as those words could become his life and they belonged to the truth, Peter was able to carve them into his heart to ponder and appreciate them frequently. After hearing the words of Jesus, he was able to take them to heart, which shows that he was especially focused on God’s words, and he truly achieved results in the end. That is, he was able to freely put the words of God into practice, accurately practice the truth and be in line with God’s will, act entirely in accordance with God’s intention, and give up his own personal opinions and imaginations. In this way, Peter entered into the reality of God’s words. Peter’s service came in line with God’s will primarily because he had done this.
Excerpted from “How to Walk the Path of Peter” in Records of Christ’s Talks
What Peter sought was to come to know himself and see what had been revealed in him through the refinement of God’s words and within the various trials that God provided for him. When he truly came to understand himself, Peter realized just how deeply corrupt humans are, how worthless and unworthy of serving God they are, and that they do not deserve to live before Him. Peter then fell prostrate before God. Ultimately, he thought, “Knowing God is the most precious thing! If I died before knowing Him, it would be such a pity; I feel that knowing God is the most important, most meaningful thing there is. If man does not know God, then he does not deserve to live and has no life.” By the time Peter’s experience had reached this point, he had grown fairly knowledgeable with regard to his own nature and gained a relatively good understanding of it. Although he perhaps would not have been able to thoroughly explain it in terms that would accord with what people nowadays imagine, Peter had indeed reached this state. Therefore, the path of pursuing life and attaining perfection by God involves gaining a deeper understanding of one’s own nature from within God’s utterances, as well as comprehending the aspects of one’s nature and accurately describing it in words. To thoroughly understand one’s old life—the life of that old satanic nature—means to have achieved the results that God requires. If your knowledge has not yet reached this point, but you claim to know yourself and say that you have gained life, then are you not simply bragging? You do not know yourself, nor do you know what you are in front of God, whether you have truly met the standards of being human, or how many satanic elements you still have within you. You are still unclear about who you belong to, and you do not even have any self-knowledge—so how can you possess reason in front of God? When Peter was pursuing life, he focused on understanding himself and transforming his disposition over the course of his trials, and he strove to know God, and in the end, he thought, “People must seek an understanding of God in life; knowing Him is the most critical thing. If I do not know God, then I cannot rest in peace when I die. Once I know Him, if God then has me die, then I will still feel most gratified to do so; I will not complain in the slightest, and my entire life will have been fulfilled.” Peter was not able to gain this level of understanding or reach this point immediately after he had begun to believe in God; he first had to undergo a great many trials. His experience had to reach a certain milestone, and he had to completely understand himself, before he could sense the value of knowing God. Therefore, the path Peter took was one of gaining life and of being perfected; this was the aspect upon which his specific practice was primarily focused.
Excerpted from “How to Walk the Path of Peter” in Records of Christ’s Talks
If, in man’s belief in God, he is not serious about matters of life, does not pursue entry into the truth, does not pursue changes in his disposition, much less pursue a knowledge of the work of God, then he cannot be made perfect. If you wish to be made perfect, then you must understand God’s work. In particular, you must understand the significance of His chastisement and judgment, and why this work is carried out upon man. Are you able to accept? During chastisement of this kind, are you able to achieve the same experiences and knowledge as Peter? If you pursue knowledge of God and of the work of the Holy Spirit, and if you pursue changes in your disposition, then you have the opportunity to be made perfect.
For those who are to be made perfect, this step of work of being conquered is indispensable; only once man has been conquered can he experience the work of being made perfect. There is no great value to only performing the role of being conquered, which will not render you fit for use by God. You will have no means of playing your part in spreading the gospel, for you do not pursue life, and do not pursue change and renewal in yourself, and so you have no actual experience of life. During this step-by-step work, you once acted as a service-doer and as a foil, but if ultimately you do not pursue to be Peter, and your pursuit is not according to the path by which Peter was made perfect, then, naturally, you will not experience changes in your disposition. If you are someone who pursues being made perfect, then you will have borne testimony, and you will say: “In this step-by-step work of God, I have accepted God’s work of chastisement and judgment, and though I have endured great suffering, I have come to know how God makes man perfect, I have gained the work done by God, I have had the knowledge of the righteousness of God, and His chastisement has saved me. His righteous disposition has come upon me and brought me blessings and grace; it is His judgment and chastisement that has protected and purified me. If I had not been chastised and judged by God, and if the harsh words of God had not come upon me, I could not have known God, and nor could I have been saved. Today I see: As a creature, not only does one enjoy all things made by the Creator, but, more importantly, all creatures should enjoy the righteous disposition of God and His righteous judgment, because God’s disposition is worthy of man’s enjoyment. As a creature that has been corrupted by Satan, one should enjoy God’s righteous disposition. In His righteous disposition there is chastisement and judgment, and, moreover, there is great love. Although I am incapable of completely gaining God’s love today, I have had the good fortune to see it, and in this I have been blessed.” This is the path walked by those who experience being made perfect, and this is the knowledge of which they speak. Such people are the same as Peter; they have the same experiences as Peter. Such people are also those who have gained life, who possess the truth. When they experience until the very end, during God’s judgment they will surely completely rid themselves of the influence of Satan, and be gained by God.
Excerpted from “The Experiences of Peter: His Knowledge of Chastisement and Judgment” in The Word Appears in the Flesh