Breaking Through Satan’s Tight Encirclement (Audio Essay, Part 2)
By Zhao Gang, China
My wife told the sisters what Brother Guan had said when he came to our house, and Sister Zhang asked me how I felt about this whole thing. So I told the sisters about the weakness that I had felt and about the understanding that I had just reached. Sister Zhang smiled, saying, “Thanks be to God! This is such a pure understanding, and this is God’s enlightenment and guidance!” My wife asked, confused, “Since we haven’t gone astray, why is Brother Guan saying those things? He is a major leader who has believed in the Lord for many years!” I looked at my wife and said: “He just wants us to come back to our former church!” Sister Zhang smiled and said, “Right now, all that we can see is their outward appearance, but we haven’t looked into the substance of their nature! The Lord Jesus once said: ‘But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for you neither go in yourselves, neither suffer you them that are entering to go in’ (Matthew 23:13). ‘Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are like to white washed sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness’ (Matthew 23:27). Judging by their outward appearance, the Pharisees were very loyal in their service to God. In people’s minds, the Pharisees were devout servants to God, and they were the most trustworthy of religious leaders. However, when the Lord Jesus came to carry out His work, the God-resisting nature of the Pharisees was revealed. It was these Pharisees who frantically resisted and condemned the work of the Lord Jesus. They fabricated all kinds of rumors and bore false witness to deceive the common people. They said that the Lord Jesus had cast out demons through Beelzebub, the prince of the demons. And once the Lord Jesus was resurrected three days after being nailed to the cross, they bribed soldiers to spread rumors about the Lord Jesus’ body being stolen away by His disciples, among other things. The Pharisees fabricated all kinds of lies and used all the tricks at their disposal to block people from seeking out and investigating the true way. Their goal was to ban the work of God so that they could forever hold dominion over God’s chosen people. Although they appeared devout on the outside, in essence they were antichrists who hated the truth and who stood as enemies to God. The Lord Jesus said when He exposed and condemned them: ‘You serpents, you generation of vipers, how can you escape the damnation of hell?’ (Matthew 23:33). So now, let’s think about it: Are these religious leaders of today any different from the Pharisees?” The sisters then asked me to read a passage of Almighty God’s words: “There are those who read the Bible in grand churches and recite it all day long, yet not one among them understands the purpose of God’s work. Not one among them is able to know God; still less can any one among them accord with God’s will. They are all worthless, vile people, each standing on high to lecture God. They willfully oppose God even as they carry His banner. Claiming faith in God, still they eat the flesh and drink the blood of man. All such people are devils that devour the soul of man, head demons that deliberately get in the way of those trying to step onto the right path, and stumbling blocks impeding those who seek God. They may appear of ‘sound constitution,’ but how are their followers to know that they are none other than antichrists who lead people to stand against God? How are their followers to know that they are living devils dedicated to the devouring of human souls?” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. All People Who Do Not Know God Are People Who Oppose God). The sisters gave us a detailed fellowship according to these words of God, dissecting all the actions of religious leaders along with the substance of their nature, until finally I came to realize that they persistently disturb and obstruct us from believing in Almighty God, and even threaten and intimidate us, not in order to protect us, but rather so that they can hold dominion over God’s chosen people, so that we worship and enshrine them as if they were God. So actually, they are just like the Pharisees. They all are antichrists who hate the truth and resist God. God has come to save us, but they think up every possible method to stop us from accepting God’s work and to stop us from reading God’s words. Aren’t they pulling us down into hell by doing this? They truly are so malicious! If it weren’t for Almighty God’s words revealing the substance of how these people resist God and fight with God over man, then I would have nearly fallen for their tricks, ruining my own chance of attaining true salvation. Just then, my wife said in astonishment, “It turns out that they are here to do harm to us! These people really won’t quit until they’ve dragged us down into hell! I will no longer believe what they say.”
Sister Mu then read us another passage of God’s words: “In every step of work that God does within people, externally it appears to be interactions between people, as if born of human arrangements or from human interference. But behind the scenes, every step of work, and everything that happens, is a wager made by Satan before God, and requires people to stand firm in their testimony to God. Take when Job was tried, for example: Behind the scenes, Satan was making a bet with God, and what happened to Job was the deeds of men and the interference of men. Behind every step of work that God does in you is Satan’s wager with God—behind it all is a battle” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Only Loving God Is Truly Believing in God). Then Sister Zhang started fellowshiping: “Through God’s words we can see that, whatever happens to us, though from the outside it may appear to be done by man, in reality it is Satan making a wager with God behind the scenes. It’s just like when Job was tempted by Satan. His wife asked him to abandon Jehovah, but Job was able to see through Satan’s trickery. He relied on his faith in God and he stood witness for God, and Job reprimanded his wife for being an ignorant and stubborn woman. Job’s experiences inform us that, for everyone that God wants to save, Satan will always frantically tempt and disturb them and pull out all the tricks at its disposal to attack them so that they forsake God and betray God, and ultimately lose their chance to attain true salvation. Since Satan wants to control and devour man forever, it really doesn’t want man to attain God’s salvation.” Sister Mu also fellowshiped: “It’s true. Time and time again, Satan uses leaders to attack us and intimidate us, with the goal of making us deny God, betray God and abandon the true way. This is the trickery of Satan. We must be able to clearly see this fight that is going on in the spiritual world.” After listening to the fellowship of these two sisters, I mulled things over for a while, and then said, “So Satan is making a wager with God, and it is through the things that leaders say that Satan attacks us where we’re weak, and it wants us to abandon the true way and leave God because of our cowardliness! Satan truly is treacherous!” Then my wife also said, “Satan is so repulsive! If we didn’t listen to God’s words and your fellowship, then how could we have known that this was one of Satan’s schemes?” I said with delight, “Now that we understand these things, we need to rely on God to break through Satan’s tight encirclement, stand witness for God, and shame Satan with our practical actions!” Sister Zhang then said cheerfully, “Brother, sister, from now on let’s come together more often to fellowship about the word of God. Only in this way can we equip ourselves with more of the truth so that we can someday soon be certain about God’s work in the last days and lay down a foundation in the true way, and then we will no longer be deceived by all manner of Satan’s rumors and outright lies.” I said, “Great! It would be great if you could come fellowship with us more often.” Sister Mu smiled and said, “Then that’s what we’ll do.”
Early in the morning a few days later, I got out of bed and looked out the window to see that there had been a big snowfall, and I started unconsciously rubbing my hands together. Then, I put on a wool cap and cotton gloves and went into the courtyard to sweep the snow. When I had finished, I went back inside and opened the top of the stove to stoke up the fire while my wife was tidying up the house. At this time my wife’s older brother and his wife came in, and as soon as my sister-in-law came in, she said in an anxious voice, “Leader Wang and Co-worker Guan came here and spoke so much to you, how could you not listen to them? They specifically asked us to come here today to try to persuade you once again. Do not believe in Eastern Lightning anymore. It is our leaders who take responsibility for our lives!” After hearing her say this, I said firmly, “If they truly take responsibility for our lives, then they ought to lead us to study Almighty God’s work in the last days and welcome the Lord’s return!” My wife then said bluntly, “They’re not doing this for our sake. They fear that if we all believe in Almighty God then there will be no one left to listen to them.” My sister-in-law became somewhat irritated upon hearing this and said, “How can you both say such things? They haven’t asked you to do anything else. Don’t they just want you to return to the church? Listen to me. Do you think I could mean you harm when our two families are so close?” My wife’s brother continued. “Think about how I’ve treated you over the years. Do you know how much we’ve done for you? Do you really have the heart to separate yourselves from us? Do you not feel guilty?” After hearing the two of them say these things, I felt very upset, and I thought to myself: “They really have helped us a lot, and now they see that we are insisting on following Almighty God. Surely, they feel deeply hurt, but what can be done? They may ask me to abandon the true way and to betray God but I cannot possibly do that, for I know that Almighty God is the returned Lord Jesus. But if I insist on believing in Almighty God, then what will they think of me? Will they say that I am ungrateful?” I felt upset just then, like my heart was being pulled in two different directions. I prayed to God in silence, asking Him to give me a way out. Suddenly, I thought about these words of God: “Everything that happens to people happens when God needs them to stand firm in their testimony to Him” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Only Loving God Is Truly Believing in God). Then I thought back on the words that Sister Zhang and Sister Mu had fellowshiped with me a few days before: Everything that happens to you relates to the fight that is being waged in the spiritual world, and it is Satan making a wager with God. I was thinking, “Today my wife’s brother and my sister-in-law tried to use our kinship to urge us to betray God and return to religion, but this is one of Satan’s tricks. If I were to betray God in order to protect my private feelings, then that would truly be ungrateful and would show that I lack conscience. If I don’t want to let my brother-in-law down, then I should share with them God’s gospel of the last days so that they too will have an opportunity to attain God’s salvation. This is the only way to show the compassion that I ought to possess.” As I thought about this my heart suddenly filled with light, and I said: “Brother, sister-in-law, I know that you two have been good to me, and it’s because of this that I need to tell you that Almighty God really is the returned Lord Jesus. Only by following Almighty God’s work in the last days will we be able to attain God’s salvation! Otherwise, our faith in the Lord all these years will have been in vain, and we will gain nothing! Here, let me read to you a passage of God’s words, and after hearing it you will know whether or not these words are the truth, and whether or not they are God’s utterances.” I picked up my book of God’s words and was just about to start reading from it when my sister-in-law instantly stood up and said unhappily, “We came here today to try to persuade you, but instead of changing your minds, you even try to spread this gospel to us, but we will not listen to you.” After saying this, she grabbed her husband and stormed out in anger.
I followed them out into the courtyard until I got to the entryway, but I saw that they had already gotten quite far away. Feeling helpless, I stood there shaking my head. It was at this time that I saw that the weather had cleared up, and that a warm light was shining upon a pine tree outside of the courtyard. The snow that had accumulated on the pine tree started to melt, as if at that very moment the tree had just undergone a baptism. In contrast to the snow-covered ground, the straight and tall tree appeared especially verdant. I felt very happy, as if, like the pine tree, I had also experienced a baptism of wind and snow, and had grown from the nourishment of the sunshine. I knew that it was God’s words that had led me to break through this tight encirclement and stand witness for Him. Thanks be to Almighty God!
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