Chapter 41. How to Know Man’s Nature
What are the things of man’s nature? You only know of man’s corruption, disobedience, shortcomings, defects, notions, and intents, but you cannot discover the inner parts of man’s nature—you only know the outer layer, but you cannot discover its origin. Some even think of these surface things as man’s nature, saying, “Look, I understand man’s nature; I recognize my arrogance. Isn’t that man’s nature?” It is not enough to admit it only doctrinally. Arrogance is a thing of man’s nature, and that much is true. What is it to understand one’s own nature? How can it be known? From what aspects is it known? Further, how should the things revealed from these different aspects be viewed concretely? 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? 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; they like when people listen to them, worship them, and surround them. They like to have status in the minds of others and appreciate when others value their image. Let us analyze their nature from these behaviors: What kind of nature does this type of person with these behaviors have? 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 occupy them, to have status in their minds. What stands out about his nature is arrogance and conceit, unwillingness to worship God, and a desire for the worship of others. This is a classic image of Satan. 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.
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.
Let us now look at a selfish person. Selfishness can be said to be an element of a man’s nature; everyone has this element in them. Some people are extremely selfish, and such an extreme degree represents their nature. Everyone is somewhat selfish, but there is a difference. When associating with others, some people can watch out and care for them, be concerned about them, and be considerate of them in everything they do. Other people are not like this; consider one who is especially selfish when hosting brothers and sisters: Her own family eats the best food possible, but when brothers and sisters come she gives them small servings of inferior food. When there are good things she puts them in front of her children, husband, or her family. When brothers and sisters come she lets them sleep on the floor, but when her own relatives come she makes the most comfortable arrangements for them, with everything in order. This sort of person does not consider others in the least. It is good enough that they allow others to stay when they come, and so when others fall ill or have some other difficulty they do not even think about it, behaving as though they do not notice. They do not care for or feel concern for others in the least. They only care for themselves and their relatives. This selfish nature of theirs determines that they are unwilling to care for others. They feel that caring for others is a loss to them and a bother. Maybe some people will rationalize, saying, “A selfish person does not know how to care for others.” Then why are they so good to their own relatives, and why do they fully consider their needs? How do they know what they themselves lack and what is appropriate to wear or eat at a certain time? Why can’t they be like that for others? Actually, they understand all this, but they’re selfish, and that is determined by their nature. There are some women who have transgressed for a time in the past, but that doesn’t make them promiscuous. An evil person is one who habitually messes around wherever they go, who knows no shame and has no code of ethics and morals—such a one has a promiscuous nature. They are always revealing their nature regardless of what they are doing or on what they are working. They are of this nature, and they cannot restrain themselves. These things are what fill their heart. There is no reason for them not to engage in these things. Even if they go for a time not doing such things, it’s because the environment does not permit it or there is a lack of suitable people. This is how things of one’s nature are; they cannot be controlled. Some people especially love clothing and beauty and are extremely vain. Such a person’s nature is one of vanity. She changes her outfits multiple times a day. When she sees someone wearing nice clothes or making themselves up nicely, she loses sleep if she cannot achieve the same. She must also obtain those things even if she must borrow money or pay any other price possible, and if she cannot obtain them then she does not have the heart to believe in God, she lacks desire to attend meetings, she cannot absorb God’s word when she reads it, and all day her mind is full of those things. Those things occupy her mind, and they are what she thinks about all day. This sort of person is extremely superficial, much more so than most people. This is an element of her nature, something within her bones. Matters of nature are not things done only in a moment of weakness but are persistent throughout life. Everything a person does carries his scent, carries the elements of his nature. Even if those elements are not apparent at times, they are present within him. For example, when a deceitful person speaks honestly in one instance, there is actually still speech within his speech and the deceitfulness is mixed in. A deceitful person plies his tricks on anybody, including his relatives—even his children. No matter how forthright you are with him, he will seek to play games with you. This is the true face of his nature, and he is of this nature. It is difficult to change and he is like that all the time. Honest people may sometimes say something sly and deceitful, but such a person is usually honest and does things honestly without taking unfair advantage of others in his dealings with them. When he speaks with others, he does not say things intentionally to test them; he is still fairly honest and can open up his heart and communicate with others. Everyone says he is an honest person, but there are still times when he speaks with some deceitfulness. That is simply the manifestation of the corrupt disposition and does not represent his nature because he is not that type of person. When it comes to a person’s nature you must understand what are elements of that nature and what is the corrupt disposition; you must be able to distinguish clearly between the two. Now, try analyzing your own nature. Some will say, “Sometimes I speak harshly” or “I am uncultured and not well-behaved” or “Sometimes there are impurities when I perform my duties,” but they do not talk about what their nature is like or whether their humanity is good. In this way, they cannot know their own nature. You cannot always cover up or be shy. You must dig deeply within yourselves. If you can’t dig it out you will not come to know your nature, and if you do not know your nature you will not be able to change. You must be particularly strict about how you come to know yourselves; you cannot deceive yourselves or be perfunctory or fool yourselves.
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 it comes to seeing 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. For example, if the most prominent feature of a person is that he particularly loves money, then his nature is money-loving, summarized in two words. If a person’s most prominent feature is a love of women—he’s always womanizing—then he loves evil and has an evil nature. Some people most love to eat. If you can give such a person a few drinks and some meat or order him some good food, he will act in your favor; so this person has a gluttonous nature, like a pig. 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 are 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 she 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. hat is the transformation of disposition? You must be a lover of truth, accept the judgment and chastisement of God’s word as you experience His work, and experience all kinds of suffering and refining, through which you are purified of the satanic poisons within you. This is the transformation in disposition. If a person’s nature is very bad, if he is an evil person, then God will not save him, and the Holy Spirit will be unable to work within him. Put another way, it is like a doctor curing a patient: A person who contracts pneumonia can be treated, but one who contracts lung cancer cannot be saved. The transformation in disposition means that a person, because he loves and can accept the truth, finally comes to know his disobedient and God-resisting nature; he understands that the corruption of man is too deep and understands man’s absurdness and deceitfulness. He knows man’s poorness and pitifulness, and finally understands man’s nature and essence. Knowing all this, he can deny and forsake himself completely, live by God’s word, and practice the truth in everything. Such a person knows God and has his disposition transformed.
All of mankind has been corrupted by Satan, and man’s nature is to betray God. But, among mankind, which has been corrupted by Satan, there are some who can submit to God’s work and accept truth; such can obtain truth and achieve the transformation of their disposition. There are those who do not earnestly seek after truth yet follow along in belief. They do what they are told and have decent humanity. They are willing, to a certain extent, to spend, abandon worldliness, and endure suffering. Such a person will be able to stand and receive salvation, but his disposition will not be transformed. This is because he does not earnestly pursue truth, and he is satisfied with merely understanding doctrines. He hears the doctrine, thinks it’s good and keeps it, and after understanding the doctrine he performs his duty, to a point. He can act in whatever way is proper for him to act. However, he is not earnest with regard to the truth; his heart is clouded, and he is unable ever to understand the essence of the truth. Such a person can also receive salvation and be spared, but he cannot have his disposition transformed. Obtaining the transformation of disposition requires a love of the truth and the ability to accept truth. What is it to accept truth? It means that no matter which corrupt disposition you have or which venom of the great red dragon poisons your nature, you acknowledge it when it is revealed by God’s word and submit to God’s word with utter conviction. And, you know yourself according to God’s word. This is what it means to accept God’s word. No matter what God says, no matter how piercing to the heart, no matter what words He uses, you can accept it as long as it is truth, and you can acknowledge it as long as it conforms to reality. You can submit to God’s word regardless of how deeply you understand it, and you accept and submit to the light of enlightenment from the Holy Spirit that is communicated by the brothers and sisters. When such a person’s pursuit of truth has reached a certain point, he can obtain truth and achieve the transformation of his disposition. A person who does not love the truth might be of good humanity, but he is careless about the truth and does not seek it earnestly; he can do some good works, spend for God, and give up some things for God, yet he cannot obtain the transformation of disposition. By comparison, Peter’s humanity was about the same as that of the other apostles or brothers and sisters, but he stood out in his fervent seeking after the truth, and he diligently pondered everything Jesus said. Jesus asked, “Simon, son of Jonah, love you me?” He answered directly, “I only love the Father which is in heaven and have not loved the Lord on the earth.” Later he understood: “This is not right. The God on earth is the God in heaven. Is it not the same God both in heaven and on earth? My only loving the God in heaven is not yet real. I must love the God on earth, for only then is my love real.” He understood what Jesus had said through pondering the word of God. What is the real meaning of it? To love God one must love the incarnate God on earth for the love to be real. Loving a vague and invisible God is not realistic or practical. Loving the actual, visible God is truth. Peter obtained truth from within Jesus’ words and understood God’s will. Clearly Peter’s belief in God only focused on a pursuit of the truth, and he finally achieved a love of the practical God, the God on earth. Peter was especially earnest in his pursuit of truth. Each time Jesus counseled him, he pondered Jesus’ words diligently. Maybe he pondered for months, a year, or years before the Holy Spirit enlightened him and he understood the meaning of God’s word. In this way, he entered into the truth, and after he entered into the truth his life disposition was transformed and renewed. If a person does not pursue truth, he will never understand it. You can say the words of truth ten thousand times and they are still just letters and doctrines. Some people will only say, “Christ is the truth, the way, and the life.” Your repeating this, even ten thousand times, is useless; you do not understand its meaning. Why do you say that Christ is the truth and the way and the life? Can you articulate your understanding of it that you gained through experience? Have you entered into the reality of the truth and the way and the life? God’s word is given for you to experience and to know; merely saying the words is useless. When you have understood and entered into God’s word, then you can know yourself. If you do not understand God’s word, then you cannot know yourself. You can only discern when you have truth; without truth you cannot discern. You can only fully understand a matter when you have truth; without truth you cannot understand a matter. You can only know yourself when you have truth; without truth you cannot know yourself. Your disposition can only transform when you have truth; without truth your disposition cannot transform. Only after you have truth can you serve God’s will; without truth you cannot serve God’s will. Only after you have truth can you worship God; without truth your worship will only be the performance of religious rites. All of these depend on obtaining truth from God’s word.
Some will say, “What does it actually mean to obtain truth from God’s word?” You cannot obtain the truth by simply frequently speaking of doctrines; of what use is your only communicating these literal things? You must work out the meaning of God’s word, figure out its basis and intended effect. There is truth in God’s word, meaning in His word, light in His word. There are many things within His word; it is not a simple matter of reciting its literal meaning. I’ll give a simple example. God says, “You must be honest people. Do not be deceitful ones.” What does this line actually mean? Some say, “Is it not just telling you to be an honest person and not a deceitful one?” If somebody asks, “What else does it mean?” that person will continue, “It’s just be an honest person and don’t be a deceitful one. It’s just those two things.” “How exactly does one be an honest person? What is an honest person? What are the main manifestations of an honest person?” “An honest person is someone who speaks honestly and purely and does not lie.” “What is a deceitful person?” “A deceitful person is someone who equivocates. Someone who does not equivocate and who speaks the undiluted truth is an honest person.” No matter how much you ask, you will only get this much out of him; man’s thinking is too simple. What does God’s word say about an honest person? The first thing about an honest person is that he is not suspicious of others. What does God mean by this? Why does God say this? Ponder that and think through it; people can’t get it straight. Second, an honest person can accept truth. God’s word says that an honest person mainly meets these two conditions. You get to understand the intrinsic meaning of an honest person in God’s word, what exactly it is talking about, what the precise definition of an honest person is, and accurately work out the definition; you find out from God’s word what other behaviors an honest person exhibits, what kind of person is a deceitful person, what kind of person is honest, and you look again at the honest person from the perspective of these behaviors. Then you will understand what honest people and deceitful people are like and how deceitful people treat God’s word, God, and other people. In this way you will come to a true understanding of God’s word and understand how great the difference is between His word and man’s understanding of an honest person and a deceitful one. When viewed from within God’s word, there are a lot more details to “You must be honest people. Do not be deceitful ones.” When you truly understand the meaning of God’s word, then you know what an honest person is, and what a deceitful person is; and when you put it into practice you will know for sure how to behave as an honest person, and you will have the path to becoming an honest person, which surely can meet God’s standard. Do you have this level of mastery? If you really understand these words and put them into practice, then you can obtain God’s approval. If you do not understand that saying, then you cannot be an honest person, and you will absolutely not obtain God’s approval. Coming to a real understanding of the actual meaning of God’s word is no simple matter. Don’t just think that you can interpret the literal meaning of all God’s words, and everyone says your interpretation is good and gives you a thumbs-up, so it means you understand God’s word. That is not the same as understanding God’s word. If you have obtained some light from within God’s word and you have figured out the real meaning of God’s word, if you can say what the significance of God’s word is and what ultimate effect it brings, only when this is all clear is there some level of understanding of God’s word. So, understanding God’s word is not quite so simple. Just because you can give a beautiful explanation of the letter of God’s word does not mean you understand it. No matter how you interpret the letter of God’s word it is still the imagination and way of thinking of man and is useless.
How should God’s word be understood? The key is to understand His word from within His word. Whenever God speaks He certainly does not speak in mere generalities. Within each sentence there is detailed content which is certain to be revealed further in God’s word, and it may be expressed in a different way. Man cannot comprehend the ways in which God expresses truth. God’s word is very profound and cannot be penetrated with man’s way of thinking. People can discover the complete meaning of every aspect of truth as long as they make an effort, and the remaining details are filled in completely as the Holy Spirit enlightens your understanding of the concrete situations through experience. One part is understanding God’s word through His word, finding the specific content of His word. Another part is understanding the implications of God’s word through experiencing it and obtaining enlightenment from the Holy Spirit. It is primarily through these two ways that a true understanding of God’s word is achieved. If you interpret through the letter of the word or the imaginations of your own way of thinking, then your understanding is not true even if you can interpret it with the utmost eloquence. If you don’t do it right, you will even take meaning out of context and misunderstand God’s word, and that’s even more troublesome. So, truth is obtained principally through receiving enlightenment from the Holy Spirit as you come to know God’s word. A mere understanding or interpretation of the letter of His word does not mean you have obtained truth. If you only need to interpret the letter of His word, then what is the point of enlightenment from the Holy Spirit? In that case a certain level of education would work, and the uneducated would be in quite a predicament. God’s work cannot be comprehended by the human brain. A true understanding of God’s word depends mainly on enlightenment from the Holy Spirit; such is the process of obtaining truth.
When it comes to knowing man’s nature, the most important thing is to know it from the perspective of his world view, view of life, and values. Those who are of the devil all live for themselves. Their way of life and 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 nonsense has 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. Satan educates people through each nation’s fine traditional culture and causes humanity to fall into and be engulfed in an expansive abyss of destruction, and in the end people are destroyed by God because they serve Satan and resist God. 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, in their handling things, and in their conduct and dealings with others—they are almost without a shred of truth—for example, their life philosophies, their ways of doing things, and their maxims are 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. Aren’t the path and the secret to success of those officials, those who are in power, and those who achieve success perfectly representative of their nature? They have done such big things in the world, and no one can see through the schemes that lay behind those things. This shows that their nature is so insidious and venomous. 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. That’s why man resists God and stands in opposition to God. Man’s nature can be known to all if dissected in this way.
Only if one knows God and has the truth does he live in the light; and only when his view of the world and his view of life change does he change fundamentally. When he has a life goal and comports himself according to the truth; when he absolutely submits to God and lives by God’s word; when he feels assured and brightened deep in his soul; when his heart is free of darkness; and when he lives completely freely and unrestrained in God’s presence—only then does he live a true human life and become a person possessing truth. Besides, all the truths you have are from God’s word and from God Himself. The Ruler of the entire universe and all things—God Most High—approves of you, as a real man living the true human life. What could be more meaningful than this? Such is a person who has the truth. In the current world under Satan’s domain, throughout the thousands of years of human history, who has obtained life? Nobody. Why is that? They are all people who have resisted God. Everything by which they have lived their lives and survived comes from Satan and was accepted from Satan and is precisely in opposition to God’s word. So, they are beings who resist God, who suffer His cursing, and they have no life to speak of. Even though they want to “leave a lasting reputation,” “have their names passed down for a hundred generations,” “enjoy eternal glory,” and “have an everlasting name,” this is all nonsense. In fact, they were cursed by God early on, never to be reincarnated. The words of the famous, whatever they are, fundamentally do not hold with God, and all are punished in the eighteenth level of hell after they die. Only God is the truth. God controls the heavens and earth and everything in them and has dominion over all. Not to believe in God, not to submit to God is to be unable to obtain truth. If you live according to God’s word, you will feel a clarity, stability, and incomparable sweetness in the depths of your heart; you will have truly obtained life. No matter how great the scientific achievements of scientists in the world, when they near death they feel empty-handed; they have obtained nothing. Even Einstein and Newton, with so much knowledge, felt empty, and that’s because they did not have truth. Newton and Galileo, in particular, both believed in God and were Christians; they were persecuted by Catholicism, but they did not seek truth. They only knew it was good to worship God. They merely studied science and discovered that there really is a God, and they believed in God to the end, ending up with a one hundred percent conviction that God exists and a one hundred percent conviction that He created the heavens and earth and all things. They only sought scientific knowledge and did not seek to know God. They did not obtain truth, and they did not obtain true life. The path you walk today is not their path. What you seek is to know God, how to submit to God, how to worship God, how to live out a meaningful life—completely different from what they sought. Now, the incarnate God has told you of every aspect of truth and bestowed upon you the way of truth and life. It would be foolish for you not to seek truth.
Now you feel like you still fall far short, that there is too little truth within you, that you do not feel enriched within. This is because your entering in has been too superficial, and you do not yet have very deep experience. When you truly understand God’s word and enter into God’s word you will have energy, an energy that fills your body and cannot be fully expended. At that time, you’ll feel more and more bright inside, and the path will be brighter the farther you walk it. Most people now believe in God but have not yet entered the right track. They still feel very empty and listless, sometimes even feeling like all of living is suffering, all emptiness—even wishing to die. This is how a person is before his heart has vision. Such a person has not obtained truth and does not yet know God, so he still does not feel much internal pleasure. Especially you have all suffered persecution and difficulty returning home, you suffer and also have thoughts of death and an unwillingness to live; this is the weakness of the flesh. Some people even think: We believe in God, and we should feel pleasure within us. In the Age of Grace the Holy Spirit still bestowed peace and joy upon people. Now there is too little peace and joy; there is not pleasure like there was during the Age of Grace. Believing in God today is too vexing. You only know that the pleasure of the flesh is better than anything else. You don’t know what God is doing today. God allows your flesh to suffer in order to transform your disposition. Even though your flesh suffers, you have God’s word and you have God’s blessing. You can’t die even if you want to: Can you resign yourself to not knowing God and not obtaining truth? Now mainly it’s just that people haven’t yet obtained truth, and they don’t have life. Now people are in the midst of the process of seeking salvation, so they must suffer some during this period. Today everyone throughout the world is tried: God is still suffering—is it right that you do not suffer? Without refinement through great disasters there cannot be genuine faith, and truth and life will not be obtained. Not having trials and refinement would not do. Peter was tried for seven years in the end (after he was fifty-three years old). He experienced hundreds of trials through that seven years, and only after those three and three and one more years did he obtain life and the transformation of his disposition. So, when you truly obtain truth and come to know God you feel life should be lived for God. Not living for God is too regrettable: You would live out your life in bitter regret and extreme remorse. You can’t die yet. You must clench your fists and resolutely continue to live; you must live a life for God. When people have truth within them then they have this resolve and never again desire to die; when death threatens you, you will say, “O God, I am unwilling to die; I still do not know You. I still have not repaid Your love. I must die only after coming to know You well.” Have you reached this level? You haven’t yet, right? Some people suffer familial hardship. Some people suffer marital hardship. Some people don’t have a home to settle into or even a place to live; they can only stay at the homes of others wherever they go, and they want to treat them as their own and enjoy a little freedom, but that is impossible because they are in others’ homes, and so they suffer in their hearts. Is not the suffering you encounter now the very same suffering of God? You are suffering together with God, and God is with people in their suffering. Today you all have a part in Christ’s tribulation, kingdom, and patience, and then, in the end you will obtain glory. This kind of suffering is meaningful. Not having resolve will not do. You must understand the significance of today’s suffering and why you must suffer so. Seek a little truth from this and understand a little of God’s intention, and then you will have the resolve to endure suffering. If you do not understand God’s intention and only ruminate on your suffering, then the more you think about it the harder it will be to bear—that is a bother—and so begins the torment of death. If you understand truth, you will say, “I have not yet obtained truth. I must properly expend myself for God. I must bear good witness of God. I must repay God’s love. After that, it doesn’t matter how I die. Then I will have lived a satisfactory life. Regardless of who else is dying, I will not die now; I must tenaciously continue to live.” So, now all these things must be seen clearly, and truth must be understood from these things. When people have truth, they have strength. When they have truth, their bodies are filled with inexhaustible energy. When they have truth, they have will. Without truth, they are like the limp dregs of tofu. With truth, they are firm and emboldened, and they do not feel their suffering as suffering no matter how much they endure. What does this suffering of yours amount to? The incarnate God is still suffering. You are people corrupted by Satan with a nature that rebels against God. You have all unconsciously done many things disobeying God, in resistance to God. You should be judged and should be chastised. A sick person cannot fear suffering when he is treated, so is it right for you, who have corruption and want your dispositions transformed and to gain life, not to suffer a little? Your sufferings should be borne; they must be borne. These sufferings do not befall the innocent, and even more so they are not forced on you. What you suffer now is nothing more than the difficulty of frequent travel and a little tiredness from your work. Sometimes your hearts are grieved as you become aware of your own corruptness and feel like you never change, and you are somewhat tormented by your corrupt nature. Sometimes there is a part of God’s word you can never understand, or your heart is pierced while you read God’s word, and you feel pained while undergoing some refining in God’s word. Or, you do your work poorly and always make mistakes, blaming yourself, hating that you can’t fight through it and that you can’t do the work. You suffer in all these ways. Sometimes you see others progress and feel like your own progression is too slow, that you receive God’s word too slowly, that light is too infrequent. You suffer some in these ways. Sometimes your environment threatens you, putting your mind in a state of anxiety, keeping you from rest, making you live in fear, and thus you suffer a little. What other suffering is there besides these kinds? You aren’t made to do any heavy labor, and you don’t have superiors or bosses beating you and cursing you, and no one is enslaving you. You’re not suffering any of that, are you? Those hardships you suffer really aren’t actual hardship. Think about that for a minute—is that not the case? You must understand what is the meaning of your expending yourselves for God and why you want to do this. If it is to pursue truth, to pursue life, and to do a little to fulfill your duty and repay God’s love, then that is completely righteous, a positive thing, and it is Heaven’s law and earth’s principle. In that case, you will never have regrets, and you will not become negative.
Now you all undergo some hardships of trials. Some of you possess some truth; some none. Some receive it this way; others receive it that way. No matter how you receive it, as long as there is truth within you and you receive it the right way, your suffering will have meaning and value, you will have determination, and you can make it to the end. If you don’t receive the truth but only man’s notions and imaginations, then your suffering has no value because you have not obtained truth. You should seek God’s will in all things and must seek truth in all things. How do you seek truth in the matters of eating and wearing clothes and the matters of personal life? Is there truth to seek within these things? Some say, “Whatever You say, eating well is good; dressing well is good. Eating or dressing poorly is a loss.” Is there truth in this view? There is not! Is it really important to one’s life to eat well and dress well? Absolutely not. Put another way, if someone really can know God and have truth, everything he does is bearing witness of God, is satisfying God. No matter how awfully he eats or dresses, there is value in his living, and he obtains God’s approval—is that not the most meaningful thing? Wearing what kind of clothes is absolutely not of primary importance. Some say, “When it comes time to find a partner it’s best to dress well.” Even that’s not certain. Imagine meeting a partner who is quite attractive, quite handsome. You wear a nice outfit; he takes a liking to you and marries you. But if this person is a devil, then he will bring you grief. If you meet a devil when you happen to be wearing worn-out clothes and a straw hat, and he does not take a liking to you, have you not just avoided a disaster? You won’t necessarily be blessed for wearing nice clothes: You will still be cursed for taking the wrong path. And, a person wearing shabby clothes who possesses truth will be blessed by God all the same. So, there is truth to seek in how you should treat eating and dressing. And there is even more truth to seek in how you should treat performing your duty. How you treat God’s commission is a very serious matter! If you cannot complete what God entrusts to you, you are not fit to live in God’s presence and should be punished. It is Heaven’s law and earth’s principle for man to complete what God entrusts to him; this is man’s highest responsibility, as important as his life. If you do not take God’s commission seriously, then you are betraying God in the most serious way; this is more grievous than Judas and is deserving of cursing. So, God commissions man: This is an exaltation and special favor from God, a most glorious thing. Everything else can be abandoned—even if one has to sacrifice his life he must still fulfill God’s commission. There is even more truth to be sought here.
The transformation of disposition and seeking of truth are profoundly related. If you understand the truth of why people live and how you should view life, then won’t your view of life be changed? There is even more truth in this to be sought. What truths are there in loving God? Why must man love God? What is the significance of loving God? If a man is clear about the truth of loving God and can love God in his heart—if his heart can love God a little—then he has a true life and is the most blessed. Those who seek truth in all things progress in life the fastest and can achieve the transformation of disposition. Those who seek truth in all things are precisely those who are loved of God. If a person relies on notions and doctrines or obeys rules in all things, then he will not progress, he will never have truth, and sooner or later he will be eliminated—God most despises this kind of person.