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 will play his tricks on anybody, including his relatives—even his own children. No matter how forthright you are with him, he will play games with you. This is the true face of his nature—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 relatively honest; he handles affairs directly and does not take unfair advantage of others in his dealings with them. When he speaks with others, he does not say things intentionally to test them; he can open up his heart and communicate with others. Everyone says he is quite honest, but there are still times when he speaks with some deceitfulness. That is simply a manifestation of a 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.
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 has become people’s lives. There are other words of life philosophy that are also like this. Satan uses each nation’s fine traditional culture to educate people, causing humanity to fall into and be engulfed in a boundless 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.
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. What is a transformation in disposition? You must be a lover of truth, you must accept the judgment and chastisement of God’s word as you experience His work, and experience all kinds of suffering and refinement, through which you are cleansed of the satanic poisons within you. This is a 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. A transformation in disposition means that a person, because he loves and can accept the truth, finally comes to know his disobedient nature that is in opposition to God; he understands that the human corruption is too deep and recognizes man’s absurdness and deceitfulness. He recognizes 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. This is someone who knows God; this is someone whose disposition has transformed.