Chapter 35. How to Take the Path of Peter
To summarize taking the path of Peter, it is to take the path of pursuing the truth, which is also the path of truly knowing oneself and changing one’s disposition. Only by going the way of Peter will one be going the way of being perfected by God. One must be clear on specifically how to take the way of Peter and how to put it into practice. First, one must put aside his own intentions, improper pursuits, and even his family and all things of his own flesh. He must be wholeheartedly devoted, that is, completely devote himself to the word of God, focus on eating and drinking the word of God, focus on the search for the truth, the search for God’s intention in His words, and try to grasp the will of God in everything. This is the most fundamental and the most critical method of practice. This is what Peter did after seeing Jesus, and it is only by practicing in this way that one obtains the best results. Wholehearted devotion to the words of God mainly means seeking the truth, seeking God’s intention within His words, focusing on grasping the will of God, and understanding and obtaining more truth from the words of God. When reading His words, Peter was not focused on understanding doctrines and he was even less focused on obtaining theological knowledge; instead, he was focused on understanding the truth and grasping God’s will, and achieving an understanding of His disposition and His loveliness. He also tried to understand the various corrupt states of man from God’s words, and understand the corrupt nature of man and man’s true shortcomings, achieving all aspects of the demands God makes of man in order to satisfy Him. He had so many correct practices within the words of God; this is most in line with God’s will, and it is man’s best cooperation in his experience of the work of God. When experiencing the hundreds of trials from God, he 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 tried to reach for the meaning of God’s words. He tried in earnest to ponder and memorize every word that Jesus said to him, and achieved very good results. Through this way 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 he also came to understand man’s essence, man’s nature, and the various types of shortcomings that man has—this is a true understanding of oneself. From God’s words, he not only achieved a true understanding of himself, but from the things expressed in God’s word—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, God’s loveliness and God’s demands for man. Even though at that time God did not speak as much as He does today, fruit was borne in Peter in these aspects. 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. He also particularly focused on God’s requirements of mankind within His words, and in what aspects man should satisfy God to be in line with God’s will. He put forth great effort in this aspect and achieved full clarity; this was very beneficial for his own entry. No matter what God spoke of, as long as those words could become his life and they belonged to the truth, he was able to carve them into his heart to ponder them often and comprehend them. 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 he entered into the reality of God’s words. Peter’s service was in line with God’s will primarily because he did this.
If one can truly enter into the reality of God’s words from the matters and the words required by Him, then he will be a person perfected by God. It can be said that the work and the words of God are completely effective for this person, that God’s words become his life, he obtains truth, and he can live according to God’s words. After this the nature of his flesh, that is, the foundation of his original existence, will shake and collapse. After one has the words of God as their life they become a new person. The words of God become his life; the vision of God’s work, His requirements of man, His revelation of man, and the standards for a true life that God requires man to achieve become his life—he lives according to these words and these truths, and this person becomes perfected by the words of God. He experiences rebirth and becomes a new man through His words. This is the path by which Peter pursued the truth; it was the path of being perfected, perfected by God’s words, and gaining life from the words of God. The truth expressed by God’s words became his life, and only then did he become a person who obtained the truth. We all know that around the time of Jesus’ ascension, Peter had many notions, disobediences, and weaknesses. Why did they completely change after that? This has a direct relationship to his pursuit of truth. Only understanding the doctrine is of no use; it cannot bring a change in life. Only understanding the literal meaning of God’s word is not equal to understanding truth; those essential things illustrated in God’s words are the truth. Every sentence of God’s words contains truth, but people may not necessarily understand it. For example, God’s word says, “You must be honest people”: There is truth in this statement. “You must become people obedient to God, who love God, and who worship God.” “You must do your duty well as a man.” These statements contain the truth even more. Each sentence of the words of God contains much truth, and many words are required to explain the essence of each statement of truth; only when this point is reached will it be considered an understanding of the truth. If you only understand the literal meaning and explain God’s words according to their literal meaning, this is not an understanding of truth—this is purely playing with doctrine.
In the past, when the words of God have not become people’s lives, it was Satan’s nature that took charge and dominated within them. What specific things were within that nature? For example, why are you selfish? Why must you protect your own position? Why are your emotions so strong? Why do you love those unjust things, and why do you love those evils? What is the root of these things? Where do they come from? Why are you so happy to accept these things? Right now you all have understood that this is mainly because of Satan’s poison contained within. What Satan’s poison is can be fully expressed with words. For example, if you ask some evildoers: “Why do you do that?” They will answer: “Everyone for himself and the devil take the hindmost.” This one phrase expresses the root of the problem: The logic of Satan has become people’s lives, and no matter what they do, whether it’s for some purpose or other, they are only doing it for themselves. People all think that “Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost,” that this is just the way it is, so everyone should live only for themselves. “Securing a position for creature comforts” is the life and the philosophy of man, and it also represents man’s nature. “Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost,” this statement of Satan’s is precisely its poison, and when internalized by man it becomes man’s nature. Satan’s nature is exposed through this statement; it completely represents it. This poison becomes man’s life and becomes the foundation of his existence; corrupted humanity has been consistently dominated by this for thousands of years. Everything Satan does is for itself. It wants to surpass God, break free from God and wield power itself, and possess all of the things that God has created; therefore, man’s nature is Satan’s nature. In fact, many people’s mottos can represent and reflect their nature. No matter how man disguises it, in everything he does and everything he says, he cannot hide his nature. There are some people who never speak the truth and are good at pretending, but after others have interacted with them for a while, their deceitful nature and their complete dishonesty will be found out. Time will tell all. After knowing them for a time, their nature will be discovered. In the end a conclusion will be drawn: He never speaks a word of truth, and he is a deceitful man. This statement is the truth of his nature; it is the witness and illustration of it. Therefore, his philosophy of life is to not tell anyone the truth, and also to not believe anyone. Does this not represent his nature? Man’s satanic nature has a great deal of philosophy contained within it. Sometimes you yourself are not clear, but you are living based on that every moment. You think that it’s very correct, very reasonable, and not mistaken. Satan’s philosophy becomes man’s truth, and people live in complete accordance with its philosophy without the slightest contradiction. Therefore, man is always and everywhere revealing Satan’s nature in life, and is always living by a satanic philosophy. Satan’s nature is man’s life. As for what nature is, this can be fully expressed by summarizing it with words. In man’s nature there is arrogance and the pursuit of being outstanding and unique; there is also mercenary greed with no regard for life; there is deceitfulness, crookedness, and cheating people at every turn; and there is unbearable wickedness and filth. This is a summary of man’s nature. Therefore, if you are able to come to know many things in the nature of man, then you have an understanding of your own nature. If you have not discovered anything in your own nature, then you do not have any understanding of it. Peter sought within the refinement of God’s words and within the various trials that God provided for him to come to know himself, to see what he revealed. In the end when he truly came to understand himself, he realized man is so corrupt, and is worthless and unworthy of serving God, and that man is not worthy of living in front of God. He fell down in front of God. In the end he felt: “Knowing God is the most precious thing! If I could not know God, my death would be such a shame. I feel that knowing God is the most important, most meaningful thing. If man does not know God then he does not deserve to live—then there is no life.” When Peter’s experience had reached this point, he was fairly knowledgeable of his own nature. He understood it fairly well, and although he would not have been able to use language to explain it thoroughly in terms of mankind’s current thinking, he did reach this realm. Therefore, pursuit of the path of life to be perfected by God is to more deeply understand one’s own nature within the words of God and to understand the things contained in one’s nature. To summarize it with words, to thoroughly understand one’s old life—the life of the old satanic nature—this is to have achieved the result required by God. If your knowledge has not reached this point but you say you understand yourself and that you have gained life, isn’t this just bragging? You don’t know yourself, and you don’t know what you are in front of God, whether you have really achieved the standard of a human being, or how many elements of Satan you still contain. You are unclear about who you belong to and you don’t even have self-knowledge—then how can you have reason in front of God? When Peter was pursuing life, amidst his trials he focused on understanding himself and changing his disposition. He strove to understand God, and in the end he felt: “Man must pursue understanding of God in life; understanding God is the most critical thing; if I don’t know God then I cannot rest in peace when I die. When God has me die after knowing Him, I will feel that it is a most gratifying thing, I will not complain in the least, and my entire life will be fulfilled.” Peter was not able to obtain this understanding and reach this level right after he began to believe in God—he had to first undergo many trials. His experience had to reach a certain point and he had to completely understand himself before he could feel the value in knowing God. Therefore, the path he took was the path of life and of being perfected; his specific practice was mainly focused on this aspect.
What road are you all taking now? If you have not reached a pursuit of life, of understanding of yourself, or of God like Peter’s, then that is still not Peter’s path. Right now most people are in this kind of state: “In order to gain blessings I must expend myself for God and pay a price for Him. In order to gain blessings I must abandon everything for God; I must complete what He has entrusted me with and perform my duty well.” This is dominated by the intention to be blessed; it is expending oneself entirely for the purpose of gaining God’s rewards, for gaining the crown. This kind of person does not have the truth in his heart, and surely just understands some words of doctrine which he shows off everywhere. His path is the path of Paul. This type of person’s belief in God is an act of constant work, and in his mind he feels that the more he does, the more it will prove he is loyal to God, that the more he does the more God will certainly be satisfied, and that the more he does the more he deserves to gain the crown in front of God, and he will certainly receive the greatest blessings in the house of God. He feels that if he can endure suffering, preach, and die for Christ, if he can disregard his own life, and if he can complete all of the duties God entrusted him with, then he will be God’s most blessed person, one who gains the greatest blessings, and he will certainly receive the crown. This is exactly what Paul imagined and what he pursued; this is exactly the path that Paul walked, and it was under the guidance of these thoughts that Paul worked to serve God. Don’t such thoughts and intentions come from Satan’s nature? Just like worldly humans, on earth I must pursue knowledge, and only after obtaining knowledge can I be successful, become an official, and have status. Once I have status I can realize my ambition and bring my home and business up to certain levels. Do not all of the non-believers go on this path? Those who are dominated by this satanic nature can only be like Paul after they believe in God: “I must cast off everything to expend myself for God, I must be faithful in front of God, and in the end I will receive the greatest crown and the greatest blessings.” This is the same as worldly people who pursue worldly things, no different at all, and they are subject to the same nature. People have a satanic nature, so in the world they will pursue knowledge, status, learning, and worldly success; in God’s house, they will seek to expend themselves for God, be faithful, and in the end receive the crown and great blessings. If people do not have truth after they become believers in God and they have not had a change in their disposition, then they will certainly be on this path—this is a reality that no one can contradict, and this is diametrically opposed to Peter’s path. Which path are you all taking now? Though you may not plan to take the path of Paul, your nature dominates you this way, and you are going in that direction in spite of yourself. Even though you want to go on the path of Peter, if you are not clear on how to do that, then you will still go along the path of Paul in spite of yourself—this is the reality of the situation.
So exactly how can you take the path of Peter? If you are unable to distinguish between Peter’s path and Paul’s path, or you don’t know them at all, then even if you say you should go on Peter’s path those will be empty words. You need to first be clear in your mind what the road of Peter is and what the road of Paul is. If you really understand that Peter’s path is the path of life and the only path to being perfected, only then will you be able to know and grasp the truths and specific ways of taking his path. If you do not understand Peter’s path, then the path you are going on will definitely be that of Paul’s because there will be no other path for you—you will have no choice. If you have no truth and no aspirations then it is difficult to go on Peter’s path. It can be said that God has now revealed to you the path of being saved by Him and of being perfected. This is God’s grace and uplifting and it is Him guiding you onto the path of Peter. Without God’s guidance and enlightenment no one would be able to take Peter’s path; the only choice would be to go down Paul’s path, to follow in Paul’s footsteps to destruction. At the time, Paul did not feel it was wrong to walk down that path. He fully believed that it was correct, but he didn’t have the truth and he particularly didn’t have a change in disposition. He believed too much in himself and felt that there was not the slightest issue with going that way. He continued on full of confidence and with the utmost self-assurance. By the end, he never came to his senses, still thinking that for him to live was Christ. He continued going that way until the end, and when he was finally punished, it was all over. Paul’s path did not involve knowing oneself or pursuit of a change in disposition. He never dissected his own nature and he had no knowledge of what he was; he just knew that he was the chief culprit in the persecution of Jesus. He had not had the slightest understanding of his own nature, and after finishing his work he felt that he was Christ and should be rewarded. The work that Paul did was just rendering service for God. For him personally, though he received some revelations from the Holy Spirit, he had no truth or life at all. He was not saved by God—he was punished. Why is it said that Peter’s path is the path of being perfected? Because in his practice he particularly focused on life, he pursued understanding of God, and he focused on understanding himself. Through his experience of God’s work he came to know himself, gained understanding of man’s corrupt states, knew his shortcomings, and what the most valuable thing for man to pursue was. He was able to sincerely love God, knew how to repay God, he obtained some truth, and he had the reality that God requires. From all the things that he said during his trials, it can be seen that Peter was indeed the one with the most understanding of God. Because he understood so much truth from the words of God, his path became brighter and brighter and more and more in alignment with God’s will. If he had not had this truth, then he would not have been able to go along such a correct path.
Right now there is still the question: If you know what Peter’s path was, can you walk along it? This is a realistic question. You must be able to clearly distinguish what kind of person can go along Peter’s path and what kind of person cannot. When people are incorrect they cannot be perfected by God. Those who go on Peter’s path must be correct; only if you are a correct person can you be perfected. Those who are like Paul cannot go on Peter’s path. A certain kind of person will go on a certain kind of path; this is entirely determined by their nature. No matter how clearly you explain Peter’s path to Satan, it cannot walk it. Even if it wanted to, it wouldn’t be able to get on it. Its nature has determined that it cannot take that path. Only those who love the truth are able to take Peter’s path. Rivers and mountains may be changed but it’s hard to alter a man’s nature; if there are no elements of love for the truth within your nature, then you are not suited to go on the path of Peter. If you are a person who loves the truth, if you are able to accept the truth in spite of your corrupt disposition, can receive the work of the Holy Spirit and can understand God’s will, this way you will be able to forsake the flesh and obey God’s plan. When you have changes in your disposition after undergoing some trials, this means that you are slowly stepping onto Peter’s path of being perfected.