Keeping the Commandments and Practicing the Truth
In practice, the commandments should be connected with the practice of the truth. While keeping the commandments, one ought to practice the truth. When practicing the truth, one should not violate the principles of the commandments or go against the commandments. Do that which God requires you to do. Keeping the commandments and practicing the truth are interconnected, not contradictory. The more you practice the truth, the more you keep the essence of the commandments. The more you practice the truth, the more you will understand God’s word as expressed in the commandments. Practicing the truth and keeping the commandments are not contradictory actions, but are rather interconnected. In the beginning, only after man keeps the commandments can he practice the truth and attain enlightenment from the Holy Spirit. But this is not the original intention of God. God requires you to worship God with heart, not to just practice good behavior. But you must keep the commandments at least superficially. Gradually, through experience, man gains a clearer understanding of God. He stops rebelling against and resisting God, and he stops calling God’s work into question. In this way man may abide by the essence of the commandments. Therefore, merely keeping the commandments without practicing the truth is ineffective and does not constitute real worship of God because you have not yet attained real stature. If you keep the commandments without the truth, this amounts to just keeping rigidly to the rules. In so doing, the commandments become your law, which will not help you grow in life. On the contrary, they will become your burden, and will bind you firmly like the law of the Old Testament, causing you to lose the presence of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, only by practicing the truth can you effectively keep the commandments. One keeps the commandments in order to practice the truth. You practice even more truths through keeping the commandments. You gain even more understanding of the practical meaning of the commandments through practicing the truth. The purpose and meaning of God’s imperative that man ought to keep the commandments is not to follow ordinances as man may imagine, but rather has to do with man’s entry into life. The more you grow in life, the greater the degree to which you will be able to keep the commandments. Although the commandments are for man to keep, the essence of the commandments only becomes apparent through man’s life experience. Most people think keeping the commandments well means “everything is ready, all that remains is to be caught up.” This is an extravagant imagining and is not God’s will. Those who say such things do not wish to make progress and are greedy for the flesh. This is nonsense! This is not in keeping with reality! Only practicing the truth without keeping the commandments practically is not God’s will. This kind of person is disabled and proceeds as if hobbling on one leg. However, only keeping the commandments and sticking rigidly to the commandments without having truth is, likewise, not fulfilling God’s will—like a man who sees from one eye only, this is also a form of disability. It can be said that if you keep the commandments well and gain a clear understanding of the practical God, then you will have truth. From a relative perspective, you will have gained real stature. You practice the truth and keep the commandments at the same time without mutual conflict. Practicing the truth and keeping the commandments are two systems, both of which are integral parts of one’s life experience. One’s experience should comprise an integration of the keeping of the commandments with the practice of the truth, not a division. However, there are both differences and connections between these two things.
The promulgation of the commandments in the new age is a testimony to the fact that all men in this stream and all those who hear God’s voice today have entered a new age. This is a new beginning for God’s work and is the start of the last part of the work in God’s management plan over six thousand years. The commandments of the new age symbolize that God and man have entered into the realm of a new heaven and new earth, and that God, just as Jehovah worked among Israelites and Jesus worked among Jews, will do more practical work and do more and greater work on earth. They also symbolize that this group of men will receive more and greater commission from God, and will receive practical supply, feeding, support, care and protection from God. Further they will be put through more practical exercise, as well as being dealt with, broken and refined by God’s word. The meaning of the commandments of the new age is quite profound. They suggest that God will really appear on earth and God will conquer the entire universe upon earth, revealing all of His glory in the flesh. They also suggest that the practical God is going to do more practical work on earth to perfect all that He has chosen. Further, God will accomplish everything with words on earth and make manifest the decree that “the incarnate God rises to the highest and is magnified, and all peoples and all nations kneel down to worship God—who is great.” Although the commandments of the new age are for man to keep, which is man’s duty and the aim of his accomplishments, the meaning they represent is rather too deep to be fully expressed in one or two words. The commandments of the new age replace the Old Testament laws and New Testament ordinances as promulgated by Jehovah and Jesus. This is a deeper lesson, not as simple a matter as man may imagine. The commandments of the new age have an aspect of practical meaning: They serve as an interface between the Age of Grace and the Age of Kingdom. The commandments of the new age end all the practices and ordinances of the old age and also end all the practices of the age of Jesus and those before the new age.[a] They bring man to the presence of the more practical God and let man start to receive God’s personal perfection, which is the beginning of the path of being perfected. Therefore, you shall possess a correct attitude toward the commandments of the new age and shall not follow them carelessly or despise them. The commandments of the new age stress one point: that man shall worship the practical God Himself of today, which is to submit to the essence of the Spirit more practically. They also stress the principle by which God will judge man to be guilty or righteous after He appears as the Sun of righteousness. The commandments are easier understood than practiced. Thus, if God wishes to perfect man, He must do so through His own words and guidance, man cannot achieve perfection through his own innate intelligence alone. Whether man can keep the commandments of the new age or not is related to man’s knowledge of the practical God. Hence, whether you can keep the commandments or not is not a question that will be resolved in a matter of days. This is a deep lesson.
Practicing the truth is a path by which man’s life may grow. If you don’t practice the truth, you’ll be left with only theory and you will have no real life. Truth is the symbol of man’s stature. Whether or not you practice the truth is related to the attainment of real stature. If you do not practice the truth, do not act righteously, or are swayed by emotions and care for the flesh, then you are far away from keeping the commandments. This is the deepest lesson. There are many truths for man to enter and for man to understand in each age. But there are different commandments accompanying the truths in each age. The truth man practices relates to the age and the commandments kept by man also relate to the age. Each age has its own truths to be practiced and commandments to be kept. However, based on the different commandments promulgated by God, that is, based on the different ages, the goal and effect of man’s practice of the truth differ commensurately. It can be said that the commandments serve the truth and the truth exists to maintain the commandments. If there is only truth, there will be no changes in God’s work to speak of. However, by referring to the commandments, man can identify the dynamic extent of the work done by the Holy Spirit and man can know the age in which God works. In religion, there are many people who can practice the truths practiced by man of the Age of Law. However, they do not have the commandments of the new age and cannot keep the commandments of the new age. They keep the old way and remain as primordial humans. They are not accompanied by the new manner of work and cannot see the commandments of the new age. As such, God’s work is absent. They are like a man holding an empty egg shell: There is no spirit if there is no chick inside. More precisely speaking, there is no life. Such men have not entered the new age and have lagged behind many steps. Therefore, it is useless if people have the truth of old ages but do not have the commandments of the new age. Many of you practice the truth of this time but do not keep the commandments of this time. You will get nothing, the truth you practice will be worthless and meaningless and God will not praise it. Practicing the truth must be done in a manner by which the Holy Spirit works today; it must be done following the voice of the practical God today. Without this, everything is null—like drawing water with a bamboo basket. This is the practical meaning of the promulgation of the commandments of the new age. If you have a thorough understanding of the work of the Holy Spirit in the current time and enter the manner of work of today, you will naturally see through to the essence of keeping the commandments. If the day comes when you see through to the essence of the commandments of the new age and you can keep the commandments, then at that time you will have been perfected. This is the real meaning of practicing the truth and keeping the commandments. Whether you can practice the truth or not depends on how you perceive the essence of the commandments of the new age. The work of the Holy Spirit will continuously appear to man and God will require more and more of man. Therefore, the truths which man actually practices will be more and greater and the effects of keeping the commandments will be more profound. Therefore, you shall practice the truth and keep the commandments at the same time. Nobody shall neglect this matter. Let new truth and new commandments start at the same time in this new age.
a. The original text reads “before this.”