Chapter 36. Knowing Oneself Is Mainly Knowing Human Nature
The key to achieving a change of disposition is to know one’s own nature, and this must come from revelation by God. Only in God’s word can one know his own repulsive nature, recognize in his own nature Satan’s various poisons, realize that he is foolish and ignorant, and recognize the weak and negative elements in his own nature. Once these are fully known, and you are truly able to forsake the flesh, consistently carry out God’s word, and have the will to absolutely submit to the Holy Spirit and to the word of God, then you have embarked on the path of Peter. Without the grace of God, if there is no enlightenment and guidance from the Holy Spirit, it would be very difficult to walk this path, because people do not have truth and are unable to betray themselves. To walk the path of being perfected that Peter walked, primarily a person must have the will to do so, they must have confidence, and rely on God. Furthermore, he or she must submit to the work of the Holy Spirit, and in everything not deviate from God’s word. These are the several key aspects, none of which can be violated. It is very difficult to know oneself within experience. Without the work of the Holy Spirit it is very hard to enter into it. To walk the path of Peter one must concentrate on knowing oneself, and on achieving a change of disposition. Paul walked a path that did not seek life, and did not focus on knowing oneself. Paul especially emphasized work, the prestige and influence of work. His motivation was to gain the blessings of God in exchange for his work and suffering, to receive a reward from God. His motivation was incorrect. He did not emphasize life, nor did he lay stress on a change of disposition. He focused only on rewards. Since he sought the wrong goal, the path on which he walked is of course also wrong. This is brought about by his arrogance and conceitedness. Clearly, he did not have any truth, and had no conscience or reason either. In saving and changing people, God mainly changes their disposition. The purpose of God’s words is to achieve in people the outcome of a change of disposition, such that people are able to know God, to submit to Him, and to worship Him in a normal way. This is the goal of God’s words and of His work. Paul’s method of seeking is in direct violation of and in conflict with the intention of God. It is completely at cross purposes. Peter’s way of seeking, however, is completely in accord with God’s intention, which is precisely the outcome that God desires to achieve in human beings. The way of Peter is therefore blessed and receives the praise of God. Because the path of Paul is in violation of God’s intention, God therefore loathes it, and curses it. To walk the path of Peter one must know the intention of God. If one is really able to fully understand God’s intention in His words, which means understanding what God wants to make of man and ultimately what outcome He desires to achieve, only then is one able to accurately know what path to follow. If you do not fully understand the path of Peter, and have only the desire to follow it, you will not be able to embark on it. In other words, you know a lot of doctrines, but ultimately are unable to enter into reality. Though you may make a shallow entry, you are unable to achieve a true outcome. Nowadays most people have a very superficial understanding of themselves. They have not come to know clearly the things that are part of their nature at all. They only know a few corrupt manifestations of themselves, the things they are likely to do, or a few of their faults, and so they believe that they know themselves. If they further abide by a few rules, ensure that they don’t make mistakes in certain areas, and manage to avoid committing a few transgressions, they then consider themselves to have reality in their belief in God and that they will be saved. This is completely human imagination. If you abide by these, will you really become able to commit no transgression? Has a true change of disposition been attained? Have you really lived out the likeness of a human being? Can you really satisfy God? Absolutely not, this is for sure. Belief in God works only when one has high standards, attaining truth and some change in his life disposition. So if a person’s knowledge of himself is too shallow, it will be impossible to solve problems, and his life disposition will absolutely not change. It is necessary to know oneself on a deep level, which means to know one’s own nature, and to know what elements are included in one’s nature, from where the elements arise and how they come about. Moreover, are you able to really hate these things? Have you seen your own ugly soul and your evil nature? If a person is truly able to see the truth about himself, then he will start to loathe himself. When you loathe yourself and then practice God’s word, you will be able to forsake the flesh, and have the strength to carry out truth without difficulty. Why were people formerly able to follow the flesh? Because they considered themselves to be pretty good. They felt right and justified, having no faults, indeed entirely correct. They therefore could act with the assumption that justice was on their side. When one recognizes what his true nature is, how ugly, how despicable, and how pitiful, then he is not too proud of himself, not so wildly arrogant, and not so pleased with himself as he was before. He feels, “I must practice some of God’s word in an earnest and down-to-earth manner. If not, I will not measure up to the standard of being human, and will be ashamed to live in God’s presence.” He truly sees himself as paltry, as truly insignificant. At this time it is easy for him to carry out truth, and he appears to have some human likeness. Only when a person truly loathes himself is he able to forsake the flesh. If one does not loathe himself, he will be unable to forsake the flesh. Hating oneself comprises a few things: first, knowing one’s own nature; second, seeing oneself as needy and pitiful, seeing oneself to be so small and insignificant, and seeing one’s own pitiful soul, one’s dirty soul. When one fully sees what he truly is and this outcome is achieved, he then really knows himself, and we can say that he has come to know himself fully. Only then can he truly hate himself, going so far as to curse himself, truly feeling that he has been corrupted too deeply by Satan, such that he no longer resembles a human being. Then one day, when the threat of imminent death appears, he feels, “Oh! It’s God’s righteous punishment. God is indeed righteous. I really should die!” At this point, he will not lodge a complaint, much less blame God, simply feeling that he is too pitiful, too filthy and corrupt, that he should be wiped out by God and a soul like his is not fit to live on earth, and so he will not resist, much less betray, nor will he complain against God. If he does not know himself, and still considers himself to be pretty good, when death threatens him, he feels, “I have believed in God so well. How I have sought! I have given so much, I have suffered so, and ultimately God asks me to die. I don’t know where God’s righteousness is. Why is God asking me to die? If a person like me dies, who will be saved? Won’t the human race come to an end?” First he has notions about God. Second, he has a complaint; there is no submission whatsoever. For instance, when Paul was about to die, he did not know himself. When punishment from God arrived, it was too late to repent.