Only by Experiencing Refinement Can Man Possess True Love
All of you are in the midst of trial and refinement. How should you love God during refinement? Having experienced refinement, people are able to offer true praise to God, and amidst refinement, they can see that they are very much lacking. The greater your refinement, the more you are able to renounce the flesh; the greater people’s refinement, the greater their love for God. This is what you should understand. Why must people be refined? What effect does it aim to achieve? What is the significance of God’s work of refinement in man? If you truly seek God, then having experienced His refinement to a certain point you will feel that it is extremely good, and of the utmost necessity. How should man love God during refinement? By using the resolve to love God to accept His refinement: During refinement you are tormented inside, as if a knife were being twisted in your heart, yet you are willing to satisfy God using your heart, which loves Him, and you are unwilling to care for the flesh. This is what is meant by practicing the love of God. You hurt inside, and your suffering has reached a certain point, yet you are still willing to come before God and pray, saying: “O God! I cannot leave You. Although there is darkness within me, I wish to satisfy You; You know my heart, and I would that You invest more of Your love within me.” This is practice during refinement. If you use the love of God as the foundation, refinement can bring you closer to God and make you more intimate with God. Since you believe in God, you must hand over your heart before God. If you offer up and lay your heart before God, then during refinement it will be impossible for you to deny God, or leave God. In this way your relationship with God will become ever closer and ever more proper, and your communion with God will become ever more frequent. If you always practice in this way, then you will spend more time in God’s light and more time under the guidance of His words. There will also be more and more changes in your disposition, and your knowledge will increase day by day. When the day comes that God’s trials suddenly befall you, you will not only be able to stand by God’s side, but will also be able to bear testimony to God. At that time, you will be like Job, and like Peter. Having borne testimony to God you will truly love Him, and will gladly lay down your life for Him; you will be God’s witness, and one who is beloved by God. Love that has experienced refinement is strong, not weak. Regardless of when or how God subjects you to His trials, you are able to lay down your concerns about whether you live or die, to gladly cast aside everything for God, and to happily endure anything for God—thus your love will be pure and your faith real. Only then will you be someone who is truly loved by God, and who has truly been made perfect by God.
If people fall under the influence of Satan, then they have no love for God within them, and their previous visions, love, and resolution have disappeared. People used to feel that they were supposed to suffer for God, but today they think to do so is shameful, and they have no shortage of complaints. This is the work of Satan, a sign that man has fallen under the domain of Satan. If you encounter this state you must pray, and turn it around as soon as you can—this will protect you against Satan’s attacks. It is during bitter refinement that man can most easily fall under the influence of Satan, so how should you love God during such refinement? You should summon your will, laying your heart before God and devoting the last of your time to Him. No matter how God refines you, you should be able to put the truth into practice to satisfy God’s will and you should take it upon yourself to seek God and seek communion. At times like these, the more passive you are, the more negative you will become and the easier it will be for you to regress. When it is necessary for you to serve your function, although you do not serve it well, you do all you can, and do so using nothing more than your love of God; regardless of what others say—whether they say you have done well, or that you have done badly—your intentions are correct, and you are not self-righteous, for you are acting in behalf of God. When others misinterpret you, you are able to pray to God and say: “O God! I do not ask that others tolerate me or treat me well, nor that they understand or approve of me. I only ask that I may be able to love You in my heart, that I may be at ease in my heart, and that my conscience may be clear. I do not ask that others commend me, or hold me in high regard; I only seek to satisfy You from my heart; I serve my role by doing all that I can, and although I am foolish, stupid, of poor caliber and blind, I know that You are lovely, and I am willing to devote all I have to You.” As soon as you pray in this way, your love for God emerges, and you feel much more relieved in your heart. This is what is meant by practicing the love of God. As you experience, you will fail twice and succeed once, or else fail five times and succeed twice, and as you experience in this way, only amid failure will you be able to see the loveliness of God and discover what is lacking within you. When you next encounter such situations, you should caution yourself, temper your steps, and pray more often. You will gradually develop the ability to triumph in such situations. When that happens, your prayers have been effective. When you see you have been successful this time, you will be gratified inside, and when you pray you will be able to feel God, and that the presence of the Holy Spirit has not left you—only then will you know how God works within you. Practicing in this way will give you a path to experiencing. If you do not put the truth into practice, then you will be without the presence of the Holy Spirit within you. But if you put the truth into practice when you encounter things as they are, then, though you hurt inside, the Holy Spirit will be with you afterward, you will be able to feel the presence of God when you pray, you will have the strength to practice the words of God, and during communion with your brothers and sisters there will be nothing weighing on your conscience and you will feel at peace, and in this way, you will be able to bring to light what you have done. Regardless of what others say, you will be able to have a proper relationship with God, you will not be constrained by others, you will rise above everything—and in this, you will demonstrate that your practice of God’s words has been effective.
The greater God’s refinement, the more people’s hearts are able to love God. The torment in their hearts is of benefit to their lives, they are more able to be at peace before God, their relationship with God is closer, and they are better able to see God’s supreme love and His supreme salvation. Peter experienced refinement hundreds of times, and Job underwent several trials. If you wish to be made perfect by God, you too must undergo refinement hundreds of times; only if you go through this process and rely upon this step will you be able to satisfy God’s will and be made perfect by God. Refinement is the best means by which God makes people perfect; only refinement and bitter trials can bring out the true love for God in people’s hearts. Without hardship, people lack true love for God; if they are not tested within, if they are not truly subjected to refinement, then their hearts will always be floating around outside. Having been refined to a certain point, you will see your own weaknesses and difficulties, you will see how much you are lacking and that you are unable to overcome the many problems you encounter, and you will see how great is your disobedience. Only during trials are people able to truly know their real states; trials make people better able to be perfected.
During his lifetime, Peter experienced refinement hundreds of times and underwent many painful ordeals. This refinement became the foundation of his supreme love of God, and the most significant experience of his entire life. That he was able to possess a supreme love of God was, in one sense, because of his resolve to love God; more importantly, however, it was because of the refinement and suffering that he underwent. This suffering became his guide on the path of loving God, and the thing that was most memorable to him. If people do not undergo the pain of refinement when loving God, then their love is full of naturalness and their own preferences; love such as this is full of the ideas of Satan, and fundamentally incapable of satisfying God’s will. Having the resolve to love God is not the same as truly loving God. Even though all that they think of in their hearts is for the sake of loving and satisfying God, and even though their thoughts seem to be entirely devoted to God and devoid of any human ideas, yet when their thoughts are brought before God, He does not commend or bless such thoughts. Even when people have fully understood all truths—when they have come to know them all—this cannot be said to be a sign of loving God, it cannot be said that these people actually love God. Despite having understood many truths without undergoing refinement, people are incapable of putting these truths into practice; only during refinement can people understand the real meaning of these truths, only then can people genuinely appreciate their inner meaning. At that time, when they try again, they are able to put the truths into practice properly, and in accordance with God’s will; at that time, their human ideas are lessened, their human naturalness is reduced, and their human emotions are diminished; only at that time is their practice a true manifestation of the love of God. The effect of the truth of the love of God is not achieved through spoken knowledge or mental willingness, and nor can it be achieved simply by understanding that truth. It requires that people pay a price, that they undergo much bitterness during refinement, and only then will their love become pure and after God’s own heart. In His requirement that man love Him, God does not demand that man love Him using passion or naturalness; only through loyalty and the use of the truth to serve Him can man truly love Him. But man lives amid naturalness, and so is incapable of using the truth and loyalty to serve God. He is either too passionate about God or too cold and uncaring; he either loves God to the extreme or loathes Him to the extreme. Those who live amid naturalness always live between these two extremes, always in a state without truth, yet believing that they are right. Although I have mentioned this time and time again, people are incapable of taking it seriously, they are incapable of fully knowing its importance, and so they live amid the faith of self-deception, in the delusion of love for God that has no truth. Throughout history, as mankind has developed and the ages have passed, God’s requirements of man have become ever higher, and He has increasingly demanded that man be absolute toward Him. Yet man’s knowledge of God has become more and more vague and abstract, and his love of God has concomitantly become more and more impure. Man’s state and all that he does are increasingly at odds with the will of God, for man has become ever more deeply corrupted by Satan. This requires that God do more, and greater, work of salvation. Man is increasingly exacting in his requirements of God, and his love of God is ever diminishing. People live in disobedience, without the truth, living lives that are without humanity; not only are they without the slightest love of God, but they are teeming with disobedience and opposition. Although they think they already have the utmost love for God, that they could not be any more accommodating toward Him, God does not believe this to be so. It is perfectly clear to Him how tainted man’s love of Him is, and He has never changed His opinion of man because of man’s pandering, nor ever repaid man’s goodwill as a result of his devotion. Unlike man, God is able to differentiate: He knows who truly loves Him and who does not, and instead of being overcome with fervor and losing Himself because of man’s momentary impulses, He treats man according to man’s essence and behavior. God, after all, is God, and He has His dignity and His insights; man, after all, is man, and God’s head will not be turned by the love of man when it is at odds with the truth. On the contrary, He treats all that man does appropriately.
Faced with man’s state and man’s attitude toward God, God has done new work, allowing man to possess both knowledge of and obedience toward Him, and both love and testimony. Thus, man must experience God’s refinement of him, as well as His judgment, dealing and pruning of him, without which man would never know God and would never be capable of truly loving and bearing witness to Him. God’s refinement of man is not merely for the sake of a one-sided effect, but for the sake of a multi-faceted effect. Only in this way does God do the work of refinement in those who are willing to seek the truth, in order that their resolve and love be made perfect by God. To those who are willing to seek the truth and who yearn for God, nothing is more meaningful, or of greater assistance, than refinement such as this. God’s disposition is not so easily known or understood by man, for God, in the end, is God. Ultimately, it is impossible for God to have the same disposition as man, and thus it is not easy for man to know His disposition. The truth is not inherently possessed by man, and is not easily understood by those who have been corrupted by Satan; man is devoid of the truth, and of the resolve to put the truth into practice, and if he does not suffer and is not refined or judged, then his resolve will never be made perfect. For all people, refinement is excruciating, and very difficult to accept—yet it is during refinement that God makes plain His righteous disposition to man, and makes public His requirements for man, and provides more enlightenment, and more actual pruning and dealing; through the comparison between the facts and the truth, He gives man a greater knowledge of himself and the truth, and gives man a greater understanding of God’s will, thus allowing man to have a truer and purer love of God. Such are God’s aims in carrying out refinement. All the work that God does in man has its own aims and significance; God does not do meaningless work, and nor does He do work that is without benefit to man. Refinement does not mean removing people from before God, and nor does it mean destroying them in hell. Rather, it means changing man’s disposition during refinement, changing his intentions, his old views, changing his love for God, and changing his whole life. Refinement is a real test of man, and a form of real training, and only during refinement can his love serve its inherent function.