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52. The Principles of Truly Knowing Oneself

Practice and Exercises for Principled Behavior

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52. The Principles of Truly Knowing Oneself

1. You must accept the judgment and chastisement of God’s words, so as to be able to see through the truth of your own corruption and the essence of your nature—only this is to truly know yourself;

2. You must accept being exposed through being pruned and dealt with by God, and through God’s trials and refinement, and only then will you truly know exactly what corrupt mankind is;

3. You must pursue the truth to know God’s disposition and essence, and only then will you be able to recognize your own ugly, selfish, degraded and insignificant look;

4. Examine yourself in the light of God’s words with regard to your transgressions, failures and falling down, so as to gain knowledge of the essence of your own satanic nature.

Relevant Words of God:

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.

from “Knowing Oneself Is Mainly Knowing Human Nature” in Records of Christ’s Talks

In undertaking His work of judgment, God does not simply make clear the nature of man with just a few words; He exposes, deals with, and prunes it over the long term. These methods of exposure, dealing, and pruning cannot be substituted with ordinary words, but with the truth that man does not possess at all. Only methods of this kind are deemed judgment; only through judgment of this kind can man be subdued and thoroughly convinced into submission to God, and moreover gain true knowledge of God. What the work of judgment brings about is man’s understanding of the true face of God and the truth about his own rebelliousness. The work of judgment allows man to gain much understanding of the will of God, of the purpose of God’s work, and of the mysteries that are incomprehensible to him. It also allows man to recognize and know his corrupt substance and the roots of his corruption, as well as to discover the ugliness of man. These effects are all brought about by the work of judgment, for the substance of this work is actually the work of opening up the truth, the way, and the life of God to all those who have faith in Him. This work is the work of judgment done by God.

from “Christ Does the Work of Judgment With the Truth” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

What God curses is the disobedience of man, and what He judges are the sins of man. Although He speaks harshly, and without the slightest sensitivity, He reveals all that is within man, and through these stern words He reveals that which is essential within man, yet through such judgment, He gives man a profound knowledge of the essence of the flesh, and thus man submits to obedience before God. The flesh of man is of sin, and of Satan, it is disobedient, and the object of God’s chastisement—and so, to allow man to know himself, the words of God’s judgment must befall him and there must be employed every kind of refinement; only then can God’s work be effective.

From the words spoken by God it can be seen that He has already condemned the flesh of man. Are these words, then, the words of curse? The words spoken by God reveal man’s true colors, and through such revelation you are judged, and when you see that you are unable to satisfy God’s will, inside you feel grief and remorse, you feel that you are so indebted to God, and insufficient for God’s will. … The essence of the flesh is that which is of Satan—God said it exactly right—but the facts carried out by God are not completed according to His words. He curses you so that you might love Him, and so that you might know the essence of the flesh; He chastises you in order that you might be awakened, to allow you to know the deficiencies within you, and to know man’s utter unworthiness. Thus, God’s curses, His judgment, and His majesty and wrath—they are all in order to make man perfect.

from “Only by Experiencing Painful Trials Can You Know the Loveliness of God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

Without hardship, people lack the true love for God; if they are not tested within, and are not truly subjected to refinement, then their hearts will always be floating in the outside world. 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 will people be able to truly know their real states, and trials make people better able to be made perfect.

from “Only by Experiencing Refinement Can Man Truly Love God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

God can perfect man in both positive and negative aspects. It depends on whether you are able to experience, and on whether you pursue being perfected by God. If you truly seek being perfected by God, then the negative cannot make you suffer loss, but can bring you things that are more real, and can make you more able to know that which is lacking within you, more able to come to grips with your real states, and see that man has nothing, and is nothing; if you do not experience trials, you do not know, and will always feel that you are above others and better than everyone else. Through all this you will see that all that came before was done by God and protected by God. Entry into trials leaves you without love or faith, you lack prayer, and are unable to sing hymns—and, without realizing it, in the midst of this you come to know yourself. God has many means of perfecting man. He employs all manner of environments to deal with the corrupt disposition of man, and uses various things to lay man bare; in one regard He deals with man, in another He lays man bare, and in another He reveals man, digging out and revealing the “mysteries” in the depths of man’s heart, and showing man his nature by revealing many of his states. God perfects man through many methods—through revelation, dealing, refinement, and chastisement—so that man may know that God is practical.

from “Only Those Who Focus on Practice Can Be Perfected” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

That man is able to suffer for God and has been able to come this far is, in one regard, because of the love of God, and in another regard, is because of God’s salvation; moreover, it is because of the work of judgment and chastisement that God has carried out in man. If you are without the judgment, chastisement, and trials of God, and if God has not made you suffer, then, to be honest, you do not truly love God. The greater God’s work in man, and the greater man’s suffering, the more it is able to show just how meaningful God’s work is, and the more that man’s heart is able to truly love God. How do you learn how to love God? Without torment and refinement, without painful trials—and if, furthermore, all that God gave man were grace, love, and mercy—would you be able to attain the true love of God? On one hand, during God’s trials man comes to know his deficiencies, and sees that he is insignificant, contemptible, and lowly, that he has nothing, and is nothing; on the other hand, during His trials God creates different environments for man that make man more able to experience the loveliness of God. Although the pain is great, and sometimes insurmountable—and it even reaches the level of crushing grief—having experienced it, man sees how lovely is God’s work in him, and only upon this foundation is there born in man the true love of God. Today man sees that with the grace, love, and mercy of God alone, he is incapable of truly knowing himself, much less is he able to know the essence of man. Only through both the refinement and judgment of God, only during such refinement can you know your deficiencies, and know that you have nothing. Thus, man’s love of God is built upon the foundation of the refinement and judgment of God.

from “Only by Experiencing Painful Trials Can You Know the Loveliness of God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

Coming to know the substance of God is no trifling matter. You must understand His disposition. In this way, you will, gradually and unknowingly, come to know the substance of God. When you have entered into this knowledge, you will find yourself stepping forward into a higher and more beautiful state. In the end, you will come to feel ashamed of your hideous soul, so much so that you feel there is nowhere to hide yourself. At that time, there will be less and less in your conduct to offend the disposition of God, your heart will come closer and closer to that of God, and gradually a love for Him will grow in your heart. This is a sign of mankind entering a beautiful state.

from “It Is Very Important to Understand God’s Disposition” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

God is what He is and He has what He has. All that He expresses and reveals are representations of His substance and of His identity. What He is and what He has, as well as His substance and identity, are things that cannot be replaced by any man. His disposition encompasses His love for mankind, solace of mankind, hatred of mankind, and even more, a thorough understanding of mankind. The personality of man, however, may be optimistic, lively, or unfeeling. The disposition of God is one that belongs to the Ruler of the living beings among all things, to the Lord of all creation. His disposition represents honor, power, nobility, greatness, and most of all, supremacy. His disposition is the symbol of authority, the symbol of all that is righteous, the symbol of all that is beautiful and good. More than this, it is a symbol of Him who cannot be[a] overcome or invaded by the darkness and any enemy force, as well as a symbol of Him who cannot be offended (nor will He tolerate being offended)[b] by any created being. His disposition is the symbol of the highest power. No person or persons can or may disturb His work or His disposition. But the personality of man is no more than a mere symbol of the slight superiority of man over beast. Man in and of himself has no authority, no autonomy, and no ability to transcend the self, but is in his substance one who cowers at the mercy of all manner of people, events, and things. The joy of God is due to the existence and emergence of righteousness and light; because of the destruction of darkness and evil. He takes delight because He has brought the light and a good life to mankind; His joy is a righteous joy, a symbol of the existence of all that is positive and, even more, a symbol of auspiciousness. The anger of God is due to the existence of injustice and the disturbance it causes that are harming His mankind; because of the existence of evil and darkness, because of the existence of things that drive out the truth, and even more because of the existence of things that oppose what is good and beautiful. His anger is a symbol that all things negative no longer exist and, even more, is a symbol of His holiness. His sorrow is due to mankind, for whom He has hopes but who has fallen into darkness, because the work He does on man does not come up to His expectations, and because the mankind He loves cannot all live in the light. He feels sorrow for the innocent mankind, for the honest but ignorant man, and for the man who is good but lacking in his own views. His sorrow is a symbol of His goodness and of His mercy, a symbol of beauty and of kindness. His happiness, of course, comes from defeating His enemies and gaining the good faith of man. More than this, it arises from the expulsion and destruction of all enemy forces, and because mankind receives a good and peaceful life. The happiness of God is unlike the joy of man; rather, it is the feeling of garnering good fruits, a feeling even greater than joy. His happiness is a symbol of mankind breaking free of suffering from this time forth, and a symbol of mankind entering a world of light. The emotions of mankind, on the other hand, all arise for the sake of his own interests, not for righteousness, light, or what is beautiful, and least of all for the grace bestowed by Heaven. The emotions of mankind are selfish and belong to the world of darkness. They do not exist for the sake of the will, much less for the plan of God, and so man and God can never be spoken of in the same breath. God is forever supreme and ever honorable, while man is forever base, forever worthless. This is because God is forever making sacrifices and devoting Himself to mankind; man, however, forever takes and strives only for himself. God is forever taking pains for mankind’s survival, yet man never contributes anything for the sake of the light or for righteousness. Even if man makes an effort for a time, it is so weak that it cannot withstand a single blow, for the effort of man is always for his own sake and not for others. Man is always selfish, while God is forever selfless. God is the source of all that is just, good, and beautiful, while man is he who succeeds to and makes manifest all ugliness and evil. God will never alter His substance of righteousness and beauty, yet man is perfectly capable, at any time and in any situation, of betraying righteousness and straying far from God.

from “It Is Very Important to Understand God’s Disposition” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

When you have some understanding of God, when you can see man’s corruption and recognize the arrogance and conceit that is contemptible and ugly, you will then feel disgusted, sickened and distressed. You will be able to consciously do some things to satisfy God and in doing this will feel gratification. You will be able to consciously bear witness for God and in doing this will feel enjoyment. You will consciously unmask yourself and expose your own ugliness, and by doing this you will feel well within yourself and your state of mind will be bettered. So the first step to seeking a change in your disposition is to seek to understand God’s word and to enter into the truth. Only by understanding the truth can you have discernment; only with discernment can you understand things thoroughly; only by understanding things thoroughly can you forsake the flesh and, step by step, you will walk the right track of belief in God.

from “Only by Seeking the Truth Can You Obtain Changes in Your Disposition” in Records of Christ’s Talks

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 “How to Take the Path of Peter” in Records of Christ’s Talks

Footnotes:

a. The original text reads “it is a symbol of being unable to be.”

b. The original text reads “as well as a symbol of being unable to be offended (and not tolerating being offended).”

The Man’s Fellowship

Remember, it’s nearly impossible for anyone to avoid making errors at work, so if you find transgressions or errors, always seize the opportunity to reflect on yourself. Go before God, check and analyze your actions against God’s word, and try to avoid repeating your transgressions in the future.

from “One Must Have Principles in Serving God” in Collection of Sermons—Supply for Life

When we make no transgressions, we are not submissive. We think of ourselves as doing well, and do not submit to anyone. Only after transgressing and undergoing God’s pruning and dealing can we sincerely reflect. At such times, we use our hearts to contemplate God’s pruning and dealing and apply it to ourselves, and as we contemplate, awareness grows in us, “I really am this kind of person.” And once isn’t enough to give us penetration. We need to experience it several times to gain true penetration and be submissive. Then we will practice in the direction of truth, “How can I enter this reality? How can I be mindful of God’s will? How can I practice the truth?” Only once we understand these things can we achieve change.

from “One Must Have Principles in Serving God” in Collection of Sermons—Supply for Life

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