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2. Why is it said that religious pastors and elders are all walking the path of the Pharisees? What is their essence?

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XV. One Must Fellowship Clearly on How to Discern the Essence of the Pharisees and the Religious World That Defies God

2. Why is it said that religious pastors and elders are all walking the path of the Pharisees? What is their essence?

Bible Verses for Reference:

“And He began to speak to them by parables. A certain man planted a vineyard, and set an hedge about it, and dig a place for the winefat, and built a tower, and let it out to farmers, and went into a far country. And at the season he sent to the farmers a servant, that he might receive from the farmers of the fruit of the vineyard. And they caught him, and beat him, and sent him away empty. And again he sent to them another servant; and at him they cast stones, and wounded him in the head, and sent him away shamefully handled. And again he sent another; and him they killed, and many others; beating some, and killing some. Having yet therefore one son, his well beloved, he sent him also last to them, saying, They will reverence my son. But those farmers said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be our’s. And they took him, and killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard. What shall therefore the lord of the vineyard do? he will come and destroy the farmers, and will give the vineyard to others” (Mak 12:1–9).

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! … You serpents, you generation of vipers, how can you escape the damnation of hell?” (Mat 23:29, 33).

Relevant Words of God:

Some men have a penchant for drawing attention to themselves. In the presence of their brothers and sisters, they say they are indebted to God, but behind their backs, they do not practice the truth and do entirely otherwise. Are they not religious Pharisees? A man who truly loves God and has the truth is one who is loyal to God, but does not outwardly reveal so. He is willing to practice the truth when matters arise and does not speak or act in a manner going against his conscience. He demonstrates wisdom when matters arise and is principled in his deeds, no matter the circumstances. A man such as this is one who truly serves. There are some who often pay lip service to their indebtedness to God. They spend their days with brows locked in worry, put on an affected air, and feign a wretched countenance. How despicable! And if you were to ask them, “In what ways are you indebted to God? Please tell me!” they would be rendered speechless. If you are loyal to God, then speak not of it in public, but use your actual practice to show your love for God, and pray to Him with a true heart. Those who use only words to deal with God are all hypocrites! Some speak of indebtedness to God with each prayer, and begin to weep whenever they pray, even without the moving of the Holy Spirit. Men such as this are possessed by religious rituals and notions; they live by such rituals and notions, always believing that such actions please God, and that superficial godliness or sorrowful tears are that which God favors. What good can come of such absurd ones? In order to demonstrate their humility, some feign graciousness when speaking in the presence of others. Some are deliberately servile in the presence of others, like a lamb without any strength at all. …

Whenever such religious people congregate, they ask, “Sister, how have you been these days?” She replies, “I feel indebted to God and that I am unable to fulfill His heart’s desire.” Another says, “I, too, am indebted to God and unable to satisfy Him.” These few sentences and words alone express the vile things deep within their hearts. Such words are the most loathsome and exceedingly repugnant. The nature of such men opposes God.

from “Believing in God Should Focus on Reality, Not Religious Rituals” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

You serve God with your natural character, and according to your personal preferences; what’s more, you keep thinking that God delights in whatever you wish to do, and hates whatever you do not wish to do, and you are guided entirely by your own preferences in your work. Can this be called serving God? Ultimately, your life disposition will not be changed by one iota; rather, you will become even more stubborn because you have been serving God, and this will make your corrupt disposition deeply ingrained. This way, you will inwardly develop rules about service to God that are primarily based on your own character, and the experience derived from your serving according to your own disposition. This is lesson from human experience. It is man’s philosophy of life. People like this belong to the Pharisees and the religious officials. If they never wake up and repent, then they will ultimately turn into the false Christs who will appear in the last days, and will be deceivers of men. The false Christs and deceivers that were spoken of will arise from among this kind of person. If those who serve God follow their own character and act according to their own will, then they are in danger of being cast out at any time. Those who apply their many years of experience to serving God in order to win the hearts of others, to condescendingly lecture them and restrain them—and who never repent, never confess their sins, never renounce the benefits of position—these people will fall down before God. They are people of the same type as Paul, presuming upon their seniority and flaunting their qualifications. God will not bring people like this to perfection. This kind of service interferes with the work of God.

from “Religious Way of Service Must Be Banned” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

Just look at the leaders of every denomination—they are all arrogant and self-righteous, and they interpret the Bible out of context and according to their own imagination. They all rely on gifts and erudition to do their work. If they were incapable of preaching anything, would those people follow them? They do, after all, possess some knowledge, and can preach on some doctrine, or know how to win over others and how to use some artifices. They use these to bring people before themselves and deceive them. Nominally, those people believe in God, but in reality they follow their leaders. If they encounter someone preaching the true way, some of them say, “We have to consult our leader about our faith.” Their faith has to go through a human being; is that not a problem? What have those leaders become, then? Have they not become Pharisees, false shepherds, antichrists, and stumbling blocks to people’s acceptance of the true way?

from “Only the Pursuit of the Truth Is the True Belief in God” in Records of Christ’s Talks

Those who only believe in Jesus Christ but do not believe in the incarnate God of today are all condemned. They are all contemporary Pharisees because they do not recognize the God of today, and they all resist God. No matter how devoted their belief in Jesus is, it will all be in vain; they will not receive God’s praise. All those who say that they believe in God yet have no true knowledge of God in their hearts are hypocrites!

from “Be Mindful of God’s Will to Attain Perfection” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

The aim of God’s appearance, free from the constraints of any form or nation, is to enable Him to complete the work as He has planned it. This is just as when God became flesh in Judea, His aim was to complete the work of the crucifixion in redeeming the entire human race. Yet the Jews believed that it was impossible for God to do this, and they thought it impossible that God could become flesh and assume the form of the Lord Jesus. Their “impossible” became the basis on which they condemned and opposed God, and ultimately led to the destruction of Israel. Today, many people have committed a similar error. They proclaim with all their might the imminent appearance of God, yet at the same time condemn His appearance; their “impossible” once more confines the appearance of God within the limits of their imagination. And so I have seen many people break into wild and raucous laughter after coming upon the words of God. But is this laughter any different from the condemnation and blasphemy of the Jews? You are not reverent in the presence of the truth, still less is your attitude one of yearning for the truth. All you do is scrutinize heedlessly and wait with blithe unconcern. What can you gain from scrutinizing and waiting like this? Could it be that you will receive personal guidance of God?

from “The Appearance of God Has Ushered in a New Age” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

It is easy for mankind to make the mistake of delineating God; people are apt to cling to the past and delineate God. They clearly do not know Him, but still wantonly delineate His work. People have such arrogant nature! They always wish to hold on to the old notions of the past and keep the things of days gone by lodged in their hearts. They use them as their capital, being arrogant and pompous, thinking that they understand everything, and having the gall to delineate the work of God. In doing this, do they not pass judgment on God? In addition, people give no consideration to God’s new work; this shows that it is difficult for them to accept new things, and yet they still blindly delineate God. People are so arrogant that they are devoid of reason, they listen to no one, and don’t even accept the words of God. Such is the nature of man: totally arrogant and self-righteous, and without the slightest bit of obedience. This was the way the Pharisees were when they condemned the Lord Jesus: Even if You were right, I still wouldn’t follow You—only Jehovah God is the true God. Today, there are also some who say: “He’s Christ? I wouldn’t follow Him even if He really were Christ!” Do people like this exist? There are a lot of religious people who are like that. This shows that man’s disposition is too corrupt, that people are beyond salvation.

from “Do Not Delineate God’s Work” in Records of Christ’s Talks

Such a person constantly bears a hostile attitude toward the new work of God, has never shown the smallest intention of submitting, and has never gladly shown submission or humbled himself. He exalts himself before others and never shows submission to anyone. Before God, he considers himself the most proficient in preaching the word and the most skillful in working on others. He never discards the “treasures” already in his possession, but treats them as family heirlooms for worship, for preaching about to others, and uses them to lecture those fools who idolize him. There are indeed a certain number of people like this in the church. It can be said that they are “indomitable heroes,” generation after generation sojourning in the house of God. They take preaching the word (doctrine) to be their highest duty. Year after year and generation by generation, they go about vigorously enforcing their “sacred and inviolable” duty. None dare touch them and not a single person dares openly reproach them. They become “kings” in the house of God, running rampant as they tyrannize over others from age to age. This pack of demons seeks to join hands and demolish My work; how can I allow these living devils to exist before My eyes?

from “Those Who Obey God With a True Heart Shall Surely Be Gained by God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

Do many people not oppose God and obstruct the work of the Holy Spirit because they do not know the varied and diverse work of God, and, furthermore, because they possess but a smidgeon of knowledge and doctrine with which to measure the work of the Holy Spirit? Though the experiences of such people are superficial, they are arrogant and indulgent in nature, and they regard the work of the Holy Spirit with contempt, ignore the disciplines of the Holy Spirit and, moreover, use their trivial old arguments to confirm the work of the Holy Spirit. They also put on an act, and are wholly convinced of their own learning and erudition, and that they are able to travel across the world. Are such people not those who are despised and rejected by the Holy Spirit, and will they not be eliminated by the new age? Are not those who come before God and openly oppose Him myopic little people, who are merely trying to show how clever they are? With but a meager knowledge of the Bible, they try to straddle the world’s “academia,” with but a superficial doctrine to teach people, they try to reverse the work of the Holy Spirit, and attempt to make it revolve around their own thought process, and short-sighted as they are, they try to behold in one glance 6,000 years of God’s work. These people do not have any reason to speak of! In fact, the greater people’s knowledge of God, the slower they are to judge His work. Furthermore, they only talk a little of their knowledge of God’s work today, but they are not rash in their judgments. The less people know of God, the more arrogant and overconfident they are, and the more wantonly they proclaim God’s being—yet they only talk of theory, and offer no real evidence. Such people are of no value whatsoever. Those who see the work of the Holy Spirit as a game are frivolous! Those who are not cautious when they encounter the new work of the Holy Spirit, who run their mouths off, are quick to judge, who give free rein to their natural instinct to deny the rightness of the Holy Spirit’s work, and also insult and blaspheme it—are such disrespectful people not ignorant of the Holy Spirit’s work? Are they not, furthermore, the ones of arrogance, inherently proud and ungovernable? Even if a day comes when such people accept the new work of the Holy Spirit, still God will not tolerate of them. Not only do they look down upon those who work for God, but also blaspheme against God Himself. Such foolhardy people will not be forgiven, either in this age or the age to come and they shall forever perish in hell! Such disrespectful, indulgent people are pretending to believe in God, and the more they do so, the more likely they are to offend God’s administrative decrees. Do not all those arrogant ones who are innately unbridled, and have never obeyed anyone, all walk upon this path? Do they not oppose God day after day, He who is always new and never old?

from “Knowing the Three Stages of God’s Work Is the Path to Knowing God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

The manifestation of arrogance is rebelling against and opposing God. When people are arrogant, self-important, and self-righteous, they tend to set up their own independent kingdoms and do things however they want. They also draw others over into their own hands and draw them into their embrace. When people are capable of doing these kinds of things, the essence of their arrogance is that of the archangel. When their arrogance and self-importance reaches a certain level, then that determines that they are the archangel and will put God aside. If you have this kind of arrogant disposition, then God will have no place in your heart.

We’ve preached the gospel over and over to many leaders within religious circles, but no matter how we fellowship on the truth with them, they won’t accept it. Why is this? It’s because their arrogance has become second nature and God is no longer in their hearts! Some people may say: “People under the leadership of some pastors in the religious world really have a lot of drive. It seems that they have God in their midst!” No matter how lofty those pastors’ sermons may be, do they know God? If they really revered God in their hearts, would they make people follow them and exalt them? Would they monopolize others? Would they dare to impose restrictions on others seeking the truth and investigating the true way? If they believe that God’s sheep are actually theirs and that His sheep should all listen to them, aren’t they themselves acting as God? That kind of person is even worse than the Pharisees—aren’t they antichrists? Therefore, their arrogant nature can control them to do things that betray God.

from “Man’s Arrogant Nature Is the Root of His Opposition to God” in Records of Christ’s Talks

Those who read the Bible in grand churches recite the Bible every day, yet not one understands the purpose of God’s work. Not one is able to know God; moreover, not one is in accord with the heart of God. They are all worthless, vile men, each standing on high to teach God. Though they brandish the name of God, they willfully oppose Him. Though they label themselves believers of God, they are ones who eat the flesh and drink the blood of man. All such men are devils who devour the soul of man, head demons who purposefully disturb those who try to step onto the right path, and stumbling blocks that impede the path of those who seek God. Though they are of “robust flesh,” how are their followers to know that they are antichrists who lead man in opposition to God? How are they to know that they are living devils who specially seek souls to devour?

from “All Who Do Not Know God Are Those Who Oppose God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

Do you wish to know the root of why the Pharisees opposed Jesus? Do you wish to know the substance of the Pharisees? They were full of fantasies about the Messiah. What’s more, they believed only that the Messiah would come, yet did not seek the truth of life. And so, even today they still await the Messiah, for they have no knowledge of the way of life, and do not know what the way of truth is. How, say you, could such foolish, stubborn and ignorant people gain God’s blessing? How could they behold the Messiah? They opposed Jesus because they did not know the direction of the Holy Spirit’s work, because they did not know the way of truth spoken by Jesus, and, furthermore, because they did not understand the Messiah. And since they had never seen the Messiah, and had never been in the company of the Messiah, they made the mistake of paying empty tribute to the name of the Messiah while opposing the substance of the Messiah by any means. These Pharisees in substance were stubborn, arrogant, and did not obey the truth. The principle of their belief in God is: No matter how profound Your preaching, no matter how high Your authority, You are not Christ unless You are called the Messiah. Are these views not preposterous and ridiculous? I ask you again: Is it not extremely easy for you to commit the mistakes of the earliest Pharisees, given that you have not the slightest understanding of Jesus? Are you able to discern the way of truth? Can you truly guarantee that you will not oppose Christ? Are you able to follow the work of the Holy Spirit? If you do not know whether you will oppose Christ, then I say that you are already living on the brink of death. Those who did not know the Messiah were all capable of opposing Jesus, of rejecting Jesus, of slandering Him. People who do not understand Jesus are all capable of denying Him, and reviling Him. Moreover, they are capable of seeing the return of Jesus as the deceit of Satan, and more people shall condemn Jesus returned to flesh. Does not all of this make you afraid? What you face shall be blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, the ruination of the words of the Holy Spirit to the churches, and the spurning of all that is expressed by Jesus. What can you gain from Jesus if you are so befuddled? How can you understand the work of Jesus when He returns to flesh on a white cloud, if you obstinately refuse to realize your errors? I tell you this: People who do not accept the truth, yet blindly await the arrival of Jesus upon white clouds, will surely blaspheme against the Holy Spirit, and they are the category that shall be destroyed. You merely wish for the grace of Jesus, and merely want to enjoy the blissful realm of heaven, yet you have never obeyed the words spoken by Jesus, and have never received the truth expressed by Jesus when He returns to flesh. What will you hold up in exchange for the fact of Jesus’ return upon a white cloud? Is it the sincerity in which you repeatedly commit sins, and then confess them, over and over? What will you offer in sacrifice to Jesus who returns upon a white cloud? Is it the years of work with which you exalt yourselves? What will you hold up to make the returned Jesus trust you? Is it that arrogant nature of yours, which does not obey any truth?

from “When You Behold the Spiritual Body of Jesus Will Be When God Has Made Anew Heaven and Earth” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

Demons and evil spirits have been running amok on earth and have closed off the will and painstaking effort of God, making them impenetrable. What a mortal sin! How could God not feel anxious? How could God not feel wrathful? They cause grievous hindrance and opposition to the work of God. Too rebellious! Even those demons big and small become haughty on the strength of the more powerful devil and begin to make waves. They deliberately resist the truth despite clear awareness of it. Sons of rebellion! It is as if, now that their king of hell has ascended to the kingly throne, they become smug and treat all others with contempt. How many seek the truth and follow righteousness? They are all beasts like pigs and dogs, leading a gang of stink flies in a dung heap to wag their heads and incite disorder.[1] They believe that their king of hell is the most superior of kings, without realizing that they are nothing more than flies on rot. Not only that, they make slanderous remarks against the existence of God by relying on their pigs and dogs of parents. The minuscule flies think their parents to be as large as a toothed whale.[2] Do they not realize that they are diminutive, yet their parents are unclean pigs and dogs a billion times larger than themselves? Unaware of their own lowliness, they run amok on the basis of the putrid odor of those pigs and dogs and have the delusional idea to procreate future generations. That is absolutely shameless! With green wings upon their backs (this refers to their claiming to believe in God), they begin to become conceited and boast everywhere of their own beauty and attractiveness, secretly casting away their impurities onto man. And they are even smug, as if a pair of rainbow-colored wings could conceal their own impurities, and thus they persecute the existence of the true God (this refers to the inside story of the religious world). Little does man know that, though the wings of the fly are beautiful and enchanting, it is after all no more than a minuscule fly that is full of filth and covered with germs. On the strength of their pigs and dogs of parents, they run amok across the land (this refers to the religious officials who persecute God on the basis of strong support from the country betraying the true God and the truth) with overwhelming ferocity. It is as if the ghosts of the Jewish Pharisees have returned along with God to the nation of the great red dragon, back to their old nest. They have again begun their work of persecution, continuing their work spanning several thousand years. This group of degenerates is sure to perish on earth in the end! It appears that, after several millennia, the unclean spirits have become even more crafty and sly. They constantly think of ways to secretly undermine the work of God. They are wily and cunning and wish to replay in their homeland the tragedy of several thousand years ago. This almost goads God into giving out a loud cry, and He can hardly keep Himself from returning to the third heaven to annihilate them.

from “Work and Entry (7)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

Footnotes:

1. “Incite disorder” refers to how people who are demonic run riot, obstructing and opposing the work of God.

2. “A toothed whale” is used mockingly. It is a metaphor for how flies are so small that pigs and dogs appear as big as whales to them.

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Next:Why does every new stage of God’s work encounter the wild defiance and condemnation of the religious world? What is the root cause?

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