37. The Principles of Self-examination and Self-knowledge
1. You must always examine yourself on the basis of the words of God which judge and reveal man’s corrupt essence, and know the essence of your own nature and the truth of your corruption;
2. You must take hold of your transgressions and expressions of corruption and examine yourself, so as to see clearly the extent of your pitifulness, forsake the flesh and satisfy God;
3. When you encounter pruning and dealing, chastening and disciplining, failure and setbacks, you should examine yourself, and know your own shortcomings, areas of weakness and Achilles’ heels;
4. Examine yourself by means of others’ experiences of falling down and failures, and learn the lessons and gain the benefits so as not to defy God or offend God’s disposition again.
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.
from “Knowing Oneself Is Mainly Knowing Human Nature” 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
The third thing I want to tell you is this: Every man, in the course of living his life of faith in God, has resisted and deceived God at some points. Some misdeeds need not be recorded as an offense, but some are unforgivable; for there are many deeds that transgress against the administrative decrees, that is to say, offend against the disposition of God. Many who are concerned about their own fates may ask what these deeds are. You should know that you are arrogant and haughty by nature, and unwilling to submit to the facts. For this reason, I shall tell you by and by after you have reflected upon yourselves.
from “Three Admonitions” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
If you are to understand yourself, you must understand your true situation; the most important thing in understanding your own situation is to have a grasp on your own thoughts and ideas. In every time period, people’s thoughts have been controlled by one major thing; if you can get a hold of your thoughts, you can get a hold of the thing behind them. No one is able to control their thoughts and ideas. Where do these thoughts and ideas come from? What are the motives behind them? How are these thoughts and ideas produced? What are they controlled by? What are the natures of these thoughts and ideas? After your disposition has transformed, your thoughts and ideas, the desires your heart seeks after and your viewpoints on pursuit, which have been produced from the parts that transformed will be different. Those thoughts and ideas that originate from the things in which you have not changed, the things that you don’t understand clearly, and the things which you have not replaced with the experiences of truth are filthy, dirty and ugly. People nowadays who have experienced God’s work for several years have some sense and understanding of these matters. People who have experienced God’s work for a short period of time do not yet understand these matters; they are still unclear. They don’t know where their Achilles’ heel is and in what areas it is easy for them to fall! You don’t currently know what kind of a person you are, and other people can see to some extent what kind of a person you are, which you can’t sense. You can’t clearly distinguish your ordinary thoughts or intents, and you don’t clearly understand what the essence of these matters is. The deeper you understand an aspect, the more you will transform in that aspect; then the things you do will be in accordance with the truth, you will be able to meet God’s requirements, and you will be closer to the will of God. Only by seeking in this way can you obtain results.
from “People Who Always Have Requirements for God Are the Least Reasonable” in Records of Christ’s Talks
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.
from “Only Those Who Focus on Practice Can Be Perfected” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
It was Peter who paid the most attention to reality. From what Peter went through, it can be seen that his experiences drew upon the lessons of those who had failed in the past, and that he absorbed the strengths of the saints of the past—and from this it can be seen just how real Peter’s experiences were, that they were enough to allow people to touch, and to be capable of, and that they were achievable by people. … Today, everything begins from reality. Everything God does is real, and in your experiences you should pay attention to really knowing God, and to searching for the footprints of God’s work and the means by which the Holy Spirit touches and enlightens people. If you eat and drink the words of God, and pray, and cooperate in a way that is more real, assimilating what was good from times gone by, and rejecting what was bad like Peter, if you listen with your ears and observe with your eyes, and often pray and ponder in your heart, and do all you can to cooperate with God’s work, then God will surely guide you.
from “How to Know Reality” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Some people think: Since it is my nature, then I will expose it as much as possible; afterward, I will recognize it and put truth into practice. Is this process necessary? If you are truly a person who puts truth into practice, and if you see that you also have some problems that others have, then you will do your best to avoid doing those things. Is this not an indirect transformation? Sometimes, you think to do it that way, but before you do it, you become aware and forsake it. Does this not obtain the outcome of salvation? There is a process for putting every truth into practice; it is impossible for you to be perfect and not have adulterated thoughts when you first begin practicing. There are still several things in which you completely rely on your own thoughts, but after being dealt with and pruned, you will ultimately act in complete accordance with God’s intentions and words. This is change and transformation.
from “God’s Will Is to Save People to the Greatest Extent Possible” in Records of Christ’s Talks
The Man’s Fellowship:
If you really have the work of the Holy Spirit, you will be able to experience the judgment and chastisement of God when you read God’s words. You will be able to reach this positive result. Some people have already experienced this, and the more they read the words of God, the more they think these words are talking about them. “Hey, this is talking all about me, exactly; it is talking about things deep in my heart.” They are totally convinced, they can’t wait to fall to the ground and pray: “God, these words are about me, they are talking about things in the depths of my heart, they strike at my most vulnerable spot.” Although there is pain in this, they will later be filled with comfort and will ponder these words: How can I know my own corruption? How is this kind of corruption created? How can this kind of corruption be dealt with? What kind of truths do I need to know to deal with it? Will there be this kind of rebelliousness and resistance in the future? How can this satanic nature be stopped? During God’s judgment and chastisement people start undertaking this kind of self-examination. If people always experience and accept God’s words about judgment and chastisement in this way, their life will grow quickly.
from “Only by Obeying God’s Work Can One Be Saved”in Sermons and Fellowship on Entry Into Life (I)
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. If you become rash as you serve God, your own ideas will emerge. You will become careless, sloppy, and take reckless, overly ambitious steps. This is dangerous. When you discover this nature in yourself, inspect it and get it under control immediately, especially where ideas concerning money, status, and relations between opposite sexes appear. Control yourself to prevent problems from occurring.
from “One Must Have Principles in Serving God” in Collection of Sermons—Supply for Life
In fact, what corrupt mankind reveals in experiencing God’s work is all fallacies incompatible with the reality of the truth and their corrupt disposition. It can fully show that there is too much disobedience and resistance inside them. It is possible to observe what people reveal during trials, when they face pruning and being dealt with, when they are in pain and despair, when they face setbacks and failures, when they are pessimistic and disappointed, when they are in poverty, in the event of natural disasters and disease, when they are not feeling well emotionally, when they face persecution and tribulations, when they fail to achieve their objectives, when they are smitten by God, when they misunderstand God’s intentions and when they are rejected, expelled or purged. In a word, when corrupt mankind faces adversity, what they express are all complaints, negativity, resistance and betrayal. Their words are all absurd views and fallacy. It can certainly be said that before people have been made complete by God, their viewpoints are all absurd and false. During times of peace, they can only speak some pleasant doctrines and letters and when happy, they can say some pleasant human words. When they are abnormal, all that they release is full of fallacy and nonsense. Corrupt mankind is foolish, ignorant, blind and pitiful like this. They are all so corrupt, and the majority of people are so disgusting! They do not have the conscience or reason that a man with normal humanity possesses at all!
from “A Fundamental Change in Viewpoints Is a Sign of Truly Understanding the Truth” 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