Now, would someone say: “My obedience to God is to abandon my family and the world, to come to God’s household and fulfill my duties. So long as I am fulfilling my duties in such a way, I am obeying God; so long as I persist until the end in this way by fulfilling my duties, I will be gained by God”? Does it make sense to say such things? What could be wrong? It is not enough to have an appearance of obedience without the pursuit of truth. Someone might say: “I shall fulfill whatever duties that God’s household asks of me, I shall obey in all that I am told. Is it not sufficient that I do whatever I have been told?” Such obedience on the outside is required, but so is the pursuit of truth; it is insufficient without truth. Can it be sufficient without eating and drinking God’s words? Some people are all enthusiastic when we talk about fulfilling our duties, but once we start eating and drinking God’s words, they get confused, and they become sleepy. Their slumber is so sweet once someone starts fellowshiping about the truth. They normally have difficulty falling asleep, but once we get together to fellowship about the truth, it is guaranteed that they will sleep very well. What is the issue here? God’s words can perfect man. It is not merely us fulfilling our duties and doing the deeds that perfect man; it is God’s words that perfect man, it is the truths that perfect man, and you cannot ignore this. Do you understand? Don’t say “I will fulfill my duties. Whatever my duties are, whatever deeds I must do each day, I will carry them out, day in and day out, until God’s work has concluded, and I shall be perfected thus.” This mentality is not right. While you are fulfilling your duties, you must also experience God’s work. Tell me, when a man performs his duties, does he not reveal his corrupted disposition? How do we resolve the corrupted disposition that has been revealed? We must eat and drink God’s words, we must fellowship about the truth. Look at how many times we gather each week. We have one sermon gathering, and during your gatherings you must also fellowship about the truths, you must relate your own corrupted state when talking about your understanding. Regardless of the church life that you lead, you must put in the effort to seek the truth, from the bottom of your heart. This is key.
Some people, when I deal with them this way and that, they do not complain, but instead they put in efforts toward the truth. “The manner with which you dealt with me, I must remember it well—in what way you have dealt with me, regarding which matter. I must learn to know myself from what you have said to me. I shall understand it thoroughly. I cannot let the words that you used to deal with me slip by, helter-skelter. I must thoroughly understand these words. And then I shall have a true repentance, a transformation. I must experience thus.” To experience the pruning and dealing of God this way, is that not good? You shall be transformed if you experience thus, and transformation will be difficult if you do not experience in such a way. Some people are quite confused. When someone asks these people: “How was the dealing that you received?” “Of course the dealing was right.” “So how are you going to handle it? What do you think?” “I must acknowledge it. I know that I am wrong, and I won’t do these things again,” and that is that. Is this sufficient? Their understanding is not thorough, and their heart is not in the right place; if there is merely an appearance of obedience with no effort to seek the truth, it is a certainty that the result will not be satisfactory. At present, no matter the pruning and dealing from God’s household, there is no longer anyone who would openly contradict them. Some people might still be conflicted on the inside, but later on, they are able to reach an understanding. They would say: “This is my rebellious disposition that is still in conflict. Why is it not more obedient? Since I am not contradicting on the outside, therefore I should become obedient on the inside as well. I should be saying ‘Amen’ with enthusiasm. How good would it be, if the more that I got dealt with from above, the more I say ‘Amen’ on the inside. I shall have a better understanding later on, and continue to repent, such that how I am on the inside matches how I am on the outside.” This is what people hope to achieve, but is this an easy thing? It won’t be possible without a few years’ effort, and just this one thing will take three to five years. If these people are no longer conflicted on the inside, they shall be able to seek the truth, saying, “These words that you used to deal with me, I must really look for the truths in them, and earnestly reflect on myself”; they shall start to pray to God, reflecting on themselves; after a period of reflection, they will actually be able to thoroughly reflect on their own situation and attain a clear understanding, and now they realize that “God, You love me so. This pruning and dealing truly came from You, yet for some reason I wasn’t able to obey it. This disposition of mine is the devil’s and the Satan’s disposition.” They now see God’s hand in this matter through such reflections, “This originated from God, and not from man. If I should encounter more pruning and dealing in the future, I shall better obey, I must not think that ‘This comes from man, and I shall not obey this; I only obey God,’ always talking about notions, explanations, whereby I end up digging my own grave.” Now, how do you like this transformation? This is a welcomed transformation, transformation of life, transformation of understanding; it is beginning to transform into true obedience, transforming from a rebellious conflict inside into true acceptance and obedience. The absence of rebellion in appearance does not equate obedience; true obedience only comes when rebellion is also absent on the inside, when there is complete obedience on the inside. Is it easy to attain such obedience? It is not easy; one must acquire an understanding of the truth and an understanding of God’s disposition, combined with a period of experience, before one can attain such obedience. For an ordinary person, once there is true obedience on the inside, it turns into transformations in life disposition. When does life disposition begin to transform? It begins from bringing about true obedience from the inside. Do you understand now? You must be obedient on the inside. If you see someone is dealt with by others, with such strong words, that tears are flowing on the outside, while he is obedient on the inside, while he is praying to God on the inside, the life disposition of such a person has started to transform. Some people are only satisfied with not having any conflicts in their appearance, not giving any explanations, and with that they think “I have become someone obedient to God.” They are indeed quite obedient in appearance, and in comparison, aren’t they much better than the unbelievers? Do you dare say things about the unbelievers? They want to put you in your place even before you say anything about them, they already have issues with everything that you do; if you should dare to say something about them, would they not hit you, and give you a slap on the face? You having such an obedience in appearance is already much better than the unbelievers, but are you someone who is truly obedient to God? Not yet, you are not. So, what have you achieved? You are able to obey God’s work, and you are somewhat obedient to God. This is a more objective way to put it.
With some people, when they encounter things, or when they encounter pruning and dealing, they can be obedient eight out of ten times, while they are unable to be obedient for the remaining two times. Why are they unable to be obedient for those two times? The tone that was used to deal with them was too strong, there was a connotation of condemnation, a connotation of a curse, therefore they were unable to be obedient. If the tone used in those two dealings was a little gentler, then they would guarantee to be obedient, then they would have a perfect score; it was only because the language used was too strong, hinting of condemnation and cursing, that they were unable to be obedient. Are such people truly obedient to God? This level is sufficient. Are you able to understand, the way that I put this? There is no such thing as you imagined, to be one hundred percent obedient, such a standard is too high. To be obedient to such a degree, where they have this tiny bit of contradiction, which they can subsequently overcome after some understanding, they have now achieved a transformation, and they are already someone who is truly obedient to God. It is true that they still have some insignificant flaws here and there, but these are due to them not being completely thorough and clear on the truths, is that not the case? Think back to the time when we first started to accept God’s words of judgment and chastisement. Once we read God’s words saying that man is a beast, that man is the progeny of Satan, we started having notions, “Aren’t these words that curse man? Why is God saying things to curse man? God’s words are always right, they are the truth, but then He said such words that curse man, how should I think about this?” While we had notions, yet we did not dare to deny God. We still acknowledged God incarnate, we still acknowledged that this is God’s work, yet we were unable to accept such words within us, we were unable to be obedient. However, after we have experienced for two, three years, when we read God’s words of pruning and dealing, revealing the truth of man’s corruption, we think, “Oh, God says that man is a beast. This is to reveal the corrupt essence of man. This is not cursing man, this is telling the truth as it is. The degree to which Satan has corrupted man, to the point of lacking any likeness of man, lacking any humanity, does that not make us beasts? These are not words that curse man, these are the simple truths, this is merely expressing the truth of human corruption with the most practical language.” Once we have reached such an understanding, when we think back on the previous judgment that we had of God, saying that the words of God are sometimes words that curse man, we become regretful. “Was I not passing judgment on God?” You should slap yourself on the face. “To curse God, to pass judgment on God—how can such things be tolerated? Every word of God is the truth. I could accept and acknowledge so many of God’s words, yet I did not acknowledge this one thing that God said. I am blind, I had no understanding of God’s words, yet I still denied God’s words and passed judgment on God. God did not curse me this time, therefore let me curse myself. I am an utter beast, I am no better than a pig or a dog.” Is this not a transformation? After experiencing another year or two, we gain another level of understanding of God’s words. After two, three years, we become even more thorough and clear regarding the truths of God’s words; we understand more and more, we become more enlightened and illuminated. In the end, when we read the same words again, we say, “God’s words are all truths, every single one of them. Regardless of what God says, whether they are words that curse man, or words that condemn man, they are all truths, they are all facts!” Ultimately, the more we read those God’s words that condemn and curse man, the more we realize that those are the God’s words that will perfect man. When we first started believing in God, every time we encountered God’s words that judge man, we said, “Quick, flip through them quickly. Such words are so prickly, they are so difficult to take. Flip through them quickly, let us go to that other page instead.” We marked all the words of judgment and chastisement so that we could flip through them once we arrived at them. After experiencing for a few years, we look at these words and say, “These words here are key, these are words that can most perfect man. The words that can most transform man’s disposition are all here, yet I flipped through all of them. How much growth of mine have I thwarted?” This time around, we even pay special attention to these words. When we see God’s words relating to God cursing man or condemning man, we now say, “Hurry up, let us seek the truth and look for answers here. Let us make haste and resolve the corruption in this area.” Are people who experience God’s work thus not truly obedient to God? How are they truly obedient to God? Is this clear now? Some people continue to be obedient to God with trivial matters in appearance, but in places where one should truly seek the truth, places that genuinely require the cleansing from God, that rightly require salvation from God, they are no longer obedient. They are now evasive, and they now circumvent the path. Are these people not fools?
At this point, when experiencing God’s work, the more we experience, the more we understand God. We begin to think that God’s words are magnificent. Your experience of three years is different from your experience of five years; while your experience of five years is even more different from other’s experience of ten years—where you have only gained half the experience. Therefore, for some people who have first accepted Almighty God, once they have read God’s words, they say: “These words are all truths, I would have never understood these truths when I was believing in the Lord and reading the Bible. Oh, it is so good to believe in Almighty God, I have gained so many truths. However, there is so much that He has said. How long will it take for me to eat and drink these words until I understand them? When will I be able to experience these words thoroughly? If I have only known, it would be fantastic if I started believing a few years earlier.” Everyone who believes in God says such things, they all feel that they started late in believing in God, and lament how much more they could have gained if they only started a few years earlier. Some people have a good memory, they can memorize tens of God’s passages in their one year of believing in God, and memorize hundreds of such passages in three to five years of believing in God. They say: “If I were to start believing in God three to five years earlier, I would have memorized a hundred passages of God’s words already, I would be able to talk about my own experiences and understanding by now. Wouldn’t that be marvelous. Then I would be able to bear witness for God, then I would be fit for God’s use.” The experience of reading God’s words is different from year to year. For example, with the same passage of God’s words, you might have a certain understanding when you first started believing in God, and your understanding drew a certain picture after you had read this passage. When you come back to read the same passage after you have believed in God for one year, you now have a different understanding, it is now a level deeper, and your understanding draws another new picture. After you have believed in God for ten years, and then you come back to read this same passage again, you gain an even deeper understanding, and what you have understood draws another even newer picture. No matter how many years you have believed in God, the results are different after every time you read the same passage of God’s words. It gets better each time, you become more enlightened and illuminated each time. God’s words are the source of flowing water, each sentence can be a person’s life, each sentence can be experienced by a person for ten years, or an entire lifetime. Take the simple truth of being an honest person. God said, “You must be an honest person,” and these are words that you shall experience for the rest of your life. You experience for ten years, and you say, “I am almost an honest person now,” but bits of craftiness are still within you. After experiencing for twenty years, you say, “This time I have progressed even more compared to how I was the last time, this time I have truly become an honest person,” yet there is still a trace of crookedness in you. After experiencing for thirty years, now you say, “I am, for sure, an honest person now. I am even purer than before,” but no, there still exists a tiny bit of imperfection in you.