A Battle of Life and Death
By Chang Moyang, Henan Province
The words ofsay: “When you rebel against the flesh, there will inevitably be a battle within you. Satan will try and make you follow it, will try and make you follow the conceptions of the flesh and uphold the interests of the flesh—but God’s words will enlighten and illuminate you within, and at this time it is up to you whether you follow God or follow Satan. God asks people to put into practice primarily to deal with the things inside them, to deal with their thoughts, and their conceptions that aren’t after God’s heart. The Holy Spirit touches people inside, and carries out His work within them, and so behind everything that happens is a battle: Every time people put the truth into practice, or put the love of God into practice, there is a great battle, and though all may seem well with their flesh, in the depths of their hearts a life-and-death battle will, in fact, be going on—and only after this intense battle, after a tremendous amount of reflection, can victory or defeat be decided. One does not know whether to laugh or cry” (“Only Loving God Is Truly Believing in God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Every time I read this passage from God’s words, I ponder the following: Is practicing the truth really that difficult? When people don’t understand the truth, they cannot practice it. Once they have understood it, wouldn’t they just act according to God’s will? Could it really be as serious as “in the depths of their hearts a life-and-death battle will, in fact, be going on”? It wasn’t until later, through my actual experience, that I had a taste that practicing the truth truly is not easy. What God said is the truth and is entirely in line with the facts; it is not even a little exaggerated.
Some time ago, a gulf developed between me and the sister I was partnered with due to some disagreements over our duties. I felt that she was arrogant and looked down on me; so I sank into an incorrect condition. I began to subject myself to constraints because of her. I could not let go of it in my duty; I was submissive in my words and cautious in my actions to the point that, after a while, I would watch her expression when I was speaking or doing something, and I was not shouldering the burden of my work. I was living entirely in the darkness. I couldn’t extricate myself even though I knew that my condition was dangerous. In the midst of suffering, I prayed to God over and over again, and gradually I came to have God’s enlightenment and guidance within me: “It can’t go on like this. I should have a heart-to-heart talk with this sister and find a path of light.” I felt that I had a path to take and decided to open my heart to her in fellowship. But when I got to my sister’s door, I had a different thought: “What will my sister think when I talk about it? Will she say that there are too many little things on my mind, I’m too much of a hassle, too difficult to deal with?” As soon as I had this thought, it was as if I had seen that funny look in her eyes, that contemptuous expression. Suddenly, my courage just disappeared and I went limp, as if my whole body were cramping. Once again, God was guiding me from inside: “If you had a lot of private issues that you found difficult to talk about, it would be difficult to struggle out of the darkness. Would you be willing to continue on like that?” So I plucked up some courage again, and silently encouraged myself: “Be brave, be simple and open. Practicing the truth is nothing to be ashamed of!” But at the same time, a contrary feeling tugged at me: “Don’t say anything—she will probably think you’re okay. If you talk about it she’ll see through and look down upon you, thinking you have too many little things on your mind and she won’t like you anymore.” “Ugh! It’s better not to say anything, then!” As I once again wavered, God guided me again: “Being an honest person means you can’t be shy and fearful to lose your face!” God’s enlightenment excited me, but to my surprise, as soon as I gained a little bit of courage, Satan’s ideas once again welled up: “If you talk about it other people will know your true colors, and you’ll be miserable!” My heart suddenly clenched. It was in this way that my heart was pulled to and fro in a battle between positive and negative, black and white. I knew clearly: My not wanting to speak was a desire to protect my own face out of vanity and defend my dignity. If I carried on this way, my condition would not be resolved and it would have no benefit for’s work. Only seeking truth to resolve this issue would be beneficial for the work and be in line with God’s will. But the moment the thought occurred to me that as soon as she knew, she might see through me and think even less of me, I lost my courage to practice the truth. I felt that if I spoke out about my own ugliness, I wouldn’t be able to go on living! For a moment I became terribly upset, and my heart was in great pain as if being burned by a fire. This was as difficult as if I were facing a life-or-death choice, and I unwittingly burst into tears, and all there was to do was helplessly cry out to God in my heart.
At this moment, God’s words flickered in my mind: “Young people should not be without the truth, nor should they harbor hypocrisy and unrighteousness…. Young people should have the bravery to not succumb to the oppression of the forces of darkness and to transform the significance of their existence” (“Words to the Young and Old” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words allowed me to finally calm my restless heart. I came to understand God’s will through His words. God hoped that I would turn toward righteousness, have the faith and courage to pursue the truth and put it into practice, to break through the strictures of face, status, and vanity, to be an honest person, and to live in an open and aboveboard way. God’s words gave me the faith and courage to put the truth into practice. Who cares about face, anyway? I can no longer be subject to Satan’s mocking! I can no longer rebel against God; I must forsake myself and practice the truth. Once I summoned up the resolve to find my sister and have a heart-to-heart fellowship with her, the results far exceeded my expectations. Not only did my sister not look down on me, but she confessed her own corruption, reflected on and recognized her own deficiencies and apologized to me, saying that in the future when encountering an issue, we should have fellowship on the truth with each other to achieve mutual understanding, see obeying the truth as our principle, learn from each other’s strengths to make up for our own deficiencies, do the work of the church well together. This is how that battle without weapons came to an end. My issue had been resolved, and I felt free and bright in my heart. Thinking back to the intense battle in my heart just now and mulling over the suffering in a seemingly life-or-death battle, I started to realize how serious my vain concern for saving face and status was. It was a part of my life to the point that I was living in darkness, facing call after call from God but unable to break free. I understood the truth but could not practice it; I truly was too deeply corrupted by Satan! I also really experienced that practicing the truth and being an honest person is not easy. When faced with trials, only by relying on God, seeking the truth, and having the faith and courage to put the truth into practice can I triumph over the control of a satanic corrupt disposition, stand witness, and live in the light!
It was only after undergoing this experience that I had some understanding of God’s words: “Every time people put the truth into practice, or put the love of God into practice … in the depths of their hearts a life-and-death battle will, in fact, be going on.” And I understood that God’s words were said about mankind’s corrupt nature because people’s satanic nature is too deeply rooted in the flesh. These corrupt satanic natures have become their lives and keep people firmly under their control. Without the truth, there is no way to escape from them. When we practice the truth is when we forsake our own fleshly lives; this process is the same as being reborn. It really is a contest and a fight for life and death, and it is a quite painful process. When we do not truly know our own corrupt nature and we don’t have the will to suffer or pay a price, we absolutely cannot practice the truth. In the past I thought that practicing the truth was easy—this was because I had no understanding of my own corrupt nature and I didn’t know how deep my corruption was. In the future, I am willing to more deeply know myself through experience, to seek to practice the truth in all things, to forsake myself, and live out the likeness of a true human being!