Chapter 29. To Serve God One Should Walk the Path of Peter
Most people are unable to distinguish which people have the truth, which people don’t have the truth and which people say things that contain the truth. When you are asked to explain what is meant by “the truth,” you cannot explain it clearly. But as soon as someone says something, you say: “His viewpoint is correct. The words he says show a practical understanding gained through experience.” You understand as soon as you hear them speak. For those of you here who are new, if I ask you what is meant by “reality,” you not only wouldn’t be able to answer Me, but you also wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between someone who is talking reality and someone talking doctrine. This is not said to belittle you, it is just that you don’t have the experience. See those veterans of the church; although some prolific tempters may baffle them with things they are not quite able to put their finger on, they still know that what those people say is not right. They are able to discern which people are talking doctrine, and which people are talking reality. You, however, haven’t even scratched the surface yet. This is not said to disparage you, so don’t be negative because of this. This is the normal process of experience that everyone must go through. Everyone must undergo many years of watering, shepherding, listening, feeling, realizing and experiencing before they can slowly but thoroughly understand life experiences, before they can cross the threshold and open their eyes. If you only talk doctrine and hear doctrine, if you cannot perceive the matters that concern reality and have no discernment, then your eyes have not been opened; they just haven’t been opened yet. What is meant by “your eyes have not been opened”? It means you haven’t crossed the threshold, and that’s a fact. It means that you haven’t crossed the threshold where the truth is concerned. Look at yourselves now. Maybe you can do pastoral work, support others, donate and spend, or do some routine things in God’s family. But you don’t necessarily have reality, nor will you necessarily have any discernment toward reality or toward letters and doctrines. Perhaps you are not convinced of this, until one day someone comes along who talks doctrine, who has a silver tongue, and then perhaps you will put them on a pedestal. And when that person who truly has reality comes along, who is silent, who doesn’t make a sound, then perhaps you will walk all over them. As soon as you do this, you will then know where your own stature is at. Yes, the stature of a man, one’s understanding of reality and of oneself, one’s experience of the truth, one’s understanding of God—all these things come from experience, from living day to day, pure and simple. These things certainly don’t come from study nor from however much you’ve heard. “I have these things, I have heard them and I remember them. My level of knowledge is high, I’m a college student, I do some job, I research something, and I know things as soon as I hear them.” You may use the knowledge you have learned to hear philosophies, politics or literature. But you cannot use it here, it is useless! What do we have here, then? The knowledge you’ve learned may help you know the written words of the truth or about the way it is worded better than others, but you are no better than others when it comes to your experiencing the truth; you don’t have the advantage in that regard. You acknowledge this, right? You don’t investigate matters of life experience and you lack too many things. But for those of you who have some knowledge, who are now in the advantageous position of being a leader above other people, who are often at work and who come into contact with veterans of the church in the upper levels, and who do some specific work, you can progress faster. You can progress faster than the veterans of the church previously could, faster with your understanding of reality, with any aspect of the truth and with understanding yourselves. Maybe you won’t walk a winding path or maybe you will also have to suffer some setbacks. Everyone’s situation is different, their conditions are different. Some people need to suffer some setbacks before they can experience great change. And then there are some people who don’t need to suffer big setbacks, but discover the path they should walk and their own corruption in the things that happen around them, and they gain some insights into the people, things and objects around them—this is someone who progresses comparatively fast.
So what should you pay attention to now? If you only pay attention to working on and running around peripheral matters, then your progress will be delayed. When you believe in God, your personal progress in life is most key and is most important. You may only equip yourself with doctrine, or with the ability to work, or you may do something using some brilliant method, or with wisdom; these things are all secondary, though you still cannot do without them. The chief issue for your belief in God is that you must thoroughly know the truth, experience the truth and have some understanding of it, and be able to have an obedient heart and satisfy God’s will before Him. If you believe in God but the more you believe, the more your relationship with God drifts apart, the further you become from God and the more places you have within you that conflict with the truth, then that proves that your belief is not leading you to progress, that the Holy Spirit has not worked on you, and that you have gone astray and have gone to extremes. If you believe for a time and then have some understanding of reality, some understanding of yourself, and you think you have grasped some things of reality, then this proves that you understand spiritual matters, your eyes are opened and you are walking the right track. There are some veterans now who have followed for two or three years, who haven’t even scratched the surface, who are defiant and unrestrained and who prepare to obtain blessings, who are preparing to enjoy their good fortune once the work is completed. They haven’t even scratched the surface with regard to life experiences, and they have no harmonious relationship with God in the slightest. It is fine to be with them for a short duration, and they will reluctantly obey, and will not dare to make a sound if they have conceptions. But once some time has passed, the minute they start to resist, they become objects for ruination. Everyone is on dangerous ground, and this is a terrible thing. If you believe in God and walk the right path, then your belief is correct and you will obtain blessings. If you go awry, if you walk the wrong path or crooked path, if you don’t forge onward, don’t forge onward with all your might, then you will perish and will suffer punishment.
People have two paths of belief in God: One is to be able to obey God completely; the other is to defy God and go against Him. These are the only two paths. It cannot be that you don’t go against God but that you also don’t obey Him; this is not possible. If you don’t obey God and if you have no genuine understanding, then you can only be rebellious and defiant. You may not show defiance with the things you say, and you may not openly go against Him with weapons drawn, but your heart is still rebellious. Or when you are not being asked to do something, you may feel filled with love for God and feel very close to God. But as soon as you are asked to do something, then your rebellion, your arrogance, your self-righteousness and your things of Satan are revealed; once they are revealed, then your rebellion becomes fact. Isn’t that right? You may see your belief in God merely as “I am blessed by believing in God and afterward I will be the object of His blessings. I am a member of God’s family and am elevated by God; I am someone who has been raised up by God. I am blessed and God is kind to me.” But if you do see it this way, what is the use? What is the use in hollering these empty catchwords? The key now is whether or not you can be saved, whether or not you walk the right track of life, whether or not God commends you in your belief, whether or not God acknowledges your membership of God’s family, and whether or not God acknowledges you; only this can be considered as being serious in your belief in God. A muddleheaded belief, such as “Ah, God is kind to me, God favors me, I am blessed and I prosper everywhere. See, God has elevated me and made me a leader in His family. I have been very lucky and my star has been rising ever since I came into God’s family.” Merely showing off this kind of thing is of no use. It is empty; useless! If you are given an opportunity but you don’t grab hold of it, then it was given in vain, and it will be no use however many opportunities you are given. Grab hold of some true, real things. Some veteran believers say: “Ah, I’m blessed! I’m blessed and I’m the most blessed person in all the world, in all the universe!” It wouldn’t avail you even if you were an angel; you cannot just merely say these kinds of things, you must grab hold of true things. Especially those of you who have believed in God for only a short time and have had little hands on experience, who didn’t experience those steps of work in the beginning, and who came last of all—are you willing to bet your life that you will hereafter be saved? Are you? You’re not, are you? If you’re not willing to bet your life on it, then you are in a dangerous position!
If you don’t understand what it is to serve God or what it is to obey God, and you understand even less how to worship God or how people should believe in God; if you have not grasped these things and have no understanding of them in your heart, then you will easily go astray and will easily defy God. Like those who fell before who said: “Let the Holy Spirit reveal this to us!” You now all see this matter clearly. At that time they had no intention to do anything bad and defy God, and they knew that God had raised them up and that they must work hard. Yet they didn’t walk the right path, thinking only that God had raised them up, that they wanted to work hard, and to do a good job shepherding those below them in the church; they thought whatever those above wanted them to do, they would do. They hadn’t grasped the practical things and were actually doing things blindly, relying on their own self-will. When they were no longer to be used, they became angry and said: “God is righteous. Let the Spirit reveal this! My belief is not in man, it is in God.” They didn’t plan in advance to say these words, so was it said involuntarily? What was the reason for it? It was because man doesn’t fear God and doesn’t understand Him. You see that some people say some things that are foolish and ignorant, and they are forgiven. They are forgiven for their ignorance and what their responsibilities were is not looked into. Why isn’t this the case for some others? Because they said things that were too serious: “You are God, but still I will not obey You.” These people are antichrists; they defy God and do not accept the truth. Some people are foolish and ignorant. It is fine to show your foolishness and ignorance once or twice; but if you offend God’s administrative decrees or offend God’s disposition, then you will be in trouble. See the path that Peter walked. He obtained enlightenment from the Holy Spirit in the beginning and spoke to Jesus, saying: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Once the Holy Spirit had enlightened him, he then gained some insight and his heart was filled with light. Even though he didn’t at that time have a deeper understanding, yet he sought to understand God, and walked the right track of serving God. Serving God is a most dangerous thing, and is also a most glorious thing. Because man is rebellious and corrupt, once they go astray, then they are finished. People serve God, not other people; serving God is a dangerous thing. Peter walked this way and had this belief. So what about Paul? He didn’t acknowledge that Jesus was the Christ. He hunted Him unceasingly and, after he was struck down, Paul still didn’t realize that God was the Lord of all things, nor how man should obey Him. He was in possession of no normal sense of reason, but from beginning to end harbored an arrogant mentality: “I give You this much so You should give me that much; I expend this much, so You should reward me that much and give me that much remuneration.” His work was under the dominion of this kind of thinking all along. So he never had a God-revering heart, never had a God-fearing heart. See the tone of his words: “I have fought the fight”—I have fought the fight that You made me fight; “I have finished my course”—I have run that road You told me to run; “I have kept the faith”—didn’t You make me keep it? I have kept it, so shouldn’t the glorious crown be reserved for me? Didn’t he speak with this kind of tone? Of course he couldn’t speak as bluntly as this within the epistle. He spoke euphemistically and cryptically, but his words stemmed from these ideas. What happened in the end? He still had to be punished, didn’t he? You must see clearly how man should choose on the path of serving God, on the path of believing in God. Which ways to serve God belong to the ways of Paul? Which ways to believe belong to the ways of Paul? How can a pious way of serving God like Peter be achieved? There is a path that God’s creations should walk to worship Him; the path must be chosen correctly and your aims must be clear. Don’t be muddleheaded, but walk earnestly and stand on solid ground, with a vision that is perfectly clear. It is dangerous for you to walk onward in a muddleheaded way and it guarantees that you will one day offend God’s administrative decrees or begin to grumble.
Are you clear on what nature or what condition in man most easily leads them to ruination, regardless of whether they are a leader or a follower? Do you know about man’s common nature? The commonality of man’s nature is to betray God; each and every person can betray God. Is only not believing a betrayal of God? What is a betrayal of God? Which things mean a betrayal of God? You must understand what the essence of man is made of; you must understand this and grasp the root of the matters. Your fatal weaknesses, short temper, bad ways, bad habits or bad manners—these things are all skin-deep. If you only grasp these things tightly and your essence remains unresolved, then you will still walk the crooked path and you will still defy God. Isn’t that right? You are only ever scratching the surface and clutching at minor details. Man can betray God at any time or place and this is a serious problem. Maybe at this moment you can love God a great deal, expend a lot for God, be especially loyal; maybe at this moment you can be particularly reasonable and have a conscience. But there may come a time and a place where something will lead you to betray God. Say that someone is particularly reasonable right now; the Holy Spirit is working on them, they have some practical experience, have shouldered a burden, they loyally perform their duty and have a very strong belief. Then suppose God did something that disappointed them, something that they thought was wrong. Conceptions would then arise within them, they would at once become negative, and they would lose enthusiasm and become slipshod in their work, and they would give up on prayer, saying, “What am I praying for? God shouldn’t do this thing! How can I pray?” Their strength would be gone and their enthusiasm for prayer would be gone. What is this called? Is this not an expression of betrayal? At any time or place, man can leave God, deny God and condemn God—are these not all betrayals? This is a terrible thing. See, you think you now have no conceptions and can obey God most of the time, that when being dealt with and pruned you will not leave God. Yet you can still betray God at any time or place. You must understand thoroughly the nature of man. Of course, some people will at times have some conscience, and those will be people whose natures are comparatively good. Some will have an evil humanity, and their natures will be bad. But no matter whether anyone says your humanity is good or bad, or whether your caliber is good or bad, the common nature is that you are able to betray God. Man’s nature is to betray God, so could people betray God if they had not been corrupted? You still now think: “The natures of people who have been corrupted by Satan will betray God so there is nothing I can do. I will just have to change bit by bit.” Do you still think this way? So tell Me, were people capable of betraying God if they had not been corrupted? People were also able to betray God if they had not been corrupted. When man was created, they were given free will, they were very weak, and they had not the heart that could actively reach God or that actively turned toward God: God is our Creator and we are His creations. Man had not this heart. Man never had the truth within them nor anything that could help them worship God. God gave them free will so that man could think, but man didn’t know what God was and didn’t understand how to worship God. They had nothing like this inside them. Even without having been corrupted, you could still betray God. Why is this? Satan seduces you so that you follow it and betray God. You were created by God but you don’t follow Him. Instead you follow Satan. Are you not then a traitor? Traitors betray. You thoroughly understand this essence, don’t you? So man can betray God at any time and in any place. Only when man lives wholly inside the kingdom of God and inside the light of God, when Satan has been destroyed and there is no more seduction, only then can man no longer betray God. While there is still seduction, man can still betray God; so it is said that man is worthless. You still think: “I have now gained some things. I have some things that do not betray God, but that are compatible with God. I cannot be considered a crystal glass, but at least like an earthen jar. I cannot be considered gold, but maybe copper.” You regard yourself too highly. Do you know what kind of thing man is? Man can betray God at any time or place and is not worth one penny. Just as God said: “A pile of dog shit, brutes and wretches.” People think: “I’m not a wretch! I’m not a wretch at all! Why can’t I understand this matter? Why haven’t I experienced it? If I haven’t been corrupted, then I can’t betray God.” There are examples of this, and there are facts. What I tell you now is not without foundation. All these things are to show you, to convince you; only in this way can you reach an understanding of your own corruption and resolve the problem of betrayal. There will no longer be any betrayal in man in the kingdom, man will live under the dominion of God and Satan will have no mastery over them, and man will live freely and need not worry, thinking, “Can I betray God?” There will be no need to worry; it will be unnecessary! Afterward, it can be announced that you will never have anything within you that betrays God. But now, things are not yet okay, as man’s essence is one that can betray God at any time and in any place. It is not that you will betray God because of some adverse circumstance, or that without any adverse circumstance or without anyone forcing you then you will not betray God. You can still betray God even when no one is forcing you; this is a problem of man’s corrupt essence, and is a problem of their nature. See how you just breathe now, how you haven’t done anything, haven’t moved, haven’t thought of anything, and yet that nature that betrays God is within you—is this correct? Why? Because man has betrayal inside them and God is not inside them. Man’s spirit and man’s soul have no part of God inside them. So, you can betray God at any time or in any place. See, angels are different. They don’t have God’s disposition, nor do they have God’s essence. But they can wholly obey God because they were created by God especially to serve Him and are sent everywhere; they belong to God. Mankind, however, were made to live on earth and were not created with the faculty to worship God. Men are capable of betraying God and are things that can be used or fought over by anybody. They are worthless! That man has this nature is revealed so that people can come to a true understanding of this matter and of themselves. From this aspect, people can begin to change, and from here they can search for the path of practice. Understanding in what matters you can betray God and what deficiencies you need to make up for in order not to betray God, you will reach a stage where you will no longer betray God in many aspects and will avoid betraying Him in the majority of them. Whether or not you will afterward betray God is not up to you. Your life’s journey will reach its end, and will reach that moment when God’s work is done, but whether or not you will afterward betray God is not your responsibility. Why was that said just now? Before man had been corrupted by Satan, it came and seduced man, and they were then capable of betraying God. After Satan is destroyed, won’t man then not betray God again? That time has not yet arrived. So man still has the corrupt satanic disposition within them, and can betray God at any time and in any place. Once your life experience has reached a certain stage, the many things within you that betray God will all be cast off. You will then be in possession of many positive things, will be able to exercise self-restraint and will be able to master yourself. You won’t be capable of betraying God again for the majority of the time, and when Satan has perished you will undergo a complete change. This stage of work is to now resolve man’s betrayal and to resolve man’s rebellion. The people afterward will not betray God as Satan will have been disposed of, and this has nothing to do with man. Do you understand? Understanding man’s betraying nature starts from here: which things belong to the nature that betrays God, which things are part of expressions of betrayal, how man should enter and how they should understand. This essence of man is still within them, they can still betray God at any time or place, and they can still do things that they don’t consider to be a betrayal of God. Man can betray God at any time or place, which is to say that man has no autonomy, as Satan has possessed them. You can still betray God even if you haven’t been corrupted, let alone today when you are filled with the corrupt satanic disposition. You are even more capable of betraying God at any time and in any place. You are now called upon to cast off the corrupt disposition, so that those things within you that betray God will become fewer and fewer, and you will have more opportunities before God to allow Him to perfect you and to accept you. If you gain much experience of God’s salvation in all things, you will be perfected during this stage. So if something of Satan, or an evil spirit, comes to deceive and disturb you, you can then bring your discernment to bear, can’t you? In this way, your betraying behavior will become less, and this is something that will be wrought within you in after days. When man was first created, they didn’t have this faculty, nor did they understand the worship of God, how to obey God or what betrayal of God was. Satan came to seduce man and they followed it, they betrayed God, and became traitors to God. This was because man had no ability to discern good from evil, had no faculty with which to worship God, even less did they have any understanding that God was the Creator or any understanding of how man should worship God. In after days, God’s working man now is to make these truths (knowledge of God’s essence and His disposition…) within man, so that they can understand these aspects and have some autonomy with these aspects. That is, the deeper your experience, the more you will understand God and the less you will possess things that betray God. The more things you possess that are compatible with God, the more you will be able to defeat Satan, the more autonomy you will have, and the more able you will be to live out a true life. Some people ask: “Man has a corrupt essence within them and can betray God at any time or place; how then can God still say He has made man complete?” Being made complete is understanding God through experience, and it is also understanding their own nature, knowing how to worship God and obey God, being able to discern between the work of God and the work of man, and recognizing the differences between the work of the Holy Spirit and the work of evil spirits through experience. It is also having an understanding of how Satan the devil defies God, how mankind defies God, what a creation is and who the Creator is. You understand these things, don’t you? These are all things given to man through the work of God in the after days. So, those who will be made complete in the end will carry more weight and will be worth more than those in the beginning who hadn’t been through the corruption. Because there are some things that have been added inside man and some things that have been wrought inside them, people who are made complete in the end will have more autonomy than Adam and Eve of that time, and they will understand more truth of how to worship God and obey Him; they will understand more how to be human. Adam and Eve didn’t know these things and the serpent came to tempt them and they ate the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In the end they knew shame, and continued not knowing how to worship God, and became more and more corrupt, up until the present day. This is quite a profound matter, and no one in corrupt humanity can entirely understand it. Man can still betray God at any time and in any place due to the instincts of their flesh. Yet, in the end, God will make man complete and bring them into the next age; this is something people find hard to comprehend.
Why is man required to understand God? If man doesn’t understand God or doesn’t understand this aspect of the truth, then they will easily come to be used and deceived by evil spirits. Once they understand the truth, then it will not be easy for them to be deceived and used by evil spirits. But if, after you have this understanding, you continue to do something that you know to be an offense against God’s administrative decrees or that is done in defiance of God, then you will be beyond redemption. What kind of condition are you in now? As long as you now have one hope, regardless of whether or not God remembers the things of the past, you should maintain this mentality: I must seek a change in my disposition, seek to understand God, not be fooled by Satan again and not do anything that brings shame on the name of God. What key areas determine whether someone is now worth anything, whether or not they will be saved and whether or not they have any hope? They are, after you have heard the preaching, whether or not you can receive the truth, whether or not you can put the truth into practice and whether or not you can change. These are the key areas. If you just feel remorse, if you just go and do things and continue to think in the same old way, and have no understanding at all about this matter but instead get worse and worse, then you will be without hope and should be declared as worthless. The more you understand God, and the more you understand yourself, then the more able you will be to master yourself. The more you are able to penetrate your own nature with understanding, the more you will be able to master yourself. After you have summed up your experience, you will never again fail on this matter. In actual fact, everyone has some blemishes on them that have merely not been looked into. Everyone has them, some have small ones, some have large ones; some speak plainly, and some hide their intentions and work in secret. Everyone has them; some people do things that others know about and some people do things that others don’t know about. There are blemishes on everyone and they all reveal some corrupt dispositions, like arrogance or conceit, or they make some transgressions, or some mistakes or errors in their work, or they show some small rebelliousness. These are all pardonable things as they are things that no corrupted person can avoid. Yet they should be avoided once you have understood the truth. It will then no longer be necessary to always be troubled by things that happened in the past. Instead, it is to be feared that you will still not change even after having understood, that you will know that it is wrong to do something and yet continue to do it, and that you will continue to do something even after being told that it is wrong. These people are beyond redemption.