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41. The Principles of Treating Oneself Correctly

Practice and Exercises for Principled Behavior

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41. The Principles of Treating Oneself Correctly

1. You must pursue the truth so as to truly know yourself, know your own real shortcomings, possess self-knowledge and practice being an honest person;

2. Dare to face the truth of your own corruption, uncover and dissect your own corrupt essence and pursue the truth. Do not be hypocritical or deceitful;

3. Hold yourself to strict standards in every aspect, practice in accordance with the principles of the truth in all things, do not act wantonly or follow your flesh. You should have a clear conscience;

4. See things from the perspective of God’s words, accurately measure yourself and find a suitable position in the church, never be negative, fulfill your duty to repay God’s love.

Relevant Words of God:

Pursuit of the path of life to be perfected by God is to more deeply understand one’s own nature within the words of God and to understand the things contained in one’s nature. To summarize it with words, to thoroughly understand one’s old life—the life of the old satanic nature—this is to have achieved the result required by God. If your knowledge has not reached this point but you say you understand yourself and that you have gained life, isn’t this just bragging? You don’t know yourself, and you don’t know what you are in front of God, whether you have really achieved the standard of a human being, or how many elements of Satan you still contain. You are unclear about who you belong to and you don’t even have self-knowledge—then how can you have reason in front of God?

from “How to Take the Path of Peter” 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

When one recognizes what his true nature is, how ugly, how despicable, and how pitiful, then he is not too proud of himself, not so wildly arrogant, and not so pleased with himself as he was before. He feels, “I must be earnest and down to earth, and practice some of God’s word. If not, I will not measure up to the standard of being human, and will be ashamed to live in God’s presence.” He truly sees himself as paltry, as truly insignificant. At this time it is easy for him to carry out truth, and he looks more like a human being. Only when a person truly loathes himself is he able to forsake the flesh. If one does not loathe himself, he will be unable to forsake the flesh. Hating oneself comprises a few things: first, knowing one’s own nature; second, seeing oneself as needy and pitiful, seeing oneself to be so small and insignificant, and seeing one’s own pitiful soul, one’s dirty soul. When one fully sees what he truly is and this outcome is achieved, he then really knows himself, and we can say that he has come to know himself fully. Only then can he truly hate himself, going so far as to curse himself, truly feeling that he has been corrupted too deeply by Satan, such that he no longer resembles a human being. Then one day, when the threat of imminent death appears, he feels, “Oh! It’s God’s righteous punishment. God is indeed righteous. I really should die!” At this point, he will not lodge a complaint, much less blame God, simply feeling that he is too pitiful, too filthy and corrupt, that he should be wiped out by God and a soul like his is not fit to live on earth, and so he will not resist, much less betray, nor will he complain against God.

from “Knowing Oneself Is Mainly Knowing Human Nature” in Records of Christ’s Talks

How should we act toward ourselves? We should take responsibility for our disposition and for our pursuit, we should take responsibility for every one of our actions, and we should take what we do seriously, being serious, and not lax, in all things, and being able to hold it up for dissection in everything. Each time you do something, the things you think you did right must be held up for dissection—and, more than that, the things you think you did wrong must be held up for dissection. This requires that the brothers and sisters spend more time together communing, searching, and helping each other out. … Regardless of which truths and reality you have heard, as long as you hold them up against yourself you will surely grow. If you carry out these words in your own life, and incorporate them into your own practice, you will definitely gain something, and will definitely change; if you stuff these words into your belly, and memorize them in your brain, then you will never change.

from “To Be Honest, You Should Lay Yourself Open to Others” in Records of Christ’s Talks

(So is this to say that, apart from admitting our errors before God, we must also lay ourselves bare before our brothers and sisters?) Of course you must. If you do not lay yourself bare and dissect yourself, how could you prove that you acknowledge that you are truly deceitful? If you do not lay yourself bare, if I do not lay myself bare, if none of us open up, if we have our own plans and considerations within our hearts, if a private space is maintained within our hearts, then we can forget talk of truly experiencing—how could any of us have true experiences to commune to each other? We could not. In “sharing and communing experiences,” sharing means speaking of every thought in your heart, your state, your experiences and knowledge of God’s words, as well as the corrupt disposition within you—and after that, others differentiate, and accept the positive and recognize that which is negative. Only this is sharing, and only this is truly communing. It does not simply mean having insights into the words of God or a part of a hymn, and communing as you please, and not saying anything related to your own actual life. Everyone talks about doctrinal and theoretical knowledge, and says nothing of knowledge drawn from actual experiences. They all avoid talking about such things, about their personal lives, about their life in the church with their brothers and sisters, and about their own inner world. In this way, how can there be true communication between people, how can there be real trust? There cannot! … To be honest, you must first lay your heart bare, so that everyone can see it, and all that you are thinking, and can see your true face; you must not pretend or package yourself. Only then will people trust you and consider you honest. This is the most fundamental practice of being honest, and it is a precondition. You are always pretending, always feigning holiness, virtuousness, greatness, and loftiness, and do not let people see your corruption and your failings. You present a false image to people, so that they believe you are upstanding, mighty, self-denying, impartial, and selfless. Don’t pretend, don’t package yourself; instead, lay yourself bare, lay your heart bare for others to see. If you can lay your heart bare for others to see, and lay bare all that you think and plan to do in your heart—regardless of whether it is positive or negative.…

from “To Be Honest, You Should Lay Yourself Open to Others” in Records of Christ’s Talks

Anything in Peter’s life that did not satisfy God’s desire made him feel uneasy. If it did not satisfy God’s desire, then he would feel remorseful, and would look for a suitable way by which he could strive to satisfy God’s heart. In even the smallest and most inconsequential aspects of his life, still he required himself to satisfy God’s desire. He was no less exacting when it came to his old disposition, ever rigorous in his requirements of himself to progress deeper into the truth.

from “Success or Failure Depends on the Path That Man Walks” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

Whenever you do anything, you must examine whether your motivations are right. If you are able to act according to the requirements of God, then your relationship with God is normal. This is the minimum criterion. If, when you examine your motivations, there emerge those that are incorrect, and if you are able to turn your back on them and act according to the words of God, then you will become someone who is right before God, which will show that your relationship with God is normal, and that all that you do is for the sake of God, and not for yourself. Whenever you do or say anything, you must put your heart right, be righteous, and not be led by your emotions, or act according to your own will. These are the principles by which believers in God conduct themselves.

from “How Is Your Relationship With God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

If you are truly willing to be perfected by God, then you will have the courage to cast aside your flesh, and will be able to carry out God’s words and not be passive or weak. You will be able to obey all that comes from God, and all of your actions, whether done in public or in private, will be presentable to God. If you are an honest person, and practice the truth in all things, then you will be perfected. … do all things with a heart that loves God. What does it mean “to do things with a heart that loves God”? It means that all of your actions and behavior can be presented before God. As you hold the right intentions, whether your actions are right or wrong, you are not afraid for them to be shown to God or to your brothers and sisters; you dare to make a vow before God. That your every intention, thought, and idea be fit to be examined in God’s presence: if you practice and enter in this way, then progress in your life will be swift.

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

For the church to be built, you must follow the spirit. Do not proceed by acting blindly, but stay in your place and fulfill your own function. You should not step outside of your roles, but fulfill whatever function you can perform with your utmost strength, and then I will be truly pleased. It is not that all of you will serve the same function. Rather, each of you should play your own role and dedicate your service in coordination with others in the church. Your service should not deviate in either direction.

from “The Nineteenth Utterance” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

If you are truly possessed of conscience, then you must have a burden, and a sense of responsibility. You must say: I care not whether I will be conquered or made perfect, but I must bear this step of testimony properly. As a creature of God, one can be utterly conquered by God, and ultimately, they are able to satisfy God, repaying God’s love with the love in their heart and by completely devoting themselves to God. This is the responsibility of man, it is the duty that ought to be performed by man, and the burden that ought to be borne by man, and man must complete this commission. Only then do they truly believe in God.

from “Practice (3)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh

The Man’s Fellowship:

If one wants to achieve correct treatment of oneself, one must first understand himself, be able to assess himself, and give himself a correct evaluation that neither underestimates or sees himself in too favorable a light. It is similar to understanding and treating other people. Only upon this foundation can one attain correct treatment of oneself. Correct treatment of oneself is nothing other than making demands on oneself according to truth, and using truth to measure oneself, and treating oneself fairly. Practicing correct treatment of oneself comprises four aspects:

First is to know oneself, and to have a correct evaluation of oneself. How to evaluate oneself is the most difficult to accomplish. If you have an intimate friend, listen attentively to his opinion, and have him speak his mind. This assessment of you by a friend is a valuable reference. Correct evaluation of oneself requires clarity about one’s true circumstances: what one lacks, and what problems exist, what few things one possesses, what standard one can achieve, or what is one’s Achilles heel, and what danger that could bring, what stage one has attained, what sort of person he is, and what his condition is. All of these are the main aspects of self-evaluation. A person’s correct evaluation of himself has such great benefit to later entry. Only a person who has achieved correct self-evaluation can truly be called a person who possesses self-awareness. Most people don’t know what sort of people they are, what category they are in. Even less do they know the details of who they are, or what sort of deeds they can accomplish. Correct assessment of oneself is only a step and starting point for a person’s growth and progress. It is absolutely necessary for one to truly know oneself.

Second is how to treat some problems that exist in oneself. This is also where to find the key to correctly treating oneself. Most people are not very clear about this issue, and there is no slightest transparency about it. If not concealing problems, they are avoiding the problems that exist. They dare not face the actual truth, and they don’t have the courage to accept the truth. Whenever someone exposes or offends them, they either quibble in denial or fly into a rage. In this aspect the corruption of humans is revealed most. This also is helpful in examining whether a person’s disposition has changed or not. Only people who can accept truth regarding the problems that exist within them and who can submit to the work of God are people who love truth.

Third, one must have strict demands upon himself. This also is a principle of treating oneself correctly. All people who pursue life and who pursue truth have strict demands of themselves. We can say that there is no progress without strict demands of oneself. To have no strict demands of oneself is to be muddleheaded. Only people who have strict demands on themselves are people who pursue the truth and fervently want God.

Fourth, one can achieve correct treatment of oneself only if one can rebel against one’s own flesh. A person who has not had change of disposition is mainly controlled by his own corrupt flesh. When one’s physical nature breaks out, all devilish states become manifest: arrogance and conceitedness, self-importance and self-rightness, submission to no one. Or, if one suffers a setback, or receives pruning or dealing, one becomes slack in work and just muddles through. When one sees others better than oneself, one becomes envious and dissatisfied, complains, and tortures oneself. Though one knows the truth perfectly well, one doesn’t want to practice it, going so far as to abandon one’s own pursuits. Living in the flesh, a person is corrupt in this way, and cannot in the least treat himself correctly. In order to achieve correct treatment of oneself, therefore, one must be able to rebel against one’s own flesh. Only by living within God’s word can people attain truth. When people genuinely attain truth, they are able to treat themselves correctly, and can even more effectively rebel against their own flesh.

Correct treatment of oneself mainly comprises the practice of these four aspects. The most fundamental of these is to always pursue truth. Only in this way can one achieve correct treatment of oneself. Only when one has completely attained truth can one treat oneself correctly. A person who does not have truth cannot treat himself correctly; he can only entrap himself, and damage himself.

from the fellowship from the above

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