69. Only by Understanding the Truth Can You Truly Know Yourself
By Wenwen, Jilin Province
My conception had always been that as long as I did things in the right way, and that I didn’t show any expressions of corruption to people, then I considered my disposition to have changed. Therefore, in everything I did, I paid special attention to whether I was doing it right or not, and as long as my outward behaviors and practices were right, I thought it was fine. For example, when faced with being pruned and dealt with, I focused on where I’d gone wrong, and so long as someone could point out the ways in which I’d gone wrong, I would be convinced, but if someone pointed out the essence of the problem and fellowshiped their understanding about my corrupt nature, then I would refuse to accept it and was unwilling to understand that aspect. Later, the sisters and brothers gave me fellowship, saying that one could only have his disposition changed by knowing his own nature, and that I did not know my nature. After listening to the words of the sisters and brothers, I started learning to know my nature. When someone gave fellowship and said, “This display of showing off is dominated by your arrogant nature,” then I said, “Yes, I am arrogant, my nature is arrogant!” Someone else said, “This dissolute and unrestrained behavior is dominated by your evil human nature.” I then continued, “Oh yes, my nature is evil.” I didn’t think it was difficult to know my nature as long as I repeated which kinds of nature dominated each of these behaviors. If someone asked me, “By which nature is this behavior dominated?” I would say, “It is arrogance, evilness, selfishness, deceit….” This kind of questioning and answering was like filling in the blanks, and it seemed so easy. In the end, the sisters and brothers told me that my self-knowledge was too superficial and it was all doctrines. Hence, talking later about knowing myself, I said, “I am too arrogant, boundlessly arrogant. I’m too evil, and too selfish.” I thought that adding the word “too” to what I’d known about myself before would make it sound like I’d deepened my understanding. In this way, because I didn’t understand and wasn’t clear on the significance of God’s requirement for people to know their own natures, therefore, when I revealed corruption or when I read God’s words which revealed the essence of man’s nature, I only understood it from the perspective of following the rules; I was much like a parrot, repeating words about knowing myself without really understanding from my heart or appreciating how I was deeply corrupted by Satan. Therefore, I did not hate myself, nor did I think of how dangerous it was to carry on that way. Even in the face of the incredibly stern words of judgment of God, I did not feel shocked. Rather, it didn’t bother me, which resulted in my disposition not changing at all. Even though I was ignorant, numb, and poor in caliber, God had not abandoned me, but instead, He always guided and enlightened me, leading me to know myself. Especially in recent times, God has done much work which has guided and enlightened me, and which has allowed me to understand the significance of knowing my nature, and to find a way to have my disposition changed.
A few days ago, I moved with a brother to a new host family. During a fellowship, the elderly sister who was hosting us spoke openly to us her prejudices and opinions about some brothers and sisters she had previously hosted. After listening, I did not take it to heart, and I didn’t fellowship the truth with her. This is how the time passed. Then, another two brothers who performed duties with us came to stay for several days. After they had left, the elderly sister told us her opinions of these two brothers. At that moment, my mind reacted, and I thought: “The majority of what you say does not fit the facts; this is all conjecture. God requires that we brothers and sisters love, help and support each other. I must practice the truth and fellowship with you the truth of being an honest person. You shouldn’t speculate or surmise about others arbitrarily.” Two days after my fellowship, the sister came to me and told me which things I’d said and done that had made her feel constrained. She poured out all of her thoughts, crying as she spoke. Seeing this, I thought: “You are too suspicious, and are suspicious about everyone. This time you are suspicious of me. This won’t do. I need to clearly fellowship with you so you won’t be prejudiced against me.” Therefore, I had a frank talk with her, and pinpointed the nature she displayed as well as her behaviors of suspicion and judgment, so that she could recognize them. The sister seemed to accept it, but she was not inwardly convinced. In the days that followed, she claimed to have this kind and that kind of illness. Seeing this, I thought: “You’re clearly not convinced inside, but rather you just pretend to accept it; aren’t you engaging in pretense and deception? There are lessons to learn when one is sick. You should do some serious introspection, for you have been in continuous illness.” In thinking this, I took on another “burden,” which led me to fellowship with the elderly sister again. I told her that the illness was due to rebellion and corruption, and I asked her to examine herself and know herself. However, during this fellowship, the sister just scowled, and didn’t even pretend to accept it. I was dumbfounded, and thought: “I have been so caring in helping you and have given you fellowship over and over again, but you won’t accept it and are even suspicious of me. You are such a dishonest person! If you do not accept the truth, who else could possibly help you? Forget it, I can’t do anything, it is up to you.” I pushed all the responsibility onto the elderly sister, thinking that she was too deceitful; I believed that I was a good person who practiced the truth, who was willing to help his sisters and brothers and who cared about God’s will. In this way, I became full of opinions about the elderly sister, and she would not listen to my fellowships anymore.
Faced with this awkward situation, I had to do some self-introspection: “Could I have been wrong? I was not wrong! When I saw the elderly sister’s shortcomings, I helped her with a loving heart! Is it because I did not rely on God? Not really, I prayed to God every time before fellowshiping with her. I have done nothing wrong in my practices, and nothing like this has ever happened while helping others in the past. The problem must lie with the elderly sister and it is because she is not innocent.” However, when thinking this way, I felt troubled, and especially when seeing the elderly sister suffering from her illness, I felt really uneasy and a feeling of guilt arose in my heart. I wanted to help her from the bottom of my heart, but I did not know how to practice. So I had to come to God and seek for His help, and I read God’s words, “Your lips are kinder than pigeons but your heart is more sinister than the ancient serpent, even your lips are as beautiful as a Lebanese woman, but your heart is not as kind as that of the Lebanese women and it certainly cannot compare to the beauty of that of Canaanites. Your heart is too deceitful” (“Your Character Is So Lowly!” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words immediately gripped my heart. I could not help but reflect on what I had done over those past few days and the thoughts that were behind it. When hearing the elderly sister talk about her opinions of other sisters and brothers, I did not respond because I thought it was none of my business and that it didn’t affect me; when hearing the elderly sister speak her opinions of the two brothers whom I knew, I couldn’t ignore it any longer, and I felt that I should fellowship with her in case she misunderstood them; when I heard that the elderly sister had opinions about what I had said and done, I paid even more attention, and I tried to give her fellowship so that she wouldn’t have any bad opinion about me. I claimed that I was helping her out of compassion. The fact was that I wanted to convince and overpower her using the truth, to shut her mouth, prevent her from judging me and even more so prevent her from having a bad opinion of me. When the sister was unwilling to accept what I said, I would add insult to injury and make her reflect on herself. Thinking of the behavior that I’d revealed, I realized that I hadn’t shown the elderly sister even a shred of compassion, nor had I shown her even any understanding or forgiveness. The elderly sister had started hosting duties when she began to believe in God. She had bought a house using her own money in order to better fulfill her duty and had not uttered a word of complaint. Her life entry was not as deep as it could have been due to seldom being able to attend gatherings and fellowship with others, and yet she sincerely believed in God, her heart thirsted for God’s words and she read God’s words every day whenever she had time. As she did not thoroughly understand the truth, she regarded judging the sisters and brothers behind their backs and speaking of their shortcomings as her bearing a burden for them and as being purely open about things. She had no discernment about which of the things she said were her own imagining and conjecture, and which of them were her exaggerating the facts, and I had not shown her any understanding or consideration, nor looked at her stature. Instead, I indiscriminately fought back whenever something infringed upon my interests, I strong-armed her into knowing herself and I magnified and over-analyzed her faults. With such motives, methods and humanity as I had, how could she not have an opinion of me? Wasn’t I only living out my satanic disposition? I then understood that the reason why my fellowship to the elderly sister had not achieved any results was because the motive behind everything I fellowshiped to her was to speak for my own sake and to protect myself. It was fine so long as I didn’t lose out and my interests suffered no loss, and I simply didn’t put myself in her shoes to consider what she lacked or to understand her weaknesses. Nor did I consider whether or not she was able to bear what I said, or whether or not what I said would have a negative effect on her, or whether or not it would make her feel down. I had spoken and acted by my satanic nature and all I had done was harm and attack her—how could this kind of fellowship achieve results or benefit her?
God’s words said, “Anyone can use their own words and actions to represent their true face. This true face is of course their nature. If you are someone who speaks in a very roundabout manner, then you have a crooked nature. If your nature is very cunning, then the way you do things is very slick and sly, and you make it very easy for people to be tricked by you. If your nature is very sinister, your words might be pleasant to listen to, but your actions cannot cover up your sinister means. If your nature is very lazy, then everything you say is all aimed at shirking blame and responsibility for your perfunctoriness and laziness, and your actions will be very slow and perfunctory, and very good at covering up the truth. If your nature is very empathetic, then your words will be reasonable and your actions will also very much conform with the truth. If your nature is very loyal, then your words must be sincere and the way you do things must be down to earth, without much to make your master distrust you. If your nature is very lustful or greedy for money, then your heart will often be filled by these things and you will unwittingly do some deviant, immoral things that will make it hard for people to forget and moreover will disgust them” (“A Very Serious Problem: Betrayal (1)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words made me realize that the ways corrupt people reveal themselves and live their lives are dominated by their natures. The kind of nature people have inside will inevitably determine what disposition is revealed on the outside. Say, for example, someone truly loves someone else. They will attentively think about and watch the other person to see what they like and, ultimately, they will express their love for the other person, and allow them to feel it and appreciate it. If I had love within me for the elderly sister, then I would be more attentive, be more understanding of her difficulties, be more considerate of her feelings, and would employ a suitable way and method and the appropriate language and tone to fellowship with her. Even if I couldn’t resolve her problems, at least I wouldn’t cause her any harm. But because my satanic nature held sway within me and I had no love for her, I therefore spoke only for my own sake and I reproached and lectured the elderly sister, compelling her to reflect on herself. All that was revealed by my intentions, my words and my actions was my satanic disposition, and so all I caused her was harm and pain, and she refused to hear me fellowship. Whenever I came across this kind of issue before, I would make a fuss over outward practices; I would think that I had not led the church, that I was not good at fellowshiping with others, and would have looked for myriad reasons to exonerate myself. Only then did I realize that outward practices do not play a decisive role, but rather it is whether someone’s heart is right or not, and what their inner essence is like. I then thought of God’s love for man, and that it is precisely because God’s essence is love that, no matter what He does, it is a revelation and an expression of love. Just as God’s words said, “The purpose for God saying these things is to change and save people. Only by speaking this way is He able to achieve the most valuable results. You should see that the kind intentions of God are completely designed to save people and everything it embodies is the love of God. Regardless of whether you look at it from the perspective of the wisdom in God’s work, from the perspective of the steps and patterns in God’s work, or from the perspective of the duration of the work or His precise arrangements and plans—it all embodies His love. For example, people all have love for their sons and daughters and in order to allow their children to walk the correct path, they all put forth a great amount of effort. When they discover their children’s weaknesses, they worry that if they speak softly, their children will not listen and will not be able to change, and they worry that if they speak too sternly, they will hurt their children’s self-esteem and their children won’t be able to bear it. This is all done under the influence of love and a great deal of effort is put into it. You who are sons and daughters might have experienced your parent’s love. Not only are gentleness and consideration love, but even more so, strict chastening is love. Everything God does for mankind is under the influence of love, even more so. He operates under the precondition of love, the only reason He does His utmost to save corrupt mankind. He does not deal with them perfunctorily, but rather He makes precise plans, based on the step. With regard to the time, location, tone of voice, method of speaking, and the amount of effort put forth…, you can say that it all reveals His love, and sufficiently explains that His love for mankind is limitless and immeasurable. Many people say rebellious things when they are in the midst of trials; they issue complaints. But God does not bicker about these things, and He certainly does not punish people for this. Because He loves people, He forgives everything. If He merely had hatred instead of love, then He would have condemned people early on. Since God has love, He does not bicker, but He tolerates, and He is able to observe people’s difficulties. This is completely doing everything under the influence of love” (“Do You Understand God’s Love for Mankind” in Records of Christ’s Talks). The essence of God is love, so what God expresses is also love. God’s love for humans is not expressed in words, but is embodied practically in His work, in every step of His work, and in the ways of His work. How and when God works on each person, what people, things or events He arranges for him and how long He will refine him, etc., all reflect God’s precise planning and painstaking effort. All God’s work is permeated by His pure and flawless love for humans, without exception. God loves man to such an extent that He can tolerate all of man’s corruption, rebellion and defiance, and does not split hairs with man. All these things make me see the greatness and nobility of God. In comparison, I am an ugly and contemptible degenerate who belongs to Satan. In recognizing all of this, I frankly shared the corruptions I’d expressed with the elderly sister, fellowshiping all that was in my heart. Unknowingly, the estrangement between us disappeared. I thanked God from the bottom of my heart!
I’d never understood the significance of God’s requirement that we know our own essence, but now I understand it due to my experience. Once man had been corrupted by Satan, his nature became Satan’s nature. Regardless of speech, action, motives or thoughts, they are all dominated by his satanic nature. One can seek related truths to practice and enter into, resolve one’s corrupt disposition and gradually attain dispositional change, only if he knows his nature. From now on, I will change the absurd way in which I experienced things, and will no longer pay so much attention to outward practices, get entangled in their rights and wrongs. I will honestly and sincerely accept God’s judgment and chastisement, and I will know the essence of my nature, and truly know myself through the revelations of God’s words in order that my disposition be changed and I attain God’s salvation soon.