Chapter 8. Understanding Nature and Putting Truth Into Practice
1. People Do Not Thoroughly Understand Their Own Natures
You currently know about some of your own difficulties, you know the corruption that usually happens easily, and which things you are likely to do; however, the most difficult thing is being able to control yourselves. You don’t know when you will do something or which serious things you will do. Perhaps there is something that you thought you would never do, but in a given time or environment it happened; you really did it and said it. These unexpected things are things that people are not able to control; how can this be? It is because people nowadays do not thoroughly understand the substance of their own natures; they do not really understand or deeply know their own substance in several big ways; therefore putting truth into practice is very strenuous for them. For example, if a person is quite deceitful, and dishonest in his words and deeds, then what will he say when you ask him what his biggest shortcomings are? He will say: “I am a little deceitful.” He will merely say he is a little deceitful, but he won’t say that his nature is deceitful, and he won’t say that he is a deceitful person. He doesn’t see his own nature all that deeply, he doesn’t see it as critically or thoroughly as other people see it. As other people see it, this person is too deceitful and crooked; every word he speaks carries lies, his words and actions are never honest, but he doesn’t see how deep it is. Even if he recognized it a little, it would only be a superficial recognition. So when he speaks and works, he always reveals something about his nature, yet he is unaware of it. He thinks that he is being honest in what he is doing and that he is doing things in accordance with truth. Actually, from the perspective of bystanders, this person is very crooked and deceitful; he is still dishonest in his words and actions. This is to say that people’s knowledge of their own nature is so shallow, and differs greatly from God’s words of judgment and revelation. This is not a mistake in what God reveals, but rather it is mankind’s lack of profound understanding of his nature. People do not have a fundamental or substantial understanding of themselves, but rather they focus on and devote their energy to their actions and outward expressions. Even if someone occasionally said something about understanding himself, it wouldn’t be very profound. No one has ever thought that they are this type of person or have this type of nature for doing this type of thing or revealing something in a certain aspect. God has revealed the nature and substance of man, but man understands that their way of doing things and way of speaking is flawed and defective; therefore it is a strenuous task for people to put truth into practice. People think that their mistakes are merely momentary manifestations, which are revealed carelessly, rather than being revelations of their nature. People that understand themselves in this way are not able to put truth into practice, because they are not able to accept truth as truth and do not thirst after truth; therefore, when putting truth into practice, they perfunctorily follow the rules. People do not view their own natures as being too corrupt, and believe that they do not reach the level of being destroyed or punished. They think that it is not a big deal to lie occasionally, and they are much better than before; but in fact, according to the standards, there is a big difference, because people only have some practices that outwardly don’t violate truth, but in fact they are not putting truth into practice.
2. Understanding Your Own Nature and Controlling Yourself From Doing Things Excessively
Changing actions does not imply that people’s natures have also changed. The reason for saying this is because actions do not fundamentally change people’s old appearances or change people’s natures. Only after people understand their natures can they practice deeply rather than just obey the rules. People nowadays are not up to par when they put truth into practice; they do not completely meet the requirements of truth. People only put parts of truth into practice, and they only practice the truth in certain situations and in certain environments. They do not put truth into practice in every environment and in every context. Occasionally when one is happy or in a good situation, or when everyone is fellowshiping together and he feels more at ease on the inside, he will momentarily do some things in accordance with truth and say some reasonable remarks; but when with negative people or with people who don’t pursue, he will be a little off and will not behave very properly. This is because people do not have a persevering attitude toward putting truth into practice, and this practice is carried out under the influence of occasional and temporary moods and environments; it is also because you do not have a grasp on your own situation and nature. Therefore, sometimes you do something that you would never expect. Do you believe this? You only understand some states and don’t have a grasp on your own nature; therefore, you are unable to guarantee what things you will do in the future, that is, you don’t have absolute control. Sometimes, you are able to put truth into practice in a state as if you have changed a little, but in another environment you are unable to put truth into practice. You can’t help yourself. You don’t do this unexpected thing this time, but you do it soon after, and everything inside still exists. This proves that you still don’t see this matter thoroughly or deeply understand it, and you don’t deeply understand your corrupt disposition and ultimately you do this thing. Under normal circumstances, if you were able to thoroughly understand your nature and despise it, then you would be able to control yourself and put truth into practice.
3. The Substance of People Who Don’t Put Truth Into Practice Is Not Fond of Truth
Nowadays, people do not pay close attention to putting truth into practice, they only pay attention to coming together to fellowship and satisfy themselves so that they do not feel uncomfortable or negative. They don’t set their minds to practicing the truth. No matter how much it helps you at the time, it doesn’t serve any real purpose later, because you only pay attention to understanding or listening to the truth, but don’t pay attention to practicing the truth. Who among you have summarized how to put which truths into practice for which situations? None! How can a summary be drawn up? One must have personal experiences in order to draw a summary; merely superficial speech won’t do. This is people’s greatest area of difficulty—there is no interest in putting truth into practice. Being able to put truth into practice concerns personal pursuits; some people equip themselves with truth to spread the gospel, and some do it to assist the church, but they don’t do it to put truth into practice and transform themselves. People who pay attention to these things have a difficult time putting truth into practice. This is also an area of difficulty for people.
4. Man’s Practice of the Truth Stops at Outer actions
Some people say: “I feel that I am able to put some truths into practice now, it’s not that I can’t put any truth into practice. In some environments, I can do things in accordance with truth, which means I count as a person who puts truth into practice, and I count as a person who has the truth.” Actually, in contrast with the states of the past, or in contrast with when you first believed in God, there is a little transformation. In the past, you didn’t understand anything, and you didn’t know what the truth was or what a corrupt disposition was. Now you know some things and you are able to have some good practices, but this is only a small part of the transformation; it is not truly a transformation of your disposition, because you are unable to carry out advanced and deep truths that involve your nature. In contrast to your past, you indeed have some transformation, but this transformation is only a small transformation of your humanity; when compared with the highest state of truth, you are way off the mark. This is to say that you have not hit the mark when putting truth into practice.
Sometimes people are in this type of state: They are not negative and have enthusiasm, but when it comes to putting truth into practice and understanding the truth, they feel that there is no way for them and that they don’t have any interest in this aspect. How can this be? Sometimes you don’t see this state very clearly and are forced to act superficially doing this and that, yet your actual difficulties remain unresolved. You feel: I have done it and have been devoted; why do I still not feel so assured? This is because your conduct and actions are based on your good intentions; they are done with subjective diligence, but you have not sought God’s will and you have not done things in accordance with the requirements of truth. You are off by this much, which results in you always feeling distant from God’s requirements and that you are not assured and unconsciously become negative. Personal subjective desires and subjective diligence are very different than the requirements of truth; they are different with regard to their nature. People’s outer actions cannot replace truth, and such actions are not completely done according to God’s intentions; rather truth is the true expression of God’s will. Some people who spread the gospel say: “I’m not idle. How can You say I am not putting truth into practice?” Now I ask you: How much truth is in your heart? How many things have you done in accordance with truth during the time you have been spreading the gospel? Does your heart understand the will of God? You can’t even say if you are just doing things or are putting truth into practice, because you only emphasize using your practices to satisfy God and make God happy, but you don’t reciprocate God’s love with the conviction of “Seek God’s will in all things to satisfy God and accord with truth.” If you say you are putting truth into practice, then how much has your disposition changed during this time? How much has your love for God increased? These measures are sufficient to show whether or not you are putting truth into practice.