34. Why Haven’t I Changed After So Many Years of Faith?
Not long ago, whenever a brother or sister pointed out my failings or did not heed my opinion I was either quietly unconvinced or directly refuted it. I regretted my actions later, but when faced with these things, I couldn’t help but reveal my corrupt disposition. I was deeply troubled by this, and thought: “Why is it that others’ words can shame me into anger? And why has my corrupt disposition not changed a bit despite eight years of following God?” I became awash in anxiety, so I brought my confusion in front of God; I prayed to God and sought from Him many times, asking Him to enlighten me to be able to know the root of why my corrupt disposition had not changed.
One day during my devotions, I saw a passage of a sermon: “Everyone loathes their own arrogance and conceit, their crookedness and deceitfulness. Most people change to some extent; certain people, who are arrogant and conceited and lack reason, and who are crooked and deceitful by nature, change only very slightly and so their expressions and behavior remain almost unchanged: Their arrogance, conceit, crookedness and deceitfulness remain plain to see. This is related to their experiences. From start to finish, they do not pursue a change in their disposition, but only observe how others enter into life. And as a result, they hinder themselves. For they only see the arrogance and conceit of others, and believe only others should be judged and chastised by God. They think they themselves have not resisted God, and God’s judgment and chastisement is only for others. Reading God’s word from this peculiar perspective, it is no wonder they do not change” (The Fellowship From the Above). At this point I had an awakening. I realized the reason I had not cast off my corrupt disposition despite following God for many years was that I had believed in God, but not sought to change my disposition. This came about because I had only paid attention to how others entered into life, but I had not pursued the truth and had not focused on my own entry into life. At that point I could not help but think of scenes from the past of me rushing around working in the church: When reading the words of God, I never linked them to my own state. I always taught others and measured them against God’s words. In gatherings, when I shared fellowship on the truth it was only to solve the problems and difficulties of others, and I never looked for the truth I myself should enter into. Particularly when I fellowshiped on the words of God’s revelation of man’s corrupt essence, my examples were of other brothers and sisters, using their failures as warnings while I very rarely used God’s words to understand my own state and find my own entry. … And so year after year passed, yet my own entry into life remained almost a blank. Yet I, so foolish, still thought that I was a man of compassion, that I was bearing a burden for the lives of my brothers and sisters. This has been particularly true over the last year since the church arranged for me to partner with a young sister to fulfill our duties together, and I continued to bear my “burden,” focusing on observing her entry into life. When that sister revealed herself to be arrogant and self-righteous I would rush to use God’s word to fellowship with her, but inside, I was actually thinking to myself: “You’re just so arrogant.” When that sister could not free herself from negativity because she was constrained by her concerns over her future and fate, I found the appropriate words of God to read with her and communicated that God wishes to save us, but inside I held her in contempt: There is little time left and yet you still seek blessings so fervently?” When that sister opened up and told me how she was often suspicious of people, I spoke of the truth of being an honest person, but inside she annoyed me. I thought: “You are such a pain.” When that sister was in a bad state but could not figure out why, I told her to examine herself, to dissect her nature, but when it came to myself I did not pay attention to using God’s word to understand and analyze myself based on what I revealed. Was it not that I thought only others were too corrupt and should be judged and chastised by God, while placing myself beyond God’s word? Was I not only paying attention to the entry of others and hinder myself? God’s words reveal that all of mankind has been corrupted by Satan, that our natures and essences are all the same, but I did not pay any mind to using God’s words to reflect on and know myself or to focus on my own entry into life. Instead, I stayed laser-focused on others. Wasn’t that so arrogant of me? Wasn’t that neglecting what I should have been doing? Only at that moment did I come to realize I was as poor and pitiful as a penniless street beggar, and my heart was filled with regret.
Later, I saw that God’s word says: “People say things like this: Put aside your prospects, be more realistic. You ask that people dispense with thoughts of being blessed—but what about yourself? Do you negate people’s ideas of being blessed and yourself seek blessings? You don’t allow others to receive blessings but secretly think of them yourself—what does that make you? A con artist! When you act thus, does your conscience not stand accused? In your heart, do you not feel indebted? Are you not a fraudster? You dig out the words in the hearts of others, but say nothing of those in your own—what a worthless piece of trash you are!” (“Chapter 42” of Interpretations of the Mysteries of God’s Words to the Entire Universe in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s word, as sharp as a sword, pierced my heart and left me deeply ashamed. I thought of all I had done. Was I not a swindler, as God revealed? On the surface I was doing my duty, but in actuality I was using my enthusiasm to dishonestly gain God’s trust so that I could survive. On the surface I was fellowshiping about the truth and helping my brothers and sisters solve their problems, but I was actually using words and doctrines to defraud them of their esteem and admiration, with the aim of gaining status in their hearts. I told others not to lust after the blessings of status, not to be arrogant, yet I often looked down on others from the position of my status and was unable to treat my brothers and sisters correctly. When they pointed out my deficiencies, I was even full of defiance inside. I asked others to give up their intentions of obtaining blessings, and not to be controlled by their future and fate, while I often made plans for my future and fretted over my own gains and losses. I was annoyed by the deceitfulness and suspicion of others, while I often observed their expressions and worried about what they thought of me. I told others to understand themselves, to grasp their innermost thoughts to dissect their nature, while I didn’t utter a peep about my own malicious intentions, and my words and actions went unobserved by God. … Only after thinking back on my actions and behaviors did I see clearly that for so many years I had often talked big and was content spouting literal doctrines, but I had not been focused on entering into reality and living out God’s words. As a result, I still didn’t have any understanding of myself, nor had my life disposition changed much. Rather, it had become more and more arrogant. Just as God brought to light: “… the more they understand of the doctrines, the more arrogant their dispositions become” (“People Make Too Many Demands of God” in Records of Christ’s Talks). I had always regarded the doctrines I held as my own capital, but did not pay any mind to understanding myself and seeking entry into life. And so how could I have any change in my life disposition by experiencing things that way? Today God’s practical work and words provide us with all the truth we need. He wishes us to use the opportunity of fulfilling our duty to bring the truth into our day-to-day lives to inform our experiences and our entering in, as well as to provide that to our brothers and sisters. But I focused only on arming myself with letters and doctrines, and regarded expounding upon doctrines as my duty. I had others practice the truth while I myself did not practice it or enter in. As a result, after many years of having faith in God I hadn’t had any change at all in my disposition. Wasn’t that harming both others and myself? I thought of Paul, who just equipped himself with literal doctrines to tell other people about so as to elevate and bear witness to himself. However, he did not practice or experience the Lord Jesus’ words, and he did not bring the Holy Spirit’s enlightenment and illumination into his own entry. This led to him working for many years without any kind of dispositional change. On the contrary, he became more and more arrogant to the point that he said that he was Christ. He seriously offended God’s disposition and in the end suffered God’s punishment. How was the path I was taking any different from Paul’s? If I still did not repent and change, I would certainly end up just as Paul did.
Realizing all of this, I was full of regret and self-recrimination, and was full of gratitude for God. I prostrated myself before God and prayed: “Oh God, thank You for Your enlightenment and illumination, which allowed me to see my failing to change my disposition despite many years of faith was due to only paying attention to work and arming myself with letters and doctrines rather than paying attention to my entry into life. I hate that I am too arrogant and ignorant, that I don’t love the truth, and so have missed many opportunities to enter into the truth and to gain a transformation in my disposition. Going forward, I am willing to seek and understand the truth better through Your words, to seek for a deeper understanding of myself, to earnestly and pragmatically practice God’s word and enter into the truth, and to live out the likeness of a true human being.”