73. Why Have I Walked the Path of the Pharisees?
Suxing Shanxi Province
I am an arrogant and conceited person, and position has been my Achilles heel. For many years, I have been bound by reputation and position and have not been able to free myself from it. Time and time again I have been promoted and replaced; I have had a lot of setbacks in my position and have had many bumps along the way. After many years of being dealt with and refined, I felt that I was not taking my position seriously. I didn’t want to be like I was in the past thinking that as long as I was a leader I could be perfected by God and that if I was not a leader, then I had no hope. I understood that regardless of what duty I was fulfilling, I only needed to seek truth and I would be perfected by God; pursuing reputation and position is the way of the antichrist. Now I feel that regardless of what duty I am fulfilling, I can accept not having a position. It is the law of heaven and earth that the creation fulfills its role. No matter where you are placed, you should accept the arrangements of God. When corruption of fame and position is exposed, it can be resolved by seeking truth. No matter what I encounter while fulfilling my duty, as long as I understand the truth I will be willing to pay the price. In view of this, I thought that I had already walked the path of seeking truth. I thought I had regained humanity and reason. God searches the heart and examines the mind. He knew I was impure in my search for truth, and that I wasn’t truly walking in the path of seeking truth. God knew what method to use to cleanse and save me.
At the end of June of 2013, the leader here was replaced. Afterward, the brothers and sisters chose me to be the new leader. God’s family allowed me to rise up and do the work. When I heard that I would be assuming such a great responsibility, I felt that I did not have the reality of truth and that I wouldn’t be able to do the work. The scope was so big and there were so many brothers and sisters. How could I lead them? There were so many people who had more inner qualities than I had who were replaced. How could I do any better? Will this not expose me? I wasn’t willing to go through the ups and downs. As long as I could fulfill my duties, I would do my utmost wherever the work required. Consequently, I declined on the spot: “No, I am not competent for this work. …” I found all kinds of reasons and excuses. I fully believed that I was being rational in doing this and that it was the truth. Later, I was able to recognize through the fellowship of my brothers and sisters that I was holding the poison of the great red dragon inside of me; that is, “The bigger they are, the harder they fall” and “It’s lonely at the top.” I didn’t want to be tormented by position again. Even though by reasoning I knew that the reason for those people being removed was because they did not seek after truth and their natures were too wicked and they did all kinds of evil; however, in the back of my mind I believed that if I was not a great leader, then there would be no opportunities to do evil; it was a protection for myself. Then I thought my current family is gone, my future prospects are gone and I am pursued by the great red dragon. If I became a great leader, and in the end I offended God’s disposition and was expelled because I didn’t have truth, then I really wouldn’t be able to go on living. Because I was bound by these notions and poisons, I lived in darkness and torment. In my pain I was forced to cry out to God: “Oh God, in facing this responsibility, I know that You have exalted me. I know that refusing this responsibility is betraying God and I don’t dare to do this. I am afraid of invoking the wrath of God. But right now I am living bounded by Satan’s poison and am unable to get out of it. I am deeply afraid of bearing this great responsibility, I am afraid my nature is dangerous, that I do not have truth and that I will be punished for doing a great evil. Oh God, I am in pain and am very bewildered. I don’t know what salvation is or how to submit to God. I ask You God to help me and save me.” During my prayer, God enlightened me to the words of “How to Know the God on Earth”: “And your knowledge of Me is far from only such misunderstandings; much more, there is your blasphemy against God’s Spirit and vilification of Heaven. This is why I say that such manner of faith as yours will only cause you to stray further from Me and be in greater opposition against Me. Throughout many years of work, you have seen many truths, but do you know what My ears have heard? How many among you are willing to accept the truth? You all believe that you are willing to pay the price for the truth, but how many have truly suffered for the truth? All that exists in your hearts is iniquity, and hence you believe that anyone, no matter who, is cunning and crooked.” God’s judging words were like piercing thunder, causing my bewilderment and pain to turn into fear and trembling. Especially, “blasphemy against God’s Spirit,” “vilification of Heaven,” and “All that exists in your hearts is iniquity,” these words were like a sword piercing my heart, making me feel the righteousness, majesty, and wrath of God’s disposition. I saw that my current situation was truly resisting God and blaspheming God and that it was too grievous! Because of this my rebellious heart was able to turn around and I prostrated myself before God to seek to submit to Him. I examined what had been exposed of myself. I don’t know how many times I had experienced the judgment and chastisement of God over the years, but I not only didn’t know God, I actually misunderstood and guarded against Him, making it worse. I blamed God for everything that was unjust as if God’s work was too bothersome for man. After many years of experiencing God’s work, my relationship with God had not become any more close or regular; rather, I was becoming more estranged and distant to God. There was a large chasm between God and I that I couldn’t cross. Is this what I have reaped after all these years? At this time, I was able to recognize that my selfish and deplorable nature was driving me to betray my conscience. I had forgotten the price God had paid for me; I had forgotten His salvation and cultivation for me. At this time, I prayed to God again: “Oh God, I will not live by the poison of Satan anymore, I will not wound Your heart again. I am willing to accept the judgment and chastisement of God and turn from my mistaken viewpoints.” Consequently I read the sermon issued on June 15, 2013 from the above: “Everyone who does not love God is in the path of the antichrist and will ultimately be revealed and eliminated. God’s work of the last days is saving and perfecting people and every wicked person who is not saved will be revealed and eliminated. Therefore, each person will follow after its own kind. Why are so many people exposed doing evil with their position and power? It is not because their position hurts them. The fundamental problem is the substance of man’s nature. Position can certainly reveal people, but if a good-hearted person has a high position, then they will not commit various acts of evil. Some people who don’t have position will not commit evil. On the surface they look like good people, but if they obtain position, then they will do all kinds of evil” (“You Must Experience Entering the Reality of Truth of God’s Word in Order to Obtain God’s Perfection” in Sermons for Life Supply). Through this fellowship, I was able to see how absurd and preposterous the notions were that existed in my heart. Whether or not everyone is able to walk the path of seeking truth is not based on whether or not they have position, and it is not that having position makes it difficult to walk the path of seeking truth. The key lies in whether or not the nature of man is fond of truth and whether or not man loves God. I thought that through my many years of “tempering myself,” I took my position lightly and thought that I was like grass that couldn’t seek to become a great tree and that I was able to be honest in seeking truth and fulfilling my duties. I wouldn’t be like before feeling pain, weakness, negativity and despair when I saw God’s family promoting other people instead of myself. Because of these expressions, I believed that my disposition had been transformed to some degree and that I was already walking the path of Peter. Today, in light of facts and truth, I was able to clearly see my true colors: I was not really letting go of my position, but rather I was being more clever and crafty. After many times of dealing with this, I was not giving my heart to God and honestly seeking to love God. Rather, I was preserving myself. I always had my future prospects weighing on my mind. I had planted the absurd notion in my heart that “High positions are not safe.” How was I showing love for God and walking the path of Peter?
Regarding my mistaken views, I read principle 131, “The Principle of Verifying Your Duties and Position” as well as principle 155, “The Principle of Spending for God” in “The Reality of Truth You Must Enter in Order to Handle Matters With Principle.” Among these principles were the words of Peter’s prayer: “You know what I can do, and You further know what role I can play. Your wish is my command and I will dedicate everything I have to You. Only You know what I can do for You. Although Satan fooled me so much and I rebelled against You, I believe You do not remember me for those transgressions, that You do not treat me based on them. I wish to dedicate my entire life to You. I ask for nothing, and neither do I have other hopes or plans; I only wish to act according to Your intention and to do Your will. I will drink from Your bitter cup, and I am Yours to command.” As well as: “There is no correlation between the duty of man and whether he is blessed or cursed. Duty is what man ought to fulfill; it is his bounden duty and should not depend on recompense, conditions, or reasons. Only then is that doing his duty. A man who is blessed enjoys goodness upon being made perfect after judgment. A man who is cursed receives punishment when his disposition remains unchanged following chastisement and judgment, that is, he has not been made perfect. As a created being, man ought to fulfill his duty, do what he ought to do, and do what he is able to do, regardless of whether he will be blessed or cursed. This is the very basic condition for man, as one who seeks after God. You should not do your duty only to be blessed, and you should not refuse to act for fear of being cursed. Let Me tell you this one thing: If man is able to do his duty, it means he performs what he ought to do. If man is unable to do his duty, it shows the rebelliousness of man.” From God’s words it can be seen that Peter sought to truly be able to love God all his life and that he obeyed God’s arrangements in everything; he didn’t make his own choices or requirements. No matter how God arranged things, he always submitted. Finally, he did his duty as a creation and gave God his life and his extreme love for Him. The reason why Peter had success in his belief in God was not because he didn’t have a high position. He was an apostle and the Lord Jesus gave him the great commission of shepherding the churches. But he wasn’t working in his position as apostle, he was obscure and unknown, he was industrious and conscientious in fulfilling his duties as a creation, to truly love God, and submit to Him. He obtained God’s satisfaction by doing his very best in fulfilling his duties. This was the secret to his success. After contrasting with Peter’s prayer and the judgment and chastisement of God’s word, I felt very shameful. God’s word struck my heart and allowed me to see that I was unsubmissive and in opposition to God. In believing in God, I always maintained my own hopes and plans. All these years I had been busy rushing around searching for a final destination, for my future prospects, for fame, profit and position. When I only fulfilled some of my duties, I tried to make a deal with God and let God put His stamp of approval on it to guarantee that I would be saved. My requirements on God to do this for me reveal the nature of Satan in me was too selfish, deplorable, and evil. I didn’t have the slightest degree of reason and conscience which the creation should have. I didn’t have the slightest bit of human nature! I rejected the commission because of my treacherous nature. I rejected God’s call in order to preserve myself; conversely, I used a preposterous argument and looked for excuses. I spoke with rationality to God; indeed I was the accomplice of Satan and an enemy force to God. At this time, I read God’s word, “If man is able to do his duty, it means he performs what he ought to do. If man is unable to do his duty, it shows the rebelliousness of man.” My conscience felt deep self-blame; I thought back on how everything I had was given by God and whatever I was able to do, whatever I would experience, God arranged everything. Time and time again, God’s judgment and chastisement came down on me to regain my reason and conscience and cause me to be able to truly fulfill my duties as a creation. Regardless of how God required of me, I should have offered myself and repaid God’s love. Otherwise it would be treason and I should be punished! The judgment and chastisement of God’s word finally turned my mistaken ideas around and awakened my conscience. Today, the question is not whether God’s commission was arranged by anyone, but rather it is God testing the path I walked all these years and what I have sought after all these years. Today, I do not have the reality of truth and am small in stature. God didn’t give me this responsibility because I am currently competent; rather, it is meant to allow me to improve seeking for truth and accept the training. It forces me to completely offer myself to God and enter the reality of loving God with all my heart, soul, strength and mind. In the past, I was living with absurd notions. I believed I had made certain my duties and position. While fulfilling my duties with this attitude and background, I was not receiving much refinement or much pressure. However, it did reveal my depraved disposition through my complacency and satisfaction with my current situation. It revealed my selfish and deplorable views: I was seeking of fulfilling my duties with a belief in God without doing my utmost to satisfy and love God. At this time, I was able to come to myself: After all these years, I thought I was already walking on the path of Peter seeking the truth. But today, the facts reveal that I attached the most amount of importance to my future prospects. I didn’t have the slightest degree of love for God and I wasn’t willing to bear a heavy burden or offer my whole self for God. How was this in line with what Peter was seeking?
In my search, I read two passages in “100 Passages of God’s Word That God’s Chosen People Must Experience and Put Into Practice”: “As a creature of God, man should seek to perform the duty of a creature of God, and seek to love God without making other choices, for God is worthy of man’s love. Those who seek to love God should not seek any personal benefits or that which they personally long for; this is the most correct means of pursuit.” “If what you seek is the truth, what you put into practice is the truth, and what you attain is a change in your disposition, then the path that you tread is the right one. If what you seek is the blessings of the flesh, and what you put into practice is the truth of your own conceptions, and if there is no change in your disposition, and you are not at all obedient to God in the flesh, and you still live in vagueness, then what you seek will surely take you to hell, for the path that you walk is the path of failure. Whether you will be made perfect or eliminated depends on your own pursuit, which is also to say that success or failure depends on the path that man walks” (“Success or Failure Depends on the Path That Man Walks” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s word is the truth, the way, and the life, and at this time I integrated my actual situation with two passages of God’s word again. I realized that God’s word had already revealed Peter’s path to success as well as the expression of the path to success. Peter’s path to success did not refer to not seeking position or picking and choosing duties. It was not just about being conquered on negative aspects, it more importantly referred to positively seeking to love God and fulfilling your duty of a creation. Moreover, walking on the correct path will bring about many positive and real results such as knowing God better, being increasingly submissive through seeking truth and putting it into practice, and no longer having your own requirements, hopes, and impurities; your disposition will be transformed, and most importantly, people will better enter into the truth and have an increasingly true love for God so that they completely offer themselves to God with no other requests and are diligent to love God all their lives. I thought that I was walking on the right path and that I had already entered the reality of some truth. But in the revealed facts, where was my expression in obtaining the truth and transforming my disposition? Where was my expression of truly loving God? If I really had entered in, then I would be able to be put to the test. Regardless of what arrangements God makes, I would be able to submit. If I had really entered in, then I would be able to see through the substance of the nature of Satan in me and would truly see God’s salvation. I would be more willing to offer myself to God and repay His love. With these facts and with the judgment and chastisement of God’s word, I was able to see that I was walking in the wrong path. I was not walking in the path of fulfilling my duties as a creation nor seeking to love God. Rather, I was on the path of seeking my own interests and personal hopes; it was the path of cheating God by being forced to follow and paying a limited price so as to preserve myself and guarantee that I would have a final destination. I have always pursued the pleasures of the flesh. In order to satisfy temporary comforts, I was not willing to accept God’s judgment and chastisement and obtain truth; I was not willing to seek to love God, offer everything to God, or spend everything for God through His judgment and chastisement and trials and refinement. My view from the depths of my heart was: Just seek to fulfill duties peacefully, don’t offend the disposition of God. In the end, I will obtain good destination and that will be enough. God’s word has repeatedly shown that the root cause for Paul’s failure lies in his dealings with God. He worked for his future reward and crown and he didn’t have the slightest amount of submission and love for the Lord of creation. Ultimately it resulted in him failing and receiving God’s punishment. God’s word clearly admonishes us: “… those who work for their destination will receive their final defeat, because failures in people’s belief in God happen because of deception” (“On Destination” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). This type of investment is not done in sincerity; it has a false appearance and is deceiving. I had truly stiffened my neck and avoided the judgment of God’s words by walking my own path. Dominated by my nature, I had always been walking down the path following people who have failed. When God’s work of salvation came upon me, I was unable to tell good from bad and was biting the hand that fed me. All I was giving God was misconceptions, resistance and betrayal. At this time, I was able to clearly see how selfish, deplorable and sinister my nature was. I believed in God all these years and enjoyed God yet still schemed against God, constantly waiting to do business with God. I didn’t have the slightest degree of love for God in my heart. This is precisely the reason why I was walking down the wrong path and precisely what God was talking about: “Because man is not good at wholly devoting himself to God, because man is not willing to perform his duty to the Creator, because man has seen the truth but avoids it and walks his own path, because man always seeks by following the path of those who have failed, because man always defies Heaven, thus, man always fails, is always taken in by Satan’s trickery, and ensnared in his own net” (“Success or Failure Depends on the Path That Man Walks” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
Afterward, I read the fellowship from the above, which said: “There are people who inevitably have these apprehensions: ‘I am fulfilling my duty, but I am afraid of walking the path of the antichrist; I am afraid of doing something wrong and resisting God.’ Are there many people with these kinds of apprehensions? Especially those who serve as workers and leaders, they see such and such a person who sought so diligently in the past, has gifts, has a good mind, and then he fell. Such and such a person was quite good at preaching, but in the end, they never expected he would also fall. They say: ‘If I do those things, then would I end up like them and also fall?’ If you are someone who loves God, then would you still be afraid of these things? If you have true love for God, then would you still be controlled by apprehensions? People who love God are always considerate of God’s will and will not do the wrong thing. … If you can really distinguish what walking the path of the antichrist is, and what walking on the path of seeking truth and being perfected is, then why are you afraid of walking on the path of the antichrist? Does your fear of walking on it not prove that you still want to walk in it and that you are not willing to abandon the path of error? Isn’t this the problem?” (“How to Seek to Love God and Testify of God” in Sermons and Fellowship on Entry Into Life IX). Through the disclosure of the fellowship from the above, I was able to see more clearly that people who don’t love God are on the path of the antichrist; that people don’t love God is the source of failure; I also saw more clearly the reasons and excuses I had from Satan hidden within me; I was able to see through the tricks of Satan. That I was not willing to accept greater responsibilities and I was afraid of walking the path of failure revealed that my nature was selfish, deplorable and evil. It revealed that I loved myself and Satan too much and that I didn’t despise the path of the antichrist, which was seeking position and fame as well as the prospect and future destination. I didn’t treasure truth or have the slightest amount of love for God. I was also able to truly understand that what the above said about people who believed in God for many years and still had no love for God did not have human nature; you could say that they all had some evil natures; they were all selfish, deplorable and evil people. So I had true knowledge of the substance of my own nature. At the same time, it also caused me to truly turn my mistaken viewpoints around and be released and have the correct direction and path of practice so that I no longer lived selfishly and deplorably; everything is arranged by God and I just need to truly seek truth and practice love for God while fulfilling my duties.
Praise God for His judgment and chastisement that turned the purpose of my seeking around and brought me back from the path of error. It also allowed me to truly recognize the substance of the nature of Satan that was in me and find the source of my failure. I believed in God all these years and never loved God. I felt shame and self-blame. I really let God down and hurt God too much. My heart longs to develop a true love for God. Peter was perfected because he truly loved God and because he had the will and perseverance to seek after truth. Even though I am far from that, I will no longer live so vilely and repulsively in order to preserve myself; I am willing to make loving God my purpose in seeking, and will spare no effort and pay the price in fulfilling my duties. I will truly bear the burdens of my responsibilities and put truth into practice while fulfilling my duties and enter the reality of loving God.