God Is Abundantly Merciful Toward Those Whom He Cares About, and Profoundly Wrathful Toward Those Whom He Detests and Rejects
God’s Word “How to Know God’s Disposition and the Result of His Work” (Part Two)
Walk in God’s Way: Fear God and Shun Evil
There’s a saying you should take notes of. I believe this saying is very important, because for Me it comes to mind countless times every single day. Why is that? Because every time I’m faced with someone, every time I hear someone’s story, every time I hear of someone’s experience or their testimony of believing in God, I always use this saying to weigh whether or not this individual is the type of person God wants, the type of person God likes. So what’s this saying, then? Now you are all eagerly waiting. When I reveal the saying, perhaps you will feel disappointed because there are those who have been paying it lip service for many years. But as for Me, I’ve never paid it any lip service. This saying resides in My heart. So what is this saying? It’s “walk in God’s way: fear God and shun evil.” Is this not an exceedingly simple phrase? Yet though the saying may be simple, someone who genuinely has a deep understanding of it will feel that it’s of great weight; that it has a lot of value for practice; that it’s language of life with the reality of the truth; that it’s a lifelong objective to strive toward for those seeking to satisfy God; and that it’s a lifelong way to be followed by anyone who’s considerate of God’s intentions. So what do you think: Is this saying truth? Does it have this kind of significance? Perhaps there are some people who are thinking about this saying, trying to figure it out, and some yet who are suspicious of it: Is this saying very important? Is it very important? Is it so necessary and worthy of emphasis? Perhaps there are some people who don’t much like this saying because they think taking God’s way and distilling it into this one saying is too much of an oversimplification. To take all of which God said and boil it down to one saying—isn’t this making God out to be a little too insignificant? Is that how it is? It could be that most of you don’t fully understand the profound meaning behind these words. Though you have made a note of it, you don’t intend to place this saying in your heart; you just write it down in your notebook, and revisit it and mull it over in your spare time. There are some other people who won’t even bother memorizing the saying, let alone trying to put it to good use. But why do I discuss this saying? Regardless of your perspective, or what you will think, I have to discuss this saying because it is extremely relevant to how God establishes the outcomes of man. No matter what your current understanding of this saying is, or how you treat it, I’m still going to tell you: If someone can properly practice this saying and achieve the standard of fearing God and shunning evil, then they’re assured as a survivor, then they’re assured as someone with a good outcome. If you can’t attain the standard laid out by this saying, then it could be said that your outcome is an unknown. Thus I speak to you about this saying for your own mental preparation, and so that you know what kind of standard God uses to measure you. As I just discussed, this saying is extremely relevant to God’s salvation of man, and how He establishes man’s outcome. Where does this relevance lie? You would really like to know, so we will talk about it today.
God Makes Use of Different Trials to Test Whether People Fear God and Shun Evil
In every age, God bestows some words upon man when He works in the world, telling man of some truths. These truths serve as the way to be adhered to by man, the way that is to be walked in by man, the way that enables man to fear God and shun evil, and the way that people should put into practice and adhere to in their lives and over the course of their life journeys. It’s for these reasons that God bestows these words on man. These words that come from God should be adhered to by man, and to adhere to them is to receive life. If a person does not adhere to them, does not put them into practice, and does not live out God’s words in their lives, then this person is not putting truth into practice. And if they’re not putting truth into practice, then they’re not fearing God and shunning evil, nor can they satisfy God. If someone can’t satisfy God, then they cannot receive God’s praise; this kind of person has no outcome. So how in the course of God’s work does He establish a person’s outcome, then? What method does God use to establish man’s outcome? Perhaps you’re not too clear on this right now, but when I tell you the process it will become quite clear. This is because a lot of people have already experienced it themselves.
Over the course of God’s work, from the beginning up until now, God has set out trials for every person—or you could say, every person who follows Him—and these trials come in different sizes. There are those who have experienced the trial of being rejected by their family; those who have experienced the trial of adverse environment; those who have experienced the trial of being arrested and tortured; those who have experienced the trial of being faced with a choice; and those who have faced the trials of money and status. Generally speaking, every one of you has faced all sorts of trials. Why does God work like that? Why does God treat everyone like that? What kind of result does He want to see? This is the important point of what I want to tell you: God wants to see whether this person is the type who is fearing God and shunning evil. What this means is that when God is giving you a trial, making you face up to some circumstance, He wants to test whether or not you are that person who fears God, that person who shuns evil. If someone is faced with the duty of safekeeping an offering, and they come into contact with God’s offering, then do you think this is something that God has arranged? No question! Everything you face is something God has arranged. When you’re faced with this matter, God will observe you in secret, watching how you choose, how you practice, what you’re thinking about. The end result is what God is most concerned with, since it’s the result that will allow Him to measure whether or not you have achieved God’s standard in this trial. However, when people are faced with some matter, they often don’t think about why they’re being faced with it, or the standard being demanded by God. They don’t think about what God wants to see of them, what He wants to obtain from them. When faced with this matter, this kind of person is only thinking: “This is something I’m faced with; I must be careful, not careless! No matter what, this is God’s offering and I can’t touch it.” This person believes that they can fulfill their responsibility possessing such a simplistic thinking. Would God be satisfied by the result of this trial? Or would He not be satisfied? You can discuss this. (If someone fears God in their heart, then when faced with the duty that allows them to contact God’s offering, they would consider just how easy it would be to offend God’s disposition, so they would be sure to proceed with caution.) Your response is on the right track, but it’s not quite there yet. Walking in God’s way is not about observing rules on the surface. Rather, it means that when you’re faced with a matter, first of all, you view it as a circumstance that has been arranged by God, a responsibility bestowed on you by Him, or something that He has entrusted to you, and that when you’re facing this matter, you should even view it as a trial from God. When facing this matter, you must have a standard, you must think that it has come from God. You must think about how to deal with this matter such that you can fulfill your responsibility, and be faithful to God; how to do it and not infuriate God, or offend His disposition. We just spoke about the safekeeping of offerings. This matter involves offerings, and it also involves your duty, your responsibility. You are duty-bound to this responsibility. Yet when you’re faced with this matter, is there any temptation? There is! Where does this temptation come from? This temptation comes from Satan, and it also comes from man’s evil, corrupt disposition. Since there’s temptation, this involves standing testimony; standing testimony is also your responsibility and duty. Some people say: “This is such a small matter; is it really necessary to make a big deal out of it?” Yes it is! Because in order to walk in God’s way, we cannot let go of anything to do with ourselves, or anything that happens around us, even the little things. No matter whether we think we should pay attention to it or not, as long as any matter is facing us we should not let it go. All of it should be viewed as God’s test for us. How’s this kind of attitude? If you have this kind of attitude, then it confirms one fact: Your heart fears God, and your heart is willing to shun evil. If you have this desire to satisfy God, then what you put into practice isn’t far from the standard of fearing God and shunning evil.
There are often those who believe that the matters which aren’t paid much heed by people, the matters that aren’t usually mentioned—these are merely minor trifles, and they don’t have anything to do with putting truth into practice. When these people are faced with just such a matter, they don’t give it much thought and let it slide. But in actual fact, this matter is a lesson for which you should be studying, a lesson on how to fear God, on how to shun evil. Moreover, what you should be even more concerned about is knowing what God is doing when this matter arises to face you. God is right at your side, observing every one of your words and deeds, observing your actions, your mind changes—this is God’s work. Some people say: “Then why don’t I feel it?” You haven’t felt it because the way of fearing God and shunning evil hasn’t been your most important way to be adhered to. Therefore, you can’t feel the subtle work of God in man, which manifests itself according to people’s different thoughts and different actions. You’re a scatterbrain! What’s a big matter? What’s a small matter? All matters that involve walking in God’s way aren’t divided into big or small ones. Can you accept that? (We can accept it.) In terms of everyday matters, there are some which people view as very big and significant, and others that are viewed as minor trifles. People often view these big matters as being the very important ones, and they consider them to be sent by God. However, over the course of these big matters playing out, owing to the immature stature of man, and owing to man’s poor caliber, man is often not up to God’s intentions, cannot obtain any revelations, and cannot acquire any actual knowledge that is of value. So far as the small matters are concerned, these are simply overlooked by man, left to slip away little by little. Thus, they have lost many opportunities to be examined before God, to be tested by Him. Should you always overlook the people, things, and matters, and circumstances that God arranges for you, what will this mean? It means that every day, even every moment, you’re always renouncing God’s perfection of you, and God’s leadership. Whenever God arranges a circumstance for you, He is watching in secret, looking upon your heart, looking upon your thoughts and considerations, looking at how you think, looking at how you will act. If you are a careless person—a person who has never been serious about God’s way, God’s word, or the truth—then you won’t be mindful, you won’t pay attention to that which God wants to complete, and that which God demands of you when He arranges circumstances for you. You also won’t know how the people, things, and matters that you encounter relate to the truth or God’s intentions. After you face repeated circumstances and repeated trials like this, with God not seeing any achievements to your name, how will God proceed? After repeatedly facing trials, you don’t magnify God in your heart, and you don’t treat the circumstances God arranges for you as they are—as God’s trials or God’s tests. Rather you reject the opportunities that God bestows on you one after the other, and let them slip away time and time again. Is this not huge disobedience by man? (It is.) Will God be grieved because of this? (He will.) God won’t be grieved! Hearing Me speak like this has shocked you once more. After all, wasn’t it said earlier that God always grieves? God won’t be grieved? When will God be grieved then? Anyway, God will not be grieved by this situation. Then what’s God’s attitude toward the type of behavior outlined above? When people reject the trials, the tests, that God sends them, when they shirk from them, there’s only one attitude that God has toward these people. What attitude is this? God spurns this kind of person from the bottom of His heart. There are two layers of meaning for the word “spurn.” How do I explain them? Deep down, the word carries connotations of loathing, of hate. And as for the second layer of meaning? That’s the part that implies giving up on something. You all know what “give up” means, correct? In short, spurn means God’s ultimate reaction and attitude toward those people who are behaving in such a way. It is extreme hatred toward them, disgust, and thus the decision to abandon them. This is God’s final decision toward a person who has never walked in God’s way, who has never feared God and shunned evil. Can all of you now see the importance of this saying I have spoken?
Now do you understand the method God uses to establish man’s outcome? (Arranging different circumstances every day.) Arranging different circumstances—this is what people can feel and touch. Then what’s God’s motive for this? The motive is that God wants to give each and every person trials in different ways, at different times, and in different places. What aspects of man are tested in a trial? Whether or not you are the kind of person who fears God and shuns evil in every matter you face, you hear about, you see, and you personally experience. Everyone will face this kind of trial, because God is fair toward all people. Some people say: “I’ve believed in God for many years; how come I have not faced a trial?” You feel you haven’t faced a trial because whenever God has arranged circumstances for you, you haven’t taken them seriously, and haven’t wanted to walk in God’s way. So you just don’t have any sense of God’s trials. Some people say: “I’ve faced a few trials, but I don’t know the proper way of practice. Even though I practiced, I still don’t know whether I stood firm during the trials.” People with this type of situation are definitely not in the minority. So what is the standard by which God measures people then? It is just as I said moments ago: Everything you do, everything you think, and everything you express—is it fearing God and shunning evil? This is how to determine whether or not you’re a person who fears God and shuns evil. Is this a simple concept? It’s easy enough to say, but is it easy to put into practice? (It’s not so easy.) Why is it not so easy? (Because people don’t know God, don’t know how God perfects man, and so when they’re faced with matters they don’t know how to seek out truth to solve their problem; people must go through various trials, refinements, chastisements, and judgments, before they have the reality of fearing God.) You put it like that, but as far as you’re concerned, fearing God and shunning evil, seems easily doable right now. Why do I say this? Because you have listened to a lot of sermons, and received no small amount of watering of the reality of the truth. This has allowed you to understand how to fear God and shun evil in terms of theory and thinking. With regard to your practice of fearing God and shunning evil, this has all been helpful and made you feel like such a thing is easily achievable. Then why in actual fact can people never achieve it? This is because the essence of man’s nature does not fear God, and likes evil. That’s the real reason.
To Not Fear God and Shun Evil Is to Oppose God
Let’s begin by addressing where this saying “fear God and shun evil” came from. (The Book of Job.) Now that you’ve mentioned Job, let’s discuss him. In Job’s time, was God working for the conquest and salvation of man? He wasn’t, was He? And so far as Job was concerned, how much knowledge did he have of God at the time? (Not a lot of knowledge.) And how did that knowledge of God compare to the knowledge you have right now? How can it be that you don’t dare answer this? Was Job’s knowledge more or less than the knowledge you have right now? (Less.) This is a very easy question to answer. Less! This is certain! You are now face-to-face with God, and face-to-face with God’s word. Your knowledge of God is much more than Job’s. Why do I bring this up? Why do I speak like this? I’d like to explain a fact to you, but before I do, I want to ask you a question: Job knew very little of God, yet he could fear God and shun evil. So why is it that people these days fail to do so? (Deep corruption.) Deep corruption—that’s the surface of the question, but I’ll never view it like that. You often take doctrines and letters that you commonly speak of, like “deep corruption,” “rebelling against God,” “disloyalty toward God,” “disobedience,” “not liking the truth,” and you use these phrases to explain the essence of every single question. This is a flawed way of practicing. Using the same answer to explain questions with differing natures inevitably raises suspicions of blaspheming the truth and God. I don’t like hearing this kind of answer. Think about it! None of you have thought about this matter, but every single day I can see it, and every single day I can feel it. Thus, you are doing, and I am watching. When you are doing it, you can’t feel the essence of this matter. But when I see it, I can see its essence, and I can feel its essence as well. So what is this essence then? Why can’t people these days fear God and shun evil? Your answers are quite a ways from being able to explain the essence of this question, and they can’t solve the essence of this question. That’s because there’s a source here that you don’t know about. What is this source? I know you want to hear about it, so I’ll tell you about the source of this question.
At the very beginning of God’s work, what did He regard man as? God rescued man; He regarded man as a member of His family, as the target of His work, as that which He wanted to conquer, to save, and as that which He wanted to perfect. This was God’s attitude toward man at the outset of His work. But what was man’s attitude toward God at that time? God was strange to man, and man regarded God as a stranger. It could be said that man’s attitude toward God was incorrect, and man wasn’t clear on how he should treat God. So he treated Him however he liked, and did whatever he liked. Did man have a viewpoint on God? In the beginning, man did not have any viewpoint on God. Man’s so-called viewpoint was just some conceptions and imaginings concerning God. That which conformed to people’s conceptions was accepted; that which did not conform was obeyed on the surface, but in their hearts people strongly clashed with and opposed it. This was man and God’s relationship in the beginning: God viewed man as a family member, yet man treated God as a stranger. But after a period of God’s work, man came to understand what God was trying to achieve. People came to know that God was the true God, and they came to know what man could obtain from God. What did man regard God as at this time? Man regarded God as a lifeline, hoping to obtain grace, obtain blessings, obtain promises. And what did God regard man as at this juncture? God regarded man as the target of His conquest. God wanted to use words to judge man, to test man, to give man trials. But as far as mankind was concerned at this point in time, God was an object that he could use to achieve his own goals. People saw that the truth issued by God could conquer and save them, and that they had an opportunity to obtain the things they wanted from God, the destination that they wanted. Because of this, a tiny bit of sincerity formed in their hearts, and they were willing to follow this God. Some time passed, and people had some superficial and doctrinal knowledge of God. It could be said that they were getting more and more “familiar” with God. With the word spoken by God, His preaching, the truth He had issued forth, and His work—people were more and more “familiar.” So, people mistakenly thought that God was no longer strange, and that they were already walking the path of compatibility with God. Up until now, people have listened to a lot of sermons on the truth, and have experienced a lot of God’s work. Yet under the interferences and obstructions of many different factors and circumstances, most people can’t attain putting truth into practice, and can’t attain satisfying God. People are increasingly slack, increasingly lacking in confidence. They increasingly feel like their own outcome is an unknown. They don’t dare have any extravagant ideas, and don’t seek to make any progress; they just reluctantly follow along, going forward step-by-step. With regard to the present state of man, what is God’s attitude toward man? God’s only desire is to give these truths to man, and imbue His way unto man, and then arrange various circumstances in order to test man in different ways. His goal is to take these words, these truths, and His work, and bring about an outcome where man can fear God and shun evil. Most people I’ve seen just take God’s word and regard it as doctrines, regard it as letters, regard it as regulations to be observed. When they go about things and speak, or face trials, they don’t regard God’s way as the way that they should observe. This is especially true when people are faced with major trials; I have not seen anyone who was practicing in the direction of fearing God and shunning evil. Because of this, God’s attitude toward man is full of extreme loathing and aversion. After God has repeatedly given trials to people, even hundreds of times, they still don’t have any clear attitude to demonstrate their determination—I want to fear God and shun evil! Since people don’t have this determination, and they don’t make this kind of display, God’s present attitude toward them is no longer the same as in the past, when He extended mercy, extended tolerance, extended forbearance and patience. Instead, He is extremely disappointed in man. Who caused this disappointment? The kind of attitude God has toward man, who does this depend on? It depends on every person who follows God. During the course of His many years of work, God has made many demands of man, and arranged many circumstances for man. But no matter how man has performed, and no matter what man’s attitude toward God is, man cannot practice in clear accordance to the goal of fearing God and shunning evil. Thus, I’ll sum it up in one saying, and use this saying to explain everything we just spoke of on why people cannot walk in God’s way—fear God and shun evil. What is this saying? This saying is: God regards man as the object of His salvation, the object of His work; man regards God as his enemy, as his antithesis. Are you clear on this matter now? What man’s attitude is; what God’s attitude is; what the relationship between man and God is—these are all very clear. No matter how much preaching you’ve listened to, those things that you’ve summed up for yourselves—like being faithful to God, obeying God, seeking the way of compatibility with God, wanting to spend a lifetime for God, living for God—to Me those things aren’t consciously walking in God’s way, which is fearing God and shunning evil. Instead, they’re channels through which you can attain certain goals. To achieve these goals, you reluctantly observe some regulations. And it’s precisely these regulations that take people even further from the way of fearing God and shunning evil, and place God in opposition to man once more.
The question we are discussing today is a little heavy, but no matter what, I still hope that when you go through the experiences to come, and the times to come, you can do what I’ve just told you. Don’t neglect God and regard Him as empty air, feeling like He exists at times when He is of use to you, but when He is of no use feeling like He does not exist. When you subconsciously hold this kind of understanding, you have already infuriated God. Perhaps there are people who say: “I don’t regard God as empty air, I always, I always satisfy God, and everything I do falls within the scope and standard and principles demanded by God. I’m definitely not proceeding according to my own ideas.” Yes, the manner in which you’re going about things is correct. But how do you think when you come face-to-face with a matter? How do you practice when you’re faced with a matter? Some people feel that God exists when they pray to Him, and appeal to Him. But when faced with a matter, they come up with their own ideas and want to abide by them. This regards God as empty air. This type of situation renders God non-existent. People think that God should exist when they need Him, and when they don’t need God He shouldn’t exist. People think that going by their own ideas to practice is enough. They believe they can do things however it pleases them. They simply think they don’t need to seek out God’s way. People who are currently in this kind of condition, this kind of state—are they not at the edge of danger? Some people say: “Regardless of whether I am on the edge of danger or not, I have believed for so many years, and I believe that God won’t abandon me because He couldn’t bear to abandon me.” Other people say: “Even from the time I was in my mother’s womb, I believed in the Lord, all the way up until now, forty or fifty years in all. In terms of time, I’m most qualified to be saved by God; I am most qualified to survive. Over this period of four or five decades, I abandoned my family and my job. I gave up all that I had, like money, status, enjoyment and family time; I have not eaten many delicious foods; I have not enjoyed many amusing things; I have not visited many interesting places; I have even experienced suffering that ordinary people couldn’t endure. If God can’t save me because of all this, then I am being treated unjustly and I can’t believe in this type of God.” Are there a lot of people with this kind of view? (There are a lot of them.) Then today I’ll help you understand a fact: Each and every one of those who hold this kind of view are shooting themselves in the foot. This is because they’re using their own imaginations to cover their eyes. It is precisely their imaginations, and their own conclusions that replace the standard of what God demands of man, holding them back from accepting God’s true intentions, making it so they cannot feel God’s true existence, and making them lose their opportunity to be perfected by God and have no part or share in God’s promise.
from The Word Appears in the Flesh.
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