A believer must have a normal spiritual life—this is the foundation for experiencing God’s words and entering into reality. Currently, can all of the prayers, the getting close to God, the singing, praising, meditation, and the trying to figure out God’s words that you practice meet the standards of a normal spiritual life? None of you are very clear on this. A normal spiritual life is not limited to prayer, song, church life, eating and drinking the words of God, and other such practices, but it means to live a spiritual life that is fresh and lively. It’s not about the method, but the result. Most people think that in order to have a normal spiritual life one must pray, sing, eat and drink the words of God, or try to figure out the words of God. No matter whether there is any result, or whether there is a true understanding, these people just focus on going through the motions on the outside, and do not focus on the result—they are people living within the rituals of religion, and are not people living within the church, and even less are they people of the kingdom. This kind of person’s prayers, songs, and eating and drinking of the words of God are all abiding by the rules, they are compelled to do them, and they are done in keeping with trends; they are not done willingly or done from the heart. No matter how much these people pray or sing, there will be no result at all, because all they practice are religious rules and rituals, and they are not practicing the word of God. By only focusing on the method, and taking the words of God as rules to keep, this kind of person is not practicing the word of God, but is satisfying the flesh, and is doing things to show off to others. This kind of religious ritual and rule comes from man, not from God. God does not keep rules, does not abide by any laws; He does new things every day and He does practical work. Like the people in the Three-Self Church who are limited to daily morning watch, evening prayers, giving thanks before meals, expressing thanks in everything, and other such practices, no matter how much these people do, or how long they practice, they will not have the work of the Holy Spirit. If people live within rules, with their hearts poured into practice, then the Holy Spirit has no way to work, because people’s hearts are taken up with rules, are taken up with human conceptions; therefore God has no way to do work; people will just always be living under control of the law, and this type of person will never be able to receive the praise of God.
A normal spiritual life is to live a life before God. When praying one can quiet one’s heart before God, and through prayer one can seek for enlightenment by the Holy Spirit, understand God’s words, and can understand the will of God. When eating and drinking the words of God one can be clearer and more lucid on what God wants to do right now, and one can have a new path of practice and not be conservative, so that all one’s practice is for the purpose of achieving progress in life. For example, one’s prayer is not for the purpose of saying some nice words, or to bawl before God to express one’s debt, but rather it is to practice exercising one’s spirit, to quiet one’s heart before God, to practice searching for guidance in all things, to make one’s heart a heart that is drawn toward new light every day, to neither be passive nor lazy, and to enter onto the right track of practicing God’s words. Currently most people are focused on methods, and are not trying to pursue truth to achieve progress in life; this is where people deviate. There are also some people who, even though they are able to receive new light, their methods are unchanging; they integrate religious notions of the past to receive the word of God today, and what they take in is still the doctrine which carries religious notions with it, and they are not taking in purely the light of today. Therefore, their practices are impure—they are doing the same thing with a new name, and no matter how good their practice, it is still hypocritical. God guides people to do new things daily, and requires people to have new insights and new understanding every day, and not to be old-fashioned or monotonous. If you have believed in God for many years, but your methods have not changed at all, if you are still ardent and busy on the outside, and do not come before God to enjoy His words with a quiet heart, then you will not be able to obtain anything. When receiving God’s new work, if you do not form a new plan, if you do not practice in a new way, if you do not seek new understanding, but instead hold onto old things from the past and receive only a limited amount of new light without changing the way you practice, then although this type of person is nominally within this stream, in reality they are a religious Pharisee outside the stream of the Holy Spirit.
If you want to live a normal spiritual life, you need to receive new light daily, seek true understanding of God’s words, and achieve a lucidity toward the truth. You need to have a path to practice in everything, and by reading God’s words every day you can find new questions and discover your own shortcomings. This will in turn bring forth a heart that thirsts and searches, that will set your whole being in motion, and you will be able to be quiet before God at any time, and have a deep fear of falling behind. If a person can have this thirsting heart, this searching heart, and is also willing to enter in continuously, then they are on the right track for a spiritual life. All those who can accept being moved by the Holy Spirit, who desire to make progress, who are willing to seek being perfected by God, those who long for a deeper understanding of the words of God, and who do not seek the supernatural but who pay a practical price, show practical consideration to God’s will, enter in practically, make their experience more true and more realistic, who do not seek the empty words of doctrine, and who also do not seek a feeling of the supernatural, nor worship any great man—this kind of person has entered into a normal spiritual life, and everything they do is for the purpose of achieving more progress in life, to keep their spirit fresh and not stagnant, and to always be able to enter in positively. For example, when they pray before meals, they are not compelled to do so, but instead they quiet their hearts before God, thank God in their hearts, are willing to live for God, to put their time in the hands of God, and are willing to cooperate with God and expend for God. If their heart cannot be quiet before God, they would rather not eat but carry on practicing; then this is not abiding by rules, but is practicing the word of God. Some people, when praying before eating, consciously do some posturing to put on an act, which may seem very pious, but their mind wonders: “Why do I need to practice this way? Aren’t things just fine without praying? Things are still the same after praying, so why bother?” This kind of person is abiding by rules, and although their words are saying that they are willing to satisfy God, their heart has not come before God. They do not pray like this in order to practice quieting their heart before God, but rather they do it to fool other people and for other people to see. This kind of person is a purely hypocritical person, like a religious pastor who can only intercede for others but cannot himself enter in; this kind of person is a religious official, through and through! Every day God says new things, does new things, but you are abiding by rules every day, trying to fool God, dealing with God perfunctorily, so aren’t you someone who is defying God? Can you receive blessings while abiding by rules and defying God? Won’t you be chastised by God?
The work of God is rapidly developing, casting the various factions of religionists and “celebrities” who observe the church service far, far away, and also scattering to the four winds those “experts” among you who especially love to abide by rules. God’s work does not wait, it does not rely on anything and it does not drag its heels. It does not pull or drag anyone along; if you can’t keep up then you will be abandoned, no matter how many years you have followed. No matter how qualified a veteran you are, if you abide by rules then you must be eliminated. I advise this type of person to have some self-knowledge, to voluntarily take a back seat, and not to hold onto what is old; making others practice the word of God according to your principles of action—isn’t this trying to win over the hearts of people? Your practice is abiding by rules, teaching people to observe church service, and always making people do things according to your wishes, so isn’t this forming cliques? Isn’t this splitting the church? Then how do you have the nerve to say that you are considerate of God’s will? What qualifies you to say that this is to perfect others? If you continue to lead this way, isn’t this leading people into religious ritual? If a person has a normal spiritual life, if they obtain release and freedom in their spirit every day, then they can practice the words of God freely to satisfy Him and, even when they are praying, they are not just going through formalities or following a process, and they are able to keep up with new light every day. When they practice quieting their hearts before God, they can make their hearts truly quiet before God, and nobody can disturb them, and nobody and nothing can restrain their normal spiritual life. This kind of practice is for the purpose of achieving a result, not just to give people some rules to abide by. This kind of practice is not abiding by rules, but to advance people’s progress in life. If you are only a keeper of rules, then your life will never change; though others may practice in this way, as you do, in the end, others can keep up with the pace of the Holy Spirit’s work, while you will be eliminated from the stream of the Holy Spirit. So are you not fooling yourself? The purpose of these words is to allow people to quiet their hearts before God and turn to God, to allow God’s work to be carried out on people unimpeded, and for it to achieve results.
from The Word Appears in the Flesh
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