God’s Holiness (I)
We have had some additional fellowship of God’s authority today, and we will not talk about God’s righteousness just now. Today we will talk about a whole new topic—God’s holiness. God’s holiness is yet another aspect of God’s unique essence, so there is great need to fellowship this topic here. This aspect of God’s essence that I will fellowship, along with the two aspects we fellowshiped before, God’s righteous disposition and God’s authority—are they all unique? (Yes.) God’s holiness is also unique, so the basis of this uniqueness, the root of this uniqueness, is the theme for our fellowship today. Understand? Repeat after Me: the unique essence of God—God’s holiness. (The unique essence of God—God’s holiness.) How do you feel in your hearts after repeating this phrase? Perhaps some of you have some misgivings, and are asking, “Why fellowship God’s holiness?” Don’t worry, I will talk you through it slowly. As soon as you hear it you will know why it is so necessary for Me to fellowship this topic.
First let us define the word “holy.” Using your perception and from all the knowledge you have learned, what do you understand the definition of “holy” to be? Define it for Me. (“Holy” means no stain, with none of ’s corruption or flaws. Everything it radiates—whether in thought, speech or action, everything it does—is completely positive.) Very good. (“Holy” is divine, undefiled, unoffendable by man. It is unique, it is the characteristic symbol of God.) (“Holy” is stainless and is an aspect of the divine, unoffendable disposition.) This is your definition, is it? In each person’s heart, this word “holy” has a scope, a definition and an interpretation. At the very least, when you see the word “holy” your minds are not empty. You have a certain defined scope for this word, and some people’s interpretation of this definition comes close to using this word to define the essence of God’s disposition. This is very good. Most people believe the word “holy” to be a positive one, and this can be affirmed. But the holiness of God that I wish to fellowship today will not be merely defined, nor merely explained. Instead, I will use some facts for verification to allow you to see why I say God is holy, and why I use the word “holy” to describe the essence of God. By the time our fellowship is over, you will feel that the use of the word “holy” to define God’s essence and the use of this word to refer to God is both well-deserved and most appropriate. At the very least, as far as mankind’s current languages go, using this word to refer to God is particularly apt—it is the only word in human language that is most fitting to refer to God. It is not an empty word when used to refer to God, neither is it praise without reason or an empty compliment. The purpose of our fellowship is to allow every person to recognize the truth of the existence of this aspect of God’s essence. God does not fear people’s understanding, only their misunderstanding. God wishes for every person to know His essence and what He has and is. So every time we mention an aspect of God’s essence, we can call on many facts to allow people to see that this aspect of God’s essence does indeed exist and it is both very true and very real.
Now that we have a definition of the word “holy,” let us take some examples. In the ideas people have, it is easy for them to imagine many “holy” things and people. For example, are virgin boys and girls defined as holy in mankind’s dictionaries? Are they actually holy? (No.) Is this so-called “holy” and the “holy” that we wish to fellowship today one and the same? (No.) Looking at those amongst people with high morals, with refined and cultured speech, who never hurt anyone, who, when they speak, make others comfortable and agreeable—are they holy? The Confucian scholars or gentlemen with high morals, refined in both word and deed—are they holy? Those who often do good, are charitable and provide great assistance to others, those who bring a great deal of enjoyment into people’s lives—are they holy? (No.) Those who harbor no self-serving thoughts toward others, who place no harsh demands on others, who tolerate anyone—are they holy? Those who have never had a dispute with anyone nor ever taken advantage of anyone—are they holy? So those who work for the good of others, who benefit others and bring edification to others in every way—are they holy? Those who give all their savings away to others and live a simple life, who are strict with themselves but treat others liberally—are they holy? (No.) You remember that your mothers cared for you and looked after you in every conceivable way—are they holy? The idols you hold dear, whether they be famous people, stars or great people—are they holy? (No.) These are all for certain. Let us look now at those prophets in the Bible who were able to tell the future that was unknown to many others—was this kind of person holy? The people who were able to record God’s words and the facts of His work in the Bible—were they holy? (No.) Was Moses holy? Was Abraham holy? Was Job? (No.) Why do you say this? (The word “holy” can only be used to refer to God.) Job was called a righteous man by God, so why is even he said to be not holy? You feel some apprehension here, don’t you? Are people who fear God and shun evil really not holy? Are they or not? (No.) Your answer is negative, is it? So what is your negative answer based on? (God is unique.) This is a well-found basis; an excellent basis indeed! I’m discovering that you have a great ability to pick things up quickly and use what you have learned, and that you all have this special skill. You are a little apprehensive, not too sure, and you do not dare to say “No,” but neither do you dare to say “Yes,” so you are forced to say “No.” Let Me ask another question. God’s messengers—the messengers God sends down to earth—are they holy? (No.) Think it over carefully. Give your answer once you’ve thought it over. Are angels holy? (No.) Mankind that has not been corrupted by Satan—are they holy? (No.) You all say “No” to every question. On what basis? Is the very phrase I said just now the reason you say “No”? You are confused, aren’t you? So why are even angels said to be not holy? You feel apprehensive here, don’t you? Then can you discover on what basis the people, things or uncreated beings we mentioned previously are not holy? I am sure you are unable to, right? So is your saying “No” then a little irresponsible? Are you not answering offhandedly? Some people are pondering: “You ask in such a way, so it must certainly not be.” Don’t just answer offhandedly. Think carefully whether the answer is yes or no. You will know when we fellowship the following topic why it is “No.” I will give you the answer shortly. Let us first read some scripture.
1. Jehovah God’s Command to Man
(Gen 2:15-17) And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it: for in the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die.
2. The Serpent’s Seduction of the Woman
(Gen 3:1-5) Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, Yes, has God said, You shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said to the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, You shall not eat of it, neither shall you touch it, lest you die. And the serpent said to the woman, You shall not surely die: For God does know that in the day you eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
These two passages are excerpts from which book of the Bible? (Genesis.) Are you all familiar with these two passages? This is something that happened at the beginning when mankind was first created; it was a real event. First let us look at what kind of command Jehovah God gave to and Eve, as the content of this command is very important for our topic today. “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying….” Continue reading the following passage. (“Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it: for in the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die.”) What does God’s command to man in this passage contain? Firstly, God tells man what he can eat, being the fruits of a variety of trees. There is no danger and no poison, all can be eaten and eaten as one wishes, with no misgivings. This is one part. The other part is a warning. This warning tells man that he cannot eat the fruit from what tree? (The tree of the knowledge of good and evil.) He must not eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. What will happen if he does? (He shall surely die.) God told man: If you eat it you shall surely die. Are these words straightforward? (Yes.) If God told you this but you did not understand why, would you treat it as a rule or an order to be followed? It should be followed, shouldn’t it? But whether or not man is able to follow it, God’s words are unequivocal. God told man very clearly what he can eat and what he cannot, and what will happen if he eats what he should not eat. Have you seen any of God’s disposition in these brief words that He spoke? Are these words of God true? (Yes.) Is there any deception? (No.) Is there any falsity? (No.) Is there anything threatening? (No.) God honestly, truthfully and sincerely told man what he can eat and what he cannot eat, clear and plain. Is there any hidden meaning in these words? Are these words straightforward? Their meaning is obvious at a glance, you understand as soon as you see it. Is there any need for conjecture? (No.) Guessing is not necessary, right? It is already crystal clear. In God’s mind, what He wants to say, what He wants to express, comes from His heart. The things God expresses are clean, straightforward and clear. There are no covert motives nor any hidden meanings. He spoke to man directly, telling him what he can eat and what he cannot eat. That is to say, through these words of God man can see that God’s heart is transparent, that God’s heart is true. There is absolutely no falsity here, telling you that you cannot eat what is edible or telling you to “Do it and see what happens” with things that you cannot eat. Does He mean this? (No.) No. Whatever God thinks in His heart is what He says. If I say God is holy because He shows and reveals Himself within these words in this way, you may feel a little like I have made a big deal over nothing or that I have stretched My interpretation a little too far. If so, do not worry, we have not finished yet.
Let us talk about “The Serpent’s Seduction of the Woman.” Who is the serpent? (Satan.) Satan plays the role of the foil in God’s six-thousand-year management plan, and is a role that we cannot fail to mention when we fellowship the holiness of God. Why do I say this? (Because Satan is the representative and architect of all that is sordid and corrupt.) If you do not know the evil and corruption of Satan or Satan’s nature, you then have no way to recognize it, nor can you know what holiness really is. In confusion, people believe that what Satan does is right, because they live within this kind of corrupt disposition. With no foil, with nothing to compare with, you then cannot know what holiness is, so this topic must be mentioned here. We have not plucked this topic out of thin air, but instead through its words and deeds we will see how Satan acts, how it corrupts mankind, what kind of nature it has and what its countenance is like. So what did this woman say to the serpent? The woman recounted to the serpent what Jehovah God had said to her. Judging by what she said, had she confirmed the validity of all that God had said to her? She could not confirm this, could she? As someone who was newly created, she had no ability to discern good from evil, nor did she have the ability to cognize anything around her. The words she spoke to the serpent tell us that she had not confirmed God’s words as being right in her heart; she had a skeptical attitude. So when the serpent saw that the woman had no definite attitude toward God’s words, it said: “You shall not surely die: For God does know that in the day you eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” Is there anything wrong with these words? (Yes.) What is wrong? Read this sentence. (“And the serpent said to the woman, You shall not surely die: For God does know that in the day you eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.”) Having read this, do you feel anything? When you finished reading this sentence, did you get a sense of the serpent’s intentions? (Yes.) What intentions does the serpent have? (To tempt man into committing sin.) It wants to tempt this woman to stop her from heeding God’s words, but did it speak directly? (No.) It did not speak directly, so we can say it is very cunning. It expresses its meaning in a sly and evasive way in order to reach its intended objective that it keeps hidden from man inside itself—this is the serpent’s cunning. Satan has ever spoken and acted this way. It says “not surely,” without confirming one way or the other. But upon hearing this, was this ignorant woman’s heart moved? (Yes.) The serpent was pleased as its words had had the desired effect—this was the serpent’s cunning intention. Furthermore, by promising an outcome that man believed to be a good one, it seduced her, saying, “in the day you eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened.” So she ponders: “To have my eyes opened is a good thing!” The serpent then speaks better words, words unknown to man, words that wield a great power of temptation over those who hear them: “and you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” Are these words strongly seductive to her? (Yes.) It is like someone saying to you: “Your face is shaped wonderfully. Just a little short along the bridge of the nose, but if you have that fixed, you will be a world-class beauty!” For someone who has never wanted to have cosmetic surgery, would their heart be moved hearing these words? (Yes.) So are these words seductive? Is this seduction tempting to you? Is it testing? (Yes.) Does God say things like this? (No.) Was there any hint of this in God’s words that we looked at just now? (No.) Why? Does God say what He thinks in His heart? Can man see God’s heart through His words? (Yes.) But when the serpent had spoken those words to the woman, were you able to see its heart? (No.) And because of man’s ignorance, they were easily seduced by the serpent’s words, they were easily hooked, easily led. So were you able to see Satan’s intentions? Were you able to see the purpose behind what it said? Were you able to see its plot and its cunning scheme? (No.) What kind of disposition is represented by Satan’s way of speaking? What kind of essence have you seen in Satan through these words? (Evil.) Evil. Is it insidious? Perhaps on the surface it smiles at you or reveals no expression whatsoever. But in its heart it is calculating how to reach its objective, and it is this objective that you are unable to see. You are then seduced by all the promises it gives you, all the advantages it talks about. You see them as good, and you feel that what it says is more useful, more substantial than what God says. When this happens, does man not then become a submissive prisoner? (Yes.) So is this means used by Satan not diabolical? You are made to sink low. Without moving a finger, with these two sentences you are made to follow it, made to comply with it. Its objective has been reached. Is this not so? (Yes.) Is this intention not sinister? Is this not Satan’s most primal countenance? (Yes.) From Satan’s words, man has seen its sinister motives, seen its hideous countenance and seen its essence. Isn’t that right? (Yes.) In comparing these sentences, without analysis you may perhaps feel as though Jehovah’s words are dull, ordinary and common, that they are not worth making a fuss about to praise God’s honesty. When we take Satan’s words and its hideous countenance and use them as a foil, however, do these words of God carry much weight for the people of today? (Yes.) Through this foil, man can sense God’s pure flawlessness. Am I right in saying this? (Yes.) Every word Satan says as well as its motives, its intentions and the way it speaks—they are all adulterated. What is the main feature of its way of speaking? It uses equivocation to seduce you without letting you see it, nor does it allow you to discern what its objective is; it lets you take the bait, making you praise it and sing its merits. Is that the case? (Yes.) Is this not Satan’s constant ploy? (Yes.) Let us now look at what other words and expressions of Satan allow man to see its hideous countenance. Let us continue reading some scripture.
3. Dialog Between Satan and Jehovah God
(Job 1:6-11) Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them. And the LORD said to Satan, From where come you? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. And the LORD said to Satan, Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that fears God, and eschews evil? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Does Job fear God for nothing? Have not you made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he has on every side? you have blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. But put forth your hand now, and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.
(Job 2:1-5) Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the LORD. And the LORD said to Satan, From where come you? And Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. And the LORD said to Satan, Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that fears God, and eschews evil? and still he holds fast his integrity, although you moved me against him, to destroy him without cause. And Satan answered the LORD, and said, Skin for skin, yes, all that a man has will he give for his life. But put forth your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.
These two passages are a dialog between God and Satan, and they record what God said and what Satan said. Did God say very much? (No.) He did not speak much, and spoke very simply. Can we see the holiness of God in God’s simple words? Some will say “This is not easy.” So can we see the hideousness of Satan in its replies? (Yes.) So let us first look at what kind of question Jehovah God asked of Satan. (“From where come you?”) Is this a straightforward question? (Yes.) Is there any hidden meaning? (No.) It is just a question, pure, with no other purpose. If I were to ask you: “Where do you come from?” how then would you answer? Is it a difficult question to answer? Would you say: “From going to and fro, and from walking up and down”? (No.) You would not answer like this, so how then do you feel when you see Satan answering in this way? (We feel that Satan is absurd and crafty.) You feel this way? Can you tell what I am feeling? Every time I see these words I feel disgusted. Do you feel disgusted? (Yes.) Why disgusted? Because it talks without saying anything! Did it answer God’s question? (No.) Why? Its words were not an answer, they had no outcome, right? They were not an answer directed at God’s question. “From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.” Tell Me, do you understand these words? Do you? So where on earth does Satan come from? Have you received an answer to where it has come from? (No.) This is the “brilliance” of Satan’s cunning, not letting anyone discover what it is actually saying. Having heard these words you still cannot discern what it has said, yet it has finished answering. Perhaps it believes it has answered perfectly. How then do you feel? Disgusted? (Yes.) Disgusted, right? Now you start to feel disgust with these words. Satan does not speak directly, rendering you unable to perceive its mind or the source of its words. It speaks deliberately, cunningly, and is dominated by its own essence, its own nature. Satan did not consider these words for a long period of time; it expressed them naturally. As soon as you ask it where it comes from, it uses these words to answer you. “Where on earth does it come from?” You feel very puzzled, never knowing where it is from. Are there any among you who speak like this? (Yes.) What kind of way is this to speak? (It is ambiguous and does not give a certain answer.) What kind of words should we use to describe this way of speaking? It is diversionary and misleading, isn’t it? Some people speak this way. You ask someone: “I saw you yesterday. Where were you going?” They do not answer you directly to say where they went yesterday. They say “What a day it was yesterday. So tired!” Did they answer your question? That is not the answer you wanted, is it? This is the “brilliance” of man’s artifice. You can never discover what they mean or perceive the source or intention behind their words. You do not know their heart because in their heart they have their own story—this is insidiousness. Do you also often speak this way? (Yes.) What then is your purpose? Is it sometimes to protect your own interests, sometimes to maintain your own position, your own image, to keep the secrets of your private life, to save your own reputation? Whatever the purpose, it is inseparable from your interests, linked to your interests, isn’t it? Is this the nature of man? (Yes.) So is not everyone with this kind of nature akin to Satan? We can say this, can’t we? Generally speaking, this manifestation is detestable and abhorrent. You also now feel disgusted, don’t you? (Yes.) This represents the craftiness and evil of Satan.
Looking again at the first passage, Satan responds again to Jehovah, saying: “Does Job fear God for nothing?” It starts to attack Jehovah’s assessment of Job, and this attack is colored by hostility. “Have not you made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he has on every side?” This is Satan’s recognition and assessment of Jehovah’s work on Job. Satan assesses it like this, saying: “you have blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. But put forth your hand now, and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” Satan ever speaks ambiguously, but here it speaks with certainty. These words spoken with certainty are an attack, a blasphemy and a rivalry to Jehovah God, to God Himself. How do you feel when you hear it? Do you feel aversion? (Yes.) Are you able to see its intentions? First of all, it repudiates Jehovah’s assessment of Job—one that fears God and shuns evil. Then it repudiates everything Job says and does in fear of Jehovah. Is it accusatory? Satan is accusing, repudiating and doubting all Jehovah does and says. It does not believe, saying “If You say things are like this, how come I have not seen it? You have given him so many blessings, how can he not fear You?” Is this not a repudiation of all that God does? Accusation, repudiation, blasphemy—are its words not aggressive? Are they a true expression of what Satan thinks in its heart? (Yes.) These words are certainly not the same as the words we read just now: “From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.” They are completely different from those. Through these words, Satan completely lays bare the attitude toward God and the loathing of Job’s fear of God that it holds in its heart. When this happens, its maliciousness and evil nature are completely exposed. It loathes those who fear God, loathes those who shun evil, and even more so loathes Jehovah for bestowing blessings on man. It wants to use this opportunity to destroy Job whom God raised with His own hand, to ruin him, saying: “You say Job fears You and shuns evil. I see it otherwise.” It uses various ways to provoke and tempt Jehovah, and uses various ways so that Jehovah God hands Job over to Satan to be wantonly manipulated, harmed and handled. It wants to take advantage of this opportunity to exterminate this man who is righteous and perfect in God’s eyes. Is its having this kind of heart a momentary impulse? No, it is not. It has been long in the making. God works, God cares for a person, looks upon a person, and Satan dogs His every step. Whoever God favors, Satan also watches, trailing along behind. If God wants this person, Satan would do everything in its power to obstruct God, using various evil ways to tempt, harass and wreck the work God does in order to achieve its hidden objective. What is its objective? It does not want God to have anyone; it wants all those that God wants, to possess them, control them, to take charge of them so they worship it, so they commit evil acts alongside it. Is this not Satan’s sinister motive? Normally, you often say that Satan is so evil, so bad, but have you seen it? You can only see how bad man is and has not seen in reality how bad Satan actually is. But have you seen it in this issue concerning Job? (Yes.) This issue has made Satan’s hideous countenance and its essence very clear. Satan is at war with God, trailing along behind Him. Its objective is to demolish all the work God wants to do, to possess and control those whom God wants, to completely extinguish those whom God wants. If they are not extinguished, then they come to Satan’s possession to be used by it—this is its objective. And what does God do? God says only a simple sentence in this passage; there is no record of anything more that God does, but we see there are many more records of what Satan does and says. In the passage of scripture below, Jehovah asked Satan, “From where come you?” What is Satan’s answer? (It is still “From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.”) It is still that sentence. Tell Me, how has it become Satan’s motto, Satan’s masterpiece? Is Satan not hateful? Saying this disgusting sentence once is enough. Why does Satan always come back to this sentence? This proves one thing: Satan’s nature is unchanging. Its hideous face is not something it can keep hidden for long. God asks it a question and it responds in such a way, never mind how it treats people! It is not afraid of God, it does not fear God, and it does not obey God. So it dares to be unscrupulously presumptuous before God, to use these same words to whitewash over God’s question, to use this same answer to reply to God’s question, to attempt to use this answer to confound God—this is the ugly face of Satan. It does not believe in the almightiness of God, does not believe in the authority of God, and is certainly not willing to obey under the dominion of God. It is constantly in opposition to God, constantly attacking all God does, attempting to wreck all God does—this is its evil objective.
In God’s six-thousand-year management plan, particularly in the Book of Job, these two passages that Satan says and the things Satan does are representative of its resistance to God. Can we say this? (Yes.) This is Satan showing its true colors. Have you seen the deeds of Satan in the life we live now? When you do see them, you may not think them to be things spoken by Satan, but instead think them to be things spoken by man, right? What is represented, when such things are spoken by man? Satan is represented. Even if you recognize it, you still cannot perceive that it is really being spoken by Satan. But here and now you have unequivocally seen what Satan itself has said. You now have an unequivocal, crystal clear understanding of the hideous countenance and the evil of Satan. So are these two passages spoken by Satan valuable for the people of today to be able to recognize Satan’s nature? Are these two passages worth collecting in order for mankind today to be able to recognize Satan’s hideous face, to recognize Satan’s original, true face? Although saying this may not seem very appropriate, expressing it in this way can still be considered accurate. I can only put it this way and if you can understand it, then it is enough. Again and again, Satan attacks the things Jehovah does, throwing accusations about Job’s fear of Jehovah God. It attempts to provoke Jehovah by various methods, getting Jehovah to allow it to tempt Job. Its words are therefore highly provocative. So tell Me, once Satan has spoken these words, can God clearly see what Satan wants to do? (Yes.) Does God understand what it wants to do? (Yes.) In God’s heart, this man Job that God looks upon—this servant of God, that God takes to be a righteous man, a perfect man—can Job withstand this kind of temptation? (Yes.) Why does God say “Yes” with such certainty? Is God always examining the hearts of man? (Yes.) So is Satan able to examine the hearts of man? (No.) Satan cannot. Even though Satan can see that man has a God-fearing heart, its evil nature can never believe that holiness is holiness, or that sordidness is sordidness. The evil Satan can never treasure anything that is holy, righteous or bright. Satan cannot help but spare no pains to act through its nature, its evil, and through these methods it uses. Even at the cost of being itself punished or destroyed by God, it does not hesitate to stubbornly oppose God—this is evil, this is the nature of Satan. So in this passage, Satan says: “Skin for skin, yes, all that a man has will he give for his life. But put forth your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.” What is it thinking? Man’s fear of God is due to man having obtained so many advantages from God. Man obtains advantages from God, so they say God is good. But it is not because God is good, it is only because man obtains so many advantages that he can fear God in this way: Once You deprive him of these advantages, he then abandons You. In its evil nature, Satan does not believe that man’s heart can truly fear God. Why? Because of its evil nature it does not know what holiness is, much less know what fearful reverence is. It does not know what it is to obey God, what it is to fear God. Because it does not fear God itself, it thinks, “Neither can man fear God. It is impossible.” Isn’t that so? (Yes.) Tell Me, is Satan not evil? (Yes!) Satan is evil. So excepting our church, whether it be the various sects and denominations, or and social groups, they do not believe in the existence of God, do not believe that God can do work and do not believe there is a God, so they think, “What you believe in is not God either.” Take a promiscuous man, for example. He looks and sees everyone else being promiscuous, just as he is. A man who lies all the time looks and sees no one honest, sees them all telling lies. An evil man sees everyone as evil and wants to fight everyone he sees. Those people with a little honesty see everyone as honest, so are always duped, always cheated, and there is nothing they can do about it. Is this not right? I say these few examples to make you more certain: Satan’s evil nature is not a temporary compulsion or something caused by its environment, nor is it a temporary manifestation brought about by any reason or background. Absolutely not! It can’t help but be this way! It can do nothing good. Even when it says something pleasant to hear, it just seduces you. The more pleasant, the more tactful, the more gentle its words are, the more malicious its sinister intentions become behind these words. What kind of face, what kind of nature have you seen Satan to have in these two passages? (Insidious, malicious and evil.) Its primary characteristic is evil, especially evil and malicious; malicious and evil.
Now that we have finished talking about Satan, let us return to talking about our God. During God’s six-thousand-year management plan, very little of God’s direct speech has been recorded in the Bible, and that which has been recorded is very simple. So let us start at the beginning. God created man and since then has ever led the life of mankind. Whether in giving mankind blessings, giving them the laws and His commandments, or stipulating the various rules for life, do you know what God’s intended aim is in doing these things? Firstly, can you say for sure all that God does is for the good of mankind? (Yes, we can.) You may think that this sentence is relatively broad and hollow, but specifically speaking, everything God does is to lead and guide man toward living a normal life. Whether it is so man keeps His rules or keeps His laws, God’s aim is for man not to worship Satan, not to be harmed by Satan; this is most fundamental, and this is what was done in the very beginning. At the very beginning, when man did not understand God’s will He took some simple laws and rules and made provisions that covered every conceivable aspect. These provisions are very simple, yet within them they contain God’s will. God treasures, cherishes and dearly loves mankind. Isn’t that the case? (Yes.) So can we say His heart is holy? Can we say His heart is clean? (Yes.) Does God have any ulterior intentions? (No.) So is this aim of His right and positive? (Yes.) It is positive. No matter what provisions God made, the effect of them all in the course of His work is positive for man, and they lead the way. So are there any self-serving thoughts in God’s mind? Does God have any additional aims where man is concerned, or does He want to use man in some way? Not at all. God does as He says, and He also thinks this way in His heart. There is no mixed purpose, no self-serving thoughts. He does not do anything for Himself, but does absolutely everything for man, without any personal aims. Although He has plans and intentions for man, He does not do anything for Himself. Everything He does is done purely for mankind, to protect mankind, to keep mankind from being led astray. So is this heart not precious? (Yes.) Can you see even the tiniest hint of this precious heart in Satan? (No.) Can you see it? Can you? We cannot see one hint of this in Satan. Everything God does is revealed naturally. By looking at the way God works, how does He work? Does God take these laws and His words and bind them tightly onto the heads of every person like the incantation of the golden hoop,[a] imposing them on each man? Does He work in this way? (No.) So in what way does God do His work? (He guides us.) Well, this is one aspect. Any others? God works on you in many ways, how can it be that you have run out of things to say after just one? (He advises and encourages.) There’s a second one. Any more? Does He threaten? Does He talk in circles to you? (No.) When you do not understand the truth, how does God guide you? (He shines a light.) Well, He shines a light on you, telling you clearly that this is not in keeping with the truth, and what you should do. So from these ways in which God works, what kind of relationship do you feel you have with God? Do they make you feel that God is beyond your grasp? (No.) So how do they make you feel? God is especially close to you, there is no distance between you. When God guides you, when He provides for you, helps you and supports you, you feel God’s amiability, His respectability, you feel how lovely He is, how warm. But when God reproaches your corruption, or when He judges and disciplines you for rebelling against Him, what way does God use? Does He reproach you with words? (Yes.) Does He discipline you through your environment and through people, affairs, and things? (Yes.) So what level does this discipline reach? (To a level that man can endure.) Does His level of discipline reach the same point where Satan harms man? (No.) God works in a gentle, loving, delicate and caring way, a way that is especially measured and proper. His way does not cause you to feel intense emotions, saying, “God will not let me do this” or “God must let me do that.” God never gives you that kind of intense mentality or intense feelings that make things unbearable. Is this not the case? (Yes.) Even when you accept God’s words of judgment and chastisement, how do you feel then? When you feel the authority and power of God, how do you feel then? Do you feel the unoffendable divinity of God? (Yes.) Do you feel distanced from God at these times? Do you feel frightened of God? (No.) Instead, you feel fearful reverence of God. Do people feel all these things only because of God’s work? (Yes.) So would they have these feelings if Satan worked on man? (No.) God uses His words, His truth and His life to continuously provide for man, to support man. When man is weak, when man is feeling down, God certainly does not speak harshly, saying: “Do not feel down. What are you down for? What are you weak for? What is there to be weak about? You are so weak, you may as well just die. You are always so down, what is the point in living? Just die!” Does God work this way? (No.) Does God have the authority to act this way? (Yes.) But does God act this way? (No.) The reason why God does not act this way is because of His essence, the essence of the holiness of God. His love for man, His treasuring and cherishing of man cannot be expressed clearly in just one or two sentences. It is not something that is brought about by man’s boasting but is something that God brings forth in actual practice; it is the of God’s essence. Can all these ways in which God works allow man to see the holiness of God? In all these ways in which God works, including God’s good intentions, including the effects God wishes to achieve on man, including the different ways God adopts to work on man, the kind of work He does, what He wants man to understand—have you seen any evil or craftiness in God’s good intentions? (No.) You can’t see any evil, can you? (No.) So in everything God does, everything God says, everything He thinks in His heart, as well as all the essence of God that He reveals—can we call God holy? (Yes.) Has any man ever seen this holiness in the world, or in himself? Apart from God, have you ever seen it in any man or in Satan? (No.) From what we have talked about so far, can we call God the unique, holy God Himself? (Yes.) All that God gives to man, including the words of God, the different ways in which God works on man, that which God tells man, that which God reminds man of, that which He advises and encourages, it all originates from one essence: It all originates from the holiness of God. If there were no such a holy God, no man could take His place to do the work He does. If God took these people and completely handed them over to Satan, have you ever thought of what kind of condition those of you present here today would be in? Would you all be sitting here, complete and intact? (No.) So what would you be like? Would you also say: “From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it”? Would you so swagger, be so brazen and boast without shame before God, and speak in such a roundabout way? (Yes.) Yes, you would. You would one hundred percent! You absolutely would! Satan’s attitude toward man allows them to see that Satan’s nature is utterly different from God. Its essence is completely different to God. What essence of Satan is the opposite of the holiness of God? (Its evil.) Satan’s evil nature is the opposite of the holiness of God. The reason why the majority of people do not recognize that this expression of God’s represents the essence of God’s holiness is entirely because they live under the domain of Satan, within the corruption of Satan, within Satan’s living enclosure. They do not know what holiness is or know how to define holiness. Even when you perceive the holiness of God, you still cannot define it as being the holiness of God with any certainty. This is a disparity in man’s recognition of the holiness of God.
What kind of representative feature is shown by Satan’s work on man? You should know of this from your own experiences—Satan’s most representative feature, the thing it does the most, the thing it tries to do with every single person. It has a feature that you perhaps cannot see, so that you do not think how frightful and hateful Satan is. Does anyone know what this feature is? Tell Me. (Everything it does is done to harm man.) It does things to harm man. How does it harm man? Can you show Me more specifically and in more detail? (It seduces, entices and tempts man.) That’s right, this shows several aspects. Any more? (It deludes man.) It deludes, attacks and accuses. Yes, all of these. Are there any more? (It tells lies.) Cheating and lying comes most naturally to Satan. It does it so often that lies flow from its mouth without it even needing to think. Any more? (It sows dissension.) This one is not so important. I will describe something to you that will terrify you, but I do not do it to scare you. God works on man and man is cherished in both God’s attitude and His heart. On the contrary, does Satan cherish man? It does not cherish man. What does it want with man? It wants to harm man, all it thinks about is harming man. Isn’t that right? So when it is mulling over harming man, does it do so in a pressing state of mind? (Yes.) So when it comes to Satan’s work on man, here I have two words that can amply describe the malicious and evil nature of Satan, that can truly allow you to know the hatefulness of Satan: In Satan’s approach to man, it always wants to forcefully “occupy” and “attach” itself to each of them so that it can get to the point where it is completely in control of man, harming man, so that it can achieve this objective and wild ambition. What does “forcefully occupy” mean? Does it happen with your consent, or without your consent? Does it happen with your knowing, or without your knowing? It is completely without your knowing! In situations where you are unaware, possibly when it has not said anything or possibly when it has not done anything, when there is no premise, no context, there it is around you, surrounding you. It looks for an opportunity to exploit, then it forcefully occupies you, attaches itself to you, achieving its objective of being completely in control of you and harming you. This is a most typical intention and behavior in Satan’s fight against God for mankind. How do you feel when you hear this? (Terrified and fearful in our hearts.) Do you feel disgusted? (Yes, we feel disgusted.) So when you feel disgusted, do you think Satan is shameless? (Yes.) When you think Satan is shameless, do you then feel disgusted with those people around you who always want to control you, those with wild ambitions for status and interests? (Yes.) So what methods does Satan use to forcefully attach itself to and occupy man? Are you clear on this? When you hear these two words of forceful “occupation” and “attaching,” you get this feeling of strangeness and disgust, don’t you? Do you get a taste of their evil flavor? Without either your consent or your knowledge it attaches itself to you, occupies you and corrupts you. What can you taste in your heart? Loathing? (Yes!) Disgust? (Yes!) So when you feel this loathing and disgust for this way of Satan, what kind of feeling do you have for God? (Thankful.) Thankful to God for saving you. So now, at this moment, do you have the desire or the will to let God take charge of your all, to dominate your all? (Yes.) In what context? Do you say yes because you are afraid of being forcefully occupied and attached to by Satan? You cannot have this kind of mentality, it is not right. Do not be afraid, God is here. There is nothing to be afraid of, right? Once you have understood the evil essence of Satan, you should have a more accurate understanding or a deeper cherishment of , God’s good intentions, God’s compassion and leniency for man and His righteous disposition. Satan is so hateful, yet if this still does not inspire your love of God and your reliance on and trust in God, then what kind of person would you be? Are you willing to let Satan harm you so? After seeing the evil and hideousness of Satan, we turn it around and look then at God. Has your recognition of God now undergone any change? (Yes.) What kind of change? Can we say God is holy? Can we say God is flawless? (Yes.) “God is unique holiness”—can God bear up under this title? (Yes.) So in the world and among all things, is it only God Himself that can bear up under this understanding of man’s? Are there any others? (No.) So what exactly does God give to man? Does He only give you a little care, concern and consideration when you are not paying attention? What has God given to man? God has given life to man, given man everything, and bestows on man unconditionally without demanding anything, without any ulterior intention. He uses the truth, uses His words, uses His life to lead and guide man, bringing man away from the harm of Satan, away from Satan’s temptations, away from Satan’s seduction and allowing man to see clearly through Satan’s evil nature and its hideous face. So is God’s love and concern for mankind true? Is it something that every one of you can experience? (Yes.)
Look back on your lives up till now at all the things God has done on you in all the years of your faith. Whether you feel it deeply or not, was it not most necessary? Was it not what you most needed to obtain? (Yes.) Is this not truth? Is this not life? (Yes.) So has God ever enlightened you to give anything back or repay anything after He gave you these things? (No.) So what is God’s purpose? Why does God do this? Does God also have an objective to occupy you? (No.) Does God want to ascend His throne in the hearts of man? (Yes.) So what is the difference between God ascending His throne and Satan’s forceful occupation? God wants to gain the hearts of man, He wants to occupy the hearts of man—what does this mean? Does it mean that God wants man to become His puppets, His machines? (No.) So what is God’s purpose? Is there a difference between God wanting to occupy the hearts of man and Satan’s forceful occupation, its attaching itself to man? (Yes.) What is the difference? Can you tell Me clearly? (Satan does it through force whereas God lets man volunteer.) Satan does it through force whereas God lets you volunteer. Is this the difference? So if you do not volunteer, what then? If you do not volunteer, does God do anything? (He gives some guidance and enlightenment, but if in the end man is not willing, He does not force them.) What does God want your heart for? And besides, what does God want to occupy you for? How in your hearts do you understand “God occupies man’s hearts”? We must be fair to God here, otherwise people always misunderstand, saying: “God always wants to occupy me. What does He want to occupy me for? I don’t want to be occupied, I just want to be myself. You say Satan occupies people, but God also occupies people: Are these not the same? I don’t want to let anyone occupy me. I am myself.” What is the difference here? Take a minute to think about it. (I think God wants to gain man’s hearts and occupy man’s hearts in order to save man, to make man perfect.) What you say is the aim of God’s management of man—to make him perfect. So do you understand what “occupy” means here? (It means not letting Satan occupy man. If God is in occupation, then Satan has no way to occupy man.) You mean God is the first occupant; like an empty house, whosoever enters first becomes the master of the house. The one who comes after cannot become the master of the house, but instead becomes the servant, or else they cannot enter at all. Is this what you mean? (Yes, I mean something like this.) Does anyone have a different view? (My own understanding of “God occupies man’s hearts” is that God treats us like His own family, caring for us and loving us. Satan occupies man’s hearts in order to damage us, to harm us.) This is your understanding of “God occupies man,” is it? Are there any different understandings or views? (God occupies man using His word, in the hope that man can accept the word of God into his life, so that man can live in accordance with the word of God.) This is the true meaning behind “God occupies man,” isn’t it? Are there any different views? (My view is that God is the embodiment of truth so God wants to supply the entire truth to us, and because we obtain this truth and are brought under His care and protection, we can therefore avoid running into Satan’s cunning schemes and being harmed by it. Practically speaking, God wants to gain man’s hearts so that man can live a normal life on this earth and obtain God’s blessings.) But you still have not touched on the real meaning of “God occupies man’s hearts.” (Man was originally made by God, so man should worship Him and return to Him. Man belongs to God.) I ask you, is “God occupies man” an empty phrase? Does God’s occupation of man mean that He lives in your heart? Does God dominate your every word and every move? If He tells you to raise your left arm, do you dare not raise your right? If He tells you to sit, do you dare not stand? If He tells you to go east, do you dare not go west? Is it an occupation that means something like this? (No.) So what is it? (It means for man to live out what God has and is.) God has managed man all through the years, so in God’s work on man up until now in this last stage, what effect will all the words God has spoken have on man? Is it that man lives out what God has and is? Looking at the literal meaning of “God occupies man’s hearts,” it seems as if God takes man’s hearts and occupies them, lives in them and does not come out again; He lives inside them and becomes the master of man’s hearts, to dominate and arrange man’s hearts at will, so that man must go wherever God tells him to go. At this level of meaning, it seems as if every person had become God, in possession of God’s essence, in possession of God’s disposition. So in this case, could man also perform the acts and deeds of God? Can “occupation” be explained in this way? (No.) So what is it? (The people God wants are not puppets, they have thoughts and their hearts are alive. Therefore, God’s occupation of man is in the hope that man can have thoughts and can feel God’s joys and sorrows; man and God interact with one another.) I ask you this: Are all the words and truth God supplies to man a revelation of the essence of God and what He has and is? (Yes.) This is for sure, isn’t it? But are all the words God supplies to man for God Himself to practice, for God Himself to possess? Take a minute to think about it. When God judges man, because of what does He do this? Where did these words come from? What is the content of these words God speaks when He judges man? What are they based on? Are they based on man’s corrupt disposition? (Yes.) So is the effect achieved by God’s judgment of man based on the essence of God? (Yes.) So is God’s occupation of man an empty phrase? It certainly is not. So why does God say these words to man? What is His purpose in saying these words? Does He want to use these words for the life of man? (Yes.) God wants to use all this truth that He has spoken for the life of man. So when man takes all this truth and the word of God and transforms them into his own life, can man then obey God? Can man then fear God? Can man then shun evil? When man has reached this point, can he then obey God’s sovereignty and arrangement? Is man then in a position to submit to the authority of God? When people like Job, or like Peter reach the end of their road, when their life can be considered to have matured, when they have a real understanding of God—can Satan still lead them astray? Can Satan still occupy them? Can Satan still forcefully attach itself to them? (No.) So what kind of person is this? Is this someone who has been completely gained by God? (Yes.) At this level of meaning, how do you see this kind of person who has been completely gained by God? To God, under these circumstances He has already occupied this person’s heart. But what does this person feel? Is it that the word of God, God’s authority, and God’s way become life within man, then this life that occupies man’s entire being makes what he lives out enough, makes his essence enough to satisfy God? So to God, is mankind’s heart at this very moment occupied by Him? (Yes.) How do you understand this level of meaning now? Is it God’s Spirit that occupies you? (No.) So what is it exactly that occupies you? (The word of God.) Well, the word of God, the way of God. It is the truth and the word of God that become your life. At this time, man then has the life that comes from God, but we cannot say that this life is God’s life. It is the life man should derive from the word of God. Can we say this life is God’s life? (No.) So no matter how long man follows God, no matter how many words man obtains from God, man can never become God. Is this not correct? (Yes.) Even if one day God said, “I have occupied your heart, you now possess My life,” would you then feel that you are God? (No.) What would you then become? Would you not have an absolute obedience of God? Would your body and your heart not be filled with the life God has bestowed on you? This is a very normal manifestation when God occupies man’s hearts. This is fact. So looking at it from this aspect, can man become God? (No.) When man has obtained all of the word of God, when man can fear God and shun evil, can man then possess God’s identity? (No.) Can man then possess the essence of God? (No.) No matter what happens, man is still man when all is said and done. You are a creation; when you have received the word of God from God and received God’s way, you only possess the life that comes from the word of God, and can never become God.
Going back to our topic just now, I asked you whether or not Abraham was holy. He is not, and you understand this now, don’t you? Is Job holy? (No.) Within this holiness is contained the essence of God. Man does not have God’s essence or God’s disposition. Even when man has experienced all of God’s word and possesses the essence of God’s word, man can still never be called holy; man is man. You understand, right? (Yes.) So how do you understand this phrase “God occupies man’s hearts” now? (It is God’s words, God’s way and His truth that become man’s life.) You have memorized this, right? I hope you now have a deeper understanding. Some people may ask, “So why say that God’s messengers and angels are not holy?” What do you think about this question? Perhaps you have not considered it before. I will use a simple example: When you turn on a robot, it can both dance and talk, and you can understand what it says, but can you call it lovely? Can you call it lively? You can say it, but the robot will not understand because it does not have life. When you turn off its power supply, can it still move about? (No.) When this robot is activated, you can see it is lively and lovely. You make an evaluation of it, whether it be a substantive evaluation or a superficial evaluation, but whatever the case your eyes can see it moving. But when you turn off its power supply, do you see any kind of character in it? Do you see it possessing any kind of essence? Do you understand the meaning of what I am saying? (Yes.) You can understand, right? That is to say, even though this robot can move and it can stop, you could never describe it as having “any kind of essence.” Is this not a fact? We will not talk any more on this. It is enough for you to have a general understanding of the meaning. Let us end our fellowship here. Goodbye!
December 17, 2013
a. “The incantation of the golden hoop” refers to the famous Chinese novel “Journey to the West,” in which the monk Xuanzang uses an incantation to bring the Monkey King under control by means of a golden hoop placed on the Monkey King’s head that can be magically tightened, thus causing unbearable headaches. It subsequently became a metaphor for binding people.
Continuation of The Word Appears in the Flesh