By Mu Zhen, Canada
I believed in the Lord with my mother when I was young, and was baptized in the church at 9. My mother was a leader of the local house church, and every time she had a meeting she took me along. She also took me to attend children’s meetings, and sometimes the bread-breaking meetings with uncles and aunties. When at home, she always taught me to read the Bible and pray to the Lord. Gradually, I knew that the Lord Jesus was personally crucified to redeem man from the hands of Satan, and that as long as we accepted His redemption, confessed and repented, we could enjoy the grace and blessings He bestowed upon us.
Although I believed in the Lord, I felt I had no change, and as my study load was becoming heavier, I attended church meetings less often. During my freshman year at college, I spent most of my time studying and taking part in college activities, and the rest in playing games, eating, drinking and having fun, so I didn’t even have the time to read the Bible or pray to the Lord, completely living like an unbeliever. At that time, I was always followed by a feeling of emptiness, as if something was missing in me. In my sophomore year, I began to reflect, “I’m a believer in the Lord and I’ve been baptized as a Christian. But I only busy myself with my own life, devoting all my time to my own likes and many diversions. I can’t even maintain a normal church life, nor do I pray to the Lord when encountering things. Am I still a Christian?” In my perplexity and pain, I prayed to the Lord, asking Him to give me a way out and allow me to return among brothers and sisters. On one occasion, my uncle introduced me to a believer’s family near my college, and I began to live a normal church life again. I was thankful to God for His leading.
Later on, after I lived a normal church life for some time, I came to find that my heart was still adrift in the world. At that time, I found a girlfriend who was an unbeliever, and I stayed with her every day. As a result, I became more and more abandoned to sensual gratification, and I didn’t have the slightest mind to study, have meetings or read the Bible. In attending meetings, I went through the motions and was absent-minded most of the time: I was there but my heart was with my girlfriend. Brothers and sisters reminded me to take a correct attitude toward love and not to stray away from the Lord because of love affairs. But instead of taking their advice, I allowed my heart to be fully occupied by my girlfriend. Later, I split up with her due to some disagreements, and then suffered from the breakup and the constant thoughts of the past days I spent with her. Consequently, I still had no mind to return before the Lord. Sometimes, I thought, “In the past, I indulged in eating, drinking and having fun, so I gave up the church life, and didn’t read the Bible or pray to the Lord. Now, I live the church life but I’m still debauched and distant from the Lord due to my indulgence in love. My behaviors can’t fulfill the Lord’s desire; I’m offending the Lord and committing sins.” This made me feel reproached and anguished, and I could only come before the Lord to confess and repent. I prayed to Him, “O Lord, I’m really a sinner. I believe in You, but my likes and pursuits are no different from those of the worldly people. I don’t have the likeness of a Christian. O Lord, please forgive my sin. I’m willing to repent.” But my prayer could only bring me temporary peace of mind; it couldn’t help me genuinely turn toward the Lord. I had tried so hard to change such a helpless and dissolute life, but I couldn’t find the way. This plagued me greatly. I also asked for advice from the brothers and sisters around me who had a greater spiritual stature, as well as the elders and the leaders, but none of them could point out a way for me.
Sometimes when I heard brothers and sisters in the church say some people were overcomers, I disagreed. Because I saw that they spoke nicely in the church, as if they loved the Lord very much, but their actions were not in accordance with the Lord’s will. They exalted themselves and showed themselves off when preaching sermons, schemed against each other and fought for fame and gain in private, so how could they be overcomers? I then thought of my mother. Although she was a leader, she also lived in sin and was unable to practice the Lord’s words. Before brothers and sisters, she behaved kindly, being gentle, considerate, patient and strong in spirit; at home she was quick to rage and to rebuke my father and me for not doing things according to her requirements. I asked her why she behaved completely different — being particularly gentle and patient to brothers and sisters in the church but always in hot blood at home. She couldn’t answer my question but only sighed helplessly, “You don’t understand how difficult it is to practice the truth.” Looking at the brothers and sisters, as well as the elders and pastors around me, I found none of them had broken free from sin or overcome Satan, so I was especially wondering how to get rid of the bondage of sin and overcome Satan to truly be cleansed. At that time, I often prayed to the Lord, “O Lord, when can I break away from sin and not sin anymore? Lord, I can’t see any hope now. Please open up a way out for me, so that I can get rid of the bondage of sin.”
At the end of March, 2018, I got acquainted with a sister on Facebook named Yang Wang. From her web pages I knew she is also a Christian and so we friended each other. In chatting with her, I found she could talk about knowledge of God, which greatly helped me. Once, she told me that her cousin Brother Zhang was a preacher who preached with great light, and invited me to go and listen. At that time, none of the church leaders or the brothers and sisters around me could solve my confusion, so if the foreign preacher had better insight and knowledge I thought I might as well have a listen. Therefore, I agreed.
When I first met Brother Zhang, we quickly talked about belief. He opened a spiritual book and read some words to me. Then he fellowshiped with me about what true belief in God means and what viewpoint believers should hold. Hearing that, I felt the words in the book were quite good and that Brother Zhang’s fellowship had great light. I began to like listening to his fellowship, which I felt was very beneficial for me.
On the second day, Brother Zhang and I talked about the return of the Lord, and we studied many prophecies about it in the Bible. Integrating Revelation 5:5 — “Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof” — he fellowshiped with me, “Only the Lord can open the little book. When the Lord returns, He will reveal the mysteries in the little book, which refer to the utterances and words of God.” He also communicated with me, “In the time of the Old Testament, Jehovah God issued the law to lead the life of people, achieving the result of making people know their sins. In the time of the New Testament, the Lord Jesus did the redemptive work, attaining the result of making people confess and repent. In the last days, God speaks words and gives people new revelation, aiming to root out our sin.” “Then where is the small book now?” I asked curiously. Brother Zhang said, “It has already been opened. The words I read to you yesterday are from The Scroll Opened by the Lamb. They’re the personal utterances and words of God.” Hearing this, I was very much excited, “Wow, those words are actually from the small book. No wonder they are so good. It turns out that they’re the utterances and words of God.” Then I promptly poured out all my confusions, hoping for him to fellowship and solve them.
Two days later, I had a meeting with Brother Zhang again. I asked him, “We have believed in the Lord, and the Lord has forgiven our sins. But why are we still living in a state of committing sins and confessing them?” As to my question, he read to me two passages of God’s words: “At the time Jesus’ work was the redemption of all mankind. The sins of all who believed in Him were forgiven; as long as you believed in Him, He would redeem you; if you believed in Him, you were no longer a sinner, you were relieved of your sins. This is what it meant to be saved, and to be justified by faith. Yet in those who believed, there remained that which was rebellious and opposed God, and which still had to be slowly removed. Salvation did not mean man had been completely gained by Jesus, but that man was no longer of sin, that he had been forgiven his sins: Provided you believed, you would never more be of sin.” “Though man has been redeemed and forgiven of his sins, it is only considered as God not remembering the transgressions of man and not treating man in accordance with man’s transgressions. However, when man lives in the flesh and he has not been set free from sin, he can only continue to sin, endlessly revealing the corrupt satanic disposition. This is the life that man leads, an endless cycle of sin and forgiveness. The majority of men sin in the day only to confess in the evening. As such, even if the sin offering is forever effective for man, it would not be able to save man from sin. Only half the work of salvation has been completed, for man still has corrupt disposition.”
After reading God’s words, Brother Zhang fellowshiped, “In the Age of Grace, the Lord Jesus was crucified for us mankind, and redeemed us from sin. It only means that the Lord Jesus has forgiven our sins; it doesn’t mean that there’s no sin in us. For example, we clearly know that pursuing the evil trends of the world is wrong, but we still can’t help but follow them and cling to sinful pleasures. For another example, the Lord asked us to love our neighbors as ourselves, and to be tolerant and patient, but once others affect our personal interests, we’ll have a prejudice against them and hate them. Still, we know that God demands we be humble, but in our daily life we often reveal an arrogant disposition, belittling those who are of low caliber and who understand things slowly. … These manifestations more or less exist in us. Maybe sometimes we can restrain ourselves and betray our flesh to practice the Lord’s words, and our behaviors look good from the outside. But when the circumstances are right, we still fall back into our old wretched ways, without real transformation of our disposition. This shows that within us there’s still sin; dominated by our sinful nature, we still live in the vicious circle of committing sins and confessing them.”
Brother Zhang’s fellowship reminded me of my present state: “I often come before the Lord to confess and repent, sometimes even in bitter tears for my inability to get rid of sins, but no matter what, I’m still trapped in sins when temptations and enticements come to me. As is revealed by God’s words, my sins are forgiven since I believed in the Lord Jesus, but I still often rebel against God and break God’s heart; inside me there’s still sinful nature.” Meanwhile, I understood: It is our inner sinful nature of rebelling against God and resisting Him that is responsible for our bondage of sin.
Brother Zhang went on to ask me, “Then why do we always remain in the stage of confessing and repenting?” I pondered it for a while, but couldn’t figure it out. So I asked him to fellowship about it. He read to me another passage of God’s words: “Before man was redeemed, many of Satan’s poisons were already planted within him. After thousands of years of Satan’s corruption, man already has within him a nature that resists God. Therefore, when man has been redeemed, it is nothing more than redemption, where man is bought at a high price, but the poisonous nature within has not been eliminated. Man that is so defiled must undergo a change before being worthy to serve God. Through this work of judgment and chastisement, man will fully come to know the filthy and corrupt substance within him, and he will be able to completely change and become clean. Only in this way can man be worthy to return before the throne of God.”
After reading God’s words, Brother Zhang fellowshiped, “In the Age of Grace, the Lord Jesus did the work of redemption; He didn’t do the work of changing man’s corrupt disposition. But after man has been corrupted by Satan for thousands of years, Satan’s various ideas and viewpoints have already been implanted in us, for example, ‘Seize the day for pleasure, for life is short,’ ‘Drink and sing, for life is a fleeting thing,’ ‘Every man for himself, and the devil takes the hindmost,’ ‘I am my own lord throughout heaven and earth,’ and so on. These poisons of Satan have already taken deep root in each of us, making us stray from God, betray God, and become more and more corrupt. Therefore, if God doesn’t express the truth to save us, our satanic disposition can’t be changed, and only when God personally comes to do the work of purifying and changing man, can we cast off our corrupt satanic disposition and be made pure. This purification is a change from the inside out, and is a real purification. Today we should accept Almighty God’s work of judgment in the last days. Only thus can our life disposition be changed and can we be worthy to enter into God’s kingdom.”
Hearing his fellowship, I understood: If God doesn’t do new work, our satanic disposition won’t be able to receive cleansing; only by accepting God’s new work can we really throw off corruption and receive God’s salvation. “Brother, how does God judge and purify man in the last days?” I asked him with curiosity. As to my question, Brother Zhang read to me a passage of God’s words: “In the last days, Christ uses a variety of truths to teach man, expose the essence of man, and dissect his words and deeds. These words comprise various truths, such as man’s duty, how man should obey God, how man should be loyal to God, how man ought to live out the normal humanity, as well as the wisdom and the disposition of God, and so on. These words are all directed at the essence of man and his corrupt disposition. In particular, those words that expose how man spurns God are spoken in regard to how man is an embodiment of Satan and an enemy force against God. In undertaking His work of judgment, God does not simply make clear the nature of man with just a few words; He exposes, deals with, and prunes it over the long term. These methods of exposure, dealing, and pruning cannot be substituted with ordinary words, but with the truth that man does not possess at all. Only methods of this kind are deemed judgment; only through judgment of this kind can man be subdued and thoroughly convinced into submission to God, and moreover gain true knowledge of God. What the work of judgment brings about is man’s understanding of the true face of God and the truth about his own rebelliousness. The work of judgment allows man to gain much understanding of the will of God, of the purpose of God’s work, and of the mysteries that are incomprehensible to him. It also allows man to recognize and know his corrupt substance and the roots of his corruption, as well as to discover the ugliness of man. These effects are all brought about by the work of judgment, for the substance of this work is actually the work of opening up the truth, the way, and the life of God to all those who have faith in Him. This work is the work of judgment done by God.”
After finishing reading, Brother Zhang continued fellowshiping, “In the last days, God judges us by expressing words. He mainly uses His words to expose our corrupt essence, including the various incorrect intentions, viewpoints, thoughts and ideas within us. For instance, we believe in God merely for the sake of receiving His grace and blessings, so we want much in return for little expense and devotion to God, and once God’s work doesn’t accord with our notions, we’ll misunderstand God, complain about Him, and even betray and leave Him. Apart from the revelations of words, God also sets up environments in real life to reveal our corruption and deficiencies through dealing, pruning, trials and refinements, so that we can more clearly see the truth of our corruption, and our true stature. When we accept the judgment and chastisement of God’s words, the pruning and dealing, as well as trials and refinements, we will gradually gain discernment of our various satanic dispositions such as arrogance, selfishness, deceitfulness, evil, and so forth. We will also witness God’s righteousness and holiness, and finally come to hate ourselves, betray our satanic disposition, and live by God’s words. In the past, when we believed in the Lord, even though we knew that our living in sin wasn’t in accordance with the Lord’s will, we still didn’t hate the sin. We could also feel some reproach when we committed sins, but because we hadn’t accepted God’s judgment and chastisement, and we had no knowledge of the truth of our corruption and the righteous disposition of God, we always lived in the state of sinning and confessing. Today, only when we accept the judgment and chastisement of God can our corrupt disposition be changed bit by bit, and only then can we become people who obey God and revere God, and be blessed by Him.”
After hearing Brother Zhang’s fellowship, I felt brightened at once. It turned out that only by accepting God’s judgment and chastisement can we humans know our corrupt disposition and God’s righteous disposition, and break free from the bondage of sin. God’s work of judgment and purification is really so good. Before, when I lived in sins, I had often sought from the church leaders how to solve this problem, but all the time no way to cleanse my sins was found. Now I heard Brother Zhang’s testimony of God’s work of judgment and I found the way. Thus, I confirmed in my heart: Yes! This is the very way I’ve been looking for. Only the words expressed by God can bring me the way of practice and only God’s work of judgment in the last days can free me from the bondage of sin.
Now, I have accepted Almighty God’s work of the last days for more than three months. During this time, I often fellowshiped about the truth with my brothers and sisters, and I listened to the experiences they shared. I felt I have gained a lot. I also performed my duty as a created being together with brothers and sisters: spreading the gospel and bearing witness to God; watering new believers who studied and accepted God’s work of the last days not long before. I felt I was far closer to God and was especially steady and peaceful in my spirit. Compared to my former self, although my corruption still hasn’t been cleansed and changed, I can better grasp my wrong ideas and thoughts. When I reveal corruption, I’m able to realize it and then pray before God; through reading God’s words I can have some knowledge of my corruption and won’t do things based on it. In the past, I always lived in a state of sinning in the day and confessing at night, and I couldn’t find a direction or see the light but always felt perplexed and wretched. Today, Almighty God’s salvation has pointed out the way to cleanse my sins. I’m willing to accept more of Almighty God’s judgment and chastisement, pursue a change in my disposition, and live out the likeness of a real person. All the glory be to Almighty God!