By Anna, Germany
Editor’s Note: Are you still struggling in the agony of sin? Are you discouraged and disappointed because you live trapped in a cycle of sinning and repentance? What must we do to escape the bondage of sin? I hope reading this article will be of some help to you.
- Weeping in Sin
- A Light Appears As God Hears My Prayers
- My Heart Rejoices As I Find the Path to Get Rid of Sin
- Living in the Light, Pursuing the Truth
Weeping in Sin
In 2001, I followed my mother in believing in the Lord, and not long after, I joined the church and began my service. I saw that my brothers and sisters were able to love one another, just like a family, which made me feel especially close to them. I enjoyed attending meetings and singing hymns in praise of the Lord with my brothers and sisters, and in my heart, I thought of the church like my own family. After that, I tested into a theology institute and began studying the Bible.
Gradually, I discovered more and more unlawful things in the church. Many brothers and sisters lived in sin and were unable to practice the Lord’s teachings. The principal of the Sunday school and his wife often schemed to benefit themselves. When humanitarian organizations donated aid, they would immediately pick out some of the best items for themselves, and even the pastor took part in this behavior, but the poor families in the church would rarely get anything. Small group leaders were also especially prideful and arrogant. They often exalted themselves in our presence and placed constraints on others. The church members served the Lord for the sake of their own status and interests, and they often condemned other churches as bad and belittled others. While their words and actions within the church seemed pious, what they lived out in their lives was arrogance, cunning, and selfishness, as if they were entirely different people. I was the same. In church I behaved very well, and even when others asked me to do things I didn’t like, I would do my best to bear it, overcome my discomfort, and not expose my displeasure, but at home I was arbitrary, self-important, and at times I even shouted at my mother. After I got married, when my husband and child didn’t do as I asked, I would lose my temper at them. I thought of how at Sunday school I taught children to carry out the Lord’s teachings and be loving and tolerant toward others, but I couldn’t practice those things in my own life, and I realized I was living in sin. I often prayed for the Lord’s forgiveness for this, but nothing changed. I felt distraught and confused, “The apostle Paul said, ‘There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death’ (Romans 8:1–2). We believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Lord forgives our sins. Our sin is removed, which ought to mean that we no longer sin, but why do I still live in sin? Why can’t I practice the Lord’s teachings? When will I finally be able to stop sinning?”
I asked the preachers about my confusion, but they had no answers. They simply told me to have faith in the Lord. Their answers left me without a path. Church meetings were no longer any help to me, so I stopped going to meetings. Afterward, I often watched Christian movies on YouTube, seeking the spiritual sustenance of life. I watched many sermons and lectures by many pastors and elders, but none of these could help me change, nor could they provide me any spiritual life growth. I still lived in a state of sinning during the day and confessing my sins at night. I didn’t know when I could stop sinning, and over this I often prayed, cried, and begged the Lord for help.
A Light Appears As God Hears My Prayers
One day in 2018, as I was searching for Christian movies, a film called Where Is My Home caught my eye, so out of curiosity, I clicked and watched it. In the film, I saw that the protagonist and preachers weren’t reading the Bible, but instead were reading the book The Word Appears in the Flesh. I had never seen this book before, but the words in the book contained truth and were able to resolve people’s practical difficulties. The film’s protagonist, Wen Ya, had experienced her parents divorcing as a child, after which she endured the torment of her mother becoming seriously ill and her father passing away. Yet when she felt discouraged and hopeless, it was God who saved her. The words in The Word Appears in the Flesh allowed Wen Ya to understand that we, as humans, have been corrupted by Satan, and we all live in misery with no hope of escape, and that only by coming before God can we find protection and live happily. Later, Wen Ya was able to emerge from her torment and find her true home. From the film, I saw that the words in The Word Appears in the Flesh truly were wonderful. They were able to give me strength. I thought, “Just who could allow us to know God’s disposition? Who could clearly explain the sinfulness and evil of mankind? Who could understand the reason mankind is in torment? And just who could resolve the problem of people living in torment?” I felt that these words had authority, and couldn’t have been spoken by any person. I was very interested in this book, because I felt these words could improve my relationship with God.
So, I continued to watch movies from The Church of Almighty God. I watched the film Salvation, in which the protagonist enthusiastically expends for God, forsakes everything to fulfill his duties, and even though the CCP arrests and tortures him, he resumed his duties after being released. He thought that because he had suffered, traveled far, understood much of the truth, and was someone who had knowledge of God, he ought to be qualified to enter the kingdom of heaven. But later, a sudden trial comes to him. His wife is captured and tortured to death by the CCP police, and when he learns of this, he complains against God, blames God, misunderstands God, and loses his faith in God. In his torment, through Almighty God’s words, he comes to reflect on himself, and realizes that he believes in God and performs his duties to gain blessings, and that when trials come, he is still capable of misunderstanding and blaming God. After that, by reading Almighty God’s words, he understands that he can still rebel against and resist God, and that he has not truly gained salvation. Only those with sincere love and obedience for God can attain full salvation. As he undergoes this trial, his fallacious view and mistaken notions about belief in God are changed, he develops new faith in God, and he continues to serve God. Watching that movie made me see that my own love for God was far from sufficient. If I were in the same position as the protagonist, I didn’t know if I would remain loyal to God. The experiences of the film’s protagonist gave me confidence that I should strengthen my faith, continue to follow God, and experience similar circumstances so that God could purify my corrupt dispositions, because only then would I have a chance to enter the kingdom of heaven.
Later, when I watched movies on the arrests, torment, and torture suffered by brothers and sisters in The Church of Almighty God at the hands of the CCP, I noticed that as they experienced persecution and trials, the words of Almighty God were the basis of their faith. I wanted very much to read these words, because I felt these words were the truth, or it would be very difficult for these brothers and sisters to remain loyal and follow God while being so cruelly persecuted by the CCP government. I deeply admired their immovable faith and desire to serve God, and I felt that this was the result achieved by the work of the Holy Spirit, because it was impossible for people to produce such testimony. After seeing all these things, I was even more curious about The Church of Almighty God.
My Heart Rejoices As I Find the Path to Get Rid of Sin
Finally, I visited The Church of Almighty God’s website and made contact with brothers and sisters from the church. At our first meeting, Brother Zheng fellowshiped to me, “There are more and more unlawful things happening in churches. Sermons by the pastors and elders are cliched, stale, and lifeless, church meetings provide no sustenance, and believers almost universally live in a cycle of sinning and repenting. The reason for this is that the Holy Spirit’s work has moved. God has again come incarnate to conclude the Age of Grace, begin the Age of Kingdom, and do the work of judging and purifying mankind. The Holy Spirit has already left the Age of Grace churches and moved to the Age of Kingdom churches, and it now works upon all those who accept God’s work of the last days. So, because the Age of Grace churches now lack the work of the Holy Spirit, they are unable to provide a source of the living water, people are trapped in darkness, and thereby become ever more depraved. This fulfills Jehovah God’s prophecy, ‘And also I have withheld the rain from you, when there were yet three months to the harvest: and I caused it to rain on one city, and caused it not to rain on another city: one piece was rained on, and the piece whereupon it rained not withered’ (Amos 4:7). Only by keeping up with God’s footsteps can we receive the work and guidance of the Holy Spirit, and only with the provision and watering of God’s words can our thirsty spirits finally be quenched.”
Only then did I understand that our church lacked the work of the Holy Spirit because God had come to do a new stage of work, and the Holy Spirit’s work had moved. I felt that Brother Zheng’s fellowship had light, that it had God’s guidance, but I was also somewhat confused, “I believe that the Lord Jesus may well have returned, but the Lord Jesus already saved us. When the Lord returns, He ought to directly rapture us into the kingdom of heaven. Why does He have to do the work of judging and purifying people? What’s going on here?” So, I explained my confusion.
After he heard me, Brother Zheng fellowshiped, “Many brothers and sisters hold this view. They believe that as long as we accept the Lord Jesus as our Savior, our sins are forgiven, we are redeemed, and that once the Lord returns, we will be directly raptured into heaven. But, have we considered whether this kind of view accords with the truth? Did the Lord Jesus say that if our sins are forgiven, we can enter the kingdom of heaven? Did the Holy Spirit ever say such a thing? Jehovah God said, ‘You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy’ (Leviticus 11:45). The Lord Jesus said, ‘Not every one that said to Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of My Father which is in heaven’ (Matthew 7:21). God is righteous and holy, so only those whose corrupt dispositions are purified and who can do God’s will can enter the kingdom of heaven. We are full of filth, and can still rebel against and resist God. If He were to directly bring people such as us into the kingdom of heaven, how would God’s righteousness and holiness be expressed? So, our notion that ‘we can enter the kingdom of heaven if our sins are forgiven’ doesn’t accord with the Lord’s words, nor with the Lord’s will. Only those who rid themselves of their corrupt dispositions and become people who can do God’s will can enter the kingdom of heaven. Let’s read a few passages of Almighty God’s word and you’ll understand more clearly. Almighty God says, ‘At the time, Jesus’ work was the work to redeem 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’ (“The Vision of God’s Work (2)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). ‘The sins of man could be forgiven through the sin offering, but as for just how man can be made to sin no more, and how his sinful nature may be extirpated completely and transformed, he has no way of solving this problem. The sins of man were forgiven, and this is because of the work of God’s crucifixion, but man continued to live within his corrupt satanic disposition of old. This being so, man must be completely saved from his corrupt satanic disposition, so that his sinful nature may be completely extirpated, never to develop again, thus enabling the disposition of man to be transformed. This would require man to grasp the path of growth in life, to grasp the way of life, and to grasp the way to change his disposition. Furthermore, it would require man to act in accordance with this path, so that his disposition may gradually be changed and he may live under the shining of the light, so that all that he does may be in accord with the will of God, so that he may cast away his corrupt satanic disposition, and so that he may break free from Satan’s influence of darkness, thereby emerging fully from sin. Only then will man receive complete salvation’ (‘The Mystery of the Incarnation (4)’ in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
“As we all know, people late in the Age of Law were corrupted ever more deeply by Satan. None could keep the law or commandments, and no offering could redeem their sins. They all faced the risk of being condemned and put to death by the law. To save those who lived under the law from the threat of death, God personally came in incarnate flesh as the Lord Jesus and did the work of redemption. He did His work on the earth, and was finally crucified on the cross as flesh without sin, serving as the sin offering for mankind, which redeemed mankind from their sin. Any who accepted the Lord Jesus’ work, as long as they confessed their sins to the Lord and repented, would have their sins forgiven, and no longer be condemned and put to death by the law, and they would also enjoy the Lord’s bountiful grace and blessings. To those who lived under the law, this was salvation. So, when we say we are saved because we believe in the Lord Jesus, we refer primarily to the fact that we have escaped the condemnation and cursing of the law. But, does believing and being saved mean that we are purified? Even though, after we believe in the Lord, we outwardly do some good deeds, are able to bear suffering and hardship, make offerings and do service, do the Lord’s work, and so on, our corrupt dispositions are still rooted deeply within us. Satanic natures like arrogance, selfishness, cunning, greed, and evil have already become our lives. We are controlled by these satanic natures, we are still capable of involuntarily sinning and resisting God, and we cannot practice the Lord’s teachings at all. In our daily lives, for example, when the words of others injure our pride, although we may not say anything, we develop biases in our hearts, and can even condemn others. We aren’t tolerant or patient at all, much less do we love our enemies. We also often lie and deceive, thereby failing to be honest people, to protect our own reputation, status, and interests. Also, when God blesses us, we thank and praise God, and have greater motivation to expend for God, but when disaster befalls us, we complain against and misunderstand God, are unwilling to expend for God, and in serious cases betray God. The list goes on. There is still so much corruption within us, so how could God possibly lift us up into His kingdom? Quite clearly, the fact that our sins are forgiven because we believe does not mean we have been purified, because the Lord Jesus only redeemed our sins, not our satanic natures. If we don’t resolve our satanic natures, even if our sins are forgiven a thousand or ten thousand times over, we still cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. So, based on our needs, in the last days God has again appeared incarnate to do the further work of judgment and purification, expressed all the truth we require to be purified, revealed the true fact of our corruption by Satan, revealed the root of our sin and resistance to God, and pointed out the path for us to change our corrupt dispositions. If we accept the judgment and chastisement in God’s words, diligently read God’s word, and earnestly pursue the truth, our corrupt dispositions will gradually be purified and changed, and finally we will become people who genuinely obey and love God. By doing so, we will become people who are fully saved by God, and only then can we enter God’s kingdom.”
After hearing Almighty God’s words and Brother Zheng’s fellowship, I understood that the Lord Jesus had only forgiven our sins, and that being saved because we believe only means that we are not condemned or put to death by the law, but does not mean that we are purified. I thought of how, despite the fact that at church I could be tolerant and control my feelings, at home I was capricious and self-important. Especially when my family said or did things that went against my wishes, I could lose my temper. Even though I confessed my sins and repented to the Lord each time I lost my temper, the next time it would happen again. I couldn’t change it. I finally realized this was because the sinfulness within me had not been expunged. In Revelation 21:27 it says, “And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defiles, neither whatever works abomination, or makes a lie.” Sinners cannot enter God’s kingdom. How could someone like me, who was full of corrupt dispositions, ever gain God’s approval and be directly brought into the kingdom of heaven? I now realized that God returning in the last days to do the work of judgment and purify man was very necessary! Once I understood these things, I was quite excited, but I still didn’t understand very well how God judges and purifies people. I realized that, with so many impure things within me, if God is doing the work of judgment, wouldn’t I be condemned? So, again I explained my confusion, and asked Brother Zheng for fellowship.
When he finished listening to me, he smiled and said, “The reason we have such thoughts is because we lack knowledge of God’s work of judgment! In the last days, God has expressed words to do the work of judgment not because He condemns our sins, but to purify, save us, allow us to see the true fact of our corruption by Satan through the revelations in His words, allow us to recognize our natures and essences of resisting and betraying God, and at the same time to allow us to know that God’s righteous disposition brooks no offense, to allow us to develop hearts that fear God, to allow us to loath and curse our satanic natures from the depths of our hearts, to allow us to escape our satanic corrupt dispositions, to allow us to live out a true human likeness, and to attain full salvation from God. The truth is that God’s work of judgment in the last days is His greatest love and salvation yet for mankind! So, how does God do the work of judgment and purify people? Let’s read God’s word to learn more about this aspect of truth.”
He opened a book of God’s word and read, “In the last days, Christ uses a variety of truths to teach man, to expose the essence of man, and to dissect the words and deeds of man. 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 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, the 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 a few words; He exposes, deals with, and prunes over the long term. These methods of exposure, dealing, and pruning cannot be substituted with ordinary words, but with the truth of which man is utterly bereft. Only methods such as these can be called 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” (“Christ Does the Work of Judgment With the Truth” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
With a smile, he fellowshiped, “God’s words state very clearly that in the last days, He expresses many aspects of the truth to judge and purify people. God reveals the essence of our corrupt nature, our many notions of God and fallacies buried deep within our heart regarding belief in God, as well as all manner of our satanic dispositions, and much more. In God’s word, we see that we are corrupted too deeply by Satan, and that satanic toxins, philosophies, and logic have become our lives. In our words and deeds we practice such satanic logic, principles, and evil sayings such as ‘Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost,’ ‘I am my own lord throughout heaven and earth,’ ‘Those who toil with their minds govern others, and those who toil with their hands are governed by others,’ ‘Man will do anything to get rich,’ and ‘Men should always strive to be better than their contemporaries.’ We put our interests, wealth, reputation, and status above all else, and in our interactions with others, we always want them to obey us. No matter what we are doing, we always scheme for our interests. Where there is something to be gained, we race to be first to do it, while attempting to put off or get out of things from which we gain nothing. Even when we believe in God, we forsake and expend to gain gifts and crowns, hoping to exchange a small price for great blessings. There are many such examples. All of our words and deeds expose corrupt dispositions like arrogance, self-importance, selfishness, baseness, evil, greed, cunning, and crookedness, and we lack any true human likeness. At the same time as we experience the judgment and chastisement in God’s words, God also arranges various circumstances to prune, deal with, chasten, and discipline us. At times, we live by satanic philosophies and do not practice the truth, so we fall into darkness and are unable to feel God’s presence, causing us to feel agony and torment. When we come before God, pray, and turn around, God uses His words to blame us, make us know ourselves, and find appropriate truth to practice. At times, God will mobilize people, matters, and events to remind and deal with us, to make us know that God’s righteous disposition brooks no offense, and reflect on ourselves, so that we come to know our own rebelliousness and resistance. At times, God’s word consoles and encourages us, allowing us to understand His good intentions in saving mankind, and allowing us to not be negative or weak, have the determination to pursue the truth, and pursue dispositional change. When we experience God’s judgment and chastisement, we develop discernment of positive and negative things, and we also know what kind of people God likes and dislikes, and what kind of people He saves and eliminates. We develop ever more fear and obedience for God, and we begin to loathe our own satanic natures, betray satanic logic, and comport ourselves and do things according to God’s requirements. Our views on things begin to change, our life dispositions gradually change, and we begin to live out a human likeness. We can truly feel that God’s work of judgment is practical, that it actually can purify and change our corrupt dispositions, and that only by accepting God’s work of judgment in the last days can we completely free ourselves from the bondage of sin, attain full salvation from God, and be brought into the kingdom of heaven by God.”
Through his fellowship on Almighty God’s word, I learned that my understanding of God’s work of judgment in the last days was mistaken. It was based on my own notions and imaginings. In the Bible, it says, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, said Jehovah. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8–9). God is the Lord of creation, His deeds are miraculous, inscrutable, and full of His wisdom, and they are not things we can understand with our own minds. I finally understood that the purpose of God’s work of judgment is not to condemn or punish, but instead to purify and change our corrupt dispositions, and to allow us to be fully saved by God. Once I understood these things, I was no longer afraid. Instead, I wished more to follow God, and I rejoiced that I was able to hear God’s voice and find a path to escape sin. I happily accepted God’s work of the last days.
Living in the Light, Pursuing the Truth
After I accepted God’s new work, I often listened to hymns in praise of God and watched films, crosstalk, and comedy skits on The Church of Almighty God’s website, and I also participated in church life with my brothers and sisters. I enjoyed the watering and shepherding of God’s word, drank the water from the river of life that flows from the throne, my spirit was quenched, and I no longer thirsted. Through continuously reading God’s word, I came to understand some aspects of the truth, such as the aim and significance of God’s three stages of work, the significance of God’s name, the mystery of God’s incarnation, and how to attain full salvation and be purified. I also came to know more about God’s disposition, I saw that God’s disposition is not only merciful and loving, but also righteous and majestic, and I saw that the righteous disposition expressed by God in the last days is better able to change and purify our corrupt natures and enable us to attain full salvation. Now, in my own life, I have also started to focus on knowing my own corrupt dispositions, practicing the truth, and being tolerant and patient with my family. That I’ve been able to understand these things is all thanks to God’s enlightenment and guidance. Thanks be to God!