“Then God said, ‘Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear’; and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering together of the waters He called Seas. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth’; and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. So the evening and the morning were the third day.”
Today, I would like to share with you what our Lord did on the third day of creation. On the second day, God had divided the water above the firmament from the water below it, but even after this, the surface of the earth was still covered with water. When the third day came, God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear,” and it was so. He also said, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth,” and this, too, came about as God commanded.
On the third day also, God worked with His Word, and the Bible mentions twice that seeing what was fulfilled, “God saw that it was good.” God was pleased to see the dry land appearing, and He was again pleased to see the earth bringing forth the plants and trees that yield fruits.
When the surface of the earth was covered with water, the ground was not revealed. Without the dry land appearing, the earth looks beautiful no matter how filthy and dirty it may be, since it is covered by water. But, God made the dry land that had been covered under water appear, and called it “earth.” Seeing the appearance of the earth that had been covered with water, God said that it was good. Why, then, was God pleased to see the dry land appearing?
God also said, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind.” The earth here refers to the human heart, to the sinful nature of mankind. The human heart is extremely deceitful and corrupt. It is filthy and wicked beyond description. However, among all these countless people, there aren’t that many people who know that their dry land (heart) is fundamentally evil.
By what kind of people, then, are the fruits of righteousness born in abundance? The Bible says that the fruits of righteousness are born by those who know that their basic nature is evil.
This principle runs contrary to the worldly principle. In the world, it is said that one’s heart must be good and clean to receive the blessings of Heaven and bear many fruits. Many people understand so, believe so, and are practicing so. However, the Word of Truth says that to bear many fruits of Truth, we must know that our hearts are full of wickedness.
Our Lord said, “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man” (Mark 7:21-23). It is those who know their sinful fundamental selves like this, the Bible says, that are saved.
The implication of this passage underscores the need to know properly what is present in the basic human heart. One may have received the remission of his sins, but he may or may not bear good fruits, depending on whether he admits that the sinful attributes listed in Mark 7:21-23 are in his heart, or whether he admits just one or two and denies the rest—in other words, whether or not he wholly believes in this Word that reveals our basic nature.
Through His work achieved on this third day of creation, God is showing clearly that the gospel bears abundant fruits through those who know that their fundamental selves are filthy and foul. Mankind’s carnal thoughts are always evil. “I have a murderous carnal nature, I am adulterous, and I am perverted. This is who I am by nature”—it is through such people who thus admit themselves honestly that God bears spiritual fruits.
As today’s Scripture passage describes, when God said, “Let the dry land appear,” it was so. Why, then, did God command the dry land to appear? The earth had been covered with water, and regardless of how this water was the polluted water that was under the firmament, water is still water; and so when all impurities sink to the bottom, it looks clear in the eye. However, by making the dry land appear, God wanted mankind to realize their fundamental selves. The implication here is that we should know just how filthy and foul beings we all are and be saved by believing in Jesus Christ, and that it is through such people that the fruits of faith are born.
Where do fruit trees grow best? They grow best on a field with plenty of manure. The fruit tree here refers to someone who has received the remission of his sins. Through whom are the fruits of the gospel born? God says that the spiritual fruits are born through those who really know their true selves as they are, who acknowledge the Word of God as it is, and who admit themselves to God exactly according to His Word, saying, “In my flesh I have lustful desires, I am a thief, an adulterer, a pervert, someone whose thoughts are evil, proud and foolish.” It’s the complete opposite of the teachings of the world.
Jesus Christ is saying, “Know just how filthy your hearts are.” He is saying, “In your hearts, there are evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, thefts, covetousness, lewdness, foolishness, pride, and so on.” Through those who, despite this, do not acknowledge the Lord’s Word and do not expose their sinful selves fully, it is impossibly to grow fruit trees, nor to yield any fruit. For such people who do not reveal themselves completely, even after they receive the remission of their sins, no fruit is produced as others cannot be saved through them—on the contrary, only their hypocrisy is exposed.
Spiritually speaking, it is never a good thing for you to hear others saying how good or virtuous you are. Your basic selves are what were listed above, and so your virtues are nothing more than outward hypocrisy. God is saying to us, “You are evil human beings, you are adulterous, covetous, and thieves, you are filthy and foul, nothing more than a garbage dump and sewage”; yet despite this, when we look at ourselves, this is not how we see. While we may admit one or two wrongdoings, we would like to insist that we still have clear water. Even sewage can be made look clear, if it is left still, as the dirty grime sinks to the bottom and its top layer is cleared. But does this mean that the top water that looks clear is really clean? It only looks clear in the eye, and it is still dirty water filled with all kinds of germs. So is human hypocrisy like this.
More Wicked Than Anything Else Is the Human Heart
God speaks the Truth, which runs completely opposite to mankind’s thoughts. That “the dry land appeared” means that one’s true self is exposed. God is saying that He will yield the fruits of the gospel through those who, by believing in the Word of God, come to realize and admit their true selves honestly, saying, “In my flesh I have murderous desires, a heart of adultery, theft, fornication, pride, foolishness, and false witness.” We have to admit what God declares about human nature: “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9). Once again, it’s completely opposite to the teachings of the world.
My fellow believers, you can take pride in the gospel and exalt Jesus Christ only if you know your evil selves. When you have nothing on your own to boast of or are good at, you come to preach only Jesus Christ and take pride in Jesus Christ alone. Apart from what Jesus Christ has done, everything else is all filthy and foul, and those who know this properly can testify anytime and anywhere, “Jesus Christ has saved even someone like me in this way. You, too, are the kind of people revealed in Mark 7, and you must be saved also.”
My fellow believers, do you believe that you really are evil beings as God said? Do you believe that every human being is so? God has turned such people like us into those who bear the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Who, then, are the ones that do not admit their wickedness? These are the ones who, hiding all kinds of filth in their hearts, pretend to be virtuous, go to church on the Lord’s day with the Bible tucked at their side and smiling pretentiously, worship in fake holiness inside the church, and pretend to live a holy life. They are the religionists of the world, those who crave the fruits of hypocrisy.
My fellow believers, are human beings capable of living a holy and virtuous life? No, of course not! God says to us, “You are decadent beings.” When people love and serve the world more than God, how can they ever live in holiness? Yet many religionists teach that it is possible to live like this, and so they are like completely whitewashed tombs. This is how Jesus Christ rebuked the Pharisees. Christian religionists are godly only when they go to church, but once they are back at home, all their wickedness is fully exposed. What is exposed when human beings commit transgression is their fundamental selves, but these religionist are completely oblivious to it.
God Works Only through Those Who Acknowledge His Word
In Noah’s time, “the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5); and so God wiped out the people of those days with His judgment, but Noah found the grace of God. Thus the Bible writes, “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God” (Genesis 6:8-9).
God bestowed His grace on Noah and saved him. To the evil human beings whose very thoughts are evil, God commands them to produce the plants that yield seed and the fruit trees that yield fruit according to their kinds. God does not work in the water, that is, this world. He works on the exposed dry land. That God made the earth yield fruit means that God brings the remission of sin to those whose fundamental selves—the dry land, in other words—are exposed, and it is these people whom He makes them do the good work that serves the gospel.
Among us Christians, there are so many people who are virtuous in the flesh. Someone who is carnally virtuous does not manifest Jesus Christ, but he manifests only his own goodness and virtues. God is never pleased by this but abhors it. We all have to realize that the goodness of mankind stands against God.
Some people say that when I am gentle, I am really gentle, but when I am harsh, I am too harsh. But what virtue do I have that I would pretend to be virtuous? My fellow believers, even among those who have been saved from sin, it is through those who admit their wickedness—that is, those who believe in the Word of God exactly as it is—that the glory of God is revealed. In contrast, those who do not believe in God’s Word cannot bear any good fruit. The righteousness of God is manifested through those who know that they themselves are the filthiest and foulest beings. We know we are such wicked beings not because we have all committed such sins with our acts, but because when we were illuminated by the Word, we came to admit, “It’s all true! I am such a filthy and wicked being,” and believed so with our hearts. Such people, as their own righteousness is vanished, come to preach only the righteousness of Jesus Christ, and it is from then on that they become instruments of righteousness.
I admonish all of you, from students at our mission school to our ministers, gospel preachers, and brothers and sisters throughout the world, to place no expectation either on yourselves or on other fellow believers. Even though no one can place any expectations on his flesh, many of us are still prone to think, “I am different from the rest.”
But all human beings are the same. God says, “Human beings are piles of sin, a brood of evildoers, more corrupt than anything else.” Yet even through such human beings, fruits can be born, and this is the very testament to God’s power. Isn’t this amazing? This is the simple Truth, that for us to bear fruit, we must first realize who we are. As God has exposed us in all our nakedness and is illuminating us with the Word, saying to us, “You are filled with iniquities,” we must all believe in it and admit it exactly as it is.
Do you admit this fact? We must always admit ourselves as such. Indeed, all that can be squeezed out of mankind is nothing more than filth. We can think hard all we want, but out of our carnal thoughts, nothing else can come out but only evil thoughts, larcenous desires, murderous mind, and adulterous lust. This is the true portrait of mankind as described by God. Yet despite this, many people have absolutely no desire to admit such sins, as long as they have not committed them with their acts. Even though the One who created us is telling us that this is who we are, for He knows all about us, we don’t want to admit it.
So, we try hard to cover our shame with fig leaves. But how long would a skirt made out of fig leaves last? How effective is it to cover ourselves with our acts of hypocrisy? It is all too human for our shame to be exposed in less than a day, or even half a day.
God said no less than twice that it was good to see the dry land exposed and the earth that bore seed. It is through those who really know their true selves that God yields the fruits of righteousness that preach Jesus Christ, the fruits that are beautiful in God’s eyes.
We Must Acknowledge God’s Word with Our Hearts
Do you now admit that your hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked above all things?
Incidentally, however, there are those who intentionally reveal their wickedness in action, just because God was pleased to see the dry land appearing. Having received the remission of their sins, some people deliberately reveal their wickedness freely, as they have misunderstood this passage. We shouldn’t do this. This passage does not tell us to show our sinful selves through our action, but to admit ourselves before the Word. It is meant to tell us that we should accept the Word of God, admit and acknowledge with our hearts before God first that we are such sinful beings, and find His grace and reach righteousness. It is such people who are wise.
The first phenomenon that appears to those who have received the remission of their sins is that their wickedness is revealed more than their goodness. I even heard that couples that rarely quarreled before being born again ended up quarreling more often after receiving the remission of sin. So having received the remission of sin, they think, “Why am I like this? Maybe did I not receive the remission of my sins? Why is it that this is all that I can become?”
But, don’t worry about your salvation if you surely believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. This is God exposing the dry land in your everyday life, because you have not fully acknowledged His Word on your fundamental nature. When we acknowledge the Word, the fruits of righteousness are born. When we do not acknowledge the Word with our hearts, God has to struggle with us and overcome us, and so He exposes us all through our circumstances. That is why those who have been born again just recently agonize over their wickedness.
Given this, my fellow believers, we have to acknowledge the Word of God as soon as possible and believe in it, especially about our fundamental nature. We then really can live in the light of the Word of God, take pride in the gospel, and live together with the gospel and with God.
We must realize the real substance of mankind. Yet some people do not know the real substance of mankind, and so even as they heard the gospel, they still try to live virtuously, and when this is proven impossible, they eventually end up giving up their faith in the righteousness of God. No life of faith can be lived like this. Through the Word, we must first realize who we really are.
Can you now understand this? Do you now clearly admit your true selves, just as revealed in the Word? As we carry on with our lives of faith, I admonish you all to admit yourselves. As for me, I myself am exactly as revealed in the Word of God. It is because we have nothing to boast of, and because no human being has any goodness at all, that Jesus Christ took away the sins of people like me, all the sins of everyone in this world. It is because Jesus Christ was preached and I believed in the Word of God that I have become a righteous man. The Holy Spirit in me is testifying that only the Word of God is true. That is how I have become an instrument of righteousness that spreads God’s righteousness. If I did not have the Word of Jesus Christ, I would have had no choice but to live as a man rotten to the core and reeking foul smells.
Nonetheless, those who stand before God try not to expose their filthy aspects as much as possible, and they attempt to cover them up, even if it makes them hypocrites. In other words, everyone wants to hide his blemishes and insufficiencies from God. However, when we seek to admit and expose the wickedness that is in our hearts, the whole purpose is to realize and know the gift of the true remission of our sins. That is why our wickedness must be exposed even more, so that we may receive the real remission of our sins.
Actually, the wickedness that everyone has was something that even oneself could not realize on his own. However, those whose wickedness is not exposed before God cannot receive the remission of sin that the Lord offers to us as His gift.
In chapter 8 of John, there is an account of a woman who was caught in adultery in the very act, and whose sins were forgiven by Jesus Christ. Of this woman and the many people who were accusing her, who was blessed to receive the remission of sin? To those who had picked up stones and were ready to cast them at the woman, Jesus Christ said, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” In effect, Jesus Christ was saying to them, “You, too, are all sinners, just like that woman.”
However, because the crowd did not wholly admit that they were sinners before the Word of the Lord, they all left, and only the woman could receive the remission of her sins. This means that those whose wickedness are not exposed before God cannot be blessed to receive the remission of sin that He offers. Everyone must pull out their wickedness and stand bare before the presence of God. When Peter first met the Lord, he, too, confessed, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord” (Luke 5:8).
Yet there are so many people who are so completely oblivious to their real entity. Representative of such people were the Pharisees discussed in the Bible, who failed to realize their wickedness, and who sought to hide it whenever it was threatened to be exposed even slightly. Before God, their hearts had no faith in His righteousness, and so they boasted their own righteousness instead.
The Bible says that such people try hard to cover the righteousness of God that constitutes the Truth of salvation, as they seek to manifest their own righteousness (Romans 10:3). They claim that they are different from everyone else. Approaching God only with their own human righteousness, they ultimately fail to believe in the righteousness of God and end up standing against it. In other words, such people have too much of their own righteousness that they actually end up suffering great losses, as they are incapable of holding onto God’s righteousness, fail at their lives of faith, and are unable to be saved.
Even today, the religionists of the world are boasting their own righteousness and exalting themselves, rather than exalting the righteousness of God. It is indeed an unbearable sight to see such people coming before God and seeking to manifest only their own righteousness, completely ignorant of their true selves.
However, God is saying to such people just how filthy and foul they all are. As such, all of us must come before God, humbly lower our heads and hearts, and accept His righteousness and believe in it with thanksgiving. Fundamentally speaking, those who fear God lower their hearts, exalt His righteousness, and believe in it. Those who know their true selves and have humble faith before God will receive great blessings, for they are rejoicing through believing in God’s righteousness. Today’s Pharisees, the religionists of this age, must also look into their own hearts and admit their own wickedness. When they admit, “God, I am so evil. Please have mercy on me,” the Lord will then meet them through the Word of Truth.
Many of you probably grew up dotted with many compliments, hearing people saying, “You are such a good kid! You are so well-mannered and so pretty.” So to this day, you probably thought that this was who you were. Such people do not know themselves even as they are standing before God, and so in the end, they are ultimately unable to attain true faith. Because they have to pretend to be clean even though there are all kinds of filth inside them, they end up turning into religionists, skilled at whitewashing themselves in hypocrisy as the days go by.
However, what we must realize is the fact that by nature, we are not so good and righteous as to be commended for such a manner. God declares that there is absolutely nothing that is good or right in us (Romans 3:10-12).
A brother at my church recently told me the following story. To attend college, this brother had left his home and was living in the city where my church is located. Whenever he went back home during a break, he always heard his parents saying, “Our son is here! Where on this earth could we ever find a better son than you?”
But as he spent some time away from home and saw himself, he realized that he was not that good or virtuous, but he was actually filthy beyond description. So he thought about this, and he realized that he had to be careful not to misbehave while in his hometown as there were many relatives living close by, and this explained why he seemed so well-mannered to his parents. But as he spent time away in a city where no one knew him, all his true self was exposed as he really was. So this brother confessed that he could not avoid but admit all his fundamentally wicked self, just as described in chapter 7 of Mark.
When we are under ideal circumstances, we all think that we are virtuous, but once our circumstances change—for instance, were we to move to a new city—and we are completely on our own without anyone interfering, then our true selves are all exposed, and we come to realize just how evil and filthy we are.
However, what is amazing is that once God exposes someone’s wickedness, He begins to work in his heart. When a farmer plants seeds in the field, he doesn’t just plant them without any preparation. He first plows the field, sorts out the stones, furrows the field, and then sows the seeds.
God also works like this. In other words, it is when the wickedness of our hearts is exposed that God also begins to work. So we have to realize that when the water covering the earth is drained, filthy trash is exposed there. All kinds of waste come out of there, from discarded tires to plastic bags, dusters, shoes, torn umbrellas, and rags. We can also see liquor bottles, beer cans, whiskey bottles, and even electric home appliances rusting away.
God first strips the human heart and exposes its wickedness to bare, and from there He begins to do His work of salvation through the gospel of the water and the Spirit. We must now understand what it means when God said, “Let the dry land appear,” and why He was pleased to see this.
We can never be approved by God for our human goodness. Yet despite this, even to this day, countless people still think of themselves to be virtuous. Not knowing their true selves, they think themselves to be clean. They think they are at least better than some people. They are just like the crowd who accused the woman caught in the very act of adultery, and who thought themselves to be better than this woman. The religionists refrain from drinking and smoking, and so they treat anyone who drinks and smokes as a sinner.
But, what about you? Do you think you are better than someone who goes to a burlesque? No, you have nothing better. If you are any better, it’s only because you now dwell in God’s Church, and you believe in the Word of God and follow it in your lives; if you had not been born again, and only led religious lives in this world, then you would have been the same as any nonbeliever. That is why God first exposes the dry land, the earth, and then works on this exposed land.
Of all the works that God does to us, the very first thing that He does is to break our mindset that holds ourselves to be good and virtuous. He strips us of our confused thoughts and misconceptions. Given the fact that the basic human nature itself is filthy and evil, how would it be possible to lead an upright life of faith without even realizing this?
When I had been living my life of faith before I was born again, I, too, was praised by many of my congregation for my goodness and recognized as an exemplary believer. So I myself naturally came to think in like manner. However, I was still tormented constantly by the sins that I committed secretly. It was only later on, after I was born again through the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and after my false self-portrait that had covered my heart and thoughts came off, that I was finally able to lead a proper life of faith.
When water is withdrawn from the earth, it is from then on that your wickedness is revealed. All the hypocrisy encouraged and sought after by the religions of the world is also exposed. So when we throw out our false righteousness and our false goodness, from then on, God will work in our lives with His Word and make us bear the fruits of salvation. If we really want to bear fruits through the righteousness of God, then we must first rely on the Word of the Lord, rather than relying on ourselves, for our true selves are filthy and foul. In other words, instead of preaching our own righteousness, when we preach the righteousness of Jesus Christ and live by believing in the righteousness of God, the fruits of salvation will then be born in our hearts.
My fellow believers, as we compare our own righteousness to the righteousness of God, we must realize that we are that much more wicked and filthier. And because there is nothing right in ourselves, because we are filled with all kinds of filth, it is absolutely indispensable to have this gospel of the water and the Spirit that gives us God’s perfect righteousness. We must cherish and believe in the righteousness of God. Are you now persuaded? If we are clean by nature, then there would be no need for Jesus Christ to help us with the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
The more we realize that our true selves are evil and filthy, the more we cannot help but boast about the righteousness of Jesus Christ before God. That is why God commanded to let the dry land appear. The dry land must be exposed. Many of you still do not have your dry land exposed. The dry land must appear completely. This does not mean that you should deliberately commit many wicked deeds. Rather, it means that you should cast aside your humanistic thought that holds yourselves to be virtuous, and instead believe in the righteousness of God that He has manifested through the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
All the mistaken knowledge that is in our flesh and our thoughts must be removed, as our pretentious posturing to goodness must also be removed. Only then does the Word of God work in the tablets of our hearts. People must follow Jesus by faith, but many fail to do so. If you look around, you can probably see some people who are very quick-minded world-wise. I am referring to those who are very cunning and calculating in the ways of the world. Strangely, such people cannot become disciples following Jesus Christ. That’s because rather than trusting in God, they rely more on their own plans and calculations.
Such people must cast aside their shrewdness. You probably also have some people around you with human virtues. Neither can these people become Jesus Christ’s disciples. No one can follow Jesus Christ with his own goodness. Why? Because they think they are more virtuous than Jesus Christ. When they think they are better than Jesus Christ, how could they ever follow Him? For such people also, they can become Jesus Christ’s disciples only if they cast aside their own goodness and pride. Only those who have forsaken their everything can answer, “Yes, You are right, Lord. Only Your Word alone is true,” and become disciples following Jesus Christ. For all those who have an abundance of only human emotions, human pride and human feelings, their pride and attachments must be removed by their faith in Jesus Christ.
That is why the Lord said, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Mark 8:34). Perhaps you are now thinking, “How can I live like that? It would be so desolate.” Do not worry, however. Thanks to our God, new joy will come into your lives. After all, didn’t the guests at the wedding feast in Cana taste the better wine that the Lord gave them only after they ran out of the wine prepared by the host?
You must cast aside everything that is human. This seems so bleak though, doesn’t it? But it is not. On the contrary, spiritual and pure joy will fill your lives. You will sing truly spiritual praises, and you will indeed pray by faith; the Word will also work forcefully in your hearts; and through the gospel preached by us, many people will begin to live their true lives of faith where they are actually saved. So because of all this, our hearts will be filled with joy in the Lord and the Holy Spirit. When those who had taken pride in their own goodness and humanity are told to cast such things aside, they get all worried and don’t know what to do, as they had relied on them so much to this day. However, once they boldly do away with these things, they will experience for themselves new joy and new happiness springing forth from God. They will no longer be filled with their own human emotions, but with the Spirit of God.
My fellow believers, we must cast aside our old things. God said to Abraham, “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you” (Genesis 12:1). Likewise, God wants us to throw out our old things.
Returning to today’s Scripture passage again, let us look at what God did to us on the third day: “Then God said, ‘Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear’; and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering together of the waters He called Seas. And God saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:9-10).
The Dividing Ministry of God
On the third day also, God continued to divide. On this day, He divided the dry land from water, as He made the land appear by having all the water under the heavens gather into one place. He separated the dry land from the water. In other words, God wanted something in our thoughts and hearts to be divided.
Before the third day came, the whole earth was entirely covered by water. The land and the water were all mixed. This implies that in the hearts of those who still do not have spiritual order established, despite having been born again, the desire to serve God and the desire to serve themselves are all mixed together. So if one leads his life of faith in this condition, he ends up wavering back and forth, sometimes living for himself, other times for God; and there are many people who live their entire lifetime like this.
However, in such people’s hearts, God divides the dry land from the water, the earth from the seas. “Is your life for Me, or is it for yourself and the world?” God wants us to answer this question clearly. In other words, He wants to separate our two mixed motives. And God does not want us to love our own flesh and love the world.
Even among those of us who have received the remission of sin, there are a lot of people living like this, with their purpose for life all mixed up in their hearts. So, many people, even though they have received the remission of their sins, pretend to live for God even as they live to enjoy this world, trying to satisfy both sides.
Some workers who had lived entirely to serve the gospel have packed up and gone out to the world. One common thing that they all said when they left us was this: “I, too, want to live freely.” But, is there no freedom if we live serving the gospel? Far from it, there is even greater freedom. In their hearts, their love for the self was mixed with their love for God, and as it seized them, they ended up reaching spiritual death.
Even among the born-again, there are many people who live wavering back and forth between the spirit and the flesh, and yet comfort themselves by saying that they are still living for God. God does not approve of such people, and He wants to clearly separate what is spiritual from what is carnal in us, just as the earth was divided from the seas. God wants to make a clear division in our confused hearts and thoughts. God has clearly divided the flesh as the flesh, the spirit as the spirit, the work of God as the work of God, and the work of man as the work of man.
Our God wanted to make a clear division in such aspects, and He did so on the third day. You are now being nourished with the Word in the mission school. Why are we attending this mission school? What is the difference between those who are trained in our mission school and those who are not? The goal of the mission school’s training is to divide the spirit from the flesh in your hearts. It is to thus make you live entirely for God. Those to whom God’s work has not been fulfilled in this aspect are those who are going back and forth like this, living for both God and themselves. They are the ones to whom the work of the third day is yet to be fulfilled.
As you are now trained living with me, you must realize that to learn and understand the Word only intellectually is not the end of all. First of all, you must set a signpost in your hearts, “For what should I live?” You have to attend the class and the other training courses of our mission school with a determined heart, saying, “I will live for God. I will freely offer my body, time, or anything else if it would help to spread the gospel of God.”
God wants us to make up our minds to live our lives only for God and His gospel. So, He asks us to clarify for what we live at this point. This dividing work must arise clearly in us. We must discern what is spiritual from the things of flesh in us. Such a work must arise in the hearts of the born-again without fail.
Only when this work arises can the work of bearing fruits then begin. Without such a work, no fruit is ever born. If one has one foot in the world and another foot in God, and lives his life of faith like this saddling the fence, then God cannot work in such people’s hearts. Once we receive the remission of our sins, we must decide whether we would live for God or for ourselves, for the world and for God—we must choose either one or the other of them. While the choice must be made clearly, the righteous cannot live for the world.
Remove Impurities from Your Faith in the Grace of God
The Bible says, “Old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). From now on, we who have been made new must live for God, for what is righteous. Living only for God is spiritual, while trying to fulfill only the carnal desires is of the flesh. And we have to believe in God’s Word that says, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be” (Romans 8:5-7).
This is something that must be set unambiguously in both our hearts and minds. Even the things that you enjoyed in the past, if they were for you, then you must be able to boldly cut them off for God and for the gospel, and if they really do not please God, then you must be able to boldly and clearly cut them off from your hearts also.
Just as impurities must be removed from silver to obtain pure silver, so must we remove from our hearts the remaining carnal impurities that are mixed in them. You must clearly discern and separate what really is right in your hearts, and you must make up your minds, deciding, “Lord, I will really live for You. For the sake of the gospel and for You, I will dedicate all my life. I will offer my life only for You. I will not offer myself for the world and for its vanities.”
My fellow believers, it’s more than possible for us to live the rest of our lives enjoying the world. But would God be pleased if we were to live like this, or would He be pleased if we were to live entirely for Him alone? For what should we live to please God? In other words, what is good in God’s eyes? In God’s eyes, the right life is to live for Him, for the gospel, and for all the lost souls to receive the remission of their sins, fearing Him and following Him. In each of you also, God began to work on the third day. What kind of work did He begin on the third day? He said, “Let the land that had been submerged in water appear.” Then, the dry land appeared, and God separated it clearly from the water. He separated the love for the world from the love for God, and what is spiritual from what is carnal.
We have to do many different things to spread the gospel. If the gospel needs it, then we don’t care what happens to us. We are willing to do anything if it would please God. We are willing to pay any price. If we really cherish this gospel and God, then we must pay any price that this entails. Before God, in other words, we must be willing to give up anything, no matter how precious it might be.
My fellow believers, you are not attending this mission school for no reason. Maybe some of you might have enrolled here without a clear sense of purpose. However, my fellow believers, God is working in your hearts without fail. He is dividing what is spiritual from your carnal desires, making you set the spiritual goal of your lives. During the training period of the mission school, the spirit and the flesh must indeed be clearly divided in your hearts, and the work of removing all those worldly desires must be achieved. So we all need to pray ardently for this to come about.
We Must Fear God in Our Lives
We the born-again may not know all of the Bible, but we must live the rest of our lives entirely for God and for the gospel. One of the hymns that we sing has the following lyrics: “Offering all our bodies and all our wealth, let us spread this gospel.” If we really cherish God and cherish the gospel, then it is only proper to offer not only our bodies, but also our wealth. For this gospel, for Him, and for the expansion of the Kingdom of God, we must offer all our existence. Unless we set our minds wholly like this, we cannot serve the Lord, nor can there arise the work that clearly divides the earth from the water.
Should we really live for the world and for ourselves, or should we live our lives for God? Is it right or wrong to live for God? Which is right? To live entirely for God, or to live enjoying the world? For the born-again, to live entirely for God is what is right.
Even when a lion chases after a rabbit, it cannot catch its prey unless it puts all its energy. Even when we hammer a nail on the wall, we cannot get it right unless we concentrate on hammering. Like this, even a small task requires all our attention and effort to achieve it, and so when it comes to doing God’s work, it is far more so that we should really dedicate all our hearts, effort, will and devotion to this work to achieve it. If the Word of God says this is right, then we must fear this Word and follow it accordingly.
My fellow believers, God does not say to us to live any way we want once we receive the remission of our sins, since we are now made sinless. On the contrary, God tells us that from this moment on, we must really press toward the goal (Philippians 3:14). Did we cast aside the Law of God? No, we did not forsake it. Through this Law God taught us about our sins, and He led us to Christ to receive the remission of our sins. The Bible says that now that we have received the remission of our sins, it is right for us to fear the Word of God, and according to how this Word leads us, love God and live full lives. We must not receive the Word of God only with our heads as a matter of intellectual exercise. The Word of God must be believed with the heart. And in our sincere hearts we need to decide to live for God and for His gospel.
It Is Right for All of Us to Now Live for the Spreading of the Gospel
All of us must set our minds, saying, “From now on I will live for the righteousness of God.” This heart is truly indispensable. My fellow believers, as we carry on with our lives that are as short as a midnight dream, for what should we live to be right? It is right to live for the gospel and for God. It is absolutely right to live for the Lord, for the other souls to receive the remission of their sins. The righteous cannot just live in whatever way they want. The right life to live is to live for God.
Although we are insufficient, it is right for us to live for the gospel while on this earth. It is proper for us to live our lives for the expansion of His Kingdom, and for the countless souls that are perishing away. While we dwell in our flesh, we can end up doing many futile things, but it is proper for us the righteous to offer all our hands, feet, lips, and heads for the souls of sinners, for the expansion of the Kingdom of God, and to serve Him; and it is also proper for all our belongings to be used for the Lord. Those who live such a life are those who, like Daniel, have set their minds to serve God.
You are God’s workers. The people of God must clearly live only for God, no matter what circumstances or conditions they might be facing. Many people think offering tithes is just too much. Even though they are only giving only a tenth of their income, they still begrudge it, thinking it’s too much.
For the servants of God, it’s not just a tenth, but the entirety. It is proper for His servants to offer everything. In other words, the life that is for the Lord is their lives, the will of the Lord is none other than their will, and His purpose is none other than their purpose. This is who God’s people are. Just because we give tithes, serve a little in church, and take part in the hour of worship, this does not constitute a life of faith, but we must offer our entire lives to the gospel, and whatever we do, we must do for the gospel. This is what a life of faith is all about; it is not to say, “This hour is for me, this hour is for my work, this hour is for my family, and the rest is for the Lord.” Family life, work life, school life, all these are lived for the Lord.
You may then say, “How do I make a living then? If I just serve the Lord alone, who is going to take care of my family?” Do not worry, my fellow believers. If we serve only the Lord, He will take the full responsibility for us and take care of us.
Our Lord said, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24), and He went on to say, “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:31-33). We believe in this Word, and do not worry about all our necessities, for we are far more precious than the sparrows of the air.
This is what God achieved on the third day. The earth and the seas must be divided. The spirit and the flesh must be clearly separated in our hearts. If there still are carnal attachments sticking to and lingering in our hearts, the work of separating them must take place. Trainees at the mission school you must be clear on this issue. Your hearts must not yearn after this world, nor should you seek after only the happiness of your own flesh. You need to have the disposition to walk with the Lord, to suffer with Him and to be happy with Him. Do you now understand this?
We Are Soldiers of the Kingdom of Heaven
Our hearts must be set properly before God. Even if an army has hundreds of thousands of soldiers, if this army does not really fight for its nation and its king, then all these countless soldiers are completely useless. They only waste military supplies and drain the nation’s treasury.
In contrast, even if an army only has 300 soldiers, if all these soldiers are filled with a faithful dedication to their nation and their king, then these 300 soldiers form an elite force. Even if they fight against an army with hundreds of thousands of soldiers, these 300-strong soldiers will prevail. What kind of army must we become then? Before God, we must become like the elite force, living for only the gospel and Him.
To illustrate, let me tell you a short story here. Long ago, there were two nations. One was a nation of simpletons, and the other was a clever nation. In the nation of simpletons, everyone was slow-witted, from its king to its people. In the nation of the clever, in contrast, the king was very smart, as were its people very cunning.
One day, the two nations went to war against each other. When the king of the clever nation ordered, “Charge!” his soldiers did not charge, saying, “Your majesty, we should not charge in right now. It would be wiser to wait a bit longer and then charge forward.” The king of the dim nation also commanded, “Charge!” Hearing this order, his soldiers stormed the battleground, not caring whether they died or not. The nation of simpletons won this war. How did it win? It won because its soldiers did as commanded by the king, without insisting on their own right way.
In other words, even though the soldiers were inadequate, they threw down their lives for their king and their nation. The nation of the clever could have easily vanquished the dim nation and won the war, since everyone there was so smart, but far from this, its king was seized and its army was annihilated. Even though the soldiers of the dim nation lacked wisdom, they had set their minds for their king. The king could win the war through these completely dedicated soldiers.
We are soldiers in a spiritual war. In waging this war, if we only set our hearts clearly, saying, “Lord, I will live for You alone,” then we can win the war. In contrast, those who have not set their minds on the Lord will lose every war they fight, even if they were to wage a hundred wars. How should our hearts be then? Our hearts must be clearly set to live for God.
Why did we come to the mission school? Did we come to be good preachers? Did we come to learn the secrets to be successful ministers? We didn’t come to the mission school for this. We did not come to the mission school here to receive some special gift—that is, such things as the gift of tongues or the gift of prophecy. For what, then, did we come to the mission school? Did we not come to live for the Lord? Indeed, we came because we wanted to live for the Lord. Once we set our hearts to live for God, He will permit and give all that we need.
It is not to become someone like Cain, an expert at carnal affairs, that we came to this mission school. For what, then, should we now live? Although we are worthless like Abel, we must live the kind of life that is lived for God, setting our hearts, obeying Him when He speaks, and uniting our hearts with Him with a “yes”. Our hearts must be set toward God, and our hearts must be at His side. God needs those whose hearts are at His side. It is to live for Him that we came to the mission school. That is why we are now being trained here.
My fellow believers, now that you heard the Word, how do you think about your purpose for coming to the mission school? Has it not changed a bit? You received the remission of your sins and came to the mission school for God, to spread the gospel to souls, and to serve the work that expands the Kingdom of God. It is for this purpose that you are now learning the Word, praying, and being trained in various aspects.
As such, those who came into the mission school should not have too many of their own thoughts. It is here at this mission school where our own thoughts are made to disappear. Those who think too much on their own, or seek after some personal and individual affairs, are not qualified as God’s soldiers. Even though we are insufficient in our flesh, as we have joined the ranks of the army, when our Lord, who has become our true King, commands us, “Charge!” we must be prepared to charge forward without question, and wholeheartedly obey whatever the Lord commands us.
Our God has called all of us to make us His workers.