How many religious customs do you observe? How many times have you rebelled against the word of God and gone your own way? How many times have you put into practice the word of God because you are truly considerate of His burdens and seek to fulfill His desire? Understand the word of God and put it into action. Be principled in your actions and deeds; this is not abiding by rules or to do so grudgingly just for show. Rather, this is the practice of truth and living by the word of God. Only practice such as this satisfies God. Any custom that pleases God is not a rule but the practice of truth.
Some men have a penchant for drawing attention to themselves. In the presence of his brothers and sisters, he says he is indebted to God, but behind their backs, he does not practice the truth and does entirely otherwise. Is this not as those religious Pharisees? A man who truly loves God and has the truth is one who is loyal to God, but does not outwardly reveal so. He is willing to practice the truth when matters arise and does not speak or act against his conscience. He demonstrates wisdom when matters arise and is principled in his deeds, no matter the circumstances. A man such as this is one who truly serves. There are some who often pay lip service to their indebtedness to God. They spend their days with brows locked in worry, put on an affected air, and feign a wretched countenance. How despicable! And if you were to ask him, in what ways are you indebted to God? Pray tell! He would be rendered speechless. If you are loyal to God, then speak not of it in public, but use your actual practice to show your love for God, and pray to Him with a true heart. Those who use only words to deal with God are all hypocrites! Some speak of indebtedness to God with each prayer, and begin to weep whenever they pray, even without the moving of the Holy Spirit. Men such as this are possessed by religious rites and notions; they live by such rites and notions, always believing that such actions please God, and that superficial godliness or sorrowful tears are that which God favors. What good can come of such absurd ones? In order to demonstrate their humility, some feign graciousness when speaking in the presence of others. Some are deliberately servile in the presence of others, like a lamb without any strength at all. Is this the manner of people of the kingdom? A person of the kingdom should be lively and free, innocent and open, honest and delightful; one who lives in a state of freedom. He has character and dignity, and can stand witness wherever he goes; he is one beloved by both God and man. Those who are novice in the faith have too many outward practices; they must first undergo a period of dealing and breaking. Those who have faith in God in their hearts are not outwardly distinguishable to others, but their actions and deeds are commendable to others. Only such men can be deemed to be living out the word of God. If you preach the gospel every day to this person and that, bringing them to salvation, yet in the end, you are still living in rules and doctrines, then you cannot bring glory to God. Such manner of men are religious people, and hypocrites too.
Whenever such religious people congregate, they ask, “Sister, how have you been these days?” She replies, “I feel indebted to God and I am unable to fulfill His heart’s desire.” Another says, “I, too, am indebted to God and unable to satisfy Him.” These few sentences and words alone express the vile things deep within their hearts. Such words are the most loathsome and exceedingly repugnant. The nature of such men opposes God. Those who focus on reality communicate whatever is in their hearts and open their hearts in communication. There is not a single false exercise, no civilities or empty pleasantries. They are always straightforward and observe no earthly rules. There are those who have a penchant for outward display, even without any sense. When another sings, he begins to dance, not even realizing that the rice in his pot has already burned. Such manner of men are not godly or honorable, and are far too frivolous. These are all manifestations of the lack of reality! Some gather to commune about the matters of life in the spirit, and though they speak not of indebtedness to God, they retain a true love for Him within their hearts. Your indebtedness to God has nothing to do with others, for you are indebted to God, not man. So what use is it for you to constantly speak of this to others? You must place importance on entering into reality, not outward zeal or display.
What do the superficial good deeds of man represent? They represent the flesh, and even the best of outward practices do not represent life, only your own individual temperament. The outward practices of man cannot fulfill the desire of God. You constantly speak of your indebtedness to God, and you cannot supply the life of others or provoke others to love God. Do you believe that such actions will satisfy God? You believe that this is God’s heart’s desire, that this is of the spirit, but in truth this is absurd! You believe that what pleases you and what you wish is that which God delights in. Can what pleases you represent that of God? Can the character of man represent God? What pleases you is precisely that which God abhors, and your habits are that which God loathes. If you feel indebted, then go and pray before God. There is no need to speak of it to others. If you do not pray before God and instead constantly draw attention to yourself in the presence of others, can this fulfill the desire of God’s heart? If your actions are always in appearance only, this means that you are the most vain of men. What manner of man is he who only has superficial good deeds but is devoid of reality? Such men are hypocritical Pharisees and religious people! If you do not put off your outward practices and cannot make changes, then the elements of hypocrisy in you will grow even more. The greater the elements of hypocrisy, the more resistance there is to God, and in the end, such manner of men will surely be cast away!
from The Word Appears in the Flesh