Welcoming the Lord’s Return Means Escaping Sin Is No Longer a Dream!
The year 2018 was a turning point for my life destiny—this is because after seeking for so long, I finally found the path to being freed from sin! Having the hope of casting off the shackles of sin is incomparably exciting for me; I’m full of boundless gratitude and praise for God. I still vividly remember every step of how I got here….
Unable to Extricate Myself From My Life of Sin, But Seeking Freedom Is a Bumpy Road
I first became a believer within the Presbyterian Church and I often heard the pastor say, “We are sinners, and are full of sin. But we need not fear—as long as we pray and confess to the Lord, He will forgive us. When He returns He will take us up into the kingdom of heaven.” Hearing the pastor say this filled me with gratitude and I felt that the Lord truly does love us. So every time I sinned I would pray to the Lord and repent, which would give me a feeling of peace within my heart; I was also looking forward to the Lord’s coming, to being raptured up into the kingdom of heaven. But as time went by I found that committing sins and confessing was just a matter of course for me. And in particular because of my bull-headed personality, I was particularly prone to losing my temper in my words and actions. Whenever my husband said or did something disagreeable to me I couldn’t help but reprimand him or start an argument, but then after the fact I would beat myself up for not being tolerant or forgiving. Particularly when I read the Lord Jesus’ words, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” I felt very upset, like getting a dagger in the heart. I felt that I couldn’t even be tolerant and patient with my loved ones, so how could I ever achieve loving others as myself?
In my vexation I asked the pastor and exhorters a number of times about the path to freedom from sin, but they just told me to pray and confess more often. But I still had my doubts. I would pray and confess, but then after that I’d keep sinning as always—how could that be okay? Plus since the Bible says “For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins” (Hebrews 10:26), I was really afraid and uneasy within my heart. The Lord is holy, but I was frequently unable to put His words into practice. I would sin and defy the Lord—could the Lord pardon this kind of confession without any change? But I didn’t have any other path of practice; all I could do was redouble my efforts in prayer and ask the Lord to give me strength not to sin. When I encountered an issue I would do my best to control myself and go against the flesh so I wouldn’t sin. As things continued on that way I began to feel exhausted and depressed; I felt that continuing to sin without changing my ways would incite the Lord’s disgust. I frequently got up in the middle of the night or very early in the morning and prayed to the Lord in tears, asking Him to forgive my sins and help me escape from this suffering. Every time I attended service I longed for the pastor to talk about the path to freedom from sin, but he mostly just went on about praying and confessing. I was so disappointed and could just look everywhere to seek out the path to casting off the bondage of sin.
Later some friends invited me to go to their church. Their pastor said that the Lord Jesus had been crucified and so had taken away all of our sins, so God no longer saw us as sinful and we don’t need to always suffer over our sin and pray to the Lord. Hearing this in a sermon was a big relief for me, plus I saw that no one was talking about praying and confession, so the service seemed really free and relaxed. But as time passed and I kept sinning, the reproach I felt within my heart continued to fade; it was as if I had temporarily forgotten about my sins. I felt much better until I saw that an elder who appeared very devout on the outside, was highly respected, and had served in the church for four decades was selfish and self-interested when faced with an issue, and was completely unable to live out the Lord’s words. He didn’t have any change or growth in his life, either. This had a great impact on me. God said: “You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy” (Leviticus 11:45). God is holy, so those who live in sin cannot see God. I thought of my experience in that church—the pastor often comforted us by saying that the Lord Jesus had redeemed us of all our sins so we didn’t need to worry about them anymore, but that disregarded the Lord’s requirement of us that we have to be holy before we can see His face. But the reality of the situation was that we were constantly sinning and so were totally filthy—how could we see the Lord’s face that way? Realizing that I was still going to be tormented by sin was extremely painful—how could I really escape from the bonds of sin? I was lost and didn’t know who to pour out my heart to.
A Brother’s Words Resonate With Me
Later on I thought of my good friend, Sister Zhixiu. She was really devout in her faith and was a pretty thoughtful person, so I figured I could go have a chat with her. But then it occurred to me that she had accepted Almighty God’s work of the last days a few years prior; the pastor frequently condemned The Church of Almighty God, saying that they had stolen lots of good sheep from the church. He repeatedly exhorted me not to get in touch with Zhixiu—could I really go talk to her? Then I thought about how she was, after all, a good friend of mine and was of good caliber, so maybe she’d have something useful to say about my quandary. I decided to set up a time to see her.
Zhixiu and I met up as planned that day. I also saw a few unfamiliar faces; they looked dignified and upright as well as really friendly. I figured that since they had come with Zhixiu, they were very likely with The Church of Almighty God. Was it to share their gospel with me? Since I had been impacted by the pastor’s allegations, the first time we met I couldn’t help but keep my guard up. When the brothers and sisters discussed issues of faith with me I didn’t really listen to them and I was unwilling to say much myself. Then, a brother said this: “In the last days, God has expressed truths to do the work of judging and purifying human beings; it’s to resolve our sinful natures. However, lots of brothers and sisters believe that since the Lord Jesus was crucified and took on all of our sins, God no longer sees us as being of sin, and we are not sinful anymore. They think that when the Lord returns He’ll bring us up into the kingdom of heaven. Is that correct? Think about it—after we sin, we pray and repent to the Lord, so why do we still suffer in our hearts, and why don’t we feel at ease or at peace? Why is there less and less love between brothers and sisters, but instead jealousy and conflict? Why does hatred grow in our hearts when someone offends us? When something disagreeable happens in our lives we can’t help but lose our temper, get in a huff—what’s the reason for that? In fact, these facts show that every single person is living in sin and have not escaped from its bond and strictures. We’re all living lives of nonstop sinning. The Lord Jesus said: ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, Whoever commits sin is the servant of sin. And the servant stays not in the house for ever: but the son stays ever’ (John 8:34–35). The Lord’s words clearly tell us that we live in sin, constantly sinning and confessing, unable to escape from the strictures of sin. That makes us servants of sin and unworthy of seeing God’s face. There’s no way we can gain the Lord’s approval and enter the kingdom of heaven!”
What this brother said moved my heart—these issues were precisely the source of my confusion! I thought of how when I encountered things that I didn’t like I’d show my temper and just couldn’t keep it under wraps; I was never able to escape that pain. Everyone in the church liked to talk about mutual love, but what they lived out was selfishness and hypocrisy. In their interactions they just did everything for their own personal benefit plus there was all sorts of chaos in the church. Weren’t those all manifestations of sin? But how can those issues be resolved?
Why Can’t I Deal With the Problem of Sin After Confessing?
I couldn’t hold back my next question. “Brother, you’ve just talked about some really practical concerns. We really are always sinning and then confessing, and it’s a really painful way to live. But my pastor says that the Lord Jesus has already redeemed us, so as long as we pray and repent after sinning, the Lord won’t remember our sins. But I’m still confused—we’ve been redeemed by the Lord Jesus, so why do we still live in sin and in such pain?”
He responded, smiling, “Sister, this is a really important question! First let’s read a passage of Almighty God’s words together. God’s words say, ‘It is true that you were saved by Jesus, and that you are not counted as a sinner because of the salvation of God, but this does not prove that you are not sinful, and are not impure. How can you be saintly if you have not been changed? Within, you are beset by impurity, selfish and mean, yet you still wish to descend with Jesus—you should be so lucky! You have missed a step in your belief in God: You have merely been redeemed, but you have not been changed. For you to be after God’s heart, God must personally do the work of changing and cleansing you; if you are only redeemed, you will be incapable of attaining sanctity. In this way you will be unqualified to share in the good blessings of God, for you have missed out a step in God’s work of managing man, which is the key step of changing and perfecting. You, a sinner who has just been redeemed, are therefore incapable of directly inheriting God’s inheritance.’
“We can see from God’s words that the reason we still live in a state of sinning and confessing even after becoming a believer is primarily that we have not undergone God’s work of judgment and purification in the last days. We all know that by being crucified, the Lord Jesus redeemed us of our sins and took them on for us, so as long as we pray and confess to the Lord after sinning we can be absolved. However, we must realize that the salvation of the Lord Jesus just refers to saving us from the condemnation and bonds of the law. What was behind the Lord Jesus’ work at the time was that the people in the latter period of the Age of Law had become so deeply corrupted, and were sinning more and more to the point that there weren’t any suitable sin offerings for their atonement. And so, at the time all of humanity was facing the danger of being condemned and executed under the law. However, God couldn’t bear to see mankind destroyed that way, which is why He personally became flesh and was nailed to the cross, making Himself a sin offering, thus redeeming all of humanity. At the time, as long as people accepted the Lord Jesus as their Savior they could be absolved of their sins and would escape condemnation under the law—that’s the true meaning of the Lord Jesus doing the work of redemption. But something we have to be clear on is that the Lord Jesus did the work of redemption, not the work of ridding us of sin, and we still have sinful natures. We have been deeply corrupted by Satan; our natures have become arrogant, selfish, despicable, tricky, deceitful, evil, and greedy. These corrupt, satanic dispositions are even more firmly entrenched than sin and they are also the root of our sinfulness. Constrained by this, we’re often unable to carry out the Lord’s teachings and thus live in the painful cycle of sinning and then confessing. Without resolving this kind of sinful nature we’ll never be free of the shackles of sin but will always be entangled by it, completely unworthy of being taken up into the kingdom of heaven by the Lord. This is because the Lord is holy, and so when we humans are unholy, we cannot see His face. That’s why we need God to come again in the last days and do a step of work to rid us of our sin. Thanks be to God! God well knows what we as corrupt human beings need. He has incarnated once again in the last days as Almighty God, Christ of the last days; on the foundation of His work of redemption He has expressed truths and is doing the stage of work of judgment beginning with the house of God. This is primarily to resolve our sinful nature, give us freedom from the bonds of sin, enable us to be fully saved by God, and be taken up into the kingdom of heaven. That’s why we need to be wise virgins—only seeking and investigating Almighty God’s work of the last days is in line with His will! The Lord Jesus also admonished us, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven’ (Matthew 5:3). As long as we seek with an open mind we will find that Almighty God’s words are the truth and can resolve all of our confusions and difficulties. Even more, they can transform and purify us.”
Hearing this brother’s fellowship was so eye-opening for me. I realized that it was because I still had a sinful nature that I was always bound by my corrupt disposition and just couldn’t stop myself from sinning and defying the Lord. I was really convinced by his fellowship as well as curious about the truths expressed by Almighty God and how He does the work of judgment in the last days. However, because the pastor had always condemned The Church of Almighty God in the past, I still felt a bit wary. On the other hand, the pastor had been preaching for years that we were no longer of sin, but the fact was that I had deep personal experience of the pain of being bound by sin. I couldn’t just blindly listen to the pastor any longer—I knew I had to go to The Church of Almighty God to really look into it and see if Almighty God’s words really were God’s voice. So when this brother invited me to go check things out at The Church of Almighty God, I didn’t turn down the invitation. I also accepted a book from him.
Through Films and Fellowship I Understand How God Judges and Cleanses Man
After that, over the course of going to The Church of Almighty God to seek and investigate, the brothers and sisters fellowshiped with me on a lot of Almighty God’s words. This included God’s three stages of work to save mankind, the mysteries of God’s names and incarnations, and so on. Everything was so fresh—they were all mysteries of the truth that I’d never heard before. After hearing all of this fellowship I had gained a bit of an understanding of God’s work to save mankind; I also felt that an average person could never reveal mysteries relating to heaven or explain God’s will in managing mankind, as Almighty God has. I felt it was extremely likely that Almighty God’s words really were the Holy Spirit’s words to the churches in the last days, that they were the voice of God.
In my talks with the brothers and sisters I also talked about my own bad temper and that I often couldn’t control my anger—this is very painful for me. The sisters showed me a gospel movie by The Church of Almighty God, “Stinging Memories.” A brother in the movie said, “Throughout all these years that I’ve believed in the Lord, I thought that it’d be great if there came a time when people no longer sinned. At that time, I thought, life would no longer be painful!” This expressed what was in my heart and really drew me in to keep watching.
I saw the words of Almighty God, which say: “God’s work in the present incarnation is to express His disposition primarily through chastisement and judgment. Building on this foundation, He brings more truth to man and points out to him more ways of practice, thereby achieving His objective of conquering man and saving him from his own corrupt disposition. This is what lies behind the work of God in the Age of Kingdom.” “In the last days, Christ uses a variety of truths to teach man, to expose the substance 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 substance 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 essence 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 essence 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.” “By means of this work of judgment and chastisement, man will fully come to know the filthy and corrupt essence within his own self, and he will be able to change completely and become clean. Only in this way can man become worthy to return before the throne of God. All the work done this day is so that man can be made clean and be changed; through judgment and chastisement by the word, as well as through refinement, man can purge away his corruption and be made pure. Rather than deeming this stage of work to be that of salvation, it would be more apt to say it is the work of purification.”
After reading these words from God, a brother shared this fellowship: “God uses the truths He has expressed in the last days to judge and chastise corrupted humanity. Every word of His judgment displays His righteous disposition and all that He has and is; they are all words that can be mankind’s life. Therefore, they are all the truth. These words of truth are judgment on corrupt humanity. They are chastisement, condemnation, observation and purification to them. God uses His words of truth to cleanse corrupt humans of their satanic disposition, and to resolve the problem of their nature and substance: resistance to God. That is the significance of God using His work of judgment to cleanse, save and perfect humanity. During His judgment work in the last days, the words expressed by Almighty God reveal all the mysteries of His 6,000-year management plan. They clearly reveal the purpose of God’s three stages of work of salvation and the substance of every stage of work, especially the path by which believers can change their disposition and be cleansed. At the same time, Almighty God thoroughly exposes man’s nature and substance corrupted by Satan, the truth of their corruption, and the roots of their sins. This makes people reflect on themselves and realize that they have the very satanic natures. They see that they live out a completely demonic, satanic likeness. This allows them to truly repent and makes them willing to accept Almighty God’s chastisement and judgment, trials and refinement. They then pursue the truth and a change in disposition under the guidance of God’s words. Gradually, they are able to free themselves from the controls and restrictions of their corrupt satanic disposition. Eventually they are able to rebel against Satan, forsake evil, and return to God. This allows people to resolve their sinful nature at the root.”
Another brother in the movie had this fellowship: “In addition, through experiencing and practicing God’s words, they unconsciously understand many truths. For example: What does it mean to be saved? What is full salvation? What does it mean to do God’s will? What does it mean to act on one’s own desires? What does it mean to follow God? What does it mean to follow man? What are the Pharisees? Who does God save? Who does God abandon? The most important thing is for people to actually experience God’s righteous and unoffendable disposition in the judgment and chastisement of His words. Through knowing God, these people gradually become able to revere Him and shun evil. They live their lives according to God’s words. As they begin to understand the truth, these people gradually gain a deeper knowledge of God. They obey God, and practice the truth, more and more. They unknowingly release themselves from sin and attain sanctity. This end result is something that everyone who believes in the Lord during the Age of Grace but does not accept God’s work in the last days can never achieve.”
After the film I understood a bit of how Almighty God does the work of judgment as well as what it achieves. The sisters also used Almighty God’s words to fellowship with me on their own experiences and understandings from undergoing the judgment and chastisement of God’s words. They talked about how only by accepting God’s judgment work of the last days can we truly understand the truth of our own corruption, recognize what kind of corrupt nature is causing our sinful behavior, and what the root is. Then God’s words can point out the path of practice and after that we can forsake the flesh and tailor our practice to God’s words. This way, we can gradually be freed from the bonds of sin as well as gain some understanding of God’s disposition that will tolerate no offense through our experience of God’s judgment work; we develop a heart of reverence for God. Through watching the movie and listening to the sisters’ fellowship, I felt much clearer within my heart. I realized that the only path to escaping the shackles of sin is accept Almighty God’s judgment work of the last days and read God’s words that reveal people’s corrupt dispositions—that’s the only way I can be free from sin. Once I understood all of this I felt incredibly excited. I became certain within my heart that Almighty God is the returned Lord Jesus—only God would have such concern for humanity and come to save us, knowing that we’re living within the suffering of sin. I very happily accepted Almighty God’s work of the last days.
Accepting God’s Work of the Last Days Gives Me a Path to Resolving My Temper
In the days that followed, I actively participated in gatherings; through fellowship on God’s words in these gatherings plus brothers and sisters sharing fellowship on their own experiences and understandings, I compared all this to myself and gained some self-knowledge. One day, I read these words of God: “Regardless of whether one becomes angry in the sight of others or behind their backs, everyone has a different intention and purpose to their anger. Perhaps they are building up their prestige, or maybe they are defending their own interests, maintaining their image or keeping face. Some exercise restraint in their anger, while others are more rash and allow their rage to flare up whenever they wish without the least bit of restraint. In short, man’s anger derives from his corrupt disposition. No matter what its purpose, it is of the flesh and of nature; it has nothing to do with justice or injustice because nothing in man’s nature essence corresponds to the truth.” I realized from God’s words that becoming angry and losing our temper is an eruption of a satanic, arrogant disposition. It’s to protect our image and status, and that’s not the likeness a true human being should have. I thought back over time after time I had an outburst at my husband and felt that everything revealed in God’s words is the truth. When he did something I didn’t like I would lose my temper; acting that way was just to establish my own rank and get him to listen to me. Thinking through this left me feeling really bad—I felt that my corruption is really deeply entrenched and I truly am too arrogant, lacking a true human likeness. I resolved to lean on God to transform myself. After that, when my husband did something I didn’t like, I calmed myself and prayed to God as quickly as I could, asking God to help me set myself aside and forsake my arrogant, satanic disposition. By praying to God I would gain the strength to forsake the flesh, and then my temper would mysteriously vanish. I no longer felt so depressed or in pain, plus I was filled with a sense of ease and joy. Through this I felt that believing in Almighty God really is different—I genuinely experienced that Almighty God’s work of judgment really can cleanse and transform people—God’s work is wondrous! I also came to enjoy reading God’s words that expose people’s corruption more and more; I felt that they can allow me to understand and change myself more. When my husband saw that I had undergone some changes after accepting Almighty God’s work of the last days, that I wasn’t as anxious as before, he was really happy for me and became willing to accept God’s work of the last days too. This made me so happy!
Thinking back over my decades of faith in the Lord, I’ve suffered considerably and have shed many tears from being shackled by sin, always longing for the day I could escape that pain. And now I’ve come back before Almighty God and His words have illuminated my heart like a bright ray of light, showing me the path to freedom from sin. I am willing to seek the truth to change myself, strive to achieve dispositional change before long, and live out a true human likeness to glorify God!