The issue of Satan taking advantage of social trends to corrupt man also needs specific explanation. These social trends include many things. Some people say: “Are they about the clothes we wear? Are they about the latest fashions, cosmetics, hairdressing and gourmet food?” Are they about these things? These are a part of trends, but we do not wish to talk about these here. We only wish to talk about the ideas that social trends bring about for people, the way they cause people to conduct themselves in the world, the life goals and outlook that they bring about in people. These are very important; they can control and influence man’s state of mind. One after another, all these trends carry an evil influence that continually degenerates man, that lowers their morals and their quality of character more and more, to the extent that we can even say the majority of people now have no integrity, no humanity, neither do they have any conscience, much less any reason. So what are these trends? You cannot see these trends with the naked eye. When the wind of a trend blows through, perhaps only a small number of people will become the trendsetters. They start off doing this kind of thing, accepting this kind of idea or this kind of perspective. The majority of people, however, in the midst of their unawareness, will still be continually infected, assimilated and attracted by this kind of trend, until they all unknowingly and involuntarily accept it, and are all submerged in and controlled by it. For man who is not of sound body and mind, who never knows what is truth, who cannot tell the difference between positive and negative things, these kinds of trends one after another make them all willingly accept these trends, the life view, the life philosophies and values that come from Satan. They accept what Satan tells them on how to approach life and the way to live that Satan “bestows” on them. They have not the strength, neither do they have the ability, much less the awareness to resist. So what on earth are these trends? I have picked a simple example that you may come to understand. For example, people in the past ran their business in a way that cheated neither old nor young, and which sold items at the same price regardless of who was buying. Is a hint of conscience and humanity not conveyed here? When people used this kind of credo when conducting their business, can we say that they still had some conscience, some humanity at that time? (Yes.) But with man’s demand for ever increasing amounts of money, people unknowingly came to love money, love gain and love enjoyment more and more. So did people come to view money as more important? When people view money as more important, they unknowingly neglect their reputation, their renown, prestige, and integrity; they neglect all these things, don’t they? When you engage in business, you see someone else taking different approaches and using various means to swindle people and get rich. Although the money earned is ill-gotten gains, they get richer and richer. Their whole family engages in the same business as you, but they enjoy life more than you do, and you feel bad, saying: “Why can’t I do that? Why can’t I earn as much as they do? I must think of a way to get more money, to make my business prosper.” You then ponder this through. According to the usual method of making money, cheating neither old nor young and selling things at the same price for all, the money you make is in good conscience, but it cannot get you rich quick. However, under the urge to make a profit, your thinking undergoes a gradual transformation. During this transformation, your principles of conduct also begin to change. When you first cheat someone, when you first defraud someone, you have your reservations, saying “This is the last time I cheat someone and I will not do it again. I cannot cheat people. Cheating people will only earn retribution and bring disaster upon me! This is the last time I cheat someone and I will not do it again.” When you first deceive someone, your heart has some scruples; this is the function of man’s conscience—to have scruples and to reproach you, so that it feels unnatural when you cheat someone. But after you have successfully deceived someone you see that you now have more money than you did before, and you think this method can be very beneficial for you. Despite the dull ache in your heart, you still feel like congratulating yourself on your “success,” and you feel a little pleased with yourself. For the first time, you approve of your own behavior and approve of your own deception. Afterward, once man has been contaminated by this cheating, it is the same as someone who gets involved in gambling and then becomes a gambler. In unawareness, he approves of his cheating behavior and accepts it. In unawareness, he takes cheating to be a legitimate commercial behavior, and takes cheating to be the most useful means for his survival and his life; he thinks that by doing this he can get rich quick. At the beginning of this process people cannot accept this type of behavior, they look down on this behavior and this way of going about things, until they try it out and experiment with it in their own way, personally and firsthand, and then their hearts begin to gradually transform. So what is this transformation? It is an approval and admission of this trend, an admission and approval of this type of idea instilled in you by the social trend. In unawareness, you feel that if you do not cheat in business then you will suffer losses, that if you do not cheat then you will have lost something. Unknowingly, this cheating becomes your very soul, your mainstay, and also becomes a type of behavior that is an indispensable rule for your life. After man has accepted this behavior and this thinking, does the heart of man undergo a change? Your heart has changed, so has your integrity changed? Has your humanity changed? (Yes.) So has your conscience changed? (Yes.) Man’s entirety undergoes a qualitative change, from their heart to their thoughts, to such an extent that they are changed from the inside out. This change puts you further and further from God, and you become more and more in conformity with Satan, more and more similar to it.
Now these social trends are easy for you to understand. I just chose a simple example, a commonly seen example that people will be familiar with. Do these social trends have a big influence on people? (Yes!) So do these social trends have a deeply harmful effect on people? (Yes!) A very deeply harmful effect on people. Satan uses one of these social trends after another to corrupt man’s what? (Conscience, reason, humanity, morals.) What else? (Man’s view on life.) Do they cause a gradual degeneration in people? (Yes.) Satan uses these social trends to lure people one step at a time into a nest of devils, so that people caught up in social trends unknowingly advocate money and material desires, as well as advocate wickedness and violence. Once these things have entered man’s heart, what then does man become? Man becomes the devil Satan! This is because of what psychological leaning in the heart of man? What does man advocate? Man begins to like wickedness and violence. They do not like beauty or goodness, much less peace. People are not willing to live the simple life of normal humanity, but instead wish to enjoy high status and great wealth, to revel in the pleasures of the flesh, sparing no effort to satisfy their own flesh, with no restrictions, no bonds to hold them back, in other words doing whatever they desire. So when man has become immersed in these kinds of trends, can the knowledge that you have learned help you get free? Can the traditional culture and superstitions you know help you cast off this dire predicament? Can the traditional morals and traditional ceremony that man comprehends help them exercise restraint? Take the Three Character Classic, for example. Can it help people pull their feet out of the quicksand of[b]these trends? (No, it cannot.) In this way, man becomes more and more what? More and more evil, arrogant, condescending, selfish, and malicious. There is no longer any affection between people, no longer any love between family members, no longer any understanding between relatives and friends; human relations have become full of cheating, full of violence. Every single person wants to use cheating means and violent methods to live in amongst their fellow man; they lie, cheat and become violent in order to seize their own livelihood; they win their positions and obtain their own profits using violence and they do anything they want using violent and evil ways. Is this humanity not terrifying? (Yes.) After hearing Me talk about these things just now, do you not think it terrifying to live in amongst this kind of crowd, in this world and in this environment that Satan has corrupted? (Yes.) So have you ever felt yourselves to be pitiful? You must feel it a little now. (Yes.) Hearing your tone, it seems as though you are thinking “Satan uses so many different ways to corrupt man. It seizes every opportunity and is everywhere we turn. Can man still be saved?” Is there still any hope for mankind? Can man save themselves? (No.) Can the Jade Emperor save man? Can Confucius save man? Can Guanyin Bodhisattva save man? (No.) So who can save man? (God.) Some people, however, will raise in their hearts such questions as: “Satan harms us so wildly, so frantically that we have no hope of living, nor any confidence in living. We all live in the midst of corruption and every single person resists God anyway, so that our hearts have now all completely grown cold. So whilst Satan is corrupting us, where is God? What is God doing? Whatever God is doing for us we never feel it!” Some people inevitably suffer some loss, and inevitably feel somewhat disheartened. To you, this sensation, this feeling is very deep because all that I have been saying has been to make people slowly come to understand, to feel more and more that they are without hope, to feel more and more that they have been forsaken by God. But do not worry. Our fellowship topic for today, “the evil of Satan,” is not our real theme. To talk about the essence of the holiness of God, however, we must first talk about how Satan corrupts man and the evil of Satan to make it clearer to people what kind of condition mankind is now in and to exactly what extent man has been corrupted. One aim of talking about this is to allow people to know the evil of Satan, while the other is to allow people to understand more deeply what true holiness is. You understand now, don’t you?
from God Himself, the Unique VI