NOT REFORMATION BUT REGENERATION
Based on this realization, man begins to think of ways to change his mode of living. This is the purpose of so many religions.
But can this be changed? It is true that man should be clean, courteous, and law-abiding and should be taught and cultivated in these virtues. But what is the purpose of this education and cultivation? He may improve a little outwardly, but can he be changed inwardly? We know perfectly well that the inward parts are impossible to be changed. We are not setting up a debate with other religions; we are presenting only this characteristic! A very crucial point in our faith is the matter of regeneration, not the matter of reformation.
A CORRUPT LIFE WILL NOT EXHIBIT CLEAN LIVING
Our emphasis rests on this fact: not only is the expression of human living corrupt and sinful, but the life itself is corruption and man himself is sin.
People do not like to hear these kinds of words. But we can only speak the truth. Man is basically wrong in his life. He is corrupt in nature, and he sins as a result of this corruption. Many people admit their bad behavior but will not admit their corrupt self. Some admit the latter but do not realize that it is corrupt to the core. Man, being so corrupt, cannot naturally exhibit any clean living.
One time when I was in Kaifeng, I talked to a person who admitted that he was wrong in one thing. After a while he confessed that he was wrong in another. I told him frankly that the problem was not whether he did one thing rightly or wrongly; the person was the problem. When the person is wrong, surely the things he does will be wrong. If you are a fish, surely you cannot fly. I cannot blame you for being unable to fly, because you are but a fish. When the man is not proper, the expression of living will not be proper either. This is entirely a matter of life. It is not merely a matter of an outward mode of behavior. The human corruption is within him.
USELESS TO HAVE OUTWARD CORRECTIONS
Since man is corrupt within, there is no use in correcting him outwardly. I have a friend who came home from Nanking. When the train passed through Wushih, he bought a few dolls for his little daughter. All of the dolls were made of clay. They were painted and cutely decorated with bright colors. His daughter was about seven years old. When she got the toys she was overwhelmed with joy. Immediately she assumed the role of a mother, cuddling the dolls and putting them to sleep. When it was time to eat, she fed them with food. With her hands she shoveled the rice into the dolls’ mouths, saying, "How come you don’t eat?" Alas, the faces of the dolls were smeared with grease and rice! The little girl, acting like her mother, began to wipe the faces with water and towels. Unfortunately, a black spot appeared when one part was wiped. The more she wiped, the bigger the black spot became. After a while, the nose, eyes, and ears were all gone. She began to cry. There was nothing that could be done! Her father said to her, "Throw them away. I will buy you new ones. Clay dolls cannot be washed."
(The Normal Christian Faith, Chapter 8, by Watchman Nee)