THE ONLY WAY—AN EXCHANGE OF LIFE
I was there when that story happened. I believe that trying to improve our human behavior is just like cleaning the faces of those dolls. We think that if we rid ourselves of our proud attitude and all our lies and behave in a more refined way, we will be a better person. This is our human concept. God says that the outward corruption of man is caused by an inward corruption. The only solution is a basic change of life. The recognition of the hopelessness and wickedness of man and the realization of the need for an exchange are the basic foundation in our Christian faith.
MAN’S HEART IS FILLED WITH EVIL
One day I was walking down a street in Shanghai with a friend of mine who has a very active mentality. He said to me, "It is a pity that we cannot see through another’s heart. Would not it be interesting if I could tell at a glance what this person or that person was thinking? What a pity that we cannot see through the heart."
I said, "This is far from being a pity. I am relieved at not being able to see through another’s heart. Do not try to guess what others think, because all of man’s thoughts are evil. There is nothing other than stealing, deceiving, and treachery in our minds. There is no good thought. All the thoughts have to be kept secret. It is fortunate that the heart is concealed from our sight by a few bones and some skin. If we could see it clearly, we would loathe it immediately."
THE NEED OF REGENERATION
Therefore, the salvation of man cannot start from the outside. It has to start from the inside. For this reason there is the need of regeneration. Regeneration simply means to cast off the dirty, corrupted life that we have and exchange it for a new life. This is analogous to changing a fish’s life for a bird’s life. There will be no need to teach the fish to fly anymore; it will fly naturally. At the present we will not mention the way to regeneration. We just want to know what regeneration is. Giving up a life of sin and replacing it by a holy life is our salvation.
CORRUPTED FROM WITHIN
A few years ago I was in Amoy. One day I was preaching in the villages with another co-worker by the name of Wang. By the time we completed our visits, it was close to midnight. We were both very thirsty. All the shops along the way were closed, and there was nowhere that we could find water. Approaching the end of a little town, we saw a small grocery store with its door still open. With much joy we bought two big pears. The ones we picked were the biggest and cleanest. There was no hole or any bad spot outside. We took them with us and ate them on our way. After a while we tasted something strange. As we examined the pears under a lamp, we found that they were bad inside. The only thing we could do was pick out the worms and eat the rest.
I told Brother Wang, "The skin of these pears looked so shiny; there was no hole anywhere. Do you know how those worms got inside the pears? Let me tell you. When the pear tree was still blossoming, the worms had already laid eggs in the pear flowers. When the flowers wilted and the pears were formed, the eggs hatched and grew inside them. Outwardly, these pears looked nice, but inside they were filled with worms." This is just what we have been talking about. The evil of man is not merely in his conduct. The basic problem is that he is corrupted in his life. The salvation of Christianity is not a change of our outward behavior, but an exchange of our inward life.
(The Normal Christian Faith, Chapter 8, by Watchman Nee)