Selfishness as Sin 13

They love or hate God, just as He appears friendly or unfriendly to them. When He smiles upon them in His providence, and grants them the desires of their hearts, they are well pleased with Him. They rejoice that God is, that He governs the world, and that He fills the earth with His goodness. They have no consciousness of the least enmity against Him, but are disposed to speak well of Him, and give thanks at the remembrance of His mercies. This was the disposition of the Israelites at the side of the Red Sea . They could joyfully join in celebrating the praises of God, for their great and signal deliverance. They sang His praise with gladness of heart. And all other sinners would have done the same under the same circumstances. Their selfish hearts are always pleased with the favors God bestows upon them, and they love Him so long as they think He loves them. And they are no less pleased with spiritual, than temporal favors. When they imagine God is disposed to forgive their sins and admit them to heaven, they will sensibly rejoice in the hope of eternal life. In a word, they will always love God while they believe He loves them, and intends to do them good. But on the other hand, whenever He appears opposed to them, their hearts are opposed to Him. Their selfish hearts dispose them to hate God Himself, when He appears to stand in the way of their happiness. This was exemplified in the Israelites, who sang His praises, but soon forgot His works. As soon as they perceived that He was a holy, sin-hating and sin-revenging God, disposed to destroy them for their unholy, selfish affections, they turned against Him, murmured, complained, and expressed their bitter opposition to Him, by saying, He has brought us into the wilderness to destroy us. The selfish hearts of sinners always will dispose them to love or hate God, just as they view Him friendly or unfriendly to them. (Nathaniel Emmons, 1745-1840, Selfishness, International Outreach, 2009)

This thread of posts started off with the same quote (as seen just above) and then took off on a statement by Ronnie Floyd on evangelism. In the very last post (Selfishness as Sin 12) I returned to the quote by Emmons and tried to show how dangerous it is to have a selfish heart and be religious. The selfish heart can seek self in open sin, it can seek self in being very religious, and it can seek self in the most orthodox Christian ways. The selfish heart can do nothing but sin and seek self. It should be obvious that the selfish heart can never be a true Christian heart and as such for a sinner to become a Christian that heart must be changed. Nicodemus was a very religious man and Jesus told him that he must be born again. The Pharisees were very religious men and Jesus reserved His hardest words and condemnation for them. We may think that the main problem with the Pharisees was that they were hypocrites, but deeper than that they had selfish hearts.

Men will do anything but willingly give up self and self-love. They will fight to the death (literally and figuratively) in order to keep their self-love. At times men will die for their self-love and yet how many seemingly would rather die and go to hell than die to self. These things should show us how utterly dangerous the methods of evangelism that Ronnie Floyd was encouraging people to practice are. The evangelism he seems to espouse does not demand a denial of self and a death to self, but simply a change in behavior of self. It is true that most likely he would say that a person must be born again, but his evangelism does not demand it. A man or a woman that is presented with false evangelism may become religious and thus be greatly deceived by it, one could even say it is a far greater deception than that of open sin. What we must understand is that evangelism is not a righteous act which we do and it does not matter how we do it, but instead true evangelism is an intensely theological “work” and we are involved in idolatry when we evangelize if we ignore true theology. In fact, it is true that we are evangelizing for the devil if we do not evangelize in accordance with true theology.

Evangelism demands that we have true theology and that we evangelize with true theology. The evangelism that Ronnie Floyd was espousing is not based on true theology but instead is a practical approach, which is really under girded by false theology. The heart of sinners must be changed by the work of a sovereign God and cannot be changed by all the sinners in the world. The heart of sinners will always be selfish and full of self-love until that heart is changed by God and Christ lives in that heart. The heart of sinners will always be full of self-love until the mighty hand of God breaks that hard heart that is so full of self. An evangelism that does not take that into account is a false evangelism and the sinner will not even know that his greatest burden is his self-love. Therefore, instead of being delivered from self-love, the evangelism of Floyd simply turns people to a religion of self-love. That does not need a new heart given by grace alone, but sinners turn themselves and are therefore deluded.

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