Selfishness as Sin 15

Luke 6:31 “Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 “If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 “If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. 35 “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.

When Christ first appeared in His public character, He displayed so much kindness, compassion and benevolence in healing the sick, relieving the distressed, and preaching the gospel to the poor, that He was almost universally beloved as well as admired…To anyone less acquainted with the human heart than Christ was, they would have appeared to be His real friends. (Nathaniel Emmons, 1745-1840, Selfishness, International Outreach, 2009)

In light of the above text and enlightening quote, self-love and self-interest are the moving interests in the unregenerate sinner. As long as someone is nice to another person, it will move the person to be nice back. As long as one is thought to do good to another, that other will be good back. As long as one thinks that s/he is loved in some way by another, one will love them back. This is simply to say, once again, that the unregenerate person is regulated and controlled by self-interest and self-love. This is polar opposite to the Great Commandment which is to love God with all of the heart, mind, soul, and strength. Instead of that, man loves himself with all of his being. Man loves others based on what he perceives will happen to him rather than being based on love for God.

When we view evangelism in this light, it changes everything. The Arminian tells us that we are to be winsome and nice to people and that makes it easier to talk them into a choice for Christ. The Arminian tells us that we present all the positives of salvation to people (which does not make the positives true in the context or perhaps any context) and that makes it easier for them to make a choice. It should also be noted that many professing Reformed people have the same practice. The point, however, is that being winsome to people and presenting the positives to people may indeed move a person to make a choice, but it will never show the person his or her sin and show the person that s/he needs to seek God for a new heart.

It is easy enough for a person to turn from external sin if we can present strong enough motives to self, but one cannot present enough motives to self to move the soul from loving self. As long as the self is the motive we are presenting enticements to, sinners will never see that self is their real problem. It is something like presenting adultery to a sinner as an enticement to stop adultery. It is something like giving a person a large piece of chocolate cake as an enticement to stop eating vanilla cake. Modern evangelism is based on giving enticements to self that are supposedly greater than other enticements to self and then asking the person to make a choice for Christ. Indeed the person may make a choice and decide that having Jesus is far better for self than all other things, but that is simply self-evident that the person has not received a new heart that loves God for who He is.

Sinners love those who love them, though indeed that is not divine love in the soul. As long as we are enticing enough with how winsome we are, we can convince certain people who have certain personalities to make a choice to follow Christ. But we can never change a person’s heart by our being nice and winsome. Instead of true evangelism, we will simply be manipulating people to make a choice from their self-love and ruling self-interest. How is that biblical evangelism? How is that teaching people the truth of their sinfulness and of then that of Christ saving sinners by grace alone? When we are able to convince people to pray a prayer or make a choice based on self-love, we can know for sure that we are speaking a gospel of self-love rather than one of truth.

If are can practice a religious salesmanship well enough, we can present heaven and hell and the wonders of having a God who will serve our self-interests in a certain light and get people to pray a prayer that is based only on their love for themselves. But again, this is opposite of the true Gospel of grace alone. God saves sinners based on His free-grace and not the sinner being convinced out of a heart of self-love what is good for him or her. Part of the salvation that God gives to sinners is to change their hearts from bondage to self-love to the freedom of loving God. When our evangelism is based on the self-love of the sinner, we are evangelizing in a way that leaves the sinner in the bondage of self-love. The devil couldn’t do any better. When our evangelism is as the devil loves because it is based on the sinner’s very sin itself and does not show them the nature of sin or of the true Gospel of grace alone, it does nothing but deceive others and perhaps ourselves. Those who practice such evangelism seem to be blind to the nature of sin and of what grace alone really means. We live in a spiritually desolate time.

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