Selfishness as Sin 16

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)

Not only is it a problem to evangelize people with a winsome approach which makes them want to like you and do something to please you (such as pray a prayer like you want), but the concept of presenting to them all the good things in order to get them a choice is also a huge problem. But once again, the problems do not end there. If the sinful nature of man is indeed rooted in a selfish heart that loves self and is controlled by self, then even if we discuss sin with people and leave it with the external actions we will still be dealing with sin as a choice and men are left in sin without knowing of a sinful nature. Repentance from self-love by a simple choice of self-love is not true repentance from self and sin. One can turn and stop from outward sin which is motivated by self-love and do so by a higher motive of self-love. This is to say that one can stop forms of outward sin and never truly repent of sin, but instead they have turned from one form of sin to another by the inward nature of the sin of self-love.

It is also quite easy to move some people to a choice or to say a prayer by telling them that God loves them or that Christ loved them and died for them. This is easily seen by the text (Luke 6) above. If you tell certain sinners under the wrath of God that God loves them, those sinners will be moved to pray a prayer or do certain things because self-love is responding to being loved by another. “For even sinners love those who love them.” Oh how a sinner may be moved by the message of the cross of Christ when the sinner is told that Christ loved him or her and did this for him or her. But that does nothing to address the real nature of the nature of the sinner in self-love, which shows us that even orthodox teachings (Christ on the cross) when applied wrongly (Christ died for you) can move sinners in the bondage of self-love to make a false choice. Their hearts have not been changed and a heart that is in bondage to self-love does not love God for who He is but instead only loves God for the sake of self-love. True love for God comes from God, but a self-love comes from the sinful nature.

John 6:43 Jesus answered and said to them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. 44 “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. 45 “It is written in the prophets, ‘AND THEY SHALL ALL BE TAUGHT OF GOD.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me…65 And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.” 66 As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore.

In the passage just above we see what happens when the truth is taught to sinners who love themselves. As long as Jesus fed them (early in John 6) and gave them free food, they loved Him. But when He began to teach hard things and to teach that no one could come to Him unless the Father drew them, this made them angry and they left Him. When the power of salvation is taken out of the hands of sinners which is a teaching that is disagreeable to self-love and the sufficiency of self, sinners will hate that teaching and flee from Christ.

As long as self-love is untouched in the hearts of sinners, they may do many things in the things of religion and say prayers and make professions out of that self-love. But when the truth is preached and God is set forth as glorious and sovereign over men, they hate what is taught and self-love will not tolerate such teaching. While it is true that external religion that leaves self-love untouched is capable of having many converts (false in the eyes of God) and of getting large amounts of money and huge edifices using the name of God, as long as self-love remains untouched sinners are still in the bondage of their sin.

We live in a day where self-love is used to get people to become religious rather than as something that needs the sovereign hand of God to repent of. We live in a day when instead of men needing sovereign grace to dispense grace to them, they are taught (by implication) that they can dispense grace to themselves. Self-love is on the throne of professing Christianity today as huge amounts of money fills the coffers, but the hearts of men are still filled with self-love instead of grace.

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