Selfishness as Sin 18

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)

A selfish love is simply to love ourselves as the center of all that we do and think. It is to make ourselves the goal of what we do, the motive of what we do, and something for self is our intent in what we do. This sinful nature which consists in selfishness, once again, must be changed in order for sinners to love God. Selfish sinners can become the most orthodox theologians, the most civil citizens, and the hardest workers in the church and that includes evangelism. But without the realization that the heart must be change from the control and bondage of self to the control of the love of Christ then evangelism and Christian living becomes nothing more and nothing less than making the right choices in our own strength.

When selfish sinners hear the truth about sovereign grace they hate it. While it would be rare for someone to admit it, the truth of the matter is that sinners want grace in their own hands to dispense it as they please. At the very heart of the matter that is what free-will teaches. We are either in the hands of sovereign grace to change our hearts or we are in the hands of our free-will to make a choice so that God will give us grace. Again, that is not what those who hold to free-will will claim, but that is a necessary truth of what they do claim. If the will is truly free, then it is free of depravity and it is free of grace. Therefore, the sinner is free from a selfish heart and is free from grace in order to make a choice where God is bound to give him or her grace. But of course no one is free from depravity and that is precisely why it is grace alone that must save sinners if they are to be saved.

The heart that is in bondage to self is a heart that longs to have the honor of others and God. The heart that is in bondage to self is a heart that desires to be free so it can determine all things for self. The heart that is in bondage to self is a heart that does not want to rest completely and trust in another. Selfish sinners (all of them) do not want to be saved to the glory of God, they want some of the honor in making a choice or several choices. Selfish sinners do not want to hear that their selfish hearts are so bound in sin that God must change their hearts by sovereign grace and that there is nothing that they can do to move Him to do so. Selfish sinners want control of who they are and of their destinies and they hate being out of control or the One in control.

Selfish sinners despise the doctrines of election and free-grace. Whether all admit it or not, they want to elect themselves and they want to be free of when to obtain grace and only if they want grace. The selfish heart hates the God who has to save it by free-grace and hates the idea that all the universe is centered upon God and His glory rather than the self of each human. Oh how sinners love to hear of Christ who saves them as they are, but when they see that God threatens them with hell if they are not converted they gnash their teeth in hatred of that. It should also be noted that accepting the doctrine of election in the head and/or by a creed is not the same thing as the sinner reaching a point (by the convicting work of the Spirit) where s/he knows in the depths of the soul that s/he is at enmity with God and it is up to God to save him or her as He pleases. The sinner cannot stand that thought and is at enmity with the God who is that way.

While many in our day think of differing theologies as having equal standing within Christianity, the older view is that selfish sinners are at war with the sovereign God and their enmity toward that is really sinners being at enmity with the true God and the true Gospel. Oh how God must break selfish hearts that they will lie down and with submissive hearts cry out that salvation is of the Lord!

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