Selfishness as Sin 26

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.

The selfish love of sinners has no moral goodness in it because it is no obedience to the divine law. The law requires them to love God with all the heart, and to love their fellow men as themselves. But when they love themselves because they are themselves, and love others only because they have received or expect to receive benefit from them, do they obey the divine law? Do they feel towards God as they would that He should feel towards them? Or do they feel towards others as they would that others should feel towards them? Does their selfish affection in the least degree answer the demands of that law which requires pure, disinterested love? It is morally impossible for sinners to love God supremely, and their fellow men impartially, from a selfish heart. Let their love to God or man rise ever so high, it can have no moral goodness in it, because it is not obedience to the divine law which requires nothing but pure, holy, disinterested love. (Nathaniel Emmons, 1745-1840, Selfishness, International Outreach, 2009)

We see and hear encouragement for men to be moral based on selfish reasons. We see and hear encouragement for men to make a decision for Christ based on selfish reasons. A professing Christianity that is based on sinful self-love and selfishness is not Christianity at all. Jesus told Nicodemus (the very religious Jew) that he must be born from above. The same is true of all who will be saved. The heart must be changed from a selfish and self-centered heart that does all out of self-love to a heart that does what it does out of love for God. This is not just a mere outward or external change; it is a change of nature.

Once again Emmons strikes at the very heart of what modern people think of as Christianity. They think of it as Christianity because they have been deceived and pastors and elders have been deceived about this for many years. A few hundred years ago the ministers would seek to show men their hearts and try to help them see that they were sinners by nature and that their sinful self-love and self-seeking was to be a child of the devil rather than a child of the living God. But today we have professing Christian ministers who try to use the sinful hearts of men as a basis for them to make choices. It is what they use to entice men to pray prayers and it is what they use to entice men to make better moral decisions. It truly boggles the mind when one comes to the realization of this. What men used to think of as the very nature of sin men now try to use to get men to be moral or even for them to choose Christ for salvation. This should never have happened, but it has.

Augustine battled with Pelagius over these same issues sixteen hundred years ago. Pelagius thought it was in the power of man to be moral and to be involved in his own salvation. Luther and the Reformers fought the same idea in the time of the Reformation. Charles Finney also thought that he could talk men and use rational arguments to get men to make decisions for Christ in the 1800’s. We live in a day where that type of thinking has virtually swallowed up the professing Church. Where can one go to hear the clear preaching of the glory of God’s sovereign grace in salvation? Where can one go to hear preaching that exposes the sinfulness of the heart and leaves men without any hope but in the sovereign work of Christ? Where can one go to hear men stripped of all hope in themselves and to hear that their best efforts at morality and religion is based on selfishness and as such their best efforts are sinful? Where does one go to hear that men must look to God to give them a new heart so that they can truly believe?

The selfish love of sinners that sinners are encouraged to is not the Gospel at all, but rather is the opposite of it. The background of the Gospel is such that sinners should see that they are unable to perform any part of it and need Christ to deliver them from their best efforts at keeping the law, but instead at the very least sinners think that they have some love for God and their neighbor in them. The very best effort that unconverted men make toward God and others is in direct violation of the Great Commandments. It is a terrible deception to tell men only of the good things of God and then try to get them to pray a prayer as that does nothing but deceive them. It is to use the sinful heart that men must be delivered from in order to be saved to try to get them to save themselves. It is the anti-Gospel.

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