Selfishness as Sin 29

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)

In this BLOG I would like to focus on the last sentence from the quote above. It is true that some of this was covered or touched on in an earlier post, but this sentence is pointed and convicting. When understood, some major points of Scripture are seen in a different light and the horror of our own hearts can be made known if the Spirit opens our eyes to see. Now, the sentence before the last sentence was dealt with (to some degree) in the last post. It shows that those with a selfish heart (all are born with it) which is full of self-love and that sinful love cannot love God or man. The heart that loves self supremely (as all unregenerate human beings do) cannot love God supremely. Since the Great Commandments teach us to love God with all of our beings and our neighbor from that, and the Ten Commandments flow out of the Great Commandments, it should be evident that fallen human beings have no capacity for a pure and holy love.

When a soul begins to see this and the light begins to shine on the darkness of his or her own heart, the awful sense of the reality of the utter lack of righteousness and of the presence of a host of sins that have not seen before begins to sink in. All that which we saw as love in the past is now seen to be nothing other than vile idolatry. All the things that I thought (says the soul so self) were good are now seen as having no moral goodness in them at all. Now those proud thoughts and feelings come back to my heart and I see what I did not see before. I did not have love for God in those actions and I was proud of those actions which were sin. Oh, the soul cries out, how can it be that I was so proud of my heart that was so full of self-love and pride and did not love God at all? The soul sees that all of what it though was its righteousness had and has no moral goodness at all (at best) because the divine law requires “nothing but pure, holy, disinterested love.”

When the soul has its selfishness discovered to it that soul is now a soul that has nothing to boast about and nothing to cling to and its only hope is in the free-grace of God if He is pleased to show that. The divine law requires a pure love, not a selfish love. The divine law requires a holy unto the Lord love and not a selfish love which is as unholy and idolatrous as it can be. The divine law requires a disinterested love rather than the proud love of self that is as high as the natural man can go. A disinterested love is not that the sinner has no interest in the good of self at all, but that the sinner’s interest is not focused on self and the selfish heart. A disinterested love does not mean that there is not a high degree of interest in loving God and the neighbor and even the soul’s interest in his or her spiritual welfare, but it simply points to the opposite of the selfish love or selfish heart where all the soul’s interest is really self and the love of self.

What we see, then, is that the doctrine of sin as taught in Scripture is in perfect accordance with the Gospel of Jesus Christ which is wholly and only of free and sovereign grace. When men see by the Spirit that they have done nothing but loved self and served the idol of self they will be broken from any hope in their past actions. When men see by the Spirit that God only saves by free-grace they will see that they have no hope in themselves and no ability in themselves at all. They must have Christ alone and He must come by the sovereign grace of God alone or they will be unconverted for eternity. There is nothing in a selfish heart that can possibly earn anything but more damnation from God. There is nothing in a selfish heart that has any power of love for God and as such there is nothing that the soul can do to obtain salvation. All this soul can do is to find a faithful minister (very hard in our day) who will set forth free-grace and earnestly cry out to the Lord to show grace.

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