Selfishness as Sin 30

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.

There is no evil affection, and no evil conduct, but what selfishness will, under certain circumstances, produce. It is the directly opposite affection to true benevolence, and therefore the root of all moral evil. It is the carnal mind, which is enmity against God, and not the subject to His law, neither indeed can be. It seeks personal interest, which is diametrically opposite to the glory of God and the general interest of His kingdom. It opposes the good of sinners themselves, and makes them, as the apostle says, “hateful, and haring one another.” It tends to spread misery and destruction through the universe. It makes creatures as bad as they can be, and would destroy them all, were it not for the power and wisdom of God, which are employed in restraining, directing, and overruling its pernicious influence. (Nathaniel Emmons, 1745-1840, Selfishness, International Outreach, 2009)

In our day selfishness is thought to be a person who may take more of the pie than s/he should during the holiday parties. It may also be thought of those who live for themselves and are not very considerate of others. However, there is no evil in the world but comes by the evil of a selfish heart. There is no evil conduct that a selfish heart cannot produce. There is no evil affection that is beyond what can come from a selfish heart. When God turns a selfish heart over to more sin, He turns it over to a greater degree of selfishness. It is a terrible judgment to be turned over to self since that means a person is now even more opposite of true love. The more a person is turned over to a selfish heart the more that person becomes selfish and without concern for God or others.

The selfish heart by definition is full of self rather than full of the glory and love of God. The selfish heart may try to appear benevolent, but it has nothing of the truth of benevolence in it. The selfish heart has one interest and that is the interest of self. As long as there is some good to be obtained for self, or perhaps the selfish heart sees a greater good for self in appearing benevolent, self can give things in order to appear benevolent. The selfish heart wants to appear as one with love, but it has no love but for itself. The selfish heart, then, as without true love is the root of all moral evil. The Ten Commandments can only be kept to any real degree out of true love and the selfish heart has no true love at all. Instead of true love, the selfish heart is constantly looking for ways to enhance the kingdom of self.

The selfish heart is really the carnal mind in reality. The selfish heart is always looking for the earthly good of self and as such it will covet the things of others and excuse that because it thinks it has a right to those things. The selfish heart is constantly looking for ways to obtain honor from others and that from the world of those in the professing Church. In this respect, as in other respects also, the selfish heart is at enmity with God. The selfish heart longs for the honor of others, yet God commands all men to honor Him. There is a war between God and the selfish heart in that way. The selfish heart wants the things of the world in accordance with its own pleasure and desires, yet God gives worldly things according to His pleasure. How the selfish heart chafes at this. The selfish heart wants to use other people for itself, but God commands each person to love others and to seek their true good. The selfish heart wants to use God for itself and the things of God to obtain honor, but God will only do what is for His own glory. There has been, still is, and will always be enmity between God and the selfish heart.

When we think of how God created the world and all things in it for His own glory and pleasure, we can see how He would be at enmity with the selfish heart when the selfish heart wants all things for its own glory and pleasure. When God seeks His own glory this includes the greatest good for His people, yet those with selfish hearts are limited to their own good as their primary love and interest. All selfish hearts want all things for themselves and are restrained by God or they would all want to rule the world. Clearly and without question the selfish heart wants free-will to obtain what it can and will oppose God’s sovereign will. The selfish heart will set out free-will in the realm of salvation so it can control that as well (it thinks), but grace is sovereign or it is not grace at all.

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