Selfishness as Sin 32

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.

It [selfishness in the heart] 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 and goodness of God, which are employed in restraining, directing, and overruling its pernicious influence. Though sinners may love those which love them, and do good to those that do good to them, yet the nature of their feelings and conduct is still the same. Their apparent goodness is the essence of moral evil. Their partial love is general malevolence, and their best deeds are an abomination to the Lord. All their affections and actions terminate in themselves. They value and regard themselves more than all other beings put together, and whose interests they would sacrifice to promote their own. And can there be any thing virtuous, or amiable, or praiseworthy, in such a totally selfish love, which is disconformity to God, disobedience to His law, and its nature and tendency destructive of all the good of His holy kingdom? (Nathaniel Emmons, 1745-1840, Selfishness, International Outreach, 2009)

The glory of God is the greatest good, so when men seek the glory of self rather than God that is the exact opposite of what true goodness, holiness, love, and the purpose God created man for. In other words, men are born dead in sin and trespasses and in that they seek themselves and the lusts of their own hearts, flesh, and minds. In this men go around spreading misery and destruction as their selfish hearts seek themselves. After all, sin brings misery and death. Now this selfishness may indeed bring what appears to be outward good, but all sin will spread misery and death as men seek themselves even in what others think of as good acts.

It is the selfish heart that makes men as bad as they can be, though indeed God restrains and overrules it. If God did not restrain the selfish heart and block it from getting all it wanted and from carrying out all of its desires, the selfish heart would spiral downward quickly and become as evil as a human being could be. The old saying that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely is true, though we must limit this to fallen hearts. We can see this in men like Adolph Hitler and those who surrounded him. Their hearts sought self though in the disguise of a zealous nationalism. Their hearts were so given over to self that they destroyed nations and peoples as they followed the downward path of their sinful hearts. They became so selfish that they wanted to kill all the Jews in the nation (and perhaps the world) and yet they took all their belongings down to their gold teeth. They enslaved these people and used them as they wished and then killed them. It was selfishness that drove them to try to conquer the world with brutality and death. Ah, it is so easy to speak evil of Hitler and his men, but that same selfish heart is in all the hearts of fallen men.

Our own hearts desire power over others so that we can use them for ourselves and our own purposes. Our own hearts would destroy others for our own sakes, though indeed God restrains people from carrying out those desires. We see selfish hearts in murder and mass murder as well. One person does not get what s/he wants because another person stands in his or her way and that becomes a motive for murder. The ways that another person can stand in the way of another are virtually countless and so while we may view murder as having many motives, in reality there is only one real motive. It is the selfish heart wanting to kill another to obtain what that selfish heart desires. It is true that the percentage of murderers is rather small, but when we view murder in light of Scripture we see that hate in the heart is considered as murder before God. How many men, women, and children hate others in their hearts as others stand in the way of obtaining what those sinful hearts desire. While God may prevent men from being turned over far enough to carry out that hatred and others may not because selfish hearts don’t want to be punished for it, yet those hearts desire the death of others and apart from restraints they would carry it out. Oh how far our selfish hearts will go if God did not restrain them.

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