Selfishness as Sin 35

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)

In the last post (Selfishness as Sin 34) there was an effort to see this principle as applied to ourselves in our hearts. This is more than just a theory, it is a truth that reigns in all the hearts of all those who are unregenerate and also plagues the hearts of all who do have Christ in reality. This is a horrible truth about us, but the horror of it does not change the reality and truthfulness of it. The hearts of men are evil and only evil and that continually when seen in the light of this truth. The only thing that keeps each human being from being worse than Adolph Hitler is the restraining hand of God upon us. Yes, this is a humbling and breaking truth, but it is still a truth that our denials will not change and our fleeing will not enable us to escape it. We cannot flee from our own sinful hearts because wherever we go that sinful heart is driving us.

Oh how convicting it is to the soul to see that what it thinks is its very love is in fact a malevolence toward God and others. Oh how man wants to be moral in his own eyes and in the eyes of others, but when the eyes are opened to see that what it thinks of as love is really malevolence, the self-righteousness of man is shattered. When my eyes are opened and I see that my very best deeds are nothing but an abomination to God, I am crushed in the inner man and will respond with cries to God for free-grace or with great enmity toward Him. There is no middle ground at this point, though indeed there may be degrees. It is vital for a sinner to see that not only has he no ability to do good, but he has no ability to restrain from evil. Oh how crushing this is for the heart to see. The believer must come to see this in a deeper way as well. We are not here to do outwardly moral things, but we are here to live to the glory of God and to be clay in His hands to do with as He pleases. While there is no excuse for me to sin, I must know that I should seek the Lord to deliver me from evil and the evil one.

This is a shattering truth to the pernicious lie about the ability of man that each heart deceives itself about. This takes all the wind out of our sails and leaves us utterly helpless in the hands of God. No only is it the case that our very being is upheld by God each moment and that our every breath comes from Him by His pleasure, but our souls have no ability to do good apart from Christ and our souls have no ability to refrain from evil apart from His restraining hand. Our hearts are evil, are inclined to evil, and will always go toward that evil (of a self-centered heart full of self-love) in all it does unless God restrains us according to His good pleasure. On judgment day sinners will see that God judged them for their sin by drawing back His restraining hand and turning them over to more sin. They will see that He was holy and just in doing so, but they will only be turned over to more sin in their hearts because of their hatred toward Him. That very hatred toward Him and others will only increase their misery.

Yes, it is true; the worst fears of sinners are true. They are not in control and they are not sufficient to stop sin as all they do, whether outwardly good or bad, is an abomination to God. There is nothing in them that pleases God and there is nothing that they can do that will please God. Their hearts are full of self and nothing they do can possibly come from anything but that heart that is full of self. That selfish heart loves self rather than God and as such even the religious actions of the fallen heart is always for self and as such is at enmity with God. The selfish heart wants to be able to help save itself but it cannot save itself from a selfish heart because that is all it can do anything from. A selfish heart cannot deliver itself from selfishness because it never has a higher motive than its own selfish heart. Oh how desperately this teaching shows us that we need Christ. How utterly necessary it is that free-grace save us as there is nothing worth saving in us and nothing we can do will ever be lifted above the level of being an abomination to a thrice holy God.

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