Selfishness as Sin 36

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)

It is like a devastating punch in the stomach when one realizes in the depths of the soul that the good things that they have done is nothing but apparent goodness and is the essence of moral evil. The devastating punch is combined with another devastating punch when the Spirit opens the eyes of the soul to itself and it sees that all it has ever done is out of self-love and as such is malevolence and the best things it has ever done is an abomination to the Lord. When those things are combined to the soul and it sees what it is and that all that it has ever done has never added up to the slightest bit of righteousness, but instead is nothing but sin and vile in the eyes of God. While the doctrine may make people come to a realization about itself, the Spirit must drive this deep into the soul and open the spiritual eyes to it. Oh how the soul cries out with Isaiah woes to itself. Oh how the soul is crushed as it sees itself and its very best deeds as wickedness and vileness before God.

When the soul begins to meditate upon these truths and sees and understands that it is guilty before God, it begins to meditate upon how and why this is true. It begins to think upon its own motives and intents and sees that the affections it has are really for self and nothing but self. It now sees all of its good actions as coming from its sinful heart and now it understands that the goal of the actions was for self and it loved self in doing them rather than God. It now sees itself as a vile idol of self before a holy God who rightly commands His creatures to do all out of love for Him and all for His own glory. It now begins to understand that those commands are what is best for other creatures and for him or herself. It begins to see the misery that it has brought upon itself by its selfish heart and selfish acts. It now sees the misery it has caused others. It now sees how it was nothing but blindness and pride that could make it think that anything it did out of self-love and a selfish heart had the slightest bit of righteousness to it. The soul looks upon itself with horror and detests what it sees in its own heart.

The soul can easily deceive itself out of a selfish heart into thinking that it loves God in truth when in reality it loves what it thinks God is doing for it. Sinners love those who love themselves and as long as they think that God (usually a false idea of God) loves them they will love their false idea of Him and so think that they love God. They will think that their affections and their actions have the goal of His glory and flow toward Him, but they are blind to the fact that both their affections and actions flow toward a false idea of God and so in fact they are doing all that they do for themselves. When our affections flow toward God only because of what we think He has done for us, the reality of the matter is that they flow toward a false god and they actually terminate back in the self. When all my “love” is really for self rather than the true God and my neighbors, then that is not a moral good but a great evil.

The soul must wrestle and pray for the true God to show him or her the true state of the soul. The god of this world, who is also the great deceiver, loves to deceive people with false ideas about the true God and loves to have people love themselves. When people love themselves as the goal of their affections and their actions, they are just like their father and that is the devil. He is the most selfish being in the universe who does all for himself and is opposed to the true God. He deceives people from being like the true God and wants them to be like himself. Oh how people need to wake up to this and understand the nature of true deception and that they may be deceived on this. The narrow gate is one that includes the denial of self rather than the indulgence of self whether it is in worldly things, religious activity, or moral asceticism. The glory of free-grace is that it sets out the true God and yet takes a person dying to self by that grace. Only the true God gets the glory in free-grace.

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