Selfishness as Sin 37

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)

This paragraph by Emmons shows the roots and depths of the depravity of man. All the apparent goodness that men have apart from Christ is really the essence of moral evil and their best deeds are an abomination to the Lord. This is so hard for men to come to terms with. When those things are seen as true and all the affections and actions of men terminate in themselves, then we can see that we value and regard ourselves more than all other beings put together and that we would sacrifice all the interests of other people in order to promote our own. The solemn realization of this would destroy self-righteousness in the heart and show men just how much they need Christ. Oh the horror of seeing the darkness and blackness of our own hearts. It is such a frightful thing that the proud heart wants to deny what it sees.

When we see the way men are and how they relate, we know that these things are true though indeed we may want to flee from the truth of it. We see how many people are willing to sacrifice the good of others by stealing and lying for the purposes of sinful self. We see large corporations that are willing to pay their workers far less than they could while they pay the CEO’s huge salaries with huge benefits. We see the governments (people in the government) who are willing for many people to suffer so they can get what they want. We see heads of governments (sometimes dictators) killing large numbers of people in order to obtain or keep what they have. We know our own hearts in that the desires are there and we have to pray for grace that we would not carry out our selfish desires.

In one sense we see families and businesses (therefore, jobs of many others) ruined because a person decides to commit adultery. We see murder after murder carried out in the streets of our cities because of selfish hearts wanting money from drugs and other criminal activity. We see governments killing thousands upon thousands in order to obtain lands from other countries. During WW II we saw the slaughter of millions and millions (Germany and Russia) because of the desires of a few men. There can be no doubt that the hearts of men regard themselves and their own interests above that of the well-being of millions of others and above the lives of millions of others. The proud and selfish hearts of men would sacrifice the whole world if God withdrew His hand and let men fulfill the full desires of their evil and selfish hearts.

The devil can be seen as the most selfish being in the entire universe. Not only did he deceive Adam and Eve and they chose to try to be like God and in doing so plunged the whole human race into sin, but he also led a revolt in heaven and who knows how many angels fell into sin with him. The devil wishes that all would follow him though indeed it will lead to their eternal misery. When men are like this, they show that they are like their father the devil. But when men truly love others, they show that they have been born from above and know the true and living God. The Lord Jesus sought the glory of God and the eternal welfare of men by coming to this planet, taking human flesh, living among sinners, and then going to the cross to suffer in their place. There is no returning from the fall into sin and the horrors of a selfish heart apart from receiving a new heart by grace alone. It is only free-grace that would move God to save sinners. It is only the great and grand mercy of God that sinners are saved and it is not because they are worth it. Only Christ can suffer such a great punishment and purchase the release of sinners from the bondage of sin and of the devil. Glory to God alone.

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