Selfishness as Sin 41

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.

If sinners may love themselves and others from mere selfish motives, then it is easy to account for all their kind and friendly conduct towards their fellow creatures, consistent with their total depravity. Their selfishness naturally prompts them to do anything which they think will turn to their own personal advantage. To gain friends, they will show themselves friendly. To gain the love, esteem, and confidence of others, they will do acts of kindness, compassion, and even liberality. And the most depraved and selfish creature in the universe would do the same things, to obtain the same selfish ends. Satan always acts from this motive, when he transforms himself into an angel of light, and appears to seek the good of others. When he tempted our first parents, he professed to be more concerned to promote their knowledge and happiness, than even their Creator. When he tempted Christ to turn stones into bread, and commit himself to the divine care and protection, he appeared like a kind and friendly angel. (Nathaniel Emmons, 1745-1840, Selfishness, International Outreach, 2009)

This is another profound thought by Emmons and it reaches the hearts of all human beings. It exposes so much of the nature of what is going by “Christianity” today and shows us just how deceitful the evil one is and how much God will turn professing Christians over to a hardened heart. Just like the civil actions of educated (to some degree) people are calculated to a goal that they want, so religious people and professing Christians can seek goals with their niceness, their outward kindness, and all of those things. Professing churches can do many outwardly good things and think that those things are what Christians do, and yet their unregenerate hearts are doing them in the same manner that Satan does things. Ministers in name can stand before their congregations and be as kind and as compassionate as they can be (outwardly) and yet the devil himself would be just like that (and has been) if he could deceive people, though in one sense he is deceiving people through ministers who are just like Satan. This is not just for liberals, but it is also for conservative people who say they believe the Bible. We must begin to understand that the deceptions and wiles of Satan have thoroughly influenced the modern professing Church.

While we may think of Satan as being dark and working as much outward evil as he can, we must realize that he would work to have many churches in a nation and even conservative churches as long as they did so out of selfish and unregenerate hearts. A “minister” can preach the orthodox truth in an outward sense while his heart is unenlightened as the heathen in utter darkness. In fact, the outward truth of orthodoxy can be used in the hands of the evil one to blind people in a deeper way than the heathen. The Pharisees were the religious elite and highly educated, but they were more blinded than many of the Gentiles. The nature of truth will harden hearts when those hearts are in darkness and try to use that truth for their selfish ends. “Ministers” can preach a form of orthodoxy regarding the letter and yet their selfish hearts do not love God in truth or the people. Those “ministers” use God and the people for themselves to obtain money and the honor of men.

If this paragraph by Emmons is true, and I am not sure how it could be denied from Scripture, then professing churches are as much guided by the devil and are as much like him as those who dress in black and openly worship him. The devil is not so much interested in getting people to be openly evil as he is to get people to be selfish and like him rather than God. The devil’s purposes are served just as well in the average (whatever that is) “evangelical” church and in the average pulpit as with anything else. The purposes of the devil are served quite nicely in getting people to be kind to others, feed others, pray with others and do all sorts of things with and for others and yet their wicked hearts are only serving themselves in doing so. The devil has replaced true love in the professing Church with being nice and outwardly kind. He has also replaced true humility with a false humility that claims that we cannot know what God has revealed. When the ministers and the people are like the devil with their selfish hearts and then think that they have the truth, their delusion and darkness are far greater than we can imagine. Only free-grace can deliver a selfish heart from self and give it true love for God and our neighbors.

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