Selfishness as Sin 50

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.

Bellamy [Joseph] believed that much of the religion of his day was defective because it simply appealed to the selfish interests of men. He argued that if God is set forth as a Being who is simply dedicated to doing good to His creatures there is nothing about such a God to offend or contradict the personal welfare of the carnal mind, thus nothing objectionable as far as the lost man is concerned. The Arminian preachers were telling sinners that God was doing all He could to promote their best interests. But Bellamy argued that no natural man would object to such a God, thus there is no reason for the conviction of sin. In True Religion Delineated, he states, “True if God were such an one [if God were dedicated to seeking the happiness of man as His chief end, editor], then the most wicked man in the world could not but love him. Self-love would make it natural. Even publicans love those who love them, and are good to those who are kind to them (Matthew 5). Did men firmly believe God to be such an one, they could not, indeed, possibly be at enmity against Him. Self-love would not admit of it. Men would not need any grace to make them love God. Nature would make them love Him. They could not but love Him, so long as they love themselves. The point is that it does not take a supernatural work of grace in the heart of man to cause the sinner to love a God who is dedicated to the sinner’s own good. But it does take a “divine light” from God to turn the lost man to see the glory of God and dedicate himself to a God whose great cause is to magnify Himself.  (From John F. Thornbury’s Introduction, True Religion Delineated, by International Outreach.)

There is a train of thought that pulls us along to some serious reflection on the methods of the modern day professing Church when one takes into account that religion is not biblical Christianity when all it does is appeal to the selfish interests of men, and that train of thought drives us to see that much of what is going on today is far removed from the heart of biblical Christianity. When professing churches are thought of as businesses and that people are thought of as consumers, something has gone wrong way down the tracks. When ministers think of the ministry in terms of package and those sorts of things, something has gone wrong way down the tracks. When denominations have area managers (in reality) who are judged by the offerings and attendance of the churches that they are over, something has gone wrong way down the tracks. Following the analogy, we are on a runaway train and there appears to be nothing that can stop it as it gains speed going down into the pit with all on board.

When ministers and evangelists, whether “professional” or the members of the congregations, preach and evangelize on the basis that God is dedicated to the “good” of His creatures, men will interpret that as meaning that God loves them (at least in a saving way) and seeks their “good” in the sense of good that they mean. They will think that God is out for their selfish interests and seeks it. The selfish heart that all have unless they are regenerate will have no cause for alarm at that point and will see no need to change. As long as sinners believe that God seeks to fulfill their selfish desires they will remain undisturbed in their sin. As long as sinners think that God loves them as they are and seeks their worldly good, they will wrongly believe that they are converted because they have prayed a prayer and have become religious to an acceptable degree (they think).

Many a carnal man is ravished to think that God loves him, and will save him; but in this case; it is not the true character of God which charms the heart. It is not God that is loved. Strictly speaking, he only loves himself; and self-love is the source of all his affections. Or, if we call it love to God, it is no other kind than sinners feel to one another, “for sinners love those that love them.” (Bellamy, Sin, the Law, and the Glory of the Gospel, International Outreach)

Imagine the deception of those who think that they love God and that God loves them and they do so because they don’t understand the true God and they don’t understand the nature of their selfish hearts. They are deceived and blind and as such the idea of the true God is suppressed by them and their false god is loved, though indeed they only love that false god out of their own selfish hearts and self-love. A religion based on a false idea of God and unregenerate hearts is not one that is remotely close to Christianity in truth and reality. The god of the hearts of men who only love the false gods of their idolatrous hearts can save no one and those who love those false gods will hate the true God when He is set out in His glory. These men who love false gods will not love the Gospel of His glory and they will hate free-grace when it is taught. We see a lot of that in our day.

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