Selfishness as Sin 51

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.)

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)

Notice the connection in the thinking of Joseph Bellamy between a selfish heart that loves those who love it and false ideas of God. The selfish heart longs for and will find preachers and teachers who will tickle the ears rather than those who will speak the truth to hearts and in uncovering the sin of those hearts show those hearts that they need a Savior who saves by free-grace alone. Sinful men will not object to a god that loves them and does nothing but work for their worldly good while they remain in the bondage and deception of a selfish heart. The selfish heart hates the true God but loves all gods that men will offer up whom will not demand that their selfish heart be repented of and that they must die to their pride and self.

A selfish heart will twist and turn the Scriptures and all else in extreme efforts to find a way for it to keep its lordship over self and yet to think it is loved by God. The only way that this can happen is for men to wrest the Scriptures to their own destruction because in doing so they wrest the teaching about the true God and also wrest the Scriptures that teach them about their own sinful natures of selfish hearts. Oh how fallen creatures love to think that God loves them and will not bring them to judgment. After all, they reason, I love me and I love others and I would not judge them or myself with an eternal damnation. However, quite clearly that is to make a god in their own image rather than seek the true God.

This shows us that a selfish heart is not just a little selfish, but instead it is a heart that longs to be the true God. It is a heart that will twist all the facts and evidence in order to comfort itself and maintain its own pride and self-righteousness. This selfish heart is just like what the devil promised Adam and Eve when he told them that they would be like God. Indeed the selfish heart of man is like God in the sense that now man wants to be God, man wants to determine what is right and wrong for self, and man wants to change God to be like himself. The selfish heart (so to speak) casts God from His throne and takes that place for him or herself. The selfish heart will do what it wants and when it wants and then justifies itself by thinking and/or saying that it did that because it was best for self. The selfish heart plays God when it justifies its own sinful behavior and condemns others for far less. The selfish heart plays God when it denies that God will punish certain sins and so changes the nature of God in his or her own mind and acts as if that is reality.

The selfish heart tells others that it loves God and deceives itself into thinking that as well, but in reality it is not the true God that is loved. It is the false god that the selfish heart has erected in its own image and then pretends that its own image is the real God. The horrifying reality is that when the professing Church and its “ministers” do nothing toward proclaiming the true God, the evil of selfish hearts seemingly knows no end and the images of men that they pretend to be the true God takes over in the professing Church. It is my fear that this is what has happened in the professing Church. The true God has been ushered out and the false gods of selfish hearts have been lifted up and is the one being preached. These false gods are the ones that people are taught about Sunday after Sunday from the pulpits. These false gods are the ones that people think love them in their unconverted state where they are ruled over by selfish hearts. May God have mercy and deliver us for the sake of His name!

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One Response to “Selfishness as Sin 51”

  1. paul Says:

    Hope it’s all right to just be jumping in here,..everything you (and Bellamy and Thornbury) say here resonates in me..first Emmons, and now Bellamy (and Thornbury)..but even having been exposed to Puritan writings previous to these, to read these men’s words, I think “These are hard sayings to be sure!”. They are convicting and humbling and “troublesome” to one such as I am, for they show me my own self, and how little I feel that I truly love God the Father and the Lord Jesus and how much this disgusting “Self” still reigns within me…

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