Selfishness as Sin 53

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.)

Hopefully the enormity of this problem is becoming clearer and clearer. In accordance with a person’s view with sin a person will have a different concept of God, of Christianity, of salvation in general, and evangelism. The views a person has of sin effects other views and in turn is influenced by other views. The view of the nature of sin and of humanity is not something we can hold in isolation of all other views, but in reality it is of a vital importance in what it is in and of itself as well as its influences on other issues. At the risk of being redundant, but yet sensing the enormity of this issue, it appears wise to stress some things again.

According to Bellamy, religion is defective when it does nothing but appeal to the selfish interests of men. If that statement is true, then the religion of our day is in utter shambles. Professing churches by the droves are not hearing or wanting the true Gospel and a great percentage of ministers are not preaching the Gospel. God has turned us over to our own devices and desires and all we know how to do is to practice a religion based on selfish desires. When the heart is hardened and turned over to a stronger and stronger control of self, then true Christianity which is based on God doing all He does for His own glory will assuredly be hidden from the eyes of men. As men are given over to self, they want the worship to please them rather than God and they want preaching to tickle their selfish ears rather than confront them with the truth of God. The prayers of those who are still under the control of their selfish hearts and desires will be all about themselves rather than for the glory of the name of God.

When selfish hearts are thought to be normal and God is thought to seek the worldly good of those selfish hearts, Christianity has been effectively hidden. The focus of the professing churches turns to what they think is the good of people and they focus on people. However, when they do this they are not seeking the glory of God as their first priority and love and therefore they are not seeking the true spiritual good of the people. A focus on selfish things is not good for anyone but it is what Satan desires. A professing church that is kind and nice and focuses on worldly things is indeed carrying out the selfish desires of Satan as he wishes to keep people from thinking on spiritual things. A form of professing Christianity, then, that is not aware of the nature of sin and of the selfish heart is a form of religion that will make people outwardly kind and nice and yet lead people to hell whether it is past a Reformed pulpit or not. The outward form of theology makes no real difference when the heart is selfish as the selfish heart will use theology for its own purposes.

Somehow and in some manner the professing Church must wake up or be awakened. It is quite true that only God can wake people up when they are as fast asleep as this. It is quite true that only God can illuminate sinners and show them their deadness and the extent and horror of their selfish hearts. It is quite true that the professing Church is so far gone because God has brought judgment and has been bringing judgment for many years. However, if God would only awaken a few people and work in them to begin to cry out for Him to awaken souls for the glory of His own name, who knows what will happen. Indeed, despite all the pouring out of literature and recordings of sermons, when virtually all of it is really focused on the self it is perpetuating the problem. We must seek the Lord to give us faint desires that will grow into aches and burdens for His glory. We must seek this as if it will only come by free-grace because that is the only way it will come.

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