Selfishness as Sin 54

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… 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. (From John F. Thornbury’s Introduction, True Religion Delineated, by International Outreach.)

It is not the least innocent kind of ambition, to seek after praise in the way of religious usefulness. Never a day passes, but the devil offers his service. Mankind are perpetually at variance, by being all of one sect, viz. selfists. Adam, Thomas. Private Thoughts on Religion. International Outreach, Inc

We have been stressing that selfishness is the essence of sin and just because a person has become religious and has different external actions does not mean that the person has been born of God and is a real Christian. It has been said by many over the years that there are only two kinds of people. There are Christians and there are non-Christians. While that is an accurate statement, it makes it hard to discern what is going on when we understand that there are many professing Christians who are not truly Christians. Perhaps it would be better to say that there are those who are under the power and love of self and those who are under the power and love of Christ. Another way to say it is that all are either of their father the devil or of their father God. A person can be extremely religious and extremely moral in the outward sense and still be under the power of self. In the words of Thomas Adam above, these people are the selfists.

What does a selfist or a selfish person do in the things of religion? This person has ambitions for self in the things of religion just as s/he has ambitions for self in worldly thing. The selfish person will seek praise in the things of religion and want to be honored and showered with attention. Just as the Pharisees sought the attention and praise of men in their prayers, their giving, and their fasting; so men today will do precisely the same thing. It is not that modern people have moved beyond the Pharisees, but instead by nature our hearts are the same. The Pharisees the scholars and the religious elite of their day, but their hearts were never regenerated and they were still in the bonds of selfishness. The same thing is true today. As long as men and women are not born from above in truth, they will remain selfists and they will do all for self.

How is it that the devil offers his service to those who seek praise in the things of religion? It is because the devil does not care if men and women are religious and even very religious, but he is only too happy to promote religion as long as men and women are deceived by their selfish hearts and do not seek the glory of God. The devil is only too happy to take his selfish children and help them along their way into religious activity and even the ministry. What he does not want is for these people to be awakened to their selfish hearts and to cry out to God to turn them from that bondage and then to give them new hearts which love Christ in truth.

It is selfishness and self-love that keep worldly people and religious people together and thinking that they love God and each other. However, it is also that same selfish heart full of pride and self-love that causes all the problems in the world and in the professing churches. As men and women seek distinction and honor from each other, the heart of pride and self-love will not like it when others get that distinction and honor. This will bring friction into meetings and into professing churches. The lack of mortified pride and dying to self will also bring friction into true churches.

The problem with people getting along (in church or outside) is because they love those who love themselves or they love those only for the sake of the benefit they receive. The problem with people not getting along is that their self-love will not allow them to love others if they do not receive some benefit for it. The selfish heart is to be like the devil regardless of whether a person is involved in Satan worship or attends a conservative church (professing or real). Only those who are born of God and know God can have true love and so love others without any benefit received from others.

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