Selfishness as Sin 58

It appears from the account given of his [Adam] first offense that it essentially consisted in loving himself supremely. He voluntarily partook of the forbidden fruit, from the motive of increasing his own knowledge and happiness, in opposition to the glory of God and the good of all his posterity. This was freely and voluntarily turning from benevolence to selfishness, which is the essence of moral depravity. He became morally depraved in the same manner that Satan, the first sinner in the universe, became depraved. Satan had no corporeal instincts or appetites to tempt him to rebel against his Maker. He loved his own glory more than the glory of God, and aspired to become independent and supreme, which was the essence of selfishness, or moral depravity. The prevailing notion that Adam became morally depraved by the mere want of holiness is repugnant to the very nature of moral depravity, and to every dictate of reason and Scripture. (Nathanael Emmons, Selfishness, International Outreach)

The nature of selfishness is generally thought of as a person that disregards others momentarily in order to obtain something s/he wants. Emmons tries to show that selfishness is the very essence of sin and that it is at the heart of all that a person does. The reason that it is at the heart of all that a human being does is because we inherit this from Adam. Each human being is born dead in sins and trespasses and as such they are born with a selfish heart and all that they do comes from this selfish heart. This answers the question of why did a simple eating of a piece of fruit cause the whole human race that came from Adam to be born dead in sins. When Adam took the piece of fruit it was a very selfish act and he did that out of a supreme love for himself rather than a supreme love for God and a love for his posterity. His act was moved by nothing but a love for himself. When Adam loved himself in that way, the posterity that he represented would fall into sin and be the enemies of God. With blatant disregard for the command of God and his posterity he ate the fruit.

When Adam took the fruit and ate the fruit, he was not doing so out of ignorance, but he had watched (evidently) Eve being deceived by the snake (Satan) and she was told by the snake that she could be as God. Adam took and ate the fruit wanting to be like God himself, which in accordance with the deception of the snake he wanted to increase his knowledge and make his own moral choices. This is to say that he wanted to be like God. In this Adam did not want to be in complete dependence upon God for all things and instead wanted to depend upon himself and make his own moral choices. This is precisely what the human race does today. Instead of seeing the commands as God sets them out, human beings want to do what they want to do and they want to set their own standards for right and wrong. The ramifications of the fall continue to this day and apart from being rescued from the dominion of darkness that is precisely what all men will do.

Once again, however, we must be very careful to point out a few things in light of the present religious climate. Man will see the commandments and set his heart on keeping them. He thinks that he can be righteous if he will just keep the external commandments and will even be proud in doing so. What we must note, however, is that the commandments of God cannot be kept by man in his independence from the heart. Religious man can be at least as independent and self-sufficient as the more obvious person of the world. Man will even see the greatest commandments and think that he can keep those in his own power if he wants to do so. Man thinks that he can have faith in Christ as he pleases, but again this is just more of the power of self thinking it can do as it pleases. Adam wanted to be as God and so he thought he wanted self-sufficiency and independence to make his own choices. That is precisely what religious man does as well in the religious realm. Religious man is in rebellion against the sovereign God who shows free-grace and religious man wants to be able to do something on his own so that God will show him grace because of what he has done. Adam received all from God until the fall and then sought to gain it by self, so religious man wants a religion of self where he does not have to receive all from God.

It is the very nature of sin for man to do all he does from a self-centered and self-seeking heart. Religious man does all of his religion from his self-centered and self-seeing heart. When the religious man is a minister he will preach and all that he does of his religious work is done from the power of self. In doing so he is just like his father the devil. Religious man will attend church and become quite the religious worker and even become leaders in the church, but all he does is from a selfish heart and as such he is just like his father the devil. Religious man will sit in the pew on Sundays and be moral at work and at home, but again he is doing it all from a selfish heart and is like his father the devil. Religious man hates free-grace because it demands that he repent of his selfish heart and look to Christ alone, but even more because he cannot do those things. Repentance and faith are what man must do, but no one has the power or ability to do them. Free-grace must save a man so that he can repent and have faith. How terrible it is for religious man to hear that he cannot please God and cannot work repentance and faith up by his own power. He must wait on God to do those things as He pleases.

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