Selfishness as Sin 62

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 3rd Commandment stands against the selfish hear in a very direct way. While the other commandments do as well, this one stands directly opposed in a very clear way. This commandment has to do with how man is to use the name of God in the way God uses His own name. We are told in the Lord’s Prayer that our first petition is to be for His name to be hallowed (revered, in awe of, glorified). The name of a person is really all that a person is, what a person stands for, and is expressed and reflected in all that a person does. In the Old Testament we are told multiple times that God was going to honor His own name. In the New Testament we see that the cross of Christ was the greatest place where God exalted His own name and hallowed His own name. This commandment commands us not to use His name in an empty or meaningless way, but instead to treat it as holy with reverence and awe.

Q. 112. What is required in the third commandment? A. The third commandment requires, That the name of God, his titles, attributes, ordinances, the Word, sacraments, prayer, oaths, vows, lots, his works, and whatsoever else there is whereby he makes himself known, be holily and reverently used in thought, meditation, word, and writing; by an holy profession, and answerable conversation, to the glory of God, and the good of ourselves, and others.

The selfish heart is concerned with its own name rather than God. The selfish heart is concerned about its own attributes rather than God. The selfish heart uses Scripture all the means of grace with the aim to exalt itself rather than to receive grace that it may be used to exalt God. The selfish heart wants to make itself known rather than make the name of God known. The selfish heart may indeed want to make a holy profession, but not the glory of God but rather for its own glory.

Q. 113. What are the sins forbidden in the third commandment? A. The sins forbidden in the third commandment are, the not using of God’s name as is required; and the abuse of it in an ignorant, vain, irreverent, profane, superstitious or wicked mentioning or otherwise using his titles, attributes, ordinances, or works, by blasphemy, perjury; all sinful cursings, oaths, vows, and lots; violating of our oaths and vows, if lawful; and fulfilling them, if of things unlawful; murmuring and quarrelling at, curious prying into, and misapplying of God’s decrees and providences; misinterpreting, misapplying, or any way perverting the Word, or any part of it; to profane jests, curious or unprofitable questions, vain janglings, or the maintaining of false doctrines; abusing it, the creatures, or anything contained under the name of God, to charms, or sinful lusts and practices; the maligning, scorning, reviling, or any wise opposing of God’s truth, grace, and ways; making profession of religion in hypocrisy, or for sinister ends; being ashamed of it, or a shame to it, by unconformable, unwise, unfruitful, and offensive walking, or backsliding from it.

The selfish heart abuses the name of God every time it speaks His name or thinks His name or sings His name because it does not love Him and His glory, but instead it does all of those things for self. If making profession of religion in hypocrisy is a violation of this commandment, then we can see how that it is truly the selfish heart that is so vile in the things of religion. This selfish heart claims to love God, but it only loves self. The selfish heart may claim to rest in Christ alone, but it really rests in itself. The selfish heart is so religious in the externals, but it does all for self in order that people will honor it rather than God. Self wants grace only that it may not go to hell rather than longing for grace that God’s glory would shine. The selfish heart stands opposed to this commandment with all of its being and violates it every moment of every day. In doing so, the selfish heart is like the devil rather than God. In doing so, the selfish heart lives in self-sufficiency rather than looking to God alone as its all. The selfish heart is truly a wicked, wicked thing and yet people are so blind to it in their hypocrisy and deceived hearts.

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