Selfishness as Sin 63

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)

In the past few POSTS I have been trying to set out how a selfish heart is opposed to God in the first three commandments. But again, it should be noted that the commandments first reflect how God is within Himself and toward Himself as triune. Each member of the Trinity hallows the name of each member and then God as a whole. The living God lives in perfect love for Himself and perfect reverence for Himself and with perfect holiness always does all for the glory of His own name. But this goes even deeper in another sense, though it is true that they are all related.

While selfishness is rather easily seen in light of the Ten Commandments and The Greatest Commandments, selfishness is also an attack on every attribute of God. That is correct; selfishness is an attack on every attribute of God. The glory of God is really one word (“glory”) that stands for the whole character and attributes of God. It is used in other ways, but I would argue that this is the primary way it is used in Scripture. An attack on the glory of God is really an attack on all the attributes of God and a preferring of the person and his or her glory to His glory and attributes. We see this in Satan who wanted to be as God and so wants to think of himself as God and that has been passed on to man in the fall from being like God (in heart, attitude, and love) to being like Satan (in wanting to be independent of God and decide what is right for ourselves). It has been said that God made man in His own image and man has returned the favor.

Without going into this for the next several months, it can still be set out and for each person to see just how wicked a selfish heart is and then the wonders of free-grace. We can also note that when we see how selfish the fallen heart is, we can also see that nothing else but free-grace can possibly save. But first, one attribute of God that we must understand in order to understand the nature of how selfish hearts oppose God is that of simplicity. The simplicity of God simply teaches that in His essence God is one and there are no divisions in Him at all. This is to say that God would see Himself as one and yet our finite minds cannot see Him as one and so we need to view His perfect oneness in parts. While we may think of His love, mercy, and grace as being opposite in some ways to His holiness, wrath, and justice; the fact of the matter is that they are not opposite of each other at all. We have to learn to pray and seek the Lord to see Him in His perfect glory more and more. The selfish heart, then, does not just oppose God at some point here and some point there, but the selfish heart opposes God at all points of His character and attributes. The selfish heart hates the true God and would kill Him if it could. This is seen in what happened when God tabernacled among men in Jesus Christ.

God alone is self-sufficient. God exists in and of Himself (as triune) and has utterly and absolutely no need at all. He is sufficient for all things within Himself and no one can add anything to Him or do anything for Him that He needs. God sits supreme in the heavens and while hidden under secondary causes He provides for all living things as He pleases. Man is utterly dependent on God even while he (some) deny that God exists and others live in haughtiness and pride in their deception of independence. The proud heart of self thinks that it is independent and that it provides for self. This selfish heart does not see how dependent on God it really is. The selfish heart trusts in self and seeks self in all it does. The selfish heart is proud before others and wants others to honor it for how self-sufficient it is. The selfish heart longs to be as God in self-sufficiency, but this is simply wicked idolatry. Our self-sufficiency can be seen in many ways if we will take care to look and ask God to open our eyes. In terms of the Gospel, Christ is the sufficiency of God to save sinners by free-grace. He is utterly self-sufficient to save by grace.

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