Selfishness as Sin 64

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 selfish heart is opposed to and at enmity with God and His glory and so is at war with all the attributes of God. There is nothing about God that the selfish heart loves. While the believer loves God and loves all the attributes of God as they are revealed to him or her, the unbeliever loves nothing about the true God. The heart of the unbeliever is full of self and as such is opposed to the true God and all things that are true of Him. Perhaps the greatest example of this has to do with the holiness of God and the love of God.

The vast majority of people who speak of God as a God of love and then they go directly to how He loves all human beings and desires nothing but their good. This is far removed from the truth. Scripture does speak of God as a God of love and in fact says that “God is love,” but what does that mean? Are we to understand that because God is love that He loves all beings and cannot do anything but love them? What does that do to the sovereignty of God? Love is sovereign as all things about God are sovereign. God is under no obligation to set His love on any person and He is free to do so or not to do so in accordance with His eternal plans. Yes, God is love. However, the triune God is love and as such God lives in perfect and infinite love within Himself. The phrase “God is love” describes how God is within Himself and makes no demands upon Him that He must love all beings.

The selfish heart loves itself and all that loves it and as such is willing to think that God loves it. This selfish heart will believe that God loves all beings and will always think that God will love him or her because s/he is not that bad and thinks of self as basically good. When the selfish heart hears someone preach about the truth of God, that selfish heart will hate that God. It will not think that it hates God but will deceive itself into thinking that the true God is not like that. After all, the selfish heart reasons, God is love and as such God must love “me.” This surely shows that the selfish heart opposes the truth of the love of God. In fact, when the love of God was incarnate on earth and was perfect love in action and in example, the world hated Him and put Him on the cross. Selfish hearts, even very religious hearts, hate true love and the freedom God has to set His love on humans or not as He pleases.

As we think of the truth of Scripture, we do not see God as loving all men and doing good to them all. What we see is that He commanded the Israelites to go into the land of Canaan and destroy it and the inhabitants of it. How did God view the sons of Aaron when they offered strange fire? He struck them down by fire and killed them. How did God view the sons of Eli who were priests? When their father warned them, the Scriptures tell us that they did not listen to their father because God desired to put them to death. Is this the God of love that selfish hearts long to hear about? Is this the God of love that so many hate and believe that this could not be the true God? Yes, the true God lives in love for Himself and His own glory. Selfish hearts want God to be all about them instead of Himself.

Joshua 11:18 Joshua waged war a long time with all these kings. 19 There was not a city which made peace with the sons of Israel except the Hivites living in Gibeon; they took them all in battle. 20 For it was of the LORD to harden their hearts, to meet Israel in battle in order that he might utterly destroy them, that they might receive no mercy, but that he might destroy them, just as the LORD had commanded Moses

Again we note that Israel went to battle against many cities and yet the cities did not make peace with them. Why is that? Because the LORD hardened their hearts because He wanted to utterly destroy them and that they would not receive any mercy. This is not what selfish hearts want to hear. This is not what selfish hearts can abide by and meditate on. The true God is perfectly sovereign in all things and that includes His love and His grace. His grace could not be free if He must love all people because of who He is. Oh how selfish hearts cannot tolerate the true and living God who lives in perfect love within Himself and sets His love on those whom He pleases. Oh how selfish hearts hate the true teaching of free-grace because they have nothing in them that will attract God to show grace to them and because they can do nothing to move Him to show grace to them. Selfish hearts will adjust what they want in order that they may have a god that they are pleased with. They do this because they hate the true God and so come up with one they can control.

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