Selfishness as Sin 67

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.

Philippians 2:19 But I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, so that I also may be encouraged when I learn of your condition. 20 For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare. 21 For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus.

If sinners love themselves because they are themselves, and love others only because they suppose them to be subservient to their interest, then their affections are always selfish and sinful, let them rise ever so high, or extend ever so far. They often do love those who love them, very ardently. But they never love such persons so ardently as they love themselves. For all their love to others flows from love to themselves, and the streams can rise no higher than the fountain. Hence their most ardent and raised affections to others are as really selfish and sinful, as if they were ever so low and languid. Their nature is precisely the same whether they are stronger or weaker. It is morally impossible that their love to their friends or to their Creator should rise so high as to become disinterested or virtuous love…The same mercenary motives which induce them to love their intimate friends, may induce them to extend their regards to their country and to their Savior…Multitudes love their Redeemer because they think He loves them…It is exactly of the same nature as the love of the miser to his money…If it be criminal for one person to prefer his interest to a greater interest of another, it must be more criminal to prefer his interest to the greater interest of a nation, and for the same reason, it must be unspeakably more criminal still to prefer his interest to the whole interest of the universe. (Nathanael Emmons, Selfishness, International Outreach)

Emmons is quite brutal to our selfish hearts and drives the knife to the hilt with his comments. The same mercenary motives, which is so clear from the Scriptures, that move us to love our neighbors, will induce us to extend our regards (love) to the Savior. If we can think of mercenary love as the only real reason we love anything or anyone, we will see something of the horrible nature of self-love and selfishness in our hearts. While we may think we are righteous and have some pride in the fact that we love others, if we look at it in the way Emmons looks at it we will see that what we think of as our very righteousness is in fact our sin. God, who knows our hearts and the very intents and motives of our hearts, knows whether our “love” is truly centered on Him and from Him or whether it is all about self.

The difference between looking at sin as behavior and as selfishness (love of self, pride, doing all for self as the motive and intent) cannot be exaggerated. As long as the heart remains in the control of self, all that the heart does is out of love for self. When a religious person does all out of love for self rather than love for God, this is utterly disastrous. When preachers preach in accordance with selfish hearts and people only want to hear in accordance with their selfish hearts, it is far from Christianity regardless of the stated creed and professions of the people. It is Christ in the soul that is the life of true believers and where Christ is He reigns and rules as He pleases. When Christ reigns and rules in the souls of His people, He works in them to die to self and follow Him in true love.

Could it be a better time now than when Emmons spoke of multitudes love the Redeemer because they think He loves them? No, it is actually a much worse time. We have had the vast amount of “evangelism” for decades start off with “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” If you wish to start with a selfish heart and have a selfish heart make a decision for Christ (so to speak) and yet remain unchanged, that is how you start an evangelistic appeal. Selfish sinners love others because others love them. When they hear that God loves them and has great plans for them, they will think that they love God in truth when in fact all they have is a mercenary love or a selfish love. All of their love for God flows from a selfish heart. The testimonies of many people demonstrate this very fact. While they are supposed to speak of how Christ has saved them, all they can talk about is themselves. When they speak of Christ, it is all about what He did for them and now they love Him for that. That is nothing more than what unregenerate but religious people can do and often do.

Nothing can be plainer and more obvious. There are multitudes today who are deceived about their own hearts and their eternal state. They have no idea that all of their love for God and others flows from their selfish hearts and as such they are in a state of death and damnation while they work in their local churches and go right by orthodox pulpits (some) on their way to hell. Not only does a selfish heart deceive about the state of salvation, the selfish heart will fight any light that is brought in to shine on it. The selfish heart will fight and justify itself in all it does since a selfish heart judges all things by what is good for it. How desperate our nation is for churches where pastors will search the hearts of people rather than trying to get people to give from their wallets for various things. How desperate we are for faithful men who are broken from their own pride and will seek the true good of the people. The famine of hearing the Word of God in our day is utterly terrible. May God have mercy on us.

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