Selfishness as Sin 70

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 are constantly under the governing influence of selfishness, then they must experience an essential change in their affections, in order to be saved. If they naturally possessed the least degree of disinterested love, or true holiness, there would be no need of a radical and essential change in their moral exercises. They might love God and repent of sin and believe in Christ, without becoming new creatures. Their carnal mind, which is perfect selfishness, cannot be new modified or molded into benevolence by any exterior means of motives. Though under some circumstances, they may, without a change of heart, hate the world which they once loved, and love God whom they once hated, yet their love and hatred will arise from the same mercenary motives, which are entirely sinful. Sinners are continually turning their attention and their affections from one object to another; but their love and their hated continue to be of the same selfish nature. The careless sinner fixes his whole attention and affection upon the world; but when he is awakened from his stupidity, he turns his whole attention from the world to God, whom he hates for the same reason for which he before loved the world. Whatever sinners love and hate, they love and hate from selfish motives; and consequently no change of objects, motives, or circumstances, has the least tendency to change the nature of their affections. So that nothing short of a divine influence upon their hearts, can turn them from selfishness to benevolence, or from sin to holiness, without which they cannot see the kingdom of God. (Nathanael Emmons, Selfishness, International Outreach)

Emmons tells us that the carnal mind cannot be newly modified or molded into benevolence by any exterior means of motives. This is powerful statement which frankly blows away Arminian theology and wipes the dust off behind it. The carnal mind cannot be changed by motives as it will always operate according to the dictate of selfishness and pride. Nothing can change that mind but God alone in the new birth. When the love and hatred of the heart always arises from the same source, there can be no change apart from the hand of God granting a new heart. This is so important to grasp in terms of evangelism, the Gospel, the character of God, and the nature of Christian fellowship. This is so important to grasp in terms of helping people see if they are truly converted. Myriads of people are deceived because of their selfish hearts and it seems as if no one is dealing with that in our day.

Since it is true that sinners are bound fast in the bondage of selfishness (pride and love for self), then it should be absolutely clear that they must be born from above to be converted. In regeneration God “rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son” (Colossians 1:13). Satan, the deceiver and the great lover and admirer of self, keeps people in the bonds and darkness of his kingdom of self. He can deceive the greatest of open sinners into becoming the greatest in the things of religion and yet they have never been born from above. All that they have done is change their behavior and keep their chief sin which is self.

The religious person can come to hate the world, but not because he has a new heart, but because the world does not feed his self-love in the same way religion does now. The religious person can now love God (though it is a god of his own making) and it will still be out of nothing but love for self. Whether a person gives all of his or her energies in pursuit of the world or in pursuit of the things of religion, that person will do either in the bondage of the love of self. Oh how the selfish heart can weep and say great things about the god who saved him or her from the sin and the world, but it is still self-love speaking. Self-love cannot change the heart from self-love to a new heart. Self-love cannot give itself new desires for God and new affections for the truth of God. Only free-grace can change a despicable heart that loves self and make it one that loves the true and living God.

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