Selfishness as Sin 73

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)

When reading the Scriptures and the quote by Emmons above (not to mention the rest of Scripture and the rest of the book by Emmons), I am struck by how easy the devil can manipulate ministers and people into a false assurance of a false conversion. It is also striking how easy it would be to deceive people about the Gospel of the glory of God and so have a false gospel being preached. As long as the unregenerate operate on the basis of selfishness (self-love, pride, self-centeredness), they will be moved to love error because truth is centered upon God. This has been brought up and discussed before, but it is so clear from this passage from Emmons that it needs to be bought to the forefront again. This is a vitally important issue in our day.

It seems as if the vast majority or preaching in our day has no recognition of this problem. Sinners are told that Christ loves them and has done everything for them and as such all they have to do is pray a prayer or walk an aisle or something that they can do in their own natural power. A person is never told that it is beyond their ability to change their own heart in order to do what is needed, so a person must receive a new heart which is an absolute must in order to believe. This new heart can only come by the work of God and He will only do it by free and sovereign grace. The unregenerate person will believe that Christ loves him or her because s/he loves self and of course believes that Christ would love him or her. That unregenerate person will love those who s/he thinks loves him or her and as such will think that s/he is converted. After all, a love for God is a sign of conversion. However, a false love for a false god (even if it is derived from the Bible in some way) is a sign of false conversion.

The unregenerate person still loves self as his or her chief love and is guided by self at all times. This person has not been converted but is in an even greater danger because now s/he is deceived by what s/he thinks is conversion. This person becomes very religious and thinks that God loves him or her and that s/he loves God, though the love of God in Christ does not dwell in that person and the person does not love the true God because s/he has not been regenerated. All that the person does is motivated by a selfish heart and that person can become very religious and still be moved and motivated by that selfish heart. It is a great deception and hardly a word is being said in our day about it. Instead of that people are encouraged to believe based on self-love and the strength of self. It is a tangled web of deception that the evil one has wrought and because it fits with their own selfish hearts full of love for self people are completely deluded by it. The Scripture is quite clear that God will have mercy on whom He will have mercy, but the deluded think that they can have mercy on themselves when the choose. The Scripture teaches that grace cannot be earned, merited, or in any way be moved by something in man, yet the deluded think that grace is at their choice and will.

In Paul’s own day he had no one to send to the Philippians because the ministers sought their own interests rather than those of Christ. This is true in our day as well. Ministers want to build big buildings and huge congregations to the glory of their own names, though indeed they say it is for God. Ministers will stoop very low in order to get people to pray a prayer, join the church, or give money to the latest building program. But ministers will not preach that the true God is sovereign and He alone can change hearts. Ministers will not preach that grace is sovereign and God is not under obligation to show it to anyone and there is nothing anyone can do to move Him to show grace. Ministers deceive others when they tell people that God loves them and will assuredly save them if they will but pray a prayer or walk an aisle. Ministers deceive others when it seems that God has done all He can do and it is now up to the sinner. When will ministers be like a Luther or an Edwards who would preach with broken hearts that God must have mercy on sinners and it is God who must change their wicked hearts? It is only when ministers and others see the wickedness of their own selfish hearts and they begin to cry out to God to break them and humble them in the dust. God alone can break proud and selfish hearts, not the people themselves. We must seek him to break our hearts that we would truly seek Him for His own glory.

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