Selfish “Christianity” 1

John 6:26 Jesus answered them and said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled.

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.

And when, in addition to these measures, the general strain of what is said to sinners is adapted to work upon their selfish feelings and animal passions, as most of what I have heard has been, and some of it extremely well adapted to work up those feelings to a high pitch, it would be strange if some affections were not excited which they might readily mistake for true religion. When God is represented as desiring their salvation, without the least qualification, and that his desire for it is infinitely strong, what impenitent sinner, that has the least seriousness of mind, is not prepared to be pleased? If ” sinners love those that love them,” as our Lord assures us, they can love such a being as God is represented to be, without any change of heart. A God of all mercy, is just such a God as sinners desire. Will it be said that his justice is also brought into view, and that the terrors of hell are exhibited? True; but in what light are they exhibited? Is it not commonly in a light to which the selfish heart will as readily accord? WILLIAM R. WEEKS.

If William Weeks was correct in what he said, then the vast majority of what passes as Christianity in our day is something else in reality. In the light of Philippians 2:19-20, we can see that even in the days of Paul there was a problem with selfish preachers. In the light of John 6:26 we can see that many people sought Christ only to get free food. The issue with selfish “Christianity” is not only that people are selfishly wanting to get things, but that people seek Christ and actually become quite religious for the reasons of self rather than out of love for Christ.

If we took a survey of preaching within “Christendom” in our day, we would find that people are urged to follow Christ and urged to salvation for selfish reasons rather than for biblical reasons like love for God and His glory. We would find that people are encouraged to seek Christ and salvation out of nothing but reasons that are in line with self-centeredness and self-interest. The problem with this, of course, is that selfishness (self-centeredness, self-focus, focused on the natural man and his interests even in the things of religion) is at the very essence of sin. We can see this by noting that Jesus told the Pharisees that in their prayers, their alms, and their fasting that they wanted nothing more than to appear righteous before men. Praying, even if a person is orthodox and very religious, is a wicked and sinful act when the person is actually seeking self rather than God. Giving money to the poor is actually a very wicked and sinful act when the person is actually seeking self rather than God.

Let us put this rather bluntly. If the vast majority of the professing “churches” in our day are operating on selfish principles, that is, motivating people to serve God and to the practice of religion, and their motivations for doing so never arise above the self, then that is not true Christianity but is nothing but deceptive practices. If this is true, and I think that it is, then sinful people that are outwardly sinful simply exchange outwardly sinful practices for outwardly righteous or religious beliefs and actions. Their selfish hearts remain unchanged and they are simply serving self with the things of religion. However, they are still unconverted people because they are still in the control of selfish hearts.

When the teaching about who God is never gets an unconverted person upset, then we can know that the teaching of God has been changed to one that fits selfish hearts. When the teaching of the Gospel does not get unconverted people upset, then we can know that the Gospel has been watered down and changed so that selfish hearts find it acceptable. When Christian practices are taught with no higher motive than for self (whether religious self and even things for self in eternity), then we can know that the God-centeredness of Christianity has been exchanged for the self-centeredness of the devil. Oh how our wicked hearts can find some refuge in the false religion of self that hides itself in the orthodoxy of Christianity. The intellectual man can find self and serve self in the halls of academia. Preachers can serve self behind the pulpit quite well and encourage the people to “Christian” duties with self-centered motives. Christ told us that we must deny self and take up our cross in order to follow Him. That can also become self-centered with enough twisting.

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