Selfish “Christianity” 10

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.

John 7:7 “The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it, that its deeds are evil.

John 15:24 “If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have both seen and hated Me and My Father as well.

Romans 5:10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

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.

In light of who God is, that is, the God who exists in and of Himself and lives in perfect and supreme love for Himself within the Trinity, surely we can see how obnoxious our selfish hearts that are full of self-love are. As I Peter 1:15-16 graphically and powerfully sets out, we are to be holy because He is holy and our holiness is to be “as He is holy.” In other words, our holiness is to be like His holiness or it is not holiness at all. It is not enough to say we are holy because of things we don’t do, but our holiness is to be like His. It is not enough to say that we are holy because of things we do, but our holiness must be like His.

The problem with human beings, however, is that in the fall our first parents fell into hearts that desires to be like God. In other words, holiness can only be true holiness when we are like God and yet our unholiness is also in being like God. Our standard in all things is God. We are wicked when we try to be like God in His self-sufficiency and His perfect independence. We are wicked when we try to be our own standard and do all things out of self-love or selfishness. But again, holding to the strictest form of orthodoxy can be done out of a selfish heart. Notice the great warning from Weeks from his quote above. Our selfish hearts can have some raised affections and we can easily mistake those for true religion.

When the selfish heart hears that God loves it and desires spiritual good for it, that can raise the selfish affections of the heart and the person can be deceived. The heart that loves God loves to hear of the God who loves Himself and is only as holy as His love for Himself is. However, as with self-sufficiency, when we try to do all we do out of self-love that is a horrible sin. It is only when we love God out of a love that God puts in our hearts that we are holy at all. All that we do that comes from self-love is opposed to having God as our chief love. When we see all the descriptions in the Bible of love and what it really is, we should feel the weight of our selfish hearts in wanting to love ourselves rather than God. We should see that the best of our efforts at religion and our good works are nothing but filthy rags. It is only the truly humble (not the humility of the selfish heart) that God gives grace to, and even that humility is what He shares with His people in and through Christ.

Surely it is clear that true love is far different than selfish love. This is why true love is not thought of as true love by the world or by religious people. Self-love is always trying to convince itself that it has true love and it does things to convince itself that it has true love and at the same time it wants others to think it has true love. As the Pharisees come up with their own self-righteousness and hated the true righteousness of Christ, so in the modern day religious people are coming up with all kinds of standards that are based out of self-love.

I Cor 13:4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Self-love has its own form of patience, kindness, and non-jealousy. Self-love will find ways to brag or get others to brag on it, but self-love cannot stand a word of correction and will accuse others of not having love when someone points out a flaw. Self-love does not want to appear arrogant, and so in its arrogance it will try to hide under a humility worked up by self-love. Self-love does not act unbecomingly out of self-love, which is very unbecoming the presence of God, Self love seeks its own no matter what it does. Self-love is the counterfeit of God and His love.

A selfish heart is simply longing to be like God, wanting the honor of others that belongs to God, and as such the selfish heart is a solitary being in the universe wanting all things to love it and honor it. The selfish heart will study hard to be a person of distinction in the pulpit and out. The selfish heart will put a great amount of self-effort into being religious. But only those who have been delivered from self can truly love God and others. The selfish heart can only preach, teach, and live from self and pretend to a form of religion.

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