Selfish “Christianity” 15

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.

The chief end of man (according to the Westminster Confession of Faith) is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Fallen man has fallen into selfishness (self-centered heart that is full of self-love) and has become his own god in a very practical way. The selfish heart glorifies self and enjoys self rather than God. The selfish heart has itself as its own chief end (goal) in life and for all it does. Once again it is easily seen that self has exchanged the glory of God for self. The selfish heart in the religious world (including ministers and priests) does not truly love the glory of God, but instead it will seek the glory of God in word while in the heart it desires something for acting like it is seeking His glory in name.

If true, and it is incontrovertibly true, when the chief end of man has been turned (in reality and practically) from God to self, the whole of professing Christianity (in that case) has been changed. What we have, then, is a minister preaching to the glory of self and the people congregating to their own selfish good. We have the minister preaching Christ (to some degree) for the goal of self and people listening to the sermon with the goal of self. Instead of the Christ being the Lord Jesus Christ, He is turned into the Divine who will do what man wants. Everything about Christianity is changed when the self runs things and seeks things for self.

Matthew 6:1 “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. 2 “So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 3 “But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. 5 “When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men.

In Matthew 6 we see precisely how selfish “Christianity” is when people change the chief end from God to self. It is self which is at the heart of self-righteousness. It is self that will do good works in order to be seen by others rather than do them out of true love. The Pharisees were practicing righteous acts before men in order to be seen by men. Clearly, and without any real question, they were seeking the glory of self rather than seeking the glory of God. It was out of love for self that they did the outward acts of righteousness than doing them out of love for God. They gave to the poor in order to be honored by men, which is to place the chief end of man and the chief love of man with self rather than God and the good of their neighbors. The Pharisees were selfish from the heart and all their religion came from the self. All of their holiness was from self and for self. Ah, but can we really say that things have changed? Is this not the issue with our day as well? Is it the issue for you?

Surely it is obvious that Weeks (statement at the top) was and is right. As we can see from the biblical account with the Pharisees that selfish religion will move people to be very religious and yet that very high degree of religion was hated by God because it was nothing but acts of the selfish heart. It is not prayer to God when a person “prays” in order to be seen by men and honored by men. It is not prayer when the heart does not love God and have God as a chief end. It is not prayer to God but instead it is nothing but the prayer of the Pharisee who “was praying this to himself” (Luke 18:13). The prayer of a selfish heart is a prayer to self.

One question, however, that might rise from Matthew 6:1-5 is that it tells us we should pray to God and He will reward us. This sounds selfish as well, at least if the person’s heart is selfish. What we want to do, however, is to think of this as if the person’s greatest desire is God. That person’s greatest reward is to be in the presence of God and to behold His glory. In doing what we do out of love for God we are enabled to behold His glory as it shines through us, but God Himself and His glory is what we seek and is our very great reward. Remember that God told Abraham that He (God) was Abrahams reward (Gen 15:1 KJV). If God is our chief end and love, then certainly we will not desire anything above Him. Selfish preaching may preach a sure orthodoxy in line with all of the great theologians of the past, but it will not do so out of a true love for God. A selfish hearing and selfish living have the same intent and motives. Selfish “Christianity” is not Christianity at all, it is nothing but the worship of self.

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