Selfish “Christianity” 16

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 the last article I quoted Matthew 6:1-5 which teaches us that the Pharisees prayed in order to be seen by men. If our hearts were not so hardened by our own selfishness and God gave us light to see what praying for men really is, we would fall on the floor with disgust. We would also cry out in anguish over our own hearts having done this, and not only just once, but to some degree every time we have prayed. This is not just some ivory tower theoretical issue, but every person that has wrestled with a selfish heart crying out for God to give it grace in order to pray knows something of this.

How easy it is for a minister to stand up front on Sunday mornings and say words that sound like prayer while his heart longs and desires for the people to think highly of him for his prayer. How easy it is for music leaders to choose songs, introduce them and then lead them in a way where their hearts desire their own glory rather than pointing to Christ. How easy it is for people who are called on to pray to seek the honor and attention of men as they pray. How easy it is for anyone to pray in such a way in order to perform the duty or even in a way to obtain the admiration of self. A selfish heart is the enemy of true prayer and even the opposite of it.

Jesus taught His disciples (and anyone who will read it) how to pray in Matthew 6:9-13. However, we must be careful to note that to really pray this we will need Christ Himself to teach us this in the heart. In it He taught the basic principles of God-centered prayer which stands firmly against the prayers of a selfish heart. When we pray “Our Father who is in heaven,” this should arrest us and remind us that all we have must come from a holy, holy, holy God. This should remind us that we stand in the presence of the majesty of heaven. This should teach us that we can only pray by grace and grace alone. This should also teach us that our prayers are to be in line with the chief end of man and the Great Commandment. A selfish heart in the presence of the living God should be something we should pray to be granted repentance from.

The first petition of the Lord’s Prayer stands against the selfish heart and all that a selfish heart is, stands for, and seeks. The first petition instructs us that in all we pray and even the first priority in prayer is that God’s name would be hallowed and that His name would be glorified. Oh how this should shatter our proud and selfish hearts. True Christianity is first and foremost concerned with and taken up with the glory of God and that is in public and private prayers. Instead of that, in our services we use our time praying for the physical problems of people or of those we have never heard of. Jesus, on the other hand, instructs us to have as our priority in prayer the glory of God and of the name of God. Only the heart that is broken from self-love and selfishness can even begin to do this.

One again we see with great clarity that selfish “Christianity” changes true Christianity into the religion of self. Every religion in the world but biblical Christianity is really about self and how self can please God, but biblical Christianity is all about God and His glory. Biblical Christianity is of how God does how He pleases and does all for His own glory. His people are to seek Him and His glory out of love. Selfish “Christianity,” however, changes biblical Christianity into just another religion and becomes like the rest of the worldly religions. But a great warning is needed here as aspects of selfish “Christianity” looks just like real Christianity on the outside.

It is true that some groups who participate in selfish Christianity are clearly and obviously outside of true Christianity, but selfish “Christianity” is broad enough that it includes very orthodox groups and people. It includes very moral groups of people. It includes people who have all the outward things down and even have some ability to talk about the inward things as well. However, their affections and their inward experiences do not come from knowledge of the true God, but come from their selfish hearts that love themselves and a false god. These people deceive themselves and others by using the right words and the right doctrines while living externally moral lives.

The Devil, who is the father of selfish people and selfish “Christianity”, is not just out there working to bring in totally evil things and chaos. He will also work to bring about orthodox “churches” and moral people. He will work to bring about nice people and religious people, but all of them are that way because of self. The worst heretics are usually nice people and we may even say that they are the nicest people. They feed upon the self-love of others and tell them what they want to hear. Selfish hearts try to use Christianity for selfish gain. Selfish hearts will pray and be very religious for the sake of selfish gain. As a selfish heart cannot pray to anything but self and is opposed to the true God and true prayer, so selfish “Christianity” is opposed to true Christianity.

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