Selfish “Christianity” 17

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.

True prayer is beyond the selfish heart as is all other things of true Christianity. Weeks says (not a direct quote) just above that when the truth of who God is and His Gospel are not presented correctly selfish sinners are pleased. When selfish sinners think that God is pleased with them as they are and that He is just waiting on them to pray (and perhaps say the name “Jesus” in the prayer) in order to give them what they want, this is greatly pleasing to the hearts of selfish sinners. What a burden it is to a selfish heart to pray for God’s name to be hallowed and for God to be glorified. Oh how this is not what the sinner truly desires, but a religious person can still say the words as a way of manipulating God (he thinks). What the selfish sinner is blinded to is that the heart must truly desire God’s glory in order for it to be true prayer.

True prayer is seeking God and His glory, but the religion of the selfish heart is to seek things for self. That religious person will do many religious things to either obtain a status in the church or will do many religious things in an effort to get God to do what s/he pleases. Selfish hearts hate the doctrine of sovereignty because it strips them of control, but a religious person can like the doctrine (not the reality) because it is something else that can be used for self in certain orthodox circles. A religious person may also deceive self into thinking that even though God is sovereign He will do what He is asked in prayer as long as the name of Jesus is used. Again it is so obvious that a selfish heart cannot truly pray to the true God and yet can be so blinded to the reality of that.

In another application of this (prayer and selfish hearts) we see in Scripture that sinners love those who love themselves. As long as sinners think that God loves them and gives them what they pray for, the sinner will “pray” and seek God (the god of his imagination) for the things that the selfish heart of the sinner desires. When sinners hear that God loves them and earnestly desires for them to be saved, they love Him back and do what they are told in order to be saved (they think). Now they are able to pray for what they want. Now they can give vent to their selfish hearts to God and expect Him to give them what they please. It seems to never occur to them that if they loved God they would seek the glory of God rather than their own selfish desires.

Where do people learn how to pray? We are told that prayer is the expression of the desires of the heart. However, for those who are deceived about salvation their true desires flow from selfish hearts which hate the true God. If they have any understanding of what it means to pray for God’s name to be hallowed and His name to be glorified, this will move the selfish heart to hatred. Selfish hearts hate God and are at enmity toward Him, so they will never truly pray (though they may give some lip service for appearances sake) in accordance with the teachings of Christ. The heart of a believer will be molded more and more like the heart of Christ and so Christ will teach that person in the inward man, but the selfish heart cannot be taught in the inward man how to pray.

When ministers or other leaders pray from the pulpit or from the front of the building, they are usually doing nothing but feeding selfish hearts what they want. Instead of selfish sinners being taught by the prayers of the leaders, they are simply encouraged to believe that God is there to supply their selfish wants and desires if only they ask in the right way. The prayers that are “offered” are usually as far from being God-centered as they can be. Not only that, selfish prayers of a selfish heart are prayers of hatred to the living God and they bring wrath upon the one who offers them. Those so-called prayers are far from seeking the true spiritual good of people and the glory of God. But again, a selfish heart can learn the words of true prayer and so use those true words in an effort to manipulate God and gain honor with the people. A selfish heart should be a burden to sinners as it ruins everything that they do, but that same selfish heart also blinds people to what a selfish heart really is and as such provides the interpretive lenses to view things. Oh how we need to be deeply humbled and then for God to send a true revival!

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