Selfish “Christianity” 18

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 religion is of the heart and the heart is the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. Selfish religion is also of the heart but when the Spirit is absent and not working His fruit in the soul there is nothing left to motivate the sinner but self-love. Without the love of God being poured out in the soul of a human being the human being is given over to selfishness whether that is expressed in open sin or strict religion. People can spend hours in something they call prayer without really praying. Self can find things to say that it wants and even throw out some religious terminology, but it will always be motivated by self.

The second petition of the prayer that Christ taught His disciples is a prayer for the kingdom of God. This means that we are to pray specifically for the spreading and welfare of the kingdom of God and also that basic idea is to permeate all of our prayer. We are to seek His kingdom from the heart, and yet when our hearts do not desire His kingdom we are to seek Him to give us that desire. Our hearts and our prayers are to be for the kingdom (reign and rule) of God to expand and grow in the hearts of God’s people and for Him to bring others into the kingdom. It is true that God is absolutely sovereign and nothing happens apart from His sovereign hand, but we are praying for His spiritual kingdom to take over and for men and women to do His will from their hearts.

What is it that a selfish heart desires? What is the only thing a heart given over to self can desire? The selfish heart can only desire something of its own kingdom and if it prays for God’s kingdom it will only be from some selfish motive. Not only are sinners depraved, they are depraved in each part of them. Not only do they have some sinfulness, because of this sinfulness they have no ability to come to Christ in and of their own strength and power. Part of the reason for this is because a selfish heart hates God and will not come to Christ. Another reason is that a selfish heart will do nothing but seek self. Even when selfish hearts seek for Christ in some way, as the people in John 6 sought Christ for food so selfish hearts are unable to do anything but seek self. In other words, they have no ability to seek Christ for Himself but they will always have other reasons for doing so.

The third petition in the instructions of Christ on prayer is that we should see the Father for His will to be done and not our own. It is impossible for a selfish heart to pray that his or her own will not be done, though perhaps some would utter the words. A selfish heart longs for his will to be done and is angry at the sovereign will of God and is angry each time the smallest thing happens that s/he has no control over. Since God’s sovereign will is always done, we can know that we are to pray for His commanded will to be done. However, the key in this prayer is not so much praying for God’s will to be done, but in praying that His will be done and not my own.

This petition teaches us a lot about the heart that truly prays. It is not a heart that seeks the things of self and for the will of self to be done, but instead it is a heart that has been broken and it knows that the will of God is best. It is a heart that has been humbled and it desires Christ more than having the will of self be done. Oh how this is impossible for the selfish heart and so we can easily see that true prayer and true communion with God is far beyond the selfish heart. The selfish heart is opposed to God and the prayer of that heart could only be “my will be done as I please and not Yours unless you are helping me get what I want. The selfish heart cannot pray for salvation or anything else in truth and love. If it is not obvious by now that a selfish “Christianity” is an oxymoron, then I am not sure what could convince a person. If Christ came to deliver sinners, then sinners must be delivered from the heart sin of self if they are to be saved. This does not mean that Christians are completely unselfish, but it does mean that they are not under the complete control of self and are submitting to Christ more and more.

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