Selfish “Christianity” 21

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 importance of this particular view of sin is enormous. Without some understanding of this teaching of Scripture, we will make mistakes regarding the nature of Christianity, the nature of sin, and the nature of conversion. Involved in those, of course, is the absolute need for people to understand the nature of their own depravity and of how a selfish heart can deceive them and they will not see the difference between biblical Christianity and the outward acts of it. This is a teaching that gets at the true spiritual nature of Christianity, yet without it many religious people will think that orthodoxy and good works are the real thing. While it may appear that these are exaggerations, I would argue that these are actually understated.

A selfish heart cannot see the truth of God without hating it and yet it will try to use false gods to excuse itself and make a way to please that false god. The selfish heart will use forms of Christianity that are acceptable to the selfish heart, though indeed that is not true Christianity. Preachers are satisfied with sermons that are orthodox but do not get at the selfish heart. Preachers are satisfied with sermons that speak of outward sin and even of inward sins, but when this point is ignored the very heart of sin is ignored. When Christ is preached and the character of God is set forth, a selfish heart will hate the true God and yet it will love a false god. We must not make a mistake at this point, though this is not saying that we must be perfect in it. A selfish heart will always hate the true God, the true Gospel, and the truth about itself. This is why so much teaching today waters these great truths down and this is why so much of what is taught today is not Christianity but is selfish “Christianity” which is to say it is missing the very heart of true Christianity.

The last sentence by Weeks in the quote above is perhaps as telling as any statement on this issue. Even the doctrine of hell can be preached in a way that selfish hearts will agree with and is in accord with selfish hearts. This should give people great pause. If hell is in accord with what selfish hearts will willingly accept when presented in a certain light, we should know that the message of the Gospel and the doctrines of the Gospel can also be presented in a light which selfish hearts will accept and perhaps love. This must not be ignored as it points to a great weakness in the modern practice of preaching and of teaching. People will willingly accept orthodox teaching, even the hard teachings, as long as it is presented in a way that makes it palatable to the selfish heart. The selfish heart must be exposed and shown to be what it really is rather than ignored and allowed to deceive the soul all the way to hell based on a religious profession.

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