Selfish “Christianity” 24

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.

One vital issue regarding the nature of a selfish heart is to realize that it is not just something objectively true, it is something true of each and every person. It is not enough to know that it is true; I must know that it is true of me. Not only that, I must know that only the Spirit of Christ can teach me the depths of how true this is of me. A true conviction of sin regarding my own selfish heart is necessary to a broken heart and a true humbling of the heart. This is not just an intellectual doctrine that one must know about, it is one that must be driven into the depths of the heart and that I must be brought to realize something of the awfulness of self.

By analogy we can see this in the nature of preaching. A preacher is not preaching just because he is giving something of an exposition of the text. A preacher is not preaching the Gospel just because he is using the word “gospel” a lot. A preacher is not preaching the cross of Christ just because he uses the word “cross” a lot. He is also not preaching because he uses the word “Jesus” a lot. It is also not preaching to simply speak of redemption and the things of redemption. In order to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and of Christ Himself one must have the Gospel driven into the soul and so preaching becomes the experienced Gospel of the one preaching. Rather than just speaking about the things of Christ, and perhaps doing that with some degree of feeling, one must have a broken and humbled heart in order to preach the Christ who lives there. In other words, there is a huge difference between speaking about Christ and preaching Christ from the heart and to the heart. This is one reason why there is such a lack of preaching in the modern day. Men settle for what can be said about the Gospel rather than having the Gospel in the depths of their soul. They also settle for knowing about Christ rather than preaching the living Christ as their own lives.

In the same way selfishness reveals to us the very heart or depths of sin as we should feel them or experience the reality of them. Yes, it is a sin to lie, but selfishness reveals us why lying is such wickedness and why it is so evil. A selfish heart lies because it is covering up for self or it is twisting the truth for the sake of self rather than doing what it does out of love for God and others. But again, the basic knowledge of this heart that is full of self-love and self-centeredness cannot be known by just knowing about it. The Lord Jesus Christ must Himself open up our eyes and show us the depths of this selfish heart. He does this by the work of the Spirit who shows us the horror of our own hearts and what it feels like to see ourselves completely and totally undone. It is one thing to know the depths of my inability by the intellect, but it is quite another when the Spirit of the living God shows you (me) that apart from Him nothing truly good can come from me. Our hearts can only be moved by self unless Christ works in us His spiritual fruit. The anguish that is felt by the religious soul when Christ works and opens up the eyes of that soul and it sees that everything it has ever done was from love of self and not love of God. Oh how the soul feels the pain and utter despair of self when it is shown by “taste” that every religious thing that it has ever done was done for self rather than for Christ.

Conviction of the Spirit for sin is not just an intellectual thing with some little something felt, it is something that goes to the very depths of the soul. There is pain involved in feeling the weight and guilt of sin. There is a weight on the soul when it sees that all of its righteousness melting away into mountains of sin. The soul feels the burden of it and begins to see and understand that it has nothing but love for self and pride for motives and motivations. It sees that it has hated God in all it has done. The soul is horrified with self and knows that it is worthy of everlasting hell and it will know that nothing but the sovereign grace of God will every save it. The soul will see that any act of its own will would be nothing but more love of self and more selfishness. The soul must be awakened, but it does not deserve to be awakened. The soul must be convicted of this sin by the Spirit, but it deserves to be hardened and blinded rather than convicted. It is the mercy of God to convict the soul of its desperate state in deadness and selfishness. We should seek the Lord to convict us of the terrible wickedness of our own hearts and ask Him to deeply wound us that Christ may be applied. But again, we deserve none of this and we should seek it from the Lord in that way.

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