Selfish “Christianity” 36

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 heart that is fully for self and full of self is a heart that primarily thinks of self and obtaining things for self. It has a standard, but the standard it has is what is good for self. If stealing is good for self, it will take what it wants if it thinks it can get away with it. Self blinds people by its greedy desires. Some selfish hearts will not steal, especially if that selfish heart is strongly religious, but it will not steal because of its desire for self-righteousness or because of a fear of getting caught. Either way, instead of not stealing out of love for God self is the driving motivation behind this heart.

The eighth commandment forbids stealing, but of course it also has a wider application to the heart. The heart can long to steal another person’s good name or their glory as well as their money or property. The selfish heart not only wants to steal what a person has, but it may also want to steal what a person is. The selfish heart can steal another person’s good name by lying about that person or by spreading gossip and rumors about that person. It seems clear that selfish hearts constantly want to tear others down in order to build self up.

But the selfish heart is guilty of stealing from God when it wants to be as God and it wants to obtain glory for itself rather than seek the glory of God. For example, a minister can desire glory from his sermons rather than truly seek the glory of God out of love for God and as such he is stealing (at least in desire) glory from God. The minister is stealing from the people when his efforts are really for them to honor him rather than preach to the glory of God. In that case the selfish heart is stealing from God and from the people. Oh how wicked this selfish heart is in using the things of religion and the true God to steal honor from God and to steal God Himself and His glory from the people. The selfish heart, however, may even be blind to the great evil that it is doing when it does that.

Once we realize that the glory of God is tied to His righteousness that He gives as a free gift in Christ, we can see that all self-righteousness is man’s attempt to steal from God. The selfish heart loves self-righteousness even in the things of orthodoxy and as such is always trying to steal from God. The selfish heart loves to be thought of as a good preacher, a wise counselor, a righteous man, and an evangelist, a good worker in the church and on and on. But that selfish heart loves those things for the sake of self and as such its desire for self-righteousness is stealing from the glory of God in His free gift of righteousness. The selfish heart is so blind to its own self-righteousness that it is proud and lifted up in not stealing and in not doing the outward sins. It is like the rich young ruler who thought that he had kept the commandments all of his life but was blind to the sin of his heart.

The eighth commandment seems so simple and so easy to keep as long as you keep your hands off of the possessions of other people. Once you see it as shining forth the glory of God in Christ, however, things change. Once you see the shining forth of God’s glory in Christ as opposed to the selfish heart, the corruption of the heart and its enmity to God are set out. Oh the horror that will fill the soul when it sees the corruption of its own selfishness and its own righteousness being utterly undone. Oh the horror of the soul that sees that it has believed in a doctrine of grace for a long time, but at the same time it has held that doctrine in a way which was for the benefit and perhaps glory of self.

The anguish of the religious soul that recognizes that it has been twisting Scripture to get away from the fact that we have to deny self in order to follow Christ, but instead it has indulged self in religious things as it has pretended to follow Christ. The anguish of the soul when the Spirit brings conviction to the soul in reality and not just talk about it as a doctrine and sees that it is a selfish heart that has lived for self and was very religious for self and for the honor of self. The anguish of the soul when it sees that it has preached for self rather than the glory of God and as such its very religion and its very preaching was breaking the eighth commandment as it was stealing from God.

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