Selfish “Christianity” 41

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 selfish heart is something like a powerful stream of water. It has a source, it follows a specific path, it takes in from things around it, and it overpowers all that is in its path. The selfish heart has a father and that father is the devil. The selfish heart flows from a sinful and fallen nature that is all about self and love for self. The selfish heart follows the path of self and there is nothing it does not do that is not for self, though indeed this can be hidden under the guise of religion or perhaps of service. The selfish heart uses all things around it for self and only “loves” those people and things around it when things are for self. The self is so powerful that there is no other motive (not that it has one) or intent that can be obtained while this powerful flow of self is flowing.

True Christianity, on the other hand, has a source that is God Himself. True Christianity follows the path of true love as set out in Holy Scripture. True Christianity looks to spread what is truly good (the glory of God) to all around it and whatever it does it does to His glory. The power of Christianity is in the power of the Spirit and the power of true holiness and love. From this simple little illustration it should be extremely clear that what is of self is not Christian and what is Christian is not of self. The two cannot be joined, which means that there is no such thing as selfish Christianity. Jesus taught that people must deny self in order to follow Him.

The tenth commandment teaches us that the Christian heart is not to covet. The selfish heart will covet the money of others, the possessions of others, the spouses of others, and the honor and position of others. The Christian heart is to be content with what God gives it and be content with Him. The Christian heart is to love others and celebrate with others when God grants blessings to other people, whether those blessings are physical or spiritual. But again, you can see how opposite true Christianity is from a selfish heart. This is not to say that true Christians are perfectly free from self because they are not. They must battle self all of their lives. However, the selfish heart does not battle with self but is given over to it.

We can try to imagine a selfish heart and a Christian heart in the same pew or row of chairs on Sunday morning. What will move one heart and what will move the other? The selfish heart is moved by the things that it covets or desires. When the speaker “preaches” things that the selfish heart desires, it will love that god and that preacher. As long as the god that is preached loves the selfish heart and desires what the selfish heart thinks is good for it, that selfish heart will be very religious and will love that false god and preacher.

On the other hand, the Christian heart is moved by what it loves. It is moved by hearing of its Beloved (Christ) and the wonders and majesty of God. The Christian heart loves to hear of spiritual things and all about the kingdom of God and His glory. When the Christian heart does not hear of the glories of God as set forth in the Gospel of Christ, even if it is promised many things, it does not rejoice. When the Christian heart hears the outward things of the Gospel preached and yet it is preached in a selfish way, it knows that it is not hearing the true Gospel.

In this little picture we see what a professing Christian loves and what a selfish heart covets. The selfish heart longs for and desires a god and a gospel that is all about it and the good of it just as it is. The selfish heart wants to remain selfish and wants to be the center of it all. That is because the selfish heart is a coveting heart and longs for and desires all things for self. The Christian heart has denied self (not perfectly) and has Christ as his or her life. The Christian heart loves God above all and desires all things for God. The selfish heart longs to be forgiven of its sins that it may not go to hell, but the Christian heart longs for forgiveness so that it may know God in a deeper way. The two hearts cannot be more opposite in terms of its chief love. One can only be turned from a selfish heart by the power of God. One can only have a true love for God by having God as its source. Self will try to mimic true Christianity, but it cannot do so other than in the externals. We must be born from above if we are going to be delivered from a selfish heart and we must have the love of God dwelling in us if we are going to truly love.

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