Selfish “Christianity” 59

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?


The selfish heart is perhaps the most under stated and under taught of any of the vital doctrines other than the twin truths of the sovereignty of God and the God-centeredness of God. I am not sure that I have ever heard a sermon on the selfish nature of the depraved heart, though it is also true that I am not sure I have ever heard a serious sermon on the depravity of man. These things have been mentioned (though not selfishness in this sense) and yet they have not been explained in a way that the heart has been opened up to people. The importance of these twin truths and how they are related can be seen by an analogy given by Calvin. He said that until we see God we will not see and know ourselves, yet until we see ourselves we will not understand God. The twin truths of the selfish heart of man (depravity and inability) and the sovereignty and God-centeredness of God are twin truths where as one grows in the understanding of one the other will help the vision with the other.

When the true God is seen and He is willing to shine light in our hearts, we will see the darkness and horror of what a selfish heart is. A selfish heart is a heart that has been trying to live as God to itself. It has been the religion of self and it has been worship of self. The selfish heart will see how opposed to the true God it has been and how it has been self that has twisted the truth of God and tried to make God like self. The selfish heart will see how it has followed its own wisdom instead of the living God and as such made self out to be wiser than God. The selfish heart will see that it has tried to live by the power of self rather than the power of God. The selfish heart will see that it has turned the truth of who God is into a lie and has made self out to be the god of self.

It is only in the light of who the true God is that the true nature of the self-centered heart that is full of self and loves self as its own god (idolatry) will be seen. When self judges all things by self, it will always justify self rather than justify God. When self is the standard or reference point for what is right and true and good, it will always be full of self-righteousness. When self is its own standard, then that is an insufferable pride in the sight of the living God who is the only real standard for truth. In the light of the true God the selfish heart will have the light to see all the darkness and blackness of what a selfish heart really is. It will be vile in its own sight.

As we think on these things, we can also see just how dangerous a selfish heart really is. It is the selfish heart that is hardened to the truth of God and to the truth of self. As the selfish heart falls into a greater darkness, it will begin to think of self as light and when self is the light how great will its darkness be. As the selfish heart is blinded more and more to the nature of self, it will fall into a greater darkness regarding self and then more darkness regarding the true and living God. The proud heart of self will grow even more proud and it will become more and more reliant upon self to justify the wickedness of self. The darker the selfish heart becomes the more idolatrous it becomes as it looks to self and suppresses the truth of God more and more.

Preaching that focuses on the self in order to motivate self to do religious things or outwardly good things brings nothing but darkness and judgment on the self. Preaching to the self is really a way to promote the pride of self and the idolatrous nature of self. Preaching to self is how the self becomes blinded to the truth of what it means to truly love God as the only true motivation for life. The greatest danger in the world is not nuclear weapons as such; it is false teaching about the true nature of God and false teaching about the true nature of self. The professing Church is full of teaching on sin as acts we do and on a repentance that is in the power of self to do. The professing Church is full of teaching about a false gospel that is good news to the selfish heart of man. In other words, the professing Christian world is full of books and other forms of teaching based on the self which is to say it is not Christian at all. Until the true nature of self is exposed, the true nature of sin will not be seen, the true nature of repentance will be hidden, and the true Gospel cannot be preached. There is no wonder that the professing Church is weak and without any true spiritual power. It is part of the problem and has no cure at all.

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