Selfish “Christianity” 70

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.

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?


“Self is the great antichrist and anti-God in the world, that sets itself above all that is called God…It sits in the temple of God, and would be adored as God…It is so far from bending to the righteous will of the Creator, that it would have the eternal will of God stoop to the humor and unrighteous will of the creature”

(Stephen Charnock).

Stephen Charnock wrote on the Existence and Attributes of God. While setting out the character of God, he also set out the true nature of sin. What is the greatest thing that is against Christ and against God in this world? He says it is the self. What sets itself above all that is known of God and is called God? It is self. What takes the seat in the temple of God and what would be adored as God and this can be seen by God in the heart? It is self. Who tries to pray and work so that God will serve the wicked designs of unrighteous hearts? It is that of self.

Now it may be thought that surely these things were written with criminals in mind or perhaps Hollywood types, but not necessarily. These things can describe the most religious of people as well. The Pharisees were described quite well by the description of Charnock. The Pharisees did all of their acts of “righteousness” in order to be seen by men and to be honored by men. Instead of love for God and doing all for His glory, they sought their own glory. This shows that self was their great antichrist and anti-God as they set self above all that is called God. They did not submit to His righteousness, but they were zealous to work for and earn their own. Instead, they set themselves up as righteous men and wanted to be adored by men rather than adore God and call upon men to adore God.

The clear words of Charnock in this case show us the great danger of self (a selfish heart) in the things of religion. Perhaps it is true that it is especially in the things of religion. The heart of man is an idol factory in the sense that the selfish heart of man wants all things for self and seeks things for self rather than seeking them for God and His glory. The heart of man is an idol factory in the sense that he has to bring God down in order to exalt self to the place where self is comfortable in seeking self and yet call it a way of being religious. The heart is so deceitful and the selfish heart deceives itself (out of self-love and pride) into thinking that it is being religious as it serves the old idol of self. It is for self that it prays. It is for self that the selfish heart loves people or things. The selfish heart only loves what it thinks loves it or what is good for self. The standard of self is self rather than the glory of God. This is why the selfish heart is so wicked. It does not love the true God but loves the idol of self.

The heart of man will never see this about self unless it is pointed out and set out in such a way that it is inescapable. However, this is not to say that it can be seen in a way where true conviction occurs apart from the work of the Spirit. As the Gospel must be preached to sinners, so sinners must know the true nature of their sin in order to see something of what they need to be saved from and the nature of the true Gospel. Can a person understand that s/he is a sinner and therefore sin is what flows from that nature unless that person understands something of that nature? If the very nature of sin is selfishness and sin flows from a selfish heart, then if Christ delivers a person in salvation from sin a person must be delivered from a selfish heart.

This also explains the glorious nature of the new creation in which it loves from the love which God gives the soul rather than loving as a result of what is done for self or things seen in the context of self. It takes a new creation to truly love apart from the things of self and love all things for the sake of God and His glory. A person is delivered from a selfish heart (but not made perfect) and out of grace the love of God (love for God) is poured out in the heart of the converted heart. True love is a fruit of the Holy Spirit and not a fruit of self. There is no need for a non-converted person to have the Holy Spirit in order to love things for selfish reasons, but in order to love things and people apart from selfish reasons one absolutely must have the Holy Spirit. Self is the anti-God in the world as it seeks to love things for self and get others to love self when we are commanded to love God with all of our being. Self hates that and is blinded to the hideous sin of a selfish heart.

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