Archive for the ‘Selfishness as Sin’ Category

Selfish “Christianity” 36

April 1, 2017

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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Selfish “Christianity” 27

March 17, 2017

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 modern mindset is to give information and think that one is finished, but this cannot be the truth regarding the Bible and Christianity. The Bible does not just give us information about the new birth; it tells us that we must actually and in fact be born again. The Bible does not just give us the information about being poor in spirit; it tells us that those who are in actuality and in fact poor in spirit are blessed. The Bible does not just give us the information about justification and tell us to believe that the facts are true, but instead it tells us that we must be justified in reality and fact. Christianity, therefore, is not just about passing on information.

This is also true of preaching. It must be more than just giving information about things and telling people that they ought to believe them. This is why preachers must have experienced what they preach if they are going to truly preach. The Scriptures are also quite clear that they are giving more than just information about sin and as such just stopping the external sin is enough. No, we must go to the root of the issue. The very root of sin is a selfish heart. It is from that selfish heart (a heart full of self-love and pride) that all sin flows from. People do not sin because they love God and others, but instead they sin because they love self and then they justify their behavior according to their selfish hearts.

It is quite clear with children and adults that people justify sin. What is going on when people justify themselves and their sin (when they really do sin)? It is a selfish heart that is looking to excuse self in the presence of God. A selfish heart is always looking to excuse its behavior and its own heart with self-love and pride as the basis for its excuses. The actions of sin are bad enough, but the justification of sin based on self raises the level of the sin far higher. This justification which is based on self can only occur when the selfish heart bases all things on self rather than God. In other words, a selfish heart has taken the place of God and is its own god when it justifies its own sin. The wonderful command of love not to have other gods in His presence is thus violated in a very strong way. As the promise of the devil was that they could be like God, so the selfish heart is its own god in determining right and wrong in accordance with itself.

This is a profound and wicked sin. The selfish heart is its own god in deciding what is sin and in justifying itself for sin. It uses self as the basis for what is right and wrong and for what holiness is. In doing that it is clearly being a god to itself. The heart that the Spirit convicts of this is a heart that will gasp when it sees what it has been doing its whole life. The heart that the Spirit illuminates and shows how utterly vile it has been doing in playing god in the presence of the true God will see how just God is in condemning it to everlasting hell. The heart that is taught of God will now understand something of the reality of the need to be cleansed by the blood of Christ and of the new birth. The heart that sees itself will be in utter despair of helping itself and will look to the grace of God alone.

The heart that feels the revulsion of its wickedness of playing god before the true God will not look to the externals of religion, but instead will look to the spiritual realm and cry out for mercy and for grace. This broken and humbled heart will know and feel that it has been playing with holy things and will cry out to the real God now. This broken heart will now despise self rather than love it. This broken heart hungers and thirsts for true righteousness as it has none of its own and knows it cannot come up with any either. This humbled heart lies low at the foot of the cross and cries out for grace on the basis of Christ and the glory of God rather than self. This humbled heart cannot look to the external acts of religion and the religious things it has done or could do, but now it must have Christ Himself. Oh that God would open our eyes to the horrid nature of self and grant us that we would seek grace based in His glory in truth rather than just in name.

Selfishness as Sin 73

April 16, 2016

Luke 6:31 Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. 32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 “If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 “If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. 35 “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.

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.

If sinners are constantly under the governing influence of selfishness, then they must experience an essential change in their affections, in order to be saved. If they naturally possessed the least degree of disinterested love, or true holiness, there would be no need of a radical and essential change in their moral exercises. They might love God and repent of sin and believe in Christ, without becoming new creatures. Their carnal mind, which is perfect selfishness, cannot be new modified or molded into benevolence by any exterior means of motives. Though under some circumstances, they may, without a change of heart, hate the world which they once loved, and love God whom they once hated, yet their love and hatred will arise from the same mercenary motives, which are entirely sinful. Sinners are continually turning their attention and their affections from one object to another; but their love and their hated continue to be of the same selfish nature. The careless sinner fixes his whole attention and affection upon the world; but when he is awakened from his stupidity, he turns his whole attention from the world to God, whom he hates for the same reason for which he before loved the world. Whatever sinners love and hate, they love and hate from selfish motives; and consequently no change of objects, motives, or circumstances, has the least tendency to change the nature of their affections. So that nothing short of a divine influence upon their hearts, can turn them from selfishness to benevolence, or from sin to holiness, without which they cannot see the kingdom of God. (Nathanael Emmons, Selfishness, International Outreach)

When reading the Scriptures and the quote by Emmons above (not to mention the rest of Scripture and the rest of the book by Emmons), I am struck by how easy the devil can manipulate ministers and people into a false assurance of a false conversion. It is also striking how easy it would be to deceive people about the Gospel of the glory of God and so have a false gospel being preached. As long as the unregenerate operate on the basis of selfishness (self-love, pride, self-centeredness), they will be moved to love error because truth is centered upon God. This has been brought up and discussed before, but it is so clear from this passage from Emmons that it needs to be bought to the forefront again. This is a vitally important issue in our day.

It seems as if the vast majority or preaching in our day has no recognition of this problem. Sinners are told that Christ loves them and has done everything for them and as such all they have to do is pray a prayer or walk an aisle or something that they can do in their own natural power. A person is never told that it is beyond their ability to change their own heart in order to do what is needed, so a person must receive a new heart which is an absolute must in order to believe. This new heart can only come by the work of God and He will only do it by free and sovereign grace. The unregenerate person will believe that Christ loves him or her because s/he loves self and of course believes that Christ would love him or her. That unregenerate person will love those who s/he thinks loves him or her and as such will think that s/he is converted. After all, a love for God is a sign of conversion. However, a false love for a false god (even if it is derived from the Bible in some way) is a sign of false conversion.

The unregenerate person still loves self as his or her chief love and is guided by self at all times. This person has not been converted but is in an even greater danger because now s/he is deceived by what s/he thinks is conversion. This person becomes very religious and thinks that God loves him or her and that s/he loves God, though the love of God in Christ does not dwell in that person and the person does not love the true God because s/he has not been regenerated. All that the person does is motivated by a selfish heart and that person can become very religious and still be moved and motivated by that selfish heart. It is a great deception and hardly a word is being said in our day about it. Instead of that people are encouraged to believe based on self-love and the strength of self. It is a tangled web of deception that the evil one has wrought and because it fits with their own selfish hearts full of love for self people are completely deluded by it. The Scripture is quite clear that God will have mercy on whom He will have mercy, but the deluded think that they can have mercy on themselves when the choose. The Scripture teaches that grace cannot be earned, merited, or in any way be moved by something in man, yet the deluded think that grace is at their choice and will.

In Paul’s own day he had no one to send to the Philippians because the ministers sought their own interests rather than those of Christ. This is true in our day as well. Ministers want to build big buildings and huge congregations to the glory of their own names, though indeed they say it is for God. Ministers will stoop very low in order to get people to pray a prayer, join the church, or give money to the latest building program. But ministers will not preach that the true God is sovereign and He alone can change hearts. Ministers will not preach that grace is sovereign and God is not under obligation to show it to anyone and there is nothing anyone can do to move Him to show grace. Ministers deceive others when they tell people that God loves them and will assuredly save them if they will but pray a prayer or walk an aisle. Ministers deceive others when it seems that God has done all He can do and it is now up to the sinner. When will ministers be like a Luther or an Edwards who would preach with broken hearts that God must have mercy on sinners and it is God who must change their wicked hearts? It is only when ministers and others see the wickedness of their own selfish hearts and they begin to cry out to God to break them and humble them in the dust. God alone can break proud and selfish hearts, not the people themselves. We must seek him to break our hearts that we would truly seek Him for His own glory.

Selfishness as Sin 72

April 15, 2016

Luke 6:31 Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. 32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 “If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 “If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. 35 “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.

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.

If sinners are constantly under the governing influence of selfishness, then they must experience an essential change in their affections, in order to be saved. If they naturally possessed the least degree of disinterested love, or true holiness, there would be no need of a radical and essential change in their moral exercises. They might love God and repent of sin and believe in Christ, without becoming new creatures. Their carnal mind, which is perfect selfishness, cannot be new modified or molded into benevolence by any exterior means of motives. Though under some circumstances, they may, without a change of heart, hate the world which they once loved, and love God whom they once hated, yet their love and hatred will arise from the same mercenary motives, which are entirely sinful. Sinners are continually turning their attention and their affections from one object to another; but their love and their hated continue to be of the same selfish nature. The careless sinner fixes his whole attention and affection upon the world; but when he is awakened from his stupidity, he turns his whole attention from the world to God, whom he hates for the same reason for which he before loved the world. Whatever sinners love and hate, they love and hate from selfish motives; and consequently no change of objects, motives, or circumstances, has the least tendency to change the nature of their affections. So that nothing short of a divine influence upon their hearts, can turn them from selfishness to benevolence, or from sin to holiness, without which they cannot see the kingdom of God. (Nathanael Emmons, Selfishness, International Outreach)

As we think back about the heart of the meaning of Luke 6:31-35, it teaches us that sinners love those who love them. In other words, they love others only for the sake of what they will obtain by it. They may obtain a regard for themselves and think that they love the unlovely and as such think of self as righteous, but the heart of all they do is love for self. This means that if sinners love those who love them, they will hate those that do not love them. The love and the hatred of sinners, then, must come from the same nature of self. All that the unregenerate sinner does is from self, of self, and for self. The sinner gives self to open sin and from that same selfish heart can give self to religion. As long as self is stroked and honored and pleased to some degree; self will be there.

Again, pastors and elders must know that they cannot just stroke people and tickle their ears. The selfish hearts of sinners long to hear of positive things about themselves and how much God surely loves them, but regenerate people long to hear the glories of God and want to die to self that they may live for His glory more and more. Emmons notes that sinners love and hate for the same and can be openly sinful or very religious from the very same heart that loves self. The unregenerate person that is full of self-love and pride can become a very, very religious person (think of the Pharisees) without a change of heart. It must be stressed over and over and said in different ways so that men and women will hear. There is nothing but a divine work on the heart that can change the heart from selfishness to true love and as such from open sin to holiness. A change in behavior does not qualify a person for the kingdom, only the work of God in changing the heart will do so. A person that says a prayer and gets involved in religious activity may be in even greater danger because of the deception of self-righteousness.

As Emmons notes, sinners can come to hate the world without a change of heart. They can begin to see that the world is harming them and as such they begin to hate it. They can see that following the world is not good for their self-righteousness and for the honor they will obtain before religious people, so they can hate the world as such. Unregenerate sinners can even hate certain sins because they can see that those sins are not good for their self-righteousness or that they cannot obtain assurance of salvation by those sins. But again, a new heart which loves God in Christ cannot be had by those things. There certainly appears to be vast numbers of ministers who preach from selfish hearts because they have nothing to say about the true nature of sin. Instead, it appears that vast numbers are lulled to sleep by a religious potion that leaves people in their self-love and pride. Whether the people said a prayer or not or walked an aisle or not is not the real issue. The real issue is whether the living God has given these people a new and living heart where they now really love the real God from a new heart and are now at war with self and pride.

Selfishness as Sin 71

April 14, 2016

Luke 6:31 Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. 32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 “If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 “If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. 35 “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.

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.

If sinners are constantly under the governing influence of selfishness, then they must experience an essential change in their affections, in order to be saved. If they naturally possessed the least degree of disinterested love, or true holiness, there would be no need of a radical and essential change in their moral exercises. They might love God and repent of sin and believe in Christ, without becoming new creatures. Their carnal mind, which is perfect selfishness, cannot be new modified or molded into benevolence by any exterior means of motives. Though under some circumstances, they may, without a change of heart, hate the world which they once loved, and love God whom they once hated, yet their love and hatred will arise from the same mercenary motives, which are entirely sinful. Sinners are continually turning their attention and their affections from one object to another; but their love and their hated continue to be of the same selfish nature. The careless sinner fixes his whole attention and affection upon the world; but when he is awakened from his stupidity, he turns his whole attention from the world to God, whom he hates for the same reason for which he before loved the world. Whatever sinners love and hate, they love and hate from selfish motives; and consequently no change of objects, motives, or circumstances, has the least tendency to change the nature of their affections. So that nothing short of a divine influence upon their hearts, can turn them from selfishness to benevolence, or from sin to holiness, without which they cannot see the kingdom of God. (Nathanael Emmons, Selfishness, International Outreach)

In reading the texts of Scripture above and then the passage from Emmons, the nature of sin should become somewhat clear with some reflection and meditation. We have all observed profligate sinners become very religious and then slowly leave off their religion and go into the world again. The problem is that the person was never changed by God and was still under the influences of a selfish heart. We have all observed people who viewed themselves with a far different eye than those around them. This can again be seen as a problem of a selfish heart. The explanatory power of the selfish heart is enormous.

If it is true that a sinner who is born in sin and is dead in sins and trespasses can love and hate religion (not just the world) out of and because of a selfish heart, then we must see just how this will influence the churches and the souls of men. A great change in external behavior and even in what appears to be the affections is no safe sign of conversion. Unregenerate sinners can become the most refined and committed religionists and that be from nothing but a selfish heart. Preachers can be guilty of deceiving an enormous number of people because they try to get people to pray prayers and make external changes based on a selfish heart. No amount of self-love can change the sinner’s heart and nothing but the power of God alone can do that.

What can take a heart that is guided by selfishness and guide it by the power of love for God? Only the power of God’s free-grace can do that. The devil is only too happy to lend a hand in taking open sinners and helping them become very religious as long as they remain deceived about their bondage to self-love. Sinners must have their eyes opened to their selfish hearts so that they can see that they are mercenary in terms of their religion and not true lovers of the true God. Preachers must wake up and realize that they may be preaching from a selfish heart and that may be why they are preaching a false gospel to sinners. They plead with sinners to be converted, yet it is only on the power of self-love that they do so. They offer motivations to sinners, but those are only to the hearts of self-love. True preaching is that God is sovereign and He changes hearts by free-grace. True preaching of the Gospel preaches Christ and His glories to sinners and leaves the changing of the heart to the One who alone can do so.

Selfishness as Sin 70

April 13, 2016

Luke 6:31 Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. 32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 “If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 “If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. 35 “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.

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.

If sinners are constantly under the governing influence of selfishness, then they must experience an essential change in their affections, in order to be saved. If they naturally possessed the least degree of disinterested love, or true holiness, there would be no need of a radical and essential change in their moral exercises. They might love God and repent of sin and believe in Christ, without becoming new creatures. Their carnal mind, which is perfect selfishness, cannot be new modified or molded into benevolence by any exterior means of motives. Though under some circumstances, they may, without a change of heart, hate the world which they once loved, and love God whom they once hated, yet their love and hatred will arise from the same mercenary motives, which are entirely sinful. Sinners are continually turning their attention and their affections from one object to another; but their love and their hated continue to be of the same selfish nature. The careless sinner fixes his whole attention and affection upon the world; but when he is awakened from his stupidity, he turns his whole attention from the world to God, whom he hates for the same reason for which he before loved the world. Whatever sinners love and hate, they love and hate from selfish motives; and consequently no change of objects, motives, or circumstances, has the least tendency to change the nature of their affections. So that nothing short of a divine influence upon their hearts, can turn them from selfishness to benevolence, or from sin to holiness, without which they cannot see the kingdom of God. (Nathanael Emmons, Selfishness, International Outreach)

Emmons tells us that the carnal mind cannot be newly modified or molded into benevolence by any exterior means of motives. This is powerful statement which frankly blows away Arminian theology and wipes the dust off behind it. The carnal mind cannot be changed by motives as it will always operate according to the dictate of selfishness and pride. Nothing can change that mind but God alone in the new birth. When the love and hatred of the heart always arises from the same source, there can be no change apart from the hand of God granting a new heart. This is so important to grasp in terms of evangelism, the Gospel, the character of God, and the nature of Christian fellowship. This is so important to grasp in terms of helping people see if they are truly converted. Myriads of people are deceived because of their selfish hearts and it seems as if no one is dealing with that in our day.

Since it is true that sinners are bound fast in the bondage of selfishness (pride and love for self), then it should be absolutely clear that they must be born from above to be converted. In regeneration God “rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son” (Colossians 1:13). Satan, the deceiver and the great lover and admirer of self, keeps people in the bonds and darkness of his kingdom of self. He can deceive the greatest of open sinners into becoming the greatest in the things of religion and yet they have never been born from above. All that they have done is change their behavior and keep their chief sin which is self.

The religious person can come to hate the world, but not because he has a new heart, but because the world does not feed his self-love in the same way religion does now. The religious person can now love God (though it is a god of his own making) and it will still be out of nothing but love for self. Whether a person gives all of his or her energies in pursuit of the world or in pursuit of the things of religion, that person will do either in the bondage of the love of self. Oh how the selfish heart can weep and say great things about the god who saved him or her from the sin and the world, but it is still self-love speaking. Self-love cannot change the heart from self-love to a new heart. Self-love cannot give itself new desires for God and new affections for the truth of God. Only free-grace can change a despicable heart that loves self and make it one that loves the true and living God.

Selfishness as Sin 69

April 12, 2016

Luke 6:31 Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. 32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 “If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 “If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. 35 “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.

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.

If sinners are constantly under the governing influence of selfishness, then they must experience an essential change in their affections, in order to be saved. If they naturally possessed the least degree of disinterested love, or true holiness, there would be no need of a radical and essential change in their moral exercises. They might love God and repent of sin and believe in Christ, without becoming new creatures. Their carnal mind, which is perfect selfishness, cannot be new modified or molded into benevolence by any exterior means of motives. Though under some circumstances, they may, without a change of heart, hate the world which they once loved, and love God whom they once hated, yet their love and hatred will arise from the same mercenary motives, which are entirely sinful. Sinners are continually turning their attention and their affections from one object to another; but their love and their hated continue to be of the same selfish nature. The careless sinner fixes his whole attention and affection upon the world; but when he is awakened from his stupidity, he turns his whole attention from the world to God, whom he hates for the same reason for which he before loved the world. Whatever sinners love and hate, they love and hate from selfish motives; and consequently no change of objects, motives, or circumstances, has the least tendency to change the nature of their affections. So that nothing short of a divine influence upon their hearts, can turn them from selfishness to benevolence, or from sin to holiness, without which they cannot see the kingdom of God. (Nathanael Emmons, Selfishness, International Outreach)

It is vital to understand something of the nature of sin so that one can understand something of the Gospel as a whole and regeneration in particular. As seen in the quote from Emmons with the Scriptures above, one can see just how easy it is for sinners to have a religious experience of some sort and be deceived about salvation. It is not the behavior only which needs to be changed, it is the very heart that needs changing. It is not that people need a little change here and there, but they need an inner renovation which includes the whole soul. It is so encompassing of the soul that it is referred to as the new birth and one that has undergone that new birth is said to be a new creature. A selfish heart is the very essence of sin which is to do all out of love for self and to seek the glory of self rather than love God and seek His glory. A selfish heart lives to please self rather than to please God.

This is devastating to modern versions of Christianity which is always going after self-love and self-interest in order to motivate people to pray a prayer or to give money. But again, noting the thought of Emmons, if a person has some little bit of true love or true holiness in the soul then there is no need for the new birth. However, for those who are born dead in sin and trespasses and have nothing of true love or true holiness in the soul, those people must be born from above. What we see is that in modern evangelism people are not told about their selfish hearts and they are not told about the real need of a real new birth. They are just told to pray a prayer and make a change. Then their selfish heart is not changed but now a false god has been held before them and now they think they love the true God when in fact they hate the true God.

Because the nature of sin (as selfishness) is not understood and not taught in our day, false conversions abound and the masses are deceived. Many make decisions and moral changes and all of those things are based on their self-love and as such they have not been truly born again and are not new creatures in Christ Jesus. This is deadly to true Christianity and it is deadly to the Gospel of free-grace alone. When sinners see that their hearts are full of self and pride and that even the most religious things they do are out of self-love which is idolatry, they understand to some degree that it takes free-grace to save them and they can have no part in that. God starts with nothing but a mass of sin and enmity toward Himself and changes it according to His pleasure and according to His own will. There is nothing in the selfish hearts of sinners that is lovely to Him and in fact that selfish hearts are hateful to Him. A little prayer or a little walk down an aisle will not change the heart of sinners, but only the free-grace of God can do that. Sinners must be taught not to look at themselves for faith, but to look to Christ for all things that are needed and to look to receive nothing but by free-grace.

Selfishness as Sin 68

March 6, 2016

Luke 6:31 Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. 32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 “If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 “If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. 35 “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.

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.

If sinners love themselves because they are themselves, and love others only because they suppose them to be subservient to their interest, then their affections are always selfish and sinful, let them rise ever so high, or extend ever so far. They often do love those who love them, very ardently. But they never love such persons so ardently as they love themselves. For all their love to others flows from love to themselves, and the streams can rise no higher than the fountain. Hence their most ardent and raised affections to others are as really selfish and sinful, as if they were ever so low and languid. Their nature is precisely the same whether they are stronger or weaker. It is morally impossible that their love to their friends or to their Creator should rise so high as to become disinterested or virtuous love…The same mercenary motives which induce them to love their intimate friends, may induce them to extend their regards to their country and to their Savior…Multitudes love their Redeemer because they think He loves them…It is exactly of the same nature as the love of the miser to his money…If it be criminal for one person to prefer his interest to a greater interest of another, it must be more criminal to prefer his interest to the greater interest of a nation, and for the same reason, it must be unspeakably more criminal still to prefer his interest to the whole interest of the universe. (Nathanael Emmons, Selfishness, International Outreach)

As the miser or lover of money loves money for what money will do for self, so it seems as if the whole world loves the Redeemer only because they think He loves them. This selfish motive seems to be that is presented to people in the vast amount of religious circles. If you will give money to me, then God will heal you. If you will give money to me, then God will give you a lot more money. The selfish heart takes the holy things of God and makes them utterly filthy with the vomit of hell (selfishness). Men will love God as long as they think that He loves them and will give them worldly things for what they do.

One thing that a selfish heart does is become the center and focus for all that it does. Instead of God being the center and focus, self becomes the center and focus. What happens when self is the center and focus of our hearts? Then self is an idol that we serve rather than the living God. Instead of loving God with all of our being we love self with all of our being. Instead of the love of Christ controlling us, we are controlled by the love of self. Jesus said that His disciples would be known by their love for each other, but that was a true love that came from Him rather than a reciprocal self-love that flows among the unregenerate whether they are religious or not. This is to say that a selfish person loves self in disregard to the true good of all others in the universe. When one man thinks of his own pocket book more than the welfare of his nation, we think of that as treason. But what of the man who thinks of himself more than the whole universe and of God Himself? That is precisely what a selfish heart does.

The selfish heart loves self and does all for self in disregard for the true good of other individual humans and the whole human race. The selfish heart loves self and does all for self in disregard of God and His glory. When the Lord is pleased to open our minds and hearts and show us the horrible nature of a selfish heart, we can see what miserable creatures we are and what misery selfish creatures must have forever. When the external niceness and all the trappings of civilization and culture are taken away, we can see what bare selfishness looks like. It is one human being held into existence by God and yet that human being hates that God and hates all other human beings except for what they can do to fulfill the selfish desires of the one. The sight of our own selfish hearts should drive us to our knees crying out to God to deliver us from ourselves and by His free-grace give us new hearts and a true love for Him and our neighbors. How disgusting and vile we will appear to ourselves if God is pleased to give us one sight of true selfishness and how it is in our own hearts. However, behold the glory of the free-grace of God in saving selfish and proud sinners by the non-selfishness and humble Savior.

Selfishness as Sin 67

March 5, 2016

Luke 6:31 Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. 32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 “If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 “If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. 35 “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.

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.

If sinners love themselves because they are themselves, and love others only because they suppose them to be subservient to their interest, then their affections are always selfish and sinful, let them rise ever so high, or extend ever so far. They often do love those who love them, very ardently. But they never love such persons so ardently as they love themselves. For all their love to others flows from love to themselves, and the streams can rise no higher than the fountain. Hence their most ardent and raised affections to others are as really selfish and sinful, as if they were ever so low and languid. Their nature is precisely the same whether they are stronger or weaker. It is morally impossible that their love to their friends or to their Creator should rise so high as to become disinterested or virtuous love…The same mercenary motives which induce them to love their intimate friends, may induce them to extend their regards to their country and to their Savior…Multitudes love their Redeemer because they think He loves them…It is exactly of the same nature as the love of the miser to his money…If it be criminal for one person to prefer his interest to a greater interest of another, it must be more criminal to prefer his interest to the greater interest of a nation, and for the same reason, it must be unspeakably more criminal still to prefer his interest to the whole interest of the universe. (Nathanael Emmons, Selfishness, International Outreach)

Emmons is quite brutal to our selfish hearts and drives the knife to the hilt with his comments. The same mercenary motives, which is so clear from the Scriptures, that move us to love our neighbors, will induce us to extend our regards (love) to the Savior. If we can think of mercenary love as the only real reason we love anything or anyone, we will see something of the horrible nature of self-love and selfishness in our hearts. While we may think we are righteous and have some pride in the fact that we love others, if we look at it in the way Emmons looks at it we will see that what we think of as our very righteousness is in fact our sin. God, who knows our hearts and the very intents and motives of our hearts, knows whether our “love” is truly centered on Him and from Him or whether it is all about self.

The difference between looking at sin as behavior and as selfishness (love of self, pride, doing all for self as the motive and intent) cannot be exaggerated. As long as the heart remains in the control of self, all that the heart does is out of love for self. When a religious person does all out of love for self rather than love for God, this is utterly disastrous. When preachers preach in accordance with selfish hearts and people only want to hear in accordance with their selfish hearts, it is far from Christianity regardless of the stated creed and professions of the people. It is Christ in the soul that is the life of true believers and where Christ is He reigns and rules as He pleases. When Christ reigns and rules in the souls of His people, He works in them to die to self and follow Him in true love.

Could it be a better time now than when Emmons spoke of multitudes love the Redeemer because they think He loves them? No, it is actually a much worse time. We have had the vast amount of “evangelism” for decades start off with “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” If you wish to start with a selfish heart and have a selfish heart make a decision for Christ (so to speak) and yet remain unchanged, that is how you start an evangelistic appeal. Selfish sinners love others because others love them. When they hear that God loves them and has great plans for them, they will think that they love God in truth when in fact all they have is a mercenary love or a selfish love. All of their love for God flows from a selfish heart. The testimonies of many people demonstrate this very fact. While they are supposed to speak of how Christ has saved them, all they can talk about is themselves. When they speak of Christ, it is all about what He did for them and now they love Him for that. That is nothing more than what unregenerate but religious people can do and often do.

Nothing can be plainer and more obvious. There are multitudes today who are deceived about their own hearts and their eternal state. They have no idea that all of their love for God and others flows from their selfish hearts and as such they are in a state of death and damnation while they work in their local churches and go right by orthodox pulpits (some) on their way to hell. Not only does a selfish heart deceive about the state of salvation, the selfish heart will fight any light that is brought in to shine on it. The selfish heart will fight and justify itself in all it does since a selfish heart judges all things by what is good for it. How desperate our nation is for churches where pastors will search the hearts of people rather than trying to get people to give from their wallets for various things. How desperate we are for faithful men who are broken from their own pride and will seek the true good of the people. The famine of hearing the Word of God in our day is utterly terrible. May God have mercy on us.

Selfishness as Sin 65

March 3, 2016

Luke 6:31 Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. 32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 “If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 “If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. 35 “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.

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.

[This is said of those] that were not only baptized into the name of Christ, but also professed a great deal of love outwardly to Christ and His cause, and yet it is said even of those, That they sought their own, and not the things of Jesus Christ. (Monster of Sinful Self Seeking, Edmund Calamy)

If sinners love themselves because they are themselves, and love others only because they suppose them to be subservient to their interest, then their affections are always selfish and sinful, let them rise ever so high, or extend ever so far. They often do love those who love them, very ardently. But they never love such persons so ardently as they love themselves. For all their love to others flows from love to themselves, and the streams can rise no higher than the fountain. Hence their most ardent and raised affections to others are as really selfish and sinful, as if they were ever so low and languid. Their nature is precisely the same whether they are stronger or weaker. It is morally impossible that their love to their friends or to their Creator should rise so high as to become disinterested or virtuous love…The same mercenary motives which induce them to love their intimate friends, may induce them to extend their regards to their country and to their Savior…Multitudes love their Redeemer because they think He loves them…It is exactly of the same nature as the love of the miser to his money…If it be criminal for one person to prefer his interest to a greater interest of another, it must be more criminal to prefer his interest to the greater interest of a nation, and for the same reason, it must be unspeakably more criminal still to prefer his interest to the whole interest of the universe. (Nathanael Emmons, Selfishness, International Outreach)

In this paragraph Emmons sets out for us one aspect of the horror of selfishness. In the modern day we tend to think of selfishness as something rather small and not really hurting others. It may be thought that it will cause an inconvenience to others and perhaps the selfish person is not all that great at times, but it is not thought to be a grievous sin. Emmons shows us that this is a great sin and it is directly in opposition to the Great Commandments. Modern man thinks of morality in terms of hurting others in the physical sense, but the Bible sets out morality as being primarily in the spiritual realm. Men are born dead in sins and trespasses and as such are dead spiritually and as such they are blind to their sin in that area. However, God is not blind and knows the depths of our sin.

The unbeliever cannot love others apart from the love s/he has for self. The unbeliever cannot love others to any degree above the degree that s/he loves self. The world operates, then, according to the principle of Satan who does all out of love for self. We also see how God is sovereign over the sins of men in that He can simply blind them to certain selfish aspects of sin and yet permit others. Man always chooses according to his selfish heart and what he thinks is best for his selfish heart. The degree of love that man has for others is always subservient to the love he has for himself, which is to say that man will always choose what is best for himself. The more a person thinks that s/he is loved by the other the more a person is able to love the other. However, that is still only a selfish heart loving itself and the things of self. It loves others for the sake of self.

The selfish heart does the same toward the Creator of all things. It only loves Him to the degree that it thinks He loves it. Oh how fervently some think they love God when all they are doing is love for what they think He is doing for them. Behold the religious fervency of many who think that God loves them and is pleased with their fervency, which is to say that they love what they think their fervency will obtain from Him for them. This is polar opposites to loving God for who He is and the glory that shines out from Him, but instead it is love for sinful and selfish self.

Perhaps it should be stated in a very rude way. When professing Christians (as opposed to real Christians) are zealous in their religion they are operating upon the same principles as all false religions. The principle of false religion is that of self and people work and do what they do in an effort to get something or appease a false god. But professing Christians (not real ones) are doing the same thing. They don’t love the true God and so have an image of a false god in their own minds and so they are fervent in their devotion to a false god. They do the same actions, go through the same rituals, yet the reality of the matter is that they do all they do out of the self-love of a selfish heart. All of their zeal and all of their ardency is based on false ideas and the love of self.

This should cause us all to examine our own hearts with greater intensity and care. Do I love the true God and do I love the true God for who He is and not just because I think that He does things for me? Is all my religious devotion out of love for Him (real love, though small) or is it moved out of love for self? What we should take care to note is that a small amount of true love is still true love and can only come from God. It may be that those who have false ideas of God may have a greater devotion and greater zeal in outward things than true believers. However, the small amount of true love that a true believer has is from the life of Christ in his or her soul and can only be there if God has broken the bonds of self-love.