Archive for the ‘Selfishness as Sin’ Category

Selfishness as Sin 64

February 20, 2016

It appears from the account given of his [Adam] first offense that it essentially consisted in loving himself supremely. He voluntarily partook of the forbidden fruit, from the motive of increasing his own knowledge and happiness, in opposition to the glory of God and the good of all his posterity. This was freely and voluntarily turning from benevolence to selfishness, which is the essence of moral depravity. He became morally depraved in the same manner that Satan, the first sinner in the universe, became depraved. Satan had no corporeal instincts or appetites to tempt him to rebel against his Maker. He loved his own glory more than the glory of God, and aspired to become independent and supreme, which was the essence of selfishness, or moral depravity. The prevailing notion that Adam became morally depraved by the mere want of holiness is repugnant to the very nature of moral depravity, and to every dictate of reason and Scripture. (Nathanael Emmons, Selfishness, International Outreach)

The selfish heart is opposed to and at enmity with God and His glory and so is at war with all the attributes of God. There is nothing about God that the selfish heart loves. While the believer loves God and loves all the attributes of God as they are revealed to him or her, the unbeliever loves nothing about the true God. The heart of the unbeliever is full of self and as such is opposed to the true God and all things that are true of Him. Perhaps the greatest example of this has to do with the holiness of God and the love of God.

The vast majority of people who speak of God as a God of love and then they go directly to how He loves all human beings and desires nothing but their good. This is far removed from the truth. Scripture does speak of God as a God of love and in fact says that “God is love,” but what does that mean? Are we to understand that because God is love that He loves all beings and cannot do anything but love them? What does that do to the sovereignty of God? Love is sovereign as all things about God are sovereign. God is under no obligation to set His love on any person and He is free to do so or not to do so in accordance with His eternal plans. Yes, God is love. However, the triune God is love and as such God lives in perfect and infinite love within Himself. The phrase “God is love” describes how God is within Himself and makes no demands upon Him that He must love all beings.

The selfish heart loves itself and all that loves it and as such is willing to think that God loves it. This selfish heart will believe that God loves all beings and will always think that God will love him or her because s/he is not that bad and thinks of self as basically good. When the selfish heart hears someone preach about the truth of God, that selfish heart will hate that God. It will not think that it hates God but will deceive itself into thinking that the true God is not like that. After all, the selfish heart reasons, God is love and as such God must love “me.” This surely shows that the selfish heart opposes the truth of the love of God. In fact, when the love of God was incarnate on earth and was perfect love in action and in example, the world hated Him and put Him on the cross. Selfish hearts, even very religious hearts, hate true love and the freedom God has to set His love on humans or not as He pleases.

As we think of the truth of Scripture, we do not see God as loving all men and doing good to them all. What we see is that He commanded the Israelites to go into the land of Canaan and destroy it and the inhabitants of it. How did God view the sons of Aaron when they offered strange fire? He struck them down by fire and killed them. How did God view the sons of Eli who were priests? When their father warned them, the Scriptures tell us that they did not listen to their father because God desired to put them to death. Is this the God of love that selfish hearts long to hear about? Is this the God of love that so many hate and believe that this could not be the true God? Yes, the true God lives in love for Himself and His own glory. Selfish hearts want God to be all about them instead of Himself.

Joshua 11:18 Joshua waged war a long time with all these kings. 19 There was not a city which made peace with the sons of Israel except the Hivites living in Gibeon; they took them all in battle. 20 For it was of the LORD to harden their hearts, to meet Israel in battle in order that he might utterly destroy them, that they might receive no mercy, but that he might destroy them, just as the LORD had commanded Moses

Again we note that Israel went to battle against many cities and yet the cities did not make peace with them. Why is that? Because the LORD hardened their hearts because He wanted to utterly destroy them and that they would not receive any mercy. This is not what selfish hearts want to hear. This is not what selfish hearts can abide by and meditate on. The true God is perfectly sovereign in all things and that includes His love and His grace. His grace could not be free if He must love all people because of who He is. Oh how selfish hearts cannot tolerate the true and living God who lives in perfect love within Himself and sets His love on those whom He pleases. Oh how selfish hearts hate the true teaching of free-grace because they have nothing in them that will attract God to show grace to them and because they can do nothing to move Him to show grace to them. Selfish hearts will adjust what they want in order that they may have a god that they are pleased with. They do this because they hate the true God and so come up with one they can control.

Selfishness as Sin 61

February 15, 2016

It appears from the account given of his [Adam] first offense that it essentially consisted in loving himself supremely. He voluntarily partook of the forbidden fruit, from the motive of increasing his own knowledge and happiness, in opposition to the glory of God and the good of all his posterity. This was freely and voluntarily turning from benevolence to selfishness, which is the essence of moral depravity. He became morally depraved in the same manner that Satan, the first sinner in the universe, became depraved. Satan had no corporeal instincts or appetites to tempt him to rebel against his Maker. He loved his own glory more than the glory of God, and aspired to become independent and supreme, which was the essence of selfishness, or moral depravity. The prevailing notion that Adam became morally depraved by the mere want of holiness is repugnant to the very nature of moral depravity, and to every dictate of reason and Scripture. (Nathanael Emmons, Selfishness, International Outreach)

The selfish heart, whether Satan’s or a human’s, is in direct violation of the commandments of God, but more importantly is in direct opposition to God Himself. The selfish heart loves itself as its supreme love rather than God and makes up its own commandments rather than obey the commandments of God. The selfish heart lives to please itself rather than find its pleasure in pleasing God. The selfish heart makes its own morality whether in outward sin or in adjusting the commandments of God to allow it a self-righteousness. The selfish heart desires to be honored and praised rather than desiring for God to be honored and praised. The selfish heart, then, is an idol to itself and worships itself since it pays homage to self rather than God. The selfish heart is so wicked that it wants to use God to obtain honor for itself and uses the things of religion to obtain praise for itself. The Westminster Larger Catechism sets out some tremendous teaching that exposes our hearts. It is quoted just below.

Q. 107. Which is the second commandment? A. The second commandment is, Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
Q. 108. What are the duties required in the second commandment? A. The duties required in the second commandment are, the receiving, observing, and keeping pure and entire, all such religious worship and ordinances as God hath instituted in his Word; particularly prayer and thanksgiving in the name of Christ; the reading, preaching, and hearing of the Word; the administration and receiving of the sacraments; church government and discipline; the ministry and maintainance thereof; religious fasting; swearing by the name of God; and vowing unto him; as also the disapproving, detesting, opposing all false worship; and, according to each one’s place and calling, removing it, and all monuments of idolatry.

Q. 109. What are the sins forbidden in the second commandment? A. The sins forbidden in the second commandment are, all devising, counseling, commanding, using, and anywise approving, any religious worship not instituted by God himself, tolerating a false religion; the making any representation of God, of all or any of the three persons, either inwardly in the mind, or outwardly in any kind of image or likeness of any creature whatsoever, all worshipping of it, or God in it or by it the making of any representation of feigned deities, and all worship of them, or service belonging to them, all supersititous devices, corrupting the worship of God, adding to it, or taking from it, whether invented and taken up of ourselves, or received by tradition from others, though under the title of antiquity, custom, devotion, good intent, or any other whatsoever; simony; sacrilege; all neglect, contempt, hindering, and opposing the worship and ordinances which God hath appointed.

It is important to note that a selfish heart violates all aspects of the 2nd Commandment. Until the light of the Scriptures and meaning of them are brought to bear on our hearts, we don’t see the filth and selfishness in our hearts. We violate this commandment in what we do and in what we don’t do because a selfish heart always operates according to self. The selfish heart may do the religious duties prescribed by God in an outward manner, but it does them from a self-love and self-oriented way. The selfish heart may oppose false religion, but not out of love for God but instead out of love for its own opinion. It can fast and preach and hear preaching, but it does so out of self-love rather than love for God. This selfish heart is its own idol and so it is in constant worship of an idol in the presence of God. The selfish heart corrupts the worship of God by adding to it and taking away from it, but the worship of self. Oh the vileness of a heart of self in the things of religion, even true religion. The selfish heart opposes the Gospel of free-grace as the true Gospel strips self from all hope in self and the selfish heart clings to self.

Selfishness as Sin 60

February 14, 2016

It appears from the account given of his [Adam] first offense that it essentially consisted in loving himself supremely. He voluntarily partook of the forbidden fruit, from the motive of increasing his own knowledge and happiness, in opposition to the glory of God and the good of all his posterity. This was freely and voluntarily turning from benevolence to selfishness, which is the essence of moral depravity. He became morally depraved in the same manner that Satan, the first sinner in the universe, became depraved. Satan had no corporeal instincts or appetites to tempt him to rebel against his Maker. He loved his own glory more than the glory of God, and aspired to become independent and supreme, which was the essence of selfishness, or moral depravity. The prevailing notion that Adam became morally depraved by the mere want of holiness is repugnant to the very nature of moral depravity, and to every dictate of reason and Scripture. (Nathanael Emmons, Selfishness, International Outreach)

At the heart of the fall is Satan’s fall into selfishness and then his temptation to man to be like God which was Satan’s great desire. Satan hated the glory of God at this point and so he tempted man to become like himself (though he did not tell them that) in opposition to the glory of God and man’s greatest good. In setting this out we can see this through the lenses of who God is and of His manifestation of Himself and His true holiness in the Greatest Commandments and the Ten Commandments. If you think of the Ten Commandments as nothing but a system of laws, then this point will be missed. If you think of the Ten Commandments as setting out God and His glory as how He is toward Himself and then human beings, then the Ten Commandments are not seen as legal commands but how we share in His love for Himself and His own glory. The two positions are diametrical to each other and that to the extreme.

The 1st Commandment is not just an arbitrary command that God gives, but instead it reflects how He Himself is within the Trinity. This command is given to men in order that they would be like God in all they do and that His glory would be manifested in and through them. This does not mean that man has the ability to even start to keep this command, but man can only keep this commandment (though far from perfectly) by the free-grace of God. It is not legalism to say that man is to be like God and yet man can only do that if grace enables him. This grace in man points to the life of Christ who is in man and since Christ keeps this God-centered command perfectly in the Trinity and in His incarnate life on earth He will work this command in men.

The selfish heart does not like the 1st Commandment since it is consumed with God and His glory. The command to man is not to have any other God in the presence of God. Since God is everywhere (omnipresent), this is a command not to have any other gods at all. It flows out of the Great Commandment to love God with all of our being, yet this Great Commandment can only happen when man is united to Christ by grace and has Christ living His live in the soul. The problem, however, is that the selfish heart has itself as its god and it seeks self rather than the true God. Fallen man wants to live out of love for self and deceive himself into thinking that he loves God. Fallen man wants to think that he has the ability to love God and it is a matter of choice, but true love has its origin in God and can only come to and through those who are born of God and know God (I John 4:7-8).

The 1st Commandment, if we think of the Commandments as flowing from the nature of who God is, teaches us how God is within Himself. The triune God has no other gods in His presence and as such He always does all He does for His own glory and out of love for Himself as triune and love for His own glory and the manifestation of His glory. God, as the only perfect Being in the universe, must love Himself as His chief love. The 1st Commandment, then, shows us who the true God is and how He is within Himself.

The 1st Commandment also teaches us our utter inability to love Him perfectly and so how desperately we need Christ to take away our sin of falling short of His glory. Our utter inability to keep this also teaches us our desperate need to have Christ as our perfect righteousness and He is the only perfect righteousness in the universe. But it also teaches us that for us to love God and have Him as our only god, we need a source of perfect love that will be able to share that love with us. The Commandments are not just some legalistic requirements, but they teach us how God is and how we are able to share in that. All sin, then, in light of that is so horrible. It is nothing but a selfish heart seeking self and the glory of self by the strength of self. It is diametrically opposed to God, all He is, and all He does. A selfish heart is to be like the devil who tries to be like God in loving Himself, but self-love is an evil love without love for God.

Selfishness as Sin 59

February 13, 2016

It appears from the account given of his [Adam] first offense that it essentially consisted in loving himself supremely. He voluntarily partook of the forbidden fruit, from the motive of increasing his own knowledge and happiness, in opposition to the glory of God and the good of all his posterity. This was freely and voluntarily turning from benevolence to selfishness, which is the essence of moral depravity. He became morally depraved in the same manner that Satan, the first sinner in the universe, became depraved. Satan had no corporeal instincts or appetites to tempt him to rebel against his Maker. He loved his own glory more than the glory of God, and aspired to become independent and supreme, which was the essence of selfishness, or moral depravity. The prevailing notion that Adam became morally depraved by the mere want of holiness is repugnant to the very nature of moral depravity, and to every dictate of reason and Scripture. (Nathanael Emmons, Selfishness, International Outreach)

In this short account of the very heart of the fall we can see that the explanatory value of this position is very powerful. We can see the reasons that Satan fell, how he deceived Adam and Eve, how this is passed on to future generations, and the nature of sin today and for all time. We also see that the very nature of sin is not so much behavior as it is the reasons that things are done, though indeed this does not deny that many things are sinful and cannot come from a heart that desires good. Eve was deceived first, but Adam appeared to be either deceived at the same time and by her action, or he simply and coldly decided that he could be as God. Either way, without being forced Adam ate of the fruit that God had commanded him not to eat and the results of that one sin meant that all humanity for all history was fallen into sin.

As we think through what Adam did, instead of walking with God and loving God and thus all humanity that was in him or represented by him, he took of the fruit and ate it in complete disregard for God and all humanity. This was a completely selfish act and all sin follows this pattern. There is nothing wrong with eating fruit in and of itself, though indeed we are told that we are to eat, drink, and whatever we do we are to do to the glory of God. But Adam ate of the fruit in rebellion against God and with a disregard on the rest of humanity. He was seeking things for himself and so he set himself up as an idol and as his chief love. Adam fell from the upright nature he had by creation and was now the child of the devil.

In John 8 we are told that when the Pharisees lied they acted like their father the devil in that he was the father of lies. Adam because a child of the devil in that he is the father of selfishness with a heart that is directly opposed to the glory of God and the true good of humanity. Why did Satan fall? Well, the Scripture points to his pride. As a being without corporeal desires he did not have an apple or food to be deceived by. However, his deception of Eve shows something of how he fell. He could not imagine being greater than God, but if he loved his own glory more than the glory of God, then that is a horrible pride and it would show that he had fallen. He wanted to be independent and to be the supreme moral decision maker in his own existence and as such he would have wanted to be like God. It was this desire which he had and which he had fallen from his high position that he learned how to deceive human beings. Thus, by deceiving Adam and Eve they fell and became like him in their moral nature. It is a nature of selfishness which is a nature full of self, sinful love of self, and always seeking self in all that is done. It is seeking self rather than the glory of God and using others to seek self rather than using self to seek the true good of other human beings in accordance with the glory of God.

It is here that we see fallen human beings following the pattern of their father (the devil). They are like him in seeking the glory and honor of self rather than the glory and honor of God. They are willing to cause all other human beings trouble in order to obtain their own desires. They are willing for others to sin if that will help them get the desires of their hearts. They are willing for others to suffer if they can gain some leisure and riches. They will follow the ways of the world rather than the ways of God. They seek the honor of others rather than the true good of others which is to know and love God. These horrible creatures (all fallen human beings) want to be loved and respected more than they want God to be loved and respected, which is really not at all unless they think that if another respects Him that they can gain an advantage by that. These horrible creatures love works rather than free-grace. They hated preachers of truth and love those who deceive them with lies. They hate free-grace and those who preach it because free-grace can only be to the glory of God and His glory is what they seek for themselves.

Selfishness as Sin 58

February 12, 2016

It appears from the account given of his [Adam] first offense that it essentially consisted in loving himself supremely. He voluntarily partook of the forbidden fruit, from the motive of increasing his own knowledge and happiness, in opposition to the glory of God and the good of all his posterity. This was freely and voluntarily turning from benevolence to selfishness, which is the essence of moral depravity. He became morally depraved in the same manner that Satan, the first sinner in the universe, became depraved. Satan had no corporeal instincts or appetites to tempt him to rebel against his Maker. He loved his own glory more than the glory of God, and aspired to become independent and supreme, which was the essence of selfishness, or moral depravity. The prevailing notion that Adam became morally depraved by the mere want of holiness is repugnant to the very nature of moral depravity, and to every dictate of reason and Scripture. (Nathanael Emmons, Selfishness, International Outreach)

The nature of selfishness is generally thought of as a person that disregards others momentarily in order to obtain something s/he wants. Emmons tries to show that selfishness is the very essence of sin and that it is at the heart of all that a person does. The reason that it is at the heart of all that a human being does is because we inherit this from Adam. Each human being is born dead in sins and trespasses and as such they are born with a selfish heart and all that they do comes from this selfish heart. This answers the question of why did a simple eating of a piece of fruit cause the whole human race that came from Adam to be born dead in sins. When Adam took the piece of fruit it was a very selfish act and he did that out of a supreme love for himself rather than a supreme love for God and a love for his posterity. His act was moved by nothing but a love for himself. When Adam loved himself in that way, the posterity that he represented would fall into sin and be the enemies of God. With blatant disregard for the command of God and his posterity he ate the fruit.

When Adam took the fruit and ate the fruit, he was not doing so out of ignorance, but he had watched (evidently) Eve being deceived by the snake (Satan) and she was told by the snake that she could be as God. Adam took and ate the fruit wanting to be like God himself, which in accordance with the deception of the snake he wanted to increase his knowledge and make his own moral choices. This is to say that he wanted to be like God. In this Adam did not want to be in complete dependence upon God for all things and instead wanted to depend upon himself and make his own moral choices. This is precisely what the human race does today. Instead of seeing the commands as God sets them out, human beings want to do what they want to do and they want to set their own standards for right and wrong. The ramifications of the fall continue to this day and apart from being rescued from the dominion of darkness that is precisely what all men will do.

Once again, however, we must be very careful to point out a few things in light of the present religious climate. Man will see the commandments and set his heart on keeping them. He thinks that he can be righteous if he will just keep the external commandments and will even be proud in doing so. What we must note, however, is that the commandments of God cannot be kept by man in his independence from the heart. Religious man can be at least as independent and self-sufficient as the more obvious person of the world. Man will even see the greatest commandments and think that he can keep those in his own power if he wants to do so. Man thinks that he can have faith in Christ as he pleases, but again this is just more of the power of self thinking it can do as it pleases. Adam wanted to be as God and so he thought he wanted self-sufficiency and independence to make his own choices. That is precisely what religious man does as well in the religious realm. Religious man is in rebellion against the sovereign God who shows free-grace and religious man wants to be able to do something on his own so that God will show him grace because of what he has done. Adam received all from God until the fall and then sought to gain it by self, so religious man wants a religion of self where he does not have to receive all from God.

It is the very nature of sin for man to do all he does from a self-centered and self-seeking heart. Religious man does all of his religion from his self-centered and self-seeing heart. When the religious man is a minister he will preach and all that he does of his religious work is done from the power of self. In doing so he is just like his father the devil. Religious man will attend church and become quite the religious worker and even become leaders in the church, but all he does is from a selfish heart and as such he is just like his father the devil. Religious man will sit in the pew on Sundays and be moral at work and at home, but again he is doing it all from a selfish heart and is like his father the devil. Religious man hates free-grace because it demands that he repent of his selfish heart and look to Christ alone, but even more because he cannot do those things. Repentance and faith are what man must do, but no one has the power or ability to do them. Free-grace must save a man so that he can repent and have faith. How terrible it is for religious man to hear that he cannot please God and cannot work repentance and faith up by his own power. He must wait on God to do those things as He pleases.

Selfishness as Sin 57

February 10, 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.

1 Corinthians 13:1 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

The weight of these passages should bear mightily upon our souls and especially so if the Spirit teaches us the heart and weight of them. We should see the very selfishness of our hearts the whole of our lives. When we look back at our childhood, we see that we were selfish toward our parents, our siblings, and all those around us. If we attended church meetings, we were selfish then as well. Our hearts were given over to the things of self and whatever we did we did them out of self-interest and self-love. The heart of a child is full of foolishness, yes, but it is filled with self. We can direct children in the ways of self or point them to the God who can deliver them from self. The self can be directed to where it can be outwardly moral and good, but it is still full of self.

When we look at our teenage years what do we see but bundles of self? Once again we see ourselves learning and doing and interacting with nothing but self in mind. We only had ourselves in mind when we did what we did and in the people we interacted with and the people we did not have much to do with. We acted the way we did because we wanted to impress people rather than love God. Teenagers are said to act the way they do because of peer pressure, but what is that but living out of self-love wanting the attention and approval of others? Teenagers want to be liked and honored or have the attention of those around them.

As adults, we are not so open about our desire to be honored and recognized by others, but our selfish hearts still desire those things. Apart from regeneration, the whole world runs on the basis of self and the things and interests of self. Businesses operate that way. Advertising operates that way. Politicians operate that way regardless of party affiliation. Sadly enough, it would appear that the vast majority of professing churches operate that way as well. It is now all about what we can offer people to get them in the door and give money. If we were honest and advertised the churches according to the biblical pattern, we would say people should come to our church because we are promised that those who are godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution and we will help you learn to submit to God as you suffer. It is true that this honesty would cut down on the numbers of people attending, but it would also cut down on the numbers of those who were deceived.

As we look at the passages above and take them to heart, down deep we know what the modern professing Church is doing. It is operating and functioning in accordance with the principles of self-love. If even Paul had trouble finding men to send to churches who were not genuine in their concern for the people but instead were concerned with the things and interests of self and not the things and interests of Christ, then we can know that it is far worse in our day. The “ministry” appears concerned with how to do ministry in order to get more people in the door and down the aisle to say a prayer and be baptized. The ministry appears to be concerned with giving lessons on how nice God is and how we should be nice and moral rather than the truth of God and our wicked and sinful hearts. The ministry appears to be concerned with avoiding offending anyone about anything rather than preaching the truth of how sinful men are and of their need of free-grace. This is true of both conservative and liberal circles and appears to have penetrated all theological orientations. We should live to please God, not men.

Selfishness as Sin 56

February 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.

[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)

Paul wanted to send men to the Philippians to teach them and help them. However, he had no one other than Timothy who would have a genuine concern for their welfare. Why is that important and why is that the case in this situation? Evidently Paul had men willing to come and perhaps they had great knowledge and skill, though he did not specifically say that. The one thing (at least one) that he thought absolutely necessary, though, they lacked. These men who were evidently ministers and were willing to suffer hardship to go to the Philippians sought the things of self rather than the things of Jesus Christ. They were willing to do many things in religion, but in what they did they were more concerned with the things of self than even the things of Christ.

What zeal they might have appeared to have in being willing to leave the comforts of home and travel to a strange place in order to preach Christ. They appeared to be willing to suffer hardship for the cause of Christ. They appeared to be eager to help the people and to serve them in the things of God. But all of those things are not inconsistent with men seeking their own things and self-interests rather than the interests of Christ. There is nothing a man may not do in the Christian ministry that he cannot do in the interests of self rather than that of Christ. Men can preach for self rather than Christ. Men can be missionaries for self rather than for Christ. Men can be music ministers for self and not for Christ. Men can teach Sunday School for self and not for Christ.

1 Corinthians 13:1 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

When we bring in I Corinthians 13 and set it beside Philippians 2:19-21, we see that men can do extraordinary things in the name of religion and in the name of Christianity and yet do them for self. If men are not doing them out of true love, they are doing them out of a selfish heart that is full of self-love and pride. Why would men either pretend to speak with the tongues of angels (if possible) or learn many languages if they do not have true love? They would do so for selfish reasons rather than love for God and the true good of their neighbors. Why would men strive to know so much and become distinguished in academic circles? It is because they love themselves and have selfish hearts rather than learn for the glory of God and the true good of others. Could it be possible for a person to give all they have to feed the poor and yet not have an ounce of true love for the poor? This Scripture sure makes it seem like it is a possibility. Is it possible for a person to give up his body to the fire and yet not have true love? Ah, the power of self-love and a selfish heart makes it possible.

What we can see with ease from these texts of Scripture is that there are no lengths that a selfish heart will not go to in the realm of religion and yet not do them out of true love. We can see what true love is in Philippians 2:19-21. It is when a person has a genuine concern for another’s true welfare which is at one and the same time the interests of Christ. We can do many things for others, yet unless we want them and strive to get them to see the things of Christ we have not truly done what is good for them. Even if we do something that God uses for their good, that is not the same thing as desiring it and seeking it. The sovereign Lord can use a proud preacher to speak His truth and though the speaker desires nothing but the things of self the Lord can use it for Himself. Oh how we need our hearts broken from the things of self that free-grace may give us love for the things of Christ.

Selfishness as Sin 55

February 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.

All other sins flow out of that cursed self-love which is in all men by nature. All men seek their own. Their own honor and advancement; not the honor of Christ, but their own honor, their own private gain and advantage; not the profit of religion, but their own profit; their own delights, pleasures, and recreations; their own ease, safety, and security, not the safety of the Gospel, but their own safety; their own wills, lusts, and carnal contentments. Not to please Christ and do his will, but to do their own wills, and to please themselves. And to speak according to the language of our times, their own private, carnal, and creature interest. (The Monster of Self-Seeking Anatomized, Edmund Calamy)

They do not seek the things of God except in subordination to their own self-interest.

Man naturally has no other principle to direct and govern him in his actions but only self-love. (Jonathan Edwards)

The law requires us to love God supremely, but the native bent of our hearts is to love ourselves supremely. (Joseph Bellamy)

Natural unconverted men seek their own particular, private self-interest in all that they do. This encompasses every aspect of their lives. All decisions made by the unconverted man relate to his own self-interest; what helps or benefits them (in an earthly sense) the most, what honors them the most, what pleases them the most. This is true in every area including their religious service.

This shows why what seems to be the vast majority of preaching and evangelism is not biblical because the appeals are made to the sinful self rather than exposing the sinful self. That sinful self does not need to be coddled, but it needs to be humbled and broken for sin. Within the professing Church today the focus is on the self as something good and positive and it is appealed to as a motive rather than what it really is. It is really the sink and spring of sin which must be denied and repented of daily rather than appealed to. What is called the gospel today is really nothing more than an appeal to self-love. That which must be repented of is what people are appealing to as a motive for people to be saved, but what people must be saved from is a heart that loves self and does all out of selfishness. It is simply appalling how deceitful this is and yet it is deceit straight from the pit.

All over the world people are encouraged to turn from sinful actions because of motives of self-love and selfish considerations in this life. The deceptive nature of that, however, is that when people turn from a principle based on selfishness all that is doing is to strengthen sinful self. The Pharisees were lovers of self and sought the honor of men in their “good works” as they thought, but in fact those things were done from a selfish heart and were exceedingly sinful. They were willing to be very religious but not be turned from their proud and selfish hearts. They did what they did out of self-love rather than love for God. In our day it seems as if the professing churches are going down that same route. Some professing churches are libertines and they feed the selfishness of men by not calling them to true holiness. Others are legalists and call men to an external holiness based on selfishness and pride which is as bad as the other if not worse. Where are the preachers of free-grace? Where are those who understand the nature of sin as selfishness and as such the need for sovereign grace to deliver men from self and sin? Where are those who understand that there is nothing a person can do to move God to save him or her? Where are those who are taught to look to God to break them and bring them by grace rather than look to self?

Selfishness as Sin 54

February 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.

Bellamy [Joseph] believed that much of the religion of his day was defective because it simply appealed to the selfish interests of men. He argued that if God is set forth as a Being who is simply dedicated to doing good to His creatures there is nothing about such a God to offend or contradict the personal welfare of the carnal mind, thus nothing objectionable as far as the lost man is concerned. The Arminian preachers were telling sinners that God was doing all He could to promote their best interests. But Bellamy argued that no natural man would object to such a God, thus there is no reason for the conviction of sin… Self-love would make it natural. Even publicans love those who love them, and are good to those who are kind to them (Matthew 5). Did men firmly believe God to be such an one, they could not, indeed, possibly be at enmity against Him. Self-love would not admit of it. Men would not need any grace to make them love God. Nature would make them love Him. They could not but love Him, so long as they love themselves. (From John F. Thornbury’s Introduction, True Religion Delineated, by International Outreach.)

It is not the least innocent kind of ambition, to seek after praise in the way of religious usefulness. Never a day passes, but the devil offers his service. Mankind are perpetually at variance, by being all of one sect, viz. selfists. Adam, Thomas. Private Thoughts on Religion. International Outreach, Inc

We have been stressing that selfishness is the essence of sin and just because a person has become religious and has different external actions does not mean that the person has been born of God and is a real Christian. It has been said by many over the years that there are only two kinds of people. There are Christians and there are non-Christians. While that is an accurate statement, it makes it hard to discern what is going on when we understand that there are many professing Christians who are not truly Christians. Perhaps it would be better to say that there are those who are under the power and love of self and those who are under the power and love of Christ. Another way to say it is that all are either of their father the devil or of their father God. A person can be extremely religious and extremely moral in the outward sense and still be under the power of self. In the words of Thomas Adam above, these people are the selfists.

What does a selfist or a selfish person do in the things of religion? This person has ambitions for self in the things of religion just as s/he has ambitions for self in worldly thing. The selfish person will seek praise in the things of religion and want to be honored and showered with attention. Just as the Pharisees sought the attention and praise of men in their prayers, their giving, and their fasting; so men today will do precisely the same thing. It is not that modern people have moved beyond the Pharisees, but instead by nature our hearts are the same. The Pharisees the scholars and the religious elite of their day, but their hearts were never regenerated and they were still in the bonds of selfishness. The same thing is true today. As long as men and women are not born from above in truth, they will remain selfists and they will do all for self.

How is it that the devil offers his service to those who seek praise in the things of religion? It is because the devil does not care if men and women are religious and even very religious, but he is only too happy to promote religion as long as men and women are deceived by their selfish hearts and do not seek the glory of God. The devil is only too happy to take his selfish children and help them along their way into religious activity and even the ministry. What he does not want is for these people to be awakened to their selfish hearts and to cry out to God to turn them from that bondage and then to give them new hearts which love Christ in truth.

It is selfishness and self-love that keep worldly people and religious people together and thinking that they love God and each other. However, it is also that same selfish heart full of pride and self-love that causes all the problems in the world and in the professing churches. As men and women seek distinction and honor from each other, the heart of pride and self-love will not like it when others get that distinction and honor. This will bring friction into meetings and into professing churches. The lack of mortified pride and dying to self will also bring friction into true churches.

The problem with people getting along (in church or outside) is because they love those who love themselves or they love those only for the sake of the benefit they receive. The problem with people not getting along is that their self-love will not allow them to love others if they do not receive some benefit for it. The selfish heart is to be like the devil regardless of whether a person is involved in Satan worship or attends a conservative church (professing or real). Only those who are born of God and know God can have true love and so love others without any benefit received from others.

Selfishness as Sin 53

February 2, 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.

Bellamy [Joseph] believed that much of the religion of his day was defective because it simply appealed to the selfish interests of men. He argued that if God is set forth as a Being who is simply dedicated to doing good to His creatures there is nothing about such a God to offend or contradict the personal welfare of the carnal mind, thus nothing objectionable as far as the lost man is concerned. The Arminian preachers were telling sinners that God was doing all He could to promote their best interests. But Bellamy argued that no natural man would object to such a God, thus there is no reason for the conviction of sin. In True Religion Delineated, he states, “True if God were such an one [if God were dedicated to seeking the happiness of man as His chief end, editor], then the most wicked man in the world could not but love him. Self-love would make it natural. Even publicans love those who love them, and are good to those who are kind to them (Matthew 5). Did men firmly believe God to be such an one, they could not, indeed, possibly be at enmity against Him. Self-love would not admit of it. Men would not need any grace to make them love God. Nature would make them love Him. They could not but love Him, so long as they love themselves. The point is that it does not take a supernatural work of grace in the heart of man to cause the sinner to love a God who is dedicated to the sinner’s own good. But it does take a “divine light” from God to turn the lost man to see the glory of God and dedicate himself to a God whose great cause is to magnify Himself. (From John F. Thornbury’s Introduction, True Religion Delineated, by International Outreach.)

Hopefully the enormity of this problem is becoming clearer and clearer. In accordance with a person’s view with sin a person will have a different concept of God, of Christianity, of salvation in general, and evangelism. The views a person has of sin effects other views and in turn is influenced by other views. The view of the nature of sin and of humanity is not something we can hold in isolation of all other views, but in reality it is of a vital importance in what it is in and of itself as well as its influences on other issues. At the risk of being redundant, but yet sensing the enormity of this issue, it appears wise to stress some things again.

According to Bellamy, religion is defective when it does nothing but appeal to the selfish interests of men. If that statement is true, then the religion of our day is in utter shambles. Professing churches by the droves are not hearing or wanting the true Gospel and a great percentage of ministers are not preaching the Gospel. God has turned us over to our own devices and desires and all we know how to do is to practice a religion based on selfish desires. When the heart is hardened and turned over to a stronger and stronger control of self, then true Christianity which is based on God doing all He does for His own glory will assuredly be hidden from the eyes of men. As men are given over to self, they want the worship to please them rather than God and they want preaching to tickle their selfish ears rather than confront them with the truth of God. The prayers of those who are still under the control of their selfish hearts and desires will be all about themselves rather than for the glory of the name of God.

When selfish hearts are thought to be normal and God is thought to seek the worldly good of those selfish hearts, Christianity has been effectively hidden. The focus of the professing churches turns to what they think is the good of people and they focus on people. However, when they do this they are not seeking the glory of God as their first priority and love and therefore they are not seeking the true spiritual good of the people. A focus on selfish things is not good for anyone but it is what Satan desires. A professing church that is kind and nice and focuses on worldly things is indeed carrying out the selfish desires of Satan as he wishes to keep people from thinking on spiritual things. A form of professing Christianity, then, that is not aware of the nature of sin and of the selfish heart is a form of religion that will make people outwardly kind and nice and yet lead people to hell whether it is past a Reformed pulpit or not. The outward form of theology makes no real difference when the heart is selfish as the selfish heart will use theology for its own purposes.

Somehow and in some manner the professing Church must wake up or be awakened. It is quite true that only God can wake people up when they are as fast asleep as this. It is quite true that only God can illuminate sinners and show them their deadness and the extent and horror of their selfish hearts. It is quite true that the professing Church is so far gone because God has brought judgment and has been bringing judgment for many years. However, if God would only awaken a few people and work in them to begin to cry out for Him to awaken souls for the glory of His own name, who knows what will happen. Indeed, despite all the pouring out of literature and recordings of sermons, when virtually all of it is really focused on the self it is perpetuating the problem. We must seek the Lord to give us faint desires that will grow into aches and burdens for His glory. We must seek this as if it will only come by free-grace because that is the only way it will come.