Paul said of the unregenerate man in Ephesians 2:3 that they live in the lust of their flesh, indulging in the desires of the flesh and of the mind. In this description we find one who is supremely selfish. They are living a life of self gratification with little or no thought of God’s will for their life. They are only concerned with what pleases and benefits them.
In II Timothy 3:1-4 Paul gives a graphic description of the heart of man in the last days, “For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.” He began this description of the heart of man as being lovers of self and ended the description as these men being lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. Clearly this is the culture of which we currently live.
We live in a violent culture, a culture of partisanship, a culture of splits, separations, and stalemates, a culture of tolerance so long as you agree with me, and a culture of throwing a fit until I get my way. James 4:1-2 says, “What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel.”
This is the heart of the man of flesh; the unregenerate man. Unfortunately, the church so often appeases this fleshly selfishness rather than opposes it and calling it into repentance. They appease it with their seeker sensitive services in hopes that the sinner will never be uncomfortable. Did God Himself not create our bodies to have pain and fever alerting us that something is wrong? Pain and fever isn’t comfortable. That was intentional by God’s design. A sinner should always feel welcome in church but never comfortable.
When one reads the sermon Peter preached to the Jews in Acts 2 one can hardly say his intention was to make them comfortable. His intention was clear. It was to make them aware of their selfish motives that led to their sin resulting in them being in hostility towards their creator. His intention was for their hearts to be pierced with the truth of God’s word leading them to ask, “Brethren, what shall we do?” This question then led to the conclusion, “repent.”
The gospel of the selfish man tells us to come to Jesus to get healthy, wealthy and prosperous. The gospel of Jesus says, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” (Matthew 16:24). Are there benefits in following Jesus? Absolutely! However, we must “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33). If our heart is what we can get out of God rather than God Himself we stand in need of repentance of our selfishness and rebellion towards God. Jesus said, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign; and a sign will not be given it, except the sign of Jonah.” (Matthew 16:4). In Matthew 12:40 Jesus told them what the sign of Jonah was, “For just as JONAH WAS THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS IN THE BELLY OF THE SEA MONSTER, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” In other words Jesus was telling us that the only sign we need is the gospel which is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Our only need is Jesus; anything else is selfish.
Jesus said repeatedly throughout the gospels to deny ourselves and to put ourselves in last place. Jesus said of John the Baptist, “Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist!” Then He said, “Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” (Matthew 11:11).
Selfishness is sin. It is a mindset of the fleshly man. It is the sin that divides, splits, stagnates, and segregates communities and churches alike; it is the sin that destroys marriages, the sin that neglects the spiritual, physical, and emotional needs of a child, and the sin that causes the world to be at war within itself. It must not be appeased. It must be called into repentance whether in our hearts or the hearts of our hearers.
It is Jesus of whom the bible calls us to have the mind of. It is Jesus who showed the ultimate act of selflessness “by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:8). The man of the flesh can never be a man of God until he becomes likeminded with Paul where he said, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” This is the message of which we live. This is the message of which we preach.