I was counselling a woman about her selfishness when she declared two things … (1) I’m waiting till I feel repentant before I can repent, and (2) I thought I was permitted to do anything I wanted because I was a Christian.
You won’t find either of these statements in the Word of God; they’ve been made up by her own selfishness. Statement 1 is really a declaration that I won’t repent because I don’t think I’ve really done anything that bad, and Statement 2 is a declaration that ultimately no one’s going to tell her what she can and can’t do, and Christianity is just a tool or insurance policy for that purpose. Both statements actually confirm that she is not a Christian at all. The Bible calls these people ‘tares’.
When I pointed out to her the Word of God declares that you are wrong, she shrugged it off. What she wanted, was more important than facing the responsibility for her sin. She pitched her tent towards Sodom.
In Genesis 13 we read the story of Lot. Instead of showing his gratitude for being rescued by Abram from his kidnappers and offering Abram the best, his eyes fell for what was best for him. He’s selfish. He couldn’t see the wicked heart of the people of the plain because his heart lusted after what he wanted. Lot was wealthy; I believe he thought he was important, and I reckon he thought he could handle whatever, and he talked himself into the best deal for himself.
It’s this inherent selfishness that exposes who we really are. It’s this selfishness that has to be offered to the Lord; it’s this selfishness that has to be sacrificed to Him because it’s our real person inside. We can hide it with generosity, helps, niceness, popularity, money, churchiosity etc. but it’s still there.
Prosperity at any cost
Lot saw what he could get and turned a blind eye to the people’s immorality. Modern Christian society votes for the political party that will give them the best prosperity. In all modern elections, the economy is the most important issue. It’s money before morality. All political persuasions have softened their resistance to homosexuality, condoned abortions and opened free trade agreements with China, conveniently ignoring their abuse of human rights, just to sustain fake prosperity for the benefit of more votes for the purpose of power and control.
It won’t work. History shows that any nation that chooses money over morality, eventually collapses.
Abraham’s faith saved Lot, Genesis 19:29
Lot is not Abraham; they have different spirits and different levels of faith. Lot will never be Abraham, but he obviously envied Abraham’s heart, because when you pitch your tent towards Sodom, that’s what happens. I suggest the reason the men of their camps were fighting was because Lot was envious in his heart of Abraham’s relationship with his people and with God. Lot knew in his heart that Abraham had a special relationship with God, and humanity always envies when it pitches its tent towards Sodom, and once you choose that path you’re headed for destruction.
Abram’s heart was set on the Rock of Ages. Although he fell to fear and compromised the prophecy of a son, his heart was toward God. It didn’t matter if he ended up in the desert, he never allowed his heart to envy his nephew’s lush-green environment; he trusted God.
Lot was fortunate, not because of himself, but because of Abraham. There are some people with a little faith who will get to heaven in the slipstream of the faithful. Aaron and Miriam are two other examples. Thankfully by God’s grace, Lot retained enough faith to get caught in the slipstream of Abraham’s faith, but he lost everything else in the process. It was Abraham’s faith that God honoured, not Lot’s. Lot couldn’t even do what was instructed in the midst of a potential disaster; he still wanted his own way (Genesis 19:18). Lot needed Abraham in order to reach heaven but Abraham didn’t need Lot; he served God. Lot served himself.
Coolness looks back?
Was it so bad for Lot’s wife to look back? Coolness is a casual respect of authority; it’s doing enough to keep the authority happy but all the time really just doing what one wants their own way. It looks calm and collected and the quality is envied by most people, but it’s a camouflage for secretly doing it my way, and not yours unless it suits me. It interacts with God the same way.
It wasn’t the looking back that was so wrong; it was because of the coolness of her heart to the instructions of the angels that she wasn’t able to resist the temptation of a small peak. She was her own person and she had followed with Lot, so what was the problem … surely, one peak couldn’t hurt. She had turned her heart toward Sodom and couldn’t see the compromise that had vexed her spirit.
Coolness argues its rightness against authority and still pretends to respect it. Coolness is just another expression of selfishness.
I was giving some instruction to a Christian young man who was envied by his peers because of his coolness of character. Nothing seemed to ruffle him. He looked like a model Christian. However, to him, the instruction was a correction, and before my eyes his character shifted into shock. He couldn’t believe that he had a character fault and his feelings were hurt that I would suggest so. His response was to have a silent mood of heaviness and to do penance by sacrificing something of value. From that point on, it didn’t matter what my argument was, everything I said was explained away as incorrect.
I asked him to do an exercise … “I’m wrong, but …
He wrote …
I’m wrong, but …. your rules are stupid
I’m wrong, but …. it doesn’t matter because I don’t care and you’re an idiot
I’m wrong, but …. your knowledge is useless and I don’t need it anyway
I’m wrong, but …. it’s not as bad as you’re making it out to be
I’m wrong, but …. I don’t understand what you’re talking about so I’ll just ignore it
I’m wrong, but …. I’m too lazy to do anything about it
What he’s really saying is, “I’m not wrong, you are, I’ll just let you think you’re right”.
Like David when corrected by Nathan, Holy Spirit would not add these buts to “I’m wrong”. To repent, you have to take full responsibility for your selfishness, and not add a ‘but’. A ‘but’ just means you’re shifting a percentage of the responsibility from yourself to someone or something else, and you can’t repent unless you own you’re wrong without adding their wrong in your picture of defence.
Clearly, this exercise revealed the hidden depth of his selfishness, but his conscious mind did not want to know it; from previous experiences it hurt too much.
Whenever you qualify your statement with a ‘but’, you’re declaring you don’t really agree with the corrector, and proving your resistance to authority, and verifying your own selfishness. This selfishness mocks when you’re proven wrong, because it proves to itself that it was right all along.
What the young man didn’t realise was that his heart was under the control of Satan and he was actually in torment because he only pretended to forgive someone who had hurt him and had told himself he had forgiven them (Matthew 18). His coolness had deceived his own self. He’d pitched his tent towards Sodom. It was more important to look good and get your way and blame others than to be a loser for Christ, and the envy he felt from his peers was actually driven by his own ‘nose in the air’ manner.
His answers didn’t surprise me. I’ve discovered that this is the secret heart of most Christians. Modern Christianity isn’t training people to die to themselves for the sake of Christ (Luke 14:26,33), it’s training them to live for themselves and pretend it’s for the sake of Christ. It’s really just the world parading as the church.
When the young man finally owned up to his deceitfulness, it came out that the reason he acted cool was because of fear of what people think. He’s character was driven by fear, not faith. It was all a sham. I encouraged him to repent of his selfishness and forgive the person that had hurt him, if he was ever to find the true Christ.
May the Lord open the eyes of His remnant to see their own selfish deception and escape the shadow of the spirit of fear, and turn to the living God for His grace for salvation, instead of turning to oneself in order to explain away why I’m right and they’re wrong.
For by grace you are saved through faith; not of yourself it’s the gift of God, not by works lest any man should boast. Ephesians 2: 8,9
Pastor Jim Desmond