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Category Archives: Selfishness

Sermon 98 – Lot pitched his tent towards Sodom

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.

Lot

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.

Example

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.

‘but’

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

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Posted by on April 16, 2016 in Authority, Correction, Selfishness

 

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Sermon 96 – The BLAME Game

I was recently counselling a young Christian man who had been diagnosed with terminally ill cancer. His closest friend and Christian business partner had reacted to his illness with anger and blamed him for being sick because it meant that the responsibilities of the business were now to be his burden. Understandably, this ill man was shocked and hurt and automatically held bitterness against his partner. To this man’s thinking, he hadn’t done anything wrong; in fact, he was in a dark place. Rightly so, he expected a friend to support him in his hour of need, not to blame him or attack him.

It was some years later that the pain of this issue surfaced. Both men had put it under the carpet and pretended that everything was ok between them. The young man had survived his cancer but the hurt was starting to show in his attitude and reactions to his wife. I called both men together to resolve the silent stand-off. The Christian partner admitted that he had done abominably and apologised, and the young sick man who had been offended tried to forgive him. But, was the matter really resolved?

What’s the difference between an apology and repentance?

An apology is saying sorry because you’ve been caught out and you feel embarrassed and don’t want to look bad. The dictionary defines ‘apology’ as ‘defence’. Surreptitiously, we apologise to get out of trouble, and thus defend ourselves against looking bad and somehow excuse away our wrongness. An apology expects the party that we have offended to accept our apology, to forget about the hurt and reconcile the relationship, and gets offended if you don’t comply. Apology is saying sorry but still holding some level of blame; it’s a sorry with a ‘but’ attached. An apology is really just a cheats way to save face and avoid the punishment.

Repentance, on the other hand, is completely the opposite. You say sorry without any expectation or obligation on the other party. You say sorry without any blame apportioned against the one you have hurt. You say sorry with full expectation of the deserved punishment.

Satan’s most lethal weapon

Perhaps Satan’s most lethal weapon is ‘blame’. The temptation to react to being blamed, especially when it’s unjustified, is immense. Human nature has been infected with the automatic response of defending oneself from the attack of blame. Instead of taking full responsibility for his own actions, Adam protected himself by shifting the blame to Eve, and Eve simply shifted the blame to Satan. The consequence of shifting responsibility was separation from God. Consequently, Satan’s lethal weapon worked, and he uses it all the time to destroy man’s relationship with God.

In the case of the two Christian businessmen, the one who had said sorry was really blaming his partner for holding a grudge, and also blaming his wife for driving him to act the way he did. He was really just doing an ‘Adam’ and shifting the blame so he didn’t look bad. And, the partner who had been sick was really blaming his friend for acting so unchristian towards him in his hour of need. They were both caught in Satan’s blame game web. Unknowingly, when you’re caught in the blame game web you are inadvertently being manipulated by demonic powers just like Adam and Eve became servants of Satan to do his will.

No repentance, no salvation

If you can’t repent, you can’t get saved because salvation requires you to repent of your sin. If it’s your habit to shift responsibility with an apology, you won’t find salvation no matter how much you act like a Christian, because your sin isn’t covered with just an apology. Sorry has to be from the heart before it’s repentance and covered by His blood. You can know if you’ve repented if you want to know; if you don’t know whether you’ve repented or not then the truth is you don’t really want to repent; the truth is that you don’t really want to swallow your pride, and thus you retain a small element of justification that it’s not all your fault; your pride has caught you in the blame game!

Why is blame, sin?

When you blame, you’re just being selfish. You’re simply thinking more of your own self than you are of your neighbour; you’re really just afraid for yourself. Consequently, you are fracturing the second greatest commandment.

Blame is not a characteristic of the Holy Spirit

You won’t find Jesus holding a grievance against those who hurt His feelings. If you go to John 21, you’ll read the story of Jesus instructing the disciples to cast their net on the other side of the boat. They were in a state of dejection after the unjust murder of their Master and had decided to cope by going fishing. They had fished all night and wasted their time when someone on the shore yelled out to try the other side of the boat. For some reason they complied and the net was so full they couldn’t cope with the catch. Ultimately, the catch, the net and the boat were all sacrificed and wasted for Christ.

Jesus used this interaction to challenge Peter to face his sin of the denial of Christ. If anyone deserves to hold a grievance against their friend, Jesus did. Peter mouthed-off that he would never deny Christ, but he failed miserably. He didn’t stand up for the Master when he was in most need; he deserted Him. Jesus held no grievance, but Peter had to face his responsibility for his failure and repent, not really for the failure but for the pride of his selfish arrogance. God used the failure to save him through repentance of his pride. Without this failure Peter could not have seen his pride, would not have repented, and would never have been the man called of God to lead the church.

Where did his pride come from?

He was born with it; it’s an inherent human trait. The real question is … how did he feed on it? It’s interesting to note that Peter was the first person called to follow Christ. In his humanity he would have seen that he was first and he would have fed on this selfishness when he envied that Jesus appeared to love John the most (v.7). This is the pride in every one of us that has to be exposed and repented of if we are ever to find Christ and serve Him faithfully. Peter’s denial experience was a gift from God to save him. He’s now got the choice to desert and wallow in his moodiness or own it and repent. Repentance will save him, desertion will kill him.

This story of Peter is not just a story; it’s Spirit and it’s the common path that every genuine Christian must walk to find salvation. If you want to find salvation, your pride has to be exposed and repented of; an apology for doing something wrong won’t do it.

The young Christian with the cancer had full justification to blame his friend for his behaviour, but, through his cancer and this hurtful incident, God was actually giving him the chance to see his own pride and repent and be saved. The whole thing was a gift if he would just open his eyes and see it. He could feed on the hurt and die, or forgive, repent of his own pride reaction, and live.

If you can’t forgive someone for hurting your feelings, then the reality is that you’re blaming them, you’re proud, you don’t trust God to work all things for good, you’ll come under the influence of Satan (Matthew 18:34), and you’ll never find salvation until you repent.

May the Lord open the eyes of His remnant to their own pride and stop pointing the finger at other’s pride and blaming them.

Pastor Jerome Saunders

 
 

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Sermon 77 – The Insanity of Vanity

Often I have the opportunity to tutor students in maths. What I’ve discovered in this exercise is that when someone holds a judgment against someone else they can’t do their maths. They make all sorts of errors of analysis and create their own system of working out the maths problems, and not only that, they’re actually fully convinced that they have done it right and the answer in the book must be wrong.

Here’s an example that happened this week … 371 – 65 = 314. When I asked the student how they got that answer they explained that 5-1 = 4, and 7-1 = 6. Instead of taking the 5 from the 1 they reversed it and then reversed it back to deduct 6 from 7. They were convinced they were right and questioned my judgement as the teacher.

I suggested to this student that they should go and write down who has offended them and why. The student came back with the message that she hadn’t got into trouble like all the other kids so she thought she was pretty good. The student had elevated herself above the other students by judging them below her and without even being aware of the spiritual side-effects couldn’t think straight but was convinced she was. Her judging had stuffed her judgement.

How does this happen?

The left side of the brain is the logic side; the right side is the creative / emotional side. You need the left side working at full capacity to do certain maths sums especially as it gets harder. If you’re hurting over something that someone’s done, the emotional side of your brain will dictate over your logic and your logic will become right-sided and be illogical without you knowing it.

I suggested that the biblical principle of repenting of your pride would be the only right alternative. She did and right there and then she could see the error of her analysis. Her correct judgment returned.

Whether you understand this or not; whether you agree with me or not, the reality is that this happens to every person who makes an elevated judgement against someone else and it’s confirmed in Matthew 7.

God’s just an idol to a Christian until you die

Everyone subconsciously lives to look good in the eyes of other people. They live for self-value. Whether we like it or not, the need for self-value is locked into our spiritual DNA. This need causes us to compete with everyone, especially siblings, for this value, and you don’t know you’re doing it. Because of this fact, anyone who says to God that they want to be a genuine Christian will have to go through the removal program of this selfishness. God will remove everything that’s of value to your selfishness and de-value you in the eyes of others to see if you really do want Him as your God, or just keep using Him as your idol and just worship Him so you get what you want from Him.

There isn’t anyone in the Bible who found God through elevated self-value. Everyone who found God had to be broken of their self-value. Everyone’s afraid to lose their self-value, but the reality is that when you give it up, God gives it back to you without the contaminants.

In the spirit kingdom, it’s God first or it’s nothing. The blockage to this being a reality is our selfishness. Therefore this process can only be achieved by the de-valuing of self in the eyes of others to find out if your spirit truly does want God first. You can only find God through the process of de-valuing of self; you’ll never find God through the process of valuing and promoting yourself.

As in the Garden of Eden, if you choose to promote yourself you’ll come under the influence of Satan, not God. Satan tried to destroy Christ because he was simply envious that Jesus was higher than him and enjoyed the Father’s favour instead of him. The truth is, he wasn’t really after the Father’s favour; he was so puffed-up with his own self-value he couldn’t think straight.

The simple evidence that I’m right

The proof that what I’m saying is the truth is the fact that everyone believes that correction is a put-down. The truth is that correction is to tell you that you’re wrong, and everybody hates being told they’re wrong. So, if correction makes you feel de-valued then you’re into value, full-stop. And, if you’re into value then you’re into envy, and if you’re into envy then you’ll be under the influence of Satan and your logic will be unstable and reversed, yet you’ll be convinced you’re right and that your answer and thinking is correct, and the correction is unjustified.

The man born blind, John 9

If you were born blind you most likely would feel de-valued and life was unfair and would blame God for the evil that’s happened to you. This man had been blind for forty years before Jesus came on the scene. It was because of his de-valuation that when Jesus healed him he saw the Saviour. Many people were healed but few saw the Saviour; they were after Jesus for the benefits (John 6:26), and nothing’s changed today. A fake Christian serves God with an expectation of benefits and rewards. This makes God your idol. A genuine Christian serves God without expectation of earthly rewards; it’s simply a love exercise, and you can’t genuinely do this from a platform of self-value; it has to be broken off you, but few want to know this, they prefer the Santa Clause God.

Selfishness changes your logic

Selfishness changes your logical patterns. You can’t think clearly; you think selfishly. Then you resist the correction of your selfishness because it doesn’t make sense to your selfish thinking. God designed it so that you don’t know whether you’re insane or vane; you need someone to tell you, and that’s the test point.

In 2 Chronicles 25 we read the story of King Amaziah. Verse 2 tells us that he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, sort of. Then in verse 14 we read that after Amaziah had returned from destroying the Edomites he worshipped their gods. God sent a prophet to correct his thinking and to bring him to his senses. The prophet argued with correct logic that it’s stupid to change gods and worship the gods of the nation that just lost the battle. But, Amaziah disregarded this Godly counsel. He had elevated himself (v.19) with his own importance and in his selfishness his spiritual logic had gone haywire. The consequence was self-destruction at the hands of an ungodly king.

It’s a fight to be a Christian. It’s not a walk in the park.

You might say to yourself that was a once-of experience and that it wouldn’t happen to me; but you’d be wrong. Uzziah, the next king, fell for the same trap, and Joash, the previous king did exactly the same illogical evil. Even Solomon, who was given the highest level of Godly wisdom, fell to the trap of elevation and consequently contradicted his own wisdom and married foreign ungodly wives who manipulated his thinking away from God to the point that he sacrificed his own children on the altars of heathen gods. You won’t find Solomon in heaven; he didn’t make it. You don’t believe me? Then read 2 Kings 23:13 and 2 Kings 3:26,27 and you will see that part of the worship of Chemosh the god of the Moabites, is the sacrifice of your own children. That’s absolute insanity and everybody is vulnerable unless they walk humbly before their God, giving Him the thanks and the credit for all things and never allowing yourself to have a mood of judgment against your fellowman and if you do, being able to take the correction and find repentance.

Selfishness is inherent in everyone’s heart. Selfish logic is stupid. How insane was it for Adam and Eve to hide from God their friend and then lie to Him and even blame Him for making Eve.  The only way anyone can gain Godly logic is by sacrificing their selfishness by allowing God to cut away everything that we value for our self-worth.

May God free His genuine remnant from themselves to serve the Living God with righteous hearts and minds.

Pastor James Tierney

 
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Posted by on December 2, 2014 in Selfishness

 

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Sermon 76 – Back to Basics

A young lady in our fellowship was clearly promoting herself and people were beginning to distance themselves from her. I spoke with her and asked her if she could see that she was being proud. She acknowledged that she knew she was. I suggested that it would be wise to stop it. She agreed. The next time I saw her she was working harder and more committed and trying as best she could to be “gooder”.

I shared with her that her strategy for removing her pride was actually cementing her pride because the motive for working harder was really to be liked again by everyone who was struggling with her pride, and also trying to avoid getting into more trouble. She wasn’t addressing her selfishness, she was reinforcing it.
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Posted by on November 8, 2014 in Selfishness

 

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