Self Versus God’s Love – Part 3

By John Thiel, mp3

A Sinner Is Someone Who Does Not Love God

May it be that the words in the hymn ‘Break Thou the Bread of Life’, we really entirely put into meaning in our life. To do this we want to tune into the wonderful Word of God that will make this a reality. The theme continues with self versus God’s love. God’s love does something; it generates in a sinner’s heart a conflict. The promise of the coming Saviour, the woman’s seed is described:

Genesis 3:15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

This is the love of God.

Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

We notice that God loves us while we are yet sinners. A sinner is somebody who does not love God; he loves himself, he thinks only of self. To the sinner this death of Christ is the enmity that is sown into his heart and is a power that rankles inside of him.

2 Corinthians 5:14 For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: 15 And [that] he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.

Here lies the very ingredient of what God had spoken in Genesis 3:15 I will put enmity. The love of Christ is a counter-working power inside of a sinner that he should no longer live unto himself which is the very nature of a sinner to live unto himself. It is by this very action of God’s love towards the sinner that if he will respond to that love, provokes him to worship and to fear God. But that provocation inside of every sinner’s heart to fear God and to worship Him, is as I have already mentioned, an enmity that struggles within.

This struggle is beautifully described where a person who looks upon this amazing love that would actually provide the death of the Son of God becomes captivated by looking.

A clear, steady view of the cross of Christ would counteract their worldliness and fill their souls with humility, penitence, and gratitude. They would then feel that they are not their own, but that they are the purchase of Christ’s blood. {5T 202.3}

Can you see something here? If we would steadily view the cross of Christ, what would that create? A counter-working against worldliness and create in them humility, penitence, and gratitude. They will not be self-made men. That is a term applied to the British; they are self-made men. You can see that when the view of the cross comes up in front of the person; this is something antagonistic to that term.

A deadly spiritual malady is upon the church. Its members are wounded by Satan; but they will not look to the cross of Christ, as the Israelites looked to the brazen serpent, that they may live. The world has so many claims upon them that they have not time to look to the cross of Calvary long enough to see its glory or to feel its power. When they now and then catch a glimpse of the self-denial and self-dedication which the truth demands, it is unwelcome, and they turn their attention in another direction, that they may the sooner forget it. {5T 202.4}

Do you see what actually transpires in a sinner’s heart? To look at the cross of Jesus, at the love of God long enough means that it will unveil the selfisms inside of the lost sinner’s heart. This is not palatable; this is not comfortable to a sinner. What does the sinner do as he comes face to face with the only remedy that is provided for him to be able to recover himself from sinfulness?

  • A Patchwork Christianity

We are to discard the old garment of character, and to receive from Christ the new garment woven in the loom of heaven, even the robe of his righteousness. Here is where the carnal heart has risen in rebellion. {1888 1311.2}

God has provided His righteousness and how does the carnal heart respond to that? It responds In rebellion. What does the carnal heart do as it is provided with a better character?

Man tried to patch the old garment of Phariseeism rather than to discard his self-righteousness for that garment which is new throughout, the righteousness of Christ. {1888 1311.2}

This is what we do. We come face to face with the Ten Commandments and the selfisms in the human nature will begin to patchwork. There will come an action of voluntary humility where according to Colossians 2, we will start doing things to make us feel better.

Man’s devices and methods are much more in harmony with the natural inclinations; men choose to have some of self and some of Jesus. To accept the entirely new fabric does not give sufficient honor to the natural feelings and sentiments of the human mind. The religion that must reshape the man, transforming the entire character, is very distasteful, and here man’s plans and God’s plans come into collision. Ibid

This is what happens when sinners begin to open their mind to the law of God and God’s will and there comes this patchwork mentality; some of self and some of Jesus. In this work where God wants to take entire control to change the garment. It is distasteful to the natural man.

The apparent good deeds brought into a life that is not Christlike, a life in which justice and mercy and the love of God are not an abiding principle, are only misleading, a stumbling-block to the world. Ibid

This is what we are suffering under in the Christian world today.

Christ presents the remedy to Nicodemus: “Verily, verily I say unto thee, Ye must be born again.” These words are addressed to thousands in this age. Verily, verily I say unto thee, self-righteous sinner against God, yet claiming to know the truth, Ye must be born again. {1888 1312.1}

This word comes to thousands. There is a deadly malady on the church; there is some of self and some of Christ. To us in this Laodicean period, come these words; Verily, verily I say unto thee, self-righteous sinner against God, yet claiming to know the truth, Ye must be born again.

The Lord says, “Behold, I make all things new.” If any man be in Christ he is a new creature; old things have passed away, and behold, all things have become new.” The patchwork religion is not of the least value with God. He requires the whole heart. No part of it is to be reserved for the development of hereditary or cultivated tendencies to evil. To be harsh, to be severe, too self-important, selfish, to look out for one’s own selfish interest and yet be zealous that others shall deal unselfishly, is a religion which is an abomination to God. Many have just such an experience daily, but it is a misrepresentation of the character of Christ. Ibid

We like people to treat us correctly but we still want to have our own way to exercise our own natural inclinations. This is what man does when he stands at the cross and looks and it is too self-denouncing so he begins a patchwork palliation.

There is a very interesting example with which the Bible describes this. This is precisely what took place as the Hebrews split up into two camps. Under Jeroboam the ten tribes continued in Samaria and the two tribes continued in Jerusalem.

As Jeroboam lead the people, he led them into paganism to worship the gods of the heathen while at the same time wanting to serve the God of the Hebrews. Because they were worshiping, to try to destroy the ten tribes the king of Assyria sent people from other nations who did not know God to live in Samaria and lo and behold, lions came and tore them to pieces. They said, we have come into a land where God rules and we do not feel comfortable here. What will we do? The instruction was given that they were to create priests to serve God but the priests they created were not the priests of the Levites, it was their own. An interesting consequence took place. Here is the conclusion of that arrangement:

2 Kings 17:32 So they feared the LORD, and made unto themselves of the lowest of them priests of the high places, which sacrificed for them in the houses of the high places. 33 They feared the LORD, and served their own gods, after the manner of the nations whom they carried away from thence.

The wording is interesting isn’t it? They feared the Lord and worshipped their gods.

2 Kings 17:41 So these nations feared the LORD, and served their graven images, both their children, and their children’s children: as did their fathers, so do they unto this day.

To fear God and serve their own gods; some of self and some of Christ, that is the picture. I want to ask the question for you to consider; how would it be today if we did that? What are the gods that we would worship and that we are liable to be worshipping if we have a patchwork Christianity?

E.G. White is talking about the worshipers of Jehovah worshipping gods and idols.

  • Idol Worship Today

No outward shrines may be visible, there may be no image for the eye to rest upon, yet we may be practicing idolatry. It is as easy to make an idol of cherished ideas or objects as to fashion gods of wood or stone. Thousands have a false conception of God and His attributes. They are as verily serving a false god as were the servants of Baal. Are we worshiping the true God as He is revealed in His word, in Christ, in nature, or are we adoring some philosophical idol enshrined in His place? {5T 173.4}

Have I got your interest? Examine closely this principle. What are these idols? They worshipped some cherished ideas. We read something in the Bible and we get an idea and think, that’s it and we cherish that or objects in the world around us today.

There are many represented to me in the church who seem just like drowning men engaged in a desperate struggle to keep their heads above water. {DG 137.2}

We create certain barriers to force ourselves to obey and we barely keep our head above water.

They have not in their religious life ever died to self. Self is their idol; they worship at its shrine. Ibid

This is a very comprehensive one and takes us directly to the continuing meditation that I want to share with you during this hour. The idol worship that they were doing in the time of Samaria can be done by us in exactly the same way. Our cherished ideas, our cherished objects, in fact, self is their idol. They worship at its shrine; at the shrine of self.

The apostle’s words of warning to the Corinthian church are applicable to all time and are especially adapted to our day. By idolatry he meant not only the worship of idols, but self-serving, love of ease, the gratification of appetite and passion. A mere profession of faith in Christ, a boastful knowledge of the truth, does not make a man a Christian. A religion that seeks only to gratify the eye, the ear, and the taste, or that sanctions self-indulgence, is not the religion of Christ. {AA 317.1}

It is self that we are examining closely; self which is the shrine upon which we worship if we are some of self and some of Christ’s if we are like those people back there. They fear God and still worship their idols.

In our contemplation of self, we saw that voluntary humility is such a thing where we come face to face with the expectations that are laid out in the Scriptures and instead of holding to the head Christ Jesus, we do the patchwork thing. We look at these good concepts that are contained in the writings of the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy and we engage in enlarging them as barriers to prevent us from breaking the law. We do it motivated by self-voluntarianism. The second one we shared was that the imminence of the coming of Jesus generates a selfish response to hurry to get my righteousness going so that I will be found at peace when Jesus comes. This is self also.

  • Multiple Manifestations of Self

Let us explore multiple manifestations of self. There are six altogether. As you go through, you will be able to recognise elements of self there which will just about choke you as you look at yourself.

I am not showing any of this for any purpose of trying to tell you a thing or two. This is merely to help us understand how we are struggling and what we are struggling with. If I want to be recovered from sin, I need to acknowledge what the sin actually is; I need to own it as my own to be able to deal with it. I need to be clearly identified with it otherwise I don’t know what I am trying to recover from.
Impulse and a High Degree of Feeling

We must have the living, divine principles ever abiding in us, and not make an idol of impulse or of a high degree of feeling. {RH, April 12, 1887 par. 6}

What can we make an idol of in the shrine of self? It is the idol of impulse or of a high degree of feeling. I see a few faces going what does that mean? How does that actually translate into living reality? Sr White is writing to a brother and you can see by example this principle.

You have been too reserved. You have not come into close relation with men engaged in the different departments of the work; you have not consulted with them as familiarly as you should to move understandingly. Had you done this you might have been a more efficient helper. You have moved too much according to your own judgment and carried out your own ideas and plans. {4T 219.1}

Do you remember the ideas is one of the idols that we cherish?

There has been a lack of harmonious connection between the workers. Those who might have helped you have been reluctant to impart their knowledge to you on account of this lack of familiarity on your part, and also because you move so much from impulse and feeling that they have dreaded to approach you. Ibid

Here is a description of self. I have strong ideas and those ideas are very important to me or I have a particular sensitive nature. That sensitive nature prevents me from going and dealing with things I need to deal with. The selfism of impulse and feeling that self generates is something that prevents beautiful church ministry unity. That is an idol, that is of self.
A Set Will

Sr White is writing here to a Brother C who has a set will:

Brother C has a set will; his likes and dislikes are very strong {2T 387.2}

But his set ways have made him disagreeable. He has used the truth as a subject to quarrel over. {2T 388.1}

Quarrelling and combativeness about doctrine, what is this?

His combativeness, firmness, and self-esteem are large. {2T 388.3}

Then Sr White goes on to say self must be crucified.

Self manifests itself in this way; strong set will and strong likes and dislikes that cause me to engage in set immovable ways and make those set immovable ways interactive combativeness and quarrelsomeness with regards to even using the Bible from that perspective. Combativeness, firmness, self-esteem are directly connected there. Combativeness, firmness, likes and dislikes are elements of self-esteem. It is self.

  • Impatience and a Dictatorial Spirit

You sometimes pass along days and weeks without developing the spirit of evil which I have named impatience, and a dictatorial spirit, a desire to control…. Your loving to rule and to bring others to your ideas has nearly ruined yourself and (the person they associate with). You love to suggest and to dictate to others. You love to have them feel and see that you have the very best light, and are especially led of God. If they do not, you begin to surmise, to become jealous, to feel a spirit of unrest; you are dissatisfied and exceedingly unhappy. {2T 572.2}

Here is self in action; loving to rule suggesting and dictating to others to believe that I have the very best light and am especially led of God.

You deceive yourself with the idea that these unamiable traits do not exist, until you are brought into positions which make you act and speak in a manner that reveals them to all. {2T 572.1}

As I am sharing God’s word with you and it’s pointing out to you certain things, you say, no, no, I wouldn’t be like that. That is exactly what this person is doing. You deceive yourself with the idea that these unamiable traits do not exist until you are brought into positions which make you act and speak in a manner that reveals them to all.

You are not willing to see and confess that it is your carnal nature which has not yet been transformed and brought into subjection to Christ. You have not yet crucified self. Ibid

There it is. Self does what? It doesn’t even believe that it is like this. I wouldn’t be as bad as that; I don’t really want to dictate. But when the circumstance comes it shows up. This idea that what I believe is so important, so absolutely right, we have a voluntary humility. Colossians chapter 2 where we are practicing touch not, taste not, handle not and we really believe this is right and if nobody agrees with me, I start surmising. I start to doubt their genuineness and it unveils the very selfism that creates problems and unhappiness.

  • Sensitivity

Nothing so readily arouses the evil traits in your character as to dispute your wisdom and judgment in exercising your authority. Your strong, overbearing spirit, which has appeared to slumber, is roused to its fullest energy. Self then controls you, and you are no more governed by candid reason and calm judgment than is an insane person. Self in all its strength wrestles for the mastery, and it will take the firmest mind to hold you in restraint. After your fit of insanity has gone by, then you can bear to have your course questioned. But you stand ready to justify yourself by the plea that you are so sensitive; {2T 572.3}

  • Sensitivity

…you feel so deeply; you suffer so much. I saw that all this will not excuse you in the sight of God. You mistake pride for sensitiveness. Self is prominent. When self is crucified, then this sensitiveness, or pride, will die. Ibid

What is sensitiveness? It is self; it is pride. It comes up in those kinds of manifestations.

That which you term sensitiveness is pride that will not bear contradiction. {DG 169.5}

Have you ever experienced that? You really believe someone and somebody contradicts you; what happens inside? Self rises; contradiction will not be born. I am right and that’s it and I have to argue the point.

Self must be disciplined, guarded, and controlled. The most becoming dignity you can possess is the Christian self-control that will endure provocation. Ibid

Have you ever been provoked and you can’t help but say something? That is not becoming dignity. You can possess this dignity by self-control that will endure provocation.

  • Distrust and Alienation

Satan is constantly seeking to introduce distrust, alienation, and malice among God’s people. We shall often be tempted to feel that our rights are invaded, even when there is no real cause for such feelings. Those whose love for self is stronger than their love for Christ and His cause will place their own interests first and will resort to almost any expedient to guard and maintain them. Even many who appear to be conscientious Christians are hindered by pride and self-esteem from going privately to those whom they think in error, that they may talk with them in the spirit of Christ and pray together for one another. When they think themselves injured by their brethren, some will even go to law instead of following the Saviour’s rule. {AA 305.1}

What is operative here? We often feel that something has been done and instead of going and dealing with this problem that’s happening between me and the other person, we go and tell other people about it. We alienate. Where does it come from? Love for self is such that we feel our rights have been invaded and again it goes into those areas of not only alienation, but we stand back from each other. Distrust, alienation and malice amongst God’s people; this is the fruit of self.

  • Noting the Shortcoming of Others

Although we do not acknowledge that the object of defaming another is to exalt self, self-exaltation is behind the practise of noting the shortcomings of others. {RH, May 12, 1896 par. 2}

Are you capable of that? Are you a good master at that; to notice the shortcomings of others? Why is it that we note the shortcomings of others? Although we do not acknowledge that the object of defaming another is to exalt self, self-exaltation is behind the practise of noting the shortcomings of others. We don’t acknowledge these things. ‘That’s not true; that’s not me.’ But if you let the word of God unravel it all in your own mind, you can realise hello, there is those little selfisms that interfere. It takes away our happiness; it takes away our peace. When I am not at peace, self is active. When I have perfect submission to Christ, perfect rest is my experience; self is dead.

  • Being Outspoken and Blunt

Some pride themselves on being outspoken, {ML 196.3}

Let us stop to think for a moment. When something needs to be said, I say it; outspoken. I have to tell the people what I think.

…blunt, and rough, and they call this frankness; but it is not rightly named, it is selfishness of the deepest dye. Ibid

The powerful description of this under inspiration shows us that when we think that we have to say something bluntly, outspoken on every given situation and even if it means I have to give it the works and do it roughly, this is frankness, this is calling a spade a spade. This is what we hear people say, but it is not rightly named, it is selfishness of the deepest dye.

If we have Christ abiding with us, we shall be Christians at home as well as abroad. He who is a Christian will have kind words for his relatives and associates. He will be kind, courteous, loving, sympathetic, and will be educating himself for an abode with the family above. If he is a member of the royal family, he will represent the kingdom to which he is going. He will speak with gentleness to his children, for he will realize that they too are heirs of God, members of the heavenly court. Among the children of God no spirit of harshness dwells. {ML 196.2}

No spirit of harshness dwells. This idea of being outspoken, blunt, rough and frank is self.

No sharp, critical, blunt, or severe words should be spoken. This is common fire and must be left out of all our councils and intercourse with our brethren. God requires every soul in His service to kindle their censers from the coals of sacred fire. {2MCP 578.2}

What is that; what is it to be blunt and to tell each other a thing or two as to what we think in our counsels? It is self. To use sharp, critical, blunt, or severe words should be spoken. This is common fire. It is not the fire that God has ignited in the temple. It is self.

  • Conclusion

As we have been going through each particular element of self, let’s just briefly revise. The impulse and feelings that we hold dear, they are an idol; they are self. The combativeness, the firmness, the likes and dislikes, the self-esteem manifested, the sensitiveness that is self, the distrust and alienation and malice that is expressed, this is self. The noting the shortcomings of others is for self-exaltation. The outspokenness, the bluntness, telling of the thing as it is as we think, is self.

As we go over our life’s experiences even within our own church ranks and we identify these things that may have been active, how do you feel? Where does this lead to?

Galatians 5:13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty;

We are free now through Jesus Christ

Galatians 5:13 only [use] not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

In other words, just because self arises you are not free to exercise it. Don’t use the liberty according to the flesh.

Galatians 5:14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, [even] in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

If you don’t like other people treating you the way you treat them, then don’t treat them that way. Here is the conclusion; this is where it leads to:

Galatians 5:15 But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.

This is what my next sermon is going to be about. We will look at an evidence of the human race that this kind of self which is the nature of the beast as it were, is actually going to consume this world. Unless we identify these consuming elements, we will be amongst those who are consumed because we will be included in the consuming of ourselves.

As we see all this and we know where it is leading to and we see this selfism that is so strong; some of self and some of Christ, and self with Christ wraps up in such a way that we even use Christ in a selfism way, as we become so exposed to ourselves in these elements of self, how do you feel? Is this an impossible struggle? Is it so strong that it consumes me ultimately and I have no hope. I am going to go down this path because I can’t control my self. If you try to control yourself you will never get there anyway because self must be dealt with in a different way.

Self is alive and quivering at every touch. {4T 221.1}

Do you like that statement? We are like jelly. You touch a jelly and it quivers. That is us isn’t it? Something touches me and quiver.

Self must be crucified before you can overcome in the name of Jesus and receive the reward of the faithful. Ibid

Can you control self? No, it must be crucified. I die daily; dead. It’s killed every day. It has this long-life power in it. It keeps on lifting its little head again and again. We see this and know that we have such a struggle with it; I don’t know whether I can ever make it.

There is many a brave soul sorely pressed by temptation, almost ready to faint in the conflict with self and with the powers of evil. {SC 120.1}

All these elements of self which I don’t know whether you can feel as I can feel; this is me. In my struggle to be brave for the Lord Jesus Christ. There is many a brave soul sorely pressed by temptation, almost ready to faint in the conflict with self and with the powers of evil. Is that how you feel?

Do not discourage such a one in his hard struggle. Cheer him with brave, hopeful words that shall urge him on his way. Thus the light of Christ may shine from you. “None of us liveth to himself.” Romans 14:7. By our unconscious influence others may be encouraged and strengthened, or they may be discouraged, and repelled from Christ and the truth. Ibid

I take that statement very seriously to myself right now because I have laid out before us all those discouraging battles with self. To finish the sermon on that would send you home in a deplorable state of mind. Let us then conclude with an encouraging, healing application of the balm of Gilead in reference to these things. Let us be encouraged by this wonderful Scripture as it applies to the discovery of our self, our natural man.

Psalm 103:8 The LORD [is] merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. 9 He will not always chide: neither will he keep [his anger] for ever. 10 He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. 11 For as the heaven is high above the earth, [so] great is his mercy toward them that fear him. 12 As far as the east is from the west, [so] far hath he removed our transgressions from us.

Now comes the most endearing part.

Psalm 103:13 Like as a father pitieth [his] children, [so] the LORD pitieth them that fear him. 14 For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we [are] dust. 15 [As for] man, his days [are] as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. 16 For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more. 17 But the mercy of the LORD [is] from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children;

What is this beautiful statement given to encourage us in? As I am struggling with my selfism as I see all these nasty characteristics that we have been exploring here, which is self; and it is so much a part of me and I am nearly distracted to a hopeless understanding, a hopeless state, I see God’s mercy. Does He dismiss me because I’ve got this struggle? No, He is merciful. Self might arise for a while and then it disappears. As grass: as a flower of the field. Self can show some good flowers but then it’s gone. When it’s gone, where is me? The Lord remembers that we are dust and if we conscientiously desire to respond to the amazing love of God and we see what it requires and we think it is beyond me to achieve, then the Lord says, I have mercy on you.

Let me now conclude with this beautiful answer that is contained in all the studies of God’s word that we have had in the past.

When you surrender yourself entirely to God, when you fall all broken upon Jesus, you will be rewarded by a victory the joy of which you have never yet experienced. As you review the past with a clear vision, you will see that at the very time when life seemed to you only a perplexity and a burden, Jesus Himself was near you, seeking to lead you into the light. Your Father was by your side, bending over you with unutterable love, afflicting you for your good, as the refiner purifies the precious ore. When you have thought yourself forsaken, He has been near you to comfort and sustain. We seldom view Jesus as He is, and are never so ready to receive His help as He is to help us. {4T 220.1}

This beautiful quote is what I hope you will take with you as we have seen the crass description of the selfisms that we have been affected by. That we know the Lord’s mercy is of such a nature that He does not want to cast us off. He wants us in revealing these things to us, to own them as the reality of me and when I own them as my case, when I don’t try to justify myself but fall broken upon the rock Christ Jesus; surrender it instead of trying to defend it. Then we will make an experience, a victory which you have never yet experienced.

In other words, as you go on doing that, it will become more and more glorious. May God give us the courage to do what He is saying to us to do. When these ugly characteristics that we have plainly read, the danger is that we will go insane because as I go back into my daily life, I will see myself again and again and I will go absolutely insane about myself. If that is the case, then flee into the arms of the Lord. Don’t try to argue about it; it’s just me; own it and fall and die daily. God will bring about an experience that the church will stand triumphant at last because we are doing what the Scripture is telling us to do.

I thank God that He gives us answers that are practical and real. If we don’t run away from them, we will come through victorious.


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Posted on 20/09/2013, in Divine Service Sermons, Self Versus God's Love (Series) and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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