“The motivation behind sin is selfishness. The man who steals does so for himself. The man who lies does so to protect or benefit himself. The man who commits adultery against his wife considers not his wife and children but his own passion. The man who murders does so for himself. The man who disobeys authority does so because he believes he knows better and wants better for himself. The man who pursues popularity and fame does so to appease his insecurity and pride” [Bevere, 130].
Pastor Bevere pretty much lays the blame for most of the sin in the world on selfishness.
Look at the following Scripture from James and pay attention to the word selfishness in the quote: “Why do you fight and argue with each other? Isn’t it because you are full of selfish desires that fight to control your body? You want something you don’t have and you will do anything to get it. …But you still cannot get what you want and you won’t get it by fighting and arguing. You should pray for it. Yet even when you do pray, your prayers are not answered, because you pray for selfish reasons” [from James 3 and 4].
It seems that James regards selfishness as a problem in the world too, wouldn’t you say?
The world is driven by selfishness and so is the believer who is unholy. A person can call themselves “Christian” and be driven to sin due to selfishness. What a person wants becomes a top priority. God calls us to a higher standard but we can easily ignore that call. Paul is an honest man when he says in Romans 7: 15-20 “For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.”
Paul knows what he wants to do. He wants to follow God’s law but he also knows that he falls short and sins. That is what is so good about Paul; he is a writer in the Bible that all of us can relate to. He sins and wishes he did not; he also knows why he sins. It is the fact that he is a man and it is his nature to sin. At least he is not trying to cover up the fact that he is not perfect. Many Christians try to do this, to their own detriment.
Bevere says that the unbeliever is the one who is truly ruled by selfishness. They are enslaved by the appetites of their flesh. They have no Holy Spirit to lead them away from sin any time. They have no ability to live a good life before God. If unbelievers have very strong willpower, they can put on a façade and appear unselfish but make no mistake, they know selfishness intimately: it is the theme of their life.
As Christians, we have something that is helpful due to our relationship with God. We have Jesus Christ. Paul also writes “Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from Him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the spirit renew your thought and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy” [Ephesians 4: 42-24]. We have a chance to overcome our selfish nature from time to time. As Paul admits, we cannot expect to conquer it all the time, but we have a chance to adopt this new inward nature. We can be a new creation in Christ.
We don’t have to submit to our selfish desires 24/7.
We can go a new route.
We have a freedom which comes from Jesus Christ, a freedom to choose.
We can listen to that Holy Spirit, do what it is urging us to do and live a better life.
Indeed, the choice is ours…