We now continue to another discussion which will be quite revealing in the least and will undermine much of what is believed about sin and also it will expose to all the world that even so-called religious people, nay even Christians themselves, are nothing more than selfish sinners who need desperately to repent. There are so many examples that one can find. One perfect example that comes to mind is the song of Larry Norman, “Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music?” This type of selfish thinking where people who call themselves Christians have now assumed the position that because their selfish desires want a satanic form of music, they can have it, as long as there are some pseudo-Christian words attached, has captivated our society and even our churches. As we go through this section and the chapters to follow, we will find much that requires us to break up the fallow ground of our thinking and realize that what we have been calling Christian is nothing more than selfishness with a cloak of religion. The end result will still be the same for all that fall by the Devil’s lie. They will burn in hell to give honor and glory to God’s justice and holiness. As the Bible says so well, (1 Peter 4:18) “And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?” When you see just how deceptive selfish sin is and the fact that even professing Christians will find themselves locked out in the night when the Bride Groom comes, can you imagine where those who have never considered the claims of God or looked at their own depraved selfish souls will be? The same God that will punish false professing sinners in hell will also get glory and praise by casting all unbelievers into hell for their selfish direction of life, even if they think that they can reason themselves out of what the truth really is. Remember, in the spirit the conscience tells us all that we are sinners. Our intuition tells us that God has spoken and our communion can only be to God with the words, “God be merciful to me a sinner…” if we have any hope of escaping the doom to come. How we pride ourselves that we are so good and that our motives are pure, that our lives are lived in holiness when the reality is that even the best of sinners is and lives for only one ultimate goal, self. Here are some of the things that we will consider:
- 1. Going back to some previous points that we consider to be settled.
- 2. Showing what disobedience to moral law is not.
- 3. Showing what disobedience to moral law is.
Previous points that we consider to be settled:
- The sum of the requirements of moral law is love or benevolence.
- Moral law consists in the impartial choice of the good of being, the best end for its own sake.
- Obedience to moral law is disinterested benevolence so that being consecrated to the highest good of being is comprehensive of the whole of virtue.
- The feelings we have and our outward actions are not virtue or vice, but are the ultimate results of overall intention.
- All choices terminate on some object which is always either the end or the means to an end.
- Any choice of a means to an end is really only carrying out the ultimate end chosen.
- The mind always has an end in view or the means cannot be used, thus the choice of an end comes first.
- The definition of moral character applies to only ultimate intention, the choice of an end.
- Virtue, obedience to moral law, consists in making choices as prompted by the spirit through the intellect so that the feelings, desires and impulses of the sensibility have no influence.
- The end is chosen for its own sake only; it is not a means to another end.
- The mind of the will always has the end in view so that when the choice is made there was a clear end or means in view.
- The very nature of the end creates the reason for choosing the end because it has intrinsic value which causes the reason for the choice.
Showing what disobedience to moral law is not:
- It is not malevolence, choosing evil or misery as the ultimate end. Consider the following:
- Since a person only chooses an end because it is intrinsically valuable he would not choose misery as an ultimate end because misery is not intrinsically valuable. Thus they would not choose misery as an ultimate end or for its own account. There would always be another end in view that caused the choice to be made.
- For someone to choose misery as the ultimate end they would be required to choose universal misery for all beings in the universe. They would be choosing every degree of misery according to its relative amount. This no moral agent would do.
- Again, choosing universal misery for all implies the choice of any means to promote this end; that includes every means with no limit.
- Don’t forget that the end chosen is identical with the reason it is chosen so without the reason there cannot be a choice. Misery could be chosen to promote one’s own sovereignty. That means that self-gratification and not misery is the ultimate end. If misery were the ultimate end, then there would be no self-gratification involved or sovereignty. As you can see, no moral agent would choose misery if there were not something in it for self.
- Ends are always chosen for some reason; they are not chosen for no reason.
- If we accept that misery were chosen as an end they we would be saying that misery is preferred over happiness for its own sake which would be absurd. The truth is that the very nature of choice is for the sake of happiness so misery would never be the end in view.
- Now it is possible to will misery as a means to an end, but the end would be either benevolence or selfishness.
- The constitution of all moral agents makes it impossible to will misery as an end a possibility since all moral agents are constituted to want happiness from the choice of the end. Thus disobedience to moral law is not malevolence.
- Disobedience to moral law has nothing to do with the constitution of the soul or body, we are what we were when we were born.
- Disobedience is not some state that we are in which takes over us and is unavoidable in either sensibility or intelligence so that we do what we do involuntarily. This would mean that the will is not involved which would not be moral.
- Disobedience is not outward actions with no thought to the reason that they were done since all actions are controlled by the will so they are not moral in themselves.
- Disobedience is not inaction. Inaction would be no choice. It is not possible to be a moral agent and not make choices. That means that moral agents choose in harmony with or in opposition to the law of God. The very fact that all moral agents have a free will means that there is always a choice for them one way or the other. Since all moral agents do choose, if they do not choose according to moral law, they can never make the case that they are not choosing at all. To not choose for God is to choose for another reason.
- Disobedience is not moral evil, or sin as the ultimate end. Sin is only an element or attribute. The real choice of an ultimate end is never choosing a choice or intending an intention. It is always something else. Sin would never be the ultimate reason for the choice, it is against our nature. The real end is the gratification of some selfish malicious feeling that causes the choice and thus the sin is committed to fulfill that ultimate selfish feeling.
- Disobedience to moral law is not self-love. We all have the desire for happiness which is merely a constitutional desire; it is involuntary, everyone has it. Happiness is no more sinful than a desire for food and the only requirement of moral law for either one is to use the proper motive and means for seeking either.
Show what disobedience to moral law is.
- It must be choice or ultimate intention since moral character is only that.
- Since all choice is based upon an end or a means after the end is chosen, then disobedience to moral law is choice of an end that is not consistent with the demands of moral law, or not consistent with benevolence.
- Misery or natural evil are not ever chosen as the end as we have seen.
- We have also seen that moral evil, sin, is not chosen as the ultimate end.
- The fact is that disobedience to God’s law must be the choice of self-gratification or indulging in self love as the supreme and ultimate end of life. This is selfishness. Selfishness is seeking to gratify a desire for personal good in a manner prohibited by the Law of God. Disobedience is choosing self-gratification as the end instead of choosing the highest well-being of God and of the universe as the ultimate end. Sin or disobedience to moral law is consecrating the heart and life to gratifying artificial desires rather than obeying the mind of the spirit. It means allowing emotions and impulses to rule rather than the law of God, the law of love revealed in a man’s spirit. To further explain that this is sin consider the following:
- This state of mind is called the “carnal mind” or “minding the flesh” as Paul the Apostle says in the books that he has written in the New Testament. He calls it “enmity against God.”
- The universal representation of the Bible is that sin is synonymous with self-seeking.
- The Bible always considers self-seeking as the opposite of benevolence which the law of love requires. “Ephraim bringeth forth fruit to himself…” is what God says about sinners.
- The Bible considers selfishness as reprobation.
- Every moral agent knows deep inside that selfishness is sinful, even children.
- Selfishness is the end that all unregenerate men and women pursue and it is the only end that they pursue.
- As we discuss the attributes of selfishness we will see that every form of sin ultimately has selfishness as the end in view in a similar way that every form of virtue has love or benevolence as the ultimate end.
- Because of the way that the mind is made, the choice will be something that the mind considers of intrinsic value.
- The mind regards happiness as good in itself or intrinsically valuable.
This means that moral agents choose according to the good of being either the intrinsic value of self or of the general value of God and the universe. There is nothing impartial about such choices. Selfishness wills the good of self in opposition to good to God and the universe. Self has intrinsic value only to a selfish person. One cannot “will” part of good as an end. One cannot love some of their neighbors and hate others. One cannot obey God with part of their heart or will the best end for God and the universe and then do that which makes one an enemy of God at the same time. When a person chooses only partial good they do it because of selfish reasons. When the choice of anything is conditioned upon how it will relate to self, it is a selfish choice, even if good is resulting from the choice. I fear that too many of even so-called Christians have a selfish motive for all that they do which is supposedly the “will of God.” As we move through the various attributes of disobedience to moral law we will see that on the surface disobedience is far different than what many have assumed. You see, when you choose good partially and not merely for its own sake, but rather on condition of the relation to self or to other particular persons, you make the benevolence that of “interest” which means that there was an ulterior motive for the good. When a person does good for this type of reason, it is considered in moral law to be a partial choice of good because it is tied to selfish considerations. That makes it “interested benevolence,” or love with a selfish motive. This is not love but disobedience to moral law. Even if self is not directly related so that I choose the good of others not for the intrinsic value of the good, it is for one of three reasons:
- First, it would because of a “fondness” that one has for that person or group and because of that fondness they will good to them, not for the intrinsic value of the good but rather because it gratifies the affection that one has for that person or group, then the love is selfishness or disobedience, or–
- Second, because of their relations to me so that the good done to them is in some way almost the same as good done to me, this is also selfishness or disobedience, or-
- Third, it could be because I feel that they are worthy. If that were the case it would be benevolence because I value the good for its own sake and I will that good to the person because he deserves good. This would be the true benevolence and not a partial choice. However, if I will their good as a means to another end, it would indicate that it was a means for my own gratification. When we do good because of an impulse of sensibility we are doing the good to satisfy feelings or desires. That is selfishness. Either we follow the law of God or the law of our sensibilities and impulses. We are either selfish or benevolent. There is no third status, a moral agent must either be selfish or benevolent. There is no other choice to the mind. These are the only two alternatives.
So the conclusion is that disobedience to moral law is essentially selfishness and selfishness alone. Some think that you can will the good of some but not will universal good. That is absurd. One cannot be a missionary and love those on the foreign field and at the same time fail to see good in their own children or will the same good to them that they do those on the foreign field. It is also true that they cannot care for the souls of the foreign field and then shun doing anything for the man across the street. This is absurd; it is not moral; it is selfish. True benevolence would be to love the foreigner just as much as the ones at home or ones own family. Godly love includes all not just a part. The truth is that this missionary is choosing what they do not for its own intrinsic value but to gratify some selfish desire, perhaps a childhood fantasy of being the next David Livingston. An infidel cannot wish good to the starving of the world because of the intrinsic value of the good that it would do for them and at the same time scoff at the name of God or of Christians. The good to the starving is only for some fondness or other selfish motive so that they have only partial benevolence which, as we have seen, is really selfishness in the end. In conclusion, we must remember that sin is a unit and always consists in selfish ultimate intention and in nothing else. Selfish intention is sin and we will see that every phase of sin resolves itself into selfishness which we will see more and more as we unfold the subject of moral depravity.
What constitutes disobedience to moral law?
As we have said previously, moral law is a unit, it is selfishness or self-gratification as an end. It means that the will is committed to the impulses of the soul, sensibility, desires, emotions, feelings, passions and the like so that instead of committing the will to the best end the good of being in general and the glory of God as revealed in the spirit of man through the conscience and the intuition of the spirit, instead the will commits itself to the gratification of self as an end. This is totally against all that the conscience screams to every living being. It is preference of self-interests to other and higher interests. One could easily say that Sadam Hussein only preferred self interests when he massacred thousands of people in Iraq before the U.S. won the gulf war and helped set up another government.
What is not implied in disobedience to the law of God?
- Disobedience to the law of God does not imply an intention to do wrong. It only means that a person will do whatever it takes with no thought to the glory of God or for the good of being of anyone outside himself so that he may satisfy a selfish desire. Who cares what God or society thinks? I want my rights, as it were! A selfish person cares not so much about doing wrong as he does gratifying a desire, be it a malicious one, even if it means commission of some sin in order to satisfy that desire. When this state of mind or feeling takes over the will, the person may even deliberately intend to violate the law of God and even do what God hates. It will not matter to him as long as he can gratify the feeling that has the will under control. (Romans 7:15-17) “For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.” The sad thing is that sin is not desiring evil, necessarily, or malevolence as an end, but the whole self-gratification mindset is what causes the sin to take place. So many times, even in current day news events, the person who committed the crime had no intention of doing so as their aim or intention. They did, however in every case, intend to gratify some selfish desire without fail. It was not the intention to do wrong that caused the crime, but the selfish desire for self gratification that was the underlying motive. So many court cases or even daily situations occur where the person does not intend to do wrong in what they did and so they feel that they have done no wrong. They were only trying to satisfy a selfish desire. Society is fraught with influence aimed at getting people to satisfy their selfish desires. Unfortunately those desires result in sin all the time, whether gross crimes or more subtle private sins. The truth is that the sin that the Bible talks about is really the ultimate intention, which is selfishness. You may say, “I did not intend to do wrong,” but you are just as guilty because you intended to gratify self.
- Disobedience to moral law doesn’t even mean that the very disobedience that we speak of was intended for its own sake. The person is not thinking whether they are disobeying or not disobeying. They are only thinking of a selfish interest of some kind. So many times preachers and Christians picture sinners as loving sin and choosing it for its own sake, but that is really a misrepresentation. They are pictured as having a natural craving and appetite for sin like a meat eating animal has for flesh. It is supposed to be constitutional and impossible to fight or change. Even if this were the case, it would not prove that sin is sought for its own sake. All actions that result from choices have a motive attached and where these sinful activities take place it is not that sin is desired for its own sake but because the person seeks self-gratification. A case in point is a baby which so many Christians say is born in sin. If what they are saying were true, it would mean that a baby is thinking of sinning when it cries and pouts and generally acts like a bad baby. This is preposterous. That baby has no idea of what sin is so sin could not be the reason that the baby is being bad. No, it is because the baby is trying to get selfish desires satisfied that the baby is bad. It is seeking self-gratification. It is only craving what all human beings crave, an appetite for things around them: food, drink, knowledge, happiness. Eve in the garden was hungry and craved fruit. She did not intend to sin when she took of the fruit, she intended to eat and attain knowledge as part of the eating. There was no thought, “I think I will sin and have God kill me today.” No, it was a desire for food and knowledge, a selfish desire. What made it a sin was when the desire caused them to decide that self-gratification was more important than the good that would come if they obeyed God and honored his simple request not to eat of the fruit. They made a choice which changed the course of history. Every sinner makes the same choices, not a craving for sin, but a craving for that which satisfies selfish appetites and desires. The thing that made the act a sin was when they knowingly went against what God had said under the fever of the appetite so that the desire to gratify self overtook the desire to glorify God. The thing that made their act immoral was forsaking God for self. After all, what is so bad about eating a piece of fruit? It is not murder or adultery or other heinous sins. The problem is that when self rules, all the heinous sins in the world will be accepted without any thought as long as the appetite is fulfilled. That is why it is so hurtful to legislate God out of society and away from our courtrooms or from the pledge of allegiance as some are trying to do. The prevailing thought is that if a person does not choose God it is their right. Yes, but at the same time, removing the very thing that makes choices benevolent rather than selfish could completely destroy a society, that thing is the fact that there is a loving God who wants the best end for all mankind and to eliminate all discussion of that fact only opens up the door for the dark side of the desires of the appetites, the emotions, and desires of self-gratification. No society can be a moral society without reminders that there is a law-giver that, though loving and kind, is also a God of justice who will punish any who break his laws. This is what makes society civil. Without God there is no more civility in society and we don’t want to see what it would be like in that state. When the Bible says that we were shaped in iniquity and in sin did our mothers conceive us, it does not mean that we come to life craving to murder, commit adultery, and all other types of malevolent sins. It means that we are self-seeking without God in our lives. We will discuss this more when speaking of moral depravity. Now here is what we are saying. All men have constitutional desires, appetites, and passions. Those are not sinful in themselves. The sin comes when these appetites and desires are chosen as an end toward self-gratification with no regard to God or the intrinsic value of the good end of others.
- Disobedience to moral law does not say that the wrong or sinful intention is thought of at the time selfish desires were formed. A person’s conscience tells him that willing selfishness is wrong, but he does not care. It is not that he is thinking constantly that he wants to be a sinner, only that he wants to fulfill a selfish desire. Even when people murder another, it is not the murder that is the ultimate end intended but the self gratification that they get. That is why so many murderers take pictures or videos of their crimes, or keep certain mementos so that they can still go back and get the self gratification that still remains in their memories from the commission of the crime. They know that murder is wrong but the high that they get for self-gratification overcomes the conscience that tells them that they are wrong. Essentially they choose self over glorification of God and the best end of all, even the victim. These statements are first truths which all will accept as facts with no debate. No one in the universe can argue that happiness for all is the best end, even for God. This is because of the intrinsic value. It is when we put self-happiness over that of others and God that sin is formed. There are so many things that can come into the mind of a person about to commit a sin. However, when it comes down to the actual act, the underlying motive is far simpler than all the reasoning’s of the mind that one might consider. Just because a sinner does not reflect on the moral character of his intentions does not justify his selfish activities. As sinners progress in life, the conscience becomes harder and harder so that there is never a thought about God or what his actions will mean to a God of love and justice. Nevertheless the sin is still real and the sinner is still guilty before God. No one needs to be taught what the conscience tells every man. This is a first truth and all moral agents know that they are wrong to live completely for self with no regard to God or others.
- Disobedience to moral law does not necessarily mean that one lives an outwardly immoral life. A sinner can actually conform to every precept in the Bible from selfish motives or with a selfish intention. He will do this to gratify himself. He wants to create a good reputation here and hopes for salvation in eternity. This is sin, maybe not outward immorality that all can see, but certainly no one would argue the fact that this is a show of morality. Yet, the heart is still selfish after all.
- Disobedience to moral law is not feelings of enmity to God or man. Though a person may be self-indulgent, they may not know that God hates this sin and thus have no feelings of hatred to God at all. If he ever did have a revelation of God’s abhorrence of him for his sin and that God planned to punish him or even dispose of him, he would most likely have malicious and even revengeful feelings against God. Sin does not mean this revengeful feeling, nor does it necessarily imply the same.
- Sin, disobedience to moral law, does not imply a sinful nature such that there is a constitution that is sinful and prevents one from choosing to obey God and repent of his or her sins. Adam and even were innocent and without sin, yet they sinned. Angels in heaven sinned and were cast out of heaven for their sin. Neither had a sinful nature, yet they chose to sin. Both angels and Adam and Eve sinned when they yielded to temptation. In both cases they preferred their own gratification to obedience to God. They chose to make self gratification the end. This was the sin that they committed. It was not in their constitution. They had no tendency to sin. They, when strongly excited and tempted, yielded to unlawful indulgence. So many have been taught that sin comes from a sinful nature but it is contrary to fact and to the teaching of the Bible as we will see in another place. Too many people, even Christians, live lives of sin under the excuse that they have a sinful nature and just cannot help but sin. That must mean that Adam and Eve had a sinful nature and that they could not help but sin. True the Bible says in Romans 5:8 that “death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” It does not say that sin passed upon all men but that death did. The reason it gives is that all have sinned. Each person is guilty for their own sin and cannot blame Adam and Eve for the choices that they make in their daily lives. If sin were part of the constitution so that one could not help but sin then sin would not be a choice, it would be a part of the constitution of the sinner and he would not be guilty of any choice to commit sin. If that were the case then God would be unjust for condemning a person to hell for something that they had no ability to avoid, that is to sin. It is almost as if God would condemn man because he has no ability to fly like a bird and yet he has no wings to fly with. Sin happens when a person is drawn aside through lusts, appetites, passions, and desires and under the inducement of the soul’s emotions and desires the will chooses that which will bring self-gratification. The appetites are not sinful, the choice to be selfish is. Man’s nature is not sinful but his love of self gratification is. Saying that the constitution is sinful is contradicting God’s definition of sin and destroying the whole concept of morality and Christianity. We will discuss this at a future place in our discussions of moral law.