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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Selfishness Part II

I felt compelled to continue on this topical Bible study about Selfishness.

Have you ever heard of the Seven Deadly Sins? According to Wikipedia: The Seven Deadly Sins, also known as the Capital Vices or Cardinal Sins, is a classification of the most objectionable vices that has been used since early Christian times to educate and instruct followers concerning (immoral) fallen humanity's tendency to sin. The final version of the list consists of wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony. The Catholic Church divided sin into two principal categories: "venial sins", which are relatively minor and could be forgiven through any sacramentals or sacraments of the church, and the more severe "capital" or mortal sins. Mortal sins are believed to destroy the life of grace and create the threat of eternal damnation unless either absolved through the sacrament of Penance or forgiven through perfect contrition on the part of the penitent.

I want to take a slight detour here: I'm not Catholic. I think some sins are worse than others but there are NO sins that Jesus cannot save us from. To say that there are sins that cannot be forgiven puts a limit on Jesus work on the cross. Sin is sin and all sin makes us unrighteous, unclean, unholy and unable to be anywhere near our Holy Father in Heaven.. whether it is a hurtful word or a serial killer... we all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. It's why we need a Savior. We are unable to save ourselves. But thanks be to God who loved us enough to send His Son to save us from our sins and pay the price for our sins so we could take on His righteousness and be acceptable to our Holy Father. Adam and Eve were sinless. God created them that way. And because they were sinless and perfect in His eyes, they were immortal (not God, not gods, but perfect creations that were meant to live forever with God). But they sinned out of their pride and selfishness. They wanted to be God and thought they could be God. This brought sin into the world and robbed God of the perfect creatures He had created. All mankind inherits that sinful human nature and from the earliest age, we show our selfishness and pride. Being sinners, we cannot pay God back for the perfection He had created. We are unable to. It would take a perfect man to do that and there is no such thing. Men are incapable of perfection. So God sent His Son, Jesus, Son of God and Son of Man, who was the perfect man and He remained a perfect and sinless human because He was also God, man-God. This God-man then made a sacrifice of himself so that our sins could be paid for and we could be considered righteous and perfect again.

Romans 5:12 Adam sinned, and that sin brought death into the world. Now everyone has sinned, and so everyone must die.

Romans 5:15-19 But the gift that God was kind enough to give was very different from Adam's sin.
That one sin brought death to many others.
Yet in an even greater way, Jesus Christ alone brought God's gift of kindness to many people.
There is a lot of difference between Adam's sin and God's gift.
That one sin led to punishment.
But God's gift made it possible for us to be acceptable to him, even though we have sinned many times.
Death ruled like a king because Adam had sinned.
But that cannot compare with what Jesus Christ has done.
God has been so kind to us, and he has accepted us because of Jesus. And so we will live and rule like kings.
Everyone was going to be punished because Adam sinned.
But because of the good thing that Christ has done, God accepts us and gives us the gift of life.
Adam disobeyed God and caused many others to be sinners.
But Jesus obeyed him and will make many people acceptable to God.

Romans 6: 4 -8 (Amplified version) We were buried therefore with Him by the baptism into death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious [power] of the Father, so we too might [habitually] live and behave in newness of life.
For if we have become one with Him by sharing a death like His, we shall also be one with Him in sharing His resurrection [by a new life lived for God].
We know that our old [unrenewed] self was nailed to the cross with Him in order that [our] body [which is the instrument] of sin might be made ineffective and inactive for evil, that we might no longer be slaves of sin.
For when a man dies, he is freed from [the power of] sin [among men].
Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him.

Colossians 1: 20 And God purposed that through Him [the Son] all things should be completely reconciled back to Himself, whether on earth or in heaven, as through Him, [the Father] made peace by means of the blood of His cross.

Colossians 2: 14 Having cancelled and blotted out and wiped away the handwriting of the note with its legal decrees and demands which was in force and stood against us (hostile to us).
This [note with its regulations, decrees, and demands] He set aside and cleared completely out of our way by nailing it to [His] cross

1 John 1: 8-9 If we say we have no sin [refusing to admit that we are sinners], we delude and lead ourselves astray, and the Truth [which the Gospel presents] is not in us [does not dwell in our hearts].
If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins. He is faithful and just and will forvie us of our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Now back to our subject of selfishness. Why did I bring up the subject of the Seven Deadly Sins? So that you could see how they relate to selfishness. Let's look at each one.

* Gluttony - over-indulgence, over-consumption, drunkenness, overeating, addiction, inordinate desire to consume, satiating a physical appetite to the exclusion of all else. You do it even if it's bad for you; is killing you; is hurting others; is using all your resources to acquire... you must and will have it! We are not to let our appetites control us, but we are to control our appetites so that nothing enslaves us and becomes more important to us than God

Proverbs 23:20-21 Don't be a heavy drinker or stuff yourself with food.
It will make you feel drowsy, and you will end up poor with only rags to wear.

Phillipians 3:18-20 I often warned you that many people are living as enemies of the cross of Christ.
And now with tears in my eyes, I warn you again that they are headed for hell!
They worship their stomachs and brag about the disgusting things they do.
All they can think about are the things of this world.
But we are citizens of heaven and are eagerly waiting for our Savior to come from there.

Deuteronomy 21:18-21 A father and a mother may have a stubborn and rebellious son who refuses to obey them even after he has been punished.
If a son is like that, his parents must drag him to the town gate, where the leaders of the town hold their meetings.
The parents will tell the leaders, "This son of ours is stubborn and never obeys. He spends all his time drinking and partying."
The men of the town will stone that son to death, because they must get rid of the evil he brought into the community.
Everyone in Israel will be afraid when they hear how he was punished.

Romans 13:13 So behave properly, as people do in the day. Don't go to wild parties or get drunk or be vulgar or indecent. Don't quarrel or be jealous.

Mark 7:18-23 [Jesus] answered, "Don't you know what I am talking about by now?
You surely know that the food you put into your mouth cannot make you unclean.
It doesn't go into your heart, but into your stomach, and then out of your body."
By saying this, Jesus meant that all foods were fit to eat.
Then Jesus said: "What comes from your heart is what makes you unclean.
Out of your heart come evil thoughts, vulgar deeds, stealing, murder, unfaithfulness in marriage, greed, meanness, deceit, indecency, envy, insults, pride, and foolishness.
All of these come from your heart, and they are what make you unfit to worship God."

Luke 21:34-35a "Make sure that you don't become drunk, hung over, and worried about life. Then that day [when I come back] could suddenly catch you by surprise like a trap that catches a bird."

* Anger - Anger is an emotion. It can take control over us and cause us to have adrenaline rushes (fight or flight response to a perceived threat), high blood pressure, higher heart rate and can result in actions and behaviors that is meant to stop the perceived threat and give you back control. Whether it is a real threat or not and whether we consciously or subconsciously react and act accordingly. You consciously or subconsciously perceive a loss of control in something important to you. We feel threatened or frustrated over things not going our way and we feel angry and may react out of that anger. Sometimes we aren't even sure what is causing our anger, we just feel it and give way to it. Depending on how we've learned to manage anger in our past, we can reason it out in our minds and get over it; or, we can yell at our spouse in misdirected anger; or, we can slam our fist through a wall; or, we can take a gun and shoot someone. Anger can be very destructive to you and those around you, if not handled constructively. Did you know that the Bible was the first book to teach Anger Management? Let's see what the Bible says about anger.

Proverbs 14:29 A person of great understanding is patient, but a short temper is the height of stupidity.

Ephesians 4:25-27 We are part of the same body.
Stop lying and start telling each other the truth.
Don't get so angry that you sin.
Don't go to bed angry and don't give the devil a chance.

Ephesians 4:31-32 Stop being bitter and angry and mad at others.
Don't yell at one another or curse each other or ever be rude.
Instead, be kind and merciful, and forgive others, just as God forgave you because of Christ.

Colossiansl 3:8 But now you must stop doing such things.
You must quit being angry, hateful, and evil.
You must no longer say insulting or cruel things about others.

James 1:19-20 My dear friends, you should be quick to listen and slow to speak or to get angry.
If you are angry, you cannot do any of the good things that God wants done.

* Greed - (aka avarice) is much like gluttony, except it is not about physical appetites but, rather, material desires. It is an inordinate desire to possess more than one needs. It is a voracious, ravenous, covetous desire for some material thing. You want it all and become willing to do anything to acquire it. It may not even be wealth. Maybe you are a hoarder of "things". You are compelled and must keep all those plastic whizzes, or animals, or food, or beanie babies, or whatever! Even as they rot around you, you must keep them. We have seen the hoarding TV show and it keeps coming to me about how this is really a type of greed and sloth. Maybe they can't control themselves, and that would be a mental illness. Either way, it's a spiritual problem that results in thoughts and actions that become uncontrollable. Some hoard money, some hoard animals, some hoard classic cars, some hoard "investments", some hoard trash, some hoard food as though they will run out of food and starve. When you are willing to sacrifice anything to acquire and hoard, it's greed. On that TV show, some are about to lose their children because of their hoarding, or lose their homes, or lose their relatives, friends, etc. But their hoards of stuff mean more to them than anything else. Some are willing to step on the backs of others in order to get rich. Some are willing to do illegal things to get money and wealth and power. This is greed and avarice. Whatever it is that you slaver after (is a god to you), you become enslaved to it. What does the Bible have to say about greed?

Proverbs 1:19 So are the ways of everyone who gets unjust gain; it takes away its owner's soul.

Proverbs 15:27 Whoever is greedy for unjust gain brings trouble to his family, but whoever hates bribes will live.

Ecclesiastes 4:8 For example, some people don't have friends or family. But they are never satisfied with what they own, and they never stop working to get more.
They should ask themselves, "Why am I always working to have more? Who will get what I leave behind?"
What a senseless and miserable life!

Matthew 6:19-21, 24-34 Don't store up treasures on earth! Moths and rust can destroy them, and thieves can break in and steal them.
Instead, store up your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy them, and thieves cannot break in and steal them.
Your heart will always be where your treasure is.

You cannot be the slave of two masters! You will like one more than the other or be more loyal to one than the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
I tell you not to worry about your life. Don't worry about having something to eat, drink, or wear. Isn't life more than food or clothing?
Look at the birds in the sky! They don't plant or harvest. They don't even store grain in barns. Yet your Father in heaven takes care of them. Aren't you worth more than birds?
Can worry make you live longer?
Why worry about clothes? Look how the wild flowers grow. They don't work hard to make their clothes.
But I tell you that Solomon with all his wealth wasn't as well clothed as one of them.
God gives such beauty to everything that grows in the fields, even though it is here today and thrown into a fire tomorrow. He will surely do even more for you!
Why do you have such little faith?
Don't worry and ask yourselves, "Will we have anything to eat? Will we have anything to drink? Will we have any clothes to wear?"
Only people who don't know God are always worrying about such things.
Your Father in heaven knows that you need all of these.
But more than anything else, put God's work first and do what he wants.
Then the other things will be yours as well.
Don't worry about tomorrow. It will take care of itself.
You have enough to worry about today.

Luke 12:15 Then [Jesus] said to the crowd, "Don't be greedy! Owning a lot of things won't make your life safe."

Luke 12:32-34 My little group of disciples, don't be afraid!
Your Father wants to give you the kingdom.
Sell what you have and give the money to the poor.

Make yourselves moneybags that never wear out.
Make sure your treasure is safe in heaven, where thieves cannot steal it and moths cannot destroy it.
Your heart will always be where your treasure is.

Ephesians 5:3 You are God's people, so don't let it be said that any of you are immoral or indecent or greedy.

1 Timothy 6:4-10, 17,18 Those people who disagree are proud of themselves, but they don't really know a thing. Their minds are sick, and they like to argue over words.
They cause jealousy, disagreements, unkind words, evil suspicions, and nasty quarrels. They have wicked minds and have missed out on the truth. These people think religion is supposed to make you rich.
And religion does make your life rich, by making you content with what you have.
We didn't bring anything into this world, and we won't take anything with us when we leave.
So we should be satisfied just to have food and clothes.
People who want to be rich fall into all sorts of temptations and traps.
They are caught by foolish and harmful desires that drag them down and destroy them.
The love of money causes all kinds of trouble.
Some people want money so much that they have given up their faith and caused themselves a lot of pain.
Warn the rich people of this world not to be proud or to trust in wealth that is easily lost.
Tell them to have faith in God, who is rich and blesses us with everything we need to enjoy life.
Instruct them to do as many good deeds as they can and to help everyone.
Remind the rich to be generous and share what they have.

Hebrews 13:5 Don't fall in love with money. Be satisfied with what you have. The Lord has promised that he will not leave us or desert us.

1 John 2:15 Don't love the world or anything that belongs to the world. If you love the world, you cannot love the Father.

* Sloth - spiritual or emotional apathy; physically and emotionally inactive; wasting God-given talents, energy, money, time, etc. Sloth is the desire for ease, even at the expense of not doing the known will of God. Neglecting God's will because it will take effort. Insolent, lazy, good for nothing. He/She may be quick to do things that are fun and benefit themselves, but they become slow, lazy and procrastinate when it means doing God's will or doing something good for others. An undisciplined person who does only what they want to do. They want to avoid responsibility and don't like others depending on them. They would much rather others serve them. Slothfulness becomes a habit and then a character trait. Have you seen men lie around all day while their wives/girlfriends/mothers take care of everything from the house to the children to making the income? Have you seen teenagers sitting around doing nothing while the parents work, clean the home, pay for their bills and take care of their personal needs? Have you seen a woman marry a rich man so that she can be a parasite (I'm thinking of the movie Intolerable Cruelty with George Clooney and Catherine Zeta Jones)? Have you seen people on jobs that are lazy and scheme to do the least amount of work they can get by with? Have you been served at a fast food store by people who are lazy and insolent? Have you ever been slothful? Let's see what the Bible says about sloth.

Proverbs 6:6-11 Go to the ant, lazy man; consider her ways and be wise; who, having no guide, overseer or ruler, provides her bread in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest.
How long will you lie down, O lazy man? When will you arise out of your sleep?
A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to lie down; so shall your poverty come as one walking, and your need like an armed man.

Proverbs 19:15 If you are lazy and sleep your time away, you will starve.

Proverbs 24:30-34 I once walked by the field and the vineyard of a lazy fool.
Thorns and weeds were everywhere, and the stone wall had fallen down.
When I saw this, it taught me a lesson:
Sleep a little. Doze a little. Fold your hands and twiddle your thumbs.
Suddenly poverty hits you and everything is gone!

Israel 56:10 You leaders of Israel should be watchdogs, protecting my people. But you can't see a thing, and you never warn them. Dozing and daydreaming are all you ever do.

2 Thessalonians 3:7-12 You surely know that you should follow our example. (Apostle Paul had started the Thessalonian church and pastored it for a time.)
We didn't waste our time loafing, and we didn't accept food from anyone without paying for it.
We didn't want to be a burden to any of you, so night and day we worked as hard as we could.
We had the right not to work (because they were doing the job of pastoring), but we wanted to set an example for you.
We also gave you the rule that if you don't work, you don't eat.
Now we learn that some of you just loaf around and won't do any work, except the work of a busybody.
So, for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ, we ask and beg these people to settle down and start working for a living.

1 Timothy 5:13 And with it all [young widows] also learn to be idle, going around the houses; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things they ought not.

Romans 12:11 Be not slow in your work, but be quick in spirit, as the Lord's servants;

Ephesians 4:28 Let him who was a thief be so no longer, but let him do good work with his hands, so that he may have something to give to him who is in need.

1 Thessalonians 4:10-12 And, truly, you are lovers of all the brothers in Macedonia; but it is our desire that your love may be increased still more;
And that you may take pride in being quiet and doing your business, working with your hands as we gave you orders;
That you may be respected by those who are outside, and may have need of nothing.

1 Timothy 5:8 People who don't take care of their relatives, and especially their own families, have given up their faith. They are worse than someone who doesn't have faith in the Lord

* Envy - can come from low self-esteem. It is the desire to have what someone else has. The envious person sees the other person as being somehow superior by what they have and this makes the envious person feel inferior. Maybe it's riches and wealth. Maybe it's a more beautiful/handsome, sexier spouse. Maybe it's a fancier car or a bigger home. Maybe they have a higher position on the job. Maybe it's the power they have over others. Whatever it is, the envious person covets and desires what someone else has. It's much like seeing the grass as greener on the other side, in someone else's pasture. We may be living in a lush, green pasture ourselves but we have noticed something on the other side, in the next pasture, that makes us disregard what we have and become focused on acquiring what's in the other pasture. We become unhappy, discontented, complaining. We become driven by a goal to get IT, whatever IT is.

Envy is a feeling of discontent or covetousness with regard to another's advantages, success, possessions. An envious person is jealous, resents what others have, begrudges them their good fortune. Instead of being happy for someone, we become angry that we don't have it. We may envy a person's good looks. Has anyone seen the men/women who have gone through extensive cosmetic surgery in order to look like someone else whom they think is "perfect". You know, the Barbie syndrome, plastic surgery "addiction"? Jenny Lee? Michael Jackson? Priscilla Presley?

Oct 12 2009 by Mike Lockley, Sunday Mercury
FAYE Bray, the Barbie look-a-like who put the sex factor into X Factor, has revealed she is getting a new bum.
There’s nothing much wrong with the old one. It just doesn’t go with her new boobs, bought by millionaire husband Richard as a Valentine’s Day present.
“I’ve got a 16-year-old’s bust and a 28-year-old’s backside, so it’s got to go,” giggled the singer, who was within touching distance of the big time before being booted off the show...

They want the youth that others have, the beauty, the big boobs, the slimmer thighs. And don't think it's just women! There are a lot of men out there having cosmetic surgery too. Plastic surgery to give them square jaws, more prominent chins, fake abs, finer butts. Men and women spending inordinate amounts of money to whiten and straighten their teeth, have their noses fixed, fake this and fake that. It may be envy that is driving the rampant cosmetic fixes. How much do you spend on hairdos, hair dyes, makeup, skin care, tanning beds, fad diets, workout equipment and routines and gyms? Has it gotten out of hand? And I don't mean just money wise, but are you spending too much time, energy on perfecting yourself? Why? Are you envious? Do you see things on TV, the movies, in advertisements that make you envious? Do you think you will be happier? Then it boils down to the same old "greener grass". In fact, the business of "marketing" is to appeal to your envy and make you desire what they are selling. Marketing can be as blatant as an advertising road sign with a beautiful woman smiling at you as she shows you a can of cold beer. Or it may be as subtle as the music they play in a department store specifically designed to mellow you into the mood to buy something. Don't underestimate marketing ploys to stimulate envy.

Many times what you envy is unattainable (at least not as quick as you want it) so you try to ruin their blessing. Maybe you envy their peace and good mood so you try to start an argument so they will be as miserable as you. Some will deliberately sew seeds of doubt against a spouse because they can't stand you having a successful, good marriage. Or, maybe it's envy about what they own so you mock and ridicule them to hurt them, "Look at you in that big SUV, you think you're something don't you? I hate people like you." Or, "Oh, you poor perfect person, it must be lonely where you live in that perfect world." (All with little titters that barely cover your envy.) Some people will take their envy into malice such as keying a car, egging a house, starting a rumor, playing mean "practical jokes". If you are always trying to drag other people down to your level, it means you are envious of them and it's easier to drag them down than pull yourself up. It's selfishness that causes envy.

The Bible says, Thou Shalt Not Covet! Thou shalt not covet another person's good fortune. You shall not covet another person's blessings. You should not desire to look like or be like someone else. You should not be jealous of someone else's situation. You should not plot and scheme to get what someone else has or ruin what they have. You should not devise evil ways to steal someone's money, home, spouse, life, looks, talents, youth, power, etc. You don't have to keep up with the Joneses. Stop comparing yourself and your situation with others.

Did you know that envy led to the first murder recorded in the Bible? Abel followed God's example of blood sacrifice (God killed an animal when Adam and Eve sinned and covered their nakedness with the skins of the animal). Cain gave what he wanted to give God, not what God required and, thus, Cain was disobedient.
Genesis 4:3-11 One day, Cain gave part of his harvest to the LORD, and Abel also gave an offering to the LORD.
He killed the first-born lamb from one of his sheep and gave the LORD the best parts of it.
The LORD was pleased with Abel and his offering, but not with Cain and his offering.
This made Cain so angry that he could not hide his feelings.
The LORD said to Cain: What's wrong with you? Why do you have such an angry look on your face? If you had done the right thing, you would be smiling. But you did the wrong thing, and now sin is waiting to attack you like a lion. Sin wants to destroy you, but don't let it!
Cain said to his brother Abel, "Let's go for a walk."
And when they were out in a field, Cain killed him.
Afterwards the LORD asked Cain, "Where is Abel?"
"How should I know?" he answered. "Am I supposed to look after my brother?"
Then the LORD said: "Why have you done this terrible thing? You killed your own brother, and his blood flowed onto the ground.
Now his blood is calling out for me to punish you.
And so, I'll put you under a curse.
Because you killed Abel and made his blood run out on the ground, you will never be able to farm the land again..."

Psalm 37: 7-9 Be patient and trust the LORD. Don't let it bother you when all goes well for those who do sinful things.
Don't be angry or furious. Anger can lead to sin.
All sinners will disappear, but if you trust the LORD, the land will be yours.

Psalm 49:16-17 Don't let it bother you when others get rich and live in luxury. Soon they will die and all of their wealth will be left behind.

Psalm 73 God is truly good to Israel, especially to everyone with a pure heart.
But I almost stumbled and fell, because it made me jealous to see proud and evil people and to watch them prosper.
They never have to suffer, they stay healthy, and they don't have troubles like everyone else.
Their pride is like a necklace, and they commit sin more often than they dress themselves.
Their eyes poke out with fat, and their minds are flooded with foolish thoughts.
They sneer and say cruel things, and because of their pride, they make violent threats.
They dare to speak against God and to order others around.
God will bring his people back, and they will drink the water he so freely gives.
Only evil people would say, "God Most High cannot know everything!"
Yet all goes well for them, and they live in peace.
What good did it do me to keep my thoughts pure and refuse to do wrong?
I am sick all day, and I am punished each morning.
If I had said evil things, I would not have been loyal to your people.
It was hard for me to understand all this!
Then I went to your temple, and there I understood what will happen to my enemies.
You will make them stumble, never to get up again.
They will be terrified, suddenly swept away and no longer there.
They will disappear, Lord, despised like a bad dream the morning after.
Once I was bitter and brokenhearted.
I was stupid and ignorant, and I treated you as a wild animal would.
But I never really left you, and you hold my right hand.
Your advice has been my guide, and later you will welcome me in glory.
In heaven I have only you, and on this earth you are all I want.
My body and mind may fail, but you are my strength and my choice forever.
Powerful LORD God, all who stay far from you will be lost, and you will destroy those who are unfaithful. It is good for me to be near you. I choose you as my protector, and I will tell about your wonderful deeds.

Proverbs 14:30 It's healthy to be content, but envy can eat you up.

Galations 5:19-21 People's desires make them give in to immoral ways, filthy thoughts, and shameful deeds. They worship idols, practice witchcraft, hate others, and are hard to get along with. People become jealous, angry, and selfish. They not only argue and cause trouble, but they are envious. They get drunk, carry on at wild parties, and do other evil things as well. I told you before, and I am telling you again: No one who does these things will share in the blessings of God's kingdom.

James 3:14-18 But if your heart is full of bitter jealousy and selfishness, don't brag or lie to cover up the truth.
That kind of wisdom doesn't come from above. It is earthly and selfish and comes from the devil himself.
Whenever people are jealous or selfish, they cause trouble and do all sorts of cruel things.
But the wisdom that comes from above leads us to be pure, friendly, gentle, sensible, kind, helpful, genuine, and sincere.
When peacemakers plant seeds of peace, they will harvest justice.

* Pride - self-idolatry, where one rejects God for the sake of one's own image. It is an excessive or irrational belief in one's own abilities or attractiveness in the eyes of others. A high opinion of oneself, a feeling of superiority over others. Vainglorious. Vanity. The proud are so consumed with themselves that there is no room for thoughts of others. Narcissism. Haughty, Conceited. Arrogance. They have no need for God and may think they are saved by their own good deeds rather than by accepting Jesus as their Savior. Satan was cast out of heaven because of his pride (Isaiah 14: 12-15). Pride leads to disregard and disrespect and disobedience to God. Self-righteousness.

You remember the song, "I Did It My Way"? That is the essence of pride. We want it our way and no other way is right. It is feeling so superior and better than others. Others are beneath us. Pride can so harden our hearts that we refuse to accept anything greater than ourself and this leads to eternal damnation. There is only one unforgivable sin, the refusal to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. He is the only way to salvation and eternal life. St. Augustine said, "'Pride is the commencement of all sin". Pride is the sin of sins. From pride stem most, if not all, other sins.

Pride is a pre-occupation with self. The ultimate selfishness. Did you know that we can hate ourselves and, yet, it is still pride? Let's break it down. If all I do is think about how rotten or ugly I am, spend all my time crying and moaning about how awful I am, waste my energy in trying to think of new ways to hate myself... what is the recurring theme? Me, Me, Me, I, I, I. Once again, it's wasting my thoughts, time, energy, money, talents, resources on what? Me, me, me, I, I, I. You are consumed with yourself, preoccupied with yourself. "It's all about me" and therefore it's a form of reverse pride, but pride nonetheless. Vince Flynn uses a phrase in his books where his hero says, "I'm damaged goods." The hero is denigrating himself. We do this too. We think we are damaged goods and God can never forgive us for the sins we've committed and God can never make us right, we are too far gone. How arrogant!?! Do you think you've somehow committed the one sin that GOD cannot forgive, the one sin that JESUS' death on the cross could not cover!?! Who do you think you are? There is no limit to God's forgiveness and there is no lack in His plan of salvation. The power of Jesus' death and resurrection covers all sin for all who will only call out to Him and accept it. Do you really think His love, mercy, power, sacrifice couldn't save you? He must not be much of a God if that's true. Jesus can forgive and save all who call upon Him, even the worst sinner. All they have to do is sincerely ask and trust that Jesus is the way to salvation. We, humans, want to say that a repeat pedophile will rot in hell or a serial killer will go to hell. It's an affront to our sense of justice. But we all have sinned and if God cannot forgive that person, then maybe He can't forgive you. No, if someone, anyone, will sincerely repent of their sins and call out to Jesus for forgiveness and salvation, then that person will be saved. They will have to live out the consequences of their sins but they can go to heaven. So don't think that you are the one person in the world or in the ages past that God somehow can't save. That's another form of pride.

The opposite of pride is humility. Not false humility like Uriah Heep (one of Charles Dickens' characters). But true humility, a humbled heart, a heart that knows their desperate need for God.

Psalm 10:2-4 Proud and brutal people hunt down the poor. But let them get caught by their own evil plans!
The wicked brag about their deepest desires. Those greedy people hate and curse you, LORD.
The wicked are too proud to turn to you or even think about you.

Psalm 18:27 For You are the saviour of those who are in trouble; but eyes full of pride will be made low.

Luke 18:10-14 Two men went into the temple to pray. One was a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.
The Pharisee stood over by himself and prayed, "God, I thank you that I am not greedy, dishonest, and unfaithful in marriage like other people. And I am really glad that I am not like that tax collector over there. I go without eating for two days a week, and I give you one tenth of all I earn."
The tax collector stood off at a distance and did not think he was good enough even to look up toward heaven. He was so sorry for what he had done that he pounded his chest and prayed, "God, have pity on me! I am such a sinner." Then Jesus said, "When the two men went home, it was the tax collector and not the Pharisee who was pleasing to God. If you put yourself above others, you will be put down. But if you humble yourself, you will be honored."

Matthew 23:1-12 Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples:
"The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law are experts in the Law of Moses.
So obey everything they teach you, but don't do as they do.

After all, they say one thing and do something else.
They pile heavy burdens on people's shoulders and won't lift a finger to help.
Everything they do is just to show off in front of others.

They even make a big show of wearing Scripture verses on their foreheads and arms, and they wear big tassels for everyone to see.
They love the best seats at banquets and the front seats in the meeting places.
And when they are in the market, they like to have people greet them as their teachers.
But none of you should be called a teacher.

You have only one teacher, and all of you are like brothers and sisters.
Don't call anyone on earth your father.

All of you have the same Father in heaven.
None of you should be called the leader.

The Messiah is your only leader.
Whoever is the greatest should be the servant of the others.

If you put yourself above others, you will be put down.
But if you humble yourself, you will be honored."

Luke 9:46-48 Jesus' disciples were arguing about which one of them was the greatest.
Jesus knew what they were thinking, and he had a child stand there beside him.
Then he said to his disciples, "When you welcome even a child because of me, you welcome me.
And when you welcome me, you welcome the one who sent me.
Whichever one of you is the most humble is the greatest."

Mary's Magnificat, her song of praise to God upon His message that she would bear the Messiah
Luke 1:51-52 The Lord has used his powerful arm to scatter those who are proud.
He drags strong rulers from their thrones and puts humble people in places of power.

Romans 12:16 Be friendly with everyone. Don't be proud and feel that you are smarter than others. Make friends with ordinary people.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 Love is kind and patient, never jealous, boastful, proud, or rude. Love isn't selfish or quick tempered. It doesn't keep a record of wrongs that others do.
Love rejoices in the truth, but not in evil.
Love is always supportive, loyal, hopeful, and trusting.
Love never fails!

Galatians 6:3 For if anyone thinks he is something when he is really nothing, he is only fooling himself.

Philippians 2:3 Don't be jealous or proud, but be humble and consider others more important than yourselves.

1 Timothy 2:9-10 I want women to show their beauty by dressing in appropriate clothes that are modest and respectable. Their beauty will be shown by what they do, not by their hair styles or the gold jewelry, pearls, or expensive clothes they wear.
This is what is proper for women who claim to have reverence for God.

1 Peter 5:5-7 Likewise, younger ones, be subject to older ones, and all being subject to one another. Put on humility. For God resists proud ones, but He gives grace to the humble. Therefore be humbled under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your anxiety onto Him, for He cares for you.

1 John 2:15-17 Don't love the world or anything that belongs to the world. If you love the world, you cannot love the Father.
Our foolish pride comes from this world, and so do our selfish desires and our desire to have everything we see. None of this comes from the Father.
The world and the desires it causes are disappearing. But if we obey God, we will live forever.

* Lust - intense or unrestrained sexual craving, overwhelming desire. And it's not always desire for sex. In fact, God often uses sexual promiscuity as a type for idolatry where His people go after idols like men go after a prostitute. But in this case, we will focus on it's primary meaning.

Lust focuses on pleasing oneself, and it leads to ungodly actions to fulfill one's desires with no regard to the consequences. Lust is about possession and greed. I hate the show Two and A Half Men because "Uncle Charlie" and "Dad" are constantly obsessed with "getting laid". They don't care about the women, they just want sex. "Uncle Charlie" is a sex addict and woman after woman goes through their apartment and he barely remembers them and makes fun of not knowing their names. When men or women are intent on just making an anonymous sexual connection, "hooking up", it's nothing but lust. It's about selfish desire and having no regard for the other person. You don't care if they get pregnant, get a disease, get a hangover, have regrets, fall into depression... all you want is a temporary satisfaction. Men treat women like a public toilet, a convenience. It's disgusting and it should be humiliating and disrespectful for a woman to be used that way. A man will wear a condom to protect himself, not her. And women who paw all over men, dress deliberately provocatively, and "give out" to the first man that will have them are desperate. They may act like they are on top of it, sophisticated and proud of themselves but it shows low self esteem. Women are just as capable of using men as men use women. Men and women who act this way are endangering their lives, gaining bad reputations and acquiring habits and addictions that may ruin their lives.

Pre-marital sex is called "fornication" in the Bible. If one or both partners are married, it's called "adultery" in the Bible. Some translations use the term "sexual sins" to refer to fornication and adultery. God is very specific that sex outside of marriage is a sin. I don't care what the other kids are doing, what they show on TV and movies, what your favorite rock star sings about... Sex outside of marriage is sin. "Hooking up", "having an affair", a "one night stand", "fooling around" is sin. Any sexual activity with another person, outside of marriage, is a sin and that includes oral sex. So for those teenagers who think oral sex and petting is "OK" sex, WRONG! And God does mean "sex outside of marriage". So that means waiting until you "really love someone", doesn't cut it. Waiting to have sex on the 2nd date instead of the 1st date, doesn't cut it. Being engaged, doesn't cut it. Having a ring, doesn't cut it. Having a private time where you promised fidelity to each other, doesn't cut it. Marriage, in front of God and witnesses, is the only way you are released to have sex.

Sex is a beautiful thing, a wonderful thing and God blesses it within His parameters. It can be such a blessing. But sex outside of God's boundaries, will not be blessed, and has many consequences. God warns us, we don't have any excuses. He's very plain. We can't be mad at God. He tells us, we just rebel and are stuck with the consequences. Don't get me wrong, sex is a powerful urge. It's not easy to keep yourself pure, especially in this day. Virgins are made fun of. The peer and marketing and media pressure is intense. But God's ways are always the very best for us and the blessing that will come from waiting until marriage is incalculable.

Let me leave you with this, there is no sin that God cannot forgive. If you've messed up sexually, God can forgive you. If you have a "past", God can forgive you. You are not excused to continue with immoral sexual behavior. But God always forgives a sincere, humbled heart and we can always pray for God's help to begin living a better life.

Proverbs 5:3-9, 15-19 The words of an immoral woman may be as sweet as honey and as smooth as olive oil.
But all that you really get from being with her is bitter poison and pain.
If you follow her, she will lead you down to the world of the dead.
She has missed the path that leads to life and doesn't even know it.
My son, listen to me and do everything I say.
Stay away from a bad woman! Don't even go near the door of her house.
You will lose your self-respect and end up in debt to some cruel person for the rest of your life.
You should be faithful to your wife, just as you take water from your own well.
And don't be like a stream from which just any woman may take a drink.
Save yourself for your wife and don't have sex with other women.
Be happy with the wife you married when you were young.
She is beautiful and graceful, just like a deer; you should be attracted to her and stay deeply in love.
Don't go crazy over a woman who is unfaithful to her own husband!
The LORD sees everything, and he watches us closely.
Sinners are trapped and caught by their own evil deeds.
They get lost and die because of their foolishness and lack of self-control.

Matthew 5:27-28 You have heard that it was said to the ancients, "You shall not commit adultery."
But I say to you that whoever looks on a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

2 Timothy 2:22 But flee youthful lusts, and follow righteousness, faith, love, peace, with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

James 1:13-14 Let no one being tempted say, I am tempted from God. For God is not tempted by evils, and He tempts no one.
But each one is tempted by his lusts, being drawn away and seduced by them.

1 Peter 4:3-4 You spent enough time in the past doing what unbelievers like to do. You were promiscuous, had sinful desires, got drunk, went to wild parties, and took part in the forbidden worship of false gods.
Unbelievers insult you now because they are surprised that you no longer join them in the same excesses of wild living.

Exodus 20:14 Thou shalt not commit adultery

Romans 13:9-10 In the Law there are many commands, such as, "Be faithful in marriage. Do not murder. Do not steal. Do not want what belongs to others." But all of these are summed up in the command that says, "Love others as much as you love yourself."

Leviticus 18:20 Don't have sex with another man's wife--that would make you unclean.
No one who loves others will harm them. So love is all that the Law demands.

Leviticus 19:29 You shall not prostitute your daughter, to cause her to be a whore, lest the land go whoring, and the land become full of wickedness.

Deuteronomy 23:17 There shall be no prostitute of the daughters of Israel, neither shall there be a sodomite of the sons of Israel.

Romans 13:13-14 We should live decently, as people who live in the light of day. Wild parties, drunkenness, sexual immorality, promiscuity, rivalry, and jealousy cannot be part of our lives.
Instead, live like the Lord Jesus Christ did, and forget about satisfying the desires of your sinful nature.

1 Corinthians 6:15-20 Don't you realize that your bodies are parts of Christ's body? Should I take the parts of Christ's body and make them parts of a prostitute's body? That's unthinkable!
Don't you realize that the person who unites himself with a prostitute becomes one body with her? God says, "The two will be one."
However, the person who unites himself with the Lord becomes one spirit with him.
Stay away from sexual sins. Other sins that people commit don't affect their bodies the same way sexual sins do. People who sin sexually sin against their own bodies.
Don't you know that your body is a temple that belongs to the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit, whom you received from God, lives in you. You don't belong to yourselves.
You were bought for a price. So bring glory to God in the way you use your body.

Ephesians 4:19-24 Since they no longer have any sense of shame, they have become promiscuous. They practice every kind of sexual perversion with a constant desire for more.
But that is not what you learned from Christ's teachings.
You have certainly heard his message and have been taught his ways. The truth is in Jesus.
You were taught to change the way you were living. The person you used to be will ruin you through desires that deceive you.
However, you were taught to have a new attitude.
You were also taught to become a new person created to be like God, truly righteous and holy.

Romans 1:24 For this reason God allowed their lusts to control them. As a result, they dishonor their bodies by sexual perversion with each other.

Galatians 5:19-21 Now, the effects of the corrupt nature are obvious: illicit sex, perversion, promiscuity, idolatry, drug use, hatred, rivalry, jealousy, angry outbursts, selfish ambition, conflict, factions, envy, drunkenness, wild partying, and similar things. I've told you in the past and I'm telling you again that people who do these kinds of things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Deuteronomy 23:18 The LORD your God is disgusted with men and women who are prostitutes of any kind, and he will not accept a gift from them, even if it had been promised to him.

Matthew 19:3-12 Some Pharisees came to test him. They asked, "Can a man divorce his wife for any reason?"
Jesus answered, "Haven't you read that the Creator made them male and female in the beginning and that he said, 'That's why a man will leave his father and mother and will remain united with his wife, and the two will be one'?
So they are no longer two but one. Therefore, don't let anyone separate what God has joined together."
The Pharisees asked him, "Why, then, did Moses order a man to give his wife a written notice to divorce her?"
Jesus answered them, "Moses allowed you to divorce your wives because you're heartless. It was never this way in the beginning.
I can guarantee that whoever divorces his wife for any reason other than her unfaithfulness is committing adultery if he marries another woman."

The disciples said to him, "If that is the only reason a man can use to divorce his wife, it's better not to get married."
He answered them, "Not everyone can do what you suggest. Only those who have that gift can. For example, some men are celibate because they were born that way. Others are celibate because they were castrated. Still others have decided to be celibate because of the kingdom of heaven. If anyone can do what you've suggested, then he should do it."

For Selfishness, Part I

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