“. . . and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.”
— 2 Corinthians 5:15
Have you ever pondered what gives us the impulse to sin? Have you ever wondered what makes us go against God’s commands despite our good intentions?
I believe that selfishness lies at the root of all sin. I have thought long and hard about this, and I cannot think of any sin that doesn’t originate from selfishness, from placing self rather than God at the center of our lives. Some have suggested that perhaps a person who steals or lies for his child does not act from selfishness, yet our family is bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh, merely an extension of ourselves. So I believe that whatever the sin— lust, hate, pride, theft, murder—at its core, it stems from selfishness. Even good actions are tarnished by selfish motives. A person may study how to win friends and influence people, work hard at self-improvement, and join a church and become active in it, yet all of these acts may spring from purely selfish motives.
Paul exhorts us to something higher. He says, “I am crucified with Christ.” Not only is the Cross a substitution, it is a representation—we must identify ourselves with Christ in His death, crucifying our selfish nature and desires with Him. When we die with Christ, we put to death all our hopes, ambitions, agendas, priorities, and plans. We nail all we desire to the cross, becoming dead to ourselves.
Paul tells us in Romans 6 that we are to reckon ourselves dead with Christ. We must become dead to the flesh and alive in Christ. The next time temptation pulls at you, remember that you have died to sin and become alive in Christ. You have no obligation to your old nature, except to reckon it as dead. This is how we escape from selfishness, the fountainhead of all sin.
“One can be a miser or a savage and be selfish, but not a Christian.”