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by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

Lord’s Day Evening, May 4, 2014

“Men shall be lovers of their own selves” (II Timothy 3:2).

We live in an age of extreme violence and fierceness. We can point to global terrorism, especially of Muslims against Christians. More Christians have been martyred for their faith in Christ this past century than in all the other centuries combined. We can see it in the mass murders that we hear about so often. We can cite the execution-style murders by the drug cartels. And we can point to the continued slaughter of the unborn, nearly 57 million abortions since Roe v. Wade passed in 1973. The Apostle Paul wrote,

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come” (II Timothy 3:1).

The word perilous could be translated “fierce.” And this word in the original Greek is found only one other time in the New Testament, in Matthew 8:28. There it speaks of two demon-possessed men who lived in caves. These men were “exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass that way.” What a picture of the fierceness of our day! Then the Apostle lists eighteen wicked sins that bring about the fierceness of our times. Leading the list is the sin of self-love, described as, “Men shall be lovers of their own selves” (II Timothy 3:2).

We must be clear of what we mean. That’s because not all self-love is sin. In fact, love of self is normal in the Bible. The Apostle Paul said,

“For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church” (Ephesians 5:29).

Love of self is also the basis for our understanding of how to love others. Christ said,

“Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matthew 22:39).

We should love ourselves. It’s normal to do so. And we will not be able to truly love other people if we don’t. The sin of self-love is when the love for ourselves is excessive and exclusive. It is sin when we love ourselves more than others, and especially more than God. This is the ugliest of all sins. It is the worst sin of all.

“Men shall be lovers of their own selves” (II Timothy 3:2).

I. First, self-love is the worst sin of all because it leads the list of sins in our day.

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God” (II Timothy 3:1-4).

These wicked sins are the cause of the terrible fierceness of our day. Self-love is listed first, showing its great role in the spirit of our age. But it is also listed first because it is the root cause of all these other sins.

How can love of anything lead to such fierceness? That’s because the person who loves himself above all others will do almost anything to please himself, even at the expense of harming others. He will love the things that please him. And he will hate things that displease Him. For example, the second sin, “covetous,” could be translated, “lovers of silver [money].” “Despisers of those who are good” can also be translated, “no lovers of good.” And this list ends where it began – “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.” All these sins are motivated by sinful self-love.

The sin of self-love is the sin of selfishness. It is the sin where self rules and everything and everyone else takes a far second place. Take any sinner in the Bible, and it can be easily seen how selfishness played a key role in their fall. Consider how Cain’s sinful love of self led to his killing his brother. The Bible says, speaking of God’s attitude toward Cain,

“But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth [angry], and his countenance fell” (Genesis 4:5).

Cain was offended that God respected Abel’s offering but had no respect for his. Cain offered God the work of His hands. He was proud of what he had done. On the other hand, Abel came to God as a humble sinner and brought a blood sacrifice for his sin. When God rejected Cain’s offering, he felt disrespected by God. And his love for himself was so great that he would not admit his sin. He could not accept a lower view of himself. He would rather kill his brother than humble his heart and lose his self-esteem.

If you are lost, you are like proud Cain who was filled with great self-love. You will do anything to maintain your pride, self-esteem, and self-love. That’s why you never come under conviction of sin. You can’t bear to think any low thoughts of yourself. You won’t really admit to yourself that you are a wicked sinner. And so you make excuses for your sins.

Consider the people in Noah’s day.

“And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5).

What were the thoughts of these people, which were only evil continually? Their thoughts were only about themselves, their own lives. They had no thoughts of God. They were selfish and were filled with love for themselves alone.

What about you? Do you ever think about God? Do you ever think about Christ? Do you ever think about your sinful heart and your need to trust Christ and His Blood? If not, then the imagination of the thoughts of your heart is only evil continually. And if you remain as you are your judgment by God in Hell is as certain as the people in Noah’s day being drowned in the Flood.

Consider the people who built the Tower of Babel. Their motivation in building the tower was completely out of self-love. They said, “Let us make us a name” (Genesis 11:4). They were not interested in exalting God’s name but making a name for themselves. And are you more concerned about making a name for yourself than for God’s name to be glorified? Is your motivation in life to promote yourself or promote God’s glory?

Contrast the wicked sin of self-love with the true love of the Christian. The sinner’s self-love is impatient with success and is at times mean-spirited. The Christian’s love “suffereth long and is kind.” The sinner’s self-love is concerned with gratifying itself. The Christian’s love “envieth not.” The sinner’s self-love is full of pride. The Christian’s love “vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up.” The sinner’s self-love is concerned with itself. The Christian’s love “seeketh not her own.” The Apostle Paul’s motto was, “Not I, but Christ” (Galatians 2:20). But yours in effect is, “Not Christ, but I.”

Admit it, sinner! You are filled with wicked self-love. And you have not an ounce of true Christian love within you. And there is no telling what vile sin you are capable of committing. That thought ought to scare you. You might find yourself in prison one day, or worse, unless your heart is converted by Christ.

“Men shall be lovers of their own selves” (II Timothy 3:2).

II. Second, self-love is the worst sin of all because it was the first sin committed in the universe.

“How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit” (Isaiah 14:12-15).

Sin had not existed in the universe until that great archangel Lucifer sinned against God in Heaven. He was a mighty angel who led the choir in Heaven. One day his heart was filled with great pride. He was filled with self-love and had very high esteem for himself. He convinced himself that he was greater than God. God judged him for his terrible pride. His name was changed to Diabolos, or the Devil. He lost his place in Heaven and will be sent to Hell at the end of the age. The Devil’s sin was self-love. And it was the first sin in the universe. Therefore, it is the worst sin of all.

Adam was the first man. God created him perfect. He loved God with all his heart. And he lived in a perfect environment in the Garden of Eden. Life was good. But then he sinned by disobeying God. And his heart became corrupt. He no longer loved God. He was now only concerned about himself.

And you are no different. You received this sinful nature of self-love from Adam. You will do whatever pleases you. Never mind what God thinks. No matter who else is affected or who else is hurt. You must gratify yourself. Some of you have a mother that prays for your conversion. She weeps tears of sorrow that your heart is so hard, that you will not come to Christ. But it doesn’t seem to matter much to you. Your selfish life is more important to you than your mother’s sorrow. Shame on you for your wicked selfishness and self-love!

“Men shall be lovers of their own selves” (II Timothy 3:2).

III. Third, self-love is the worst sin of all because it robs God of the love due Him.

“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40).

The first and great commandment is to love God above all. And the second is to love our neighbor. The sin of self-love is the greatest sin because it breaks the two great commandments of God.

Also, it is the greatest sin because it robs God of the love that is due to Him. God said to the people who robbed Him of His tithes and offerings, “Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me” (Malachi 3:9). You are cursed if you rob God of the money that is His. How much greater will your curse be who have robbed God of the love that is due Him?

Oh, you say, “But I do love God. Maybe not as much as I should, but I do try to love and honor Him.” That sounds really good. But that’s a wicked lie in the light of Scripture. The Bible says,

“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (I John 2:15-16).

If you love the world the love of the Father is not in you. If you love the world you do not love God. You can’t love both. It’s one or the other. And the temptations of the world feed right into sinners like you who love themselves. If offers them the lust of their flesh, the lust of their eyes, and the pride of life. Don’t tell me that you don’t love the world, sinner. And especially don’t tell me that you love God.

Not only do you not love God, but the Bible says that you hate God. You may know that the Bible says, “The carnal mind is enmity against God” (Romans 8:7). But you don’t believe that you’re really an enemy of God. You may admit that you’re lost. But you don’t really believe that you hate God. How deceitful your heart is! Let me convince you from Scripture that it’s true. The Bible says,

“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon [money]” (Matthew 6:24).

A person either loves the world or loves God, but not both. In the same way, you either love money or love God. You can’t love both. And this verse teaches that if you love one you will hate the other. Therefore, if you love money you hate God. Believe it sinner! You love yourself and you hate God! You love money and you hate God. That’s you! You are guilty of self-love. You are guilty of the worst sin of all. And your punishment in Hell will be the worst of all.

You must wake up and see the wickedness of your heart. You must admit that your heart is filled with self-love. And in your self-love you have desperately protected your heart and mind from conviction of sin. You must be broken and repent of this sin or there is no hope for you. Christ said,

“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23).

Christ’s first command to his disciples was to “deny” themselves. That means not to continue in self-love but to deny yourself. You must have that chain of self-love broken or you cannot become a disciple of Christ. Christ made this point even more clear when He said,

“If any man come to me, and hate not...his own life also, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26)

Sinners filled with self-love cannot be Christ’s disciples and cannot become Christians. Only those who truly hate their sinful heart can be disciples. If you don’t hate your life then you have not even begun to follow Christ. You have not edged toward Him one bit. You say, “But I go to church every Sunday. I go to evangelism and prayer meeting. I read my Bible and I even read the sermons. I even tithe my money and give to the offerings.” Yes, and all that hasn’t helped you one bit if you don’t hate your wicked heart of self-love.

In self-love, some are afraid to come to Christ. You feel that you must protect yourself against harm. You feel that it may hurt you to become a Christian. But how has your self-love in protecting your life helped you? Christ is all-powerful. You are weak but He is strong. Christ loves you. He proved it by dying on the Cross and shedding His Blood for you. If you save your life you will lose it. But if you lose your life by coming to Christ you will save it. Jesus said, “My yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:30). Our pastor, Dr. Hymers, found out that what Jesus said is so very true. Yes, he went through some very difficult times in his life. But Christ helped him and saw him though each difficulty. It was the people in his family that did not trust Christ that had the hard life.

Do you hate your life? You should. You are a wicked depraved sinner and your heart is ugly beyond description. If you were convinced of your sin you would hate your life. And if you begin to hate your sinful self you will begin to see the beauty of Christ.

I recall the conversion testimony of one of our sisters here in church. She was a very good girl by the world’s standard. She was a good student. She was the perfect daughter. She was faithful in church attendance. She prayed every day. She never missed church. She was very pleased with herself and her accomplishments. She was in love with herself. And as she remained that way she was blind to Christ. He was not real to her. And then God began to deal with her. She began listening carefully to the sermons. She began to be convicted of her sin of self-love. She became awakened and said, “I began to [hate] myself.” Shortly after that she came to Christ.

Christ died for your sins on the Cross. On the third day He rose physically, flesh and bones from the grave. He ascended into Heaven and now sits at the right hand of the throne of God. Be ashamed of your sin of loving yourself over God. Think of His great love for you. Although you have hated Him, Christ has loved you. Come to Christ. Trust Him. He will receive you. He will wash your sins away in His Blood.

Please stand and everyone close your eyes. If you would like to speak with a counsellor about becoming a Christian, about having your sin cleansed by the Blood of Jesus, please leave your seat right now and walk to the back of the auditorium. Dr. Cagan will lead you to another room where they can pray and talk about Jesus cleansing you from your sin. Go right now to the back of the auditorium. Dr. Hymers, please pray for someone to trust Jesus this evening. Amen.

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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: Matthew 8:28-34.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Oh, How I Love Jesus” (by Frederick Whitfield, 1829-1904).



by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan

“Men shall be lovers of their own selves” (II Timothy 3:2).

(II Timothy 3:1; Matthew 8:28; Ephesians 5:29; Matthew 22:39)

I.   First, self-love is the worst sin of all because it leads the list of sins in
our day, II Timothy 3:1-4; Genesis 4:5; 6:5; 11:4; Galatians 2:20.

II.  Second, self-love is the worst sin of all because it was the first sin
committed in the universe, Isaiah 14:12-15.

III. Third, self-love is the worst sin of all because it robs God of the love
due Him, Matthew 22:37-40; Malachi 3:9; I John 2:15-16;
Romans 8:7; Matthew 6:24; Luke 9:23; 14:26; Matthew 11:30.