Sin is Selfishness

Jay Forrest

“The root of all sin is selfishness, separating first from God and then from man.” – Andrew Murray

"We hold the essential principle of sin to be selfishness." - A. H. Strong

"We have also seen, that all sin is selfishness." - Charles Finney

This agrees with the Bible. It says that "sin is the transgression of the law" (1 John 3:4 KJV). The law is love (Matt 22:37-40), that is why "love is the fulfilling of the law" (Romans 13:10). And we know that "Love isn't selfish" (1 Cor. 13:5 CEV), therefore sin is selfishness. It is refusing to love God will all our heart, but instead loving ourselves with all our heart.

Sin is a wrong aim. It is the aim or motive to look out for oneself first and foremost. It is making oneself the center of the universe, the supreme good, the most important person in the world. 

In other words, everyone must bow to the whims and wishes of the self, whether by force, guilt, or playing the poor me card. “My way or the highway,” is the philosophy of selfishness. I must be the center of attention, whether by being good or by being bad. It is all about I, me, and mine.

People confuse sin with sins. Sin is the aim of the will, sins are the acts of the will. Sin deals with the motive, the root from which all actions flow. Sins deal with the motion of the will, the fruit of the root, seen in thoughts, words, and deeds.

Selfish acts reveal a selfish aim. Too many people try to stop the selfish acts without changing the selfish aim. You cannot serve self and please God. You cannot serve two masters. Either God sits on the throne of your heart, or self sits on the throne.

Repentance is about changing the aim of the will. It is not about being sorry, although that is a part of it. It is also not about doing better. Rather, it is about changing the aim, not just the acts. For if you change the aim of the will, you will automatically change the acts. A good tree will naturally produce good fruit. The tree is the aim of your will. The fruit are the acts that are thereby produced.

If you are repeatedly doing things that you know are wrong, it is because you have not put God first in your life. You have not died to self. You have not blown out your selfish desires. You are still attached to the illusion that you are an independent entity. You are still spiritually blind.

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Jay N. Forrest is a Christian mystic in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. He is the author of The Deeper Life: Finding God on the Mystic Path.

Jay N. Forrest was an ordained Pentecostal minister for over two decades pastoring churches in Wisconsin, Missouri, Tennesse, and Arizona. He did his undergraduate work at Central Bible College and Global University, and he received his Doctorate of Ministry from Trinity Evangelical Christian University. He is a Certified Meditation Teacher and a full-time hospice chaplain.

Scripture Quotations

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition. Copyright © 2021 National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Scriptures marked NKJV are taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.