Thursday, August 22, 2013

Deception and The Remedy


Unless you take measures to prevent it... that will be the natural thing – the life that will come to you of its own accord. Any other kind of life, if you lead it, will be the result of conscious and continuous effort. If you do nothing about it, if you drift with the stream...
-Lewis, The Inner Ring

I would apply Lewis' words to the possibility of anyone of us falling prey to deception. Unless we take measures, conscious and continuous, we naturally fall into deception. A wise and discerning disposition comes only by effort; if we take no measures, if we drift with the stream, we will be deceived. Thus, the Bible frequently cautions us to beware, to watch, to watch out, to stay on guard, to keep vigilante. The import is: we are not safe; we should not be lulled into a false sense of security. The import is: "Best safety lies in fear." Or, to paraphrase Spurgeon, "Even when you sleep: remember, you are asleep on a battlefield."

As as apologetic side note, how strange it is that the enemies of Christianity so often accuse us of credulous belief (naive faith). In fact, the Bible, of all books, warns against "just believing," and being too quick to trust.

I. Various Calls to Watch, Take Heed, and Beware

Dt. 4.15, “Watch yourselves very carefully...”

Mk. 12.48, “Beware of the scribes, who love... 1) long clothing (showy dress), 2) salutations in the marketplace (being known, and famous), 3) the best seats (the places of public honor, 4) who devour widow’s houses (merciless), 5) and for a pretense make long prayers (very public displays of godliness).

1 Cor. 10.12, “Therefore, if anyone thinks he stands, take heed, lest he fall.”

*The most dangerous position is the defenseless self-satisfied position of total confidence.

Mt .7.15: Beware of false prophets.
Mt. 10.17: Beware of men; for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues.
Mt. 16.6: Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
Lk. 20.46: Beware of the scribes.
2 Peter 3.17: You know these things before; therefore, beware.
*Based on Jesus words: Jesus, “I have told you all things beforehand; therefore, be on guard.”
Phil. 3.2: Beware of Dogs. Beware of evil workers. Beware of the circumcision.

So, 4 words are constantly repeated:

1) Beware
2) Be On Guard
3) Take Heed
4) Watch Self/Others

Putting these words together: the Christian is to have watchful eyes, wide open, with feet in defensive posture, ready and waiting for danger they know will come – they know it will come, but they don’t know when; so, they are always ready. It is not a question of IF, but WHEN. The Christian is not gullible or naive, but wary, cautious, prudent, reserved. Being in a dangerous world, with dangerous enemies – they tread lightly, alertly – wise as a serpent. “For the man who is prepared, there is no emergency.” When false teachers come, the Christian says, “I have been expecting you.”

Silly, Polyanna notions about ‘good people’ lead us to be over-trusting. We gullible because we have an erroneous, optimistic, view of human nature. We need to be more realistic. Cf. Jesus, who did not entrust himself to any man, for he knew what was in the heart of men (John 2.24).

II. Especially, We Should Beware of Men

We think everyone is good; everyone means us well. Not so. We may wish it was so; we may wish for a better world where men can be trusted, a priori, to do the right thing -- but that is not the world we live in. Popular wisdom is, "People are basically good." Popular experience is just the opposite. We can sometimes suppress this reality only because we have little insight into our own, and other's hearts. It's been said, "If we knew what was in our hearts, not one of us would have three friends on the face of the earth."

Jesus knew better than to approach humanity with wishful optimism: He did not entrust himself to ANY man for he knew what was in the heart of men (John 2.24).

Ian H. Murray, The Unresolved Controversy:

Another explanation of the division has to do with difference of opinion over the depth and reality of human depravity. I do not mean that one side denied human sinfulness, but it is possible to have a correct definition of the fall of man and yet act in a way that fails to take sufficient account of Christ’s commandments, “Beware of men (Mt. 10.17)...” I believe the success of the early Graham crusades, and the new evangelical policy, was connected with a failure to give sufficient weight to the warnings of Scripture on human nature (pg. 14).

The words of Ronald Reagan remain ever relevant: “Trust, but (only after first you are able to) verify."

III. Watchfulness v. Skepticism

How is a right watchfulness different from a skeptical, cold, critical bent? I was both skeptical and gullible when I left college. So, obviously, the two are not mutually exclusive.

Being "skeptical" is often warranted. This is different from skepticism (every ISM is bad); skepticism is  a religion, and like all false religions, it both exalts and minimizes the things it worship. When we make too much of a thing, and turn it into a god, we must as a next reflex, make that thing smaller: so small that it can only answer the most limited prayers, and only on certain days. And so, we make our god useless, even for the thing it might have been good at accomplishing. Skepticism thus destroyed the benefit of being skeptical.

The skepticist is not skeptical enough. They are skeptical toward things like Scripture/absolutes, but not skeptical toward the very things they should be most skeptical: other skeptics (like Freud), themselves, and the nature of man. They have an ironically high view of their own reason (the opposite of skeptical thinking), and while they doubt most things, they do not doubt the engine of doubt (their minds), nor doubt itself. Hence, skepticists are not sufficiently skeptical. They are skeptical about in a limited scope, much too narrowly. The main feature of the modern skepticist is not a skeptical bent, but trust – an innocent, naive, childlike trust: Trust in their reasoning; Trust in themselves; Trust in science; Trust in politicians; Trust in "their heart" and whatever ‘their heart’ feels. Primarily, they trust what ought not to be trusted: their own heart, which is "deceitful beyond measure," and other skeptics. They are narrowly skeptical, and thus broadly gullible. They have an ingrained prejudice against truth, and for their own ‘heart.’

A skepticist once asked me, "Can you prove the existence of God by the scientific method?" I responded, "Can you prove the scientific method by the scientific method?" See what I mean? They trusted the scientific method, blindly, and never questioned it. If they had been more skeptical, they would have realized, "You can't prove most things by the scientific method. You can't even prove the scientific method by the scientific method."

IV. The Role Sin Plays

Jonathan Edwards, From A Spiritual Understanding Denied, On why the nature of man is not receptive to spiritual understanding:

It is from the blinding and deceitful nature of sin. The nature of sin is to blind and deceive; it is the spawn and offspring of the devil, the great deceiver, who makes it his whole business to decive. Deceit is the foundation of sin; it was throught deceit that that it was first brought into the world, and by deceit is it kept up and maintained in the world; and by sin is deceit kept up in the world: deceit is the very nature, root, stock, and branch of sin. There is nothing pertaining to sin but what would immediately fall the the ground if deceit was removed, so essential is deceit to sin. Deceit and sin live together and perish and die together. Sin, when it has got possession of the soul, immediately beclouds and bewilders it and fills it with darkness; fills it with a thousand false imaginations and conceptions, many senseless dreams and ridiculous apprehensions; makes men fools and sots and mad; makes men think that they can find happiness in earthly things; makes them think that silver is better than God himself; makes them imagine that seventy years’ happiness now is better than an eternity of happiness hereafter; makes them think that escaping eternal damnation is not worth the seeking for, nor everlasting happiness in heaven worth the praying for; makes them think that they shall be great gainers if they can get two or three thousands pounds, and lose themselves forever to pay for it; such senseless imaginations and dreams as these doth sin fill the mind with. It bewitches and strangely charms and bewilders men, fills their eyes with smoke and stops their ears, and fills their souls with a thousand confusions. Wherefore ‘tis no wonder that those cannot understand spiritual things, who have this deceitful thing remaining in their hearts (Heb. 3.13).”

cf. Jesus very logical question, “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul (Mk. 8.36)?”

V. Two Basic Problems: Underestimating/Overestimating

Sun Tzu famously said, "All warfare is based on deception." He approached warfare with a realistic and wizened perspective. Several things that he says about national war apply to spiritual war.
Hence the saying: If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will
succumb in every battle.
The art of war teaches us to rely not on the likelihood of the enemy's not coming, but on our own readiness to receive him; not on the chance of his not attacking, but rather on the fact that we have made our position unassailable.
He who exercises no forethought but makes light of his opponents is sure to be captured by them.

Two basic problems, and probably the two chief reasons we are not more watchful. are: 1) We underestimate our enemy; 2) We overestimate ourselves.

We underestimate our enemy; instead of, as Shakespeare counseled, "In cases of defense it is best to weigh the enemy more might than he seems."

Consider our adversary, the Evil One. He is more advanced in theological knowledge than we are. He has been tempting humans for thousands of years. He succeeded in engineering the downfall of our morally spotless parents. We should not "fear" anything beside God, but this is an enemy we should respect.

We overestimate ourselves: we assume we are smarter and wiser and stronger than we are. Thus, we put ourselves in situations where we are sure to be deceived. Let's rephrase Shakespeare, "In case of defense, it is best to reckon ourselves less might than we think." We should FLEE temptation (flight, not fight: 1 Corinthians 6:18; 1 Corinthians 10:14; 1 Timothy 6:11). Why? Because we don't trust ourselves. We're not that strong.

GK Chesterton: In the best Utopia, I must be prepared for the moral fall of any man in any position at any moment; especially for my fall from my position at this moment (Orthodoxy, 126).

VI. Remedies For Deception

1. Take Care

Hebrews 3.12-13, Take care... lest evil, unbelieving heart... (cf. Gen. 2.15: keep the garden: guard it diligently).

Carefulness over our heart! (cf. 1 Tim. "Keep a close watch over your life and doctrine). We should watch ourselves, first. That is our first priority. If we are drowning, we won't be much help to other swimmers.

Many start well in Christian life, then slacken in devotion, confession, watchfulness. They don’t take as great a care as they once did about the things of God. They become comfortable, proud; they think they have advanced to a level of godliness that cannot be assailed. Some, who looked to be very promising Christians in youth, turn into bitter religious hypocrites in old age.

For an illustration of the measures a watchful and wise person goes to, see the story of Rudy Tomjonavich: He attended Church 2 x on Sunday, and AA every day.

Be alert (Acts 20.28); Be Watchful (Acts 20.31).

2. Christian Community

Exhort one another daily, as long as it is called today = Constant, daily exhortation from our Christian (Hebrews 3.13).

Not just occasional, bi-monthly exhortation, but daily. Many do well in a Christian fellowship; they excel; they find holiness very natural. Then, they move to another city, or become busy with work, and their life starts to fall apart.

True, Church Elders are responsible to keep watch over us as those who must give an account (Hebrews 13; Acts 20.28) -- but, have we submitted ourselves to Elders? Do we let them know what is going on in our life? Further, it is the duty of every Christian to watch (after themselves) their brothers and sisters, but it is the duty of Elders to watch the flock as the responsible shepherds who take special interest in the good of the flock.

So, watch yourselves. Make sure, and encourage encourage others to watch you.

The only way this is possible: a living, loving Christian community. Christians were not made for isolation. They perish when alone. It is not good for man to be alone – especially sinful man who still has to contend with evil, unbelieving heart, and the deceitfulness of sin.

3. Recognize You Have Brutal Enemy

1 Peter 5.8, Satan is prowling around like a roaring lion hunting someone to devour.

Thus, we should be serious, sober-minded, and grave. The ‘hunted’ do not take life as a joke. We are the hunted. We must stay vigilante and serious about life and the consequences of our actions. Satan is seeking someone to devour. Thus, we should ‘be on guard’ – our adversary the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion – seeking, always seeking – someone to pounce on and eat alive.

Be on guard against Satan and his false teachers (Mt. 24.22ff, ‘Be on guard. I have told you all things beforehand; 1 Peter 5, ‘be on guard...”). Beware (Mt. 7.15).

4. Take Life Seriously

Many treat life like a game. Nothing is serious, important, or consequential to them. We should, instead, be sober-minded (1 Peter 5.8): cf. B.B. Warfield on the decline of a serious outlook in “Religious Life Of Theological Students."

5. Do Not Automatically Trust Ourselves, Or Our Reasoning

Joshua 9.22: Why did you deceive us...

In the Gibeonite Deception, the Israelites trusted their eyes, and senses. They judged the book by the cover. The only looked on the surface: we can’t trust our 5 senses.

Watson: Do you suspect anyone?
Holmes: I suspect myself of coming to conclusions too quickly.

Good decisions require TIME + THOUGHT + COUNSEL + OBSERVATION, and most importantly:

SEEKING GOD. Ask counsel of the Lord; do not lean on your own understanding (Proverbs 3). Leaning on our own understanding will get us deceived.

6. Avoid Deceptive People

Psalm 101.7, David, as King, purposes, "No one who practices deceit shall dwell in my house; no one who utters lies shall continue before my eyes. Morning by morning, I will destroy all the wicked in the land."

Pr. 12.17-20: Whoever speaks the truth gives honest evidence, but a false witness utters deceit...Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment. Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, but those who plan peace have joy...lying lips are an abomination to the Lord (on abomination see Leviticus) (cf. also Pr. 13.5).

Deception is the mark of the Kingdom of Satan; truth is the mark of the Kingdom of God.

7. Know Your Heart Is A Master Liar

Jeremiah 17.9: The heart is deceitful above all measure, and desperately wicked, who can know it?

Mk. 7.22: from within, out of the heart of man, comes... deceit, sensuality, envy, slander...

8. Know Riches Are Master Liars

Mt. 13.22 (Mk. 4.19): deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.

One way riches are deceitful: they seduce us into false certainty and security – but they cannot deliver on what they seem to promise (1 Timothy 6.17, ‘set hope on uncertain riches’’ Psalm 62.10, ‘If riches increase, set not your heart on them;’ Lk. 12.13, ‘you have ample good laid up for many years...’).

Riches cannot deliver from death; you can’t bribe death (see Psalm 49).

9. Consider: deceitfulness is a sin, but all sin is deceitful

Deceitfulness is a judgment for idolatry: Rm. 1.29: Since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up...They were filled... They are full of strife, deceit, maliciousness...

Being given to deception is the result of an atheistic and willful forgetfulness of God. Thus, being deceived is a punishment for sin.

Rm. 7.11: Sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me (allusion to Genesis 3.13) and through it, killed me.

The commandment, all by itself, is powerless to stop sin; rather, it is the unwilling accomplice to sin’s deceitful design. Sin + law = a deadly dynamic duo.

10. Be Aware of Satan's Schemes:

2 Cor. 11.3: But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.

cf. 1 Cor. 5: We are not unaware of his schemes; Paul kept on guard for the strategies of Satan; he read his playbook.

Deceived by CUNNING: the evil one is cunning (Gen. 3.1, ‘more cunning than any other animal.’)

“... the snake was indeed shrewd. He told no outright lies, merely highly suggestive half-truths. At face value they contradicted God’s warnings about the inevitability of death, but at a deeper level the latter was vindicated (Wenham, Comment on Genesis 3.1, pg. 74-75).”

Wenham notes that the evil one uses double-entendre.

2 Cor. 11.13: Deceitful workmen... disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants also dsiguise themselves as servants of righteousness.

*One tactic of deceit is disguise: pretend to be something you are not – pretend to be something nice; pretend to be a friend; pretend to be a shepherd.

Mt. 7.15, Beware of false prophets who will come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.

Jesus, “Beware of false prophets... (7.15)... Be on guard (Mt. 24.22ff)...”

Trust by verify. Don’t be gullible. We will know them by their fruits (Jesus repeats this twice; 7.16, 20). Thus, we should pay more attention to how they live than what they say. These guys look like sheep, but inwardly... if you just trust the image, the impression – you will be deceived.

Titus 1.10

(false teachers from cirumcision group)... empty talkers and deceivers

Hb. 3.12-13

Take care, brothers, lest their be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart causing you to fall away from the living God. Exhort one another daily that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

Jms. 1.22

deceiving yourself
Jms. 1.27

he deceives himself

1 Pt. 2.1
put away all malice and deceit
1 Pt. 2.22
no deceit was found in his mouth

1 Jn. 1.8

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us

2 Jn. 1.7

deceiver and anti-christ... for many deceivers have gone out...
Rv. 12.9

the deceiver of the world

cf. Ga. 6.3 and James 1.22, “deceiving yourselves...” – those who are ‘only hearers (not doers)’ are engaged in self-deception.

6.3: he deceives himself (lie to yourself so long you believe your own lies).

6.7: do not be deceived, God is not mocked...


Jeremiah 17.9: The heart is deceitful above all measure, and desperately wicked, who can know it.

Heart: mission control of the human life; the internal life of a man that no one sees; the controling factor and deciding agent. The source, the fountain, from which our whole life flows.

two things about heart: deceitful and wicked

deceitful above all measure: deceitful beyond measuring; you can’t even begin to measure the lengths of deceitfulness (but where sin increased, grace flooded world).

desperately wicked: not just wicked, but hopelessly, terribly, horribly wicked.

*This is a description of total depravity; depravity has influenced us at the core – not just a few external factors – not just our thinking every now and then, or our actions when we are not ‘at our best’ – the root has been smitten with worms; the source has been polluted.

You don’t know your heart and your don’t know yourself until you know that you don’t know. We are like blind men trying to look at ourselves in a mirror in the dead of night in the recesses of a deep cave. Our first problem is, then, that we think we know – we think we are ‘fool-proof.’ But such flattery is only proof that we are fools. We flatter ourselves with high opinions of our goodness, our wisdom, our high-minded self-knowledge. Such flattery is the ultimate proof that we are naive. There is an arrogant self-deception that masquerades as confidence. It is comical in a macabre sort of way: the sublimely confident man who has been hoodwinked.

GK Chesterton: In the best Utopia, I must be prepared for the moral fall of any man in any position at any moment; especially for my fall from my position at this moment (Orthodoxy, 126).

You don’t know yourself. You don’t know your own heart.

This feature of self-deception which we have to contend with is proof of just how desperately twisted and confusing the human heart is. A step toward wisdom is to know this about ourselves, and labor to prevent the certain self-deception that will happen if we remain idle and passive. We have to labor not to be deceived; this is why the Bible commands, “Do not be deceived.” It commands it because we are very easily deceived. We have to take positive and violent steps to overcome self-deception. We, like the blind man in the cave need to be taken by the arm, given sight, and shown the true picture of ourselves. The Word of God is the only hope for the blind man in a cave. It is the only light, the only objective and true source of clear light about who we really are and who we really need to be.

The Fire Walker

I am the dark side grace;
I am the last long embrace:
the smile that wipes that smile off your face.
I am the doer, not the talker.
I am the fire walker.

I was born, under a blood moon,
at one second past high noon,
on a dark and stormy night,
in the coldest winter to date,
a child of fearsome fate --
Born, to love, and knowing love, to hate.
Born, early; I could no longer wait.
Born, early, to tell you: you are late.

Born, the last page of the book
you never got around to reading.
Born, the warning you shook,
and never got around to heeding.
Born, the chance you took --
the chance you never should not have taken --
born, the vengeance of mercy forsaken:
the judgment that slumbered, awakened.
Friend, you are fond of debating;
I was born to end debate,
and I'm here to clear my books.
You stand, on the road, a crook;
I was born to make straight.

I was born to smash the locks,
and deliver captives from their stocks.
Born: to heal the one who heals;
to slay the one who kills;
to smite the wolf who wills
to prey upon the flock.
Born, to stand stern, like a rock:
to keep time, like a clock --
until the world again grows still,
or, perchance, unto until,
I fall upon the field.
Born, to die until you die, and I am living still.

I am the dark side grace;
I am the last long embrace:
the smile that wipes that smile off your face.
I stalk the night stalker.
I am the fire walker,
the doer  not the talker.
The time for talking has passed.
I am the question you asked.

I was the past, the present, and future;
you are the cut, and I am the suture.
I was the deed, and the doer;
the distance you cannot endure;
the promise, awaited, made sure.
You are the muddled refrain
who binds words into shackles insane;
I am the definition of words made vague,
the clarity; the meaning made plain.
I am the man who plagues the plague,
and the man who finds the cure.
You hoped I was myth; hoped, in vain;
I have come to purify the pure,
and you, my friend, are the stain.

I have thought about you;
I advise you, my friend, to think about me.
Whatsoever you see, I foresee;
wheresover you go, there I'll be.
I have thought about you;
you dismissed me, again and again,
as rumor, a distant whisper in the wind.
I have thought about you, friend.
You should think about me;
you should think about your end.

I am the doer, not the talker.
I stalk the night stalker;
I am the fire walker,
and whereso I walk, the fire falters;
you dreamed, in your dream was a vision:
I am that shadow you hold in derision

The time for talking has passed.
I am the question you asked.
I came, not to talk, but to do;
I came, and I'm coming; I'm coming for you.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Self-Love and Love For God

Love for God and Self-Love
An Adaptation of the Works of Edwards, Brainerd and Baxter

2 Tim. 3:1-5: But understand this, that in the last days[1] there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.

I. Misplaced Love

            Notice how prominently and frequently love (the word occurs 5 x) is mentioned in the verses above. Misplaced love dominates the description of the moral free fall in ‘the last days.’ The ‘last days’ is a reference to the time between the first coming of Christ and the second coming of Christ. In other words, we are living in ‘the last days.’ In other words, our world is now characterized by the very things Paul mentions in this passage. Note all the uses of ‘love:’

1) lovers of self (this is listed first, in the place of prominence)
2) lovers of money
3) not loving good
4) lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God

            We would summarize: these people love 3 things: self, money, and pleasure. They do not love good. They love pleasure rather than God. In fact, they put pleasure in the place of God: ‘loving pleasure rather than God.’ They love pleasure instead of God. They do love; they just love all the wrong things; and they do not love the right things: ‘good’ and ‘God.’ Their love is misplaced. They have disobeyed the great commandment – the one on which all the others hang – to love God with all their heart, soul, strength and mind. All the other sins on this list (ungrateful, unholy, reckless, etc.) can be traced back the their misplaced love. They have broken the first commandment (Love God!); so, the rest of the commandments fall like a house of cards.

II. What is love?

            Jonathon Edwards defines love in the following ways: We love something to the degree that we are pleased with it. Love is pleasedness: the state of being pleased with something. Love is an intense delight. Love is a strong inclination of the soul that moves us toward something to try and grasp at it. When we love we admire an object; this admiring leads on to desiring to possess the thing we admire (admiring leads to desiring). Love is going after something as our highest good. Love is seeking something first. Love is favorring, choosing, preferring one thing above others. Right love is a sweet and holy affection that loves good things as good things, but loves God best as the best and highest good. Wrong love is an inordinate (loving good things as the best thing) affection. Now, what we love determines what we do. As Edwards said: ‘it is our inclination that governs us in our actions.’ This is why Augustine said: Moral character is assessed not by what a man knows but by what he loves.’
III. The Centrality of Loving God
            Jonathon Edwards on Love of God: (paraphrased):  This love includes a sincere, generous, and happy inclination of the soul towards God; this love must be vigorously and fervently exercised and engaged in; when this happens love influences our affections, and our love for God becomes an affectionate love. Vigorous and fervent love of God is the sum of all religion. Love for God is the sum of all that was taught and commanded in the law and the prophets.
            So, the love of self, money, pleasure is idolatry; it is placing our love on a low and earthly object when we ought to be gazing into the heavens at God, the only worthy object of our wholehearted love. To put it another way – there is no true religion without sweet love for God.
            To quote Edwards again: It is evident that religion consists so much in affection that without holy affection there is no true religion. No light in the understanding is good which does not produce holy affection in the heart. No habit or principle in the heart is good which does not stir us to pursue after God with an inclination of intense delight; and no external fruit is good which does not proceed from a holy love.
            Even if we had the most devoted religion, with great faith and remarkable spiritual gifts – to the point that we died a torturous and bloody martyrs death -- this would be eternally annoying and despicable to God unless there be love (see 1 Cor. 13).

III. Love and Hate

            Notice the people in 2 Timothy 3 love certain things (self, money, pleasure), and this means they do not love other things (good, God). These two concepts are connected. If we love one thing this causes us to hate other things.
            Again, to paraphrase Edwards in Religious Affections: Love is not only one of the affections, but it is the first and chief of the affections, and the fountain of all the affections. The heart is at the center of true religion; and love is at the center of the heart. From love arises hatred of those things which are contrary to what we love – those things which oppose and thwart us in gaining the things that we love. A man hates a rival suitor because he loves a girl; he would not hate him if he did not love the girl. His hate arises from his love. So, a Christian hates the rival of sin because he loves God. If we have a vigorous, affectionate, and fervent love to God, there will necessarily arise other religious affections of hate, such as, 1) intense hatred and loathing of sin, 2) a fear of sin, 3) and a dread of God's displeasure toward those who sin. Other positive affections will also arise from the fountain of our love for God, such as, 1) gratitude to God for his goodness, 2) contentment and joy in God when He is graciously and sensibly present, 3) grief when God is absent, 4) a joyful hope when our future enjoyment of God in heaven is expected, 5) a fervent zeal for the glory of God.

IV. There is an appropriate Self-Love

From David Brainerd, Life and Diary, pg. 149-150 “... I was unexpectedly visited by a considerable number of people, with whom I was enabled to converse profitably of divine things. I took pains to describe the difference between a right and wrong self-love. A right self-love consists in a supreme love to God. A wrong self-love disregards love of God. A right self-love unites God’s glory and the soul’s happiness so that they become one common interest. A wrong self-love separates God’s glory and man’s happiness – and pursues happiness apart from the glory of God.

“There is a double loving of a man’s self. One good and commendable, the other evil and damnable. Spiritual self-love is supernaturally wrought in man by God’s spirit, so that he is both enlightened to discern what is most excellent and best for him, and also moved to choose the same... Hence it comes to pass that thier chiefest care is for their souls and for their eternal salvation. Self-love is evil when it is cast upon our corruptions, our lusts, our evil humours, when we affect and love them, and for them pursue whatever may satisfy them... evil self-love is a most detestable vice, but it is both lawful and commendable to love one’s self aright (William Gouge, A Golden Treasury of Puritan Devotion, pg. 71).”

V. There is an inappropriate Self-Love

2 Timothy 3.2: For people will be lovers of self

Note: ‘lovers of self’ begins this list. It has a place of prominence as a chief sin.

The following is an adaptation and expansion of Richard Baxter’s “Self-love, Selfishness and The Gospel.

1. Selfishness comes from a wrong self-love; this self love is the root of original sin.
        The principal part of selfishness consists in an wrong self-love. This is a corruption so deep in the heart of man, that it may be called his very natural inclination; he is born with this sinful bent; this wrong self-love therefore lies at the bottom, below all his actual sins, whatever those sins may be; and must be changed into a new nature, which consists primarily in a new and supreme love of God. This is original sin itself – this is the very heart of it. This is what man by nature is; a sinful self-lover; and as he is, so he will act. In this wrong kind of self-love, all other vice in the world is contained...
2. Selfishness robs and dethrones God
            Selfishness is most contrary and rebellious to God, and desires to rob Him of all His rights as God, so that God would be no God... I have formerly told you, that self is the god of wicked men, or the world's greatest idol; and that the inordinate love of pleasure, profits, and honor -- the unholy trinity -- are the ways in which this wrong self-love demonstrates itself; This idolatrous self-love also is in league with the evil trinity of God's enemies, the flesh (our first and greatest problem), the world, and the devil.
            Every man is an idolater so far as he is selfish. God is not just a name. The one that takes away God's essence, or attributes or perogatives, and yet thinks he believes in God, because he uses the word God, and speaks of His name and titles, does as bad as they that set up an image, and worship that instead of God. He does as bad as the man who worships the sun or moon as gods... Now selfish, ungodly men rob God, and give His honor and perogatives to themselves, and keep him at a distance with empty titles; they call Him their God, but will not have Him for their chief end, their portion, and their happiness.
            Nor will the the selfish give God the strongest love of their hearts: they will not take Him as their absolute owner; they will not be His slaves ...They will not take Him as their Sovereign Lord, and be ruled by Him; they will not deny themselves for His sake; They will not seek His honor and interest above their own. They call Him their Father, but deny Him His Honor; they call him their Master, but give do not give Him fear (Malachi 1:6). They do not depend on His hand, and they do not live not by His law, and to His glory; and therefore they do not take Him for their God. And can you expect that God should save those that deny Him, and would dethrone Him--that is, His very enemies?
3. Selfish self-love takes the perogatives of God
            God will not save those who reject him and make themselves their own gods. But all these unsanctified, selfish men do make themselves their own gods – for they take to themselves the perogatives of God:
How do they take the perogatives of God? In at least 10 ways:
1. They would be their own end, and look no further.
2. They exploit all others as means to this end (the self). They have no problem ‘using’ people to satisfy self. So exploiting people sexually or financially does not bother them; people are sacrificed to the god of their ‘selves.’ People are to them a means to an end – the end of self. Yes, they even think of God Himself as a servant for their ‘self.’ This is why the ungodly will even excuse sin by saying, “I have prayed about it.” They will even call in the holy God as the servant of sin – as the servant of sinful self!
3. They love their present life and prosperity better than God: ‘lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.’ 
4. They would be their own, and live as their own.
5. They would have other creatures to be their own, and use them as their own, and not as God's.
6. They must care for themselves, and provide for themselves, and dare not trust themselves wholly upon God.
7. They would dispose of their selves and their own conditions, and of all other things, without reference to God or acknowledgement that he is the owner of all things.
8. They would rule themselves, and be out from under the laws and government of God. They pray to themselves: “My will be done.”
9  They would be the rulers of all others, and have all men do their wills.
10. And they would be honored and admired by all, and have all praise ascribed to them. They pray, “Mine is the glory.”
If all this is not to set themselves up as their own god and idol in the world – I do not know what is!
4. God will not save selfish idolaters, but destroy them in Hell
            Certainly God is far from having a thought of saving such vile idolaters; in fact they are the principal objects of His high hatred, and the objects of His justice to shoot at, and the objects of his eternal wrath. God is engaged to pull them down, and tread them into Hell. Will God stand by and see a company of rebellious sinners sit down in His throne, attempt to overthrow His sovereignty and divine rights as God, and then let them of scott free? Will God advance such a person to His heavenly glory?  No! God has resolved that "he who humbles himself shall be exalted, and he that exalts himself shall be humbled." And what higher self-exaltation can there be than to make ourselves as gods to ourselves? Who deserves to be brought low by the hand of almighty God more than the one who makes himself god?
5. Self-denial is necessary to be a true Christian
            No man can be a Christian unless he takes Christ for his Lord and Savior; but no man without self-denial can take Christ for his Lord and Savior. Therefore, without self-denial, it is impossible to be a Christian, and it is impossible to be saved. He that makes himself his own end, cannot make Christ, as Christ, his way; for Christ is the way to the Father; Christ is not the way to carnal self. No, the business that Christ came to do in this world was this: to pull down and subdue the sinful self. Moreover, whoever takes Christ for his Savior, must know from what it is that he must be saved. And what is it that we must be saved from? I answer: from self.
            No man can take Christ for his Savior that does not renounce his own self-confidence. No man can take Christ as his savior who is not willing to be saved from the idolatry of self-exaltation. No man can take Jesus for Teacher unless he comes into Jesus’ school as a little child, and renounces the guidance of carnal self, sensible of his need of a heavenly teacher. No man can take Christ for his King and Lord, unless he has learned to deny his own lust to be King and Lord. No man can offer himself to Christ as His slave unless he has first learned to deny that self that claims priority and sovereignty in Jesus Christ’s place.
            There is no antichrist, no false Christ, that ever was in the world, that does more truly oppose Christ, and resist Him in all the parts of His office, than carnal, sinful self. It is this sinful self-righteous self that will not stoop to claim Christ as our only righteousness. It is willful sinful self that will not look to Him for His guidance, nor incline to the teaching and holy Word. Self is the false Christ, the false Savior of the world, and the false god. Therefore, there can be no salvation where self is not denied and taken down...
            Every man and woman on earth that take themselves for true Christians, and yet do not deny themselves (even hating their father, mother, brother, sister, wife, children, yes, their own life) for the sake of Christ and the hope of everlasting glory – these are only self-deceivers, and no true Christians at all.  It is impossible for a person who loves his life better than Christ to be Christ's disciple.  The one who loves his life better than the hope of everlasting life is no true Christian (Matthew 10:37-38; Luke 14:26, 27, 33)...
            I plead with you, remember that this is the lowest degree of self-denial that is saving, and without this no one can be saved – namely, to bank more on Christ and the hope of glory than you bank on all this world and life itself; and to be habitually resolved to forsake life and all, rather than to forsake Christ. Nothing less than this is true self-denial; nothing less than this will take hold of eternal life or prove that one is a true Christian... For this is the very point in which Christ puts our self-denial to the test, "he that would save his life, will lose it."
            What do you love better: an immortal, holy life with God, or this earthly, fleshly life?  – this is the great question on which it will be resolved whether you are Christians or infidels at heart. This is the question which determines whether you are heirs of Heaven or Hell.

[1] cf. 1 Tim. 4:1: The Spirit clearly says that in later days some will depart from the faith. IVP Commentary on 1 Tim. 4:1: Paul's point is that periodically throughout the age of the church the faithful can expect the defection and active opposition of some who have professed to be Christians. The developments in Ephesus were to be recognized as "signs of the times," part and parcel of this evil, last age... In our era the believing church cannot afford to be ignorant of the evil nature of this last age.