“Speak unto all the people of the land, and to the priests, saying, When ye fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh month, even those seventy years, did ye at all fast unto me, even to me? And when ye did eat, and when ye did drink, did not ye eat for yourselves, and drink for yourselves?” —Zechariah 7:5, 6
All religious worship done with a view that we may thereby be meritoriously saved, is really only a service rendered unto our own interests, and not unto God. How can we expect the Eternal One to accept as an offering to himself, what is really an offering to our own selfishness? “But is not a man to do anything to save himself?” say you. No, I answer; No. He is to let Christ save him. By faith, he is to put himself in Christ’s hands, that Christ may save him; then after that he may do as much as ever he can out of gratitude to his Saviour. Why, sirs, when your servile works are done a righteousness to gain, do you think you win the approbation of heaven? What, build a palace for God out of the mud of your own selfishness? Think that God can be bribed to bless you by deeds which you have done with self as a motive? God hateth that which a man doth with the idea that he can win the Lord’s love thereby; you must come to God as undeserving of anything at his hands; take his love and his mercy freely, and then go and do good works, and pray, and sing, and preach if you can, but never with a view of getting good to yourselves thereby, but only that you may glorify him, and at last may enter into his rest. I say, and with this I leave the point, that that worship, and that worship only which is for God and not for self in any sense, God accepts; and whether it be with a view to temporal profit, or from mere custom, or with a view to merit, that we attend to spiritual ordinances, rites ceremonies, or what not, we have done nothing that God can receive, and we might as well have left the whole undone.
—Charles H. Spurgeon (1834-1892)
Delivered Sunday Morning, March 9, 1862 at the Music Hall, Royal Surrey Gardens
Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Vol. 8 Sermon No. 438, “God or Self— Which?”