WHY CHRISTIAN MORALITY IS NOT MOTIVATED BY SELFISHNESS

A.B. Melchizedek
3 min readJun 9, 2024
Photo credit: Parade

Whenever Christians bring up the argument that atheism has no foundation for morals, in response, some atheists question the morality of Christians since they are motivated by a desire to get into heaven. If ultimately, every good and moral thing you do is so that you can get into heaven, does this not dent your morality?

Problem with this though is that it completely misunderstands Christianity. Far from espousing works as a means to get in to heaven, the Bible puts everyone’s mind at rest by ensuring that there is absolutely nothing anybody can do that can get them into heaven.

Isaiah observes,

But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away.

(Isaiah 64:6)

Paul on his part, states,

For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.” But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith.

(Galatians 3:10–11)

The point of Christianity is that if you think you have it in you to do works worthy of pleasing a holy God and earning righteousness before Him, you have no idea (i) How holy and righteous God is and/or (ii) how sinful you really are. In fact Paul writes,

I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.

(Galatians 2:21)

If there was any other way to be righteous or to get into heaven other than Christ, His death was a complete waste of everybody’s time.

Christianity teaches that because the chasm between man and His creator was so large, God Himself had to bridge that gap and open the way to be reconciled to Himself in the person of Jesus Christ. Hence Jesus says,

…I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me

(John 14:6)

The cross of Christianity eliminates boasting since the only claim to righteousness anybody can have is the merit of Jesus Christ.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

(Ephesians 2:8–9)

If this is the case, then the good works done by Christians in the name of Jesus Christ are not done in order to gain access into heaven but rather because access to heaven has been gained. Therefore, it is out of place to argue that these works are not moral because they are done for selfish ends. On the other hand, they are done for selfless ends in emulation and honour of the selfless act of Jesus Christ in dying for the sins of the world.

This reinforces God as the foundation of true morality because the works that are done are on the foundation of Jesus Christ, which is a foundation of selflessness. There is still the matter of eternal rewards though, but works that would qualify for these must still be built on the foundation of Jesus Christ’s work, as it is written,

For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward.”

(1 Corinthians 3:11–14)

In conclusion, the objection that Christian morality is selfish is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of Christianity. Far from an inward focused morality, morality becomes outwardly focused, focused on God in Christ.

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A.B. Melchizedek

Crusader for the truth of the gospel and the logical coherence within the context of the scriptural worldview.