Darrell Stetler II
John Wesley Condensed Sermon: THE ORIGIN, NATURE, PROPERTIES AND USE OF THE LAW
John Wesley Condensed Sermon 34 – Romans 7:12
Here, Wesley speaks of “the law” in terms of the moral law humanity is to abide by. This becomes part of the Christian’s guidelines on how to live and love God.
This is a detailed outline/summary of the sermon.
I. The Law (I).
a. This is not the law given to Moses, but rather “For this end he endued them with understanding, to discern truth from falsehood, good from evil; and, as a necessary result of this, with liberty, -- a capacity of choosing the one and refusing the other” (I.1).
b. “And thus it is, that the law of God is now made known to them that know not God,” (I.6).
II. The Nature of the Law (II).
a. “The nature of that law which was originally given to angels in heaven and man in paradise, and which God has so mercifully promised to write afresh in the hearts of all true believers, was the second thing I proposed to show,” (II.1-2). The law Wesley is expounding upon is the law that God has written on the hearts of humanity, so that by his grace we might have any awareness of such law.
b. “Now, this law is an incorruptible picture of the High and Holy One that inhabiteth eternity,”
(II.3). The Lord’s decrees cannot be abolished and those who are children of God must follow in eternal obedience and adoration to Him.
III. Properties of the Law (III).
a. There are three main properties of the law. “These are three: it is holy, just, and good. And, First, the law is holy,” (III.1-2). The law is holy and calls us to be holy as we are in Christ.
b. “For ‘what communion hath light with darkness.’ As sin is, in its very nature, enmity to God, so his law is enmity to sin,” (III.3). We cannot continue in sin if we are truly children of God for sin and God’s perfection cannot coincide.
c. “It is, indeed, in the highest degree, pure, chaste, clean, holy,” (III.3).
d. “Secondly, just. It renders to all their due. It prescribes exactly what is right, precisely what ought to be done, said, or thought, both with regard to the Author of our being,”
(III.5). Everything in the law is just, just as God is. We are to trust that God’s law is right and fitting to abide by.
e. “The law, then, is right and just concerning all things. And it is good as well as just” (III.10). Wesley comments that just as the law is good and right, so the fruit of our obedience to Lord will be goodness which is evident to all.
IV. Use of the Law (IV).
a. The law serves to convict us of our sin (IV.1). It is through God’s commandments that we can see how we are falling short or failing to obey Him completely.
b. For the sinner, “First use of the law; to destroy the life and strength wherein he trusts, and convince him that he is dead while he liveth; not only under the sentence of death, but actually dead unto God, void of all spiritual life, "dead in trespasses and sins,”
(IV.2). The false security that the sinner once had is removed and instead the sinner is aware of how ghastly and evil those sins are.
c. But the law is also to bring the sinner into life in Christ (IV.3). The law is also to sustain us and keep us alive spiritually, according to Wesley. We must be faithful, obedient servants of the Lord and growing in faith so that we may continue to have spiritual life and to be holy.
d. “The Third use of the law is, to keep us alive” (IV.3).
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For my own explanation of the Doctrine of Christian perfection in modern language, check out www.40daysofholiness.com.