The Great Privilege of Those That Are Born of God - John Wesley (Condensed Sermon)
This is part of a series of some of John Wesley's greatest sermons in condensed, detailed outline format.
The Great Privilege of Those That Are Born of God – Detailed outline
John Wesley's Text for the Sermon: "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin." 1 John 3:9
"Justification and the new birth are, in point of time, inseparable from each other, yet are they easily distinguished, as being not the same, but things of a widely different nature. Justification implies only a relative change, but the new birth a real change.
God in justifying us does something for us; in begetting us again, he does the work in us.
The former changes our outward relation to God, so that of enemies we become children; by the latter our inmost souls are changed, so that of sinners we become saints.
The one restores us to the favor, the other to the image, of God.
The one is the taking away the guilt, the other the taking away the power, of sin:”
I. What is the proper meaning of that expression, "Whosoever is born of God”?
A. It is a “vast inward change, a change wrought in the soul, by the operation of the Holy Ghost; a change in the whole manner of our existence;”
1. The Change is so significant that “the expression is easy to be understood…there is so near a resemblance between the circumstances of the natural and of the spiritual birth;
2. An unborn child has little interaction “with this visible world; nor any knowledge, conception, or idea, of the things that occur therein.”
3. When a “child born into the world, … He now feels the air with which he is surrounded, and which pours into him from every side, as fast as he alternately breathes it back,
B. Before that great change is wrought, although he subsists by Him, in whom all that have life "live, and move, and have their being," yet
1. he is not sensible of God;
2. he has scarce any knowledge of the invisible world, as he has scarce any intercourse with it.
C. But when he is born of God, born of the Spirit, how is the manner of his existence changed!
1. His whole soul is now sensible of God,
2. The Spirit or breath of God is immediately inspired, breathed into the new-born soul;
3. As it is continually received by faith, so it is continually rendered back by love, by prayer, and praise, and thanksgiving;
4. And by this new kind of spiritual respiration, spiritual life is not only sustained, but increased day by day, together with spiritual strength, and motion, and sensation;
5. all the senses of the soul being now awake, and capable of discerning spiritual good and evil.
II. In what sense he "doth not commit sin."
A. The standard: “he cannot sin, because he is born of God."
B. The definition: “By sin, I here understand outward sin, according to the plain, common acceptation of the word; an actual, voluntary transgression of the law; of the revealed, written law of God;
C. The objection: “But here [lies a problem] that [has made many] give up the privilege of the children of God.” What about people like David (and others) who were obviously born of God [yet committed sin]?
D. The answer: “so long as 'he that is born of God keepeth himself,' [he overcomes]. But if he keepeth not himself, if he abide not in the faith, he may commit sin even as another man."
E. The progression: of “the unquestionable progress from grace to sin: Thus it goes on:”
1. The divine seed of loving, conquering faith, remains in him that is born of God. "He keepeth himself," by the grace of God, and "cannot commit sin."
2. A temptation arises; whether from the world, the flesh, or the devil, it matters not.
3. The Spirit of God gives him warning that sin is near, and bids him more abundantly watch unto prayer.
4. He gives way, in some degree, to the temptation, which now begins to grow pleasing to him.
5. The Holy Spirit is grieved; his faith is weakened; and his love of God grows cold.
6. The Spirit reproves him more sharply, and saith, "This is the way; walk thou in it."
7. He turns away from the painful voice of God, and listens to the pleasing voice of the tempter.
8. Evil desire begins and spreads in his soul, till faith and love vanish away: He is then capable of committing outward sin, the power of the Lord being departed from him.
F. Here we can learn from David’s Example & Peter’s Example
III. What can we learn from this?
A. Final Question: Does a child of God first commit sin, and thereby lose his faith? Or does he lose his faith first, before he can commit sin?"
Answer: Some sin of omission, at least, must necessarily precede the loss of faith; some inward sin: But the loss of faith must precede the committing outward sin.
B. We may learn “What is the life of God in the soul of a believer?”
1. It immediately and necessarily implies the continual inspiration of God's Holy Spirit; God's breathing into the soul, and the soul's breathing back what it first receives from God;
2. a continual action of God upon the soul, and a re-action of the soul upon God;
3. an unceasing presence of God, the loving, pardoning God, manifested to the heart, and perceived by faith;
4. and an unceasing return of love, praise, and prayer, offering up all the thoughts of our hearts, all the words of our tongues, all the works of our hands, all our body, soul, and spirit, to be a holy sacrifice, acceptable unto God in Christ Jesus.
C. We may learn “The absolute necessity of this re-action of the soul to continue the divine life therein....God does not continue to act upon the soul, unless the soul re-acts upon God.”
D. We may learn “to follow that direction of the great Apostle, "Be not high-minded, but fear."
What a privilege to live in victory over sin!
If you want to know more about victory over sin, you should check out Pursuing Holiness.