In this sermon Wesley is contrasting the covenant given to us through Adam, which he calls the covenant of works and the covenant of grace through Christ. The Adamic covenant was what the Pharisees were trying to achieve, perfection in their lives, in their whole being, there was a belief that if everyone could be perfect for one hour the Messiah would come.
But they were doing this in their own strength, there was no dependence on God in this scenario. There is nothing we can DO to earn God’s love, there is nothing we can DO to prepare ourselves to be in his presence. We will never be able to keep all the outward appearances of following the law, let alone the inward ones. And when we do things in our own strength we get disheartened quickly, if we organise a meeting and no one comes. If we do things in our own strength, our words have a hollow ring to them. If we do things in our own strength it doesn’t feel quite right so we look at the other people, we look around and see the one who is not pulling their weight, or the one who doesn’t pray as earnestly as us, or doesn’t sing as loud, or doesn’t play their instrument as well.
In my own strength I am weak, able to function but tiring easily, giving up easily, not even bothering because hey, who cares anyway. In God’s strength, when I rely on him for direction, for the next word I write, for the next words of comfort on a visit, for the next anything, I can do it because he fills me up so I will study for Him, I will visit for Him, I will sing for Him, I will preach for Him. None of this is for me, but for Him alone and all glory goes to Him.
Wesley was around people who were trying to get themselves sorted before coming to the Lord, he told them it was impossible. A sister in Christ once told me that on telling her mammy she was about to embark on a journey for the Lord her mammy said something like, “but you are not good enough to do that,” None of us is good enough, so why wait, ask Christ into your life, now.
Wesley at this time believed that once we transformed into new creations we were unable to sin, that free will was gone. But that isn’t quite correct and he adjusted his thinking in later years. We have salvation and faith because of the gift of grace bestowed on us. That grace from God is a most precious gift. Without it we would be subject to the wrath of God but because of the grace of God and the mercy of God our sins are forgiven. Because of his great love for us we are set free from sin, no longer slaves to sin but free to live in the Spirit of the Living God.
He made a very astute observation in this sermon: “I am not sorry enough”
That is so true, once we have accepted Jesus as our Lord and Saviour our sorrow increases but mixed with the joy of new life. Until we truly in every fibre of our body understand and know what Jesus did on the Cross, we can never be sorry enough. But that should not stop us from asking.
Jesus is the only way to eternal life with the Father, we can only reach God through his great sacrifice. Without Christ we are condemned to death, with him we have life.