Sermon Thirty Christians must be law abiding

john                                     audio clip

This is weird to me because I remember that moment when the law that was binding me fell away. And yes as Wesley said, I behaved badly, but in doing that I realised to be lawless, unbound by the fetters of Almost Christianity, was not what was intended.

I was clearly shown two routes, one led to heaven, one to hell, one narrow, one wide. Once we are infused by the love of God, the law becomes part of it and it seems like no law because we desire to follow it, we follow it because it is written in our hearts and we can’t help but follow it. To turn away from the law and from God takes effort, physical effort to turn the head and be distracted by the world. If we are not focused on Christ that movement becomes easier, and that is why we see people drifting away ever so slowly rather than “right that is it I want to be a sinner in sinland now”

Wesley is having a theological argument at the time this is written to those called Antinomians in general and various church denominations down through the ages for example Mennonites. The argument is whether you believe you have been justified by faith alone and then can do anything or that you have been justified by faith and because of that you follow the law, I think.

To quell Mosaic law though is to quell the ten commandments among other things. One thing that fascinates me is how one verse is universally abolished and the next causes rifts in the fabric of many churches. In 2015 we shall see how our church fares. No doubt when that time comes I will write voluminously so I won’t here.

I suppose I look at the sermon and the arguments from the outside, this doesn’t really apply to me. Now there are very personal reasons why I ensure I follow the law innately, not least because I am called by the Holy Spirit to do so, because as a member of an established church with covering we are called to and because of this very tentative next step. I am not Pharisean  in my following, I have done that in the past when I didn’t call myself a Christian, I am not judgemental on those who cannot for whatever reason follow a particular law, I know my weaknesses and now I ensure I keep away from the distractions that lead me on to the wide road.

Wesley finally points to law of love as opposed to the law of fear. He is on middle ground between the “Law and nothing but the Law” and “Grace and nothing but Grace” Methodism often finds itself there, rationally sitting on the fence, others call it. Rather I call it, keeping the door open for all to come in.

Sermon Twenty Nine The moral law

john                                             audio clip

 

Wesley says the moral law is a necessary tool of the Holy Spirit to convict us when we are straying. He himself admits to falling short of Jesus’ command on you shall not commit murder even in a bad thought.

The Law as in the ritualistic ceremonial law is gone, the ten commandments are still there. Two more were added Love the Lord your God with all your mind… and love your neighbour as yourself.

But what if you don’t feel much for yourself. One of the first things you are told in counselling is talk to yourself in a mirror. I tried, oh I tried but I could not look myself in the eyes and speak even nice pleasantries to myself. I was unworthy of being spoken to. Worthless.

As I was attending church at this time and listening to these scriptures. I had the loving your neighbour down. Of course I loved everyone else, I could even see God’s mercy extending to repentant murderers but I just couldn’t see it applying to me. I tried to change, turn my back on the sins that were ever present. Work on one and another would appear like the bashing moles game at the seaside.

Out of the blue behaviours surfaced that I had left in my mid twenties or late teens. I became obsessed in an unhealthy way to my appearance and dug holes in my flesh, I began to control the bits of my life I could, going on a very strict dietary intake, forbidding this that and the other but it was no good. I was spiralling into the darkness when I had a small peak of the light.

I was healed in time, in God’s time, and I can look at myself though possibly not as God sees me. I see what’s wrong, he sees a child he loves.

In the law as Wesley sees it we are free. We are free from the yoke of sin, we are free from Mosaic ceremonial law, free from the guilt of sin, free from the fear of hell. He says “continue to obey the law of freedom and so every day you will grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ”