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John Wesley on Prayer Lesson 5

*“Awake sleeper…and Christ will shine on you.”

Ephesians 5:14 NASB

Discover yourself! If you are one of the poor self-deceivers, awake! Is your confidence a self-confidence that you have the witness in yourself that you are a child of God, and thus defy all your enemies?

Alas! You are weighed in the balance and found lacking. The Word of the Lord has tried your soul and proved it to be reprobate silver. You are not lowly of heart, therefore you have not yet received the Spirit of Jesus. You are not gentle and meek, even tempered. Therefore, your joy is worth nothing; it is not joy in the Lord. You do not keep His commandments; therefore, you do not love Him, nor are you a partaker of the Holy Spirit. It is as certain and as evident as the Word of God can make it: His Spirit does not bear witness with your spirit that you are a child of God.

Cry unto Him that the scales may fall off your eyes, that you may know yourself as He knows you: a poor, undeserving, hell-bound sinner. Pray that you may receive the sentence of death within yourself, until you hear the voice that raises the dead saying, “Be of good cheer. Your sins are forgiven. Go in peace; your faith has made you whole;” and His Spirit witnesses with your spirit that you are His child.

*From How to Pray: The Best of John Wesley on Prayer, published by Barbour Publishing, Inc. Used by permission.

In lesson 5, Wesley draws a hard line between a confidence in self and an assurance of the spirit. A distinction between a self-deceiver, asleep and unaware of his own spiritual condition, and one who has truly been crucified with Christ and now lives in Him through the Holy Spirit. 

There are those that, as 2 Timothy 3:5 in the New Living Translation says, “… act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!” These are the people that Wesley is speaking of in this lesson.

He says, “It is as certain and as evident as the Word of God can make it: His Spirit does not bear witness with your spirit that you are a child of God.” Confidence in self, when put into play as a means of meriting God’s favor, is a self-defeating proposition. As good or as skilled as we may be, we will never be good enough or skilled enough for God. Why? Because, that is not what God requires of us.

In Romans 12:1-3, the apostle Paul says,

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. 3 For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. (NASB)

God requires humility, sobriety of mind, and sound judgment. We are to present ourselves in sacrifice to Him, allowing Him to renew our thinking. We are to have sober judgment about ourselves. That means not thinking too highly or lowly about who we are and what we can do on our own. In order to live out the good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God for our lives, we must first die to self and then allow God to resurrect us in New Life in Christ Jesus. We can’t really live until we’ve really died.

The verse Wesley uses here is Ephesians 5:14, which Paul compiles from several verses out of Isaiah, speaking of Christ shining His light on us. It will be helpful to read Ephesians 5:13-17 to get the fuller meaning of what Paul, and I believe Wesley, are telling us:

13But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. 14For this reason it says, ” Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you.” 15Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, 16making the most of your time, because the days are evil. 17So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (NASB)


Published by doctorpaddy

An ordained minister, Christian communicator, and educator.

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