This sermon is the only one of the 53 Standard Sermons of Wesley that was written by Charles Wesley, not John.
Sleeper, awake! Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you. Ephesians 5:14
When it comes to the spiritual life, the natural state of humanity is well described as asleep. Our nature is one of slumber as it comes to our understanding of the goodness of God and the need for grace. We live in a darkness of sin that keeps us from understanding our desperate need for God. All the more, we dream that we are free and in perfect health. We live content in our condition and unaware of the eternal cost that our sin will bring us.
Those most asleep are not, however, those who outwardly live immoral lives. The deepest sleepers are those who believe themselves to be good and worthy of God’s blessing. They seek to live rightly by God and lack nothing as it comes to religion except the internal power of Christ. They are revered by humanity but not revered by God. Just as Adam died spiritually at the fall, so too those who are asleep are dead in sin. Sleepers are deprived of the union with God that our souls long for and lack an ability to know true good, understand God at work and do not have the presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives.
What message does God have for the sleepers? Wake up! Wake up and see the storm of sin that rages all around you. Wake up and begin to see that sin is destroying you. Particularly those of you who feel that you are ‘good people’ – wake up and see that true goodness only comes from God. Wake up and turn to God and prepare your soul for eternity.
Are you awake? How do you know? You know when you have turned your life over to Christ. You know when you have the Holy Spirit deep in your soul. You know you are awake when you turn away from thinking that Christianity is something you do and begin to live with the Kingdom of God within you. It is not your works or your sincerity or your spiritual heritage that will save you. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself in love. If you are becoming a new creation through the Holy Spirit working within you, then you are awake to the true life in the Kingdom of God. If you are resting on your own actions or your own faith to save you, you still sleep. None of this will bring you to God. We can only come to God when we wake up and let God into our lives.
Seek the light
When you awake from the darkness, turn to the light. Allow God to give you the faith to trust in Him. Invite God to dwell within you, to let His light shine in your soul. The Holy Spirit is God’s gift to us – His presence to guide us in life! Receive the forgiveness that comes in faith and the seal of the Holy Spirit to guide you into deeper faith in Christ.
When we awake, God promises to give us the Holy Spirit. It is the sign that we are awake. If you haven’t received the Spirit, you are not yet awake! Have you received it? You’ll know it if you have. You’ll know that God is with you, guiding your life and inspiring you on to a greater life in Christ.
Christianity is not some philosophy of moral living or a dull routine of rites and actions to appease God. It is a living, breathing life of faith lived out in joy when we relinquish our wills to God’s will and allow the Holy Spirit to guide our lives.
Are you asleep or are you awake? Are you still slumbering in the darkness of sin or have you awoken to God’s truth? Have you turned from a life of trying to appease God or impress people and turned your will over to the Holy Spirit? You’ll know you are awake when you know that Holy Spirit in your life.
Does the Holy Spirit control your life? If not, wake up! Wake and turn your life over to Jesus.
This is the 3rd in a series of posts based on the Standard Sermons of John Wesley. These 53 sermons are required reading for every Methodist preacher and form the basis of Methodist theology.