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Righteousness of Faith - Reflections for Personal Devotion and Conversation with Others

(Sermon 6 in the Standard Sermons of John Wesley)
By: Lauren DeLano

1. Why might approaching our relationship with God through the lens of the righteousness of law be problematic? What does it say about who God is? What does it say about God’s relationship with humanity?

Wesley draws a distinction between “righteousness of the law” and “righteousness of faith.” When we live by righteousness of law we have a mindset of “do this and live,” meaning that we think living a life of faith and receiving eternal life is all about being obedient. When we turn to righteousness of law, we act as if being a disciple is as simple as checking off a “How to be a disciple” to-do list. In other words, what we do in this life is what earns us salvation, and what we do must be perfect – for there is no room for failure or flaw. Why might this way of approaching faith and God be problematic? What does it say about who God is? What does it say about our relationship with God?

2. How is our understanding of God and God’s relationship with humanity different than above when viewed through the lens of righteousness of faith?

When we live by righteousness of faith, we have the mindset of “believe and live.” The law requires us to be obedient and perfect in all things, whereas righteousness of faith requires only that we believe in who God is and what God does for us through Jesus. How might approaching God and God’s relationship with humanity be different through the lens of righteousness of faith?

3. How does declaring our sinfulness set us free?

When we subscribe to the idea of righteousness of faith we are requiring ourselves to act with “unsinning obedience.” But when we subscribe to the righteousness of faith, we declare that we are sinners, but that God’s love outdoes our sinfulness. Wesley says it this way in his sermon, “Thou art sin! God is love! Thou by sin are fallen short of the glory of God; yet there is mercy with him.” In this way, there seems to be a freedom that transforms us when we seek not to be perfectly obedient, but instead attest to our sinful nature. How does declaring our sinfulness set us free?