Steve Deneff preached a good sermon this morning on temptation. You can listen to it on iTunes in a day or two. Check back at the College Wesleyan website.
What made me think of posting was the fact that he really ignored the Wesleyan question of entire sanctification. If we're honest, few Wesleyan pastors preach this doctrine. Few people in the pew understand it. Forgive the imagery, but this morning sermon struck me as something like a by-pass around a blocked artery.
Deneff's sermon took off from Genesis 4 and the line that "sin crouches at the door." He made very healthy distinctions between evil and sin. He had a helpful section on avenues by which temptation come (personality, physical issues, environment). He had a practical "to this" start toward solutions (practice the virtue opposite the tempting vice).
He warned the entirely sanctified not to forget that still "sin crouches at the door." Crouches, not as in we "fall" into sin but that it is looking to get us.
How am I as a Wesleyan to map this sermon to our historical doctrines? Is this Keswick? Sin will always be a struggle, even though you can beat it through the Spirit. That's not historically Wesleyan. What about entire sanctification? Where the power of Sin over me is defeated over the whole?
For good or ill, those aren't the questions Christians are asking and I suspect if we were to dwell on them, we simply consign ourselves to irrelevance. I believe Deneff has hit the nail on the head this morning and has, intentionally or not, boiled down the Wesleyan tradition in this area to what people need to hear and will actually help them.
1. Sin crouches at the door of all our lives, no matter how long you have been a Christian. No one dare think they have arrived or ignore the constant possibility of having and yielding to temptation.
2. No one need be defeated by Sin or temptation, through the Spirit's power. Sin may crouch, but it never need catch.
3. Implicit, although it was not the focus this morning, is the possibility that God can "break the power of cancelled Sin." I personally think it is more problematic than helpful to debate the breaking of the power of Sin for the entirety of a person, since we are constantly changing all the time. In principle, I completely agree that a Christian should be able to say at any point of their life that, for their part, they are as surrendered to God as they know how to be and would obey Him whatever He might ask them to do.
But what matters today--and as humans we only ever have today--is that the power of Sin be broken in the area where Sin is crouching today. Wesleyans believe that God can shoot the lion crouching today to where that particular temptation ceases to crouch so threatenly tomorrow.
The blood will flow through this artery.