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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. II:
City of God: Chapter 4

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 4.—What It is to Live According to Man, and What to Live According to God.

When, therefore, man lives according to man, not according to God, he is like the devil.  Because not even an angel might live according to an angel, but only according to God, if he was to abide in the truth, and speak God’s truth and not his own lie.  And of man, too, the same apostle says in another place, “If the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie;” 652 —“my lie,” he said, and “God’s truth.”  When, then, a man lives according to the truth, he lives not according to himself, but according to God; for He was God who said, “I am the truth.” 653   When, therefore, man lives according to himself,—that is, according to man, not according to God,—assuredly he lives according to a lie; not that man himself is a lie, for God is his author and creator, who is certainly not the author and creator of a lie, but because man was made upright, that he might not live according to himself, but according to Him that made him,—in other words, that he might do His will and not his own; and not to live as he was made to live, that is a lie.  For he certainly desires to be blessed even by not living so that he may be blessed.  And what is a lie if this desire be not?  Wherefore it is not without meaning said that all sin is a lie.  For no sin is committed save by that desire or will by which we desire that it be well with us, and shrink from it being ill with us.  That, therefore, is a lie which we do in order that it may be well with us, but which makes us more miserable than we were.  And why is this, but because the source of man’s happiness lies only in God, whom he abandons when he sins, and not in himself, by living according to whom he sins?

In enunciating this proposition of ours, then, that because some live according to the flesh and others according to the spirit, there have arisen two diverse and conflicting cities, we might equally well have said, “because some live according to man, others according to God.”  For Paul says very plainly to the Corinthians, “For whereas there is among you envying and strife, are ye not carnal, and walk according to man?” 654   So that to walk according to man and to be carnal are the p. 265 same; for by flesh, that is, by a part of man, man is meant.  For before he said that those same persons were animal whom afterwards he calls carnal, saying, “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.  Now we have received not the spirit of this world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things which are freely given to us of God.  Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.  But the animal man perceiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him.” 655   It is to men of this kind, then, that is, to animal men, he shortly after says, “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal.” 656   And this is to be interpreted by the same usage, a part being taken for the whole.  For both the soul and the flesh, the component parts of man, can be used to signify the whole man; and so the animal man and the carnal man are not two different things, but one and the same thing, viz., man living according to man.  In the same way it is nothing else than men that are meant either in the words, “By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified;” 657 or in the words, “Seventy-five souls went down into Egypt with Jacob.” 658   In the one passage, “no flesh” signifies “no man;” and in the other, by “seventy-five souls” seventy-five men are meant.  And the expression, “not in words which man’s wisdom teacheth” might equally be “not in words which fleshly wisdom teacheth;” and the expression, “ye walk according to man,” might be “according to the flesh.”  And this is still more apparent in the words which followed:  “For while one saith, I am of Paul, and another, I am of Apollos, are ye not men?”  The same thing which he had before expressed by “ye are animal,” “ye are carnal, he now expresses by “ye are men;” that is, ye live according to man, not according to God, for if you lived according to Him, you should be gods.


Footnotes

264:652

Rom. 3.7.

264:653

John 14.6.

264:654

1 Cor. 3.3.

265:655

1 Cor. 2.11-14.

265:656

1 Cor. 3.1.

265:657

Rom. 3.20.

265:658

Gen. 46.27.


Next: Chapter 5

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