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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
A Treatise on the Merits and Forgiveness...: Chapter 10

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 10 [VIII.]—Perfection, When to Be Realized.

Our full adoption, then, as children, is to happen at the redemption of our body. It is therefore the first-fruits of the Spirit which we now possess, whence we are already really become the children of God; for the rest, indeed, as it is by hope that we are saved and renewed, so are we the children of God. But inasmuch as we are not yet actually saved, we are also not yet fully renewed, nor yet also fully sons of God, but children of the world. We are therefore advancing in renewal and holiness of life,—and it is by this that we are children of God, and by this also we cannot commit sin;—until at last the whole of that by which we are kept as yet children of this world is changed into this;—for it is owing to this that we are as yet able to sin. Hence it comes to pass that “whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin;” 497 and as well, “if we were to say that we have no sin, we should deceive ourselves, and the truth would not be in us.” 498 There shall be then an end put to that within us which keeps us children of the flesh and of the world; whilst that other shall be perfected which makes us the children of God, and renews us by His Spirit. Accordingly the same John says, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God; and it doth not yet appear what we shall be.” 499 Now what means this variety in the expressions, “we are,” and “we shall be,” but this —we are in hope, we shall be in reality? For he goes on to say, “We know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” 500 We have therefore even now begun to be like Him, having the first-fruits of the Spirit; but yet we are still unlike Him, by reason of the remainders of the old nature. In as far, then, as we are like Him, in so far are we, by the regenerating Spirit, sons of God; but in as far as we are unlike Him, in so far are we the children of the flesh and of the world. On the one side, we cannot commit sin; but, on the other, if we say that we have no sin, we only deceive ourselves,—until we pass entirely into the adoption, and the sinner be no more, and you look for his place and find it not. 501


Footnotes

48:497

1 John iii. 9.

48:498

1 John i. 8.

48:499

1 John iii. 2.

48:500

1 John iii. 2.

48:501

Ps. xxxvi. 10.


Next: Chapter 11

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