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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
A Treatise Against Two Letters of the...: Chapter 15

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 15 [IX.]—He Sins in Will Who is Only Deterred from Sinning by Fear.

Nor let us be disturbed by what he wrote to the Philippians: “Touching the righteousness which is in the law, one who is without blame.” For he could be within in evil affections a transgressor of the law, and yet fulfil the open works of the law, either by the fear of men or of God Himself; but by terror of punishment, not by love and delight in righteousness. For it is one thing to do good with the will of doing good, and another thing to be so inclined by the will to do evil, that one would actually do it if it could be allowed without punishment. For thus assuredly he is sinning within in his will itself, who abstains from sin not by will but by fear. And knowing himself to have been such in these his internal affections, before the grace of God which is through Jesus Christ our Lord, the apostle elsewhere confesses this very plainly. For writing to the Ephesians, he says: “And you, though ye were dead in your trespasses and sins, wherein sometime ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of that spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience, in whom also we all at one time had our conversation in the lusts of our flesh, doing the will of our flesh and our affections, and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others also: but God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us even when we were dead in sins, quickened us together with Christ, by whose grace we are saved.” Again to Titus he says: “For we ourselves also were sometime foolish and unbelieving, erring, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and holding one another in hatred.” Such was Saul when he says that he was, touching the righteousness which is in the law, without reproach. For that he had not pressed on in the law, and changed his character so as to be without reproach after this hateful life, he plainly shows in what follows, when he says that he was not changed from these evils except by the grace of the Saviour. For adding also this very thing, here as well as to the Ephesians, he says: “But when the kindness and love of God our Saviour shone forth, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and of the renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom He shed on us most abundantly, through Jesus Christ our Saviour, that being justified by His grace we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

Next: Chapter 16

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