The following Augustine quote reminds me of Romans 7, where Paul says, “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate…”
When I thought of devoting myself entirely to you, my God . . . it was I that wished to do it, and I that wished not to do it. It was I. And since I neither completely wished, nor completely refused, I fought against myself and tore myself to pieces.
– St. Augustine
Thank God for Romans 8, where I am hearing the hope of the Spirit for real, each-day living. He loves enough to interrupt our self-pity and move us to revel in God!
2 thoughts on “never completely”
You made me think Jason… and for that I’d say thanks…
Your blog brought the following to mind… “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.”
“for it is God who works in you to will…”
The spiritual life is one of trusting God to work in us to do what we cannot do… that is to live a holy life apart from His work in us and through us… completely… top to bottom. He gets not only the credit for saving us (Eph. 2:8-9)… but all glory is His for any obedience or growth in grace that shows up in our lives, and for any lasting change we demonstrate. Bear in mind, it is the gospel message which contains the power to renovate the most despicable heart and life, or restore the most broken relationship… not an adherance to a code, a series of steps, or any human efforts to conform, for that matter.
God resists our pride and all self attempts to live the spiritual life. I have seen in over 20 years of walking with Him, if I am honest, some pretty messed up living in spite of my alligaince to Him. Was I lost again? I think not. Only carnal, I’d argue, and I still am.
I think it was Augustine who pointed out… if we but turn to God, it is the gift of God… and for me, that is a daily happening. I am prone to wander. Relying on God… as C.S Lewis noted… has to begin all over again every day as if nothing had yet been done… I find it easy to resist the grace of God, and very difficult to recieve in turn. We never arrive, we are works in progress no doubt. I find the tin man, which Lewis speaks of, hanging around and fighting me at every impasse. Try as I may, he never leaves or quits.
Since you mentioned re-reading or skimming Willards book recently, he quotes Lewis again on page 129… The command “be ye perfect” is not idealistic gas. Nor is it a command to do the impossible. He is going to make us into creatures that can obey that command.
It is one of the great paradoxes of our Christian faith. God has spoken. He wants nothing less for us than a God honoring life in every facet… and He demands it. I can’t do it. But, I am not alone in my pursuit. It is His call. Not my call, and He will see to it. I can do it, but not alone. There lies the key. The more I am brought to a place of relying on Him, and trusting Him to do what I cannot do… i.e.melt my hard, brittle and obstinate heart… I find Him making me willing where I am not.
Long… I know. But, it’s as if you put out a spring board and I got to thinking…
the theme of your blog came to mind this morning as I was reading a bit out of Peterson’s glorious work, The Message…
“There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.” -Phlippians 1:6
We each have a tendency to overanalize and also overestimate our own role in the growth of grace… we feel constantly that we must do more, when all the while God wants to do it for us. It’s us who resist the grace of God. No one does it for us. I think that’s our Achilles’ heel if you will in living the spiritual life.
To our demise and loss we fail to miss this so very often.
If any thing we need do in regards to our maturity as followers of Jesus it is just this… we need to learn and re-learn over and over again to trust Him more, and ourselves less.