Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series I/Volume V/On Nature and Grace/Chapter 61

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Chapter 61 [LIII.]—Paul Asserts that the Flesh is Contrary Even in the Baptized.

Now let us see whether we anywhere read about the flesh being contrary in the baptized also. And here, I ask, to whom did the apostle say, “The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other; so that ye do not the things that ye would?”[1] He wrote this, I apprehend, to the Galatians, to whom he also says, “He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law or by the hearing of faith?”[2] It appears, therefore, that it is to Christians that he speaks, to whom, too, God had given His Spirit: therefore, too, to the baptized. Observe, therefore, that even in baptized persons the flesh is found to be contrary; so that they have not that capacity which, our author says, is inseparably implanted in nature. Where then is the ground for his assertion, “How can it be that in the case of a baptized person the flesh is contrary to him?” in whatever sense he understands the flesh? Because in very deed it is not its nature that is good, but it is the carnal defects of the flesh which are expressly named in the passage before us.[3] Yet observe, even in the baptized, how contrary is the flesh. And in what way contrary? So that, “They do not the things which they would.” Take notice that the will is present in a man; but where is that “capacity of nature?” Let us confess that grace is necessary to us; let us cry out, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” And let our answer be, “The grace of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord!”[4]


Footnotes[edit]

  1. Gal. v. 17.
  2. Gal. iii. 5.
  3. See the context of Gal. v. 17, in verses 19–21.
  4. Rom. vii. 24, 25.