Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series I/Volume V/On Nature and Grace/Chapter 67

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Chapter 67 [LVII.]—Who May Be Said to Be Under the Law.

But even our author should observe that it is to persons who have been already baptized that it was said: “The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh, so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.”[1] And lest he should make them slothful for the actual conflict, and should seem by this statement to have given them laxity in sinning, he goes on to tell them: “If ye be led of the Spirit, ye are no longer under the law.”[2] For that man is under the law, who, from fear of the punishment which the law threatens, and not from any love for righteousness, obliges himself to abstain from the work of sin, without being as yet free and removed from the desire of sinning. For it is in his very will that he is guilty, whereby he would prefer, if it were possible, that what he dreads should not exist, in order that he might freely do what he secretly desires. Therefore he says, “If ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law,”—even the law which inspires fear, but gives not love. For this “love is shed abroad in our hearts,” not by the letter of the law, but “by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”[3] This is the law of liberty, not of bondage; being the law of love, not of fear; and concerning it the Apostle James says: “Whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty.”[4] Whence he, too, no longer indeed felt terrified by God’s law as a slave, but delighted in it in the inward man, although still seeing another law in his members warring against the law of his mind. Accordingly he here says: “If ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.” So far, indeed, as any man is led by the Spirit, he is not under the law; because, so far as he rejoices in the law of God, he lives not in fear of the law, since “fear has torment,” [5] not joy and delight.


Footnotes[edit]

  1. Gal. v. 17.
  2. Gal. v. 18.
  3. Rom. v. 5.
  4. Jas. i. 25.
  5. 1 John iv. 18.