If you’ve not read any of St. Augustine’s works, you are truly missing out on some fascinating philosophical and theological brain food. I, myself, had not delved into any of his works until two years ago when, at a retreat, a book table offered a small paperback version of his Confessions for free. You cant beat free, folks.
I took it home and began reading it immediately. I’m a HUGE reader and go through books like you wouldn’t believe! This one in particular had an impressive array of one-liners that meant a lot to me and taught me some great lessons. One of St. Augustine’s most famous quotes is as follows:
“But I, wretched, most wretched, in the very commencement of my early youth, had begged chastity of Thee, and said, ‘Grant me chastity and continence, only not yet.'”
This quote is absolutely fascinating to me in its honesty and its relevance even almost 1600 years after it was penned. You gotta give it to Ole Augustine here: The guy knew what his hang up was and was willing to admit of it. Lust is probably one of if not the most prominent struggles in today’s society, and yet we try our best to make it seem like we aren’t really wrestling with it. Lust is something we keep hidden away, and the more we hide it and attempt to overcome it on our own, the more it kills us.
Augustine says something here that it humorous but also revealing: “Lord, make me chaste…but not yet.” You see, he was holding on to a part of his life before his conversion to Christianity at the age of 32. He is infamous for his lust-filled exploits – even after becoming a preeminent Christian scholar and Theologian. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says the we are NEW creations when we accept Christ and that all that is OLD has gone. Why, then, are we so guilty of holding on to the sins that entangle us? I’m still carrying “sin baggage” from the Mike-that-was before I was saved. My guess is that you are, too. But to find hope, all you have to do is keep reading 2 Corinthians:
“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” – 2 Cor 5:18-19
To reconcile is to harmonize; to bring into balance. Here we read that God reconciled the world to Him. He took the sinful world and took the sin 0ut of it. What Augustine, you, and I couldn’t do on our own (let go of the sin that entangles), God accomplished through Christ for us. WE didn’t reconcile ourselves to GOD. GOD reconciled Himself to US. That is the only way it works.
Rejoice with me today in knowing that our God has done for us something we could never have done on our own! He has lifted the chains of sin and made us new creations in Him!