I am tempted by the false promises of the world, the selfish desires of my flesh, and the lies of the devil, all of which war against God and my spiritual well-being. (Genesis 3:1–8; Proverbs 30:7–9; Mark 7:15; James 1:13; 1 John 2:15–17) Support the podcast here on Buy Me A Coffee (similar to Patreon)
Augustine of Hippo
These three are they: lest haply any man say, The things that are in the world, God made: i.e. heaven and earth, the sea: the sun, the moon, the stars, all the garniture of the heavens. What is the garniture of the sea? All creeping things. What of the earth? animals, trees, flying creatures. These are ‘in the world,’ God made them. Why then am I not to love what God has made? Let the Spirit of God be in you, that you may see that all these things are good: but woe to you if you love the things made, and forsake the Maker of them! Fair are they to you: but how much fairer He that formed them! Mark well, beloved. For by similitudes you may be instructed: lest Satan steal upon you, saying what he is wont to say, Take your enjoyment in the creature of God; wherefore made He those things but for your enjoyment? And men drink themselves drunken, and perish, and forget their own Creator: while not temperately but lustfully they use the things created, the Creator is despised. Of such says the apostle: They worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, Who is blessed for ever. Romans 1:25 God does not forbid you to love these things, howbeit, not to set your affections upon them for blessedness, but to approve and praise them to this end, that you may love your Creator. In the same manner, my brethren, as if a bridegroom should make a ring for his bride, and she having received the ring, should love it more than she loves the bridegroom who made the ring for her: would not her soul be found guilty of adultery in the very gift of the bridegroom, albeit she did but love what the bridegroom gave her? By all means let her love what the bridegroom gave: yet should she say, This ring is enough for me, I do not wish to see his face now: what sort of woman would she be? Who would not detest such folly? Who not pronounce her guilty of an adulterous mind? You love gold in place of the man, lovest a ring in place of the bridegroom: if this be in you, that you love a ring in place of your bridegroom, and hast no wish to see your bridegroom; that he has given you an earnest, serves not to pledge you to him, but to turn away your heart from him! For this the bridegroom gives earnest, that in his earnest he may himself be loved. Well then, God gave you all these things: love Him that made them. There is more that He would fain give you, that is, His very Self that made these things. But if you love these— what though God made them— and neglect the Creator and love the world; shall not your love be accounted adulterous? For the world is the appellation given not only to this fabric which God made heaven and earth, the sea, things visible and invisible: but the inhabitants of the world are called the world, just as we call a house both the walls and them that inhabit therein. And sometimes we praise a house, and find fault with the inhabitants. For we say, A good house; because it is marbled and beautifully ceiled: and in another sense we say, A good house: no man there suffers wrong, no acts of plunder, no acts of oppression, are done there. Now we praise not the building, but those who dwell within the building: yet we call it house, both this and that. For all lovers of the world, because by love they inhabit the world, just as those inhabit heaven, whose heart is on high while in the flesh they walk on earth: I say then, all lovers of the world are called the world. The same have only these three things, lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, vain glory of life. For they lust to eat, drink, cohabit: to use these pleasures. Not surely, that there is no allowed measure in these things, or that when it is said, Love not these things, it means that you are not to eat, or not to drink, or not to beget children? This is not the thing said. Only, let there be measure, because of the Creator, that these things may not bind you by your loving of them: lest you love that for enjoyment, which you ought to have for use. But you are not put to the proof except when two things are propounded to you, this or that: Will you righteousness or gains? I have not wherewithal to live, have not wherewithal to eat, have not wherewithal to drink. But what if you can not have these but by iniquity? Is it not better to love that which you lose not, than to lose yourself by iniquity? You see the gain of gold, the loss of faith you see not. This then, says he to us, is the lust of the flesh, i.e. the lusting after those things which pertain to the flesh, such as food, and carnal cohabitation, and all other such like. And the lust of the eyes: by the lust of the eyes, he means all curiosity. Now how wide is the scope of curiosity! This it is that works in spectacles, in theatres, in sacraments of the devil, in magical arts, in dealings with darkness: none other than curiosity. Sometimes it tempts even the servants of God, so that they wish as it were to work a miracle, to tempt God whether He will hear their prayers in working of miracles; it is curiosity: this is lust of the eyes; it is not of the Father. If God has given the power, do the miracle, for He has put it in your way to do it: for think not that those who have not done miracles shall not pertain to the kingdom of God. When the apostles were rejoicing that the demons were subject to them, what said the Lord to them? Rejoice not in this, but rejoice because your names are written in heaven. Luke 10:20 In that would He have the apostles to rejoice, wherein you also rejoice. Woe to you truly if your name be not written in heaven! Is it woe to you if you raise not the dead? Is it woe to you if you walk not on the sea? Is it woe to you if you cast not out demons? If you have received power to do them, use it humbly, not proudly. For even of certain false prophets the Lord has said that they shall do signs and prodigies. Matthew 24:24 Therefore let there be no ambition of the world: Ambitio sæculi, is Pride. The man wishes to make much of himself in his honors: he thinks himself great, whether because of riches, or because of some power.
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