(When I an initial started this blog a couple of months ago, I discussed that a continual feature would be a series under the rubric “I when heard a preacher say.” Here’s the first contribution to the series.)

Well, it occurred again. And I promised myself the the following time ns heard it, I would blog around it. So below it is. This morning, ns heard a preacher quote Augustine as saying, “Love God, and also do together you please.” Now, to the preacher’s credit, that was cautious to guard against one erroneous interpretation of this quotation, the kind that would certainly say the as lengthy as friend love God, you can go ahead and do pretty lot anything you want to, even something sinful, and it’s perfect okay. The preacher said that this was no what the quotation is saying. And also the preacher was absolutely right. However, the preacher climate went on to give an additional interpretation the was likewise erroneous. He stated that Augustine’s an interpretation was the if friend love God, then immediately you will do what is ethically correct as you live the Christian life. If you love God, and also if you have actually God’s holy Spirit dwelling inside of you, then whatever it pleases girlfriend to do will be the correct point to do. Friend don’t have to consult Old testimony law, or the native of the prophets, or the Sermon on the Mount, or the moral prescriptions in the new Testament, in stimulate to find out what is ethically right; rather, friend will immediately know what is right since you love God and because you have actually the divine Spirit living within of you. Additionally, appeal to be made come Galatians 5 together teaching the same thing.

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I will illustrate the error of this way of knowledge what Augustine said by describing two situations.

Situation one. A guy approaches a young on the street. He tells him what a good looking lad the is, puts the arm roughly him, hugs him, offers him a item of candy, speaks tenderly to him, smiles in ~ him and draws a smile from the boy in return.

Situation two. A father is an extremely displeased through his son for having disobeyed him. He speak to the sternly in a according to voice, punishes that by beating him, and then sends out him to bed without any supper.

Now, in which among these two situations was true love expressed toward the boy? who wouldn’t prefer to be hugged, complimented, smiled at, and also given candy, quite than being sternly spoken to, beaten, and sent come bed without supper?

Yet, the is only in situation two that the boy has actually been truly loved. He was loved by a dad who, in stimulate to properly shape his son’s character, spoke to him sternly and punished the in an action of loving discipline. In situation one, the male treated the boy kindly, only in stimulate to win the boy’s confidence, so the he can eventually kidnap the boy and also sell him right into slavery.

It is exactly these two instances that Augustine is addressing and also using to show the principle he lays the end in his homily top top 1 john 4:4-12 (Ten Homilies ~ above the first Epistle the John, Homily 7 top top 1 man 4:4-12). The says:

. . . We uncover a male by charity do fierce; and through iniquity do winningly gentle. A dad beats a boy, and a boy-stealer caresses. If thou name the 2 things, blows and caresses, who would not choose the caresses, and decline the blows? If thou mark the persons, the is charity that beats, iniquity the caresses. See what we space insisting upon; that the deeds of guys are only discerned by the root of charity. For many things may be done that have a good appearance, and yet continue not native the source of charity. Because that thorns likewise have flowers: some actions important seem rough, it seems ~ savage; howbeit they space done for discipline at the bidding that charity. Once for all, then, a brief precept is provided thee: Love, and also do what you wilt: whether thou organize thy peace, with love host thy peace; even if it is thou cry out, through love cry out; whether thou correct, with love correct; whether thou spare, v love do thou spare: let the source of love it is in within, that this root have the right to nothing spring however what is good.

There are two points in specific to note here.

First, keep in mind that the quotation, “Love God and also do together you please,” is, in fact, a misquotation. What Augustine composed was, in update English, “Love, and also do what girlfriend will.” The initial does not have actually the word, “God.” and the Augustine scholars who I have consulted agree that “do what friend will,” much better captures Augustine’s thought right here than “do as you please.” The native “please” and also “will” execute overlap, but there is, nevertheless, a distinction to be known here.

Second, note that Augustine is addressing two particular issues. The first one is the of appearances. What show up to be loving acts may, in fact, be unloving acts, as portrayed by the would-be kidnapper’s actions. What appear to it is in unloving acts may, in fact, be love acts, as depicted by the father’s actions. The second issue is that of motivation. Augustine says that a person’s actions should be urged by love. Once such a love-motivated person faces a decision whereby it can be argued that one of two people of two selections could be seen as being ethically correct, the person’s duty in that case is mainly to make certain that the choice eventually made has actually its underlying motivation in love. Below is mine paraphrase of the last part of the citation I offered from Augustine’s homily:

If, in a certain situation, you decide to organize your peace, then make sure that love to be the motive because that holding her peace. If, top top the other hand, girlfriend decide that crying out is the finest thing come do, then make sure that love was the motive for your crying out. If, in a particular situation, you decide the you must correct someone v harsh discipline, climate make sure love is her motive because that correcting. If, on the other hand, you decide the in this certain situation, you have to withhold the correction, then make sure you space doing so the end of love.

Note also that Augustine argues that the right conduct in a particular situation may frequently go against what shows up to it is in loving, and that it may not be what a human would generally be “pleased” come do.

Do no imagine that thou then lovest your servant as soon as thou dost not beat him, or that thou then lovest your son once thou givest him no discipline, or the thou climate lovest your neighbor as soon as thou dost not rebuke him: this is not charity, but mere feebleness.

Sometimes the right thing will certainly be to go versus what you would prefer to choose. So, Augustine is saying something really different native “Love, and do as you please.” Rather, the is offering support here for the idea the sometimes, love is exactly not a matter of doing “as girlfriend please.”

So, Augustine’s point is not that love because that God place a Christian ~ above auto-pilot so the one go not need to consult the Ten Commandments, Old testimony law, the writings of the prophets, the Sermon top top the Mount, other discourses the Jesus, and also the ethical prescriptions of the epistles, together a guide to ideal conduct. In fact, that is no talking here around love for God, together such. Rather, his point is the in those instances where two or much more ethically equal viable alternatives present themselves to a person, any type of of those choices may it is in chosen, listed that the motivating element is love towards the person in the details situation.

Often, preachers who interpret Augustine erroneously in the method I have actually described, also repeat the adhering to mantras:

The bible is no a publication of laws.Jesus walk not concerned give us a publication of rules.The holy bible is not a publication of do’s and also don’ts.

To be sure, over there is a certain amount of reality in this statements. Nevertheless, the holy bible does contain laws. Jesus does give his followers rules. There are dos and also don’ts in the Bible. And also if the confession the Christ is Lord method anything at all, it way that there are times when a Christian cannot simply follow their very own heart in living the Christian life and also ignore the ethical prescriptions laid down in holy Scripture through the author of scripture himself, Jesus Christ. Us arrogantly flatter ourselves when we think the we have the right to assume the we always know what loving God in reality looks like, or that we have the right to assume that we recognize for sure once we are in a state of loving God, or that our professed love because that God will automatically an outcome in our knowing what the right thing to do is. As Augustine further comments in his homily,

If any of girlfriend perchance wish to keep charity, brethren, over all things carry out not imagine the to be an abject and also sluggish thing; nor that charity is come be preserved by a type of gentleness, nay not gentleness, however tameness and listlessness.

Loving God is hard work, and it may involve making decision that room not have to in line v what we take into consideration to be pleasant. Sometimes, love God method that we do not perform “as we please.”

To teach the Christians can simply assume that their love for God will assure right moral conduct there is no consulting the moral teaching that the holy bible is just perverse. To indicate anything favor this is to it is in diametrically opposed to the tenor of the to teach in both testaments of Scripture. The assumes the Jesus was just engaging in a grand display screen of overblown rhetoric once he declared,

Anyone who breaks one of the the very least of these commandments and teaches rather to execute the same will be dubbed least in the kingdom that heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will it is in called great in the kingdom the heaven. (Matthew 5:19)

It assumes the Paul’s and the other Apostles’ plenty of statements as to how believer “ought” to behave space irrelevant. It assumes the Paul was wrong as soon as he supported certain ethical prescriptions v passages of bible from the Old Testament. That assumes the there is yes, really no such thing as “training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). It fails to execute a responsible biblical-theological reading of Scripture.

Part that our entry to the lordship the Jesus Christ requires the opportunity that we may need to act against our own sensitivities. Us are farming in grace. We are being trained in righteousness. We are moving toward maturity in Christ. It is a process; that is a lengthy process, and it is a process that will not be completed this next of the resurrection.

We do have actually love in our hearts because that God. We do have actually the holy Spirit living within us. Yet neither one of these truth insures appropriate action. And also it definitely does not average that the honest prescriptions the Scripture room irrelevant. Hence, we check out the an essential of prominence of the Reformed phrase, “the Spirit, working through the word.” no the heart alone, not the word alone, however the Spirit, working with the word. That must constantly be v the word, lest us confuse God’s holy Spirit through our spirit.

To be sure, it is the goal of the Christian life come be much more and an ext conformed to the person of Jesus Christ. But, if that is indeed the goal, climate that way that we have actually not yet accomplished it. We have actually not yet completed complete conformity. In spite of the love for God we have in ours hearts, and also in despite the of the indwelling visibility of the Spirit, us cannot assume the our opinions as to what is ethically appropriate are correct. So, us actually need a variety of things to identify what is ethically correct. Below is a short list: (1) love of God, (2) the indwelling holy Spirit (3) words of God (4) engagement with other Christians, listening to your wisdom, receiving their encouragement, and (5) prayer because that discernment and wisdom.

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So, the next time girlfriend hear who say, “Augustine said, ‘Love God, and also do as you please,\"” you have a decision come make. Will you confront them through what you uncovered in this blog post? Or will certainly you refrain and also just let that go. Relying on the situation, either response could be the exactly one. But, as lot as it is in her power, make sure that, whichever one you choose, your motivation toward that human being is one of love.