St. Augustine:an insight

St. Augustine: The Struggle of the Body vs Spirit

By Rev. Donald Seekins

St. Paul states in Roman 7:14-17  14For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin.  15I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.  16Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good.  17So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.” St. Augustine struggled with the flesh of the law and the spirit of rebirth and regeneration.

When Augustine tells the story of his conversion in Confessions VII and VIII, he makes clear that although he ceased to have any genuine intellectual reservations regarding the Church, he remained unable to commit himself to the path he could see to be the right. The ensuing discussion of his struggle is surely one of the most famous in Christian thought, and it is marked by a subtlety of introspective analysis that defies any easy explication.  It is clear that Augustine is providing a dramatic account of moral transformation, one that stresses the role of intellectual discernment while at the same time highlighting his conviction that no amount of discernment is sufficient to account for the internal moral conflict.

Conversion calls us to a more intimate relationship with the savior Jesus Christ, who suffered and died on the cross for our sin, and on the third day rose from the dead to prepare a place for all those who call on Him to be their Lord and Savior. For many of us including St. Augustine the struggle to put away the old life and put on the new involves hours of self evaluation and confession of our old life practices. As scripture illuminates the reward is more than just heaven but Christ himself.

There will be rewards in heaven as well, based on our faithfulness to Christ and His glory during our life on earth (1 Corinthians 3:11-15). But even if a Christian received no rewards for faithfulness at the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10), there is one reward that every believer will receive: Christ Himself. Paul said that his greatest earthly ambition was to "gain Christ and be found in Him" (Philippians 3:8-9). He, and every true believer, will certainly gain Christ as his or her ultimate reward for following Him. Even though Abraham was a very wealthy man, God told him, "I am your ... exceedingly great reward" (Genesis 15:1).

Regardless of what other stature we may attain on earth or in heaven, gaining Christ will be our "exceedingly great reward." All other rewards pale in comparison. (from Today’s Turning Point: with Dr. David Jeremiah Friday February 14, 2014.)

Faith is to believe what we do not see, and the reward of this faith is to see what we believe. (St. Augustine)

St. Augustine’s thought continues to return to the struggle of the believer trying to attain closeness to God. The sinful body always in opposition to the spirit, a battle that would be waged throughout a believer’s life. At the end of his life we could imagine the question being asked of the elderly bishop; what is the essence of the Christian life? He would have given us the simple answer “The life of faith, hope and charity. Such an answer seems very common, but St Augustine would go on to elaborate in detail what each of these characteristics means to his and each of our lives.


As we contemplate the work of St. Augustine we look within to see where faith, hope and charity are exhibited in our own lives as we live in the community that God has placed us. Are we presenting Christ to those around us through thoughts, words and actions? As followers of St. Augustine this is our mission.  May God Bless each of you as you grow closer in your walk with our Lord and Savior Jesus.

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