Sunday Citation

“‘During all those years [of rebellion], where was my free will? What was the hidden, secret place from which it was summoned in a moment, so that I migt bend my neck to your easy yoke?…How sweet all at once it was for me to be rid of those fruitless joys which I had once feared to lose!…You drove them from me, you who are the true, the sovereign joy. You drove them from me and took their place, you who are sweeter than all pleasure, though not to flesh and blood, you who outshine all light, yet are hidden deeper than any secret in our hearts, you who surpass all honor, though not in the eyes of men who see all honor in themselves…O Lord my God, my Light, my Wealth, and my Salvation.’

“This [above] is Augustine’s understanding of grace. Grace is God’s giving us sovereign joy in God that triumphs over joy in sin. In other words, God works deep in the human heart to transform the springs of joy so that we love God more than sex or anything else. Loving God, in Augustine’s mind, is never reduced to deeds of obedience or acts of willpower…The will is free to move toward whatever it delights in most fully, but it is not within the power of our will to determine what that sovereign joy will be. Therefore Augustine concludes,

“‘A man’s free-will, indeed, avails for nothing except to sin, if he knows not the way of the truth; and even after his duty and his proper aim shall begin to become known to him, unless he also take delight in and feel a love for it, he neither does his duty, nor sets about it, nor lives rightly. Now, in order that such a course may engage our affections, God’s ‘love is shed abroad in our hearts’ not through the free-will which arises from ourselves, but ‘through the Holy Ghost, which is given to us’ (Romans 5:5).'”

-Augustine of Hippo quoted and explained by John Piper in The Legacy of Sovereign Joy (2000)

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