The confession of evil works is the beginning of good works.
- “And this is the judgment, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” My brethren, whose works does the Lord find to be good? The works of none: He finds the works of all evil. How is it, then, that some have done the truth, and are come to the light? For this is what follows: “But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” In what way have some done a good work to come to the light, namely, to Christ? And how have some loved darkness? For if He finds all men sinners, and healeth all of sin, and that serpent in which the Lord’s death was figured healed them that were bitten, and on account of the serpent’s bite the serpent was set up, namely, the Lord’s death on account of mortal men, whom. He finds unrighteous; how are we to understand that “this is the judgment, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil”? How is this? Whose works, in fact, are good? Hast Thou not come to justify the ungodly? “But they loved,” saith He, “darkness rather than light.” There He laid the emphasis: for many loved their sins; many confessed their sins; and he who confesses his sins, and accuses them, doth now work with God. God accuses thy sins: and if thou also accusest, thou art united to God. There are, as it were, two things, man and sinner. That thou art called man, is God’s doing; that thou art called sinner, is man’s own doing. Blot out what thou hast done, that God may save what He has done. It behoves thee to hate thine own work in thee, and to love the work of God in thee. And when thy own deeds will begin to displease thee, from that time thy good works begin, as thou findest fault with thy evil works. The confession of evil works is the beginning of good works. Thou doest the truth, and comest to the light. How is it thou doest the truth? Thou dost not caress, nor soothe, nor flatter thyself; nor say, “I am righteous,” whilst thou art unrighteous: thus, thou beginnest to do the truth. Thou comest to the light, that thy works may be made manifest that they are wrought in God; for thy sin, the very thing that has given thee displeasure, would not have displeased thee, if God did not shine into thee, and His truth show it thee. But he that loves his sins, even after being admonished, hates the light admonishing him, and flees from it, that his works which he loves may not be proved to be evil. But he that doeth truth accuses his evil works in himself, spares not himself, forgives not himself, that God may forgive him: for that which he desires God to forgive, he himself acknowledges, and he comes to the light; to which he is thankful for showing him what he should hate in himself. He says to God, “Turn away Thy face from my sins:” yet with what countenance says it, unless he adds, “For I acknowledge mine iniquity, and my sin is ever before me?”1 Be that before thyself which thou desirest not to be before God. But if thou wilt put thy sin behind thee, God will thrust it back before thine eyes; and this He will do at a time when there will be no more fruit of repentance.
Augustine of Hippo. (1888). Lectures or Tractates on the Gospel according to St. John. In P. Schaff (Ed.), J. Gibb & J. Innes (Trans.), St. Augustin: Homilies on the Gospel of John, Homilies on the First Epistle of John, Soliloquies (Vol. 7, pp. 85–86). New York: Christian Literature Company.
- Even the devil himself contributes in some way to the glory of God, though contrary to his wish.
- God is the Creator of the wicked, not of their wickedness; He is the Author of their being, but not the Infuser of their sin.
- Fatalism has no place for a personal God.
- How unworthy is it for dust and ashes, kneaded together in time, to strut against the Father of eternity! Much more unworthy for that which is nothing, worse than nothing, to quarrel with that which is only being, and equal himself with him that inhabits eternity.
- God is the most simple being; for that which is first in nature, having nothing beyond it, cannot by any means be thought to be compounded.