Lent 2015, Day Thirty-One—Augustine (6)

Today, I have two more quotations, both taken from a work I have cited before, Augustine’s Reply to Faustus the Manichaean.

Death comes upon man as the punishment of sin, and so is itself called sin; not that a man sins in dying, but because sin is the cause of his death. . . .  So sin means both a bad action deserving punishment, and death the consequence of sin. Christ has no sin in the sense of deserving death, but He bore for our sakes sin in the sense of death as brought on human nature by sin.  This is what hung on the tree; this is what was cursed by Moses.  Thus was death condemned that its reign might cease, and cursed that it might be destroyed.  By Christ’s taking our sin in this sense, its condemnation is our deliverance, while to remain in subjection to sin is to be condemned.  (14.3)

What does Faustus find strange in the curse pronounced on sin, on death, and on human mortality, which Christ had on account of man’s sin, though He Himself was sinless?  Christ’s body was derived from Adam, for His mother the Virgin Mary was a child of Adam.  But God said in Paradise, “On the day that ye eat, ye shall surely die.”  This is the curse which hung on the tree.  A man may deny that Christ was cursed who denies that He died.  But the man who believes that Christ died, and acknowledges that death is the fruit of sin, and is itself called sin, will understand who it is that is cursed by Moses, when he hears the apostle saying “For our old man is crucified with Him.” The apostle boldly says of Christ, “He was made a curse for us;” for he could also venture to say, “He died for all.”  “He died,” and “He was cursed,” are the same.  Death is the effect of the curse; and all sin is cursed, whether it means the action which merits punishment, or the punishment which follows.  Christ, though guiltless, took our punishment, that He might cancel our guilt, and do away with our punishment.  (14.4)

Jerry Shepherd
March 25, 2015

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