Posted by Andrea
Excerpt from Early Will I Seek You: A 40-Day Journey in the company of Augustine
Arranged by David Hazard
Read Colossians 3:9-12 and scripture as it appears in the text
The following is a paraphrase of a letter written by Augustine, a brilliant thinker, orator and Christian. He was born in AD 354, and through a dramatic journey, came to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ in 386. The letter answers the question posed by a friend: How can we seek and behold God? I always like practical application. I want God to be evident in my life, but please, somebody tell me how to do it! That is exactly the purpose of the following excerpt.
Keep in mind this letter was written a very long time ago. Although the paraphrase is modern, you may want to have another cup of coffee and put on your thinking cap. (Maybe I shouldn't tell you that at the beginning. How many of you did I just lose)? I thought about changing all the uses of “man” to “woman.” I didn’t because the phrase “inner woman” just sounds weird to me. And I think you ladies are smart enough to know that the principle applies across the board.
Beholding the Image of God in the Inner Man
To begin with, I must tell you: the manner of life you live, together with the state of the heart is most important when it comes to learning how to behold God in the inner sanctuary of your soul.
As we have all learned from our Lord Jesus Christ, this begins by learning to be meek, That is, we must come to him daily for physical power and strength (Philippians 2:13). By seeking God’s strength, not our own, we become humble before him. Never allow any pride, which causes us to imagine and to pretend that we have no spiritual needs (James 4:10).
Now I will tell you: you will make greater progress by secret prayer and meditation than by reading or hearing spiritual teachings. By these two critical practices, you build up the inner man, receiving words of spiritual insight that feed your soul and renew it day by day.
Therefore, lift up the spirit of your mind, so that this daily renewing may begin. Set your thoughts on the character of God himself—think on the one who is full of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience (Colossians 3:12). Think on these things until you find yourself entering that secret chamber of the heart where Christ dwells in you by faith (Ephesians 3:17). Anyone may enter this place—there is no discrimination in Christ—whether Jew or Greek, bond or free, male or female (Galatians 3:28).
As you work at this practice, you will find yourself growing stronger, even as “the outward man is corrupted” (2 Corinthians 4:16). That is to say nothing that effects the outer man will be able to touch the inner spirit—not even weakness brought on by fasting, or illness, or physical accident or even the onset of age (which is a fact of life, even for those who enjoy good health). If you do not let your inner man waste away to neglect, then you will grow strong and vigorous inwardly. Spiritually you will never die as you learn, by prayer and meditation, how to become liberated from exterior pressures.
If you want this kind of interior life, then pay attention to what I have instructed you. And in this regard, I don’t want you to depend on my authority alone, simply because this is something I am telling you. In order to act in complete confidence in a matter, I wasn’t you to base your beliefs and actions on two tings. First, the authority of scripture. Second the truth that is manifested in you inwardly, as the Spirit bears witness with your spirit (Romans 8:16).