Anti-pelagian Writings by St. Augustine
(27.) Who May Be Said to Keep the Ways of the Lord; What It is to Decline and Depart from the Ways of the Lord.
Then again, as for what he says, |For I have kept His ways, and have not turned aside from His commandments, nor will I depart from them;| he has kept God's ways who does not so turn aside as to forsake them, but makes progress by running his course therein; although, weak as he is, he sometimes stumbles or falls, onward, however, he still goes, sinning less and less until he reaches the perfect state in which he will sin no more. For in no other way could he make progress, except by keeping His ways. The man, indeed, who declines from these and becomes an apostate at last, is certainly not he who, although he has sin, yet never ceases to persevere in fighting against it until he arrives at the home where there shall remain no more conflict with death. Well now, it is in our present struggle therewith that we are clothed with the righteousness in which we here live by faith, -- clothed with it as it were with a breastplate. Judgment also we take on ourselves; and even when it is against us, we turn it round to our own behalf; for we become our own accusers and condemn our sins: whence that scripture which says, |The righteous man accuses himself at the beginning of his speech.| Hence also he says: |I put on righteousness, and clothed myself with judgment like a mantle.| Our vesture at present no doubt is wont to be armour for war rather than garments of peace, while concupiscence has still to be subdued; it will be different by and by, when our last enemy death shall be destroyed, and our righteousness shall be full and complete, without an enemy to molest us more.