The Enchiridion by St. Augustine
Chapter 75.--The Wicked and the Unbelieving are Not Made Clean by the Giving of Alms, Except They Be Born Again.
Assuredly, then, those who live in gross wickedness, and take no care to reform their lives and manners, and yet amid all their crimes and vices do not cease to give frequent alms, in vain take comfort to themselves from the saying of our Lord: |Give alms of such things as ye have; and, behold, all things are clean unto you.| For they do not understand how far this saying reaches. But that they may understand this, let them hear what He says. For we read in the Gospel as follows: |And as He spake, a certain Pharisee besought Him to dine with him; and He went in, and sat down to meat. And when the Pharisee saw it, he marvelled that He had not first washed before dinner. And the Lord said unto him, Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness. Ye fools, did not he that made that which is without, make that which is within also? But rather give alms of such things as ye have; and, behold, all things are clean unto you.| Are we to understand this as meaning that to the Pharisees who have not the faith of Christ all things are clean, if only they give alms in the way these men count almsgiving, even though they have never believed in Christ, nor been born again of water and of the Spirit? But the fact is, that all are unclean who are not made clean by the faith of Christ, according to the expression, |purifying their hearts by faith;| and that the apostle says, |Unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.| How, then, could all things be clean to the Pharisees, even though they gave alms, if they were not believers? And how could they be believers if they were not willing to have faith in Christ, and to be born again of His grace? And yet what they heard is true: |Give alms of such things as ye have; and, behold, all things are clean unto you.|