His name was Augustine. He lived from 354-430 AD. When he was 11, he and some friends stole fruit from a neighbor’s garden. He says, "I did not steal the fruit because I was hungry, but because it was not permitted. It was foul, and I loved it."
As a young man his keen mind and penetrating intellect gave him a penchant for philosophy. As a teenager, Augustine left North Africa to go to Italy to get away from his praying mother and to be with his mistress and their child, completely unknown to his mother, Monica. She came to Italy, eventually convinced Augustine to end his relationship with the mistress, and got him engaged to a Christian girl who was so young that to be of legal age the marriage was two years off.
During these two years, Augustine fell to his flesh and become sexually involved with another woman. He says he had no power to resist his natural desires. He famously prayed, Lord give me chastity and continence (abstinence), but not yet. Monica continued to pray for her son that he would come to Christ.
In search of deliverance from his lust, he sought out a friend. His friend told him about the conversion of Victorinus. Augustine said, "The story shows the great glory of your grace and that he (Augustine) began to glow with fervor to imitate Victorinus.”
Augustine had first tried reading the Scriptures while a teenager but was not impressed. But now that he was older, he found it compelling. Yet he knew the Bible demanded a commitment to Christ and that meant life change. He would have to give up his fleshly lusts and all his dreams of success and glory for himself. He would have to please God and not the world around him. He said, “part of me wants to; part is unable to.”
Augustine came to a point of crisis. He sat in a garden with a friend. He cried out, “I know I have a will, as surely as I know there is life within me. When I choose to do something or not to do it, I am certain that it is my own self making this act of will. You have raised me up, so that I can now see you must be there, to be perceived, but I confess that my eyes are still too weak. The thought of you fills me with love, yes, but also with dread. I realize that I am far from you.”
Augustine cried out and shouted to the sky, “How long O Lord? Will I never cease setting my heart on shadows and following a lie? How long O Lord? Will you be angry forever? How long? Tomorrow and tomorrow? Why not now? Why not in this very hour put an end to my uncleanness?”
Then a voice. He heard a voice. A childish, piping voice so high-pitched he could not tell whether it was male or female. The voice chanted tunelessly over and over, “take up and read, take up and read.” He turned to his friend Alpius, “Do you hear that?” He stared at him in silence.
There was nearby in the garden a copy of Paul’s letter to the Romans. It was opened to 13:13-14, “Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy, but put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”
Instantly, as if a peaceful light streamed into his heart, dark shadows of doubt fled. The man of unconquerable will was conquered by words from a book that he once dismissed. Augustine describes his salvation as being released from the fetters of lust by the power of the word of God.
Augustine became one of the greatest and most brilliant thinkers in Christendom and profoundly affected Christian history. He was freed from the power of lust by the greater power of the Word of God! Oh, the innate, mighty power in the Bible.
Monday Morning Application:
First, there is inherent power in the Word of God. The Bible is the very word of God and through this book God speaks directly to us.
Hebrews 4:12 - “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Emphasis mine)
2 Timothy 3:16 - “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness...” (Emphasis mine)
Matthew 4:4 - But he answered, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Second, as you seek to daily overcome struggles of temptation, utilize the Word of God to help deliver you from the snares of the enemy. Memorize it, meditate on it, study it, read it, ponder on it, and pray it! Immerse yourself in the Bible. When you are struggling with temptation, whether if be lust, jealousy, worry, doubt, gossip, gluttony, greed, and on and on I could go, when you feel the intense temptation to sin, I encourage you to quote Scripture. Say it over and over until the temptation has passed.