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St Augustine is famous for this quote, the full quote being:

"Love God and do whatever you please: for the soul trained in love to God will do nothing to offend the One who is Beloved."

I've heard people just use the first half without the full quote, usually in a flippant way, but I think Augustine may have something here. Do you think that this sentiment jibes with scripture? We certainly get enough discussion about what God wants us to do or things along that line. Augustine seems to think that if we love God we aren't going to offend him and so don't need any "rules". Jesus seems to agree with him when he said:

Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

I'd like to hear your insights, and the scripture that either supports or refutes this quote of Augustine's. Thank you.

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Isn't John 14:15 sufficient: "If you love me, you will keep my commandments"(ESV)? –  Paul A. Clayton Mar 28 '13 at 15:31
Really good question; I have been thinking about this a lot myself. –  user1477388 Jul 11 '13 at 14:30

7 Answers 7

There are exceptions. King David was a man who loved God, and when he had it in his heart to build God a house, he told Nathan the prophet (2 Samuel 7). Nathan told David, "Go, do all that is in your heart, for the Lord is with you" (7:3).

However, although David loved the Lord supremely, the Lord forbid David to do this thing (1 Chronicles 28:3).

So there are exceptions to this idea; one still needs to ascertain God's will about the matter.

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Jesus said, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind and strength. Also love your neighbors, love your enemies"

If you love God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind and your strength, you will do nothing that offends God.

That said, you need to Love God above all and everything else to walk in His commandments that are not burdensome.

Ask God to help you love others just like He has loved you and forgiven you.

Everyone falls, but God picks us up.

Glory to God

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As far as biblical answers about keeping the law, consider how Jesus responded to the rich young ruler:

20 And he said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.” 21 Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” 22 But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property. Luke 10

When someone comes to Jesus thinking their behavior meets the law, Jesus points out their complete rebellion. Same thing happened with the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37).

Jesus furthermore states that the standard is to "be perfect". Not "get yourself on an asymptote that eventually (and had better be continually) approaches perfection, but to "be perfect."

What I am saying is that you must be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:48)

Our hearts are "saddened" at this news: "I cannot love my neighbor that way! I cannot give that much away! I am so far from perfect, that sounds like I deserve hell!" It is a call to conversion, to seek the imputed righteousness of Christ.

Now consider Augustine:

"Love God and do whatever you please: for the soul trained in love to God will do nothing to offend the One who is Beloved."

The one who has imputed righteousness cannot please or offend God any more than Christ's perfect works and righteousness have pleased God. God looks at your sins and sees Christ's perfect works. Theologically, I have shown this to be true. Psychologically, there is a worry expressed in the question that telling people the truth will make them bad. This kind of worry over whether the doctrine of free grace is what Luther rebelled against in the Reformation

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we always at all times do what we will and most prefer,(see jonathan Edwards freedom of the will), I think a great deal of folk try to dissect this quote from Augustine because they think it sponsers antinomianism in the same way many people tend to dice up or ignore romans 9 when referring to election. I think Augustine really meant the exact thing you first thought it meant when you read it without prejudice. personally I find that rendering God my WILLING service and resting in his finished work not a hinderance to my obedience to God, but actually causes me to love him more, cling to him more closely and makes me more thouroughly active in his service, anything else in my opinion is man trying to finish the work that Christ already accomplished which certainly is legalism and very dishonouring to God. Remember that the apostle paul was accused of antinomianism-anyone who really preaches grace will...sola deo Gloria...

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Welcome to C.SE. I'd invite you to see how we are different. I'm having difficulty seeing how this actually answers the question. –  Affable Geek Jul 9 '13 at 17:41
While the formatting and punctuation are bad, it is clearly an Answer about the issue of Antinomianism raised in the Question. –  pterandon Jul 10 '13 at 11:48

No the quotation is not scriptural for numerous reasons primary because we are more than just a spirit and soul; we have a body and that body sometimes wants to do wrong thing.

Gal 5:17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.

You can whole heartily love God with your spirit but give into your flesh and sin. Its by walking in the Spirit that we do not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. Part of walking in the spirit is resisting temptations and wrong desires even as Jesus resisted wrong desires.

Gal 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

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St. Augustine was referring to the mind that has been "conformed to God" as described in Reading "Mere Christianity" and having a hard time with book III, chapter 12.

This is based on established doctrine, common to most denominational views, of Sanctification.

Progressive sanctification

"Indeed, the more sanctified the person is, the more conformed he is to the image of his Savior, the more he must recoil against every lack of conformity to the holiness of God. The deeper his apprehension of the majesty of God, the greater the intensity of his love to God, the more persistent his yearning for the attainment of the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, the more conscious will he be of the gravity of the sin that remains and the more poignant will be his detestation of it....Was this not the effect in all the people of God as they came into closer proximity to the revelation of God’s holiness.

The doctrine of Sanctification has Scriptural support in Romans 6:22, 1 Corinthians 6:11, 2 Corinthians 3:18, 2 Corinthians 7:1, 1 Thessalonians 4:3, 1 Thessalonians 5:23, Hebrews 6:1, Hebrews 12:14, James 1:4, and others.

Th most clear Biblical passage, however, which directly answers your question is Romans 12 (the following from the NASV) It starts by telling us to be conformed to God, and then expands on what a conformed mind produces for fruit, showing that a conformed mind does good, naturally.

1Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.2And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

3For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.4For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function,5so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.6Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith;7if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching;8or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

9Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.10Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;11not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;12rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer,13contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.

14Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.15Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.16Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.17Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men.18If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.19Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord.20“BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD.”21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

It cannot be applied to the natural, sinful mind; only to the mind that has been conformed and the Christian that is in agreement with God.

Romans 8:7-11

7because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so,8and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

9However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.10If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.11But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

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'Progressive sanctification' itself fully answers this question and was very helpfull. –  Seek forgiveness Mar 28 '13 at 15:50

Firstly, what is "to love God"? When you love God, probably you won't do things, which can harm him. To love God really is so big love, that maybe is better to give you another example also.

When you love your kids, you'll try to please them, help them, protect them and so on. Some laws to protect children in your country are totally unnecessary. You need no laws. Because you're trying best as you can. You won't cause bodily injury, you won't let them without food. On the contrary, when your kids are for you just molecules stack, no laws in your country help. You will harm them and they will go to the foster family very soon.

Another example, when you love you wife (or husband if you're woman), you won't rob her, maltreat her, abase her and so on. You'll give her everything you have, without some knowledge about quote:

Love your neighbor as yourself.

These laws become natural for you, without some knowledge about them. Because you can't know everything what Jesus and all the saints said, probably is better just love your God and love your neighbor best as you can, and each law will become natural for you.

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Though not fully Biblical but you have given a most suited parallel from everyday life. –  Seek forgiveness Mar 28 '13 at 15:48

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