"Sin is believing the lie that you are self-created, self-dependent and self-sustained" -Augustine

Which work is this from?

  • this is an awfully tricky one for such a popular quote.. even this web page: gracequotes.org/topic/sin-defined which is unusual in that it does give references to the author's work which a quote is taken from, doesn't give one for this quote
    – danl
    Dec 1, 2016 at 10:34
  • I agree, I see it quoted in many places, but never with a reference to where it comes from. I've read a few of St. Augustine's works, but haven't run into this one. Dec 16, 2016 at 1:27
  • I've found a site which lists a reference (soundfaith.com/sermons/…), but that reference is not to an original source, but rather to "The New Encyclopedia of Christian Quotations." It's out of print, but I'm going to get a used copy off Amazon and I'll report back what I find. I'm really intrigued to know whether or not this is an authentic quote or not. I searched all of Augustine's works on CCEL (ccel.org) and can't find it. Dec 18, 2016 at 14:03
  • Today I received the book I mentioned in my comment above ("The New Encyclopedia of Christian Quotations"), which is the book the other linked article uses as a source for the quotation. It's actually on page 958, rather than 957 as the article incorrectly cites it. Unfortunately, none (other than direct quotes from the Bible) of the over 1100 pages of quotations has any citations to the original sources, so it's not useful in that regard. There's an "index of sources" at the back, but it just lists the names of people, not from where the quotes came. Dec 25, 2016 at 2:06
  • found another reference to it in a quote book, so likely it's as specious as the other quote book references. Quote books should be illegal unless properly source >:( At least this author cites his source for the quote. soundfaith.com/sermons/15792-humility-like-a-child
    – NKCampbell
    May 10, 2017 at 22:58

1 Answer 1


Based on a google book search, I believe this quote comes from:

  • Title: Masterpieces of World Philosophy in Summary Form, Volume 1
  • Editor: Frank Northen Magill
  • Publisher: Salem Press, 1961

It appears to be available on Amazon, and I also found a very poor transcription on archive.org.

The quote in the book is:

Expressed in another way, sin is living the lie of believing oneself to be self-created, self-sustained, self-dependent.

It's not exactly the same as the quote you find out there, but its pretty close, so what likely happened is the quote got mis-attributed to Augustine when it was actually a summary of his teaching.

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