Galatians 5:17

For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that you cannot do the things that you would.
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Augustine of Hippo

AD 430
People think that the apostle here denies that we possess free will. They do not perceive what he is saying to them: If they refuse to hold fast to the grace they have received, through which alone they are able to walk in the Spirit and avoid fulfilling the desires of the flesh, they will not be able to do as they wish…. It is love that “fulfills the law.” But “the wisdom of the flesh” by following temporal goods opposes spiritual love. How can it be made subject to the law of God (that is, freely and obediently fulfill righteousness and not be opposed to it) when even as it tries it must be vanquished? The flesh imagines that it can procure a greater temporal good by iniquity than by maintaining righteousness. The first stage, the natural life of a human being, precedes the law, when no wrongdoing or malice is prohibited. The natural being makes no resistance at all to base desires, since there is no one to prohibit them. The second stage is under law before grace, when he is indeed ...

Augustine of Hippo

AD 430
Now this, I think, he writes to the Galatians, to whom he says, “Who gave you the Spirit.” … From this it is apparent that he is speaking to Christians, people to whom God had given the Spirit, and therefore to the baptized. See, the sinful nature is an adversary even within the baptized, and there is not in them that possibility [of sinlessness] which [Pelagius] says is so implanted in our nature that it cannot be annulled. ...
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Augustine of Hippo

AD 430
The fact is that both are good: the spirit is good and the flesh too is good. And the whole person who consists of both, one ruling and one obeying, is indeed good but a changeable good. Yet these changing goods could not arise were it not for the immutable good, which is the source of every created good, whether small or great. But however small might be one particular good, it is nonetheless made by the one incomparably good. Yet however great, it is in no way comparable to the greatness of its Maker. But in this human nature, good as it is in origin and constitution, there is now war, because there is not yet salvation. ...

Augustine of Hippo

AD 430
The “flesh struggles against the spirit” yet does not subdue it, since the spirit also “struggles against the flesh.” Although that same law of sin holds something of the flesh as its prisoner and thereby resists the law of the mind it does not, however, reign in our body, mortal though it is, if our body does not voluntarily obey its desires. ...
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Clement Of Alexandria

AD 215
The commandments are written, then, doubly, as appears, for twofold spirits, the ruling and the subject. "For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.". The commandment, then, "Thou shalt not lust "says, thou shalt not serve the carnal spirit, but shall rule over it; "For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit". Soul, putting a bridle-bit on the restive irrational spirit: "For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit." ...
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Cornelius a Lapide

AD 1637
The flesh lusteth against the Spirit. From this the Manichæans inferred that man has two souls—one spiritual, which is good and the gift of a good god, and another carnal, which is evil and the gift of an evil god. Some philosophers, too, hold that man has two souls—one sensational, by which he feels, eats, and generates as do the beasts; and another rational, by which he reasons and understands as do the angels; and they depend for this conclusion on the contrary appetites and mental operations found in the same individual. 1. But it is certain that in man there is but one soul, and that a rational one, but which also in a special degree embraces vegetative and sensational powers. Hence, as man has in him both sets of powers, it is no wonder if he experiences contrary appetites, carrying him to diverse objects, and exciting him to action when they are present. In its powers the soul of man is twofold or rather threefold. 2. The word flesh stands by metonymy for that concupiscence wh...

Cyprian of Carthage

AD 258
But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, magnanimity, goodness, faith, gentleness, continence, chastity.". But the fruit of the Spirit is charity, joy, peace, magnanimity, goodness, faith, gentleness, continency, chastity. For they who are Christ's have crucified their flesh, with its vices and lusts." ...
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George Leo Haydock

AD 1849
So that you do not the things that you would. He does not say, so that you cannot do, as others falsely translate; as if men were under an absolute necessity of sinning, or doing ill; which is also contradictory to the foregoing words, walk by the spirit, and you will not accomplish the works of the flesh. (Witham) Here some suppose, says St. Augustine, that the apostle denieth that we have free liberty of will: not understanding that this is said to them, if they will not hold fast the grace of faith conceived, by which only they can walk in the spirit, and not accomplish the lusts of the flesh. (St. Augustine, in chap. v. Gal.) Ver 19-21. Uncleanness, immodesty, luxury. In the Greek there are but two vices named; luxury is not mentioned; and, perhaps, the Latin interpreter put two words to explain one Greek word. (Witham) St. Augustine here sheweth that there are other damnable sins besides infidelity. ...

Hippolytus of Rome

AD 235
But the third angel (Naas), by the soul which came from Edem upon Moses, as also upon all men, obscured the precepts of Baruch, and caused his own peculiar injunctions to be hearkened unto. For this reason the soul is arrayed against the spirit, and the spirit against the soul.
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Jerome

AD 420
The “flesh struggles against the Spirit:” that is, the literal and flat understanding of Scripture fights against allegory and spiritual doctrine…. And the carnal sense of Scripture, which cannot be fulfilled (since we cannot do all that is written), shows that we do not have it in our power to fulfill the law when even if we wish to follow the letter we are prevented by its impossibility. . ...
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John Cassian

AD 435
An inward war is being waged every day within us. The desires of the flesh and of the spirit are within one and the same person. The lust of the flesh rushes headlong into vice, delights in the worldly enjoyments that seem to satisfy. By contrast the opposed desire of the spirit is so eager to cleave entirely to spiritual pursuits that it in an exaggerated way chooses even to exclude the necessary uses of the flesh. By wishing to be so inseparably attached to spiritual things it refuses to take care of its own bodily fragility. . ...
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John Chrysostom

AD 407
Here some make the charge that the Apostle has divided man into two parts, and that he states the essence of which he is compounded to be conflicting with itself, and that the body has a contest with the soul. But this is not so, most certainly; for by the flesh, he does not mean the body; if he did, what would be the sense of the clause immediately following, for it lusts, he says, against the Spirit? yet the body moves not, but is moved, is not an agent, but is acted upon. How then does it lust, for lust belongs to the soul not to the body, for in another place it is said, My soul longs, Psalm 84:2 and, Whatsoever your soul desires, I will even do it for you, 1 Samuel 20:4 and, Walk not according to the desires of your heart, and, So pants my soul. Psalm 42:1 Wherefore then does Paul say, the flesh lusts against the Spirit? he is wont to call the flesh, not the natural body but the depraved will, as where he says, But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, Romans 8:8-9 and agai...
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John Chrysostom

AD 407
The body as such does not cause motion but is moved. It is not an agent but is acted upon. For desire is not of the body but of the soul…. How then does Paul say “the flesh struggles against the spirit?” By “flesh” he means not the physical body but the evil choice. … What then? Ought one to suppress the flesh? Was not the one who said this himself clothed with flesh? … By “flesh” here he means earthly thoughts that are apathetic and heedless. This is not a condemnation of the body but a reproach of the apathetic soul. For the flesh is an instrument, and no one repudiates and hates the instrument as such, but only the one who handles the instrument badly…. Yet, one may argue, even this is a condemnation of the body, to call the faults of the soul by the name of the flesh. Now I agree that the body is less precious than the soul, yet it is itself good as created. For what is less than truly good may remain proximately good. Evil is not less than the good but opposed to it…. The eucharis...

Methodius of Olympus

AD 311
For there are two motions in us, the lust of the flesh and that of the soul, differing from each other,
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Tertullian of Carthage

AD 220
Because "the flesh lusteth against the Spirit; ". Thus, so long as the things which are the Spirit's please them not, the things which are of the flesh will please, as being the contraries of the Spirit. "The flesh "saith (the apostle), "lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh." ...
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Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. - 2 Peter 1:20

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