Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live sensibly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;
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Augustine of Hippo
Paul must receive, embrace and observe, without any reserve, those commandments of the law which help to form the character of the faithful, such as that “denying ungodliness and worldly desires, we should live soberly and justly and godly in this world” and “Thou shalt not covet,” chosen by the apostle as the part of the law worthy of the greatest commendation; and also the commandments about loving God and our neighbor, as set forth in the law without any figure or mystery…. But whatever progress he makes in them he must not attribute it to himself but to “the grace of God by Jesus Christ our Lord.” .
But there is a great and general fasting, which is perfect fasting, to abstain from the iniquities and illicit pleasures of the world: “that, denying ungodliness and worldly desires, we may live soberly and justly and godly in this world.” What reward does the apostle add to this fasting? He continues and says, “Looking for that blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of the blessed God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” Therefore, in this world we celebrate, so to speak, a Lent of abstinence when we live well, when we abstain from iniquities and illicit pleasures. But because this abstinence will not be without a wage, we look for “that blessed hope.” In that hope, when reality shall have come to pass from hope, we shall receive a denarius as a wage.
The apostle Paul exclaims in a similar way: “Be imitators of God as his dear children.” What will we reply to these words, brethren, or what excuse will we be able to have? If someone tells you that you should imitate the powers which our Lord exercised, there is a reasonable excuse for you, because not everyone is given the grace to exercise those powers and to work miracles. But to live piously and chastely, to preserve charity with all men, with God’s help is possible for everyone.
We should live soberly, and justly, and piously. St. Jerome puts (as in other places for the same Greek word) chastely, justly, and piously. The words comprehend man's duty to himself, to his neighbour, and towards God. (Witham)
That denying ungodliness, he says, and worldly lusts.
See here the foundation of all virtue. He has not said avoiding, but denying. Denying implies the greatest distance, the greatest hatred and aversion. With as much resolution and zeal as they turned from idols, with so much let them turn from vice itself, and worldly lusts. For these too are idols, that is, worldly lusts, and covetousness, and this he names idolatry. Whatever things are useful for the present life are worldly lusts, whatever things perish with the present life are worldly lusts. Let us then have nothing to do with these. Christ came, that we should deny ungodliness. Ungodliness relates to doctrines, worldly lusts to a wicked life.
And should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present world.
Do you see, what I always affirm, that it is not sobriety only to abstain from fornication, but that we must be free from other passions. So then he who loves wealth is not sober. For as the fornicator loves women, ...