If sin is forgiven, why still pain and death?

In book 13 of De trinitate, Augustine explains the logic of God’s plan of salvation. After explaining how Christ’s blood justifies us by trapping the devil in an unjust murder, by “beating him at the justice game,” Augustine explains a problem. If pain, trouble, and death are the consequences of sin, and if Jesus forgives our sin, why do believers still experience pain, trouble, and death?

For although the death of the flesh came itself originally from the sin of the first man, good use of it has made glorious martyrs. That is why not only death but all the ills of this age, the sorrows and hardships of men, have fittingly remained even after sins have been forgiven, although they occur as the deserved consequence of sins and above all of original sin, which is the cause of life itself being constricted by the bonds of death. They provide man with something to struggle against for truth’s sake; they train the faithful in virtue, so that the new man may be prepared through the new covenant for the new age amid the evils of this age, wisely enduring the woes which this condemned life has deserved, having the foresight to be thankful that it will all come to an end, faithfully and patiently awaiting the happiness which the emancipated life of the future is going to have without end…. For the faithful who devoutly endure them these evils are very useful, either for correcting sins or for exercising and testing justice or for demonstrating the wretchedness of this life, so that the other one where true and perpetual happiness will be found may be desired the more ardently and sought the more urgently. (13.20)

Published in: on March 23, 2011 at 8:59 am  Leave a Comment  
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