Obedience, When it Happens, is a Gift

That is the mystery: We must obey the command to rejoice in the Lord, and we cannot, because of our willful and culpable corruption.  Therefore obedience, when it happens, is a gift.  The heretic Pelagius in the fourth century rejected this truth and was shocked and angered when he saw St. Augustine prayed in his Confessions.  Augustine prayed, “Give me the grace [O Lord] to do as you command, and command me to do what you will!…O holy God…when your commands are obeyed, it is from you that we receive the power to obey them.”

– Piper, John; When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy; copyright 2004; Crossway Books; Wheaton, Il.; p. 53

Pelagius Aimed His Guns at This Doctrine

Augustine argued that grace not only facilitates our efforts to obey God, but  because of our fallen nature, grace is necessary.  Before the fall, the requirement for moral perfection was already present.  The fall did not change the requirement, but it did change us.  What was once a moral possibility became, without grace, a moral impossibility.  Augustine’s view is rooted in his doctrine of original sin.  As the debate escalated, Pelagius aimed his guns at this doctrine.

Sproul, R.C.; Grace Unknown: The Heart of Reformed Theology; Baker Books; Grand Rapids, MI; copyright 1997; p. 122