Handbook on Faith, Hope, and Love: Lesson 6
Augustine ends his "Handbook" by treating the topics he began with—faith, hope, and love. In chapter XXX, he treats faith and hope. He begins by noting that from our faith—the things we believe—hope springs up. Because hope originates in God, not man; "cursed is everyone who rests his hope in man," writes Augustine, quoting Jer. 17:5. Thus, our faith, which is in God, brings about our hope. Faith, then, provides the occasion for hope because it is through our faith in God that we come to hope in God and the things he will do for us.
Love is greater than both hope and faith (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:13). The reason, Augustine states, that love is greater is that "the more richly it dwells in man, the better the man in whom it dwells." He continues, "for when we ask whether someone is a good man, we are not asking what he believes, or hopes, but what he loves." Although a person can hope and have faith in the correct things, it is love which makes a person a better person. A person who loves what is debauched and corrupt is not greater than a person who loves what is pure and holy.
Yet, faith works through love. We work out our faith through love. Despite having faith, hope, and love, the believer must still battle a "power that fights against him." Traditionally, Christians have called this the "sin nature." A believer "lives by faith and lives righteously in so far as he does not yield to evil desires, conquering them by his love of righteousness." Faith, hope, and love work together. We live by faith by conquering evil desires with a love of righteousness, all the while hoping for the day in which these evil desires will be conquered by God.