"Vice slays the wicked" (Psalm 34:21)
"Make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue" (2 Peter 1:5)
“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8)
The Lord Jesus Christ died upon the cross for our sins and he rose triumphant from the grave. He offers us a new way of life through the power of the Holy Spirit. Christians are called to be like Jesus Christ, to possess the same character and virtues that he had. God's people are called to be a community of virtuous people who shine as lights in a darkened world. This is possible through the grace and power of the Holy Spirit. Ambrose, a great church leader and preacher in the 4th century, wrote in his treatise on Flight from the World:"If my account of our moral condition is correct, we ought to conclude that for some time now we too have reached the turning point. What matters at this stage is the construction of local forms of community within which civility and the intellectual and moral life can be sustained through the new dark ages which are already upon us. And if the tradition of the virtues was able to survive the horrors of the last dark ages, we are not entirely without grounds for hope." (Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue)
This book is a study on the formation of Christian character and growth in vurtues in light of the scriptures and Christian teaching. The word "virtue" and its counterpart, "vice", are not popular words in a secularist society. They seem like archaic relics from a past Judaeo-Christian era. The need for moral virtues to counter the vices are just as great today as it was in the first Christian century of pagan Rome. My prayer is that this study will instill in you, the reader, a greater hunger for righteousness and holiness, a greater desire for moral transformation, and for growth in Christian character and the virtues. May we be like Jesus, the pioneer and perfector of our faith (Hebrews 12:2), who calls us to follow in his way of truth, life, love, and holiness."We have died with Christ. We carry about in our bodies the sign of his death, so that the living Christ may also be revealed in us. The life we live is not now our own ordinary life but the life of Christ: a life of sinlessness, of chastity, of simplicity and every other virtue. We have risen with Christ. Let us live in Christ, let us ascend in Christ, so that the serpent may not have the power here to wound us in the heel."
Good Friday, 1994