War is being waged against our souls! Young and old alike in the church are embattled. The enemy is the ever-present “lust of the flesh”! The onslaught of lust is on the rise! Pornography, fornication, adultery, homosexuality, etc. are affecting more and more Christians, both young and old. It leaves men and women writhing in shame and sorrow. It is very destructive – individual and family lives are torn asunder. The church is also losing its moral edge. When men are caught in these sins, how can they rise to leadership of the church? The church suffers much weakness because of the moral impurity of her members and leaders.
Beloved, you must declare war against your lust. The threat of lust is very grave. We can neither ignore nor enter into a truce with this enemy of our soul. Please carefully and prayerfully read and appropriate the following biblical admonitions:
“Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul” (1 Peter 2:11).
With sincere affection and compassion for his readers, who were in the midst of persecution and fiery trials (1 Peter 1:6-7; 4:12), the apostle Peter addressed them as “Dearly beloved”. Such an expression of sincere and hearty affection would have comforted and cheered their distressed souls. It also portrayed the apostle’s exhortation as a loving entreaty meant for their souls’ good and prosperity.
The believers were, first of all, reminded that they were temporary residents on this earth. In fact, some of his readers had been displaced from their homeland because of persecution. The apostle referred to them as “strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia” (1:1). Their experience of being treated as “strangers” gives evidence to the spiritual reality that they were not of this world.
Peter had already alerted the believers that they were “strangers” and “sojourners” (1:1, 17). This is the third time in this epistle he was reminding the believers that they were not a people of this world. Christians should never expect total acceptance by the world. Neither should they desire to live like the people of this world. Jesus described the believers as “not of the world, even as I am not of the world” (John 17:16). He also told His disciples that “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you” (John 15:19).
When He saved us, He was calling us out of all forms of worldliness. Our ambitions, aspirations and principles are no more of this world. Now we are a heaven-bound people. So as Peter mentioned here, we are “pilgrims”. The apostle Paul corroborated this truth when he wrote that “our conversation (i.e. citizenship) is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20).
On this earth, Christians are constantly under attack. They are often “ambushed” by the world! Peter further pointed out here that they also have an enemy within them by warning them to “abstain from fleshly lusts”. Lusts of the flesh are lurking about for opportunities to destroy us. If we give them a chance, they will conquer us. Christians must therefore be vigilant against their own carnal propensities. Christians ought to be self-conquerors. Let us be vigilant against the onslaught of fleshly lusts.
“But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof” (Romans 13:14).
Paul commands Christians to “put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ”. But can we put on a person, like we put on clothing or armour? Notwithstanding, it is rather a common metaphorical phrase in the Greek language which indicates that we should put on the character of the Lord Jesus Christ. “It is a common phrase that a person has put him on, whom he imitates,” so said the early church father Chrysostom. In other words, it is a command to Christians to imitate Christ’s example and to become like Him.
The Galatian Christians were reminded by Paul: “For as many of you as have been baptised into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:27). The Ephesian believers were told: “And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Ephesians 4:24).
Developing a Christ-like character is every Christian’s highest duty. Being united to Christ, we must conform to His character. We must have a sincere desire to be like Him and give ourselves to constant prayer for the Holy Spirit’s aid to live like the Lord Jesus. We must also devoutly study the Person and character of Christ in order to understand the manner and purpose of His life. There must also be a commitment to study all that Christ has taught so that we may know His will and do it. Without deliberate and habitual efforts to learn of Christ, we cannot imitate Him.
Those who put on Christ are also commanded to “make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.” One of the greatest hindrances to Christlikeness is the lust of the flesh. We are thus warned not to provide any opportunity for the gratification of our flesh’s sinful desires. How serious are you in this regard? Do you avoid circumstances that might tempt the flesh? Do you abstain from activities that arouse fleshly lusts?
We must not entertain the corrupt propensities of our bodies. Rather, we must yield to the Spirit of God, who warns us against the lust of the flesh and prompts us to walk according to the will of God. In Romans 8:12-13, Paul exhorts, “Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” Likewise, Paul said in Galatians 5:16, “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.”