Our society is a strange beast. On one hand we promote alcoholism, gambling, sexual promiscuity, and other unnamed vices. Yet, with the other hand we offer group recovery and support systems and 12-step programs to help battle “the addiction” and “the destruction” brought about by the promoted vices. Talk about speaking with forked-tongue.
This is the underlying difficulty for humanity – wanting to participate in the vices, without paying any of the consequences. In I Peter, we are encouraged to lay aside the vices that war against everything we want: from career advancement, to happy homes, to love, to acceptance.
The Scriptures itemize fleshly lusts (Romans 1.24-32; Galatians 5.19-21) and, for the most part, are themselves secularly identified and treated. Each person must face their own battles, demons – if you will. These must be faced and will be conquered.
I Peter 2.11 admonishes us to abstain from fleshly lusts that war against the soul. We know what war is. War is casualties, death, and destruction. Ironically, war can provide improvements.
This war that James is talking about is the war for your soul, where will your soul reside in eternity? Your battle ground is here. Your battle ground is now. Whether you like it or not, you have been given a battle.
To be on the winning side of this war, and to go home a victor to a ticker-tape parade, requires sacrifice. I Peter 2.1 tells us to put away malice (ill-will), guile (deceit), hypocrisies, envies (jealousies), and evil speakings (defamatory talk).
These things are not as easy as they first seem. Just because we know we need Christ to forgive our sins does not translate into an immediate 180 degree turn from our old behavior.
Since being baptized, can you identify the moments where you have had ill-will toward a brother? How about someone outside the faith?
Since being baptized, can you identify occasions where you have planned and schemed to achieve the results you want? This is guile and/or deceit.
Since being baptized, can you identify where you have been a hypocrite – condemning someone else for sinful behavior you yourself participated in?
Space does not permit reflective questions upon each of these items mentioned in I Peter 2.1, yet all of us need to spend time reflecting on them.
As difficult as it is to accept responsibility for our behavior and choices, these behavioral patterns should not occur.
I Peter 2.2 tells us that we should desire the sincere milk of the word, because our souls have been purified (I Pet. 1.21) and we have been born again of incorruptible seed (1.23).
Some of the fleshly lusts that war against the soul: sexual lusts (both in person and within media); lies (including white); hatred; quarrels (contention and strive); selfish ambition; among many others.
Fleshly lusts are desirable, enjoyable and seemingly justifiable, but they ultimately work against our soul and our salvation. As we enter into this week, may we battle the fleshly lusts that war against our souls, and with Christ as our strength, may we seek God’s glory.