Abstain From The Flesh
1 Peter 2:11 (ESV) – Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.
What is the flesh? The Bible talks a lot about the flesh. It refers to not only our physical body, but our corrupted nature. The flesh is our natural, sinful selves that rebel against God and naturally struggle to obey His Word. The flesh is the part of our nature that is inclined toward sin. Even as born-again believers, we struggle with the flesh. It is something Scripture says must be put to death. For the unbeliever, the flesh dominates their mind, will, and affections.
Our passage today addresses the flesh. We read Peter’s exhortation to believers scattered throughout the ancient world. He says to them, “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.”
Notice that Peter establishes that Christians are sojourners and exiles. This implies that we are on a journey toward our home. We are not home yet. In this world, we are not settled. Believers are destined for another world: our heavenly home. But while we are on this journey toward our heavenly home, we must actively abstain from the passions of the flesh. This requires action. To abstain means to resist or forfeit. We choose to not act on the impulses that are natural within us. These impulses are called “passions” by Peter. Passions of the flesh are the inclinations we have toward sin. The urge to rejoice in someone’s downfall is a passion of the flesh. The desire to have what someone has is a passion of the flesh towards covetousness. Sexual temptation upon seeing someone dressed provocatively is a passion of the flesh. There are countless examples.
Peter instructs that these passions of the flesh must be battled because they wage war against our souls. This is an enemy that lives within. It never sleeps. It never takes a break. This enemy lurks in the shadows and pounces on every opportunity. It wages war against us. The only way to fend off this enemy is to actively engage in the fight. We need to arm ourselves with God’s Word, prayer, other believers, and help by the Spirit.
Abstain today. Ask the Lord to help you fight against the flesh. Look for Scripture passages around your areas of vulnerability that can anchor you.
Bring some other believers into your struggles and seek their help in the battle against the flesh. Only as we use these tools God has given us will we find ourselves victorious against this enemy that lurks in our flesh.
Reflection & Journal:
- Why does Peter use the picture of sanctification from sin as a war?
- What are some examples of passions of the flesh people struggle with today?
- How has God equipped us to fight against these passions?
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