Reading: 1 Peter 2:11
In his first epistle Peter was writing to saved people who had made some considerable progress in the realm of sanctification. Earlier, he spoke of them as having “purified their souls in obeying the truth.” These believers had revealed a real and intense desire for holiness. They wanted to obey the gospel yet Peter reminded them that they were still in a spiritual battle with sin. They were in a theatre of spiritual war.
This is still true for every believer. Fleshly lusts war against the soul. The term lusts relates to desire, and when it is coupled with the word fleshly it is speaking of sinful desires. This can mean one of two things: (1) a desire for that which is plainly sinful and clearly forbidden by God, or (2) an excessive and inappropriate desire for that which in itself may not be sinful. Both relate to sin, and this is where the battle rages for the Christian. We are in a battle with fleshly lusts.
This is a war like no other war in the world. It is a spiritual conflict. It rages in the heart. It’s a battle within and against the soul. It is not fought with flesh and blood. It is very often a secret and personal struggle.
This is a war that will continue until the end of our lives. Human wars start and a few days, weeks, months, or maybe years later they are declared finished. But there is no discharge in this war until we leave this scene of time. Fleshly lusts will war against the soul until the soul departs to be with Christ.
This is a war that affects every Christian. There is not a true believer who does not understand something of this war. Young Christians and older Christians face the onslaught of fleshly lusts. This is a war that is common to every child of God.
This is a war that involves the strongest and most persistent of enemies. We must never underestimate the power and persistence of fleshly lusts. Just when you think you have complete victory, that terrible sin can rise again. We are in a war with our fleshly lusts which are determined to draw us from Christ and ruin our spiritual usefulness. We must, therefore, abstain from these things. Let us be good soldiers of Christ.
There must be a continual war maintained upon all the lusts of the flesh, that they might not draw away the heart from the study and delight, the love and faith, of the things that are hid in Christ. (John Bunyan, Works, 1:619)