Text: I Pet 2:11
In the 2nd chapter of his epistle, Peter urges the Christian to "abstain from fleshly lusts." He writes, "Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;" (1 Pet 2:11 KJV). Now we know that his command is directed toward Christians because of the specific terms he uses: (1) Dearly beloved; (2) Strangers; (3) Pilgrims. These are quite clearly terms that indicate he is addressing the Christian community. They are reminiscent of the terms used by the writer of the letter to the Hebrews (cf. Heb 11:13). He then adds that these fleshly lusts "war against the soul."
Matthew Henry writes:
The grand mischief that sin does to man is this, it wars against the soul; it destroys the moral liberty of the soul; it weakens and debilitates the soul by impairing its faculties; it robs the soul of its comfort and peace; it debases and destroys the dignity of the soul, hinders its present prosperity, and plunges it into everlasting misery.
The soul is that eternal consciousness which God has given to every human being. And it is the most precious possession we have.
Jesus says , "What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul" (Matt 16:26).
And He says elsewhere,
"And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell" (Matt 10:28 KJV).
According to Peter, lust wars against the soul. Because lust, or sin, wars against the soul, we ought to give the more earnest heed to doing battle against fleshly lusts; to discipline ourselves to abstain from every manner of sin.
Paul says that we are to " mortify " - put to death - the misdeeds of the body (Rom 8:13).
He also writes:
"Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (2 Cor 7:1 KJV).
According to Scripture we cooperate with the Holy Spirit in the process of sanctification (cf. Phil. 2:12,13). Consider, also, these other verses: (Rom 6:19-22, I Thess 4:3-8, Tit 2:11,12, I Pet 1:15,16).
One of the great concerns that I have as a minister of the gospel is the lack of discipline I find in many of the Churches today. I am afraid that, for the most part, we are losing the battle against sin. Not only is the world becoming increasingly immoral, the Church is becoming increasingly immoral as well. Listen to what some of the great leaders of the Church today are saying about the moral conditions found both within Society and the Church.
Dr. Billy Graham writes in his recent book, Storm Warnings :
Consider the crisis of promiscuity, teen pregnancy, and abortion raging through the Land. Consider the growing problem of date rape, drug use, alcoholism, pornography, and sadomasochism even among elementary- age children. I recently read the report of an eleven-year-old boy who was being charged with the sexual abuse and sodomy of a four-year-old girl. He learned about such things through a dial-a-porn number given him by a friend in Sunday School.
He goes on to say:
I have also heard reliable reports that immorality is as epidemic in our Churches as in the secular world at large. One recent poll claimed that 40 percent of the young people in Bible-believing evangelical Churches are sexually active. Furthermore, 60 percent of single adults, including those who attend Church regularly and participate in Bible studies, arenot only sexually active, but half reported having sex with multiple partners.
Dr. R.C. Sproul , in the introduction to his book, Essential Truths of the Christian Faith. writes:
In the decade of the 1980s, a massive and comprehensive study of religion in American life was undertaken by the Gallup organization. Though the sharpest trends and indicators of the study were published and evaluated in various magazines, the mountain of data collected was generally not made public. George Gallop then submitted the data to Christianity Today, who in turn, selected a few theologians to examine and evaluate the significance of the information. I was among the group who had the privilege of analyzing the complete data. The results of the study were as terrifying as they were revealing. Among the more noteworthy elements were the following: (1) more than 60 million Americans claim to have had a personal conversion experience, and (2) an extraordinarily high percentage of Americans said they believe the Bible to be the Word of God.
Counterbalancing these affirmations, however, was the clear revelation that Americans, even evangelical Americans, are woefully ignorant of the content of Scripture and even more ignorant of the history of Christianity and classical Christian theology. Perhaps most alarming was the realization that the mass of people who claim to have biblical faith have had little or no impact on the structures and values of American culture. For example, some recent studies concerning sexual ethics and the question of abortion suggest that the difference between evangelical Christians and secularists is negligible. In other words, the clear message of these studies is this: Christian "faith" is making little or no difference in people's lives and in American culture.
Dr. Sproul continues:
How can this be? One possibility quickly comes to mind. Perhaps many of those who claim to have had a conversion experience are mistaken or lying about their conversion. However, if only half of those who claim to be born again are in fact regenerate, we must conclude that America has experienced a revival more widespread than the Great Awakening. If such a revival has happened, then we must ask why there is so little evidence of its impact on culture. We seem to have had a huge revival with little or no reformation.
We must realize that as Christians if we sin we will suffer severe consequences. Sin, indeed, wars against the soul. It has devastating effects for the believer, as well as the non-believer. Sin wars against the soul in that it robs us of our...
I. Peace - instead there is guilt (Col 3:1-10)
II. Joy - instead there is sorrow (Ps 51:12)
III. Blessings - instead there is condemnation (Pr 10:6)
IV. Potential - instead there is failure and rejection (II Tim 2:20,21)
V. Fellowship - instead there is separation (Isa 59:2)
Here are five disciplines that we must practice continuously in order to avoid sin:
1. Pray - that you enter not into temptation (Matt 26:41)
2. Resist - the devil and he will flee from you (Ja 4:7)
3. Flee - from youthful lusts (II Tim 2:22)
4. Walk - in the Spirit and you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh (Gal 5:16)
5. Mortify - the deeds of the body (Rom 8:13)