1 Peter 2:11-12
Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;…
Amongst the numerous attempts to throw doubt upon the evidence of our religion, not the least successful has been suggested by the imperfections of those who profess them selves the disciples of its Author.
I. THAT THE OBJECTION ITSELF IS ON SEVERAL ACCOUNTS DELUSIVE. It is drawn, not from any difficulties inherent in religion or its evidence, but from a supposed insufficiency of its influence and effects. Christianity itself never supposes its followers to be without fault, that its influence can secure unerring obedience to its own laws. So far from this, indeed, "it is impossible," according to its own language, "but that offences will come."
II. One great reason why the lives of Christians do not always correspond to their religion, IS THAT FREEDOM OF MIND AND ACTION, WITH WHICH OUR CREATOR HAS ENDOWED US, and which is absolutely necessary to creatures responsible for their conduct. Impelled by passions impatient for gratification, and surrounded with temptations, frequently perplexed with difficulties between duty and inclination, and sometimes deceived by appearances; can it be a just subject of wonder, if the love of the present sometimes prevail over the expectation of the future, or the delusions of pleasure for a while withdraw the mind from the prospect of its consequences; if we violate the laws which we confess to be just, and practise what our religion condemns?
III. These defects in the conduct of individuals appear also the more striking WHEN COMPARED WITH THE PURITY OF THE RULES BY WHICH OUR ACTIONS OUGHT TO HAVE BEEN DIRECTED, AND WITH THE WEIGHT OF THE SANCTIONS BY WHICH THOSE RULES ARE ENFORCED.
IV. ANOTHER PLAUSIBLE BASIS FOR THE SAME CENSURE MAY BE LAID IN THE OPPOSITE CHARACTERS OF VIRTUE AND VICE. Virtue is always modest, peaceable, and silent; vice often forward, loud, and conspicuous.
V. CHRISTIANS, AGAIN, HAVE BEEN SEVERELY CENSURED ON ACCOUNT OF THE NUMEROUS DIVISIONS AND DISTINCTIONS AMONGST THEM. It would be unreasonable to expect that mankind should differ in their opinions on almost every other subject, and yet should be all agreed on this; on a subject which is of all others the most interesting, the most extensive, and the most complex. To this let us add the effects of the weakness and folly, of the vanity and ambition, of the enthusiasm or the hypocrisy of various individuals amongst us, and we shall be able to account very satisfactorily for the multiplicity of our tenets and parties.
VI. Such as these are the censures that have been thrown upon Christianity and its professors. But as far as they have any foundation in truth, THE ONLY ADEQUATE REFUTATION IS AN AMENDMENT IN OUR OWN MORALS, a regulation of our lives, more agreeable to the principles that we profess.
(W. Barrow, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;