1 Peter 2:11, 12
Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;…
What is meant here by "fleshly lusts"? Not alone the desires and appetites that are gratified 'through the flesh - " sensuality," as we sometimes say. No; for three reasons.
1. The flesh in itself is neither good nor bad; it has no moral qualities.
2. The category of evils here enumerated includes envying, pride, heresies.
3. The "flesh" is used figuratively, and is a symbol of the old and lower nature of man. The phrase points to the disorganized, disproportioned, disordered desires of man, and so includes intemperance, gluttony, voluptuousness, bad temper, false ambitions, covetousness, all of which are included in the accursed trinity of St. John, "The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, the vain-glory of life." We are here taught that -
I. INDULGENCE IN THESE DISORDERLY PASSIONS IS BECOMING NEITHER TO OUR PRESENT CONDITION NOR TO OUR DESTINY. We are "sojourners;" foreigners, not staying here. But more, we are "pilgrims," bent on a higher destination. "Arise ye, and depart; for this is not your rest."
II. THE INFLUENCE OF THESE DISORDERLY PASSIONS IS HOSTILE TO OUR OWN INWARD LIFE. "Which war against the soul;" war against all the garrison and inmates of the soul - against reason, defying and dishonoring it; against memory, burdening and crushing it; against hope, darkening it and turning it into terror; against imagination, polluting and degrading it; against conscience, cutting and maiming, though they cannot kill it; against the affections, ravaging and spoiling them; in a word, against "the soul.
III. FREEDOM FROM THESE DISORDERLY PASSIONS, BESIDES DELIVERING FROM INTERNAL STRIFE, WILL MAKE OUR OUTWARD LIFE A SOCIAL BLESSING. Four facts are here suggested on this point.
1. Outward life scrutinized. They behold" it.
2. Outward life readily calumniated. "They speak evil of you." Slanders brought against early Christians were many, foul, and baseless. It was a king who said, "It is kingly to do good, and to be evil spoken of is kingly." Paul, James, Peter, and our Lord teach that to do good and be evil spoken of was the lot of a Christian.
3. Outward life should be beautiful. "Good works;" i.e. beautiful works. No scenery can be or should be so fascinating, so awe-inspiring, as the scenery of souls. They may show forth most of the beauties of holiness, the beauty of God.
4. Such outward life leads to God being glorified. "They may glorify God." Many a man has found some noble or gracious life of kinsman, or of friend, or of hero to be "the gate Beautiful," by which he has gone into the temple of the fellowship and service of God. - U.R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;