Abstain from fleshly lusts, which wage war against the soul.
1 Peter 2:11-3:7 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Beloved, I urge you as foreigners and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts, which wage war against the soul. 12 Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God on the day of visitation.
13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, 14 or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. 15 For such is the will of God, that by doing right you silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Act as free people, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bond-servants of God. 17 Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.
18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are harsh. 19 For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person endures grief when suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God.
21 For you have been called for this purpose, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you would follow in His steps, 22 He who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; 23 and while being abusively insulted, He did not insult in return; while suffering, He did not threaten, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 and He Himself brought our sins in His body up on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live for righteousness; by His wounds you were healed. 25 For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.
3 In the same way, you wives, be subject to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won over without a word by the behavior of their wives, 2 as they observe your pure and respectful behavior. 3 Your adornment must not be merely the external—braiding the hair, wearing gold jewelry, or putting on apparel; 4 but it should be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. 5 For in this way the holy women of former times, who hoped in God, also used to adorn themselves, being subject to their own husbands, 6 just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord; and you have proved to be her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.
7 You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.
Today’s text begins saying: Beloved, I urge you as foreigners and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts, which wage war against the soul. We need to understand that when we give in to our fleshly lusts and desires, we are actually joining with the enemy in his war against our soul. James 1:14-15 says: Each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it has run its course, brings forth death. We need to recognize our own weaknesses, and knowing them, we need to abstain from them. No matter what the temptation or addiction, no matter what we lust after, it is easier and better to stop at zero than one. It is not a sin to be tempted. Jesus Himself was tempted. Hebrews 4:15 says: We do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things just as we are, yet without sin. Sin comes not when we are tempted, but when we yield to temptation, when we entertain temptation. To engage in our temptation once is sin. Sin, when it has run its course, brings forth death. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says: No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. What is the way out of temptation? How do we stop at zero rather than one? James 4:7-8 says: Submit therefore to God. But resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God and He will come close to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. I like the way the psalmist says it in Psalm 37:3-4: Trust in the Lord and do good; Live in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart. The Lord Himself is our way out of temptation. If we will trust Him, submit to and delight in Him, our hearts will become aligned with His. Our desires will be His desires for us. The psalmist says: Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He will do it. He will bring out your righteousness as the light…
The text continues saying: Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God on the day of visitation. For us, we should keep our behavior excellent among the world. The thing is, that will not keep the world from slandering or hating us. In John 15:18-25 Jesus says: “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you as well; if they followed My word, they will follow yours also. But all these things they will do to you on account of My name, because they do not know the One who sent Me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. The one who hates Me hates My Father also. If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have both seen and hated Me and My Father as well. But this has happened so that the word that is written in their Law will be fulfilled: ‘They hated Me for no reason.’” If we would be slandered and hated by the world, may the reason be that we are like Christ and not that we continue in darkness and evil. In Matthew 5:14-16 Jesus says: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Your light must shine before people in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Many in the world will hate light because it exposes their darkness. The text says: they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God on the day of visitation. Some may experience a day of visitation now. The light of Christ that they see in us may not only expose the darkness in them, but also expel the darkness from them, as they glorify God. One day though all will glorify Him. Philippians 2:10-11 says: At the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
The text also says: Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God, that by doing right you silence the ignorance of foolish people. This is a difficult thing for many Christians to understand and to do. We need to remember that Jesus Himself submitted to the authority of the evil Roman government. In Jeremiah 29:11 God says: I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for prosperity and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. We need to trust God’s plan. He knows the present and the future. In Matthew 22:37-38 Jesus says: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment.” First and foremost we need to love and trust God. Difficult times and evil governments will come. We need to determine which kingdom we prioritize, the kingdom of the world or the kingdom of God. If we prioritize the kingdom of God, then we need to trust His plan. We need to trust that His kingdom come and that His will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
May the words Daniel 2:20-23 be our declaration and prayer: May the name of God be blessed forever and ever, For wisdom and power belong to Him. It is He who changes the times and the periods; He removes kings and appoints kings; He gives wisdom to wise men, And knowledge to people of understanding. It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, And the light dwells with Him. To You, God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise. Amen. May Your kingdom come and Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.