Waging War Against Your Passions For God’s Glory
1 Peter 2:11-12
Truth Taught – Exiles live honorably in a hostile word by abstaining from sin and engaging in good conduct.
After Peter has described such a rich and amazing salvation that God alone has given to all believers, and once he has declared that God is placing us within His very house that has Christ as the cornerstone, then he draws an appropriate conclusion. All believers are beloved.
1 Peter 2:10 (ESV)
10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
Now, Peter has spent the entire beginning of his first letter to convince us that no matter what may be transpiring around us and to us we are nonetheless loved by God. This love is not the brotherly love that Peter tells us we are to have with all fellow believers within the church but an intimate Father-sibling relationship of love, care, and respect.
So, beloved, the matter is settled. If you are a believer today and if you are in Christ by faith, then God loves you more deeply than you could ever imagine. You are His and He is yours.
1 John 3:1–2 (ESV)
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.
1 Peter 2:11–12 (ESV)
11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.
Here we see an action we must engage in if we are to win the battle for our souls, we must abstain from sinful passions that battle against our souls.
Now we must see where Peter is coming from here. He’s already called us elect exiles and now calls us sojourners and exiles. So, we are foreigners living abroad, and we must not act like the citizens of the country in which we are currently living.
It’s not too difficult to take the pulse of those who are in the world. Those who don’t know Jesus as Savior act one way, and we who do know Jesus must act another.
Have you ever noticed that the world never focuses on the absolute most important issue? It’s really two parts and we are going to look at them. Part one, the world never focuses on the human soul . . . ever! They care a lot about preserving the body. Health care professionals are all about looking for ways to extend the length of life while making it better quality. Our lifespan is not very long in view of eternity. Why would the world put so much emphasis on the temporal and none on the eternal? They live with darkened eyes . . .
2 Corinthians 4:3–4 (ESV)
3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
It’s vital for us to see that the world has been blinded to reality. They’ve been blinded to what really matters. Their eternal souls for a few years of pleasure will spend eternity in hell. They never once consider their souls, and their souls will be forever lost.
Luke 12:16–21 (ESV)
16 And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, 17 and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ 18 And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.” ’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”
Part two, the world spends so much time on trivial and worthless things. Think with me what the world endears. Our culture is so enamored with sports, fashion, entertainment, etc. Does it really matter so much who wins the Super bowl, World Series, what movie is coming out, or what so and so is wearing? These things mean nothing, yet billions are spent annually on things that are worthless.
When we speak to these folks about Jesus their eyes glaze over as if He is boring and doesn’t matter. I cannot speak to you about Jesus, my soul or being born again, I have to go to the 4:00 show.
This is the mindset of the population in which we live. We must not be like them because our nation is another kingdom all together. This is why we must abstain from the passions of the world.
1 Peter 1:14 (ESV)
14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance,
Peter will go on and further describe what he means . . .
1 Peter 4:2–5 (ESV)
2 so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. 3 For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. 4 With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; 5 but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.
Peter calls on us to renounce all these things in favor of obeying God’s will. We cannot participate in the activities that dominated us prior to our salvation. The passions of sin wage war against our very souls. When we give in to these passions it’s like we are handing an enemy soldier our loaded weapon, giving him our rations, and painting a target on our backs. This is the imagery of verse 11. It literally says, human passions are serving as soldiers against your souls. These sins don’t wage war against our flesh but our souls.
James 4:1–4 (ESV)
4 What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. 4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
The important thing for us to note is the cause of it all. Let me say first of all that we must take note of what James does not say. He does not say that the cause of our sinning is Satan. He doesn’t say that you fight and engage in bitter conflict because Satan is at war within you. Neither does he say that the cause of our sinning is the world and its corrupt ways. The cause of all our sinning are those “passions” or “desires” that wage war within us.
The remedy is to fight back. Put these enemies to death.
In Ephesians 4:22 Paul referred to this as “deceitful desires.” These “passions” or “desires” that Paul, Peter, and James all mention will always lie to you. They will try to deceive you into believing that by indulging them and giving them sway in your life and by making room for them in your experience that you will find real and lasting joy. Don’t believe them! They lie! They are “deceitful” desires. Fight them with reminders of truth. Fight them by laying hold of the truth of Psalm 16:11.
Psalm 16:11 (ESV)
11 You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
This is motivation to fight against these enemies of your souls. Fight them, kill them, fight dirty. Do whatever it takes to kill them before your soul is captured and lost. Yes, this is eternal life and death. Never have the mindset that says, I’m saved therefore my soul is never in danger. Beloved by thinking that way you may be manifesting the fact that you might not be saved. Don’t find significance in the world’s activities. Follow Christ, not the world.
12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable,
So, we learned that God commands us to abstain from our passions and now we are told what to embrace. We must embrace good works or as Peter says, honorable conduct. Good works are the manifestation of our inward change and our inward battle against our passions.
Titus 2:7–8 (ESV)
7 Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, 8 and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.
Titus 2:14 (ESV)
14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
Titus 3:8 (ESV)
8 The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.
As we look to our passage today, especially verse 12, it almost sounds like Jesus. I’m sure as Peter wrote this, he could hear the saying he heard so long ago from His Master:
Matthew 5:16 (ESV)
16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
So, we see Peter’s strategy as exiles, namely, abstain from living like the locals and engage in good works like a heavenly citizen.
so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
The purpose is that the lost world, those among whom we live, will see our lives and be converted to Christ themselves. By our good conduct the Gospel takes on an entirely different significance.
Let’s look at an example of how this might work. The world thinks that meaning is found in money. They spend their lives lying, cheating, manipulating, jockeying for position, stabbing each other in the back to get a promotion, hoarding, spending, etc. Then after they’ve had many years of this, they are still empty on the inside with a ton of credit card debt and a stack of bills they can’t pay.
On the other hand, we as God’s people are abstaining from the passions to find happiness in money and stuff. We live differently. Rather than hoarding we are generous. Rather than stealing we give. Rather than buying everything we live frugally. We can do this because the lies they believe about the happiness that material goods bring we actually achieve in Jesus Christ. They see our way of life, and even though it looks foolish and doesn’t make any sense to them, they see that we are actually and sincerely happy.
Why are you always joyful they might ask? Why when things go wrong for you aren’t you devastated?
This leads right into a powerful Gospel presentation. You see when we live like God tells us here in these two verses, we are modeling the greatness of God. As we do so, some from this lost world will come to Christ. God will be honored. When Jesus returns, the day of His visitation, there will be even more followers.
Fight against following your passions and realize when we give in, we do damage to our souls.
Live honorable lives among the lost world.
God will receive the glory.
How can we live for God’s glory?
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