Tuesday, February 5, 2013

1 Peter 2:11-12

11 Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, 12 having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.

The Apostle Peter begins with a plead for us, as sojourners and pilgrims, to abstain (lit. hold oneself off) from fleshly lusts which war against the soul. While the word Peter uses here to describe us as sojourners is the same word translated strangers in Eph 2:13, where the Apostle Paul says of us Gentiles who believe that we are "no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God." Thus in contrast to our being sojourners in this world, we are not strangers to God's household of faith where our heart and home truly is. The other word Peter uses here and is translated pilgrims is also a derivative word of the word translated foreigners in Eph 2:13. Thus all share a common linguistic pedigree. That all said lets not loose the important message in the exhortation given here for us. Which is for us all to abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul. Now what is being commanded here is not the abstinence of natural sexual desires given by God to be exercised in the context of heterosexual marriage. Rather Peter is warning us not to be ruled by them, whether through the unlawful use of them (consider John 8:34-35) or by the over indulgence of them. For when awakened and yielded too outside of a lawful marriage and or self controlled context they truly bring, and will leave all kinds of sorrows and ruin in their wake (consider Gal 5:16-26 and the contrast of the works of the flesh compared with the works of the Spirit and thus our need to be led by the Spirit of God and not the lusts of the flesh). Therefore Peter is not condemning the healthy exercise of God given sexual desires within a heterosexual marriage (Heb 13:4). For to unnecessarily abstain from those things would only be to give the Satan the tempter a foothold in ones own, or ones spouses life (see 1 Cor 7:2-5).
Therefore the lusts of the flesh that we are to abstain from are those sinful fleshly lusts and impulses that everyone struggles against (to a lessor or greater degree) because of their sin nature, and or their submitting themselves to them. Thus those lusts of the flesh and bodily appetites which the world promotes and justifies and unregenerate person lives for and pursues. What the Apostle Peter elsewhere says is "the corruption that is in the world through lust" 1 Peter 1:4 (same word translated lust there). Therefore we are to abstain from those lusts of the flesh which enslave one and will lead to ones own destruction and ruin in the end (consider Matt 5:29-30; Mark 9:42-48). For we who believe in Jesus must learn to be led by the Spirit of God and not the sinful desires of the flesh, but rather resist these (1 Cor 10:13). For in doing so we become liberated to pursue those things that are wrapped up in the purposes of God, and thus that have heaven as there finial destiny, and will end with our being rewarded at Christ's judgment seat as faithful stewards then, but also point to Jesus Christs life within us here and now. And thus bring life, peace and prosperity in all it's fullness to us and to all here who likewise believe and obey the truth (Eph 5:9). For to live by the "lusts of the flesh" as the world does, is only to live as one who does not know God, nor the power of His salvation to transform a life and bring it out of sins darkness and into His glorious and liberating light. Therefore in having our conduct honorable amongst the Gentiles, as the Apostle Peter commands here, amongst those who are outside of the household of faith. So that even if they speak against us as evildoers, they may, by our good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation (vs. 12). That is in the Day of God 's visitation, whether for salvation for those who having observed Christian good works and behavior came to their senses and repented and believed, or eternal destruction and ruin to those who did not (consider Luke 1:68, 78; 19:41-44, vs. 44). For that is a purpose of our lives to bring glory to God and this we do when we abstain from fleshly lusts and rather choose to do what is good and right in the sight of God. 


Scripture Quotations
The New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982

Word Studies
abstain: ἀπέχω, Str 567; GK 600; LN 85.16
sojourners: πάροικος, Str 3941; GK 4230; LN 11.77
pilgrims: παρεπίδημος, Str 3927; GK 4215; TDNT 2.64; TDNTA 49; LN 11.77
visitation: ἐπισκοπή, Str 1984; GK 2175; TDNT 2.606; TDNTA; LN 34.51



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