Journal Entry // November 20, 2021
Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.1 Peter 2:11 ESV
There is a lot of truth that needs to be unpacked in this short statement from Peter. Peter is urging us to view this life as being in exile (think of living in a foreign land and barred from our homeland) and as a sojourner (think of a temporary stay somewhere). In light of this physical state, we are to not indulge the passions of the flesh. Why? Because these passions are at war against us and seek to destroy our soul.
Sojourners and exiles… This fits nicely with yesterday’s passage where my inheritance is kept secure in heaven waiting for me as I am in exile and sojourning in this present world. Peter is reminding me that this world is not my home, rather this is my place of exile. This world is a place of temporary stay as I sojourn and live life away from my homeland, away from heaven. This is essential thinking to have a proper context and perspective of this mortal life. This life is not what I am to live for. Yes, it is important to be engaged in the world and seek to demonstrate a godly righteous life and proclaim the goodness of Christ. But this world is not my home. This life is not all there is. This is just a sojourn in a foreign land. A temporary stay preparing me for my homecoming to be with Christ in heaven. This is my motivation.
Passions of the flesh… With my exile in mind, Peter urges me to abstain from the passions of the flesh. This is an active restraint on my part from doing and enjoying something. This is a good word in that sin is something that brings enjoyment and pleasure on some level. That’s why I’m tempted and that’s why I indulge, because it’s enjoyable. It’s enjoyable and pleasing to my flesh. The flesh has passions and wants fulfillment of it’s desires. I always want to think of this in a sexual sense, but it really speaks about more than that. There truly is a lust after sexual desires and feelings, but there is also a lust for food and drink, for entertainment and escapism. These plague me just as much as sexual desires. My flesh is always wanting to gratify it’s desires at all times. I must abstain. I must actively restrain my flesh through the grace of Christ. Not passive and wishful, but active in abstaining.
Wage war… Why abstain? Because the flesh is against holiness. The flesh, in seeking to gratify it’s desires, seeks to destroy my soul. The flesh is not just this simple annoying part of me that gets me in trouble or leads me astray. No, my flesh is actively waging war against me. My flesh is not some innocent or misunderstood aspect of who I am. My flesh is against me. It wants to destroy my soul. It wants me to fall into temptation and sin, ultimately rejecting Christ. My flesh is the enemy of my soul. That’s difficult to think about really. I feel as though my flesh is part of who I am. And if it’s a part of who I am, didn’t God make me this way. And if God made me this way then why is it bad? But that is not the truth. My flesh is my mortal enemy. My flesh is not my friend. My flesh is not who I am.
I am an exile in this world. Sojourning in this world clothed in flesh. Frail and weak. My soul, that is who I am in Christ. My home is heaven, not this world. My flesh wants me to stay happy and content with the world, Christ wants me happy and content in him. Abstaining from the desires of the flesh is vital to a holy sojourn. Keeping my eyes focused on Christ alone and on my inheritance of salvation kept safe and secure in heaven… My home.