“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
Theologians have noted that there are three enemies which war against our soul: the devil, the world, and our sinful nature. And I believe that we understand the threat posed by the first two. However, I don’t think we grasp the danger of the third.
We understand that the devil opposes Christ and those who are his. He would like nothing more than to have us condemned to hell for all eternity. And, knowing this, we understand the importance of resisting him.
We also understand the danger of the world. We know that the world naturally opposes Christ. Because it is under the bondage of sin, it resists him at every turn. And it seeks to lure away from Christ those who trust in him.
Yet, when it comes to our flesh, when it comes to our sinful nature, we seem to minimize the danger. Although we acknowledge that we are sinners, and although we confess that we’re far from perfect, we seem to think the danger is minuscule.
Believing our intentions to be good, and not questioning our motives, we believe that our flesh is somewhat trustworthy. We scoff at those who’ve practiced extreme asceticism in an effort to put down the power of the flesh. And we instead choose to toy with it in our day to day life.
Peter is clear about the danger the flesh poses in the above verse. He urges us to abstain from the passions of the flesh. And he urges us to do so because they wage war against our soul.
The passions of our flesh are quite literally fighting against us. They seek to lure us from God. They seek ultimately our eternal destruction.
Coming to terms with this truth means taking more seriously the passions of the flesh. It means that, knowing their danger, we fight them as never before. We do so that our flesh might not find itself victorious, achieving the demise of our eternal soul.
We do this not by our own strength. We do so by looking to the Lord for strength. Confessing our sin, living in daily repentance, and standing firm in our faith, we resist it. We count our eternal blessedness of more value than the fleeting pleasures these passions provide.