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
Two ideas grip me from this verse. The first is the concept of my relationship to this world as an alien. When I am born again, I am born into a new life and a new relationship with this world. I don't belong in the world system any longer. I am now a pilgrim on a journey. My hope is fixed on that destination. The result is that I am in exile here in this world, longing to reach home again someday, in God's timing. I am not at home here. That sense of longing for home should pervade my life. It does not mean that I ignore those around me here in this world. It does mean that my soul should "not quite fit" with things here. I am a resident alien, but my home is God's country.
The second idea is that of wartime preparedness. Peter says that the passions of my flesh will wage war with my soul. So I live in a strange land where I am at battle with sinful passions. Not only am I a pilgrim, but I am also a soldier. And the stakes of the fight are high, and very personal: my soul is at war. The command here is to be self-sacrificial... to not give in to the passions of the flesh. That involves discipline, direction from God, and attention to His commands for me. As an obedient soldier, I should let God's Word train me for the campaign against the passions that war against my very soul.
This passage uses two very personal metaphors to get my attention. An exile never feels at home in the land of his exile. He longs for home. There is always an aching pain for the way God wants it to be. And I will know that when God gets me there: a new heavens and a new earth - the home of righteousness. A soldier often does battle far from home. But he does have not only the interests of being home at heart, but also self preservation and protection in mind as he does battle with the enemy. That is the mindset that I must take against my temptations. For the soldier, such discipline is necessary if he is ever to see home again. For me, it is that mindset that God uses to give me strength in the battle against sin on this alien planet.
Do you feel the tension, do you?
Do you feel the grind?
Do you see the battle 'tween this
Flesh and soul of mine?
'Cause there's a war inside of me
Between who I want to be
And who I am
I do what I don't want to do
And don't do what I mean
I end up chasing all my nightmares
abandoning my dreams
Who I am is not who I want to be
Shackled like a slave when I know that I'm free
Wrong and right, truth and lie, death versus life
Everything in me is choosing sides
And the showdown begins
Do you feel the tension?
"War Inside" by Todd Agnew
- Prepare your minds for action.
1 Peter 1:13