In culture today, the idea is everywhere that holiness somehow limits your enjoyment of life. But the Bible is clear: Sin is never appropriate for God’s people. 1 Peter 2:11–12 says,
“Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, 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.”
Since you and I are just sojourners and pilgrims, we need to abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul.
In Greek, the word “war” means to carry out a strategic military campaign with the objective of capturing, crippling, or destroying your opponent. The lusts of the flesh literally carry out a strategic military campaign against our souls—meaning the part of your spiritual life that comprises your mind, your will, and your emotions.
After telling us about the battle being waged against our souls, Peter says, “Let your conduct be honorable.” Peter knows that what goes on in your soul affects your conduct—and your conduct affects your witness for Christ.
If our thinking is wrong, if our soul has been captured, then our conduct will be wrong. And that ultimately affects our witness—and that affects the thing that God prizes most: precious souls coming into His family.
Fleshly lusts can encompass anything from forbidden passions to flaunted pride, and those are extremes, but the flesh loves them both. The flesh wants to indulge them both.
The flesh cries out, and it’s never satisfied. It always wants to overindulge, whether it’s overeating, oversleeping, overspending, excessive drinking, or excessive time in front of the television, the computer, or your mobile device.
The cry of the flesh for just a little more of something may seem innocent enough at first, but if we continually yield to our flesh, it will ultimately capture our soul. It’s all part of the devil’s plan to wreck your life and inhibit your faith. He’s brilliant at prodding our flesh because he knows these fleshly lusts wage a campaign, trying to capture our soul, our will, and our thinking.
You can find a pretty extensive list of the works of the flesh in Galatians 5. You’d be surprised at some things that war against our souls and pose significant threats to the life of impact God wants for us.
It doesn’t have to be that way! Thankfully, you can set your mind on the Word of God and discover how His thoughts bring freedom, joy, peace, fruitfulness, and so much more into your life.