In his writing to the saints scattered throughout the areas, Peter encouraged them in the way they should live. In 1 Peter 1:15, God says through him “Be holy, because I am holy.” Continuing that call for holiness, Peter is found in the second chapter explaining how holiness looks in everyday life. 1 Peter 2:11-12 says
11 Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. (NIV)
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. (NKJV)
The Greek Word for lusts is epithymia (e-pē-thü-mē’-ä). It is also translated as desire. Here are other words that connote its meaning desire, craving, longing, desire for what is forbidden. We all have desires that run contrary to the Word of God. Those desires, according to the test, relate to having the nature of flesh,” i.e., sensual, controlled by animal appetites, governed by human nature, instead of by the Spirit of God (Vine’s Expository Dictionary). We must Abstain from Fleshly Lusts.
For the believer, God talks about the existence of two natures: the flesh and the spirit. It emerges on the scene in Romans 8. Listen, to what God says,
5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.
9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.
We see it spelled out plainly for us in Galatians 5. Paul says, “16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.” Paul further talks about fleshly or worldly natures in 1 Corinthians 3.
For those who claim to follow Christ as Lord and Savior, we have an obligation to walk in the and by the Spirit. Peter knows that and refers the believers back to walking by the Spirit. He knows that those fleshly desires/lusts wage war against our souls; therefore, we must ready ourselves for the battle. We cannot afford to capitulate to the sins that pervade our minds. We must resists and subdue those thoughts. We must Abstain from Fleshly Lusts.
Famed Commentator, Matthew Henry, wrote the following about the matter:
He warns them to beware of fleshly lusts, 1 Pet. 2:11. Even the best of men, the chosen generation, the people of God, need an exhortation to abstain from the worst sins, which the apostle here proceeds most earnestly and affectionately to warn them against. Knowing the difficulty, and yet the importance of the duty, he uses his utmost interest in them: Dearly beloved, I beseech you. The duty is to abstain from, and to suppress, the first inclination or rise of fleshly lusts. Many of them proceed from the corruption of nature, and in their exercise depend upon the body, gratifying some sensual appetite or inordinate inclination of the flesh. These Christians ought to avoid, considering, 1. The respect they have with God and good men: They are dearly beloved. 2. Their condition in the world: They are strangers and pilgrims, and should not impede their passage by giving into the wickedness and lusts of the country through which they pass. 3. The mischief and danger these sins do: “They war against the soul; and therefore your souls ought to war against them.” Learn, (1.) The grand mischief that sin does to man is this, it wars against the soul; it destroys the moral liberty of the soul; it weakens and debilitates the soul by impairing its faculties; it robs the soul of its comfort and peace; it debases and destroys the dignity of the soul, hinders its present prosperity, and plunges it into everlasting misery. (2.) Of all sorts of sin, none are more injurious to the soul than fleshly lusts. Carnal appetites, lewdness, and sensuality, are most odious to God, and destructive to man’s soul. It is a sore judgment to be given up to them.
He eloquently shares why We must Abstain from Fleshly Lusts. I am not sure about you, but I know the struggle is real. I know there are desires or thoughts that come across my mind all day waging war against my soul. I must commit to fight against those desires. I must abstain from the fleshly lusts. We know from Galatians 5 that 19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.
For God, the matter rests entirely on who is leading you – the Spirit of God or the flesh. As a follower of Christ, I should be led by the Spirit of Christ. More than any reason, this is why We must Abstain from Fleshly Lusts.