Bible Reading: 1 Peter 2:11-12, NKJV
I’ve noticed a trend in recent years.
Once upon a time, if a Christian came to the realization that they disagreed with what the Bible calls sin, they would merely walk away from the faith. They wanted to live life by their own rules without being anchored to the truths of God’s Word, so they split and no longer called themselves a Christian.
Lately, I’ve noticed a number of people—celebrities, politicians, athletes and even some in my everyday life—who make the choice to indulge in the things of the world, but still claim the name of Christ. In order to do this, they often cherry-pick a Bible verse that they feel endorses their stance or twist Scripture to make it say something it doesn’t.
They may even be completely biblically illiterate, but in their mind, they’ve made Jesus or the Bible into some sort of sin-supporting entity. After all, if God is love, they reason, He must love everything they do.
I’m going to make this clear: Sin matters!
And what is sin? “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21).
Yes, Jesus paid the price for your sin on the cross, and as a follower of His you no longer walk in shame and guilt, but in the fullness of Christ. Even still, as children of God, we are called repeatedly throughout Scripture to pursue righteousness and turn from the pleasures of the world. Why? Because there’s still a spiritual cost to sin.
The apostle Peter, in his first letter (1 Peter 2:11-12), tells us why it is important to turn from the lusts of this world.
First, simply put, we are to turn our backs on evil desires because the Bible calls us to do so. Peter says, “Abstain from fleshly lusts” (v. 11). If we are truly followers of Jesus and pursuing a relationship with Him, then we must heed the Word of God. Peter is commanding the reader to live a life of transformation in Jesus.
When we sin, there is forgiveness. However, sinning should not be our default setting. Our desire should be to follow God’s Word and His righteousness.
Second, we should abstain from the pleasures of the world because we are “sojourners and pilgrims,” (v. 11) simply passing through on our way to our true and eternal home. In my part of the country, hiking the Appalachian Trail is a major event. It’s an arduous journey, stretching more than 2,000 miles.
When a person is hiking the trail, they don’t concern themselves with what is happening in the surrounding communities (of which they are not citizens), and they don’t accumulate things that will needlessly burden them. They have one goal, and their eyes are fixed on it.
The same is true for us. We are citizens of heaven. We should not immerse ourselves in the pleasures of this world—or weigh ourselves down with the junk of this world—because it hinders our walk with God. Rather, we should draw ever closer to God and follow where He is leading.
Third, we need to abstain from these fleshly lusts because they “war against the soul” (v. 11). One of the main goals of war is to inflict casualties on the opposing side. Even for followers of Christ, there is a battle raging, with Satan trying to harm you spiritually. These evil desires seek to destroy your testimony, your character, your family and your ministry—that is why we must flee from such things.
Finally, we are to keep away from such desires because it gives us an opportunity to witness to others (v. 12). When unbelievers see that we are living apart from the trappings of the world, it makes them question what makes us different.
I’ve always said that you can’t live a life that is good enough to save anybody. However, you can pursue God in such a way that others will see your faith, and this will give you an opportunity to share “the hope that is within you” (1 Peter 3:15).
My friends, it is a grave mistake to take sin lightly, or to believe the lie that—since Christ died for our sin—there are no consequences to our actions. There are spiritual and eternal (not to mention physical) costs to be paid when we ignore God’s guidance through His Word. Rather, I would encourage you to cling to Christ, and dig so deeply into the Bible that you can spot a truth from a lie.
Then pursue Him with all that you have so that others will see the Light shining through you.
Scripture Reference: 1 Peter 2:11-12
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.