1 Peter 2: 11-12
This passage is about living honorably, even in the face of oppression and enticement. This is a call and challenge for us to see the world differently so we can respond in kindness and virtue. The world, with all of its lusts and evils, is not to be the place of our identity or the place in which we want to be enveloped; rather, it is to be the place we are to influence.
We are called to stay away from evil desires because they will entice us and lead us away from His loving and best plan for us. When we are thinking in a wrong or dysfunctional way, it affects all we are and all we do because our lusts fight against our very soul! Our relationships, how we treat others, and how we proclaim God's Word through our attitude and lifestyle all stem from how and what we are thinking. Our thinking must come from the precepts of His Word. Our opinions, judgments, outlook, and approach to life and people need to come from the heart of a will that is bought by Jesus Christ.
· Beloved/Dear friends. Our position in Christ is as His friend; we are dear, cherished, and fully, deeply loved by Him! As Christians, we are all bound together in and by love (John 14)! We are loved not because we are lovable or there is something within us He sees as good; rather, we are loved in spite of our sinful rebellion. This is a much greater love, which is what Grace is all about.
· Sojourners/aliens here refers to being "resident aliens" (see 1 Peter 1: 1-2). We are not native to the world. We Christians are on a journey, separated from the home for which we are made-eternity. Our citizenship is in heaven. We are only on this earth temporarily. This is about how we view our place in this world, how we conduct ourselves, and where we place our loyalties (Gen. 23:4; 47:9; Lev. 25:23; 1 Chron. 29:15; Psalm 39:12; 69:8; 119:19; Acts 10:34; Heb 13:14; 1 Pet. 1:1, 17). The saying that "Christianity is not just a destination; it is a journey," applies here. We are made for heaven and destined to be there in time; meanwhile, we are to live, learn, grow, and show His love and holiness to all those with whom we come in contact.
· Pilgrims/strangers conveys a similar thought as above, with the point that we are "God's people (1 Pet. 2:4-10)." We are not here permanently; rather, we are "pilgrims" on a journey until we reach our permanent home in eternity. Philo of Alexandria, a Jewish philosopher born in 25 B.C., viewed the soul as on a journey and us as strangers in our bodies and in the world. His point, as well as Peter's, is that we are not made for this world, so let's make the best of it while we are here for God's glory. Our "homecoming" will come soon enough.
· Abstain means to control sinful desires toward immorality in a pagan culture, and to live as God's people in a hostile world. The argument is that because we are aliens here on earth, we are called to be separated from the corruption of the world so we should not let it influence us. When we refuse to yield, we will avoid its destructive consequences.
· Lusts refers to "fleshy passions" or sexual desires," things that lure us away from God's path, holiness, and the character to which He calls us. The call? Stay away from lust! This lust here can refer to anything that distracts us from God! Some of the lusts are not wrong. For example, sex is not wrong, but becomes so when our sinful nature gets involved and we pervert or seek to use it against that for which it was designed. Sex is meant for intimacy only between a man and woman who are married to each other (Rom. 1:18-32; Gal. 5:19-21).
· War. We are at war with God's desires versus ours. Thus, we must know what a mortal threat there is to us! Since our soul is not made for this world but for eternity in heaven, it is in foreign occupied territory. Thus, our soul is at war between the ways of God versus the ways of the world. The question is, which side are your heart and mind on (James 4:1-17)?
· Soul. We will never truly be able to free our soul from earthly temptations and distractions. We have to learn self-control and to keep our focus on Christ rather than the lure of lust! The philosophers sought to free the soul from earthly passions, producing Gnosticism. The call of God is to be on guard so we can still live in a proper, pleasing way to glorify our Lord and people will see Christ exhibited in us!
The Church has taught for centuries that sex is for procreation only and there are still Christian groups proclaiming this. However, this is not what the Bible teaches. Sex was created by God to populate (Genesis 1:28), to express unity (Genesis 2:24), to know your mate (Genesis 4:1), to express love (Genesis 24:67), to meet each other's needs (Genesis 24:67; Deuteronomy 24:5; 1 Peter 3:7), to play (Proverbs 5:19; Song of Songs 2:8-17; 4:1-16; Ecclesiastes 9:9), and to prevent sin (1 Corinthians 7:2-5). Intimacy also includes our being available to our spouse (1 Corinthians 7:3-5), and showing him or her our undivided interest as an expression of love (Song of Songs 4:16; 5:2).
Sex causes a bond and is meant for a sacred occasion. When it is misused, it is devastating to all involved. This is also the reason sexual abuse is so devastating for people! The victim is bonded to his or her attacker in a perverse way, so the act stays in the mind as he or she keeps living it out. So, in the case of abuse or mistakes, we have to be diligent to seek professional counseling to overcome the experience through God's grace, love, and forgiveness. In a marriage, where one or both of the spouses were not previously faithful, extra work and care needs to go into the relationship to seek the healing and forgiveness of that broken bond (Gen. 2:24-25; 34:1-3, 8; Prov. 5:15 -22; Rom. 8:12-17; 1 Cor. 6: 12-20; 7:3-5; 2 Cor. 10:5-6; Eph. 1:3; 2:4-10; 5:21-32; Col. 3:1-4; Heb. 13:4).
1. Have you ever backslidden or turned your back on God? How so, and why?
2. What made an influence to you so you were able to return to Christ?
3. What does it mean to you to live honorably?
4. How have you succeeded to battle a sin like lust? How have you failed? Remember, we all succeed and fail at times!
5. Does knowing that we are not made for this world, but made for eternity give you hope and confidence?
6. How can this eternal thinking help you stick it out in life and do all that you are called to do with excellence?
7. What do you need to do to stay away from evil desires?
8. What can be a mortal threat to you? Which side is your heart and mind on (James 4:1-17)?
9. How does thinking in a wrong or dysfunctional way affect all you are and do?
10. What is a place or situation that may need your positive, godly influence? What will you do about it? When will you do it?
© 2005, Rev. Richard J. Krejcir, Discipleship Tools www.discipleshiptools.org