11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright (c)2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. http://www.esv.org
“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
For the past three weeks, we have been meditating the verse above. It isn’t often that we linger on a single verse for so long, but the truths this verse relays are not easily acted upon. We may now understand how this verse describes our identity (“sojourners and exiles”), responsibility (“to abstain from the passions of the flesh”), and context (“war”). But this verse is not primarily focused on understanding, but action: to abstain from the passions of the flesh. Are we now ready and willing to respond to this verse in action?
Seventy-five years ago, C.S. Lewis published a satirical novel called, “The Screwtape Letters.” The novel is a collection of letters written from one demon to another, suggesting strategies for destroying the faith of Christians. Many of the strategies are surprisingly shrewd, and compel us to see spiritual vulnerabilities in our lives in a new way. In one section, the demon suggests that it is fine for faith to influence a Christian’s imaginations and affections, but it must not influence his actions. The demon writes, “Let him do anything but act. No amount of piety in his imaginations and affections will harm us if we can keep it out of his will…The more often he feels without acting, the less he will be able ever to act, and, in the long run, the less he will be able to feel.” In other words, true and healthy faith doesn’t merely dwell in thoughts and emotions, but goes on to express itself in practical acts. And when feeling without acting becomes habit, faith atrophies and demons smile.
As this action-focused verse continues to echo in our hearts and minds this month, let us resolve to respond to it prayerfully and practically. Let us each pray for the Holy Spirit to let it run its full course: in our minds, through our hearts, and out our lives. And let us together make the demons shudder by our embodied faithfulness to God’s Word.