“Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul.”
abstain from fleshly lusts
“Abstain” means to hold yourself back from. The phrase “abstain from fleshly lusts” means to hold the self back constantly from fleshly lusts. Anything incompatible with our fellowship with God is a fleshly lust: lust for power, lust for personal approbation, materialism lust, or lascivious lust.
Lust is simply a craving. Some desires are legitimate. We have a God-given desire for food, drink, and sex. “Fleshly lusts” are carnal appetites. This is human nature apart from God. It is our fallen nature. This is not only gross lust but lust of any kind.
These lusts attack the soul (Galatians 5:19-21). This involves more than sexual sins but sins of the attitude such as jealousy, envy, hatred, resentment. God wants us to keep on avoiding fleshly lusts (Acts 15:20,29; I Thes 4:3; 5:22; I Tim. 4:3).
Lusts originate from the Devil. They are the desires of the Devil.
John 8:44, “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.”
Romans 13:14, “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.”
Galatians 5:16, “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.”
Galatians 5:24, “And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”
Ephesians 2:1-3, “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.”
II Timothy 2:22, “Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”
Titus 2:11-12, “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age.”
Titus 3:3, “For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.”
God wants us to hold ourselves back from fleshly lusts.
The Savior insists on managing our affairs. Yet we insist on managing our own affairs. We attempt to run our own life. “I know how to run my family. I don’t need any help from God.”
Fleshly lusts will consume us. We will become a slave to them because they will wage war against us.
God does not want us ruled by our lust patterns. The lust pattern is seeking to neutralize our lives. God’s Word gives us an appreciation for God. We appreciate the source of the gift.