“Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul.”
against the soul
Fleshly lusts will try to capture our souls. They war “against the soul.” This leads to the problem of soul-kinks. When lust patterns control our life, we have a soul-kink. We do not build up these kinks overnight. This soul-kink produces self-pity and pride, envy, jealousy, hatred, implacability, vindictiveness, hostility, fear, worry, anxiety. Spiritual hoopla will not overcome them.
We must come to the place of Paul when he said, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Rom. 7:24). It is not through mental discipline or any other human technique. It is the power of God that overcomes soul-kinks. We can win no spiritual battle with human ability. As Paul goes on to say, “So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.” We must accept God’s technique and his provisions to overcome soul-kinks.
Ephesians 6:12-20, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints— 19and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.”
War against the soul is a hot war, an all-out frontal attack.
We have the idea that we can do anything we please. We are our own boss, and we run our lives. If we have this attitude, we are headed for defeat in the spiritual war.
God wants to equip us with armor to fight the spiritual war, but we must first submit to his right to be the General in our army. That means he has the right to give me direction. He will dictate the terms under which I fight for him in a hostile world. That means unconditional surrender to General Jesus. That means we take all our orders from him.
We must check in with the General before we take a single maneuver. The wonderful thing about General Jesus is that he is omniscient. He can see over hills and around corners. He knows all the problems we might face. We can trust him with our future.
In Plutarch’s Moralia, we see this principle. Question 39 asks why the soldiers are simply sitting in the camp without fighting the enemy. Plutarch records the answer: “It is more important to obey a military command than it is to slay an individual soldier … he who asks leave to perform the offices of a soldier [our word for ‘war’] renders himself again accountable to the regulations of his general.” It is more important that we follow the commands of General Jesus and try to execute our own strategy.