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God is with you - Part 14

1 Peter 2v11b

Sin wars against your soul

16th June 2017

Last week, we looked at this verse:

1 Peter 2v11
Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.

We thought about being aliens and strangers in the world, and how we should live differently now that we're God's chosen people.

The second half of the verse teaches us we should abstain from sinful desires because they war against your soul. We don't teach this very often. We tend to teach "Abstain from sin because sin is bad", which is true, or "Abstain from sin because Jesus hates it", which is also true. But here's a third reason to abstain from sin: Sin is bad for you. It's not just bad for everybody else, for the people you sin against. It's bad for you. It wars against your soul.

The best thing for you is for your soul is as healthy as possible, and your soul gets as healthy as possible if you're as close to Jesus as possible, if your prayer life is as rich and profound as possible, if your worship is as honest and heartfelt as possible, if your walk with God is as regular and as close as possible. And sin damages our relationship with God. When you sin, you're less happy, because your soul is unhealthy, and your relationship with God is damaged. Every time you're tempted to sin, and you accept it, it damages your soul.

Sin wars against your soul. Yes, Jesus hates it, Yes it's harmful. But more than that, it's not in your own self-interest to sin. Whatever it is that you do that gives you momentary pleasure or false comfort, whatever it is that you do that briefly makes you feel slightly better, damages your relationship with Jesus long-term.

When you die and go to be in glory with Jesus for ever and ever, God wants you to be as ready to be there as possible, as healthy in your soul, as replete with treasure in heaven as can be. Sin damages all this.

And on earth, God want you to be as peaceful, and as joyful, and as full of love as possible. Sin damages your soul so you can't be the Christian you long to be.

What the NIV calls "sinful desires" the King James Bible calls "fleshly lusts" but it's not just inappropriate sex and drunkenness and eating too much. It's whatever negative desires were in your flesh before you came to know Jesus. It's the residue of your past unsaved life. So it includes things like boastfulness, gossip, the desire to control, the desire to have my own way, grumpiness, selfishness and laziness.

Laziness is one of mine. My flesh loves to lie on the sofa doing nothing for hours and hours. It wars against my soul. I could be praying. I could be serving. I could be worshipping. I could be studying scripture. But actually I'm lying on the sofa watching the telly. It's not helpful.

Fleshly lusts include judgementalism, inhospitality, intolerance of others people's attitudes, other people's lifestyles, other people's colour, other people's desires, other people's opinions of what church should look like. All this wars against our souls. This is who I was before I was saved. I used to want to be better than the next man. I used to want what's mine to stay mine. I didn't like generosity very much before I knew Jesus. These attitudes warred against my soul.

I used to love to win an argument, to prove I was smarter than the other guy. My friends know that stayed with me a long time after I was saved. But I'm working on it. I'm asking God for the ability to submit to what I'm convinced is mistaken, for love's sake, because demanding my own way or my own opinion is a fleshly lust that wars against my soul, and makes life less pleasant for those around me.

Peter wants his readers to be close to Jesus, full of peace, joy and love, and you can't live like that unless you deal with the fleshly desires that war against you.