Dear friends, I urge you as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us. (1 Peter 2: 11, 12)

Peter spent some time encouraging his readers to understand who they were in God: elect, holy, God’s people, accepted and beloved with a great and glorious future ahead of them. However, they still had to live their lives in the real world where they were rejected, persecuted and falsely accused of doing wrong.

‘Unfortunately,’ said Peter, ‘that’s how it is! Since you are being treated as foreigners and exiles, live like that – remembering that you are not part of this present world system.’ As Paul would remind them, your citizenship is in heaven. God’s kingdom functions on different principles.

The world system is governed by the prince of this world. He has the human race under his influence – and it’s all about looking after number one first, satisfying the whims and desires of the selfish nature at the expense of others. The believer, on the other hand, has been given a new nature, the nature of God who is first and foremost, pure love.

The problem for us is that our old nature is still very much alive within us and wants to drag us in the direction of self-centred lives which leads to self-destruction. It’s war all the way; not war with the devil as we are so often erroneously taught, but civil war within. The spirit, which is infused with the Spirit of God, is at war with our fleshly and nature and our sinful desires at war with God’s desires.

If so-called ‘spiritual warfare’ were against the devil, we would always be the losers and the victims of his evil power. This idea negates Jesus’s victory on the cross. Apostle John declared categorically that Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3: 8b). Jesus both disarmed and overcame all the evil powers through the cross.

And having disarmed the powers and authorities, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. (Col. 2: 15)

We do not need deliverance from the devil – Jesus has already delivered us through His death. We need discipline. Our job is to reckon ourselves dead to sin and alive to God and, through the Sprit, to put to death the deeds of the flesh so that we might live to God.

Jesus broke Satan’s power to lie to us. The devil wants to lead us to believe that he is Lord and in control of us. He is not! Jesus is Lord. The Holy Spirit in us leads us to the truth so that we believe what Jesus says and not what the devil says. No one can control our will. We alone have the power to choose and we have the Spirit who enables us to do what we choose.

The battle that rages is us is the battle of our desires. The sinful nature desires to indulge our fleshly appetites. The Spirit desires us to be holy, and living for God. Which one wins? The one we feed, of course. It comes down to the nitty-gritty of what we choose to indulge, the flesh or the spirit. If we indulge the flesh, we will die. We will lose our appetite for God. We will drift from Him until we are right back under the world system and on the way to self-destruction.

It’s not about going to hell when we die. It’s about living in hell now, living a life that has no boundaries, no purpose and no hope. The problem with living in hell now is that we have no appetite for God. Put us in a room full of earnest believers and we will feel uncomfortable and out of place. For a person like that it’s real hell!

What we desire we will do, and what we do we will become. The solution is simple but not easy – focus and grow your desire for God and His kingdom and the desires of the fleshly nature will lose their pull.

David wrote of the Messiah:

Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but my ears you have pierced; burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require. Then I said, ‘Here I am, I have come – it is written about me in the scroll. I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.’ (Psa. 40: 6-8)

When you choose to live like that, you will prove all your critics wrong by your godly life!

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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