Living As Worthy Citizens
What is required of us to live in this world as citizens worthy of all the wonders and relationships belonging to the next?
The Apostle Peter gives us his answer in two simple words in 1 Peter 2: abstain (v. 11) and keep (v. 12).
Abstain from the Passions of the Flesh
Peter’s first admonition comes in verse 11: “Beloved . . . abstain from the passions of the flesh.” To live in this world as citizens worthy of all the wonders and relationships belonging to the next, we must refrain from acting upon the impulses and desires of the flesh.
To understand what Peter has in mind when he exhorts us to “abstain from the passions of the flesh” we must reach all the way back to what he wrote in 1:14:
As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct.
Peter then went on to define what those passions were. He listed them as “malice,” “deceit,” “hypocrisy,” “envy,” and “slander” (2:1). These are the things a person in Christ puts away. These are the vices from which we abstain. They are the attitudes, actions, and way of life in which we once walked. They speak of the season when we were tethered to this world without God’s indwelling power to resist.
To put it simply, if Peter was alive and preaching today, each of us would sense the angst in his appeal and the emotion in his voice. We must abstain from the malicious desires of our mind that would feast on others as carcasses to be devoured, and we must renounce our tongue when it brings forth the dead wood of slander (2:1).
Further, we must learn to cover ourselves when tempted to go nakedly into the presence of the illusion that physical pleasure is the end of all things. To “abstain from the passions of the flesh” requires us to live with a renewed mind, a disciplined tongue, and a controlled body.