Aloof of Fleshly Lusts
Isa 61:10 I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, My soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11 For as the earth brings forth its bud, As the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth, So the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.
1Pe 2:11 Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, 12 having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation 13 Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake, whether to the king as supreme, 14 or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men– 16 as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. 17 Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king. 18 Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh. 19 For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. 20 For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God.
Joh 16:16 "A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me, because I go to the Father." 17 Then some of His disciples said among themselves, "What is this that He says to us, 'A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me'; and, 'because I go to the Father'?" 18 They said therefore, "What is this that He says, 'A little while'? We do not know what He is saying." 19 Now Jesus knew that they desired to ask Him, and He said to them, "Are you inquiring among yourselves about what I said, 'A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me'? 20 "Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy. 21 "A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. 22 "Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.
“A little while.” Jesus was referring to that little while between His death and His resurrection. For a little while His disciples would have great sorrow, but then in a little while that sorrow would turn to instant joy when they realize that He is risen........He is risen indeed!
In our own lives, our own “little whiles” here on earth, we too will have sorrow, but in a “little while” (in light of eternity) that sorrow will also turn into joy. A joy that can never be taken from us, if we just finish the race of faith here on earth.
This joy, which we can have even now in the midst of our journey, springs from the knowledge of a risen Lord and the hope of our own bodily resurrection unto eternal life with Him! It’s a joy that comes to us in our baptism, where we begin our new life in Christ:
Col 2:12 buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.
And so Isaiah says,
I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, My soul shall be joyful in my God; (Why?) For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, (at our baptism) He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, (at our baptism) As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.(The gifts of the Holy Spirit that come to us at our baptism)
11 For as the earth brings forth its bud, As the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth, (this speaks of the seed of the Word of God that is implanted in us at our baptism) So the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations. (As we grow after our baptism, in our sanctification, by responding in faith to His holy Word, praise and righteousness will spring forth).
1 Cor 4:7 says, “What do you have that you did not receive?” Every good spiritual gift came to us from God in our baptism. Repentance, faith, forgiveness, justification, sanctification, the Holy Spirit, the seed of the Word of God implanted in our hearts.
Jas 1:21 Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. (To save and keep you saved)
Isn’t that a great verse? The Word of God is already in you, implanted in you at your baptism......now receive these promises and these commands that were implanted in you at your baptism, and are brought out by the Holy Spirit as we hear and respond to God’s Word.
Daily thank the Lord for what He has given you in baptism. In the latest issue of Portals of Prayer, be sure to check out the Tuesday morning prayer. It is the greatest possible way to start your day. Listen to these words:
“Thank You this morning for Your Word, which You connected to water at my baptism. By water and Your Word, You separated me from my bondage to sin, death, and the devil, and created me anew. You gave me faith and adopted me as Your child. You covered me with Jesus’ holiness and made me a promised heir of eternal life.”
This is what happened at your baptism! What a way to start your day as you remember the blessings of your baptism. No wonder Isaiah speaks of rejoicing and joy. No wonder Jesus speaks of a joy that cannot be taken away! I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, My soul shall be joyful in my God because of what He did for me at my baptism! Friends work at keeping the fire of your baptism burning!
But that’s not all, look what should be the result of our baptism, look what should be happening! So (through His baptized children) the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations. You see, it is because of His gifts to baptized believers righteousness and praise will spring up before all the nations.
Like it or not, we are to be a sign to unbelievers. They should all be able to look at us and our lives and see the effects of our baptism lived out before them. Jesus is in you and His Word is in you and someone ought to notice! And that’s what Peter is talking about in our epistle lesson.
He begs us, as fellow pilgrims and sojourners (we’re only here for a little while) to abstain from fleshly lusts. They war against our blood-bought souls and damage the cause of Christ. We are to do this so the Gentiles or unbelievers may see the witness of our goodness, and that witness may be the thing that causes them to open their hearts to receive Jesus, in the day of their visitation. (In the day that the Holy Spirit comes to them with the Gospel)
I remember that day in my own life, when after years of shunning the great gifts given to me in baptism and falling away from the faith, by His mercy, the Lord visited me again through the preaching of His Word, And as I was convicted of my sins, and humbly sought forgiveness through Jesus Christ, I remember that one of my prayers was: “make me like my wife!”
Why did I pray such a thing? Because her Christian lifestyle had made an impact on me. It had helped prepare me for my “day of visitation..” What is your lifestyle preparing unbelievers for?
We are pilgrims here! Baptized into the family of God, we only have a “little while” to make a difference in this world and so Peter BEGS us to abstain from fleshly lusts. But have you ever stopped and considered what that means?
First of all, understand the meaning of abstaining. It is more than merely not participating in fleshly lusts. It is “keeping distant from them.” It is being “aloof” to them. When we think of someone being aloof, we think of someone who is distant and that’s the way it should be with baptized believers and fleshly lusts.
When they draw near, (and they most assuredly will in this world) we need to draw back. We must send a clear message that we don’t want anything to do with them We must be aloof to them. The Bible consistently tells us to “flee from these things. We are at war here and this “fleeing” is not a sign of weakness, rather it is the tactical strategy given to us by our Commander in Chief.
But, what are fleshly lusts? Would you recognize one if you came upon it? I believe it is vital that we define these fleshly lusts in specific terms so you are aware of them and can flee from them, be aloof to them, when they approach.
There is no more complete list of fleshly lusts given in all of Scripture than that given by Paul in Gal 5:19-21, it’s not complete, but it will do for starters.
Ga 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Adultery - any thoughts or acts of sexual unfaithfulness to your spouse. Having an affair or engaging in sexual trysts are the most obvious examples of adultery, but Jesus tells us of other forms. “Whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
What did He mean by that? He meant that any kind of sexual fantasy is adultery. Think about that the next time BEFORE you exchange sexual innuendos with someone at the office or on the internet, or pick up a pornographic magazine, or view pornography on the internet. Abstain from it! Flee from it just as Joseph did with Potiphar’s wife saying, “How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God!”
But these are not the only forms of adultery. Jesus said In Mt 5:32, But I say to you that every one who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, (discovered on or before the wedding night) makes her an adulteress; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
The modern day acceptance of divorce and remarriage in the church is wrong. It is adultery plain and simple. Marriage is permanent. Til death do us part is not something warm and fuzzy we say in the marriage ceremony, it is God’s Word. Friends - Flee all forms of adultery!
Fornication - illicit sexual connection between single or unmarried persons. It is sex outside the bounds of marriage. The God-given gift of sex is to be reserved for the marriage bed. Singles, young people, flee fornication.
Uncleanness - We are not talking about the last time you took a shower here, this is sexual uncleanness. It includes all manner of unnatural sexual practices. Remember God ordained the sex-act for two purposes....(12) to manifest physically what God has joined together spiritually in holy matrimony. and (2) to produce godly offspring. Flee from all manner of sexual uncleanness.
Licentiousness - to disregard all sexual restraints. Unmanageable passion and readiness for all kinds of illicit sexual behavior. If you’ve ever been to the Mardi Gras, you have seen the L word on display. If you’ve ever been observed a night club dance floor, you have seen the L word in action.
Licentiousness can also be an attitude or manner that seeks to cause sexual excitement. Christians need to check their wardrobe. The world would have us dress immodestly, they use sex to sell their clothing. This should not be the case for the Christian. If anything, the L on our clothing tags should stand for Large....not Licentiousness
If you want to arouse passion in someone, let it be a passion for Christ! Flee from licentiousness!
Idolatry - The golden calf. The Israelites demanded that Aaron would “make us gods that shall go before us.” This is a good definition of idolatry. What’s going before you? What are you following after? Who or what do you open the door for and say “after you?” Is it God, or the things of this world? Flee from idolatry!
Sorcery - A fleshly lust? Wouldn’t this be more in the supernatural realm? No! Sorcery arises from that part of our flesh that seeks the mysteries of the unseen world in a manner not revealed by God in His Word. This “seeking” is done through various ways. Some use hallucinogenic drugs, others turn to horoscopes, mediums, psychic hotlines, or new age techniques.
This is a very serious matter, as the use of these things opens the door to demonic possession or oppression. This is so serious that in the OT, God commanded that those who resorted to sorcery should be put to death. Flee from all manner of sorcery!
Hatred - Have you ever noticed how much our flesh loves to hate? Go to a ball game some time and listen to what’s being said about the other team or their star players or the umpires! This is hateful language! If only this kind of expression of hatred were limited to ball games...it’s not!
We love to hold grudges and be unforgiving. We love the “I’ll show them” attitude that captures our hearts when we feel we have been unjustly treated by someone. When hatred is unchecked, it consumes us. All we can think about is the object of our hatred and how we might get revenge. It was this kind of hatred that drove Cain to slay his brother Abel.
1 Jn 2:3 says, He who hates his brother is in darkness.” Is that where you want to be? Then give up any and all hatred and unforgiveness, it is a fleshly lust that is consuming you and warring against your soul. Flee from hatred!
Contentions - Have you ever noticed how much our flesh “loves to be right?” Deeply rooted in pride, contention is defined as strife that is caused by our compulsion to prove we are right. Oh the division that has come into the body of Christ, marital relationships, and our everyday interaction with others as we give in to this fleshly lust!
Now, there is nothing wrong with being a champion for the truth of God’s Word, but what is your motive? Are you exerting yourself to prove your “spiritual superiority” or are you more interested in gently “guiding” to the truth. If it’s the former you have already proven your spiritual “inferiority” because you have failed to “speak the truth in love.” Flee from prideful contention.
Jealousies - It’s not what you think it is. Jealousy is not coveting. Rather it is defined as “striving to excel at the expense of another.” It is the idea of tearing someone else down in order to build yourself up. The airwaves, even on Christian radio are full of this type of jealousy. Conversations in break rooms and backyards and telephones and even Bible studies are rife with this kind of conversation.
Any talk that demeans others in order to make yourself look better is jealousy. It wars against your soul and grieves the Holy Spirit of God. Flee from jealousies!
Outbursts of wrath - This one is quite ugly isn’t it. It doesn’t look good on anyone, especially a baptized child of God. I remember my own struggles with this one. Oh how terrible I would feel in the aftermath of my outbursts of wrath as I considered the harmful words I had spoken or how I frightened others by taking my wrath out on inanimate objects, and how close I came to taking physical action against those I love.
Here’s what I have personally learned from my outbursts of wrath. First of all, never say never. Never think that they will not happen again! This will help keep you on your toes as you seek to learn to control them.
Secondly, if they do occur, immediately go t o your knees seeking forgiveness from God.
Thirdly - Go to the people you have frightened or sought to control with your outburst and express your personal sorrow asking for their forgiveness.
And finally, realize that your outbursts of wrath are usually used to exercise control over people as you seek to direct people away from your own shortcomings. The reason that people get overly concerned about their own shortcomings is they still have themselves on the throne of their life instead of Jesus.
Think about that as you flee from outbursts of wrath!
Selfish ambition - At first glance we might think of the ruthless businessman here who claws his way to the top without considering who he steps on along the way...but it’s more than that. Selfish ambition is the “inharmonious” noise made by those who are given to dispute. The selfishly ambitious are those who make mountains out of molehills in the Body of Christ (the church) and then stand on their self-made mountains in order to elevate their status in the eyes of men.
Selfish ambitions seek to elevate or strengthen the flesh, and that’s not a good thing when you consider that the Spirit of the baptized child of God is at war with the flesh. Flee from selfish ambition, elevate the doctrines of Christ...not your own.
Dissensions - Whereas selfish ambition seeks to elevate an individual above others, dissension . is a fleshly lust that seeks to recruit others to join in the elevation. This was the problem at the church in Corinth. “I am of Paul, I am of Peter, I am of Apollos”. If any of these men were promoting unbiblical doctrine, there would be cause for dissension...but they weren’t.
One planted, one watered, but God gave the increase. Rather than fostering dissension, the baptized child of God should appreciate the varied giftedness and styles of the church’s preachers and teachers, and pray that God will use all to give increase to God’s kingdom and God’s glory!
Don’t take dissension lightly, “for one who sows discord among the brethren is listed as one of the seven things that God considers an abomination in Prov 6:16-19. Flee from dissensions!
Heresies - are those unbiblical differences of opinions that progress to the point of splitting a church. They occur mostly because our flesh likes to be gratified. Our ears like to be tickled with unbiblical doctrines. These splits or divisions are sad, but they must never be avoided by sacrificing the truth. Rather they are to be avoided by hungering for and standing on the truth.
Be a student of the Bible and allow the Holy Spirit to continually give you a more perfect understanding of God’s Word. . Don’t ever think you know it all...keep on learning. A mind is a terrible thing to close to biblical truth. Flee from heresies!
Envies - Envy is the pain felt and malignity conceived at the sight of excellence or happiness in others. Our flesh sees that someone is doing well and we feel pain because we perceive we are not doing so well. When that pain is felt malignity is conceived and the cancer of envy begins. And unless it is dealt with, it will ravage your soul.
Unless it is dealt with, it will eat you up and drag you into a life long self-pity party. Take this cancer to the cross as soon as you recognize it for godliness with contentment is great gain! Confess it and apply the chemotherapy of the blood of Jesus . We are not to envy the excellence or happiness of others. Rejoice with those who rejoice! (Rom 12:15) Flee from envies!
Murders - The logical fruit if envy has it’s way. Babies are aborted because they are seen as threats to personal fulfillment and happiness. Wars occur, lives our lost because as James says, “we lust and do not have.” But there is more to murder than ending one’s physical life. Jesus equated murder with unkind words spoken about others. Flee from the fleshly lust of murders!.
Drunkenness - Adam Clarkes dictionary defines the fleshly lust of drunkenness in this manner - “taking more wine or any kind of inebriating liquor than is necessary for health; whatever makes one unfit for public, domestic, or spiritual duties.” The intake of alcohol for a baptized believer must be severely restricted...you never know when you may be called upon to exercise your priestly duties as a Christian. Always be sober ....flee from drunkenness.
Revellings - The Greek Word here comes from the name of a Greek god named Comus. Comus was the god of feasting and drunkenness with accompanying impurity and obscenity of the grossest kind. Revellings include all the overindulgences of the flesh such as binge eating, binge spending, any and all forms of binging.
There you have it. Fleshly lusts. The things that we baptized children of God are to remain aloof from. They war against our souls that have been purchased by the blood of Jesus. They war against the Body of Christ, because as we yield to them, they do us personal damage, and they damage our witness to a world that needs Jesus.
The Good News is that even as we have yielded to these fleshly lusts, there is forgiveness in Jesus Christ. There is not one fleshly lust that you have yielded to, that Jesus didn’t pay for when He died on the cross.
Confess those fleshly lusts as sin pilgrim....Remember, you are only here for a “little while.” Receive His blood bought forgiveness, and then learn the secret of abhorring or being aloof from fleshly lusts. The secret is simply this.....cling to Jesus, cling to what is good. Stop being aloof to Jesus.
Surrender completely to Him, and allow the Holy Spirit to live and love through you. Who knows, you may be a help to that observing unbeliever in the time of their visitation!