War is a terrible thing. Some of you have experienced the ravages of war firsthand. All of us have witnessed the terror of war through our television screens lately. But realize this; the death and destruction caused by war is not only something that happens between men, but also within man.
Listen to the inspired words of Peter. “Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul.” (1 Peter 2:11, NASB) Fleshly lusts wage war on the soul! They will wage an all-out assault on your inner being and destroy your soul just as surely as artillery shelling will destroy a city.
What are fleshly lusts? They are sinful passions and desires that arise within us. These lusts, if not dealt with, will lead us into sexual sin, greed, strife, sinful anger, and many other things like these. When we indulge in fleshly lusts, they will do tremendous damage to our souls, and will eventually destroy us spiritually. We need to understand this fact.
Sometimes we entertain fleshly lusts. We invite them into our living rooms, and then into our minds and hearts. Sometimes we think that we can watch things, listen to things, and take part in things without being affected spiritually. This is simply not true. When we allow our lusts to be activated through what we see and hear, a terrible chain of events can begin. As James writes, “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.” (James 1:14-15, NASB) Note the pregnancy analogy in this passage. Once lust is conceived, it will give birth to sin, and sin will bring forth spiritual death. How is lust conceived? I believe it is by dwelling on our sinful desires and entertaining them in our hearts.
So, the key for us is to prevent lust from being conceived. How can we do this? As the Spirit said through Peter, we must abstain from fleshly lusts. Do not take part in them! Run from them! Get them out of your mind before conception takes place. And certainly, let us not invite sinful things into our minds that will stir up our lusts! Doing so is like inviting the enemy into your city in wartime. Nothing but death and destruction will come of it. May God help us to abstain from fleshly lusts. As we do, we will find peace and prosperity—not death and destruction—within our souls.