James Nisbet Commentary - 1 Peter 2:11 - 2:11

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James Nisbet Commentary - 1 Peter 2:11 - 2:11

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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:


‘Abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul.’


A fleshly lust is either the desire for anything inherently sinful, or the inordinate and excessive appetite for anything inherently harmless or indifferent. The attribute ‘fleshly’ points to the origin and sphere and aim of such lusts. A list of them in Gal_5:19-21. Being fleshly, they cannot but war against the soul. They war against the body in many instances, but their worst influence and most pernicious is on the spiritual nature of man.

I. Indirectly they act on body and mind.—Close connection between soul and body through the mind. A healthy soul depends much on ‘a sound mind in a sound body.’ Fleshly lusts injure the body beyond the natural power of toleration, partially or totally, temporarily or permanently. The state of the body affects the mental powers in their exercise correspondingly, enfeebling thought, indisposing to thought, absorbing time for thought, narrowing the inlets of light and truth and grace to the soul.

II. In their direct influence

(a) They blunt conscience and stifle its faithful warning, and demoralise.

(b) They separate the soul from God and that fellowship which is its true life. Under shame and fear men hide from God, feeling that they cannot have fellowship with Him and keep their lusts. Withdrawal from God is deadly to the soul.

(c) They whet the appetite for repetition. They grow by what they feed on, demand fresh gratification. They raise distracting, exhausting, painful strife if satisfaction be denied; absorb the soul’s energies in resistance; monopolise time, thought, attention, and moral power; all which should have been devoted to other duties. It is at the soul’s expense that resistance is made, at the expense of higher duties, and with the loss of opportunities for positive progress. If not resisted they enslave the soul and take the pith out of it. With every gratification so much moral strength passes over from us into that which masters us, and the power of resistance is gradually but surely lost.

(d) They inflict future and eternal injury. Sowing to the flesh, so as to be the hopeless slave of corruption, must inevitably lead to exclusion from the holy kingdom. Lusts indulged in lessen the capacity of the soul for God, and give a believer a lower place in heaven than he would otherwise have. Part of the misery of the lost may be the perpetual mastery of these lusts, the perpetual check of an awakened conscience, and the absence of material for gratification. The warning is addressed to Christians as strangers and pilgrims passing on to eternity. Their safety lies indeed in the grace of God, but it lies, too, in their ‘abstinence.’