Abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. (1 Peter 2:11)
When I confronted a man about the adultery he was living in, I tried to understand his situation, and I pled with him to return to his wife. Then I said, “You know, Jesus says that if you don’t fight this sin with the kind of seriousness that is willing to gouge out your own eye, you will go to hell and suffer there forever.”
As a professing Christian, he looked at me in utter disbelief, as though he had never heard anything like this in his life, and said, “You mean you think a person can lose his salvation?”
So, I have learned again and again from firsthand experience that there are many professing Christians who have a view of salvation that disconnects it from real life, and that nullifies the threats of the Bible, and that puts the sinning person who claims to be a Christian beyond the reach of biblical warnings. I believe this view of the Christian life is comforting thousands who are on the broad way that leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13).
Jesus said, if you don’t fight lust, you won’t go to heaven. “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell” (Matthew 5:29). The point is not that true Christians always succeed in every battle. The issue is that we resolve to fight, not that we succeed flawlessly. We don’t make peace with sin. We make war.
The stakes are much higher than whether the world is blown up by a thousand long-range missiles, or terrorists bomb your city, or global warming melts the ice caps, or AIDS sweeps the nations. All these calamities can kill only the body. But if we don’t fight lust, we lose our souls. Forever.
Peter says the passions of the flesh wage war against our souls (1 Peter 2:11). The stakes in this war are infinitely higher than in any threat of world war or terrorism. The apostle Paul listed “immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness,” then said it is “on account of these the wrath of God is coming” (Colossians 3:5–6). And the wrath of God is immeasurably more fearful than the wrath of all the nations of the world put together.
May God give us grace to take our souls and others’ souls seriously and keep up the fight.
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