1 Peter 2:11-12
Living Godly Lives in a Pagan Society
11 Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
As the Israelites had been exiled to foreign countries, they were exposed to a pagan society that says, "if it feels good do it!" Being in that culture they were tempted to compromise their newfound faith in Christ. Yet, they still had a sinful nature, with its desires and wants. In fact, Peter says they war against their souls. Notice it says "soul" not just "body". The basic outcome of living according to our sinful nature is that we are turned in on ourselves. God is no longer at the helm, we are. And this effects our soul, as we no longer have the joy and peace God wants for us.
So Peter tells them to abstain from their sinful desires. We hear a lot about abstinence programs today, teaching kids to "just say no!" Well guess what? It is just as applicable to adults, really anyone. Becoming a Christian doesn't take away all your desires. You still live in a human body, as Jesus did. But we must remember principally these desires "war against our souls". We could say, there is battle going on for our souls.
Now we know our souls have been saved by Jesus' work on the cross. This is not a salvation issue. But it is an issue of how we live our lives as believers in Christ. Through being born again, we are new creation. As we said yesterday, we are God's possession. He has chosen us. But we still need to choose him every day and abstain from the sinful nature, which we will battle until Jesus takes us home. It is important to say we have been given freedom from the sinful nature through Christ, and in the power of the Holy Spirit. But we still have free will, so we can choose to return to living according to our former nature. That is why Paul says in Galatians 5:1, and many other places, "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery."
Where are you tempted to return to the old nature? Let's be honest we all do it. But our enemy would want to say, "See you have blown it you are not a true Christian". But Jesus says, "repent and come back to me". As we are honest and confess our sin to God, he forgives us so we can continue to live the new life He called us to.