1 Peter 2:11, Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the lusts of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.
Sojourners and exiles? They are synonymous to aliens and strangers. Not legal aliens, but spiritual aliens—that is, a Christian people who do not belong in this world. After all, we have been transferred into God’s kingdom (Colossians 1:13). We no longer belong to this world.
So, Peter urges his audience, as aliens in this world—as citizens of God’s kingdom—abstain from the lusts of the flesh. This includes a countless number of things: drug use, the myriad of sexual immoralities, lustful desires, bitterness, envy, and the list goes on.
Easier said than done, Peter!
How can we keep ourselves from these things when we still fail as sinners?
The point is not sinless perfection. The point is to acknowledge our godly citizenry and as such conduct ourselves as citizens of God’s kingdom. Unbelievers try to be “good people” to justify themselves, and they fail to see that no one can truly be good in the truest sense of the word and no amount of good ever negates—or justifies—the bad. They attempt to be good and do good in the attempt to justify themselves.
As citizens of God’s kingdom, we live from a justified status God has given us and live the new obedience of faith because the Holy Spirit enables us. We don’t do good to justify ourselves; we’re already justified. We do good out of joyful obedience to our God. And when we do fail, in our justified status we can trust in the promise of God to forgive us our sins.
Thus, we abstain from the lusts of the flesh not only because God commands it, but also because it is our joy to obey, something only possible by the Holy Spirit. And we do fail; it is inevitable. But we can always come to Christ for forgiveness and ask for the Holy Spirit to guide us in holy living.