Writing to the christians in Galatia a short while before the writing of 1 Peter, the apostle Paul told of the christian warfare when he observed, “But I say, walk by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do” (Gal. 5:16-17).
What Paul wrote about in some detail, Peter refers to in his letter (see 1 Peter 1:14-15) when he instructed christians to ‘no longer be conformed to the passions of their former ignorance‘ but as obedient children, to be holy in all their conduct. These instructions are clear enough, and every christian experiences this warfare as they purpose to walk with Christ by the Spirit day after day. Knowing these instructions and being experiencing war with the passions is not enough however. What is needed is practical about how to win the war with the passions.
To this end, I gave twelve practical directions designed to aid christians in waging a good warfare with the passions of their former ignorance. If we are to win the war with passions, we must:
- Gird up the loins of our minds (v.13) – what this means is, we must so fill our minds with God’s truth that we clearly know and understand what the will of God is for us in every aspect of our lives; and it is as we do this, we develop discernment so we can identify what please God and what does not; we learn of God and of Christ and of the Spirit that which is good and true and right (see 2 Cor. 10:4-5; Heb. 4:12);
- As christians we are called to set our minds on future grace (vs.13) – and as we do this, we grow strong against our former passions. This was what Paul was speaking of in Col.1-4;
- As a christian, set your mind on Jesus Christ crucified and risen for you – this is why Peter takes this discussion where he takes it in 1:18-19. Focus on what Christ paid for you, and the more you do so, the weaker your former passions will become. The sun Christ, will put out the lesser lights of your former passions.
- Set Christ continually before you as your pattern who called you to learn meekness from Him (Matt. 11:28-30). He did not desire the wealth of this world, nor its glory. He loved His own and we are called to love like He did; he never exalted himself proudly, nor was sinfully cast down. He never feared people, and though he was reviled he did not revile in return, never paying back evil for evil but overcoming evil with good;
- As christians, be much in prayer – even for short times throughout the day. The Lords Prayer and the Prayer of the Tax Collector (God, be merciful to me, a sinner), are examples of short prayer – call out to Him for grace often both against the former passions and for renewed strength as you walk with Christ;
- Let your soul be possessed with the fear of the Lord and keep in mind that you live as a part of His family now, and under his eye, so that his authority may be more powerful than temptations;
- Think often on the love of Christ for you, and remind yourself of HIs many mercies toward you. IN short, apply Psalm 103:1-1-5 – learn it by heart and think on it often, recounting his benefits to you positively while considering what the loss of His benefits will be if you sin them away by giving way to your former passions;
- Remember that HIs eye is upon you and then purpose never to be about doing things that you would not want to be doing in his sight – or would not want to be doing if Jesus were to come and find you;
- Have scripture ready to rebuke your passions like Jesus rebuked satan in the wilderness (Luke 4): It is written . . .because the battle will always begin in your mind
- Remember that we will all stand before the judgement seat of Christ to receive reward for what we have done in the body, whether it be good of evil (vs.17; 2 Cor. 5:10);
- Have one to three close christian friends who can be confessors of sorts for you (James 5:16) in order to keep your heart clear and have accountability;
- And finally remember, if you are a christian, Christ’s goal for us is that we NOT sin – but if and when we do, there is always forgiveness and restoration to fellowship – as there was for the prodigal son (see 1 John 2:1-6).
As we walk with the Lord and purpose by His grace to follow these directives, may Christ’s Spirit give victory over the passions of our former ignorance; and may He create in us, His people, the sweet fragrance of Christ.