The Apostle Peter tells us that “the passions of the flesh” are waging “war against” our “souls” (1 Peter 2:11). Don’t underestimate the significance of this daily battle for our souls. So, how are we to fight? With what weapons do we wage this war? Peter says we do so “as (or because we are) sojourners and exiles” (v. 11a; see 1 Peter 1:1,17).
His point is that we should draw strength to say No to fleshly passions because they belong to this world and we don’t! We are citizens of a heavenly kingdom that operates under the Lordship of Christ. The culture of heaven is governed by a different ethic, a different spirit, a different morality. So remind yourself often of where you belong. We belong to the Lord Jesus, not to this world, so take your cues from him, not it.
John Piper put it best when he said that “we must cultivate the mindset of exiles.” This truth is designed “to sober us up and wake us up so that we don’t drift with the world and take for granted that the way the world thinks and acts is the best way. We don’t assume that what is on TV is helpful to the soul; we don’t assume that the priorities of advertisers are helpful to the soul; we don’t assume that the strategies and values of business and industry are helpful to the soul. We don’t assume that any of this glorifies God. We stop and we think and we consult the Wisdom of our own country, heaven, and we don’t assume that the conventional wisdom of this age is God’s wisdom. We get our bearings from God in his Word.”
Peter is not saying that because we are “sojourners and exiles” on the earth that we are to run and hide or that we are to circle the wagons, hunker down, and wait for the Rapture! Nowhere does he advocate cultural isolation. In fact, as the very next verse (v. 12) makes clear, it is precisely as we live in this world and encounter the non-Christian community that our lives will in God’s grace have a transforming effect on them, all to the glory of God.
We’re in a war, folks. Don’t fall asleep or lose sight of what is at stake. Peter says that the passions of the flesh (together with Satan and the world) are coming after “your soul.” Let your identity as “sojourners and exiles” fuel your fight!