In this month’s series of articles on godly living, Christians are reminded by the Apostle Paul that while our position in Christ is eternal, our daily lives will require a change of thinking from that of our previous status as unbelievers.  To the believers in Rome he wrote … “I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:1-2 NASB).  The Apostle Peter continues this thought when he urges the Christian, a temporary resident in this world, but whose spiritual citizenship is eternally in heaven, to exemplify behavior which reflects the thinking of Christ.  They are not to continue in the former lifestyle as described in Paul’s epistle to Titus … “for we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another” (Titus 3:3 NASB). Rather, those who have placed their faith in Christ, believing that on the Cross He paid in full their debt of sin to a righteous God, are to “abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul” (1 Peter 2:11 NASB).  Contrary to what comes to the thinking of many, he is not limiting the concept of fleshy lusts to sensuality.  By definition, lusts are an uncontrolled desire that goes beyond boundaries.  It may be lust for power and control, lust of approval and praise or lust for foods.  Regardless of the manner in which these uncontrollable desires manifest themselves, the result is damage to the individual, particularly the soul, for in the soul resides our inner most thinking called the heart, our emotions, our will, and the foundational basis for motivation and action.  The Apostle James explains … “but each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death” (James 1:14-15 NASB).  While it is true that each individual has characteristics unique to his or her soul and which Satan attempts to exploit in a effort to neutralize believers, the Christian possesses a new nature and the indwelling of the Spirit so that he or she can … “walk by [means of] the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh” (Gal 5:16 NASB). When the believer in Christ is in fellowship with the Spirit, that is, having no unconfessed sin in one’s life as per 1 John 1:9, the old nature that still resides within every Christian is rendered powerless because of Christ’s victory on the Cross in which He broke the power of Satan to hold the human race in the bondage of sin.  Thus there is the opportunity to fulfill Peter’s admonition to … “keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may on account of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:12 NASB).  That benchmark of excellent behavior can only be achieved as the Christian allows the Holy Spirit to be the instructor and mentor of one’s thinking.  However, never forget that the old nature still resides within, waging war against the soul and everyone fails at times -- the only perfect people are in heaven, not on earth.  But God’s grace provision of cleansing restores us to fellowship so that once again we can be a combatant in the spiritual warfare to His glory. Therefore, “Whoever speaks, let him speak, as it were, the utterances of God; whoever serves, let him do so as by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever.  Amen” (1 Peter 4:11 NASB).

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