As strangers and pilgrims - See the note on Hebrews 11:13. These were strangers and pilgrims in the most literal sense of the word, see 1 Peter 1:1, for they were strangers scattered through Asia, Pontus, etc.
Abstain from fleshly lusts - As ye are strangers and pilgrims, and profess to seek a heavenly country, do not entangle your affections with earthly things. While others spend all their time, and employ all their skill, in acquiring earthly property, and totally neglect the salvation of their souls; they are not strangers, they are here at home; they are not pilgrims, they are seeking an earthly possession: Heaven is your home, seek that; God is your portion, seek him. All kinds of earthly desires, whether those of the flesh or of the eye, or those included in the pride of life, are here comprised in the words fleshly lusts.
Which war against the soul - Αἱτινες στρατευονται κατα της ψυχης· Which are marshalled and drawn up in battle array, to fight against the soul; either to slay it, or to bring it into captivity. This is the object and operation of every earthly and sensual desire. How little do those who indulge them think of the ruin which they produce!
Dearly beloved, I beseech you strangers and pilgrims - On the word rendered “strangers,” ( παροίκους paroikoussee the notes at Ephesians 2:19, where it is rendered “foreigners.” It means, properly, one dwelling near, neighboring; then a by-dweller, a sojourner, one without the rights of citizenship, as distinguished from a citizen; and it means here that Christians are not properly citizens of this world, but that their citizenship is in heaven, and that they are here mere sojourners. Compare the notes at Philemon 3:20, “For our conversation (citizenship) is in heaven.” On the word rendered “pilgrims,” ( παρεπιδήμους parepidēmoussee the 1 Peter 1:1 note; Hebrews 11:13 note. A pilgrim, properly, is one who travels to a distance from his own country to visit a holy place, or to pay his devotion to some holy object; then a traveler, a wanderer. The meaning here is, that Christians have no permanent home on earth; their citizenship is not here; they are mere sojourners, and they are passing on to their eternal home in the heavens. They should, therefore, act as become such persons; as sojourners and travelers do. They should not:
(a) regard the earth as their home.
(b) They should not seek to acquire permanent possessions here, as if they were to remain here, but should act as travelers do, who merely seek a temporary lodging, without expecting permanently to reside in a place.
(c) They should not allow any such attachments to be formed, or arrangements to be made, as to impede their journey to their final home, as pilgrims seek only a temporary lodging, and steadily pursue their journey.
(d) Even while engaged here in the necessary callings of life - their studies, their farming, their merchandise - their thoughts and affections should be on other things. One in a strange land thinks much of his country and home; a pilgrim, much of the land to which he goes; and even while his time and attention may be necessarily occupied by the arrangements needful for the journey, his thoughts and affections will be far away.
(e) We should not encumber ourselves with much of this world‘s goods. Many professed Christians get so many worldly things around them, that it is impossible for them to make a journey to heaven. They burden themselves as no traveler would, and they make no progress. A traveler takes along as few things as possible; and a staff is often all that a pilgrim has. We make the most rapid progress in our journey to our final home when we are least encumbered with the things of this world.
Abstain from fleshly lusts - Such desires and passions as the carnal appetites prompt to. See the notes at Galatians 5:19-21. A sojourner in a land, or a pilgrim, does not give himself up to the indulgence of sensual appetites, or to the soft pleasures of the soul. All these would hinder his progress, and turn him off from his great design. Compare Romans 13:4; Galatians 5:24; 2 Timothy 2:22; Titus 2:12; 1 Peter 1:14.
Which war against the soul - Compare the notes at Romans 8:12-13. The meaning is, that indulgence in these things makes war against the nobler faculties of the soul; against the conscience, the understanding, the memory, the judgment, the exercise of a pure imagination. Compare the notes at Galatians 5:17. There is not a faculty of the mind, however brilliant in itself, which will not be ultimately ruined by indulgence in the carnal propensities of our nature. The effect of intemperance on the noble faculties of the soul is well known; and alas, there are too many instances in which the light of genius, in those endowed with splendid gifts, at the bar, in the pulpit, and in the senate, is extinguished by it, to need a particular description. But there is one vice preeminently, which prevails all over the pagan world, (Compare the notes at Romans 1:27-29) and extensively in Christian lands, which more than all others, blunts the moral sense, pollutes the memory, defiles the imagination, hardens the heart. and sends a withering influence through all the faculties of the soul.
“The soul grows clotted by contagion,
Embodies, and embrutes, till she quite lose
The divine property of her first being.”
Of this passion, Burns beautifully and truly said -
“But oh! it hardens a‘ within,
And petrifies the feeling.”
From all these passions the Christian pilgrim is to abstain.
We should consider the words of the apostle Paul, in which he appeals to his brethren, by the mercies of God, to present their bodies “a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God.” ... Sanctification is not merely a theory, an emotion, or a form of words, but a living, active principle, entering into the everyday life. It requires that our habits of eating, drinking, and dressing be such as to secure the preservation of physical, mental, and moral health, that we may present to the Lord our bodies—not an offering corrupted by wrong habits but—“a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God.” Romans 12:1. CH 67.1
Let none who profess godliness regard with indifference the health of the body, and flatter themselves that intemperance is no sin and will not affect their spirituality. A close sympathy exists between the physical and the moral nature. The standard of virtue is elevated or degraded by the physical habits. Excessive eating of the best of food will produce a morbid condition of the moral feelings. And if the food is not the most healthful, the effects will be still more injurious. Any habit which does not promote healthful action in the human system degrades the higher and nobler faculties. Wrong habits of eating and drinking lead to errors in thought and action. Indulgence of appetite strengthens the animal propensities, giving them the ascendancy over the mental and spiritual powers. CH 67.2Read in context »
The word of God plainly presents before us this truth, that our physical natures will be brought into warfare with the spiritual. The apostle charges us to abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul. Every perverted appetite becomes a warring lust. Appetite indulged to the injury of physical strength causes disease of the soul. The lust which the apostle mentions is not confined to the violation of the seventh commandment, but every indulgence of the taste which lessens physical vigor is a warring lust. The apostle declares that he who would gain special victories and make higher attainments in righteousness must be “temperate in all things.” Temperance in eating and drinking at our tables, as well as the exercise of temperance in every other respect, is essential if we would overcome as Christ overcame. God has given us light, not to be treated indifferently, but to be our guide and help. 4T 215.1
You need to cultivate self-control. The lesson you should have learned in your youth should be mastered now. Discipline yourself to die to self, to bring your will in subjection to the will of Christ. A deep and thorough conversion is essential, or you, my dear brother, will fail of eternal life. Your service in the cause of God must be more hearty, full, and thorough. You cannot perfect a Christian character by serving God when you feel inclined to do so and neglecting it when you please. A decided change must take place in your life, and you must obtain a different experience from any you have yet had, or your service will not be accepted of God. 4T 215.2
Our heavenly Father has been very gracious to you. He has dealt tenderly with you. Sickness and disease came upon you when you were unprepared to die, for you had not perfected a Christian character and had not a moral fitness for heaven. Satan stood by your side to afflict and destroy, that you might be numbered with the transgressors. Fervent and effectual prayer prevailed in your behalf. Angels were sent to wait and watch about you, to guard and protect you from Satan's power and preserve your life. God has, in His matchless love, granted you another trial. Not because of any goodness or virtue in you but, because of His mercy, He has answered the prayers of faith. Your probation has been lengthened that you may have an opportunity to redeem the past, overcome the defects in your character, and show in your life that devotion to God which He claims from you. You have had emotions of gratitude, but you have not experienced that heartfelt thankfulness and becoming humility that should have been kindled by His unsurpassed love. 4T 215.3Read in context »
The mass of the inhabitants of this world are destroying for themselves the true basis of the highest earthly interest. They are destroying their power of self-control, and making themselves incapable of appreciating eternal realities. Willingly ignorant of their own structure, they lead their children in the same path of self-indulgence, causing them to suffer the penalty of the transgression of nature's laws.... Te 141.1
Our habits of eating and drinking show whether we are of the world or among the number that the Lord by His mighty cleaver of truth has separated from the world. These are His peculiar people, zealous of good works.—Manuscript 86, 1897. Te 141.2
Temperance in All Things—In order to preserve health, temperance in all things is necessary,—temperance in labor, temperance in eating and drinking. Our heavenly Father sent the light of health reform to guard against the evils resulting from a debased appetite, that those who love purity and holiness may know how to use with discretion the good things He has provided for them, and that by exercising temperance in daily life, they may be sanctified through the truth.—Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene, 52. Te 141.3Read in context »
“Abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul,” is the language of the apostle Peter (1 Peter 2:11). Many regard this text as a warning against licentiousness only, but it has a broader meaning. It forbids every injurious gratification of appetite or passion. Let none who profess godliness regard with indifference the health of the body, and flatter themselves that intemperance is no sin, and will not affect their spirituality. A close sympathy exists between the physical and the moral nature. Any habit which does not promote health degrades the higher and nobler faculties. Wrong habits of eating and drinking lead to errors in thought and action. Indulgence of appetite strengthens the animal propensities, giving them the ascendancy over the mental and spiritual powers. SL 25.1
It is impossible for any to enjoy the blessing of sanctification while they are selfish and gluttonous. Many groan under a burden of infirmities because of wrong habits of eating and drinking, which do violence to the laws of life and health. They are enfeebling their digestive organs by indulging perverted appetite. The power of the human constitution to resist the abuses put upon it is wonderful, but persistent wrong habits in excessive eating and drinking will enfeeble every function of the body. In the gratification of perverted appetite and passion even professed Christians cripple nature in her work and lessen physical, mental, and moral power. Let these feeble ones consider what they might have been had they lived temperately and promoted health instead of abusing it. SL 25.2Read in context »