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1 Peter 2:11

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

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.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Even the best of men, the chosen generation, the people of God, need to be exhorted to keep from the worst sins. And fleshly lusts are most destructive to man's soul. It is a sore judgment to be given up to them. There is a day of visitation coming, wherein God may call to repentance by his word and his grace; then many will glorify God, and the holy lives of his people will have promoted the happy change.
Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

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!

Ellen G. White
The Sanctified Life, 25

“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 25.2

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, 401

The Lord is proving and testing His people. Angels of God are watching the development of character and weighing moral worth. Probation is almost ended, and you are unready. Oh, that the word of warning might burn into your souls! Get ready! get ready! Work while the day lasts, for the night cometh when no man can work. The mandate will go forth: He that is holy, let him be holy still; and he that is filthy, let him be filthy still. The destiny of all will be decided. A few, yes, only a few, of the vast number who people the earth will be saved unto life eternal, while the masses who have not perfected their souls in obeying the truth will be appointed to the second death. O Saviour, save the purchase of Thy blood! is the cry of my anguished heart. 2T 401.1

I greatly fear for you and for many who profess to believe the truth in -----. Oh, search, search diligently your own hearts, and make thorough work for the judgment! I am pained at heart when I call to mind how many children of Sabbathkeeping parents are ruining soul and body with secret vice. Near you is a family who reveal their evil habits in their bodies as well as their minds. These children are on the direct road to perdition. They are debased themselves, and have instructed many others in this vice. The eldest boy is dwarfed, physically and mentally, by indulging in its practice. What little intellect he has left is of a low order. If he continues in this vicious practice he will eventually become idiotic. Every indulgence of children who have attained their growth is a terrible evil and will produce terrible results, enervating the system and weakening the intellect. But in those who indulge this corrupting vice before attaining their growth, the evil effects are more plainly marked, and recovery from its effects is more nearly hopeless. The frame is weak and stunted; the muscles are flabby; the eyes become small, and appear at times swollen; the memory is treacherous, and becomes sievelike; and inability to concentrate the thoughts upon study increases. 2T 402.1

To the parents of these children I would say: You have brought children into the world to be only a curse to society. They are unruly, passionate, quarrelsome, and vicious. Their influence upon others is corrupting. They bear the stamp of the father's character, of his base passions. His hasty, violent temper is reflected in them. These parents should long ago have removed to the country, thus separating themselves and children from the society of those whom they could not benefit, but would only harm. Steady industry upon a farm would have proved a blessing to these children, and constant employment, as their strength could bear, would have given them less opportunity to corrupt their own bodies by self-abuse, and would have prevented them from instructing a large number in this hellish practice. Labor is a great blessing to all children, especially to that class whose minds are naturally inclined to vice and depravity. 2T 402.2

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Ellen G. White
Counsels on Health, 67-8

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 67.2

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Ellen G. White
Counsels on Diet and Foods, 399-400

We find in every such instance a good reason why they cannot live out the health reform. They do not live it out, and have never followed it strictly, therefore they cannot be benefited by it. Some fall into the error that because they discard meat, they have no need to supply its place with the best fruits and vegetables, prepared in their most natural state, free from grease and spices. If they would only skillfully arrange the bounties with which the Creator has surrounded them, parents and children with a clear conscience unitedly engaging in the work, they would enjoy simple food, and would then be able to speak understandingly of health reform. Those who have not been converted to health reform, and have never fully adopted it, are not judges of its benefits. Those who digress occasionally to gratify the taste in eating a fattened turkey or other flesh meats, pervert their appetites, and are not the ones to judge the benefits of the system of health reform. They are controlled by taste, not by principle.—Testimonies for the Church 2:486, 487, 1870 CD 399.1

711. Many parents act as if they were bereft of reason. They are in a state of lethargy, palsied by the indulgence of perverted appetite and debasing passion. Our ministers, who know the truth, should arouse the people from their paralyzed condition, and lead them to put away those things that create an appetite for flesh meat. If they neglect to reform, they will lose spiritual power, and become more and more debased by sinful indulgence. Habits that disgust the heavenly universe, habits that degrade human beings lower than the beasts, are practiced in many homes. Let all those who know the truth, say, “Flee fleshly lusts that war against the soul.” CD 399.2

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