If I had diabetes, my doctor would talk to me about diet, about exercise, about insulin, about health. My doctor would establish a regimen that I needed to follow if I would be healthy. He would talk to me about things I should avoid to keep from dying because of my diabetes. What would happen if I disregarded his instructions? What if I avoided exercise? What if I ate what the doctor said I shouldn’t and avoided what the doctor said I should eat? What if I neglected my insulin shots on a regular basis? It is very likely that I would go into a diabetic coma and even die. Why? Because I violated the doctor’s rules? Because I did something so bad that I was no longer worthy of health and life? No. This happens because some foods and activities lead a diabetic to death and some lead to life. That is just all there is too it. I don’t earn health and life by doing enough right things. There are just some that lead to life and some that don’t. There are natural consequences.
Consider another scenario. Consider marriage. If I started ignoring my wife and spending time with other women, what would happen in my marriage? Would my marriage be strong or weak? If those other relationships got deeper and deeper, what would happen if I started kissing those women, dating those women, sharing my emotions with those women, and eventually committing sexual immorality with those women? What would happen to my marriage? What if Marita still loved me and stayed in the marriage trying to make it work with arms and heart outstretched to me? Would that mean our marriage was still strong and vibrant and full of life? No, the relationship with my wife would die because I would be doing things that kill that relationship, not things that build it. Even if she were trying to grow that relationship, I would be killing it on my end. The death of the relationship would not be an arbitrary decision by my wife because she didn’t like my actions; it would be the natural consequence of my actions. The fact is I can’t have a good relationship with my wife if I’m pursuing my passions with someone else. No matter how hard my wife tries to have a relationship with me it just won’t work. Those actions cause me to isolate from my wife and kill the relationship.
Those concepts make sense with health and marriage. Now let’s think about the life of our souls and our relationship with God. I Peter 2:11 says, “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.” Why should we abstain from the passions of the flesh? Because they are wrong? Because they are bad? Because God established arbitrary rules against them? No. We must avoid the passions of the flesh because they wage war against our souls.
Peter’s point is not if we follow any of our fleshly passions, we won’t be good enough to go to heaven, we’ll get judged and go to hell because we broke God’s rules. Like the diabetic and like our marriage, there are some actions that lead to life and some that lead to death. It is not an arbitrary call by God; it is a natural consequence. The passions themselves are against our soul. They lead to defeat and death, not life and victory. When we pursue our fleshly passions, they lead us away from a relationship with God. We don’t simply get kicked out of our relationship with God because we violated His arbitrary rules. We kill our relationship with God because of the natural consequences of fleshly passions. Fleshly passions lead us away from God. We simply cannot maintain a good relationship with God while also pursuing fleshly passions because the passions themselves destroy our attempts to relate with God. Pursuing fleshly passions turn us inward and away from God. That is simply their consequence. They will isolate us from God on our end, not on His. He is sitting there with arms wide open trying to have a relationship with us, but we are turning away from Him.
In Galatians 5:19-21, Paul wrote, “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things likes these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Paul’s warning is not, “If you do these bad things, God won’t like you and He’ll send you to hell.” Paul’s warning is, “These actions will carry you away from God. You will destroy your relationship with Him and be led away from the kingdom of God.” That, of course, will cause God great sorrow because He does in fact love you. He loves you so much He sent His Son to die for you so you could be set free from those passions and walk by His Spirit. When you do that, instead of death and missing the kingdom, you’ll have love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). You’ll have a great relationship with God. You’ll inherit the kingdom.
Let’s avoid our fleshly passions today. Let’s put our hand in God’s and simply walk with Him.