Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us
(1 Peter 2:11-12).

What comes to mind when the word abstinence is brought up has a great deal more to do with our present culture than to the word itself. If you were to ask someone today what they think about "abstinence" you would probably not be surprised to hear an answer pertaining to the other person's viewpoint on sexual restraint and promiscuity. But let's see if we can broaden our view of this word to encompass the ideas Peter was trying to convey to the readers of his letter.
While sexual abstinence is an important issue, it hardly touches the surface of the broad spectrum of the "sinful desires, which war against the soul." sexual sin gets a great deal of attention as do other sins that seem to be the "bad" ones--ones that make our jaws drop or perhaps peak our interests--or perhaps even still, provide us a good conversational topic. But the sins that truly so easily beset us seldom climb to reach the heights of the perceived "top ten" of the "Worst Sins" list.
Peter warns us to "abstain from sinful desires, which war against the soul." And if our attentions are drawn to the so called "bad" sins, we will easily overlook the subtle sins that will keep us held captive to them, so that we do not experience the freedom we should know in Christ.
One particular subtle sin is the sin of the "I's." It is, unfortunately, a sin that holds many of us within its grip. As most sins, the sin of the "I's" begins within the heart. It may take the shape of discontentment, feelings of uneasiness, feelings of need or desires to be heard, liked, understood, desired, adored, etc. Whatever shape it takes, it will quickly draw a person's attentions and focus inward, to where what is seen first and foremost is what, "I want," "I feel," " I need," " I deserve," or "I don't" want, feel, need, or deserve.
To put it simply, the sin that so easily besets us is self-centeredness. This might in fact be the root of all sin, for all sin springs from a desire to please self regardless of what God wants for us.
It is a simple thing that we see our selfishness as the root of our sin, yet it is profoundly odd that we, knowing this about selfishness, would be as sheep led astray because we long for greener grass.
In our seeking to draw near to God, we know we must abstain from sinful desires. To abstain, we first must stop neglecting the "lesser sins," for they are the subtle sins that will beset us, defeat us and draw us further away from God to look for the presumed "greener grass."
The subtle lies of the devil will lead us to rationalize reasons to possess that which pleases us. But the truth of Christ will lead us to deny ourselves and take up our crosses daily and follow Him. How long will we go on believing Satan's lies? He took Jesus to the top of a mountain and offered Him the world--Jesus refused. But the devil has tempted us with a few creature comforts in this life, and we have bought the lie--hook, line and sinker.

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