Beloved, I exhort you as aliens and exiles, to abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul 1 Peter 2:11
Fleshly – “I can’t get no satisfaction” cried the Rolling Stones nearly 40 years ago. Things haven’t changed much for creatures who listen to body talk. Peter knew the truth about the matter almost 2000 years before the Stones. Human agony just keeps on repeating itself.
Our word here is sarkikos. It is derived from sarx, the Greek word for “flesh”. It’s not the same word that the Greeks used for “body” (soma) but it is related in its appeal and appetites. So, we should probably understand this word along the lines of something subject to the transitory influences of satisfying yourself with pleasures. But there is a hidden tragedy in this pursuit. “I can’t get no satisfaction”. No matter how much we chase the life of bodily desires, it is never quite enough. The world simply is not designed to fill all of our needs. And the tragedy is this: the more we pursue, the less satisfaction we find, the more we think we must have more. Around and around it goes. Sarkikos behavior is addictive.
Did you notice something strange about this verse? Did you see that Peter implies that there are other kinds of lusts that are not associated with sarkikos? After all, if all lusts were simply “body talk”, then he would not have had to use the word sarkikos. He distinguishes the sarkikos lust from lust that is not sarkikos. When we see this distinction, then we can connect abstinence with bodily indulgence. Sarkikos finds its ultimate expression in the pursuit of bodily pleasures.
Wait! I know exactly what you’re thinking. It’s all about sex. Well, some of it is about sex, that is, the pursuit of sex for pleasure alone. But there is a lot more to body talk than just sexual pleasure. Sarkikos is a word that describes a life of “what makes you feel good”. So add fashion images, the preoccupation with style, the worship of sports, the adulation of movie idols. Add the pursuit of food and drink for pleasure, the quest for body performance above everything else, the desire to be the most desirable. It’s all body talk. How much of it are you letting into your life? American Idol, MTV, the Sports Network, Fashion Police and much, much more are all subtle seductions of sarkikos. Are you abstaining? Do you want to?
What’s waging war against your soul now?