to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against your soul 1 Peter 2:11 NASB
Wage war – Strategy seems to be a big deal these days. There is military strategy in the war with terrorism. There is political strategy in the upcoming election. There is a strategy for reaching the world with the gospel. If you read business books, it appears as if we all need strategic plans. What we might not realize is that our very word “strategy” has a Greek background that Peter employs in his letter.
The Greek verb is strateuontai. It comes from strategos, a word that means, “to lead an army.” Here it is in the middle voice. We know that the middle voice (which does not exist in English) means that the action described in the verb has special importance for the actor. In other words, this war is very personal. It is a battle that rages over you! If you win, you will live in the kingdom of heaven. If you lose, you will become a prisoner in the kingdom of death itself. This is the most serious and most terrible fight of your life. But it is also the most invisible, the subtlest and the most insidious. Unless you are vigilant, you won’t even know it has happened until it is too late.
We often see war in terms of the massive armed conflicts of human history. Tanks, machine guns, missiles and bombs dominate our visions. This is the war of the media, out in the open where everyone knows that we are in conflict and every turn is dangerous. Most spiritual battlefields are not like this at all. The war we wage is much more like covert operations. It is far more dangerous simply because we never know who the enemy really is. Things look perfectly normal until your eyes are opened. Then you suddenly see that the enemy has already infiltrated your defenses. He is in your camp, using your own past actions against you. All along, he has been slowly removing your protection, leaving you vulnerable to power, greed, lust, envy, theft and lying. You don’t need a strong offense. You need damage control.
And the best damage control is one simple action: STOP! Peter says that the first thing to do when waging this war is to stop (abstain) from any contact with the enemy’s present strongholds. Just let them go. Stop going to the old places. Stop seeing the old faces. Stop repeating the old patterns that put you in harm’s way. You can do it – through the power of the one true God.
In this war, the first thing to do is to draw the battle line. Shout out to the enemy, “This is where I fight. You will come no further. God is here with me.”
Topical Index: strategy, strategos, strateuontai, stop, war, 1 Peter 2:11