1Peter 2:11-12 Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.
‘Strangers and pilgrims’ they were the elect or converted Jews of the dispersion (1:2). Jews lived in all lands and in every city of Europe, Asia, and Africa (Acts 2:5-9; 26:6). They maintained their own laws and synagogues remaining separate from all other peoples.
‘Pilgrims’ eight commands are given here for pilgrims: Abstain from fleshly lusts (2:11); live honest lives before men (2:12); submit to human civil rulers (2:13-15); be free, but live godly (2:16); honour all men (2:17); love the brotherhood [fellow Christians representing the body of Christ] (2:17); fear God (2:17) and honour the king [country leader] (2:17).
‘Abstain from fleshly lusts’ studying some of the sins that damn the soul we must look at the following ten: (1) Evil thoughts include evil surmising, imaginations, devising, wanton, lustful, lascivious thoughts – any mind activity not brought to the obedience of Christ as in 2Corinthians 10:4. Examples of evil thoughts: General wickedness (Gen. 6:5; Ps. 64:5-6; Isa. 59:7; 65:2), jealousy – hatred (Gen. 50:20), evading responsibility (Deut. 15:9), false witnessing (Deut. 19:15-21), factless decisions (Jdg. 15:2), murder and rape (Jdg. 20:5), surmising – judging (1Sam. 1:13), plotting to kill (1Sam. 18:25 Neh. 6:2; Est. 3:6), covetousness (2Chron. 32:1; Ezek. 38:10-12; Luke 12:15-21), pride (Est. 6:6; Ps. 10:4), evil imaginations (Job 21:27; 2Cor. 10:4-7), false security (Ps. 49:11), vanity (Ps. 94:11; 119:113; Jer. 4:14), foolishness (Pro. 24:9), cursing rulers (Eccl. 10:20), worry (Matt. 6:25-34; Luke 12:11-26), false accusations (Matt. 9:3-4; 12:24-25; Luke 5:21-23; 11:17), pride in outward religion (Matt. 15:1-20; Mark 7:1-22; Luke 6:7-8), self-exaltation (Luke 9:46-48), wanting God’s power for gain and outward show (Acts 8:18-24), religious zeal without knowledge (Acts 26:9-18), pride over human wisdom (1Cor. 3:18-21), partiality (Jas. 2:1-4), and unbelief – doubt (Luke 24:38). (2) Adulteries are unlawful sexual relations between men and women, single or married (Matt. 5:32; 15:19; Mark 7:21; John 8:3; Gal. 5:19). (3) Fornications is the same as adultery besides all manner of other unlawful relations (Matt. 5:32). (4) Murders – to kill; to spoil or mar the happiness of another; hatred (Matt. 15:18; 1Jn. 3:15). (5) Thefts – taking from others that which is not yours (Eph. 4:28). (6) Covetousness is forbidden in God’s Word (Matt. 6:19-21; Rom. 13:9; Eph. 5:3; Heb. 13:5; 1Jn. 2:15-17). Hatred of it is one qualification of godly leaders, civil and religious (Ex. 18:21; 1Tim. 3:3; Tit. 1:7; 1Pet. 5:2). It will damn the soul (1Cor. 5:11; Eph. 5:3-5; 1Tim. 6:9-11; 2Pet. 2:3, 14). It must be killed out entirely (Col. 3:2-6). (7) Wickedness – known characteristics of the wicked are: They seek the destruction of others (Ps. 35:19); they are enemies to the righteous and hope for their destruction (Ps. 35:25); they hate without cause and plan deceitful acts, and they gloat over the hurt of others (Ps. 35:26). (8) Deceit is falsehood (Ps. 119:118); (9) Lasciviousness is wanton desires, sinful lusts and the promoting or partaking of that which tends to produce lewd emotions, anything tending to foster sex sin and lust. That is why many worldly pleasures have to be avoided by Christians – so that lasciviousness may not be committed. (10) An evil eye, meaning an evil, covetous, envious, and corrupt desire and heart that are never satisfied (Pro. 23:6-7; 27:20; Eccl. 1:8; 1Jn. 2:16). An “evil eye” portrays: Hardness of heart (Deut. 15:9); utter depravity (Deut. 28:54-57); immorality (Job 24:15; 2Pet. 2:14; Isa. 3:16; Ezek. 6:9); covetousness (Pro. 28:22); darkness (Matt. 6:22-23; Luke 11:34; John 12:40; Acts 26:18); discontent – murmuring (Matt. 20:15); lusts (1Jn. 2:16); rebellion (Matt. 13:15); blasphemy (Ex. 20:7); pride (Ps. 101:5); foolishness, recklessness and thoughtlessness (Mark 7:21).
‘War against the soul’ [Greek: strateuomai] to serve as a soldier; to be drawn up in battle array either to kill or take captive. Fleshly lusts will do both if they are not conquered (Gal. 5:19-21; Rom. 1:29-32; 1Cor. 6:9).
‘Conversation’ [Greek: anastrophe] behaviour or manner of life; the whole conduct of life in domestic and public relations. Always translated “conversation” (1:15, 18; 2:12; 3:1, 2, 16; Gal. 1:13; Eph. 4:22; 1Tim. 4:12; Heb. 13:7; Jas. 3:13; 2Pet. 2:7; 3:11). ‘Among the Gentiles’ what Peter writes to Christians applies to both Jews and Gentiles.
‘Evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God’ at first, the heathen made no distinction between Jews and Christians. And since Jews were so hated by the Gentiles, Christians needed to walk very godly to prove they weren’t Jews, even though many of them were Jewish by nationality.
‘In the day of visitation’ in the day they’re brought to Christ through your lives of suffering and by your good works.