Abstain From Fleshy Lusts.
He warns them to beware of fleshly lusts, v. 11. Even the best of men, the chosen generation, the people of God, need an exhortation to abstain from the worst sins, which the apostle here proceeds most earnestly and affectionately to warn them against. Knowing the difficulty, and yet the importance of the duty, he uses his utmost interest in them: Dearly beloved, I beseech you. The duty is to abstain from, and to suppress, the first inclination or rise of fleshly lusts. Many of them proceed from the corruption of nature, and in their exercise depend upon the body, gratifying some sensual appetite or inordinate inclination of the flesh. These Christians ought to avoid, considering,
. The respect they have with God and good men: They are dearly beloved.
. Their condition in the world: They are strangers and pilgrims, and should not impede their passage by giving into the wickedness and lusts of the country through which they pass.
. The mischief and danger these sins do: "They war against the soul; and therefore your souls ought to war against them." Learn,
(1.) The grand mischief that sin does to man is this, it wars against the soul; it destroys the moral liberty of the soul; it weakens and debilitates the soul by impairing its faculties; it robs the soul of its comfort and peace; it debases and destroys the dignity of the soul, hinders its present prosperity, and plunges it into everlasting misery.
(2.) of all sorts of sin, none are more injurious to the soul than fleshly lusts. Carnal appetites, lewdness, and sensuality, are most odious to God, and destructive to man's soul. It is a sore judgment to be given up to them.
VI. He exhorts them further to adorn their profession by an honest conversation. Their conversation in every turn, every instance, and every action of their lives, ought to be honest; that is, good, lovely, decent, amiable, and without blame: and that because they lived among the Gentiles, people of another religion, and who were inveterate enemies to them, who did already slander them and constantly spoke evil of them as of evil-doers. "A clean, just, good conversation may not only stop their mouths, but may possibly be a means to bring them to glorify God, and turn to you, when they shall see you excel all others in good works. They now call you evil-doers; vindicate yourselves by good works, this is the way to convince them. There is a day of visitation coming, wherein God may call them by his word and his grace to repentance; and then they will glorify God, and applaud you, for your excellent conversation, <Lu. 1:68>. When the gospel shall come among them, and take effect, a good conversation will encourage them in their conversion, but an evil one will obstruct it." Note,
. A Christian profession should be attended with an honest conversation, <Phil. 4:8>.
. It is the common lot of the best Christians to be evil spoken of by wicked men.
. Those that are under God's gracious visitation immediately change their opinion of good people, glorifying God and commending those whom before they railed at as evil-doers.
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