Your Old Passions War Against You

1 Peter 2:11–12, Part 1


There are desires inside of you that want to destroy you. They will try and lure you to anything and everything except God and his glory. In this lab, John Piper teaches us to fight remaining sin in our own hearts. He end by giving two strategies for abstaining from the passions of the flesh.

Principle for Bible Reading

When the Bible uses a metaphor, in this case war, we need to slow down and ask questions about the specific ways in which the word picture teaches us about the spiritual reality. Every metaphor is limited, but there are often precious things to be seen between the two things being compared (e.g. war and sinful desires) that are not immediately apparent at first sight.

Study Questions

  1. 1 Peter 2:11 says that our passions wage war against our soul. Based on the immediate context (and anything else you can think of in Scripture) how do those passions fight? What do they do to harm you?
  2. What are ways Christians might misunderstand or dismiss the command in 1 Peter 2:11? How would you help them understand it rightly?
  3. What strategies can you think of from Scripture for abstaining from the passions of the flesh? Where would you take someone wanting to fight sin in their own heart?
Piper: “Father, let your Spirit do a sin-destroying and love-awakening work in us.”

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–01:50)

Become Who You Already Are (01:50–05:25)

  • Peter urges these believers to abstain from passions of the flesh. (1 Peter 2:11)
  • He warns them to do this because these passions are warring against their souls, hoping to destroy them. (1 Peter 2:11)
  • Peter just explained who we are as believers (identity), and then comes to how we ought to live. Because of who you already are, be who you are. (1 Peter 2:9–11)
  • Some will get this wrong by thinking these kinds of commands are not necessary for believers, because they’ve already been saved. Others will get this wrong by thinking we abstain so that we can be saved. Both are seriously wrong.
  • The text tells us who we are, and then gives us the command (so that we increasingly become who we already are). Those who walk in love and destroy their sin (not perfectly) are showing they have already been made new through faith.

Confirming the Command (05:25–07:57)

  • The same pattern shows up in 1 Corinthians 5:6–7. Be about becoming something new, because you already have been made new.
  • 1 Peter 2:9–10 declare who we already, and then 1 Peter 2:11 says how we ought to live in light of that reality.
  • You don’t become a good tree by bearing good fruit. You show that you are a good tree by bearing good fruit. (Matthew 7:17–20)
  • When you abstain from the passions of the flesh, you’re not making yourself God’s chosen people, but revealing that you already are God’s chosen people.

How Do Passions Destroy You? (07:57–10:54)

  • How do you passions war against you and try to destroy you? (1 Peter 2:11)
  • You exist (were made) to proclaim excellent things about God. (1 Peter 2:9)
  • The passions of the flesh are any passions that cause you to stop marveling most in the excellency of God (1 Peter 2:11). They dim and destroy your passions for God.
  • They do this by making other things look brighter and more beautiful than God. (1 Peter 2:11)
  • The passions of the flesh strip you of the power to do the thing you were created to do: to proclaim God’s excellencies.

How Do You Abstain? (10:54–13:25)

  • One option is to “cut off your hand” and “gouge our your eye” (TEXT). You feel the desires, but deny them.
  • A second option (we always do both) is to replace your old passions with new passions. (1 Peter 1:13)
  • Develop new and increasingly intense longings for God’s word. (1 Peter 2:2–3)
  • As you abstain from the passions of the flesh, you preserve the very reason for which you were created, namely to savor God’s glory.
Piper: “We abstain from passions of the flesh by replacing them with new passions for God.”