1 Peter 2:11,12 The Outworking of Character

11 Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

The Outworking of Character

When we become more aware of our true selves and eliminate aspects of our false selves, a new life breaks out.  We often talk about new life in Jesus Christ, but do we really embrace it; do we really experience it?  Are we really exiles from the culture around us?  What do we think we should have for all our hard work?  We want a comfortable house which requires little maintenance.  We want our privacy.  We want freedom from family pressures and responsibilities.  We want freedom from stress.  We want a secure future with a healthy 401k and maybe a place in the sun.  We want obedient children who turn out better than we have.  We want security and significance.

Is what we want in line with what God wants for us?  Some of the things above are compatible with our identity as exiles in the land.  However, we can not pursue these things too passionately, because many of them will be left behind.  Many of them will be left to people who are foolish with what we have built up for them.  In fact Ecclesiastes reminds us that any pursuit of gain is folly because life is so fleeting.  Our eternal destiny is both our hope and our home.  With eyes fixed on our identity in God, the false identity will fall away.

The result of a heavenly focus is a contentedness and peace that we rarely see in this world.  I saw people on the way to work in Chicago who looked busy and focused as if their time here was about getting to work and accumulating wealth for an early retirement.  I didn’t see anyone who had a face of redeemed joy.  We might do well to learn from Mr. Banks in Mary Poppins who ultimately chooses his family over his career in the bank.  It is in living a joyful, peaceful life, that people who are attached to this world and its stress, business, and emptiness will marvel.  The question is whether you are digging deeply into the daily relationship with God to which he has called you, or whether you feed the false self that obscures the joy and relationship that we have.


God, my father, I am not my stress.  I am not my anxiety.  I am not my sadness.  I am just passing through this world and my true identity is in heaven.  I am hidden in Christ, who knew sorrow and embodied joy.  May I rejoice and be law-abiding.  May all who follow you be model citizens for the good.


  1. What desires might have waged war against a Christian’s true identity?
  2. When you let go of false desires, what stops the craving?
  3. What good might the ancients have done that would cause their neighbours to praise them?
  4. What do you want?
  5. How might living as an exile and embracing your true personality bring about praise for God?

About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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4 Responses to 1 Peter 2:11,12 The Outworking of Character

  1. Eric Wildermuth says:

    I can so easily find myself struggling and striving to do my best, not to glorify God, but so that I can get a good grade and pass the course well, attain honors, get scholarships for grad school and/or get a good job in the field of education. Rather than focusing on heavenly realities and recognizing the temporality of earthly gains, especially measured against the eternal gains that could be had. I can so easily fall victim to the distractions–sinful desires for leisure and a lack of responsibility–that war against the Spirit within me. I often find myself wanting things that are not in accordance with God’s plan, at least with His timing and must pray and ask for patience to endure the temptations, and trust in Him to satisfy my longings in the way they need to be satisfied and all in His time.

  2. Christina Zezulak says:

    1 Peter 2:11-12 says that sinful desires may be at war with a Christian’s true identity. People can only be freed from the cravings of these desires through Jesus Christ our Redeemer, when they belong to Him. I remember this reality very well when I recall being freed from the sin that was destroying me as a teenager. Even still I struggle with wanting some type of stability for my future – house, paycheck, family. As a future missionary, however, these things cannot be promised. As I grow in my relationship with God, the more that I want to live how ever he has called me to. I have become more willing to open my hands to him and hold back nothing.

  3. kevin w. says:

    Success, materialism, social status, the appeal of hedonism–all of these have a strong attraction to our sinful flesh from which we were bought. I think one of the most important things to stop the cravings is to practice pursuing Christ and living consciously in His presence. Constantly focusing on not indulging the flesh is a sure way to have those desires constantly teasing you. We were not simply redeemed from that former identity and way of living, but we were redeemed into the family of God and are owned by God now. Seeking to glorify God, keeping the eternal kingdom perspective, embracing and living out of our status in Christ, enjoying the pleasures in the contexts and manners in which they were designed to be enjoyed–this is a positive move toward a godly life (and therefore a move away from our flesh).

  4. 33324bg says:

    It is encouraging to know that Peter is not just calling me to abstain from fleshly lusts and to keep my behavior excellent among unbelievers. He’s calling the Church to live this way, and two are better than one, there’s power in community! I’m reminded of 2nd Timothy 2:22 which says,

    “Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.”

    I’m not alone in my call to pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, I’m to be doing this (and fleeing youthful lusts!) with those who call on the Lord sincerely. I think the problem can be that “fleshly lusts” for money, fame, sex, whatever, come from “the flesh” still in us. We have an enemy within us that opposes us in our pursuit of God, we’re no longer that enemy of God, and that sinner (we’re saints now, redeemed, justified), but we still are very much tempted and our experience of Christian community is no way perfect. But God is in the midst of us and He can help us to abstain from fleshly lusts and help us to help others do the same.

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