The Lord our God commands us to abstain from fleshly lusts, i.e., the cravings that are categorized by our depravity, yet we know that these lusts cannot be regulated by authority. Whatever is happening inside the heart must be dealt with internally.
Most of the passions of the flesh, such as sexual deviance, are universal. There is an army of terrorists that keeps fighting in our souls and this fight is never fair. It doesn’t come from outside but inside of our souls. For some people it looks like the desire to be recognized, for others it looks like having my own way – I’ll do what is necessary to secure my own way. For some it is the feeling of approval, for others it is the desire to excel to the point where there is no consuming. We are all in this. This does not only apply to those who have problems with recreational drugs, alcohol or drunkenness. The raging war goes on in everyone’s soul.
Nations have wars to do two things: kill people and destroy property. And the passions which wage against our souls are doing the same thing as well. They are aimed at killing us. These passions intend to enslave us so much that at the slightest provocation they will come in and dominate every situation. The passions deepen the spirit of disobedience against God. Our appropriate response therefore should be to pull ourselves back away from these lusts. We should not give in to the battle.
Matthew Henry puts it quite right in his commentary: “The grand mischief that sin does to men is that 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 and it hinders its present prosperity and plunges the soul into everlasting misery.”
We should therefore learn that we are not to embrace the standard and customs of the world in which we live in temporarily, because the standards and customs of the kingdom of heaven where we are destined are far superior and thus able to satisfy our souls.