Hello everyone, thanks for joining me again. Let’s continue through our series on 1 Peter. Today we’re looking at just three verses: 1 Peter 2:1-3, but it’s important that we take some time to just focus on what these three verses have to say.
We encounter that key word ‘therefore’ again at the beginning of this passage. It connects up what has already been said with what is about to be said. So far in this letter Peter has told these Christians what hey are. They are not what the world says they are. They are not what their own fears and doubts say they are. They have an identity that has been given to them by God. They have been chosen by the Father, sanctified by the Spirit, cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ the Son. This is the solid foundation of their reality. They are who and what God has made them to be. They have the hope that God himself has given them. Jesus is alive. He is risen. He lives and reigns and that means that his sacrificial death on the cross to atone for the sins of his people worked. Jesus is who he claimed to be and we can trust all that he has told us. This is the truth of their reality. A living hope no matter how dark things may seem. A treasure than no persecution or earthly hardship can take away from them, not even death.
Then last week we had our first ‘therefore’ in chapter one verse 13. Therefore, because of the God-given identity that they have and the God-given living hope that they have, they must be who they are. They are holy so they must live holy lives. They have a living hope, so they must not dwell in their hardships, but be hopeful. The must be who they are. A God-given identity and a God-given hope, that’s their new reality and they must live in that reality and not in the empty ways of this world. Because they have been changed.
So now, in this second ‘therefore’ we see how this must be played out in the lives of each individual believer. What should we do because of this new identity, hope and calling? What should I do?
Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.
(1 Peter 2:1-3, NIV)
There are things that we must stop, and there are things that we must do. Not in order to be saved, but because we have been saved. Not in order to achieve a new identity, not to make something of ourselves, but because God has given us a new identity, he has made something of us. Not so that we can attain a new hope, but because we have a living hope. And these are the ways that this new identity and hope shows itself in us. If we truly are chosen by the Father, sanctified by the Spirit, cleansed by the blood of the Son, we will be different. We will stop doing some things. I’m not saying it will be easy. I’m not saying that it will happen over night or that there won’t be ups and downs in this journey. Don’t be surprised if there are seasons in your life when you just keep stumbling and falling into sin, but someone who has been changed by God will, over time, exhibit the fruit of that transformation in their lives.
We must rid ourselves of malice, wickedness, ill will. This has no place in a Christian’s heart and if you want to live the Christian life then it must go. You must rid yourself of it. Root it out like an invasive weed whenever you spot it sprouting in you.
We must do the same for deceit. If we are to grow and help each other to grow, then we must be real with each other. We must be honest. Not trying to trick, fool, or manipulate anyone. Hypocrisy is a form of deceit. The word ‘hypocrite’ means play-actor. It originally referred to actors in ancient Greece who would put on different masks as they performed different roles.
Are you wearing a mask? Pretending to be something you’re not? Now I’m not talking about people who sometimes feel like impostors because they are failing to live up to expectations, because things have not been ideal. A hypocrite is not someone who tries and fails, or feels like a failure sometimes, that’s just a normal person. A hypocrite is someone who’s not even trying, they’re just acting because they want others to treat them a certain way. Just wearing the mask. Pretending to be pious or loving when they don’t really care.
We must get be continually ridding ourselves of envy or jealousy. We must not let our desires cause us to resent one another. Envy or jealousy is a type or rivalry and it has no place in the family of God. We must get rid of slander. It’s the product of rivalry and hatred and it’s the fuel for more rivalry and hatred. We can get stuck in a downward spiral of rivalry, animosity, speaking ill of others and then the hatred grows and grows and there is no community, there is no love.
Malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, slander. These are things we need to put off, weeds we need to pull up and throw away. They have no place in the life of the church or the individual Christian. So, what then do we need to take up? If those things were weeds that we need to get rid of, what are the flowers we need to cultivate?
The worldly tendency here is to think that we have some great work to do to reform our character. We have our work cut out for us, time to roll up our sleeves, knuckle down, and work hard to become better people. But what does Peter say?
Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.
(1 Peter 1:2-3, NIV)
The illustration Peter gives us is not some image of industriousness. It’s not the self-made man that we are to imitate, but the newborn baby. I’ve got one at home and let me tell you if she has one passion in life right now, one thing that she will absolutely let you know that she loves and needs and wants, it is milk.
What’s the milk in this analogy? Peter says, “now that you have tasted that the Lord is good” (v. 3). These people heard the gospel and in doing so they had a taste of the goodness of God. What they are called to do now – what we are all called to do – to grow is to crave God himself with the intensity of a hungry newborn baby looking for a feed.
Growth as a Christian is found not in the taking up of many different activities, not even good works or religious practices, but hungering after God and pursuing with all your intensity God himself. These other things will fall into place, don’t let them be the main thing you crave. Crave God himself. He gives the growth. Let God himself be your passion. Draw near to God and enjoy his goodness as he makes you grow.
How do you work up a craving for God? We can forget how good something is and we lose our craving for it. We can tell something’s not right, but we don’t know what exactly. We need to be reminded of that good thing that we miss and how good it is. Peter says that these Christians have already tasted that the Lord is good. He’s reminding them of that taste that they had. He’s reminding them of the gospel that was preached to them. If you are not craving God, but you know things aren’t right. You’re not growing. You’ve lost your desire for God. Remind yourself of that taste of God’s goodness you’ve already had, maybe long ago. Remind yourself of the gospel.
Though we were sinners, Christ died for us, to redeem us. We have been chosen by the Father. We have been made holy by the Spirit. We have been cleansed of all our sins by the blood of the Son. We have been given a living hope because Christ who died rose again and lives and reigns forever. Our saviour and our Lord. God’s goodness and love is that great. Though I am a sinner, I have been made a son and heir of God Almighty and nothing in this world can take that away.
Lord God today we want to pray especially for the weary. This year has been a bad year for many people. It has been a year of suffering. A year of illness. A year of mourning. A year of fear and anxiety. A year of loneliness and separation from loved ones. A year of financial hardship and uncertainty. This is a year when we long to return to the simple joys of being amongst other people. Still the hard times seem to continue. We get tired of waiting to return to what we miss. We wonder when these strange days will end and we can breath again. Help us all to hope. Help us to believe that after darkness comes light, after weeping comes rejoicing.
Help us all to continue to show love and compassion to one another. Help us to be careful, for the sake of one another. Help us to remain hopeful. Lord, send your comfort, your strength, and your rescue.
In Jesus’ name we pray.