As I sit and study through 1 Peter, I am amazed, once again, at how practical the Word of God is for our daily lives. This Sunday, during our Sunday School hour, we are going to study James 2. I am preparing 1 Peter 2 for our Sunday School teacher training. The Sunday School teachers, along with me, will all teach this lesson in 2 weeks.
To set the context, Saint Peter is writing to born again believers who are being persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ. They are predominantly Jewish and have been driven from their homeland because of this persecution. They are living abroad in what the Bible refers to as Asia Minor (modern day Turkey). The purpose of the letter that Peter writes is to encourage the believers to stand firm in the True Grace of God. In Chapter 2, Peter gives a lot of practical advice on how to walk with God in a personal relationship, on a daily basis, moment by moment. In order for this to be possible, a person must be born again and adopted into the family of God through faith in Jesus Christ. In 1 Peter 1:3 and 23, Peter explains that people are born again through the living and enduring Word of God. So, if you have never been born again through the living and enduring Word of God, then you cannot live out the teachings of 1 Peter 2. The first thing that you need to do is to bow your knee in surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Once that takes place, you will be able to live out the practical teachings of chapter 2.
I. New Nature vs. Old Nature
An exhortation is not a command. The definition of an exhortation is “an address or communication emphatically urging someone to do something“. The first exhortation is found in verse 1.
Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander,
The verb phrase “put aside”, in the Greek language, means to separate from and then push away. This verb phrase is parsed in such a way that it means that when you bow your knee to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, you make a decision to separate yourself from the actions that follow. It is in the middle voice which means, you do not have the power to do this on your own. You need God’s help in order to be able to do this. What are we to push away from us, if we are followers of Jesus Christ?
- Malice – This is having ill will toward others, the desire to injure them. It begins with bad thinking and moves to a bad nature and manifests in bad actions.
- Deceit – This means being crafty and tricky. It comes from a word that means to be a decoy. Deceit means intentionally misleading a person to make poor choices.
- Hypocrisy – This word means to play a role, to have hidden actions, to live a double life, to do things in secret that you do not want others to know about.
- Envy – This means to become corrupted from within. You want something that someone else has, or, that person receives credit that you think that you deserve. As a result, you do not rejoice with that person. Instead, you try to destroy the good that happened to that person.
- Slander – This means to speak evil of another person, to someone else in order to lower the person’s opinion about the one whom you speak.
All of the above mention actions are part of our sin nature. We cannot overcome them with sheer will power. We need the Lord’s strength and help to keep us far away from the above mentioned sins. We naturally want to do them, to practice them. In fact, this is what being born again looks like. We receive a new nature from God and surrender to that new nature instead of surrendering to our old, sin nature.
II. Secret to success
The secret to success is found in the command given in verse 2.
like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation,
The verb phrase in this verse “long for” comes from a Greek verb that means “to desire and pursue“. The secret to success is to desire the Word of God so much that you will do anything to get It, like a newborn babe desires the mother’s life giving milk. Do you love the Word of God? Do you make time, on a daily basis, to study the Word of God?
What happens when you pursue the Word of God the way a newborn babe pursues the mother’s milk? You will grow in your faith to maturity. The maturity of your faith is the result, the by product of consuming the Word of God. You will also grow in your experience of salvation. Salvation is a word we throw around a lot in the Christian world without actually explaining what it means. Salvation means to rescue. Salvation is not a one and done deal. Salvation, from a Biblical perspective, has three parts. We have been saved, we are being saved, and we will be saved. By consuming the Word of God the way a newborn babe consumes his mother’s milk, our faith grows and we begin to mature. That manifests itself in our experience of the Lord’s rescue (salvation). He constantly rescues us from the power of our sin nature. We learn to surrender to Him more and more and less and less to our sin nature and the temptation that is all around us.
III. God’s calling (will)
God has a plan that He invites us to join when we answer His calling. God wants to work in us and through us to accomplish His purposes. This calling is seen in verse 9.
But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;
When we become followers of Jesus Christ we are adopted into the family of God. We get to take part in a chosen race, chosen to be a royal priesthood. The job of a priest is to teach people how they can connect with God. God does not just want a few people to be His priests. He wants an entire nation of priests. If you are part of the family of God, these are your marching orders. God owns us because He paid the price for us. He leads us and we follow. What does living like a priest look like on a daily basis? I proclaim the excellencies of God. I teach others to pursue the Word of God the way that a newborn babe desires his mother’s milk. This will lead others out of darkness and into the Lord’s marvelous light. Are you living as a royal priest? Do you proclaim the excellencies of God every where that you go? Are you teaching others to desire and pursue the Word of God?
May the Lord bless us as we walk with Him, get to know Him more and more, and make Him known to the people around us!