1 Peter 2:1-3 ~ 20081109~ Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org
11/9 1 Peter 2:1-3 crave milk!
13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for your sake, 21 who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. 22 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 24 for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, 25 but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.
2:1 So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. 2 Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation-- 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.
1 apoyemenoi oun pasan kakian kai panta dolon kai upokrisin kai fyonouv kai pasav katalaliav 2 wv artigennhta brefh to logikon adolon gala epipoyhsate ina en autw auxhyhte eiv swthrian 3 ei egeusasye oti crhstov o kuriov
Last time we looked at the fourth imperative in 1 Peter: love one another. That love is to be earnest, unhypocritical, from the heart. How are we all doing on this one? Does everyone have that one down so that we can move on to the next one? Everyone is selfless and puts the needs of others above their own? No one acts like they love someone they don't really like just because they feel they're obligated? If we're not all there - and I think that if we are all truly honest with ourselves, each of us have lots of room to grow in loving one another like God loves us - then there is help for us in Peter's letter this morning.
So far, Peter has given us four commands. He has commanded us to hope in God's future grace. Put your hope fully on what God is going to do in you tomorrow and next year and 20 years from now. He has commanded us to be holy like God is holy - to love what God loves and hate what he hates. Be completely devoted to God and his glory as the primary driving principle of our lives. He has commanded us to fear - fear God. Fear the awful tendency in our hearts to treat the precious blood of Jesus as something insufficient and impotent to effect any real change in us. Fear despising the gift and offending the giver. On the horizontal level, he has commanded us to love one another -earnestly -from the heart.
All these commands are rooted and inextricably connected to the twelve verses of massive truth that he began with. You can hope, you can be holy, you can fear, you can love, because of all that God is for you in Jesus Christ. Because of the miracle that God has brought about in you through the new birth - you now have a new life force pulsing inside of you that loves differently and desires differently and has hope fixed in different places.
We are going to look at verses 1-3 of chapter 2. This is not new chapter; start over; brand new thought. This is a continuation; here we have point five in his outline of our response to God's grace; hope, be holy, fear, love, crave milk. Again we have one central imperative: crave milk. The command is again preceded by participles that set the stage for the command and the command is followed by purpose and reasons. Again a desire or affection is commanded.
Here's the connection: in the last verses he said: Love like Jesus loves because you have been born again and the new life that is created in you is unstoppable - the word of God absolutely accomplishes what it sets out to do every time without exception. When God said 'let there be light', there was light. When God said 'let there be new life in you; a life of love reflecting my image', that love will be created in you; God planted an imperishable seed that will break up the rocky ground of your hard heart and burst out with fruit. Now he says: Because it's the unstoppable word of God that accomplishes new life and love in you, then cultivate a desire for that word as a means to the intended effect. If new life is created by the word, then cling to the word as if your life depended on it (because it does); feed on the word for it is what God has given as nourishment for your growth. You don't have that kind of love in your heart for your brothers and sisters? You don't have a life giving fear of God and of despising his gift? You don't see a holy devotion to God in your life and attitudes? You have your hope fixed on other things, not on God's grace to you? You're dissatisfied with your spiritual growth in these areas? Good! But don't go sit in your room and cry. Don't throw yourself a pity party and call your whimpering and whining to God 'prayer'. Don't set your will and resolve to try harder to make these things happen in your life. Don't go to the Christian book store and find the latest spiritual self-help book. Pick up your bible! If you eat, you will grow. There is no substitute and no short-cut for genuine growth in spiritual maturity. Eat healthy and you will be healthy. Eat sick and you will be sick. That's the connection and flow of the passage. Now let's feed on the word together by looking at the details as Peter lays them out.
First, he gives five things that we are to be done with: malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, slander.
All Malice... Malice is ill will or a desire to see harm come to others. It is the opposite of love – seeking the highest good of others.
All Deceit... Deceit is duplicity, falseness, distorting the truth to mislead; a desire to gain some advantage or preserve some position by deceiving others; it literally means 'to catch with bait'. Hold on to this thought - we're going to come back to this word in verse 2...
Hypocrisies... Hypocrisy is acting on a pretense, desiring to be known as something you're not, being false; is same root as the word for sincere or unhypocritical love in verse...
Envies... Envy is feeling discontent or resentment toward the advantages, success or possessions of another, coveting their position or qualities.
All Slander... Slander is speaking falsely to damage the reputation of another. Slander is often driven by the desire to deflect attention from our own failings – our faults are hidden by highlighting the faults of others.
Some of these vices are chameleons and take on many forms. We are not to get rid of most of our malice or some deceit and hypocrisy; all of it in all their varied manifestations must go.
He tells us we are to be done with these things. This is a past participle: having put off - it's the negative precondition to the command. You can't come to the word harboring malice and deceit in your heart and expect to grow. The picture is taking off and putting aside a soiled garment. We have one that is still in diapers. It stinks. She will come in the room and she might act like nothing at all is the matter, but the smell is enough to clear the room! Apparently she's grown accustomed to the smell, but no one around her can stand it. We change her diaper whether she wants us to or not. She doesn't usually initiate. Her attitude is 'I don't care if it stinks; it's warm and it's mine!' That tends to be our attitude about our sin. Every one around us knows it stinks and they know where it is coming from. But we are comfortable to sit in it and do nothing about it. We need to put it off - double bag it and bring it out to the street - it stinks!
Peter assumes that we have our sense of smell reconditioned to be offended by the stench of sin and get it out of our lives. He says 'having put these things aside, now let's get to the real business. Now do this. Crave milk. Long for milk. That's a powerful word. It points to intense longing; a very strong desire.
And he gives us a clear picture of how to crave milk. He says crave it like a little baby craves the breast. That's intense. That's a wake you out of your dead sleep in the middle of the night 'I need milk' cry. That's 'I'm not shutting up until I get what I need' passion. That's regular - about every three or four hours day and night. Jesus said:
Peter builds on what Jesus said. You need to want milk like a baby wants milk - passionately and consistently. And he gives us two descriptions of the milk we are to crave. It is to be pure and it is to be spiritual. Pure is the negative form of the same word we had in verse 1 'deceit' - the milk we crave is to be without deceit or without mixture. Don't water it down. Don't mix anything with it. I want the real thing and only the real thing. And he says that the milk we desire is to be 'spiritual'. The word here is a little tricky - it is 'logikov - logikos', and this word only appears here and in Romans 12:1 in the whole New Testament. It can be translated 'rational' or 'spiritual' as opposed to 'literal'; the milk we crave is not literal breast milk but a metaphorical milk. It is milk to nourish the mind and soul, not the body. 'Logikos' is the adjectival form of the word ' logov - logos' or word, the word that Peter used in:
so he could be hinting that the milk is biblical milk. That fits the context well as he has explained with biblical proof what a powerful life giving instrument the word is in the life of a believer. James makes this explicit in his letter:
The stated purpose for craving this kind of milk is 'that by it you may grow up to salvation'. The goal is our final future salvation, just as he has said in chapter 1:
If the goal is our final salvation, how we get there is by feeding passionately and regularly on the pure milk, we grow up. We need to hear the seriousness of this command. Crave milk! Because if you don't feed on the milk, you won't grow and if you don't grow then you will not be saved! That's as serious as it gets. That's what the text says; crave pure milk because that's what causes you to grow up to salvation. But is this teaching salvation by works? If I have to feed on the milk and grow up so that I will be saved in the end, that sounds like I'm earning my salvation. Let me explain why I do believe this command is serious and why I don't believe that this command implies salvation by works. I don't want to get out from under the weight of the command by saying 'Peter really doesn't mean that you won't be saved if you don't feed on the word and grow' - he really does say that and he really does mean that. So how is this not salvation by works? It sounds like I have to do something in order to be saved. And I would answer 'yes', you absolutely have to do something to be saved - you have to believe on the Lord Jesus - that's doing something! I don't see this command really as much different from believing. Peter said it was the word of God; the good news message about Jesus that created new life in us. Now he expects that new life that he birthed in us through the unstoppable word to cry out and hunger for more of the word so that it can grow. God caused us to be born again - and that new birth found expression in believing. Now the spiritual life that was birthed in us longs for spiritual food so that it can be sustained by God and grow to spiritual maturity. I think it's a stretch to say that we are earning anything here by our efforts. Remember, Peter has told us that God caused us to be born again to a living hope; God is keeping an inheritance safe for us, and by his power he is keeping us for the inheritance - through faith. Our faith finds expression in clinging to the things God gives us for our growth - trusting him that regularly feeding on his word really will bring about spiritual maturity in our lives. That's not earning anything -that's living by faith - trusting God to bring us the grace he promises for growth as we seek him in his word.
Peter concludes his exhortation for us to crave milk with an allusion to:
Taste and see that the Lord is good! Peter changes it to a question- if you have tasted that the Lord is good? If you have tasted the goodness of the Lord in the good news of Jesus the God-man who laid down his life for his enemies to conquer our rebellious hearts and make us his friends. If that is sweet to you this morning, don't you want to come back to it over and over and over again? To savor the richness of Jesus who bore all my sins in his body on the tree. To dwell on the love expressed by him who knew no sin becoming sin for us. To linger over the wonder of one who would die for his enemies. To drink in the gracious giving heart of the father who did not spare his own son but gave him up for us all. If you have tasted that the Lord is good, don't you hunger to know him more? If you don't hunger for God, maybe you've never really tasted the goodness of the Lord. Taste is an experiential thing. You can know the chemical make-up of chocolate and understand the balance of sweet that overcomes bitter, you can appreciate the health value of its antioxidant properties, you can be told about the silky-smooth texture, but until you unwrap it and put it on your tongue and let it melt into your taste buds, you haven't experienced it. You can know a lot about Jesus of Nazareth, the incarnate Son of God who died for sinners at a place called calvary some 2000 years ago, but Jesus invited us to taste. He said 'my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink.' (John 6:55) He said 'I am the living bread that came down from heaven' (John 6:51). So eat; drink. Have your longings satisfied at the only source that will never run dry. Participate in the pleasures of him who has no bitter aftertaste. Crave Jesus - crave Jesus as he reveals himself to you in the bible. If you have tasted you will want more... and more... and more.