Get Rid of Those Old Things
Topic: Sanctification Passage: 1 Peter 2:1–2:3
We were “born again” to a sincere love of our brothers and sisters, to love one another deeply from the heart. But for that to happen, some things MUST be stripped out of our lives. Things like malice, deception, envy, hypocrisy, and evil speaking, about one another and towards one another, of every kind.
Apart from the new birth, we are all fallen, sinful, broken people, who don't like each other very much and who don't treat each other very well. There is hatred, critical attitudes, judgmental thoughts towards others, holding onto grudges and offenses, speaking against one another, envying one another. We are called OUT FROM THAT to live IN LOVE as new creations in Christ. In Titus it says, “We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared he saved us, not by righteous things we had done but because of his mercy......So that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good.” By the grace of God we became lovers of people, doers of good.
1 Peter 2:1 starts with “Therefore” which draws on the previous command to love one another. So his flow of thought is this: BECAUSE you are to love one another fervently from the heart..THEREFORE, Rid yourselves of all malice, and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind”.
Malice – anger towards someone that has been brewing in your heart and turns into hatred. You intensely dislike them. It is bad blood between people. It is holding a grudge. It is ill will towards someone, opposite of wishing someone well.
Deceit – craftiness, clever at ways to get back at someone, appearing to like someone but behind the scenes, scheming to undermine them. It is like sitting around a table, smiling at someone while kicking them underneath the table.
Hypocrisy – Pretending to be something, but really being something else. Looking like a clean cup on the outside but being dirty on the inside. Working hard to look very spiritual but not dealing with pride, and a critical spirit, or a sharp tongue, in your private life. Wanting to appear good without being good.
Envy – Unhappy at the good fortune of others. Envy has been called the last sin to die. Even the apostles struggled with it Mark 10:41. James and John asked Jesus to let them sit at his right and left hand in his glory. That shows their self promotion. But the response of the other disciples shows their envy. They were indignant or furious about this. Terrified that James and John might receive this great blessing.
Slander – or speaking evil of others. Speaking against others rather than really love them.
Peter says, “Rid yourselves, or strip off, or be done with these things”. This is a radical, once for all, complete disassociation from these things. We tend to say things like, “OK, I know I have some anger issues to work through, I'm still waiting for the Lord to get a hold of my temper. Or.. “I know I struggle with a sharp tongue, but nobody is perfect. It's just going to take some time to deal with these things. I know I shouldn't hate this person, as much as I do, but I just can't help it.
As much as I believe in progressive sanctification, there is a danger in overemphasizing how much sin we allow to linger around while we are waiting to grow. Peter has NO thought that we would CODDLE these things, that we would ALLOW them to linger, and EXCUSE them, and CONTINUE in them as though that's all right.
You need to see these things as filthy, horrible things that wage war against your soul. And get rid of them. Strip them off, like dirty clothes. Each one of these things has the power to choke love, and to destroy a life, a marriage, and a church.
There is no place for these things any longer! Let me say as strongly and plainly as I can: There is no place for these things in the church. There is no place for these things here at Real Life Church. (I actually think you all excel at keeping these things out of here, but just in case anyone is considering introducing them I emphasize this warning.)
Let me also say just as strongly, there is no place for these things in your heart or in your home either. Some people think home is a place where you can let down and really be yourself, meaning that sinful words, sharp words, and grumbling against one another, are acceptable. But Peter would say, You are a new creation, born of the living and enduring word of God. THEREFORE rid yourselves of ALL malice, ALL deceit, All.... All, not most of it, not all of it most of the time...ALL.
Don't excuse envy, or being unkind, or sharp words and cutting comments. Don't tolerate bitterness by saying, “If you were in my situation you would be bitter too”. Don't justify the existence of these things, GET RID OF THEM.
The church is to be a safe place, where there is to be the absence of malice and envy and back stabbing. It should be a place where we love one another. Where we have each other's back. A place where you walk in the door and is the one place where you know you will be loved. And MORE importantly where YOU can love others without hypocrisy and without malice. We are beloved children of God who walk in love, and there is to be a complete absence of these things in the church. Because people do not obey or take seriously 1 Peter 2:1 and verse like it, a lot of people get hurt in church.
John said, “Little children, let us love one another!” Paul said, “Let us not devour one another!”
“Brother, I want you to know that I'm committed to you. You'll never knowingly suffer at my hands. I'll never say or do anything knowingly to hurt you. I'll always in every circumstance seek to help you, and support you. If you're down and I can lift you up, I'll do that. Anything I have that you need, I'll share with you; and if need be, I'll give it to you. No matter what I find out about you and no matter what happens in the future, either good or bad, my commitment to you will never change. And there's nothing you can do about it. You don't have to respond. I love you, and that's what it means.” That's the commitment we all need to make to one another. Jerry Cook in Love Acceptance and Forgiveness.
Whatever our successes or failure as a church may be, let us NEVER fail to love one another. Let us never be a church family where we give place to malice, and and slander and bickering.
Ephesians 5:1 tells us to “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and LIVE A LIFE OF LOVE, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us...”. You say, OK what else? What do I go on to after that? You go from love to greater love and deeper love.
Paul wrote to Timothy “The goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart, and a good conscience and a sincere faith”. 1 Timothy 1:5. That is the goal! If, in all our reading and teaching and studying of the Bible we do not end up as lovers of one another, we have missed the mark! We have missed the entire purpose of the word of God!
Whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: Love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” What does God call husband to? “Love”. What does God call young mothers to? “To love their husband and children”. What does God call all of us to in the church? To love one another fervently from the heart.
How do we because these fully developed people of love? How do we grow up into this life of thinking about the good of others, about how we can nourish and build up others, how we can bless our spouse, instead of being bitter about how we are treated. How can we get free from the bondage of worrying about getting my rights, and getting my turn? How can we get free from the bondage of having others think well of me, of thinking about how I feel, and how my interests and needs are not met? How do we love like Jesus?
The first part of the answer is to: Get rid of those filthy things which poison loving relationships.
If you are going to grow up in Christ, you must get rid of everything that destroys and defiles loving relationships. These things are the great enemies of brotherly love, and you must deal with them, if you are to go on to maturity in Christ, and become the people of love you are called to be.
Peter goes on to tell us: “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation”. Or with great hunger drink in the spiritual nourishment that will make you grow up. We are to replace these evil things with something else! Verses 1-3, although they contain different ideas, all flow together
Growing up in your salvation has a putting off and a putting on. A repudiation of impure things and a drinking in of new pure things. Peter starts with these relational sins because they choke our desire for the pure spiritual food and therefore stunt our growth.
A sharp tongue, a critical spirit, envy of other people, speaking evil of others, hinder spiritual growth. Even if you read your Bible twice a day, go to church every Sunday and pray before meals. That is why some people go to church for years and never change. So we get rid of IMPURE things and we start craving PURE things, things that come to us from God through Christ.
*When Peter says “Like newborn babies crave pure spiritual milk”. He is NOT saying you are babies, or that this is written for spiritual babies. But just like newborn babies crave milk, you are to crave spiritual milk. The emphasis is on the baby's hunger. There are other places where there is a contrast made between the milk of the word and the meat of the word. But that is not Peter's point here at all.
He is saying a healthy Christian is a Christian with appetite and desire for spiritual things, just like a healthy baby is a baby with a good appetite. I should have one of the nursing mom's get up here and describe the desire her newborn has for milk!
Whether you have been a Christian for 2 years or 50 years you should crave this spiritual food. I do not think there is one quality that is more important in the life of a born again person that appetite for God, for the things of God, and for the word of God. Desire it. Crave it. Long for it. Hunger for it.
Some people think they have no say as to what they desire, but it's true. Even on a a human level look at how athlete's focus their desire on attaining one thing. And we have a divine power at work within us fueling our desire for our Father.
John Piper has written some thoughts on "spiritual fatalism" which I think is the very problem that keeps some from craving the things of God. He defines it as..
the belief or feeling that you are stuck with the way you are—"this is all I will ever experience of God—the level of spiritual intensity that I now have is all I can have; others may have strong desires after God and may have deep experiences of personal pleasure in God, but I will never have those because … well, just because … I am not like that. That's not me." This spiritual fatalism is a feeling that genetic forces and family forces and the forces of my past experiences and present circumstances are just too strong to allow me to ever change and become more zealous for God, or more fervent, or more delighted in God , or more hungry for fellowship with Christ,.......... Spiritual fatalism is tragic in the church. church. It leaves people stuck. It takes away hopes and dreams of change and growth. It squashes the excitement of living—which is growth.
So when Peter says crave, or long for, spiritual milk, YOU CAN DO THAT! The Holy Spirit is actively at work in you right now, calling you to that, working that in you. You can begin to crave fellowship with God, and with the saints, you can begin to intensely desire God's word.
Peter describes this as a very natural process. We crave more BECAUSE we are people who have tasted the goodness of the Lord. Verse 3 “NOW that we have experienced (or tasted) that the Lord is good”, we want more of him. We crave more of him and the things that come from him! This is JUST what you do with good food! You taste it, it's good and you go for more! It is just as a baby does with milk. He or she tastes it and wants more and more and more.
You crave this milk SO THAT by it you may grow in respect to salvation. Long for the things of God which brings spiritual growth.
What is this longing for? Spiritual milk. Some translations have add milk of the word, but the ESV and NIV have more accurately allowed the more literal translation of just spiritual milk.
Certainly this includes a strong desire for the word of God. Peter defines the word of God in the last verse of chapter 1. “This is the word that was preached to you”. It is certainly all of the Bible but specifically it is the message about Christ, or the gospel message. It is the message that Christ died for our sins. That God, because of his great love, with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses and sins, made us alive together with Christ. It is the message of this grace in which we stand, and that having been justified, we have peace with God. It is the message that tells us all the riches we have in Christ, the glory of the new covenant, the help of the indwelling Holy Spirit, the power of the resurrection, the hope of a glorious inheritance.
So crave God's word! Crave these truths, saturate your mind with the word of God. Thirst for the word which through which you were born again and through which you will grow. Be hungry to read the word, to listen for God to speak to you in and through his word. Be hungry to come and hear the word taught on Sunday or in small group.
But most directly, this spiritual milk is Christ himself. He is talking about experiencing the living Christ, about eagerly and actively drinking from him. We must always remember we are coming to a living person not just words on a page. I am teaching from a portion of the word of God but unless I bring you into an experience with the God who lives and breathes in his word something vital is missing.
Wayne Grudem: To drink the milk of the Word is to ‘taste’ again and again what He is like, for in the hearing of the Lord’s words believers experience the joy of personal fellowship with the Lord Himself.
Crave all that comes to you from the Lord. As Peter goes on to say, come to him as a living stone.. You have tasted of the Lord himself drink more of him.
Psalm 139 Ask God to search your heart “See if there be some hurtful way in me”. Ask God to show you any of these attitudes in verse one that you are tolerating in your heart. And them ask him to lead you into his way of love.
Psalm 34:8 “Taste and see that the Lord is good”. You will not go very far in the Lord, if you do not personally believe, know and experience that the Lord is good. Have you tasted the Lord? Go to him, and say Lord, I am here to drink of you. Satisfy my thirst, and the hunger of my soul. Jesus said, “He who feeds on me will live because of me”. This is what the Lord's Supper is a picture of. If you have experienced salvation you HAVE tasted the goodness of the Lord but it does not stop there.
Psalm 81:10 “Open wide your mouth and I will fill it”. Go on to crave spiritual food from God. Have an appetite for God and the things of God. Desire God and you will find that HE WILL RESPOND TO THAT. He will fill your open mouth, your open heart.