Peter begins chapter two with “Therefore….” “Therefore” looks back to what has been said. In view of having obeyed the truth with sincere love, fervent love with a pure heart for our brethren and being born again by the incorruptible word which abides forever, “lay aside.” “Lay aside” is the imagery of one ripping off clothes. The idea is to make a definite break, get rid of. Why? These things do not belong to us. They are not to be part of who we are. “Malice” refers to anger, whether in a short burst or seething. “Guile” involves the desire to deceive another. “Hypocrisy” accompanies guile because one pretends to be something he/she is not. One puts on an act to deceive. “Envy” is not simply the desire to have what another has but the accompanying desire to take from them what they have. It is akin to malice. It’s kin is resentment stirred by lust. “Slander” is simply speaking against another. None of these grow out of the word of God. None are part of one who is being transformed into the image of the Lord. And, none are illustrative of fervent love with a pure heart. Therefore, get rid of them! They do not belong to us any more than dirty clothes belong to a surgeon. Each one of these by itself disturb the harmony of God’s people. And, with these present in our hearts it is impossible to have fervent love for each other as brethren.
How do we get rid of these dirty attitudes and behaviors? “As new born babes desire the pure milk of the word that you may grow…” “Desire” means to crave. Have you ever seen a new born hungry for his mothers milk? We must have that same craving for the pure milk. “Pure” is used in opposition to the word “guile.” In God’s word there is no deceit, no pretending. God’s word is pure. His word will help us attain salvation and it will help us mature. But, first we must to “taste” it. The word “taste” means to experience. We must experience the word. When we were born again of the incorruptible word our souls were purified. We experienced the kindness of God. We must have an appetite that craves what God offers. Once we have experienced His kindness why would we go back to malice, guile, hypocrisy and envy? God’s word does me no good unless I experience what it offers. This is personal. No one can do this for me. No one can nourish themselves for me. Nobody can “taste” the word for me. I must “crave” it. My “desire” for experiencing what God offers must be so great that it moves me to crave His goodness. Growth is a by-product of experiencing what God‘s goodness offers. God’s word changes our heart. It gives life and nourishes our souls, spirits and minds.
Next, remember Peter is writing to people who don’t feel like they belong in the land. They are scattered. They are pilgrims. Therefore, he seeks to reassure them they do belong, but in a different land. They do have citizenship. They do have a homeland. So while they are now pilgrims they will not always be pilgrims. Peter says to these pilgrims they are “living stones,” part of a “spiritual house.” That house, relationship, has as her chief cornerstone the stone rejected by men. Though rejected by men that living stone is “precious and chosen by God.” So do not despair, we do not belong in the land as pilgrims, we are part of a spiritual house. God’s people are a “holy priesthood and offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God.” Jesus Christ makes this all possible. Jesus Christ gives us a place to belong. He gives us our identity. He gives us a relationship which brings us close to God.
Jesus came, men looked at Him and rejected Him. Though “rejected by men He was chosen and precious to God.” That makes us precious to God. That means we too are chosen. We who once “had no mercy now have mercy.” At one time we had no identity, no name. Now we have a name. We, “who were not a people are now a people.” We are indeed “Somebody!” We all started the same place. We all were quarried out of the same pit of sin. But, now we fit into His spiritual building. We all fit in with the chief cornerstone. God then says, “you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation. His own special people.” As a result, go and show the world by proclaiming praise to Him. Throw off those filthy rags, you are born again. You are the by-product of the pure word. That word produced in us a pure heart. Having experienced that grace, go show it to others. You are somebody. You are a living stone. You are a chosen generation. You are a royal priesthood. You are God’s own special people. Think, do I want to belong to Satan and be a nobody with no home, no grace and experience only misery now and in eternity? Wouldn’t we rather experience the good graciousness of God that will create in us a new spirit and give us a clean heart? Seems a no brainer to me! Yes, God can move mountains and He can change hearts and make us new!
Consider, that imposes on us a responsibility. First, we are to “declare His praises.”God’s wants His people to tell the world His story. Satan is telling lies. God’s wants people to hear the truth, and He wants His people to tell that truth to others.
Second, we “offer up spiritual sacrifices.” He wants ME! We are a holy priesthood that offer spiritual sacrifices and the sacrifice is ME! He wants my heart, soul and mind.
Third, as part of the spiritual house I am connected to others. The fervent love we have for each other cements us together. Satan cannot pluck us off when we are cemented together with the chief cornerstone. Our relationship derives it’s strength from the chief cornerstone.
Fourth, we have a responsibility to conduct our lives in such a way that we do not give the adversary an opportunity to speak against God. When malice and slander are in my life and I play the hypocrite, Satan uses me to speak against God. Privilege brings responsibility. If am graciously given by God’s kindness, the privilege of being His child, I have the responsibility to show who I am to others. That calls upon me to “abstain from fleshly lusts.” Those are lusts inside and outside. The price of privilege is that we abstain from those lusts which war against our soul and Him. There is a war! The battle is for our minds. Christians need a keen sense of who we are in this world. We must keep our behavior excellent and above any opportunity for the adversary to accuse or affix blame. Our heart and character are different than those who follow Satan. The best way to refute the accusations of Satan is for us to live in such a way that we honor God.
If we build our lives on Christ as the chief cornerstone, when the storms come the house will stand. We are His people. When the flesh craves sin we will flee. When our hearts are inclined to become bitter we will bear the fruit of the spirit. He gives us value. He defines who we are. His spirit must be my spirit. I must be so full of God that He overflows in all my life. Therefore, it is natural to proclaim His goodness.
By Rickie Jenkins
Tips for teaching 1Peter 2:1-12:
Help People see:
- the destruction that comes with attitudes like malice, slander, envy and hypocrisy.
- the special place we have with God
- the special relationship we have with each other.
- God gives us identity not the world
- we have a responsibility because of the great privilege we have been offered.
- God really can make them be a different and better kind of people.
- see that God’s people belong to Him.