Summary: Sometimes the passages that are easy to understand are the scariest.
Text: I Peter 2:1 - 10
Mark Twain is quoted as saying , “Most people are bothered by those passages in the Bible which they cannot understand; but as for me, I always notice that the passages of Scripture which trouble me the most are those which I do understand”. (Lloyd J. Ogilvie. ed. Mastering the New Testament: James, 1 & 2 Peter; and Jude. Paul A. Cedar. Dallas: Word Publishing, 1984, p. 134). I am inclined to agree with Mark Twain because it is the passages of Scripture that are clear that can be the most alarming when we fail to live up to what God’s Word requires. Our text for today, I Peter 2: 1- 10 is one of those kinds of Scriptures. We read what it says but at the same time we struggle with living up to what is required of us! What is this Scripture telling us that we must do? What is the first step to living the way that God intended for us to live as we ought to live as Christians?
THE PROBLEMS OF UNHOLY LIVING
What do you think the problems of unholy living might be? 1) Our list: We could all come up with a list. What would our list of things look like? 2) Augustine’s list: Augustine who was one of the fathers of the early church had something had list that was based on his own personal experience. Augustine’s list would was based on his own 20/20 hindsight. We all know that God created us all with a free will. A) St. Augustine would have told us that you can use your free will to pursue your own agenda. B) But, he would also would have told us that we are “… restless until we find our rest in God”. (Confessions). c) A third thing that St. Augustine would have told us is that there are “… two wills and that each one possesses what the other one lacks”. (Confessions). Again, St. Augustine would have known because he used his God-given free-will to rebel against God. Augustine would have told us that unholy living always proves to be an exercise that ends in futility.
Peter gave us his list of things that lead to unholy living. 1) Peter’s list: Look at Peter’s list: a) malice (a desire to do harm); b) and all guile (sly and deceitful); c) insincerity (hypocrisy and artificial); d) envy (Jealous of another’s success or good fortune); e) and all slander (false testimony that defames the character of another). 2) Hindrances: Matthew Henry once said that “all of the things on this list combine to hinder our profiting by the word of God.” (Matthew Henry. A Commentary On The Whole Bible. Volume 6. Iowa Falls: World Bible Publishers, no date listed, p. 1014). He also said that these are the “sins … [that] destroy charity [love], hinder the efficacy [effectiveness] of the word, and consequently prevent our regeneration.” (p. 1013). 3) Tainted love: Satan uses all of the things in Peter’s list to taint---pollute our love for God as well as our love for our neighbors. The Sadducees and the Pharisees once conspired together to ask Jesus which was the greatest commandment in the law. Jesus answered Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. Jesus then said the second commandment was like the first one he mentioned. “Love your neighbor as you love yourself”. Jesus said that “all of the law and the prophets hang on those two commandments” (Matthew 22:34 -40 quoted and paraphrased). How often do any of the things on Peter’s list catch us off guard? Every day we see the things on Peter’s list in daily living---in our behavior or in the behavior of others. There can be no question that the things in Peter’s list lead to unholy living because they pollute the way our love should be for both God and our neighbor! That is why we must rid ourselves of these things on Peter’s list!
What did Peter mean when he was talking about living stones and the Living Stone? 1) Connections: When Peter said come to the “living stone” and be like “living stones” (I Peter 2:4 –5) he was talking about how Christians are connected to Jesus Christ the solid rock (Matthew 7:24). 2) Calling: Is it possible that Peter was also recalling when Jesus told him that he would be that Peter was the rock on which he would build his church? (Matthew 16:18). 3) Construction: Is it possible that Peter was also talking about how God builds His kingdom with people from all walks of life? When Jesus told the parable about the net He told us “… the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish” (Matthew 13:47).