Summary: Birth must be followed by nurture. Just as a natural baby requires milk in order to be nourished & to grow, so must a spiritual baby have the milk of God¡¯s Word in order to be nourished and to grow up in Christ.
1 PETER 2: 1-3 [Renewing Hope Series]
DESIRING ETERNAL GROWTH
God's imperishable Word stands forever. This imperishable Word was the content of Peter's preaching (1:12, 25). He preached the Word for God's Word has life. He preached the Word for God's Word gives life. He preached the Word for God's Word nourishes life. Thus the Christian's life should be a spiritually growing life. But in order to grow in eternal ways we need eternal nourishment. Just as we were all conceived by the eternal Word of God, as newborn babes, we're to continue in the Word of God. Lived out truth produces growth (CIT).
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 in the Scripture which trouble me the most are those which I do understand." His statement is a commentary of this passage. The question is, what are we going to do about it? [Cedar, Paul. The Preacher's Commentary Series, Vol. 34 : James / 1 & 2 Peter / Jude. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc, 1984, S. 133.]
Birth must be followed by nurture. And just as a natural baby requires milk in order to be nourished and to grow, so must a spiritual baby have the milk of God's Word in order to be nourished and to grow up in Christ. That is a contention which Peter makes so directly and plainly that none of us can miss it! [Ibid. 133]
God therefore invites us to take four specific steps.
I. LAY ASIDE EVIL, 1.
II. LONG FOR THE WORD, 2.
III. GROW UP SPIRITUALLY, 2b.
IV. LIVE THE LIFE, 3.
Verse 1 speaks to the believers need to repent from our fallen human condition in order to experience the life-changing power of God's Word. "Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander,"
New life in Christ calls for continuous repentance. "Therefore, rid yourselves." The verb used [is apot¨ªth¨¥mi which] means "to get rid of, to cast it off, to discard." How we rid of sin is by repentance. True repentance must always begin with putting off evil and turning from it.
The writer of Hebrews encourages us to "lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us" (Heb. 12:1). To repent means we turn and keep turning from every form of sin.
Do you realize how many of our problems would be resolved if we took that counsel seriously? If we would only flee from sin, our lives would be so much more full and blessed. Sin deprives us of God's best, and yet often we play games with sin. We brush as close as we can without being burned. But sin is never without consequence. What we sow, we reap. "For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption" (Gal. 6:8).
Peter listed five sins that destroy the Christians and the churches growth and effectiveness. They are sins of attitude and speech, which if harbored drive wedges between believers.
The kinds of sin which we all should lay aside or cast off begins with "malice" (kak¨ªa), a general word for depravity and wickedness. It's wicked ill-will. Malice is a desire to hurt someone with words or deeds.
Next it lists "all deceit." Deceit (dolos) or guile is deliberate dishonesty. It is a desire to gain some advantage or preserve some position by deceiving others. It refers to a hidden agenda. The biggest and best deceiver in the world is Satan.
The list also includes hypocrisy. Hypocrisy (hup¨®kriseis) depicts play acting or acting a part. It is pretended morality and love. A desire to hide what really is.
We also need to lay aside "envy." Envy (phth¨®nos) is "jealousy, resentful discontent." Envy is a desire for some privilege or benefit that belongs to another with resentment that another has it and you don't.
The list concludes with "and all slander." It can be translated as "a defamation of character" or "slander of every kind." It is evil speaking (katalali¨¢), which is often disguised as a rumor or private information, though in reality it is backbiting lies. Slander is the desire for revenge and self-enhancement, [often driven by the deeper desire to deflect attention from our own failings. The worse light we can put another in by slander, the less our own darkness shows.]
All of these forms of sin deal with that which is untrue. Sin is always deceitful and untrue. God is the source of all truth and Satan is the source of untruth. From the time he tempted Adam and Eve in the Garden, Satan has shared lies, deception, and half-truths with mankind. If we are to enjoy the life of truth and love and hope, we must cast off all the evil. [Cedar, S. 134.]