Summary: Peter urges us as believers (especially new ones) to be nourished and grow closer to Jesus, and he highlights five anti-growth attributes that will keep us from doing so! Avoid the evil, cling to what is good!
Text: 1 Peter 2:1-3
1 Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking,
2 as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby,
3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.
Paul wrote about the 'fruit' of the Spirit, or the 'results' of the work of God in our lives.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
He also had a list of the works of the flesh just prior, and he tells us that these are to be avoided at all costs.
19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
Matthew Henry - "The world of spirits can never be comfortable to those who plunge themselves in the filth of the flesh; nor will the righteous and holy God ever admit such into his favour and presence, unless they be first washed and sanctified, and justified in the name of our Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God" (Commentary on Galatians).
Here in 1 Peter 2, Peter continues to advise those who have grasped onto redemption to put away various things that harm growth. In verse 2, Peter seems to address those young in the faith. Perhaps they have just come to know the Lord and share in this 'incorruptible seed' by which God has redeemed us.
Peter shows that we ought to be desirous of the nourishment of God. Just as a baby wants milk for nourishment, we are to seek to obey the commandments of Jesus in all things and grow from them.
If we are in Christ, we have indeed seen that He is gracious. He is ever-present, and He will get you through anything you get to.
Peter lists a few things to avoid with this 'growth' and 'nourishment' theme in mind:
Things to Avoid:
1. Malice (kakia) - Ill-will, desire to hurt other people
Literally, "badness" -- often a general term for any wickedness
Often malice is used as an overflow of extreme anger, to which someone will go to extreme lengths to harm the agent of frustration.
Jesus speaks against malice, even to our enemies:
43 " You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'
44 "But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,
45 "that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
I used to think that people were saying "Mallet" when they used this term, as if the Bible were directly commanding us not to hit people on the head with mallets. That would indeed be a form of malice, but it's not the comprehensive set of what can be done in malice!
2. Deceit (dolos) - Trickery and falsehood, whether in message, lifestyle, or word -- even flattery
Many translations use the word 'guile' here -- we are always supposed to strive for peace, yet we are not to obtain peace by false measures.
Throughout the Prophetic period, which could be referred to as the 'pathetic period' given the wavering state of the people of Israel and Judah, people would often calibrate their scales incorrectly in the marketplace to take advantage of others. This is deceit -- a false balance. So if someone needy comes to your table, and you sell them 15 ounces of grain for every 16 (pound), you are deceiving them as well as taking advantage of them. It's not likely that they would be carrying a balance themselves to test whether your scale were true or not. They would just end up with less food, while you would end up with more money for your overall sale.
What does the Bible say about this? Well, we see that it's to be avoided, as it does not foster spiritual growth, but also Solomon states in Proverbs --
Proverbs 11:1 - "Dishonest scales are an abomination to the LORD, But a just weight is His delight."
Or as a lyricist once wrote, "Dishonest scales are awful to the LORD, but a just weighing scale strikes a positive cord" (DJ Sterf, "Phat Country")