Summary: Foreigners in a Foreign Land Longing for the Pure Spiritual Milk of the Word
Foreigners in a Foreign Land
Longing for the Pure Spiritual Milk of the Word
We are finishing the first of three mini series in 1 Peter, “Foreigners in a Foreign Land” (1.1-2.10) where we have been looking at what Peter writes to Christians suffering persecution. In a couple of weeks, we will begin the second mini series, “Living on Mission in a Foreign Land” (2.11-4.11) and then start the last series in the fall with, “The Church in a Foreign Land” (4.12-5.14). Today's message is “Longing for the Pure Spiritual Milk of the Word.”
Big Idea – We are to crave the goodness of God from the word of God and so grow spiritually into our salvation.
Chapter one is about hoping in Jesus in the midst of suffering. Peter has emphasized that salvation is the work of God – God set his affection on them in eternity past, God has caused them to be born again, and God is keeping them through their suffering. Today we see that God has given us his word as the primary means of sustaining us and sanctifying us, killing sinful desires and replacing them with new, righteous desires. When I was pastoring in Los Angeles, I had a guy who came to me because he was in a spiritual funk and when I asked him about his devotional habits he told me that he did not read the Bible. He knew it too well and was bored with it. What was more shocking was that he did not see it as a spiritual issue at all! Then early in my ministry here in Homer I was having a conversation with one of Homer's long standing pastors who in a matter of fact attitude told me that 'we know that most Christians don't read their bibles.' He acted as if this lack of desire for the word was normal and really ok. The problem for all of us is not desire or lack of desire but desires for the wrong things! We desire all kinds of things and do not desire God. Is this ok? Is this normal? Peter does not think so.
Overview of passage: Peter commands us to long for the word because it will kills sinful desires and grow us into our salvation. Peter sees salvation as something future here.
Our Desperate Need for Spiritual Milk
The command to long for pure spiritual milk presupposes a need for spiritual milk, the word. Jesus demonstrated this need when he told the devil that 'man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.' There is something more fundamental than the need for food. If we do not eat within three or four hours, your body lets you know – your stomach growls, you become easily agitated, etc. It is so basic to our health that we identify a lack of appetite as a sign that something is wrong. He sees us as desperately needing the word and identifies the lack of strong desire as spiritually dangerous, even fatal. So he gives us several reasons why we desperately need the word. Every reason should stun us. First, the word is true (1:22) and the truth sets us free, it changes our thinking and our appetites. Second, the word is a seed (1:23) that generates life. Third, the word is the very word of the Lord (1:25). It is the transcribed words of God. Last, it is pure spiritual milk (2:2), the source of spiritual nourishment and growth.
Long for the Milk of the Word
Everyone of us are commanded to long, yearn for, thirst after, crave the word. Do you have strong desires for the word? Peter compares us to newborn babies. You don't have to tell a baby to desire their mothers milk. They will make it loud and clear that they want to be fed. They will nurse on demand if you let them. But nursing is not just for feeding; it is also for comfort and relational connection with the mother. When they lose their appetite we become alarmed, something must be wrong. Notice that he does not tell us to read the bible or study the bible, but something more basic, 'long for the pure spiritual milk.' Get desire. That is the same verb for lust in the bible. It means strong desires. The issue is not that we don't desire but that we desire the wrong things. We desire to hurt others, deceive others, to be somebody we are not, or make ourselves look good by talking about others (2:1). God commands us to do something that we cannot possibly do. Get desire. I don't know about you but I cannot create desire at will, desires are either there or not. Get desire is like telling a blind man to read a billboard or a lame man to fly. Why would God tell us to do something we cannot possibly do? Because God gives what he commands. For instance,