A. The story is told of a young boy who during a church service on Sunday Morning announced to his mother, “Mom, I've decided to become a preacher when I grow up.”
1. “That's wonderful, but what made you decide that?” His mother asked.
2. “Well,” said the little boy, “If I have to go to church on Sunday anyway, then I figure it will be more fun to stand up and yell than to sit down and listen.”
3. Some of us are still trying to decide what we want to be when we grow up!
B. All of the Christmas holiday commercials have begun, and one caught my eye yesterday.
1. It was a Toys’ R Us Commercial. Are any of you going to spend time at the Toys’ R Us this holiday season?
2. Our family has kind of graduated out of the period where things at Toys’ R Us dominates the wish list.
3. And this illustrates what I want us to talk about today.
4. Do you remember what the Toys’ R Us jingle says? – “I don’t want to grow up I’m a Toys’ R Us kid.”
5. The rest of the jingle includes these words: “There's a million toys at Toys 'R Us that I can play with! More bikes, more trains, more video games, it's the biggest toy store there is! I don't want to grow up, because if I did, I wouldn't be a Toys 'R Us kid!”
C. Who is the most famous kid who never wanted to grow up? Peter Pan.
1. You are probably familiar with the Peter Pan whom Disney popularized in the 1953 Disney animated film – you’re looking at a picture of his Disney rendition.
2. But what you probably don’t know is the fact that Peter Pan is a character created by Scottish novelist and playwright J.M. Barrie who lived from 1860–1937.
3. Barrie created this mischievous boy who can fly and magically refuses to grow up.
4. Peter Pan spends his never-ending childhood adventuring on the small island of Neverland as the leader of his gang the Lost Boys while interacting with mermaids, Indians, fairies and pirates, and from time to time meeting ordinary children from the world outside.
D. While all this is “fun and games” in the imaginary world, it is not so funny in the real world.
1. In the real world we realize that “growing old is compulsory - growing up is optional.”
2. It becomes a very tragic thing when a person grows old, but doesn’t grow up.
3. That’s true in the physical realm and even more so in the spiritual realm.
4. Picture the person who has been a Christian for 30 years, but still acts like a spiritual infant.
E. It is God’s will for each of us that we grow up in our salvation – that we mature in Christ.
1. In today’s section from 1 Peter, the apostle Peter gives us a number of commands to follow that will help us grow up in our salvation.
2. Let’s try to gain a better grip on these commands so we will not be stuck in spiritual infancy, but will grow up spiritually.
I. Command #1: Develop a Clear Head
A. Peter wrote: 13 Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.
1. Peter’s command to develop a clear mind has three parts.
2. The first two parts contain metaphorical images that prepare us for the main verb “to set our hope.”
3. We, who are Christians, are to be living in a future tense – our present decisions and actions are to be governed by our future hope.
4. Just as an engaged couple makes all their plans in light of their future wedding, so we should be living with the expectation of what will take place when Jesus Christ returns.
B. The first image Peter gives us is captivating – “prepare your minds for action” is the way the NIV used to say it.
1. The new NIV says “with minds that are alert.”
2. This is a translation of an ancient image that literally reads, “gird up the loins of your mind.”
3. The image is drawn from the ancient forms of dress (and still modern dress of some in the Middle East) in which a man’s long outer “shirt” draped down to his ankles.
4. This kind of long clothing is not conducive to agile and quick motions or strenuous work.
5. As a result, when such actions were needed, a man tucked his shirt into his belt – thus preparing himself for action.
C. Peter’s second image calls for being fully sober – to be self controlled.
1. This image is drawn from the all-too-realistic world of drunkenness – as you know someone who is drunk has no control over themselves or their body – they say foolish things and stager about.
2. Peter wants us to realize that people who look to the future and who want to live completely in the light of God’s will, do not want their eyes blurred by sin or their judgment and actions inhibited by anything.
D. This preparing and disciplining of our minds will help us focus on our blessed future – “set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.”
1. Our hope is all wrapped up in the grace of God.
2. We are totally unworthy of future glory.
3. We are saved by grace – we don’t deserve forgiveness.
4. We are sanctified by grace – we don’t deserve to be employed in God’s service.
5. We will be glorified by grace – we won’t deserve eternal perfection, heavenly bliss, or intimate communion with God.
6. Nevertheless, all of this will be our future reality and it is our greatest hope.
E. Therefore, growing up in our salvation begins with the proper clearing of our heads.
1. As one person put it, “we’ve got to roll up the shirt-sleeves of our minds.”
2. We’ve got to discipline our minds and focus on things above.
3. Peter wants us to maintain a loose grip on this world and a tight grip on the world to come.
4. Our outlook will determine our outcome.
5. So let’s keep our minds alert, fully sober, and focused on Christ’s return.
II. Command #2: Develop a Clean Life
A. Peter continued: 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
1. Genuine hope will result in a commitment to purity.
2. The apostle John wrote: And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 Jn. 3:3)
B. Peter begins with the significant phrase “as obedient children.”
1. If we are children of God, then we will want to be obedient children.
2. Children who love their parents want to please them, and if their parents are worthy of respect, then they want to be like their parents.
3. So it is with the children of God.
C. True holiness has both a negative and positive aspect – on the negative side there is something we are trying to eliminate, and on the positive side there is something we are trying to imitate.
1. On the negative side, we must not be conformed to our former, evil desires.
2. Before we were Christians, we were conformed to the world and we lived in ignorance – in many ways we didn’t know any better.
3. So many people today don’t even realized that sin is sin – we live in a time when there is much confusion – what is wrong is considered right, and what is right is considered wrong.
4. We don’t need to go into great detail about those former evil desires – Paul said that the acts of our sinful selves are obvious. (Gal. 5:19)
5. With God’s help we must eliminate everything that is worldly and sinful.
D. On the positive side, we must strive to be holy in all that we do – why? – because God is holy.
1. Peter’s call to holiness is not something new, but was a command often echoed in the OT – matter of fact, Peter inserted an OT quote to make his point, right here.
2. Even though we will not ever be sinless in this world, God’s holiness, and our relationship to him requires that we strive for holiness and perfection.
3. We will not be growing up in our salvation without a commitment to develop a clean life – to be holy, like God our Father is holy.
III. Command #3: Develop a Reverent Fear
A. Peter continued: 17 Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. 18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. 21 Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.
1. There is certainly a lot contained in these verses.
2. The flow of thought here continues to emphasize the foundation of our ethics.
3. Peter begins with the foundation for living in the fear of God (vs. 17a), then exhorts his readers to live that way (vs. 17b), and then he reflects again on the foundation for living in that fear which is our redemption (vs. 18-21).
B. First of all we must realize that God our Father is a righteous and holy judge who is impartial.
1. Knowing that God is judge and that He judges with absolute fairness should drive us to a healthy fear of God.
2. To fear the Lord means that we have reverence, awe and respect toward God.
3. To live here as foreigners is to keep ourselves from getting too wrapped up in the world.
C. To this reverent fear of God, Peter added a second motive for a life of obedience – the nature of redemption.
1. Not only were we slaves to sin, we were slaves to an empty way of life; but praise God we have been redeemed.
2. The word redeemed is, to us, a theological term; but it carried a special meaning to people in the 1st century Roman Empire where there were probably 60 million slaves.
3. A slave could purchase their own freedom, or someone could buy them and set them free – that was the process of redemption.
4. Jesus is our redeemer, he has bought our freedom, but not with silver or gold, but with his precious blood.
5. Since we know we have been redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, we should be grateful to God and live in fear and holiness and hope before Him.
6. All this will result in our growing up in our salvation.
IV. Command #4: Develop a Sincere Love
A. Peter continued: 22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. 23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. 24 For, “All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, 25 but the word of the Lord endures forever.” And this is the word that was preached to you.
1. This command continues with the same formula of “since/then” that Peter has been using.
2. Since we have been purified through our new birth we must then love one another.
3. Peter is almost redundant as he repeats himself – “so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.”
4. Peter expects that our churches will be filled with a family of God who loves each other deeply and sincerely.
B. The foundation of our love is our new birth into the family of God.
1. Our new birth gives us a new likeness that includes the characteristics of God and His Spirit.
2. God is love, and the fruit of the Spirit is love, therefore God’s people will love each other.
3. Peter reminds us that we have been born of an imperishable seed through the living and enduring word of God.
4. The physical things of this world will not last, but the things of God, including God’s word planted in us it will endure.
V. Command #5: Develop a Spiritual Hunger
A. Peter concluded this section: 1 Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. 2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3 now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.
1. Notice the connection and overlap of all these commands.
2. Our love for each other will show itself in an absence of malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander.
3. All these things reflect an immaturity and will lead to the destruction of relationships in the church.
4. As we grow up in our salvation, we will want to strip ourselves all of these immature and unspiritual ways of interacting with others.
B. In addition, we learn that growing up in our salvation will require developing a spiritual hunger for spiritual milk.
1. This pure spiritual milk refers to the very things that nourish Christians in their growth: knowledge of God through the Word, prayer, fellowship, and faithful service.
2. Our craving for spiritual nourishment should be like the cravings of babies for milk.
3. We’ve all seen babies who cry uncontrollably when they are hungry – they don’t let up or give up until they are fed.
4. Now that we have tasted that the Lord is good, we should want to eat all the more.
5. This past Thursday was Thanksgiving – and when I tasted how good some of the food was – the turkey and dressing, the mashed potatoes, the rolls, the marinated salad, and the sweet potato casserole, blueberry pie – I couldn’t get enough – I wanted more and more – it tasted so good!
C. When we have that kind of a spiritual hunger, we can’t help but grow up in our salvation.
A. How sad it is for us when we see people who are old in years but young in maturity.
1. They act like spoiled little brats who think that the world owes them everything.
2. All they want to do is play – they don’t want to work nor do they want any responsibility.
3. When they interact with others and don’t get their way, they scream or push or bite.
4. Socially and physically it is tragic when a person doesn’t want to grow up.
5. It is even more serious and tragic for a person to refuse to grow up spiritually.
B. Let’s Review: #1:When a person fails to mature spiritually they do not have a clear head.
1. The person’s mind is not alert and sober, but is intoxicated with the things of this world.
2. Their hope is not focused on the coming of Christ, matter of fact their hope is the opposite, they hope his return will be delayed.
3. Like a child they don’t want the day to end, they don’t want to go to bed, they want the fun to continue without end.
4. Without a maturing focus on the coming of Christ and the grace and glory we will receive, we are easy prey for Satan because we are not alert and sober.
C. #2: When a person fails to mature spiritually they do not have a clean life.
1. They will continue to conform to the ways of this world and the life they led before they knew better.
2. Once we know better, we must do better.
3. And praise God we can do better with the help of God’s Spirit who lives in us.
4. All of us start out as new Christians in a very unholy state, but our goal must be to develop a holy life.
5. Why? Because we are children of a holy Father.
D. #3: When a person fails to mature spiritually they do not have a reverent fear.
1. We can certainly become too relaxed in our approach to God and not take seriously God’s responsibility to judge and discipline His children.
2. God doesn’t give a pass to His kids, He isn’t an over-indulgent parent to let’s the child run the show.
3. He is God, and He expects us to approach Him with reverence and awe, and He expects us to take sin seriously.
4. Because it was with a tremendous cost the we have been redeemed and adopted as His children.
E. #4: When a person fails to mature spiritually they do not have a sincere love.
1. The spiritually immature person thinks only of themselves.
2. The immature person values relationships only as far as it meets their own needs.
3. In contrast to that, the growing and maturing Christian looks to put their love into action.
4. They want to be there for others – to help, and comfort, and instruct.
5. Like older brothers and sisters, they take the younger and weaker under their wings and look out for them. That’s deep and sincere love in action.
F. Finally, when a person fails to mature spiritually they do not have a spiritual hunger.
1. Children often develop a taste only for junk food – they don’t develop a taste for things that are good for them – like vegetables, fruit, grains and protein.
2. The maturing Christian develops a hunger for the spiritual things that are good for them – they can’t get enough of them.
3. Worship, bible study, prayer, fellowship, and service – they have tasted that the Lord is good and that the things of the Lord are good – and they can’t get enough!
G. So how are you doing? Are you growing up in your salvation?
1. Are you maturing in your thinking and acting?
2. Or are you stuck and stunted in any of these areas we have discussed today?
3. Let’s not be like Peter Pan – who didn’t want to grow up.
4. Let’s want to grow up and be like our older brother – Jesus – the perfect, holy Son of God, our Lord and Savior, our friend!
5. Let’s grow up and be like Him!
6. God will meet us where we are, and work to bring us to where we need to be.
7. Let’s entrust ourselves to God and submit to Him!
The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, 1 Peter, by John MacArthur, Moody Publishing, 2004
The Bible Exposition Commentary, 1 Peter, by Warren Wiersbe, Victor Books, 1989
The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, 1 Peter, by Edwin A. Blum, Zondervan, 1981