Summary: We don’t rid ourselves of vices to build a spiritual house, God has cast aside that old life, that’s old news. You are being built into a holy place, not as a guest, but as a worshiper.
Os Guinness tells a story of an experience in a Pyrenean village.
A farmer had tied an enormous load of wood onto the back of a donkey. However hard the farmer whipped the animal, it could only stumble along, getting progressively slower and slower, until it sank down in exhaustion under the burden. Still the farmer whipped the poor animal. Os saw this as a parable of how some Christians treat their faith – they say, “Believe this”, “Stop doubting”, “Act in faith” and continue to try an whip their faltering faith into action until, finally,
it collapses an can go no further.
Have you ever felt that way? Your pushing along just trying to make this Christian walk happen and you find, you have to push harder and harder as time goes along, but compared to how your Christian walk used to be. It seems like you are not getting anywhere anymore – no matter how hard you push.
If you have ever felt that way? Your life in Christ doesn’t have to be that way. But that’s how a lot of us live it, don’t we? If we have experienced that in our Christian life, it might have a little to do with how we as Americans view life. We highly value working hard and getting it done on our own, plus, we highly value being independent.
In and of themselves, those can be highly valuable attributes, good things that serve us as we live our lives out. On the other hand, we take our experience in this American life, and apply it to our theological understanding of the Bible, and this leads to misunderstanding, which leads to a frustrating walk with Christ . In other words we assume the Scriptures are saying things, that they are not and it is hard to see through our assumptions because our assumptions match our experience and we as Americans value experience most of all.
Our culture reinforces our assumptions about life and we become blind to the truth. That’s hard to hear – but its true.
The Art Collector
A famous art collector is walking through the city of Philadelphia when he noticed a mangy cat lapping milk from a saucer in the doorway of a store. He does a double take. He knows his stuff. And this saucer is the real thing.
He knows that the saucer is extremely old and very valuable, so he walks casually into the store and offers to buy the cat for two dollars.
The storeowner replies, "I’m sorry, but the cat isn’t for sale."
The collector says, "Please, I need a hungry cat around the house to catch mice. I’ll pay you 20 dollars for that cat." And the owner says "Sold," and hands over the cat.
The collector continues, "Hey, for the twenty bucks I wonder if you could throw in that old saucer. The cat’s used to it and it’ll save me from having to get a dish."
The owner says, "Sorry buddy, but that’s my lucky saucer. So far this week I’ve sold sixty-eight cats."
Ahhh…Assumptions – how much have they cost us in life? I don’t know how many times I have pick up something at the hardware store, only to go back and try again, because the what I bought, “looked” like what I needed, but it didn’t work.
In our Scripture today, we can read it and make assumptions about what it says and those assumptions can frustrate our Christian walk.
Let’s start with verse 1. Therefore, rid yourselves of all…and Peter gives us a list of vices. As we know, this was written in ancient koin Greek, (A pain of a language to learn) and that old language is sometimes difficult translate.
To give us as modern readers a sense of what Peter is truly talking about.M ost English bibles like the NIV, which we read from today
translates this as if it is something you need to get to work doing - Get rid of these things! Other translations like the ASV or KJV, translate it as if it is something you are in the process of doing - Your getting rid of these things. Though one can translate it either way, it gives the impression that you have a lot of work ahead of you– and you better get cracking. As you read the chapter you could get the idea that you have to eliminate malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander to build a spiritual house, and that is not what Peter is getting at here. He is really talking about the past – in the sense – what has been done in your life as a Christian convert, not what needs to be done in your life.
What Peter is saying literally, and Youngs translation I think says it well is: Having put aside, then….and lists the vices. Today, in everyday English we would say “having gotten rid of”, as, it is already done.