1 Peter 2:1-3
So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.
I want to tell you my aim and prayer for you. I am seeking to leave you with a taste of God’s goodness, a strengthened hope, and a renewed desire to pursue a life of faith and holiness and love until Christ returns.
Prayer: Lord grant each of us here a taste of your goodness. Make it clear why we have a reason to hope. Renew our desire to pursue Christ-likeness. Break down idols in our hearts. May the glory of the gospel of your grace grip us and mold the motives of our hearts to honor Jesus Christ!
We have an opportunity this morning to ask ourselves an all important question: have I tasted that the Lord is good?
- Not simply, “have I come to affirm with my mind that the Lord is good?”
- nor simply, “have I been grateful for things I’ve received from God?”
- but, “have I tasted that the Lord is good?”
Commanded as Spiritual People
As we begin this morning we need to recognize the fact that Peter is addressing us as spiritual people. Verse 1 of chapter 2 starts with the word “so” or “therefore.” Peter has said things in the previous verses that he is now building upon. “Because of what I have said, therefore…”
And one of the major point that He is building upon is the point that we are new creatures in Christ.
The things he has commanded and exhorted us to do in this letter can only be done by spiritual people. For example,
- He has commanded us to set our hope fully on the grace to be brought to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
- He has commanded us to be holy in all our conduct.
- He has commanded us to conduct ourselves with fear in this world.
- He has commanded us to love one another earnestly from a pure heart
- and now he commands us to long for, desire, the pure spiritual milk that by it we may grow up into salvation, putting away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.
Those commands are addressed to spiritual people with Spirit wrought capacities.
I want to make sure we are grasping the significants of God’s extraordinary work of creating a new kind of people, a spiritual people, described as those born again.
Let me show you that Peter is focusing on this. Verse 3 of chapter 1 says, “God… caused us to be born again.” In verse 14 Peter says, “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance…” In verse 17 Peter says, “And if you call in Him as Father who judgers impartially…” In verse 23 Peter says, “love one anther… since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God.” And now in verse 2 of chapter 2 Peter addresses us as, “…newborn infants…
Clearly Peter wants us to understand that God’s goodness toward us means we have entered a radically new life in Christ.
God is our Father and we are His offspring. We have entered a new life with new capacities and with new potential and we are intended to grow. Christians are new creatures and are intended and created for holiness and love and growth.
Old and New
So, hear this: the New Covenant in Christ Jesus is designed to create a spiritual people with new capacities which those outside of Christ do not have. Therefore, #1. the things commanded here by Peter cannot be obeyed by any except spiritual people, but #2. the things commanded here can be obeyed by every spiritual person.
Let us never exalt our own ability, our own power, to be all that God requires – we can’t in ourselves. But let us never belittle the power of God for us in Christ Jesus!
If our relationship to God was only an external law commanding us to obey and yet giving us nothing more, the biblical testimony is that we would simply be exposed as sinners, weak and impotent.
But if our relationship to God is that of a beloved, forgiven, Spirit indwelt, child and new creation we have been given the power to bear fruit for God.
The tree is alive and is designed to produce fruit.
You are not a dead branch if you are connected to Christ.
God does not create duds. Do not look to who you were or to your past record of failures. If you think that growth is impossible for you, you are belittling the power of God to do what He has promised. He is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we could ask or think, according to the power at work with us (Ephesians 3:20).
Lift your eyes off of yourself and look to the power of God to accomplish in you what only He can do. You have been re-created for glory. You have been re-created for new capacities to love and be holy and faithful.
But all this is only true of those who have tasted that the Lord is good.
The Need for Spiritual Taste Buds
If you do not taste that the Lord is good you will not set your hope on Christ and so you will not be able to be holy or fear or love or long for the pure spiritual milk.
If you have not come to know God, not just with your mind or emotions, but to know Him with your heart, that is if you have never come to taste that the Lord is good such that His goodness is valuable and trustworthy and a treasure you long to experience more and more of, than you lack the foundation of the Christian life. What you need is a spiritual taste of God.
What Peter is doing here in 2:1-3 is describing what those with genuine faith do in this world. Having gotten a taste of the goodness of the Lord through the living and abiding word of the gospel they long for the pure spiritual milk like a newborn baby longs for, desires, depends on the nourishment of their mother.
Guarded Through Faith
Peter has already told us that our faith is of utmost importance in our Christian life. Without it we have no Christian life and will not experience salvation when Christ appears. Genuine faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is more precious than gold that perishes because it alone will result in praise, honor, and glory when Christ appears (1 Peter 1:7).
I believe Peter is speaking here about that same precious faith. Genuine perseverant faith in Christ is on Peters mind in 2:1-3. Let me show you that this is in fact the case.
What is Spiritual Milk?
What is the spiritual milk we are intended to long for? Well if we take in what Peter is saying from 1:22 down to 2:3, I think we can come to a pretty solid understanding of what the spiritual milk is.
So, remember that Peter has just said in verse 23 that we have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God and this word turned out to be the good news in verse 25.
And now the very next sentence commands us to long for the pure spiritual milk. So it seems pretty clear that the Word of the Gospel, the Word of God from Genesis to Revelation which brings us to Christ, is the pure spiritual milk that we are to long for. By the gospel we were created and by the gospel we are nourished and sustained and caused to grow.
But Peter makes it even more specific than just the word of the Gospel. It is not just the good news that we long for but the good person revealed in that news.
This seems to be the point Peter is making when he says,“Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.”
The gospel is not just good news about getting out of hell – it is good news about a glorious Savior. It is when you taste His goodness that you will long for more and grow up in the faith.
The Gospel calls us to embrace and trust and hope in a Person who is glorious and trustworthy and good. And it is not until we taste His goodness that we will set our hope fully upon Him.
So what is the pure spiritual milk we are to long for? It is the goodness of Christ our Savior which comes to us through the living and abiding Word, the Word of the gospel.
Let me mention that in this context Peter is not talking only to immature Christians, referring to them as infants – He is using this illustration to describe the life of all Christians. Every Christian is dependent upon the nourishment of God’s goodness beheld in the Word of God.
So Peter is describing here what the Christian life of faith is all about. It is all about tasting that the Lord Jesus Christ is good and longing for more and more of Him and this drinking and depending upon Christ causes us to grow up into salvation. Without this tasting there will be no trusting and no growth and no salvation.
But if we have tasted that He is good than incredible, powerful, supernatural things begin to happen: strongholds are destroyed.
Longing for Christ, Displacing Sin
In 2:1 Peter shows us that the longing we are to have for Christ displaces the longing we have for other things. The main clause in Peter’s thought is “long for the pure spiritual milk” in verse 2 and in verse 1 he is describing what accompanies that: “putting away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.”
What I would like to do is walk through these sins which are to be put away and bore down into the heart of how tasting that the Lord Jesus is good leads to longing for Him and hoping in Him and show how this is in fact the power to put away sin.
So, let me try to paint a situation that we can all relate to. Let’s say you are at work and a supervisor makes you look really stupid in front of a group of friends and colleagues, people you respect. And what raises up in your heart is malice toward this supervisor. That is you desire to repay the evil he has done to you. Malice takes hold of your mind and emotions and you start day dreaming about an opportunity to put this jerk in his place and making him look stupid.
What is going on in your heart? What is motivating these feelings and desires? What motivates you to plot revenge in this way? Our temptation is to say, “he made me do it!” We know this is not an adequate answer.
Let me ask a different question: why are you so bend out of shape by this when this supervisor has done the same thing to others and they seem able to endure patiently and genuinely respond with kindness and a desire to do the offender good? Why are you filled with malice and another is not? The issue here is not the offense against you, the issue is what is going on in your heart.
There is something going on deep in your heart, which is truly where the Christian life is lived. What is going on in our heart when malice rises up?
Perhaps we can get at this by starting with an obvious observation. We would all agree that the supervisor has hit a nerve. He found a sensitive area. What does that mean? It means he found something that was precious to you and threatened to damage it or take it away. He found something that you love and he trampled on it.
We do not grieve or get angry when people take things we care nothing about. We do grieve and get angry when people take things we do care about.
So the question is what is it that the supervisor found that you love? Well, you examine your heart and you realize that the malice that grips you is growing out of a love for the praise of man. You love the esteem and respect of your colleagues.
The reason you are gripped by malice is that you long for their esteem and respect. You have set your hope on their esteem and respect and this supervisor has stolen what you have set your hope on.
Put It All Away
Peter says, put away all malice. How? Doesn’t sin seem to grip you? How do you put something away that rises naturally in your heart? Peter tells us.
He says in verse two, “Like newborn infants long for the pure spiritual milk that by it you may grow up into salvation — if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.”
How do we put away malice as a Christian? You recognize that you are a new creature in Christ and you remember the goodness of the Lord announced to you in the gospel and you bank your hopes on Him. You trust Him to take care of you. It is as we long for and drink the nectar of the gospel of Jesus Christ, as we behold His glory and grace as our daily sustenance (like a new born crying out for her mother) that we will grow more and more in love with Christ and less and less in love with the praise people, or the temporary comforts of this world, or the small unsatisfying pleasures of this life.
Malice grows out of idols in our hearts. When there is a stronghold of sin in your life it is a stronghold in your heart – what you love and cherish and adore and long for. If there is something you love and are committed to so deeply that you have set your hope on it, you begin to fight, deceive, lie, envy, and slander in order to protect and keep and preserve it. But these behavior begins to dissolve if Christ is your sure treasure.
And the Christian is that new creation who has been granted new capacities by the Spirit to destroy strongholds. That is to know, taste, see God as infinitely valuable and sure and trustworthy. Paul says,
2 Corinthians 10:3-5
For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.
The issue in your life as a Christian is whether you, first of all, have tasted that the Lord is good. Do you see Him as good, kind, beautiful, trustworthy, faithful, all glorious, all gracious, and the treasure of your heart?
If you have tasted Him as good – long for the pure spiritual milk of the Word of God’s grace in the gospel of Jesus Christ that by it you may learn more and more of His goodness and learn more and more to trust Him, lean on Him, bank your hope on Him and so destroy those sinful strongholds in your heart.
It is only as we see the superior goodness of God that idols will be cast down.
Every one of us is motivated by something. We do what we do because we love and cherish something. And every one of us has remaining motivations that do not honor God because we still remain in the flesh. We have idols in our hearts.
But we are those who have been born again to a living hope. We are those whose faith in Christ purifies us for every good work as we long for the pure spiritual milk that by it we may grow up into salvation.
And so do not say,” I am beyond help.” It is a lie! Do not say, “I am beyond change.” Not if you are a child of God – you have been created to change and grow and mature more and more into the image of Jesus Christ as we gaze upon His glory.
And do not believe it about others. It is not, “just the way they are!” If they are in Christ, they are a new creation and are created to grow.
Yes the battle rages on against sin in our hearts, but we battle as those with sure confidence in Christ. In Christ Jesus we will receive life and joy and righteousness, glory, honor, and praise, permanent pleasures and to the full with our glorious God forever and ever. And that sure confidence has a purifying effect now.
The question is whether Christ is attractive enough to us that we will run hard after Him. Are you seeking to nourish your soul with the nourishment of the gospel and seeking to set your hope fully upon Him and to destroy sinful strongholds? This must be what we are about doing here.
Praying for One Another
I want to show you that Paul had this same understanding of the Christian life.
In Ephesians 1 Paul said he had heard about the faith of the Ephesians in the Lord Jesus and their love toward all the saints and so he was compelled to pray for them. But what does he pray for them? Does he pray that God deliver them from trials and give them comfortable easy healthy lives?
No. He prays that God would grant them the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him, having the eyes of their hearts enlightened, that they might know what is the hope to which God has called them and what are the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power toward us who believe (Ephesians 1:20).
Paul sees the greatest need in the Christian life is not external, environmental changes — it is more and more love for God, spiritual wisdom and knowledge to see with the heart the value of Christ in us and for us. That is what each of us should be praying for ourselves and for each other. That we would taste and see that the Lord is good and set all our confidence in Him and in nothing else.
So, when we see sin rising up in our hearts and lives, do we understand where the battle is to be fought? Not simply external conformity. It is a battle for the heart.
- Now, what I’d like encourage you to do is to walk through each of these sins that Peter mentions here (malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, slander) and think about whether any of these are rising up in your heart and life.
- If so, why? What is going on in your heart so that these are taking hold? What are the idols your heart is clinging to?
- And then I encourage you to drink the pure spiritual milk — go to the Word of God which leads you to the Gospel of the glory of Christ and be nourished by His goodness there, asking that God would grant you greater longing and greater capacities to love Him.
- You are not shackled to who you were, nor to what you are now struggling with – You are a new creature in Christ — pursue growth with confident faith, believing that it was for this that Christ died and rose: that you might grow up into salvation.
The goodness of God that you tasted through the Word of the gospel and which caused new birth is the same goodness that you must long for every day through the Word of the gospel and He will sustain and nourish you so that you will grow into salvation.
Have you tasted that the Lord is good? Make it your life’s ambition to taste and see His goodness and to long for Him and to trust in Him and to hope in Him fully and so grow up into salvation.
We were created to lean hard after God.