May 15, 2016
Is there anyone here who does not want to eat? Sometimes when a person grows old and comes to the end of their lives, on some level of being they decide that they will not take another bite of food. They just stop eating. You can try to get them to eat. You can put the spoon up to their mouth, but if they don’t want to eat they will not eat. It is a sad reality to see.
Now unfortunately the same can be true for those who profess to be Christians. There are people who make some profession of faith in Christ. They claim that Christ is their Lord and King, but there is no desire for spiritual nourishment. Can you believe it? It is a sad reality to see. A sign of Christian faith is a longing for spiritual nourishment. How can you know if you have this longing?
I. ARE YOU PUTTING OFF SELF-CENTERED LIVING? 1Pt.2:1
In 1:22, Peter calls Christians to love one another earnestly from a pure heart. Here in 2:1 Peter defines what that entails from a more negative perspective. The truth of the matter is that Christians continue to be plagued by the remnants of our sinful nature. After all, we have been born again through the living and abiding word of God. The source of our life has changed and so our lives have changed. Paul tells us in Rm.6 that we have died to sin. We have been set free from sin. Nevertheless, the sinful habits, desires, and thought patterns continue to reside in our bodies. God is working to change us from the inside out while we cooperate with God by making changes in our thoughts and actions from the outside in.
The list in 2:1 reflects a self-centered way of life. It is a way of living that focuses on protecting one’s ego at the expense of others, promoting a certain image of oneself, and gratifying self-centered desires. Think about it. Malice and slander are directed towards others who get in our way, point out our flaws, or who hurt us. We seek revenge by lashing out in anger, being passive aggressive or belittling. Our goal is to do harm, inflict pain. Have you ever heard a professing Christian say, “I can’t forgive that person.” That is a form of malice. Or we slander someone. We try to make them look bad so we can feel better about ourselves. If there are things in our life that we don’t want others to know about we practice some form of deceit. We lie in some way. If we want others to think that we are better than we really are, we practice hypocrisy. And when we want something with intense desire we envy others who have the thing we want. Envy often leads to holding a grudge against a person. Envy often leads to taking matters into our own hands to get what we want, often without thinking about how our actions may be causing harm to others.
Think about your family life, your married life, and your interactions at work. This is where we are most apt to see the behaviors Peter is talking about. How quickly we become angry. How quickly we become defensive. How quickly we can be sarcastic and dismissive. How quickly we can become selfish. And unfortunately these behaviors are even found in the church. After all, churches are comprised of redeemed sinners. But all of this is the way of the world apart from Christ.
Many of us are inclined to gloss over these things. We might say, “You’re too sensitive. Don’t be so thin-skinned.” Or, “Everybody is like this.” Or, “I’m only human.” We might say, “I can’t help it. It’s just how I am.”
Peter will not let us gloss over these things in our lives. He tells us to put these things off just as we might take off dirty clothes. In other words, this is something that Peter expects us to do. Paul says the same thing. He says, “Put to death the misdeeds of the body.” Now you may not know exactly how to deal with some specific area of sin. But you can surely ask God to open your eyes to see your sin more clearly. You can surely take the step of admitting this sin to a trusted friend. You can surely make a point to apologize to the person you have sinned against. And if you have done something that has hurt another person, or if you are holding something against another person, you can take steps to make it right, unless you are too proud to take these steps. Above all we must rely upon the Holy Spirit to strengthen us to resist these sinful ways of acting.
This is not the way we roll as Christians. If we make allowances and excuses for ourselves, we are just like the world. How on earth can we bring Christ to the world when we are not being like Christ?
II. ARE YOU GROWING UP INTO SALVATION? 1Pt.2:2
We’ve all heard stories of people who died in an accident or other medical situation and who had some kind of out of body experience. And then amazingly, they were revived. People who have been delivered from certain death usually have a new outlook on life. They are not the same. They begin to make changes in their living. Some of these changes take place right away. Suddenly they are deeply grateful for every day of life. Other changes occur over time. Maybe they launch out into an entirely different career.
Those of us who have embraced Jesus by faith as our Savior, Lord, and King, have been delivered from death: physical death, spiritual death, and eternal death. Sin always leads to death. But when we embrace Christ our sins are forgiven and we are given his eternal life to live under his good rule.
People who receive the life of Christ, begin to make changes in their life. They begin to grow up into salvation. If you are not growing up into salvation you probably do not know Christ. So how do we grow up into salvation?
Peter says, “like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk.” Now there are two aspects of this statement that we need to look at. First, Peter is not saying that all of his readers were new converts or spiritually immature. We sometimes assume this is what Peter is saying because Paul, and the writer of Hebrews use similar words to refer to immature believers. For example in 1Cor.3:2, Paul writes, I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready.” In Heb.5:12-13 we read, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child.”
Here in 1Pt, Peter is saying that our desire for spiritual nourishment ought to be as intense as a newborn infant’s desire for its mother’s milk. This desire should be the norm for every believer no matter how spiritually mature or immature we may be. Instead of longing for the things of this world to nourish our lives, instead of allowing malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander to dwell in our hearts, we long for spiritual nourishment.
Do you have a longing for spiritual nourishment? We sing a chorus called “Good, Good Father.” At one point the lyrics go, “As you call me deeper still, into love, love, love.” The Lord is always calling us to go deeper into his love. Do you hear his call? Do you desire to grow? If this desire is not in you something is amiss in your life.
But then we must think about the phrase, “spiritual milk.” What is Peter referring to? Many jump up to 1:23 where Peter says that we have been born again by the living and abiding word of God. They point out that spiritual milk is the word of God. But we must remember that most people in Peter’s day did not have a copy of the word of God. In fact a good number of these people may have not been able to read. So what is Peter referring to? Well I believe Peter is referring to any and every resource that will help us grow in salvation. We will pursue prayer, fellowship with believers in worship, hearing instruction in righteousness through preaching and teaching, and seeking to obey all that Jesus commanded us by walking in the Spirit. And for us who do have the word of God, it surely means that we will read and consider this book, allowing it to shape our lives in Christ.
If you have ever read any of the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, you know that the story is about 4 children named Lucy, Edmund, Susan, and Peter who magically find themselves in another world called Narnia, ruled by a good lion named, Aslan. Aslan is the Christ figure in the land of Narnia. They experience many adventures, but then they return to our world and discover that no time has passed. You might say that they were living in two worlds simultaneously. What they experienced in Narnia changed them forever. We who know Christ begin living in the kingdom of God under the rule of Christ, even as we continue to live in this world in which there is much darkness. As we long for spiritual milk we grow in salvation and as we grow in salvation we bring the light of Christ to this world of darkness. And one day we will receive the fullness of salvation, the inheritance that is waiting for us.
III. HAVE YOU TASTED THAT THE LORD IS GOOD? 1Pt.2:3
Growing into salvation is based on the fact that we “have tasted that the Lord is good.” This expression comes from Ps.34:8, where it says, “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” Those who have a longing for the pure spiritual milk are those who have already tasted of the Lord’s goodness.
Now I want to say that everyone alive has tasted something of the goodness of the Lord. Paul tells us in Rm.2:4 that “God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance.” In Acts 17:25 Paul told the Athenians that God, “…himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.” So you see there is a sense in which everyone has tasted that the Lord is good. We refer to this as common grace. But here in 1Pt.2 I believe Peter is referring to the experience of coming to know Christ, of receiving his forgiveness of sins and new eternal life. We sing about this in the old gospel song. “What a wonderful change in my life has been wrought since Jesus came into my heart. I have light in my soul for which long I have sought, since Jesus came into my heart. I have ceased from my wand’ring and going astray, since Jesus came into my heart. And my sins, which were many, are all washed away, since Jesus came into my heart.”
You see this is tasting of the goodness of the Lord on a much deeper level. Everyday God gives us life and breath, but not everyone experiences the forgiveness of sin and life in Christ. Only those who look to Jesus in faith to receive these blessings come to know Christ on a very personal level as their Savior and Lord. Think of it in this way. Many people witnessed the healing miracles of Jesus. They tasted something of the goodness of the Lord by virtue of what they saw. But those who were actually healed entered into the goodness of the Lord on a far deeper level of experience. Their lives were changed. Those who receive the blessings of God’s common grace taste something of his goodness, but those who by faith receive the forgiveness of sins and life in Christ taste the goodness of the Lord in a deeply personal, life-changing way.
What we receive by faith in Christ during our life on earth is wonderful, but it is just a foretaste of what is in store for us. Paul says the same thing. In Eph.1:13-14 Paul says that we, “…were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it.” In Rm.8:23 Paul says that, “…we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” What we receive through faith in Christ now is amazing, but in many ways it is only a taste. It is like the Lord’s Supper. It is a foretaste of the heavenly banquet when we sit at the Table of the Lord.
So I want to ask, have you tasted that the Lord is good? Have you entered into life with Christ and in Christ and through Christ? I’m not asking about church membership or baptism. I want to know if Christ is your life? Have you come to him for forgiveness and eternal living? Have you tasted that the Lord is good? If so, do you long for more of his goodness? You cannot taste of the goodness of the Lord without wanting more and more.
I believe it is true that everyone is born with a need for love. That need is first met or not met in our family of origin. As we grow this need turns into desire, longing. When the need and desire is not met it does things to people. Some build thick emotional walls of loneliness and self-sufficiency. Where this need is met, people grow up to form close relationships, the closest human relationship is found in marriage. But wait! There is an even closer relationship. It is a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. When a person enters into the love of God through Christ our need for love is met at the most significant level possible. And the more of Christ we have, the more of Christ we want. So this morning I’m wondering. Do you know Christ? Do you want Christ? Do you want the spiritual nourishment that enables one to grow into salvation? It’s the most important question of your life. Amen