Our Text … 1 Peter 2:1-12
Our Theme … Share the things God has done in your life.
Key Verse … 1 Peter 2:9, "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light"
1 Peter 2:1, “So put away all malice and all guile and insincerity and envy and all slander”
Simply put, as believers in Christ we are to lay aside sin having entered a new life designed to display holy conduct and a sincere love for our brothers and sisters in the Lord. Writing this letter to believers Peter named certain attitudes and actions that are completely incompatible with our new life in Christ Jesus. Thus, as born again individuals, we must lay aside all:
(1) "Malice" (wickedness or evil conduct) we need to put off feelings of ill will toward others. If malice is in our heart, it will be difficult for us to show the love of Christ to people, and will affect our whole attitude; (2) "Guile" (deceit) we must put off deceitfulness, which means not only should we stop lying and deceiving others, but we must also stop pretending to be something we're not; (3) "Insincerity" the Greek word used here indicates hypocrisy or acting like a stage player. If we try to hide our faults and weaknesses, we will never be delivered from them; (4) "Envy" whenever we are envious of others, we are showing how we disapprove of God’s blessings on our life. We reveal that we are really just children acting like spoiled brats; and, (5) "Slander … nothing is more harmful to the body of Christ than Christians gossiping about one another. We are to encourage and lift up one another, not tear each other down. My brethren, all five of these areas involve our heart and each one very much displeases God. If we want to grow spiritually, we must remove these destructive emotions from our heart and allow God to replace them with His love, joy, peace and compassion. Thus, we cannot "love one another "fervently" while entertaining these types of attitudes or actions, which are contrary to God's precious Word.
1 Peter 2:2, “As newborn babes, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation”
As believers in Christ we are to desire the sincere milk of the Word. As a hungry baby cries out for nourishment, so the new believer in Christ should long for the pure spiritual milk of God’s Word, the ministry of the Holy Spirit, and the presence of God in their lives. Just as there are stages of our physical development from infancy to adulthood, there are also stages of growth to those individuals who profess faith in Jesus Christ. Just as every child has physical growth, once we become born again, it shouldn’t be our desire to stay infants in Christ, and feed solely on the milk of His Word. Just as each child is unique in their physical growth, learning and growing at different stages, so it is with our spiritual growth as born-again believers in Christ. We must grow in our spiritual development as we did in our physical development and have a willingness to actively engage ourselves in a life of spiritual maturity. When we desire spiritual things such as the disciplines of daily Bible reading, prayer, and communion with God we will grow spiritually. These areas are essential to the nurture and growth of our soul. These are vital areas of the process that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6). A person who tolerates sin in their life will find themselves lacking interest in the Lord and in God’s Word. This may well explain why some people have so little longing for the Word. Peter was not labeling his readers as babes in Christ (spiritually immature), nor was he referring to the "milk" of the Word as compared to the "meat" of the Word. He was saying that all believers should desire the Word of God with a deep craving, as a baby desires milk. Thus, the milk of the Word we started with, will always taste good, however, the Bible’s solid food is what makes us grown stronger and mature in our faith, service, and obedience, to the One (Jesus) who gave His life, so we could have life eternal.
(1) Are you maturing daily in your spiritual growth?
(2) Are you more mature spiritually today than three months ago?
(3) Remember, there are no shortcuts to our spiritual maturity as it is a daily process!
1 Peter 2:3, “For you have tasted the kindness of the Lord”
Peter gives us the reason why we should practice these spiritual disciplines. Because we have tasted the kindness and goodness of the Lord. When parents sacrifice to present their children with an exceptional gift, the children respond in one of two ways; either their heart is filled with gratitude and they love their parents that much more, or their heart is filled with selfishness and they expect to be indulged all their lives. The first response is one of maturity; the second response is one of a spoiled child.
(1) What kind of a child of God are you?
(2) Do you appreciate the kindness of the Lord?
(3) Do you appreciate the sacrifice of Christ for the purchase of your salvation?
(4) Or, are you like a spoiled child who expects God to meet all your wants and desires?
(5) When He doesn’t, do you get mad and throw a fit?
Because of God’s never ending mercy and forgiveness toward us, we should long for His Word, His presence and His teaching within our life. However, this may require us to discipline ourselves and make time for spiritual matters, but we are happy to do so, because we have tasted the kindness of God in our lives.
1 Peter 2:4-8, “Come to him, to that living stone, rejected by men but in God's sight chosen and precious … And like living stones be yourselves built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ … … For it stands in scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and he who believes in him will not be put to shame … To you therefore who believe, he is precious, but for those who do not believe, “The very stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner,” and “A stone that will make men stumble, a rock that will make them fall”; for they stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do”
Their nature and position. Peter called these believers "living stones" because he was talking about them as a part of a building, a spiritual house. Just as stones are used to construct physical houses, living stones make up God's spiritual house, also called the Church and Body of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:22-23). This verse tells us about that living stone that was rejected by men. Jesus came to be the cornerstone of our faith. Jesus came so that we might build our spiritual walk on a solid foundation. We must come to that living stone, Jesus Christ.
(1) What kind of a living stone are you?
(2) Do you help to build up the church?
(3) Are you willing to spend time ministering and encouraging others?
(4) Peter said we are a holy priesthood. Priests ministered to the people. To whom are we ministering?
(5) Peter says we are to offer spiritual sacrifices. What sacrifices are we making for God’s kingdom?
Their foundation. A spiritual house must have a foundation that matches the nature of the superstructure. Quoting from Isaiah 28:16, Peter spoke of Christ as the "chief corner stone" and "the head of the corner." His building will neither fall nor fail, for it is built on the eternal Rock (Matthew 16:18).
(1) A Rejected Stone (v. 4) … Christ was "disallowed indeed" by the leaders of Israel, repudiated and rejected because He did not measure up to what they expected (John 1:11). He came as "light," but they preferred darkness (John 1:19). He came as the promised Messiah, but their blindness was so great that the priests and rulers rejected His claims in spite of the strongest evidence in miracles and teachings. Some individuals did accept and praise the Stone, but the nation rejected Him. God's evaluation of His Son is quite different from that of Israel's leaders. From before the creation of the world He was the elect and precious, Co-creator with the Father and the Spirit, the channel of God's salvation, the Head of a new family and the foundation Stone for the Church, "chosen of God, and precious".
(2) A Chief Cornerstone (v. 6) … Christ is not just one of many possible cornerstones but the only Cornerstone. The apostle Paul taught the same concept that the Church is "built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone" (Ephesians 2:20). Christ is both the solid rock Foundation on which the whole superstructure is erected, and the Stone that unites and holds together all the "living stones". When we believe in Jesus, we will not be put to shame. God will be with us and will help us in our spiritual growth. But our foundation must be on Christ, not on the shifting sands of this world -- not on money or possessions or situational morality. Our faith is not built on a Christian philosophy or on good deeds or on a compassionate heart. Our faith is built on Christ. With Christ, we will gain a Christian philosophy and we will perform good deeds and we will have a compassionate heart. But without Christ, these things are empty and meaningless. It is only through Christ that we can truly begin to help others. When we do it in our strength as an obligation of duty, we will utterly fail. But when God fills our heart with his love, his Spirit goes before us and uses our efforts to bring glory to his kingdom. Our faith must be built on the precious cornerstone – Jesus Christ!
(a) For those who don’t make Christ their cornerstone, He becomes a stumbling block to them.
(b) There are those who claim to be Christians who deny the power of Christ; ignore the words of Christ that make them uncomfortable, who try to explain away the miracles of Christ and who deny the resurrection of Christ.
(c) Jesus has become a stumbling block to them. They would rather talk about health instead of salvation; who prefer speaking about God instead of Jesus; would rather speak of man’s goodness instead of God’s mercy, grace; and prefer to speak of God as loving and compassionate and ignore He also demands holiness and will judge the world.
Peter goes so far as to say “they stumble because they disobey the word.” Who is he talking about? The answer is in verse 7 -- the builders who rejected Christ. The men who rejected Christ thought they were very religious. They knew the Hebrew Scriptures in great depth. They read about God daily. They professed to have God’s interests as their own. And yet Peter says they “do not believe.” Are you a Christian in name only? Or have you made Jesus the cornerstone of your faith! Praise is a natural response to God, which happens as a result of knowing Him. The Bible is filled with references to praising God. The dictionary gives the following meanings to the word praise … to commend the worth of; express approval or admiration of, to laud the glory of (God) as in song; glorify and extol.
Communication experts tell us that the average person speaks enough to fill 20 single-spaced, typewritten pages every day. This means our mouths crank out enough words to fill 2 books of 300 pages each month, 24 books each year, and 1,200 books in 50 years of speaking. Thanks to phones, voicemail, and face-to-face conversations words comprise a large part of our lives. So, the kinds of words we use are very important. I'm reminded of the praise and thanksgiving found in Exodus 15. There you will find the Israelites heaping honor on God. The people were just hours removed from one of the greatest rescues in recorded History. The Lord had protected them from the rampaging Egyptians, and their praises reflected the renewed trust in God. It's appropriate to pour out our unbridled praise to God when we see Him work in great and miraculous ways. However, those aren't the only times He deserves our adoration and praise. Too often we wait for God to perform a big answer to prayer before we feel like singing His praises. But think about this, God doesn't owe us any miracles. He doesn't need to do anything to prove His greatness. He has already given us an incredible display of His power in His creation. He has made the ultimate sacrifice to purchase our redemption. Through His power, He has conducted the most miraculous transaction known to mankind; He brought us from spiritual death and out of darkness unto spiritual life and into the light.
1 Peter 2:9, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light”
Peter tells us what happens when we become a Christian. We join the chosen race. We become a royal priesthood. We are part of the holy nation. We are called God’s own people. Do you feel unimportant and insignificant? If so, you don’t appreciate what God has done for you. He has elevated you into his chosen group of believers. You have become part of God’s family. Though others reject God and mock him, you are part of a royal priesthood. The priests ministered to the people. If we would only realize how much of a blessing we have received from God, we would, as Peter tells us, “declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” Thus we were not chosen to think highly of ourselves, or to be filled with feelings of self-importance, but we were chosen to reach those who are lost that salvation is only through Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross. Yes, we are to declare the wonderful deeds of Him who called us out of darkness and into His marvelous light.
1 Peter 2:10, “Once you were no people but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy but now you have received mercy”
We are now God’s people and we have received God’s mercy. But we should never forget that once we weren't God's people and we were walking in the darkness of sin. It's only because of God’s mercy, grace; goodness and forgiveness that we are now part of his family. Let us never forget the mercy of God that has lifted us up and called us into our spiritual journey. Brooks comments, “O Christians remember this at the very beginning of our Christian life! Christianity and Christian experience is not the repenting of sin; it is not the doing of new duty. But it is the bringing of our life into conformity with the life in which God is manifest to us -- the life of our Lord Jesus Christ. I climb a hill upon its darkened side. There is no sun that lights me, but I know upon the other side there is light; and as I go, I stumble over ugly roots that trip me up. The dark shades are around me, and I go stumbling on. That is not the real purpose of my climbing the mountain. The obstacles are the incidents. But now I am up to the top! There billows the sun before me, and I am illumined by His glory.”
1 Peter 2:11, “Beloved, I beseech you as aliens and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh that wage war against your soul”
I began this post by putting off certain things that would hinder our Christian walk. Then we were instructed in how to learn to walk in the spirit and grow in our faith. Now in verse 11 we are reminded that even as we grow to be God’s people, we will still have to battle passions of the flesh that will from time to time wage war against our soul. As long as we are on this earth, we will face trials and temptations. Someone once said, “Life is like an onion; you peel off one layer at a time and sometimes you weep.” As you grow in faith, you will find that God will ask you to peel off a new layer. This may be a time of turmoil and weeping. But we can only grow strong in our faith as we allow God to remove those sins that so easily beset us.
1 Peter 2:12, “Maintain good conduct among the Gentiles, so that in case they speak against you as wrongdoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation”
Finally, Peter points out that we should always be aware that we live among the Gentiles. We need to treat others fairly and honestly. Peter even says, “They may see your good deeds.” We should not only show compassion and mercy toward other Christians, but we need to show our love toward all people. What happens when we are kind to others and show Christ’s love? Peter tells us that people will see our good deeds, turn to Christ because of our testimony, and be able to glorify God when Christ returns for the believers. We usually think of spiritual growth as being inward -- conquering bad habits, learning spiritual discipline, and allowing God to speak to our heart. But true spiritual growth includes reaching out to others. If we have experienced God’s mercy and grace, we will want to share it with others. We will want them to experience God’s blessings in their lives. Part of growing in Christ is reaching out beyond ourselves. Let us be willing to share our faith so that others may experience the marvelous blessings that we have so graciously received.
Another way of declaring His praises is through the art of music. I wonder what God thinks about the way we sing at church sometimes. I'm not talking about the quality of our voices, but the honesty of our words. If we're being truthful, the following rewritten hymn titles might more accurately express what's in our hearts as we sing:
"Just As I Am" is "Just As I pretend To Be"
"O How I Love Jesus" becomes "O How I Like Jesus"
"I Surrender All" is actually "I Surrender Some"
"He's Everything To Me" means "He's Quite A Bit To Me"
Psalm 47:7, "God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with understanding"
Psalm 149:1 tells us, Sing to the LORD a new song, and His praise in the assembly of saints."
Throughout the world people appreciate music. Singing is commonly used to enhance joyous celebrations like weddings. Music and singing can express and stimulate noble aspirations like praise, love, hope and joy. Music is one of those good things in life we usually take for granted. Unfortunately, however, as is so often the case, man has also taken this good gift of music and abused it as he has done with so many other good gifts. In our day we're especially aware of its misuse and of the shameful lyrics that so often are a part of it. Good music, however, is a blessing from the Lord. It's a soothing tonic for troubled hearts. It can motivate us to live for Christ, and through it we can lift our hearts in praise to the Lord. Singing is not an invention of modern man. Down through the centuries as God spoke through the prophets and we see in the Bible how the people of God praised Him in song as well as through spoken prayers. Without music, we would be greatly deprived. And old Jewish legend says that after God had created the world He called the angels to Himself and asked them what they thought of it. One of them said, "The only thing lacking is the sound of praise to the Creator." So God created music, and it was heard in the whisper of the wind and in the song of the birds. He also gave man the gift of song, and throughout all the ages, music has blessed multitudes of people. Singing God's praises honors the Lord, edifies our brothers and sisters in Christ, and brings us joy and comfort. As we join with other Christians in singing, it should be with a renewed appreciation of music. So, let us join voices with fellow believers and lift our hearts in hymns of praise whenever we have the privilege.
Colossians 3:16 says, "Let the word of Christ dwell in your richly … in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord".
The beloved songwriter, John W. Peterson, was a master at using Scripture in his songs. While some of us have trouble memorizing verses from God's Word, something in our brain helps us to remember words in songs. If we analyze some of our favorite Christian songs and choruses, we will find that they have been derived from Scripture. Thus, we can use the memory boosts of music to hide away God-breathed words in our hearts (2 Timothy 3:16). Songs such as "Open the Eyes of My Heart" (Isaiah 6:9-10); Ephesians 1:18) or favorites like "Thy Word Have I Hid in My Heart" (Psalm 119:11, 105) are taken from the Bible. With these words hidden in our memory, a song of praise comes quickly to our lips. Thus, no matter what kind of voice you have, when you sing the words of Scripture back to God our Creator, it is sweet music of praise to His ears. I will conclude with some questions and answers from God’s Word for you to think about in the coming days and months that lay before us. They are as follows:
(1) Who are we to praise? Psalm 150:6, "Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord!
Psalm 113:1, "Praise the Lord! Praise, O servants of the Lord, Praise the name of the Lord."
(2) Why are we to praise Him? Because God deserves our praise and because it is beneficial for us! Psalm 107:15, "Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men". Thus, praising God gets our eyes off ourselves and our problems and gets our eyes on God.
(3) When are we to praise Him? Psalm 34:1, "I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth; Hebrews 13:15, "Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name; Psalm 113:2-3, "Blessed be the name of the Lord from this time forth and forever more! From the rising of the sun to its going down the Lord's name is to be praised"
(4) How are we to praise Him? Psalm 9:1-2, "I will praise You, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will tell of all Your marvelous works. I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High; Psalm 100:1, 2, 4, "Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before His presence with singing; Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name"
(5) Where are we to praise Him? Psalm 134:1-2, "Behold, bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord, who by night stand in the house of the Lord! Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, and bless the Lord? We most certainly can praise God in our homes, in our cars going to work, at work, at a ball game and I'll let you fill in the other places we can praise our Creator.
While writing this post I was contemplating on how I would close it. Then I was reminded how the Lord parted the sea, allowing the Israelites to cross on dry ground (Exodus 15). Moreover, when the Egyptians rode onto the seabed, God caused the waters to gush down on them. My friend, that’s when the celebration began! Joyously, the people declared His praises for:
(1) His strength and salvation (Exodus 15:2)
(2) His power (Exodus 15:6)
(3) His greatness (Exodus 15:7)
(4) His holiness (Exodus 15:11)
(5) His mercy, redemption and guidance (Exodus 15:13), and
(6) His eternal reign over them (Exodus 15:18).
They poured out their hearts in divine worship to the God of their salvation. As you ponder on declaring His praises in your life, look over the attributes for which the Israelites praised God. Review how His character has touched your life. Find ways to honor Him in worship. The God who parted the sea is the God who still makes a way for you. Give Him your celebration and His praise!
There are many ways to worship and praise God, but only one God to worship and praise.