The First Letter of Peter: Chapter 2:1-3

Study No.7: (1 Peter 2: 1-3)

As God’s holy people we have a responsibility towards God because of His great grace, mercy and compassion towards us to lay aside everything that hinders the work of the Holy Spirit separating us to God and hindering His power to work in our lives. Only through the power of the Holy Spirit released by our faith can we overcome the works of the flesh that go contrary to the work of the Spirit in us (Romans 8: 12-14). Before we were spiritually reborn from above by the Spirit we had no choice but to sin because we were totally controlled by our sinful fallen nature with its appetites and desires (Ephesians 2:1-3).

When we were born again we received the indestructible life and power of the Lord Jesus fused with our spiritually regenerated spirit man and became one in spirit with God (Hebrews 7:16) (1 Corinthians 6:17). We received the supernatural ability from the Holy Spirit to resist and overcome the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life and everything the devil throws our way because we have become a brand new spiritual creation in Messiah (Ephesians 2:4-5) (2 Corinthians 5:17). God did this, we didn’t, but now we have been spiritually recreated God expects us to live moment by moment by faith and under the control of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 2:8-10) (Galatians 5:22-24).

Peter has already told us we are to be holy, set apart to God exclusively, and that this holiness brings with it a responsibility on our part to cultivate it in our daily life. As we read; “For without this holiness no one shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 2:14). While God sets us apart to Himself for His exclusive use He still expects us to walk moment by moment by faith and in step with the Holy Spirit and in doing this we will not fulfil the lusts of the flesh that are at war with e desires of the Spirit also living in us (Galatians 5:16-18) (Romans 8:5-14).

Exposition: (1 Peter 2:1-3)

(Vs.1) “Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.”

We are to lay aside and rid ourselves of anything and everything that would hinder our walk with God. As the author of Hebrews writes; “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfector of faith. For the joy that was set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:1-3). As Rabbi the apostle Paul writes; “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1).  What are we to cast off? Well Peter tells us

“All malice;” This word is an all-inclusive word that describes a work of the fallen fleshly sinful nature. It means “to have malignity, malice, ill-will with a desire to injure, to remain in a state of wickedness that is not ashamed to break laws, to practice evil and to cause trouble and even entertain depravity.”  Every kind of evil thought, motive, desire, word and action and every type of appetite for evil and evil affection is included without exception. Notice all of it is to be laid aside as an action of the will. The same goes for the next thing Peter mentions.

“All deceit;” This denotes; “all craftiness, guile and deception.” This includes every type of deception, dishonesty with God and with others, all falsehood of every kind and all kinds of words and actions designed to flatter and impress others.”

“Hypocrisy;” This describes “the acting of a stage player.” It can also be translated as “Hypocrisies” in a plural form because it has many facets to it and many and varied expressions of it. Spiritual deception was around big time in the days of the apostles and it is a conspicuous mark of these last of the last days within wider Christendom. This includes pretending to be what we are not, “putting on a mask” or “masking” our true affections and desires and motives.” It includes saying one thing while meaning something else or simply playing a part as an actor on stage or performing for the crowd’s approval. It can also apply to a hearer but not a doer of the Word (James 1:22). This is something all of us must constantly guard against. It is another form of pride which was the sin of Satan that caused God to kick him out of heaven.

“Envy;” This refers to “jealousy” or “spite” and this can easily manifest itself within a local assembly where one envies another’s gifting.  This also includes desiring what others have and is a form of covetousness that wants to have gifts, fame, fortune or a position of importance and authority over others. It can also imply being envious of the spiritual growth in other fellow believers instead of being thankful for one’s own growth in the grace and the knowledge of the Lord Jesus.

“Slander of every kind;” refers to “the defamation of one’s character.” Speaking half-truths or spreading lies about someone else that are not true. The late Derek Prince used to say that “Gossip was the Church going sin.” This includes destructive criticism and backbiting. Those who indulge in it with their fellow brothers and sisters in Messiah run the risk of destroying another’s reputation and standing within the local assembly. This is a sin that Satan himself perpetrates and is one definition of his character. He is called “the accuser of the brethren who accuses them day and night before our God” (Revelation 12:10).

These things we are to rid ourselves of and calling on the Lord Jesus to help us to do it and then replace them with desires for God and for His Word and for His ways to operate in our lives. If our will is laid down in these matters and we are exercising faith in God to be delivered from these works of the sinful fleshly nature, then God will respond to us as His elect saints who cry out to Him day and night for deliverance from their adversary Satan and God will answer them speedily (Luke 18:7-8). Now Peter tells us how we can rid ourselves of these works of our fallen sinful self-indulgent, self-gratifying evil desires.

(Vs.2-3) “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the LORD is good.”

A new born baby needs wholesome and nutritious milk if it is to grow strong and healthy. We are to be like them and to crave, to earnestly desire and to thirst after the spiritual nutrition of God’s Word that by it we might grow in our faith and walk with God. The word “crave” has the idea of “an intense craving or longing or a strong desire for something and to pursue it with love and to possess it.”

Now babies cannot handle solid food, neither can we handle the solid food of God’s Word or the deeper spiritual truth it contains until we have learnt to digest the spiritual milk of God’s Word. A baby rolls, then crawls, then stands and then walks and finally it runs. So it is with progress in our spiritual walk with our Triune God and Heavenly father. God wants us to go on to a solid spiritual diet but it must be a pure spiritual diet free from spiritual impurities. We need the milk of God’s Word for a time but God’s will is that we are able to digest spiritual meat to continue to grow in our faith walk with the Him.  God expects this from us. Many stay on the milk when they should be feeding on the meat.

As the author of Hebrews writes; “In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil” (Hebrews 5:12-14). 

Infants and little children can be easily led astray and as children their senses to discern right from wrong has not developed. Only as they grow to maturity do they learn right from wrong if they are taught it. Those who are feeding on the sincere milk of God’s Word are having their senses trained to distinguish good from evil but are still susceptible to the tricks and wiles of the evil one and are not always aware of his strategies.

However, those who are regularly feeding on the solid meet of God’s Word do have the discernment to know what is from God and what is from the devil. It is the Word of God that trains our minds, our affections and our will to discern truth from error and the ways of light from the ways of darkness. As it is written; “The unfolding of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple (those who have the trust of a child”) (Psalm 119:130). This of course takes time. Spiritual maturity is not an instant fix but an ongoing spiritual process that will continue throughout our entire life until we go to heaven where we will know as we are known. For now we see in a mirror dimly. As Rabbi the apostle Paul writes; “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known” (1 Corinthians 13:12). If we would grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus then we must allow the Holy Spirit through the Word of God to realign our spiritual radar to enable us to avoid evil and to choose the good. It is only when we crave, hunger and thirst after righteousness from God that we will be filled with all of the fullness of God Himself and with His righteousness (Ephesians 3: 19) (Colossians 2: 9-10).  Only in this way then can we grow in our salvation experience.

We have salvation now if we have saving faith in the Messiah our Lord Jesus, but we need to grow in it and enter into a fuller experience of it every day. The way to develop our spiritual growth is through trust in God’s Word, seeking to be an obedient child, to pray without ceasing in the Holy Spirit, through learning to walk in step with Holy Spirit by increasing in our knowledge of God’s Word and seeking to put it into practice every day in every situation and circumstance. Also we may also take communion every morning when we come to our devotional time with God. The Lord has been good to us. Think of all the ways He has been there for us when everything seemed to be going wrong. We love Him because He first loved us (Romans 5:6-8) (1 John 4:10, 19) (Psalm 116:12-14) (psalm 34:8-10).

Go to Study No. 8