(image courtesy publicdomainpictures)
By Spencer Gear
As we begin a new year, it is good to look back over the last year to see how the Lord has blessed and to see what needs to be changed in our lives. On June 2 2006, I had the honour, sad though it was, to conduct the funeral service of my father-in-law, who died at age 95.
Dad had lived with my wife and me for the last 12 years of his life. During our conversations he had made it clear that he wanted me to conduct the funeral if I were alive. But he must not be buried from the evangelical church in which he was raised. He attended that church until 1992, because of his wife’s commitment to the Lord Jesus.
But he was adamant. Do not bury me from that church. I want nothing to do with that church, even at my death.
Why? His mother died when he was 8 years old from the influenza that swept the world in 1919. His father remarried and his step mother would go to that church and praise the Lord with hallelujahs and other spiritual gestures. But during the week she would treat the five step-children like second-class citizens – so he told us.
This was an example that turned Dad right off the Christian faith –his step-mother’s hypocrisy. Dad lived with that nasty memory for 87 years.
You and I know that his step-mother will not be an excuse when he stands before God. But this matter of the Christian life and the gap between what we say we believe and how we live, is how the apostle Peter begins the second chapter of I Peter.
From I Peter 1:13 to 2:3, we are taught:
1:13-16 As he who called you is holy, you also be holy
1:17-21 Live in reverent fear (of God)
1: 22-25 Love one another
In this article, we deal with 1 Peter 2:1-3. It begins with “therefore” or “so.” It is based on what has preceded this verse.
v. 23: You have been born again;
v. 25: “The word of the Lord remains forever”;
“This word is the good news that was preached to you.”
Therefore, what are we do as people who are genuinely Christian and who stand on the eternal Word of God?
In the first 3 verses of I Peter 2 we have the fourth teaching on what it means to live a holy life to grow spiritually. To grow spiritually, we must
Put away certain things;
We must long for or crave for certain things; and
We must have tasted something.
B. First, if we are to grow spiritually, we must “put away” or get rid of certain things in our lives (v. 1)
1. You must put away
Paul uses “all”, three times in this list. If we are to be growing Christians, there must be zero malice in our lives; zero deceit; zero hypocrisy, zero envy and zero slander. All of these apply to our relationships with other people. This is where people will notice the most important change that comes into your life when you become a genuine Christian.
Peter says that we must get rid of these:
a. All malice
This is totally comprehensive – all malice must be gone if we are to be truly Christian in our living. If we express malice in our relationships with others our love for others disappears.
Here, this word does not mean viciousness (although there should be no viciousness in the language and deeds of a believer), the word (kakia) is “a special form of vice . . . the evil habit of the mind.” This is the kind of evil thinking that leads to all kinds of evil actions. It means “baseness, meanness, all good-for-nothingness, disgracefulness.”
Getting rid of malice towards others relates to the second half of the 10 commandments (Ex. 20:12-17) and their equivalent in the New Testament. See my article, “Compare the Ten Commandments with New Testament teaching.”
“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” Dishonouring your parents must be gone if you are really Christian. This becomes especially touchy if a Christian’s father has physically abused the mother; if the mother has committed adultery; if father or mother has sexually abused another, and there are other disturbing family circumstances.
The Scriptures require you as a Christian to get rid of any dishonour towards your father or mother. You must not endorse any such evil behaviour. You must oppose such evil actions, but they are still your parents. Honour your father and your mother does NOT mean you endorse their behaviour. Get rid of all dishonour in the way you treat your mother and father.
Back to the 10 commandments: “You shall not murder.” This should be self-evident. Put away all baseness in your thinking towards those who have committed murder. You must get rid of thinking about killing anyone. You must not kill another or yourself.
“You shall not steal.” What do you do with the boss’s time? Are you an honest worker? Do you give an honest week’s work for your pay, or do you steal your boss’s time. It’s so easy to take little things from your place of work. That’s stealing.
Let’s put this into 21st century language: “You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife or husband, or any of your neighbour’s circumstances, including the cars your neighbours drive, the house they own, the TV, computer, goods of any sort that they own.” If we covet human or physical things, we are not growing up in our faith. The only thing that I want to covet is a better relationship with Jesus which will mean better relationships with other human beings.
The next few things that Peter mentions that we must “put away” are examples of kakia (baseness) that we have just been teaching about.
Get rid of
b. All deceit
Put away your crafty ways, your cunning methods, any thinking and actions that are meant to con another. That was part of your old lifestyle and it cannot continue. The original meaning of this word for “deceit” was “a bait for fish.” Get rid of all intents that you have “to deceive and to mislead others to their own hurt and to our own supposed advantage.”
In 30 years of family counselling, I have encountered more than my share of Christian parents, youth and children who are deceivers in how they relate to one another. Nothing undermines marriage and family as much as parents and children who are not up front and honest in the family. Deceivers in a family devastate family unity.
How have you been deceiving your parents? How have you been deceiving your spouse? Get rid of it immediately. Confess to God and to that other person. Yes, confess to the other.
Another form of wickedness that must be gone from the Christian’s life is:
I’ve already introduced this in my own extended family, of how a mother’s hypocrisy left a permanent mark for 87 years on her step-son. We as the people of God need to talk about how our hypocritical living affects us personally, the family, relationships in the church, and relationships with others.
It must be gone in all relationships. There must be no difference between what we say we believe and the way we live. If Jesus doesn’t make a difference in our relationships, I have to question the person’s salvation.
There’s more bad behaviour that must be gone after we become Christian.
This is more difficult for us in a materialistic Western society. We envy the things of others; the jobs they have. When we see the good fortune of others, we envy what they have. Get rid of all envy in your life. Next is . . .
We know what this means. Or do we? Get rid of “all speaking against others that runs them down.” Remember what Jesus said in Matt. 5:22? ‘I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, “Raca,” [an Aramaic term of hatred] is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, “You fool!” will be in danger of the fire of hell.’
Slander has no place in the Christian life.
Imagine what would happen if Christians were known for no malice, no deceit, no hypocrisies, no envies and no slanders? Do you think that a few people would we attracted to our Jesus because of the change in US?
First, if you want to grow spiritually, you must get rid of those things.
C. Secondly, if you are to grow spiritually, you must long for or crave something (v. 2).
You not only have to get rid of some things, you need to deal with some growth issues.
1. You start doing certain things (vv. 2-3):
a. Live like newborn spiritual babies.
This is a parallel verse to:
1 Peter 1:3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,. . .”
Remember to whom Peter is writing! In 1 Peter 1:1 he wrote: “To God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout” Asia Minor (which is Turkey today). This is not teaching just for new Christians, but for all believers – elected by God for salvation: Live “like newborn [spiritual] babies.” Peter is not contrasting solid spiritual food for grown Christians with spiritual milk for new Christians.
Peter wants all believers, whether new or old in the faith, to crave to be nourished by the Word of God. His point in using this kind of language, “like newborn babies” is this: “A baby longs for nothing but his/her mother’s milk and will take nothing else, so every Christian should take no spiritual nourishment save the Word of God. The imagery is beautiful and expressive. Look at a baby at his/her mother’s breast. In this way you should [always] drink the milk of the Word.”
Peter understood the meaning of what Jesus stated in Matt. 18:2-3, ‘He called a little child and had him stand among them. 3And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”’ Peter carried this further to apply it to all Christians: Live like newborn spiritual babies.
What does that mean?
b. “Long for pure spiritual milk” (v. 2)
If you don’t have this desire, your salvation must be questioned. What is pure spiritual milk? How do I long for it? The word “spiritual” (ESV) is based on the Greek, logos, the Word. It’s an adjective, the logikos. The KJV helps us with a translation that is closer to the original understanding: Crave or long for “the sincere milk of the Word.” The NASB, “the pure milk of the word.”
We don’t have an exact equivalent in English for the logikos that the KJV and NASB translate as “the word.” This word is used only twice in the NT, the other place being Rom. 12:1, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.” KJV: “reasonable service.”
Here in I Peter 2:2 we should think of this word in association with the milk. It seems that 2:2 is reflecting back with us to I Peter 1:23, “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.” So, if you are to grow in your faith, you must crave the Word of God. Remember how this Word is described in 1:23: “the living and enduring word of God.”
Yet, this is what is attacked so often today. I sometimes interact on Internet forums with atheists and agnostics. One of their most frequent targets is what they call the old fashioned, antiquated, irrelevant Word of God. For those of us who want to grow in the faith, we know that we get our world and life view from “the living and enduring word of God.”
Notice what Peter calls this “milk of the Word”? “Pure” or “unadulterated” milk that belongs to God’s word. It is not like any other spiritual food. ‘It is without the least guile to mislead or to deceive. [Any] other (human) word (teaching, doctrine, spoken or written) is not “guileless.” This divine Word . . . is perfectly safe for babes to take although they, being just born, have no ability to be careful as to what they drink.’
You are to crave this Word of God if you want to grow up in your faith. You are to “long for this milk and no other. . . . To cease longing for the divine milk is the most serious sign of spiritual decline, which soon ends in spiritual death.”
I’m reminded of Ps. 119:20, “My soul is consumed with longing for your laws at all times.”
There’s a problem in doing this for some in our world. I was reading The Voice of the Martyrs magazine, April 2006, and I read this:
Whom do you think might have made this statement? “We and other reverend fathers of the spirituality have determined the said and untrue translations to be burned with further sharp correction and punishment against the keepers and readers of the same.”
These are the words of the King of England’s “declaration regarding those associated with the first English New Testament to be printed. It was translated by a brilliant Christian and fugitive—William Tyndale.”
I also read: “Vietnamese Pastor Than Van Truong won 44 new believers to Christ while imprisoned for his zealous Christian witness [in Vietnam]. After his release, following [a Voice of the Martyrs’] postcard campaign, we asked him what his greatest need was and he said. . . We need more Bibles!“
Why did he suffer? It was for promoting the Word of God. All Christians around the world are commanded to crave the milk of the Word. For some, that will place them in jail; for others they lose their lives.
We are favoured here in the Western world. I have 20 different English Bible translations in my library. According to the Bible League:
“In Indonesia, there are approximately 2,400 people a day making commitments to Christ, and about half of these new converts will not have access to a Bible.”
Two years ago my wife and I took our annual leave and attended the
Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne. We arrived a few days early and read this in The Age newspaper (Melbourne, Australia):
‘An evangelist who preaches the “old time religion” [that’s the Bible-believing Christianity I believe] is asking hearers to stake the living of their lives upon beliefs for which there is no evidence whatsoever and that fly against humankind’s painfully acquired knowledge of the world and of themselves. That is not simply, as we today are taught to say, a ‘big ask’ but an outrageous ask.” Who said this? It was no secular journalist ruminating on the Christmas message. It was John K. Williams, a retired Uniting Church minister, in a message he preached at St. Michael’s Church, Collins St., Melbourne, January 18, 2004.’
Why do you need to crave the milk of the Word?
c. “So that you may grow up in your salvation” (v. 2)
Surely that’s stated as clearly as it can be. If you are to grow spiritually and mature in your salvation, you must crave, long for, the Word – and spend time with God in His Word.
Peter speaks of childhood and growing into adulthood as God’s ideal for our growth. We are to be like babies, always longing for God’s milk in the Word so that we grow in salvation. That is our destiny, the design of our faith.
Let’s stop for a moment to draw out some practical applications.
How many times this last week have you craved for the milk of the Word of God and spent time with God in His Word? You will tell us your view of being obedient to God by being obedient to what God is teaching from this passage.
For me, it takes about 18 months to read through the entire Bible, reading 2-3 chapters a day. There are 1175 chapters in 66 books of the Bible. You can get through the entire Bible in a year if you read 3.2 chapters a day. That’s not a lot (until you reach the one chapter of Psalm 119).
If you spend time with mainly ungodly people and feeding your mind with TV, newspapers & radio, you’ll be programmed by non-Christian and ungodly thinking. If you program your mind with the Simpsons, Home & Away, and Harry Potter, you’ll not grow in your faith. I’m convinced that Bible reading, Bible study, and prayerfully meditating on the Word, should be helping us to know God’s view of all things that are happening in our world:
You will never get God’s understanding of all of life without a good understanding of God’s Word. To grow, crave and spend time in the Word.
One of the most damaging things that is happening in so many churches is that preachers no longer want to systematically preach through the Bible (that’s not the case in this church). I believe we need to do that to be obedient to what Paul said to Timothy in 2 Tim. 4:2: “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.”
I hear many preachers who preach about the Word but few who actually preach what the actual Word says. We get lots of preachers’ opinions that don’t seem to be directly related to the Word. I’m not talking about hints about how to apply the Word of God. “Preach the Word” is what Paul told the young pastor, Timothy. I’m convinced “It’s a sin to bore God’s people with God’s word.”
That means there is a need for clear outlines by the preacher, along with plenty of applications for the people in the pew.
If you are to grow in your salvation, you need to crave for the milk of the Word.
D. Thirdly and finally, if you are to grow spiritually, you must have “tasted.”
You will never ever be motivated to grow in your salvation and to get to the point of craving the Word of God, if you have not tasted that the Lord is good. Peter is asking his readers to recall their Christian life with the Lord.
Perhaps Peter is reminding us of the Psalmist in 34:8, “Taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!”
Please note what this does NOT say. It does not encourage us to “taste” or experience God. We are to taste “that the Lord is good.” The Lord is good in making salvation available to us, but he is especially good in making the precious milk of the Word available so that we may grow in our salvation. You will especially taste the Lord’s goodness when you read the word.
Is this world going to go on forever? What’s the end of the world going to be like? Why is there so much evil in the world? When I watch the evening TV news, I have to ask: Where does all of this violence and sadness come from? Where will the Christian and non-believer be one minute after death? You won’t find ultimate answers to any of these questions than from the Bible – the Word of God.
Why do we treat the Bible as though it is just another book? Why don’t we spend more time with God in reading the Bible more often? Could it be because we are disobedient Christians? The consequence is that we will not grow in the faith if we do not do this.
Have you tasted the Lord’s goodness?
Since the pure milk of the Word is the place where you will be helped to grow up in your salvation, it should not be surprising that some liberal church leaders and the secular world attack the Bible.
This is what God says in his Word:
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 to salvation– if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. (ESV)
Will you believe God and act on His Word and so grow in your faith? That’s the challenge of the Word of God today.
Kistemaker, Simon J 1986. New Testament Commentary: Exposition of James, Epistles of John, Peter, and Jude. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic.
Lenski, R C H 1966, Commentary on the New Testament: The Interpretation of the Epistles of St. Peter; St. John, and St. Jude. Peabody, MASS: Hendrickson Publishers.
Trench, Richard C 1953. Synonyms of the New Testament, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan. Available at: https://archive.org/details/synonymsofnewtes00treniala/page/n5/mode/2up (Accessed 31 January 2022).
 I preached this sermon at Hervey Bay Presbyterian Church, 7 January 2007.
 The original said, “Our fellow man.”
 Simon J. Kistemaker New Testament Commentary: Peter and Jude, p. 31.
 Richard C. Trench 1953, Synonyms of the New Testament, p. 38.
 R. C. H. Lenski 1966, Commentary on the New Testament: The Interpretation of the Epistles of St. Peter; St. John, and St. Jude, p. 77.
 Lenski used the word, “Babe,” and I have used baby for all “babe” uses in this passage.
 Lenski used “ever.”
 Lenski, p. 78.
 Ibid., p. 80.
 Ibid., p. 78.
 Brian Edwards 1976, God’s Outlaw: the Story of William Tyndale and the English Bible, Darlington, England: Evangelical press, p. 93, cited in The Voice of the Martyrs, April 2006, p. 9.
 Ibid., VOM, April 2006, p. 9.
 Williams, J. K. 2004, ‘It’s not good enough for us’, The Age (Melbourne, Australia), [Online], January 19, Available from: http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2004/01/18/1074360629928.html [10 June 2006].
 The original edition was published in 1894.
Copyright © 2022 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 31 January 2022.