Saturday, May 15, 2021

Simplicity - 1 Peter 2:1-3 - May 16, 2021

These are the Sermon Notes for May 9, 2021. We are meeting in person (check out our Covid-19 Plan here) and online (facebook and youtube) every Sunday at 9:37 am. You can also watch livestream recordings at any time.

 1 Peter 2:1-3 Simplicity

Good morning! We are going back to 1 Peter this morning and looking at chapter 2, verses 1-3, page 1014 in the pew Bibles.

So last week we discussed a little bit about what holy living looks like. Chapter one gave us lots of arguments in favor of holy living, so much so that it seems pretty iron clad that holy living is our responsibility as disciples of Jesus Christ.

Chapter one also wrapped up with a great first step in what holy living really looks like, brotherly love.

Now often the Bible gets a bad rap for just being a list of do’s and don’ts, but in truth, there’s some logic to that idea, there’s some conditional statements involved. For example: If you call on God as Father, then act like you’re His children, right?

Well chapter two starts off this exact same way based on the end of chapter one and the command to love one another. If the “do” is to love one another earnestly from a pure heart from chapter one, then the “don’ts” are here at the beginning of chapter two. 

So let’s read that together.

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.

Let’s pray.

So this chapter division here is really not helpful when it comes to keeping these thoughts all connected, these verses rely heavily on where we just came from last week. These thoughts which we’re going to outline here are all based on the idea of being born again and the brotherly love from a pure heart that flows out of that new birth.

The do’s and don’ts here are quite obvious, you could call them “virtues and vices” if you want to sound smarter to your friends.

The virtues are brotherly love and loving one another from a pure heart from chapter one, but in order for these virtues to grow the vices must die.

And what are the vices? Malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander.

Peter uses the words translated, “put away,” and the idea is that of taking off and laying aside old dirty clothes, not to just be washed and worn again but to be thrown out.

James uses the same words in James 1:21 when he said, “…put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.”

Paul also uses it in Ephesians 4:22-24, “…put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”

Putting off the old self like old clothes and putting on the new self in righteousness and holiness is a recurring theme in the New Testament, and as Peter has been dealing with it, the putting on of the new clothes is holy living through brotherly love.

But in order to put on the new clothes of brotherly love we have to deal with taking off the old clothes. 

This short list from Peter is in no way comprehensive, this is not a complete list  of things that disciples of Jesus Christ should avoid. These ideas are, however, directly related to Peter’s command to love one another out of a pure heart.

Malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander, think about these ideas, they are directly opposed to brotherly love, they are the opposite of loving one another out of a pure heart which flows from being born again through faith in Jesus.

Saint Augustine said, “Malice delights in another’s hurt; envy pines at another’s good, deceit imparts duplicity to the heart; hypocrisy imparts duplicity to the tongue; and slander wounds the character of another.”

Malice is feelings of hostility and strong dislike, with the implication of possibly desiring to do someone harm, these are feelings of hate. Malice delights in another’s hurt. A pure heart cannot grow with feelings like this being harbored. 

Deceit is lying, trickery, falsehood, it flows out of malice and takes aim at the soul of another.

If deceit imparts duplicity to the heart, hypocrisy imparts duplicity to the tongue. Hypocrisy is the act of hiding one’s own heart away while pretending to be something that it isn’t. There’s no way for brotherly love to exist, let alone flourish under these conditions.

Envy, pining after another’s good, wishing to have what they have and hating them for having it. Envy loses sight of the good one already has in favor of the good somebody else has.

Slander, a most popular vice, wounding the character of another, speaking ill of another when they aren’t there to defend themselves, that sometimes masks itself in “constructive criticism” and “prayer requests.” Slander is slander no matter how you dress it up.

These are the old filthy rags that we are to put off according to Peter, vices that are all poisonous to brotherly love.

JP Lange said, “The vices to be laid aside bear upon the relation to our neighbor and exert a deadly influence on brotherly love.”

He also wrote, “They had been addressed as children of obedience, now their young and tender state is mentioned as a reason why they should seek strength in the word of God.”

At the time, the phrase “newborn babes,” was a current expression among the Jews for proselytes, converts to Judaism according to Lange, and Peter adopted the phrase to cover those who were newborn in Christ as well.

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.

So this begs the question, what is pure spiritual milk, and what is its significance?

Both the Apostle Paul and the writer of Hebrews use this same expression of milk in 1 Corinthians 3:2 and Hebrews 5:12. 

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, for you are still of the flesh.

And Hebrews says, 12 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, 13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. 14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

So it kind of sounds like from those verses that milk is something that we should move on from as we grow but Peter seems to suggest that we should continuously long for it. The words he uses indicate an intense recurring desire, nursing mothers or mothers who have nursed babies are very aware of what that is like.

So is this pure spiritual milk the rudimentary doctrines of Christian doctrine? I don’t think so, I don’t think that is what Peter is referring to at all. In fact, the words we have here in English don’t really help point to Peter’s meaning all that well.

The word translated, “spiritual,” more accurately means, “genuine,” or, “unadulterated.” This is milk that is true to milk’s essential nature, unclouded by human wisdom, traditions, and errors.

It’s not rudimentary doctrine, it’s simply genuine doctrine, pure and simple. Saint Augustine said, “Christ, the crucified, is milk for babes and food for the advanced.”

Jesus said in Matthew 18:3, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

Simply meaning, you have been born again, live a life corresponding to your new birth, a life of simple trust in Jesus and hunger for His Word.

John Calvin wrote, “Milk, here is not the elementary doctrine which one perpetually learns and never comes to the knowledge of the truth, but a mode of living which has the savor of the new birth, when we surrenderourselves to be brought up by God. In the same manner infancy is not set in opposition to manhood, or full age in Christ, as Paul calls it in Ephesians 4:13, but to the ancientness of the flesh and of the former life. Moreover, as the infancy of the new life is perpetual, so Peter recommends milk as the perpetual ailment, for he would have those nourished by it to grow…

Malice and hypocrisy belong to those who are habituated to the corruptions of the world; they have imbibed these vices; what pertains to infancy is sincere simplicity, free from all guile. Men, when grown up, become imbued with envy, they learn to slander one another, they are taught the arts of mischief; in short, they become hardened in every kind of evil; infants, owing to their age, do not yet know what it is to envy, to do mischief, or the like things. New morals ought to follow a new life.”

This longing is not for the basics of Christianity but for the purity of Christianity in God’s Word, untainted by worldly wisdom and bias, unadulterated by traditions of men.

We have, in fact, tasted that the Lord is good, that He is gracious and kind. Peter isn’t doubting that, his challenge is to remember that.

Martin Luther said, “This is tasting indeed, to believe from the heart that Christ has given Himself to me and has become my own, that my misery is His and His life is mine. Feeling this from the heart is tasting Christ.”

Simple faith, simple trust in Jesus, longing for the purity of His teaching 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 into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.