Growth is continual.
It's a process called sanctification. We grow. We develop. And unlike in the physical realm where you reach your peak development in your 20s, not so in the spiritual life, you can keep maturing and keep growing and keep influencing as the years go by. Skip shares practical insight to help you grow even more in your faith. Now we want to tell you about a resource that will take you deep into Skip's catalog of works and grow your understanding of scripture even more. Skip focuses on the cities, and we know our nation needs the Word of God. We'll tell you how you can join this project. But first, this from Skip. I want my legacy to be I made much of Jesus, that Jesus became greater in people's hearts and lives because of my life and ministry, that they walked away understanding the Bible, that what seemed to be complicated was actually very simple, that I helped make it simple for them and understandable.
Can you help us expand into more metropolitan areas in 2023 with a year-end gift of $1,000 or more? We'll send you the Skip Heitzig Legacy Library so far containing 11 books, 17 booklets, and the Bible from 30,000 feet. Pastor Skip's incomparable teaching series of 64 full messages through the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation on a flash drive that also includes Learning from the Land, Skip's video tour of Israel. G. Campbell Morgan was called in his biography a man of the Word or the man of the Word. That's what I want to be, a man of the Word. The Skip Heitzig Legacy Library so far is a real treasure, and it's yours when you make a year-end gift of $1,000 or more, and you will be helping us expand the reach of these teachings.
Give online securely at connectwithskip.com slash offer or call 800-922-1888. Okay, we're in 1 Peter chapter 2 as we join Skip Heitzig for today's study. Here's some clear signs that you've grown up. You ready for these? This is how you know you've grown up. Number one, it's 6 a.m. is when you get up, not when you go to bed.
Number two, you hear your favorite song in an elevator. Number three, you watch the Weather Channel. I'm curious, how many of you actually watch the Weather Channel on a show of hands?
I'm one of them. I love it. So I've grown up. Number four, jeans and a sweater no longer qualify as dressed up. Number five, you're the one calling the police because of the kids next door. Number six, I like this one, you don't know what time Taco Bell closes anymore. Number seven, your car insurance goes down, your car payment goes up.
And finally, number eight, dinner and a movie is the whole date, not the beginning of one. Growing is a part of living. Anything that has life, we expect it to grow. That's the normal process. It's that way because that's true in our lives.
It's true in humanity. So the male sperm fertilizes the female egg. It forms a single 46-chromosome cell known as the zygote. That zygote divides, then multiplies, divides, then multiplies, and that little mass, that conglomeration finally at some point implants in the uterine wall and continues to grow and grow and grow. After 15 days, it becomes a disk, an embryonic disk. And over the next six weeks, limbs develop, a brain develops, vertebrae develop, eyes, nose, all the little parts come together. By week 10, the embryo is already a fetus. That little baby grows in the womb daily, fed by the placenta, that blood supply through the umbilical cord.
So typically, by week 36, the baby is going to be delivered. But once the baby is delivered, that's not the end. That's just the beginning in terms of life. There are several stages of growth. Infancy, there's a toddler, childhood. Then there's adolescence, the teenage years. It's been clinically proven the brain stops developing during those years. Of course, that's not true.
I'm just kidding. And then finally, adulthood. And somewhere in early adulthood, somewhere in the 20s, the human being reaches peak development.
In other words, it's as good as it will ever get in terms of physical ability, muscle strength, reaction time, sensory abilities, cardiac function, all reaches its peak development somewhere in the 20s. At the same time, immediately afterwards, you begin a slow decline. Spiritual life has many similarities to that.
Many similarities. There is what I would call the gestation period. A seed gets planted into a soul.
A person hears the truth. The Holy Spirit waters that seed. Conviction comes to that person. They start desiring things like change, forgiveness, purpose, and meaning in life. And at some point in that process, there comes the day of regeneration, what the Bible calls the new birth. You must be born again. The person decides, I'm going to follow Jesus. After that, growth is continual.
It's a process called sanctification. We grow. We develop. And unlike in the physical realm where you reach your peak development in your 20s, not so in the spiritual life, you can keep maturing and keep growing and keep influencing as the years go by. That is what God wants for all of us. He wants us to keep growing.
He wants us to reach maturity. 2 Peter 3.18, grow in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Ephesians 4, become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants tossed back and forth by the waves and blown here and there by every wind of teaching. We will in all things grow up into Him.
Well, that is what church is for. Church is to be a place of growth. The key to it all is nutrition, proper nutrition. Both in the physical realm, we need proper nutrition to grow, and in the spiritual realm, we need proper nutrition to grow. And what is the proper nutrition in the spiritual realm?
Anybody know? You could hold it up. This, it's the Word. It's all on what you eat. You are what you eat. That takes us to our set of verses. 1 Peter 2, beginning in verse 1. Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the Word that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious. Those are the verses we want to look at, just those three verses.
And these verses, this little section is short enough that it'll allow us to sort of drill down in some of these concepts in the remaining time that we have. But you will notice in the text the first word. What's the first word?
Shout it out if you know it. Therefore, anytime you have that word, it is referring to a previous thought. So he is saying something based upon what he just said, so it's important that we grab the thought that ramps up to it.
So go back to chapter 1 for the sake of context. Chapter 1, verse 22, and you'll see how it is strung together. Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed, but incorruptible through the Word of God, which lives and abides forever. Because, quoting Isaiah 40, all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls away, but the Word of the Lord endures forever. Now this is the word by which the gospel was preached to you.
Therefore, laying aside all malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word. That's the nutrition that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious. So we are now confronted with this question, what are you feeding on?
What are you feeding on? That will determine how you are growing. What I want to do with you this morning is show you three ways to grow, and they're pretty basic. Three ways to grow. Remember your first bite, avoid junk food, eat the good stuff.
Pretty simple, right? Remember your first bite, what you first tasted, get rid of junk food, eat the good stuff. That sums up this passage. So let's begin at the beginning.
Remember your first bite. Now I know that chapter two begins in verse one, but I'm going to begin this message really in verse three, and you'll see why. Notice verse three says, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious. The entire thought of these verses, the entire thought of this passage is predicated on this single word, if. It is a presupposition. It is a subjunctive.
If this is true, then this should also be true. It could also be translated since you have tasted. So since you have tasted, or if you have tasted that the Lord is gracious, then put aside the bad stuff, feed on the good stuff.
That encapsulates the entire message. But notice the word he uses, if you've tasted that the Lord is gracious. Now that's a word that means it's a metaphor for experience, to experience something. In other words, you know this is true not because somebody told you it was true, not because you heard a sermon that it is true. You know it's true because you yourself have actually tasted it. You have experienced it yourself.
That's how you know it's right. Psalm 34 verse 8, one of my favorite Psalms, taste and see that the Lord is good. Have you tasted God's goodness?
Pretty awesome, right? Salvation tastes better than sin. God tastes better than any earthly pleasure that is offered. I'll put it to you this way, I'm hooked. I remember the first bite I had, the first taste of salvation that I had, and ever since then, I've been hooked. I've told you this story many times.
It was 1973 for me, and I remember the day I asked Jesus to be my Savior, my Lord. I tasted the goodness of God, and it felt like a burden had been lifted, a load had been lifted off my emotional shoulders, my spiritual life. My whole life was changed. I couldn't explain it, and so I was trying to figure out how am I going to explain this to my parents and my friends and schoolmates from high school.
What am I going to tell them happened to me? I had a religious experience, so I didn't know how to explain it. And Dino Webster, my friend down the street, one day walked over to my house and he wanted to share the gospel with me. He didn't know that I had just given my life to Christ, so he pointed his little Italian finger right in my face and he goes, Heitzig, have you been born again? And I said, where did you get that phrase? He goes, what phrase? He said, you just said born again.
Where did you get that phrase? He goes, Jesus said you must be born again. I go, that is the perfect description. I've been looking for a way to describe to people the change that has happened. And that's the best way I can tell people I've been born again. That's what it felt like, I've been born again.
Well, I tried to use that language with some of my friends. Well, Heitzig, what happened to you? You look so happy now. Well, I've been born again.
They just went, huh? I don't get, what does that mean? So that didn't go as far with them because I tasted it, they didn't.
So I said, maybe this will help. It's sort of like I've eaten TV dinners all my life and one day somebody took me out to a restaurant and served me steak and lobster. Now it's hard for me to go back to TV dinners. I can do that, but I know that exists.
Very hard to be satisfied with this when I know that's a possibility. I said, that's what happened to me. I've tasted something that tastes so much better. We often forget the slop we used to eat. We forget that.
Isaiah 51, the Lord says through the prophet to his people, look to the rock from which you were hewn and the hole of the pit from which you were dug. Remember what you used to eat. Remember what you used to do. Remember what you used to feed on. And by the way, this is one of the reasons we take communion, not just to remember what Jesus did on the cross.
We weren't there when it happened, but we do look back to that event, but also to remember what it was like for us to take our first bite of salvation, the taste of salvation, to get us in touch with that first time we met Christ and what that meant to us. My wife, Lenya, makes this terrific cherry cobbler, and she makes it with a graham cracker butter crust that is just out of this world. Fortunately, she doesn't make it like she used to because I'm trying to get off that stuff, but I'll tell you this, when she does make it, it's dangerous because once you've tasted it, you will be back.
You will be back for more. It's that good. And so when people want to give me all the guff about, well, you know, you have your philosophy and I have mine, I said, have you ever tasted Jesus? Because really, you have no authority to say this is right or wrong until you have tasted what I have tasted. Just come and have a taste, and you'll be spoiled forever. So remember your first bite if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious. That's verse 3.
Second way to grow after remember your first bite is to avoid junk food. Essentially, that's verse 1. Therefore, laying aside, and there's five things that comprise junk food category, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking. What is Peter doing? He's reminding them of their old way of life. He is reminding them of all the sins they were delivered from. These were the things that marked their BC before Christ experience. These are the things they once fed on. This was their previous diet. Question, why does he list these five things?
I have a theory. 1 Peter was written probably around 65 A.D. In 64 A.D., July of 64 A.D., to be precise, something happened in Rome that changed everything for Christians in the entire Roman Empire. A fire broke out in Rome. It's called the Great Fire of Rome, 64 A.D. It destroyed so much of the city, so many of the public buildings, so many of the temples. The odd thing about the fire of Rome is most every citizen believed, and it's still believed today, that the fire was started by the emperor himself, Caesar Nero, that he had such a lust for building that he wanted to destroy what was there so he could build things again. And so he, they think, burned the city. Well, the citizens found out, and they started to rebel against him. People started turning on him. He needed to think of a quick scapegoat. Who can I blame for this? Who did he pick? The Christians of Rome.
He went public and said they started the fire so that now they're not looking at him, they're looking at them. That started an intense persecution, not only in Rome, but throughout the Roman Empire that lasted for generations. So when you are being accused of something you didn't do, when you are being persecuted and maligned, you are tempted to revert to behaviors that you are used to growing up with.
You're tempted to be bitter, angry, full of malice, strife, and it's probably knowing that they're tempted to this behavior that he says, put those things aside. I'm asking you to think of these things as five junk foods. These are things that will ruin your appetite. These are things that will stunt your growth. My mom would always say, don't you eat that before supper. I'm cooking dinner.
I know you want to grab that bag of chips, skip. Don't do it. You'll spoil your appetite.
And so there are certain things we need to reject, or as he says, laying aside. So let me tell you a true story, a personal story. It's going to gross you out a little bit. Do you mind? Can I tell you? So I'm in a restaurant. I just traveled back from, I think, India.
I was overseas. I'm in a restaurant with my wife in town. I'm not going to tell you the restaurant.
Afterwards, if you ask me privately, I might do. So I'm at a restaurant. I order a salad, which is kind of a typical Skip meal. It was a salad, I think chicken or steak or something on top. I was so hungry, napkins on the lap, fork and knife. I looked down on the salad, and there right in the salad is a fingernail.
It's exactly what I said. And that's precisely what I felt. And I called the manager and I said, somebody back in the kitchen left their fingernail. It would be nice if they could just like take it back. I mean, not just the fingernail, but like the whole salad. I've lost my appetite for this.
I don't want this anymore. So you've tasted God's goodness. God's goodness is the appetizer. These five things are five fingernails that you don't want on your meal, you want to get rid of.
These are five relational sins, horizontal sins that will poison your life and stunt your growth and choke off any appetite you might have for the good stuff, for the Word of God. So don't feed on these things. You know, nutrition really is important, physically and spiritually. One nutrition expert I found said this, food needs to give you the nutrients that you need in order to grow, repair damages, and prevent disease. Anything you put in your mouth, except water, needs to provide nutrition. It should not take away nutrition. If it does, it is a poison. It kills slowly, but it kills. Now think of that in terms of these five fingernails that are gross.
First of all, and if you're thinking this is gross, good, because I want you to think of these five things as gross. First of all, malice is on the list. What does that mean? Malice is another term for evil. A better translation might be ill will, ill will. It is a bad attitude that spills over into bad words and bad actions. That's the idea of malice.
A bad attitude that comes out as bad words and bad actions. It's like the husband came down for breakfast. Every morning his wife was faithful to cook him two eggs, just like he liked it. He always said, I want one egg fried, I want one egg scrambled. So she was just so sweet and she did it every morning. He comes down to breakfast, looks at it and says, yep, just like I thought, you did it again. You fried the wrong egg.
Maybe she married the wrong egg, egg head. Jesus said, from the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. So malice will come out, the ill will will come out in words and in deeds and quench your spiritual appetite. So that's the first one in verse one. Laying aside all malice, the fingernail, if you will, of malice.
Second, deceit. Now the word deceit is a Greek word that literally means to bait a hook. Think of a fisherman who wrote the book we're reading, who wrote a peter. What was he in life before he came to Christ? He was a fisherman.
So this was language very familiar to him. He would be on the Sea of Galilee, he'd be casting the net or he might fish from a line. And typically fishermen bait the hook. The word deceit means to bait a hook.
And really, if you think about it, that's what fishing really is. It's deception. That's Skip Heitzig with a message from the series Church, a Place. Find the full message as well as books, booklets and a full teaching series at connectwithskip.com. Now we want to tell you about an opportunity you have to take your knowledge of God's word to a deeper level. Personal or small group Bible study is a great way to learn God's word. But what if you want to learn more?
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800-922-1888. Thank you. Tune in tomorrow as Skip Heitzig shares why God's holiness is vital to your life and spiritual life. You don't want to miss that. Make a connection, make a connection at the foot of the cross and cast all burdens on His word. Make a connection, connection. Connect with Skip Heitzig is a presentation of Connection Communications, connecting you to God's never-changing truth in ever-changing times.
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