The Bible is uncontaminated.
It's unmixed. It's the idea. It doesn't sour so long for this book.
This is the key imperative. Long for it. Long to long for it. And so you end up with that wonderful prayer request written by a Puritan a long time ago who prayed, God, give me a longing to long for your word.
How long can you go without it? What is it that you long for and crave? What is it that you pursue with your energy and your time? Would you say that your cravings tend to be holy, or would you be embarrassed if others knew what you really long for? There are plenty of gray areas when it comes to Christian living, but in 1 Peter 2, 1 and 2, Peter reminds us that some things are black and white. We're called to crave that which is holy.
Welcome to Wisdom for the Heart. This is the Bible teaching ministry of Stephen Davey. Today, Stephen returns to 1 Peter with this lesson called Holy Cravings. Let's join Stephen right now. Take your copy of the Apostle Peter's first letter.
We've been studying as a family together. We're now in chapter 2. It begins, of course, the first word of this new chapter with the word therefore, and that ties it back to the previous paragraph.
That is in light of the fact that you've been born again into a new family. That's verse 23 of chapter 1. In light of the fact that you are now under a new authority, that's the remaining part of chapter 1. Therefore, in light of all that now, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander like newborn babies long for the pure milk of the word so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord. Once again, these verses constitute one original sentence, one long sentence.
Evidently, the ability to write long sentences was an apostolic gift because Paul does it and now Peter does it too often. One important thing for me to point out for you grammatically though is that this entire sentence centers around one verb, one command. It's there in verse 2. You'll notice it.
You might want to circle it. It's the verb to long for. You can render it to crave, to crave after. The pursuit in the larger context, the pursuit of holy living happens to involve developing holy craving. Now before Peter gets to the specifics of that holy craving, he's going to mention five attitudes that in this context immediately are going to spoil your appetite.
In other words, in order to really crave what you ought to crave, there are five attitudes you're going to need to give up. I want you to notice the first attitude to give up or to cast aside in verse 1 is malice. Peter writes casting or putting aside, casting off all malice. If your pencil is still out, you might want to circle that little word which repeats itself three times in verse 1. It's the word all. In the pursuit of holiness, there is no allowance.
There is no sinful exception. Well, I'm pursuing the holiness in every area but this one over here. I'll just kind of keep that off to the side. All in this pursuit.
All means all. And first of all, put aside all malice. You could render that maliciousness.
That's the idea. We understand that well in the English language. Malice is a Greek word that refers in general to bad behavior. It's sort of a categorical term for a hateful spirit. Desire to hurt someone else with your hateful spirit. And you think, well, surely Christians aren't going to do that. Well, evidently they did in the first century because Peter is telling them to stop it.
Put it aside. He's writing to people who have been born again. They're in a new family. They're under a new authority and he's wanting them to demonstrate the new status they have in their royalty.
Live up to it. Paul wrote, in fact, almost the same command that the believers in Ephesus with these words, let all bitterness and all wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you with all malice. Ephesians 4 31. Now, this isn't a little escape clause. Okay, Stephen, just because it's been a 2,000-year-old problem, I guess we get a free pass.
No, that's not the point. In fact, for 2,000 years now, believers have been struggling with this, a willingness to cast malice aside. And it's going to be that which distinguishes the believer who is in pursuit of holiness and craving the right thing with those who aren't. Believers who are growing up in their faith rather than just growing older.
There's a big difference between the two. We'll see that emphasized in a moment. So Peter is referring here to a believer making continual, deliberate decisions without the smallest sliver of their lives sort of let off the hook. He's referring to continual, deliberate choices of behavior, putting aside all malice that just has continual implications in the life of the believer, literally throwing malice away.
You could even understand that word in the sense of taking off old or dirty soiled clothing. In fact, it's the same word that's used in that context after Peter, the early deacon of the first century church in Jerusalem, he preached his only, at least his only public sermon that we know of, and then they stoned him afterward to death. And it says, Luke records, that these individuals who are throwing rocks at Stephen, they first laid aside their robes. Same word used here, Acts 7.58.
They took off their robes so that they could throw those rocks even harder. This is the same word used by Paul as he exhorted the believers to put aside, to lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light, Romans 13 verse 12. The Christian in pursuit of holiness then is daily, sometimes moment by moment, deliberately choosing to take off the soiled robes of that old flesh that wants to cling to you like a magnet to your refrigerator, and instead put on the robes that reflect your royalty so that the crown will win. The Christian who is growing in holiness comes to hate all the more that old clothing.
Can you imagine for a moment Lazarus being raised from the dead at the command of Jesus Christ and coming out of that tomb where he's been for four days saying, you know, I'd really like to hang on to these grave clothes. I just like this stuff. I think I'll keep them.
No, casting aside and then craving as we'll see, putting off and then putting on is part of the daily conflict between the old you and the new you. Throw away malice. Don't be malicious. You might have reason to think that you can respond in kind.
Don't do it. Be gracious, not malicious. Peter adds another attitude to cast off, putting aside all malice, notice all deceit. So it really asks the question, how committed to honesty are we?
Is there any exception like a final exam or an expense report or taxes? How committed are we to honesty? J. Allen Blair revealed an interesting occasion in the life of Abraham Lincoln, and if you enjoy the man as much as I do, you've probably read several biographies. And he pointed up this. He said Lincoln would not accept a case if he didn't believe justice was on his side, if he didn't believe the person was really innocent. It's probably one of the reasons he was so poor as an attorney.
But at any rate, on one occasion, a man came to employ him as an attorney. And as the man is giving him the facts, Blair writes that Lincoln is sitting in his chair leaning back and he's sort of looking up at the ceiling, listening intently. As the man delivers to Lincoln all the reasons he believes he's innocent and it isn't long before Lincoln knows he's blowing smoke, so to speak. And he finally, abruptly, kind of wheels his chair around and he looks at this man and he says to him, you have a good case in terms of technicalities, but a bad case in light of equity and justice.
So you will have to get someone else to try or defend you in this case. And the man protested. Lincoln said, I will not do it. And he said, because all the time while pleading your case before the jury, I'll be thinking to myself, Lincoln, you're a liar.
And I might even forget where I am and say it out loud. Back to the text. Peter goes on. Thirdly, it says to cast off or put aside hypocrisy. Now we discussed at length this last Words Day, Peter uses it, it shows up in the word sincerity.
No hypocrisy, no mask. He adds next, putting aside envy. Now envy is the resentment of somebody else's prosperity or in the church giftedness or blessing. Envy wants to have what somebody else has. And it can start at a very young age.
That old flesh revealing itself at a very young age. One author by the name of Joseph Epstein wrote a book, he simply entitled it Envy, published by Oxford University Press a few years ago. And he admitted, well, we as parents, if you're a parent or a grandparent, you can often overlook and sort of coddle instead of dealing with it. He confessed very openly that in his childhood as a little boy, his life was filled with envy. He said this, I envied boys with wealthier parents. I envied kids who were smarter, more popular than me. I envied boys more attractive to girls, guys who were better athletes. I envied those who seemed more at ease in their world.
I was quick to detect those friends that had more freedoms, more spending money, cooler parents. He says as a child, I lived in a faint cloud of envy. I have news for you. According to the Apostle Peter, becoming a Christian doesn't automatically remove, clear away the cloud of envy. You have within you the empowering ministry of the Holy Spirit, but you must according to these commands cooperate with the Holy Spirit to make deliberate and definitive and daily choices to chase that cloud away. About the time you think you've chased it away, here it comes again. And Christmas is such an easy time to chase the cloud away, right? I've noticed, have you?
How many commercials during football games play on the envy of people for what their neighbors bring home? Hey, I got this. Well, I got this. And you can just see the face clouded. See, that drives Madison Avenue, this cloud of envy.
The world is wrapped up in it. These old garments that never satisfy. Peter's saying, cast them aside.
Daily make the decision. Why? Because you want the crown to win.
There's another one he adds. Notice the fifth attitude is to cast aside, putting aside all malice and deceit and envy and all slander. The word for slander doesn't really need any exposition. It means what we know it means, gossiping, rumor spreading, an attempt to destroy someone else's testimony or reputation or credibility. It's as if Peter says to them, look, that's what the world is saying about you. That's how they treat you. And all these rumors we've explored together, your cannibals, your eating flesh and drinking blood, the rumors spread in the first century, you're involved in secret orgies of immorality. You have these love feasts and you're giving each other holy kisses. We all know what that means.
All those rumors. As if Peter says that's how the world is treating you. Why in the world would you want to treat each other the same way? Give each other the benefit of the doubt. Think the best of one another. Be slow to repeat anything about anybody unless you have all of the facts and then don't even repeat it unless you're part of the problem or part of the solution. Take off the soiled garments the world loves to wear. Put away.
Slander. In Peter's mind, it isn't enough to be casting these things aside, is it? There's something we need to be craving after at the same time.
As if to say these five attitudes are going to spoil your appetite for something you really ought to be feasting on. Now go to verse two. Like newborn babies long for the pure milk of the word so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation. Now in this second half of this very long sentence, Peter is going to give us a command, an illustration, a goal, and a reminder.
Let's start with the command. This is the key verb. Long for the pure milk of the word. Crave after the pure milk of spiritual truth.
The word for pure here means without deceit. It's used in Peter's day for farm products or things that you would purchase to eat. It's a reference to wheat that doesn't have a lot of chaff stuck in there to make you think you're getting more than you get. It's what they do with potato chip bags. Have you noticed it's full of air and you open it up and you've got that much in there?
Notice that spasticity was disappointing. The Bible is uncontaminated. It's unmixed. It isn't trying to pull your leg. It isn't trying to trick you. There are no imperfections. There are no flaws. It isn't diluted. It isn't mixed with error. It's the idea. It doesn't sour.
It's pure, clean milk. So long for this book. This is the key imperative. Long for it. Long to long for it. And so you end up with that wonderful prayer request written by a Puritan a long time ago who prayed, God, give me a longing to long for your word. How long can you go without it?
What's your appetite like for it? Let's go back to his illustration. Verse 2. Long for the pure milk of the word how, Peter, like newborn babies.
And how do newborn babies long for milk? Quietly, graciously, diplomatically. No, unrelentingly, unforgivingly, piercingly. And if you've been in that position, you've felt the nudge in your ribs, it's four o'clock in the morning and your wife gives you that tragic message.
It's your turn. So you stagger out of bed and you head to the kitchen and you find the bottle and you put it in the pot and you boil some water. Unless she's going back to sleep, you slip it in the microwave, but I'm not telling you to do that. But at any rate, you boil it. And then it's dark, but you just follow the noise.
And you plug up the noise, right? And then you pray they'll go to sleep after they've eaten. That's an appetite that he's talking about. Now, don't misunderstand. Peter's not suggesting here that these believers are immature or new believers. And you think in your mind, because you who are older in the faith think of meat and milk. That's not what he's doing here.
He's not talking about that. He's commending this to every believer. No matter where you are in the spectrum of Christian maturity, he's simply making the point that a believer should never outgrow his craving for the pure, refreshing, nourishing, life-giving milk of God's Word. This is the pure, unmixed Word from our Heavenly Father, who, by the way, never begrudges us, no matter what hour, no matter when, how much. He comes along and he knows just when and how and where to plug up the noise from our unsatisfied souls and feed us. But you notice the goal for such longing after the Word is to make sure we get this right so that by it you may grow up and respect the salvation.
He uses a passive verb, which is important to understand. You're not making yourself grow up in the faith. The Word of God is bringing about the growth in your Christian experience. You don't grow up in your Christian walk any more by yourself than you would as a fifth grader standing in front of the mirror saying, I really want to be an inch taller.
Man, did I ever used to pray that. I mean, I could no more grow an inch by me deciding or even me longing or wanting. No, something's going on internally independently of my conscious thinking.
Now, as long as I'm eating and drinking and I have nourishment somewhere between the fifth grade and for me it was the tenth grade when I finally grew the inch and I was no longer the shortest guy in the class. That's the idea here. Peter is saying, when you feed on the Word, the Word of God causes you to grow up. There's something internally taking place, obviously under the direction of the Holy Spirit.
He was your teacher of this truth. You can literally translate this phrase, long for the pure milk of the Word so that it may grow you up. Spiritual life is not demonstrated externally without the nourishing milk of the Word at work internally.
Do you want the crown to win? Well then, the Word has to be at work privately. If you ever hope to experience victory publicly, we're like sponges. When you squeeze a sponge, what comes out is what is on the inside. Whatever's on the inside comes out under pressure.
The goal of getting into the Bible, as one man wrote then, is so that the Bible can get into you, which is why Martin Luther would write 500 years ago, the Bible is alive. It speaks to me. It has hands. It lays hold of me. It has feet.
It runs after me. And I long for that. And give me greater longing, right? And here's the reminder as Peter completes his sentence. He writes, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord, the word if is a first class conditional participle which simply means and is understood to mean if and since this is true. Peter's concluding, you have this longing because you have indeed already tasted the kindness of God. So, get another taste.
Sample it some more. Maybe you're like me and this is what you do in an ice cream store. My wife and I annually head up to Scream Lake in New York where we're invited to a Bible conference where I get to speak at Word of Life there. And whenever we go, typically at least one evening out of the week we'll join another staff couple and they take us to this little hole in the wall in Scream Lake.
You'd never go there on your own. But you go in there and it's the best homemade ice cream on the planet. And you stand there and like I do, I look at all the tubs behind that counter and that counter is a good 20 feet long.
Names of ice cream like a creamy fudge almond, peanut butter puddles, chocolate cherry cheesecake. And I look at them all and I can't decide. So finally I ask the lady behind the counter to give me a sample. Then after 17 samples, I don't need to buy anything. No, I'm teasing.
I know which one I want. Now I want two scoops of that one after I've had a little sample. That's the idea behind the tasting. It isn't a little sample, it's actually two scoops.
Go for it. Peter reminds them and us, remember these samples of God's kindness to us. Can you remember?
That'll play into your appetite. Do you remember the verse you saw applied in your life? Do you remember God's answer to some specific prayer? Do you remember something happening and you knew only God could pull that off?
Remember. And then I think it's interesting that he does a little shift here because he's wanting us to see the kindness of not the written word but the living word, God. So it isn't just the word we're coming to know, it's the author of the word. You see, the ultimate aim of Bible study is not to master the content but to come to know the master and be mastered by your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. So Peter writes, you've already tasted his kindness, you've already tasted his goodness, isn't it satisfying?
Now go back for more. Well thanks for listening today. This is Wisdom for the Heart. Stephen Davey is currently working through a series from 1 Peter called In Pursuit of Holiness. The archive of Stephen's teaching is available free of charge and you can access it anytime at wisdomonline.org. One of our newer and most popular resources is our magazine that includes articles written by Stephen to help you dive deep into various topics related to the Christian life. The magazine also has a daily devotional guide that you can use to remain grounded in God's word every day. We send Heart to Heart magazine to all of our wisdom partners but we'd be happy to send you the next three issues if you'd like to see it for yourself. You can sign up for it on our website or you can call us today at 866-48-bible.
That's 866-482-4253. If you have a comment, question, or would like some information, you can send us an email if you address it to info at wisdomonline.org. Well thanks again for joining us. We're so glad you were with us and I hope you'll be back next time for more wisdom for the heart. See you next time.
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