Scripture: “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.” 1 Peter 2:1-2
Observation: So many sections of scripture can be passed over quickly to get to the “eye-candy.” These two statements can be a whole Sunday worth of sermon. I bet that Charlie Spurgeon did just that once upon a time…
Analysis: I haven’t broken these two verses down before.
I think I know why:
1. I considered myself sort of immune from malice, deceit, envy, and slander. I would have accepted (and still do) the hypocrisy gene in me.
2. While I understand the “newborn” reference, I don’t quite apply it to the face in the mirror.
It probably doesn’t matter what the duration from “Yes, Lord” and now is measured in (days, weeks, months, years…decades), there was a point where I did not identify with being a “newborn.” Seems condescending in some sort of way.
I said to the cosmos, “I am a big boy now” and to authenticate that statement I took off my diapers and pulled on my big boy pants.
The Holy Spirit is probably NOT talking to real newborns in Christ but talking to guys like me who boast about being a decades long Believer.
I am breaking verse 1 down for myself:
1. Do I have or practice malice?
2. Do I have or practice deceit?
3. Do I practice hypocrisy?
If I am at all candid and transparent, I must say yes to all 5 points above. And I must take in sober consideration that I am NOT graded on a curve—if I am guilty in any respect, I am guilty in all respect. 95% success rate in overcoming envy is still 100% guilty for example.
Pounding on my sin is not where Peter is going, though. He is clear that I have all of these things innately but gently says “Put them all away. Make your focus not on your sin (because it is there, and Jesus died for that) but focus intently for the “pure spiritual milk.”
So, what is that milk? The Word of God. The writer of Hebrews latches on to that same picture: “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.” (Heb 5:12)
I think that Peter is not denigrating me (you are but a child and will always be a child) but gently reminding me that I have not “arrived”, no matter how far I have come. Peter exhorts later, “Humble yourself, therefore, under the mighty hand of God…” (1 Pete 5:6)
Good advice comes like this: not a slap, but a hug. And no pulled punches (sorry for the conflicting metaphor).
Prayer: Lord God, I cannot help but feel like I have fallen hard. Isn’t that something that when I used the word “fallen” describing myself appropriately in my walk with You, I am just as aware that it could be taken another way and I would have to explain myself to questioning minds. Goodness, how often do folks have to clarify their minds and give up talking about the Gospel?
Anyway: Thank you for saving me. Thank you for caring for me enough that You talk with me daily and cause me to seek You and Your face. AMEN.