CRAVE the WORD!!!! – Part 2
1 Peter 2:1–3
1 Peter Lesson #056
July 14, 2016
“Father, we are grateful that You are the God of history, that You are the Creator God who oversees the affairs of men. You have given us freedom, freedom to make right choices and freedom to make wrong choices. Because of Adam’s sin we are corrupt. We are in need of grace and we continue to see the world that has rebelled against You deteriorate into greater and greater chaos, disorder, and violence.
Father, tonight we recognize the horrible situation that has taken place in France. Once again it is an attack by Islamist supremacist individuals attacking innocent people. Father, we pray that You would open the eyes of world leaders, open the eyes of our president, open the eyes of our political leaders to the real danger here.
We are at war and have been at war, not of our choosing, but a war that has been brought to us for well over 15, almost 20 years, going back to several attacks in the 1990s. Awaken us as a people. Take the blinders off their eyes.
Father, we pray that we might use this in grace and in kindness to present the gospel to people desperately in need of truth so that we may help them to understand things the way you have described them in Thy Word and that You might use us consistently to be faithful lights to this wicked and perverse generation.
Father, we also remember Dick Mills’ family, that you would comfort them and for Andy as he prepares for the message Saturday. We pray it will be one that makes the gospel clear to those who are present.
Father, we pray for us tonight as we study Your Word, that we might be challenged, strengthened, and encouraged by this study. We pray in Christ’s name. Amen.”
We are in 1 Peter, chapter two and I’m going to briefly review what I covered last time to set the context, the focal point of 1 Peter 2:1–3 is the command to desire the Word. I think that unfortunately by the way it’s translated by putting this clause at the beginning of this sentence, this comparative phrase, rather, “as newborn babes;” it takes away the punch of the imperative word here, which is to desire the Word.
That’s what the command is. That’s what we’re going to talk about. We’ve looked at the background here in terms of the introduction. It’s written to Jewish-background believers in Asia Minor; what is now Turkey.
In 1 Peter 1:3–12 we have an introduction that focuses our attention upon problems, persecution, adversity, and difficulty. I believe that it’s primarily related to Jewish believers who are now being opposed by the Jewish community out of which they’ve come. They are struggling with two areas of opposition, one from the Jewish community that has rejected Jesus Christ as Messiah, and the Gentile pagan community that is not interested in Jesus as Messiah.
So in those verses is the introduction of the idea of standing firm in the midst of trials with a focus on the future, living today in the light of eternity.
The first major division of the epistle goes from 1 Peter 1:13–2:12 and there are a variety of these imperatives that I’ve pointed out over the last few weeks. The basic idea is to stand in the hope of our calling, standing in grace by girding up the loins of our mind.
The focus is on our thinking. I’m going to emphasize that again because as we get into the first three verses of chapter 2 it takes us right back to the importance of thinking. We live in an era today when it’s sad that the outside world focuses on new forms of mysticism, subjectivism, and emotionalism. All of this is related to a shift away from a belief in objective truth. It impacts every area of life and every area of thinking.
As believers we can’t use the thinking of the world as a criterion. We go to so many churches today and what we find in these churches is a lot of just emotion for the sake of emotion.
Worship is defined as emotion. A person’s fellowship with God is evaluated in terms of how they feel. Again and again, it’s how they feel and not how they think. Yet the Scripture focuses on thinking.
We see these commands. The first command is in 1 Peter 1:13–14, rest your hope fully on the grace brought to you through sober thinking, objective thinking, and thinking on the Word of God.
Second, they were to set themselves apart to the service of God in every area of their life. “Be holy for I am holy,” 1 Peter 1:15–16.
The next command was to conduct your lives in fearful respect of God so it focuses on conduct. Again and again, even the first two points focus on conduct. This is a major word and a major idea throughout this epistle. As Christians it is about how we live.
We have forgiveness. We can confess sin, but the bottom line, as we’ll see tonight, is related to how we live our lives.
We’re to love one another with integrity, 1 Peter 1:22–25. That’s the main command there.
Look at how this is structured based on the imperative mood verbs and that gives us the talking points Peter is working through here.
Then, after 1 Peter 1:22–25, the next command is the one we have here in 1 Peter 2:1, to “crave the milk of the Word.”
Then there’s going to be sort of a parenthetical section from 1 Peter 2:4–9 that we’ll need to spend a lot of time working our way through. It’s a very important section.
Then there’s a conclusion in 1 Peter 2:11–12 that we are to have honorable conduct. Again, this is that we’re to conduct ourselves in this way. Again, that comes back to the primary focus of this section.
So in summary we could say that based on the end of chapter one that this imperishable seed, the message of the gospel of grace, resulted in regeneration. This new life of a spiritual infant, must be nourished by the Word of God in order to grow. That’s where we are in these three verses.
Let’s begin then by looking at the first three verses of chapter 2. Let me read them for you. “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.”
As we look at these verses we have to make some initial observations. Actually these first three verses are some of my favorite verses for a lot of different reasons, but it’s a great summary focus, especially verse 2, on the importance of the Word of God to grow.
It’s not entertainment. It’s not fellowship. It’s not music. It’s not worship. Again and again in Scripture it is the Word of God that nourishes us, that sanctifies us, that strengthens us, and that builds us up. We saw that last time as I took us through Psalm 119 and pointed out a number of the important words.
It’s 176 verses that focus on the Word of God. It’s interesting that at the very end, as I pointed out, the last verse has a plea that God will forgive the psalmist. It takes us back to the importance that we experience forgiveness for our sins, not just at salvation but ongoing as part of the spiritual life. You’ll see how this plays.
The interesting thing about these three verses is that if you read them in various English translations, you get different ideas. The first verse says, “Therefore, laying aside all malice …” That’s not a bad translation, but the participial translation of the verb there is correct, but in English the grammar doesn’t function quite the same way as it does in the Greek.
We lose the thrust of what this means and, in fact, in many commentaries they translate it not totally inaccurately as a command to lay aside, to get rid of, or to quit doing something as they get a little bit more of a paraphrase. It does have an imperatival or command sense to it, which it picks up from the main verb.
It’s kind of an unusual construction in Greek and if you don’t catch it, you miss a vital, vital point. The first thing we ought to observe is that the first three verses of this chapter are one sentence in the original. That’s means that it’s one primary thought.
When I teach Bible Study Methods I try to get people to think in terms of the sentence structure. A lot of times in the Greek you’ll have a sentence that may be five, seven, nine, thirteen, or seventeen verses long. Paul especially has these really long constructions. He has compound, complex sentences within compound, complex sentences almost.
In English they’ll often break these up into eight, ten, or twelve sentences, but if we think just about writing and just about language, a sentence is the basic unit of thought. Even if it’s a compound, complex sentence, it’s still expressing one basic thought, or it may have two main independent clauses linked together that are brought together by the writer to express one thought.
If we break it into two, three, or four sentences, what we’re basically doing is breaking it down into three or four thoughts. That may cause us to miss the main point and to major on things that are secondary. Not that they’re not important, but they’re secondary to the primary idea.
It’s important to recognize and when I teach this, especially to pastors, whether you can read Greek or not, you can look at a Greek text in Logos or some other tool. You don’t have to be able to read a single word to be able to count the periods. So you look at a Greek text and you’re looking at ten verses and you count three periods that tells you there are three sentences in the Greek.
In English you may see eight periods. That will tell you right away that the English text has broken these sentences up. The reason I’m saying that is when you look at this particular sentence there’s an initial participial clause in verse one. Then you have your primary independent clause in verse two, which is to desire the pure milk of the Word. Then you have a conditional clause in verse three that is modifying what is said in verse two.
The main idea here that we need to focus on is Peter saying to “desire the pure milk of the Word”. That’s what he wants us to focus on. That’s the main thought here. It’s a command. It's a command to desire.
He gives us a great illustration of what this word desire or crave means. It’s like a hungry baby. We all know what hungry babies do when they want to be fed. They go take a nap, right? They scream and they cry and they make a big fuss because they want you to feed them.
The problem is we have a lot of Christians today who make a fuss about the fact that they’re being starved to death. I think the reason is because they’ve been on a forced fast so long that they’ve lost their appetite. I know if you ever go on a fast, a long fast, after about the first twenty-four to forty-eight hours you lose your appetite.
It’s not until you get well past that 40th day that your appetite comes back because now it’s life threatening. As long as you’re drinking lots of water and hydrating, anyone can go 40 days without food. The fact that the Lord fasted for 40 days and 40 nights is a miracle?
It may be a miracle to you and me, but any of us can do that. It doesn’t take God’s power to do that. The point that I’m making is that if we don’t get fed, eventually you won’t have an appetite. You don’t desire the Word.
Babies need to let the shepherds know they need to be fed.
The first idea is focusing on what is the main idea, the main thought in these three verses.
The second point I want to make is an initial observation that the first verse begins with a “therefore”. If you’ve been around here for any length of time you know that I like to say that when you see a “therefore” you have to look to see what it is there for.
This is drawing a conclusion but is it drawing a conclusion from everything said in 1 Peter 1:13–25? Verse 13 started with “therefore”. Is it drawing us therefore from just the previous verses of 22 to 25?
Let me suggest that this is probably drawing a conclusion from 1 Peter 1:22–25 and remember, verses 24 and half of 25 are a quote from the Old Testament. So the main idea that’s been stated in the previous section had to do with purifying souls at the beginning of verse 22.
I translated 1 Peter 1:22 this way, “Since you have purified …” “Purified” is a Greek word that’s in the perfect tense. That’s really important for understanding what’s being said here. The perfect tense indicates a past-completed action, not just a past action or an action that occurred in the past and it’s still going on today. It’s a past-completed action. The focus in this verse is on the completeness of the action.
What Peter is saying here is that you’ve already had this purification. It’s already completed. So I would take that to be our positional sanctification that took place at the instant of salvation, our positional cleansing. They did that by obeying the truth and that truth is defined later in verse 25 as the gospel that was preached to them.
They obeyed the truth through the Spirit and what he’s saying is that since or because you’ve done this in the past, now you have to love the brethren. “Because you’ve been born again,” and there again it’s talking about regeneration in phase one, “not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the Word of God which lives and abides forever.”
So he emphasizes this past-completed action and just to remind everyone, we have what we call the Three Stages of Salvation or three tenses of salvation. Phase One is justification, which takes place in an instant of time when we believe the gospel, when we believe that Jesus Christ died as our substitute, died for our sins, and by faith alone in Him, trust in Him alone, we have eternal life.
Right after that, at that instant, we’re justified, we’re declared righteous, and we are born again. We become a new creature in Christ. Right after that, just like when a newborn baby is born, immediately there is a need for nutrition and growth.
It’s not the same thing as birth. Feeding the baby to grow isn’t the same as birthing the baby–even if you “don’t know nothing about birthing babies.” They’re different.
So justification takes place at Phase One. The spiritual life is Phase Two and the last phase is glorification. The Bible uses the word “saved” to describe each one. At Phase One we’re saved from the penalty of sin. During Phase Two we’re saved from the present power of sin. And in Phase Three we are saved from the presence of sin.
We often refer to that first category as positional salvation or positional sanctification where we are positionally new creatures in Christ, positionally set apart to Him, and positionally sanctified. That’s different from the second stage which is being experientially sanctified, where we’re growing and becoming set apart unto God for service as we spiritually grow.
I think it’s important, then, that when we look at 1 Peter 2:1 and Peter says “therefore” he’s going back to this concept in verses 22 and 23 that we have been born again, and it’s a completed action, and that we have been purified, completed action.
In experience, it’s not complete. So he says “therefore” because positional truth is real, we must go on to experiential reality, which has to do with the sin in our life that consistently plagues us.
That’s the second point. The first point of observation was that these sentences focus on one thought: that we are to crave the Word of God so we can grow. Second, the verse draws a conclusion from 1 Peter 1:22–25 which focus on Phase One and says that therefore we must go on into spiritual advance and deal with the sin in our lives. We’re positionally sanctified but not experientially sanctified.
The third thing is that we have to understand some things about this verb to “lay aside”. Some translations, such as the ESV, translate this as a command. Technically it’s not, it’s a participle.
I know, getting into grammar drives some people nuts, but grammar helps us understand exactly what is being said here. This is really important. This is an adverbial participle, which means it says something about the main verb. It’s related to the main verb, which is to desire or crave the Word.
When we look at it, at the word APOTITHEMI, it is an aorist passive participle. That may not mean a lot to us because aorist tense is not part of the English language. Aorist, basically, is a simple past kind of a tense in the Greek. What we’re going to see is that when you have an aorist participle under certain conditions which precedes an imperative verb, it fits a rarely identified category of syntax from the Greek. It really helps us understand what is going on.
First, though, we have to just understand the verb. APOTITHEMI means to take something off. If someone comes into your house in the winter and you’re going to tell them to take off their coat, you’re going to use that verb, to take off your coat, to take off your jacket, or to take off your sweater and to come inside and relax a little.
It’s a word that’s used to take something off or to put something away. It’s also used in a metaphorical sense to remove dirt from the body. When we talk about removing dirt from the body it brings into mind this idea of cleansing. The backdrop of this word is cleansing.
When I mention the word cleansing to this congregation we all ought to be thinking immediately about 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” It’s that experiential cleansing that’s related to on-going spiritual growth.
This word is used in a number of interesting passages. Before we get there, though, because it precedes an imperative verb, which is desire, it does pick up an imperatival sense. What we’ll see is that in this kind of grammar construction, the imperatival idea in this participle is secondary and takes a back seat to the main imperative.
When you translate it as an imperative in English, it looks like verse one is the main imperative and verse two is the secondary idea. We lose the thrust. In the Greek we’re seeing here the participle used this way is stating the pre-condition for being able to fulfill the imperative. It’s the pre-requisite. What you have to do before you can do the imperative. It does have a sense of that imperatival idea.
The next two verses do not have this kind of grammar, but they do use this word, which helps us to see what this word means. In Romans 13:12 Paul says, “The night is far spent, the day is at hand.” He’s talking about the fact that now we’re in the Church Age and this illumination of the gospel is grace and we understand it and we’re saved. Then he says, “Therefore, let us cast off [APOTITHEMI, remove, cast off, or put off] the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light.”
In that context this is not a one-shot deal. We don’t just stand up one day and say, “I’m going walk down the aisle and raise my hand and yield to the Spirit, then boom, I’ve taken off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.”
We know that is a process that takes all of our life. It’s the process of growing spiritually and experientially being sanctified or set apart for the Lord.
We’re to cast off or put off or remove the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. What that means is that we have to change the way we think and the way we live. I’ve known a lot of Christians most of my life and I’ve been in a lot of different churches. I’ve been in Bible churches and strong-Bible teaching churches. I’ve been in weak Bible churches. I’ve been in Baptist churches. I even went to a Presbyterian church for a short time.
One of the problems we have across the board is Christians who spend a lot of time talking about grace and learning about grace. In some cases they have a lot of people who are just glad they get to confess their sin because they never quite seem to change the way they think and live, but they’re confessing it every thirty seconds.
If we think about what Jesus says in John 15 where the command is “to abide in Christ”, which means to stay or remain, that is like saying, “Stay inside the house. Inside the house is where there’s light and warmth and fellowship with God. Outside the house is darkness. Cold. Unbelievers are out there.”
What a lot of believers have is a revolving door at the front door that has 1 John 1:9 written on it. All they do is go around and around and around through that revolving door. They think because they keep doing that they’re going somewhere. They may have taken their 10,000 steps that day but they haven’t gone anywhere forward. They’re just going around and around in a circle.
What the Scripture says is that growth takes place by walking by the Spirit, not walking by 1 John 1:9, not walking by confession. It’s getting inside the house and spending time and dependence upon the Holy Spirit, abiding with Christ, and letting the Word change us.
When we sin we’re outside the front door and we have to get back in. We just need to stay in the house. When you’re a baby believer you can’t figure out how to get out of the revolving door. When you’ve been around for five or ten years you need to figure out how to get out of that revolving door and stay in the house and abide in Christ.
That’s what this is saying. The works of darkness is a term for sin. We need to cast that off. Sin should not characterize our thinking or characterize our lives. What should characterize our lives are those things related to the armor of God, related to truth, and all of that under the metaphor of light.
Another word that uses that same language, APOTITHEMI is Colossians 3:8, “But now you also, put them all aside.” He uses this word APOTITHEMI as an imperative. So take them all off. As an aorist imperative, what that means in terms of grammar is that this is a priority. A present imperative would be understood as something that is a standard operating procedure. It’s not that it is a standard operating procedure. Paul is using it because they’re not doing it and he wants to make it a priority.
They need to put these things aside: anger, wrath, and malice. Isn’t that verse somewhere? Yes, in 1 Peter 2:1 it says therefore putting aside or laying aside all malice. Notice it doesn’t say some malice. We’ll get to that in a minute.
Laying aside all malice. Paul says to put them all aside—anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Interesting. Slander and abusive speech are both parts of sins of the tongue and in our passage; the last thing that Peter lists is evil speaking—broad categories covering the sins of the tongue, gossip, slander, lying, and all kinds of abusive speech. That’s Colossians 3:8. It helps us understand what this word means. It means to remove this sin so it doesn’t characterize your life.
Let’s talk about the grammar a minute. This is what’s fun, because it reinforces a doctrine we’ve learned again and again and some people think is wrong for us. They say this idea that you’re in and out of fellowship is wrong. You’re always in fellowship.
Some people say that this idea that there are those who abide and those who don’t abide [this is from a study Bible, by the way] this is just an elitist idea, that some Christians are elite and abide and some Christians don’t. It’s a total misunderstanding of the concept.
What we see here is a grammatical structure that fits the pattern of what is called a participle of attendant circumstance. What that basically means is that this participle is connected and says something in addition to the circumstances necessary to fulfill the command.
That’s breaking down the language a little bit. A participle of attendant circumstance is not something that I know is a user-friendly term for most people. What you have in Dan Wallace’s grammar are basically five things to look for in the context.
The tense of the participle is usually in the aorist tense. The tense of the main verb is usually aorist but it can be present. The mood of the main verb is usually imperative. The participle comes before the main verb—both in word order and in time of event. There’s usually a very close proximity. The last point is that attendant circumstances participles occur frequently in narrative literature, infrequently elsewhere.
It’s not common in epistolary literature, but it’s still there.
So this fits all of these particular things. This is from Dan Wallace’s Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, page 642. This helps us to look at this and say that this is a really interesting type of construction because this is not one that is highlighted. I read probably ten or twelve commentaries, not just on this passage but other passages I’m going to show you in just a minute.
Not one of them, no I’ll take that back, maybe one of them identified it as an attendant circumstance, but didn’t tell the reader what that meant or why it was important. I try not to throw out grammar just to show off and say, “Hey, I know Greek grammar.” There’s sometimes when the Greek grammar really does bring out a point and this is one of those.
We look at this and it has this idea that you first have to lay aside your sins before you can desire the milk of the Word. What do we always say? Before you can study the Word you have to confess your sins. You have to get back in fellowship. You have to be cleansed. That’s the idea here.
He’s not saying just confess it or he could have said confess it. He’s talking about the ultimate goal to the believer is not just to confess sin and get back in fellowship, but over the course of time we should find ourselves sinning less. We’ll never be perfect. We may sin less in terms of committing 10,000 sins today. I have improved. I only commit 8,000. That’s a huge improvement.
I remember hearing a testimony from a Dallas cowboy football player who had been saved for two years. He said that before he was saved he ran around with a lot of women and probably went to bed with over six hundred women a year. He said, “Now I’m growing in grace. It’s really hard. I’ve had sexual relations with sixty women this year.”
A lot of people are going to look at this and say, “Sixty women! That’s terrible.”
That’s a 90% improvement. This guy is going in the right direction. If we change to a different sin that people don’t get so shocked about and say, “Well, I gossiped six hundred times the year I was saved, but now I only gossiped sixty times.”
You’d say, “Well, that’s a great improvement.”
We’re going to look at some sin like adultery, or sexual immorality or homosexuality and we’re going to say that it’s all or nothing. That’s judgmental and it’s not understanding the realities of spiritual growth. We don’t grow in huge leaps and bounds. It’s not a one-shot decision. We struggle with sin and we struggle with the areas of weakness in our sin nature.
What Peter is saying here is that we have to “lay aside”. We start with confession and when we confess we’re cleansed. The slate is wiped clean at that point and as long as we don’t sin we’re in right relationship with the Lord when we’re not committing any of these sins.
Eventually we will sin and we’ll be out of fellowship. Then we confess and we’re back. Confession isn’t a license to sin but the liberty to get back in fellowship.
That’s what we see here. A participle of attendant circumstance does a couple of things. This is also a summary in quotes from what Dan Wallace says. He says, “The participle has something of an ingressive force to it.” That means you begin to do this, you start doing it. “It is often used to introduce a new action or a shift in the narrative.”
I think that’s important because in 1 Peter 2:1 there’s a shift in Peter’s thinking and what he’s starting to talk about. It introduces a new action because he’s been talking about certain things up to this point and now he’s shifting gears. He’s getting ready to end this section and he’s going to shift into a totally different secondary idea in 1 Peter 2:4–10 and then he’ll conclude.
Now he’s focusing on desiring the Word because that’s how you grow. How are you going to fulfill these other commands that he’s emphasized already? The command to rest your hope fully on the grace of God; the command to “be holy for I am holy”; the command to live your life in fear of the Lord and the idea of growing and conducting yourselves in the right way. All of those down to loving your brethren require the Word of God to grow.
That’s what he’s talking about here.
So the first thing this participle does is it shows an introduction and a shift in the narrative. Second, it says: “The participle is a prerequisite to the action of the main verb.” A prerequisite means you can’t desire the Word and grow unless first you deal with sin.
The emphasis is really on the action of the main verb, but it requires something ahead of time. Let’s think about this for just a minute. “Lay aside all malice.” It doesn’t say some malice. It doesn’t say most of your malice. It says all malice.
All deceit. There is no “all” in front of hypocrisy and envy. I think that’s because those words tie together with deceit, different aspects of deceit. We’ll talk about those words in a minute. All evil speaking. Three “alls” are in that passage.
None of us can do that. We can’t say, “I’m going to go out of here and I’m going to remove all of this from my life.” A one-shot decision like the old sawdust trail at tent revivals where they had sawdust on the floor. Someone walked the aisle and came forward and they called it walking the sawdust trail. It’s a one-shot decision.
That’s not what this is talking about. That’s not reality. We can’t make a one-shot decision. Just quit doing this. It’s not going to happen. We have to confess it first. For a short while we’re cleansed and we’re in fellowship, maybe three or four seconds for some people. As you grow maybe it’s three or four minutes, maybe longer, and you mature.
Before you can desire the Word, you need to remember what David said in the Psalms. “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear.” There’s no fellowship. “How shall a young man cleanse his way?” We read that last week in Psalm 119. “How shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to Your Word.” It’s related to cleansing. You have to be in a cleansed state.
We have this aorist participle for “laying aside”. APOTITHEMI is an aorist participle and an aorist participle always precedes the action in an aorist imperative. Sometimes it’s simultaneous in the past but usually precedes. So when you have this fitting those qualifications, a participle of attendant circumstance is when the participle comes first before the main verb. The participle is in the aorist. The main verb is usually in the aorist. The main verb is an imperative. Now all of these fit here.
Now we have some other similar passages, passages that are difficult for people to deal with sometimes. James 1:21 says: “Therefore lay aside [translated like an imperative when it’s an aorist participle] all filthiness.” That’s from the New King James. The New King James is a little bit of improvement over the old King James which said “superfluity of naughtiness”, that’s the excess of wickedness. It’s interesting that word for wickedness is similar to the word we have here for malice.
It’s the same idea. “Lay aside all filthiness and receive with meekness or humility the implanted Word.” What’s the command? Receive the implanted Word. It’s the same thing that Peter is saying, desire for the milk of the Word. That command is preceded by the fact that we’ve got to get cleansed. We’ve got to take off that dirty robe. You’ve got to be washed by confession and cleansed from experiential sin so you can grow.
“Receive with meekness the implanted Word which is able to save your souls.” That’s not talking about getting into heaven. SOZO can be used for justification, but in many places it refers to spiritual life, like “working out your salvation”, Paul says, “with fear and trembling”.
Saving the life. That’s what James is talking about, how you can get through trials and tribulations [the same thing Peter is talking about in 1 Peter].
Ephesians 4:25 says to put away lying. “Let each of you speak truth.” That’s the imperative. Before you can speak the truth you’ve got to ditch the lies. That’s the prerequisite. It’s the same idea. You see this many times.
Hebrews 12:1 says to “lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us.” We’ve got to ditch the sin that holds us back before we can start running. All of these are expressing basically the same idea we’ve taught for years, confession of sins. We have to get back in fellowship and walk by the Spirit before we can go forward, before we can take in the Word, before we can grow spiritually.
Now let’s just think a few minutes about these sins that are listed here. A couple of observations. As I pointed out already you have three times when the word “all” is used here. If we have to desire the sincere milk of the Word and we have to lay aside ALL malice and ALL evil speaking and ALL deceit, then we might as well just close our Bibles and go home because we’ll never get there.
It’s got to be talking about something more than just not doing these things. That’s a definite part of it. It starts with confession because that’s what cleanses us. That first word malice is the Greek word KAKIA, which means evil or bad or destructive or damaging. It’s just a general word.
All of these are general words. We could subdivide them into many different categories and examples, but this is doing anything that is generally evil or bad, anything that is wrong.
So laying aside all wrongdoing. We could translate it that way. We can’t do that in a natural, pull-ourselves-up-by-our-bootstraps kind of way. We can only do that if we confess sin and we’re cleansed by God the Holy Spirit.
The second word is DOLOS, all deceit. This is the idea of committing fraud or living a life that is filled with pretense or deceit or corruption or dissimulation—all of these various words. Often these words are found together: malice and deceit. KAKIA and DOLOS are found together.
Passages like Romans 1:29. Notice these sin lists. “Being filled with all unrighteousnesses, [pagan unbelievers], sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness [KAKIA]; full of envy, murder, strife, and deceit [DOLOS].”
1 Corinthians 14:20, Paul says, “Brethren, do not be children in understanding; however in malice [KAKIA] be babes, but in understanding [a thought word, not a feeling word, knowing the Word, learning the milk of the Word and knowing what it says], in understanding be mature.”
Ephesians 4:31, again Paul says, “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.”
These are character qualities that should not characterize a believer. We have this word “malice” in that list.
James 1:21 has that word “wickedness”—“setting aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness.”
Malice is anything that is unjust, destructive, damaging of people, or evil. It’s a broad, general word covering a multitude of sins. One commentator in the Word Biblical Commentary states, “KAKIA could be summarized as ‘mischief’ or ‘bad blood,’ the nursing and acting out of grudges against particular people, or against society as a whole.”
I think that may be a nuance here that’s important, because if we’re right that these are Jewish-background believers that are being persecuted and ridiculed by the Jewish community, like they treated Paul, then they could react in grudges, they could react in malicious ways, they could react with sins of the tongue. These are the kind of things that would be covered in this verse.
Don’t let this characterize you. Take this off.
Jesus talked about Nathaniel in John 1:47 and said, “He was an Israelite in whom there was no guile or deceit.” There’s no fraud, guile, pretense. He wasn’t self-serving. That’s the idea there in that second word DOLOS.
The next word says to put aside all malice, deceit, and then hypocrisy. This is from the Greek HUPOKRISIS, which has a root in Greek drama of putting on a mask so that you’re acting like someone else that this mask portrays rather than yourself. It comes to refer to deceit or deceitfulness, duplicity, falsity, insincerity, pharisaism. It’s intentionally doing one thing deceptively in order to mask what you’re going in some other area.
Jesus said in Matthew 23:28 as He is condemning, “Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men.” That’s the Pharisees. On the outside they’re praying seven times a day. They’re giving alms to the poor. They’re giving all these different things, but on the inside Jesus said they were like whitewashed sepulchers. They’re full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
The next word we have linked together with hypocrisy and deceit is envy, the Greek word PHTHONOS. It basically means the same as our English word envy, to desire what someone else has. It’s in that list of sins in Romans 1:29 and in the list of the works of the flesh in Galatians 5:21. It continues to be a sin. It’s wanting what other people have, desiring what other people have, and thinking that what they have is what we should have in order to be happy.
Then the last thing that’s mentioned again modified by the adjective “all” is all evil speaking. This word is listed in another of those sin lists in 2 Corinthians 12:20. Now these sin lists are important. They’re not exhaustive, but they give us an idea of the type of character and character qualities that should not characterize a believer but often characterize the unbeliever.
Not all unbelievers are like this. There are a lot of moral unbelievers. That doesn’t mean they stay there. They’re operating on the flesh.
We get to 1 Peter 2:2 and we’re told to desire the pure milk of the word. It has the idea there of the genuine or mature milk of the Word of God. We’re to do it like a newborn baby. Babies demand to be fed. That’s what should happen in a lot of churches. People should demand to be fed, over and over and over again.
“Feed us. Feed us.” That’s what the pastor should do, but in most churches today the pastor is like a CEO. He’s the manager. He’s the facilitator. He’s not the teacher. He’s going to delegate.
Most models today—very popular for big churches—are the pastor speaks once a week. He’s the motivator. He spends all week working on a twenty-minute message. No wonder they’re so good rhetorically. But they don’t teach anything.
If they’re good, they’re going to be able to turn out something that wows people and stimulates them.Many unbelievers even spot some of these pastors of these mega churches; such as a good friend I have who is about as agnostic and secular Jew as you could find. She sees the faults. She says she studied psychology all her life.
She mentioned some well-known pastor here in town on TV all the time. She said that all he’s doing is giving a motivational speech. It’s just pure psychology. She said she could understand why I say that it’s not biblical. That’s from the mouth of someone who is spiritually dead and doesn’t have a clue about anything going on in the Bible.
She can spot it, but look how many Christians are deceived by that. See, we’re to desire the milk of the Word. Here there’s not a contrast between milk and meat like you have over in Romans 14. Here it’s just using the milk as the focal point of nourishment. We are to be nourished. That’s what nourishes believers.
It’s not music; it’s not emotion; it’s not fellowship; it’s not prayer; it’s the Word of God. All of those things can be a by-product. The early church in Acts 2:42, what did they do? They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles. That’s the first thing. They were devoted to teaching.
If you’re devoted to teaching, what’s the flip side of that? You’re devoted to learning. You want to learn the Word. I’ve been in a lot of churches where that’s not why people are there. They don’t want to learn the Word.
The word that’s used for Word here is an unusual word. It’s not LOGOS, which can refer to the written Word. It’s not RHEMA, which was used at the end there in 1 Peter 1:25, which often emphasizes the spoken word.
It’s the word LOGIKOS, which is the same word that’s used in Romans 12:1 when Paul says that we are to renew our mind, that we are to be transformed by the renewing of our mind and not be conformed to the world. It says, “Present yourself a living sacrifice to God which is your reasonable [or your rational, or your LOGIKON] service.” That’s what we’re to do. That’s the idea there.
This has to do and pertains to reason and therefore, reasonable and rational speech as rational expression. It’s talking about the idea of learning the Word that is spoken or taught. The focus here isn’t on reading your Bible, which you should be doing. I’m always pleased by the people I run into who have made it six months reading through their Bible. They’re going to make it and read it through in a year, following the schedule we put up.
But this is the word that is related to its verbal, rational expression, or the fact that it’s being taught. This is an unusual word and actually few people have taken the time to drill down on this. Few commentaries and people that look at it end up going in this direction.
It’s that you may grow thereby, AUXANO, which means to grow, to mature, and to develop.
This is used in Colossians 1:9–10. Let’s get the context in verse 9, Paul says, “For this reason, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask …” This is what you should be praying for me. You should be praying it for each other in the congregation. “That you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.”
It just doesn’t come because God is going to sort of scatter pixie dust on top of you and suddenly you’re going to have spiritual wisdom and understanding. It comes from studying the Word, being in Bible class, learning, thinking, reviewing your notes—and all of this is important.
It’s for a purpose, “That you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him being fruitful in every good work and increasing …” The word there is AUXANO, to grow in the knowledge of God. It’s not just sort of a disjointed intellectual activity. It builds our relationship with God. We come to know Him personally where He has a vital role in our life.
It’s the same idea Jesus expresses in His High Priestly prayer when He prays to God, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your Word is truth.” [John 17:17] That’s what Jesus is praying here, asking that we be sanctified by the truth. Not by fellowship. Not by music, or all these other things.
The last phrase in 1 Peter 2:3 is “If indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.” That’s the foundation again. It goes back to regeneration. The “if” there is a 1st class condition, which means that this condition is assumed to be true. It assumes that they have tasted that the Lord is gracious.
Now what does this mean? This isn’t tasting like you go someplace and go to a wine tasting, where you just have a little bit of this and a little bit of that. You just get a sense of the flavor.
When we first moved to Connecticut and we were living in a little sort of duplex type of situation in Baltic, Connecticut. We had a lot of time on our hands. When you don’t have to take care of a house, you have a lot of time on your hands.
We took off about the third week we were there and we went over to Newport, Rhode Island just to see what was there. They were having a big festival there, a seafood festival. One of the events they had was a clam chowder tasting. So you would go from restaurant to restaurant. They had about thirty-five restaurants there. So you would go and they would give you a little bitty paper cup with probably less than an ounce of clam chowder. You would just get a little taste of it. After you’ve done that thirty-five times, you’ve had about somewhere about 20 ounces of clam chowder and you’re pretty full.
This idea here isn’t just tasting to get your taste buds stimulated a little bit where you get a little familiar with it. It’s the Greek word GEUOMAI, which means to fully experience something.
It’s used in Hebrews 2:9, “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death.” He didn’t just get a little hint of what death was like. He fully and totally died physically. He experienced full death.
That’s the idea of GEUOMAI. So if you tasted that the Lord is gracious … When did they experience the grace of God? When they believed that Jesus died for their sins and that by His death alone, which is a free gift of God, they had eternal life.
That’s the foundation. Peter is saying that if you’re really saved, if you’re regenerate, then you’ve been positionally cleansed, so now you need to start the growth process. You need to take in the Word of God, but there’s a prerequisite to taking in the Word. You need to confess sin. You need to be able to take off this sin. You go out and walk the streets of the world and you get all this garbage on you. You need to take it off so you can have fellowship with God and you can grow and move from walking in darkness to walking in the light.
It begins with confession but it continues by taking these characteristics of sin, by the power of God the Holy Spirit as we walk by the Spirit, out of our life so that they don’t characterize our life any more.
Now once Peter says this, then he’s going to shift gears in 1 Peter 1:4. I’m telling you I’ve been beating my brains out. Jim Myers came over the other day. We talked about this for about three or four hours. We both spent hours, days, talking about this next section. I don’t know if we’ve come to a firm conclusion yet, but there’s a lot of confusion and little light about this.
I think we got close. At least we figured out which direction we probably ought to go to understand it a little better. I pray the Lord will give me some clear insight by next week. Either that or we’ll come together, fold our hands in prayer, and have fellowship.
“Father, thank You for this time together and this time in Your Word so we can learn what it means to be cleansed, to grow, to remove sin from our lives, starting with confession, and then the application of Your Word. We know the primary element of growth is Your Word.
Again and again, it’s Your Word that matures us and it’s Your Word by which we grow. And it’s the Word as it’s expressed and taught rationally and logically so that we can understand it and apply it in our lives.
Father, we pray that we will focus more and more on Your Word. In Christ’s name. Amen.”