“Desiring Eternal Growth” – 1-29-17

This morning we’re going to break down 1 Peter 2:1-3. Peter understood the need to desire eternal growth. If you study Peter throughout the Bible, Peter was always growing. The proof is that when Peter was called by Jesus we find the stumbles he made was like a baby crawling, walking, then growing up. Jesus knew this would happen when he told Peter he would become the rock of the church.

Mark Twain is quoted as saying, “Most people are bothered by those passages in the Bible which they cannot understand; but as for me, I always notice that the passages in the Scripture which trouble me the most are those which I do understand.” When we are through with the scripture today you will understand “desiring eternal growth. The question is, what are we going to do about it? Birth is followed by nurture. And just as a baby requires milk in order to be nourished and to grow, so must a spiritual baby have the milk of God’s Word in order to be nourished and to grow up in Christ. There are four specific steps that Peter points out.

1. Get rid of evil.
Rid yourselves, therefore, of all malice, and all guile, insincerity, envy, and all slander.
This clean-up must happen first. This requires our repentance and the changing of direction if it is in our life so we can experience the life-changing power of Jesus. New life in Jesus calls for continuous repentance. Rid, means “to get rid of, to cast it off, to discard.” We do that by repentance. True repentance must always begin with putting off evil or sin and turning from it.

Hebrews 12:1 – “let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us.” He got it. Do you realize how many of our problems would be resolved if we took this seriously? If we did, our lives would be so much more full and blessed. Sin deprives us of God’s best, and yet often we play games with sin. We get as close as we can without being burned. But sin is never without consequence. We reap what we sow. You’ve heard or said that before haven’t you?

Peter listed five sins that destroy ourselves and yes also a church’s growth and effectiveness. The kinds of sin which we all should lay aside or cast off begins with “malice”, also meaning wickedness. It’s wicked ill-will. Malice is a desire to hurt someone with words or deeds. Next it lists “guile” or some translation say deceit and that is deliberate dishonesty. It is a desire to gain some advantage or preserve some position by deceiving others. It refers to a hidden agenda. The list also includes insincerity or hypocrisy which is play acting or acting a part. It is a pretended morality and love. A desire to hide what really is.

We also need to get rid of “envy.” Envy is “jealousy, resentful discontent.” Envy is a desire for some privilege or benefit that belongs to another with resentment that another has it and you don’t. Finally is “and all slander.” This translates to “a defamation of character” or “slander of every kind.” It is evil speaking, often disguised as a rumor, gossip or private information, though in reality it is backbiting lies.
Slander is the desire for revenge and self-enhancement, which is often driven by the deeper desire to deflect attention from our own failings. The worse light we can put another in by slander, the less our own darkness shows, we think

All of these forms of sin deal with that which is untrue. Sin is always deceitful and untrue. If we are to enjoy the life of truth and love and hope, we must get rid of all the evil. These traits have no use in those who are Jesus followers. Rather, in obedience to the Word, believers are to make decisive breaks with the past. Recognize that this is not a one time event, but a life long process. These simply hinders us from growing as a Christian. Do it. So the closer we come to Jesus, the more He replaces our desires with His. How is that going to happen? Is there a way and means God uses to enable us to move on from our past attitudes, habits and sins?

2. Long for the Word.
Peter then wrote: “Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation.” When we have gotten rid of the sin we then must crave the Word of God.
Notice “long for”, means to have an “intense desire for, to crave.” Peter says in essence repent then we must turn to God. In fact, we must not only turn to God, but we must with purpose and aggressiveness.

We know one thing about babies, they crave milk, period. Craving milk comes natural to babies. There is not need to teach them to crave milk. Every few hours they want milk. We didn’t have to beg them to take it. If they could talk, they’d say all the time “I want milk! Milk does the body good! No need to actually set an alarm to feed them, they always let you know and when they get the milk they crave they usually go for it with gusto, AND they usually don’t stop until it’s empty or at least satisfied.

The desire and behavior is instinctive. No teaching required. In the same sense, the Christian is to hunger for food for the spirit. He does not always know what it is he hungers for. He is only aware of a terrible emptiness. The Word of the Bible is the milk that nourishes us. Peter doesn’t say if we’re newborn babes, or when we’re newborn babes, or while we’re newborn babes but rather we’re to continue all the days of our life as newborn babes, craving the sincere milk of the Word.

If we say we’ve been born again, and if we recognize that we are children of God, we should continually crave the Word of God no matter what our chronological age is. It should come natural. How long has it been since you or even I have craved God’s Word. Pray for an inner craving for the Word of truth to be sustained in you all the days of your life.

As a child of God, yet a bit older child of God, you have the choice of whether you will or will not feed yourself on the “pure milk of the Word.” You can decide whether you will feed yourself on the junk food of the world or the food of the Word. That’s why we are to get rid of the slow-burning anger of malice, the trickery of guile, and the divisiveness of insincerity, envy, and evil speaking. The degree to which those attributes exist in our lives will be the degree to which our hunger for the Word will be diminished.

Want to ruin a meal? Eat some junk food. When people stop reading or studying the Word, it’s because they’re eating the junk food of the world. That’s why Peter in essence says, “First get rid of the junk and then you will desire the milk of the Word.” A spiritually healthy Christian is a spiritually hungry Christian. If you are not hungry, you are not healthy. I know if I am not physically hungry, I am usually SICK!

This is the desire which God wants us to have for the pure milk of His Word. The word “pure” is a technical term that was used to describe unmixed or genuine. In other words, the pure milk of God’s Word is truth as opposed to the evil or non-truth which we are to put off. We are toclean our hearts up and eagerly desire to be filled with God’s pure Word. We can trust it totally. What Peter longs for is God’s word, pure without human traditions or legalism or falsehoods added to it or anything else that would destroy its purity. So what is next? Look at the last half of this last verse.

So Peter leads us to cast out impure desires and motives, then we need to feed on wholesome spiritual food that produces the third point.

3. Grow up spiritually.
“so that by it you may grow into salvation” This is so you can grow spiritually. Notice we are told to long for this milk so we can grow in respect to salvation! Too many followers of Jesus today are like the little girl fell out of bed one night. When her mother asked what happened she said, “I guess I went asleep too close to where I got in.” That’s the problem of many followers of Jesus. Asleep in the same place they were when they surrendered to jesus. How we need to be challenged to start growing as Christians again.

Peter declared that the purpose God has for every Christian’s life is for us to grow in respect to salvation. The Bible time and again indicates growth is expected of Christians and Peter indicates spiritual growth is tied to our final salvation. Spiritual growth in salvation does not pass away with death. It extends into the next world as well as this one. The Word will grow us into fuller and fuller expression of the salvation that has been given to us.

The Word teaches us what is truly important in life.
The Word shows us those things in our lives that must change.
The Word corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us how to live right side up.
The Word turns us from babies into mature Christians.
The Word is our spiritual food and without it we will die spiritually, but with it we will grow and become strong. Oh God gives us a passion for your Word again!

God is concerned that we grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ–that we no longer be spiritual babes or children tossed about with every wind of doctrine. Instead, that we may grow up in all things into Him who is the Head–Christ. And that we grow to become more and more like Him, measured by the stature of the fullness of Christ (Eph. 4:13–16).

Many Christians do not enjoy the full benefits of their salvation because they don’t grow up spiritually. They miss God’s best for them. The blessings they get as spiritual babies seem to satisfy them. Guess what? Spiritual babies usually do not make disciples, advance the kingdom and frankly seldom have anyone saying “Hey! I want what you got!”

We grow up as Christians by praying, studying God’s Word, sharing the gospel, and obeying Christ. Let’s not be satisfied to remain at the level we were when we first knew the Lord or frankly the level we were at one year ago, or week ago, or yesterday. If you were to chart your spiritual growth, would it show steady progress? What can you do today to grow more like Christ? Finally Peter also teaches us the need to…

4. Live the life.
“if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.” The craving to grow seems to have something to do with tasting the goodness of the Lord. Peter used Psalm 34:8, which commands us to “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” When you have experienced God’s grace in your new birth, you know it’s good! Those who don’t taste and see that the Lord is good never acquire much of a craving for the Word of God.

If we stop feeding on the word we stop growing. So today resolve to get a taste for the delicious milk of God found in the Word of God. If the word of God is powerful enough to create new Christians, then the word of God is powerful enough to create desire in stagnent Christian souls.
Tasting leads to the deep desiring and craving for the pure milk of God’s Word and living it.

God’s word, this Bible, is critically important we learn from Peter. Is reading and studying the Bible as important to you? When was the last time you read it from front to back? Have you ever? Each week there is a daily Bible in a year verses or if you want the month’s verses are in the back. Look at what the Bible promises to give you today. The Word of God produces spiritual growth. The Scriptures are supremely important to the believer. The Bible calls itself food. The value of food is not in the discussion it arouses but in the nourishment it gives. Crave it rather than the junk food of the world.

Desire eternal growth.

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