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1 Peter 1:22 - 2:3: Living and Longing as Those Redeemed through the Word Print E-mail
1 Peter
Sunday, 25 March 2007

In my very first sermon here at Trinity I spoke of my conviction concerning the Word of God, namely that the people of God need the Word of God.  I hope that as we have worked through books together on Sunday mornings you have begun to see why this conviction is so important in the life of a Church.  If you are still struggling to see this, then our text this morning will help you make the connection.  It is the Word that sets us apart, that reveals God to us, that gives us life, and that instructs us in our conduct.

In light of our text, think of it this way: what distinguishes Christian love from worldly love?  It is the truth of the Word that distinguishes our love.  When we speak of loving others, we always do so in light of the truth.  It is not loving to allow someone to continue in their disobedience to God.  We cannot claim to love somebody if we are not willing to speak the gospel to them.  Thus, the truth of the Word enables, maintains, and directs Christian love, which distinguishes it from worldly love.  Likewise, what distinguishes Christian desire from worldly desire?  It is the truth of the Word and the God that it reveals that we desire more than anything.  Our greatest pleasure is found in knowing the Lord through the Word, which sets us apart from others. 

These two ideas (Christian love and desire) are brought out in our passage this morning.  As we stated last week, Peter is giving us instructions on how we should live as the redeemed.  Yet, not only does he give us commands here, but he also demonstrates how these commands are related to the Word of God.  Thus, we want to look at these two commands and their connection with the Word.

First, we must love one another by the Word (1:22-25).
 
Peter gives the clear command to love one another in verse 22.  Look at that verse with me.  Yet, he gives more than just the command.  He also gives us the reason for the command.  Look at verses 23-25.  Peter commands us to love one another since we have been born again through the Word.  The emphasis here seems to be on our continuous love for one another.  Since the Word of God remains forever, we are to continue in our love for one another.  In other words, we can stop loving each other as soon as the Word of God perishes.  Of course, as Peter argues, we know that the Word of God will never perish.  He quotes the passage from Isaiah 40 to drive this point home.  The glory of man will fade like the grass.  We understand this comparison all too well right now.  I have flowers in my yard that have already bloomed and will soon be gone.  This is the glory of man.  Yet, the Word of the Lord remains.  And since we have born again through the Word, our love for each other is to remain.

Not only does Peter connect our reason to love with the Word, but we also see that it is the Word that directs our love for one another.  As we have stated, since the Word remains and we have been born again through the Word, we know that we should continue in our love for each other.  Thus, we see direction for our love in that.  Yet, we see more.  Look again at verse 22.  The purification of our souls came about by obedience to the truth.  It seems that Peter is probably referring to our being born again through obedience to the gospel and this leads to a sincere brotherly love. 

Although I may be stretching Peterís main point a bit, it is at least implied that obedience to the gospel leads and directs our love for one another.  Love between Christian brothers is not some sappy emotion, it is not mere tolerance.  No, love between Christians is driven and directed by the truth of the gospel.  In other words, we cannot be disobedient to the gospel and claim to love one another.  Jesus taught that love for the Father and obedience to the Father go hand in hand (see John 14:18-24, 15:1-17).  In the same way, we love one another by keeping the commands of God.  Anything less cannot be called Christian love.

We are currently living in a culture that does not like this definition of love.  The word for our day is tolerance.  Whatever a person chooses to do, whoever a person chooses to be, we simply need to be able to tolerate them.  This is the only way that we can truly love them.  The Bible could not disagree more with this notion.  Love in the Scriptures is defined by obedience to the truth of Godís Word.  We do not love the lost by simply tolerating them.  Granted, we do not expect them to act like Christians for they are not Christians.  Yet, we do not pretend that all is well in the ranks of man.  No, we stand on the rooftops proclaiming that men have rebelled against God and their only hope is Jesus Christ.  This is love for the lost.  Likewise, as we have been discussing on Sunday nights, we cannot claim to love our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ if all we do is tolerate their sin.  No, true love obeys the text, it obeys the gospel and holds it out as our continual need.  This is the love we need.

Thus, this text calls us to love one another.  In keeping with the nature of the text, we must do this continually.  We can never grow lax in our love for one another.  It does not matter what has happened in the past or how we have been offended, we are still called to love one another.  I am not saying that this will always be easy, it will not.  Yet, we must remember that we have been born again through Godís abiding Word and He has called us to love our brothers and sisters in Christ.  Likewise, we must love one another by being obedient to the gospel.  We cannot define love like the world.  No, we must let the text teach us how to truly love.  We must believe that the best way to love each other is to be obedient to the text and we must act on that belief.  Again, this will not always be the easiest road, but no other road is true.  It is that enables and calls and directs are love for one another.  May we indeed love each other according to the text.

Second, we must long for the Word (v. 1-3).

A better way to say this is we must crave the Word of God.  This is probably more faithful to what Peter says.  Look at verses 1-3.  He tells us to crave the Word like a baby craves milk.  If you have had children or even been around a baby for any amount of time, then you understand what Peter is saying.  Babies do not consider milk as optional.  They do not long for it casually or simply on occasion.  They want like their life depends on it (and of course it does).  Peter says that we need to crave the Word for the same reason: because our spiritual life depends on it.  Notice what he says in verse 2: Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation.  We should long for the Word because our spiritual growth depends on it.  We have said on Sunday night that the goal of the Church is growing maturity among its members (see Ephesians 4:1-16).  But how do we produce such growth?  We produce spiritual growth through the ministry of the Word.  Again, this is why we intentionally focus on the Word on Sunday mornings.  I do not preach through books of the Bible simply because I am not creative enough to do something else (although that is probably true).  No, I preach through the Word that we might all grow as believers. 

Thus, we should long for the Word because our spiritual growth depends on it.  But how does the practically work?  Well, in some sense this is mysterious.  The power of the Word is not easily explained.  We know that the Spirit is working through the written Word to change us and conform us into the image of Christ, but what does this look like?  I think that one way this works practically is that the Word curbs our appetite for sin.  In verse 1, Peter lists a number of sins that keep us from faithfully loving one another as we should.  He tells us to put these sins away.  Yet, how do we do that?  One way we do it is by feeding on the Word. 

Think of it this way.  Since I have been married I have gone a few diets.  Yet, as most people have discovered with diets, they only work while you are on them and most of us cannot diet all the time.  So, we are stuck right?  Well, my problem is not that I eat too much as much as it is that I eat the wrong things.  I donít snack on carrots, I want chips or fries.  I donít want a salad, I want something fried.  Our spiritual lives are similar: we are not healthy because we feast on sin rather than the Word.  We like that temporary, sugary rush of malice and deceit because we have not lingered long enough at the table of God.  We settle for sin and ignore the feast of obedience.  Yet, as Peter states, if we have truly tasted the goodness of God, then we will want to feast on His Word. 

Peter tells us that instead of filling our lives with unloving actions, we should instead crave the pure milk of the Word.  How do we do this?  We can begin by simply getting involved here at the Church.  Tonight at 6:00, our men will begin a study through 1 Thessalonians.  All men are welcome.  At the same time our women are studying the fruits of the Spirit.  We will be looking at Hebrews 3:7-4:13 in our service tonight.  We will continue going through the book of 1 Peter together on Sunday mornings.  Grab a bookmark in the back and study with us.  I know you are busy.  I know life gets tough.  But you need the Word to grow spiritually. 

And do not misunderstand the metaphor, Peter is not saying that his readers are immature and therefore need the Word until they grow up at which time they can move to harder things.  No, Peter is simply telling us that are longing for the Word should be like an infant longing for milk.  Whether we have been a Christian for years or months or days, we still need to crave the Word.  Like a baby, we need to be pacified by nothing else but pure milk.  May we crave the Word and feast on God.

So, in the end, why should we focus on the Word so much?  Because as Peter tells us, it is the Word that empowers and directs are love for one another.  Since we have been born again through the Word and therefore can truly love, we need to give ourselves continually to loving each other.  We should let the Word instruct us as we labor to do this faithfully.  Likewise, we focus on the Word because it is the Word that causes us to mature in the faith.  Our appetite for the Word will curb our appetite for sin.  The Spirit will change us from one degree of glory to the next through the ministry of the Word.  And ultimately, we need the Word because it tells us about our Savior.  It reveals to us true love that was willing to give His life that our sins might justly be forgiven.  It shows us how to be reconciled to God, how to fight for the salvation of others, and how to live as those who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ.  May we continue to live with the conviction that the people of God need the Word of God, so that we might glorify the Word who became flesh for our sakes.  Amen.

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 04 April 2007 )

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