April is L-Plate month, where I’ve turned over this website to my students. They are studying an introductory preaching subject this semester, and writing for this website is part of their assessment, as well as a learning exercise for them. I’m hoping you’ll interact with them a bit via the comments function at the bottom of each post, offering some feedback. (Particularly, feedback that’s constructive or affirming – they’ve got me to deliver the negative stuff! Remember, some of them will never have preached before, and some have English as their second language.) They will then incorporate this feedback in a sermon they present in class at the end of semester.
We continue today in 1 Peter.
1 Peter 1:22 – 2:3 | Alex Szanto
At the start of every soccer season I’ve ever played, the first thing we always practise is the most basic moves. We practise passing, running and controlling the ball – all things which you get taught when you’re a youngster learning to play. But without a doubt, these are the things that we practise all the time. The same can be said of the people Peter is writing to do in his letter. In today’s passage, Peter reminds the people of the basics, earnestly commanding them to look at God, and reminding them of their eternal life through Him.1:22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. 23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. 24 For, “All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, 25 but the word of the Lord endures forever.” And this is the word that was preached to you. 1 Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. 2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3 now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.
Peter begins this section of his letter with something simple and easy to understand for the believers he is writing too: (v22) “Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth.” They relate to this as it is the first step that they took. It’s the first step for any believer. In the early chapters of Acts, Luke describes that the first believers repented and were baptised, i.e. obeyed the truth that the Apostles were teaching, and here Peter acknowledges that these people have already done this. But perhaps haven’t followed up on these first actions, thus the words “Now that you have…”
Peter then continues and gives the first of two commands in this section. He writes that the believers need to “love one another deeply from the heart.” If we take a step back and look at this first sentence, we can already see a strong reflection of Jesus’ teaching. In Matthew 22, Jesus responds to the question what is the greatest commandment by saying first to love God, and secondly, to love one another – a summary of the 10 commandments given to Moses after rescuing his people from Egypt.
Peter’s commandments here replicate what Jesus has said. He notes that believers have already obeyed the truth, they have already ‘loved the Lord,” and now they are to love one another from the heart to fulfil the commandments of Jesus.
This is something that perhaps believers struggle to do today. We are always busy trying to “live our lives,” working maybe five days a week, spending the weekends relaxing and going to church, but we never give ourselves time or space to love one another. On a Sunday morning, it’s in-an-out-of-church, home for lunch and before we know it, we’re back at work on a Monday morning. So where is the time to show God’s love to other believers? Something that I always find useful and not too difficult is communication. Sending a text or an email saying “hey, hows your day going”, can go a long way into showing love for someone. Just a thought.
The following few verses – the final ones of the first chapter -are an explanation of what has happened to them through the resurrection of Jesus. Interestingly, Peter finishes the chapter with “And this is the word that was preached to you” (v25), showing that these people are already aware of what is being said to them. Peter, however, is smart, and knows that we all are forgetful and need reminding of things. So let’s take this chance to be reminded.
Through believing in Jesus’ death and resurrection, we have been born again, of eternal seed through God’s enduring word. Peter then refers to a scripture back in Isaiah 40, summing up that we as people will falil, but the word of the Lord endures forever.
There is repetition here of the idea the the word of God endures forever, obviously something that Peter is trying to highlight for his readers. Firstly he mentions it in v23 – that it’s the way they have been born again. He then refers to Isaiah, that we will fall but the Lord’s word will endure, and finally he finishes the chapter expressing that this is the ‘word’ that was preached to them. Peter is highlighting that through Jesus they will endure forever. This is awesome! Through believing in God we won’t fall as the grass or flowers do, but we will endure for ever through the living word of God.
This is all awesome stuff to know, but what does it mean? What is the purpose of Peter repeating what the believers already know? This is where the second chapter of Peter comes in. Peter beings this chapter with “Therefore”. This is the application of what he has already said. Because of what he has previously written, he is now going to tell them what that means in its entirety. So lets find out.
“Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander of every kind” (v1). The first command: rid yourselves of all these negative things. Peter doesn’t just list one kind of “evildoing,” he uses five words in total, all which which show the negative conduct of the believers. Peter’s language expresses that this is the way the people are living. These words almost take a step back from the command that Peter gives in the previous chapter. Here, instead of calling them to love, he calls them not to hate. He calls them not to be people that are cruel to each other. The first command of chapter two.
The second command is one of growth. This is the last five minutes where you are pushing yourself in fitness class. “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good” (v2-3). For newborns, milk is the most important thing for them to survive. Peter’s readers need spiritual milk. Peter is calling them back to the basics. This is the first thing that you need to do, and if you do this well, then we can look ahead, but right here and right now, seek the spiritual milk that brings you back to God.
This is also applicable for us. Everything can get so complex and intricate so quickly that we forget about doing the easy things well. We get caught up in the fastness of life that we don’t come back to the basic essentials of being a Christian. We know how good the Lord tastes! So let’s earnest for the spiritual milk that will help us in maturing in Him.