Scriptures

1 Peter 2

Introduction

“Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like new born babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it, you may grow up in your salvation. As the scripture says, “You have found out for yourselves how kind the Lord is.” 1 Peter 2:1-3

Peter begins by using the word, ‘therefore’ in relation to holiness in 1 Peter 1:23-25. He says, if we want to grow, then get rid of all malice. In other words get rid of anything within us which wants to cause trouble.

He says, if we want to grow, then get rid of all guile. Get rid of anything within us that goes about craftily trying to deceit people. Peter says if we want to grow, then get rid of all hypocrisies. Get rid of anything within us which is stopping us practicing what we preach.

He says if we want to grow, then get rid of all envy. Get rid of anything within us which is causing us to be unhappy because someone else has something we want for our self.

Peter says if we want to grow, then get rid of all evil speaking. Get rid of anything within us which is causing us to talk slanderous words and defamatory statements about others.

Peter says for the Word of God to flourish in our lives, we must rid ourselves of these things. If we want to grow by the Word of God we first need to prepare the soil of our hearts and second, we must have the proper desire for the Word.

We know that healthy babies don’t stay babies, they begin to talk and crawl, they grow a little more and become youngsters with temper tantrums and then they become teenagers with their hormones going nuts and then they grow into young adults and eventually get elderly if God permits.

We can see that growth and everyone else can see that growth, but there is another type of growth which isn’t so visible. Just like a new born baby needs regular feeding to help with their continual growth, a new born again Christian also needs regular feeding.

Peter says, God’s Word is compared to ‘pure milk’ which causes young Christians to grow. Satan doesn’t want us to grow and sadly that’s what many Christians choose to do, they don’t want to grow, but growing is not an option, it’s a command, 1 Peter 3:18.

We have nothing to do with our justification just like a baby has nothing to do with its conception but a baby has something to do with its development and we have a lot to do with our spiritual fitness. We must train ourselves, we can’t stay a little baby, we’re supposed to grow up and work out that salvation, 1 Corinthians 3:1-2 / Hebrews 5:11-14.

The best spiritual food for us, is the food which causes us to love God more, love others more, and dedicate our lives to doing right. Because spiritual growth as a Christian is totally dependent upon the Word of God.

Peter is saying that there is no way we can destroy it, and if we desire to be born again and grow spiritually, it is impossible without the incorruptible seed of the Word of God.

Peter says just as babies ‘crave’ for milk, we are to ‘crave’ for the Word of God. Remember we’re not just physical beings we’re spiritual beings, Matthew 4:4 / Psalm 119:165 / Jeremiah 15:16. Christians who don’t overcome sin in their lives are in danger of dying spiritually, 1 John 2:14.

The Word of God is too wonderful for Christians to neglect but sadly there has been a wholesale neglect of the Word of God among Christians in the Lord’s church today. The very thing we’ve been looking at contains the Gospel, it contains the good news, 1 Peter 1:25.

The Living Stone And A Chosen People

‘As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him—you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture it says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” and, “A stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for. But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.’ 1 Peter 2:4-10

Peter says that Jesus Christ is the living stone which was rejected by men, John 1:10-11. Instead of seeing Jesus as their Saviour, they rejected Him to the point where they crucified Him. Even though He was chosen by God and considered to be precious, they rejected Him, Psalm 118:22.

The cornerstone is the most important stone in the whole building because everything else is built in and around it. Peter is saying is that Jesus Christ is the cornerstone not of a physical building but of a spiritual one. Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of a great spiritual house or temple, 1 Peter 2:5-6.

We are a privileged people, because none of us have got a right to worship God, we’re permitted to offer acceptable worship only by the grace of God and because it’s upon Jesus Christ our cornerstone which we all are being built up, 1 Corinthians 3:9-11 / 1 Corinthians 3:16-17.

In other words, Jesus Christ is not the cornerstone of a physical building but of a spiritual one, His people, His church, you and I are a part of that spiritual house, Ephesians 2:19-22.

We are truly blessed but with those blessings come great responsibility. Peter reminds us as this spiritual house is built upon the Christ, we need to fulfil certain responsibilities.

He reminds us that we are to serve as a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices to God and so, the first thing we need to offer God is our very bodies, Romans 12:1-2. The second thing we need to offer God is our praise, Hebrews 13:15.

The third thing we need to offer God is our good works, Hebrews 13:16. The fourth thing we need to offer God is our very lives, 2 Timothy 4:6-8. In other words we truly are a blessed people who serve and worship God in a very special serving way.

I think there are times when we forget who we are and just how special we are. Peter says just in case we forget who we are, he says let me remind you that we are a chosen person, we are a royal priest, we are a member of a holy nation, we are a person that belongs to God.

As Christians, we are what Israel as a nation was supposed to be in the first place. A race or chosen people are a people that have been bound together through common origin, a nation is a group of people who have been bound together through common law.

Israel of old was supposed to be an object lesson, they were supposed to be a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation, Exodus 19:5-6. They were supposed to bring the world back to God by acting as mediators between the world and God, but they messed up.

When Moses was up the mountain the people remained below and ended up building a golden calf under Aaron’s instructions, they messed up. And Moses stood where Aaron should have stood and asked the question, who is on the Lord’s side? and only the tribe of Levi came forward, Exodus 32:29.

And so instead of all the Israelites being priests and mediators between God and the world, the tribe of Levi was chosen to mediate between the Israelites and God. We are what Israel as a nation was supposed to be in the first place.

We are now the chosen people, we are now the royal priest, we are now the holy nation, and we are now a people that belong to God. And it’s our responsibility to be the mediators between the world and God like it was supposed to be at the start. We’ve got the job of trying to reconcile the world to God.

Jesus says that Israel, as nation, will have the kingdom taken away from them and it will be given to another nation, Matthew 21:43. He’s taking it away from the Jewish nation, because they messed up and He has now given to His church, Galatians 3:26-29 / Galatians 6:16. And just like the Israel of old who were responsible for proclaiming the praises of God, we too have the same task.

Peter says we have been called out of darkness into His marvellous light by His grace. By His grace we who were not a people, are now the people of God. By His grace we who didn’t know of God’s mercy have now obtained mercy.

Jesus Christ is not only the cornerstone of His church, but He is also the rock upon we build our lives. As builders who build physical building, we too must choose our materials carefully and work them into the structure of our life wisely. We must be positive that it is built on a good foundation.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus challenges each one of us to build for eternity. He urges us to cast aside such material as selfishness, hypocrisy, lust, and hatred, these can only lead to failure and ruin.

Christ prescribes the materials that will stand throughout time and eternity. He stresses humility, meekness, righteousness, mercy, and purity. The quality of this material has been tested and tried through the centuries.

Jesus says by following His teachings, we are able to establish our lives on solid ground, Matthew 7:24-27, and when we build on His word and obey His every word, then we as Christians can withstand the storms of life. Jesus is truly a cornerstone to those who believe in Him and follow Him.

Peter says to those who don’t believe, Jesus is a stumbling stone. He came into the world for the very purpose of removing the dividing wall, and all that it represented of exclusiveness, bitterness, inhumanity, and religious bigotry and pride.

Either Jesus is the cornerstone, upon which we are being built as stones in His temple, the church, and upon which we are building our lives by following His teaching or He will be the stumbling stone over which we will meet our doom.

Jesus being a stumbling block shouldn’t surprise us, after all, God said this would happen when He spoke through His prophet Isaiah, Isaiah 8:13-15.

We also need to remember that God said this was going to happen through Simeon when he presented Jesus in the temple as a new-born, Luke 2:34. The apostle Paul himself understood that many a Jew wouldn’t accept Jesus, Romans 9:30-33 / 1 Corinthians 1:23.

Jesus was a stumbling block to many of the Jews because they thought that they could attain righteousness by keeping the Law. They could not accept the need for a suffering Messiah to atone for their sins. Pride prevented them from accepting Jesus on His terms. They were unwilling to turn their lives over to Jesus, and to do His Will.

Living Godly Lives In A Pagan Society

“Beloved, I beg you as foreigners and pilgrims, to abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; having good behaviour among the nations, so in that of which they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they see, glorify God in the day of visitation.” 1 Peter 2:11-12

Because we are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation and God’s own special people, it should be of no surprise to us that Peter urges us to conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of our calling.

Notice Peter begins his plea by reminding us that we are loved, Romans 1:7. God loved us so much that He sent His one and only Son to die for us, even before we were a Christian, Ephesians 2:1-5 / Romans 5:8.

We are we are strangers in a strange land, on a journey to our heavenly home, but we need to remind ourselves that we haven’t made it home yet.

And that’s why Peter begs us to keep living right until we get there, because if we don’t live right we might never make it to heaven. The minute we became a Christian, is the time when we became a soldier, with Christ as our commanding officer and ever since that day we have been engaged in spiritual warfare.

It’s a war in which ‘fleshly lusts’ wage war against the ‘soul’ and it’s the outcome of this war that will determine whether or not we will reach our heavenly home.

There will be times when we’re winning this inner war and there will be times when we are losing the war miserably. Paul says his mind wants to do one thing and please God but his flesh wants to give into sin. He says there are times he gets it right but there are also times he gets it wrong, Romans 7:22-25.

I’m sure we’re all aware that people of the world don’t read the Bible, they read our lives and Peter says make no mistake about, we are being observed by others. Peter is telling us if we listen to this plea and live right, it is possible to cause those very people who speak evil of us to glorify God in the ‘day of visitation’.

Some believe that this ‘day of visitation’ might refer to the ‘Day of Judgment’ while others believe, it’s referring to the ‘day’ when God’s grace is shown through a presentation of the Gospel to them.

In either case, the point that Peter is trying to get across is that we will have an opportunity to bring glory to God by the way we act towards nonbelievers.

The word ‘abstain’ means ‘to hold one’s self constantly back’. And so what Peter is saying is, hold yourself back from fleshly lust. Fight against them all the time, don’t give in to them.

We might be wondering what kind of fleshly lusts he has in mind, well Paul gives us a more definite answer to that question in Galatians 5:19-21. Notice that Paul’s list covers more than just sexual sin, he also includes sins of the ‘emotions’ such as hatred, outbursts of wrath, jealousies, envy, etc.

And so, it’s these very things which we must we ‘hold ourselves constantly back’. Why? According to Peter, they wage war against the soul but also according to Paul, they can keep us out of the kingdom of God. The good news is that God doesn’t leave us in the dark in how to help ourselves in this spiritual fight.

To win the fight, Paul says, keep our mind on the things of the Spirit, and not on the things of the flesh, Romans 8:5-6. Now how do we do that? Pray regular, read your Bible regular, meet as often as you can with other Christians, listen to Christian music in the car or at home.

To win the fight, Paul also says, grow in Christ, and don’t provide opportunities for the fulfilment of fleshly lusts, in other words watch the places we go and the company we keep, Romans 13:13-14.

And so if we want to win the ‘war’ between the flesh and soul, and successfully complete our journey to heaven, we need to stay clear of anything and any situation which may cause us to fall, 2 Timothy 2:22.

But abstaining from fleshly lusts is not the only thing expected of God’s pilgrims. Peter begs us to have honourable conduct. What he means by that is that our conduct is to be something which is good, beautiful, harmonious, and lovely.

In other words the way we act towards other people is to be something which is refreshing and we do that by fleeing from fleshy lust and pursing good deeds.

James says there are people all around us who are poor, fatherless, widowed, sick, and otherwise afflicted, he says those are the people we can help with good deeds, James 1:27.

The Hebrew writer says that we all know how to make someone feel welcomed and at home. He says we can demonstrate love and hospitality to our brethren, friends, neighbours, and even strangers, Hebrews 13:1-3.

Our good deeds go far beyond the good deed, like we saw earlier, people are watching, people are observing, and some people will make their mind up about Christianity through your good deeds.

But what about those who speak evil against us? What about those who constantly want to mistreat us? There are times when we just want to strike back at our enemies, but when we remember Jesus and His words, it can actually bring our enemies to Christ. Jesus says we need to react kindly to our enemies, Luke 6:27-31.

‘Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honour the emperor.’ 1 Peter 2:13-17

Whether we like our government and those who represent our government or not Peter has got one word to say to us, submit.

Some translations uses the word subject and other translations use the word submit but it really makes no difference as Peter is saying, as Christians we need to place ourselves under subjection or submit to every ordinance of man.

And this is not the only time Peter is going to ask us to be in subjection to others, 1 Peter 2:18 / 1 Peter 3:1 / 1 Peter 5:5. But when we are told to submit to every human authority or ordinance of man, as some translations render it, the word ‘ordinance’ literally means ‘a creation’.

We are not used to this type of language today but for the Greeks and Romans they were accustomed to describe the appointment of officers as the creation of them. So what Peter is actually telling us is that as Christians we’re to submit not to a particular law passed by government but to the civil government or institution itself.

This is where it gets tough for some of us because he says we are to submit to every human authority or every human institution as some translations have it.

Whether it is a monarchy, democracy, or totalitarian state, Peter says we’ve got the responsibility to simply submit. The apostle Paul reminds us of the same thing over in Romans 13:1.

We may not like it at times, we may not agree with a certain government policies but there are certain policies we must adhere to and we have to submit to them, such as paying our taxes, Romans 13:5-7.

And so, we’re reminded that our responsibility as strangers in a strange land travelling through earth until we get to our real home in heaven is submit to the governments of men under which we live.

Peter says first and foremost, the reason we must submit to the authorities is because it’s God’s will, we’re to submit to the authorities ‘for the Lord’s sake’.

Peter says by submitting to the authorities, we can actually silence certain people by doing good and because of our allegiance is to a heavenly King, Christians are often falsely accused of troublemaking or treason, Acts 5:28-29 / Acts 17:5-8.

Not only is it God’s will but Paul gives us another reason as to why we have to submit to our governments. Paul says have no doubts about it, the governing authorities that exist are there because God put them there, Romans 13:1. Daniel said it long ago it is God who removes kings and raises up kings, Daniel 2:20-21 / Daniel 4:17 / Daniel 4:25. God is the One who controls and rules the world, Revelation 19:16.

We must remember that God doesn’t appoint certain people, it’s God who ordained the idea of people being governed. Most countries are blessed with democracy, where the people have the right to vote for who their new leader will be.

However, sometimes those who are elected as leaders can turn out to be evil, but God can use evil authorities for His divine purpose and replace them when He decides to replace them, Exodus 9:16 / Isaiah 10:5-12.

Paul says if we resist our governments we’re actually resisting God Himself, Romans 13:2-4. And Peter is saying that when we do submit, we will also silence those who might falsely accuse us of wrong-doing.

Is there a time when we don’t have to submit to their ruling? First of all we need to understand that even when a government is oppressive like we see happing in some parts of the world, that’s not a get out clause for us not to submit to their rule.

Put yourself in Peter and Paul’s situation for a moment and their ruling authorities and governments. The government was oppressive, with Nero as ruler, an evil, cruel emperor and it was under his reign, Christians suffered greatly, 1 Peter 4:12-13.

We know from history that even Peter himself was crucified, and Paul was beheaded but Peter and Paul would both say to us today, even under such oppressive governments, our responsibilities remain clear, we are to submit.

Many Christians complain about our government, they complain about their leadership skills and motives but Paul says to his young friend Timothy that Christians should not be complaining but praying, 1 Timothy 2:1-2.

Paul says we are to pray for our rulers, that peace may prevail. If we want a godly government, Paul says pray for it, if we want the people who run our country to use godly wisdom, Paul says pray for it.

Now I believe we shouldn’t obey our governmental authorities when they want us to disobey God. It’s only when the government tries to force us to disobey God, must we then disobey the government, Acts 4:18-20 / Acts 5:27-29.

But even at that it is only the particular laws designed to force us to disobey God that we have a right to break. We have no authority to break other laws in protest but we are asked to pray for those in authority and submit to them in all other areas.

We do have a responsibility as strangers in a strange land under whatever government we may find ourselves under as we travel here on earth on our way to heaven.

And even though we have freedom in Christ, we should use that freedom in serving the Lord and show honour and respect to those in authority. We who live in countries that allow freedom of religion should be especially quick to show our respect and submission to our government.

“Servants, be in subjection to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the wicked. For it is commendable if someone endures pain, suffering unjustly, because of conscience toward God. For what glory is it if, when you sin, you patiently endure beating? But if, when you do well, you patiently endure suffering, this is commendable with God.” 1 Peter 2:18-20

We’re all servants, some have earthly masters whilst others have a heavenly master and some may even have both, but what is commendable conduct before God?

Peter says if we want our behaviour to be commendable before God, then we need to suffer patiently when being mistreated for doing good.

Imagine there is a slave who is trying his best to serve his master well but for one reason or another, his master mistreats him. Peter says it’s then that the slave finds favour in God’s sight, as some translations have it, if he patiently and submissively endures the mistreatment.

Let me put it another way, when we are doing something that is good and despite doing those good things we are still being mistreated, but we continue with the unjust treatment patiently, it’s then Peter says that our patient tolerance is commendable in the sight of God.

But it’s not simply suffering patiently that is commendable but suffering patiently when we do good, and yet we are still badly treated for it. It’s one thing suffering because we’re a Christian but it’s another thing when we’re a Christian and we get all sorts of grief from people when all we want to do is help.

Please don’t think that this only applies only to the master and servant relationship, Peter speaks of this in the general sense to all Christians, 1 Peter 2:13-14 / 1 Peter 3:17.

In other words although he is addressing servants here, Peter is applying a general truth to a specific application and the general truth is submit.

This is a general truth of submission concerning our government, 1 Peter 2:13. This is a general truth of submission again concerning our martial relationships, 1 Peter 3:1. Paul also gives us that general truth of submission concerning our relationship between each other, Ephesians 5:21.

And so, whenever we do good and suffer for it, don’t give up. Endure that suffering patiently because if we do, then Peter says this is commendable conduct before God.

“For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving you an example, that you should follow his steps, who did not sin, “neither was deceit found in his mouth.” Who, when he was cursed, didn’t curse back. When he suffered, didn’t threaten, but committed himself to him who judges righteously.” 1 Peter 2:21-23

Christians are called to follow the example of Jesus and so, just as Jesus suffered patiently when He was mistreated without cause, so should we. As Christians we’ve been called to respond with good even when someone treats us bad, Luke 6:27-36 / 1 Peter 3:9.

“Who his own self bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live to righteousness; by whose stripes you were healed. For you were going astray like sheep; but now have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls”. 1 Peter 2:24-25

Peter says when we think about Jesus Christ Himself and how he patiently endured being treated badly for doing good all the way to cross. He says it was all worth it because we now have the forgiveness of our sins.

He says it was all worth it because those who were straying away have now been brought back to their Shepherd. And so following Jesus’ example can really have a positive effect for the good. The apostle Paul also reminds us that returning good for evil can actually help us overcome evil, Romans 12:19-21.

In other words, just as we were moved by the sacrificial death of Jesus for our sins, so we might best move others to change their evil ways by patiently doing good even when they mistreat us. And that is why we have been called to follow the example of Jesus, Matthew 5:10-12 / Acts 5:41 / 1 Peter 4:12-14.

The point that Peter is trying to make is that the very fact of knowing that we are blessed in the sight of God, the very fact that we have joined the company of a great group of prophets, apostles, and disciples in suffering for Christ. The very fact that we know we’re going to suffer like Jesus can actually help us to have the proper attitude.

It can help us have the attitude which says, ‘praise the Lord’ instead of, ‘I know I’m right and I’m going to get my own back’. We know that God is always behind the good things, but the devil himself is behind the bad things. And he really wants us to retaliate in the way the rest of the world does.

When we suffer as Christians and are treated badly by others, Satan is behind it all, 1 Peter 5:8-9. Peter says we must be on our guard, resist the devil, and resist our fleshy desires, especially our pride and cling onto God. The devil would love nothing more than to hinder our walk with God, His people and those in the world.

He would love it if we retaliated just as people in the world do, proving that Christians are no different than sinners of the world. However, when someone treats us bad, do more good back, Romans 12:20-21.

Peter is reminding us that, there is nothing commendable about stopping when ‘the going gets tough’ but when ‘the tough get going’, and going about doing good, now that is commendable. Jesus didn’t retaliate but left God to deal with it.

And if our Christ-like behaviour does not change the behaviour of those who mistreat us, we know that God will one day do what is right, Romans 12:19 / 2 Thessalonians 1:6.

Go To 1 Peter 3

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."

Acts 2:38

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