God Is Building You…
Becoming a member of God’s family initiates a lifelong building program.
Just as buildings under construction improve in appearance as they near completion, so, too, should the behavior and attitudes of believers improve as we get nearer our eternal reward.
Beginning to Grow Up (vv. 1-3)
Spiritual growth is fueled by an appreciation of God’s grace.
Read 1 Peter 2:1-25
2:1-2. This section logically flows out of the previous chapter and is connected to it with the word therefore which draws the reader back to the subject of the Word of God.
The Word of God was the content of Peter’s preaching.
The life-changing power of the Word must affect our lives as Christians.
Reborn children of God should exhibit their new life in their day-to-day conduct.
Believers ought to exhibit a different quality of life, marked by continuous growth (see v. 2c).
Newborn babies connects chapter 2 directly with the last section of chapter 1 with its reference to new birth (1:23).
“Newborn babies” does not indicate that these readers were new Christians.
Some were thirty years old in the faith.
All believers need to long for the spiritual milk or nourishment of God’s Word in the same way that a baby longs for milk.
Crave refers to an intense and continuous desire.
Spiritual growth begins and continues through the application of the Word of God (see 1:23-25).
These verses list five sins of attitude and speech that we must rid ourselves of if spiritual growth is to proceed.
“Rid” is a forceful word that calls us to “cast off or aside” certain practices that are deterrents to spiritual growth.
What needs to be cast off “is not the grosser vices of paganism, but community destroying vices that are often tolerated by the modern church.
When a community is under pressure, there is a tendency to begin bickering and division, which only makes the community that much more vulnerable to outside pressure” (Davids, 80).
Malice, an attitude similar to hatred, is the desire to inflict pain, harm, or injury on another person.
It includes the holding of grudges and acting out of these grudges against others.
Deceit refers to deliberate dishonesty, to speaking or acting with ulterior motives.
Anything less than speaking the full and honest truth from the heart is deceit.
This vice is the selfish, two-faced attitude that deceives and hurts others for personal gain.
Hypocrisy has an intriguing history. It comes from a verb meaning “to answer.”
A hypocrite originally was simply a person who answered.
Then the word came to mean “an actor,” a person who takes part in a stage drama, specifically the interactive narrative parts of question and answer in the play.
From there, this word came to mean a person who is acting out a part and concealing his true motives.
Envy must also be cast aside. Envy begins with a desire to possess what belongs to someone else.
But it is more than this. It is a resentful discontent.
Envy is “the feeling of displeasure produced by witnessing or hearing of the advantage or prosperity of others” (Hiebert, 111).
Envy often finds expression through slander of every kind—the final behavior attitude that Peter mentions in verse 1.
“Slander” (katalaleo) literally means “to speak against someone.”
It suggests running others down verbally.
It is speech that deliberately assaults the character of other persons.
It is any speech that harms another person’s status or reputation.
None of these practices should have any place in those people who are born again.
In obedience to the command of God, believers are to rid themselves of such attitudes and actions.
2:3. Believers in Jesus Christ have experienced a taste of God’s grace in their lives.
God’s grace is no excuse for us to behave as we please.
The goodness and grace of God should be our greatest incentives to spiritual growth and progress.
Christians must grow together, not just as individuals, but as living stones, which, when joined together with others, become integral parts in God’s building of a spiritual house.
2:4. We are coming to Christ, the living Stone.
Christ is the living, resurrected, and life-giving God.
Each person accepts or rejects this “living Stone.”
Rejection means “to examine and reject because of lack of value.”
This rejection refers to the people of the first century who ultimately crucified Christ and to anyone since that time who has not embraced Him as personal Savior.
God the Father places infinite value upon Christ.
2:5. The decision to believe in Jesus Christ admits an individual into a spiritual building program.
When anyone comes to Christ, as the Living Stone, a new stone is added to God’s spiritual building— Christ’s church.
As a spiritual building, the church is to be influenced or dominated by the Holy Spirit.
Christians are a new temple of God under the influence and power of the Holy Spirit.
Together we function as a holy priesthood.
All believers are priests.
Every Christian has immediate and direct access to God through Jesus Christ and serves God personally by bringing others to God.
A priest offers spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God. What are spiritual sacrifices?
The Old Testament speaks of spiritual sacrifices of prayer, thanksgiving, praise, and repentance.
The New Testament goes even further by identifying spiritual sacrifices as:
(1) the offering of our bodies to God for His service;
(2) the offerings of our financial gifts; and
(3) practical, loving service to other people.
Spiritual sacrifices in the New Testament involve our bodies, our money, and our time (Rom. 12:1-2).
When you come to Christ as the Living Stone, you become a part of a building, the church.
Your growth begins to speak for itself as you offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God.
So what are the “spiritual sacrifices” that we offer to God?
When sacrificing an animal according to God’s law, a priest would kill the animal, cut it in pieces, and place it on the altar.
Sacrifices were important, but even in the Old Testament God made it clear that obedience from the heart was much more important (see 1 Samuel 15:22; Psalm 40:6; Amos 5:21-24).
God wants us, now His “holy priests,” to offer ourselves as living and spiritual sacrifices—daily laying aside our own desires and following Him, putting ALL our energy and resources at His disposal, and trusting Him to guide us.
The New Testament letters help clarify what this kind of sacrifice looks like:
(1) We give our bodies and wills to God’s control (Romans 12:1),
(2) we offer our love to God and to others (Ephesians 5:2),
(3) we give money to help in ministry (Philippians 4:18), and
(4) we offer praise to God (Hebrews 13:15).
2:6-8 No doubt Peter often thought of Jesus’ words to him right after he confessed that Jesus was “the Messiah, the Son of the living God”:
“You are Peter . . . and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it” (Matthew 16:16, 18).
What is the stone that really counts the most in the building of the church?
Peter answers: Christ Himself.
Jesus Christ is called “the stone that makes people stumble, the rock that makes them fall.”
Some will stumble over Christ because they reject Him or refuse to believe His true identity.
But Psalm 118:22 says that “the stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone,” the most important part of God’s building, the church.
What are the characteristics of Christ, the cornerstone?
(1) He is completely trustworthy;
(2) He is precious to believers; and
(3) though rejected by some, He is the most important part of the church.
People who refuse to believe in Christ have made the greatest mistake of their lives.
They have stumbled over the one person who could save them and give meaning to their lives, and they have fallen into God’s hands for judgment.
2:9-10 People often base their self-concept on their accomplishments.
But the importance of our relationship with Christ transcends our jobs, successes, wealth, or knowledge.
We have been chosen by God as His very own, and we have been called to represent Him to others.
Remember that your value comes from being one of God’s children, not from what you can achieve.
You have worth because of what God does, not because of what you do.
2:9 Christians sometimes speak of “the priesthood of all believers.”
In Old Testament times, people did not approach God directly.
A priest acted as an intermediary between God and sinful human beings.
With Christ’s victory on the cross, that pattern changed.
Now we can come directly into God’s presence without fear (Hebrews 4:16), and we are given the responsibility of bringing others to Him also (2 Corinthians 5:18-21).
When we are united with Christ as members of His body, we join in His priestly work of reconciling God and humanity.
2:11 As believers, we are “temporary residents and foreigners” in this world because our real home is with God.
Heaven is where God lives, not the cloud-and-harp existence popular in cartoons.
Life in heaven operates according to God’s eternal and unshakable principles and values.
Heaven came to earth in the symbolism of the Jewish sanctuary (the Tabernacle and Temple) where God’s presence resided.
It came in a fuller manner in the person of Jesus Christ, God with us.
It spread through the entire world as the Holy Spirit came to live in every believer.
Someday, after God judges and destroys all sin, the Kingdom of Heaven will rule every corner of this earth.
John saw this day in a vision, and he cried out,
“Look, God’s home is now among His people! He will live with them, and they will be His people. God Himself will be with them” (Revelation 21:3).
Our true loyalty should be to our citizenship in heaven, not to our citizenship here, because the earth will be destroyed and then renewed as the new earth, a physical place where Jesus will live with us.
Our loyalty should be to God’s truth, His way of life, and His dedicated people.
Because we are loyal to God, we will often feel like outsiders in a world hostile to or ignorant of God. But there will come a day when we won’t feel that way anymore.
2:12 Peter’s counsel sounds like Jesus’ in Matthew 5:16:
If your actions are above reproach, even hostile people will end up praising God.
Peter’s readers were scattered among unbelievers who were inclined to believe and spread vicious lies about Christians.
Gracious, godly, and winsome behavior on the part of Christians could show these rumors to be false and could even win some of the unsaved critics to the Lord.
Don’t write off people because they misunderstand Christianity; instead, show them Christ by your life.
The day may come when those who criticize you will praise God with you.
2:13-17 When Peter told his readers to submit to all human authority, he was speaking of the Roman Empire under Nero, a notoriously cruel tyrant.
Obviously He was not telling believers to compromise their consciences; in fact, Peter had told the high priest years earlier,
“We must obey God rather than any human authority” (Acts 5:29).
But in most aspects of daily life, Christians can and should live according to the law of their land.
Today, some Christians live in freedom while others live under repressive governments.
All are commanded to cooperate with those in authority as far as conscience will allow.
We are to do this “for the Lord’s sake”—so that His Good News and His people will be respected.
If we face persecution, it should be for obeying God, not for breaking moral or civil laws.
2:16 Christians have freedom in Christ, but the apostles defined freedom more narrowly than the normal use of the word in common language.
Christians use freedom as a tool for lives of exuberant service.
It’s the foundation that God gives us to reach our highest potential.
Because God gives us freedom from religious rules and eternal guilt, we must not seek to indulge our own desires; instead, we should reach for the best God has for us.
Let your freedom sing of power, joy, and love—accountable to God and devoted to loving and serving others.
2:18-21 Many Christians in Peter’s day were household servants.
It would be easy for them to submit to masters who were gentle and kind, but Peter encouraged loyalty and perseverance even in the face of unjust treatment.
In our context, we should follow this principle by submitting to our employers, whether they are considerate or harsh.
By so doing, we may win them to Christ by our good example.
Paul gave similar advice (see Ephesians 6:5-9; Colossians 3:22-25), as did Jesus (Matthew 5:46; Luke 6:32-36). 2:21-22
We may suffer for many reasons.
Some suffering comes as the direct result of our own sin; some happens because of our or someone else’s foolishness; some comes from living in a fallen world.
Peter is writing about suffering that comes as a result of doing good.
Christ never sinned, yet He suffered so that we could be set free.
Jesus’ suffering was part of God’s plan (Matthew 16:21-23; Luke 24:25-27, 44-47) and was intended to save us (Matthew 20:28; 26:28).
All who follow Jesus must be prepared to suffer (Mark 8:34-35).
Our goal should be to face suffering as He did—with patience, calmness, and confidence that God is in control of the future.
2:22-25 This is drawn from Isaiah 52:13–53:12.
Only Christ himself, the sinless son of God, could bear our sins on the cross.
Christ took the death penalty for sin, dying in our place, so we would not have to suffer the punishment we deserve.
This is called substitutionary atonement.
In a transaction we cannot fully comprehend, God placed the sins of the world on Jesus Christ.
Max Lucado’s Life Lessons…
1 Peter 2:1–25
Peter knew that loyal Christians suffered from the abuse of cruel Roman practices.
He told them to expect suffering.
Suffering might be endured so that others could see the Lord’s power to help Christians endure.
After all, God was building a “spiritual house” with His “living stones.”
Peter encouraged his readers that God is building something lasting.
Despite persecution, the people should recognize the glory of their faith and take their God-ordained places in this new “building” of God.
When I was six years old, my father built us a house.
Architectural Digest didn’t notice, but my mom sure did.
Dad constructed it, board by board, every day after work.
My youth didn’t deter him from giving me a job.
He tied an empty nail apron around my waist, placed a magnet in my hands, and sent me on daily patrols around the building site, carrying my magnet only inches off the ground.
One look at my tools and you could guess my job.
Stray nail collector.
One look at yours and the same can be said.
Brick by brick, life by life, God is creating a kingdom, a “spiritual house” (1 Peter 2:5).
He entrusted you with a key task in the project.
Examine your tools and discover it.
Your ability unveils your destiny.
“If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 4:11).
When God gives an assignment, He also gives the skill.
Study your skills, then, to reveal your assignment.
Look at you.
Your uncanny ease with numbers.
Your quenchless curiosity about chemistry.
Others stare at blueprints and yawn; you read them and drool.
“I was made to do this,” you say.
Heed that inner music. No one else hears it the way you do. (From Cure for the Common Life by Max Lucado)
You are part of God’s building—His eternal spiritual house.
What is He calling you to do to help with the continued construction?
You have a part to play.
Ask God to show you.
Selah (let us pause and calmly think about these things)
Thursday, August 11, 2022
HOLINESS FROM THE INSIDE OUT!
“You also, as living stones, are built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that you may show forth the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”
— 1 Peter 2:5,9
Believers in Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) have all been inducted into a priesthood by the new birth, a New Covenant priesthood established by the Lord Himself, in the order of Melchizedek [Psalm 110:4; Hebrews 7:11].
While the Old Testament Levitical priesthood was limited exclusively to the sons of Aaron, all New Testament believers in Messiah are called a “Royal priesthood” [1 Peter 2:5; 2:9].
Exodus 28 describes the exquisite beauty of the holy clothing to be worn by Aaron and his sons.
Anyone beholding these men in full priestly dress would be struck with wonder and admiration at the beauty and significance of this majestic, bejeweled array of garments.
The impression created by the Levitical priests and their sacred adornment could be likened to the New Covenant believer’s outward appearance, which should also be obvious to others; the beauty of good works, tenderheartedness, joyful countenance, etc.
Yet there is another parallel, perhaps even more important: when dressing himself for his priestly ministry, the Levitical High Priest actually begins by donning his linen undergarments.
These, of course, are invisible to others, yet are the garments closest to his body, and could be likened to his invisible inner life.
Yeshua’s Sermon on the Mount speaks to this invisible area of human nature and its propensity to sin.
We may appear quite religious and lovely outwardly, impressing others with cultivated behavior, and good deeds, while our “undergarments” are soiled and anything but holy.
But, of course, the undergarments of the High Priest were also required to be holy, even though no one would ever see them.
Your outer life and behavior will reveal a great deal about you, as your face and actions reflect your heart, character, and values.
But the source of all that is visible in your life must correspond to that which is hidden…your “spiritual undergarments”; i.e. your inner life with the Lord.
The holiness of God should permeate every facet of our lives, so what we walk out in public flows from our private communion with Him
Your family in the Lord with much agape love,
George, Baht Rivka, & Obadiah (Elianna is attending Christian College in Dallas)
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