DON’T AND DO
1 Peter 2:1-8
Dr. Charles Franklin DeVane, Jr., Pastor
Lake Hamilton Baptist Church
Hot Springs, Arkansas
August 4, 2013
So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe,“The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.
-- 1 Peter 2:1-8, ESV
The first chapter of 1 Peter bookends the beginning of the Christian life, with a double emphasis on being born again (ref. vs. 3, 23). As the second chapter unfolds, there is much encouragement and instruction for those who have been born again. Born again Christians are born to live, for we used to be dead. Born again Christians are born to love, for we used to live in enmity against God and in competition against one another. And, born again Christians are born to learn, for Christianity is a life-long learning experience from which we do not graduate until the day we enter Heaven.
Some mistakenly and legalistically reduce Christianity to a long series of “do’s” and don’ts”. While the true faith is much more than that, it is not necessarily less. Christ compels us to do many things, and His word restrains us from engaging in sinful behaviors with a healthy selection of “don’ts.”
Sometimes the best way to look at this life of living, loving, and learning, is to “do” the things required in the Christian life by “don’t” doing certain things. Simon Peter explains in this text.
Don’t Ever Quit Repenting
Peter begins putting forth this argument by telling us what to “put away” (ref. Ephesians4:22). He majors on “all malice,” then lists four other sins that flow from malice’s polluted stream: “all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.” Granted, these things should have been and indeed are diluted and dissipated at the moment the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit enters at the new birth. Yet, traces still linger even in the new life of the new born Christian because of the bad blood we inherited from our federal father, Adam.
Let’s look more closely at what these sins are, what made them flee in the first days of our Christian lives, and how to keep them from creeping back in. It would be easy enough to do a word study on all five miscreants, but Peter’s original words were meant to flow into one pattern of behavior. They describe the depraved human nature that makes people sneakily pretend to be better than they really are, mostly because of jealousy, and motivates them to speak evil and insulting things about other people. People tearing down people, this is how lost people typically live.
But when one is born again, this pollution is cleaned up by the evangelical grace we call repentance. Repentance is the gift of God whereby we make up our minds to don’t do the sins we used to do. We don’t hate or ignore God anymore. We don’t want to step on other people anymore with malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander. We repent when we are born again, but born again people don’t stop repenting. It is a grace that keeps on giving and a discipline that must be continually grasped. So the next time you are tempted to talk about someone else or otherwise hurt someone else in a mean, sinful spirit, stop for a moment and don’t stop repenting!
Don’t Ever Stop Growing
You won’t stop repenting if you don’t stop growing in the Christian life. Newborns grow. They are programed to crave milk, drink milk, and grow. They don’t taste the milk and spit it out, at least not all of it. Newborns crave milk, drink milk, and grow.
Now Peter (unlike Paul in 1 Corinthians) is not calling his original audience a bunch of babies. He seems to have strong confidence in them, since suffering for Christ was proving the genuineness of their faith in Christ. Jesus said He would come again like a thief, but He is certainly no thief. Peter is saying that if we “long for” spiritual things like babies long for milk, that we won’t be baby believers, we’ll “grow up into salvation.”
What things should we long for? Well, they should be “pure” (a word that is opposite of “deceit” in vs. 1) and they should be “spiritual.” In other words, they should be Holy Spirit, or godly, things.
Some translations even insert the word “word” here. Though in the original language this is implicit rather than explicit, it is a good word. The word of God, the Bible, is a Holy Spirit thing. It is inspired by the Holy Spirit and consuming it daily will cause the Christian to grow in the knowledge and love of the Lord. Read, meditate, obey Holy Scripture, and you don’t ever stop growing. Pray, engage in holy communication between God and the child of God, and you don’t ever stop growing. Worship, publicly and privately, and you don’t ever stop growing. Exercise your Holy Spirit-given gifts of speaking or serving, and you don’t ever stop growing. The list of spiritual things can go on and on, but I hope by now you get the idea. Don’t ever stop attention and attendance to spiritual things and don’t ever stop growing.
Don’t Ever Quit Building
One of the marks of a growing Christian is his or her family spirit. Babies grow and learn to love and appreciate the parents who provided them with milk. Christians grow to love and appreciate the Lord Jesus Christ more and more, and the more they do, the more they realize they are part of a building, a kingdom, a family, a church. Christ gave His life for the church (ref. Acts 20:28; Ephesians 5:25; etc.) and remains the “living stone,” the foundation and chief cornerstone. Newborn Christians, followers of Christ, are “living stones” who continue the building that Jesus began. Don’t ignore, don’t tear down, don’t ever quit building the church that Jesus loves and gave His life for!
We hired a contractor to do some work on the house owned by our church. He never showed up; therefore, the work did not get done. Christians are commanded to show up with the church so that we can show out and build up as a church. We are all part of this “holy priesthood,” not just the vocational pastors or church leaders. The wonderful reformed doctrine of the priesthood of the believer has much more to do with responsibility than privilege. We are all to “offer spiritual sacrifices,” which primarily means public worship but also includes the private practice of witnessing and working for the Lord.
A Christian without a church is like a soldier without an army, a player without a team, a child without a family. We can’t function properly without one another. In tandem, we are builders, builders of the kingdom of God whose visible expression is a local, New Testament church. Be a builder, not a slacker, not a destroyer. Be a builder, and don’t ever quit building for Christ and Christ’s church.
Don’t Ever Stop Believing
To don’t do all of these things does require a least one thing, and that is a sincere faith. Faith, or believing, is mentioned three times in two verses (ref. vs. 6-7) in this text and it permeates all the verses. Without faith, it is impossible to repent, or grow, or build, or don’t do, or do anything else that satisfies the Lord (ref. Hebrews 11:6; etc.).
Faith requires an object, and always our objective faith is on the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Christians “taste and see that the Lord is good” (ref. Psalm 34:8). Christians “come to Him” and follow Him. Christians believe in Jesus. Don’t ever stop believing.
We believe, in large part, because of Holy Scripture, the word of God (ref. Romans 10:17). Peter cites three Old Testament passages in this text (ref. Isaiah 28:16, Psalm 118:22, and Isaiah 8:14). Peter never stopped believing in the word of God, in the fact that all Scripture is true, trustworthy, and will be fulfilled. Christians cling to their Bibles and believe that Christ has come and Christ is coming again. Don’t ever stop believing.
Finally, every Christian should have a bedrock belief that a life lived following Christ according to Scripture will be richly and eternally rewarded. Perhaps this is Peter’s main point in this passage. We repent, even though repenting is hard. We grow, even though growing is not easy. We build, even though every thing and their cousin gets in the way. We do these things, we don’t stop doing these things because we believe with all of our hearts that a day of great dividing will come. For saints who persevered, who did not stop, “the honor” (ref. vs. 7, literally a payment, a gift, a reward) is an abundant and eternal lived in the celestial city built upon Jesus Christ and all of God’s promises. For those who “disobey the word,” an indicator of unbelief and non-repentance, awful and eternal destruction is their destiny.
So, don’t, and do. Don’t stop repenting, growing, building, and believing. And do enjoy the reward God has reserved for all of His newborn babies who grew to be men and women of God.
DON’T AND DO
Dr. Charles F. "Chuck" DeVane, Jr., is the Pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church in Hot Springs, Arkansas. His weekly sermon article, "The Gospel Truth," has been published in newspapers in Arkansas and Georgia. Dr. DeVane is a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and has served in the pastorate for over 20 years. Contact Pastor Chuck at PastorChuck@lakehamiltonbaptistchurch.org