Monday, November 27, 2023

Living a Christian Life – 1 Peter 2

Monday, November 27, 2023

Living a Christian Life – 1 Peter 2 Submitted by Kay Crumley

I find I need reminders about what I need to consume.  Last week was Thanksgiving.  I truly look forward to this holiday, at least in part, because I enjoy the traditional meal of turkey and dressing.  However, when I got into bed last evening, I realized I had over indulged and had a difficult time going to sleep.  What we eat and how much we consume is important.  Peter wrote to the Jewish believers as well as Gentile believers who had been displaced by the persecution of Christians.  He was reminding them of who they are in Christ and what Christian living means.  He opens Chapter 2 with a conclusion to his teaching in Chapter 1 of how to grow in their faith.    

Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.   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. v 1-2

In verses 1-3 he lists some things to get out of our lives, malice -the intention to do evil, deceit – intentional misleading, hypocrisy – failure to live up to your beliefs, envy – jealousy, and slander – derogatory statement to harm another person.  That’s a fairly good list of behaviors and attitudes we should rid ourselves of to live as believers.  Our modern term for that may be transparency.  Are we truly exhibiting the heart of Christ to those around us, all the time?  Do we have different “faces or clothing” we wear when in church from when at work or in social settings?  Peter says to get rid of the things of the world and to always be genuine in our Christian beliefs.  How do we achieve that?  He says to crave pure spiritual milk.  Like babies we should cry out for the spiritual food from His Word.  Infants let us know when they are hungry but will only eat enough to be satisfied, not overindulge.   We should desire to learn from His Word taking in as much as we are able to understand at one time. That is how we grow in Him as we comprehend and apply His Word.  We become mature believers and can feast on His teaching in larger, more substantial amounts as we grow to maturity.  We no longer need just the milk but can benefit from the meat of spiritual teaching.  Why? Because the Lord is Good!   

Peter goes on in the next verses reminding his readers of Old Testament prophecy of who Jesus, the promised Messiah, the living Cornerstone is to the Church.  Jesus was raised from death to be the Cornerstone of the church He established by paying the price of our sins on the cross.  We are to fit together like a building, all the stones fitting tightly into one stable, secure building to bring glory to Him.  He describes who we are in Christ in verses 9-10. 

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. v 9-10

We are a ‘chosen people’ or race.  Jesus provided spiritual life to all believers so that all believers are children of God, one people or race. We are a ‘royal priesthood’ or holy priesthood.  We no longer need an intermediary to talk to God.  We have direct access to God the Father through Jesus the Son.  We are a ‘holy nation’, or a people set apart.  We cannot avoid praising Him for the change He has brought into our lives.  We are not perfect, but we are His special possession because of Whose we are.  This new identity we have in Him brings us out of the darkness of sinful living into the light if His love.  We are to demonstrate that new life because we are free from the chains of sin. We must share His love because of the mercy, forgiveness, we’ve received from Him.   

What will the result of living this way bring?  Peter answers that in verses 11-12.   

Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul.  Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. v 11-12

The readers of this letter were living in a foreign land as exiles because of the persecution of believers, Christians, or people of the Way.  Peter is commanding them to be different, not to conform to the sinful behaviors of people in their society.  They, as are we, were to live moral lives which makes them unique.  Our righteous lifestyle is one that can only be explain by the presence of God in our lives so that He is glorified.  We must be consistent in our Christlike life so that we are known by our love for those we come in contact with.    

Verses 13-23 teaches that we are to submit to worldly authorities and why.  We are to respect everyone, love fellow believers, and honor leaders and bosses. If we suffer for doing good that is pleasing to God.  Remember, Jesus suffered for us, but He never sinned.  He set the example. 

How can we be different, stand out in the crowd?  We can do that because of what Jesus has done for us.  He makes that possible as we mature spiritually. The reminder of His sacrifice and provision is found in verses 24-25. 

“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”  For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. v 24-25

He ‘bore our sins’.  We are sinners because we have a sin nature.  Jesus died because of our sins but also for our sins.  He had paid the price for every sin we have committed or will commit.  He provided a way for us to have healing eternally and spiritually.  If we rid ourselves of pride and selfishness, we can admit wrongdoing and heal relationships with others.  He is the overseer, the shepherd, of our souls.  He governs and guides us so that we can live to please God.   

Today, I am reducing the food intake so that I can sleep more comfortably.  Just as we need to be conscious of our physical food consumption, we must diligently monitor our spiritual food consumption.  Are we still, like baby Christians, only wanting milk of the Word or have we matured to dig deeper into His Word to learn what He needs to do to guide our hearts and govern our behaviors so that we can live in a way that is pleasing to Him?   

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