Grow Up

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Christians, like babies, are expected to grow. When one is born again, there is an expectation that the young believer will grow into spiritual maturity. Satan and his demons have many weapons that they use to prevent a new believer from becoming all that God has called them to be. One of these tools is complacency, settling for the status quo and not growing. The terrible truth about complacency in the Christian life is that it leads to atrophy and death.

In 1 Peter 2:1, the Apostle instructs his readers to put off malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander. These are all things that hinder growth in our spiritual lives. We are really good at identifying these vices in other people’s lives, but we often excuse them in our own lives.

Let’s look at each one briefly:


Malice means the intent, or the planning to do some harm or evil to someone else. Like any sin, it begins in the mind. Malicious intent comes from festering thoughts. One of the best definitions I read for Malice is “congealed anger”.

Malice leads to Deceit:

This is craftiness or acting with impure motives. Using devious words to get what we want. A classic example of deceit in the Bible is the account of Annanias and Saphira in Acts 5.

Deceit leads to Hypocrisy:

Hypocrisy is pretending to be what we are not. The church is often accused of being filled with hypocrites.

If I claim to love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength and love my neighbor as myself, but my lifestyle outside of the church does not back that up, I am a hypocrite.

Hypocrisy is hiding our true self.

Hypocrisy leads to Envy:

At its root, envy is a lack of faith. It is not trusting that the Lord is good and that what He gives us is sufficient and good for us. Envious people are not able to celebrate with other people when they are blessed.

Ultimately envy leads to Slander:

Finally, the malicious thoughts can no longer be contained, and we begin to verbalize our feelings. Slander is bringing someone down to make yourself look good. Another definition of slander is evil speaking. Most of the time, slanderous people hide their own sin.


The Antidote:

In verse 2, Peter gives the antidote. The reason we act with malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander, is because we are spiritual infants. Verse 2 reads, “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation.”

A baby knows instinctively when they need milk, and where to obtain that milk. Just as babies desire healthy milk, so to, Christians should desire the healthy milk of God’s word.

Sadly, when we harbor these sins, we will be sick, and we will not desire the milk of the word of God. A Christian grows by feeding on the Word. Allowing the Holy Spirit to transform our hearts and our minds.

When we lose our appetite for the Word we will stop growing.

Sadly, we live in an entertainment culture, driven by video clips and sound bites. People have no appetite or desire to read the word of God, rather they will spend hours watching video clips, even “Christian” videos. There are millions of hours of video content by people who claim to be knowledgeable in the Word of God. We spend hours watching these videos before reading the Word of God for ourselves. But you will not grow on secondhand food, you need to feed on the Word of God for yourself.

As we grow, we find out that the Bible is milk for new believers and also meat for those who have grown in their faith. Charles Spurgeon said, “Nobody ever outgrows Scripture; the book widens and deepens with our years.”

However, there are many things that hinder our appetite for the Bread of Life. When we consume internet videos, social media, inappropriate movies and the like, content that we know is against the will of God for our lives, it will ruin our appetite for the truth of God’s Word.  

Grow into salvation:

Verse 2 ends with, “That by it you may grow in respect to salvation.

Nutritionists will tell you that you are what you eat, and the purpose of feeding on the Word is to grow in our salvation.

We rightly celebrate when someone is saved. New believers are a thing to celebrate in the church and it excites us, but that is not the end of the journey. Salvation is so much more than a way to avoid hell. We are saved for more.

A real danger in the church is that we don’t challenge people to mature. We are thrilled when people are saved and baptized, but then we give the impression that it is okay to sit on the sidelines and simply be entertained by Christian activity. Sadly, people who sit on the sidelines for too long end up becoming critical and prideful.

Humility comes from realizing our inadequacy. You only really realize your inadequacy when you are stretched to do things for the Lord that you have never done before or struggle to do.

As Christians, we have been saved from death and saved for life, and that eternal life starts the moment you are saved. Being born again must be followed by growth.

Maturing Christians are growing in the Word.  They are peacemakers, not troublemakers, and they promote the unity of the church. Our greatest spiritual growth takes place when we are forced to rely totally on the Lord. As we grow in the Lord, he will lead us into areas of ministry or situations that require us to grow in faith.

You may be called to some area of ministry that you don’t feel equipped to do.  That is good, because none of us should ever think that the Lord needs us because we have something special to contribute that no one else has. That is a sure sign of immaturity.

What is God calling you to do that is will stretch you?

The Eternal Word of God

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Whenever I can offer Bibles at outreach events or to people on the streets, people eagerly jump at the chance to have the Word of God in their own hands.  They have  a hunger for this book that is supernatural. 

But yet in the church, where we proclaim the Word and stand on it as a pillar of the church, the Bible seems to be less valued, or at least less hungered for. Are you hungry for the Word of God?

In 1 Peter 1:22 we read, “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart.” 

The forgiveness of our sins comes only through repentance and the cleansing power of the blood of Jesus. But the Bible is the powerful and miraculous cleansing agent that the Holy Spirit uses to reveal truth, convict us of sin, and transform our lives (see Hebrews 4:12-13).

The Brotherly Love from the Word of God

The Greek word for “brotherly love”, used in verse 22, means the love that is found in the church between a group of believers.  Peter encourages his readers to love earnestly from a pure heart. Love for others is a direct outflow of obedience to the Word of truth. 

By our sinful nature we are selfish, especially when placed under pressure. Peter is writing to a group of exiled Jewish believers who are going through hard times. They would have been tempted to isolate themselves and care for themselves first.  

We saw this during the COVID season in 2020; many people stopped loving their brothers and sisters in the body of Christ. Our “brotherly love” was tested, and it will be tested again. 

As Christians, we are saved by a supernatural love unto a supernatural love (see Romans 5:5). Our love for one another in the church is evidence of being saved from sin and filled with the Holy Spirit.

The real reason why we don’t love with a sincere brotherly love is because we fear that if we truly commit to loving one another as the Word of God says, it will cost us something. And that is true. But if we don’t pour out what we have first received, we will be weaker for it. 

No one ever gained anything by withholding sacrificial love (see John 13:34). 

How did Jesus love us? He gave his life for us, and we are called to prefer one another in love.  

The Role of the Word of God

To love well, we have the Spirit of God to enable us and the Word of God to equip us. The Word of God is our authority when it comes to interpersonal relationships in the church. A right relationship with the Word of God will lead to right relationships with each other. 

The Bible is the best counselor, leadership manual, teambuilder, discipling tool, parent manual, marriage guide, and so much more. The Word of God is a pillar of the church because that is what ties us together. We have this supernatural truth in common: we have been changed and transformed by the power of the Word of God. 

1 Peter 1:23 says, “Since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God.” 

Peter again uses the phrase “born again”. If you are a follower of Jesus, you have been born again into a living hope (see John 3:3). 

Peter compares the Word of God to a seed; he was obviously remembering the parable that Jesus taught in Matthew 13. A small seed seems insignificant and is useless unless it is planted. And if the seed is planted in good soil and is well watered, it will grow to produce a harvest. That is what the Word of God does in our lives. 

The Endurance of the Word of God

In verse 24, Peter quotes Isaiah 40:6-8, describing the eternal nature of the Word of God. 

We are eternal beings living in temporary bodies that will ultimately become dust. We are passing through this world, and everything we build is short-lived. But the unchanging truth is that the Word of God will remain forever. 

God’s Word is eternal, and the fruit of the seed of God’s Word is eternal. Peter reminds his readers that the Gospel that was preached to them is the eternal Word. We cannot add to the Gospel; we simply must receive the Good News and apply it to our lives. There is enduring power in the Word (see John 1:1-5). 

The Power of the Word of God:

We need the teaching and the preaching of the Word today more than ever; there is so much false teaching in the church, and people simply don’t know the Word of God for themselves. 

I always cringe when well-meaning people suggest that we just need to worship and pray; we don’t need to have so much preaching and teaching on Sunday mornings. 

Worship and prayer are excellent and needed, but without the declaration of the truth, the church will starve. The global church today has millions of starving Christians who are well entertained, whose emotions are excited, but whose souls are starving for the transforming power of the Word of God. 

In Ephesians 6, we read that we are in a spiritual war, and the weapon of offense that we have is the Word of God, the sword of the Spirit. When Jesus was tempted by Satan in Luke 4, he simply declared the Word of God and Satan fled, defeated. That is how we fight our battles—with the Word.

As a pastor it is my duty to present a meal of substance on a Sunday morning from the Word of God. I take the preparation and declaration of the authoritative Word very seriously. I will always endeavor to declare the truth of God’s Word because it has the power to transform lives. 

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

Don’t Waste Your Life

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Have you considered how much time you waste in a day? In today’s passage, the apostle Peter reminds us that we are judged impartially by God, ransomed from futility, and set apart for God’s glory.

Judged Impartially

Peter writes in 1 Peter 1:17, “And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile.”

God judges everyone impartially; we do not because even in our very best intentions, we are still biased. 

God is merciful and forgiving, but He is also a loving disciplinarian who cannot permit His children to enjoy sin. God takes sin seriously; sin must be dealt with.

Our actions, righteous or sinful, lead to either blessings or correction from our Heavenly Father. 

The pain of being separated from our relationship with God is a natural consequence of our sin. God does not show partiality. 

God doesn’t grant people a pass to sin because they have done great exploits for the Kingdom of God. One cannot build up “credit” with God in order to offset some future or intended sin. 

Warren Wiersbe writes, “Years of obedience cannot purchase an hour of disobedience.”

The only reason we can even speak to God is because of what Jesus has done for us on the cross. All we must do to be set free from sin is look at the cross and the price He paid for us. Our Father judges impartially; our sin has been dealt with on the cross. We are covered in the righteousness of Christ. Thus, we live to please God in our lives, fearing the possibility of bringing disrepute to the name of the one who died for us. 

Our heavenly Father lovingly disciplines His children today and our works will be judged later at the judgment seat of Christ (see 2 Corinthians 5:10). 

Sadly, the global church seems to have worked so hard to make God relatable to the lost world that He has been remade in our image, reduced to a friendly grandfather who is always on call to give us whatever we want. But our God is a consuming fire (See Hebrews 12:29). He is completely holy and holds our very beings together. 

Ransomed from Futility

Peter continues in verse 18 to remind the readers that they were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from their forefathers. He reminds his readers and us today that someone paid the price of our freedom (see Romans 6:23). 

We were all sinners condemned to an eternity separated from God, but Romans 5:8 says that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Jesus purchased our freedom from futility.  Before we became followers of Jesus, we were slaves to a purposeless lifestyle that leads to death. 

Peter is writing to the Jews who were in exile in Babylon. He is writing to the children of Israel whose forefathers had been miraculously set free from Egypt under the leadership of Moses. 

They were set free for a purpose, and yet they rejected the call of God. By their disobedience, they rejected the call to the Promised Land. They rejected the plan that God had for their generation, and they wandered aimlessly in the wilderness until they all died. 

Are you wandering aimlessly in the wilderness of this world? Seeking pleasure and entertainment rather than the plan of God for your life?

If you are a follower of Jesus, you are free to live with a new life and purpose that God has planned for you. Do you know this freedom today?  

Do you know what you have been saved from? Do you know the freedom that comes from being washed by the blood of Jesus and filled with the Holy Spirit?

Set Apart for God’s Glory

In verse 20-21 we read, “He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.”

Peter explains that the death and resurrection of Christ was not a sudden change of plans for God. God does not react to things in the world; He ordained that Jesus would suffer and die and be raised on the third day. This was God’s plan before the beginning of time. We cannot understand that, but God sees all human history and future at the same moment. Nothing is hidden from Him. 

From a human perspective, and from Peter’s perspective on the day Jesus was crucified, Jesus was cruelly murdered. It seemed like God the Father had made a mistake; the Savior was not supposed to die. But that was God’s plan all along. Peter may have remembered what Jesus had said in John 10:17-18, that he would lay down his own life and take it up again. 

Peter highlights this truth that Jesus was raised from the dead. This was the primary message of the early church. Jesus is alive, and he is interceding for us today at the Father’s right hand. Without the resurrection, we have no hope. We have nothing to live for in times of hardship and trial. But our Redeemer lives. 

When we meditate on all that Jesus has done for us, the incredible salvation gift that we have been given, it ought to affect our every decision. We should be compelled to live set apart lives for the glory of God. 

We have the call to be holy in 1 Peter 1:13-16; now we have the call to live a life of purpose. A call not to waste a moment. Jesus came to set us free; he was crucified, and his blood was the price for our redemption. He was raised from the dead, and now we have the privilege of living for him, to bring glory to his name and to live a life of purpose. 

Make It Count

The captain of the World Cup winning South African rugby team, Siya Kolisi, has a motto that he lives by: “Don’t count your days, but make your days count.”

We have been blessed with life and spiritual gifts by the Holy Spirit: how are we using what we have been given?

Are you using the days that God has given you for His purposes as one who has been judged impartially by God, ransomed from futility, and set free for the glory of God?

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10

A call to Holiness

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It has been said that the theme of 1 Peter is, “The Christian’s hope in times of trial”.

In the first section of chapter 1, Peter emphasized walking in hope; but now his emphasis is walking in holiness (see 1 John 3:3). 

1 Peter 1:13 reads, “Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

Prepared for Action

We prepare our minds for action by putting on the Helmet of Salvation as part of the Armor of God from Ephesians 6. The Gospel protects our minds against the false message of Satan’s kingdom.  

Sober Minded

Peter then exhorts his readers to be “sober minded”, that is, to think rightly and  clearly. Don’t allow gossip, lust, envy, pride, conceit, fear or any other thought that is contrary to the truth of God’s word to dwell in your mind. 

You are not what you think you are, but what you think – that you are”. Brian Tracy

What you choose to dwell on will make or break you. It will determine what type of person you will end up becoming in this life.

Ultimately, you choose what to think about, you choose what to dwell on, affects your whole life. (see Philippians 4:8).  The Apostle Peter is addressing the readers’ thinking. Where does our temptation and trouble always start? With a thought or an idea. We see something that  triggers a thought that leads to temptation.

Our minds are the epicenter of the spiritual war that we are engaged in. 

Satan wants to corrupt our minds with his lies. This is why the media and entertainment industry are so incredibly powerful. There is a battle for control of our minds. 

To fight this, we must spend time in God’s word. We are living in a world with constant information, news, movies, radio, internet, and social media.  We are saturated with up to sixteen hours a day of information—and not much of it is good. 

Sadly, the average believer doesn’t feel that it is important to read and meditate on God’s Word. When we neglect feeding on God’s Word, saturating ourselves with the truth, we will find it difficult to discern the truth. 

Proper actions come from proper thinking. What we think about will ultimately determine our practices. 

We often are surprised when someone we know is caught in a grievous sin or criminal activity, but it all begins with improper thinking. 

Hope Set Fully

Peter continues, in verse 13, “Set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”  

As Christ followers, we should be thinking about the imminent return of Jesus. It should be so real to us that it governs every decision and action in the present. 

From my own personal experience, I find that it is usually in hard times that I think about the possibility of Jesus coming again, but when times are good, it isn’t really on my mind. However, Christians should always live with the expectation of seeing Jesus Christ.

Warren Wiersbe wrote, “A Christian who is looking for the glory of God has a greater motivation for present obedience than a Christian who ignores the Lord’s return.” 

When we center our thinking around the eternal Kingdom of God, we are free from the things that hinder our walk with the Lord. As you do that, we experience His grace. Grace to live out the Gospel of the kingdom of heaven (see Titus 2:11–13), and grace to endure tough times.

Conformed to Christ

The letter continues in verse 14, “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance”. We are blessed to be God’s dearly loved children, not subservient slaves. 

Children inherit habits and nature from their parents. As we walk with the Lord, growing in our relationship with Him, we will become more like Him. It will affect our thoughts, decisions, and our lifestyle. 

When we didn’t know the Gospel, we were simply ignorant and lost, and we gave ourselves to pleasures of the world that only bring disappointment and ultimately death. 

As Christians we are called to live differently, with a new nature given to us by the Holy Spirit. Verse 15 says, “but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct.”

Were it not for the call of God on our lives, we would still be living in sin, lost in ignorance. When we respond to the call of God, He changes everything (see 1 Peter 2:9).

Verse 16 continues, “since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

It is written,” is a statement that carries great authority for Christians. Jesus repeatedly used that phrase in Matthew 4 when he was being tempted in the wilderness. Jesus quoted the Word of God, and Satan had to flee. 

There is power in the Word. Sadly, too many Christians are weak because they don’t know or even care to know the Word of God (see Psalm 1:1-3). 

Then we have the phrase, “be holy for I am holy”. As a young believer this phrase was confusing and hard to understand. How can I be perfect like God? 

The holiness of God is part of His nature. Holiness means to be set apart, to be separate from anything that is unclean or sinful. As believers we are called to be holy, set apart for the exclusive use and glory of God. Every aspect of our lives is to be set apart for the glory of God. To a believer, there is no such thing as “secular” and “sacred” (see1 Corinthians: 10:31). 

If something cannot be done to the glory of God, then we can be sure it must be outside of the will of God.

What area of your life is God calling you to walk in a greater level of holiness today?