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What Spiritual Growth Should Look Like
March 8, 2020
I Peter 2:1-12
What the Christian Life Should Look Like
I Peter 2:1-12
Introduction: One thing is certain, when a person becomes a child of God things change in relation to God, in relation to others and to self. Things we never understood are becoming clearer, our old friends are slowly, sometimes quickly disappearing, and we find a new awareness of right and wrong with a sense of God’s presence. Whether we admit it or not we all knew that our lives had something missing before we placed our faith in Christ. All of which points to the fact that we needed help. No matter how hard we tried things just never seemed to work out the way we wanted, a void was there that was never filled. Change is hard in any situation, but particularly when it comes to our relationship to God. Peter now addresses what spiritual growth looks like. We begin as a baby in Christ, totally dependent on others to help us grow and mature into an adult Christian.
John the Evangelist, who is praised for his love, was not always loving. When the city of the Samaritans rejected our Lord, he and his brother, James, asked our Lord to rain down fire from the heaven and destroy the city. This was not love. In fact, there must have been a tendency toward anger and hostility in John, Jesus knew exactly who he was calling when selected John. Even though Jesus called him at this point a Son of Thunder, Jesus knew what he would become. The same process took place with Peter, Paul and all of the disciples. At some point Jesus began to mold and shape John's life, he seized upon the weak spots in his character, namely, a lack of kindness to others, and through cooperation with grace, he became the great apostle of love.
The failures of the saints were for them opportunities of self-discovery. They revealed the weakness in their personalities that tore at their souls, which God was going to change and make them into His instruments of grace. This explains the curious fact about many saintly people, that they often become the opposite of what they seemed to be early in life. When we hear of theholiness of certain souls, our first reaction is: "I knew him when " Between
the "then" and the "now" there were many battles, in which the Spirit of the Living God did a mighty work in transition from being lost to saved, from rebel to servant.
What Needs to Go (I Peter 2:1)
What we are to get rid of (2:1, 11b) 1. Therefore, laying aside all
malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking
As impulsive as anger might be, it can be controlled. Saint Paul says to the church at Ephesus, "Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice." God does not command us to achieve that which is impossible to achieve. To control our anger, we must first believe that it can be controlled and then seek God’s help in controlling it. We can control anger through the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Christ can help us defuse our fuse before we blow. He can even change us from a beast into a teddy bear. We must first want the change to take place, then seek it, and before long, with God’s help, we’ll have it.
C.S. Lewis, "Surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of man he is. If there are rats in a cellar, you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness does not create the rats; it only prevents them from hiding. In the same way, the suddenness of the provocation does not make me ill-tempered; it only shows me what an ill-tempered man I am."
What we are to embrace (2:2-3)
2. as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.
When James Garfield, later to become President of the United States, was principal of Hiram College in Ohio, one father asked him if the course of his studies could not be shortened so that his son might be able to complete his studies in less time. “Certainly,” Garfield replied. “But it all depends on what you want to make of your boy. When God wants to make an oak, he takes one hundred years. When he wants to make a squash, he requires only two months.”
Paul commands us not to be hasty in putting people in leadership positions. 1 Tim 5:22
Do not lay hands on anyone hastily, nor share in other people's sins; keep yourself pure.
that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may
grow up in all things into Him who is the head — Christ —
What Needs to be Understood (1 Peter 2:4-12)
What we are:
4 Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious
We are living stones (2:5a)
5a. you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house,
We are royal priests (2:5b)
5b. a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ
We are a chosen people (2:9a, 10) 9 But you are a chosen
generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.
To be chosen by God so often means at one and the same time a crown of joy and cross of sorrow. The piercing truth is that God does not choose a person for ease and comfort and selfish joy but for a task that will take all that head and heart and hand can bring to it. God chooses a man in order to use him. When that is realized, the sorrows and hardships that serving God may bring are not matters for lamentation; they are our glory, for all is suffered for God.
We are strangers on earth (2:11a)
11 Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul,
Today the church finds itself in an alienated world. It receives a bad press with few exceptions. It is portrayed on television and in the movies as either corrupt or out of touch. It’s not "the fashionable thing" to be a Christian.
Christians are speaking less and less about their faith, and when they do, they speak in apologetic terms. We are becoming as grasshoppers in the world when God is calling upon us to be spiritual giants.
Every person who claims Jesus Christ as Lord is God’s personal representative to this generation. Each of us must feel personally responsible for sharing the Good News with others. If we don’t tell them, who will? It is not acceptable to be a Christian and to "let the pastor do it." There is no such thing as a secret service Christian. Be proud of your love affair with God. Hold your head high. Commit yourselves to his service. Look what twelve disciples did, they turned the world upside down.
What Christ is (2:4, 6-8, 9b, 12)
He is the living foundation (2:4a)
4 Coming to Him as to a living stone
He is a precious foundation for believers (2:4b, 7a)
rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious
He is a stumbling block for unbelievers (2:8) " 8 and "A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense." They stumble,
being disobedient to the word, to which they also were
He is the cornerstone (2:6,7b) 6 Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, "Behold, I lay in Zion A chief cornerstone, elect,
precious, And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame." 7 Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, "The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone
He is the chosen one (2:4c) but chosen by God and precious
He is the judge (2:12) 12 having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they
may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.
He is the light (2:9b)2:9b the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.
Conclusion: Very few achieve Christian maturity all by themselves and never overnight. Seldom is the Bible studied diligently without the aid of scholars and teachers. Rarely are people led to generosity by their own impulses.
Very few people are experts in anything all by themselves. They need a supporting community. Do you know a good musician who was not trained, nurtured and sustained by the music community? Show me an athlete who achieves excellence all alone, apart from the trainers and coaches. No one gains wisdom apart from the accumulated wisdom of the centuries, that is why there are colleges and universities and libraries. Medical people are more like ensembles and symphonies than soloists. What business tycoon does it all on his own without dedicated experts in finance, engineering, personnel, and marketing? Excellence requires participation in, and support of, a community of like-minded people.
Likewise in the church Christian maturity takes time, experiences, counseling, study, teachers, and the Spirit of the Living God working through it all over time. Paul summarizes what Peter is saying in
See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another in the fear of God.
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