Monday, February 20, 2017, 11:11 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Seek the Lord.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read I Peter 2:1-8 (NASB).
Put off Put on (vv. 1-3)
Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.
In the first chapter of 1 Peter we are instructed, on the basis of what Jesus Christ did for us in saving us from our sins, to be holy in all that we do. We are to be self-controlled, obedient, and we should no longer conform to the evil desires we had before we believed in Jesus to be our Savior. As well, we are to live our lives as strangers here on earth in reverent fear. In other words, we are not supposed to be like the world. Being holy means to be separate (unlike, different) from the world because we are becoming like Christ. To live in the fear of the Lord is to honor him as holy, and to revere, obey, adore, value, and esteem him highly, and to take him seriously.
Thus, we are to rid our lives of malice, deceit, hypocrisy and the like. Malice is hatred, spite, meanness, nastiness and cruelty. Some people have learned (been conditioned) to hate certain groups of people from early on in their lives, and to treat them with disdain, and to devalue them, just because they are different from them. So, this needs to be unlearned. The Bible says that “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen” (1 Jn. 4:20). It also says that “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him” (1 Jn. 3:15). So, we need to get rid of all hatred.
As followers of Christ, we should also not be hypocritical or deceitful. Now, it is not hypocritical to say you are a Christian and then to not be absolutely perfect, for we will not be perfect until we get to heaven, or until Jesus returns and gives us glorified bodies. But, it is hypocritical to claim to be a follower of Christ while knowingly holding on to certain sins and then pretending as though we are walking in holiness when we know we are not. And, it is deceitful (devious, cunning, and dishonest) to willfully give people a false impression of who we are in order to convince them that we are better than we are, or that we are someone we are not, especially if the purpose is to manipulate them and/or to slander someone else.
Not only do we, by the Spirit, need to be putting to death the deeds of the flesh, but we need to crave (long for) the pure milk of the Word. Jesus died, not only that we might die to sin, but that we might live to righteousness. We don’t just put off lying, but we tell the truth. We don’t just put off stealing, but we work, doing something useful with our hands, and then we give to others to help them in their need. Jesus died, not just to free us from slavery to sin, but to make us bondservants of his righteousness.
Paul’s commission, in sharing the gospel, was to open blinded eyes, and to turn them from darkness to the light, and from the power of Satan to God, so they could receive forgiveness of sins, and a place among those who are sanctified (purified) by faith in Jesus Christ. This is what it means to be saved. This is what it means to be born again. We no longer walk according to our sinful flesh, but now we walk according to the Spirit, to please God.
As Living Stones (vv. 4-8)
And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For this is contained in Scripture:
“Behold, I lay in Zion a choice stone, a precious corner stone,
And he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.”
This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for those who disbelieve,
“The stone which the builders rejected,
This became the very corner stone,”
“A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense”;
for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed.
When we believe in Jesus Christ with God-given faith, and our hearts are transformed of the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit comes to live within us. We, thus, become the temple of God, the body of Christ, his church. This church is not a building or an organization or a corporation of men, nor is it of a particular denomination like Baptist, Methodist or Presbyterian, etc. This church is spiritual, not physical, although it is comprised of followers of Christ. It is a living organism with Jesus Christ as its (her) head (the chief cornerstone). So, the building being referred to here is not physical but spiritual, and that is why we, the parts of the body (the building), are referred to as “living stones.”
Jesus is the cornerstone of this spiritual building, i.e. he is the foundation for this building. He is the one who gave his life up for us on a cross so that we could be delivered out of slavery to sin and so we could live to his righteousness. Without his death and resurrection there would be no church; no spiritual building of which we are also living stones. It was because Jesus was hated, and treated with malice, and because of the lies and deceptions of those who hated him, that he was brought to trial and hung on a cross to die. And, because he died, we are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood.
In other words, we no longer need men as priests to offer up sacrifices for our sins, because Jesus died once for all sin. We no longer need physical priests to mediate between us and God, because Jesus made the way possible for us to be restored to fellowship with God and to be able to come into his presence. So, we are now priests, and the sacrifices we offer are not blood sacrifices for sin, but they are our lives committed to Christ to walk in his love, in his grace, in his truth and in obedience to his Word.
Yet, not everyone has faith. Many people are still rejecting Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, and they are still persecuting him by persecuting his followers; his servants. Many still hate Jesus Christ and thus they hate his followers, and they will do everything they know to do to stop them from spreading the gospel and to destroy them and their reputations, or to put them to death. They will even use deceit and trickery to try to trap them, and/or they will spread lies about them, which could be half-truths, which are still lies, but twisted to their advantage. Yet, we are not to fear their threats, but we are to trust our lives into God’s hands, and not fear being persecuted and even falsely accused for our stand on the Word of Truth.
So, if anyone reading this, who claims to be a Christian, is still living like Jesus didn’t die to deliver you out of slavery to sin; if anyone is still giving in to the flesh on a consistent basis, and is not walking in victory, then I would encourage you to submit to Christ today. Put off those sins which so easily entangle you so that you can run the race God has marked out for you. And, if you are reading this and you have never trusted in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of your life, I pray you will surrender your life to him today, allow him to cleanse your heart of sin, and to give you a new life in Christ Jesus, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24). One day Jesus will return as judge, so let him change your heart today.
Seek the Lord / An Original Work / July 20, 2012
Based off Isaiah 55
“Come to Me all you who thirst; come to waters.
Listen to Me, and eat what’s good today,
And your soul will delight in richest of fare.
Give ear to Me, and you will live.
I have made an eternal covenant with you.
Wash in the blood of the Lamb.”
Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him.
Let the wicked forsake his way, in truth.
Let him turn to the Lord, and he will receive mercy.
Freely, God pardons him.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,”
declares the Lord, our God.
“My word that goes out of My mouth is truthful.
It will not return to Me unfulfilled.
My word will accomplish all that I desire,
And achieve the goal I intend.
You will go in joy, and be led forth in peace.
The mountains will burst into song… before you,
And all of the trees clap their hands.”