“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.”
1 Peter 2:1-3 (ESV)
There are few things that are as sad as meeting an old acquaintance with some measure of anticipation only to find that they are trapped in the childish things you once did but long left behind as you grew up. What’s sad is that even though they have the body of a grown up, they seem incapable of taking on any adult responsibilities. Peter in the beginning of the second chapter uses the imagery of growing up to call his readers to earnestly seek maturity in their salvation.
Biblical imagery is important for understanding theology. The imagery of being born again, used in 1 Peter 1:3, 23, helps us see sanctification as pursuing that which is most in line with your nature. You are not what you used to be, you are a new creature, old things have passed away behold all things have become new. Now having been born again, growth is imperative and the first order of business is to distance yourself from patterns and practices that ruled the old man. The list he gives the saints here includes, malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander. Where these attitudes and actions were normal in your former life they have no place in the new life that God has wrought in you. As believers, when we normalize any of these sins, we dangerously pervert the conversion experience that we profess.
Notice how in the preceding verses Peter placed an emphasis on purification. 1:22 starts and ends with that core truth. Our hearts were perfectly and powerfully purged of all malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander. The cost was the precious blood of Jesus and the means was the imperishable Word of God. God’s clean up job did not leave any dross in your heart. In as much as you were saved, there is not the minutest of specks of the sins listed here that were left in you. You were sanitized of these things. If you come across any of these vices in your life then it should be clear that they do not belong there, they are contaminants that are defiling the temple that God has purified with the precious blood of his own Son. The call now is to disavow those practices with the understanding that you are born again and what you were born to was not slandering your brothers and sisters, you were born again to love one another earnestly and sincerely, not hypocritically or deceitfully.
In other words when we hold back sincere brotherly love from our fellow believers and instead talk behind their backs in ways that are not honorable or kind, we are more like a 40 year old adolescent than we would like to admit, for the very first step of growing up is putting away those community destroying patterns of speech and action which though we find ways to justify are clearly not a demonstration of sincere brotherly love.
So, let us grow up. Do you not want to pursue a vision for the conduct that accords to your great salvation? You must! Start here, put away, all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander and in their place cultivate a sincere brotherly love for all the saints.
- Ask a friend who knows you well whether you have demonstrated any of the community destroying sins Peter lists. Would you prayerfully seek to find out why you did or said what you did or said. Seek to identify the idol behind your sin by tracking down a few why questions into the recesses of your heart.
- Follow a path of putting your sin away. Confess it to God and appropriate for yourself the mercy and grace that He has promised you. Confess to those whom you wronged either by speaking sinfully to them or about them.
- Pray that our congregation would be safeguarded from your malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander.