June 21, 2020
Dave Zuleger (South Campus)
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, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.—1 Peter 1:1–2
Intro: Become Who You Are
We’re living in a time when nothing is normal, and therefore much seems unsure. We can easily feel unsettled. Today is Father’s Day, and I know that as a dad I’ve felt the burden to try and shape the hearts of my kids as they’ve seen a pandemic with fear and frustration that I never saw when I was a kid. They’ve heard of a horrible killing and then a city on fire. We look around, and we process, and there is a lot of information to take in and a lot of opinions to sift through.
And one of the main things we’ve tried to see as a family in this season is that this place is not our home and is not our hope. And that’s one of the main things we’ve seen so far in 1 Peter. We are elect exiles—sojourners in a foreign land. We were foreknown before the foundation of the world, set apart as a people by the Holy Spirit, and purchased by the blood of Jesus for obedience to Jesus (1 Peter 1:1–2).
We have a living hope that is unshakable despite circumstances because Jesus is alive and has promised his people an imperishable, undefiled, and unfading inheritance (1:3–5) so that we can rejoice with inexpressible joy in the trials (1:6–9) because we know the privilege of our salvation. (1:10–12)
But, we can all admit that we haven’t exactly felt like our hope is unshakable. Right? It hasn’t all been inexpressible joy, has it? Anyone felt some fear? Anyone felt some frustration? Anyone been focused more on the present circumstances than the future, glorious inheritance? Anyone been more frustrated by some privileges that have gone away then by the privilege of salvation that can never be taken away?
All of us have forgotten who we are and what is most real at times. Remember, Peter was writing to a people enduring persecution and who knew that more persecution was coming soon.
We all know what it’s like to anticipate upcoming sadness or suffering—is there anything more distracting or thought-consuming than an uncertain future? Maybe some of you are there right now. If verses 1–12 were meant to tell the readers who they were, then 1:13–2:3 are commands meant to help them live in-step with the reality of who they are.
So, the apostle Peter writes these five commands in order to help them refocus and reorient themselves as children of God in the midst of the brokenness of this life, moment by moment.
In other words, as exiles with our hope somewhere else, the commands of Christ are meant to lead us into the life of Christ. The commands of Christ are meant to conform us to the image of Christ as children of God. We’ve already seen four of these commands:
These commands are meant to help us become who we are as children of God in the midst of a broken place that is not our home or our hope.
And today, the fifth command of this section to help us become who we are is a command to “Long for the pure spiritual milk.” It’s a command to desire something. So, what I want to do today is to look at … 1) Our new taste buds (v. 3), and 2) our new longings (v. 2).
As we look at this passage, I want to help us see how this process actually works itself out in our souls. That means we start in verse 3 and work our way backward, because verse 3 is where we see the soil that the commandment grows from.
… If indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.
Peter is going to command them to long for pure spiritual milk, but he’s doing that because he believes that they’ve already tasted the goodness of the Lord. We should pause and realize that this is no small thing.
Peter will remind us in a few verses that many people reject Jesus. They don’t taste that he is good, but they despise him and reject him. Jesus is not beautiful to many but boring. Jesus is not Savior to many but a stumbling block. How have some tasted that the Lord is good?
We can answer from what we’ve already seen in 1 Peter. We’ve been foreknown from before the foundation of the world, which really means fore-loved. We’ve been set apart by the Holy Spirit. We’ve been sprinkled with the blood of Jesus (1:2). Or, we could see that we’ve been born again to a living hope so that we rejoice in Jesus now (1:3, 8). Or, we could go just a few verses back and see that we’ve been born again to that living hope by the living and abiding word of God (1:23).
No matter how we look at it, we see the miracle that God has given us new identities with new taste buds.
This actual quotation from Peter is from Psalm 34:8. This Psalm is so appropriate for Peter to have in his mind because it is a Psalm from when David was in trouble and likely an exile and sojourner at the time. So, Peter is drawn to this Psalm as he thinks about this people who are exiles in a foreign land who need to know that God sees them and loves them and will keep them.
I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them. Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!—Psalm 34:4–8
The Lord has his eye on his people. He delivers them from all their fears, and he promises that all those who look on him will never be ashamed. He will answer and save. He will protect. This is what King David knew about his God in the midst of his wanderings. This is what Peter is calling to mind for this wandering people. This is what we are called to reflect on. Has the miracle happened so that we’ve tasted the goodness of the Lord? Don’t we have more sight than David had? Perhaps today, before you can obey the command to long for more, you need to remember what you’ve tasted. We see what David knew—what do we know?
We know that the Son of God came into our mess and lived the perfect life we could never live, died the death we deserved to die for our sins as our worthy sacrifice, and rose again to defeat death—while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. We know that God did this to maintain his justice and pour out his mercy. We know that we were foreknown before the foundation of the world. We know that the Holy Spirit came and opened our eyes to the Word that was preached to us in the gospel to see Jesus as our Lord and Savior. We know that the promise is that there is an inheritance coming that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading. We know that God is pursuing us with goodness and mercy all the days of our lives. We know that Jesus has gone to prepare a home for us and, until then, he has come and made his home in us by the Holy Spirit. We know that God promises to be a very-present help in times of trouble and that Jesus has promised to never leave us or forsake us. We know that God is able to complete the good work he started so that we will rise like our Savior and spend eternity in his presence where there is fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore.
Blood-bought family, have we not tasted and seen that the Lord is good? Peter calls his readers’ minds back to a Psalm where David was an exile and trusting in the goodness of the Lord to be his refuge in troubled times. This is our call in the midst of troubled times.
Bethlehem, I had to be reminded of this as I prepared this week. It’s so easy to forget. But, the Lord is good. I’ve tasted these things. The Lord did this deep, settling work of rest for my soul in the goodness of Jesus alone. That’s it. He’s good. I’ve tasted it. I’m his. I can rest in a pandemic. I can rest as I see injustice. I can rest as a pastor. I can rest as a husband and daddy.
Fathers, on this Father’s Day, I can tell you that there is nothing more important for you to do than to lead your family and those in your sphere of influence in simply remembering the goodness of the Lord. A people that believes the Lord is good is a joyful people.
So, if we have tasted the goodness of the Lord, troubled times should simply make us long for more of his goodness. If this miracle of seeing the goodness of the Lord has happened in our hearts, then our job is to fan the flame and not be content with yesterday’s taste but to long for more.
Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation.
So, if you’ve tasted the goodness of the Lord in these ways, the call now is to grow up into the salvation you already have. Become who you are. By the power of the Spirit, we want to rest in the goodness of the Lord but not rest on our last feeding on him. We want to abide in him as his words abide in us. We want to keep drinking and grow up.
You either had a newborn baby or you’ve known someone who does. And you know that little babies are not content with the feeding they had several hours ago, right? If there is a picture of desperation in the world, it is a newborn infant that has been hungry for more than three seconds. What do they do?
They cry. They cry louder. They scream. They do whatever they have to do to get what they are longing for and their longing is seen in their persistence! And as they demand and cry out—they drink deeply! They do this over and over and over again. Not just daily, but every few hours.
You wouldn’t know the miracle that was happening from each individual little feeding as they cry out, but look at a baby who has cried out time and time again and come to eat time and time again. About 9 months later, they have grown up, haven’t they? O, that we would long regularly for the Lord and feed regularly—this is how maturity happens over time.
Are we like that? Do we long for Jesus like that? Keep feeding. Keep drinking. Grow up.
There is some debate about if this milk is the word of God or simply a longing for more of the pure nourishment that accords with our new identity as children of God. In other words, is this a call to simply give ourselves to the word of God? Is it living and abiding (v. 23), which means it made us alive (v.23) and abides with us to sustain us? Or is it a more general call to simply give ourselves to all the pure nourishment that comes in our new identities—maybe you’d expand the list to word, fellowship, prayer, and fasting. Most modern commentators lean toward the “word” but Karen Jobes points back to Calvin and others for the more general idea.
All of us would agree that the Word is foundational to our “growing up into salvation,” so I don’t want to spend a ton of time debating that. Instead, I want to ask you, if you’ve tasted the goodness of the Lord, are you as desperate for Jesus as a newborn baby is for pure milk? Are you desperate to know Jesus in all his purity? Are you desperate to go to him in his word and take in his life? Are you desperate to see more of Jesus in the word and do you cry out to him to feed you as you go? Do you beg Jesus to come and sustain you and help you grow? Are you desperate to behold the glory of God in the face of Christ and be changed from one degree of glory to the next into that same image by the Spirit?
So many of us need to remember to be desperate infants again in our longing for Jesus. We’ve grown so sophisticated and so distracted that we’ve forgotten the main thing—to drink deeply from Jesus who is true drink. Don’t we see what the Lord is doing in this season of unrest?
Don’t you see him stripping away comforts, conveniences, and privileges so that we can get back to our first love? Don’t you see that pandemics and injustice around us and riots and stay-at-home orders and unemployment are meant to make us remember that we are like infants who need to cry out for someone else to come and help us and come and feed us and come and sustain us? We can’t do this life on our own. We can’t make it on our own. We’re not strong enough or wise enough. We can’t grow up on our own.
If you feel broken and weak—you’re exactly where you should be. This is when you remember the Lord is good—you’ve tasted that! And you cry out to him as you to go to his word and you pray and ask him to grow you up into the salvation you already have. My prayer for us as a church during these unsteady times has been just this—that the Lord would remind us that he alone is good; he alone is our hope and our home, and he leads us to be a people crying out to him for help.
If you’ve tasted the Lord is good, then what a beautiful command this is. Cry out for more! You have new taste buds—now pursue your new longing for Jesus! Set aside time. Find a place. Read his word. Pray big, desperate prayers. Get help from other believers. O for a church that rests in the deep goodness of the Lord in the midst of trials and is never content with the last feeding but is always crying out for more. Fathers, let’s lead our families and those in our areas of influence in desperation for Jesus.
Application: Become Who We Are (1 Peter 1:1)
We are to be a people with new taste buds and new longings—and that should create in us a desire to lay aside past ways of selfish sin and have new ways of self-giving love spring up as we grow up.
I preached the sermon the way I did because I didn’t want you to first hear a list of “to-do’s” but first wanted you to remember what’s been done and how desperate for Jesus we should be. Why? Because if we can see how good he is first, then this list of things we are to put off become obvious and don’t fit with our taste buds anymore. We spit them out because they taste disgusting to us. It’s a reflex of new taste buds that treasure Jesus—not a “to-do.”
These sinful emotions and actions we see are all about how we relate to each other as a people. Now, I could have ended this sermon by talking about all of the dangers coming at us as a church from “out there” that are not pure. There are all sorts of them. All sorts of ideologies designed to distract from the gospel, deter from the Bible, destroy the family, and distort the truth. You know them. I know them. We stand against them because we long for King Jesus and we gladly submit to all of the commands of the kingdom meant to bring true life. We’re not going to sympathize with things we know fly in the face of our king and therefore will only bring pain and destruction instead of joy and life to the world.
But, I want to go where Peter points us. He sees the threat in these verses as what can happen among us and from inside of us. Malice. Deceit. Hypocrisy. Envy. Slander.
Have you found your heart thinking poorly of your brothers and sisters? Have you been tempted to deceit and hypocrisy as you speak kindly to someone to their face but maybe question their motives behind their backs with someone else? Are you tempted to present a certain image on Facebook but hide the mess you are at home or in your heart? Have you found yourself looking around with envy at someone else’s situation and the be tempted to be joyful when things don’t go so well for them? Have you found yourselves spreading stories that you don’t know are true or questioning someone’s motives when you haven’t taken the time to ask a person about them face to face? The devil would love to conspire to destroy us from the inside-out.
This is what happens when we are trying to find our hope and home in this life. We look around, evaluate, and in our hearts and with our mouths and on our Facebook pages we don’t look like a church whose hope is set on the goodness of the Lord. We look insecure and bitter—because we are. We get tempted to play these games. If you’ve been drinking from the well of 24/7 news stories, opinions, and social media, and if you’ve seen these things coming out of you—this is not a moment of condemnation. This is an invitation.
Remember how good the Lord is again right now. Drink deeply from the river of his delights. Receive his invitation to find rest for your soul as you go to him for satisfaction. Don’t check social media until you’ve met with your King. Don’t speak words until you’ve heard from your King.
This is not mainly about us. It’s about the glory of God. It’s about loving each other in such a way that the world would know we are disciples of Jesus.
O, blood-bought family, taste and see that the Lord is good. And run to him over and over again to grow so that we can become the blood-bought family we already are that proclaims together, “The Lord is good, blessed are all who take refuge in him”—and say it from deep unity in Jesus that makes the words seem real to those who hear it.
Intro: Become Who You Are
1. New Taste Buds (1 Peter 2:3)
2. New Longings (1 Peter 2:2)
Application: Become Who We Are (1 Peter 2:1)