Taste and See

“Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings. As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the Word that ye may grow thereby. If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.” – 1 Peter 2:1-3

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“In the sixteenth century, Martin Luther strengthened the church by exposing its corruption and artificiality. He enunciated its structural sins. In Britain in the eighteenth century, a man named William Law enlarged the place of the church by exposing the piety of its members. And John Wesley and his colleagues lengthened the cords of the church to embrace neglected masses. The twentieth-century American church has endeavored to be all things to all people. It has produced fascinating materials, specialized in dialogues, programs, and projects; but the spiritual life of professing Christians has not always been in proper balance.”[1] In our text at hand we are challenged to spiritual growth. The ‘wherefore’ in verse one refers back to the end of chapter one. To live as Christians in a post-Christian and an anti-Christian society, we must live in holiness and fear which is made possible by regeneration by the Word of God and obedience to the truth which produces in us a love for fellow believers. Peter tells us that in light of being born again by the Word of God and in light of who we are in Christ, there are certain things that must never be allowed in our lives. There is also to be a change in our attitudes and desires. There are three basic commands that we are given in these verses: lay aside, desire, grow, and taste.

Lay aside. Peter begins chapter two with a list of things that we are to lay aside. “The sins listed tear at the social fabric of the church, ripping away the threads of love that keep them together. Peter signals thereby that no sin is to be tolerated in the community and that sin is to be rejected comprehensively”.[2] Church, we are living in troubled times. There is a lot of things coming against God’s people these days. Living as a Christian in this world is not going to get any better. We are living in desperate times. Such desperate times desperately demands that we are together, that we are united. It is our love for Christ and each other that holds us together during troubled times. However, there are certain sins that destroys that love and tears apart the church.

The first of those sins is malice. Peter tells us that we are to ‘lay aside all malice.’ Malice basically means ‘ill-will.’ In other words, it is simply not getting along. It is having bad attitudes toward others. “Ill-will toward one another destroys the harmony befitting the community of believers.”[3] This happens in local churches all the time. For whatever reason, church members can develop a sense of control and power. They think the church is all about them and what they want. Whenever someone does something out of the norm or has different ideas, bad attitudes brew. As a pastor I have seen people, in every church I’ve pastored, that had one thing that they don’t like about me as their pastor and they tend to make life miserable. No matter what I do or how hard I try, they are against everything I do and say. Such people who have malice toward me may often cause malice to grow in my heart toward them in return. Sadly, this happens in the life of the local church more than we may realize. We need to understand that malice is a sin that destroys the church. When there is malice toward one another in the church it will hinder the work of the church and the furtherance of the Gospel. However, malice should have no place in the church, especially in such days as these when we need each other so desperately.

The second sin that we must put aside is guile. The term ‘guile’ refers to deceit. This is one that is difficult to talk about, because I have seen this in churches over and over again and have been hurt by it many times. Christians can sometimes be the most deceitful people. It is very similar to actions that you see from politicians. Church people will often go out of their way to paint negative and unclear pictures that pull others away from the true purpose of the church. Guile is used when someone wants their own way or when there is malice in the heart toward others. Sometimes people will carefully construct a conversation in such a way that it brings a sense of hopelessness and discouragement in the church. Such deceit should not be found in the church. It is a sin that we must repent of.

A third sin that we must put aside is hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is very similar to guile. It is sort of in the same family of sins. Hypocrisy is to display falsehood. It is putting on a show. It is saying one thing to one person and then something completely different to someone else. Again, this is another sin I have seen prevalent in the church. Many times I have encountered people who will put on a front or a good face. Many times I have encountered people who will tell me something and then turn around and say just the opposite to someone else. Hypocrisy is the greatest sin of religion. People in the world will often say that they will not come to church because the church is full of hypocrites. You know what? They are right. The church is filled with hypocritical people. This is a sad, but true, reality of the church.

Fourthly, we have the sin of envy. To envy someone is to have a desire to have what they have or to be like them. Or, perhaps, it could be to envy a position or a place of power and control. We cannot be naïve. We all know that envy runs rampant in the local church. Pastors envy other pastors, deacons and other church leaders envy power and control, families envy other families, and the list goes on and on. Some are envious of financial gain or financial control. There are those who want to control everything the church does, especially when it comes to the financial decisions of the church. Envy is a powerful poison that sucks the life out of the church.

A final sin that we must put aside is all evil speakings. Have you ever had anyone speak evil of you behind your back? I know I have. It is a very painful thing to have people that will run your name through the mud and tell others about the things they have against you. Such ‘evil speakings’ tears apart the unity and love that we experience in the church. We don’t help matters any when we also listen to those who want to share negative and even false words about others. Such gossip will destroy a church.

These sins that Peter deals with here stabs our hearts with pain and conviction. We have all been hurt by these sins and we have all practiced these sins in one way or another. However, it is these very sins that drives a wedge in the church. It is these sins that will tear a church apart. We cannot live and have any impact on the world around unless we lay aside these things.

Desire. The second command given to us in these verses is the command to have a desire for the Word of God. The illustration is given of a newborn baby who desires to be fed his mother’s milk. To live in a post-Christian and an anti-Christian society, we must have a desire for the Word of God. What about you? Do you have a desire for the Word of God? Many of us do not have such a desire for the Word of God because of all the things in our lives that distract us and the sins that hinder us. A desire for the Word comes from a closeness with the Word. The closer we are to Jesus and the less we are distracted by the world, the greater desire we will have for the Word of God. This desire is developed in us as we discipline ourselves to read and obey the scriptures. The more we are in the Word, the more of a desire we will have for the Word.

Grow. As we lay aside the sins that hinder us and that tears apart the fabric of love in the body of Christ, the greater we will desire the Word of God, and the more we will grow in our walk with God. As Christians, we need to understand, that we never fully arrive in this life. In other words, we all have room to grow. You can never out grow the Gospel. There are always greater heights of spiritual growth to obtain. One of the things that amazes me about God’s Word is that the more you study it, the more there is to learn. I have read though the bible many times, and each time I learn something new. I can study the same passage of scripture over and over again, yet it is always fresh and new. Growth in the Christian life comes at a slow and steady pace. God is continual working in us and chipping away at our lives in order to mold us and shape us into the image of Christ. The most spiritually immature believer is the one who thinks they have nothing else to learn. It is the one who things that have already grown up and they don’t need to grow anymore. It is a dangerous thing to no longer be teachable. It is the Word of God that makes us grow. It is the Word of God that matures us. To live in a world such as ours, we must grow.

Taste. Each command in these verses builds upon the other. As we lay aside those sins that destroy us, we develop a desire for more of God and His Word, through that desire for God’s Word we grow in our walk with God, such a walk with God gives a taste of the goodness and grace of God. I don’t know about you, but I like to eat. I love a good steak or some good fried chicken. I love the taste of fried squash and fried okra. There is nothing like a piece of warm corn bread covered in butter alongside a bowl of pinto beans. The taste of apple pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream is so good it makes your taste buds dance. Not to mention a nice cold glass of sweat tea! Imagine getting a taste of God’s goodness. You and I have never fully known the goodness of God. However, there are those times when God allows us to have just a taste. Such a taste of God’s goodness is only given to those who have responded in obedience to the Gospel.

Peter tells us that if we have tasted the goodness of God; it is just that taste alone that is motivation enough to lay aside those sins and to desire the Word which makes us grow. You can never taste of His goodness when those sins that tear us apart is in your life. You can never taste of God’s goodness if you are not growing in your walk with God. Is it not worth it to do what it takes just to get a taste?

[1] Jones, G. C. (1986). 1000 illustrations for preaching and teaching (p. 71). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[2] Schreiner, T. R. (2003). 1, 2 Peter, Jude (Vol. 37, p. 98). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[3] Schreiner, T. R. (2003). 1, 2 Peter, Jude (Vol. 37, p. 98). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

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