1 Peter 2:1-3
Why laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, all evil speakings,…
The argument so far is as follows: Redemption; this issuing on holiness; that leading to the fear that they should prove to be without redemption; that fear being excited, the test of love is suggested. They are regarded as bearing that test, and proving their possession of life. The next idea is obviously that of growth.
I. WE HAVE HERE THE IDEA OF SPIRITUAL GROWTH.
1. That implies life. Only living things can grow. Peter can speak of growth because he calls them "new-born babes." Spiritual life is not a mere change or reformation, but an entirely new principle of being. Not only is that implied in such words as, "Ye must be born again;" "If any man be in Christ Jesus, it is a new creation;" "You hath he quickened who were dead;" but entire arguments are based on the use of those words in this sense. It is as impossible for the natural heart, which is enmity against God, to bear fruit to God, as for grapes to grow on thorns; for Divine fruit there must be a Divine nature. This is implanted by the Holy Spirit through the Divine Word. The cry, "Father, Father? is the birth-cry of a new life; from that moment we are of God's family.
2. Also that this life is immature. That truth is helpful to those who have followed the apostle so far, to their discouragement, and are inclined to say, "If holiness is the proof of salvation, and holiness is measured by Christian love, and I have so little of this, is it possible that I am a Christian at all?" These words, however, assume that there may be life without perfection. We are all born babes, and have to reach a full-grown manhood stage by stage. Only Adam came from God's hand perfect. "A babe" is equivalent to weakness, helplessness, ignorance, rudimentariness. Who could guess what a babe could become, or see in the new-born child of God the perfected spirit bowing in the eternal glory before his throne?
3. Also that it is natural for the life to progress. It never occurs to us to wonder if a child will grow; we know it will unless it dies. Disease may retard growth, only death can permanently stop it till maturity is reached. Growth is part of life; naturally, silently, steadily, the babe increases in stature and strength. Then, since spirituality is a life, it only needs that we fulfill the ordinary conditions of life to ensure that it advances from strength to strength. Growth is spontaneous; no man by anxious thought can add to his stature one cubit; give it but the right conditions, and life cannot help growing. Moreover, growth should naturally affect all parts of our spiritual nature, as of our physical; it is only by disuse that some faculties advance alone - faith, or hope, or patience, etc. There is provision in what we are for growth up to him who is the Head "in all things."
II. THE MEANS BY WHICH SPIRITUAL GROWTH IS SECURED. IS not this simpler - not easier, but simpler - more reasonable and possible than many suppose? How do we treat a babe that it may grow? let us treat the spiritual babe-life in the same way.
1. There must be the avoidance of what is antagonistic to life. "Laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil-speakings." These are but a selection of the evils that are hurtful to the Divine nature; they are probably mentioned here rather than others, because, judging from the frequent exhortations in the Epistle to love, to subjection to one another, etc., they represent a class of sins to which these Christians were specially prone; these were the sins which most easily beset them. As in homes where there are children, there are many devices to keep them from harm, so the spiritual life of the young believer must be jealously guarded from what would check its progress.
2. And there must be the partaking of suitable food. "Desire the sincere [pure, unadulterated] milk of the Word." It is the invariable teaching of Scripture that Christian growth depends on the proper use of the Word of God (Psalm 1:2, 3; Psalm 37:31; John 6:63; John 17:17; Acts 20:32; 1 Timothy 4:6; 2 Timothy 3:17). Christ is the food of the soul, but he is imparted through his Word. The Word of God has for its substance God the Word. Spiritual feebleness is probably spiritual starvation.
III. THE ARGUMENT BY WHICH THE SOUL IS PERSUADED TO USE THESE MEANS. "If so be ye have tasted," etc., that is, seek this spiritual growth:
1. Because your experience of Divine grace has been only a taste of what is possible. We are predestined to be conformed to the image of God's Son. Think what that involves of character and blessedness; and of this most of us have as yet had only a taste! But that taste makes us long for more.
2. Because, also, by growth you prove your reception of Divine grace. "If so be." Then is there doubt about it? Let spiritual growth destroy that doubt. Growth is a sure proof of life. A deeper sense of sin; a more earnest desire for holiness; a greater joy in God, his presence, service, will; - are the clear proof that we have tasted of Divine grace. But if there be no growth, if the means of grace are no more useful to us than rain is to a rock, Divine life within us is not yet. - C.N.
Parallel VersesKJV: Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings,