People of God: Hungry
1 Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. 2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3 now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.
1 Peter 2:1-3
Sometimes certain groups of people get known for loving certain types of food.
Kids love Happy Meals. Cops love doughnuts and coffee. College kids love ramen and cold pizza. Italians love pasta. Hispanics love tacos. Southerners loved pulled pork. Lutherans love bratwurst. And southern Lutherans loved bratwurst topped with pulled pork. (Ok, maybe not every stereotype holds true.)
What stereotypical food do the people of God crave? And I’m not talking about physical food like coffee and doughnuts on a Sunday morning or a chili supper on a Wednesday evening. But what is the stereotypical food of choice for believers?
Perhaps even more importantly, what is your spiritual food of choice? If you asked your unbelieving friends what your spiritual food of choice was, what do you think they’d say? A quiet day in the park? A nice book? Yoga?
In today’s lesson, the Apostle Peter tells us exactly what the people of God should crave. It isn’t physical food for the body. It’s food for the soul. Take a look at chapter 2:1. "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."
I. What Not to Crave
First, Peter mentions what not to crave. In fact, rather than craving it, he tells you get rid of these things from your life. It’s like raiding your fridge and finding a leftover casserole that has grown mold and smells awfully unappetizing. You throw that casserole out. All of it! You don’t save some for later, it’s unhealthy and really dangerous!
In the same way, throw out the following from your spiritual life! They are unhealthy and dangerous. Peter calls them, “malice.” That’s the general heading for all of these unhealthy spiritual practices. It means “evil.”
But then Peter gets into specifics. Here is a list of four extremely unhealthy (sinful) attitudes for your soul:
The Greek word for deceit actually has its origins in the word for fish bait. It involved into the meaning in verse 1 because of the trickery involved. You trick others and bait them into doing something for you or bait you into getting something.
Usually deceit happens when you want two entirely opposite things. You can’t stand not having them both, so you deceive into getting them.
At first, you might feel healthy with deceit. You’ve gotten what you want. But you’ve also gotten something that you didn’t want. An invisible wall of secrecy around your life. Anxiety of getting found out. Nervousness that the lie may be exposed. And the foolish assumption that God, who sees all and knows all, isn’t aware of your deception?
Deceit is unhealthy. It’s sinful. Get rid of Deceit from your life!
Hypocrisy is the next attitude to throw out. It has the idea of clothing yourself. It means to pretend you are something you’re not. To play act.
It’s like a child playing dress-up. They put on a Superman costume and pretend they are Superman, even telling people they are Superman, when they are not.
Do you nourish your soul with hypocrisy? Hypocrisy usually exists to feed our desire for approval. Think about it.
But Hypocrisy isn’t healthy. It leaves you feeling vulnerable. You have to remember how to act with which friends. If by chance you mess it up and let slip your opinions to the wrong crowd, they’ll be more upset with you than if you had simply told the truth. (Imagine telling the NC State fan that you watched the UNC game last night and you are so happy with how well the Tarheels played!)
The biggest problem of course is that hypocrisy fails to aim at getting God’s approval. God who reads the heart not the exterior of a person. It can even be strong enough that you fool yourself into thinking that you’re ok with God despite what you’ve said and done against him.
Hypocrisy is unhealthy. It’s sinful. Get rid of hypocrisy from your life!
Another word might be ‘jealousy.’ This word describes our desire for more. The more we fill ourselves with jealously, the more you fill yourself with discontent. And the more discontent you are the more upset you are with God!
Think about all the things in this world that feed envy.
Why is envy so bad? Because it feeds discontentment. Discontentment with others. “I wish you were more like this.” But more than that, it leads to discontentment with God.
“God, what were you thinking? This isn’t the spouse I wanted. It isn’t the body I wanted. It isn’t the house I deserve. It isn’t even the TV that I think is best. What’s your deal?”
You’ll drive a stake between your heavenly Father and you. That definitely isn’t healthy!
Envy is unhealthy. It’s sinful. Get rid of envy from your life!
The final thing to throw out is slander. Slander is an attack. A verbal attack. And it’s an attack that can take place on others, even if they aren’t there. It can be true or untrue, but it’s purpose is to harm, not to help. Slander doesn’t feed your soul though. It only feeds your desire for status. Think about it:
Here’s the problem. Slander doesn’t improve you one bit. When people call you out on it, you will lose relationships with others. Who wants to tell you their secrets, if you are only going to use that against them later?
Ultimately, it ruins your relationship with God. It says, “God I don’t trust you to take care of me on your own, so I will use vengeful and spiteful means against another one of your children just to take care of myself.”
Slander is unhealthy! It’s sinful. Throw it out of your life.
Now we live in an America that is so health conscience. Organic. Local. Cage free. Are all buzzwords to gravitate towards, while gmo, saturated fats, and Red Dye Number whatever are to be avoided like the plague.
Do you care that much about what you feed your soul? If not, repent! Avoid such things that induce sinful attitudes like the plague! Be picky about everything that you put into your soul.
Because God is picky.
He wants nothing to do with sin. When he looks down on the earth and he finds people filled with the wickedness of sin, the LORD will throw them out of His kingdom.
Out of his kingdom and into hell.
Therefore, hunger for something that is healthy, something that is pure, something that saves your soul.
II. What to Hunger For
Newborn babies. They are so cute, but they are very much in need of nourishment. They need to be fed. And they are usually fed by their mother. In fact, once they are fed by their mother, they won’t accept anything else but milk from their mother.
This is the way Peter tells us to crave healthy spiritual drink. Listen to what he writes in verse 2, “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk.”
And there’s a bit of a word missing in the English, because the Greek doesn’t have a word that necessarily is translatable. It’s an important word too, because God is not telling all Christians – even the lactose intolerant Christians - to buy “spirit milk” at the store and drink it.
The word that’s missing is translated, “by nature of the Word.” Thus – crave the milk of God’s Word is the main point.
Why crave the Word? What benefits does it have? Listen to the three reasons in the text:
1) It’s for Salvation.
Scripture says drink this milk so that by it you may grow up in your salvation.
Interesting too. Because the FDA loves to tell you how healthy food is for you. All the Vitamin C you need. High in Fiber. High in Calcium.
If you God’s Holy Word were to have a nutritional label on it, it would read 100% of the Grace that you need. 100% of the Salvation you need. 100% of the Gospel you need. 100% of the Peace that you need. Guaranteed to get you to heaven!
Because the Bible says this: We all are sinners. Not a single one of us can make it to heaven on our own. Not by eating a steady diet of deceit, hyprocrisy, envy, and slander.
But Jesus died to save us from those sins. He died to save us from their awful effects. He died to save us from hell. He died that you might live eternally in the peace of heaven!
TRUTH IS: You can eat an apple everyday. You’ll still die. You can eat an organic apple everyday. You’ll still die. But, if you eat and ingest the message of Jesus as your Savior, you will not die, but live—eternally at that!
Believe it! This is what God’s Word says.
2) It Causes you to Grow.
Think about what might happen if you didn’t feed a newborn. It’s a sad thought, but it would become weak and die. But that’s not just true with newborns it is true with anyone else. Teenagers need food to survive. So do young adults. So do the middle aged. So do the elderly.
We all need food for our bodies to live.
You all need spiritual food for your life in Jesus to live too.
In fact Peter writes, “you will grow in salvation.” The truth is that if you eat God’s Word, you will grow. You will grow to combat doubts of this life. You will grow to love sin less and less. You will grow in your ability to fight off temptation and lead a God pleasing life. You will grow in your peace—a daily peace that gets you through the struggles of day to day life.
But you won’t grow without the Word! Drop any prideful idea that says otherwise. You need God and you need his nourishment in his word. Whether you are a brand new Christian or a long time member of the church, your faith needs God’s Word to live and then to grow!
3) It tastes Good.
Finally Peter tells us of the final reason to hunger for God’s Word. He writes, “For you have tasted that the Lord is Good.”
The thing about healthy stuff is that it doesn’t always taste that good. I’m sorry, but I would love to have a bad pizza over good brussel sprouts anyday. It just tastes that much better.
What’s awesome about God’s Word is how wonderful it tastes! Sure, it has a sharp foretastes – it tells us about sin and our inability to get to heaven on our own.
But then consider how sweet the Gospel is. Here’s just a few choice morsels:
Brothers and sisters, there it is. There I nothing more nourishing to your soul than the pure Word of God.
This week crave it. Here’s a challenge. Spend time in God’s Word. Try one of the Gospels. Open up to the Gospel of Mark. It’s not too long. 16 chapters. Probably an hour tops. Open up to the Gospel of Mark and read it! Take a break from filling your soul with the text messages, the TV shows, the movies, the emails, the technological whatevers.
Instead, fill your soul with the nourishing life giving Word.
Because man…is it GOOD!
22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. 23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. 24 For, “All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, 25 but the word of the Lord endures forever.” And this is the word that was preached to you.
1 Peter 1:22-25
Last week we learned that the People of God are to be Holy. They are to strive for moral perfection in all they do. They are learn God’s laws, put them into practice and follow them in their day to day lives. Not in order to earn the label "Holy" but because God has already labeled them "holy" through faith in Jesus.
But maybe that seems a little impersonal. A little robotic.
Do you have an iPhone? The current versions comes with a program called “Siri.” She is a robot that listens to your commands and, in a very robotic voice, does whatever you want her to do. It pulls up directions when you ask for them. It finds nearby restaurants when you’re hungry. It gives you updates on the Duke game score when you are working. Anything you want at your command.
Is that how God wants us to live? Are his people nothing more than a bunch of computer programs that are to formulaically listen to his every command?
Far from it. Listen to what Peter describes as a second trait of God’s people, starting at verse 22 "Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth – that is, by believing the awesome truth that Jesus is your Savior from sin -- so that you have sincere love for your brothers.”
In the Greek language (the language of this letter from Peter), there are three words for love. Each word refers to a specific type of love. The word eros refers to romantic love between a husband and wife. The word agape refers to God’s unconditional love for us.
The final word for love, phileo is the word found at the beginning of verse 22. It refers to friendship love or brotherly love. It’s why Philadelphia’s moniker, the city of brotherly love, is so appropriate.
In other words, one reason God has brought you to faith is so that “you have sincere love for your brothers,” – you might show love to your friends.
What kind of love does God want us to show our friends? Here are three important characteristics of Christian friendship love.
1) It is Sincere.
It says "sincere love" in the English translation, but the Greek more accurately says "non hypocritical love." In other words, this friendship love is real. It’s not fake…even in the slightest.
Fake love is a symptom of American society. It’s what you see on reality TV. Whether you are watching Big Brother, Survivor, or the Bachelorette, “reality” TV has a lot of “fakeness” to it. Often in confessionals, one of the stars will talk to the camera and describe how another person on the show is being ‘fake.’ Then, a few minutes later, that other person will come on camera and talk about how the person that was previously talking about him is in fact fake.
Unless they are being fake, when they call people fake…Confusing?
Maybe you know someone who was fake. Someone who pretended to be your friend, but then turned their back on you.
But God is less concerned about how others have been friends to you, and more concerned about how you are a friend to others. Do you struggle with fake friendship love?
Fake love is not real love. It isn’t real friendship and it isn’t what God wants his people to do.
2) It is A Deep Love
The second thing to remember about the way People of God Love their fellow man is found at the end of verse 22. Peter writes, "love one another deeply from the heart." The idea in the ancient world is that the heart is the deepest part of a human. It's the part that contains our innermost soul our life force. True love comes from the heart. (Notice that Peter doesn’t tell us to love one another deeply from the tips of our finger nails…)
This then is how deeply we are to love our friends. With a deep love. Passionately.
Do you know who Jillian Michaels is? She has a passion for fitness. She must have over 50 different types of exercise videos. She has passionately coached many people to epic levels of weight loss on The Biggest Loser. I imagine she thinks about fitness all the time. But she loves it. She’s passionate about it.
Is that how you feel about your Christian friends? Do you love them passionately? Do you spend the week thinking about ways to help them? Do you get excited when you have the chance to meet them outside of church? Are you thrilled to encourage them with the message of Jesus on Facebook?
Or have you fallen under the ‘surface level’ friendship spell? Surface level friendship abandons its friends as soon as things get tough.
Truth is humans are probably more passionate about things and stuff, than actual people!
If you have been a friend like this, then your love is only surface level. You aren't passionate for your friends. You aren’t acting like a person of God.
3) It is Unconditional
The final thing about our love for one another is kind of a hidden. Take a look at verse 22. You see the word love twice in English. But in Greek, they are actually two different words. The first time it is phileo, friendship love. The second word is agape. That’s God’s love for us. It is unconditional love.
Isn't it interesting here? Peter is directing us to make our philadelphia, brotherly love for our friends into an agape, unconditional love. Love that always loves no matter what the other might do.
How are you with unconditional love? This is the hardest for a human to do, because we usually make friends based on what they have to offer us. They make us feel good. They make us laugh. They give us good conversation. They give us an outlet for a hobby we have. They give us status (Think high school cliques.)
Now you may think “I’ll always be that person’s friend.” But…your friendship may not be all that unconditional if it is ever based on any of these attributes that your friend gives. Because think of what happens when that changes.
If your love isn’t unconditional, constantly pursuing an avenue to connect with and be a friend to them, then it’s not agape love. It’s not the love God wants people of God to have for their friends.
Sincere, passionate, unconditional friendship love. This is difficult to show the kind of love God demands to our friends. It's true. That’s because sincere, deep, unconditional love is hard for sinful human beings to show. Especially to others sinful human beings.
But sinful human beings are not the reason that we show love to our fellow humans. Look at verse 23, “You have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God."
Ever gotten a pair of socks right out of the drier? This isn't as great in the summer, but during the winter it's wonderful. The socks are nice and toasty because of their source. They just came from the drier that is nice and toasty. Similarly, if you got a pair of socks from the dirty laundry, they might be stinky. Why? Because they came from the dirty laundry.
The source of our love is not ourselves. It is not the good deeds of others. It isn't even a friend's compatibility with ours. The source of sincere, deep, unconditional love for one another is the imperishable, enduring, forever Word of God.
Listen to just how different God's Word is. In verse 24, Peter writes, "All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the Word of the Lord stands forever."
First, consider humans. They are like grass. They have an ending and everything that they do has an ending. It's like the grass. Grass in North Carolina that's real nice looking in spring, but come the middle of a long, hot, dry summer, it turns brown. It withers. When you step on it, pieces of it get stuck in your shoes and pull out of the ground easily.
So are human friendships. They last as long as people have the same interest. They last as long as the relationship is mutually beneficial. They last as long as the person makes me feel good.
But God's Word lasts forever.
You can ignore it. You can try to change it. You can write blogs about how it doesn't matter anymore. You can make movies about how stupid it is. But that doesn't change the fact that God's Word lasts forever!
Thank God that His Word lasts forever. Because His Word isn’t just about the latest fashions. It isn't a record of his favorite recipe for fried chicken. Nor does it say whom he thinks should win the Bachelor.
God's Word tells of God’s sincere, passionate, unconditional love for you.
God's love is imperishable because it is written in His Word which is also imperishable! In fact, Peter calls it the living and remaining word of God. He doesn't call it the living, but leaving Word of God. As if it was true that God loved you, but now he still is loving but he’s abandoned you. Nor does he call it the remaining, but dead Word of God as if it’s empty words from a dead God.
The Word of the LORD is still alive. It is still here. It will not go away.
Which is huge because it means that the simple from from John 3:16 remains the same now as it always has, "God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him will not perish, but have eternal life."
Therefore, since you have been purified by God's loving friendship, you too ought to love your friends and neighbors with a sincere, passionate, unconditional love. There's the rub. There's you challenge for this week.
Love your friends with a sincere love. Consider them as sinful people who need a Savior just like you do. See them as souls who needs God's love and who will see it through your actions and hear about it through your words.
Love your friends with a passionate love. Love that acts on their behalf. Love that asked if they are having a good day and then listens carefully to the answer considering how you can help them. Love that does something to improve a coworker's day. Love that actually brings the requests and needs of a church friend to God in prayer.
Love your friends with an unconditional love. Forgive those who have wronged you. Help those who are mean to you. Pray for those who are your enemies.
Brothers and sisters, this will be hard!
Because as you are working on this tomorrow, someone will do something sinful and say something hurtful to you. You'll be tempted to stop being so loving.
Instead, start meditating on God's love. Remember He's the reason that you love. His sincere, passionate, unconditional love. Read in his enduring Word about how great his Love is.
Think of it like lemonade. If you have a tall, cold glass your friends might ask you for a sip. You give them one. Then, someone else wants their glass topped off, so you do. Before you know it, you don't have any lemonade left. So what do you do?
Go back to the source. Get some more lemonade from the pitcher.
When you give out your love, you may not receive it back. So what!?! That shouldn't stop you from loving. Simply go back to the source of your love: God himself. See how sincere it is. Meditate on how passionate it is. Dwell on how unconditional it is.
Love because God first loved you.
People of God: Holy
There are a few traits that identify those in the Kiecker family. For starters, we tend to have slightly darker sun soaked skin. There's a certain chin style that we share. Many Kieckers have knee problems. And the men, well, they have a problem with thinning hair -- something I haven't escaped.
These past weeks we've been talking about what it means to be people of God. We've said it means we're strangers on this earth and heirs of heaven. Today we're going to talk about an amazing trait that all the members of God's family have.
I. All of God’s Children are Holy…
Take a look 1 Peter 1:13-16. Prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy."
Notice that the trait God’s children have in common is not physical. It’s not the color of their eyes, the color of their skin, or the color of their hair. It’s not cultural. It’s not social status. It’s not favorite musical style. It’s not even their favorite football team.
It has to do with morality. God’s people are holy.
Check out verse 16. This is a quotation from Leviticus 19:2 or possibly Leviticus 11:44, vs. 45, or 20:7. Could be any of those, because they all have this same quote. This then is an important truth for us to digest: "Be holy because God is holy!" It's who God is and it’s what God expect his children, you, to be.
What does holy mean?
That's a good question. I’m asking it too. Because we need to see if we have that trait in order to confidently identify ourselves as God's children.
In America today, we have a lot of different definitions for holy. We think it means, “Try really hard.” “Do your best,” “Be better than those awful people,” or “Do more good than bad.” This is why we picture people, who haven’t led lives with very great morals, to be holy simply because they have thousands of dollars to a charity.
Are our depictions of holiness accurate?
Here’s a test. We know that God is holy. Therefore, let’s stack these definitions of “holy” up against God and see if they hold up.
Instead, God’s definition of holiness runs right alongside his definitions of good and righteous. When God is holy, that means he is completely apart from sin. He has no sin in his thoughts, words, or actions. He never does evil…ever…not even once.
This then is the definition of holy that we’re working with. It’s the definition of God’s holiness and it’s the definition of holiness that God requires of his children.
So… Are you holy?
If you are vegan, you don't eat meat or anything that comes from animals. No cheese. No eggs. No milk. Nothing.
So, if you (as a vegan) are wearing a "I'm vegan" t-shirt and head into Wendy's for the delicious Triple Baconator: three all beef patties, slices of cheese, and strips of bacon, then you finish it with a tall glass of chocolate milk shake, you’re not vegan.
Similarly, if you claim to be holy, and then gather with your coworkers to badmouth your boss, say a few swears, laugh at some dirty jokes, look the waitress up and down, and down four shots of Jack Daniels in less than an hour, only to end the night in front of the TV saying, “Well, at least I wasn’t as bad as my friend. He’s such a drunk and a jerk.”
You are NOT being holy. You are not living like God’s child.
In fact, if you are having a pretty good day at avoiding sin, you stub your toe, but don’t say a bad word; you get stuck in traffic, but don’t hold up any fingers; you miss the hot coffee at work and don’t hold a grudge against your coworkers; but when your boss tells you that they are downsizing and you are having your pay docked, and you think just for a second, “I hate him…”
You are not living holy.
This is why Scripture tells us, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Sin makes you unholy. It’s why you don’t get God’s glory.
This is true for all of us!
But is this a big deal? What will God really do to the unholy?
I think we sometimes get this idea that God is a kind old grandfather. We picture him sitting up in heaven with a long white beard and jolly cheeks. When one of us does wrong, he simply lifts us up on his lap, smiles firmly, chuckles and says, “Oh, what a kid.” Then, he hands out some Werther's, sends us on our way, and goes back to napping while watching M.A.S.H.
Is that how God reacts to sin?
Look at verse 17. “…You call on a father who judges each man's work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear!" Notice that word “impartially.” There is no grandpa favoritism here. Whether you are new to the church or a longtime churchgoer, God will judge your unholy deeds as unholy! God won't say, "Well, this person has a huge problem with lust, but he was confirmed, so I'll give him a pass." God won't say, "Well, this person hated his neighbor simply because of the color of his skin, but at least he didn't punch him so he's good." God won't say, "Well, this young woman is leading an immoral lifestyle. She isn’t giving any glory to me and in fact bad mouths me on Facebook, but her friends think she’s cool. I want to be cool, too. So…she’s cool."
Our holy God isn’t interested in being cool. Grandfather God is a myth. God judges impartially and he judges to hell any and all unholiness.
If you think differently, then someone has robbed you of God’s holiness. A holiness that cannot tolerate even for a second a smidgens of unholiness.
II. …Declared Holy by the Holy One
What can we do then?
How can we make it up to God?
How can we avoid his punishment?
Read on in what Peter says next, 'You know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty, unholy, way of life handed down to you from your forefathers...”
The point is simple. You can't pay for one unholy life with another unholy life. That’d be like trying to make up for the fact that you knocked over your mom’s priceless vase into a thousand pieces, by handing her the broken pieces of Grandma’s vase that you had bumped into last weekend.
One broken thing doesn’t make up for another.
Neither can an unholy life suddenly start doing more good and change into being holy. A zebra can’t changes its stripes into spots nor can a cheetah change its spots into stripes. In the same way, unholy people cannot change their ways into holy ways.
Holiness can only come from one who is holy.
And that’s God…
What did God do about it?
Scripture says, “You were redeemed... with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect." (v.17)
The Old Testament regulations teach us quite a bit about sin. In those times, the Israelites were to sacrifice a lamb for the forgiveness sins. But not just any old lamb. They couldn’t take the lamb with the deformed leg. They couldn’t take the lamb whose wool was coarse and speckled. They couldn’t even take the lamb who had a cavity in it’s back molar.
They needed a perfect lamb. A holy lamb. A holy lamb had to be sacrificed for sin to be paid for.
Fast forward to the words of the Apostle Peter who had heard John the Baptist say about Jesus, “Look the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Now read what Peter writes in verse 18 again, “You were bought with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.”
Do you get what Peter is saying? The payment for our sins is Jesus' holy life. His perfect life. His life “without the blemish of sin nor the defect of unholiness.” This is who Jesus holy. Holy in every last way.
But you might be thinking how is that possible? How can Jesus, a human, be without sin? No human can do that. Only God can.
You’re right...and that’s exactly who Jesus was: God himself.
Look at verse 20. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. He was the Holy One. Chosen because he was holy. Chosen because he would live a holy life. Chosen because his holy sacrifice would pay for our unholy lives. Chosen because he was holy as God as only God as holy can be.
The Holy One lived a Holy Life and gave that Holy life for us Unholy people that we might be declared Holy through faith!
How do you know this is all true?
Read verse 21: Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and your hope are in God. (v.21)
Proof #1 is glorious. It’s the resurrection of Jesus.
Unholy people don't rise from the dead. Even holy people who have taken on the sins of others shouldn’t rise from the dead, they have sin on them!
Unless the One who died is God himself. Because with God all things are possible. With God, our sacrifice makes a complete sacrifice to save us and still returns from the grave. Therefore, the resurrection is proof that Jesus was, is, and always will be God!
Consequently, this leads us to our second proof. Look at what the end of that section says. It says that you're faith is in God. (v.21) God, then, is to be trusted.
If you are having a party and give people directions on how to get to your house, people should trust you. They know that you need to take a left at the McDonald's, drive three blocks, and then look for the cream colored house with the red paneling and the Dodge Ram truck in the driveway.
Shouldn't you trust God then in how to get to heaven? It's his home. When he tells you that you can't get there by what you do and only through faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior (and he is holy so it is impossible for him to tell a lie)...trust him! Don’t trust your own unholy (and impure) thoughts on how to get to heaven. Trust his Holy promises.
What should we do now?
Exactly what God's Word in this section tells us to do. Live holy lives in all that you do.
Be holy in your thoughts. Be holy in your words. Be holy in your actions. Be holy in your typing, your texting, your swiping.
Be holy , not just at church once every other week, but…at home, at school, a work. Be holy in line at the checkout counter, alone at home in front of the computer, stuck in traffic, hanging out with your coworkers on a Friday night, when your kids are testing your patience…in any and every situation, do not sin. Remember who you are. Remember your family trait. Remember that God has made you holy!
Do this not in order to earn the title of holiness, but because God has already declared you holy in Jesus.
What might happen? Someone might notice. Then, they’ll look at your funny, approach and say, “Look at you. You have your Father’s holiness.”
Praise God when that happens.
Praise God for the holy declaration he has made about you.
Praise God for the holy actions in your life.
Praise God for the strength to live in holiness till we see his holy kingdom. Amen.
People of God: Heirs
I suppose an inheritance depends on the wealth of the one giving the inheritance.
For instance, if your father was a farmer, you might get the family farm. If your father was a carpenter, you might get a couple of band saws and 700 sheets of sandpaper. If your father was a Doritos salesmen (how awesome would that be), you might get bags and bags of that delicious chip.
As People of God, we are God’s children. That means our Dad is the divine ruler of heaven and earth – the stars, the planets, and the far reaches of the galaxy.
What exactly does an inheritance from such an awesome Dad look like?
Our lesson from 1 Peter 1:3-12 talks about this inheritance. It talks about us as heirs. It tells us about the glorious gifts that our heavenly Father has waiting for us.
1. A Brand New Kind of Inheritance
Look at verse 3. It says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”
Peter calls this inheritance new. It’s not old. It’s not your everyday inheritance of “a few thousands dollars invested in Mutual Funds.” It’s not the cliché “stock certificates” or “collection of neckties.” God’s inheritance for us is something new.
Praise the Lord, too. Because the promise of inheritance from every other religion in the world is old and tired.
We had a youth group spend time in the community this past week. They went door to door learning more and more about the people in our area. As they asked them questions about their religious preferences one thing became certain. There are a lot of different religions in North Raleigh, but they have a very similar sounding inheritance:
“I have led a good life, so I think I might get to heaven.”
“I’ll keep trying really hard and maybe I’ll make it to Nirvana.”
“I have followed Islamic law. So if I keep that up I’ll be in paradise.”
“I don’t know if there is a god. But if there is, I’m sure he’ll let me into heaven, because I’m a relatively good person.”
Different religions. Same promise. Be good and get to heaven.
But what happens if you follow this way to heaven? Say you get upset during the day and say a bad word. Haven’t you now failed at being good? What if you betray a friend? How do you know if you’ve done enough good to overcome that sin? (And if you are only doing good to outdo the bad you do, isn’t that selfish? Doesn’t that nullify any good action with selfish intentions?)
Why play the game of divine scale tipping? It doesn’t matter how you wrap it up. With burka headdresses or papal caps, it’s still the same sad OLD story. The same old false premise. The same old guilt. The same old doubts. The same old fear. The same old result:
But that God has something NEW for you. It isn’t guilt. It isn’t sin. It isn’t death. It is a new birth into living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. It’s Jesus is alive. It’s the promise that through faith in Jesus you too will be alive. It’s the promise that your sins are gone. It’s an inheritance of life without guilt. It’s an inheritance of certainty: I will be in heaven, just as Jesus certainly rose from the grave!
Which, by the way, is something totally new. Because many people had died before Jesus. That wasn’t new. That was old. What was new was what happened next. Jesus died and three days later, he came back to life. He rose from the dead. He proved that what he had talked about was a BRAND NEW theology with BRAND NEW power from God to back it up.
Now you might be thinking, “That’s nice. But there’s no way it will be mine. I’m not good enough. I haven’t behaved well enough. I haven’t even given God the time of day that I should. I have not equally given to God what he is willing to give me. I’m guilty and I don’t deserve this gracious gift.”
But it’s not about you. Scripture says, In his great mercy God gave us…”
Not – “In his being impressed by your life.”
Not – “in his being thankful for the good things you’ve done.”
Not – “In appreciation for the fact that you’re better than your neighbor.”
Just - “in His great mercy.” In his love. Because he loves you.
Jesus died. Because he loved you. Jesus took your sin. Because he loved you. Jesus rose from the dead. Because he loved you.
Jesus promises you an inheritance in heaven, because He loves you.
2. An Imperishable Inheritance
Surely this seems too good to be true. Perhaps you are thinking that way about this new inheritance from God. Maybe you are thinking: It can’t last. It must be a limited time offer. It must only be available to me when I was young. Now I am old. I have sinned too much. The time has passed on me. I can’t possibly be a recipient of this inheritance.
Look at verse 4. God’s promise is “into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.”
Compare this to visiting your grandpa’s attic. God’s promise is much different than any kind of inheritance you can find in an attic. It doesn’t perish like newspapers in your Grandpa’s attic that crumple and break as you pick them up. It doesn’t fade like an old family picture album in which grandpa’s old blue jeans look a dull shade of grey. It doesn’t spoil like bottles in a Coke collection from 1921.
God’s promises is still glorious. It’s is still as strong as ever. It still forgives sins. It’s love will never fade. It does not spoil.
We might spoil our faith. We may be overcome by doubts. We may love sin more than God. But that never changes what Jesus has done. It never changes Jesus’ offer. It never changes the fact that in Christ, your sins are forgiven!
Through faith in Him, you will be in heaven.
How is that possible? Everything on earth spoils, perishes, and fades. Even promises spoil, perish, and fade.
Look at the second part of verse 4. “This inheritance is kept in heaven for you.” Heaven is not earth. Earth IS a place of decay. Earth is a place where things fade, spoil, and die. Heaven is much different.
It’s like those special protective cases you can get for photographs. They are supposed to keep oxidization out and prevent from fading. You may have gone to great lengths with such coverings for your baseball card collection or your wedding dress.
You’ve got way more than a thin strip of plastic preventing God’s promise of your salvation from fading. Peter says it this way, “You through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” In heaven under the safeguard of our Father, sin can’t get at God’s promises. They do not get ruined. There is no expiration date. God’s promise of forgiveness and love is as strong today as it was at your Baptism as it will be on your deathbed!
3. An Inheritance Worth Suffering For
If your Uncle gave you an inheritance in the stock market, it may be wise to let it stay in the market for awhile. Even if it means eating Ramen noodles and paying for rent in an apartment a while longer, by suffering through the hard times, you will allow the money to grow. It will be worth it in the long run.
Consider then what Peter says about suffering for the inheritance God has given us, “6 In all this you greatly rejoice though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.”
Notice it says, “Rejoice!” Not just "put up with” sufferings. But “rejoice" in sufferings! Our promises inheritance in heaven is so awesome that we still rejoice even when we have to suffer.
*A friend vehemently spewing angry words on Facebook is worth the kingdom of heaven.
* A co-worker rolling his eyes at your saying a prayer is worth the kingdom of heaven.
* People at telling you to “SCRAM” from their front porch is worth the kingdom of heaven.
* That uneasy feeling when you know you should take a stand on God’s Word with your family is worth the kingdom of heaven.
* Staying at home, rather than going out to a party of heavy drinking, while it may not seem like much fun, is worth it for the kingdom of heaven.
Our inheritance is worth the suffering that might come with it!
What’s incredible is that these sufferings actually serve to increase our grip on our inheritance. Peter writes in verse 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
How does suffering increase your faith?
If you are feeling sad and start to question your parent’s love for you, one thing you may do is approach them and ask, “Do you love me?” When they say “yes” you are reassured.
Now, you can’t approach your Heavenly Father with that question. He’s invisible. But you can turn to his letter to you. A book that tells you how much he loves you. A book that shows you how much he loves you by explaining what he did for you.
So what happens when you suffer?
You are forced back into Scripture.
You read about God’s love.
You are strengthened in faith.
You hold onto your inheritance more tightly than ever before.
Peter writes in verse 8, “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
4. A Long Time Coming
This inheritance sounds pretty awesome doesn’t it. It is just as awesome as our awesome God actually is. And you might be saying, “I’m glad that he finally decided to give such a gift away.”
But this isn’t a recent decision.
Peter writes, “10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets, -- Old Testament, thousands of years ago prophets like Moses, Elijah, and Isiah who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, 11 trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow." In other words, they had this message of an inheritance. They knew that Jesus would come to bring this awesome gift to human beings. And they couldn’t wait for it to come! In fact, it was so great that (jump to the end of verse 12) Even angels long to look into these things!
But. 12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven.
This doesn’t mean that Jesus’ work didn’t count for the Old Testament believers like Moses, Elijah, and Isaiah. Certainly, Jesus’ eternal work of salvation stretches forwards and backwards in history.
But as believers blessed to look back at what Jesus did and the inheritance he won for us, we see in the Old Testament that this has long been the plan. Old Testament Scripture describes how Jesus would be “the offspring who would crush Satan’s head,” (Genesis 3) how Jesus would be called “Lord” and sit at God’s right hand.” (Psalm) How Jesus would be "pierced for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities, the punishment that brought us peace would be on him and by his wounds we would be healed.” (Isaiah 53)
Wives enjoy gifts from their husbands. Especially on anniversaries. And, to be sure, they appreciate going out for dinner or receiving a special bracelet on the date of the anniversary.
But, tell me if I’m wrong, gentlemen, if you buy the gift long beforehand. Say from a trip you took months earlier. Or you have been secretly collecting photos for a picture album or spent months putting together a video with Windows Movie Maker that chronicles your love, doesn’t she appreciate that even more?
Think about the inheritance God has won for you. He’s been planning it since before the creation of the world. He loves you just that much! And again, it isn’t because you have done anything special to earn it, it is simply because God is God. God is love. God is merciful. And he wants to share heaven with you.
We have an awesome God. How incredible then is the inheritance he has in mind for you.
But I have a confession. I once received a model John Deere tractor from my grandpa. It was pretty cool. An awesome reminder of his work as a farmer.
But I lost it. Now I don’t have it. Now I can’t enjoy it at all.
Don’t lose the inheritance God has in mind for you. Keep your faith focused on Jesus.