1 Peter 1:22-2:3 Desire the Word of the Lord WC McCarter
Last week, in 1 Peter 1:13-21, we were told to be holy and fearful because we have been purchased by God with the precious blood of Jesus Christ. We saw that Christ is eternal, but even before the foundation of the world the Triune God had decreed that God the Son would put on flesh in order to live, die, and be raised again in order to pay for the sins of humanity. He was manifest in these last times for us. Through Jesus Christ our faith and hope are in God. Today, we will complete that famous Christian triad by adding brotherly love.
READ Scripture- This is the Word of God
Love One Another (22)
The command in verse 22, which comes in the second half of the verse, is for Christians to continue to love one another. This love is given two qualifications: it to be fervent and from a pure heart. Fervent, pure-hearted love is deep, stable, reliable, and constant. Christians are to be committed to one another.
The command is to love one another deeply and from a pure heart. The basis of the command comes in the first half of verse 22: you have purified your hearts. While Peter has already acknowledged that the end of our faith is the salvation of our souls, he now says that the beginning of our faith was the purification of our souls. You have had an active part in your regeneration, but it is a completely responsive role that you have played. You have simply obeyed the truth. The truth must refer to what the Christians first heard from Gospel preachers. They had heard the truth of the Gospel of Christ and obeyed it. Remember, Jesus said that He is the Truth. They heard of the Christmas story, His life and ministry, and His death and resurrection. They responded positively to that message of Christ’s atoning work, and you have done the same. You do not earn your salvation. Christ has earned it for you. You do not work for your salvation. Christ’s work is more than enough to save you. Yet, you do obey, and, in doing so, you purify your souls. Notice that even your obeying is not totally on your own. It is through the Spirit. (The NIV does not have this phrase because some early manuscripts do not have the words). Yet, we all know that the Holy Spirit has an active part in the purification of our souls. He does a great work in you that motivates your obedience to the truth. This is the beginning of the Christian life, the new birth. The purity of your souls is also seen in the sincere love you show for your brothers and sisters in Christ. The fruit of a purified soul is the willingness to love others.
Exhortation: Peter commends the Christians for their love of one another and instructs them to continue to love one another deeply and pure-heartedly. The application for our lives is the same. If you have loved one another, you have done well. Now, love one another that much more fervently and purely.
New Birth by the Word (23-25)
For the second time in the first chapter, Peter points us back to our conversion (v3 “begotten us again to a living hope”). He points us to the time when we committed our lives to Christ, when we were born again. He teaches here that the new birth is by means of the word of God. So, we are not born again by any natural means (corruptible seed). Do you remember when Nicodemus visited Jesus at night and talked about the new birth? He could not understand Jesus and asked in John 3, “How am I to be born again when I am old? Am I to climb into my mother’s womb to be born again?” On that occasion, Jesus said, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” That is what Peter is teaching here. We are not born again through corruptible seed (i.e. human seed) but through incorruptible seed (i.e. the word of God). Of course, the word is going to be put on full display in the next few verses, but we are given two descriptions of the word here: the word lives (active, powerful, and provides life) and abides (constant and enduring). This is a further elaboration to the statement that the seed of the word is incorruptible.
The connection between verses 22 and 23 is clear: you should love one another because you have been born again. The power to fulfill the love command comes in the new birth. It comes by the power of God at work in you.
The OT quote in verses 24-25 comes from Isaiah 40:6-8. We are told twice in this paragraph that we are like grass. Just as grass withers and flowers fade, so, too, are all people. The fact that grass is short-lived serves as a great illustration. Like grass, we are here one day and gone the next. We do not live forever. We are not dependent upon ourselves. God is the giver and taker of life. He alone is the everlasting God. We are physically fragile. We are also morally fragile. We are susceptible to the wiles of the devil, the fallenness of this world, and our own selfish desires. People come and go. Like grass, we spring up for a time and quickly die. Yet, the word of God stands forever. When God speaks, the matter is settled for eternity. The everlasting God speaks everlasting words.
At the end of verse 25, Peter adds a comment to the OT quote and makes clear that the Gospel is the word of God. This living and enduring word of God is the Gospel. Peter and Paul agree: the word of God is living and active; the word is the Gospel which is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe.
Exhortation: Put your life in proper perspective. Put the word of God in proper perspective. You will not live forever, but the Gospel word of God enables believers to be born again and live forever in a redeemed and glorified state.
Growth by the Word (1-3)
Based on what has just been said about the word of God, Peter now makes a summarizing and exhorting statement. Because of our new birth by the word of God, we must lay aside (rid yourself) all sorts of sinful thoughts and behaviors. These things destroy love for one another.
Definitions: malice (ill-will, desire to do harm to another); deceit (entrapment, fraud, deviousness); hypocrisy (pretentious, fake); envy (resentful, spiteful); and evil speaking (backbiting, slander, defamation). There is no room for these things in the Christian life. Those who have been born again actively resist and rid themselves of these things in order to love their brothers and sisters fervently and pure-heartedly. This is what the believer does after the new birth. This is sanctification, Christian growth toward maturity.
Peter taught just a moment ago that new birth was through the word of God, and now he teaches that continued Christian growth is through the word of God. You continue the Christian life the same way you start. You finish the same way you start, by faith and by the word of God. You continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, not moved away from the gospel which you first heard. Peter uses a baby as an illustration. Just as a baby craves the milk that will make it grow, so, too, should Christians crave the pure milk of the word which will make them grow. What makes the baby desire the milk? When they get a little taste, then they know they need more. It is satisfying, comforting, filling, and nutritious.
Exhortation: Desire the word of the Lord. Crave it. Long for it. This is how you will grow as a Christian. This is how you will rid yourselves of all kinds of wickedness and be holy like your Father in heaven is holy. You have tasted the Lord’s graciousness, now latch on.
ConclusionI cannot think of a better message for us as we go into a new year. We want to be those who are full of God’s word, ridding ourselves of sin, and loving one another fervently and pure-heartedly. We are not like those of this world. We have been born again. We have tasted the Lord’s graciousness, and we want more. Let us, together, pursue those things which make for love, holiness, and Christian maturity. Forsake the corruptible things of this world, and chase after the incorruptible things of God.