“Are You Still Drinking Milk?”

// January 12th, 2020 // Sermons

This entry is part 9 of 13 in the series 1 Peter Series

This is now Sermon #9 in the 1 Peter sermon series…  You can listen online or download it and listen later…Are You Still Drinking Milk?We have completed chapter 1, today we start on chapter 2… Next Sunday is the 3rd Sunday of January – the day when churches across North America take time to reflect on the Sanctity of Life.

For today, we are in the first 3 verses of 1 Peter 2.  This is a passage with huge implications for the church in our day.  Peter’s writing is rich with insight and deep with meaning.  If you have any desire to grow spiritually you need to pay attention to what Peter is saying – he is speaking to you.  And if you haven’t been growing as a Christian, you need to pay even closer attention because Peter connects two things that we often keep separate.

Those two things are found in v. 1 & 2.  V. 1 speaks of five wrong attitudes that must be put out of the Christian life.  When Peter says “put away,” he uses a verb that was used for removing ones dirty clothes.

If you are a Christian, you need to remove these five things out of your life:  malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.  Becoming a Christian means changing your wardrobe!  These five attitudes went out of style the moment you were born again.

The word malice refers to evil actions that characterize the pagan world.  It’s a general term for evil in all its various forms.  Malice is a desire to hurt someone with words or deeds.  It speaks of a smoldering resentment that causes you to lash out at others.

As a fisherman, Peter would have understood the word deceit, which really means to “bait the hook.”  It’s what you do when you manipulate a situation in order to get your way.  You are deceitful when you tell a lie or omit the truth in order to gain a personal advantage.  Deceit is a clever form of deliberate dishonesty.

The word hypocrisy comes from the Greek theater and referred to the practice of putting on a mask and playing a part on stage.  A hypocrite is someone who pretends to be something he is not.

Envy was one of the seven deadly sins.  One writer called envy the last sin Christians will confess because it is so ugly.  Envy is jealousy at the success of others or happiness at another’s misfortune.  It is the poison of the soul that turns you into a resentful, angry, grouchy, miserable, critical person.

The term slander translates a Greek word that literally means to “speak down” about someone.  It includes gossip, backbiting, spreading rumors, passing along a bad report, taking cheap shots, using humor to cut someone down, disparaging comments, unkind words. You can slander someone with the raised eyebrow, the unfinished sentence, veiled accusations, twisting the truth to make another person look bad, using subtle nuance to give a negative cast, judging others unfairly, and putting others down to make yourself look good.  Slander is usually the fruit of envy, and because it is almost always done behind the back of another person, it is the seedbed of hypocrisy.

We need to be aware of those five things:  Malice … Deceit … Hypocrisy … Envy … Slander.  These negative attitudes have no place in the Christian life.  There is no room for them in the Christian wardrobe.  And there should be no room for them inside the Christian church.  These are all relational sins…horizontal sins because they touch on how we relate to others around us.  And by definition, they deal with how we respond to the difficult people that we rub shoulders with every day.

I wonder how well we are doing in this area.  A pastor received this email from a church member:

Last Sunday you said some things about loving your neighbor. None of us does enough in this regard, but I feel that our attitude towards others always needs improvement.

Why is it we can’t overcome the attitude that every person must look like us, act like us, be our same size, talk the same as us, and be as LOVABLE as we are?

It bothers me so much that we, as a church, discriminate against newcomers because they aren’t in the clique, and because they present larger challenges to us as Christians. Perhaps they are a bit obnoxious; more outspoken; don’t have some of the finer social graces; and don’t match our stereotypes.

But, aren’t those the people Christ has commanded us to love? Aren’t we to make a special effort to show those people we love them and care for them however little they fall into our stereotyped definition of a fellow Christian?

It bothers me to see people run from such people and it bothers me to hear all of the gossip that people produce. Perhaps we all need reminders…Love thy neighbor as thyself! That is, even if he’s a bit too loud; if he is a bit demanding; if they dress weird; think differently; act different from us; if they are all wrapped-up in themselves; if they don’t know about deodorant; or, if they monopolize conversations!

The way I’ve heard some people talk to each other, if they said it to me, I would never go back.  I wonder if that is the reason for the decline in so many churches today.

These are just some thoughts I’ve been feeling while listening to the gossip and nitpicking many people practise just because somebody might be different from them.

Before I comment about that note, let’s look at the 2nd thing that Peter talks about in this passage.  In v. 2 Peter challenges us to crave “pure spiritual milk.”  We are to crave the milk of God’s Word the way a baby craves and is dependant on its mother’s breast.

Babies have an infallible and unmistakable way of letting you know when they are hungry.  It starts with a bit of fussing and soon turns into crying.  There is nothing to be done for that baby but to feed him.  Milk for a baby is not a fringe benefit, it is necessary for life.

I’m not a milk drinker…apparently I enjoyed milk as a young child, but the only milk that I could ever drink is eggnog or chocolate milk – white milk is not an option.  As the story goes, when my mother wanted to wean me from the bottle she used the logic that the milk was sour and didn’t taste good.  Well, it hasn’t tasted good ever since!

When Peter uses this word picture, he doesn’t mean that his readers are all brand-new or “baby” Christians.  And he’s not comparing milk to meat like in Heb. 5:12-14 – listen as I read – “You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food.  For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right.  Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong.”

That passage in Hebrews is teaching something quite different to what Peter is teaching in 1 Peter 2:1-3.  Peter intends for us to understand that we are all to be as hungry/craving God’s Word as a baby is craves its mother’s milk.  And the reason is clear—“that by it you may grow up into salvation” – the end of v. 2.  We need to see the progression here:

  1. The Word of God for the believer is like milk to a baby.
  2. We need God’s Word in our lives like a baby needs to drink milk.
  3. Just as babies cannot grow without milk, we cannot grow without the Word.

In v. 2, he uses a word that is translated – “long” (ESV), “crave” (NLT), “desire” (KJV).  The word used means a deep desire that leads to vigorous action.  It means to yearn for something to the point that it becomes a consuming desire.

So, now to put those two thoughts together:

  • We are to lay aside all those rotten attitudes that hinder our brotherly love – that’s v. 1. And secondly,
  • We are to earnestly long for God’s Word so we can grow spiritually – that’s v. 2.

To say it a different way:

  • 1 describes certain horizontal sins that we need to get rid of;
  • And, v. 2 describes the vertical relationship where we learn how to grow spiritually and how to have a closer walk with God.

This is Peter’s whole point:  The way we treat one another has a direct impact on our relationship with God!

You need to understand that – as long as we harbor relational sins and wrong attitudes, we will never grow spiritually.  The relational sins are like the junk food of the soul – they effectively choke off our craving for the Word so that instead of growing, we become stagnant!

As long as believers continue to be unkind to people, gossip about them, harbor bitterness against brothers and sisters, have a sharp tongue, a critical spirit and look down on people who are from us… as long as we do these things, we will never grow spiritually no matter how many times a week you go to church or how many Bible studies you attend.  Those relational sins will choke off the Word of God in your life.

In light of this, it should not surprise us when we see people in their senior years still at a Kindergarten level of Christianity.  They’re harboring a relational garbage dump on the inside.  They make excuses for their envy, they ignore their gossip, they make light of their cutting comments, and they justify their meanness toward others.  They don’t grow because they can’t grow.

When your horizontal life is messed up, your vertical won’t be right.  God has wired us up so that the horizontal and the vertical operate in tandem.  John says it very plainly in 1 John:  “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen” (I John 4:20).  We cannot say, “I hate you” to a brother or sister in Christ and then say, “Lord, I love you. Please bless me right now.”  It doesn’t work that way.

Junk food has a way of messing up our appetite.  Way back, when I was in my 20’s, while still working in construction, one evening after a long day framing a house south of Saskatoon, my partner and I were hungry and we had almost an hour drive home.  So, as we passed by a McDonalds, I turned in and we each grabbed a burger, fries and milkshake and carried along the way.  That food was gone in no time, but, when I pulled into our yard, I knew I was in trouble.  Ruthie would have gone through all the work of preparing a great supper, and I had very little appetite left.

She didn’t throw the supper on me, but that’s what happens when you eat too much junk food.  It messes up your appetite.  And the same thing it true spiritually when you indulge yourself in relational sins that we usually feel the need to justify and excuse.  When you’re angry or upset or critical or mean or unkind or speak cutting words, that’s a poison in your soul that chokes off your desire for God’s Word.

When you are out of whack horizontally, you will also find yourself out of whack vertically.

In v. 3 Peter explains the heart – the root of the problem and the pathway to finding a solution – v. 3 reads, “if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.”  Notice how it all comes back to God again.  Loving your brother/sister-in Christ, isn’t about you or about them.  It’s about God.  Your spiritual growth isn’t about you…it’s about God!

  • When we are angry and bitter…
  • When we start to envy others…
  • When we criticize those who are different than us…
  • When we pass along rumors…
  • When we respond harshly to those who get under our skin…
  • When we lose our temper…
  • When we answer with foolish words rather than godly wisdom…
  • When we judge others harshly…
  • When you answer your spouse with harsh, cruel words…
  • When you are impatient and irritable toward your children…
  • When you have no time to be kind and generous to the less fortunate…
  • When all day long you are angry and scowling, almost like you are looking for a fight…

When we act in these kinds of ways, it is always because we have forgotten the goodness of the Lord.

Psalm 34:8 says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.”  That verse always takes me back to the Gospel Church in Warman, Saskatchewan – back to a man by the name of Isaac Neudorf – he is in God’s presence, not just tasting, he is basking in the presence of the Lord…he knows that the Lord is good.  That verse was his favorite and everyone who knew him knew that verse and the passage that surrounds it.

“Taste and see that the Lord is good.”  God tastes better than any and all sin!  Revenge may be sweet, but God is sweeter!  Sin brings pleasure for a moment, but with God you experience eternal joy!

The day that you and I received salvation through Christ, we got a taste of God’s goodness.  Do you remember what that felt like?  Do you remember how wonderful it was to have the load of sin lifted off your shoulders?  Do you remember what it felt like to finally be free of all the guilt that gets piled-up in our lives?

Sometimes we forget what we were like before Christ.  It is possible for us to have totally forgotten what kind of life we came from – to forget the ugliness of the pit we were in before Jesus rescued us.  And the sad part is, when you forget God’s goodness, it’s easy to become critical and judgmental of others.  Our bitterness kills our appetite for God’s goodness; and the flipside – God’s goodness will always remove our bitterness.

James 3:10-12 we read, “From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.  Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt [bitter] water?  Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.

You can’t have both – our bitterness and God’s goodness – at the same time!  One man told his pastor, “I need to go buy a broom and sweep a lot of junk out of my life.”  There are times when we all need to do some soul-sweeping.  And if you’ve been eating too much spiritual junk food, you need to pray, “Make me hungry for you and Your Word, O Lord!”

We need to keep in that we’re all in the same boat.  We’re all sinners desperately in need of God’s grace.  Some of us have lived our lives committing what society would see as being more respectable sins – but nonetheless still sinners.

And, apart from Jesus, we would all be going to hell.  It doesn’t matter where a person is at, they need Jesus.  I was 11 or 12 years old when I became convicted that I was a sinner in need of a Savior.  I am so glad that I have tasted of God’s goodness.  But, that was a lot of years ago, and so it is easy to forget what I was before I trusted in Jesus.

I think that is the problem many believers face – we’ve forgotten what we smelled like before Jesus saved us!  And because we have forgotten this important part, we think of ourselves as being pretty valuable to God.  Out of that kind of attitude we then start to look down on others.

But, if can just get a whiff or a glimpse of back then – we didn’t smell very good on the inside, and if we are honest we’ll admit that we really didn’t smell good on the outside.

But, at the age of 11, I was privileged to attend that church, and I was privileged to hear Pastor Leonard Sawatzky preach a sermon that felt like he was looking just at me and preaching just to me – he shared with us the Good News and told me how to become a follower of Jesus.

Do you still remember the pit you were in?  Do you remember how lost you felt you were?  Do you remember feeling grateful that God loved you so much that He sent Jesus to this world to die for you?  It’s time that we started remembering the goodness of the Lord.

When you remember the goodness of the Lord to you, you won’t have the time or the inclination to look down on others or harbor hatred or bitterness or envy or malice in your heart.

The answer is not in trying harder or in being nicer.  The answer is not in you at all.  The answer is God – it’s all about Him!  Every part of your life as a Christian is about God—who He is and what He has done for you.

It shouldn’t take you very long to recount a list as long as your arm of the ways that the Lord has been good to you.

Have you tasted His goodness in your life?  Do you know that God has rescued you?  When you cried out to Him, did He answer your prayer?

If you answer with a “yes” then you should give thanks and remember His goodness.  Rejoice and celebrate His goodness.  Let His goodness be the foundation of your life, and the amazing thing you will discover is that – your anger and malice and envy and all those other junk food relational sins will just vanish from your life.  When you start to remember God’s goodness, you will crave more of it just as a baby craves its mother’s milk.

The reason we criticize, gossip about, and look down on others is because we have forgotten what life was like before we tasted God’s goodness.  Remember His goodness to you and you’ll be surprised at how your attitude changes – how you are able to start treating people with true brotherly love – and, as a result, you’ll start to grow.  That’s Peter’s message to us today.

The first verse of our Closing song says –

What a wonderful change in my life has been wrought,

Since Jesus came into my heart;

I have light in my soul for which long I had sought
Since Jesus came into my heart.

Is that real for you?

Has Jesus made a wonderful change in your life?  May that show up in the way you treat others…

Let’s pray…


Benediction:  (1 Peter 5:10-11) – “May the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.  To Him be the dominion forever and ever.  Amen.”

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