Monday, October 21, 2013

Increasing Christian Spiritual Hunger - 1 Peter 2

1 Peter 2:1-2 "Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, 2 like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, 3 if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord."

Psalm 34:8 states - "O taste and see that the Lord is good;How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!" To taste is to experience, to engage and interact with God for the aim of enjoying Him. The imagery of food is used to describe how the believer in their faith-walk takes in Christ by faith and feeds off of Him as their food, their delight and their deeds. In John 6:47-51 Jesus says:  "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.” The question before us today in this blog is: "How can you and I increase our spiritual Christian hunger?" Peter in 1 Peter 2 will help us answer this question in the following manner:

A. Digest God's words.             1 Peter 2:1-3
B. Delight in union with Christ.  1 Peter 2:4-10
                                                1 Peter 2:21-25
C. Do what the Lord says.       1 Peter 2:11-20 

If you and I are going to increase our Christian spiritual hunger, we first of all must....

Digest God's words.     1 Peter 2:1-3
In our English text we see Peter emphasizing his conclusion first and his initial thought last.  This is a common trait among the New Testament authors and is a common characteristic of the original language in which those authors wrote.  In order for us to want to digest God's words, we had to have already experienced the new birth.  Whenever you read 1 Peter 2:1-3 in reverse order, you can see with crystal clarity Peter's main point about digesting God's words.

1). Spiritual taste buds are needed to eat God's words.  1 Peter 2:3
1 Peter 2:3 "if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord."

2). Saved people have spiritual taste buds to crave God's words. 1 Peter 2:2
If we have tasted the kindness of the Lord, then according to 1 Peter 2:2 "like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation,"

3). Saved people, with spiritual taste buds, should reject the junk food of sin.
1 Peter 2:1 "Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander". 

So in order to increase Christian spiritual hunger, we need to digest God's words, but notice secondly...

Delight in your union with Christ. 1 Peter 2:4-10, 21-25
We read of the phrase or idea of "in Christ" in over 100 places in the New Testament. What ever Christ accomplished and experienced in His crucifixion and resurrection is credited to us and experienced by us.  In two spots in 1 Peter 2 we find out who we are and Whose we are by virtue of our connection with Christ in His resurrection/ascension in 1 Peter 2:4-10 and His crucifixion in 1 Peter 2:21-25. By noting our true spiritual union with Christ, we can increase even more our spiritual hunger for Christ and His word. 

In 1 Peter 2:4 we see Jesus described as the living and precious stone, with believers in union with Him being described as precious living stones by God in 1 Peter 2:5. When Peter then says that Christ, the precious stone was rejected by men, it actually explains why we as Christians sometimes experience rejection as well.  In Christ, my identity in union with Him means that He, not my circumstances and not people determine how I carry myself through this life. Christ as the chosen one of God, the anointed one, means that every individual Christian is chosen in Him prior to their birth or before any action they do or don't do.  By virtue of the fact that the Father saw every believer in Christ means the Father chose to love and call that person unto Himself for Jesus' sake. Again, everything Jesus is or experienced in His humanity, the Christian in union with him will by position and experience be able to undergo as the Father develops the believer through trials and triumphs.

In 1 Peter 2:21 we see that God has called every Christian with the purpose of following in Jesus' steps.  Our identity and union in Jesus Christ is both a victorious identity and a crucified identity.  I am ruling and reigning with Christ spiritually (Ephesians 2:6-8) and am also crucified with Him and to the world. (Galatians 2:20; 6:14) This is why the Christian, over time, learns to hunger more and more to return to and seek after the Overseer of their souls.  Christian spiritual hunger is increased by digesting on God's words and delighting in their union with Jesus Christ but notice finally how else spiritual hunger is increased........

Doing what the Lord says.  1 Peter 2:11-20
Jesus says these words in John 14:21 "He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.”  In 1 Peter 2 we find nine commands given by the Lord through Peter that can tell us real quick how hungry we are for Him:

1. Abstain from fleshly lusts.  (1 Peter 2:11)
2. Keep your behavior excellent. (2:12)
3. Submit yourselves to every authority. (2:13)
4. Acts as free men. (2:16)
5. Honor all people. (2:17)
6. Love the brotherhood. (2:17)
7. Fear God. (2:17)
8. Honor the King. (2:17)
9. Servants, be submissive. (2:18)

Now when you look at those commands, any one of them are difficult if not impossible to perform - unless of course you have tasted and digested God's Words and are delighting in your union with Christ.  Though we are saved by grace apart from the law, nevertheless our salvation is one that is not lawless.  The hungry lion has no issue having to chase down his meal, and likewise the Christian should have no issue doing the bidding of His Master - the Lord Jesus Christ. 

We have a saying around our household - "slow obedience is no obedience". Immediate obedience translates into increasing spiritual hunger to do more of God and to know God all the more.  May you and I believer increase Christian spiritual hunger by digesting God's words, delighting in our union with Christ and doing His will.