Growing Up

Feb 8, 2013
Akron, Ohio
Tuesday, June 03, 2014, 7:55 a.m. – the Lord Jesus put the song in mind, “I Sing of His Mercy.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Peter 2 (NIV).

That You May Grow Up

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.

When we are born physically, we must rely upon others to take care of us and to give us the nourishment that we need. So, we are completely dependent upon the one (or more) who supply us with the milk we need in order to survive. We don’t try to go our own way and to try to find our own food sources, because we can’t. We know instinctively that milk is what we need, and that is what we crave; and it is what we cry out for until we get it. And, when it is put before us, we drink it in wholeheartedly and with great enthusiasm until we are satisfied and have our bellies filled. The feeding of the milk, though, not only satisfies our hunger and thirst, but it gives us much comfort, as well, for we are held in someone’s arms and are held closely to the breast, and so we feel much love, comfort and joy, too. [I know not all babies experience this, but this should be the norm, I believe.]

So, when we are being encouraged here to get rid of all these various types of sins (and more) in our lives, and to crave pure spiritual milk, like newborn babies, so that we may grow up into our salvation, what is this saying? I believe that if we could grasp the spiritual parallels here between that of a newborn baby and ourselves, such as was the parallel between our Christian walks and that of a new bride walking down the aisle to be with her husband forever (yesterday’s lesson), I think it will help us understand better what this means. For, when we come to faith in Jesus Christ, we are born again, not physically, but spiritually. The old is gone – our old ways of living for sin and self – and the new has come – the ability to now walk in Christ’s righteousness and holiness. We should realize our absolute dependence upon Jesus Christ – Almighty God – and we should no longer crave the sinful desires of our old flesh, but we should crave the unadulterated word of God.

We should not wander off to other sources of nourishment, i.e. we should not follow after this teaching or that philosophy or vision or missions of humans, based upon humanistic thinking and reasoning. We should not try to find our satisfaction and joy in life in the things this sinful world has to offer us. But we should crave (long for) the pure, unadulterated word of God, i.e. we should cry out for it, thirst for it, and be satisfied only with its nourishment and comfort. And, when we are given the untainted word of God to drink in, we should do so with great enthusiasm, and to do so wholeheartedly, longing to hear from our Lord, and to know his will and purposes for our lives, so that we can follow him, and so we can grow in our walks with him, so we don’t remain spiritual infants our whole lives. And, it is there, in the arms of Jesus, in drinking in his pure (untainted by humans) word, that we should find satisfaction, nourishment, comfort and joy for our lives.

The Living Stone

As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture it says:

“See, I lay a stone in Zion,
a chosen and precious cornerstone,
and the one who trusts in him
will never be put to shame.”

Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,

“The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone,”

“A stone that causes people to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall.”

They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.

Christ Jesus is the rock upon which the church is built. He is our foundation. He is the keystone or the central stone which holds the whole structure together. He is the core, the heart, the center, and the foundation, through whom we come into being, and by whom we are given new birth, and in whom and in whose power and grace we are able to grow in our walks with the Lord to maturity. He is not dead, but alive, and he is living within those who are truly his. So we, as his offspring, are also living stones, i.e. we are part of this building, his church, but not a building built with human hands, but a spiritual building built on the foundation of Christ and his word, and the teachings of the apostles and prophets.

As we are continually coming to him, not just when we initially made the decision to accept his invitation to his gift of grace - his love offering for us on the cross when he died for our sins so we could go free from slavery to sin and eternal damnation, and so we could walk in his righteousness and holiness - but daily and continuously coming to him, we are being built (made) into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood. So, what does that mean?

A priest, for one, was one who made sacrifices for the people’s sins to God, but now Jesus Christ is our high priest, so we no longer have to have a human priest make sacrifices for us. Now we are all priests, i.e. now we can all, through faith in Jesus Christ, enter into the inner sanctuary, the Holy of Holies, and we can offer our lives as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, which is our reasonable service of worship to him (See Ro. 12:1-2) – no longer conformed to the ways of this world, but transformed of the Spirit in the renewing of our minds. We are to become a holy priesthood, though, set apart from the world, and set apart to God and to his service and to his will for our lives. Repentance and obedience, not to a set of rules, but to our Lord Jesus Christ and to his word (his teachings), because we love him, are spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God. With these he is pleased.

A Royal Priesthood

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us…

So, what is the crux of all this? Coming to Christ, not just once but daily, involves ridding our lives of all sinful behaviors. We can’t hunger and thirst after the desires of our flesh and after God, too. The two don’t mix. Then, we must crave (hunger for) the untainted word of God, i.e. that which is, as close as possible, true to the original meaning he intended when he commissioned his servants to write those words. We need to guard against relying upon books written by mere humans to tell us what God’s word says, but we must be students of the word ourselves, trusting the Spirit of God to speak its truths into our lives. And, we must offer our lives to God as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to him, set apart from the world of sin, and set apart to God and to his service – to follow him wherever he leads.

And, then we should declare the praises of him who called us out of darkness into his wonderful light. I wish everyone who professes the name of Christ would truly grasp what all this is saying, and how it applies to our lives. Darkness is sin. It is evil. We are called of God, not just so we can go to heaven one day, but we are called out of sin, to be delivered from slavery to sin while we still walk the face of this earth. Amen! And, we are called into walks of faith in his righteousness and holiness, and into his truth. Hallelujah! Praise Jesus! I am not only bound for heaven, but I have been set free from the control of sin over my life in the here and now, and I am free to obey him and to walk in his holiness, living a life pleasing to him. That is my desire! I am so grateful for his mercy, not just in forgiving me of my sins so I don’t have to spend eternity in hell, but that he has freed me from that old life and has given me a completely new life in him. There is no other way to live!

I Sing of His Mercy / An Original Work

Based off Psalm 32 / April 10, 2014

Blessed are those whose sins are forgiven
By the blood of Jesus Christ.
Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does
Not count against them; freedom found.
When, in silence, I did not confess
My sin to You; had no strength.
Then I owned up to my sin and
You forgave and cleansed me within.

Therefore let the godly pray to You;
Draw near to You; grace they’ll find.
They will not be o’ertaken by afflictions,
But in Christ peace abounds.
Lord, You are my hiding place.
I find my refuge in You secure.
You protect me from all evil.
You give songs of vict’ry in You.

Lord, You teach me to walk in Your ways;
Counsel me in love, I know.
Help me to not be stubborn and
Unwilling to follow in Your truth.
Thank You for Your love and mercy.
I put my trust in You always.
I rejoice in my Lord and
I sing of Him throughout all my days.