Our studies last week reminded us that for the Christian, obedience immediately and necessarily follows and manifests true faith. Peter commands his audience to be holy (1 Peter 1:15–16), and the phrasing “having purified your souls” in verse 22 assumes that his audience will naturally follow this command. He does not have to reason with his audience or question whether they will be holy, he knows that if they are true Christians they will live lives of holiness.
Verse 22 also told us that our obedience in holiness produces love and that it is also love itself. Today’s passage begins with a brief description of what this love looks like. Those who live holy lives, endeavoring to love other Christians earnestly, must first put off all “malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander” (2:1).
We must note first of all that this list of vices is not extensive. There are many other things we need to put off in order that we might be holy and love earnestly. However, Peter’s command does give us a helpful way we can check ourselves to see if we are truly loving other people. Beginning tomorrow we will look at some Christian virtues that both oppose these vices and demonstrate the work of the Spirit in our hearts to grow us in love and holiness.
In verses 2 and 3, Peter tells us to long for “pure spiritual milk” (pure doctrine) so that we may grow up into salvation. The connection to love and holiness is obvious, for we cannot be holy or love properly unless we know the things of God.
At first glance these verses seem to contradict passages like Hebrews 5:12, which criticizes its audience for subsisting on a diet of milk and not solid food. However, the context of this passage shows us that there is no contradiction. While the author of Hebrews makes a distinction between the basic instruction that new converts need and the teaching mature believers require, Peter does not use the term “milk” in this way. Rather, he is speaking more generally of the purity of the Word of God and its function as the essential diet for the believer. This “milk” includes all of God’s special revelation and is to be consumed with an insatiable hunger.
What is your response to the Word of God? Do you crave it with the hunger that a newborn infant has for his mother’s milk? Or are you indifferent, thinking that your study of Scripture does not really contribute all that much to your Christian maturity? Go before the Lord today and ask Him to increase your hunger for His Word. Then, take some steps to study it eagerly so that you may know how to please God by loving others earnestly.