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Pure Spiritual Milk - 1 Peter 2:1-3

In passing on his instructions for living in exile as God’s people, Peter keeps using a recurring format for each section of his letter, and today’s short passage is one of the best places to see it: He starts with a condition (v. 1): “having put away” sinful behaviors; then he gives the main point (v. 2): “long for pure spiritual milk”; and he closes the section by supporting his point with an Old Testament allusion, this time (vs. 3) from Psalm 34: “since you have tasted that the Lord is good.”

Recognizing this structure helps us to keep our eye on the ball: the main point is not “You need to put these sins to death”. The main point is: “Long for pure spiritual milk.” The Christian life is not a life of sin-killing; it is a life of milk-drinking. The sin-killing is just what happens so that you can get to the milk-drinking. But just because putting these sins to death is not the main point doesn’t mean that you can just skip over verse 1. No, Peter tells you put away malice and deceit and hypocrisy and envy and evil speaking because these sins are all “lemons” that will sour and curdle your spiritual milk!

In particular, the sins that Peter mentions spoil Christian love and destroy relationships. These are the kinds of behaviors that Christians are experiencing from the wider world, but since you have been born into a new community, Peter says, you must not bring these old behaviors with you! If you keep showing malice and deceit and hypocrisy and envy and speaking evil of your brother and sisters in Christ, then you have no part in the new birth; you are a stillbirth.

And so as you hear the Word today, you need to examine how you’ve treated your brothers and sisters, or else this Word will curdle in your heart, and instead of growing in Christ, worshiping God will make you sick. So put these sins away. Confess them to God and the one you’ve sinned against. Silence these sins with the truth about that person: they are a born-again child of God, beloved by their Father, and deserving of your pure brotherly love.

Now, having put these sins away, you are ready for pure spiritual milk! But something else might be keeping you from the nourishment you need: indifference towards pure milk has the same result as avoiding impure milk. In either case, you don’t get the nourishment you need to grow. And so in verse 2, Peter tells you to desire spiritual milk like newborn babies desire milk: constantly, regularly, insistently. Babies have one goal in life: get milk! Born-again Christians need to turn that desire towards spiritual milk.

But all too often, we let our busyness or our priorities distract us from longing for pure spiritual milk. We consider spiritual milk to be optional, not essential. We act like we need to be persuaded or convinced that getting milk is more important than the other cares and concerns that fill our lives.

In the face of our busy lives and competing desires, however, Peter doesn’t try to reason with us or explain to us why we should prioritize getting milk. He just raises the question: “You’ve tasted God’s milk, right?” If you’ve tasted it, that’s enough! If you’ve experienced the goodness of God, then that’s enough! All the explaining in the world doesn’t do as much good as one taste.

Just what is this “milk” that we should desire? Taste and see that the Lord is good. Like newborn infants, long for Jesus. You’ve already tasted the goodness of the Lord Jesus, and so of course you’ll put away all the sins that sour and curdle the pure milk that God offers you in Christ, and of course you will desire to draw near to Jesus with that single-minded urgency of a newborn seeking out his mother’s milk.

And so here is Peter’s exhortation: if you are thankful that God caused you to be born again, if you are glad for your new life in Christ, if you are overwhelmed by the fact that God has forgiven your sins through the blood of Jesus, and that He has promised you an eternal, imperishable inheritance, then keep coming back for more! Don’t let sin curdle your soul, and don’t be indifferent to such a great salvation! Remember what Christ Jesus has done for you, and keep coming back to Him with a grateful heart and an open mouth.

Posted on Wednesday, July 27, 2016 by CJ Bowen