“Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.” 1 Peter 2:1-3 NASB
This thought is continued from the last passage in chapter 1 where Peter begins to instruct the people to participate in their salvation. Faith is participation. Participation in the work of the Lord is our call and our “spiritual service of worship.” (Romans 12:1) My thoughts go to John 5:19, “Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.” Jesus was to participate in what the Father was doing. So He “saw” that and went for it. It looked to all observing, that it was Jesus doing it. However, He states He was only doing what the Father was doing. So His action of faith was simply doing what the Father was already busy doing.
There are several ways to move further with this thought, but I want to continue here with the Scripture above. He is telling them to “grow up” into their salvation, but getting rid of some things that are natural to a mere human yet spiritually toxic. We are no longer merely human. We are God-infused humanity in Jesus Christ and the temple of the Holy Spirit. The Father refers to us as His sons. So in that placement, it is time that we begin to lay aside, or cease participation in some things which are not according to this new birth from the imperishable, incorruptible, eternal seed of the Word.
The first item is “malice” in this translation. This is also translated “wickedness” (“Kakia” – Greek transliteration) . If you know as a human that an action or thought or motive is “wicked,” then get rid of it. Pretty simple. The next “deceit” (“dolos” – Gk.) is something done with another motive. In other words, what you see is not what you get. The next is similar in meaning, “hypocrisy” (hupokrisis”- Gk) or literally “play acting” or being two-faced we would say. The next item is “envy” (phthonos” – Gk) or jealousy. I once tried to study “envy” but did not want to study “jealousy.” I became very frustrated – because they essentially are the same emotion. The last “slander” (“katalalia” – Gk) means to speak evil about someone.
All these items are in our own control. We can, with the power of grace, rid our thoughts and therefore our feelings of these spiritually toxic items.
As we do that, our longing (hunger etc…) grows for the genuine milk of the word. A longing that is that of a new-born. Nothing, but nothing will satisfy when that hunger sets into a new-born. They begin to fuss, yell and make a scene – because they are hungry. We are to long intensely like that for the Word.
The passage continues, “…so that by it (the Word) you may grow in respect to salvation….” The “in respect to” here is actually one word in the Greek text – “eis” – whose primary meaning is “into.” So to translate it clearly, “…so that by the Word you may grow into salvation.” Now we all know that salvation is an instant kind of thing. However, “growing up” into it is to take it seriously and begin to lay aside the spiritually toxic items in our behavior, and allow the truth of the Word through the power of the Holy Spirit to form our beings into “God-Son.”
Peter then puts an “if” on it all. “…if you have tasted the kindness (or goodness) of the Lord.” All this is dependent on your “tasting” His goodness. It is not a legal thing, but a relational thing. He is the Word, and He tastes good – much like milk to a new-born. He just tastes good and we end up wanting more.
Those who seldom read or study the Word, or study and read only what makes them feel good, have not yet seen and tasted this goodness. For His kindness simply makes us want more and we get more by and through Him in His Word. The Word is alive and breathes with the breath that I need to be “God-Son” .
Draw near and He draws near. He feeds, we eat – then we want more. May His grace abound upon us as we drink and become this salvation He has so graciously given.