A Living Stone and a Holy People

So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation—if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.
As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture:
“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,
a cornerstone chosen and precious,
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”
So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe,
“The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone,”
and
“A stone of stumbling,
and a rock of offense.”
They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
(1 Peter 2:1-12 ESV)

As I wrote about in my previous post, Peter’s letters have captured me over the summer. This summer I have spent my study time diving into Peter’s two letters. They have devastated me. These posts will be lessons I learned and notes I took from I and II Peter. -jon

To understand where my mind is for the thoughts you are about to read, let me set the table for you so you can digest this. Clear everything in your mind, think now of Jesus. Specifically think of Jesus as the savior rejected by the jews. Picture Jesus being traded for Barabbus to be crucified. With that in one aspect of your mind,  think now of a body builder in a gym lifting heavy weights. As this body builder lifts heavy weights he is tearing down his muscles so that they can grow back stronger so that he can lift even heavier weights.

With these two illustrations in your mind, hear Peter say again to “put away from all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander…that by it you may grow.” Peter starts out this chapter by giving the illustration of a baby desiring milk to grow. Peter then moves from that thought to Jesus as “the rock,” “the living stone rejected by men.” Peter has just merged two huge thoughts together seamlessly. We have Jesus being rejected as one thought and Christians pushing away from sin because they desire to grow.

  • Jesus is the Living Stone 

Peter is stressing the value of putting away sin & growing and that is the reason for the seemingly contrary thoughts in this chapter. Peter takes the time to make sure that we know who the “Living Stone” is by quoting from Isaiah…

therefore thus says the Lord GOD,
“Behold, I am the one who has laid as a foundation in Zion,
a stone, a tested stone,
a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation:
‘Whoever believes will not be in haste.’
(Isaiah 28:16 ESV)

Jesus is the only one what has always existed, always right, more precious than anything or anyone and is a sure foundation (to trust in & to stand on). Now, this is where Peter grabs me. Peter could have just said this rather than use the baby and grow illustration. So why? Verse 7 blows it wide open.

So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe,
“The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone,”
(1 Peter 2:7 ESV)

Peter says that the honor (privilege that is not earned) is for those who believe (believers are believers because of grace not works), and that for those who do not believe in the “Living Stone”

“A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.  (1 Peter 2:8 ESV)

Peter has just shown us that the “Living Stone” can help and can be a means of falling. Peter has just quoted again from Isaiah 8:14 to show this point. Peter is teaching that God appoints all that will occur yet not taking away human responsibility, for the emphasis is that “they stumble because they disobey.”

  • BUT

Verse 9 starts with the conjunction “but.” This word connects two thoughts together. The two thoughts were Jesus rejected (the living stone rejected) and babies needing to grow (we as living stones in God’s new temple building a spiritual house). Peter doesn’t just see the Christian as a part of God’s temple the church, but also a “Holy People” which offers “spiritual sacrifices.”  

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
(1 Peter 2:9-10 ESV)

God has chosen us by grace, so first we must understand that it is not of my doing that I am anything needless to say. With this in mind, God has “chosen” us and not that we have chosen him so no one should ever boast of being better than another. Rather, because of Christ giving us undeserved grace…we are now a “royal priesthood” and not just any priests, but priests in “God’s holy nation.”

Because of these facts the two original premises can make sense. Peter says in verse 11 to “abstain from the passions of the flesh” to “remain honorable” so that others may “see your good deeds” and “glorify God.” Peter is connecting the thoughts of growth, holiness and Christ to the personal life of the believer.

If Christ is the stone we trust in, and our faith is built upon him, we must be growing!

Peter has used the following illustrations in just these verses: babes needing to grow, a stone that is rejected by bad men (builders), we as stones building a new house, as strangers to life as others live it, and as soldiers fighting a never ending war that is being waged against our own souls.

Peter is painting a picture of what our life should look like. Our life should be like a continuous building project that is founded on a firm foundation. The house should stay away from shoddy builders and must follow the blueprint. This house has been chosen to be here so trust the master builder when changes must be made or when difficulties arise. The honor belongs to the believers that continuously build up on the cornerstone. When the house is completed right and honorably, it will show others our good work and please the master builder.

Now go back to my original two thoughts. You see Jesus being rejected and about to be crucified. You also see a body building lifting heavy weights in the gym to be strong. We should live like Jesus, as aliens and missionaries in a dark world that rejects the message of the gospel. We show our works for God when we live a life in a way that pleases God.

To some people Jesus is just a stumbling block, a name that brings an argument. To some people Jesus is just a curse word or a fairy tale. But to the believers Jesus is worth building your whole life upon.

To some people growing is just a problem, it is something that preachers talk about and theologians write about but that personally is never practiced. Some people talk about the gym, talk about exercise, know the routines and may have even done it in the past…but currently don’t.

Peter wants us to be like children that desire growth because that’s all they know (remember we are to be like strangers and exiles here in this world). Peter is telling us that we have been chosen and that this is an honor because others have not been chosen. Peter is telling us that we get the privilege of building up our faith and growing into a spiritual temple that pleases God.

We as Christians are to proclaim the gospel of “his miraculous light” to a world full of darkness. We used to just be damned, now we are a people with purpose. We used to be without mercy but now we have “received mercy” and that should push you to abstain from sin and desire to grow.

Peter is teaching that Christ wants Christians that desire and long for “pure spiritual milk” that we may grow. Because growing in obedience to God is good (Psalms 34:8). Even when we are rejected or persecuted, let it be because of our obedience and not because of “passions of the flesh.” This will result in our lives being “proclamations of the excellencies of Him who called us out of darkness.” 

  • A Holy People

Peter describes what a holy people should look like and do. Verses 13-25 reiterate the facts of the previous points.

Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.
Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. (1 Peter 2:13-25 ESV)

Peter takes the time to go through several scenarios that were likely of his readers at the time. He points to listening to Roman authority, obeying governors even the ones that punish us. Peter reminds us that this is good and pleasing to God.  Peter tells the servants to serve, to not care about the credit, to suffer well, and to follow Christ example that was left for us.

Thoughts to chew on:

  • We must be clean to grow.
  • As children desire to grow, we must desire to grow.
  • Have you tasted that the Lord is good? I Peter 2:3 & Ps. 34:8
  • Are you building a house according to the master builders plans?
  • Do you know that you were chosen or do you still think that you chose God?
  • Do you understand that grace means you didn’t deserve it but you were given it?
  • Have you abstained from the passions of the flesh which war against your soul in the last 24 hrs?
  • Do others see your good deeds and glorify God or praise you?
  • Are you growing? Do you have the biceps to prove it?
  • Go lift something.
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13 Comments

Filed under I & II Peter

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