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Cravings

What are some of the strangest foods that you crave? What odd acquired tastes do you have? Are there things that you absolutely love – but everyone else thinks you’re crazy for eating that stuff? What strange foods do you crave?

Isn’t it strange how we can grow love certain foods that other people couldn’t imagine eating – let alone enjoy eating! But yet, somehow, somewhere along the line, for some reason, we grew to love it! Maybe at some point, we tried it for the first time, then we tried it again, then we tried it again, and before too long, we decided that we really like it! And now, we crave that food! We seek it out! It’s like we’ve trained our tastebuds to love that food!

And I was just wondering this week, I wonder if you could do that with any food? Can you train your tastebuds to love any food – even a food that you maybe hate right now? For example, I really don’t care for mustard at all – but I wonder if I had a taste of mustard every week for a year – would I grow to enjoy mustard? Would I even grow to crave mustard? I don’t know – maybe!

But most of you know how adventurous I am with food, so of course, this is not an experiment that I would ever try – but if one of you want to try it, I’d sure be interested in hearing your results.

But I bring all this up because in our passage today, Peter talks a little bit about our cravings. Not our cravings for coffee or mustard or hot peppers or anything like that, but our cravings for something much more significant.

1 Peter chapter 2 verse 1 begins like this:

So get rid of all evil behavior. Be done with all deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and all unkind speech. 2 Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment, 3 now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness. 1 Peter 2:1-3

Now this is a short passage, but it’s got lots of good stuff in there. However, before we get into the details of what Peter is trying to tell us, I think we may need to back up a little bit. You may have noticed that this paragraph begins with the word “so” or if you have the NIV, it starts with, “Therefore”. And as I’ve mentioned before, whenever you see the word ‘therefore’ – you need to look back and see what it’s there for. It’s that cause and effect thing again. Whatever Peter is about to tell us is because of what He has already said.

So let’s jump back to the end of chapter 1 and let’s refresh our memories as to what Peter has just been talking about. We looked at this last week so hopefully it’s still familiar to you – in chapter 1, verse 22 Peter writes:

22 You were cleansed from your sins when you obeyed the truth, so now you must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters. Love each other deeply with all your heart.

23 For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God. 24 As the Scriptures say,

“People are like grass;

    their beauty is like a flower in the field.

The grass withers and the flower fades.

25     But the word of the Lord remains forever.”

And that word is the Good News that was preached to you.

1 Peter 1:22-25

So that’s what Peter has just finished saying. Peter ends chapter one on the note that as followers of Jesus, we have been born again into a life that will never end – and we were given that life through the power of God’s Word. God’s Word is eternal and living and when we believe and accept His Word (specifically the Good News of Jesus Christ), when we believe and accept that, we are born again and receive eternal life.

And so now in chapter 2, Peter says because we have been born again into this new life, there are a couple things we need to do. There are some things we need to stop and some things we need to start.

First of all, let’s look at the things we need to stop. Peter says:

“So get rid of all evil behavior. Be done with all deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and all unkind speech.” 1 Peter 2:1

These are the things we need to stop. And why do we need to do stop these things? Well, Peter has just given us at least three good reasons why in the previous chapter!

You’ll remember way back in verse 14 of chapter 1 (that we read a couple weeks ago) Peter told us to live as God’s obedient children. If we’re going to be God’s obedient children, then we’ve got stop doing the things God has told us not to do. That seems like a pretty obvious reason.

Secondly, right after that, if you’ll remember, Peter told us that we need to be holy as God our Father is holy. If we are children of God, then we need to live like it. We need to live pure and holy lives just like Him. That’s another pretty obvious reason why we should stop doing these evil things.

Thirdly, as we just read moments ago, Peter told us that we need to love each deeply and sincerely as brothers and sister.

Deceit does not help us show love to one another. Nor does hypocrisy, or jealousy, or unkind speech. These things are kinda all the opposite of showing love to one another, right?

So Peter says, now that we’ve been born again into this new family, we need to stop doing those things because they are not the kind of things our heavenly Father does, and they are not the kind of things that help build good relationships with others.

This really isn’t rocket science – it’s really pretty straight forward stuff. 

I’m pretty sure when Peter wrote this to the early Christians, they weren’t like “WHAT? I shouldn’t deceive people? Saying hurtful things about others is not good?”

This isn’t new information. I mean, you don’t even have to be a Christian to know this stuff! This kind of stuff is built into our moral consciences. God designed us to intuitively know this stuff.

However, there is a big difference between knowing and doing. It’s one thing to know that deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and unkind speech are all wrong – but it’s another thing to eliminate those behaviours from your life. I think that’s the real challenge. I know people who have been Christians for years and they still struggle with these kinds of sins. I’m one of those people who still struggle with these kinds of sins! Perhaps even Peter Himself struggled with some of this stuff.

But thankfully, Peter didn’t just stop after telling us what to do – He went on to tell us how to do it. He continues in verse 2:

So get rid of all evil behavior. Be done with all deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and all unkind speech. 2 Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment, 3 now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness. 1 Peter 2:1-3

In verse 2 Peter refers us back to the end of chapter 1 where he explained how we were born again through the eternal, living Word of God. We are like newborn babies who have to grow up! Peter says we have to grow into a full experience of salvation.

You see, salvation isn’t just about being forgiven for all your sins and being welcomed into heaven when you die – (of course, that’s certainly part of it) but salvation is also about us being transformed into new people. It’s about us getting rid of our old, evil behaviours – and learning to be holy and Christ-like in how we live. 

Just like we want our kids to grow up and mature and become responsible adults one day – in a very similar way, God wants all of us to grow up and mature and become like His Son Jesus. He doesn’t want us to stay as new born babies – He wants us to grow up into a full experience of salvation. 

So how do we do that? How do we grow up and mature as Christians? Well, just like we need physical food to grow up grow up physically, in the same way we need spiritual food to grow up spiritually!

Peter says “Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation!”

So what exactly is Peter talking about when he says we must crave pure, spiritual milk? What is pure spiritual milk? And how do we learn to crave it?

Well, to answer the first part of that question, let’s take a look at another translation. In the Greek, Peter is using a little word-play with the word ‘spiritual’ so its easy for us to miss what’s he’s saying, but the NASB translation adds a little clarity.

It goes like this:

“Like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation.” 1 Peter 2:2 NASB

What Peter is saying is that our spiritual milk – the milk that nourishes us and helps us grow into Christian maturity is the Word of God.

And that kinda makes sense. Peter just finished telling us that we were born again through the power of the eternal, living Word of God. If the Word of God is what gives us life in the first place, it would only make sense that the Word of God is what sustains us and help us to grow into maturity!

And keep in mind that there are two ways that we can understand the “Word of God” – and I think both would be applicable here.

The first way is quite literally the very words of God. When God speaks – things happen. His Word is powerful!  In the beginning, God merely spoke and the world came into existence. Psalm 33:6 says:

The Lord merely spoke,

    and the heavens were created.

He breathed the word,

    and all the stars were born.

Psalm 33:6

Louie Giglio talks about the God who breaths out stars! There is incredible power in the Word of God. And so surely, if God’s Word can call the universe into existence, it shouldn’t be difficult to imagine that God’s Word can change our hearts and attitudes and behaviours! It’s incredible to think that in our Bibles we have the written Word of God – and it is alive and powerful. In fact, 2 Timothy 3:16 says…

All Scripture is inspired by God [the NIV translations says All Scripture is God-breathed] and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

It’s clear that God’s Word has a obvious role in transforming our lives. It only makes sense that Peter says we must crave the Word of God so that we can grow into a full expression of our salvation.

But also, in addition to the spoken or written words of God, the second way to understand the “Word of God” is that Jesus is often referred to as ‘the Word’. John begins his Gospel with this description of Jesus.

1 In the beginning the Word already existed.

    The Word was with God,

    and the Word was God.

2 He existed in the beginning with God.

3 God created everything through him,

    and nothing was created except through him.

4 The Word gave life to everything that was created,

    and his life brought light to everyone.

John 1:1-4

This understanding of Jesus being the Word also makes sense in our passage from Peter. To go back to chapter 1 again, Peter says we have been given new life by eternal, living Word of God. That’s Jesus! We receive this new eternal life by placing our trust in Jesus. It’s Jesus who gives us life and it’s Jesus that we must crave in order to grow into maturity. He is the pure spiritual milk that we need to overcome these evil behaviours in our lives.

And so I think both of these understandings of ‘the milk of the Word’ fit with what Peter tells us to crave. We need to crave both the Word of God as found in the Scriptures – and we need to crave the person of Jesus Christ.

In fact, Peter says we are to cry out for this nourishment!

2 Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment, 3 now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness. 1 Peter 2:2-3

Peter paints a pretty vivid picture here. I think we’ve all experienced a newborn baby who craves his mother’s milk. That baby doesn’t care that it’s 3:00am in morning, that baby doesn’t care if you’re trying to sit quietly in church, that baby doesn’t care that you’re trying to take care of three other children – when that baby begins to crave that milk – he is going to cry out for it! He is going to cry out loudly and continuously until he gets it!

That’s the kind of determination or even desperation that Peter says we must have for the Word of God. We need to so crave that nourishment for our souls that we cry out for it!

We began today talking about some of our cravings – some of the foods that love – foods that we long for.

I wonder, do we long for Jesus like we long for our morning cup of coffee? Do we wake up craving the Word of God? Do we look forward with eager anticipation to the next time we can spend time alone with God – reading His Word and just being with Him?

Do you crave that spiritual nourishment anything like you crave your physical nourishment?

Peter says “Cry out for this nourishment, now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness.”

If you’re a Christian today, you’ve already tasted how good this spiritual milk is. We’ve tasted the Lord’s kindness.

I read a sermon on this passage from John McArthur and I really liked how he summarized this part. He says:

“Peter’s point is clear.  You’ve already experienced the power of the Word. It moved you from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God’s dear Son.  It moved you out of the wrath of God into the grace of God.  It moved you from being a child of the devil to being a child of God.  It moved you from being an enemy to being a son.  You’ve already experienced the power of the abiding, eternal Word of God. It regenerated you, it converted you, it justified you, it transformed you. It sanctified you…  It gave you life. It gave you a new heart. It gave you a new mind, a new perspective.  It gave you a new power, a new joy, a new peace, a totally new existence.  I mean, literally, you have already, in the past, experienced the monumental power of the Word of God… And Peter’s question is then this: If you already know the power of the Word to do that, why would you not crave what it can continue to do in your life?” ~ John MacArthur

If we’ve already experienced the goodness of God in our salvation, why would not keep going back for seconds on a daily basis? This spiritual nourishment is readily available to us. We can know the transforming power of the Word of God everyday if we so choose. I mean, the Holy Spirit lives right within us – the words of God are recorded in that book right in front of us. Why would we not crave that pure, spiritual milk?

The only reason I can think of is that maybe we’ve spoiled our appetite. Maybe we’ve learned to crave other things. Maybe instead of craving the pure milk of the word, maybe instead we’ve acquired a taste for the pleasures of this world? 

You know, the world offers quite a buffet of things that taste great – but do nothing to nourish our souls. And those things may or may not be wrong in themselves, but what happens is that we begin to acquire a taste for those things and to crave those things instead of God. The more we crave those other things, the more we lose our appetite for God. We no long crave Him or His Word like we once did.

The time we spend with God each day decreases. Our devotions become just an item on our to-do list. Our prayer life starts to fade out. We neglect gathering with our church family – or when we do gather, it’s more out of duty than anything. We don’t crave that spiritual nourishment like we once did. We don’t cry out it anymore!

That’s what happens when we spoil our appetite with things of this world. It’s like trying to feed your kids meat and potatoes after they spent the afternoon gorging themselves on ice-cream and cake! They won’t have any appetite for the things that will actually nourish them and help them grow!

And so this morning, I just want to encourage you to think about your own appetite these days. What sort of things do you crave? Do you crave that time with God each morning? Do you long to read His Word and have Him speak into your life? Do you get excited thinking about gathering each week with your church family to worship God and to hear from His Word? Do you crave pure spiritual milk?

Or have you lost your appetite for the things of God? Have you acquired a taste for other things instead? Do you crave things that do not satisfy – things that do not nourish your soul – things that do not help you grow up into a mature child of God?

And if that’s the case for you this morning, I would encourage you to follow the advice of Psalm 34:8. It says this:

“Taste and see that the Lord is good.

    Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!” Psalm 34:8

There is no satisfaction to be found for the hunger in our hearts, but in the joy that is found in a relationship with the One who created us. Only God can satisfy and there is no substitute.

Like newborn babies, we must crave pure spiritual milk (the milk of the living word of God) so that we will grow up into a full experience of salvation. Let’s cry out for this nourishment, now that we have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness.

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