1 Peter 2 has been and probably always will be one of my favorite chapters in all of scripture. I like it because it points us several things that boil us down to the reason that we exist here on earth.
Peter starts off by encouraging us all to:
1 Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander,2 like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, 3 if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.
Peter calls our minds back a few verse where he discusses that we have been born again of a seed that is imperishable. It is because of this rebirthing that we must remove these sins that easy hold us back from seeing the glory of God and understanding the call he has put on our lives. Each one of these sins (and that’s what they are… not just human emotions that we all feel and therefore can’t escape, they are sin and a hindrance to the work God is doing in our lives) is potentially devastating. By themselves they are deadly and paired together, they are insidiously deadly. Look at them:
- MALICE- a desire to injure others (directly contrary to the Love that God instructs us to show to others)
- GUILE- a trick, scheme or a snare, the NIV says deceit here (this is purposefully leading someone astray or tricking them to take advantage of them)
- HYPOCRISY- this is a two-faced faith for show only, meaning you say you love God but your actions deny him, also the root word for where we get our word actor… so a hypocrite is one who plays a part (obviously, this is when we try to present to God and others that we are something that we are not… this is the opposite of authenticity)
- ENVY- an ill will towards other because they have something that I want (this again plays into not loving people, for no reason other than you want what they have and you foster anger towards them because they have it and you don’t)
- SLANDER- talking in order to do damage to others on purpose (like malice, except instead of actions you use your words to destroy and maim)
It is very easy to see how Peter says if we have been born again, then it is not possible for these types of behaviors to rule in our lives anymore. They directly contradict and destroy unity and community. When these are present it is not possible for unity and community to also exist. Peter tells us to remove these from our lives as though we are removing muddy dirty clothes that we have to peel off of us. Or to remove them as though they are obstacles that try to trip us up.
When we are able to rid our lives of these destructive sins, then we can begin to have community with each other and with lost people. How do we do that though? How do we remove sins as dug in and hard to remove as these? It reminds me of the movie the Predator. When the special forces dudes raid that village they track down all the soldiers in it and chase down one last one to a machine gun nest above them. Jesse the Body Ventura’s character comments that he is, ‘dug in like an Alabama tick!’ Malice, guile, hypocrisy, envy and slander can manifest in our lives in such subtle ways that we don’t realize they are there.
Overcoming these sins is a step towards becoming more like Christ. What are ways you overcome these sins in your life?