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“How Shall We Then Live? – As Those Belonging To God”

July 24, 2016

“How Shall We Then Live? – As Those Belonging To God”

1 Peter 2:1-10

 

Intro:  Anyone here into genealogy?  Have you been on top of the new DNA testing that may prove that even though you have direct roots to the Iroquois Nation and the pictures to prove it, you are actually Dutch.  This morning on FB there was a test to establish your ethnicity.  It had to do with looking at the formation of your toes.  Turns out, I’m Greek.  Who knew!

 

I would suggest there are better, more solid ways to establish our identity and this morning we will be looking at a passage of Scripture that tells us who we are and also who we aren’t.  Look with me at 1 Peter 2:1-10.  READ

 

The writer of this letter attributed to Peter the Apostle, is pointing out some distinctions between those who have new life in Christ and those who do not.  Our culture likes to blur the lines and make all people equal – and for the purposes of who we choose to love, this is true and should be practiced, because God loves all of his creation.  However there is a difference that arises when each human makes a choice about Christ.  These are the distinctions that Peter writes about here.  These words are to those who claim to be in Christ, Christians, the Church, and they boldly address the difference between those who have believed and received Christ as Savior and Lord and those who have not. 

 

In this passage we discover more about who we are called to be as those belonging to God.  If you are in Christ, you belong. Claim that status! Let’s claim it together bay saying “I belong”. 

 

Now, let’s dig in!

1 Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.

 

Last week as we talked about our identity in Christ we talked about the old self and the new self, the transformation that takes place when we are born again.  It would be awesome if all of our old habits just dropped away for good, but apparently our humanity has a really strong grip on us and some of those things like to hang on.  Until we are fully invested in living into our new identity, we are more in danger of going back. 

 

We confessed these particular sins during our prayer of confession this morning.  Peter instructs that there is no place for these attitudes among those belonging to Christ. Because we belong to God, we work at getting rid of these things that formerly may have had a claim on us.  We give them no energy.  We give them no time or space.  We don’t allow them to rule over us.  But in their place there is something we are supposed to actively do.

 

2-3 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.

How many different kinds of milk do you have in your fridge?  Almond, Coconut, Soy, Cashew, Cow.  All these allergies around cow’s milk has given rise to an entire market for making milk out of anything!  How many of you grew up drinking milk straight from the cow?  Nothing like it.  But you probably don’t remember the first milk you had which was mother’s milk.  That’s the idea behind what Peter is saying here.  Newborns need to be nurtured with specific nutrients which are best found in mother’s milk and when Peter was writing this there were no other options. If an infant was to survive, it was dependent on it’s mother’s milk. 

 

Peter is saying that when we come to Christ, we need the nutrition for our souls that only He can provide.  We need to be regularly fed the truth and love of God.  We need to be filled up with it.  If we miss that at the beginning of our faith, we can grow up spiritually unhealthy.  Someone who comes to Christ and immediately goes on to tackle deep theological issues and debates can easily become sick of spirit and confused because they have not spent time learning God’s truth and abiding in God’s love. 

 

What was your spiritual childhood like?  Are you still in it?  Eat well.  Know that you are loved by God, your Father.  Immerse yourself in the Scripture that speaks the truth about him and about you.

 

Now Peter switches topics and uses examples from masonry and building, and the priesthood.

 

4-6 As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture it says:

“See, I lay a stone in Zion,

    a chosen and precious cornerstone,

and the one who trusts in him

    will never be put to shame.”

 

This quote comes from the prophecy of the Messiah in Isaiah 28:16. 

What is this cornerstone? According to Wikipedia: The cornerstone (or foundation stone) concept is derived from the first stone set in the construction of a masonry foundation, important since all other stones will be set in reference to this stone, thus determining the position of the entire structure.

Why is the cornerstone important?  Because it determines the position of the entire structure.  And what do verses 4-6 tell us about our identity?  We are like living stones being built into our identity as a “spiritual house”, a “holy priesthood”.  What happens if we build our identity as Christians on the wrong Cornerstone?  Look at the news at churches/Christians behaving badly!  I believe these are examples of people building on the wrong foundation or just a piece of the truth.  Some are built just on truth but no love and some on love but no truth.  If we are set squarely on the Cornerstone who is Jesus.  If we learn Him and His words – all of them – we will become a strong spiritual house.

 

7-8 Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,

“The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” and,

“A stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.”

They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.

 

Remember what I said earlier about all humanity being loved the same by God, but the choices we make drawing a distinctive line between those who receive God’s love and those who reject it?  Here is another illustration of that happening.  This is a fact: Those who believe in Christ as Savior and accept his death on the cross as what they need for salvation, see Christ as precious.  But those who reject Christ and his mercy and forgiveness are in a different category.

They stumble because they choose not to obey God’s message to them.

9-10 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

 

If you have your Bibles open will you fill in the blanks while I read.  It doesn’t matter if we have different versions. But lets look at who we are.

But you are a . . . chosen people,

a . . . royal priesthood,

a . . . holy nation,

you are . . . God’s special possession,

For a moment don’t worry about anybody else and embrace who you are in Christ.  You are chosen – God chose you on purpose, you are not here by mistake.  You are a royal priesthood – an identity that carries with it privilege but also great responsibility and God chose you to receive the privileges and to carry out the responsibilities.  You are a holy nation – as Israel was chosen to be a holy nation unto God, so are we, the church, His church, His body, chosen to be set apart for God.  You are God’s special possession – God chose you for his own and cherishes you; you are precious in his sight.

 

There is purpose in our identity.  How then shall we live?  Part of the answer is here: that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. This is our mission, each of us.  We are to declare God’s praise because he called each of us out of darkness and into his light.  If you are in the light today, it’s because God brought you there through Jesus. Our gratitude is to tell others of the journey from one side to the other. Go and live as those who belong to God.  Amen.

 

 

Benediction: Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Go and tell the world of this great gift you have received.  It’s what you were chosen for.