Posted by: bellissimanh | January 18, 2008

Got Milk?

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

(2 Corinthians 5:17)

This is a great reminder to me that it is not saying the words that give me new life in Christ, it is the touch of His Spirit. Although I asked Jesus into my heart at a very young age, it wasn’t until my early twenties that I truly became born again. As I felt the breath of His Spirit changing me… I knew without a doubt that this was what had been missing from my life. All of a sudden I was hungry for His Word. I was mournful over my sin. I couldn’t get enough of Him. I spent my whole life up to that point saying the words. I could have even walked you through all the verses used for salvation… and yet there was darkness in my own heart. I was pretty good at playing church, and I was even satisfied with that… until the Father “dipped His pen of love in my heart and wrote my soul a message.” After that, I knew that all of my pretending was empty… that He was so much bigger than I had ever imagined. After that, nothing else would do. Nothing but more of Him. 

Today, I am so thankful that the old things have passed away. I need to remember that even now, saying the words are not enough. We can all play church. We’ve been around long enough to know the right things to say. We can speak Christianese and have praise songs flowing from our lips on Sunday morning… but the Lord is calling us to more than words.  He wants our actions to match our voice. 

In our Wed. evening study we’ve been taking a deeper look at 1 Peter. The passage we focused on this week was 1 Peter 2:1-2:

“Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.”

These words really spoke to me this week! As I read over the definitions for some of these words, the Spirit prompted me to take a serious look at myself, at my life, and see if they hold true for me. I experienced conviction as I realized how often I fall short, but also I was filled with a desire to change that… for a couple of different reasons. For one thing, I want to more closely resemble my Savior…. I want to be a good reflection of Him so that no one will ever look at me and think, “If that’s what being a Christian is, then I want no part of it.” That has to be one of my biggest fears… that in some way I will bring dishonor to His name. Secondly, in studying I realized that getting rid of all those nasty things up there enables me to crave the pure milk of the Word. If I am constantly feeding myself on junk-food, then I am not going to be hungry for the real thing… the milk of the Word. If I am harboring any of those things in my heart, in my life… then I am going to be less eager to feed on the Word, because I don’t want to be convicted… but the Word is EVERYTHING! 

Check out some of the definitions with me… sorry this is long… but I can’t help myself sometimes… God’s Word just gets me excited!!

“laying aside” (apothemenoi) – This speaks of a rupture of association. It means that I am to have absolutely nothing further to do with the list of things that follows. Pretty clear, huh?

“all malice” (kakia) – Wickedness coming from within a person… vicious intention, often with a desire to do harm. Have you ever seen this? I have. I’ve been the target of it. It is like spewing venom and it is not fun. What a horrible thing to have in the body of Christ!

“all deceit” (dolos) – A deliberate attempt to mislead, trick, snare, or bait by telling lies. A desire to gain advantage or preserve position by deceiving others.  *Do I ever lie (or omit the truth) in order to gain a personal advantage? *Do I ever have ulterior motives when I communicate with others? Tough questions, but ones that demand an answer if I am to keep growing in the Lord.

“hypocrisy” (hupokriseis) – This word actually comes from the Greek Theatre. The actors would wear drama masks, with faces expressing exaggerated emotion so the crowd would know what they were feeling. They could be feeling one way on the inside, but wearing a different mask on the outside. As Christians, we are to be the emodiment of Truth… no masks! The idea behind hupokriseis is pretending to manifest such traits as piety and love, to give an impression of having certain purposes and motivations, while in reality having quite different ones, operating from selfish desire. So the tough question here is… *Is my behavior on Sunday morning consistent with my behavior the rest of the week? *Do the things I say and do Monday through Saturday contradict those I say when I’m at worship? *Or how about this… is the person I portray on the outside different from the one who lives underneath? We may trick ourselves into believing that we are fooling people, and for a time, maybe we will. We may even fool ourselves, but God will not be mocked. There is no fooling Him (Num. 32:23; Mt. 10:26) and eventually, no matter how hard we try to hide it, we will be exposed for what we really are. How I pray for consistency in my life!!

“envy” (phthonos) – Pain felt and malignity conceived at the sight of excellence or happiness; ill will and jealousy. I think we (or at least I do) try to play this one down. “Well I can’t help but be envious… it’s just how I feel.” Envy is not the same thing as jealousy, though. Jealousy wants what someone else has. Envy takes it a step further… it doesn’t just want what someone else has, it seeks to deprive the other of what they have. The Bible says Jesus was delivered up for envy (Mk. 15:10; Mt. 27:18). The Pharisees didn’t just want the power that Jesus seemed to have over the people… that wasn’t enough. They wanted to make sure that they took the power away fron Him. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to do anything that could cause me to be lumped into the same category as a Pharisee. This is serious stuff!

“slander” (katalalia) – Literally, evil speaking. This is malicious talk intended to destroy another person… it is also “to speak down.” Psalm 34:13 says to “keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit” and proverbs 24:28 reads, “…do not deceive with your lips.” (Don’t you love the way Scripture interprets Scripture?) John Piper had this to say…. “slander is a desire for revenge or self-enhancement often driven by the deeper desire to deflect attention from our own failings.” Ouch…. yet another tough question: *When I am critical of others, am I really trying to distract from my own shortcomings?

It’s not surprising that Peter’s next analogy is that of a newborn baby. Babies aren’t corrupted by evils such as malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander. Taking an in depth look at all of these things we are to cast off was very eye-opening for me in so many ways. I was forced to examine my own heart and ask the Lord to cleanse me from any of these things found in my life. I saw some spiritual struggles in a whole new light and was moved with compassion. I am encouraged to think that as the Lord washes me with His Word, conquering these things is not only possible, it’s promised! As a newborn babe, I am grasping for the Word today like a baby for her bottle!

Are you hungry?  Got milk?

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Responses

  1. Wow! You did an amazing job of dissecting that scripture.

    I recently read the book True Faced and it talks about being trusting God and others with who we really are. It is a great book and I learned so much from it. We don’t do anyone any favors by pretending to have it all together or not being honest about the struggles of our heart. Unfortunately it is rare in most churches for it to be “okay” to be real and honest with our undesirable stuff. What a revolution we could start if the church would really get that. And when I say church, I mean US!

  2. For myself, I often read over those scriptures that clearly define sinful behaviors and think (rather smugly) “That doesn’t really apply to me. I don’t do that.” When you take it all apart word by word, you realize that we are all guilty to some degree of these sins.

    Thank God for the convicting power of His word and for women like you who present it so well. Thanks for putting it out there so that we can grow in the our individual walks.

  3. Your story reminds me of my own. I grew up in the church, asked Jesus into my heart in the 3rd grade, but didn’t really understand what it all meant until I was in my 20’s, really. I played church through the years until I turned 23. It was then that my world came crashing down and I needed God. I have not been the same since…. That was 27 years ago.

    Thanks for sharing your story.

    Blessings,
    Julie

  4. There is such power in God’s truth. How often I try to convince myself that I am the same Sunday morning that I am the rest of the week. I am truly a sinner in need of these words.

  5. I love the depth that you go to in your study of God’s Word. I always find the more time I spend taking apart a bit of scripture the more blessed I am and the more my eyes are opened. I know you can say the same.

    Kate

  6. Such true words! I have to catch myself to not allow church to become routine. We had been talking about that lately in our services… not allowing the Spirit to direct our services and hearts, but instead coming in with an unwritten program of it all will play out. But when I remember the whole reason I am coming, and I come with an expectancy of meeting with the Lord… it just makes it all worthwhile, for He never disappoints:) Great study!

  7. Oh girl – those words pierce the heart and encourage it as well. Thanks for sharing. I love the depth with which you study the passage.


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