Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord. – 1 Pet 2:1-2 (NASB)
The English dictionary defines the word “Therefore” as having the following meanings: for that reason, because of that, as a result, that being so or that being the case. So, the question that comes up here is “For what reason is Peter writing to the believers to put aside all malice, deceit, hypocrisy and envy?” Whenever the word “Therefore” is used, we ought to look at the preceding text and try to understand the reason for the subsequent passage. When we read the previous chapter (1 Peter 1), we can understand that Peter is speaking in the context of being born-again. Look at verse 23 of chapter 1: “for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God”.
So Peter, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, continues in the second chapter saying “For the very reason that you are born again (regenerated in your hearts through the imperishable, living and enduring word) as newborn babies, put aside all those bad qualities (malice, deceit etc.) and long for (cry for it as a baby) the pure milk of God’s word so that by it you may be nurtured and grow in the ultimate fullness (justification, sanctification and glorification) of salvation if you realize how kind and gracious the Lord has been to you.”
Here are few things we can learn from the above verses:
- Being born-again is the work of God who uses His word (the gospel) to regenerate the hearts of men so that they become a new creation.
- Being born-again does not make you immune to temptations and desires of the flesh. These have to be put aside by persevering in our faith through the power of the Holy Spirit and daily carrying our cross (denying self) as Jesus did.
- Because we are born-again, we are instructed to put aside all malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander. It’s not the other way i.e. putting aside these ungodly characteristics to be born-again.
- One of the clearest evidences of being born-again by God is a longing for the pure milk of God’s word. A person who claims to be born-again but does not cry for the milk of God’s word would either be lying or had a false conversion. There are other evidences of being born-again that can be seen in other scriptural passages, but in the context of the above verse, this is one of the important signs.
- A born-again believer can grow in the fullness of salvation only by feeding on the milk of God’s word.
Therefore, let us examine ourselves to see if we are truly born-again with an appetite for God’s word. Are we putting aside all ungodly characteristics because we are born-again? Are we growing in the fullness of salvation by continuously feeding our souls with the milk of God’s word? Or are we being deceived through a false conversion?