When we were ‘born again’ and came to believe in Jesus Christ and then learned that it was Jesus Christ Who took the initiative and called and chose us, we have that desire and motivation to serve loyally and lovingly and faithfully.
But even after receiving this wonderful new life - old habits can hang around.
Even as disciples of Jesus we are aware that old habits seem to cling to us - and we wonder if we will ever be rid of some of them. They can appear to have such a hold.
That is why Peter says - Now make the effort to get rid of certain things.
The new life will never die - but the old ways have to die.
We are in the concluding verses of I Peter Chapter 1.
When you are born again a seed is planted in us - verse 23 - the word used is "sperm" or "spore". God planted His Sperm in us - it sounds very physical as well as spiritual - and it is - because just like a baby that seed has to grow, and develop and mature.
We are born again and after we have lived a number of years, we can discover that some habits and traits can be difficult to break.
It can be like men taking the hardest of granite.
In order to break that hard rock - they drill holes in it - a series of them - and then they break of pieces of a tree and place these pieces in each hole - and pour water in every day for two or three weeks. The cells of the wood grow - and the granite is split.
Life - new life - can crack and break that which is hard. The life of God in us and watered regularly through the Word and prayer and fellowship - can crack bad habits - and push other things out of the way - things that God does not want us to have in our lives.
We have to learn a new language as we speak to a new Father. We are a new baby growing - and we have to learn to walk and talk.
The physical life and spiritual life need the same kind of care.
One medical man said recently when asked by a new mother for one piece of advice as she was about to take the new five days old baby home - he said this - "Keep one end full and the other end empty and you won't go far wrong".
That is basically what Peter is saying here - Keep one part empty - and the other part full - and you disciples will not go far wrong.
Babies need washing and cleaning - and so do all growing Christians. As soon as the baby is born those present take away all the traces of that former existence in the womb. We too need to be washed and cleansed from our former existence - with all the traces being removed. That is why we have Baptism.
Peter mentions five things - which can cause spiritual disease if not dealt with. These five things can become a source of ill health.
1. Malice - that certainly can prevent or stunt or thwart your growth. Malice has been described as - a perverted joy in hurting someone else. Or it is a desire to bring a person down a peg or two. Peter says - now get rid of that.
2. Deceit - guile - being deceitful - being too clever by half. Peter says - now get all of that out of your life - have nothing to do with underhand methods - and don't be a snake in the grass.
3. Hypocrisy - insincerity - play acting. Take off any mask - be real. Don't be hiding behind some exterior - deal with that at the beginning of your Christian Life. Be what God would have you to be.
4. Envy - this was responsible for the first murder in history. Envy looks at someone and says - "They have more money than I have - they have more opportunities than me - they have more gifts than I have - they have more friends than I have. They have more - and I resent that!
Envy is a horrible thing - and Peter says don't envy - get rid of all that. Get this side cleaned up - if you want to grow.
5. Slander of every kind - this can be so harmful if it is allowed to lurk around - gossip. It is like a beast of prey that does not wait for the death of the creature it devours.
These must be washed out of our lives - and then we are told to crave pure spiritual milk.
LUNGE at the very breast of God. We need more than just rooting out bad things - we need to be filled with good things.
Keep one end empty - and the other end full - and you won't go far wrong as you follow Jesus Christ.
“Gracious God, help us to be rid of those things which should have no place in our lives. We find this difficult at times. Enable us to grasp the truth of your Word in this part of Scripture – and as we feed upon Your Word day by day, may we grow and develop and mature. Risen and living Jesus, help us. Holy Spirit, help us.” Amen.
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