1 Peter – Lesson 2
1. List the heart conditions of which believers should rid themselves. What does the admonition to “rid” oneself imply? (See also Matthew 15:19)
Tying into the previous message of the excellence and trustworthiness of the Word of God, Peter states that the believer should be inclined, as regenerated by the Holy Spirit, to live a holy life. To live a holy life also requires believers to rid themselves of certain behavior. The Greek verb apothemenoi means “having put aside” and implies that their former selves had been immersed in these sins. You can’t rid yourself of something you don’t already possess.
In the preceding chapter Peter spoke of loving from a pure heart. Here Peter contrasts love with the sentiments of an impure heart: “malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander of every kind” (1 Peter 2:1). The human heart’s inclination to sin can only be remedied through regeneration by the Holy Spirit. If you find yourself convicted of your sin, take heart. We have the power to change. Start today by leaning on the Holy Spirit to resist the temptation to engage in these sins.
2. How and why does Peter compare believers to newborn babies? (See Philippians 2:12)
Sanctification happens in a process much like a baby matures into adulthood. Therefore, do not be discouraged when you initially fall into temptation and revert to your former self. We wouldn’t expect a baby to walk and talk as soon as she was born. Likewise the process of sanctification takes time. It requires guidance by the Holy Spirit and the cleansing power of adversity. Through the process we will work out our salvation and develop into the person who glorifies God in all we say and do.
As we mature in our faith we will crave a more in-depth understanding of our relationship with God. Until then, Peter says we should crave pure spiritual milk. That means the undiluted, undefiled influence of the Word of God and biblical teachings. If you are a new Christian, surround yourself with pure spiritual nourishment. Find a church that strictly adheres to the teachings of the Bible. Be wise about with whom and what you associate until you are secure enough in your faith, grounded on a pure spiritual footing, to withstand temptation from the world, the flesh and the Devil.
3. Peter referred to the “living hope” in Chapter One. Here Peter refers to the “living stone.” How are they the same? Different? How are believers also living stones? (See Psalm 51:17, Ephesians 2:10)
Both the living hope and the living stone refer to our living God, Jesus Christ, who overcame death. Jesus died so that believers can benefit from what His death accomplished (taking the punishment for our sins). Sin separates us from God. But God doesn’t want to be separated from us. God loves us so much He sacrificed His own Son to take our punishment. As long as we accept what Christ on our behalf and repent of our sins, we will be restored to relationship with God. The living stone secured a living hope for us in this life. Because of Christ’s sacrifice believers have a certain future of eternal rest.
The truth is, not many will recognize what Jesus did for them. As Peter said, the living stone was “rejected by humans”. Yet although Christ was “chosen by God and precious to Him”, God still had Him die for you and I. That’s love. Thus, we too serve as living stones based upon the certainty of our defeat of death through faith in Christ. We build a spiritual house with other believers, supporting one another in our faith. When we accept Jesus, our works take on new meaning. He gives us the direction and ability to do the things God planned for us long ago. In so doing, we offer God spiritual sacrifices just like the priests did long ago.
4. What is the significance of the living stone serving as the “cornerstone”?(See Psalm 118:22)
The cornerstone is the most important stone in a building. It sets the dimensions of the rest of the stones. Metaphorically, Christ is the cornerstone because Christ is not only the embodiment of the Christian faith; He is the pinnacle of God’s plan from time eternal to time eternal. There is no one more pivotal or instrumental. All of the other stones (believers) must be cut to the dimensions of the cornerstone. We must long to conform to the person of Jesus Christ. The process of sanctification is the cutting of our hearts of stone into the person of Christ through suffering and studying the Word of God. Only those who fit the dimensions of the cornerstone can fit into the building. Such is an illustration of the Church. Thank God your trials and your obedience through such adversity. Your heart is being chiseled into dimensions worthy of partnership with the Cornerstone.
5. What effect does the cornerstone have on believers versus unbelievers?
For believers, Christ is their Savior and Redeemer. They trust in Jesus. Because He is trustworthy, believers can rely on His promises without being put to shame. But for nonbelievers, the truth of Christ will cause them to stumble. Christ is in everyone’s path to accept or reject. When we disobey God, when we refuse to accept His free gift of salvation, we trip over Jesus. Those who avert their eyes from the path will still meet Christ, but through a stumble. They will fall to their spiritual death by rejecting the Living Stone.
6. How does Peter advise believers to evangelize unbelievers? (See Romans 12:19; 1 Corinthians 4:5)
Peter exhorts believers to obey all authority. All authority, you ask? Yes, although not to the point of denying our Savior, Jesus Christ. But aside from the extreme, authority to whom we have been subjected requires our deference out of reverence to Christ. In so doing, we serve as lights in a spiritually dark world. God loves even the worst authorities. He does not love their sin, but He loves them. We best evangelize unbelievers when we love the unloveable. Christ did for us.
Here again Peter uses the metaphor of foreigners and exiles to illustrate the contrast of believers against the backdrop of the world system and values. But the light of our love and our good deeds will pierce through the darkness and show others the way to eternal life through Christ. Peter knows that submitting to every human authority is counter-cultural. Our pride and independence tells us to go our own way; lean on our own understanding. Faith in God means obeying His exhortation to serve others and submit to authority. Why? But God wants not one to perish but all to come to repentance. How can we, as agents for Christ in the world, convince others of Christ’s love? The hymn “They Will Know We are Christians by Our Love” comes to mind. Everyone, even slaves, were placed in their position in life by God. He will take care of each of us. Thus we submit to all authority for the Lord’s sake, even if we suffer through it. Eternal rewards are on the line. I’d much rather enjoy a reward for eternity than for a moment in time.
7. What does Peter mean “live as free people”? (vs. 16) (See Romans 6:15)
Christ brought grace into the world. Nothing we did, nor do, nor will do entitles us to this grace. But through His grace we are able to enjoy a direct relationship with God our Father. Grace frees us from the chains of the law. We are no longer subject to it. This is good news. But so often the Church tries to add laws to Christianity and salvation. We distort the truth by adhering to a legalistic form of Christianity. Here Peter is assuring us that we are truly free; believers cannot lose their salvation. But we can’t use that as a license to habitually sin without repentance. “What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!” (Romans 6:15). Salvation by grace through faith changes our heart to obey without being subject to the law. Willfully sinful Christians risk turning others away from faith by hypocrisy.
8. Why is enduring unjust suffering more commendable to God than enduring just suffering? What’s the definition of both? (use the example provided by Peter in verses 21-25 to help answer the question)
Jesus is the ultimate example of unjust suffering. “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth” (1 Peter 2:22). We derive the ultimate blessing and benefit from Jesus’ unjust suffering. Thus, we too can endure unjust suffering as an example to others. Persevering through unjust suffering shows that you and I are in partnership with Christ; that you fear God; that you trust God is in control. But if we suffer justly, because we deserve the punishment, we have received our due.
Heavenly Father, we thank you for the freedom we have under you authority. We acknowledge that you know what is best for us and we trust you. Give us the faith to speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom. Help us to claim that gift of grace and let go of the guilt and obligation of the law. From our hearts, Lord, help us to serve you in all the ways you desire, especially in the middle of suffering. I pray that through you, my actions on either side of suffering would pass spiritual muster and glorify you. Give me strength to live up to the high cost of my salvation. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Personal Application Questions:
1. How often do you find yourself engaging in the sins listed in 1 Peter 2:1-2? Can you think of ways you can resist the temptation?
2. What does the fact that Jesus is alive mean to you? How does that affect your perspective of God’s plan for you?
3. Do you believe people can be free and still obey God? See John 8:32 and Galatians 3:10.