1 Peter 2:1-6
1 “Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, 2 and like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, 3 if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.4 And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by people, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, 5 you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For this is contained in Scripture:
‘Behold, I am laying in Zion a choice stone, a precious cornerstone,
And the one who believes in Him will not be put to shame.’”
Rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit: Peter is addressing behavior that is proper for Christians. However, he is not giving us a behavior verse in a vacuum. The key is found in the text prior to this section. Because we have been purified by the Gospel (1 Peter 1:17-24), we are empowered to live righteously. Notice that this is not “thou shalt not” language. Instead, this is about laying aside all that is not natural for the Christian. In the Old Covenant, there was no ultimate victory over sin. However, in the New Covenant God has provided a solution to the sin problem. When we believe we are given a new nature (see 2 Peter 1:3-4). We can, therefore, act in a manner which fits our identity.
Grow in respect to salvation: Peter is not talking about growing through Christian activity. Activity does not grow a person. The word of God, the Gospel of grace, grows the believer. As we form a better understanding of the finished work of Christ, we will mature. But the Gospel must be pure, without man-made religion added to it, or we will not grow. God has not designed us to grow spiritually under spiritual law. Instead, we are called to know the pure milk of the finished work of Christ. We will grow as we become more acquainted with God’s nature revealed in Christ. But we cannot let false gospels taint our understanding of the true Gospel.
Kindness of the Lord: God’s kindness is what leads us to repentance. God is not mean or belligerent. He has kindness and gentleness towards us. He is a living and breathing being with infinite love and this love is directed to the world. Believers have tasted God’s kindness and have been changed as a result. And the more we embrace the kindness of God, the more we will grow.
Living stone: Everyone on the planet looks at Jesus in one of two ways. He is either the most precious gift given to us, or He is the most offensive thing in existence. But Jesus is the same towards both groups. He is the living stone. All creation points to Him. Our salvation is in Him whether we believe or not.
Living stones: Believers are also considered living stones. Whatever righteousness Jesus possesses, we also possess by grace through faith (2 Corinthians 5:21). We are as pure and valuable as Jesus Christ Himself. The entire Trinity is pleased with us. Because He is pleased with us, He seeks to build us up using His kindness and love. The enemy uses legalism and judgment to tear people down. But God uses grace.
Holy priesthood: Whereas the Old Covenant only allowed priests in the line of Aaron and Levi, in the New Covenant all who believe have been made holy or set apart as priests. This is due to the fact that believers have unending access to God because He lives within them. Therefore, there is no longer a need for the priest to enter the Holy of Holies on behalf of God’s people. In the New Covenant, we are the Holy of Holies.
Spiritual sacrifices: Peter is an apostle to Jews. He is telling his fellow Jews that they are being built up into a holy priesthood. Historically, priests have been one person at a time. But now he’s saying that all believers are priests. Furthermore, he argues that sacrifices are no longer physical, as in the Old Testament, but now spiritual. And the sacrifice that God wants is for His children to simply present themselves as the living and holy people that they already are because of Christ.
Will not be put to shame: The Gospel does not disappoint believers. If our Christianity is disappointing, then it is not true Christianity. Whatever we long for and need from God, we have been given in the Gospel. God will never judge us, and He will never abandon us. Christ’s work is too perfect for this.