Article by Pastor Adam WallerElder at GraceLife London
We often do not appreciate the fact that we desire food. We do not consider that our taste buds are fully functioning to appreciate and enjoy the various flavours while our bodies receive the proper nourishment to gain strength to do what we need to do each day. But there are ways for us to hinder the benefits that food has on our bodies. We can eat with dirty hands which can contaminate our food when we touch it. We can simply eat the wrong types of things that will not give us the nutrition that our bodies need. We can simply not eat at all, becoming weak and frail.
In 1 Peter 2:1-3, Peter calls God’s people to come to God’s word in a way that will bring about the greatest benefit. Peter understands that a Christian can read and receive explanation of what the Bible means and yet leave with little nourishment if they are not careful. Peter gives us three ways to stir up a proper appetite and receive proper nourishment.
Break with your sin
First, we must put off sinful actions and thoughts. Sin will obstruct our desire to know what God would have us know and do. A person who is caught up in sinful habits is not looking for the exposure of the light of Scripture shining on the dark parts of their heart that they will not address. But by being committed to ridding ourselves of the sin that formally characterised us as unbelievers (1 Pet 4:1-3), we will desire God’s word to show us our sin and how to replace it with thoughts and actions that glorify our Father.
Particularly, Peter highlights five sins that need to be removed in order that we receive the proper nourishment. “Malice” is an overarching term that speaks of all kinds of evil or ill will towards another person. “Deceit” is trying to deceive someone in order to take advantage of them. “Hypocrisy” is a type of deceit usually in reference to a religious façade. “Envy” is the displeasure that comes upon someone when they see the success and blessings that come to another. “Slander” or “speaking evil” is the verbal response of tearing down another because of personal feelings and even envy of them. All of the descriptions together paint a picture of someone who is not focused on the health and nourishment of their own soul but on the temporal, perishable things of this life. Only when we come to the Bible wanting help to conquer sin will we come with an insatiable appetite.
Realise your need
Another necessity to stir up our appetite is to realise that the Bible has something that we cannot get on our own. God’s word must be to us as milk is to “newborn infants.” People are looking everywhere for direction and guidance in this life including life-coaches, psychiatrists, self-help programs, and even trying to find answers within their own heart. Essentially, they are looking for the vitamins and nutrients that their bodies need by licking a brick wall.
But God’s children understand that we come to God’s word as the only source of guidance and help. It is the “living and enduring word of God” (1 Pet 1:23). And as we come to it as infants, unable to feed or sustain ourselves, we come depending on the Bible to give us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Pet 1:3). God’s people receive life and endurance as the Holy Spirit uses the Scriptures alone.
Value your growth
A third way to stir up our appetite is by understanding the purpose for which we come to the Bible: “that by it you may grow up into salvation.” In the same way that we don’t simply eat because we like food (or at least we shouldn’t), we also don’t simply read and learn more of what is in the Bible so that we will have more knowledge. The goal is not just to feed on God’s word but to grow up in Christ. If we come for the right purpose, we will find ourselves seeking even more what has been prepared for us. The goal is to grow, to mature, so that ultimately, we will honour our Father and have a good testimony as those who are born again through the resurrection of Jesus Christ and point people to the transforming work of the Gospel.
So make a break with sin, realise your need, and value your growth. Then you will truly desire the spiritual food of God’s word.