Lesson Seven – Growing Up in Salvation

Growing Up in Salvation 

Introduction 

Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that you may grow up in your salvation, now that you know the Lord is good.  NIV

As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:  If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.  KJV  I Pet. 2:2, 4

Greek word meanings:  Newborn, artigennetos – just born, young converts.

Pure or sincere, adolos (negative particle) – not deceitful, unadulterated.

Word, logikos – reasonable, rational.

Good or gracious, chrestos – useful (in manners and morals), better, easy, kind.

In the previous lesson we understood the awesome identifying terms Peter assigned to Christians (Acts 11:26; I Pet. 2:9, 10).  It was suggested, to “grow up in your salvation” in I Peter 2:2 is tantamount to growing up into our “secure position.”  II Pet. 3:17.  For example Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.”  Matt. 5:9.  Christians practice peacemaking because it is a part of the identity of sons of God; consequently, those who practice peacemaking are known as sons of God.  This is the way the beatitudes taught by Jesus “get off” the pages of the Bible and onto our hearts and minds.  Peter wrote his only negative concern about the recipients’ character between their being “born again of an imperishable seed” and his admonition for them to “crave pure spiritual milk.”  Christians who do not “rid your (our) selves of all malice, and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind” will not be peacemakers (I Pet. 2:1).  Consequently, we will need to grow up into our identity as sons of God, “now that you have tasted the Lord is good.”  See Jas. 1:17; Rom. 12:2.

We can rid ourselves of these “sinful desires, which war against our souls,” by putting on the qualities of life Jesus lived and taught (I Pet. 2:11).  Please read Colossians 3:8-19 about the development of a son or daughter for God.  Paul identified Christians with their gender in his letter to the Corinthian Christians because they were “in Adam, in Christ.”  II Cor. 6:18.  Our specific identification is nothing less than sons of God with full rights (Gal. 4:4-7).  We continually have the grace of the cross because of justification by faith; consequently, we are free to grow up in our salvation (I Pet. 2:16).  Peter admonished the scoffers and unbelievers, “The Lord is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” II Pet. 3:9.

One item of wholesome thinking Peter wanted to bring to the recipients’ remembrance was their identity; “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God.”  I Pet. 2:9.  This was their “secure position.”  However, he cautioned, “be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position.”  II Pet. 3:17.  Christians today must accept the fact, the false teachers did come and they are still here.  Millions of serious religious people have followed their shameful ways by “rallying around the preacher.”  They do bring the way of truth into disrepute.  In their greed, these teachers do exploit members of the church.  It happened in Corinth (II Cor. 11:18-21).  “Their destruction has not been sleeping.”  God knows about all these things (II Pet. 2:3).  He will punish these evil people.  Please read II Peter Chapter Two.

Peter did not write to stop the evil people.  He wrote; “Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.”  I Pet. 1:13.  This is the aim of this series of lessons.  In this lesson, we will see how God desires for Christians to maintain and grow up into our identity as His people in various ordinary life encounters.  Please review Lesson Two, entitled the “The Body of Peter’s First Letter.”  This is where the exegetical work was done for this study.  We need to review Lesson Two so we can properly do the study in this lesson.

Lesson

Let us imagine we are in the same spiritual position as the recipients of Peter’s letter.  We want to accept his same teachings so that we may not fall from our high position.   Christians have faith in God’s word about our eternal new birth and our new identity.  We realize Jesus and the Holy Spirit’s intent is that our behavior should show our faith to all people with which we encounter daily (Jas. 2:17, 18).  Our behavior has become our “enduring habits.” Our habits have been determined by what we have internalized in our hearts and minds (Matt. 7:24).  Of course, the condition of our consciences has a significant impact on our confidence about the identity of ourselves in relation to God (II Pet. 3:14; I John 3:18; 3:21; 4:17; 5:14).  People with guilty consciences will seek to avoid Deity (John 3:19-21).

The “law of life” that gives God’s people freedom to grow is:  “As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.  But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: Be holy because I am holy.”  I Pet. 1:14-16.  Christians “speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom.”  Jas.2:12.  The following chart depicts some different life encounters Peter set up for our consideration and “faith testing.”  He set each of these up after he had given God’s view of “who Christians are and whose we are” in I Pet. 2:9.

As it was suggested in our exegetical work, the key word in this compound group of scriptures is submit.  James stated an eternal spiritual fact:  “God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble.  Submit yourselves, then, to God.  Resist the devil and he will flee.”  Jas. 4:6, 7.  Peter called to our remembrance, “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”  I Pet. 5:8.  Christians live our lives on a mental battlefield between “submitting ourselves” to God and resisting the devil.  The battle line forms between our consciousness of what we encounter daily and the list we have in our memory about what is good and what is evil.  It may intensify as we struggle to submit our will to God’s will.  Our will functions between decisions made in our minds and hearts and what we choose to do about them (I Cor. 7:37).

Paul said, “Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”  Eph. 6:11.  Our struggle is not against other people (Eph. 5:12).  Peter believed the recipients of his letters had been taught the gospel well enough to be aware of the proper armor (Eph. 6:13-18).  The truth about Christians’ identity is a formidable threat to Satan’s goals.  Therefore, the information we derive from a study of his letters helps us become aware of the people Satan uses to devour Christians.  The devil has already devoured all mature people “in Adam” in the world realm.  Peter identified some of these people for us in II Peter Chapters Two and Three.  He also identified where some of our individual battles will take place.

The blocks of scripture in the foregoing chart may serve us as Peter’s contribution for our study.  The information identifies encounters in which we will have opportunity to submit to God and, at the same time, resist the devil.  Adam and Eve did not properly resist Satan’s lies.  They failed to submit to the covenant God had made for them; therefore, we all, having come from Adam, will be in battle the remainder of our days on earth (Acts 17:26; I Pet. 1:6).  We have the knowledge of what is good and what is evil; therefore, we have the responsibility to “turn from evil and do good.”  I Pet. 3:11.  The choices Christians make about what is good and what is evil are where we submit to God and resist the devil.  Peter presented some scenarios for us in I Pet. 2:13-3:9.

Text: I Pet. 2:13-17.  The battle in this encounter will probably be won or lost for Christians based on our view of secular governments.  The truth is they have been established by God “to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.”  Governments are often commanded by ungodly men and women (I Cor. 6:1).  However: “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.  Authorities that now exist have been established by God.”  Rom. 13:1.  Please read the remainder of Paul dissertation in 13:1-9.  Verse nine should get Christians attention.  We submit “not only because of possible punishment but for conscience sake.”  Those who rebel against the civil authorities in their city, town, district or country, are rebelling against what God has instituted.  “Those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.”

Paul and Peter wrote their letters at a time when the Roman government was persecuting Christians.  Still, people in the Roman government were the servants of God.  They were paid for their service from the taxes Christians and other citizens paid (Rom. 13:6).  Jesus told His audience. “Then, give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”  Luke 20:25.  Caesar’s government used the taxes they collected to pay the soldiers to nail Jesus Christ to a tree a few days later.  Did Jesus rescind His command about paying taxes to unjust governments?  No, after Jesus returned to heaven, Paul was chosen by Him to pass on what he wrote by the Holy Spirit.

We do have the record in Acts chapters 3-7 where Christian’s were led by Peter and other apostles to resist the ruling authority’s command.  Their command was “not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.” Acts 4:18.  “Peter and John replied, ‘Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God.” 4:19.  This did not negate the command to submit to governments in all other situations.  Courageous evangelists accept Jesus’ command to “go and make disciples of all nations.”  Matt. 28:19.  Peter understood the supremacy of our Lord’s commission.  It has no boundaries (I Pet. 3:15).

We may ask, where is the justice in submitting to governments?  The answer is: Since governments are often ungodly, Christians cannot approach this encounter with “seeking justice” as our goal.  Our goal, as sons of God, is to be servants of God (I Pet. 2:16).  We may get justice or we may not, that is not the issue Peter had in mind.  The issue is Christians’ attitude about submitting our individual “self.”  Attitudes have a tendency to generalize; that is, if we learn to submit ourselves to secular authorities, it will help us to submit ourselves to God as His children.  Please read Jesus’ parable in Luke 18:1-8.  “However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”  The issue is always about the object of our faith.

Peter’s intent in this block of scripture embodies much more than persuading Christians to obey the secular authorities.  The first sentence has been translated from Greek to English in the NIV, “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men.”  In the KJV – “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake.”  I Pet. 2:13.    “Submit yourselves” is from one Greek work, hupotosso.  It means, individually, Christians subordinate our very “self” to what has been set up.  Ordinance has reference to the community, the state, folkways and mores – even to nature.  Authority or ordinance has been translated from ktisis.  It means the original formation – what has been set up.  We submit ourselves to what was “set up” before we arrived on the scene.

Peter has presented us with a law of life in the new covenant.  It is the attitude of submitting “self.”  “Submitting our selves” is an emotional attitude in our personality.  This attitude, like all of the healthy attitudes Jesus taught in Matt. 5:3-10, needs to be learned and practiced until they become our habits.  This is what the Apostle John called “practicing righteousness.” I John 3:7.  Peter used the “authorities of our town” as a place where we show this attitude in our behavior.  Christians do not obey the law of the land because it is simply the law.  We submit ourselves to the government because God ordained it.  Governments are in place because it is God’s will that they serve people for their good.  Law disciplines people who don’t submit.  It is God’s will that the authorities discipline Christians who have not yet developed the attitude of “submitting self” to what has been set up.  Of course, we do not submit ourselves to “the evil desires you (we) had when you lived in ignorance.”  I Pet. 1:14.  Ignorance has been translated from agnosia.  In both scriptures, it means “not having knowledge.”

Now that we, as Christians, have been enlightened about “life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us,” we submit ourselves to ordinances and people in authority because we are sons of God (II Pet. 1:3).  “It is God’s will that by doing good you should silence ignorant talk of foolish men.”  I Pet. 2:15.  We don’t argue or fight with ignorant people; we do show them God’s will for His children by submitting.  We are sons of God who became free of ignorance to become servants of God (I Cor. 7:21, 22).  However, “submitting self” is a growth process.  We accept the “poor in spirit” attitude and then we practice submitting ourselves until it becomes an emotional attitude formed within our personality.  God’s people “show proper respect for everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.”  I Pet. 2:17.

People in the world cannot learn to submit the will of themselves to God’s will until they are freed from sin and death.  His or her “self” is already in submission to their own sin (II Pet. 2:19).  They can be made free by being born again (John 1:12, 13).  This lesson will be continued as Lesson Eight.

Questions for Discussion

1.  What is the determining factor in a person’s routine behavior?

2.  How does the law of life give Christians freedom to grow?  If this question is too difficult please answer this one.  How does the law of nature serve farmers?  These laws have both been instituted by God.  They both must be applied to the development of a living being.  Give the name of the one that applies to our physical bodies.  What does the other law describe?

3.  In what sense should Christians maintain an “alien and stranger” relationship with people in the world realm?

4.  How can “submitting ourselves to God” be synonymous with submitting ourselves to governments, our employer, or spouse?  How does government ruled by corrupt officials serve Christians?

5.  How does a Christian learn the attitude of submission?  In what scenarios do Christians refrain from submitting to authorities?  Why is it difficult for sinners to develop the emotional attitude of submitting?

6.  Why is the attitude of “seeking justice” incompatible with Peter’s exercises for developing a submissive attitude?

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