Monday, May 07, 2007

Laying Aside Wickedness and Deceit

This week we are going to look at 1 Peter 2:1 and learn what hinders our desire for God’s Word. In verse 1 he lists 5 hindrances to our ability to desire the Word of God. Notice what they are as he lists them in verse 1. He says, “Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking.”

Peter’s desire for his readers to lay aside sin is due to the work of the Word in their life. He has already stated in chapter 1, verse 22 that the God’s Word purifies your soul and causes you to be “born again.” This “incorruptible...Word of God” he says, “lives and abides forever” (v.23). So in order to “desire the pure milk of the Word” as verse 2 says, we must first be involved in “laying aside” everything that hinders that desire.

Thomas Watson says in order to profit from the Word you must “remove the love of every sin...The Scripture prescribes excellent receipts; but sin lived-in poisons all. The body cannot thrive in a fever; not can the soul, under the feverish heat of lust” (Sermon: How We May Read the Scriptures with Most Spiritual Profit, 1674, reprinted 1844).

What does Peter mean when he says “laying aside?” (v.1) The phrase, “laying aside” (Gr.apothemenoi) means “to put off, to put away.” The word “had reference to the discarding of an old dirty garment” (MacArthur) and “suggests a once and for all action of separating oneself from sin” (Kenneth Wuest, Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, Vol.2).

Kenneth Wuest writes, “In view of the fact that the divine life has been imparted to the believer, it is imperative that he ‘put away once for all’ any sins that may be in his life. The preposition prefixed to the verb implies separation. The believer is commanded to separate himself from sin. This act of separating himself from sin must be once and for all action, as the tense of the participle suggests. There must be a complete right-about-face” (Ibid., p.50). Ephesians 4:22-23 says, “That you put off, concerning your formal conduct, the old man which grow corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind.” Colossians 3:8 says, “But now you must also put of all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.” Peter is echoing the words of Paul here. We are to “put off” or lay aside” the old man. Notice again the 5 vices he lists in verse 1. He says, “laying aside, all malice, all guile, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking.”

First he says, we must put off “all malice” (v.1a). This refers to any kind of wickedness. Plato calls the love of sin magnus daemon, ‘a great devil.’ The word that Peter uses for “malice” (kakia) “is an all inclusive term” (Rienecker). It refers “to vice of any kind” (AT Robertson). It occurs 11 times in the NT “to indicate that wickedness which comes from within a person” (MacArthur). It is translated “evil” (Mat.6:24), “maliciousness” (Rom.1:29) and “naughtiness” (Jas.1:21). Peter uses this same word in Acts 8:22 when describing the “wickedness” of Simon who tried to buy the Holy Spirit. He told Simon to “Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you.” Paul uses this word in Romans 1:29 to describe those whom “God gave over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness...” James says in order to “receive with meekness the implanted word,” you must first “lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness” (Jas.1:21). This was part of the old life. It’s in Paul’s list of what we used to be like according to Titus 3:3. Paul says, “For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice...” It is something that we are to never grow up in according to 1 Corinthians 14:20. Paul says, “Brethren, do not be children in understanding; however, in malice, be babes, but in understanding be mature.” “The Christian’s new life can’t grow unless sins are renounced. When that purging takes place, then the Word does it’s work” (John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible).

Not only are we to put of all malice but also all guile. The word for “guile” (dolos) refers to “deceit.” This word comes from a verb meaning “to catch with bait” (Rienecker). It is “any cunning contrivance for deceiving or catching” (Liddell-Scott). It is “fraud or treachery” (Friberg). It means “to deceive by using trickery and falsehood” (Louw-Nida). Warren Wiersbe, says, “This is a word that refers to ‘craftiness — using devious words and actions to get what you want’” (Bible Exposition Commentary). This can refer to our tongue. 1 Peter 3:10 says, “For He who would love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking deceit.” Paul says that our tongues are to speak “what is good” not what is “corrupt.” Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” Our speech is also to always be with grace. Colossians 4:6 says, “Let your speech (general conversation) always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.” The word “grace” (charis) refers “to that which is spiritual, wholesome, fitting, kind, sensitive, purposeful, complementary, gentle, truthful, loving, and thoughtful.” The word “guile” can also refer to our deeds. Jesus said in John 1:47 to Nathanael, “Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!” Just as Nathaniel had “no deceit” that should be true of us. People should be able to look at our life just as Jesus looked at Nathaniel’s and say the same thing.

Deceit comes out of the heart. Jesus said in Mark 7:21-23, “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, and evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man.” A.W. Tozer said, “You cannot study the Bible diligently and earnestly without being struck by an obvious fact — the whole matter of personal holiness is highly important to God” (The Quotable Tozer 1, p.110).

Wickedness and deceit are the first two things that are to be laid aside if we are going to desire God’s Word. How are you doing with this today? Survey your life and pray as David did for God to remove wickedness from your heart (Ps.139:23-24). Once you begin that process, you will see your desire for God’s Word increase.

No comments: