The Christian Appetite

Bible Book: 1 Peter  2 : 1-3
Subject: Growth, Christian; Christian Living; Word of God
Introduction

Today we are going to look at The Christian Appetite. An appetite is a wonderful thing, as all of us have known family or friends who were so sick that they did not care to eat. I read the other day that a balanced diet is a chocolate cookie in each hand! I like that - I think I can live on that kind of balanced diet.

Actually, I am not going to speak today about our physical appetites but rather about our spiritual appetite. Peter addressed this subject in 1 Peter 2:1-3:

"Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious." (NKJV)

Dr. Paul Brand and Philip Yancey wrote a wonderful book entitled, "In His Image." In this book they tell about the difficulties that people who have been blind from birth but through medical technology receive their sight. Interestingly, such people often have problems with the shape of objects which you and I take for granted every day. It can take weeks for them to begin to distinguish between objects that are square, round, oval, etc. They tell about one patient who mistook an apple for a key, and a loaf of bread for a hand. One girl saw a yellow matchbox. From that point onward, she called every yellow object she saw a matchbox.

If it requires weeks of laborious work for a person who has recently received vision to be able to differentiate between normal objects, how much more difficult is it for a person who has come from the darkness of a lost condition to grow in understanding spiritual things once he or she is saved? The new found joy of life in Christ is no substitute for growth and development in the spiritual realm. Every believer must go through the process of learning and growing in Christ. Actually, this process never ends. Some of us may be more mature than some others in our spiritual walk with Christ, but all of us can stand more growth and development.

Growing physically demands a proper diet. Children must eat the right foods to grow up in to healthy adults, and adults need the right nutrients to perform at their best. Likewise, as Christians we need to hunger for that which supplies our spiritual needs so that we can perform in our Christian walk in a way that honors God. Jesus said, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled." (NKJV) In other words, our Lord is concerned about our spiritual appetite.

Let’s look at how spiritual growth takes place as it applies to our appetite for the things of God.

I. The Correcting of an Appetite

A correct appetite demands that improper eating habits be changed. This is a major problem in our generation in the physical world of food and drink. But, I purpose that it is a greater problem in the spiritual realm. We need a proper hunger for the Word of God.

Peter tells us that some things must go if we would have a proper appetite for the Bible and the things of God. We must get rid of:

1. Malice

2. Deceit

3. Hypocrisy

4. Envy

5. Slander

The "wherefore" in this passage means that what is being said is a consequence of that which has just been said. A look back in chapter one at the preceding words indicates that Peter had already introduced the idea of "new birth," now he is expanding the idea by comparing the appetite to that of a Christian. He is telling us that we ought to have a ferocious appetite for the Word of God in the same way that a newborn baby has an appetite for pure milk.

The words "rid yourselves" come from the word "apotithemi" which comes from "apo" plus "tithemi". The first Greek word means “from”; the second Greek word means “to lay or put”. Thus, the Christian is to "put aside from or away from" himself the things, which follow in the passage. The command is given in the aorist middle, meaning the subject must carry out the task. God will not do this for you. Also, it begins at a point in time. One must have a point at which he determines to rid himself of the characteristics later mentioned. Furthermore, it is a participle. This means it is an ongoing act. Without diligence the unwanted items will return in our lives. You might say that malice, deceit, envy, et al, are to the soul what candy is to the stomach. If you eat candy prior to a meal, you will lose your appetite for what you really need. I guess you could call these wrong attitudes and actions "soul candy". You cannot hunger in your soul for that which grows you up in Christ if you are feeding on that which prohibits spiritual hunger.

The word "malice" comes from the word "kakios" which means "evil" and stands in this case for the evil intention of hurting another. Peter has been pointing out that we must love the brethren (see 1 Peter 1:22). Here he is showing us that one will never have a proper desire for the Word of God, nor will he grow thereby, unless he rids himself of any desire to ever hurt a brother or sister. Malice will hinder our appetite and stunt our spiritual growth.

The word "deceit" or "hypocrisy" comes from "dolos" which means “decoy”. It stands of crafty behavior that is less than totally above board. One cannot grow while trying to use subterfuge in the Christian life.

The word "envies" comes from the Greek word "phthonos". This word comes from a root word meaning to "pine away". It means to envy what someone else has or is able to do. It means to want their knowledge, position, or material things. Christians must never be envious of each other. Listen to me, if you can’t be happy when you see another Christian get something new or obtain a successful position in life, you cannot and will not grow in Christ.

"Evil speaking" comes from "katalalia" which means to "utter against" or "speak down". Note that these five things involve:

1. An evil Will - Malice

2. An evil Way – Deceit, Hypocrisy

3. An evil Want - Envy

4. An evil Word - Evil speaking

The Christian must correct his appetite in order to grow and stay healthy in the Christian faith. Some years ago I had a friend in the ministry that learned that he had diabetes. A few months later he asked me to speak in his church. When I arrived I was amazed at how much weight he had lost. It was truly phenomenal. I asked him how he did it. He said, “The doctor warned me that it was a matter of life and death that I stop eating the amount of sugar I was used to in my diet. I stopped immediately and result took care of it itself.” Likewise, if we listen to what God tells us, we can determine to do what is necessary to change and correct our appetite so that we have a godly witness and grow in our faith. In essence, we can reach athletic performance levels in our spiritual lives.

II. The Craving of an Appetite

The “appetite” speaks of desire. The newborn Christian must turn from the old desires to those that God implants when He redeems us.

Eve craved that which God had forbidden and it brought about all kinds of human suffering into the world.

Samson craved a relationship outside the will of God and ended up captured and blind.

Judas craved money and, because of yielding to that desire, sold Jesus to His enemies for 30 pieces of silver.

The believer is to crave the Word of God, which is God's food for the soul. Jesus spoke of it as bread. In Matthew 4:4 Jesus said, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God."

We all understand our physical appetite for food. We get hungry and say, “I can eat a horse.” After we eat, we say, "I don’t think I will eat again for a week." One hour later we ask, “What’s for dinner?” In other words, most of us are not in full control of our appetite for food. I eat ice cream almost every night. If I decide not to eat it one evening, I can hear the ice cream calling to me from the refrigerator, “Michael, come and get me.” Sure, you laugh, but I’m sure some of you have you own food calling your name! Do we hear God calling us to His Word? Are you hungry for the food only He can supply?

Be assured that we cannot grow in Christ until we begin to hear Him calling us to His side and to His Word. When we fill ourselves with His food, we will not be tempted by the world's eye candy!

III. The Consequences of an Appetite

If we are to grow in Christ, we need to realize three truths.

A. There is Something to Alleviate

All of us need food to live and we cannot alleviate all food without suffering and eventually dying. The same is true with your new life in Christ. You need something to feed your mind and heart. Now think about it for a moment, if you eat only candy each day, you will soon develop serious health problems. You must alleviate the wrong food in order to hunger for that which your body actually needs. The same is true in your spiritual life. You must alleviate wrong thinking, acting and talking in order to discover the hunger for the things you need to grow in Christ. Many Christians cannot grow because they fill their minds and hearts with worldly things. We wonder why so many believers fall away from church and do not act and live like Christians – it is simple, if you do not hunger for the things of God, you will replace the proper Christian hunger with the things of the world. Many literally "die" in usefulness to the cause of Christ because they fill their lives with worldly thinking, talking and actions. A person can be saved and still live a life that is basically useless in terms of effectiveness for Christ. Someone listening to me right now needs to get some things out of your life so you can replace them with the things of God.

B. There is Something to Appropriate

There is food for the soul and it satisfies. Some of you tell your children, “Now, don’t you eat that cookie because it will spoil your appetite.” What about you in your spiritual hunger? You cannot hunger for the things of God if you are feeding off the things of the world. You must appropriate what God has for you.

I was talking with a pastor friend this week. He told me that he never tires of studying God’s Word. He said, “You’d think after all the years of preaching that I would just go to a passage and quickly prepare a sermon. I can’t do that! I just want to dig out more and more of what God is saying.”

Are you like that? Be honest with God and yourself. Do you really study God’s Word? Do you hunger for it the way a newborn hungers for milk? No! Well, that tells you why you are not growing in the faith and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. The table is spread with His Word and all you have to do is come and eat. If you can’t shut down that cell phone and turn off Facebook, you will never grow in Christ. Turn off the television and put down that iPad – open your Bible!

C. There is Something to Appreciate

Have you tasted that the Lord is good (gracious)?

He is good in the way he Loves us.

He is good in the way he Lifts us.

He is good in the way he Listens to us.

He is good in the way he Leads us.

Billy Graham, in his book "The Secret of Happiness" states that there are four things that can spoil your appetite for the things of God. He states, "There are at least four things that can spoil your appetite for the righteousness of God.

FIRST: Sinful Pleasure can ruin your appetite for the things of God. I once heard the story of a man walking down the road. Behind him followed a pig. A friend called to him and asked how he got the pig to follow him. He said, "It's very simple. Every step I take, I drop a bean, and the pig likes beans." Satan goes along the road of life dropping his beans, and we are following him to eternal destruction.

SECOND: Self-sufficiency can impair your hunger after God. No man is so empty as he who thinks he is full (but is not). No man is so ill as he who has a fatal disease and yet thinks he is in perfect health. No man is so poor as he who thinks he is rich but is actually bankrupt.

THIRD: Secret sin can take away your appetite for the righteousness of God. That secret sin you committed has cost a price. You always thought you had got away with it, but the remorse of it still remains in your heart. Those evil resentments you harbor in your breast against your neighbor! The failure to forgive those who have wronged you! When the heart is filled with wickedness, there is no room for God. The jealousies, the envies, the prejudices, and the malice will take away your appetite for the things of the Spirit.

FOURTH: Neglect of your spiritual life can take away your appetite for the righteousness of God. All Christians believe in God, but they have little time for God. They are too busy with everyday affairs to be taken up with Bible reading, prayer, and being thoughtful to their fellow men. Many of them have lost the spirit of zealous discipleship" (pages 82-84).

Do we really appreciate what God has done for us enough to stop eating at the world’s pig trough? God has a banquet prepared for us each day in His Word. I am speaking to someone today who knows full well that you are not growing in Christ. You are not enjoying your fellowship with Jesus. You can! Just learn to appreciate what He has for you by going back to Him and to His Word with a hunger to feed on the things of God.

Conclusion

Our duty is to grow in the Lord. We are to keep a good appetite for the things of God and we are to avoid the junk food of this world so that our appetite for God is not spoiled. Someone has said, “God never alters the robe of righteousness to fit man; He changes the man to fit the robe." Have you ever had some clothes that no longer fit because you neglected a proper diet? No, don't raise you hands - I don't have time to count them. What is more important is whether we are properly fitting the robe of righteousness that God has given us in Christ.

Nothing is so sad as seeing a child that will not grow up. Have you ever seen a thirty year old who is acting like a fifteen year old? Sad, isn't it! So many Christians are like that in their walk with God - saved for years but never growing up. It is time for us to act our age in Christ.

Someone passed on to me a quote attributed to the late A.B. Simpson:

"Once it was the blessing; now it is the Lord.

Once it was the feeling; now it is His Word.

Once His gifts I wanted; now the Giver own.

Once I sought for healing, now Himself alone.

Once 'twas painful trying; now 'tis perfect trust.

Once a half salvation; now the uttermost.

Once 'twas ceaseless holding; now He holds me fast.

Once 'twas constant drifting; now my anchor's cast.

Once 'twas busy planning; now 'tis trustful prayer.

Once 'twas anxious caring; now He has the care.

Once 'twas what I wanted, now what Jesus says.

Once 'twas constant asking; now 'tis ceaseless praise.

Once I tried to use Him; now He uses me.

Once it was my working; His it hence shall be.

Once the power I wanted, now the Mighty One.

Once for self I labored, now for Him alone.

Once I hoped for Jesus; now I know He's mine.

Once my lamps were dying; now they brightly shine.

Once for death I waited; now His coming hail.

And my hopes are anchored safe within the veil."

How about it Christian, is your desire (your appetite) wholly and totally for God? When that is our greatest desire, we can grow to be all that He intends!

There is someone listening to me who has never received Christ as your Savior, but you have become sick of the world. You are not satisfied and lack the peace you know life ought to offer you. You will never know that peace till you come to the Prince of Peace – Jesus! Receive Him now. Repent of your sins and accept Him as your Lord and Savior.