The Christian Appetite

Bible Book: 1 Peter  2 : 1-3
Subject: New Birth; Christian Development; Hunger for God; Growth
Introduction

Today we begin a series entitled, The People of God. We are going to see three aspects of being God's people. We begin where our life in Christ begins, with the new birth. Our first message is entitled, Born of God.

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 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? The newfound 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.

Lets look at how this growth takes place.

I.The Correcting Of An Appetite

A correct appetite demands that improper eating habits be changed. This is a major problem in our generation physically. It is a greater problem spiritually. 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 Word of God. We must get rid of:

Malice

Deceit

Hypocrisy

Envy

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 has already introduced the idea of "new birth". Now he is expanding the idea by comparing the appetite that a Christian should have for the Word of God with that which a newborn baby has 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.

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 every 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 to 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.

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

An evil Will - Malice
An evil Way - Hypocrisy
An evil Want - Envy
An evil Word - Evil speaking

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

III.The Consequences Of An Appetite

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

A.There Is Something To Alleviate

There are some things we are to alleviate from our lives. To serve God faithfully, it does not involve simply what we do but also requires that some things are not done! If we take the actions and attitudes mentioned in verse 1 of our text, we can plainly see that we must lay them aside. They must be removed and that can only take place when we take an inventory of our hearts and minds. They involve attitudes that are hateful toward others, acting one way in the presence of believers and another way when we are out in the world, desiring things and positions that others have and speaking in ways that dishonor our Lord.

When you have a headcold, the only thing on your mind is getting rid of it. If you have a serious disease, we pray daily that God might heal you. God's Word tells us that there are spiritual maladies that we ought to be just as serious about removing from our lives.

B. There Is Something To Appropriate

In order to rid our lives of the things listed in verse 1 of our text, we must maintain a hunger for God's Word like that of a baby's hunger for milk. There is nothing so desperate as the cry of a baby for feeding. It simply can't be ignored! That is how God's desires us to be about His Word. When we crave His Word and stay in it faithfully, His Word reveals our failures and weaknesses. The Word brings us to a point of confession and change. Many Christians do not grow because they do not hunger for and feed on His Word.

C. There Is Something To Appreciate

We must appreciate that we have tasted that the Lord is gracious. 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 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).

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."

Dr. A.B. Simpson wrote the hymn, "Himself":

"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 hense 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." (A.B. Simpson, 1904)

How about it Christian, is your desire (your appetite) wholly and totally for God? Is it more of HIM you seek? When that is our greatest desire, we can grow to be all that He intends! We can act like and be seen by the world as the people that are Born of God.