“So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.”
Reading these verses for the first time you might think the main point would be how much you need the Bible.
After all, you’ll remember that the immediate context in which this verse is set is one where Peter is stressing the importance of the Word. He reminds us in verses 22-25 that as believers we’ve been purified by obedience to the Word and born again by the means of the Word. Here in this passage we find him piggybacking on that theme reminding us that we need that same Word in order to grow.
Or perhaps if you wanted to be a little more specific, reading these verses for the first time you might think the main point would be how you need to read the Bible.
Since milk, looking at the context, obviously refers to the Word; and Peter says in verse 2 that just as infants need their mother’s milk in order to survive physically, you and I need a regular intake of the Word in order to survive spiritually.
But if you look a little closer at these verses, I think you’ll agree that while this passage does stress our need for the Word and that the reading the Word is certainly a valid application; its main point is just a bit different.
The main point of this text is found smack dab in the middle where Peter writes:
“…long for the pure spiritual milk.”
That’s a command and everything else in these verses revolves around that command. When Peter tells us to put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander in verse 1 he is telling us what we must do if we are going to obey this command to long for the Word. When he brings up the illustration of newborn infants at the beginning of verse 2 he is describing the way we are obey this command to long for the Word. When he explains that it is by the pure spiritual milk that we grow up to salvation at the end of verse 2, and calls on us to think about whether or not we have tasted of the Lord’s kindness in verse 3, he is explaining why we ought to obey this command to long for the Word.
The word long is a word you might use to describe the way some single people feel about getting married. It’s a word you might use to describe the way someone who is out in the desert with nothing to drink might feel about a glass of water. It’s a word you might use to describe the way a parent feels about an unrepentant, prodigal child. Most graphically, it’s a word you might use the way Peter does here, to describe the way a newborn baby feels about his mother’s milk.
The primary challenge of this text, its main point is not that we are supposed to read the Word, or study the Word, or meditate on the Word, or memorize the Word, the primary challenge of this text is that we are supposed to long for the Word; we need to want it.
I want that challenge to be very clear in your minds because if we tone it down at all, or even shift the focus of this passage a bit, we are going to miss what is really a revolutionary concept.
The fact that Peter is commanding us to long for the Word means: “We have a responsibility to take control of our desires and start wanting the Word with everything we’ve got.”