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1 Peter 1:22-2:3

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— 22 Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, 23 having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, 24 because “All flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, And its flower falls away, 25 But the word of the Lord endures forever.” Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you. 1 Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, 2 as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.
I read this week of a man who would regularly feed these ducks that were outside the man’s work place.
Before work he’d feed them and everyday at lunch he would feed them. Even in winter, this man would cut out the ice in the pond for them to drink.
And a man who worked at another facility asked one of the men who worked with this duck feeding man, why does he feed the ducks?
As the story goes, it turns out that ducks saved his life.
His unit had been ambushed and many of his brothers in arms were killed.
And while this man wasn’t shot, he layed down to look like he had.
He hoped they would go away but they didn’t.
The enemy kept coming. Through the fields they came.
As they came, they would fire one shot into all fallen soldiers to make sure that they were dead.
And as they approached him, mass of ducks flew over their heads and the attention of the soldiers was diverted.
In excitement, they shot at the ducks instead.
And that’s how the duck feeding factory worker survived the Vietnam war.
Now he has a special love for ducks. The exact quote given was, “He loves the ducks because they saved him and now he lives.”
And the tie in v22-23 is that now that we’ve been born again, we love.
— 22 Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, 23 having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever,
Last week we looked at these words and concluded that a sincere and earnest love,
a life given over to the genuine care of others,
is the natural result of being born again.
To highlight the command in the text simply notice the phrase, “love one another earnestly.”
To see why we love, simply note: “since you have been born again.”
To put the force of Peter’s thought as clearly as possible: when you get a fresh start on life (see 1:3 and its connection to 1:23),
love should happen (1:22–2:3).
The mark of the Christian life is love.
And according to the text, our love is to be sincere and earnest.
By that Peter means genuine. It must come from the heart.
We must give ourselves fully to it.
Most of us don’t have difficulty understanding the idea that our love for one another is
the natural result of being born again.
After all, when someone gets a fresh start on life, love happens.
The tough part to untangle is in the logic of what Peter says next.
Peter claims that love not only comes from being born again,
but from being born again through the imperishable Word of God.
Look at the intricate links Peter puts forward in verses 22, 23:
Love one another earnestly …
Since you have been born again …
through the living and abiding word of God.
Figuring out exactly how sincere love is the natural consequence of God’s imperishable Word is not easy.
When we ask Peter, why must we love? he responds with, we love because of the imperishable nature of God’s Word!
Well, that leaves us scratching our heads a bit.
How exactly is sincere love the natural consequence of the living and abiding Word of God?
For that question, we will need to explore the logic of love.

Seeds Possess the Power to Bring New Life

First, begin with what you know about seeds.
Seeds possess within themselves the power to bring forth life.
For instance, we know that the perishable seed of an oak tree,
after falling into the ground, possesses the power to bring forth new life.
In essence, the sapling emerges because all of the necessary life-giving properties
were present in the seed from the beginning.
And so it is with God’s Word. Like a seed, the Bible is alive.
It contains within itself everything necessary for life.
Let me read to you an example from a man named, “Little Bilney,” an early English Reformer born in 1495.
He studied law and was outwardly rigorous in his efforts at religion. But there was no life within.
Then he happened to receive a Latin translation of Erasmus’s Greek New Testament. Here is what happened:
I chanced upon this sentence of St. Paul (O most sweet and comfortable sentence to my soul!) in : “It is a true saying, and worthy of all men to be embraced, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am the chief and principal.” This one sentence, through God’s instruction and inward looking, which I did not then perceive, did so exhilarate my heart, being before wounded with the guilt of my sins, and being almost in despair, that … immediately I … felt a marvelous comfort and quietness, insomuch that “my bruised bones lept for joy.” After this, the Scriptures began to be more pleasant to me than the honey or the honeycomb.
Notice: it was simply raw exposure to God’s Word that brought “Little Bilney” to life.
He simply read a sentence in the Word of God, and life entered into his soul.
The Word of God contains within itself all the properties necessary for life.
And that ought to revolutionize our understanding about the power of God’s Word to bring forth life.

Seeds Come with Fullness of Purpose

But we can say more. Life isn’t the only natural result of God’s Word.
Peter is arguing here that love is as well. How is it that the gospel brings forth both life and love?
For an answer we turn to the prophet Isaiah who tells us:
— 10 “For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, And do not return there, But water the earth, And make it bring forth and bud, That it may give seed to the sower And bread to the eater, 11 So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.
Isn’t that great? The Word of God has intentions beyond giving life. God says, “It will accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”
And what is the full intention of God’s Word?
Isn’t it that he would be made known in all his fullness?
God, we know, is love. Therefore, the imperishable seed not only gives us life but gives us love.
The activity of God’s Word brings life.
And the full intention of God’s Word brings love.
And all of this is because within the Word of God we gain Christ, who is both life and love.
Therefore, the logic of love rests in this: God is life, and God is love.
So, if God sent his Word into our hearts to give us life,
then we have tasted of His fullness and will make manifest the fruit of His character.
It is for this reason that Peter says:
Love one another earnestly …
Since you have been born again …
through the living and abiding word of God.
And the straight up application of this truth (chapter 2), putting away certain sins, is going to come next time.
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