“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 into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.” (1 Peter 2:1–3 ESV)
Because our souls have been transformed and our hearts regenerated, we should experience a growing love for those in the community of faith. This is now further manifested by a “putting away” of old attitudes & behaviors like malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy (jealousy) & slander (unkind speech). It is interesting that Peter lists these instead of sins like murder, stealing or adultery. These are relationally intensive sins that destroy community. When we deceive or conceal the truth we are protecting ourselves or desiring to paint someone else in a bad light. We think we are better than others, have our own standards, believe that we are superior to others and yet we don’t live up to that which we profess to believe. We envy someone else’s family, relationships, power, possessions or place in life. These are destructive things for our own souls and for the community of faith that need to be put off. This involves intentionality, accountability and reminding that we have been cleansed from such things as these. As we further understand & experience our adopted nature, we experience a growing supernatural power to put off these things.
Peter encourages not just a putting off, but to crave (instead of other things which produces the attitudes & actions previously listed) pure spiritual milk. This is how we put off – we foster a new desire, a new want, a new appetite, a new affection. Peter’s reference to milk does not necessarily indicate that they are immature, but rather that they are to long for, yearn for & lust after God’s word which is the primary way that we come to know God more deeply. This is so we can grow up into our salvation – we nurture a craving for God. This craving & longing for God’s word will be present in those who are truly His (ie tasted that the Lord is good [Psalm 34:8]; it started at salvation & continues throughout our lives.
Craving only comes when we have tasted something and find it desirable. The same is true with God. If you have never personally tasted the goodness of God then this craving will be impossible to develop. If you have been satisfied to sit on the periphery and participate in spiritual things on the surface only, then this will be a foreign concept. You cannot put off envy, jealousy & other relational sins on your own – they must be replaced with something else. We must crave pure & spiritual milk which changes our behavior. We must aggressively root out those things (even morally neutral or good things) which produce competing affections for Jesus in our heart. He is to be uttermost in our affections, when He is not then the fruit of our idolatry presents itself. The way to kill this fruit is to right our worship which takes intentionality on our part. Often times we say we are working hard at it, but what we really want is freedom from sin’s entanglements – we don’t really want Jesus alone.