The young shall grow. It’s inevitable! But the question is, into what? As young Christians we can take 3 bold steps to grow spiritually in a healthy way.
Sermon Topics & Timestamps
00:00 – 1 Peter 1: 13 – 2: 3 Reading
04:15 – The Story of Vincent Obianodo
06:55 – Longevity Is A Measure of Success
08:20 – 3 Steps To Spiritual Growth
09:24 – 1. Lay Strong Foundations
10:19 — New Mindset, New Behaviour
19:50 — God Humbles The Morally Superior
21:50 — God Gives Hope To The Morally Inferior
25:13 – 2. A Proven Growth Strategy
31:30 — Your Theology Matters
34:13 — Get Rid of The Rubbish!
36:45 — It’s All About Loving Deeply
41:50 — 3. Finding The Energy For Growth
48:05 – Test Where You Are In Your Spiritual Life
How To Grow Spiritually: Top Quotes
“You’re not going to be doomed because of the bad things you do. Because you’re not going to be saved by the good things you do. You’re saved and made holy by obeying and believing the gospel about Jesus Christ.”
“Inadequately processed suffering, results in unholy living. This usually demonstrates itself in how we treat others.”
“Theology is for all Christians not just for pastors. Can we stop putting on ignorance as a badge of honour?”
“Peter was a fisherman. The only kind of Christianity he knew was plain and ordinary Christianity and he tells you that you need theology and knowledge for it.”
More TGC Africa Content On This Topic
Text: 1 Peter 1:13-2:3
Preached: 15 March 2020
Location: City Church, Lagos, Nigeria
1 Peter 1:13-2:3
The Bible reading today is from 1 Peter 1:13-2:3. At the end of the reading I’m going to say this is the word of the Lord. And you have to respond with, “Thanks be to God”.
1 Peter 1:13: “Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
17 Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. 18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. 21 Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.
22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. 23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. 24 For,
“All people are like grass,
and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall,
25 but the word of the Lord endures forever.”
And this is the word that was preached to you.
Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. 2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3 now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.”
This is the word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
Thank you Owadi. And Good morning everyone. Alright, can we quickly just say a word of prayer as we start. Lord we come to your word now we need you to speak to us. You need to speak to us clearly. Lord we ask that you would also come powerfully. And so, as we seek to honour Jesus Christ, we ask Holy Spirit that you help us do that by blessing us with your presence. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Oh, oh okay, a good surprise. Anyway, good morning again. My name is Femi and so Bola introduced me as lead pastor of this church. It’s true but as I like to say, that’s not my favourite title. Because my favourite title is something we call CSTO. You know you have CEO’s you have CTO all those nonsense. CSTO is the Chief Story Telling Officer, you are welcome to my story.
Femi: Story, story.
Femi: Once upon a time…
Congregation: Time, time.
The Young Shall Grow
Now listen to this story about Vincent. Vincent was born in, Solomon, you will forgive me in, Umueze, Nnewi, in Anambra State. Being from a humble background and now grown to be a teenager, he moved from Kano in search of greener pastures because the young shall grow.
It was there he trained to be a vulcanizer fixing punctured tyres. He was so good that he had people with cars, motorcycles and bicycles queue up for his services. Then he made a career shift into transport business because the young shall grow.
He began as a bus conductor for a transport company. But after working for a while in 1972 he quit his job and set up his transport business because the young shall grow.
He started with one mini bus going between Enugu and Onitsha. But then moved his operation base from Onitsha to Lagos in 1973. And within five to six years, his fleet of buses grew from just two to 40 buses because the young shall grow.
After this he decided to open a new interstate route transporting people from Lagos to Onitsha to Owerri. But now, equipped with a new Mercedes Benz luxury bus, otherwise called luxurious bus. Alright! With this expansion he grew his fleet of buses within another six years to over 150 luxury buses. After incorporation of his company in 1984, his expansion continued such that today he has a fleet of over 500 buses that also covers the West African countries like Ghana, Mali, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, because the young shall grow.
Vincent however has expanded his company’s portfolio to include investments in hospitality, dredging, oil and gas, and real estate. This has seen the teenager who started out as a vulcanizer in Kano establish a business worth 100 million dollars despite varying economic downturns because the young shall grow.
This is why Vincent, forgive me again, Obianodo’s group of businesses is aptly named Young Shall Grow Motors. Not bad hey?
Longevity Is A Measure of Success
So, how many people are young here? If you are young here, go and grow! Let us pray. No, but you see every start up business is going to be deemed successful by their longevity. While you may be a good business in a year or two but how we deem your success is by your longevity. And that longevity is also going to be there really because over a period of time you will be able to withstand national and global economic downturns and wrong business decisions if you’re able to grow well. You have a place you start but you must grow well.
The growth itself is going to help you to withstand all the different forces that come against you. Now this thought is really important for Peter. Because Peter, as he writes to suffering Christians, he says something. In 1 Peter 1:23 of what Owadi read for us, notice what he says in 1 Peter 1:23. He says: “For you have been born again, born again.” So, you are born. But later in 1 Peter 2:2 he also says this, “I want you to grow up in your salvation”. Those who are born need to what? Grow.
3 Steps To Spiritual Growth
The young in Christ must also grow. The reason why Peter does this, remember he’s writing to people who are suffering. And for all of us this is important because life is hard. Life is hard that’s the truth. But how we react to the various difficulties, the various forces that come against us in this life. And how we face them is going to depend on how well we have grown spiritually. And so, in this sermon which we’ve titled, ‘The Young Shall Grow’, Peter will show us how to grow spiritually in the gospel.
And he shows us in three steps. One, the foundation for growth. Two, the strategy for growth. And three the energy for growth. Foundation for growth, the strategy for growth and the energy for growth.
1. Lay Strong Foundations
Alright. So, let’s start with the foundation for growth.
Last week we looked at 1 Peter 1:6-12. The funny thing is that the person who preached last week all of a sudden had a baby this week. I can assure you that the person that is preaching to you this week is not having any baby this coming week. Now in 1 Peter 1:13 it starts with the word, “Therefore”.
Now, if you ever want to understand how to read the Bible, one of the things you must remember is this: whenever you see a “Therefore”, you must ask what it is there for, right? The “Therefore” didn’t just land. The “Therefore” is saying something has happened before that is going to affect what I’m going to say now.
The “Therefore” here in verse 13 connects us, right, connects the section that Dami has spoken about before, that section to the section we’re going to look at today.
A New Mindset
Now in that section in summary in 1 Peter 1:6-7 we notice what Peter is trying to tell us. He says look, you’ve been tried for your faith for a particular purpose. It is to prove the genuineness of your faith. Can you see it in 1 Peter 1:7? And that genuineness of your faith will result in glory, praise and honour. When? When Jesus returns. That is as Christians we don’t only live for what is going on now. We should be a people that anticipate the coming of Jesus Christ. Because he is going to bring a grace to us. Amen.
So, that is why Peter then says that we should be people of hopeful anticipation. “Set your hope”. He wants you to have a different mindset. With mindsets that are alert, be people of a different… a people of hope, hopeful anticipation. We are waiting for Christ to come. But the reason we are waiting for Christ to come is that he is bringing something to us, amen.
But the mindset also requires another thing from us. The mindset requires a new kind of behaviour. Hopeful anticipation one thing, waiting for Christ to come. But while he has not come, he expects you to behave in a certain way.
What is the way that he wants us to behave? What is the way he expects us to be characterised by? You see it in 1 Peter 1:15, “Be holy”. Holiness. Holiness. What is that? Now I ask you and nobody is going to raise up their hand. Yesterday we were doing membership class, I asked the people and I said, “What is marriage?” Everybody started looking down – including people that are married now! They start thinking it’s a trick question when it’s so obvious. What is holiness? Well, it may not be that obvious.
What Is Holiness?
I don’t know, for some of us now when we think about holiness you know who you have in mind? Sister Bisi, you know sister Bisi? In church who didn’t like to put on lipstick, and earrings and gold. She only used to plait her hair; she didn’t like people that used to perm their hair; she didn’t like – you see Bhumi’s wonderful lipstick now? If sister Bisi, “Ah sister Bhumi, huh! Jesus is coming oooh.” So, what conjures, what holiness conjures up in our mind, maybe is you know that phrase? “Holier than thou”. A holier than thou judgementalism. People who often felt morally superior. Maybe that’s what you are thinking about holiness.
But maybe some of us here are still not sure what it is. And when we are not sure about something, how to describe something, we often look for examples. So, for instance if I told you, I want Phillip to be a good basket baller. For many of us here we’ll say, “I don’t… How do I know what a good basket baller is?” Then I can say go and watch LeBron James, or go and watch Michael Jordan, or go and watch Bryant. Right? We look for examples that exemplify the thing that we don’t really understand to describe it to us.
God Is Holy
So, if we want to look for holiness where do we look to? You must look no further than God himself. Notice what he says, “Just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do. For it is written, be holy because I am holy”. You see holiness is the essential description, if you like, of ‘God-ness’. “I am holy”.
Isaiah was a prophet who God was going to use mightily. And before God sent him to his people, he saw a vision of God. Now, he didn’t see God himself but what he saw was the throne of God in Isaiah 6. And what he saw was some majestic beings, almost the highest order of created beings called Seraphims. They had six wings to cover their face, to cover their hands, to cover their legs. These are the most majestic of beings. If a being that huge and massive with six wings came here, I bet you most of us would run away. Isn’t it? It’s terrifying. And so those terrifying beings cannot be terrified by anything. They can’t be moved by anything. Well, what did they see? Well Isaiah says, “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling out to one another: …” To one another because the sight of what they saw was so magnificent. And when they wanted to describe it what did they say? “Holy, holy, holy”.
Holy, Holy, Holy!
You know when you read the Bible when it says, when Jesus says, “Verily, verily”, or “Truly, truly”, right? He’s trying to tell you the emphasis. He’s trying to tell you you need to pay attention here. Why? Because he says it twice. But when your mum calls you, “Gloria!”
What comes after? “How many times have I called you? Three times!”
When it is three you know this is to the superlative degree. So, when the angels they are saying, “Holy, holy, holy”, They didn’t say “holy, holy”. They’re saying the only thing we can say about this being is that he is so different from all of us. He’s so separate from all of us. He’s so distinct from all of us. He is not like us. He is… holy. Holy. It’s not just for talking about moral purity. It’s not just talking about power; it’s not talking about… it is just talking about he is different. In other words, holiness is the essence of God that distinguishes him as creator from his creatures.
And that distinction is then manifested in his attributes. The attributes that make him God. What do you know about God? That he’s omnipotent, that he’s omnipresent, that he’s omniscient, that he is immutable; he is eternal. All of these things are there because he’s what? Holy. He is apart in a class of his own. God is holy.
Not The Family Likeness
Now, I don’t know about you, but I had a wonderful childhood. You know, my parents tried, they did the best they could. But there was one problem I always had. Just one problem. I know they’re here. Don’t look at them. Just one problem, especially my dad. But I know all of you have shared this thing before.
Whenever I did what was good, you know what he’d say? “Omo mi, that’s my boy!” When I did what was wrong, he would turn to my mum and say, “Ọmọ rẹ!” How many of us know that there? You say, “Is that your son?” The funny thing is that now I do it. I do it to my own children! “Tosin come and see you son ooo.” What is going on there?
You know we are in a period now we are calling social distancing because of the Coronavirus. You have social distancing. This was called parental distancing. Which was essentially you are in, in… and it’s in a loving way, you are basically saying, “That behaviour does not reflect me”. Because you expect the child to be like the parents. Do you understand that?
And so, if God is holy, notice, the people that he gave birth to 1 Peter 1:23 he says, “For you have been born again.” We also saw that in verse 3 where he says that “He has given us new birth into a living hope.” Of the people who he has called out, we saw that in 1 Peter 1:1-2, God’s elect, who have been chosen by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, those people he has called to be his own have to be like him. If he’s holy, then they also have to be what? Holy.
God’s People Have To Be Distinct
In other words, God’s people have to be distinct. Part of their identity is that they have been sanctified by the Spirit, as we saw. There has to be a set-apartness about us that reflects the holiness of God.
Notice then, we are not judging holiness based on a comparison of one another. We are judging holiness based on a comparison with God. In other words, when you think about holiness you should not be thinking about holier than thou. You should be thinking “Holy as thou”.
You shouldn’t be thinking about “holier than thou”. You should be thinking “holy as Thou”.
Now, if we’re set apart and holy, this also has to affect our morality. In that the people who have been called to be holy like their father, behave in the way he’s called them to behave. Different to those who are not his children.
Now this makes, has an effect on, both the morally superior and the morally inferior.
He Humbles The Morally Superior
For the morally superior it humbles them, for the morally inferior it makes them hopeful. What do I mean?
Take the morally superior people, that is people who think they are better than you because they are keeping all the rules and they are morally perfect right? True holiness will have morality without superiority. Why? If I compare my morality with Yemi’s morality and I feel that Yemi is not doing as well as I am doing. If my holiness is based on my comparison with him, if Yemi is doing worse than I am, guess what? I will feel better and more superior than Yemi. Amen
If as some of the people here, if you are in this congregation and you heard Ubo and Gloria singing today, and you’re saying, “Ah ah, it’s not, don’t think they are singing now. Back in Uni I used to sing too. I used to sing too”. So, you compare. And you’re like, “Ah, Ubo went off key there. Gloria didn’t really… the falsetto, the falsetto didn’t…” So, you start comparing yourself. You know?
We are only called to be holy as we reference God, not one another.
But if I decide to sing, can I get a witness somebody? And then you heard my vocal range… you know, across six octaves, and all of those things. At that point you’ll be like, “Ah, you know this guy is…”, you understand what I’m saying.
So, if I continue to compare my morality with Yemi I can look down on Yemi. But if my morality is compared to that of the Almighty God… Because we are only called to be holy as we reference God, not reference one another.
If we reference God, then you know you can never measure up to God. So, you can never look down on anybody because you are not looking to people you are looking to God. Amen. The morally superior are made humble if their holiness is in reference to God.
He Gives Hope To The Morally Inferior
But also, it affects the morally inferior. The morally inferior, those are people, I don’t know if you are one of those people, “I am not like that holy person. You know, they say my skirts are too short. They say that I like secular music. Because I really do. I like the band I can’t lie”. You understand? “I can’t be like this person; I can’t be like that”. And then you also say, “I can’t meet God’s standards”. And in verse 17 it says that he is the one who judges each person’s work impartially. So, you say, “By the time I look at that I am doomed.” Because you feel morally inferior.
First of all, I should tell you, don’t forget that even that person you think is better than you has to be compared to God. They are not meeting God’s standards as well.
But second, God is calling you to be holy. You know why? Because you are already holy. He’s made you holy. Now you say, yes, it is bad news if the one who calls me to be holy is the one who is the impartial judge. That is the bad news. But the good news of the gospel is that the one who calls you to be holy is the one who makes you holy by judging Jesus for your unholiness and making you holy before resurrecting him to enable you to live holy.
I’ll say that again. Notice in 1 Peter 1:22 he says, “You have purified yourselves …” Not by being holy but you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth of the gospel. The gospel that he has already explained here in 1 Peter 1:18, “For you know that it is not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God.”
You are saved and made holy by obeying and believing the gospel about Jesus Christ.
That is what you obeyed to become purified. Now that you have that status, he’s now saying live out this life that is according to your status. Do you understand that? You are not going to be doomed just because of the bad things that you do. Because you’re not going to be made saved by the good things that you do. You are saved and made holy by obeying and believing the gospel about Jesus Christ
If that has happened to you, now, be holy. And so, if you are the morally inferior type, he’s saying there’s hope for you. There’s hope for you. He judged Jesus for your unholiness and in that regard he made you, he gave you, Jesus’ (he says he’s without blemish), so he gave you his holiness. And then he gave you the power to live that out because Jesus is now risen from the dead and he intercedes for you before the throne of God.
So, on account of that, as it says in 1 Peter 1:21, “Let your hope and your trust be in the one whom you are imitating”. Not yourself, not anybody else. “Through him you believe in God who has raised him from the dead and glorified him so that your faith and your hope are…” in who? “In God”.
That’s the first point the foundation for growth.
2. A Proven Growth Strategy
Let’s go to the second: the strategy for growth.
Now, if holiness’ primary example is God, vertical. The vertical reference, right? The example is a vertical reference. The beneficiaries of the holy life is in the horizontal, the Lord’s people.
Embracing Brotherly Love
Notice in 1 Peter 1:22, he says, “Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth…” He’s now going to give you a purpose call “So that”, the reason why. The reason why you believe the gospel is so that, so he’s going to give you the reason, you have, or should I say it in Greek, “eis philadelphian anypokriton”. The guy is deep. Forget, I checked the meaning so it’s not like there’s any deep anything. Basically, the reason, so that, is – literal translation – for unhypocritical brotherly love. For unhypocritical brotherly love. That is not just unhypocritical love, brotherly love. Love among brothers and sisters.
You can’t grow spiritually in isolation.
First thing you need to notice about that is you can’t grow spiritually in isolation. You cannot grow spiritually in isolation. Notice, 1 Peter is written to people that are part of churches. In 1 Peter 2:9 he says they are a holy, a chosen people, a holy nation. It is written to a community of people. Even the “Be holy”, in verse 16, “Because I am holy”, is a direct quotation from Leviticus 19:2. Leviticus 19:2 was written to who? God was speaking and he was speaking to the community of the Israelites. You cannot be holy individualistically.
You cannot measure your holiness. Somebody says, “Ah, I just wake up one morning and just put it on Instagram. I’ve been singing to God. You know this Sunday I had three hours worshiping God. Man, I feel so holy”. Lie, lie! You cannot know. It’s somebody that knows you that will tell you whether you are holy or not. Do you understand me? And the reason why Peter is so careful with this is he understands something about people who are suffering. Why he’s telling them to be holy, he understands something about people who are suffering.
If you inadequately process your suffering, it will lead to unholy living. You say this after me: inadequately processed suffering, results in unholy living. And this unholy living usually demonstrates itself in how we treat others; those in our community.
Hurt People Hurt People
Now somebody I hold very dear I was talking to this week. And I told the person that despite – now the person has gone through a lot in life, a lot in life. Basically, the odds have been stacked up against this person. And yet this person has made what I would call a success of their life, a success of their life. But I told the person something, that they need to be careful that if things have been coming against you all your life. The only way you can succeed sometimes is to, you don’t have… so nobody feels sorry for you, you don’t have any support. So, there’s a tenacity that you have to develop to hit against the barriers. Do you understand? But I told the person I said, but you also have to be careful that that tenacity doesn’t result in harshness and hardness towards others. You know why? Because hurt people, hurt people. People who have been hurt end up hurting people. Peter understands that.
He’s writing to a community of people. He’s telling them to live holy and he knows that that holiness has to be lived within community. But because they are suffering, the opposition from outside can quickly make them turn, develop bitterness, and turn against each other. Do we understand that? And so, whilst he’s saying you cannot grow outside of community, he’s also saying because of that, I have to tell you to live holy.
So how do I grow? Well, you have to be controlled differently.
Your ‘Why’ Has Changed
In verse 14, notice he says, “Don’t conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance”. There was a time you lived in ignorance. Don’t be conformed to those evil desires. Don’t be controlled by the evil desires. Rather, in the now, notice in verse 22, he says, “Now that you have purified…” There was a then: that time, but there’s a now: you have been purified by the gospel. Rather now, of verse 18, he says, “For you know…”. For you know. On one hand you are controlled by the evil desires. On the other hand, you are controlled by God’s holiness. The evil desires were a time that you lived in ignorance as we saw in verse 14. Later he calls it “An empty way of life handed to you by your ancestors”, ancestral spirits Abi!
So, he says that time that you were controlled by your evil desires you lived in ignorance. Ignorance to what? He tells you. Because now you are now living and controlled by God’s holiness. But he says in verse 18, “For you know…” What do you know? What you know now is what you did not know before. That was what you were ignorant to. So, what he tells you in verse 18 that you now know, that should now control your way of behaviour, is what you didn’t know, or you were ignorant of. He says, “For now you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver, gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life. But with the precious blood of Christ…” In other words, now you understand the gospel and the theology that comes from it.
Your Theology Matters
Now you know. In other words, let me quickly say this before I get to the practical ways we grow. And this is almost like an aside. Theology is for all Christians not just for pastors. Theology is for all Christians not just for pastors. And if even though theology is not everything, you will not grow very well without knowing theology and knowing some doctrine. Do we understand? And please, can I ask? Because some of us like to say, something like, ah you know that one, “Me I just want to meet Jesus. I don’t want all these… I just want to meet Jesus”. Can we stop putting on ignorance as a badge of honour? It doesn’t look well.
Theology is for all Christians not just for pastors.
You may say, “I’m just being simple. I just want plain and ordinary Christianity”. Peter was a fisherman. The only kind of Christianity he knew was plain and ordinary Christianity and he tells you that you need theology and knowledge for it. Amen.
For now you what? Know. Ignorance, when you have a big book, does not, is not a virtue. Let me out it that way. I’m not saying that there are not different gifts, and some people are not able to see more complex things. That’s why God gives us teachers. But we’re also meant to be teaching and admonishing one another. We are meant to grow in the place where is the pillar and the ground of the truth. Christianity requires knowledge of the gospel. Amen.
Two Practical Ways To Grow
Well practically how do I grow?
Two things. Peter tells us the first one is rid yourselves of something. The second is love deeply.
First, Rid Yourselves Of Something
So, let’s start with the first one: rid yourselves of something. Have you ever had someone terrible working for you? Right, someone terrible working for you. Even if you’re not the owner of the company, just someone that is your direct report. Or maybe you have a leader over you, in your office right, that is also terrible. In both instances you couldn’t wait to see them leave. You know that kind of thing? Somebody you wish they were fired but you can’t fire them. Or somebody that you can fire but you’re just looking for one excuse to get them to go. Because… or the leader, the person that is hindering your progress. How many people have had progress blockers in their lives? Right? I have. People hindering your progress.
Good riddance, bad rubbish. The riddance was very good because the rubbish was very bad.
When they leave, when they’re finally out of your life and they stop hindering your progress, what do you say in your mind? Or even say it verbally. We have a saying for it. You know what we say? Good riddance, bad rubbish. The riddance was very good because the rubbish was very bad. No, you didn’t catch the revelation. Turn to your neighbour, turn to your neighbour and say the riddance is very good because the rubbish is very bad.
Get Rid of That Rubbish!
Peter says rid yourself of a lot of all this rubbish. They are so bad that if you get rid of them it will be good for you.
Notice what he says, he says in 1 Peter 3:1 rid yourselves. “And therefore, rid yourselves of…” He says there are different kinds of malice and deceit but get rid of all of them. None of them is good. And in case you are still wondering about it, he says hypocrisy, envy and slander there are different kinds. All of them to get rid of them. Good riddance to what? Bad rubbish. Because they are not only just bad and inherently unholy, they prove themselves, they prove themselves. You see suffering is there to prove the genuineness of our faith. These things, they prove themselves to be unholy by destroying the holy community.
Get rid of craftiness, get rid of public virtue and private vices. Get rid of offering criticism of other people to others when you can’t do it to their face. Get rid of saying untrue things about people. Get rid of hating people having what you don’t have. That is what we call malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander. Get rid of all of them! These show that you have been controlled by evil desires even though now you are meant to be controlled by something else. So, get rid of them! For that is how you get to be holy.
Notice he didn’t just say, don’t do them. He says get rid of them, that is fight them, mortify them, kill them, put them to death. Paul says crucify them in Galatians 5. Know them in your life, admit that they are there. And say, “This thing, this one is envy alalalala.” Whether you have to confess to somebody, you have to tell God, no. This thing must not stand. Why? Because that was then. When I lived in ignorance and when I lived in an old way of living. But now, I’m obeying the gospel.
Second, Love Deeply
And in that now it leads us to the second thing. You see the currency of the now, of the holy community, is deep love. Look at 1 Peter 1:22, “Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have”, now you possess sincere love because it is not hypocritical, “for one another”, then do what? “Love one another deeply, from the heart”.
Why love? You see the community of God’s people is called to be holy because God is holy. Isn’t it? But you see in 1 John 4, God also says something about himself. He says God is what? God is what? Love. So, the holy people who reflect this God are also meant to be a loving people. In fact, the way they came into existence is really because God himself is love. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son”. It was out of love that the gospel came, and they were now saved, reconciled to God and brought into his family. Do we understand that? And so, he’s saying the currency that must exist between them is one of love.
What Is Brotherly Love?
Now, notice it is love from the heart. Because some of us will say something like this about love, “Love is not about, is not feelings. Love is about action. It’s what I do.” In other words, love for you at the fundamental level is an act of the will. For some of us it’s just, “Huh, have you seen sister Camilla? She’s so wonderful. My heart just… I just feel love for her. I just feel love for her!” Fundamentally for you, love is an act of the emotion. For some of us it’s, “The Bible says that we should love. I can see that God is love. And if God is love, for God so loved the world and then I’m meant to be his child and therefore I’m meant to love. So, I love you.” In other words, I think. Fundamentally love is at the level of your mind. Do you understand?
But he did not say love from your mind, love from your emotions or love from your will. He says love from your what? Your heart.
You know why? Because according to the Bible the heart is the seat of the emotions, the will and the mind. Therefore, if you do anything from the heart, you will find that thing reasonable, you will find that thing desirable, and you will find that thing doable. Do we understand that?
It is not that they will start telling you to. Even when the person is annoying you, “Brother Akene I don’t like the way he smells but I love him, he’s my brother.” You know. You call him. If he’s not feeling well, I have to go. “I don’t like the way she normally shouts oo. But you know, I can’t leave her, I can’t leave her.” I told you a few weeks ago, I like how someone put it. When they say Jonathan was good, Jonathan was good. He said… He said no matter how monkey ugly… Do you understand? So, these are my people. There’s a way in which God has knitted our hearts together. And so, it affects my mind, it affects my emotion, and it affects what? My will.
Love each other deeply from the heart. Because it can only be deep if it’s from the heart.
Love each other deeply from the heart. Because it can only be deep if it’s from the heart. Do you understand? This is how we grow spiritually. It is in the midst of the people who you love deeply, that you meet with regularly. They annoy you but sometimes they also make you laugh. They are mourning but also they are rejoicing. It is in doing that and in interacting with them that you can grow up spiritually.
Who Are These People We’re Loving?
And do you know the reason why he tells you to do that? It’s because of who those people are.
These people are the people who you share a common source with and you also share a common destiny with. All of us in that community we were what? We were born again not of perishable seed but of imperishable. Through the living and enduring word of God. For all people are like grass and all their glories like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall but the word of the Lord endures forever. This was the word that was preached to you. That same word that was preached to you, that you believed was the same word that was preached to me and I believed. Because of the common source we are together. And yet he also tells us in 1 Peter 1:13 that we also are waiting for that Christ that will return and give us his grace.
We have a common source and we have a common destiny. You are not just my family right now; you’re going to be my family for eternity. I have to start practicing how to love you now. Amen.
Finally, the energy for growth.
3. Finding The Energy For Growth
Now some of us are already at the point of paralysis because you’re saying, just like sometimes we know what to do but we just find that we are not doing it. Why? Because we lack the energy to do it. It’s like, “It’s not the first time I’m hearing about holy living. It’s not the first time I’m hearing about these commandments. I just don’t feel like it. I can’t see myself doing it”. Why? Because we have direction but we lack the energy.
“Those commandments sound right. I like the way you have explained them. I want to keep them. But I lack the energy to keep it”. Which is why Peter gives you one more essential ingredient for growth in salvation.
Look at 1 Peter 2:2, “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk”. Why? “So that by it you may grow up in your salvation”. Crave pure spiritual milk. What is this spiritual milk? Let me quickly say this. Most of us would probably have said “It’s the word of God”. That’s not truly correct. It has something to do with it, but it isn’t.
Essentially the spiritual, pure spiritual milk, here is what is behind the word of God. Which is what? The very life of God. It is the very life of God.
I don’t know how to describe it. But maybe let me try this.
What Do We Need To Be Champions?
How many of us here would say this about ourselves, that I want to be a champion? Who wants to be a champion? Yeah, I know, most of you don’t want to because it’s already too late for you. So ah, no there’s no raising up your hand now, good for you. But how many of us because it’s true. The time for it has gone and I’m sorry right? But how many of us will say I want my children to be champions? Alright? Our children to be champions. I can tell you what your children need. Do you know what your children need to be champions? They need Milo. Why? It is the energy food drink of future champions. You see your own future has already come. But your children’s future is coming. They need Milo, right? They need Milo.
Now Milo is made by Nestle, right? Let me tell you what Nestle don’t do. Nestle don’t say, “Come and buy this product Milo. Come and buy this product”. Why? “Because we want to give you cocoa, sugar, milk and mixed together”. They don’t say that. What do they say they are giving you? Energy. Are they lying? No, okay… very careful. We have a senior advertising executive around. So, they don’t lie. Okay well, now, but I don’t think they are lying too much. You know why? It’s the future champions part, right. Because a lot of you have drunk Milo, you’re not a champion. Alright let me leave that. But they are not lying in the sense of this.
Though it is true that there is cocoa in there, though it is true that there’s sugar in there, though it is true that there’s milk in there. the combination, the sum of the parts is greater. The thing at the end is greater than the sum of the parts. Do you understand? That is, the combination of the milk, the cocoa and the sugar is meant to give you something behind them. What is it made to transfer to you? Energy.
None of us have ever seen energy. But we know it is contained in certain things. And the combination of these things brings that thing that is intangible to us. Do you understand that? So therefore, when you study the word of God, when you fellowship with the people of God, when you have your devotions, when you kill the sin that is in you, all the combination of those things is meant to give you something. You know what it is? The spiritual life of God.
He says you should crave it. Crave that. Crave that energy. Because suffering is there to drain you of energy. God says I can give you, my energy. Some of us we want to experience what we had in our younger days. And let me tell you, that experience of what you had has not changed. What has changed is that you are no longer young.
God Will Provide What We Need
Life is a little bit more complex. Which is why God continues to provide different outlets to meet up with your particular stage of life. Maybe when you were on campus you could go with some guys after you have studied and four hours you are having fellowship. You can’t do that now. Because you have children. But when God brings you a church like City Church, you have gospel communities, you have theology days, you have kingdom prayer days. The combination of all of these is to bring you the life of God.
He said we should do it, crave it like what? Newborn babies. Do you know what a newborn baby, how a newborn baby craves milk? Three ways. A newborn baby craves milk instinctively, eagerly and insensately.
Instinctively, the baby has never tasted milk before. All of a sudden you give them milk they say this is what I want instinctively. He just knows he wants it. You need the life of God. You know you need the life of God.
But he also craves it eagerly. This is what I want, and I want it now. A baby never understands what patience is.
But also, they crave it Incessantly. I want it always. Is this you? Because notice, when he says you should crave it. Do you know why you’re meant to crave it? Not because somebody told you about it. Not because you have read it just in a book. You know why? He says now that you have tasted, and you have seen that the Lord is good. You want it because you have tasted it before and now you want to have it again.
Where Are You In Your Spiritual Life?
I want to ask us very honestly. Where are you in your spiritual life? Can you talk like David spoke in Psalm 65? Are these words the kind of words that you can say is fully descriptive of you? “You God are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, I thirst for you. My whole being longs for you. In a dry parched land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary”, and what did I do? “I beheld your power and your glory.” Can you say to God, can you honestly say because your love is better than life?
Can you say that? “I will praise you as long as I live. And in your name, I will lift up my hands. I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you”. Is that you? Can you say that?
Let me give an instance of this and how we do our corporate worship. When you come to corporate worship, what are you coming to do? When we start singing what are you doing? Is it for you it’s a mere recital of words because the Bible says that the songs are meant to teach us? I agree it’s meant to teach us. It’s meant to do more than teach us.
Is it, are you the kind of person that just says, “Well, I just sing it because when we come together, we’re meant to sing? That’s what we do, that’s what we do. We sing, we sing. Alright, when is the next section. And why are we singing for too long?” Or are you the kind of person who is judging the singer? “The person didn’t sing this. why is he ad libbing this way? “Or are you judging others? “Look at the way this one is clapping. Look at the way this one is jumping.”
All the while that you are judging, and you are comparing others. Some people have entered into the presence of God. They are tasting him and they’re saying he is so good. You see when we come to worship, we’re not just exalting God and just doing the things that we’re meant to do. We are meant to encounter God. And when we encounter him, he gives us of his life.
You Too Can Taste The Joy of God
In the presence of God there is fullness of joy. Have you tasted him?
I know there are some of us here today, you’ve heard the Bible, you’ve heard the gospel. You’ve seen all of those things, yes. There’s experiential knowledge in terms of what we hear. But tasting is sensory knowledge as well. And I want to ask you. Have you truly tasted ever? Have you tasted that the Lord is good? I’m not saying have you expected to know the Lord is good? Has someone told you that when you taste him, he’s good? I am not saying that. Have you tasted that the Lord is good?
If you’re that kind of person who has never tasted, well thank God you came today. Because we’re going to pray for you. And also, for some of us, this is not a place for judgement. But let me just say this, some of us this is what we need.
We have tasted that he is good. We have tasted that he truly is good. You have tasted of his forgiveness. You have tasted of his provision. You have tasted of his patience, his care, his promises, his protection, his healing, his kindness, his discipline. You know that the Lord is good. But it’s been a while. You need refreshing from his presence. You need to feel that life again.
This is not the time for you to start making mental arguments against. “Well, no he didn’t put it this way”, or not. You know what I’m saying is true! It has become here; you are not tasting it here. And I’m not saying this is the only thing that you require. But I’ll tell you this, if you’re that kind of person and you want to meet with God today, please we also want to pray for you.
That God will bring his spiritual life to us again. And remember he says this, it’s not just knowing about his spiritual life that is there. Do you crave it? Do you crave it? Today we sang the Lord is good and his mercies endure forever. Today we sang that it is your breath in our lungs, so we call out your praise. God is here.