Sermon: 1 Peter 1:22-25 The Word Produces A Genuine And Earnest Love
Good morning. Let me begin this morning by asking you a couple questions. First, what is the most valuable thing in your life? What is the greatest treasure that you possess? Now let me ask you to consider that one thing that you have admitted too and ask you if that really is your greatest treasure? What I mean is that if it is your greatest treasure, and if this thing is your most valued possession, then it will become evident by the attention it gets from you, the care you give to it, the time you invest into it, the devotion that you give to it?
Peter is arguing in our text today, 1 Peter 1:22-25, that the greatest treasure that we have and the most valuable thing that we have access to is the word of God. Yes, you heard me right. That book that so often sits on a table for days on end is our greatest possession. That book that we say is to hard to understand is our greatest treasure. Peter says that it is the living and abiding word of the Lord. And it is my goal today to try to convince you of this. I want you to be convinced as you leave here today that it would be utter folly to continue to take for granted this Bible that we have been given from the Lord. I want you to be enriched by it, the church to be blessed through its working in your life and for the world to see in you a light, a beacon of hope in a dark world, through it.
So let me begin this morning by trying to build my case for this prior to us turning to our text and working our way through it. I want to do this because once we begin to understand the Word of God the way that Peter understood the Word of God then we will know why he says what he says and why he is convinced that it alone can do what he says it can do. Peter believes passionately that it is the Word of God that can give joy to suffering Christians, that it can save people from darkness and death and that it can produce in them a genuine and fervent love.
Peter is writing to these suffering Christian's a letter. And he knows that this letter has the ability through the Spirit to impart grace to these believers and to impart faith into their heart. And this faith which is genuine will inevitably create hope, joy and love in these people. In view of this let us first look at 2 Timothy 2. Here we will see that the Word of God is valuable because it is not bound by the things of this world. In chapter two Paul encourages Timothy to be strengthened in the grace that is in Jesus Christ. What Timothy has been entrusted with he is to now entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Paul tells Timothy to endure suffering as a good soldier and to not become distracted by civilian pursuits. He is to be a minister on mission, a preacher with a purpose, like a steward who is found to be faithful by the One who has entrusted him with a great treasure.
Now in verse nine Paul says these words, "Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the Word of God is not bound!" What marvelous words these are. Paul is in prison and bound in chains but the word is not bound. The word is not powerless in such conditions. It is a great and powerful treasure. And because of this Paul says, "Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory." I love this. Because the Word cannot be bound by chains or through any other means Paul can endure all things.
So I have to ask myself a question. If I am unable to endure in everything, is it because I am failing to keep the Word of God central in my thoughts and continually on my tongue? Could it be that in all things the one who is the most happy and the most content is the person who sees that the Word is not bound nor is the Word held captive?
Therefore, Paul tells Timothy in verse fourteen that he is to people of these things and to charge them before God. What is he to charge them with? He is to tell them not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. Instead, Timothy is to do his best to present himself to God as one approved, a worker that needs not to be ashamed, rightly handling the Word of Truth. Then Paul tells Timothy that he is to avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead the people into more and more ungodliness.
Now let me just take a moment and remind you what we are doing right now. I have told you that i am going to try to make a case that the Word of God is your/our greatest treasure. We have already seen that the Word of the Lord is able to strengthen us in grace, that the Word of the Lord cannot be bound, and that the Word of the Lord is the Word of Truth.
We have also seen that if we do not have the truth central in our thoughts, our minds and in our mouths that it will inevitably lead to no good and that it will ruin the hearers. We also see in verse sixteen that it will lead people to more and more ungodliness and that it will spread like gangrene. This is a very sobering and terrifying thought. And although the description of these effects is quite clear, Paul says that all of this is the result of quarreling and speaking irreverent babble. It seems to me we ought to sit up at this point and take notice. We are all to prone to quarrel and to engage in babble. So we need to determine today that we will be a gospel centered and Word saturated people. To do otherwise is to speak babble and will lead to our ruin and the ruin of those who hear.
Now in verses twenty through twenty-five we see that we are to flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. (This is the same pure heart that Peter will refer to in our text today 1:22) Timothy is to have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; because they only breed quarrels. The Lord's servant must not quarrel but kind to everyone, able to teach (the truth), patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness (1 Peter ) For by doing so God may grant them repentance leading them to the knowledge of the truth and escape the trap of the devil.
Now I have said all of this so far to get to chapter three. We have seen the importance of the Word to the believer and Paul will continue now by showing us what a life looks like when the Word is rejected. Paul says, "But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, un-appeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having an appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people."
What does it mean when it says, "...having an appearance of godliness, but denying its power"? I would say that the context of all of this is concerning the 'truth'. These people appear godly but they deny the scriptures, they deny doctrines, they deny the gospel and they deny the truth. Therefore verse seven says that they are always learning but they are never able to arrive at the knowledge of the truth. In fact, Paul goes on to say that they oppose the truth and are corrupted in mind and disqaualified concerning the faith. Paul goes on to say that they will not get very far, for their folly will become plain to all. Again, Paul is emphasizing that those who reject the truth will not prosper and it will not end well for them.
Timothy, however, has followed Paul's teaching, his conduct, his aim in life, his faith, patience, love, steadfastness, persecutions and suffering. And Timothy has seen that the Lord has rescued Paul from them all. So what was it that enabled Paul to display all of these things? What was it that produced these virtues and what enabled Paul to endure such hardships? It was the Word of the Lord. It was the doctrines and the teaching of the gospel that did this in Paul.
And next Paul admits that everyone who seeks to live a godly life will be persecuted because people will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But then he says these words emphatically to Timothy, "But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed. Paul tells Timothy that the sacred scriptures are able to make him wise for salv