1 Pet. 2:1
Warren E. Berkley
What if I told you, “I have discovered five things that will destroy your life!” Would you be interesting in knowing what those things are? I’m telling you, these five things will take you away from God, disable you as a good parent, ruin your marriage, send people running away from you and corrupt your character. Are you going to keep reading?
“Therefore, laying aside all malice, all guile, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking,” (1 Pet. 2:1).
The word “all” is not insignificant. Whatever malice is, I must not have any of it in my heart. Repentance and ongoing spiritual discipline demand I renounce malice entirely; I must refuse to hang on to any of this.
Malice means desire to injure! You may carelessly or impulsively say or do something that hurts, immediately “taking it back” with an apology (prompted by sincere remorse). Malice is different. It is an evil habit of mind that is not compatible with the mind of Christ at all. It is a desire or purpose to injure. It is intentional, and the intention is to hurt.
It is a destroyer and so each of us need to use the Word of God to look deep inside. Finding any malice, we must get rid of it at once. It is a self-destructive destroyer of marriages, churches, friendships and reputation. Most serious, it takes us away from God. (See also in Titus 3:3-5).
All Guile (deceit)
This means the use of bait, to snare someone in your trap; to lure your victim to his/her defeat. Are you willing to use carnal methods to deceive someone, tricking someone, concealing your true motives to ambush your opponent? That isn’t constructive, destroys you, hurts people and takes you away from God. Use the Word of God to search your hearts for this destroyer and lay it aside before more damage is done.
The Greek word used by Peter and other New Testament writers was taken from the context of drama, describing an actor or actress playing the part of another. Think of pretense, pretending to be someone else, to entertain on the stage, playing to an audience.
A hypocrite is one who pretends to be something that he or she is not. In your heart there is one person. In your public life – there is a different person?
Do you realize that some people live a lie! Their life is a lie. In their public conduct there is the appearance of good character, right intentions, fellowship with God, a member of the church in good standing, etc. But in heart there is not good character; an absence of right intentions; no real association with God in the heart, only in pretentious conduct before men.
Growth cannot be pursued with any serious vigor as long as there is this inconsistency between heart and life. We must use His Word to identify and remove these attitudes. They are destroyers.
Sometimes you’ll hear someone express some difficulty distinguishing between two things – jealousy and envy. Jealousy indicates being overly possessive of what you believe belongs to you. Jealousy – in course of time and if not handled wisely – develops into contentious rivalry, even violence or murder.
Envy is defined as “a feeling of displeasure produced by witnessing or hearing of the advantage or prosperity of others.” It generally works something like this: You believe somebody has what you should have . . . The attitude is: “They shouldn’t have that . . . I should!” This is the term used in Matthew 27:18 to signify that Pilate knew that Jesus had been delivered to him because of envy.
The common people listened to Jesus; they paid attention to Him, followed Him and celebrated His entrance into Jerusalem. The Jewish leaders saw that, didn’t like it – – thought they ought to have that attention. Envy! It destroys.
All Evil Speaking (NIV, Slander of every kind.)
Let me observe that if there is a progression in 1 Pet. 2:1 it tells us, these attitudes eventually find their way to the tongue! If I let my heart become the home for malice; if I use guile to trap my victims; if I am hypocritical and envious -eventually these diseases will kill me in my mouth through what I say!
Bro. Clinton Hamilton wrote a useful commentary on 1 Peter, in which he said concerning evil speaking:
“What is under view is every act whereby one might slander or libel another, the purpose of which is to do the person detriment or hurt. The tongue is a very willing instrument to express the ill will of the heart,” (p.#62, Truth Commentaries, 1 Peter).
It is helpful to think of the tongue as an instrument which expresses the content of the heart. It is not just helpful. It is the truth, spoken directly by the Lord Himself. Who said, in Matt. 12:34, “…out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” If I have any trouble with my tongue, the source of that trouble is MY HEART. “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.”
I speak insults … accusations without evidence … snide little remarks about people … I have heart trouble! If I am willing to lie … curse … use profanity … express lewd or immoral things … that kind of talk comes from an evil heart. If I revile … If I participate in gossip or slander – all evil speaking comes from the heart.
And growth cannot be enjoyed, while involved in any evil speaking.
1So clean house! Make a clean sweep of malice and pretense, envy and hurtful talk. 3You’ve had a taste of God. 2Now, like infants at the breast, drink deep of God’s pure kindness. Then you’ll grow up mature and whole in God.