Life-Study of 1 Peterby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
First Peter 2:1 and 2 say, “Therefore, putting away all malice and all guile and hypocrisies and envyings and all evil speakings, as newborn babes, long for the guileless milk of the word, that by it you may grow unto salvation.” In the foregoing message we pointed out that we need to do two things. First, we need to put away all malice, guile, hypocrisies, envyings, and evil speakings. Second, we need to long for the guileless milk of the word so that by it we may grow in life. As we have seen, the genuine growth in life is the increase of the measure of life.
According to Peter’s word in 2:2, by the pure milk of the word we may grow unto salvation. The Greek word rendered “unto” also means resulting in. To grow in life results in salvation. Salvation here, as the result of growth in life, is not initial salvation. God’s full and complete salvation has a long span—from regeneration, including justification, to glorification (Rom. 8:30). At regeneration we received initial salvation. Then we need to grow by feeding on Christ as the nourishing milk in the word of God unto full salvation, unto maturity for glorification. This will be the salvation of our soul, which will be revealed to us at the unveiling of the Lord Jesus (1:5, 9-10, 13). However, according to the context, “unto salvation” here refers directly to “being built up a spiritual house, into a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices” in verse 5, and to telling out “the virtues of Him” in verse 9.
If we grow unto salvation, we shall experience salvation from malice, guile, hypocrisies, envyings, and evil speakings, the five negative things spoken of in verse 1. To be saved from malice, guile, hypocrisies, envyings, and evil speakings is not accomplished by effort of our own. This cannot be done by self-improvement, adjustment, or correction. On the contrary, to be saved from these negative things is an inward matter.
As an illustration, suppose someone has bacteria that cause disease in his body. These bacteria are in his blood and in the fibers of his being. What would be the use of trying to solve this problem by washing the person with a strong soap? This could do nothing more than cleanse the outer layer of his skin. But that cleansing would not be effective against the bacteria in him. In order to deal with the bacteria, that person needs to receive an antibiotic. He also needs to take in the proper nourishment for his physical body so that it may grow. This growth will help to heal him of his illness. In like manner, it is by the inner growth unto salvation that we are saved spontaneously from the “germs” of malice, guile, hypocrisies, envyings, and evil speakings.
Fifty years ago, it was difficult for me to overcome my temper. But now after more than fifty years’ experience with the Lord, I can testify that it is difficult for me to lose my temper. Some may say that it is because I am now an elderly man that I no longer have a problem with my temper. Such a suggestion is not accurate. Actually, a person’s temper usually increases with age. For this reason, older people are often critical of others and impatient with them. Naturally speaking, the older we get, the more of a problem we shall have with our temper. In the Lord and before the Lord I can testify that the older I get, the less temper I have. The reason for this change is that over the years I have experienced growth in life unto salvation from my temper. This is an illustration of the fact that, in a practical way, we all need to grow unto salvation.
The salvation in verse 2 is not salvation in the initial stage or in the stage of consummation; it is salvation in the progressing stage, in the stage of transformation. It is correct to understand this verse as saying that we need to grow unto transformation. Of course, the word transformation is not used here. Nevertheless, salvation in this verse implies transformation. Regeneration is in the stage of initial salvation; transformation, in the stage of progressing salvation; and glorification, in the stage of consummation. We are not in the initial stage or in the stage of completion. We are in the progressing stage of salvation; that is, we are in the stage of transformation.
Transformation is different from a mere change. Transformation involves a change from one form into another form. However, it involves an inward change in nature or constitution, not simply an outward change in form. For example, suppose a person is ill, and his complexion does not look healthy. He may try to improve his appearance by putting some kind of coloring on his face. I do not like that kind of skin coloring, for it makes me think of the work of a mortician, who tries to make the face of a dead person appear as attractive as possible. Today both disciples of Confucius and many Christians are involved in outward works of self-improvement, works that can be compared to those of a mortician. Such an outward change is altogether different from living, inward transformation.
Recently, I was somewhat ill. But day by day my wife served me nourishing food. Eventually that food made me healthy and restored a healthy color to my face. When my wife saw my complexion, she was happy. There was no need for me to color my face, because the healthy color came out of the inward nourishment. I ate, digested, and assimilated nourishing food. The nourishment was transmitted into my cells, fibers, and even into my skin, and caused me to have healthy skin color. This is an illustration of transformation.
Peter charges us to long for the guileless milk of the word that by it we may grow unto transformation. We do not grow unto outward correction or outward adjustment or outward improvement. On the contrary, we grow unto inward transformation by life and in life.
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