How The New Birth Should Affect Us

Bible Book: 1 Peter  1 : 23-25
Subject: New Birth; Christian Living; Godliness; Growth, Christian
Introduction
[Editor's Note: Full title and scripture reference for this sermons is as follows: HOW THE NEW BIRTH HAS, CAN, AND SHOULD AFFECT US - 1 Peter 1:23-2:3.]

The Bible, in many different places, magnifies the effect the “New Birth” causes.  It helps us to realize the power and impact of the “gospel” on our lives.  The truth is, it affects every area of our life.  It affects what I believe and how I behave.  It affects how I think and what I do.  It affects where I will go and what I will say.  And if I act contrary to its truths, I become overwhelmingly aware of it.  With this being said, let’s allow the text to speak for itself.

I. I HAVE BEEN BORN AGAIN.  1:23-25

“having been born again” – perfect participle; emphasizes the continuing results of the previous new birth; the new birth occurred in the past with ongoing results in the present.  A former event, the consequences of which continue.

EXAMPLE:  January 7th, 1973 (43 years ago)

I was born again!

To stay in the context of Scripture, it is as though Peter is saying that believers are to love one another to the fullest extent (sincerely/fervently) because it is consistent with your new life in Christ.

“not of corruptible seed but incorruptible” – seed represents the source of life (the Word of God).  God did not affect the new birth using seed which is perishable. 

In contrast to how an earthly father initiates human birth with his corruptible seed, God initiates the spiritual birth with an imperishable seed.  Everything that grows from natural seeds is a sovereign creation of God, but it all eventually dies.  However, sinners born again of God’s Spirit gain eternal life.  That is because He uses the imperishable seed of the living and abiding Word of God.

The “Word of God” is either the spoken word of God (in gospel proclamation) or the written word of God (in the Bible). 

“The implications for evangelism are obvious:  ultimately it is neither our arguments nor our life example that will bring new life to an unbeliever, but the powerful words of God Himself.”  Wayne Grudem

Romans 10:17, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

We should never try to separate the word of God from God who speaks the word.

1. It is Living:  Speaks of its Power

Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

Unlike any merely human words it suggests it has power to awaken new life.

2. It is Abiding:  Speaks of its Permanence.

Matthew 5:18, “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.”

Matthew 24:35, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.”

The Apostle Peter now strengthens his point by quoting Isaiah 40:6-8.

These verses intensify the idea of the permanence of God’s word by contrasting it with the fading glory of human achievement.

v.25, “‘But the word of the LORD endures forever.’" Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.”

The message of the gospel, that scriptural truth which when believed, is the imperishable seed producing new life that also endures forever.

II. BELIEVING AND BEHAVING WHAT’S IN THE BIBLE.  2:1-3

Romans 7:22, “For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.”

(Joyfully concur)

Job 23:12, “I have not departed from the commandment of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.”

A. THE NEGATIVE ASPECTS.  1

“Therefore” – was a concise reminder to Peter’s readers to remember that saving power of God’s word in their lives as a basis for ongoing commitment to Scripture as the only power to live the Christian life.

“laying aside” – like removing a soiled garment; putting aside

These next 5 words show us 5 marks of immaturity:

1. Malice.

A spirit of ill will with a desire to get even; idea of desiring to harm someone.

“The story is told that Leonardo da Vinci, while painting his great work, ‘The Last Supper,’ vowed he would get even with a bitter enemy by painting him as Judas.  There was a sense of gratification in his heart as he yielded to this selfish temptation.  But later, as the famed artist tried to paint the face of Christ, he was forced to give up in despair.  Realizing that such a task demanded a pure heart, he put away his animosity, admitted the folly of his vindictiveness, and quickly painted out the face of his enemy.  Only then, it is said, was he able to paint the face of Christ.

So long as there is a vengeful spirit, no believer can effectively serve God.  He may be extremely busy for the Lord and his labors may be many, but they will be hopelessly fruitless.  Only the heart which overflows with God’s love for others can be useful in exalting the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.” J. Allen Blair

2. All Deceit.

This is the sin of deceitfulness, literally referring to bait or a fishhook.  It harms others through trickery or falsehood.  Clever manipulation of people to serve one’s own ends.

3. Hypocrisy.

Insincerity; the masking of inward evil by an outward show of righteousness.  True identity is covered-up.  Claiming to be what we are not.

As one dear preacher who reached a peak of eloquence in his sermon and shouted, “Be what you is and not what you ain’t, because if you ain’t what you is, you is what you ain’t.”

4. Envy.

Jealousy; it is an unwarranted desire for something someone else has, but a subconscious, malicious grudge toward the owner.

5. All Evil-Speaking.

All sorts of slander.  It has been defined as that which goes in both ears and comes out of the mouth greatly enlarged.  Gossip greatly curtails Christian growth.

Ephesians 4:29, “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.”

B. THE POSITIVE ASPECTS.  2-3

“desire the pure milk of the word” – oftentimes, people neglect the word because the poisonous impurities of the 5 things I just listed.  These things rob us of our appetites for it.

Peter refers to these “as newborn babes” which does not imply that Peter thought of his readers as young or immature Christians, for some of them had been saved for 30 years.  It only says that they are to long for spiritual milk in the same way that new babies long for milk (eagerly, frequently).  By the way, milk here does not represent elementary Christian teachings as in 1 Cor. 3:2, but rather something to be eagerly desired for nourishment. 

“newborn” – born just now; words identify an infant that has just emerged from its mother’s womb and is crying for milk.  That sole and desperate hunger for milk is the newborn’s first expressed longing designed by God to correspond to their greatest need, and it illustrates how strongly believers ought to desire the word.  It is singular and relentless because life depends on it.

ILLUSTRATE:  This is what all of us need to grow, and especially all of you new believers and old alike. 

The word for desire (long for) is used 7 other times in the N.T.  Its meaning encompasses such things as the strong desire a husband or wife has for a spouse.  The strong physical craving that accompanies extreme hunger.  The longing one has for a deceased loved one, the intense desire a Christian parent has for a spiritually wayward child.  The strong desire for the salvation of a lost loved one.

 We are to long for this pure spiritual milk.  The verb suggests an intense personal desire.  God’s word is capable of nourishing and sustaining life, enabling Christians to grow in their salvation.

“that you may grow thereby” – grow is in the subjunctive mood indicating a condition that does not exist, and may never exist.  In other words, growth in Christ is largely dependent upon a heartfelt desire for the word.

Do you turn the station (channel) on your TV when children that are malnourished, weak, and retarded in development appear?  How about our own spiritual malnourishment?

Peter’s exhortation for believers to grow through the word strongly implies the necessity of discontent with the present condition of spiritual development.

Therefore, motivation for genuine spiritual growth arises out of a righteous sense of discontent, coupled with a sincere desire to be satisfied with nothing but the word of God.

v.3 , “if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.”

This is a forceful metaphor for “come to know by experience.”  To read or listen to Scripture is to hear the Lord speak, to take His good and nourishing words into one’s heart.  To drink the milk of the word is to “taste” again and again what He is like, for in the hearing of the Lord’s words believers experience the joy of personal fellowship with the Lord Himself.