Last Sunday I went slightly off topic and discussed one of the critical aspects of the armour of God as outlined in Ephesians.
I did this to show the significance of “laying aside” as it is presented here in 1 Peter and the concept of “taking up” that is part of the Ephesians reference as to our instructions when dealing with the enemy in enemy territory.
Let me refresh our memories by stating 1 Peter 2:1
“Wherefore, laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speaking;”
So we are called to “lay aside” certain fleshy traits while “taking up” certain spiritual traits. Peter discussed the former while Paul in Ephesians discusses the latter.
I discussed very briefly the three items of our spiritual armour that we are to “put on” – these being the breastplate of righteousness, the belt of truth and the shoes of the gospel of peace; followed by the three parts of our armour we are to “take up.”
At the moment of our new birth, we are given by His mercy and grace a breastplate of righteousness, a belt of truth and shoes of the gospel of peace.
These are now our by our acceptance into the family of God as part of our inheritance.
We are clothed with His righteousness – the breastplate. We are girded about with His truth – as a belt about our waist, and we have the shoes of the gospel of peace – indicating that we now operate and stand upon our union with the Father and His holiness since the wall of separation that was once between us has been removed.
When one enters enemy territory to engage in God-directed spiritual warfare one does so clothed in the former three items of armour – items that are ours at the new birth and which should never be “set aside.”
We must stand, when confronting the enemy, in the shoes of the gospel of peace, meaning, we need to reckon that we are now in a state of “peace” with the Father. The wall of partition that once separated us from the father no longer exists, we are His and He is ours, as children and heirs of salvation.
As such no lie of the enemy should be able to separate us from the truth that He loves us and will fight for us.
Secondly, we base our stance against the forces of evil through the “belt of truth,” which is in fact, the truth of the word both written and living. Jesus is the Truth, and we wear His truth, as it were, as a belt “girding up our loins.”
Our weapons of warfare are based and grounded in His truth, His word, and it is this knowledge that gives us our security when we confront the enemy.
Thirdly, we have the shield of faith, with which we can fend off all the fiery darts and lies of the enemy.
These three items of armour can never be laid aside.
- If we are not operating in the “peace of God” we will be constantly on-edge and susceptible to the lies of the enemy. He will seek an advantage through our wavering concerning our peace with the Father, and launch attacks that first bring doubt that God loves and protects us, to cause us to step back instead of standing.
- If the belt of truth slips – if we begin to question His truth – we are easy to defeat.
- And if we set aside the breastplate of His righteousness and try to stand against the enemy in our own righteousness we are doomed to fail.
So, according to 1 Peter we are to lay aside all malice, all guile, all hypocrisies, all envies and all evil speaking. These are all fruits of our own flesh, our fallen nature.
- And Paul goes on to tell us what our attitude and stance should be – armoured in the Spiritual protection that is provided us.
- As such we are to lay aside those things Peter mentioned and to “take up” the sword of the Spirit, the shield of faith, and the helmet of salvation.
- When we encounter spiritual battles we are to lay aside all these fleshy items and take up the weapons of our warfare.
Returning to 1 Peter and continuing were we left off last week at chapter 2 verses 4-8, let us read.
1 Peter 2:4-8:
“Coming to him as a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Therefore it is also contained in scripture,
‘Behold I lay in Zion, a chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.’
Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient,
‘The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.’”
We have spoken before at length concerning Christ as the precious living stone rejected by most yet predestined to become the head stone.
- That He would become a stone of offense to the Greek and a stone of stumbling to the Jew. 1
- What Peter is stressing here is that as Christ is become a precious stone so too we are viewed as lively stones.
- We are seen as lively stones carefully placed within a spiritual house with Christ as our capstone.
- This spiritual house built up of believers are to be acting as a holy priesthood.
- A holy priesthood offering up our spiritual sacrifices much in a similar manner as did the High Priest of Old Testament times.
- And that our spiritual sacrifices are made acceptable by Jesus Christ – The Word. And our worship is approved by the sustaining word of Christ.
- In the Old Testament the sacrifices and worship of the High Priest was also made acceptable and approved by the word of the LORD.
- There exists a strong connect here regarding believers as lively stones to the stones of the breastplate of the Old Testament High Priest.
- The priest’s breastplate was arrayed with 12 stones of different colours and sources.2
- These represented the 12 tribes of Israel – each unique as was each tribe.
- Each tribe was named and given a purpose under GOD.
- So too, today’s believers are each given a special name and called into unique ministries under GOD.
- The intimacy of each believer as a lively stone uniquely chosen of GOD and firmly established within this spiritual house is presented in Revelation as well in terms of the “white stone” each of us receives from the hand of Jesus.3
- Another aspect of this spiritual house built up using lively stones is the uniqueness of each stone (also suggested in our Revelation reference.)
- We, as lively stones, are not “cookie-cuttings.” Each is different.
- Paul tells us in Romans 12:1 not to be conformed to this world.
- The world wants us to be mass-produced; each person to fall in line with the current mantra of the day – each embracing the same deception.
- We, these lively stones, are being fashioned to the image of His Son but our “sameness” to Him is far different from the “sameness” of the world.
- The Holy Spirit is fashioning us to His image – His holiness – His righteousness – His grace, His mercy. Yet we retain a uniqueness of character.
- We have been “fitted together” within His spiritual house. This reminds me of the instructions given to those who wished to erect an altar or a monument to the LORD in the Old Testament.
- Each worshipper was to build his altar or monument from un-hewn stones.
- No worldly tool was to be used to “carve” these stones.
- Similarly we are not to be fashioned of the world – we are to take our molding only from the hands of the LORD.
- This speaks of the spiritual aspect of our being fashioned as lively stones into a house – “monument” unto the LORD.
- In building the world’s monument, each stone is carved very much the same and lifted into place to form their structures.
- The process with un-hewn stone is quite different – it requires intimate hands-on adjustments and placement by the Builder.
- We are not just thrown together in some array of “sameness” but rather carefully placed to serve our unique functions.
- And the Builder is part of the structure!
- He becomes the chief cornerstone!
- Scripture reminds us that even He learned obedience, even the death of the cross.
- We are called to be obedient to our calling in Him – to be satisfied with the fact that we are part of this spiritual structure;
- To be content that we are in His hands. Content that He is molding us, by His Spirit, and placing us where He pleases.
Let’s consider for a moment these lively stones.
- The various jewels upon the High Priest’s ephod are listed below.
- The artisans were instructed to lay out the jewels in four rows of three.
- The first row consisted of the sardius, the topaz and the carbuncle.
- The second row contained the emerald, the sapphire and the diamond.
- The third, the ligure, the agate and the amethyst.
- And the fourth row the beryl, the onyx and the jasper.
- “You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
- We are considered to be living stones built up as a spiritual house.
- We are a holy priesthood whose calling is to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
- Just as the High Priest in Old Testament times brought with him his collection of precious jewels in before Father God during his ministry, so too Jesus brings us into a similar ministry of praise and worship.
- The first gem – the ruby red sardius stone reminds us that our calling and ministry is founded upon the precious blood of Jesus.
- We enter into our ministries of offering up spiritual sacrifices to the Father solely upon the finished work of Christ – His blood of the atonement.
- As the high priest would enter in to the most holy place to offer his sacrifice so too Christ, as the capstone of our “spiritual house” enters into the heavenly tabernacle bringing us, His jewels, with him.
- These gems can be viewed as our specialized gifts of ministry given us.
- The root words describing many of these gems contain the meanings of: to shine, to glisten; to declare and to take account of; to smite; to take captive; to flame; to polish and to dream prophetically.
- Do not these phrases indicate our behaviour and our calling?
- We are to shine and glisten for Jesus.
- We are to flash as lightning – a light to shine into the darkness of this world.
- We are to declare that the LORD is good and worthy of our consideration.
- We are to declare His word to an ignorant world.
- We are to smite the enemy and all of his works; and to take captive what the enemy has stolen.
- We are to “stir into flame” the gift of God.
- And finally, to set our hearts and minds of the things of heaven; to dream prophetically and then declare what we see to the world.
- We are His gems, fitted together perfectly, placed in a spiritual house, shining out as sparkling gems giving light to a darkened world.
We are also a chosen generation as Peter goes on to remind us.
1 Peter 2:9-10
“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvellous light: who in times past were not a people, but are now the people of God: who had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.”
- A chosen generation – the “generation” of believers – all those called into His body of believers.
- A royal priesthood – here this collection of lively stones, assume roles of both king and priest under Jesus who is our King and Priest.
- Our priesthood is expanded into royalty, something that was forbidden during Old Testament times.
- We are also called a holy nation. This was the original calling of the nation of Israel but it failed to show forth this peculiar calling, so now the “church, the body of believers” assumes this role, for the time being, being composed of both Jew and Gentile.
- We, this collection of lively stones is now a peculiar people.
- We have all, both Jew and Gentile, been called out of darkness – spiritual blindness – into His marvellous light.
- And when once we were not His people, now we are, and when once we had not received His mercy, now we have. Praise GOD!
- We have not replaced Israel however, but we have been added, grafted into the vine; grafted into Abraham.
- Let us not puff ourselves up and take on pride! We are only part of His family through His grace and mercy.
- Remain humble before the LORD.
So, we are to act accordingly, as a holy generation. We are to lay aside all malice, all guile, all hypocrisies, all envies and all evil speaking.
“For in Him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also his offspring.’”4
In Him, we live; in Him we move; and in Him we have our very being!
May GOD richly bless you this day with these words penned by Peter given by the Holy Spirit. Let us not grow weary of doing good.5 Amen.
1 Isaiah 8:14; 1 Peter 2:8
2 Exodus 2817-21
3 Revelation 2:17
4 Acts 17:28
5 Galations 6:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:13