Standing Firm In Our Identity

Jan 27

Standing Firm in Our Identity

1 Peter 2:1-10

Preached at Main Street Church on January 27th, 2019

We are in the middle of our series on 1 Peter – Standing Firm in Shaky Times

  • The question of 1 Peter is: how can a Christian people live in a non-Christian society?
  • Written by Peter in the middle of the first century to Christians ostracized by society
  • They became the subjects of slander, animosity, and vilification
  • The official charge against Christians was “hatred of the human race”
      • At the very end of his letter—5:12—Peter says, “I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God.  Stand firm in it.”
        • 1 Peter is an encouragement for believers to Stand Firm in Shaky Times

Throughout chapter 1 Peter has laid out the reasons why the Christians to whom he was writing ought to stand firm

  • First they must stand firm because they are elect exiles: honored by God/dishonored by society (1-2)
  • Second (we missed this due to snow) they must stand firm because their salvation was guaranteed by God, and their suffering for the sake of Jesus actually confirmed it (3-12)
  • Third, they must stand firm because they had been ransomed from their former life and made holy
    • In all this Peter is building up momentum in his letter to his ultimate point; our text today is the foundation for everything that follows in the rest of the letter.
    • In our text today Peter says “stand firm because this is who you are”
    • The rest of the letter is Peter saying “this is how you should live because of who you are”

We forget who we are.

  • Our culture is obsessed with identity – we want to know who we are
    • Genetic testing (for background, diet, fitness)
    • We want to know who we are, where we came from, how we got here, and what it means
    • The reason we’re obsessed with identity is because we’re realizing how important it is

Back in 2012 a British News Outlet released this story:

A tourist who joined in the search after a member of her bus party went missing was able to help track the woman down – when she realised it was herself they were looking for.

The woman was declared missing from a party touring the Eldgja volcanic region in south Iceland after getting off the party’s bus to freshen up.

She only hopped off the bus briefly, but had also changed her clothes – and her fellow travelers did not recognize her when she climbed back on again to continue the party’s journey.

Soon the search began for a woman described as Asian, around 160cm tall, in dark clothing and speaking English well,

When the details of the missing person were issued, the woman reportedly didn’t recognize her own description and unwittingly joined the search party for herself.

After a night-long operation involving around 50 people, the ‘missing woman’ eventually realized she was the source of the search and informed police.

The search began on Saturday, but was called off at around 3am on Sunday morning when the woman, who has not been identified, realized she was the subject of the frantic efforts.”

  • She completely missed the description of her own identity
  • When we read 1 Peter 2:9-10 do we see a description of ourselves, or would we, like this woman, join a search party in hopes of finding a people that match it? 
  • As the church, we can easily forget who we are – Peter is stating emphatically, with all kinds of descriptions: This is who you are!  This is your identity!
    • Our Identity is Based on the Word
    • Our Identity is Based on Who Jesus Is
    • Our Identity is Based on What God has Done
  1. Our Identity Is Based on the Word

It is the Word that conceived us, and it is the Word that grows us

In chapter 1 verse 3 Peter says “You have been born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”

In v. 18 he says, “You were ransomed from your futile ways of your former life

In v. 23 he says, “You have been born again through the word of God that remains forever

And this sets him up for what he says in chapter 2 verse 1:

So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. 2 Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

  • Malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander, were all things that the believers were encountering from the unbelieving world.  Peter is saying, since you’ve been born again, you live differently than those who have not. Instead:

2 Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation—

  • The word translated ‘spiritual’ by the ESV is the word ‘logikos’ and some translations render it “the pure milk of the word.” 
  • The idea is that like newborn infants desperately cry out for and need the sustenance of milk, believers ought to long for the spiritual sustenance that comes from God through his word. 
  • At the end of chapter 1 Peter says you’ve been born again through the living word of God, and now it is his word that will sustain you
  • And the more you consume, and digest, the more you will grow up into your salvation
  • Peter is saying, salvation is something we are moving toward, not merely waiting for
    • Illustration: Judah
    • The Word shapes your body composition – You are what you eat

3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

  • If you have really tasted the goodness of the Lord, you will long for the spiritual sustenance that only he can provide.  If you don’t long for it like a newborn infant, than maybe you haven’t gotten a good taste of it – when babies eat it causes them to bond to their mothers (oxytocin)
    • Are you hungry for the pure spiritual milk of the word? 
    • If you’re not, do you know what you need to do? Taste more of the goodness of the Lord
      • Let the word of God be the thing that shapes you and nourishes you
      • If you don’t long for God’s word as you should, here’s an idea: pick a day this week that you are going to skip lunch, and fast instead, and read this passage: 1 Peter 2:1-10, and as you read through each verse offer a 30 second prayer to help you a) do what it says, b) understand it c) believe it d) all of the above
      • Refuse the taste of food if it will help you taste the goodness of the Lord
      • It is the pure spiritual milk of the word that will lead you on the path of salvation

2. Our Identity Is Based on Who Jesus Is

We are supposed to look like Jesus —the Word makes us look like Jesus

4 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual (after Pentecost word) house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

6 For it stands in Scripture:

“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,

    a cornerstone chosen and precious,

and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”

7 So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe,

“The stone that the builders rejected

    has become the cornerstone,”

8 and

“A stone of stumbling,

    and a rock of offense.”

They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.

  • Isa. 8:14 predicted this
  • What is all this talk about stones and building with them?
    • Our identity is based on who Jesus is
  • Mark 14:58 “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.’” (Peter was there for this episode)
  • Mark 15:29 “And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying ‘Aha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross!’”

The cornerstone was rejected, and put to shame, so likewise we will be

  • Haggai 2:9 “The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts.  And in this place I will give peace, declares the Lord of hosts.”

3. Our Identity Is Based On What God Has Done

In the OT God’s People are always defined by What God Had Done for Them

I am the Lord who brought you out of Egypt —tell this to your children —don’t forget

  • Peter is going to apply a number of OT monikers to believers today

9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

  • You are not just a voluntary community of people who believe in Jesus—you are the new humanity
    • The Old Humanity are people who look like Adam, who still live under the control of their sin nature, and who will die
    • But you are those who have been born again by the word, you’ve been shaped by the word to look like Jesus, and God has brought you into a new way of life, and you will live with him forever

Our identity is based on what God has done – The Picture of Hosea and Gomer and her children

10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

  • Hosea’s children “Lo-ruhamah” ‘shown no mercy’ and “Lo-ammi” ‘not my people’
  • Anticipated a reversal when his children would be renamed “Ruhamah” ‘shown mercy’ and “Ammi” ‘my people’
  • God changed their identity; he made them new people based on what he had done through the power of his word because of who he is.