In these verses, Peter begins unpacking what it means to “love one another” (1 Peter 1:22). The list of vices in verse 1 (i.e. malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, slander) is an accurate description of our condition apart from Christ. No matter how we think we may appear before other people, prior to being born again we are full of the most abominable sins. We may not indulge in any gross outward sins, but we are wicked to the core of our being.
In our dealings with other people outwardly, we have a natural, automatic proneness to operate in a seemingly unending system of “deceit and hypocrisy.” And inwardly, we have the secret desire to see other people harmed, especially when others experience fortune in some area that we don’t. Our hearts lust after that thing to the point of envy and as a result, our propensity to slander goes sky high. Apart from the grace of Christ, this sick cycle becomes the sad, miserable story of our life.
But thankfully, this pathetic ending doesn’t have to be true for us! (Read Ephesians 2:1-4; Titus 3:3-7). In chapter 1, Peter has already clearly laid out for the Christians he’s writing to all that God had done for them and in them. He is now taking those truths and applying them, showing them what a life in Christ must look like. Because God has accomplished these things for you and in you, you must constantly and continually be putting aside and doing away with your old self.
As those who have been made new in Christ and tasted of the Lord’s kindness, what is that we should be putting away?
- Malice: all-encompassing generality to include any evil intent; the opposite of virtue.
- Deceit: concealing truth; misrepresenting facts.
- Hypocrisy: pretense; pretending to be what you are not (Satan disguises himself as an angel of light)
- Envy: discontented resentment; jealousy
- Slander: spreading falsities about others; disparaging defamation (Satan is a slanderer of God and His people)
This is not an exhaustive list, but these are all real dangers for the Christian. These vices destroy all relationships, especially Christian ones. They rip away the threads of love among God’s people.
Peter, for the love of God’s people, warns specifically against these sins because they are preventers of growth (v. 2). These sins in particular allow us to fill up on self, resulting in minimal desire for anything pure or lasting, namely, “the pure milk of the word.” The reference to “word” is more general than the Scriptures, yet it includes them. It refers to all that is rational, spiritual, reasonable, and genuine. Like starving newborn babies, we are to long for the things of the Lord. Our cravings for Christ only increase when we shed destructive vices.
- Those who have tasted the kindness of the Lord desire more of Him—they long for the pure milk of the word. The initial impact of His grace in our lives creates a desire for more. In what ways have you tasted of the Lord’s kindness? Are you putting aside the vices that keep you from growing in Him? Are you holding onto any malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, or slander? There is sufficient grace in Christ both for the forgiveness of sin and for freedom from sin’s power.