When most of our daily freedoms and routines are stripped away, our true inner cravings are exposed. Whether it’s Krispy Kreme, Starbucks, our favorite restaurant, our local workout facility, or our daily marketplace activities, we all want more of what gratifies us. Amidst the stressors, our spiritual cravings tend to go in one of two directions: away from God or toward Him. The Apostle Peter understood the inner desires everyone faces, warning believers to crave the Word, not the world.
Don’t crave the world: “Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind” (1 Peter 2:1). Rid meant “to take off or cleanse” these five tools of the devil, once and for all, because they are diametrically opposed to God. The ancient world often communicated a list of vices to avoid. These particular sins might have been verbally denounced by new believers as part of a baptismal tradition, due to their mention by Paul (see Ephesians and Colossians) and James. Jesus preached that those fleshly cravings flow from our hearts (see Mark 7:20-23).
Each of the five sins of the heart Peter mentioned stems from our desire for selfish gratification. Malice is the desire to do evil to someone. Deceit tricks another person with an enticing bait. Hypocrisy pretends, cloaking a worldly heart with a godly exterior. Envy hates our counterpart based on a quality or asset they possess, but we lack. History’s clearest example unfolded in front of Pontius Pilate who knew the Jewish leaders handed him Jesus out of envy (see Matthew 27:18). Slander speaks evil and untrue words about another person for selfish gratification. Simply stated, the world chokes out the Word in us (see Mark 4:19; 1 John 2:15-17). Paul offered a solution to the root problem: “Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature” (Romans 13:14). When caught in malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, or slander, we need to shift our focus from the world to the Word.
Have you been battling with inner malice toward an enemy? Have you deceived a co-worker or customer? Have you been hypocritical in your faith? Are you envious of someone you deem as more successful than you? Are you slandering a counterpart in conflict? Refocus the eyes of your heart from your circumstances to Christ. Surrender your selfish desires to Him, once and for all. While on the cross, He paid the price for your sins. Only His Holy Spirit will transform your desires to be like His.