1So get rid of every kind of evil, and stop telling lies. Don’t pretend to be something you are not. Stop wanting what others have, and don’t speak against one another. 2Like newborn babies, you should long for the pure milk of God’s word. It will help you grow up as believers. 3You can do this now that you have tasted how good the Lord is.
The Living Stone and a Chosen People
4Christ is the living Stone. People did not accept him, but God chose him. God places the highest value on him. 5You also are like living stones. As you come to Christ, you are being built into a house for worship. There you will be holy priests. You will offer spiritual sacrifices. God will accept them because of what Jesus Christ has done. 6In Scripture it says,
“Look! I am placing a stone in Zion.
It is a chosen and very valuable stone.
It is the most important stone in the building.
The one who trusts in him
will never be put to shame.” (Isaiah 28:16)
7This stone is very valuable to you who believe. But to people who do not believe,
“The stone the builders did not accept
has become the most important stone of all.” (Psalm 118:22)
“It is a stone that causes people to trip.
It is a rock that makes them fall.” (Isaiah 8:14)
They trip and fall because they do not obey the message. That is also what God planned for them.
9But God chose you to be his people. You are royal priests. You are a holy nation. You are God’s special treasure. You are all these things so that you can give him praise. God brought you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10Once you were not a people. But now you are the people of God. Once you had not received mercy. But now you have received mercy.
Living Godly Lives Among People Who Don’t Believe
11Dear friends, you are outsiders and those who wander in this world. So I’m asking you not to give in to your sinful desires. They fight against your soul. 12People who don’t believe might say you are doing wrong. But lead good lives among them. Then they will see your good deeds. And they will give glory to God on the day he comes to judge.
13Follow the lead of every human authority. Do this for the Lord’s sake. Obey the emperor. He is the highest authority. 14Obey the governors. The emperor sends them to punish those who do wrong. He also sends them to praise those who do right. 15By doing good you will put a stop to the talk of foolish people. They don’t know what they are saying. 16Live as free people. But don’t use your freedom to cover up evil. Live as people who are God’s slaves. 17Show proper respect to everyone. Love the family of believers. Have respect for God. Honor the emperor.
18Slaves, obey your masters out of deep respect for God. Obey not only those who are good and kind. Obey also those who are not kind. 19Suppose a person suffers pain unfairly because they want to obey God. This is worthy of praise. 20But suppose you receive a beating for doing wrong, and you put up with it. Will anyone honor you for this? Of course not. But suppose you suffer for doing good, and you put up with it. God will praise you for this. 21You were chosen to do good even if you suffer. That’s because Christ suffered for you. He left you an example that he expects you to follow. 22Scripture says,
“He didn’t commit any sin.
No lies ever came out of his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:9)
23People shouted at him and made fun of him. But he didn’t do the same thing back to them. When he suffered, he didn’t say he would make them suffer. Instead, he trusted in the God who judges fairly. 24“He himself carried our sins” in his body on the cross. (Isaiah 53:5) He did it so that we would die as far as sins are concerned. Then we would lead godly lives. “His wounds have healed you.” (Isaiah 53:5) 25“You were like sheep wandering away.” (Isaiah 53:6) But now you have returned to the Shepherd. He is the one who watches over your souls.