From Replacement to Displacement


February 18, 2022

2 Peter 2:1-3 NIV

1 Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. 2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3 now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.


There’s something very powerful at work in today’s text. I think it is the very essence of the Christian faith. 

We tend to come at the Christian faith as what I would call a replacement theory. It is the replacement of bad behavior with good behavior. It’s very easy to read today’s text in such a fashion. Look how it opens.


It’s why we need to pay close attention to the first word, therefore. You know the key hermeneutical question, “What is it there for?” Look back to 1:24:

For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. 

Translation: The Miracle has happened. Everything has changed. The center of gravity has shifted. It is like a total restart. i.e. New Birth. 

Still, the typical way the Christian faith gets translated is believe and behave. The problem? This is just not the Christian faith. It is a religion of conformity. The Christian faith is transcendent transformation. The move is not from believe to behave. It is from believe to behold and the outcome is far more powerful than behavior change. It is becoming a completely new kind of human being. 

The key is where Peter goes with verse 2. 

2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation

What does a nursing baby do with its mother? The same thing a mother does with her newborn baby. They behold one another. So it is in our relationship with Jesus. We behold him. He beholds us. We become profoundly bonded together. We crave pure spiritual milk (i.e. the Word of God). In this way the miracle continues. We behold and we become. This is how we learn to love—by being loved. 

Herein lives the beautiful mystery of the Christian faith. The way is not “replacement” of bad behavior with good behavior. The way is “displacement” of an old life with a new life. The more we focus on behavior the more that behavior will hold us in its grip. The more we behold Jesus, the more Jesus will hold us in his grip. His presence begins to actually displace our problems. It’s why Peter urges us to “crave pure spiritual milk.” Why? “So that by it you may grow up into your salvation”—which is to say, the lives we were made for—lives of incredible and powerful love for others and glory for God. 

Let’s leave it where Peter leaves it today:

3 now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.


Jesus, you are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. Could this really be true? I don’t have to change myself. You actually grow me up into your likeness as I give my life to you. You give me your new life in exchange for my old life. You aren’t calling me to the endless striving to replace the bad with the good. You want to displace the old with the new. Holy Spirit, you are welcome here. Bring the new. Grow me up into this life of salvation. Lead me to crave the pure spiritual milk of the Word of God. Take me to this place of deep bonded beholding of one another. Praying in Jesus’ name, Amen. 


Do you feel like you missed this message somewhere along the way? I do. How can we pick it up now? Not replacement but displacement. Does it ring true? How does it change your view of sin and repentance? 

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt

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Comments and Discussion

2 Responses

  1. “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” “I must decrease, and He must increase.”

    It’s simply a question of our willingness. Will we let Christ, not only live in us, but also live thru us and control our life from within? Will we choose to decrease and let our ego and desires go so that the living, resurrected Jesus can increase His presence and control in us? If not, we’ll be stuck on the treadmill of trying to replace bad behavior with good.

  2. May God bless you! I loved this devotional. Specially this day, I like the way you work with the words… so powerful!!! Todays verse is 1 Peter 2:1-3 just yo let you know that!! 🛐

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