The Priesthood of the Believer

a royal priesthood, a holy nation, 1 Peter 2:9b

This is a direct reference to Exodus 19:1-6, where God called Israel out of bondage in Egypt so that the entire nation would serve him as a “kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” As Believers we have free access to the Holy of Holies whenever we choose. We don’t need to offer our sacrifices on special days or during ceremonial events. We can go today – right now even – to that Throne of Grace. We do not have to wait for our pastor or priest to go to God on our behalf. This is what is considered “the priesthood of the Believer.”

Think about the implications of this priesthood. We give our sacrifice of praise and a pure heart. We can say as much or as little as we want when we’re in that throne room. And that throne room could be in the front seat of your car as you are preparing for an important interview. We don’t need to shed animal blood for the remission of sins. That was already done for us by the perfect Lamb of God.

So, knowing all this, why aren’t we in the Holy of Holies a lot more often than we now are?

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A Chosen People

9 But you are a chosen people, 1 Peter 2:9

Peter knew when he wrote this that those reading this would understand this phrase completely. The Jews knew they were chosen by God but Peter was speaking to Believers when he wrote this. Peter was drawing a distinct contrast to the chosen nation of Israel to professing Christians. The Jews were disobedient and unbelieving, while the Christians (who could be Jews or Gentiles) were obedient.

As such, Christians have a responsibility to spread the Good News. The only way the Gospel spreads is through his chosen people. We’re chosen and called out from darkness into the light. It’s a privilege and a responsibility.

Take some time today to think about that responsibility and what it means to you. Take some time also to think about about why the Jews were disobedient.

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The Cornerstone

6 For in Scripture it says:

“See, I lay a stone in Zion,
a chosen and precious cornerstone,
and the one who trusts in him
will never be put to shame.”

7 Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,

“The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone,”

8 and,

“A stone that causes people to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall.”

They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for. 1 Peter 2:6-8

I like the analogy of the stone. People will trip over the stone and wonder what happened while others will stand on it to reach greater heights in life. God used a rejected rock to become the most important part of the building. Many still reject Him but it doesn’t make Him insignificant. Not in the least.

He causes people to decide: Me or the way you’re living now. They can still turn back but once they’ve encountered Christ for the first, fifth, or even 30th time, there will be fewer “second chances” coming that person’s way.

Perhaps you know someone who’s encountered Christ a few times. Keep praying because the Spirit of God is probably working in that person’s life. We don’t know how close or how far that person is to the Kingdom, but if you’re thinking about that person right now, then God’s laid him/her on your heart.

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Offering Spiritual Sacrifices

5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2:5

So what exactly are these spiritual sacrifices we are offering? Well, in Psalm 19:14, David wrote this:

May the words of my mouth
and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing to you,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer

That’s one spiritual sacrifice.

Paul wrote in Philippians 4:18 that he received gifts of love/support, “I received from Epaphroditus what you have sent, a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God.”

And of course Paul wrote in Romans 12:1 that we were to offer ourselves “as living sacrifices holy and acceptable to God which is your spiritual service of worship.”

Those three sacrifices are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. We can make these sacrifices every day without changing much in our routines.

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The Living Stone

4 As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— 1 Peter 2:4

Without question we’d rather be chosen by God and rejected by humans. The world, however, works on the exact opposite principle: chosen (famous, popular) by humans and who really cares what God thinks. They live in a very temporal world. They live for the here and now, that is, until they are on their death beds. That’s when they’ll cling to anything they can. Many have had true deathbed conversions. They weep as they consider what they’ve wasted and squandered. Not all, but some. They always wanted to live this life on their terms – and they did, until they came to this point.

We have opportunities every day to introduce people to this Living Stone. We don’t know where people are on their journey in life. Even the hardest of people may be ever so close to the Kingdom despite their brash bravado. Pray for the courage to introduce people to Christ. I suspect we too will have certain regrets on our deathbed, regrets of missed opportunities, regrets of things we didn’t do and say while we had the chance.

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Back to Basics

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. 1 Peter 2:2-3

Peter was obviously writing to new Believers. Babies drink milk because it provide vital nutrients for their tiny system. They cannot handle a full steak dinner. They will work up to the steak dinner but not while they are still in infancy. In fact, as children grow they become more selective about what they will and won’t eat.

Similarly, new Believers cannot possibly handle heady doctrine and teachings. New Believers need simple truths they can cling to. In reality, though, more mature Believers need these simple truths as well. Smart coaches begin each season by going back to the basics of the sport. If you can’t do the basics in your sleep, there’s no use going with advances moves and strategies. The basics is all you really ever need to live a full Christian life.

The basics include praying, reading the Bible, fellowshipping with fellow Believers, and sharing your faith. There are of course variations on these basics, We may “master” them but we need to go back to them often because they provide a good baseline for the Christian life.

So, how are you doing with the basics?

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In Direct Opposition to Love

Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.  1 Peter 2:1

All the sins listed here are in direct opposition to loving others. In order to love others, we have to lay all of these down. The reason they’re listed is because those are quite common unlovely characteristics we exhibit. It’s not that we intentionally commit these acts. We just don’t think about them. We like to spread a bit of juicy gossip every now and then. If someone slams us, then we have every right to call them every name in the book. Only we don’t have that right as Christians.

Life is complicated, isn’t it? It goes back to what Paul wrote in Romans 7:15-20:

15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

Of course we know the only solution to this dilemma. Every day we submit our tongues, our thoughts, and our actions to the Lord, and sometimes we have to submit these things every 5 minutes!

Well, if that’s what we have to do, we have to do it. There are no short cut or workarounds. It could even be a minute by minute submission to the Holy Spirit’s leading. Minute by minute, hour by hour, whatever it takes.

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Eternal Word of God

23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.
24 For,
“All people are like grass,
and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall,
25 but the word of the Lord endures forever.”

And this is the word that was preached to you. 1 Peter 1:23-25

When you first heard the Word of God, it probably didn’t make a lot of sense. As people continued to pray for you, your understanding increased. How many times did you actually hear the Gospel message before you truly believed? Who knows because there were probably times you heard the Word of God but didn’t know it. But God was moving in your heart and life. We don’t know how the Spirit of God moves in and out of a person’s life except that He does.

Even after you’ve been a Believer for years, you really don’t know the effect the Holy Spirit has on your life or how the Word of God is being used to encourage and energize you. Obviously the more we’re able to build into our lives, the more He has to work with.

Be encouraged that the work He began in you years ago will be carried out to completion. His Word inside you is eternal.

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Loving Others

22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. 1 Peter 1:22

I have always found it a curious thing that the outside world would know a difference in us by how we treat each other, not how we treat them necessarily. It’s only logical when you stop to think about it. If we can’t love those who are like-minded, how are we supposed to love those who are of a different mind? And as it turns out, it’s not easy to love those in the church because we don’t always make it easy to love. Sure, we are born again Believers who have been redeemed, but we’re still sinners with selfish motives, attitudes, and actions. We are works in progress and we’re not perfect…and we’ll be the first to point that out.

Peter’s just reminding us of the basics as we need to be reminded often.

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