A Nation of Priests

This morning’s lesson focused on the grace God has shown us and the hope we have in that. Building upon this, Peter, in I Peter 2, asks his audience to put away all carnal qualities and form themselves as living stones built upon the foundation of Christ. He calls them and us a royal priesthood, a people of God’s possession who have obtained mercy.

A Spiritual Priesthood

Back in Exodus 19, as the people congregate at the base of Sinai after escaping slavery in Egypt, God uses these same descriptors regarding the children of Israel. He calls them a holy nation and a kingdom of priests. He sets them apart and sanctifies them as His own before leading them to the Promised Land. Back in I Peter 2, He asks the same of us for the same reasons. Just as Israel was to remain righteous, we are to do so today.

Galatians 6:16 refers to the Israel of God in describing Christians, and Galatians 3:28-29 as well as Romans 9:6-8 bear this same concept out. God’s children are His spiritual Israel, and I Peter 2:5 refers to us as a spiritual house. All who follow God are priests of God, and that obligates us to offer up proper spiritual sacrifices in that role.

A Priestly Service

We have to maintain our personal holiness. I Peter 1:14-16 calls us to be holy as God is holy, quoting God’s levitical mandate. His priests were to be separate and sanctified in His service, and we are to be likewise separated. Leviticus 10:1-3 records the tragedy of Nadab and Abihu, and God tells Aaron (through Moses) that He will be sanctified by all who come near Him. I Corinthians 6:11 refers to Christians as sanctified. We are to view God and ourselves differently due to His difference that we are to emulate. Only by changing our view of ourselves, then we will not behave separately from the world. Too many examples exist in the Old Testament of priests who do not act like priests. What of us today?

We should be able to discern godliness from ungodliness. Leviticus 10:10 describes a function of the priest as creating a distinction between the clean and unclean, the holy and the unholy. Ezekiel 22:26 as well as Micah 6:8 both call on God’s people to discern good from evil and live justly before God. James 4:17 warns us to choose our action carefully when we know the right thing to do, and I John 2:6 admonishes us to walk as He walked. We know we are His if we follow His commands. Finally, Hebrews 5:14 describes a mature Christian as one who has practiced discernment in differentiating good from evil.

We have to serve each other in our service to God. In Exodus 7:16, God reveals that the people of Israel are to be freed for the purpose of serving Him, and Romans 6:15-16 states that we either present ourselves as servant to God or to sin. In their service, the priests of the Old Testament served the people and each other, and our spiritual service reflects this. Philippians 2:1-8 reflects upon the service Christ yielded to us and to God in the sacrifice He provided. In this, Paul asks us to emulate His mindset – humbling ourselves in service of God and one another.


God has set us apart to His service, and our life should reflect that sanctification. We are no longer of the world. Rather, we reflect the God we serve in all areas of our life. We are His priests. We strive for holiness, for God is holy.

lesson by Tim Smelser