Peter tells us that we as Christians are a Royal Priesthood under our Great King and High Priest. He tells us a lot about the worship and work of priests under the New Covenant, especially about the nature of our work and worship.
There are two points I would like to explore in this article:
- We are a spiritual kingdom and priesthood
- We give spiritual sacrifices and offerings in our worship and service
WE ARE A SPIRITUAL KINGDOM AND PRIESTHOOD
We are the Spiritual Israel, the descendants of Abraham. We are a spiritual kingdom of Priests:
- “you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood” (1 Peter 2:5)
- “To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood 6 and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever.” (Revelation 1:5-6)
WE ARE A SPIRITUAL SACRIFICE
All work and worship within the kingdom begins with full self-sacrifice to God. This is foreshadowed in the Old Testament with the burnt offering. This sacrifice was brought to the temple by the one offering it. It was killed and then it was prepared by the Levitical priest to be taken to the altar where it was fully consumed on the altar as a sacrifice to God.
As New Testament Priest, Jesus gives us the prime example of what it means to give yourself as a burnt offering to God. He fully consumed Himself with doing the will of God, even to the point of His death on the cross, where He completely emptied Himself of life itself as an offering to God on our behalf. Paul uses burnt offering terminology when He talks about the offering that Jesus gave to God for us in Ephesians 5:2:
“and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.”
Paul teaches us that we need to follow in Jesus’ steps in giving ourselves to God as a sacrifice in Romans 12:1.
“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.“
Unlike the Levitical burnt offering and our Lord’s offering for us, we are called living sacrifices in this passage. We put our lives fully on the altar to be sacrificed to God for His worship and work. We are “fully consumed” in His work and service. If we want our worship and work to be pleasing to God, this is where we must begin. It begins with us giving our whole being to the Lord.
WE GIVE SPIRITUAL SACRIFICES IN OUR WORSHIP AND SERVICE TO GOD
After we give ourselves to be totally consumed on the altar for God, we then from our hearts offer to God sacrifices that are pleasing to Him, sacrifices that are referred to as a “a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God” (Philippians 4:18).
Peter tells us in 1 Peter 2 that we offer to God spiritual sacrifices. They are not physical sacrifices like the ones offered in the Old Testament. Jesus in John 4 tells us that the true worshipers under the New Covenant would worship God as He is, in spirit. Even though we may do things in this realm for God, our service and worship to Him is spiritual in nature. This may mean a couple things for our service and worship to God:
- First, our sacrifices come from within the worshiper. They come from our hearts; from our innermost being. Our wills, our intellects, and our emotions are active in our sacrifices. This is seen in Colossians 3:16 and Ephesians 5:19. We are told in these passages that our worship is done “with the heart” or that it comes “from the heart.” It is the source of our worship.
- Second, our sacrifices, although they at times include physical things in this world, are in a sense “not of this world” just as we and the Kingdom are not of this world. Our sacrifices are being offered before the throne of God in the heavenly places where we reign as a kingdom of priests to God.