And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen (Revelation 1:6 KJV)
What does the Lord expect from us as His priests? What does it mean to be a priest unto God? Although many of us know that we are priests in Christ, not many understand what that means. Besides, our role as priests is often misunderstood. This devotional briefly examines what the New Testament(NT) teaches about our duties as priests unto God.
Let’s begin with a few relevant points about Israel’s priests in the Old Testament. This review will help us see the similarities and differences between the priests of the Old Covenant(the shadow) and the priests of the NT( the “real thing,” the “truth). First, priests were a separate class, called by God from amongst the people. Secondly, they stood as mediators between God and the people. They represented the people before God. Third, they, and only they, performed the religious duties and ceremonies in the Temple to God, especially in presenting the offerings and sacrifices to God. No ordinary Jew, not even the King, was allowed to perform these duties.
Christ’s work shifted the meaning and role of priests. When we fail to recognize this shift, we indiscriminately import the role of the priests from the Old Testament into the New. First, there is no called-out group amongst Christians to be priests—not ministers or intercessors. In Christ, every believer is a priest, and Jesus is the only High Priest. Secondly, the priest’s primary role is no longer to represent the people or be a mediator as it was in the Old Testament. Yes, in some respects, as believers, especially in intercession, we could stand in the gap for others, but this is NOT the primary duty of God’s priests in the New Testament. Third, the believer as a priest offers sacrifices to God, just as the priests in the OT, but these sacrifices are spiritual rather than physical.
Peter sums up the role of the priests in the NT in 1 Peter 2:5:
“Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.”
The primary role of the believer as a priest is to offer up spiritual sacrifices which are acceptable and pleasant to God by Jesus Christ. For simplicity, I will divide our priestly role into the general and the particular. Paul describes the general in Rom. 12:1
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1 KJV).
The most significant sacrifice or offering you have as a priest before God’s throne is not what you do or give but you as a person, God’s child in the order of Jesus, “My beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:17). As the burnt offerings in the Old Testament were acceptable and pleasing to God, your entire life is an offering to the Father that brings Him delight and joy, better than all the sheep, goats, and cows in the Old Testament.
The second category, the particular, is the spiritual sacrifices of praise, thanksgiving, and worship. Included in this category is our prayer( all types of prayer) that are as incense(pleasant aroma) to the Father. Time and space will not permit me to explain how much pleasure the Father takes in His children’s praise, worship, and thanksgiving.
So as God’s priests, after the order of our High Priest Jesus Christ, we live to bring pleasure to Him in who we are and in all we do. Our very life, without any action, brings joy and pleasure to the Father because we bear the image of the Son of His love. Whether you are living a holy life, interceding for others, giving to the poor and needy, preaching the Gospel, or subjecting the devil under your life, your entire life should be an offering that is acceptable and pleasing to God. Furthermore, when you step into the particular role of offering up the spiritual sacrifices of praise, worship, and thanksgiving, you only need to see the broad smile on our Father’s face and hear Him say, “those are my kids, my priests, and kings!
Deshen Live Bible Study this Thursday: How to Function as God’s Priest.
What is the role of the believers as priests in the New Testament?
Apply the Word
As a priest, God has ordained you to be and live a life that pleases Him. Do you know that the Father delights in you as His child? Do you believe that when you open your mouth and praise Him on your way to work, for example, those words are better than all the animal sacrifices of the Old Testament put together? Let this understanding cause you to perform your priestly duties at a greater dimension from henceforth.
Thank the Father for the incredible privilege of being His priest.