Author: Ron Graham
Our Right Self Image
—Priests, chosen, pilgrims, free
This lesson continues on from the previous lesson, to look at four more things Peter tells about ourselves so that we can form a right self image.
1 We are a Holy and Royal Priesthood
Peter describes us collectively as a "priesthood" which means that each one of us is a priest. The priesthood to which we belong is both "holy" and "royal".
- It is holy so that it can "offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God" (verse 5). We do this under the authority of Christ our High Priest.
- It is royal so that it can "proclaim the excellencies" of God and "his marvelous light" (verse 9). We do this under the authority of Christ our King.
That reflects the authority of Jesus Christ who rules us as both our Priest and King. The prophets foretold this. "The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek"* (Psalms 110:4).
"He will be a priest on his throne, and the counsel of peace will be between the two offices" (Zechariah 6:12). For this reason, we who are under Christ are a "royal priesthood".
Note:— Melchizedek a Symbol of Christ. Melchizedek was king of Salem and a priest of the Most High God (Genesis 14:18-20 Hebrews 7). As such he was a "type" or symbol of Christ who is both King and High priest. For background information on this matter see link at end of this lesson.
2 We are God's Chosen People
You will recall that the very first thing we noticed when we began our study of First Peter, was that God has chosen us by his foreknowledge (1Peter 1:1-2).
Thus Peter now says that we are a "chosen people... for God's own possession".
God has not extended his mercy and made this choice indiscriminately, arbitrarily, or by some sort of celestial lottery system. He has made the choice intelligently and justly. It all boils down to being in the right place at the right time with the right qualifications.
How to be Qualified
If we want to be chosen for a certain job, or a place in the local brass band or football team, then we need to be well qualified, and we have to present ourselves for selection at a time when applications are being invited.
Being chosen for eternal life is no different, although of course it's infinitely more important.
The qualification and presentation of ourselves was also clearly explained by Peter at the beginning of his letter: "That you obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with his blood" (1Peter 1:2). Since anybody can do that, anybody who wishes can be chosen.
There are only so many places in a football team, brass band, or job vacancy, but there are as many places in heaven as there are people willing to obey Jesus Christ and to be sprinkled with his blood.
Qualified by Mercy and Grace
Some people cannot accept this, because they say this means a person can choose God rather than God choosing the person. However there is nothing unreasonable in believing that we can choose to be chosen.
It is only by God's "mercy", after all, that we are permitted to do this and given the opportunity. So there is no conflict in our choosing to be chosen. Rather it is good news that we can do so.
I can think of no better thing for you to think about yourself than this: God offered you an opportunity to obey Jesus Christ. You chose to accept that opportunity, and to be sprinkled with his blood.
Because that blood made you clean in God's sight, he chose you. So you are now a member of the elect, the chosen people of God, and you rejoice in this and praise the Lord.
3 We are Sojourners in This World
Peter has already mentioned our "stay" or sojourn in this world (1Peter 1:17). Now he comes back to that idea, describing Christians as "sojourners and pilgrims" (1Peter 2:11).
A sojourner is a stranger on a journey who passes through a certain place. A pilgrim is a sojourner whose journey moreover is for a holy purpose and to a holy place. We don't belong in this world. We're only passing through. We belong in another place, our holy and heavenly home. This is how we should see ourselves.
Of course, as Peter points out, while we are in this world we should...
- Not get caught up in the practices of the world but "abstain from fleshly lusts" which are opposed to the purpose of our journey (1Peter 2:11).
- Set an "excellent" example to the people of the world we are passing through (1Peter 2:12) even though at first they may oppose us and not make us welcome among them.
- Obey the laws and authorities of this world order, so that the world will have nothing to accuse us of (1Peter 2:13-15,17). We should refuse to obey a law only when we know it is against "the will of God" and not "doing right" (1Peter 2:15).
4 We are Free Persons, Bound Only to God
Peter now balances what he has just said, and introduces what he is going to say to slaves. He calls us "free men" (1Peter 2:16).
In this world others beside ourselves have rights over our bodies. Our bodies are severally owned.
- God owns them, because he is their creator (Romans 12:1-3).
- We own them, because they are our tents for our sojourn (2Corinthians 5:1-9).
- Our spouses own them because they are intimate sharers with us (1Corinthians 7:2-5).
- Our masters own them (1Peter 2:18). (This principle applies especially to slaves. In Australia we are not slaves. However, if we are employees, then our employers own our bodies to the degree that they pay us for their use).
Our spirits, however, are free. The power and truth of this concept has been demonstrated in that it has helped many people survive and overcome the worst abuses and deprivations at the hands of cruelm asters.
At all times we regard ourselves as free spirits under God and bound only to him. However we do not let that fact make us arrogant or rebellious. Rather, we submit to every legitimate institution of this world "for the Lord's sake" (1Peter 2:13).