Living for the Lord (III): Spiritual Priests
Adapted from a sermon series by Simon Chin―Singapore
After establishing the need for us to live for Christ in part one of
this series, part two provided useful tips on how to live for the Lord at home.
In part three, we will study how personal spiritual cultivation enables us to
live for Christ.
After experiencing God’s gracious
calling, Paul dedicated his life to Him. He served as an apostle, propagating the
gospel until his martyrdom. Before his death, he wrote to his co-worker, Timothy,
saying: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept
the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness ....” (2
Tim 4:7–8). God’s grace, coupled with Paul’s faith, meant that Paul could live
for Christ and die for Christ.
Today, we know that we have received
the Lord’s grace because He has called us to salvation. We have come to know Jesus
through hearing the truth, believing in Him, and having been redeemed by His blood,
and we now belong to Him. Through His love, He has made us into a kingdom of God’s
people, a nation of kings and priests.
[A]nd from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn
from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us
and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and
has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory
and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (Rev 1:5–6)
Therefore, Paul exhorts us to live
for the Lord: “For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. For
if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore,
whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s” (Rom 14:7–8).
THE PRIESTS—A SPECIAL PEOPLE
the time of the Exodus, God chose the sons of Aaron among the Israelites to
serve as priests. God instructed Moses to consecrate them for duty: to cleanse
them, clothe them with holy garments, and to anoint them with oil. Only then
could they enter the Holy Place to burn incense, light the lamps, change the showbread,
and offer burnt offerings on the bronze altar. No other Israelites were allowed
to perform these sacred duties.
year, the High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies to atone for the sins of the
people. Taking the blood of bulls and rams into the Most Holy Place, he would sprinkle
it on the veil and pour it onto the mercy seat. Only God could determine who could
undertake this role.
God’s clear instructions about the priesthood, presumptuous acts were carried
out. Even Uzziah, considered as one of the good kings
of Judah, transgressed by entering the temple to burn incense. As a result, he
was struck with leprosy, a condition which stayed with him until the day he
OFFER UP PRAYERS
God’s grace that comes through the blood of Christ, we have become spiritual
priests. Although we no longer need to offer animal sacrifices, we should render
spiritual sacrifices, which are our prayers.
Let my prayer be set before You as incense,
The lifting up of my hands as the
evening sacrifice. (Ps 141:2)
psalm of David reflects his longing for the Tabernacle and his desire for his worship
to be acceptable to God. He speaks of prayers ascending as incense to heaven and
the lifting of his hands as the evening sacrifice.
is the duty of every believer: if we do not pray, how can we claim to be a
Christian? There may be times when we feel that there is nothing to pray for
because everything seems to be fine in our lives; but we forget that prayer is
communication with God. Just as a son talks to his father, so we should converse
regularly with our Father in heaven—not just when we have need of something. The
more we communicate, the more we will experience His love and care.
relationship with God is established through deep prayers. While it is undoubtedly
important to read the Bible and attend church services, we also need to pray.
Without prayer, our relationship with God will be superficial, as we will find
it hard to feel God’s presence and love. It is with good reason that prayer has
been likened to breathing; it is essential. If we lead a prayerful life, the Holy
Spirit will work mightily in us, edifying us and strengthening us spiritually.
prayer is also important, because within the community of faith, we need to ask
God to look after the members. We should pray for one another: our children, the
sick, the poor, those who are going through trials, and those who are in danger
of falling into sin. If we truly live for Christ, then we should make intercession
an integral part of our daily routine.
Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications,
prayers, intercessions, and giving
of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we
may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For
this is good and
acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and
to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.
(1 Tim 2:1–5)
Paul exhorts Timothy to pray for everyone, especially those in positions of authority.
Being under Roman rule, this advice was particularly pertinent: if an emperor ruled
with consideration of his subjects, the Christians among them would be able to live
peacefully and practice their faith without oppression.
most of us are blessed with freedom of worship. But in some countries,
Christians are still being persecuted, and cannot assemble to worship or to evangelize.
Therefore, we need to pray for them. Moreover, we should ask God to enable more
people to receive the gospel so that they can come to know Jesus Christ, the
Savior of humankind, who gave Himself as a ransom for all.
can work wonders. We often hear testimonies of brethren who have prayed for unbelieving
family members who eventually accepted Christ. Prayer is about asking God to
work, opening up hardened hearts.
BUILT INTO A
order to serve God as spiritual priests, we must be built into a spiritual
[Y]ou also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual
house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God
through Jesus Christ. (1 Pet 2:5)
are like living stones because the life of Christ is in us. Together, we form a
spiritual house, which is the church. Having the status of priests, we must be
holy and consecrated to God. We ought to put away secularity and put on holiness and righteousness through spiritual cultivation. Only
then can our worship be acceptable to God.
cultivation means nurturing an image that reflects the righteousness of God. It
comes from daily prayer and reading of the Bible. God’s word acts like a mirror,
showing us our blemishes so that we can remove them. A priest of God should not
lead a double life, attending church on the one hand, and immersing himself in
unspiritual pursuits on the other. God looks at our hearts: we must cultivate
ourselves to become holy so that we can serve God.
OFFER GODLY SACRIFICES
Serving God means offering godly
sacrifices. If we give to God according to our whim, or we offer up worthless
things, we dishonor Him.
Although Saul was a faithful king
at the start, he transgressed against God later in his life. On one occasion,
when surrounded by enemy forces, he took it upon himself to offer a burnt
sacrifice to God, instead of waiting for Prophet Samuel. On another occasion, Saul
disobeyed God, sparing the life of King Agag and
allowing the Israelites to take the spoils of war, which included the best of
the sheep and oxen. He justified his actions to Samuel, saying that the
livestock would be offered to the Lord. But Samuel rebuked him, saying, “Has
the Lord as great delight in burnt
offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than
sacrifice, and to heed
than the fat of rams” (1 Sam 15:22). Saul’s sacrifices were ungodly because he
disobeyed God’s command. As it transpired, the Lord rejected Saul from being
As spiritual priests, we need the
word of God to guide us to live according to His will. If we allow our
spiritual cultivation to lapse, such that we no longer read the Bible, we may
not even notice if we stray from God. At that point, our actions will be displeasing
to Him, and our sacrifices will be blemished.
The whole vision has become to you like the words of a book that is
sealed, which men deliver to one who is literate, saying, “Read this,
please.” And he says, “I cannot, for it is sealed.” Then the book is
delivered to one who is illiterate, saying, “Read this, please.” And he says,
“I am not literate.” Therefore the Lord said: “Inasmuch as these people draw
near with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but have removed their
hearts far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of
Isaiah pointed out that the Israelites
who came to worship before God merely paid lipservice,
as their hearts were far from Him. Today, the same situation could befall us: we
may worship God, but we may neither understand His word nor feel His love, and
may even doubt His word.
God looks at our hearts. What condition
is it in? If our heart is intent on searching, God will open it to understand the
Bible. God’s word will become to us as sweet as honey, inspiring us to fear Him
and to stand before Him in awe. Consequently, our worship will become increasingly
spiritual, and we can be holy and royal priests, knowing God, worshipping Him
in spirit and in truth, and serving Him willingly and joyfully.
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.
Because you have rejected knowledge, I
also will reject you from being priest for Me; Because you have forgotten the
law of your God, I also will forget your children. (Hos
Throughout history, the Israelites
often turned to idolatry because of a lack of knowledge. Having forgotten the
law of God, they carried out deeds that were displeasing to Him. Even the
sacrifices they offered to God were blemished. For this reason, God punished
them until they repented. We should take heed from history.
Through the grace and mercy of
God, we have come to know the truth, and God has poured out His Holy Spirit
upon us. We should therefore offer up daily prayers, build up the church, and live
a life that is pleasing to the Lord. Then we will receive God’s blessings and peace;
and He will abide with us and grant us the promise of eternal life.