We are so blessed to be called out and sanctified for God's service in the earth, based on our blood covenant with Jesus Christ.
With that calling comes a serious responsibility which we will look at today.
Too many professing Christians today think they can scoff at Biblical standards as archaic or culturally irrevelant and still enjoy the endorsement and prosperity of God's favor.
The Word of God says, "we're a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy
nation, His own special people (I Pet. 2:9)." The Apostle Peter is referring to
true born again believers in Christ, of course. In order to better understand
our New Testament Priesthood and the responsibilities that are connected with it, we need to look at the Old Testament Levitical Priesthood. From the Old Testament Levitical Priesthood we can determine the heartfelt attitude God is looking for in a New Testament Priesthood.
1. Fear of the Lord that transcends family ties.
We need a return to a deep reverence for the Lord. The Old Testament Levitical priesthood emerged from the Levitical Covenant God made with this tribe because of their reverence for God and their willingness to stand against wickedness even when they found it in their own families. When the tribes of Israel made a golden calf and worshipped it, notice God's instructions.
Now when Moses saw that the people were unrestrained (for Aaron had not restrained them, to their shame among their enemies), 26 then Moses stood in the entrance of the camp, and said, "Whoever is on the Lord's side--come to me." And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together to him. 27 And he said to them, "Thus says the Lord God of Israel: 'Let every man put his sword on his side, and go in and out from entrance to entrance throughout the camp, and let every man kill his brother, every man his companion, and every man his neighbor.' " 28 So the sons of Levi did according to the word of Moses. And about three thousand men of the people fell that day. 29 Then Moses said, "Consecrate yourselves today to the Lord, that He may bestow on you a blessing this day, for every man has opposed his son and his brother (Ex 32:26-29)."
Phineas responded with a holy zeal for the Lord when his fellow Israelites were committing heinous sins against God with the idols and women of Moab at Peor.
And indeed, one of the children of Israel came and presented to his brethren a Midianite woman in the sight of Moses and in the sight of all the congregation of the children of Israel , who were weeping at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. 7 Now when Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose from among the congregation and took a javelin in his hand; 8 and he went after the man of Israel into the tent and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her body. So the plague was stopped among the children of Israel . 9 And those who died in the plague were twenty-four thousand. 10 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 11 "Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned back My wrath from the children of Israel , because he was zealous with My zeal among them, so that I did not consume the children of Israel in My zeal. 12 Therefore say, 'Behold, I give to him My covenant of peace; 13 and it shall be to him and his descendants after him a covenant of an everlasting priesthood, because he was zealous for his God, and made atonement for the children of Israel.' "
Aaron's own sons were burned up because they offered strange fire to the Lord, and Aaron was not allowed to grieve for his sons, but had to keep right on ministering in the tabernacle. Aaron had to stand with God instead of his sons Nu 10:1-9.
Eli neglected to discipline his sons who profaned the tabernacle and God judged him and his sons.
2. A Holy Separation that transcends family ties.
God has always called His people to be separate from the World. This doesn't mean we don't love the people of the world, but that we live distinctly different from them, thereby showing them a better way.
Therefore "Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do
not touch what is unclean,And I will receive you." 18 "I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the Lord Almighty." II Cor. 6:17,18.
Mixture is contrary to righteousness. Any time God's people compromise they lose. Compromise leads to more compromise. Tolerance is the first step to acceptance. Tolerance of sin will lead to acceptance of sin, which will
eventually lead to dominance of sin. The enemy doesn't want simply to be
tolerated he wants to totally dominate. The sexually immoral people are not
content with just having adult bookstores and adult films, they want to expose our children to explicit films and call it "sex education." They want to take over politically. They want to flaunt their nudity at the beaches and in the parks. The devil just uses "tolerance" as a way to get his foot in the door. He really wants tolerance to gain acceptance which will give him a foothold to take over. We see it in the gay agenda. We see it in the drug world. We see it with Islam.
Any time we open the door to sin, the enemy will gain a hold on us that will take some serious prayer and deliverance to get free.
I will behave wisely in a perfect way. Oh, when will You come to me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart. 3 I will set nothing wicked before
my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; It shall not cling to me
(Psalm 101:2,3). The NAS version says "fasten it's grip".
Backsliding ways can fasten their grip on us and cling to us when we open the door to the enemy through sin. The church today is full of "professors" who don't really want to live according to the Word of God. They hate preachers of righteousness and flock to "goat gatherings" where they can do what they want to and live carnally without any accountability. They have heaped up to themselves "teachers having itching ears." They have become "lovers or pleasures more than lovers of God." The Word of God instructs us to stay away from people like this. Instead we are to dwell with the faithful of the land, and only let those who walk in a perfect way minister to us.
My eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me;
He who walks in a blameless way is the one who will minister to me (Ps 101:6 NASB).
In our church we only want people in ministry who do their best to live holy lives and this includes living free from sexual immorality and tithing. We don't want an unholy altar. We want a powerful anointing where people are healed, delivered, and filled with the Holy Spirit. We want people to experience a deeper work of the Lord.
If we are to be a holy priesthood for the Lord we must live godly lives. Just
because we're in the dispensation of grace doesn't mean God is going to wink at sin. God still judges sin. His standards are still the same. The difference is,
that instead of trying to live holy by will power, we have the Holy Spirit to
enable us to live holy lives therefore we are more responsible. I Peter 4:17,18 NASB "For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not
obey the gospel of God? 18 AND IF IT IS WITH DIFFICULTY THAT THE RIGHTEOUS IS SAVED, WHAT WILL BECOME OF THE GODLESS MAN AND THE SINNER? "
God makes a distinction between the holy and the profane. He separates the
wicked from the vile. He divides the sheep and the goats. He will separate the wheat from the tares and the virgins with oil from those without oil. Many
today look like sheep, but they are as goat headed as they can be. Only by
their fruit will you know them. Become fruit inspectors. Know those who you
labor among. Live Holy and separate even if it means being at odds with your
family. Correct your children. Voice your disagreement with your grown children if they are living ungodly lives. Let your family know where you stand. Stand up for Jesus and you'll move in a greater authority and power in the Lord. Stand up for something. Be like the tribe of Levi. Be a modern day Phinehas. Stand up for God, even if your brother doesn't like it. Be a God pleaser not a man pleaser.
3. A sincere desire to live a life of consecration to the Lord.
The Old Testament Priest was called to a life of consecration. The New Testament believer who wants to live up to his/her calling to be a royal priesthood will want to conform to the demand to "present their bodies a living sacrifice" and live in full consecration so that they can "serve the Lord acceptably" (Heb. 12:28).
The New Testament doctrine of consecration as found in Romans 12 becomes a serious calling to the believer who has revelation of the "priesthood of the believer." They will want to live a life of righteous service unto the Lord.
People who are truly born again want to practice righteousness (I John 3:10) and minister in a spirit of righteousness. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out if someone is a true believer or not. I can usually discern if someone is of the same spirit of faith in about five minutes of conversation. If a person wants to continually and habitually practice sin, they are apparently not of God. For instance, if a "professor of Christ" insists on living in sin with their "significant other" they are not of God. If someone is a habitual liar, they are not of God. If someone practices a lifestyle of rage and venom, they are not of God.
In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother (I Jn. 3:10).
According to this, the two fold acid test of genuineness is whether a person has a sincere desire to walk in right standing with God through a lifestyle
practicing righteousness and a sincere love for fellow believers. (I John 3:10). If we love our brothers and sisters, then we certainly won't have a
mean spirit toward them. The Apostle John goes on to say: For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, 12 not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother's righteous. 13 Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. 15 Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him (I Jn.3:11-15).
In some churches today there is a more subtle form of murder taking place. It's called character assassination. It is simply the practice of "professors"
running down their brothers or sisters. Those who live in bitterness are on
dangerous ground Heb. 12:15. When we enter into the priesthood of the believer we will keep a heart pure from offense and maintain a heart of reconciliation and restoration toward others at all times. As we grow in the Lord, the Lord's heart for others becomes our heart for others. We take on a sincere desire to help people really live for Jesus, and love Jesus, not just play religious Church games.
It is such a delight to pastor the church I pastor because the people are
sincerely walking in genuine love. The unity with diversity we enjoy by the
work of the Holy Spirit is truly amazing. A few months ago our town made the headlines. Some members of a certain mainline denominational church were shown having a fist fight in the parking lot. It was a sad commentary to how Satan can infiltrate the hearts of people who don't maintain a consecrated walk with the Lord putting His interests above their own selfish desires. Events like these highlight the need for pastors to really teach people how to live a live of victory in Jesus. Most believers are seldom taught how to bring their soulish nature under subjection to their born again spirits. Whether we are baptized in the Holy Spirit or not, unless we die daily (Luke 9:23) we will live a life vulnerable to the manipulations of our own flesh or the infiltration of the enemy.
I heard a story of a man who had 1000 acres. He sold every acre but one which was in the very middle of the plot which he kept for himself. The new owner of the 999 acres later realized that the one acre was a big problem for him. Legally he had to allow the man who kept the one acre an access road. This meant giving up considerable more land for a road way. Satan loves it when we keep one little piece of our heart for ourselves. When we maintain one little "flesh acre" that we refuse to give up, it gives him an access road to make inroads into this area where he has legal ground. From that vantage point he gains access to other areas of our lives. That one little thing we hold back from the Lord will cost us far more than we realize. So it is with the believer who doesn't want to give up everything for Jesus Christ.
God first makes a man before he ever makes a ministry. We must first minister to the Lord before we are ready to minister for the Lord. He called the 12 that they might first be with Him, and then he sent them out. Their credentials were "these men have been with Jesus." Let Him first mold you and shape you and then He will really use you. About sixteen years ago, the Holy Spirit knocked me down at a renewal meeting and held me under the heavy "Kawbod" ( Kawbod is the Hebrew word for glory and means "weight") weight of His presence. During the two hours I was being ministered to by the Holy Spirit, the Lord spoke to me and said, "now I will make a real minister out of you." I knew what He was saying. It wasn’t that I wasn't at all a real minister, I had been pastoring for almost ten years at the time, but I was a minister that was trying to do so many things in the power of my own abilities, rather than by His power. From this point forward there was a great transformation in my ministry.
4. Free and full access to God's Favor.
The big difference between the Old Testament believer and the New Testament believes is the means by which the covenant is lived. The Old Testament believer tried by sheer will power to live according the revealed will of God. The New Testament believer has the Spirit of God working within him to fulfill the Word by the Power of the Holy Spirit. We are not under law but under grace. That Grace is not only the unmerited favor of God, but the divine enablement to actually live in obedience to the Lord. God Himself is working the Word in us, making us "living epistles." What a glorious thing. He has put His law within us and has written it on our hearts (Eze 36:22-31). He is working in us both to will and do of His good pleasure. We have the responsibility to simply cooperate with His grace. We can either cooperate with His grace or we can insult His grace. God gives us the powerful helping hand of the Holy Spirit. Shame on us if we bite that hand. Grace does not strip us of our ability to choose or give us an excuse to blame our willful sin upon an inadequate supply of God's enablement. His grace is always sufficient. If there is a deficiency of character what is lacking is a full surrender of our will at the throne of grace.
Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace ( Heb 10:29)?
It is interesting to observe that the context of scriptures in which this verse is couched is talking aboutour new privilege of entering the Holy place toreceive the grace we need to live a life of love, good works, church attendance, and forsaking of willful sin (Heb. 10:19-28).
The New Testament believer has a greater responsibility to live for God than any Old Testament priest or Pharisee. That's why Jesus said, "For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven (Mt. 5:20).
Let's make the Throne of Grace our continual abode, and avail ourselves of all
the power we need to live a holy life. Let's cooperate with the Spirit of Grace. What the world needs now is people who have been with Jesus.
Bishop Darrell Ellis, D.Min.
Anointed Word International Fellowship