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Your Privilege and Purpose on the Planet
Your identity in Christ–part 3
1 Peter 2:9-10
Identity theft is when information about you is stolen by someone else and used without your permission. They dumpster dive, use pop-ups on the internet, skim your credit card number from a machine, steal your change-of-address info, scam you through a phone call, or just rob you. How ever they do it, they pretend to be you and take what is yours!
Identity theft occurs with Christians all the time–the Great Evil Thief steals your true identity by defeating you, discouraging you, delaying you from obedience, denying you of your privileges, and deceiving you about your real purpose on this planet. Open your Bible to 1 Peter 2:9-10, because Peter was writing some believers who were on the run in a hard land, they were aliens but now felt like strangers because they had lost a clear picture of their true identity.
The truth is, true believers are so privileged, each of us appears like Clark Kent, but we are in actuality Superman, empowered men and women with amazing privileges and a noble purpose. Peter now strives to remind them as a church and as individual Christians just who they are, beginning with verse 10.
Do you know your privileged identity? Do you live in the reality of what Christ has made you to be, or have you allowed the enemy to steal your identity? Let’s find out. What are . . .
#1 Your Privileges
Verse 9 “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession.” Don’t miss the stark contrast with the first two words, “but you.” Peter just spoke about unbelievers in verse 8, but in contrast to unbelievers, Peter is now describing believers in verse 9. Peter described the shame of unbelievers who don’t obey Christ in verse 8, and now the privileges of believers who do obey Christ in verse 9. God has appointed the disobedient to destruction, but He has appointed believers to be His chosen people.
If you are a genuine Christian, you are not like the disobedient whose judgment by God is certain. You are the obedient whose justification by God is certain. You are:
First A chosen race
You are the chosen people of God, just like Colossians 3:12, “So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion,” . . . 2 Thessalonians 2:13, “But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.”
Remember lining up for kickball, and getting picked first because you could kill that ball when they pitched it with baby bouncies? You were chosen, picked, elected and it felt good. Do you feel the joy of being chosen? The weight of being elect? To be chosen is the most pride-crushing truth in God’s Word since election is the absolute solitary decision of God–it’s all of God. To be chosen is the most God-exalting truth because it is totally by divine grace, freely given to the undeserving. To be chosen is the most holiness-promoting truth because God loved us before the world began, and how could we not then respond with a passion to obey Him no matter what? To be chosen is the most strength-giving truth because God’s choice is eternal and unchangeable, giving us peace no matter what we face. To be chosen is the most joy-producing truth because it is the best hope we have in a sinful fallen world.
Are you owning the truth that you are chosen? Verse 9, “But you are a chosen race.” Peter is most likely quoting Isaiah 43:20-21, “The beasts of the field will glorify Me, the jackals and the ostriches, because I have given waters in the wilderness and rivers in the desert, to give drink to My chosen people. The people whom I formed for Myself will declare My praise.” What does that mean? Isaiah is describing how God will bring His people out of captivity from Babylon–He’ll save them because they are His chosen people that He made for Himself.
There are so many things I love about being a parent, and every age is a huge blessing, but there were times when the boys were in the high chair stage that were so fun. Every parent knows the pure humor of watching their child fall asleep in their high chair–watching them learn to eat, and more. Early on, one of the games I played with the boys was the “mine” game. “This is mine” . . . “no,” they’d say, “this is mine,” and back and forth we’d go, until I would say, “Yes, but you are mine!” with a big hug and all the devotion and affection of a parent who would willingly die for his sons.
“But you are a chosen race.” Our God is saying to you this morning, you are His! With all the affection and devotion of a God who did die for His children! We are not like unbelievers who are appointed to judgment, but we are chosen. Peter says this to be an encouragement to Christians, both Jew and Gentile of many races, who are suffering under the hands of unbelievers. This is not a future promise but a current promise. Peter doesn’t say you will be a chosen race, but you are currently a chosen race.
The phrases and thoughts in this passage are rooted in the Old Testament, but they are used by Peter here to refer to the corporate assembly of Christians, the Church–but you are a chosen race. Just as God chose Abraham’s descendants as His chosen race, now people from all races are His chosen people. Peter says your identity is no longer by race, Jew or Gentile, Mexican or Asian, Philippino or black, Indian or white–no! Your identity is now in Christ, as His chosen race.
The Greek word race is a unique word describing descendants–it is where we get the word “genesis”. It has to do with “kind”. There is a taste of ethnicity here. Now we Christians are seen as a race of people, just like the Jews were treated as a race. The implications are staggering. Races tend to stick together–they don’t need to, but culturally they tend to stay together, form communities, even marry in the same race. They tend to remain with their own in this fallen world.
But all that changes in Christ. Now in Christ, race is not the determining or unifying allegiance for believers. We are chosen by God to be His new race. And once chosen, we have more similarities than dissimilarities. As believers, we have more to bind us together than to separate us. One of the most precious pictures in scripture is Revelation 7:9-10, “After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.’”
Every nation–all tribes and peoples and tongues! That is so cool. We have a lot of different races here at FBC–and we want more! There has been no racial reconciliation strategy–we have no quotas. We are united, closer than race, closer than family, because we are chosen by Christ. “But you are a chosen race.”
I heard once that God is color blind. He is not–He sees one color. The red blood of His Son that can save anyone who would believe. Red and yellow, black and white, they are all precious in His sight. When you’re saved, race is no longer an issue . . . ever. You know my test for checking whether you’re a racist or not? If you won’t allow your children to marry a strong believer of another race because of their race, then you are a racist!
Skin color does not matter– what matters is heart transformation. If Christ is in you, then we are brothers, and the love we share is closer than race, closer than culture, even closer than language. We are a chosen race, friends–a group of people who are united by a common heritage through the new birth. A chosen race and . . .
Second A royal priesthood
“You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood.” Royal has to do with being related to the King, and priesthood has to do with special and unique access to God and the responsibility to represent Him to people. That is exactly what Peter is describing with a royal priesthood. Once we’ve been awakened from the dead, turned to Christ in repentance and faith, we now have a special identity.
Peter probably pulled “a royal priesthood” from Moses in Exodus 19:5-6a, “Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” Moses was calling Israel to reflect the character of the one true God to the nations. Together, Israel was to be a mirror for other nations to see the glory of God. They were to be so convincing, other peoples would see that no god rivals the Lord. Sadly, Israel mainly failed at this calling. So Peter says, now the Church is to display God’s character by the indwelling Holy Spirit through us, empowering us to . . .
1) live His Word, and
2) proclaim the message of salvation
In Christ, we don’t go through priests to have communion with God, but we must look outward as priests to the people of our world, to make certain they see Christ through us. As a royal priesthood, we’re the bridge between God and the lost, to pray and share Christ. But notice, we are one step better, in that we’re not merely a kingdom of priests, but we are a royal priesthood. We are actually Christ’s royal family. We are related to the king, and together we all have special access into God’s presence.
The word royal means belonging to royalty and a royal palace. There is something about us that loves royalty. In spite of the soap opera nature of Prince Charles, or Princess Di when she was alive, and even the Queen of England–we love royalty. Well Christian, you are! Except your King is no low-level earthly king, you’re related to the eternal, all-powerful, all-wise king of all kings, to whom you have special access and empowerment to serve. Don’t let anyone steal your identity–never act beneath a prince and princess of the king. The spiritual house described in verse 5 is the church filled with God’s Spirit. And this Spirit-filled house called FBC is a royal house, a royal priesthood. Plus, we are . . .
Third A holy nation
“You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.” “Nation” means we are a community of people gathered under a common government. “Holy” means we are separated from other people of the world, consecrated to God, unique and distinct.
Israel was to be a holy nation, a morally blameless nation, a nation that strives against sin and pursues being like their God! Within her borders, she was to be uniquely set apart for God alone, completely unique and separate. Now the church is identified as citizens of a holy nation, not by our ethnicity, but by our new character–holiness . . . with a passionate allegiance to our heavenly King above all. We are not a nation with borders or geographical boundaries, but by being set apart as God’s unique people throughout the world.
Are you an American citizen? A Christian should answer yes, and no. Look at what Peter calls us in 1 Peter 2:11–aliens and strangers. Thank you, Peter. At lunch, when someone asks you, “What were you doing this morning?” . . . . “Oh, I was hanging out with a bunch of aliens and strangers . . . and I can’t wait to see them again. Those strangers are closer to me than my family.” . . . . “What did you do with them?” . . . . “I sang with strangers, fellowshipped with aliens, and heard this really strange alien teach from the Bible!”
Christian, you belong to a different nation, a holy nation. You may be a citizen of the United States of America, but when you came to Christ, you embraced a dual citizenship and your new citizenship is more important, of higher value, and more precious since it binds you to God and to His people in every nation of this world. Philippians 3:20, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Don’t lose sight of your new identity as a holy nation. “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession.”
Fourth A people for God’s own possession
You and I are people who have a special relationship with God. We are distinctive people, possessed by Him, and treasured by Him as a private possession, a special possession and a valued possession. Possession means to acquire for a price. You believers belong to God, because Christ bought you with the ultimate price.
Revelation 5:9, “And they sang a new song, saying, ‘Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.'” You’ve been purchased–there was a price that had to be paid for you to become God’s royal child.
You see, you have sinned. James 2:10 says, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.” But friends, understand, sin is not just something that you do, it is something you are. It’s more than your lying that made you a liar, and more than your stealing that made you a thief. To the core of your being, you are sinful to the point Romans 3:10-12 says, “There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one.”
And the Bible declares in Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death.” Because of your sin, the payment was death–separation from God now and forever–physical death and the second death, eternal hell. We could not pay the price of death because we are sinners. So what did God do? Through the death of Christ, God’s perfect son, 2 Corinthians 5:21, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
Jesus Christ paid the price for our sin by dying on the cross and rising from the dead. And when we are awakened to turn to Him in repentance and depend on Him in faith, we will be justified. Our sin and the payment of death is taken care of. He paid for us, and now He owns us. We are His. You belong to Him, a people for God’s own possession.
Human attachments are strong. Between Jean and me, there is an unbreakable bond–its the Great Wall of China massive. I love that woman, I am gonna’ chase her all around heaven–holy kiss. We are one, we are glued, I am hers, and she is mine! Plus, no one messes with my daughter and my sons–I’m bound to them. But that’s nothing compared to the attachment we have to God through Jesus Christ. You and I are a people for God’s own possession.
Don’t let anyone steal your identity–you have some amazing privileges. But friends, those privileges are for a purpose. Read what God’s Word says in Psalm 67:1-2, “God be gracious to us and bless us, and cause His face to shine upon us. That Your way may be known on the earth, Your salvation among all nations.” The psalmist prays for God to be gracious to us and bless us. Why? So we can be happy? comfortable and free of trial? No! So we can make His salvation known to all the nations. In the same way Peter states your privileges are for a purpose.
#2 Your PURPOSE
Our purpose in verse 9b, “So that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” We’re in this privileged position, not so we can sit, soak and sour–not to glory in our position as chosen ones, or merely sit back and wait for the next bus to heaven. No, we are here to extol God’s character.
See the “so that”–this describes the purpose of our privilege. What is it? Verse 9, “that we proclaim.” Proclaim is used only here in the New Testament, and means to publish, to advertise, to make widely known. The opposite or antonym of proclaim is to be silent, or to keep quiet! Our God is a communicating God. He gave us creation, He sent us His prophets and apostles, He gave us His Word, and He sent His Son. When we become true children of God, we too will become communicators–we will publish, advertise and make widely known His excellencies. Wow! What a truth.
“Excellencies” is not what you think–the word actually describes God’s ability to perform powerful and heroic deeds . . . His superiority. You and I as Christians have the distinct privilege of telling the world that Christ has the power to accomplish the amazing, extraordinary, overwhelmingly wonderful work of redemption. Excellencies is referring to God’s wondrous deeds.
Think about it–God first chooses us, undeserving sinners, as His representatives. Then He uses us to gather other sinners to Himself. Through your life and lips, we are to share the message of what God has done for us. Think about it–God made you, yet you all rebelled against Him, did your own thing, defied him, went your own way, loved sin, loved darkness, loved wickedness and were in the process of destroying your own life, when God awakened you so you could turn to Him in repentance and depend on Him in faith thus receiving a totally new, forgiven, cleansed, empowered, regenerated life.
We’ve all gone to evangelism courses and profited from them, but if you want to be a good evangelist, here is all it is. Recognize that you as a Christian, have been (verse 9) “called out of darkness into his marvelous light.” It’s remembering that you were darkness and that you are now light. You were in darkness. Throughout history the world has faced two kinds of darkness–intellectual and moral. Intellectual darkness is ignorance–the inability to see and know the truth. Moral darkness is immorality–the inability to see and do what is right. This is the darkness Peter describes here–the sinful state of all unbelievers who are trapped in the spiritual darkness of Satan and ignorance of the truth. Just like Paul preached in Acts 26:18, “to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.”
The Bible tells us that unbelievers are born in darkness, walk in darkness, and they actually love the darkness. So what did Christ do for you as an unbeliever? Peter says, “God has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” God called you–not a general call made to all mankind, but a special call, a sovereignly powerful, effectual call–kaleo! Only when you are called in this manner can you be saved, and always when you are called in this manner will you be saved.
God’s general call to all is Matthew 11:28, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” But this general call can be rejected. Like John 5:40, “And you are unwilling to come to Me, that you may have life.”
But the special call Peter refers to is God awakening His own in time. Romans 8:30, “Whom He predestined, these He also called.” 2 Timothy 1:9, “Who has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace.” And here in 1 Peter 2:9, “has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” If we come to Christ, God called us, (which none of us deserves)–if we don’t come to Christ, God did not call us, which all of us deserve. And this calling is out of darkness and into God’s marvelous light.
Peter is telling all of you who are God’s genuine children that you have now moved from a state of sin and ignorance into a condition of holiness and illumination. Just like Ephesians 5:8, “For you were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of Light.” Darkness to light is describing your conversion–and your salvation and mine was just as dramatic as when our world was in darkness, and God said, “Let there be light!”
And Peter says this light is His light, it is the light of God, the place where we see Him, enjoy Him, know Him, fellowship with Him. Peter’s not talking about the light of a system or a church. We proclaim the excellencies of what? Not what, but whom? Of Him!
You’re not talking about a program to others. You’re describing a person who personally rescued you from sinful darkness . . . into light. So Peter calls His light marvelous. It means to continually be astonished in admiration of His character. It is the idea of being overwhelmed with His beauty. So get this–God didn’t just save you to rescue you from Hell. It is not all about you. It is about making known God’s amazing deeds in rescuing you from the slavery of sinful darkness into the freedom of His astonishing light. Evangelism is telling people what God did for you! It is telling people what God did great in your life.
The most effective evangelism is saying, “I have got to tell you what God did in me because of His Son. He called me personally out of darkness into light, He chose me, He delivered me from sin and He changed me. It’s personal. I was lost, blind, given to my urges, enslaved to my sins and God freed me, woke me up, gave me sight, loved me, and is now using me for His glory.” Evangelism is proclaiming what God personally did for you. You’re to be God’s great deed encyclopedia for others to read! You are the phone book of His blessings in your life. You are the google maps of how to get to know Him personally.
You say, Chris I don’t know Him that well. Then study your Bible–your purpose is to proclaim. You were saved to share about what God did for you, who dramatically changed you, and who is awesome in so many ways. You will never have enough time to finish describing Him. So your privileges have a purpose, which includes a special position.
#3 Your Position
Read verse 10, “For you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” Peter is quoting the prophet Hosea, when the northern tribes split from the southern tribes. When Israel divided, Hosea spoke to the North who were continually treating God like an unfaithful wife. God lovingly warns them if they continue in sin, they’ll no longer receive God’s mercy but be judged by the Assyrians, who fell upon them in 722 BC when the Assyrians took them captive.
But God promises Israel there will be a future time, a kingdom, when He will have compassion on them, and they will once again be His people. You were just a bunch of disconnected independent sinners. But now you are connected together as the people of God. Now all of you genuine Christians are verse 10, “Now the people of God.”
Right now, look at the people down your row, not your family. Those are God’s people. God would say, “These are my children.” You say, “Chris, why them?”, and I say, “Look at yourself, why you?”
Peter takes this Old Testament reference and applies it to the Church, made up of mainly Gentiles. These Gentiles used to live in total darkness of sin and ignorance of God’s truth, but now are delivered from sin and awakened to truth, making them into God’s people, being the recipients of amazing mercy! Now you have received mercy. This mercy is not the common mercy God shows to all lost people by not immediately destroying them because of their sin.
God is merciful to all people, in that He doesn’t unleash the just consequences all of us deserve for our defiance of Him. No, the mercy of verse 10 is the divine saving mercy displayed toward His chosen ones. God’s mercy rescues believers from judgment in hell and grants believers eternal inheritance in heaven. Mercy is my favorite part of salvation. Everything about mercy screams the cross. Grace is giving you what you don’t deserve. Mercy is not giving you what you do deserve.
Have you ever experienced mercy outside of salvation? Have you ever been pulled over, but let go though you deserved a ticket because you got your license at K-Mart? Ever got in trouble and they said forget about it? Maybe you cheated in school and the teacher just warned you. Or you messed up at work, should’ve been fired, but weren’t. But all that is nothing compared to standing over the cliff of hell, knowing you deserve to go there forever but you were rescued by Christ. And what a rescue!
Someone had to die to keep you from being tossed in hell. And they had to die violently, experiencing God’s full wrathful anger for your sin in order to keep you from the fate you deserved. Verse 10, “You had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” With my boys, we used to enjoy some ministry together in the bathroom; at times it was in the washing machine room where we tried to get to the seat of certain matters. On rare times I would say, “I will show you mercy this once.” And there was joy and celebration in the Mueller house. But the funny thing was, the next time they sinned and we would go to that special room, they would say, “Dad, how about some mercy, can I have some mercy? Would you give me some mercy?” They didn’t want to receive what they deserved. Do you?
Mercy before the God you have offended is only given to those who go to the cross and depend upon Christ. Verse 10 says to you Christian, “We have now received mercy.” Do you understand the depth of that? If you do, then you have something to say to others about Christ. You don’t have to know everything, you do have to know Christ and share with others what He has done for you. This is why you’ve been blessed, this is why “you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession.” This is why God left you here. This is why you go to your job, attend your school, have those lost family members, work out at the gym, have those neighbors . . .
To make known His amazing, awesome excellencies . . . To declare His mercy to all.
God saved you to share.