But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; (1 Peter 2:9, NKJV)
Peter has developed the point that Christians are “a holy priesthood” because Christ is the chief cornerstone of the house of God, the church (1 Peter 2:4-6). In this summary passage, he says our priesthood is royal or regal. Because we are citizens of the kingdom of God, we share in the blessings granted by the King (Jesus), who has “made us kings (a kingdom) and priests to His God and Father” (Revelation 1:6). Just as priests serve in a temple, Christians compose the temple of God – the church – and serve God in it (Ephesians 2:19-22). (This shows the importance and value God places on the church.) We are privileged to offer up spiritual sacrifices to God which are acceptable through Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:5). Therefore, our sacrifices and service to God must agree with His will since we are “priests to our God” (Revelation 5:10). The church does not decide what is acceptable service to God. God has done that, and revealed it to us in His word. It is up to us to offer Him the priestly service He expects and deserves (Romans 12:1-2).
6 Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, “Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.” 7 Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone,” 8 and “A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.” They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed. (1 Peter 2:6–8, NKJV)
Jesus is compared to two very different stones in this passage. First, He is the chief cornerstone from whom the temple of God, the church, has been measured and built (1 Peter 2:4-6; Matthew 16:18). Chosen by God for His preciousness, believers who trust Him will not be put to shame, for they are “living stones” in God’s spiritual house (1 Peter 2:4-5). Second, Jesus is a stone of stumbling and rock of offense to those who reject Him as the chief cornerstone. Refusing to put their faith in Him, they disobey His word. The disobedient are set (appointed) to stumble over Christ in their unbelief. Christ has been set as the chief cornerstone of God’s house. By believing and obeying His word, He will not be a rock of offense over which you fall, but the precious, living stone who gives life to you (1 Peter 2:4-5).
Your testimonies are very sure; Holiness adorns Your house, O Lord, forever. (Psalm 93:5, NKJV)
God is the eternal sovereign over heaven and earth. As our Creator and Sustainer, we have calm assurance that His commands attest to His power, wisdom, and holiness (see Psalm 19:7). His testimonies are “very sure” (they are certain, without discrepancy, and having no doubt). God’s commandments reflect His holiness and His certainty (James 1:17). The psalmist observed that holiness beautifies the house (temple) of God. The New Testament teaches that God’s house is not the temple Solomon built; it is the church Jesus built (Matthew 16:18; Ephesians 2:20-22; 1 Peter 2:4-5). Like our God, the church is to be holy and without blemish (Ephesians 5:26-27; 1 Peter 1:15-16). As we choose to trust and obey the sure and holy testimonies of God, we put our faith in Him whose “throne is established from of old,” and in Him who is worthy of eternal praise (Psalm 93:2).
8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.” 11 And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?” (Genesis 3:8–11, NKJV)
God’s constant desire is to dwell with His people. From the days in the garden, when God walked with Adam and Eve before their sin against Him, God has arranged the opportunity for men and women to share in His fellowship. The tabernacle of Moses and Solomon’s temple were places God accepted their service and “dwelt among them” (Exodus 25:8; Deuteronomy 12:5; 1 Kings 8:10-13; 9:3). Of course, these did not contain God (1 Kings 8:27). Today, He walks with His people in His temple, the church (Ephesians 2:16, 21-22). The dwelling places of God anticipate heaven (Revelation 21:3). It is sin that prevents walking with God, now and eternally. Reconciliation with God is available to you through the death of Jesus Christ (Romans 5:6-11). You cannot walk with God while living in sin (1 John 1:6). Today is the day to put away your sin, and walk with God (2 Corinthians 6:16-17, 2).
24 God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. 25 Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things.” (Acts 17:24–25, NKJV)
The God who was unknown to the Athenians and their philosophers – the God whom Paul proclaimed – is a creative God. Unlike the Greek pantheon that was borne of mythology, He is Ruler of heaven and earth. His invisible attributes (His eternal power and deity) are clearly seen, witnessed by the heavens and the earth (Rom. 1:20; Heb. 11:3). Consequently, it is futile to think that God inhabits temples made with human hands. Nor is God sustained by the works of men. We do not give God anything that sustains His existence. He is the source of our life, our breath and all that we are and possess. Idolatry is built upon the arrogance, futility and folly of men, who believe they can invent a god from their own imagination, carve an image of it, fall down before it, and then gain benefit from their god for doing so (Isa. 44:9-20; Jer. 10:1-16). The true and living God is superior to His creation; not dependent upon it for His existence and His perpetuation. Be sure you are honoring the true God and not a god you have imagined in your heart. The Bible shows the difference between the two.
19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. (1 Corinthians 6:19–20, NKJV)
We have been reared to think of ourselves as autonomous, in control of ourselves and unfettered by the authority of others. In one sense, this is true, for we are free moral agents – each one morally responsible and accountable to God and others for our actions. This demonstrates that while we are free to act without regard for others, such a decision is sinful and foolish. We must regard God and man in all our actions. Not only were our bodies were given to us by God, we were “bought at a price” by the offering of the blood of Jesus Christ (Heb. 9:28; 10:10-12; 1 Pet. 1:18-19). Instead of using our bodies to fulfill sinful lusts through sexual immorality, we are to offer our bodies in the service of the Lord to do His will (see Rom. 12:1-2). Coming out of the sinful defilement of the world, God will dwell with us and we with Him (2 Cor. 6:16-7:1). So then, both our redemption and our subsequent relation with God demands that we “flee fornication” and pursue righteousness (1 Cor. 6:18; 2 Tim. 2:22).
Blessed is the man You choose, and cause to approach You, that he may dwell in Your courts. We shall be satisfied with the goodness of Your house, of Your holy temple. (Psalm 65:4, NKJV)
God chose David, a man after God’s own heart, to rule over His people Israel. David praised God for this rich blessing and the ability to come into God’s presence. David and his people were content, filled up with the blessings of approaching and serving God. Today, the church of Christ is the temple of God (Eph. 2:19-22). Like David, we ought to be satisfied by our spiritual blessings in Christ, which bring us into God’s presence and sustain us in His fellowship (1 Cor. 1:9; Eph. 1:3-4). Truly, God is good. And so, we do not complain about the church as Christ built it. Its worship, its organization, its work, its ethics and morality elicits our praise and honor of the Lord. Instead of attempting to innovate and improve upon God’s holy temple, be satisfied to be a living stone in His temple and offer God acceptable, spiritual sacrifices (1 Pet. 2:5).