Monday, December 5, 2016

Leadership Approach Reveals View of God

I would like to share with you some thoughts on Christian leadership that my wife Jennifer had, which I thought were quite insightful. She said:

"It seems that the way in which the leadership in a church or other Christian organization behaves and treats others reflects their view of God and of the gospel.

If the leadership is behaving in a way that is not consistent with the God of the Bible, then are they really worshiping the one true God?

If the leadership is behaving in a way that is inconsistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ, then are they really preaching the true gospel?

On the one hand, the leadership can view God as someone who tolerates sin.  In that case, they do not take sin seriously and do not take measures to bring discipline. They fail to realize that according to the Bible, those who live in sin will not be accepted by God and, thus, will enter the kingdom of God (Rev. 21:8; 22:15; 1 Cor. 6:9-10).

On the other hand, the leadership can view God as someone who is rather on the unforgiving, unmerciful side and nearly impossible to please.   This view will most likely lead to sheep abuse. Furthermore, even God 'does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities' (Ps. 103:10 NIV), when we walk with Him with Him in contrition.

Leadership in this category need to be reminded that God is love.  Love is patient and kind.  It's not easily angered.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres (1 Cor. 13).  Leadership that is not behaving in a manner consistent with this description is not representing God."

I agree with her, and she said it well. I would add that the people in any church or Christian organization tend to reflect the views of the leadership, which shapes the culture within that group. So it can have a beneficial effect or a damaging one.

Author's note:  If you enjoyed this post, you may also like the other posts in this blog available through the Home page, such as A Tale of Two KingsThe Servant of the LordThe Shepherding Role of EldersSuccess in God's EyesAccountable, correctable, and teachableA Personality Profile of the Apostle PaulPersecuted or Popular?, The Nature of False Prophets, Are We Really Little Gods?, Testing the Spirits of False Prophets, and Having a Servant's Heart. You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission.

Friday, November 25, 2016

A Tale of Two Kings

There are many lessons to learn by contrasting the lives of two men -- Saul and David, who had both been anointed by God to serve as king of Israel. Let us consider that passage of Scripture in which David lamented the death of King Saul and his son Jonathan. Though Saul was his enemy, who had hunted him down like an animal, David mourned for him, just as he did for his best friend Jonathan. One of the repeated lines in that lament was “How the mighty have fallen!” (2 Sam 1:19,25,27).

Yet Saul himself was responsible for his own defeat and for the defeat of Israel by the Philistines. He was jealous of David, the Lord’s anointed and tried to kill him. Saul was rebellious and arrogant, and the Lord had rejected him as king (1 Sam 15:23). The Spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit tormented him (1 Sam 16:14). He inquired of the Lord, but the Lord no longer answered him (1 Sam 28:6). God had turned away from him (1 Sam 28:15), so he consulted a medium (a witch), which was an abomination to God (1 Sam 28:7-8; Lev 19:31). And when he saw that the enemy was defeating him, he took his own life (1 Sam 31:4). So while David was very gracious in his lament, the fact is that when Saul had fallen, he was the one who had brought it all upon himself and upon the nation through his own sin.

On the other hand, David had always operated with integrity, meekness, and humility. He never retaliated against Saul. He did not return evil with evil, but with a blessing. If Saul had stopped trying to kill David, he would have remained in Saul’s service, submitted humbly to the king, leading his armies to victory in battle. He was a man of righteousness and honor, who spared Saul’s life on two occasions (1 Samuel 23:14-24:22; 26). In fact, his tender conscience was stricken after he merely cut off the corner of Saul’s robe (1 Sam 24:5). He was a loving and faithful man with a servant’s heart.

Saul was a type that represented the religious leader who operates in the flesh, seeking to control people, rather than love them, and David represented the one who walks meekly and humbly by the Spirit. As a man after God’s own heart, David also represents Christ, the Son of David. The story of Saul and David is a great lesson for all pastors today to follow David’s example and not Saul’s.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Saul and David painting by Rembrandt 1665-60. Saul Attacking David by Guercino (1646).

Author's note:  If you enjoyed this post, you may also like the other posts in this blog available through the Home page, such as The Servant of the Lord, The Shepherding Role of Elders, Success in God's Eyes, Accountable, correctable, and teachable, A Personality Profile of the Apostle Paul, Persecuted or Popular?, David, A Man After God's Own Heart, and Having a Servant's Heart. You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master." 

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission.

Friday, November 4, 2016

A Personality Profile of the Apostle Paul

The Apostle Paul
Have you ever wondered what kind of person the apostle Paul was? Here was a man who wrote half the books of the New Testament under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. He was very bold in his letters. In fact, some people even felt his letters were demanding and forceful. He once had a sharp disagreement with his ministry partner that caused them to go separate ways. Prior to knowing Christ, he persecuted Christians.

Based on some of these characteristics, we could form a conclusion about him that may not be an accurate picture of what he was actually like. In fact, it may be quite different from his true personality and appearance. Have you ever listened for years to a certain radio personality and never seen what they look like, but then one day you finally see a picture of the person and are surprised, because they didn't look anything like the way you pictured them to be? Similarly, we might be surprised to know what Paul was really like.

Maybe you pictured him as a tall, handsome, sharp-dressed man. Such men are popular in the pulpit today. Or perhaps you thought of him as an eloquent speaker, who impressed people with his preaching. Or perhaps you think of him as a mean person, as I once heard someone speculate. So let's see what kind of person Paul was according to the Bible.

Unskilled in Speaking
He was not a trained or polished speaker. Some people described him as unskilled in speech, unskilled in speaking, not good with words, an amateur in speaking, saying his speech was of no account, his speaking amounted to nothing, his speech was contemptible, or that he was a terrible speaker. (2 Cor 10:10, 11:6). John Wesley took these verses to mean that Paul spoke "in a plain, unadorned way, like an unlearned person."

In fact, although he had been thoroughly trained in the Law under a prominent and highly esteemed rabbi named Gamaliel (Ac 22:3), he admitted he was not a great orator. “And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God.” (1Co 2:1, NASB). “When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.” (1Co 2:1, NASB). Perhaps he could relate well with Moses who said, "I have never been eloquent...I am slow of speech and tongue.” (Ex 4:10, NIV).

“My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power.” (1 Cor 2:4, NIV). He simply relied on the power of the Holy Spirit.

Let preachers today remember this and speak to bless rather than to impress.

Physically Unimpressive 
His personal presence was weak. Some people said his bodily presence was weak, in person he was unimpressive. In other words, his personal presence was unimpressive. (2 Cor 10:10). This shows us the weak side of Paul, and he was aware of the fact that he was unimpressive, naturally speaking.

He himself said, “I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling.” (1Co 2:3, NASB). In another version it says, “I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling.” (1Co 2:3, NIV).

Like the Lord Jesus, there was nothing about him physically that would draw people to him. The Scripture says of Jesus, "He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him." (Is 53:2b, NIV).

Vulnerable to Sickness
He was not completely immune to illnesses common to all men, even though the Lord used him mightily to heal the sick. He wrote to the Galatians, “But you know that it was because of a bodily illness that I preached the gospel to you the first time; and that which was a trial to you in my bodily condition you did not despise or loathe, but you received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus Himself.” (Gal 4:13-14, NASB). In the NIV, it says, “As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you, and even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn. Instead, you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as if I were Christ Jesus himself.” (Gal 4:13-14, NIV).

In some circles today, if a person is sick, it means they have sin in their life. But let's remember that even Paul suffered from an illness at least at one time in his life as a Christian.

A Caring Person
He cared deeply about people. “Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears.” (Act 20:31). Day and night for three years, he admonished the Ephesians with tears. You can't fake that. In fact, he daily faced the pressure of his concern for all the churches, not just the Ephesians (2 Cor 11:28). Someone has said, "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care."

A Loving Person
He loved people. He wrote to the Corinthians, “I will most gladly spend and be expended for your souls. If I love you more, am I to be loved less?” (2Co 12:15). "For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you with many tears; not so that you would be made sorrowful, but that you might know the love which I have especially for you." (2Co 2:4). He also wrote to the Thessalonians, "And may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all people, just as we also do for you." (1Th 3:12). He told the Philippians that he had them in his heart and longed for them with the affection of Christ (Php 1:7-8).

A Christ Centered Person
He put Christ’s interests above his own. “But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.” (Act 20:24). He wrote to the Galatians, "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me." (Gal 2:20)

A Gentle Person
He was a gentleman. He wrote to the Thessalonians, “But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children.” (1Th 2:7). And he wrote to the Corinthians, "Now I, Paul, myself urge you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ--I who am meek when face to face with you, but bold toward you when absent!" (2Co 10:1). Although he was bold in his letters, he was meek when face to face, which may have made him seem to some people as if he was timid.

A Humble Person
He was humble. In his letter to the Philippians, he wrote, "Although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more: circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless. But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ...Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.” (Php 3:4-7,12).

He wrote to the Corinthians, "I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say..." (2 Cor 12:5b-6). He summed it up by saying, "I am nothing." (2 Cor 12:11). And in his epistle to the Romans, he said, "For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh." (Rom 7:18)

Paul's name had originally been Saul, perhaps after King Saul, whom we remember from the Bible was a head and shoulders taller than all the others. Yet when he came to Christ, he changed his name to Paul, which means little. This shows how the Lord humbled him completely.

A Hard Worker
He was hardworking. He said to the Ephesians, “You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my own needs and to the men who were with me.” (Act 20:34). He said to the Corinthians that he worked much harder than others who claimed to be apostles (2 Cor 11:23). He wrote to the Thessalonians, “Nor did we eat anyone's bread without paying for it, but with labor and hardship we kept working night and day so that we would not be a burden to any of you;” (2Th 3:8)

Deeply Held Convictions
He was a man of strong convictions. “After some days Paul said to Barnabas, "Let us return and visit the brethren in every city in which we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are." Barnabas wanted to take John, called Mark, along with them also. But Paul kept insisting that they should not take him along who had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. And there occurred such a sharp disagreement that they separated from one another, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus.” (Act 15:36-39)

A Praying Man
He was a praying man, who prayed for others. Although some preachers today spend their time preparing messages, and are quite impressive behind the pulpit, what are they like in the secret place of prayer? Are they devoted to prayer? Paul was. He said, “We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers.” (1Th 1:2) “For God, whom I serve in my spirit in the preaching of the gospel of His Son, is my witness as to how unceasingly I make mention of you, always in my prayers making request, if perhaps now at last by the will of God I may succeed in coming to you.”(Rom 1:9-10). “Brethren, my heart's desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation.” (Rom 10:1). “We are glad whenever we are weak and you are strong; and our prayer is for your perfection.” (2Co 13:9, NIV 1978). “For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints, do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him.” (Eph 1:15-17). “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all.” (Php 1:3-4). “We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you.” (Col 1:3). “To this end also we pray for you always, that our God will count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power.” (2Th 1:11).

He was constantly praying for people, thanking God for them with joy. That's how he chose to spend his time. He could have spent it doing many other things, including sleeping, preaching, preparing messages, working, or making money. But he chose to spend much of his time praying for people. I believe it was E.M. Bounds in his book, Power Through Prayer, who said the average preacher prays only five minutes a day. What a pity! What we need are praying men who will spend that time before God in the secret place each day.

A Suffering Servant
He considered himself a servant, who suffered greatly for the Lord, referring to himself as a doulos, or slave of Christ (Rom 1:1; Gal 1:10; Phil 1:1; Tit 1:1).

In Paul's own words, he described himself like this: "To my shame I must say that we have been weak by comparison. But in whatever respect anyone else is bold--I speak in foolishness--I am just as bold myself. Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I. Are they servants of Christ?--I speak as if insane--I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches. Who is weak without my being weak? Who is led into sin without my intense concern? If I have to boast, I will boast of what pertains to my weakness." (2Co 11:21-30).

He also wrote, "For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more." (1Co 9:19). In the end, he ultimately gave his life for Christ. According to tradition, Paul was beheaded in Rome during the reign of Nero.

Putting it All Together
I have read someplace that perhaps Paul was short, bald, and had a big nose. Who can say for sure? We don't really know what he looked like, since they did not have any photos in those days, and there were no portraits painted of him during his lifetime that we can look at to know how he looked. But as he once wrote, "Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer." (2Co 5:16). We do not seek to know Paul from a worldly point of view. Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.

Paul may have been the type of person, whom you could walk by and not even know was a mighty man of God. If you had lived during his day and he came walking into your town with his ministry team, you might ask who it is, and if someone told you that was the apostle Paul, you might be very surprised that he looked so unassuming. If you listened to him speak during his earthly lifetime, you may not be very impressed.

According to Scripture, we do know he was unskilled in speaking by the world's standards, physically unimpressive, a man like we are, vulnerable to sickness, yet a very caring, loving, affectionate, gentle, humble, praying, hard-working person with deeply held convictions, who was Christ-centered and living his life for Jesus. May we remember and apply to ourselves his admonition to the Corinthians when he said, "Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ." (1Co 11:1). Let's follow his example, as he followed the example of Christ.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Most other Scriptures taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV®, unless otherwise noted. The painting of Saint Paul Writing His Epistles is probably by Valentin de Boulogne (1591 - 1632) (French).  This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published (or registered with the U.S. Copyright Office) before January 1, 1923.
Author's note:  If you enjoyed this post, you may also like the other posts in this blog available through the links in the side bar, such as Success in God's Eyes and Persecuted or Popular?. I also recommend Having a Servant's Heart, The Glory of Martyrdom for Christ, Why Paul Lived Like a Jew Among the Jews, Holding Fast the Faithful Word, The Top Ten Things Jesus Taught, Loving Deeply, Sins That Will Keep You From Heaven, Popularity of the Gospel, Ask for the Ancient Paths, The Knowledge of the Holy, Separation from the World, Ultimate Accountability, Avoid Becoming a Corrupted Christian, The Cost of Discipleship, The Judgment Seat of Christ. You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Priesthood of All Believers

Thou Art Worthy by C.V Lacroix
In my previous article, Clergy-Laity Distinction unbiblical, I explained that there is no Scriptural basis for limiting the priesthood to a special class of people within the Church, nor is there any biblical grounds for excluding all others in the Church from the priesthood. In this present post, I would like to expand on the priesthood of all believers.

All disciples in the kingdom of God are priests. A priest, according to the Word of God, is one who represents men before Almighty God and performs a holy service in God’s house. Let's see what the Scriptures say.

A Holy Priesthood
The apostle Peter wrote, “You also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1Pe 2:5).

Peter used the expression “holy priesthood” in this passage. This sets us apart from all other priests on earth, including pagan priests. We are a holy priesthood, which is a high calling. The emphasis is on holiness to the Lord in our service to Him.

As holy priests, we are called to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. According to the apostle Paul, the spiritual sacrifice we offer is our body. He wrote:

“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” (Rom 12:1).

Instead of placing dead animals on the altar as the Israelites did, or placing our children on an altar as the pagans do, he said we should present our own bodies a living and holy sacrifice. This is our spiritual service of worship as priests.

A Royal Priesthood
Not only are we a holy priesthood, we are a royal one, since we are a kingdom. In John’s Revelation, he wrote:

“He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father--to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (Rev 1:6).

“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 have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.’" (Rev 5:9-10)

Jesus is the Lamb who was slain, who purchased for God with His blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.  He made us to be a kingdom and priests to our God. And it says we will reign upon the earth, which is in line with what God told Moses to prophesy to the Israelites:

“And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” (Exo 19:6a).

Moses used the expression “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation”, rather than “a kingdom and priests” as we see in Revelation 5:10, but it carries the very same meaning.

The apostle Peter agreed with this when he wrote:

“But you are a chosen race, A royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 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.”  (1Pe 2:9-10). 

Peter’s use of the expression, “royal priesthood” comes from the Greek Septuagint, which translates Exodus 19:6 in part to say, “a royal priesthood and a holy nation.” He said the reason we were made to be a royal priesthood and a holy nation was so that we may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. Proclaiming His excellencies refers to praise and worship, as well as telling others what God has done for us, which is our testimony, and what He can do for them, too. All disciples are supposed to do this.

Our Offerings to God as Priests
Paul referred to himself as one ministering like a priest. “But I have written very boldly to you on some points so as to remind you again, because of the grace that was given me from God, to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles, ministering as a priest the gospel of God, so that my offering of the Gentiles may become acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.” (Rom 15:15-16 NASB). In Paul’s priestly service, he was offering up Gentiles to God. The Gentiles became acceptable to God through the gospel of God that Paul ministered to them, and through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit.

Paul also referred to another type of offering that we as priests make to God, which is our praise and thanks to God. God is pleased with such sacrifices. He said, “Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” (Heb 13:15-16). Not only is God pleased with the sacrifices of praise and thanks that we offer to Him, but He is also pleased whenever we offer to Him such sacrifices as good deeds and sharing with others.

But notice that even though we are all priests offering sacrifices to God that He is pleased with, that does not mean we are all called to function in an oversight role. Paul said in the very next verse, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.” (Heb 13:17 NASB). This shows us that although it is true we are all priests, we still need to obey our leaders and submit to their authority, since they keep watch over our souls

Direct Access to God
Beware of any church that teaches you must go through a priest in order to obtain access to God. For example, they may teach that you must confess your sins to a priest in order to receive forgiveness, which is false. That’s what I was once taught and I believed it.

However, the apostle Paul said, “…there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus…” (1Ti 2:5). The only Mediator between God and men is Christ.

Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (Joh 14:6). The one and only way to the Father is through Jesus – nobody else.

As priests of God, all believers have direct access to the Father through Jesus Christ, not through any man. This is a big blessing, but it is also a big responsibility!

Keeping People Clean
One of the problems with the priests in Israel is that they failed to do what they were called by God to do. They broke the Law of God, defiled His holy things, and made no distinction between the holy and the profane. They did not teach the difference between the clean and the unclean, and they neglected keeping the Lord’s Sabbaths. The Lord said through Ezekiel the prophet, who was also a priest:

"Her priests have done violence to My law and have profaned My holy things; they have made no distinction between the holy and the profane, and they have not taught the difference between the unclean and the clean; and they hide their eyes from My sabbaths, and I am profaned among them. (Eze 22:26)

Because these priests went astray, they lost some of their privileges that had been given to them by God. They were left with the task of keeping charge of God’s house and all its service and all that was done in it, but they were no longer allowed to come near to the Lord. Instead the Lord chose to have the sons of Zadok, be the ones to come near to Him and stand before Him to minister to Him and offer sacrifices, because they were holy and did not go astray like Israel and the other Levites did. Since the Zadok priests were faithful, the Lord told Ezekiel He would give them a most holy place as their allotment with the sanctuary of the Lord in the middle of it. He said:

"It shall be for the priests who are sanctified of the sons of Zadok, who have kept My charge, who did not go astray when the sons of Israel went astray as the Levites went astray. (Eze 48:11).

It’s very important to God that we as priests keep ourselves holy and do not go astray from the Lord. We are supposed to make a distinction between the holy and the profane and between the clean and the unclean.

God requires purity in our lives. But there are priests today, as in the days when Israel went astray, who do not teach the need for purity. The Lord requires holiness, but some preachers teach that the only holiness we need is the inward kind. They deny that God is concerned about the rest of our lives, such as our bodies and how we attire and adorn them. God is certainly interested in our whole lives, and commands us to be holy in all we do, not just in certain select areas, such as the inward parts, but in everything. As Peter said, “But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.’” (1 Pe 1:15-16, NIV).

Putting it All Together
Scripture teaches that all believers are priests and are part of God’s holy priesthood. We all have direct access to God through Jesus Christ. The spiritual sacrifice we offer to God is our own body, as well as our praises. The service we perform for Him is to proclaim the excellencies of Christ, as well as the gospel of God. When people through our ministry believe the gospel, come to Christ, and become sanctified by the Holy Spirit, then as priests we offer them also to God.

The term priest is not reserved for a select few individuals, but is used for all disciples in the kingdom of God. Let’s be sure that we order and align our lives with this calling in everything we do, including all of our plans, decisions, prayers, thoughts, attitudes, deeds, and words. We must keep ourselves pure and be holy even as God is holy. Our lives are not our own. We’ve been bought with a price. We are set apart for God. We are not supposed to live our lives for ourselves, but for Him who died for us and rose again on our behalf.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Most other Scriptures taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV®, unless otherwise noted. "Thou Art Worthy" illustration by my seventeen-year old daughter, C.V.  You can find more of her lovely artwork at A Brush with Life.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also like the other posts in this blog available through the Home page directory on this blog. I also recommend reading Clergy-Laity Distinction unbiblical, A Tale of Two Kings, Baptized with the Spirit, Supernatural Power for All Disciples, How to Treat Leaders, Accountable, correctable, and teachable, and Unbiblical Practices of the Catholic Church. You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master." 


Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission.