Responding to the Presence of Jesus – Week 6

“Dressed for God’s Glory!”

Key Verses:  Colossians 3:12-17  (NAS95)


Two weeks ago, I focused on an important teaching from 1 Peter 2. Today, I am going to leap off of one specific identity marker from this amazing teaching from Peter. Listen to 1 Peter 2:4-5,
“And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, 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.”
And 1 Peter 2:9-10,
“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.”


The identity marker we are going to focus on today is that we are called to be a holy and royal priesthood. First, we will look at the big picture of what this means and then we will look at two applications of being a holy and royal priest.


Remember, this teaching fits under the larger teaching that we are the Temple of the Holy Spirit—the restored Image Bearers of God’s Presence to the World. Our overarching purpose is always the glory of God—making His Presence known! As Peter stated in verse 1 Peter 2:9, royal priests “proclaim the excellencies of Him who has you out of darkness and into His marvelous light.”


Let’s examine our identity as a holy and royal priesthood:


Furthermore, of all the Israelites, God specifically chose the Levites to be the priests to a holy nation of priests. Listen to Deuteronomy 10:8-9,
“At that time the Lord set apart the tribe of Levi to carry the ark of the covenant of the Lord, to stand before the Lord to serve Him and to bless in His name until this day. Therefore, Levi does not have a portion or inheritance with his brothers; the Lord is his inheritance, just as the Lord your God spoke to him.”


Just as the specific family of the Levites was chosen to specifically function as the priests of Israel (intercessors between God and the Israelites), so the people of God in general (in this case the Israelites, but later also including the Church) were to function as priests to all of creation (intercessors between God and the “nations” (Gentiles; the rest of humanity). This has been God’s game plan since Genesis 11 and the separation of the nations. And we see this story thread from Genesis all the way through Revelation. This is why Israel was chosen, why the Law and the systems of worship and sacrifice were given, and why Jesus came as Messiah.


From the beginning, priests served as a set-apart family line of people who administered the people’s responsibilities in the covenant between God and man. In other words, they brought the people to God through the established systems of worship and sacrifice. They dressed in distinctive ways, worked to maintain the Temple and the systems of sacrifice and intercession, and had a close relationship with the administration of the society. All to preserve God’s prescribed way to experience the presence of God and live in His covenant love.


When you understand the theocratic nature of Israel, then you will see there is a symbiotic relationship between the work of the religious system (right worship and right sacrifices) done by the priests and the administrating systems of the kings (right justice and right living). This explains why an evil king could so easily lead the priests into false worship practices, and vice versa. The relationship was not meant to be dualistic or parasitic, but completely integrated and mutualistic—the right functioning of the priests brings thriving to the community as a whole and as the community as a whole thrives that brings greater glory to God in worship and sacrifice!


Briefly, an example of how the priests functioned within the larger community thriving was Deuteronomy 21:5
“Then the priests, the sons of Levi, shall come near, for the Lord your God has chosen them to serve Him and to bless in the name of the Lord; and every dispute and every assault shall be settled by them.”


With that simple understanding of priests being holy (set apart by God’s choosing) and royal (authorized through family lineage and in partnership with the King), let’s examine two applications for our everyday lives. Priests must do two things: (1) Dress the part and (2) Make right sacrifices for the glory God.

When you combine these two applications, you get today’s sermon title: “Dressed for God’s Glory!”


Priests dress the part in order to fit in!  That woke someone up… LOL! Please know that I’m not talking about women having to wear dresses and long hair and men having to wear suits with short hair.


Just as priests were “holy” (set apart for God’s purposes) by their distinctive dress and behavior, we are called to be “holy” (set apart for God’s purposes) which will result in us being different because of God’s presence.


If we are each a living stone, that means we have been quarried from death and brought to a new life through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. As new creations in Christ, we each must be dressed so that we can be fit together with other living stones to build the Temple of God’s Living Presence in the world.


All quarried stones must be “dressed” in order to fulfill their purpose in being chosen. Listen to an excerpt from an article on how to dress a quarried stone (


Stone found in nature, have to be quarried from their thick beds. After quarrying large pieces of rocks, it is essential to break them into smaller sizes so that they can be used in buildings. A place where exposed surfaces of good quality natural rocks are abundantly available is known as “quarry,” and the process of taking out stones from the natural bed is known as “quarrying.” This is done with the help of hand tools like a pickaxe, chisels, etc., or with the help of machines. … The dressing of stones is important so that they are dressed in suitable shapes and polished to give a smooth surface if desired. The stones are used in different types of masonry; therefore, it has to be cut and shaped to fit in the type of work needed.


According to this article on dressing stones, there are 3 purposes for doing so and each can be highlighted by Paul’s words in Colossians 3:12-17:


For the first purpose listen to verses 12-13,
“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.”


The first purpose of dressing a stone is: “to reduce the size.” We must decrease so that Christ can increase in and through us. The Holy Spirit dresses our heart character; we are transformed by the renewing of our minds so that our conduct is representative of being a new creation in Christ. The old must chipped off layer by layer!   


Secondly, listen to Colossians 3:14-15,
“Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.”


The second purpose of dressing a stone is: “to give a proper shape.” We do not fit together in our old ways of thinking and living. The perfect bond of unity, our fitting together, is dependent on our absolute submission to the Head and our mutual submission to one another as fellow members of His body. What binds us together is not ourselves, but the love and peace of Christ that we must be dressed in. Once again, the old ways of selfishness and anxious living must be chipped off layer by layer.


For the third and final purpose, listen to Colossians 3:16-17,
“Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”


The third purpose of dressing a stone is: “to give an appealing finish.” Our lives are about the glory of God through us! And this leads us directly into our primary function as a holy and royal priesthood: Priests offer right sacrifices for the glory of God! We are to lead the nations into right worship to the one true God!


With all this mind, I now want you to listen to Paul teach us very practically in Romans 12:


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. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove [by testing you may discern] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [mature]. For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.


We are to offer right service to God and that is called worship!  Worship is more than a Sunday service and much more than a music style. Right worship bring God glory and that is what priests offer to a community. If we are to bring glory to God through right worship, it must start with each of us offering ourselves as living sacrifices, what Paul calls a “spiritual service of worship.” This is God’s reasonable expectation of His priests.


That is our identity and purpose as a holy and royal priesthood. This is how we are to respond to the presence of God. We are to be dressed for God’s glory and lead others into His presence by the way we live our lives for Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit.


You can listen to the message here. 


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