We’ve already talked about being living STONES, now we turn our attention to the second half of verse 5:
“Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up SPIRITUAL SACRIFICES, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.”
(1Peter 2:5, emph seb)
What exactly are the SPIRITUAL SACRIFICES we are to offer up to God?
Before we attempt to discern what they are, let’s note four things about them.
Firstly, we are to be ACTIVELY doing them, “Offer up…” Being a Christian is not a passive condition, it’s active. Note that we are “LIVELY” stones.
Secondly, our sacrifices must be “ACCEPTABLE to God.” Paul wrote, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God” (2Tim 2:15a; cf. Rom 12:1).
Thirdly, they we are to AIM them “…to God”. Whatever these sacrifices are, they are to be directed toward God.
Fourthly, they are directed toward God through the AVENUE of Jesus; “…by Jesus Christ.” Jesus Himself said, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).
Paul also wrote on spiritual SACRIFICES, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Rom 12:1). So, what are they? Verse 6 begins a list from Paul, so we shall look at both Peter & Paul’s letters. “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether…”
We are to SHEW Forth Praises of God. “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1Peter 2:9; cf Heb 13:15-16). It reminds me of when Jesus told the healed man to “Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee” (Mark 5:16).
ALL of our BODY, our whole being is a living sacrifice to God. “that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice” (Rom 12:1). This clarifies how much of our life is dedicated to God, ALL of it. Christ is our life (Col 3:4).
We are to give a CONTRIBUTION for the helping of needy Saints and for the work of the Church. “But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God” (Phil 4:18; cf. Heb 13:15-16). “He that giveth, let him do it with liberality” (Rom 12:8). God loves a cheerful giver (2Cor 8:2; 9:7).
“By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased” (Heb 13:15-16).
It’s a spiritual sacrifice to submit to Leaders that God has ordained for the local church, and those that RULE are offering up a sacrifice. “He that ruleth, with diligence” (Rom 12:8; cf. 1Tim 3:1-7). This is further supported in Peter’s letter, “Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock” (1Peter 5:2-3).
Peter’s letter is just as much about how the Saint INFLUENCES the world. “Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation” (1Peter 2:12). This speaks to evildoers converting to Christ through the INFLUENCE of good works done by the saints (cf. 1Pet 3:1).
Paul includes Prophecy or FORETELLING in his letter to the Romans. “Whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith” (Rom 12:6). While there was a miraculous element in the 1st century, we today can FORETELL through the inspired written word. Peter wrote, “according as each hath received a gift, ministering it among yourselves, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God; if any man speaketh, speaking as it were oracles of God; is any man ministereth, ministering as of the strength which God supplieth: that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, whose is the glory and the dominion for ever and ever. Amen. (1Peter 4:10-11). The future return of Christ is just one example.
It’s a sacrifice to be an INSTRUCTOR or Teacher of God’s word. “He that teacheth, on teaching” (Rom 12:8; cf. 2Tim 2:2).
It’s certainly a sacrifice to have COMPASSION (Mercy) on our fellow man. “He that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness” (Rom 12:8). We have obtained mercy through the blood of Jesus. Ought we not show mercy on others?
EXHORTING (to urge one to pursue some course of conduct) is another important sacrifice. “Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation” (Rom 12:8; 2Tim 4:2). Encouraging brethren to better conduct can be a challenge. For example; “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but EXHORTING one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Heb 10:25).
Finally, SERVING (ministering) our brethren is a Spiritual Sacrifice to God. “Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering” (Rom 12:7). When we serve the brethren, we serve Christ. Jesus listed some things, “For I was an hungred, … I was thirsty, … I was a stranger, … Naked, … I was sick, … I was in prison… Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when … ? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Acts 25:35-40’ cf. Acts 6:1-7).
These are all matters the individual Christian does through their own lives and homes. Some believe we abdicate these to others. These are OUR SPIRITUAL SACRIFICES. May we all offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.