World English Bible translation
2:9But you are an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, that you may show forth the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light: 2:10 who in time past were no people, but now are the people of God, who had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. 2:11 Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, to abstain from fleshly lust, which war against the soul; 2:12 having good behavior among the nations, so in that which they speak against you as evil-doers, they may by your good works, which they see, glorify God in the day of visitation.
Peter has been writing to these embattled Christians about the things that they would need to endure their ordeal. The first quality that he says that they need is fervent love for one anther. They must deepen their brotherly affection until it becomes the sacrificial love that God requires. Then he tells them that they must put away the sins that would destroy the unity of believers: envy, malice, deceitfulness and evil speaking. These things war against their Lord, who is using the unity of believers to build a temple that God will dwell in for eternity. Christ is the living cornerstone and we also are living stones.
He writes that Christ is also a stone over which men stumble. But not to these Christians. They are an "elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession. God has called these men and women out of the world of slavery to sin into a holy calling. They are to be priest to the true and living God, making intercession for themselves, their brothers and sisters in Christ, and for the world.
Peter reminds them that at one time they were not a people. This is the best reason to conclude that Peter is not writing to only Jewish Christians but to the complete body of believers. Now he reminds them that God is making out of them a people for His own purpose. Once they had not obtained mercy. They were not worthy of mercy at that time nor had they sought mercy. But God had pity on them even when they were enemies and granted them mercy.
So Peter instructs them that if they are to be a holy nation, they must set aside the fleshly lusts that not only enslave them but also bring the body of Christ into disrepute. When men of the world see us, they accuse the entire body of believers for our weaknesses and faults. We must rather let them see our good works and glorify God when He comes.
We are called away from sin because God is holy. Not only do we represent God in this world, but we must always remember that God lives in us. Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. Christ lives in us. Not only does God call us out as a royal priesthood, but He gives us the ability to live according to the leading of the Spirit. God is with us and does not desert us when we fall.
We must "show forth the excellencies" of the God who called us out of darkness. God uses us, as weak and undeserving as we are, to demonstrate His strength and His grace. God uses the weak things of this world to demonstrate His power. Peter admonishes these believers to abstain from fleshly lust because God knows that we are tempted in this world. We must be reminded constantly that God is a holy God and that as His people it is shameful for us to follow the ways of the world. So God sent His prophets and apostles to write these things and He sends holy people into our lives to instruct us and remind us of His ways. And always the Spirit of God is within us seeking to guide us if we will only listen.
You are part of an elect race and a royal priesthood. If you are in Christ you are part of a holy nation and a people for God's own possession. Do you live each day secure in the knowledge that you are held in the hands of the omnipotent creator of the universe? Do you live a life that shows forth the excellencies of the one who called you?
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