4 ¶ To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, 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. 6 Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. 7 Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, 8 And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. 9 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: 10 Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. 11 Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; 12 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.
Christians of both Jewish and Gentile extraction are called living stones, built as a house of the spirit, a priesthood set apart by God for His use, made acceptable to God the Father by the Lord Jesus Christ.
A study of stones and rocks finds that they are very important in the Bible and they represent different things from the stones set in the priests’ ephod in Exodus 25 to the stones of like kind that were Satan’s covering, mentioned in Ezekiel 28, before his betrayal of God by tempting Adam and Eve to doubt God’s word in the Garden of Eden, to the cornerstone of the church and a stone of stumbling to unbelievers, which is Christ.
Christians are a spiritual building for God’s Spirit to dwell in here on earth.
1Corinthians 3:9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.
Ephesians 2:21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
In fact, the Christian’s body is God’s temple, as there are no sacred spaces on earth apart from your body, as God’s temple and dwelling place.
1Corinthians 6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
We are a priesthood who is to offer up spiritual, not physical, sacrifices to God, those sacrifices made acceptable because of Christ.
Psalms 141:2 Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.
Christ is the cornerstone of that temple.
Ephesians 2:19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
Isaiah 28:16 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.
Isaiah 45:17 But Israel shall be saved in the LORD with an everlasting salvation: ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end.
Not to be confounded is not to be confused which is in contrast to what is said about the disobedient next.
Psalm 35:4 Let them be confounded and put to shame that seek after my soul: let them be turned back and brought to confusion that devise my hurt.
For we who believe and trust in Him Christ is precious, of great value, like a precious gem or stone. But to those who do not believe Christ, whom the Jewish religious leadership rejected, is also the cornerstone, a stone they stumbled over, and a rock caused them to fall. Because they were disobedient to God He ordained them to lose their balance, trip, and topple over.
Isaiah 8:14 And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 15 And many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken.
Romans 9:31 But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. 32 Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; 33 As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
Peter says that the Christians are a chosen generation, using the phrase a royal priesthood this time, an holy nation, a peculiar, unique, people; made such so that we can praise the one who called us out of the darkness into His wonderful light. We were not a people of God but now are; as we were not the objects of God’s mercy before but are now.
In the Psalm that Christ began quoting from the cross, Psalm 22, in a prophetic reference to Christ’s suffering and resurrection, it is said;
Psalm 22:30 A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation. 31 They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this.
Paul and James spoke of Christ’s choosing of His people from those who would believe, as Peter has done here.
Ephesians 1:4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
2Thessalonians 2:13 But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:
2Timothy 2:4 No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.
James 2:5 Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?
As God set out to carve Himself a royal priesthood, an holy nation from among the devil-worshipping ethnic groups, tribes, clans, and peoples of the ancient world in the Hebrews so He has done so with the Christians, extending His vision to all people everywhere, not in a visible, temporal kingdom but in an invisible, spiritual kingdom. [Nation is not a reference to a country as we think today but to an ethnic group, tribe, or a kingdom, a people].
Exodus 19:6 And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.
Psalm 33:12 ¶ Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.
Revelation 1:6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
Revelation 20:6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
Christians are to be different from the rest of the earth’s people as were the people of Israel supposed to be.
The ancient Hebrews;
Deuteronomy 14:2 For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth.
Deuternomy 26:18 And the LORD hath avouched thee this day to be his peculiar people, as he hath promised thee, and that thou shouldest keep all his commandments;
Titus 2:14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
Why then, do we, like the Jews, insist on copying the world’s standards?
Being thankful and praising the one who delivered us shows others who we believe in.
Then Peter issues a warning, pleading with these Jewish Christians, as foreigners and aliens just passing through their earthly existence, to abstain from the lusts of the flesh, as these are the very lusts that war against one’s soul.
He wants the unbeliever to see the good works of the Christian and although the unbeliever hates them now he will know that they were right when God’s judgment comes, the day of God’s visitation.
Isaiah 10:3 And what will ye do in the day of visitation, and in the desolation which shall come from far? to whom will ye flee for help? and where will ye leave your glory?
Jeremiah 8:12 Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore shall they fall among them that fall: in the time of their visitation they shall be cast down, saith the LORD.
It may not be until that fateful day comes that the world realizes this, but they will. The Christian is to be an example right now. Fleshly lusts include
1John 2:15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
It was not any easier then than it is now. Using our bodies, our vessels, in an honorable fashion before God was a key component of Christianity in the beginning as the saints were warned about participating in the religious prostitution so prevalent in ancient religion as well as other forms of idol worship, which only a thorough reading of the Bible will reveal. Temple prostitution was not only common in ancient Near Eastern religion but also in the Greek and Roman religion of Paul and Peter’s time.
Acts 15:29 That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.
Marital infidelity and the heartache and confusion and wrath that resulted from adultery was, as it is now, a problem for men and women of that day.
1Thessalonians 4:3 For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: 4 That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; 5 Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God: 6 That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. 7 For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. 8 He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit.
The example the Christian was to set before the world was not one of ‘shacking up’ without a marital commitment for life, trying on a person like you would a pair of shoes you were thinking of buying. It was not one of serial fornication going from one boyfriend or girlfriend to another, doing that which pleased you momentarily, and it was not one of planning and plotting on how you could commit sin against your spouse and God thinking of how you were going to get away with it.
Proverbs 6:32 But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul.
Matthew 5:28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
We don’t have temples of Aphrodite near us as they did in Corinth, tempting the men with religious fornication but we do have a culture awash in sexual imagery in advertising and entertainment. It is no less difficult to day and no less important today for Christians to set an example of order, fidelity, and Godliness with regards to their sexual impulses.
We do not serve God well by acting as hypocrites, condemning a wicked world while we try to maintain our secret sins of pornography and worldly lust. We are no example if we have no self-control and mock our own self-profession of faith in God.
Children who are sexualized early with unclean images and self-worship of the human body will be implanted with a spirit of sensuality that will consume many and consign themselves and their innocent offspring to lifetimes of poverty, stress, and abuse. The very things that the ‘sexual revolution’ of the 1960’s was supposed to free the culture from have actually enslaved the culture in a slightly different way than that patriarchal, misogynistic culture previous to that did, but enslaved it is, nonetheless. Many Christians live in misery because of this slavery to self and we are so much less than what we could be because of it.