Beyond Burnt Offerings: Living Out Our Calling as Royal Priests

People worshipping
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As believers, we recognize Jesus Christ as our High Priest and the ultimate sacrifice he made for our sins. However, this doesn’t mean we don’t have a role as part of the royal priesthood.


We are called to be a royal priesthood. This phrase comes from 1 Peter 2:9 which describes the role of Christians as “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession.” In the Old Testament, the role of the priest was to offer sacrifices and intercede on behalf of the people. However, our duties as royal priests have taken a different form under the new covenant. 


The duties of the Old Testament priest are laid out in great detail in the book of Leviticus. The primary responsibilities included:

  • Offering sacrifices.
  • Maintaining the Tabernacle or Temple.
  • Providing spiritual guidance and counsel for the people of Israel.

The first and most important duty of the priest was to offer sacrifices. This included burnt, sin, peace, and grain offerings. Through these sacrifices, the people of Israel could come before God and receive forgiveness for their sins.  

The priest was also responsible for maintaining the Tabernacle or Temple. This included keeping it clean and ensuring all sacred objects and vessels were in order. Additionally, the priest was responsible for performing various rituals necessary for the upkeep of the Tabernacle, such as lighting the lamps or burning incense.

Finally, the priest was expected to provide spiritual guidance and counsel for the people of Israel. They were the mediators between God and the people and were responsible for interpreting the law and giving instruction on living according to God’s will. 

Spiritual Sacrifices

In Romans 12:1-2, Paul writes, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Here, Paul speaks of a sacrifice not made with animals or material possessions but with ourselves. The sacrifice we are called to offer is our lives, completely surrendered to God’s will and purposes. This includes how we live, how we think, how we speak, and how we treat others.

Some examples of spiritual sacrifices we can offer include: 

  1. Worship: When we praise God or bow in reverence and thanksgiving, we offer a spiritual sacrifice of worship.
  2. Prayer: When we come to God in prayer, we offer a spiritual sacrifice of our time and the desires of our hearts.
  3. Service: When we serve others in love, we offer a spiritual sacrifice that honors God and reflects His love.
  4. Obedience: When we obey God’s commands and follow His ways, we are offering a sacrifice of faith and trust.
  5. Sacrificial giving: When we sacrifice our resources, time, and energy, we offer a spiritual sacrifice that acknowledges God’s provision and generosity.


Offering these spiritual sacrifices requires us to let go of our desires and ambitions and to focus on God’s will and purposes for our lives. It may not always be easy, but it is important that we continually offer these spiritual sacrifices as an act of worship and obedience to God.

Our Role as Royal Priests Today 

As Christians, we are called to be a royal priesthood. While the duties of the Old Testament priest may seem outdated and irrelevant to us today, the underlying principles are still very much applicable. We are called to offer spiritual sacrifices, maintain our spiritual houses, and provide guidance and counsel for those around us.

However, many of us struggle to live up to this calling. We may feel ill-equipped or unprepared to carry out the duties of a royal priesthood. We may struggle with sin and find it difficult to come before God and offer sacrifices of praise and worship. We may be unsure how to guide and counsel those around us.

One reason for this struggle may be that we rely too heavily on our strengths and abilities. We may be trying to fulfill the duties of a royal priesthood in our power rather than relying on the Holy Spirit to guide us. Another reason may be that we have allowed sin to take root in our lives, making it difficult to approach God with a pure and holy heart.

Living Out Our Calling as Royal Priests

So what can we do to overcome these obstacles and truly live up to our roles as royal priests? First, we must submit ourselves to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to guide us in our worship and service. We must also take steps to rid ourselves of sin, confessing our faults to God and asking for His forgiveness and help.

Additionally, we must intentionally offer spiritual sacrifices and maintain our spiritual houses. This includes worshiping, praying, reading the Bible, and actively seeking opportunities to serve and minister to those around us. 

Finally, we must be willing to step out in faith and offer guidance and counsel to those in need. This may mean stepping outside our comfort zones or discussing difficult issues. But as royal priests, we are called to be a light in the darkness and a source of hope and encouragement to those around us.

You are a chosen people who, according to scripture

“..are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10


author avatar
Todd Hukill

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