Just like Israel in the Old Covenant, Christians are set apart by God in the New Covenant. God has prepared us to represent His love to the world.
But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9)
When we become followers of Jesus Christ, we set out on a journey of obedience and transformation that lasts a lifetime. But other things change for us immediately.
Today, we are talking about one of those changes. Christians are set apart by God positionally. We enter into a new, incredible relationship with Him. This change is intended to have an impact on our lives and on the lives of those around us.
So let’s dig deeper into this concept of how Christians are set apart by God. It will be helpful to compare and contrast how we as followers of Christ are set apart with how God set apart the Israelites in the Old Covenant.
God Chooses Us
I am a firm believer in the concept of free will. God clearly gives us choices in this life, which we are to choose for ourselves. For example, God gives us the ability to choose salvation (John 1:12-13) and obedience to Him (Genesis 2:16-17).
But I also believe that this somehow happens within God’s sovereignty. The Bible also teaches that God calls us to Himself, and without this calling, we would not come to Him. For some incredible reason, God loved us first.
This is a mind-blowing concept if you spend enough time dwelling on it. In some areas, we should be prepared to accept that God’s ways are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9); some things are ultimately beyond our ability to understand.
But it remains that God has chosen us, just as He chose Israel. God made a covenant with Abraham to make Him a great nation and to always be their God (Genesis 17:1-7).
God also chooses us, in a new covenant which replaces the old one. In the new covenant, Jesus Christ is our High Priest and His sacrifice is sufficient for all time (Hebrews 9:24-28).
Our Position in Christ
Today’s passage gives 3 descriptions to how Christians are set apart by God:
In the Old Covenant, Aaron and his descendants were designated the priestly line of Israel (Exodus 29:4-9).
In the New Covenant, Christ serves as our High Priest, and we are all priests. What this means is, with Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice for our sins, we have access to God’s throne.
We do not have to be separated from God by the veil covering the entrance to the Holy of Holies – all believers can communicate with God directly through the work of Christ’s death on the cross.
A Holy Nation
In the Old Covenant, God speaks to the Israelites about the need to be holy, because the Lord is holy (Leviticus 20:26).
In the New Covenant, Christians are set apart by God through Christ’s sacrifice. It is through His crucifixion that we identify ourselves with Him, and crucify our sinful nature so we can walk in holiness.
God’s Very Own Possession
In the Old Covenant, God claims the Israelites for himself (Exodus 6:6-8). That may sound like a one-sided relationship, but the benefits to the people of Israel are plentiful and good. They are given a land, a faith, and the favor of almighty God.
In the New Covenant, we are also God’s possession, and again, the benefit is to us. He treats us as His very own children and is making us into His likeness (1 John 3:1-3).
Who We Are Informs What We Do
Because we are all these things as Christians set apart by God, today’s passage tells us that we can “show others the goodness of God”.
Harkening back to the idea that God chose us in His sovereignty, God prepared us for this very thing. Not only did He choose us, but the Bible calls us “God’s masterpiece”, and that we were prepared so that we can do good things that “He planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:10).
Because God chose us, equipped us for His kingdom, and empowers us to spread the goodness of God to the world, we should walk in the confidence of His might and the comfort of His love. Christians are set apart by God to be a witness to this world. Let’s follow the direction of our Lord Jesus Christ and let our good deeds shine for everyone to see, to God’s praise (Matthew 5:15-16).
More Bible verses about being set apart by God: