Listen to sermons at FreeGraceRadio.com
Are You a Consecrated Christian?
“And this is the thing that thou shalt do unto them to hallow them, to minister unto me in the priest's office: Take one young bullock, and two rams without blemish, And unleavened bread, and cakes unleavened tempered with oil, and wafers unleavened anointed with oil: of wheaten flour shalt thou make them…Then shalt thou take the anointing oil, and pour it upon his head, and anoint him. And thou shalt bring his sons, and put coats upon them. And thou shalt gird them with girdles, Aaron and his sons, and put the bonnets on them: and the priest's office shall be theirs for a perpetual statute: and thou shalt consecrate Aaron and his sons…And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God. And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, that brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them: I am the LORD their God.” (Exodus 29:1-46)
A while back I read a few of those biographical blurbs men send out to advertise themselves. One advertised himself as a man whose “heart beats for a church patterned after God’s Word.” Another described himself as a man who “has a passion to see believers live holy lives.” And a third said he is a man who “possesses a genuine desire to lead his church in the purity of the gospel from both the pulpit and in his life.”
Those are all very noble, laudable goals. But, when I read or hear about such goals, I immediately want to know, “What is a church patterned after the Word of God? — Would that be a church like the church at Corinth, or like the church at Galatia, or like the church at Jerusalem, or like the church at Colosse?” I want to know, “By what means can I persuade believers to live holy lives? — Is it possible for a person to be a believer and not be holy? — Is holiness something we do, or something God gives? — Are believers created in righteousness and true holiness? — If we are, can we, by some means or other, lose it? — If we lose it, can we do something to get it back? And I want to know, “How am I to lead people to live in the purity of the gospel, both from the pulpit and in my life? — What is the purity of the gospel? — Is it a revealed purity, or a purity that I perform? — Is it a doctrinal purity, or a duty purity? — Is it a purity that I proclaim, or a purity that I promote and push on others?”
Being ignorant as I am about such lofty goals, I have searched the Scriptures for answers. And I have found the answers to my questions in Exodus 29. Are you a consecrated Christian? Carefully read the 46 verses of this chapter, asking God the Holy Ghost to give you the answer, and you will find it. I am sure that a hallowed Christian, a consecrated Christian is one whose life exemplifies the purity of the gospel and one who is holy. I am certain that a hallowed church, a truly consecrated church is a church reflecting the pattern of instruction given in God’s Word.
In this chapter the Lord God told Moses how to consecrate Aaron and his sons as God’s priests in his house. If I am consecrated to God, I must be consecrated to him just as Aaron and his sons were. If you are consecrated to God, you must be consecrated to him just as Aaron and his sons were. If we are consecrated Christians, we must be consecrated as they were.
The first time the word “consecrate” is found in the Bible is in this same context (Exodus 28:3); and the first time the word “consecration” is used in Scripture is here in Exodus 29. The law of first mention is applicable. — Whatever a word means the first time it is used is what it means. To consecrate something is to hallow it, sanctify it, make it holy, or to set it as a gem in a piece of jewelry or as a gem in a crown.
All Are Priests
During the days of Moses and under the Mosaic law, only one family was allowed to serve God in the priestly office; but in this gospel day all God’s saints are “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9). In the church of God no one group is set apart to the priesthood above the rest of their brethren. In this gospel day God’s covenant promise is fulfilled in us. — “Ye shall be a kingdom of priests unto me.” God the Spirit tells us all to present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy acceptable unto God, which is our reasonable service.
It is the grand purpose of God in all the works of his grace, both for us and in us, to fit us for the office of the spiritual priesthood; and it will be the crown of our perfection when with all our brethren, we shall sing unto the Lord Jesus the new song, saying, — “Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever.” According to 1 Peter 2, this honor belongs to every believer. It belongs even to newborn babes in grace. If, even as you read these lines, you are born of God, you are born into God’s priestly family. Every saved sinner forms a part of a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Christ Jesus.
There is no such thing as “clergy” and “laity” in the church of God. We are all, in Christ, priests unto God. The Roman church has its priests. The Episcopal Church has its priests. And the Mormon Church has its priests. In each of those societies of wickedness, blind, ignorant, deluded men are kept in bondage and taught that they cannot approach God except through the medium of a priest, who is himself only a sinful man. I tell you, upon the authority of God’s Holy Word, that no man will ever draw near to God in faith, until he approaches God, not through the medium of some pretended earthly priest, but through Jesus Christ himself, our only true Priest.
And all who come to God by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ are themselves priests unto God. Every true believer in Christ Jesus is a priest, one who has perpetual access to God by faith through the merits of Christ, one who lives upon holy things at God’s Altar continually.
We need no earthly priests, for we are priests ourselves. A person may not be able to read or write, but if he is truly converted, he is a priest unto God. You may never stand behind a pulpit, or even lead the people of God in public prayer, but if you believe on Christ, you are a priest unto God. Our ladies are commanded of God to be silent in the public assembly of God’s saints. Yet, they, too, belong to this holy priesthood. All the children of God are priests. As in the Old Testament there was one sin-atoning high priest, though all the sons of Aaron were priests in the service of God, even so, the Lord Jesus Christ alone is our great, sin-atoning High Priest, and all the sons of God are priests in him.
A Chosen Family
The first thing I want you to see about the consecration, the holiness, the hallowedness set before us in Scripture is that it begins with God’s election. The Lord said to Moses, “Take Aaron and his sons” (Leviticus 8:2; Exodus 28:1; 29:1-4). The priesthood was not something men decided upon, voted upon, or chose for themselves. Only those chosen, elected, and ordained by God were allowed to serve as priests (Hebrews 5:1-5; 1 Peter 2:5-9).
If you are a part of God’s “holy priesthood,” it is because God from eternity chose you, elected you, and ordained you to be his own. Salvation does not begin with man’s will, but with God’s will. Salvation is not caused by man’s will. It is caused by God’s will. Men and women are not saved because they will to be saved. We are saved because God from eternity willed to save us. All who are born of God readily confess that they are debtors to sovereign grace alone.
‘Tis not that I did choose Thee,
For Lord that could not be;
This heart would still refuse Thee,
But Thou hast chosen me:
Thou from the sin that stained me
Washed me and set me free,
And to this end ordained me,
That I should live to Thee.
‘Twas sovereign mercy called me,
And taught my opening mind;
The world had else enthralled me,
To heavenly glories blind:
My heart owns none before
Thee, For Thy rich grace I thirst,
This knowing – if I love Thee,
Thou must have loved me first!”
Aaron’s family was a chosen family. He and his sons were specifically chosen by God to be his priests. — “No man taketh this honor upon himself, but he that was called thereunto as was Aaron.” Being chosen of God, Aaron and his sons were at God’s command brought nigh unto the door of the tabernacle. None ever come to God except those who are brought to him. The King’s spouse sings, “He brought me into the banqueting house.” The Lord Jesus said, “No man can come unto me except the Father which hath sent me draw him.” We are made nigh by the blood of Jesus and brought nigh by the irresistible drawings of God the Holy Ghost.
Are you a chosen priest of God, brought to him by omnipotent mercy? If so, I am sure you will be interested in understanding the ceremonies prescribed in the chapter before us, because these Old Testament ceremonies teach us how the Lord God makes chosen sinners priests in his holy nation.
Washed with Water
We read in the fourth verse, “Aaron and his sons thou shalt bring unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and shalt wash them with water.” The pure and holy God cannot be served by men of unclean hands and impure hearts. He would not embrace the unclean under the law; and he will not tolerate the unclean in this gospel day. He demands, “Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord,” and, “Be ye holy for I am holy!” Those are unbending precepts. God will not accept that which is unclean. It was well said by the psalmist, — “I will wash mine hands in innocency, so will I compass thine altar, O Lord” (Psalm 26:6).
It was Moses (the Law) that had to wash the priests. We must be washed in redemption (Zechariah 13:1). And we must be washed in regeneration (Titus 3:3-7). Thus, both by the blood atonement of our Lord Jesus Christ and by the sanctifying operations of God the Holy Spirit, we are cleansed from all filthiness of the flesh and of the spirit, and made vessels fit for the Master’s use (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).
“There is a Fountain filled with blood,
Drawn from Immanuel’s veins;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood
Lose all their guilty stains!”
Are you thus cleansed from all sin? Do you know, by the sweet experience of his grace, the blessedness of that man unto whom God will not impute sin? If so, “being made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness!” God has made you a priest in his house.
After they were washed by Moses, the priests were wondrously clothed by him.
“And thou shalt take the garments, and put upon Aaron the coat, and the robe of the ephod, and the ephod, and the breastplate, and gird him with the curious girdle of the ephod: And thou shalt put the mitre upon his head, and put the holy crown upon the mitre. Then shalt thou take the anointing oil, and pour it upon his head, and anoint him. And thou shalt bring his sons, and put coats upon them. And thou shalt gird them with girdles, Aaron and his sons, and put the bonnets on them: and the priest's office shall be theirs for a perpetual statute: and thou shalt consecrate Aaron and his sons.” (Exodus 29:5-9)
They were not allowed to wear one of the garments which belonged to them beforehand. Even their underwear was provided! Within and without their clothing was new, appropriate, divinely provided, and put upon them. They wore what was given them, nothing more, and nothing less. No man can serve God acceptably in the filthy rags of his own righteousness. We must have the fine linen both of Christ’s righteousness imparted within, for glory and for beauty, and of the imputed righteousness of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (Leviticus 8:13).
Every priest had a coat put upon him. These priestly coats were like the coat worn by our Lord Jesus, all of one piece, woven from top to bottom, hanging from the shoulder and draping the body. You know what that coat represents. – The righteousness of Christ imputed to us from eternity and given to us at the moment of conversion.
“Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness
My beauty are, my glorious dress:
Midst flaming worlds in these arrayed,
With joy shall I lift up my head.”
Until God puts this robe upon you, you cannot serve him. But as soon as you come to Christ, he will put this robe upon you.
Every priest was also girded with a girdle. We are told that our Lord Jesus Christ, as our great High Priest, is “girt about the paps with a golden girdle.” (Revelation 1:13). That is the girdle of his faithfulness, truth, and love. And Christ Jesus gives each of his own a girdle of faithfulness, truth, and love.
Girdles were used as huge belts to hold up the long, flowing garments men used to wear, as well as to lend strength and support to the body. Men engaged in labor, travel, or battle strapped on a girdle to brace themselves and hold their robes up. Every priest of Christ is given a girdle of faithfulness to carry him through his appointed labors.
And each priest was given a bonnet, or a turban. These turbans distinguished the priests from other men. They were given for glory and beauty. This, too, applies to us. The Lord has made his people glorious, honorable, and beautiful in his own eyes. We are not merely accepted, but beloved. We are not merely washed, but admirable. We are not merely free from condemnation, but full of imparted beauty, being made new creatures in Christ and partakers of the divine nature (Ezekiel 16:8-14; 2 Corinthians 5:7; 2 Peter 1:4).
The Lord Jesus says to every saved sinner, “Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee…Thou hast ravished my heart” (Song of Solomon 4:7, 9). Our Savior so falls in love with his own image in each saved sinner, that his own heart is captured.
These garments were all provided for Aaron and his sons, at no cost. They contributed nothing in the expense of buying them, or in the labor of weaving them, or in the skill of making them. So it is with us. The garments of our salvation are ours freely, put upon us by God himself. And the priestly garments formed a complete suit, a complete outfit for priestly service. It is true, as Spurgeon wrote, “They had no shoes upon their feet, but they would have been superfluous, for the place whereon they stood was holy ground. They were sandaled with reverence.”
All the dress provided was absolutely necessary to be worn. No priest was to offer sacrifice without the appointed garments, for we read in the 43rd verse of the 28th chapter, “They shall be upon Aaron, and upon his sons, when they come in unto the tabernacle of the congregation, or when they come near unto the altar to minister in the holy place; that they bear not iniquity, and die.”
Fourth, the priests of God were and are divinely anointed. — “Then shalt thou take the anointing oil, and pour it upon his head, and anoint him” (v. 7). Aaron was anointed with the holy oil poured upon his head. Then all the sons of Aaron were anointed (Leviticus 8:30).
Even so, the Lord Jesus Christ was anointed with the Holy Spirit without measure; and all who are in Christ by faith are also anointed as priests unto God. All of God’s elect have the anointing of the Holy Spirit symbolized by the holy oil (1 John 2:20, 27).
I know that men talk about this anointing of the Holy Spirit, as though it were some mystical, second work of grace, which some believers have, and others have not. But that is not the case. This anointing flows to all believers freely from and through the Lord Jesus Christ. According to John, the thing that distinguishes the believer from the unbeliever is this anointing of the Spirit (1 John 2:19-20).
I do not suggest that there are no special fillings of the Spirit, demonstrations of divine power, manifestations of the Spirit’s presence, by which we are enabled to carry out the work he would have us to do. Without the power of the Holy Spirit, our praying, preaching, worship, singing, witnessing, writing, all our labor for Christ is vain. We must have the Holy Spirit. I do not minimize his power or his work. Without him, we are nothing and we can do nothing for Christ. But I do mean for all to understand that all of God’s children are complete in Christ. The Holy Spirit is the “Heirloom” which our Savior passed along to his children (Galatians 3:13-14).
This anointing of the Spirit is our sanctification in the experience of grace. As Aaron and his sons were sanctified symbolically by the anointing oil poured out upon them, we are truly sanctified, made holy, by the Spirit of God’s anointing in regeneration. In election we were set apart for holy purposes, separated unto God and sanctified (Jude 1). In redemption we were declared to be holy, sanctified by the blood of Christ (Hebrews 10:10). And in regeneration we are made holy, sanctified, by the grace of God imparting to us and creating in us a holy nature (2 Thessalonians 2:13), giving us that “holiness without which no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14)
Fifth, these priests, Aaron and his sons, came to God and were accepted by God as his priests by one common sin-offering (vv. 11-14). You know who our sin-offering is! It is our blessed Christ!
“Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (2 Corinthians 5:20-21)
“Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you.” (1 Peter 1:18-20)
“Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” (1 Peter 2:24)
“For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit.” (1 Peter 3:18)
The bullock of the sin-offering being brought to the altar, Aaron and his sons were to lay their hands upon it. Read the 10th verse. — They “shall put their hands upon the head of the bullock.” The Hebrew word means more than lightly placing the hand; it gives the idea of pressing hard upon the bullock’s head. They came each one and leaned upon the victim, each laying the burden of his guilt and sin upon God’s appointed substitute. That is a picture of faith in Christ.
Then the bullock was killed by Moses (v. 11) as a token that just as the poor beast was slain, so they deserved to die for their sins.
The blood was caught in bowls and taken to the altar, and there it was poured out, at the bottom of the altar, round about. Read the 12th and 17th verses. There must have been a pool of blood all around the altar. What did it signify? Our only access to God is by the blood! These men were washed and robed and anointed; and yet they could not come to the altar until the blood was poured out at the altar.
This done, the choicer and more vital parts of the bullock were taken and burned upon the altar (v. 13). That was done to show us that even when our Lord Jesus is viewed as our Sin-offering, he is still a sweet savor unto God. Though the Lord God hid his face from his Son when he made him sin for us, yet it is this very Savior, this very Substitute, this very Sin-offering that is well-pleasing to God! Therefore, the inner pieces of the bullock were burned on the altar, where nothing could be presented but that which was a sweet savor to God. — Blessed, blessed Lamb of God!
But because the bullock was a sin-offering, and therefore obnoxious to God, its flesh, and its skin, and all that remained were carried outside the camp and burned with a quick, consuming fire, as a thing worthy to be destroyed. Because sin was upon it, it must be burned up (v. 14).
Sixth, these priests were consecrated to God by blood, specifically by the blood of the burnt-offering (vv. 15-18).
“Thou shalt also take one ram; and Aaron and his sons shall put their hands upon the head of the ram. And thou shalt slay the ram, and thou shalt take his blood, and sprinkle it round about upon the altar. And thou shalt cut the ram in pieces, and wash the inwards of him, and his legs, and put them unto his pieces, and unto his head. And thou shalt burn the whole ram upon the altar: it is a burnt offering unto the LORD: it is a sweet savour, an offering made by fire unto the LORD.”
This burnt-offering differed widely from the sin-offering. The sin-offering indicated Christ as bearing our sin. The burnt-offering portrays Christ as presenting an acceptable offering unto the Lord. God required of us perfect obedience; he demanded from us a pure and holy life. That is what we see in the burnt-offering. We are consecrated to God by Christ’s obedience unto death as our Surety.
Ram of Consecration
Seventh, in verses 19-22, we read about the consecration of the priests to God by the blood of the “ram of consecration” (v. 22).
“And thou shalt take the other ram; and Aaron and his sons shall put their hands upon the head of the ram. Then shalt thou kill the ram, and take of his blood, and put it upon the tip of the right ear of Aaron, and upon the tip of the right ear of his sons, and upon the thumb of their right hand, and upon the great toe of their right foot, and sprinkle the blood upon the altar round about. And thou shalt take of the blood that is upon the altar, and of the anointing oil, and sprinkle it upon Aaron, and upon his garments, and upon his sons, and upon the garments of his sons with him: and he shall be hallowed, and his garments, and his sons, and his sons’ garments with him. Also thou shalt take of the ram the fat and the rump, and the fat that covereth the inwards, and the caul above the liver, and the two kidneys, and the fat that is upon them, and the right shoulder; for it is a ram of consecration.” (Exodus 29:19-22)
The blood of Christ, when applied to the hearts of men and women by the Holy Spirit, causes them to be consecrated to the Lord. This consecration is not perfect, but it is entire. The whole man is consecrated to Christ. God’s priests are not partially consecrated to Christ. They are entirely consecrated to him.
The believer’s ear is consecrated to God by the blood of Christ. The consecrated ear hears the voice of God. The believer hears what unregenerate men cannot hear. He hears the voice of God in his Word, in the preaching of the gospel, and in providence. He listens not for an audible voice from heaven, but for the still, small voice within, saying, “This is the way, walk ye in it.”
The believer’s hand is consecrated to God by the blood of Christ. The hand refers to work and labor, and to all the activities of life. The believer is a person who works for God. All that he does is done with an eye to his God. Whether he eats or drinks, works in the factory or labors in the ministry, all that he does, he does for the glory of God. His garments are praise. His meals are feasts unto the Lord. His work is God-service. All his days are sabbath days. The blood is upon his hand, so that all he does is consecrated to God.
And the believer’s foot is consecrated to God by the blood of Christ. As the ear refers to hearing and the hand to working, the foot refers to your manner of life as you travel through this world. The consecrated foot follows his Master. The believer’s life is governed not by riches, pleasures, or comforts, but by Christ. He seeks not wealth, or even economic stability. He seeks Christ.
“Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon: for why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of thy companions?” (Song of Solomon 1:7)
Consecrated feet carry people to the house of God, never away from it. Consecrated feet carry us in the way of obedience, never in the way of rebellion. Consecrated feet pursue the cause of Christ, not the interests of self. The whole man was thus consecrated to God by blood.
Remember, the priests were all barefoot before God, like Moses before the bush. They were always on holy ground, always in the presence of God. That which makes the ground upon which we walk through this world holy ground is the blood of consecration upon our right toe.
Then these consecrated priests, in their holy garments, had their hands filled with wave offerings and heave offerings of praise to God (vv. 23-29). In verse 30 we see that every priest, being consecrated to God, wore these garments of consecration for seven days. By these priests continually feeding upon the sacrifices they offered to God in the tabernacle, God promised to make himself known to Israel.
“This shall be a continual burnt offering throughout your generations at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the LORD: where I will meet you, to speak there unto thee. And there I will meet with the children of Israel, and the tabernacle shall be sanctified by my glory. And I will sanctify the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar: I will sanctify also both Aaron and his sons, to minister to me in the priest’s office. And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God. And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, that brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them: I am the LORD their God.” (Exodus 29:42-46)
Are you a consecrated Christian? If you trust Christ you are, and as a priest unto God, you are accepted of God always (Ecclesiastes 9:7-10). — Rejoice!