“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (1 Peter 2:9).
Have you ever taken one of those online quizzes that asks a series of random questions to discover who you are? I admit, I’ve been lured into taking a few. According to them I’m 92% awesome, 4% southern (as in y’all), and should live in Cape Town, South Africa. But those answers fall short in describing me. I am not awesome; that is an adjective best used to describe God. I am not 4% southern, but I am 100% native Oregonian. And as for moving to Cape Town, I prefer living in Prineville. Obviously those quizzes are bogus, but we are drawn to them because we want to understand who we are, or want a confirmation of our self-image.
Humans want identification. Fortunately, God tells Christians exactly who they are. 1 Peter 2:9 begins with “But you are...” setting us apart from unbelievers who were disobedient to the word by rejecting Christ (vv 7-8). Then comes the answer to the big question: Who are you? You “are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession” (v 9). You are not just an individual but part of the people of God who are:
A chosen race - We were selected by God to be a new spiritual people in Christ by faith.
A royal priesthood - We are a new spiritual priesthood under our High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ. This means we can approach God through Christ alone, offering sacrifices of praise (Hebrews 13:15).
A holy nation - We are part of a nation not designated by political, geographical, ethnic, or genealogical identities. Our identity is in Christ. Above all the other ways we use to identify ourselves, we primarily belong to God and are set apart from the world by Him. We are holy as He is holy (1:16).
A people for God’s own possession - We do not belong to us. We are God’s. He bought us; we belong to Him.
So we’re a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people possessed by God. What does that mean? It means that we have a purpose. The remainder of verse 9 explains that God has set us apart as His holy people “so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” “God’s purpose in redeeming us is not simply our own enjoyment but that we might glorify Him” (Tyndale Commentary on 1 Peter, Wayne Grudem, 118). We exist to herald the excellencies of our awesome God who brought us out of Satan’s dark realm into His light. He made us His people by His mercy (v 10). So don’t let anyone or anything define who you are, settle for nothing less than God’s definition.