"But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light."
1 Peter 2:9
When we know our position in Christ and as we take that position, God declares that we are now holy royalty. Peter refers to believers as a royal priesthood, and that may sound ancient and obsolete but having a proper understanding of those two words put together will radically change the way we view Christianity and the privilege and responsibility we are called into.
A priest in Hebrew culture is nothing like the modern concept mostly accepted by people today. A priest in Hebrew culture was a representative of men before God - a voice for the people who would bring petitions to God. During the time of Moses only a chosen few were given the duties of a priest and only one man - Aaron - was assigned the role of being the high priest who would enter God's presence to mediate between God and man.
Being a high priest called for a very high standard. Failing to meet the standard would mean disqualification from the call or even death. The call of a priest was a tough responsibility. Today we no longer need an earthly high priest because of what Jesus has done. Hebrews 14:16 says, "Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession."
Because we now have a high priest in Jesus Christ, He has made us into a royal priesthood and a holy nation. We are not made royal and holy because of our works, but because of the work of Christ. Left to ourselves, we can never make the cut. Israel was proof of that because although they had seen so much of God's wonders and works, they would time and time again fall into sin.
We are a royal priesthood and holy nation not because of who we are and what we can do for God, but because of who God is and what He has already done for us. Because of that, we can now walk no longer as slaves to sin but as what God has made us to be - a holy and royal people.
Will we ever make the cut and become a royal priesthood and holy nation? The reality is that once we are in Christ, we already are simply because we now have Jesus as our high priest and our mediator.