“And in this case mortal men receive tithes, but in that case one receives them, of whom it is written he lives on.”
This verse is a reference to the fact that the Levitical priesthood was passed down by means of physical birth. And the Levitical priesthood had many priests who received tithes from other mortal men. On the other hand, the Melchizedek priesthood had one priest who received tithes and it is this priesthood that lives on forever in one Person, Jesus Christ. Therefore, the Royal Priesthood lives on forever because royal priests (believers) are in union with Christ. The point, to these believers in Jerusalem, was that it made no sense to continue to acknowledge the temporal priesthood of Judaism and ignore the superior everlasting priesthood of Christ. Why place yourself under a system of legalism like the Mosaic Law when you have spiritual freedom as members of the Royal Family of God? This was the point the writer of Hebrews was trying to drive home.
“And, so to speak, through Abraham even Levi, who received tithes, paid tithes, for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him.”
Levi, a descendant of Abraham was represented by Abraham when he met Melchizedek demonstrating that the Levitical priesthood was inferior to the Melchizedek priesthood. And by association it was also inferior to the Royal Priesthood of Christ of which these believers were a part. The Levitical priesthood had temporal and spiritual authority, which they never lost even with a king except through spiritual decadence. That is, some of them were not even saved and many were reversionistic.
The historical meeting of Abraham and Melchizedek forces a shocking conclusion. The royal priesthood serving under Christ is infinitely superior to the Levitical priesthood serving in Israel. Abraham subordinated himself spiritually by listening to doctrine and he recognized the temporal superiority of Melchizedek by paying taxes.
As believer-priests we represent ourselves before God. We do not need to confess our sins to a member of the clergy; we confess our sins directly to God. This is to be done in private, silently and immediately. We do not need someone else to pray for us, though we always appreciate the prayers of others on our behalf. As priests we are to come boldly before God and offer prayer for ourselves. Unlike the Levitical priesthood in Israel, which was based on physical birth, the priesthood of the believer is based on the “new birth” (salvation). We actually share Christ’s priesthood because we are in union with Him, our High Priest. (Hebrews 3:1; 4:16)
As members of the Royal Family of God, every believer in this age is appointed as a royal priest. This appointment is a grace function and therefore does not depend on spiritual advance. All believers, male, female, old, young, mature or immature are members of the Royal Priesthood. However, this does not mean that all priests are equal. It means that they have equal privilege to perform the duties of a priest. (I Peter 2:5-9; Revelation 1:6)
Since we represent ourselves before God, it is our individual responsibility to grow spiritually through the perception and application of Bible doctrine. Your spiritual life is your unseen relationship with God and functions as a part of your Royal Priesthood. Until such time as your spiritual life is developed by consistent study and application of Bible doctrine you will be unable to fulfill your responsibility as a priest. (Ephesians 4:12-15; II Peter 3:18)
One aspect of your function as a priest is worship. Often misconstrued as some form of emotionalism, true worship is always based on the filling of the Holy Spirit and Bible doctrine. Worship may be in the form of ritual, such as the Communion service or it may be a non-ritual activity such as singing songs. Whatever the form of worship, it must always be doctrinally correct if it is to honor God. The highest form of worship is the study and application of the Word of God. Other forms of worship can be the offering of prayers of thanksgiving and the giving of money. Worship always involves “giving back” to God that which He has already given to us. For example, you cannot give God thanksgiving if you have not learned to be thankful. Application of Bible doctrine is a form of giving back to God what the study of His Word has given to you. (John 4:24; Ephesians 5:16; I Timothy 4:12-16)
Any activity that draws attention away from God and towards self is a form of arrogance and is not worshipping God. Neither is sincerity a substitute for truth. A person may be sincere in their attempt to worship God and be sincerely wrong. True worship must always be done God’s way, in order to be honoring to Him. When self, others or overt activities (including singing) are elevated above learning Bible doctrine, worship is distorted into legalism or religion and both are the enemies of Christianity.
Jesus Christ is our royal High Priest forever. (Hebrews 5:6,10) In order to become our High Priest Christ had to become true humanity. Jesus Christ represented us before God first on the “altar” of the Cross, and now in Heaven before the throne of God. By becoming our High Priest, Jesus Christ became our mediator to God. (I Timothy 2:5-6) As believers in this age, we belong to His priesthood (the Royal Priesthood). This priesthood is far superior to any other that existed in the past. (Hebrews 7) As our High Priest, Christ won the strategic victory over Satan in the Angelic Conflict. (Hebrews 4:14-16; 6:17-20)
The priesthood of Christ is the reality of those priesthoods that previously existed in the Old Testament. Just as the rituals and the sacrifices were images of the real things which were to come in the future, the royal priesthood of Christ is the realization of those types. (Hebrews 8)
The true function of the believer-priest’s spiritual life is the development of a relationship with God. This relationship is your unseen, private life with God. You and you alone know what that relationship is like. Your life before others, which we call the Christian Life, can be “faked” on a regular basis either in ignorance or cognizance. (I Corinthians 2:9-16)
There are many counterfeits to the spiritual life. It is therefore of extreme importance for each of us as believers to learn, understand and execute the true spiritual life. Without a correct understanding of the Biblical spiritual life, the believer will go through life executing some form of legalism or asceticism that will lead to only misery and unhappiness. The true spiritual life is so much more than just being a good person, performing good deeds or keeping the Ten Commandments (all of which we should do). The true spiritual life is invisible!
The true spiritual life of a believer is based on having the integrity of God operational in his life. Before God’s integrity can be operational, it must be developed. The question we must ask is “How is the integrity of God developed?” As Christians, we should know the source for discovering the answer: The Bible. The answer to spiritual questions can be found only in God’s Word. Therefore, the study of His Word will give us the answer to this question regarding the true spiritual life. Please set aside all preconceived ideas regarding the spiritual life and examine only what God’s Word has to say. (Hebrews 4:12)
First, we must understand that there is a difference between our function as priests and our function as ambassadors. As priests, we represent ourselves before God (invisible) but as ambassadors we represent God before others (visible). Before a believer can be an effective representative for God, he must have a maturing relationship with God, which develops Christian integrity.
Integrity is defined by Webster’s Dictionary as a state or quality of being complete; an unimpaired state of honesty and purity; a soundness of moral principle; the character of uncorrupted virtue, especially in relation to truth and fair dealing. Integrity is loyalty to the truth. In the case of the Christian, integrity is loyalty to the absolute truth of God’s Word. (John 1:14; 8:32; 14:6; 16:13)
Therefore, in order for the believer to develop Christian integrity, he must know God’s Word. The development of this kind of integrity does not happen overnight; it is a process that takes years of consistent study and application of Bible doctrine. When Bible doctrine is taught accurately and systematically by a man with the gift of pastor-teacher, over a period of time, the positive believer has the potential to develop Christian integrity. THERE IS NO SHORTCUT! (II Timothy 2:15; 3:16-17; Hebrews 5:11-14)
The first step is to learn about God’s integrity because it is His integrity that will eventually reside in your soul. Christian integrity is the character of Jesus Christ demonstrated in the life of the believer. It is manifested as the fruit of the Holy Spirit. It is motivation for doing the right thing in a right way because it is the right thing to do. It develops the right motivation from your love for God. It is exhibiting impersonal love for all mankind. It is thinking the mind of Christ, which is Divine Viewpoint Thinking. (Galatians 5:22-23)
The integrity of God is never compromised by what man does or does not do. Therefore, developing God’s integrity is not accomplished through overt activity, but through thinking truth. You cannot think truth unless truth is resident in your soul as your spiritual frame of reference and your spiritual vocabulary. God is truth and He has always had integrity as a part of His character. God never veers from the truth, and as royal priests in union with Jesus Christ, we are commanded to know the truth and stay loyal to the truth. (Romans 12:1-2; Philippians 2:5-13)
All believers become a part of God’s power system the moment they trust Christ as Savior. However, all believers do not stay in God’s power system. This power system involves the ministry of God the Holy Spirit indwelling and empowering the believer to control his sin nature and feed the new spiritual nature. The Christian Way of Life is a supernatural way of life and requires a supernatural power in order to execute it. For this reason, God has given us the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit. (Galatians 5:16-26)
Residing in God’s power system is a matter of personal volition (free will). God never forces or coerces a believer to reside in His system. However, when a believer does make the choice to live in this system he can be assured of maximum happiness and joy. It is by residing in God’s system that the believer develops integrity and virtue. Learning and applying Bible doctrine properly is accomplished only under the control of God the Holy Spirit. This is the reason that it is so important to name or admit our personal sins immediately. This keeps the power “flowing” in our lives and sustains our relationship with God. Sin removes the control of the Holy Spirit and fellowship with God. Confession of sin restores the control of the Holy Spirit and our fellowship with God. (I John 1:5-10)
Residing in God’s power system means doing the things on a consistent basis to form a foundation of accurate truth and then build upon that foundation. Building on a faulty foundation of false doctrine will eventually bring the house down. Developing your spiritual life is a life-long commitment that involves self-sacrifice and discipline. (I Corinthians 3:9-17) The Bible says that no one can serve two masters, which means that the believer cannot “ride the fence” when it comes to his spiritual life. If you are not developing your spiritual life, you are retreating into reversionism and you are playing into the hands of Satan’s cosmic system. (Matthew 6: 24 - 33)