Christian Priesthood Defined
The Altar Sanctifies the Gift
Lesson 7 of 11
When God provided the altar as the place of sacrifice, and the whole stones of Christ to give structure to faith, He was sanctifying the altar, giving value to the things of Christ, and separating it for service.
Sanctification has to do with a setting apart. We understand that we cannot serve God our own way. We understand that to show God we love Him we must serve God His way. Sanctification is the word God uses to tell us that very thing. God separates the altar for His purpose and then upon seeing our faith active with it, visits our faith with power.
If we serve God our own way, God will not sanctify our faith, the consequence being that He will not visit our faith with power. Our best efforts will never accomplish what God accomplished through Jesus Christ.
The altar, being sanctified, in turn sanctifies the gift by setting the gift in its ordered place; by allowing the gift to come in contact with what God has authorized for it. Jesus spoke of the altar sanctifying the gift in Matthew 23:19 as He said, “Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift?”
The Jews focused on the value of their gifts just as believers today focus on the value of their gifts (human skills and talents whether it be singing or dancing or management or people skills). But Jesus brought to the attention of the carnal minded Jews that the altar sanctifies the gift; the gift does not sanctify the altar.
We can better understand the importance of the altar sanctifying the gift by looking at the value of a bill. Although counterfeit bills continue to be produced, and these bills look like the real thing, they are not authentic and therefore, do not carry the same value as real currency.
God values Jesus Christ and the ordered knowledge of Christ, which creates in the soul the likeness of Christ. Therefore, the Spirit enters into the ordered knowledge of Christ to give life to the soul. The gift is sanctified by the altar when it reflects the God-given order and value of Christ. Each Element of the Gospel must retain the image and likeness of Christ.\
What Satan did was change the value of the stones to reflect the anticipation of the flesh, what the flesh thought was of value (the gifts and talents of man). Consequently, the gift is then discerned by the estimation of man rather than the value of God. This is the altar of the world, which God does not sanctify and as a result, faith is made reprobate (worthless).
God does not have a “gift” mentality, as if He is awaiting to be surprised by how many different kinds of things we can offer to Him, sacrificing ourselves, our time, and our energies. No. God calls that an aspiration, not faith. God already knows what kind of gift He desires and already sanctified it for the expression of our faith.
It is a hard lesson to learn that there is nothing in man that God desires. And it is a hard habit to break, offering to God things we think would bring joy to His heart (because it flatters our hearts) rather than staying within the boundaries of the covenant where Jesus Christ is. Satan is cleaver to word things in a way that has some truth to it, but brings a contradiction to the mind—a paradox that he then uses to occupy the mind with trying to resolve. In this case the paradox presents itself, “But how could a loving God stop loving us if we served Him our own way: “Would He not also be all knowing and know that we are trying our best? Would His love not cover our ignorance?”
Can you see how Satan gets your mind arguing with your feelings? Where is God in this? He is not in it. This whole battle is played out in the mind and can occupy your mind until the day you die. How sad to think we spent our time on Satan’s playing fields rather than build the altar of Christ and serve God the right way! Never forget: Satan is making war by deception of the mind. By his word he issues death, But the Word of God issues life.
In the False Religious System the stones of Christ are cut by the traditions of men. This is the altar of the world. The tradition of man is the wisdom of man, the philosophy of man, the hand of man, by the counsel of man for the honor of man. The traditions of man are defiling to faith. You cannot build an altar with defiled stones. Now the altar is defiled and every gift you offer to God is defiled. This is what Jesus calls vain worship saying, “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men,” (Matthew 15:9).
Can you see how important it is that apostles teach the church the proper doctrine of Christ that the stones of His altar remain pure? Discernment comes as the stones of Christ are properly set in order in your understanding. The responsibility of church government is to teach God’s people “the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean,” (Ezekiel 44:23).
When government sets the knowledge of Christ within the heart we recognize the value of Christ in both the altar and the gift, and the gift reflects the altar (Christ), just like a real twenty dollar bill reflects the value of the gold behind it.