The Apple Of God's Eye

March 17, 2009

What Is The True Definition Of The Temple Of God?

Paul told Gentile converts that they were the members of the house of God. He reminded them that the spiritual structure was built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets (Eph. 2:20). This is reinforced in verse 22, where it says true Christians are a holy temple in God. Jesus Christ is not returning to a material temple, but to the spiritual, glorified temple of the living God.

In I Cor. 3:9, the term “God’s husbandry” – (γεώργιον  geōrgion); or “tillage” is entirely unique, as this word occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It properly denotes a “tilled” or “cultivated field” (Albert Barnes’ Notes On The Bible). This shows we are also God’s produce, being harvested by Him.

But unlike what mainstream Christianity teaches, God requires something of us. Verse 13  shows our works (yes these are required) will be made plain. The time of judgment is just ahead of us and God will prove if His people (collectively the temple of God – verse 16) have been building  properly.

Why this requirement? Because the temple of God is Holy – it is where God dwells.  He wants to make sure the temple remains pure and He will not allow defilement, or sin, in this Holy place. This is probably a strange concept to many, because the prevailing thought is that a church is a building. But God clearly defines the Church as His people. It is where He dwells – in each believer.

Deut. 23:14  says wherever God is in the midst of, that place is Holy. Moses had to take off his shoes as God dwelled in the bush.

This is where God gets a little more insistent with His demands. In II Cor. 6:14, He tells true Christians they cannot dwell together with unbelievers. Who are these unbelievers? Again, contrary to popular opinion, there is no wider audience of Christians; there is only one Church of God. The remainder of supposed Christianity is deceived, bickering over pagan doctrines, beliefs and traditions of men. True Christians are to avoid anything that causes them to be mixed together with unrighteousness. When mixed, it is always the unrighteousness – the impurities –  which spread. These have to be eliminated so that the place of God`s residence remains Holy and pure.

Many in the world try to have it both ways, which is why God cannot  work with them. Verse 16 says either God dwells in true Christians or they are in the world. Only God dwelling in them makes them Holy. It is the body which is the temple of the Holy Spirit, not the brain or mind. (I Cor. 6:19). Body = soma (# 4983 in Strong’s) = the physical structure.

Our bodies were created to be a temple, or sanctuary for the Holy Spirit. God knows the cleaner, healthier and purer our house is, the more we will be able to use the Holy Spirit. Spiritual growth is definitely, though not the only, factor to spiritual well being. Poor health also inhibits the ability to serve God.

The Corinthians had many vices – they said there was no evil in using what God gives. But just because we have a bodily appetite does not mean we  should use it. There is all kinds of sinful behaviour, even with that which is good and given by God. Sin is not the thing, but the wrong use of the thing.  I Cor. 6:12 says do not let anything master you or control you. The privilege carries with it the obligation of responsibility. There is a right and lawful use for everything, but we have to be careful of excess. The body is not created to serve those desires and be overpowered by them. Otherwise our god is our belly (Phil. 3:18).

We are joined to God in one Spirit (I Cor. 6:17). And since there are sins that affect the outside and sins that affect the inside, we are not free to do what we want with our body (verse 18). We are bought with a price – the body of Jesus Christ (verse 20) and we must glorify God in body and mind.

The first great commandment is to love God with heart, body and mind (Matt. 22:36-38). Then we are to love ourselves and others, which means we keep body and mind clean and pure (verse 39). That is hard in this world polluted by customs and trends of excess initiated by Satan (Eph. 2:2). It is he which  causes us to fulfill the desires of body and mind. Human nature involves mind and body.

We have to counter Satan by using the power of the Holy Spirit to lead moderate, balanced lives with fresh air, eating, exercise, and so on (Phil. 4:5). God does not want unclean things in our body. He is present and He wants to live in us, so the body has to be kept clean. Unless we are spiritually and physically fit, we cannot give service to God.

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